Wednesday, July 02, 2008

I now understand the definition of "luck."

Luck is when you leave your bag at a friends house for a month.

Then, you carry the bag around with you for another couple of weeks after you have retrieved it, without properly cleaning it out.

Then you discover a bag of carrots that you had left in it, sort of simmering in a yellowish green slime, STILL SEALED.

That, my friends, is luck.

On other fronts:

I don't know how many gamers actually read the site. I believe the email this is based on has gone to the other two. But this is my two cents on the 4.0 thing.

I have at least one friend who really dislikes the game, and I understand all his reasons. They mostly center around the character classes, and how modular and generic the skills seem to be.

I've been playing Dungeons and Dragons 4.0 for about two weeks now: my friend Chris is running Keep on the Shadowfell, and I am running some short adventures for a few kids I know through the library. I also played in some demos at my game store.

I'm having fun. I've played about 13 hours of the game. I find the system to be pretty elegant, and I feel like there is a large difference between the classes despite a decreased dependence on BAB.

I also think cooperative play is radically increased by increasing the scope of individual class roles. This is largely because you can depend on every player to be able to add to the combat every round.

In the games I played in, my group stopped and planned our approach to each combat. We figured out which players would take which tasks. All the classes have a distinct footprint. The Cleric and Paladin act as tanks and offers minor buffs, the wizard and rogue offering ranged back up and area attacks.

Our roles weren't much different than they would have been in 3.5: my paladin and the cleric went in first, and the rogue and wizard stood behind them and shot. But I did feel like I had a choice of things to do. Instead of hitting each opponent in turn with my optimized weapon, I had to think about whether I used Holy Strike or Valiant Strike (I used Valiant Strike when I was surrounded, and Holy Strike one on one). My wife's wizard never ran out of stuff to do, but had choices each combat.

I'm finding the kids I'm running on Tuesdays are reacting pretty much the same way.

At the end of the day, it's a game. It's a set of numbers and assumptions with a skin on it. I would like to try running Celestial Wastelands in d20 again, maybe use d20 for another modern era game. I will read Pathfinder when I have a moment. But for FRPG, I will probably stick with 4.0 for awhile. 3.5 was so widgety, involving so many steps for preparation, especially high level, that I couldn't cope with it anymore.

I've of course heard the comparisons to Warcraft: DND 4.0 is somehow soul-less because the similarities to roles, and the slimmed down choices, are similar to a CRPG (specifically a MMRPG).

As an aside, playing 6-8 hours of Warcraft a week for the past two months or so (Yes, way too much), it's not the "system" that's the problem with Warcraft. The problem with Warcraft is that there's a computer running it. It's a grindy, number crunching system with limited personality behind it. I like the look, and I like playing a simple game with my wife or daughter, but I don't like it so much when I play on my own. If 4.0 were run by a machine, it would be just as sucktastic as Warcraft. But then again, 3.5 was, too, when you get right down to it. I played Baldur's Gate once. Would I play it again? Nah. But with a person running it, especially a person a hard-rockin' cool as me or my friend Chris, 4.0 is kind of cool.

edit: 7/3

One of my preferred bloggers notes that he is not fond of 4.0 for reasons my friend would appreciate.

I was interested in this quote:

With earlier MU's if I ran out of spells it forced me to come up with lots of on-the-fly shenanigans to beat the baddies. To understand the brave new world of 4e imagine a magic missile crushing the darkness, forever.

I laud the sentiment, and I've had alot of fun extemporizing when my character is in resource poor situations. But I know that I've had GM's who can't make that fun, and make sure that unoptimal choices are punished. I've had players who feel like they are being punished if the GM puts them in an unoptimal situation. So I wonder if most players see much difference between various methods of eliminating options: limited spell choice versus no spells at all sometimes.

It's six of one. The GM makes the system, not the other way around. Running out of spells can't be the only way to encourage players to extemporize.

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