My stance on D&D 4th Edition

D&D 4th Edition When you read some of my older post you’ll notice that I praised D&D 4th Edition on numerous occasions and recently I have become more of a critic. For quite some time I wanted to write a post about that issue, but feared it would lead to another edition war. That is not my intention, so please try to be polite in the comments and remember that what is fun for you must not necessarily fun for everyone!

When D&D 4th Edition was announced, I was pretty excited. A lot of the changes they’ve made in Star Wars Saga Edition were pretty good in my opinion and I was excited to see what they would do to improve D&D. D&D 3.5 Edition was a pretty good game, but there were a few things bothering me.

From the moment of the announcement I was in full fanboy mode. I ordered the “Wizards Presents” books, read every article about D&D 4E, listened to the official podcast an told all my friends about how cool D&D 4E will be. When I finally got the books I was blown away: awesome artwork, cool classes, a lot of interesting changes. The reliance on miniatures bothered me a bit, but since I already had enjoyed the D&D Miniatures game, I thought this wouldn’t be such a big deal.

A friend of mine, who is the D&D expert in my group offered to run D&D 4th Edition for us and so, I created my first 4E character. That is, I actually created a Warlock and a Wizard. but when the first session came I decided that a Dwarven warlock would be much cooler than my Eladrin wizard. We played a couple of sessions and it was not uncommon for a player to ask the GM if he could give another character class a try.

But it was not exclusively the wish to experiment with all those shiny new classes, but at least in my case,  something else had been bothering me all the time, although I just couldn’t put a finger on it. I thought that I just wasn’t comfortable with the class I’ve chosen. At one point we discovered that playing without miniatures was harder than we initially thought, especially since the Warlord of the group had a hard time making use of his powers when you only had a pretty blurry picture of the combat situation in your head.

Then I realized what has been bothering me all the time. For me, combat in D&D 4th Edition always pulled me out of the game. As soon as we started putting miniatures on a battle mat, immersion was gone. I stopped thinking about my character as my alter ego in the game world but it became that small plastic miniature on the game table. And I believe that a lot of the powers even reinforce that feeling for me. I just have a hard time imagining how certain powers are supposed to fit into the game reality. And that reduced my enjoyment of the game tremendously.

Shortly after that I started to realize that D&D 4th Edition is not the game I’ve wanted it to be. I tried so hard to love that game, but then it turned out very different from what I’ve expected, I just had to be disappointed. For a time I blamed D&D 4th Edition for it, but that’s definitely not fair. D&D 4th Edition is a good game, even if I don’t have fun playing it.

Perhaps I will give it another try in a few months or years, when the initial frustration has waned. Or I will just continue to focus my attention on other games. It’s not as if Wizards mysteriously destroyed all alternatives. If I want to play D&D I can still use my D&D 3rd Edition books, have some old-school fun with Swords & Wizardry or check out Pathfinder.

And again I want to remind you I don’t want to start another edition war. D&D 4th Edition is a great roleplaying game but it’s just not my cup of tea right now. So, if you enjoy the latest edition of D&D, don’t get angry at me when I don’t. And when I criticize the game, please remember that I don’t do it to take away your fun! Feel free to comment on this post as usual, but please keep it civil and polite. Thanks!

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

58 thoughts on “My stance on D&D 4th Edition”

  1. I stopped playing D&D back in the late 1980s because the system just didn't do it for me (and I'd discovered Warhammer FRP!), so when I was asked by a friend to take part in his D&D 4th edition game a few months ago I didn't bring any of that 'previous edition' baggage with me.

    I enjoy 4e but recently I've been trying hard to keep focused on the game, and that's partly because of the reasons you mention. Combat changes the dynamic of the game, changing it from an RPG to a miniatures game – the flow changes, it becomes halting and stuttered with all the different At Will, Encounter and Daily powers a character has as such a low level. The first few games were mainly us trying to keep up with what we could do, what targets and effects we had going, what bonuses the effects gave and all sorts. One combat against goblins in a cave took two hours. In the few weeks we've been playing we've probably managed a couple of hours of actual in-character roleplaying.

    It is difficult to run combat without checksheets, miniatures and battlemats. If I ran a D&D 4e game I'd strip away all the powers to a minimum so that you could concentrate on what the primary abilities and not worry about all the little bonuses/effects a power you used in the last round were still having, and that way you can more easily run the game 'in your head'. I find it distracting and it slows the game right down, especially for first time 4e players such as me and my group.

    I like 4e and I'll continue to play it, but if it continues to be frustrating then I'll just hold up my hands, say it's not for me move on. I've been gaming for 25 years so I've got plenty of games to fall back on!

  2. When 4e was announced I was pretty upset. Then I thought about it and realized I was more upset with WotC than the fact there was a new edition. So I began to come around and by the time the game was released I couldn't wait to play. After running it for a while, we kind of got bored too and went back to 3.5.

    Then Pathfinder came along and all was right in our world once again.

    I agree the game is a good, solid system, it just has a different feel than what I'm use to playing. That difference is distracting and takes some of the fun out of the game for me.
    .-= Geek Gazette´s last blog ..Goblings =-.

  3. I think this is one of the better articles I have read on 4th edition. I LOVE 4th edition as I have always used miniatures for combat and I am also a miniature gamer.

    What I liked about your article was that you were able to say what specifically you didn't like and why. Too many people make broad statements of criticism without any details to help people understand their point. I also liked that you took the attitude you did, the 4th edition is a good game, it's just not your cup of tea.

    I think that some people agree and some like me 4th ed is my cup of tea. I currently am playing 4th ed and Fantasy Craft. Fantasy Craft is an excellent choice for those people that 4th ed hasn't worked out for.

    Thanks for a well thought out article.

  4. Anti-spam word: Cthulhu

    @Jonathan: If you ever find a way to run D&D 4E without all those battlemaps, minatures, power cards and what not, please let me know. Also reducing the amount of powers might make it more manageable.

    @Berin: Hmm, nobody has burned me… yet! 😉

    @Alex: Thanks for the link.

  5. @Andrew: Thanks for your kind words. I have to admit I am not totally innocent when it comes to broad statements. Especially when you are in a heated debate, this happens quite often, even if you probably know better.

    So, I said down, had a cup of coffee and started writing that post trying to explain what my problems with 4E are. It's not a bad game per se, it's just not my cup of tea.

    And I agree, Fantasy Craft (and also Paizo's Pathfinder) may be good alternatives for people who don't enjoy 4E.

  6. I've been playing with miniatures and battlemaps for 20+ years in D&D and many other game systems. It just how we roll so 4e's focus on them isn't the problem.

    However I feel much like you do.

    It seems the mechanics of the game just get in the way too much. This is partly because it is a new game to us and we are still learning but there seems to be less flexibility in the system.

    It is really hard to say exactly what is different. It is not like we ignored the mechanics in other games or didn't have to check the rule books. It just seems the mechanics are the more in your face in 4e.
    .-= Chris Tregenza´s last blog ..Self-Referential D&D Humour =-.

  7. @Chris: Perhaps you should read the article Alex linked in his comment. The disassociated mechanics is obviously what bothered me all the time. Some rules (like the Daily Power Sneak Attack) just take some of us out of the roleplay experience.

  8. Stargazer, I have to agree with Andrew that you present your points very politely and they are well thought out! So thanks for not creating a troll nest:)

    I was very hesitant about 4e when it was announced that it would be a different system.. Actually I was downright bitter. I have TONS of 3.5 books and now I knew that there weren't going to be anymore coming out.

    Eventually I decided to give 4e a try. I bought the core books and phb2, read through them all and started getting more excited for the game as I read through it, but as you said, something was bothering me as I was reading through it.. Though I didn't quite know what it was.

    So once done reading I got my g/f and I to make some characters and run a play tests of combat. The first time was too rocky and we didn't understand everything to really form an opinion. As we tired it again and again, and I tried combat with friends, I realized, like you, that combat removed me from what was going on in the game. Players were shuffling through their cards looking for the perfect attack, etc, instead of "knowing" their character and attacking as the character would.

    So I went back to 3.5 (Pathfinder hug here) and have recently discovered the wonderful world of Savage Worlds.

    Again, thanks for the great post!
    .-= wrathofzombie´s last blog ..Play By Post Part 2 =-.

  9. Very well said. I feel much the same you (and most of the commenters). It's an excellent game, but the minis battle part (which takes a large part of any game session) pulls me out of the style of gameplay where I feel like my character is "me in the game" rather than the play piece I'm controlling on the board.

    Maybe the solution is to not play 4e when I want that "me in the game" feeling, and when we do play it to just focus on the minis battle part.
    .-= Stuart´s last blog ..Making Custom Thomas the Tank Engine Trains =-.

  10. "combat in D&D 4th Edition always pulled me out of the game"

    HEAD ON THE NAIL! DEAD ON. I too went through the same metamorphosis… I still play 4E, but we stopped using miniatures.

  11. Yes, 4ed is a different creature. I definitely don't try to run it like earlier editions. My 4ed games are more pulpy and punchy. They are playgrounds for interesting rules mechanics, complex tactical situations, and crazy action (what with the leaping off walls, throwing people tens of feet, and holy-powered laser beams.) To prevent the jarring aspect of combat, I always draw out every room on my battle mat. Even when role-playing I have players position their minis around the room.

    I'm also running a 2ed game. I've made it a purpose to never use a battle mat or minis in the game. Only once, when the party was fighting in a tight hallway against a room full of enemies, have I cheated and used some dice to keep a picture of abstract spacial relation. Beyond that it is all description.

    I find that I run both games for different reasons. They use different parts of the brain. In the 2ed game I have to constantly be creative and think of interesting ways to describe things, and interesting things for monsters to do to make things exciting. It stretches my creative muscles (and those of my players as they think of interesting ways to approach the situation.) In the 4ed game I don't have to worry about thinking interesting things up, because they are pre-baked into the stat block. (Which isn't to say that I can't be creative–I love making NPCs, monsters, and encounter locations.) During 4ed play I focus a lot less on creativity and a lot more on doing.
    .-= DeadGod´s last blog ..Rules for NPC Contacts (for any D&D edition) =-.

  12. I know exactly how you feel. I had the same experience when 3e came out. I was excited, because it sounded like D&D was finally going to be everything I'd always hoped it would be. But once I started playing it, and especially as we got up in levels, I found that everything I'd always wanted combined into a game that was too cumbersome for me to enjoy. I cherry-picked the stuff that worked, and went back to 2e and eventually older versions.

    The important thing is to figure our what you want from an RPG. I now know that simplicity is vital to my enjoyment. Now you know a bit more about what it is you really want, so it'll be easier in the future to judge whether or not a rule or style will fit with your desires.

    Best of luck with whatever you decide to play! 😀

  13. @jonathan: As several people mentioned before, it's not the miniature combat per se, but the disassociated mechanics that pull people out of the game. Removing those would mean to rework ALL powers. I don't think I want to try such a herculean feat!

  14. Very good article . I´ve spoke to my friends exactly the same phrase some months ago ´ combat in D&D 4th Edition always pulled me out of the game. As soon as we started putting miniatures on a battle mat, immersion was gone. I stopped thinking about my character as my alter ego in the game world but it became that small plastic miniature on the game table. ´

    But d&d 4 is a very fun wargame/boardgame

  15. I have been playing D&D since 76 with miniatures, so they didn't do anything for me in terms of immersion, the figures have always been there for me so they are just part of the game to my group. Indeed one of my frustrations is just the opposite, it is the lack of good figures for the game. It does break immersion for us to use random figures for monsters. That red guy is an ogre doesn't work for us. I am still amazed and baffled at how Wotc sells their figures.

    (You might want to put the anti spam word above the comment box rather than below it. I didn't see it was there..)

  16. That's it. I've been trying to test the validity of the "You can't play 4E without a battlemap" (remember, critics said the same thing about 3.5), and I haven't really understood WHY I wanted to do this. But taking me 'out of character' hits it on the head.

    It doesn't help that what would have been several encounters now gets lumped into one encounter- you stay in combat during more game time.

    I think the reason for the complexity is about trust at the table. Most arguments I remember from the old days (early 90's) that came up at the table were about combat advantage and movement into and out of combat. What my players lovingly referred to 'bullshit calls' (funny that they were only bullshit when it negatively effected the characters), but hell, we were 14.

    In an 'organized play' situation, be it a convention tournament, living campaign, or game day, when you're playing with strangers, I want that sort of clarity. When I'm playing with my group, not so much.

    My question is, is there a better way to track these things than miniatures? I wouldn't want to run a 3.5 battle without a mat for the same reason. What did people do in 3.5? 4E has more of it, but I really think it's more about trusting the people you're playing with.

  17. @Alex Schröder: That Dissociated Mechanics link is very interesting, and I think that aside from the minis that's the other major thing that "pulls me out of the game".

  18. @Stargazer One of the 'nice' things about the disassociated mechanics opens up room for the descriptions. That color text can be reskinned to explain the effect any way that makes sense. While not for everybody, it does help bring roleplaying into the tactical mini's game. This helps given that one 'battle' in 4e could span several encounters in the past.

    Your Warlord's Inspiring Word could be a St. Crispin's Day speech. Or it could be more along the lines of "You can do it!!!", and that provides an opportunity to inject the character into a battle, more than was available to most classes in the past. The system doesn't really care how the warlord bolsters his allies, just that he does.

    I can totally see how this might not be everyones cup of tea.

  19. @Dan: An inspiring speech could be a pretty non-dissociative mechanic. It's stuff like how the 2nd fighter's mark removes the first one's mark that's really dissociative.

    I think at it's core it's about preference for the "I try and do X, tell me what happens" approach typical of earlier RPGs compared to the "This is what I want to have happen" approach more common in newer / Indie games.

    After reading the Dissociated Mechanics article I finally understand why so many Indie games fans also like 4e, and people who never warmed up to those games often have trouble with 4e as well.

  20. @Stuart I agree with you. (Actually, I'm an example that reinforces your point). Other indie game features that made it into 4E, that drew me to the system (and I presume turn traditional gamers off) would be player entitlement, and 'say yes'.

  21. @Brett: The anti-spam word is above the comment box. This might be a browser issue. What browser are you using?

  22. The minis thing I can see, but I don't agree at all about dissociated mechanics. D&D has always had dissociated mechanics, Vancian casting is entirely dissociated (and identical to the dissociation of daily powers). We are just used to Vancian magic and the justifications we've come up with over the years.

    A lot of that was hashed out when 4e first came out. I think the problem lies in that the way mechanics dissociate is different from the way they did in past editions. It's much more glaring a break when looked at from the "wrong end". One of the key differences in 4e is a subtle shift in the narrative of a combat from the DM to a narration that plays out somewhat for all parties involved on the battlemat. Combat is much more tactical and boardgame like. The players get to move pieces around and shape it through their powers and the DM becomes, in many ways, another player during combat where before the narrative was more fully in his hands.

    So I can see what you are saying about it becoming a different thing when the game goes to the mat, because it does change subtly.

    Like a few other commenters, I've always played with minis, from OD&D on, so they are not an immersion breaker for me, they actually help.

    1. @Thasmodius: Sure, all RPGs have some disassociated mechanics. But it's a difference if you can cast a spell only once per day, because that's "how the magic works", but how do you explain that a rogue can only do a sneak attack once per day? You can't. Perhaps you should read the excellent article Alex Schröder linked to, it explains our standpoint much better than I ever could do it.
      And I've used minis in other games too and before 4E they never were a big deal to me, but in combination with the disassociated mechanics in most powers it's a deal breaker for me. It's good when you enjoy the game, but it's just not my cup of tea.

  23. I suspect my love of miniatures comes from hours of epic storytelling and combats with my friends and our plastic army men. No rules or dice needed. We were immersed. Your point about tracking mods being a distraction is a good one, IMO. It'd be nice if someone developed a tracker (software, paper form, or plastic device) as a game aid for that stuff. That'd help. I look at my characters powers as go-to moves and try to make them mine. That's easiest when I'm the lone character of a given class in the party.

  24. Re: Anti Spam Word

    Firefox 3.5.2 Never had content shift around in a page with it, but maybe. For me it is below the commentluv icon.

  25. @Brett: That's strange. I am using Chrome but it works for me in Firefox, too. Perhaps it's an addon you're using. I have no idea what might cause this.

  26. There is no need for a mini-less version of 4e as it is doable with a bit of player-DM trust and goodwill to transpose some power mechanics to the game.

    That being said, I believe that 4e was designed to cater to all players with a mixed bags of motivations to play the game (the reason they play).

    In fact, IMHO players who are almost exclusively motivated by Psychodrama (internal character development) and storytelling (Building a story who's characters are part of) can't find what they look for in the default way of playing 4e.

    And in such cases, I agree that paying 100$ for a game that was designed to incorporate de-motivators for such players is a better idea.

    .-= The Chatty DM´s last blog ..Old School Geekout: The Order of the Grappling Hook, Part 2 =-.

  27. @Anarkeith: People use "Immerse" to mean different things, so I usually talk about "feel like my character is me in the game" or "radio theatre style gaming" or something like that. Immersed can also mean "thoroughly engrossed" which you can definitely be with minis (I've spent hours "immersed" in the world of Warhammer 40K) but I think when this topic comes up some people mean something slightly different. I know I do. 🙂

  28. This was my experience exactly. Fan before release, excited by the books, slowly annoyed by being taken out of the game by combat, and then pained that so much time was taken by those enjoyment-disrupting combats. I went through the same process after quitting the game too: ranting about it in several places, then settling down and realising that it's a good game, but just not my cup of tea.

    Having looked at the process again, though, I think that ranting and shouting was necessary. I learned a lot about why I didn't like the game from arguing with people who just didn't understand my dislike. I don't think I'd have a good idea of the subtle but interconnected things that break the game for me, if I hadn't participated in more than a few edition war comment threads.
    .-= d7´s last blog ..Unexpected downtime =-.

  29. Nicely put. As I have been saying since I tried 4e, its a fine game, it is just not the game for me.

    Nice to have a few more analytical tools for why though. The Disassociated Mechanics article was great (thanks for the link, Alex!) and helped to organize a lot of my thoughts.
    .-= Sean Holland´s last blog ..September Plans =-.

  30. … I have to compliment you on your fantastic article, for sure, Stargazer. Your argument was presented in an excellent style with little to no argument, rather just presenting the facts from your standpoint.

    That said, I'm one of the people that 4th Ed works really well for. Part of this, I'm sure, is that I'm brand new to D&D specifically and pen-and-paper particularly. So I don't have the "baggage" (as someone earlier called it) from earlier editions of the game. Also, for me… my gaming style means that while I enjoy pretending to be my character, I never AM my character, so using minis doesn't really do that much to remove me from the feel of the game.

    As for the using minis to represent something that clearly doesn't look like it, my group uses pretty much anything to represent people/monsters, including coins, jelly beans, M&M's, Skittles, and the occasional gummy worm dragon. We are a very laid-back group though, so it's quite possible that has something to do with it.

    P.S. Apologize for the double post, my computer screwed up there, my bad! 😉
    .-= Anthony´s last blog ..Sword-smithing? Armor-crafting? Carve a pointy stick? =-.

  31. I preferred 4 to 3.5 which I found too convoluted, with random rules scattered all over the place, and I always found the whole 'levels' thing hard to envision.

    In 4E its reasonably fun to create characters, but it feels very point and click with the power activations. And the only non-com elements of the game are a token handful of skills, and even then using them is an 'encounter' with overly formalised 'skill challenges' which somewhat detract from actual roleplay.

    I'd disagree with the immersion thing, I always found it quite exciting when the DM would pull out the battle mat, kind of like when playing an RPG console game when you're running around on the map and it goes 'Whoosh' into battle mode. I agree that its a bugger to abstract the fights. The minis are essential when the powers are so square based.

    I preferred the fluff (background) and monsters from 3.5. With 4th ed they've kind of sterilised the sex and violence out of it.
    Then I've never been a D&D, or even a D20 system fan. Prefer d6 and dpercentile.

  32. @Stargazer:

    "But it’s a difference if you can cast a spell only once per day, because that’s “how the magic works”, but how do you explain that a rogue can only do a sneak attack once per day? You can’t."

    (Rogues can sneak attack once per round, not once per day, but I know what you are getting at anyway, daily martial powers)

    A poster (Ferratus) on EnWorld described an important difference in the narrative between 3e and 4e. 3e tells you what your character can do, while 4e describes what happened. It's not that a martial character forgets how to do something cool with his weapon after he did it once that day or has to memorize it the next day or whatever. It's that the narrative comes together at one point, determined by when the PC uses that power, for him to do something special. Only once in a day, maybe, is your opponent perfectly positioned for you to Brute Strike him. You may make a series of brutal overhead swings, but you have to catch your enemy with his guard down, in a position where he can get his arms or weapons up to shield him, where his armor is askew or you can catch him blind so he doesn't see it coming, to deliver that devestating damage.

    Martial powers are no less arbitrary than the limits on spellcasting, we are just used to those and justify them with wonky but accepted conventions about compartmentalizing the mind and other justifications that simply make up for a strictly game-based limitation on casting power (levels, slots, etc). HPs themselves are quite dissociated. I reference the age old example of the high level fighter letting someone strike him in the head with a broadsword (hmph, 15 points of damage? I have 80 hit points, I laugh). It's just the nature of the beast, especially D&D.

    I understand your position as posted (combat felt like a separate entity that pulled you out of your immersion). It's just not the case for me. I saw a marked increase in combat RP in my group because we weren't constantly referencing the book to look up subsystems or long spell descriptions. We rarely crack a book during play these days, so my immersion has seen a strong uptick. YMMV.

    I read the article and don't agree at all that the difference between 4e and other editions is dissociation. That's something that has always been with D&D, and most RPGs in general. What was naturally immersive and associative in 1e about wildly differing mechanics for different classes? Rogues used percentiles and had skills, assassins rolled a die for instant kills, wizards had spells (which often had their own separate mechanics), etc… These are just assumptions that we grew with and 4e turned some of those on their heads, they are no more or less associative than powers in 4e or skills in 3e.

    For me, that characters in 4e are hung on the same basic framework and that framework is tweaked to small degrees by game choices (race, class, etc) is a lot less dissociative than character elements of previous editions. Again, of course, YMMV.

  33. Thasmodius said: "3e tells you what your character can do, while 4e describes what happened. … YMMV."

    Just so. When I play D&D I play it for the connection between what characters can (and try to) do, and what happens as a result. When I want a non-D&D experience where it's all about the narrative happenings and nevermind the details, I play a game purpose built for it that doesn't carry the baggage of D&D. 4e just doesn't fit into that scheme anywhere that works for me.

    "What was naturally immersive and associative in 1e about wildly differing mechanics for different classes?"

    Things like that provide a system with texture. It doesn't have to be about immersion (so long as it doesn't break it for you, which is highly individual). Whether texture is good or bad is hugely a matter of taste, though. Think about the difference between serif and sans-serif fonts: Sans is easier to read, like a unified mechanic is easier to handle; but serif is prettier, like varying mechanics are more brain-pleasing. Purely subjective, of course, but it means unified mechanics aren't strictly superior for everyone or every sort of game, just like sans-serif is not strictly superior for everyone or every use.

    I personally like texture in my game systems and I'm picky about the "feel" of mechanics. For example, I don't like GURPS because it's percentile—yuck—and unified around the yucky percentile. So, d20 is far too bland a system for me to enjoy for its own sake. Of course, a bland system that gives really tasty play can be acceptable, but see above.

    The difference between 3.x d20 and 4e d20, then (and "for me" of course), is that they're both relatively bland systems but 3.x d20 gives me that direct causal connection between character actions and outcomes (whether success or failure), while 4e d20 replaces action-reaction play with narratively determinist play (as you say: "the narrative comes together at one point, determined by when the PC uses that power, for him to do something special"). Bland system plus a play mode I'm not interested in (for fantasy games) makes 4e unappealing to me.

    How does older D&D (with all its weird race/class stuff) stack up in that scheme? It's a highly textured system, which is a small plus: there are mechanics that are pleasant and mechanics that aren't, but a mixed bag has a better chance to feature enjoyable mechanics than a system unified around a mechanic I don't find very interesting, like the flat-curve d20 AD&D (and d20) uses for combat. Moving on, it features very detailed action-reaction play, where exactly how a player describes their character's action can have significant impact on the outcome. ("Ok, I feel around inside the hole in the wall," vs "Ok, I'm poking my dagger into the hole in case there's a trap, but I try not to damage anything," vs "Ok, I jam an iron spike in there to ruin any traps… oh crap, I hope that gleam was a trap and not a fragile gem!") It's also fantasy, for which I prefer that action-reaction kind of play.

    That was long enough that I should turn it into a post. Thanks for the inspiration.

  34. Huh. Jerk spam. ↑

    All I can figure is he's fishing for pagerank, since he's certainly not writing for a gamer audience. I can't decide whether it's insulting to have posted here, or sad that he needs the traffic?
    .-= d7´s last blog ..A comment on POD and shipping =-.

  35. Huh? How did this come through?

    If he needs to post a link at my blog to get more traffic, it's really sad. My site is not actually slashdot or something. 😉

  36. Thanks for both your blog and the person that linked the 'disassociated mechanics' article. I am currently playing and DMing 4e. I understand your pain. What I like is that by better understanding why we feel the way we do about about 4e, we also have a better ability to overcome the weaknesses. It may or may not be my cup of tea in the end, but now that I know the tea is bitter, I can add sugar. (For example, pick a class or powers that has less disassociated mechanics.)

  37. Hey, keep your shouting capital letters in your pants. I'm no fan of 4e and I'm certainly not defending it. I'm an anti-fan of bad but convenient statistics, is all.

    For something to chew on, consider these searches:

    4e: 5 million hits

    D&D 4e: 9 million hits

    "D&D 4e": 144,000 hits

    So what do we conclude? I conclude that Google search results are an opaque system from which it is hard to derive conclusions. (Google would like people to think otherwise, but their business model and tech require it to be so.) Further, five slots is insufficient to compare the myriad ways of referring to one system, let alone four (4e, 3e, 3.5, pathfinder).

    Hence my skepticism about any Google-derived stats for or against 4e. Being a player and GM who was sorely disappointed by 4e and wants to see D&D go in a direction I like, I feel it's important to stick to solid criticisms and solid stats. Indulging in fluffy, substance-free things like the initial Google Insights link just gives ammunition to the 4e fans who want to dismiss people who don't like 4e as "irrational haters who will make anything up."
    .-= d7´s last blog ..A comment on POD and shipping =-.

  38. Humm, your last graph, while nice and clean, carries almost the same statistical information (roughly) than the first one i posted.

    Maybe D7 should accept Sahuagin pointed in the right direction?

    Also, you were wrong when using the "4e" search term wich wasn't really relevant, as I pointed.

    Still, thanks for the proper clean graph.

    Oh and.. i dont really think google cares to manipulate pen & paper rpg search statistics. Non even D&D ones


  39. Graphs are for demonstrating statistics clearly, which the first graph didn't. It also lacked significant data, such as pages that contained both "D&D" and "4e", which the cleaner graph does. It's not insignificant data either, since it is the most common term used online to refer to the latest edition of D&D.

    But whatever. You don't seem interested in the details of doing stats and drawing conclusions rigorously. That's okay, not everyone is.

    As for whether 3.x is viable going forward? Yeah, it looks like it. I never contested that. Like I already said, I'm glad for that and I'm not a fan of 4e.
    .-= d7´s last blog ..A comment on POD and shipping =-.

  40. This is Awesome! Stargazer, thank you for this opportunity. I know that many of us gamers have wanted to 'get stuff off our chest' or 'out of our systems' for a while. I want you and everyone else here to know that this is a great chance to discuss this matter with each other, and to do so in a civilized manner.

    I have been playing 'D&D' since Feb of 1980. I've seen many other games come and go, some good, some not so good. I believe most players have their own 'house rules' and even have altered the game on their own, I have. I've played some of these games, the one that is worth mentioning here is BattleTech. Why, 'cuz BattleTech is a miniature game, and I like it. When it comes to miniature I'm not in agreement to some previous posts. I think any role-playing game should have them, and I just don't see how they can take you out of character or the game.

    When 3rd edition D&D came out I resisted playing it for over a year. I thought that after WotC bought TSR that there were just trying to make money. Well, duh. Of coarse, they're a company – that is what they do, hey I spent tons of money on Magic the Gathering. It wasn't just that, I didn't want to it a try. I thought they'd hacked the crap outta my game and I didn't want anything to do with it. But later I discovered that the new edition had some of MY game mechanics: Max. hit points at 1st level, armor proficiencies, new skills, and they brought the barbarian back as well as the long lost monk. After two months I really started to know this 'new' edition, and I felt . . . well stupid. I was very relieved and glad at the changes made, but they were not to drastic.

    Here's where I mention that I'm not a big video / computer game fan. This is important, bear with me. I enjoy watching someone play or even helping someone play a video / computer games, and most would agree that they're pretty fun. I believe one of the attractions to video / computer games increase in popularity is 'no arguing'. This makes it more appealing to gamers that have had issues with hard-headed DMs or troublesome players. It would not be unlikely if this fact alone is the cause of the up rise of video / computer games and the decline of 'book role-playing games'.

    With that said, here is my take on why 4E D&D doesn't work. The rule changes ARE to drastic, it isn't really D&D any more. They have given it a video / computer feel to bring those 'lost gamers' back, and it didn't work. Look at all the new odd choices for player races / classes, what they did with alignments, and this 'healing surge'. The few times I played 4E I too did not feel that sense of 'role-playing' that should be there. After its release, they later put out a second printing /version to bring the gnome and some other things back. The way that spells / powers were handle is . . . I don't know how to explain, this mutation just doesn't do it for me. On the other hand, I'm a big Forgotten Realms fan. Most of the story line changes are good. Back to the flip side, I think it's a bad idea to showcase and introduce another game world. OK, Ebberon isn't completely new but it was brought forth to be WotC's 4th Edition game world. In my opinion, it's regurgitated video/computer game crap put on paper.

    I'm just really greatly dissatisfied with 4E 'D&D'. After the 3rd and 3.5 editions, this ended up being a really good game. If you make this analogy you will better understand my take on all this. Dungeons & Dragons is like a person: in 1974 when it was born it was an infant, testing the water and not knowing a whole lot. Later in 1979 it grows up into an adolescent not really sure of most answers and at time even the questions, but hey it is 'fun time'. Afterward in 1987 it then broaden its views a little bit and rethinks life. Then in 2000 it matures into adulthood and learns from its mistakes, this is the 'meat' of life, the time when one really understands the whys and hows. Finally, in 2006 it unfortunately it goes senile and doesn't even know who or what it is. I'm sure that I do not look forward to 5th edition!

    If anyone is interested in further discussion or even other game chat lemme know. For now, as Forest would say: “…that's all I got ta say about that.”

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