Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Yes, I played D&D before it was cool

So there is a 4th edition of D&D now. I do not own it, but I've seen it, and looked it over. I do not approve. Firstly, there is no need for a new edition of D&D. There is nothing in the book that I could see (without an in depth look over every rule) that could not have made this just a new campaign setting: they changed up the races, alignments, and classes. The core mechanics are the same. This is in stark contrast to the 2nd -> 3rd edition transition where the rules were totally revamped (and needed to be). Let's look at all of these categories, shall we?
  • Races: so they got rid of the Gnomes and replaced them with dragon guys, elves-only-more-so, and Tieflings. Fair enough, and Tieflings are awesome (but this is really a sign that they should bring back plainscape). Point 4E
  • Alignments: they made the already simple alignment system even more stupidly simple. Do they want to remove the ability for people to play anti-heroes or have morally ambiguous campaigns without using house rules? No more chaotic good, there is only good and lawful good, no more lawful evil, only evil and chaotic evil. And the only neutral alignment there is is just neutral. I am generally in favor of changes to the alignment system, but making it even more stupidly simple is not the right solution. Point 3E.
  • Classes (and their abilities): This is where I must rage. First the easy stuff, they changed up the classes, but not the core ones. That's fine, I'm not the happiest with their new ones, but they aren't bad. My main problem comes from the fact that they essentially eliminated magic. There is no magic, only abilities (which all classes gain at the same speed) some of which are labeled as "magical". This, I submit is stupid. Point no one, everybody loses.
So why did they make these changes? It looks to me like they are trying to ride the MMORPG wave, and so are making the ability progressions and such more like World of Warcraft, which is a good game, but a WoW RPG already exists. No need to sully the good name of D&D with a cheap knock off of something that was probably greatly inspiried by D&D in the first place. What I would like to see would be not this reworking of core D&D, but more campaign settings: Plainscape and Dark sun have only fan ports of the settings, imagine how cool it would be if they remade plainscape and really supported it. It would be awesome, but alas they would rather imitate Blizzard (which makes uniformly great stuff, but the needs of computer games and pen and paper games are different).

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