Friday, July 25, 2008

4e = Thumbs Up.

So far my group has played 3 sessions of 4e D&D and we like it. Sure there are things I miss about 3.x that I may houserule into the new edition, but not much. Of course we house ruled 3.x to death (mainly in favor of Magic Users who kind of got the shaft in 3.x at lower levels) as I do with most systems. 4e is no different in that respect as I have already started coming up with exceptions to gameplay.
For instance 4e was written under the assumtion that everyone would be using minitatures from the D&D minis game (a very arrogant assumtion in my oppinion), which we do not. The minis, we still use the old paint them yourself kind, are nothing more than a visual aid to help the players and myself with a point of reference in combat situations. More often than not our minis are not even on a map but set up in the middle of the gaming (dining room) table as I will often still use the old graph paper maps that I make myself.

So when a power calls for an effect to encompass x number of squares, I convert that to feet and estimate the distance from, or around, the PC's mini. It is simple and I don't have to spend a lot of money on premade minis and tiles. Granted if I were to ever play in a "real" game at a con I might be a little bit lost, but that has happened a total of 1 time in my life as a gamer.

My group, myself included, simply doesn't want to spend a lot of money on extras that we don't really need. So the area of effect will remain at the discretion of the DM (me) and has worked just fine thus far. So estimating area of effect and only using "official" minis and maps at our discretion is house rule #1.

House rule number 2 is the same as it has been in every D&D game I have run in the past: NO GNOME PC'S!!!! I can't stand gnomes in D&D and never will like the little cretins. Did I mention that I don't like Gnomes? This is why I am glad they are not a character race in 4e, at least not in the first PHB I have heard that they will be in future releases. My players can create Goblin Paladins, Vampire Warlocks, and even Drow Clerics, but no Gnomes are allowed in my games unless they are being slaughtered. My players know my irrational disdain of these creatures and have said they will slay any they come across, for they are vile abominations. Any gnomes that pops up in my campaigns are always evil anyway, so the PC's can take them out at will, it is my way of getting vengeance for their existence. Now if they were like the Travelocity or Garden Gnomes you see in people's front yard I may change my mind, but I can not stand the tinkerer role they seem destitined to fill in D&D.

That is really all the house rules I have come up with so far. I haven't seen a need for more at this stage, 4e seems like a good solid system. The character classes are well balanced, though I found I am not fond of the Warlord class. To me it seems like a bard/fighter and is of no interest to me, though I have 2 players with Dragonborn Warlords. (Despite my lack of interest in Warlords I do like the Dragonborn race which seems to be made for the Warlord class.) Then again the Bard was often nothing more than a magic using Rouge in older editions, so I guess there is always a class that seems less interesting than others, or that overlaps too much for my taste, such as Sorcerer and Wizard. I liked the Sorcerer so much that I rarely played a Wizard (except for Necromancers) once 3.x gave me the choice between the two classes, almost every PC and NPC I created was a Sorcerer.

The Warlock class is pretty interesting, though it does seem to be tailor made for the Tiefling. I do wish they would have put the Aasimar in as a counter balance, maybe we'll see them in a future PHB release. I have to say I am partial to the Star Pact Warlock because it brings just a smidgeon of Lovecraft into the game, so I guess I am showing my bias there.
The rest of the classes and races are pretty standard, with the exclusion of the despicable Gnomes, and I have no complaints as a whole.

One thing I do like about the new system is the rituals. Wizards now have really good spells that need no components (powers) like a Sorcerer and still keep the feel of a Wizard by using rituals. That was pretty smart on the part of the developers. They took the best of both classes and combined them in an way that keeps magic users on par with the rest of the party.

I have heard a lot of complaints about the fact that 4e is so geared towards combat that the actual role playing aspect is lost. I disagree with this. In my games the role playing has always been seperate from the combat and remains so in the new edition. I have come across nothing that inhibits or detracts from my players doing a good job of staying in character while not in combat. As a matter of fact our first 2 4e sessions had almost no combat at all.

I also do not see that 4e has a MMO feel when you are actually playing. I can see that the ability to easily buy magic items and the power system are very similar to that of a video game, but that's where the similarities end in my opinion. I think that over all these aspects add to the game, I always allowed my PC's to have access to the occassional "magic shop", so even in 2e (way back when) PCs with enough loot could buy more powerful equipment.

One thing I both like and dislike about 4e is that everything pretty much has its own Base Attack Bonus. That was probably the hardest thing to adjust to for us. We got so use to using Melee and Ranged almost exclusively that having to figure the BAB for every power and weapon was kind of aggrevating during character creation. But I have kind of come to like this, it is a little more to keep track of when you level up, but easier in combat. My major complaint with WotC is the fact that the character sheet simply doesn't have enough of the appropriate places to keep track of this info and we end up using another sheet of paper. Then again if this is my only major complaint with the system they must have done something right.

So over all I have to say that 4e has been as success with my group. I like it, they all like it and we plan to use 4e as long as we continue gaming together.
Since I like 4e so much I have put together a 4e wishlist of things I want to see using 4e rules.
  1. Bring back Maztica! I want it as a stand alone setting if possible without the whole Conquistador aspect. Just a setting based on the Mayan & Aztec cultures.
  2. Re-release d20 Modern under the new rules. I think the 4e rules are tailor made for modern gaming, especially in a Supers, Sci-fi or Pulp setting. Which brings me to my next request...
  3. Make a Supers game using 4e. The power system would work great for a level based superhero campaign.
  4. Revise the Bard so that it isn't just a magic using rogue in future PHBs.
  5. Give me my Druids!
  6. Make the Witch a character class in a future PHB. Since Druids are kind of like nature oriented Clerics, the Witch fits the bill of a nature oriented arcane magic user.
  7. Release an all evil PHB, kind of like the Book of Vile Darkness, but in PHB format. It is always fun to run the occassional evil campaign and having classes and races geared specifically towards evil campaigns would be fun.
  8. Bring back Necromancers! They make the best NPC villians.
  9. Now that the book series is coming to a close, re-release Wheel of Time under the 4e rules. My group loved the 3e version and it would kick butt in 4e.
  10. Ban Gnomes as PCs! Did I mention I don't like Gnomes?