Tobold's Blog
Friday, May 25, 2012
 
D&D Next first impressions - The weirdest beta I've ever been in

Yesterday the public beta of D&D Next, the 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons, started. There is a partial NDA, which prohibits me from sharing the playtest materials, but allows me to voice my opinion on D&D Next, which is what I’ll do here. Of course the first thing to remark is that a beta test of a pen & paper game is inherently strange. As the people I normally play with aren’t signed up for the beta, I can only “play” D&D Next with myself. Which maybe actually isn’t the worst thing to do, because in a pen & paper game the overall experience very much depends on the players, while the rule-system only plays a minor role. But even weirder than beta-testing a pen & paper game in the first place is the nature of D&D Next.

To explain, let’s make a detour to Everquest, which as it happens also plans a future edition called “Next”. The Wikipedia entry for Everquest Next cites the developer’s intentions “to return to a style of gameplay more like the original EverQuest”. So what would you think if Everquest Next had level loss on death, naked corpse runs, 15 minute forced breaks for meditation between fights, forced grouping, 20 minutes waits for boats, and all the other features of the original Everquest? You’d probably wonder why the game is called “Next”, and not “Previous”.

D&D Next is very much a D&D Previous. It rolls back most of the innovation Dungeons & Dragons had with the 4th edition and reverts to a mix of rules which much more resembles previous editions of D&D. Gone are the powers for players and monsters, gone is the tactical combat and the battle maps, gone is the concept of all character classes having equal amounts of options in combat. There are promises that some of these things might be reintroduced as optional, but they are gone from the base rules.

What we are back to is spell-casters with X spells per day, and character classes without spells just using their basic melee or ranged attack most of the time. That is somewhat softened by spell-casters having minor spells they can cast without limits, so they don’t run out of things to do, and all classes gaining “benefits” with levels which increase their options. Nevertheless the class balance of 4th edition, where a fighter had as many powers as a wizard, is gone. Non-caster classes like fighters are back to a more or less constant damage output, whatever the length of the fight. Casters are back to the situation of being powerful in shorter fights, and then “running out of spells”, albeit not completely anymore, because they now have minor spells as their own form of “basic attack”.

What I like even less is that monsters are back to not having powers either. That is, there are a lot of vanilla monsters which just have an armor class, hit points, and a simple attack dealing some damage. In 4th edition the fight against different monsters of the same level could be very different, because they had different powers. In D&D next the fight against different vanilla monsters of the same level will feel more similar.

What is undoubtedly true, and presumably the wished-for effect, is that D&D Next feels a lot more like “classic D&D”, while 4th edition was a huge step away from “classic”. Wizards of the Coast got a lot of flak for 4th edition being so very different, and they “listened to their customers” and went back to how it was before. I believe that to be a horrible mistake. Their competitors Paizo will be laughing all the way to the bank. WotC released 3rd edition and 3.5 under an open gaming license, which enabled Paizo to launch a rather successful game system called Pathfinder, which is basically an improved D&D 3.5. Now Wizards of the Coast with D&D Next is doing more or less the same, releasing a rule system which will appeal more to the fans of 3rd edition and even earlier editions, while leaving the fans of 4th edition standing in the rain. Why would somebody want to spend a lot of money on buying D&D Next rulebooks, if he can have a very similar game experience with either the old pre-4E D&D rulebooks or Paizo’s Pathfinder rulebooks he already owns?

D&D Next is not at all backward compatible with 4th edition. It would be very easy to convert adventures or other game materials from 1st, 2nd, or 3rd edition D&D to D&D Next or vice versa. In fact the playtest adventure is an old adventure from 1979. But it would be very hard to use either 4E game materials for D&D Next or the other way around. I don’t know in how much optional rulebooks for D&D Next will be able to change that, I don’t think you can easily graft a more tactical combat system onto the D&D Next base rules without creating two very different versions of D&D Next. As I subscribed to D&D Insider for the support the website gives for my 4th edition dungeon mastering, I am somewhat worried whether that support will stop with the release of D&D Next.

In making D&D Next “classic”, Wizards of the Coast created a rule system which is basically a rehash of previous rules. Even if that ends up being a “best of”, it mostly remains old rules, not unlike what a group of players using old rulebooks and some house rules could have cooked up on their own. The only “innovation” I could find was a new rule for combat advantage using the best of two dice instead of a +2 bonus. There is a good reason for not calling the new system 5th edition, because it feels more like 3.75.

Pen & paper rule-systems are different from MMORPGs in that nobody prevents you from playing previous editions if you want to. While I personally like 4th edition better than previous editions of Dungeons & Dragons, I would be totally okay with Wizards of the Coast reprinting old rulebooks, maybe with some errata or even added optional rules. But I don’t see the need to create a D&D Next rule-system which isn't much different from what is already there. I would have wished for a true 5th edition which is forward-looking, introducing a lot of new things, instead of backward-looking and basically reverting D&D to how it was in the “good old times”. I believe that nostalgia is a trap for game design, as it wasn't the old rule-system which made the good old times so good, but other factors like youth. You can’t bring the 80s back by making a new D&D rulebook with the rules from the 80s. I have some ideas how the flaws of 4th edition could have been addressed without reverting to what D&D was before, but I guess I’ll keep that for a separate post.

So in summary I am very disappointed with what I've seen up to now from D&D Next. I simply don’t see anything “Next” about it, it appears very much as a “D&D Previous” to me. And as there is already a ton of old rulebooks for D&D, I don’t see the need to make yet another version of D&D which isn't much different from 2nd or 3rd edition. I’ve been playing D&D since the 80s, and this will be the first time that I will NOT make the move to the new edition when it comes out. It would be a move back, not forward.

Comments:
Do you think D&D Next will be compatible with Pathfinder? It seems like they're opening up a whole can of worms if its too close to 3.5 and the OGL version of D&D.
 
Although I'm not a fan of 4th Ed I think that creating a DnD Previous is a silly idea. There is no requirement that any group use the latest rules (we use a set closest to 3.5) and therefore can choose to use whichever edition they prefer.

Why make a new set of rules similar to a previous version (as they also did for 3.0/3.5) when players could just use the old ones?

Meh, we stopped buying DnD stuff 10 years ago so I guess we're not the target audience anyway.

Gobble gobble.
 
Though I'm not in the Beta test, I've been keeping abreast of a lot of the design discussions that WotC has been posting on Wizards.com, and so far I honestly agree with you 100% Tobold. A large part of it was Monte Cook (which WotC contracted to help, as the mastermind of 3rd Ed and helped with 2nd Ed), but it saddens me even with his departure they haven't backed off too much on the D&D Prev feel. I don't see how going backwards helps, because as bobturkey mentions, why not just buy 2nd Edition, or 3rd, or 3.5 or Pathfinder modules. 4th Edition is different enough to stand on its own, whereas if D&D Next is going to be a modularized mess that harkens back to the days of lots of micro-management which honestly gets in the way of the meat of the game play, role-playing and combat.

Sure sure, folks argue that role-playing that your Wizard can only memorize so many spells in a day is "realistic" (because that term fits in a game with Wizards and magic in the first place...), but 4th Edition doesn't prevent that.

Pare down the rules, make them consistent, easy, not in the way. That's what I want. 4th Ed almost delivered on that, but fell apart on the whole Magic: The Gathering-esque immediate reaction/interrupt system which slowed the crap out of everything. Worrying about shit like making it easier to kill your PCs or making melee characters largely useless at above 8th level again is not worth my time or money.

Seriously, the games already exist. Pathfinder, or D&D 2nd/3rd/3.5.
 
I read a lot of the "old school" blogs written by people who really prefer the older versions of the game. They don't like DDN either because, naturally, it isn't old school enough. Hasbro is trying to please everyone here, but it looks like they'll end up pleasing no one. This might turn out to be D&D Last.
 
The first thing I looked at were the monsters and same as Tobold I was disappointed that the fun to play/encounter monster abilities of late 4th were replaced systematically by monster X has special ability Y that does 1d6 more damage across the board.

In 4th I loved the fact that healing powers were often Minor actions letting the healer do other meaningful things during his turn. In D&D Next that gone, back to cast "cure light wounds" ok next player.

Melee classes ... gone are the days of cool effects, now back to I swing miss/hit next player.

They should have made a 5th edition based upon a slimmed down 4th with modular rule packages. They tried with Essentials, but tried to keep it compatible with vanilla 4th and ended making just a confusing mess of rules.

Reading the dev blogs on D&D next it felted like they knew what was wrong with 4th and were gonna make it cleaner, faster, easier for new players and optional rule modules for those who wanted something very heavy. I definitely didn't expect D&D Nostalgia !
 
I'm interested in Next but not eager to jump out of 4e. In an idea I more fully developed here: http://wp.me/p1COAW-2B
I would much rather see Wizards generate more content across editions, rather than create a new edition,
 
Sadly, I haven't been able to download the beta document yet. I have my playtest link, but Wizard's side of the verification process seems hosed.

Ah, well, it sounds like you are confirming all my general fears anyway. I'm very curious what you'd change in 4th, though... I'll probably be homebrewing that moving forward, assuming I want to do a D&D game and not some other system.
 
D&D Next is very much a D&D Previous. It rolls back most of the innovation Dungeons & Dragons had with the 4th edition and reverts to a mix of rules which much more resembles previous editions of D&D. Gone are the powers for players and monsters, gone is the tactical combat and the battle maps, gone is the concept of all character classes having equal amounts of options in combat. There are promises that some of these things might be reintroduced as optional, but they are gone from the base rules.

WOW! As a huge 1E player, this is great news! I was really doubting WoTC's claim that D&D 5E would truly hearken back to early editions of the game, but if what you are saying is true, it appears that they are making good this time.

Listen up folks. The game from the 1980s and 90s that you ridicule IS Dungeons and Dragons. This 4E, watered down tactical MMORPG crap that we have today? That's not D&D. If you want that kind of game go over to Paizo or some other game dev company that wants to cater to the ADD generation - those who can't play a board game with their imagination - those that need pretty miniatures on their table with super hero characters pew-pewing fireballs.

True D&D was always all about the pencil and paper, the imagination, and the STORY. I can't tell you how excited this makes me to hear this news.
 
Roleplay and imagination ain't about the rule set, it's by the people.

You can play 4th and simply use a power printed on a card like a mechanical robot. Or you can describe the wonderful flavor and effects of your power and interact with the DM for an amazing story even in tactical combat.

The major problem I see with 4th is the lenght of combat encounters. D&D Next cut down on this with 5 hp goblins, but took out all the fluff and flavour of the powers (PCs and monsters).

It's not about the tactical map or minis. It's about having meaningful character options during your turn other than swing my weapon for +X damage cause I'm a Fighter/Slayer.
 
Roleplay and imagination ain't about the rule set, it's by the people.

You can play 4th and simply use a power printed on a card like a mechanical robot. Or you can describe the wonderful flavor and effects of your power and interact with the DM for an amazing story even in tactical combat.


That's the typical comment I always hear from 4E apologists. "If you want to play with your imagination, disregard the rules as they are written". Hogwash.

If I'm changing the rules to accommodate the game I want to play, I'm no longer playing the game as it was written. Try playing 4E without its tactical board game combat. Try playing without it's video-game inspired healing surges. Try playing it without it's myriad of super hero powers. If you are playing it without those, you're not playing 4E anymore.

0, Basic, 1E, and 2E (for the most part) were very low-powered, low rules heavy games. They were designed that way - that's how Gygax wanted it to be played. Rulings not rules.
 
Why would you need to play 4E WITHOUT its rules, only to get story and roleplaying in? I very well manage to have BOTH, tactical combat rules AND roleplaying. There is nothing in 4E that prevents roleplaying and story.
 
To be fair, 4E was very very broken. Currently lvl 20 in a campaign and every battle is a huge time sink both for players and DM's.

Every single monster has some special powers that the DM has to remember to use and none of them are repeated. Players are in the same boat, if you deliberately built a character with special abilities that only trigger when X happens or etc it each battle round takes about 45mins - 1hour.

I don't know how I feel about going back to essentially a 3ed rules, I will be very happy if magical items feel magical again but 4Ed did have some good points and going back to the Caster/Melee disparity problem is a huge issue I think.
 
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I don't think I've ever heard Gygax's AD&D (what we now call "1e") described as "very low powered" or "very low rules heavy" before. Certainly back when they were published AD&D rules were considered thick, ponderous, unrealistic and trending towards absurd Monte Hall powergaming.
 
Why would you need to play 4E WITHOUT its rules, only to get story and roleplaying in? I very well manage to have BOTH, tactical combat rules AND roleplaying. There is nothing in 4E that prevents roleplaying and story.

I can get my story and "roleplaying" in, playing Halo or WoW too, but, like 4E, that doesn't mean it facilitates or emphasizes it. 4E, FIRST and FOREMOST, emphasizes a rigid system of dice rolls, miniatures-based tactics and a balanced powers system (Oh and by the way, you can role-play and use your imagination too).

The differences go far, far beyond role-playing as well.

The important thing to remember about classic D&D and modern D&D is that classic relied on DM rulings, not rules. You CANNOT run a 4E game ignoring the "rules" without breaking the system.

Another key difference was that classic D&D was based on a theme of Swords & Sorcery Fantasy (Conan), not Epic Fantasy (LotR). This is why there is so much power-creep in modern D&D, why your characters feel like Green Lantern, Thor, and Superman, rather than a lowly peasant who found his dad's rusty sword and decided he wanted to get rich. You simply can't play modern D&D with the gritty, low-magic setting that the classic game provided.

Gygax routinely spelled out that D&D was more about surviving the realities of a harsh medieval fantasy world. He posed questions such as, "The most difficult part of dungeon crawling wasn't slaying the dragon, but figuring out how to get the loot out". Think about that for a minute. The difference in mentality playing a classic D&D game verses the modern game is enormous

Take a look at the cover of the 1E Players Handbook vs the cover of the 4E Player Handbook. From those two pictures alone, you get a pretty good idea of the differences in these two games. The latter shows some beefy saturday morning cartoon characters kicking a dragons butt. The former was about the WHOLE experience, it wasn't about killing the dragon at all, but how to get PAST the dragon.
 
I'm with you, Tobold. While I can understand some people not liking 4e - the parts that ARE good are being ditched.

What is wrong with a fighter/rogue/melee/ranged combatant having cool abilities? Why can't I have neat things I do as well? The mage has them, the cleric has them. They don't just stand there and cast magic missile over and over. They have a plethora of abilities to choose from. I have shoot-bow/swing-sword - done.

They can, do damage, charm, fear, immobolize, prone, etc.

I have - swingsword.

THAT is why I loved 4ed. Right there. Everyone could do something cool. Yes, that could slow down combat - but that should have been what wotc focused on. Fixing that little glitch right there.

And it could be done better than saying, "Okay, the warrior goes back to *swing-done* - but hey, that mage? Yeah, you can't run outta spells anymore - so your disadvantage we'll remove"

It is just.... well, a huge step backwards.
 
I don't think I've ever heard Gygax's AD&D (what we now call "1e") described as "very low powered" or "very low rules heavy" before. Certainly back when they were published AD&D rules were considered thick, ponderous, unrealistic and trending towards absurd Monte Hall powergaming.

Read the 1E AD&D DMG. It was written by Gygax himself. If that's too hard, look at the cover. It shows a group of adventurers getting their butts handed to them. If that doesn't tell you that the system was "low powered", I don't know what will.

The max level was about 12 in AD&D, how is that not "low powered" compared to the 20+ god levels of modern D&D?

Rules were simple too. There were no skills, no feats, no powers. Races were limited to certain classes, and classes were limited to certain weapons. The only blatantly complicated rule was probably the surprise mechanic, but even Gygax later admitted that he rarely used it in his games.
 
What is wrong with a fighter/rogue/melee/ranged combatant having cool abilities? Why can't I have neat things I do as well? The mage has them, the cleric has them. They don't just stand there and cast magic missile over and over. They have a plethora of abilities to choose from. I have shoot-bow/swing-sword - done.

Why must "cool abilities" be limited to some spelled out mechanic in a book? Why can't a cool ability be made up all on your own?

In my AD&D games I do cool abilities all the time with my fighter. "I sheath my rapier, take a flying back-flip over the acid pit, kicking the orc in the face, and grab hold of the chandeliers hanging above. Then I drop down straight on top of the bugbear, slashing it's head with my dagger." I don't need some "power" or special ability to do that. If I'm a fighter, and I've trained all my life in acrobatic skills like that, I should be able to pull something like that off.

If you think that your fighter's only combat ability is "swing-sword", you aren't using your imagination. It's the, "boohoo, they're taking away my powers, now my character is nerfed", mentality that has ruined D&D. That's the mentality of a video gamer, not a role-player.
 
The problem with 1st edition was that the classes were not very well balanced. A level 1 wizard died if somebody as much as coughed at him, a level 20 wizard (I don't know why you believe there are only 12 levels in 1Em the spell table goes until level 29) could flatten whole cities. Meanwhile the fighter had a far more linear power progression and became something of a joke compared to his spellcasting group mates. There is nothing "low powered" about a 1E meteor swarm spell.

RPGs don't need rules for roleplaying a dialogue between a player and an NPC innkeeper. The dialogue will remain the same, whatever rule system you use. How "rules heavy" a rule system is only affects combat, where rules prevent the situation where the DM has to make rulings for everything the players come up with.
 
@CF

*blink*

Um... how can I best put this? "This turns out not to be the case." Back in the day, back when AD&D was new and fresh and shiny, it was thought of as being a serious contender for the most rules ponderous game system on the market. It had a huge page count, with many unrelated systems that didn't go together at all, with entire subsystems that were widely ignored. You are using all the encumberence, weapon speed and psionics rules at your table, right?

It was the hands down, no contest winner for the game prefered by munchkins. It was the home of the Monte Hall game. It was the game that had major deities stated up so that you could kill them and take their stuff. Back when there were less than a dozen published adventures, one of them (White Plume Mountain) gave parties a soul stealing sword, and another (Expedition to the Barrier Peaks) gave you power armor and disintegrator pistols, with a weird "research" random roll flowchart to find out if you could use it or not.

Real roleplayers scored D&D as being the kiddie, munchkin game. The below link was a common attitude of the day.

http://dragon.facetieux.free.fr/jdr/Munchkin.htm

I loved playing "white box" OD&D and later AD&D. I waited with baited breath for those ponderous tomes. But in no way, shape or form was it the game you'd reach for if you wanted a serious, in depth RP experince, or realistic, low grade play. It just wasn't.
 
Tobold, I think this has disproven your assertion the other day that nobody reads your D&D posts ;-)

Labelling it as "DnD Previous" strikes me as very apt and as somebody who has TSR books dating from the 70's there is no way I'd pay for that again.

Perhaps WotC can cash in on younger players wanting to experience that now, but it seems likely it will just split the player community with more edition wars.
 
Don't forget this is only the First wave of the public playtest. It's not the full game, by any means.

On class balance specifically, we've seen One single possible build of each class, save cleric of which we have seen Two. I wouldn't make too many blanket assumptions about what all any class will or will not be able to accomplish, if the player so chooses.

They've already stated that fighter maneuvers will be available through a feat, for example.
 
Back in the day, back when AD&D was new and fresh and shiny, it was thought of as being a serious contender for the most rules ponderous game system on the market.

Good thing we're not comparing AD&D with games from 1978 then, huh. Did you read anything I wrote? I'm comparing AD&D's rules-lite system with modern D&D such as 3.5 and 4E that have so many damn rules that you run it like a math class.

So don't give me, "This is how people were playing it back then" garbage. #1, it's subjective (give me a poll showing this, not a single web link from some moron that can't figure out that white font on black went out of style in 1994), and #2, it means absolutely nothing in 2012 when people are playing AD&D as a FAR, FAR more rules-lite game than 3rd or 4E.
 
The problem with 1st edition was that the classes were not very well balanced.

And that's what made it so, unabashedly, wonderful. AD&D wasn't built using math formulas and lame video game algorithms to make every class PRECISELY equal to each other.

You played a role. Sometimes you played a clumsy, dumb fighter who fought with a block of wood. Sometimes you played as a wizard with a terrible lisp, or one that could not cast any spells. All these terrible characters got their butts kicked - and guess what? That was FUN.

It was fun because you told a story, sometimes the heroes didn't always win, sometimes they got utterly destroyed on the first mission. No, not all classes were equal. But if you were trying to make sure everyone was playing equal, you were playing it wrong.

A game that strives to ensure everyone is equal with one another is the very definition of munchkinry. It's meta gaming, it's OOC planning, it's everything roleplaying is not - and it's 4th Edition to the T.
 
@CF

Do you not see the hypocrisy of saying "Why must "cool abilities" be limited to some spelled out mechanic in a book? Why can't a cool ability be made up all on your own?" and then saying 4th edition doesn't let you roleplay? It seems absolutely silly.

Regardless, this whole thing is moot! You're missing the main point which is that you certainly are free to hate 4ed if you want, that's on your proclivities. However, if you are such a huge fan of OD&D then...dust off the old books and play it!

This is about the fact that regressing, whether a move supported by popular feeling or not, is a bit silly when instead of buying a new set of rules those players can just use their old rulebooks. It fills a niche that is already filled by their own product! It's Pepsi releasing a new soda "Ispep" that is the same as Pepsi!
 
Regardless, this whole thing is moot! You're missing the main point which is that you certainly are free to hate 4ed if you want, that's on your proclivities. However, if you are such a huge fan of OD&D then...dust off the old books and play it!

This is about the fact that regressing, whether a move supported by popular feeling or not, is a bit silly when instead of buying a new set of rules those players can just use their old rulebooks. It fills a niche that is already filled by their own product! It's Pepsi releasing a new soda "Ispep" that is the same as Pepsi!


By the same token, go dust off YOUR own 4E books and play them, or better yet, go play another munchkin game and leave D&D alone.

The difference between your D&D and my D&D is mine was created by Gary Gygax, yours, by some Tom, Dick and Harry at WotC.

At least WoTC is now going back to the original game, bringing in some classic D&D designers, and trying to remake it as it was originally intended.
 
Gygax being dead I very much doubt he was involved in the creation of D&D Next, which happens to be the edition this post is about. So, CF, tell us: Will you play D&D Next?
 
@ CF

Perhaps I misunderstood. When I described AD&D as not being "very low powered" or "very low rules heavy" I was responding to your comment:

0, Basic, 1E, and 2E (for the most part) were very low-powered, low rules heavy games. They were designed that way - that's how Gygax wanted it to be played. Rulings not rules.

AD&D was never either "very low-powered" nor "low rules heavy." That's true no matter what you compare it to, in any era. I'm not even convinced that AD&D was less rules heavy than 3.x or 4 -- AD&D had less math, but far more table lookups, strange corner cases and odd rules subsystems.

I'm glad that you are happy to see a more streamlined D&D, and I hope you enjoy it. I'm not sure that "streamlined" is what I'm looking for in D&D -- if I want that, I can play lots of other systems -- Dogs in the Vineyard, HeroQuest, Sorcerer. Or Tunnels and Trolls, if I'm feeling all retro like.
 
AD&D was never either "very low-powered" nor "low rules heavy." That's true no matter what you compare it to, in any era. I'm not even convinced that AD&D was less rules heavy than 3.x or 4 -- AD&D had less math, but far more table lookups, strange corner cases and odd rules subsystems.

Table lookups? Maybe in 1E, but that was only about 2 pages in the DMG where you determined To Hit and Saving Throws during combat. But in 2E, (and even at the end of the DMG), that was streamlined to a simple THAC0 system - no lookups required.

But, I think we're comparing different things here. When I say "rules heavy", I refer to how strict they were designed to be adhered to. Most of those tables and rules are taken with a grain of salt.

In classic D&D if you wanted to take down a Dragon at level 1, you simply had to come up with an ingenious idea to do it and the DM would allow it, tables and rules be darned. In modern D&D, it's much more by the "rules" in the book. Don't even think about taking down a dragon at level 1, it's impossible simply because the "rules" and the math say so.

Tactical combat has made the modern game more rigid as well. In that game, if you're out of reach of an enemy, too bad. In classic D&D, if it sounded cool or practical enough, "hey, we'll let it slide even though you're out of moves".

So in my earlier definition, "rules heavy" means that you're playing by the -rules- as they are written. "Rules-lite" means your letting the DM make rulings, often ignoring the book's written rules .

Oh, and I'd like to hear you back up your claim as to why you think 1E was not "low powered" compared to 4E. If you do a side-by-side comparison of a level 12 magic user in 1E vs a level 20 magic user in 4E, I'd like to hear why you think the lvl 12 guy would win.

Other examples include, 1E didn't have healing surges, did not have "at will" powers, and poison was an insta-kill.
 
@ CF

And you are a fan of THAC0 as well... interesting. I'm curious -- did you start with late 1st edition and go through the 2nd edition transition? I'm curious because I don't think I've ever encountered anyone who described THAC0 as "streamlined" before (though you are correct, it was streamlined when compared to the older 1st ed. table).

Yes, I think we are talking past one another. When I hear "rules light" I think of systems with few rules, such as "Over the Edge" or "Amber Diceless" or the really old Jeff Grubb "Marvel Super Heroes" from TSR. I don't think of any iteration of D&D past "original white box" as fitting that description. Your definition seems a bit bizarre to me, sort of like hearing someone describe GURPS as being "low rules heavy" after being in a game where the GM was heavy on the "roll and shout" approach. But at least I understand where you are coming from -- thanks for clarifying.

So you know where I'm coming from, I'm right now running a 4th edition game, and enjoying precisely for the tactical combat. When I want a strongly narrative game, I tend to go very far in that direction, to something without either classes or levels -- something like HeroQuest.

What I'm looking for in this playtest (and I finally was able to download the materials) is that the core works, mechanically. I'll probably withhold any serious judgement until I see how the tactical combat stuff works in a later playtest. But if it doesn't work tactically, and has to hold its own against lots of other mostly narrative systems -- I'm not sure how well it will hold my interest.
 
I've heard about judging a book by its cover, but this is the first time I've seen a RPG system judged by such a cryterium.

@CF the DM always has the final word, he can always change any rules, that is as true in 4th edition as it was in 1st. I'm pretty sure even the handbooks advise stuff like skipping bluff checks if the player roleplays it.But some poeple prefer to make the roll, and then role play the result.

I think you should try some storytelling systems, they are really rules light.
 
You have have summed up my exact thoughts on DND next perfectly.
 
I play Castles & Crusades.
 
@CF

Why are you so hostile? I can understand that you prefer another version, but you seem to be insulting anyone who you perceive as having liked 4th edition. I'm sure you could express you own disinterest without implying that people who don't share your views are somehow bad people. Regarding myself specifically, I don't believe I expressed any approval of 4th edition or disapproval of Next on the merits of their rulesets and design decisions, just how it doesn't make sense from a business standpoint.
 
If it is nohting like 4th edition and more like the earlier editions i will buy it.

As for earlier editions and complexity. Well they all were. But what I really like about 2E was optional rules and optional subsystems that were their if you wanted them or needed them.
 
AD&D had a level 20 cap but it additional books allowed progression beyond 20 as well. Don't know where this level 12 limit came from, its not in any of the books.

A lvl 20 Wizard in 4ED vs a lvl 12 wizard in AD&D ?

The Level 12 wizard in AD&D can summon a 12d6 fireball or a 6d6 Magic Missile. Definitely has either a wand or staff or both, and several other magic items to augment their power.

Of course these are apples to oranges comparisons cos its different systems but I don't recall anyone in 4th edition being able to do 12d6 damage. They can do up to 100+ dmg with a daily but that's once a day. A lvl 12 wizard with a ring of wizardy can cast fireballs about 6-10 times a day.

Also have you read the ever popular Pools of Radiance - forgotten realms book? A level 1 magic user, that had inherited a Staff of Power and a Ring of wishes. And one of the first things she did was wish to be stronger and becoming a wizard with 18(00) str? Could never ever happen in 4th edition.

In 4th edition, a lvl 1 farmer with the artifacts the hand and eye of vecna is just a troublesome fly, after all he can only use 1 item power a day. In AD&D, that same farmer is now a Tyrant able to kill non-stop anyone who opposes him.
 
I have to say, I was very very disappointed in 4e, just for it's sheer reliance on miniatures for everything. It seemed to me to be a massive money-grab - You MUST play with minis on a grid, and look, here's the minis for you to use, Cha-ching!

With 2e, and to a large degree 3.5e, you didn't have to use minis. They were an optional (though recommended in 3.5e) component, so you could quite easily play without, in (for instance) a Play by Email scenario, for instance.

So D&D 5e is looking more like it's going to end up being D&D 3.75e. I have little problem with that.
 
I have to say, I was very very disappointed in 4e, just for it's sheer reliance on miniatures for everything. It seemed to me to be a massive money-grab - You MUST play with minis on a grid, and look, here's the minis for you to use, Cha-ching!

With 2e, and to a large degree 3.5e, you didn't have to use minis. They were an optional (though recommended in 3.5e) component, so you could quite easily play without, in (for instance) a Play by Email scenario, for instance.

So D&D 5e is looking more like it's going to end up being D&D 3.75e. I have little problem with that.
 
I know this discussion has stopped for a long time now, but I'll just post my opinion just in case someone is checking.

The reason why many older players dislike 4th and dismiss the remarks of people who like it is, I feel, the fact that the game doesn't stress roleplaying, it doesn't even teach it. Let me explain.

I hung around with some younger kids who started out the last couple of years, a little with 3rd and now are playing 4th. I check the class pages and was excited with some things. Then I watched them play. Setting aside the freakish concepts, there was one thing that surprised me and showed me the solution to why these kids didn't roleplay, but preferred to rollplay.

At one point, the DM has a half-giant make a move. A player said that they should watch out for that guy, and another said "Don't worry, these guys have an Intelligence of 10, they are stupid", and the rest nod with compliance. That's when I froze. Where did these kids get the idea that an intelligence score of 10 means the character is stupid?In 1st edition this translates to around 100 IQ I think, but even if it doesn't an Int score of 10, isn't stupid.

So I check the abilities part of the PHB. Surely enough, there is NOTHING in there to explain what the numbers mean! It just tells you that score X gives you bonuses to attacks or spells or whatever. I talked to the kids afterwards, and while no one really knew what an Int 10, or Str 10 meant, they were pretty sure it was low just because the score gave a small bonus compared to the potential they had, of raising their scores to 3 million.

In the 2ed PHB, is tells you just how strong a guy with Str 18 was, or a guy with Str 10 was. The Str 18 guy was Hercules, not some dude with a 10 inch bicep. Yet, this is the notion that is cultivated through the game towards the newer players. They DO NOT LEARN to roleplay because the game doesn't show you how. It's totally arbitrary in things that are essential for roleplaying (whos gonna think of lifting a gate?) while anything that has to do with combat is very strictly laid out. Instead of saying "Conan searches the area for secret doors" they say "I'll roll my perception check, do I find anything?" and expect any and all info!

Now, I can understand older players with this knowledge being able to implement the 4ed system as a supplement to what they already know (and in this case it's cool, I liked it too) but it's all too easy to dismiss the lack of info in the book, just because WE know it.

Yet, newer kids, aren't getting it. Have them play 2nd or 1st edition. When their wizard is suddenly a "weakling" (and this is "balanced" out by the fact that IF he survives to make it to 20th he's god, and well deserved) they suddenly realize that, they don't really know ANYTHING about tactics.

Being Rambo and shooting your bazooka mindlessly, isn't tactics. Being cornered in the midst of a battlefield, having nothing between you and a horde of orcs and only a cantrip spell at your disposal, yet figuring out a way to use it on the chieftain giving orders, thus saving the party, that's smart, wise...you know, like a wizard!!!
 
@Emlynh

"The Level 12 wizard in AD&D can summon a 12d6 fireball or a 6d6 Magic Missile. Definitely has either a wand or staff or both, and several other magic items to augment their power.

Of course these are apples to oranges comparisons cos its different systems but I don't recall anyone in 4th edition being able to do 12d6 damage. They can do up to 100+ dmg with a daily but that's once a day. A lvl 12 wizard with a ring of wizardy can cast fireballs about 6-10 times a day."

12d6 = 39 Average

Thats actually baseline expected single target damage for a mid 10's 4e striker role class in 4e. Ive actually got a level 14 "ranger" doing an average of 75 damage each turn without using any encounter/daily resources. I actually hit almost 200 average when I add in a daily (instantly kills any one thing that is not a solo).

I enjoy tactical games. I want the teamwork element. I dont like MMO's because you have little to no influence over the story (I can get that in a tabletop). I want terrain to matter beyond being just the "setting". Shoving enemies over a cliff or clumping them into a small area for the wizard to explode is enjoyable. That is harder to do in pre-4e without the mat and while it can be done I havent seen any DM's really willing to make combat that involved (our wizard ends pretty much every fight with one spell at level 4)

That said there are things in both 3.4e and 4e I like and dislike:

4e:
Good:
Teamwork Matters.
It harder to make a poor character (just have atleast a 16 in your primary stat)
Skill system is simpler and more intuitive
You can get by without a healer or expensive healing wands

Bad:
Fights takes forever if you dont have an optimizaed damage dealer in the group (We play with global 1/2 life on everything including players to accomodate)


3e:
Ability scores make more sense

Fights resolve faster

With fewer powers, DMs are willing/trusting to let you narrate what you are doing instead of stating spefici actions/abilities/powers.

The Bad:
Lack of comparitive class balance. Certain classes (magics users) are ultimately more power as players gain levels.

Monster Stat blocks...
Monster Stat blocks....
Monster Stat blocks....


Both (bad)
Monetary system stinks in both though 4e is worse.
 
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