Oct. 8th, 2008

jackofallgeeks: (pl4y with 3vil)
So I kind of want to vent a little bit.

First, I think I owe Dungeons and Dragons an apology. Much like my
relationship with Miranda, I let a few bad experiences color my whole
opinion. I played in Daniel's Eberon game (at least until I had to move to
California), and that was good, if a bit choppy (herding cats comes to
mind). And recently I played in a mindless 4E dungeon crawl which, though
it ended in an effective party wipe, we pretty cool. So I'll say it: I like
DnD. It's right up there with any other gaming system/setting, and it can
be done well just as much as it can be done wrong. I've also just signed up
for a DnD 3.5 PBeM, though I still have reservations about how well PBeM can
work. (I'm also cynical and don't trust most of the other players to either
play their characters well, play the game well, or keep up with their email,
but...)

As a quick aside, I recently mentioned that, from the looks of it, I think I
really like DnD 4E, and my buddy Hal asked me why. At the time I wasn't
sure, but since then I've come to the conclusion that it just seems
cleaner. Don't get me wrong, DnD 4E is almost a completely
different game
from DnD 3.5. They're very similar in theme and setting,
but mechanical changes are fairly significant, and they've changed some
assumptions. 4E seems a lot more combat-oriented (though take that with a
grain of salt, my only experience has been a mindless dungeon crawl), and
the classes have changed roles a little bit. Fighters used to deal damage,
and Rogues were skill-ful, and Wizards, uhm, also dealty damage. 4E takes a
page from MMOs and splits characters into 'roles' of Tanker, Striker,
Controller, etc. A 3.5 Wizard works a lot differently than a 4E Wizard in a
lot of ways. But I'm getting away from my point, which is that the sets of
abilities and clearly defined roles makes 4E a cleaner game, without
a lot of fuzziness that you get in, well, just about any other game. It's
easier to build a party when you have standard, well-defined building
blocks.

Which actually gets me to my first complaint. This PBeM that I'm getting
into is just about to start, and we have characters pretty much sorted out,
but... It seems like there's a lot of stepping on of feet. We have 2
Fighters, 1.5 Rogues, 1.5 Druids, and a Wizard. Not a bad mix, except maybe
that we're missing a cleric. But I don't really know what the other
characters are built to *do*. I mean, the fighters will probably handle
melee, and I imagine the Wizard will be flinging blasts and bolts (maybe a
few soft control spells), but I think the rogue(s) will basically be
skill/sociasl based, and I really have no idea what it is Druids are
supposed to do. Are they like Fighter-clerics? I thought that was more a
Paladin's bit.

To muddy the waters further, our DM isn't imposing XP penalties based on
Multi-classing, and she's letting us multi-class right out of the gate (I
have no real problem with that), so she's effectively strongly encouraged
people to multi-class, which I think is problematic; I think people are
going to be even more unfocussed and unsure of their part to play (which
isn't helped by the fact that, in part because it's a PBeM, we haven't had
any kind of internal dialog about who's playing what or why). So we really
have 2 Fighters, 1 Rogue, 2 Rogue/Druids, and a Wizard. The races are
something like 2 humans, 1 elf, 2 half elves, and a halfling, or
something...

The bit that really gets me, though? And this is completely personal
preferance, and I recognize that, and I'll concede that there are notable
differences, but... Why aren't people just satissfied with the regular
classes and races? I mean, we don't really have any duplicated
classes. We really have 1 Fighter, 1 Samurai, 1 Rogue, 1
Rogue/Druid, 1 Scout/Shaman, and 1 Wizard. And I'll concede that a Shaman
is like a cross-breed Druid/Warlock and they get interesting spell
mechanics, but... Why not just re-skin what's already there? I guess that
doesn't really work for everything, and I'd prolly suggest something like
"roll a Warlock but get the DM's approval to use Nature magic instead of
Arcane and call yourself a Shaman," but then it starts to make less sense
than just taking what TSR has already written for us...

Me? I'm the Human Rogue. I almost ALWAYS play a human (in any game or
setting), usually with some mundane son-of-an-innkeeper background. I'm a
simple guy. So part of it is just my very strong preference for the simple
and average being offended by all these weird cross-breeds and
admixtures... Probably because I'm afraid of my 'normal' hero getting lost
in the shuffle of all the bells and whistles.

Of course, since it looks like we're missing a Cleric, I may reroll as one
of those... The son of a repentant blacksmith or something...

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John Noble

August 2012

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