June 6 is D(&D)-Day
June 6th marks the release of the 4th edition of the Dungeons and Dragons game. Now, a new edition was pretty much certain, as Wizards of the Coast have extracted the most out of 3rd edition. However, the change in the game is remarkable. Many have commented that the new game is like creating a tabletop version of a MMORPG, and it's true. Many abilities interact with other players: harm an enemy, and also heal an ally.
Many have also commented that this new game is great, but it isn't Dungeons & Dragons. And I'm inclined to agree there. I remember the discussion of 3rd edition, and the creators of that edition had rules, the things that if they weren't present, the game wouldn't be D&D. Things like classes, levels, and the six ability scores are examples of these rules. Another is the traditional D&D spell system, and that is gone now.
When 3rd edition D&D was released, I immediately thought it was a huge improvement. Being able to combine classes was an excellent change. So was the skill system, a sensible system replacing the non-weapon proficiency system seemingly tacked on to AD&D. The new combat system, streamlined saving throws, and simple d20 mechanic were excellent improvements that simplified the game.
D&D 4th edition, of course, is supposed to simplify the game, and broaden its appeal. I think it has failed. Each player has fewer choices to make, being stuck into one class for ten levels, with few ability selections. But now, they must choose a variety of daily, encounter, and at-will powers, all different. Attack and move an enemy. Attack and move yourself. Attack two individuals. Attack for more damage. Attack with a better chance to hit. To me, this isn't a simplification over 3rd edition.
I'm afraid that, with both abilities and defenses scaling with level, everyone will have a significant chance to miss, no matter what you do. That risks a string of bad die rolling dooming you, no matter what you do. I'll of course know better once I've played the game more.
Meanwhile, to honor the new game system, I've posted my reminiscing about writing adventures for the two previous editions of D&D here. (It's a work in progress.)
Labels: Dungeons and Dragons