D&D 4th ed. – The MMOD&D - Sat, Jul 11, 2009

I haven’t really said much here about D&D 4th edition or what my feelings were about it.  I really wanted to get my hand on a book, and actually play a game before I blasted on how much it sucks like most of the other D&D players on the internet.  So have just gotten back from my first game, here is my $0.02.

  • Character Creation
    • Coming from 2nd edition with zany math, and having that simplified to the 3.5ed rules, making a 4th ed character was quite a shock.  I got the feeling that I was making a computer-game character with “Here are your 2 choices for a Warlord”.  The skills have been cut down so far that you can’t have a rouge that is good as forgery, disguise, and spying; It’s all been lumped together into “thievery”.  You can’t have a character that cant spot anything in front of his face but find a needle in a haystack if he/she is putting his mind to it.  Major skills are all lumped together into these broad reaching categories that really kills it for me.
    • The powers.  You have your at-will powers, your daily powers, your encounter powers, and utility powers.  In fact, WotC makes these cute little cards you can /buy/ so you can have all of your powers right at your fingertips.  Thats right, your choices now short of movement and basic attack have resorted down to little cards.  Let me peg you into little holes now.  Oh, did I mention that no matter what character class you are, everyone follows the exact same progression as to how many at-will, daily, encounter and utility powers you get? Wizards get cantrips, and certain classes get a few speciality powers, but the majority of everything is flat across the board and level dependant.
    • 1/2 your level bullshit.  Most all saves and AC have a positive modifier of 1/2 your level.  Thats right, the wizard, rogue, and cleric all get the same bonus based upon 1/2 of their level.  Long gone are the days of the Cleric actually having a better Reflex save when they are flat footed (and denied their Dex bonus of -3 from full plate) than when they see it coming.  Everyone gets treated equally.
  • Saving throws
    • I dislike this so much that it gets its own section
    • In the 3.5 days, you would get a collection of modifiers to your Fort/Reflex/Will saves.  They come from your ability scores, feats, armor, etc.  When someone casted a spell on you; you would roll a d20, add your modifiers, and if the resulting number was higher than the DC of the power being used on you then it had little to no effect.
    • In the 4.0 days, you have a number that is like 10 + 1/2 your level + ability modifier.  The attacker now rolls and determines if he/she succeeds.  Saving throws in 4th ed are like attack rolls in 3.5.  You have a set number that you cant change, you cant roll a 20 to resist, you cant have that uber-god roll a 1 and fail.
    • The whole 1/2 level flat-across-the-board really bugs me.  Before the bonuses to your saving throw was 100% dependant on your class, not just what level you are.  A level 20 rogue should not have the same bonuses to his will or fort save that a level 20 cleric does, and a level 20 wizard should have a reflex save even close to what a rogue has.  4th ed obviously thinks differently.
  • Healing Surges
    • Mechanically I have no idea where they got the idea where characters can just spontaneously heal when the conditions are right.  Every character has these ‘healing surges’ where they recover 1/4 of their hitpoints when conditions are met.  Clerics don’t really have any “Healing Powers” anymore per se, they just allow people to use up their healing surges.  Paladins use their healing surges to heal others with ‘lay on hands’, warlords can command people to use their healing surges.  So really why do we have clerics when every other class out there seems to have a power that allows characters to spend /their/ own healing surges on themselves?   Don’t really care for that.  How can a fighter just spontaneously heal after a Warlord gives him a pep-talk?  Why do healing potions just allow you to use a healing surge instead of actually healing you.  If you drink a healing potion and you have used up your healing surges between rests, then you just wasted a potion!  Its a hackish way of getting around the age old problem of not being able to heal unless you had a Cleric, Paladin, or a Bard in your party (uh, boo hoo? Make someone play a Cleric!  You wouldn’t march into melee with a rogue and a wizard would you?)
  • Its so easy any idiot can play!
    • This is what I have a big issue with.  Back in the 2nd ed and 3/3.5 days, playing D&D wasn’t the “cool” thing to do.  You were nerds, you got made fun of when you broke out your source book and leveled up your character between classes.  Now all of a sudden since WoW became famous everyone wants to play D&D.  We have our little nerd club, and because you got a level 80 computer game character you want to be a part of it? I’m sorry, it doesn’t work that way.   I’m one of those “walked up hill both ways, while calculating THAC0, and wondering why a save vs wand was different than a staff/stave.”
    • WotC made 4th ed so dumbed down that any idiot can play.  Just look on the internet how many people refuse to buy the 4th ed books, look at how many people are angry just like I am at how they have fed the rules lead-paint until they drool.
    • Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition obviously has a few extra chromosomes in its genome.
  • No OGL
    • One of the huge awesome things about 3.5 was the Open Gaming License.  This Open Sourcing of the core d20 rules allowed other people who make rule books that were 100% compatible with D&D (or new games that used the exact same rules).  There were a TON of 3.5 books that were published by 3rd parties that were perfectly compatible with D&D 3.5 (The Book of Erotic Fantasy was a big seller. Yes, someone wrote rules to incorporate all the wierd sexual fetishes in your D&D campaign).  All the book needed was to just have the OGL printed somewhere in the book, and not use any proprietory D&D stuff (like inital character generation, so you had to buy the D&D main book, understandable)
    • 4th ed has no OGL.  It has some free/low-cost licensing but who knows if WotC is going to renig on that.  Its not open source one big, and Paizo refuses to publish anything under the 4th ed ruleset just for that reason.

Now what I do like about D&D 4th ed, is that the books seem to be colorful. and nicely laid out.  Uh, it allows me to hang out with my friends (some of which who do like D&D 4th ed).  Some of the new classes are kinda neat.

Dax said it best.  The system is solid, and would be a winner if they wouldn’t have put the D&D name on it.