Musings from a D&D DM as he strives to improve his skills.
RPG systems lend themselves to a certain style and feel of game, and I think the whole d20 "this is the only game you'll ever need" plan only works if the only game you play is basic adventuring. (don't get me wrong - I loves me the adventuring). But even if the plot was the same, a 3.5E game would feel and play very differently than a GURPS game, for instance. Deadlands is a game that didn't translate well to d20, for instance - a lot of the "feel" didn't come across properly. What little I've seen of 4E suggests that they're going for an action-movie feel. If there's a 4E Modern, I could see it being used for a Die Hard campaign (to give an example of the feel I'm talking about). So I'm going to pick it up. But it will be sharing shelf space with 3.5, GURPS, Paranoia, and the other games I like. Right tool for the right job, and all that.
Action movie-D&D is not a bad way of looking at 4th Edition from what I've seen/played... in any case, got my hands on the final product today, so I'll know for sure very soon. :) I did find d20 to be quite successful as a generic tool-set. d20 Modern was pretty good, although beaten by Spycraft 2.0 (ironically an OGL game); Cthulhu d20 is still a fine book, World of Darkness is great (hmm, I'm sensing a theme here!), and even the likes of the Buffy RPG have/had some great ideas. But when I remember d20 I will be remembering D&D, not Modern or Buffy.Thanks for your comment!
Well, I would agree that some games just don't translate into D20. A prime example for me is 7th Sea. The system matched the flavour, and converting to d20 brought in all the pre-conceptions that we were now playing D&D in a new setting. Just didn't work. Another would be Middle Earth RPG - its not a d20 type game - far too low key for the kind of game a d20 system tends to generate.BUT... d20 most certainly has its place and its at the forefront of the RPG pack, probably as much (if not more so) by sheer age and coverage as by its technical brilliance ;o)Horses for courses most certainly.
Bit of an update following the D&D Game Day (plus a bit of reading of the new books).If I had to finish the sentence "4E is like __", I'd be tempted to say "anime". It feels very cinematic - the powers are all titled, and you almost never make a "basic" attack, because you have an at-will power that does more than that. Example: I was playing the cleric, and the basic "swing the mace" attack was +5 to hit, d8+5 damage. Or.. I could use an at-will power that lets me make an attack with my mace at the same to-hit, and same damage, but *also* gives an ally a bonus to hit that character on his turn (another one gave bonuses to AC). The anime flavor comes from the fact that since you're always using "Ray of Faith" or "Faith's Shield", it feels like you should be yelling out the names of the attacks as you go. Another example for the new folks - fighters get an at-will that does damage *even if you miss*. And from my reading of the book thus far, I'm not seeing much reason for anyone to just "swing". That, combined with bigger hit points and healing surges, make the game harder and easier. Easier because it's pretty trivial to completely heal between combats (most characters have enough surges to completely heal twice a day). Harder because in-combat healing is much, much more limited (the cleric had two "heal" abilities per encounter, plus a third that required hitting with the mace). So each combat feels more dangerous, even with a cleric. (My 3.5 cleric plays up three levels in Living Greyhawk, and can still pump healing into fighters faster than the monsters can dish it out. That's not going to happen in 4E).Few issues, though:* it's not obvious at first glance that you're supposed to be (ab)using those at-will powers - some players at our table never did figure it out even with prompting.* 3.0 and 3.5 players are in for some culture shock - a lot of rules are almost, but not quite the same (5-foot vs. shifting, what causes opportunity attacks, and diagonals were a few that tripped us up. Most of the changes are good, though.* The conversion from feet to squares is pretty minor - 3E made everyone divide by 5 to get squares, 4E will make everyone multiply by 5 to get feet if needed. And I've never had a player want to go gridless, so I don't think there'll be much issues. The diagonals bug me more, but I'll admit it is a lot simpler to work with.* The rulebook index is very useful, except when it's completely useless - we're still trying to find out how much damage fire does.
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