Laser clerics, or 4e bashing

19 August, 2008 at 9:44 am (roleplaying-games) (, , )

In which I shall be disgusted by the direction the feel of D&D is moving towards, not review it as a game, but rather describe why it is a new kind of game entirely.

If you’d rather read a third edition afficiando bashing 4e, go read Jukka Särkijärvi’s well-written and fun review.

I have, from reliable sources, heard that 4e is fun to play. I can’t really say without playing it, because it is an entirely new genre of games, much like Forge-games once were.

New kind of game

Some characteristics of 4e that are relevant: Extremely involved combat system, combat powers that make fluff a reasonable term in that they essentially have an arbitrary effect that the fluff tries to justify, actual coverage of noncombat encounters in a potentially interesting way.

So, essentially, there’ll be three different games you will be playing. The first is more-or-less freeform roleplaying parts, maybe with a roll or two of dice now and then. Second is structured roleplay in the form of skill challenges. Third is playing Magic: the miniature game. This is a valid genre of games. It has strengths and weaknesses, like any other kind of game. I am personally not interested in it, though I will grab any opportunity to play, should such a thing materialise.

One notable weakness is a result of the strict combat/noncombat division. Given that a cleric can probably shoot lasers or sacred flames or something, can I blind someone by using these powers in total darkness? How bright are they? My warlock also has a laser. Can I use it to harm objects? All the powers are targeted at creatures, according to their descriptions.

One can see the above as a strength, too, in that it will allow one to define how the powers work. The problem here is that the rules won’t start reflecting these definitions. If I define my warlock lasers as fiery missiles, they will still harm fire elementals. Can I light a campfire with one?

The two paragraphs above are me looking at 4e from a wrong perspective. The correct way to look at it is that combats are self-contained units of fun, and what happens in them is not necessarily indicative of what the characters can do outside them. That is the purview of rituals, skills, common sense, genre conventions and the mighty prestidigitation. Accepting this is likely to make the game a lot smoother.

Laser clerics

Philippe shows his evil side by making an attack on this post before I even had written this. He is correct in that lambasting 4e because it has laser clerics is not really valid criticism of the game, considering you can change the fluff at will, as it does not have an effect on anything, at least not in combat.

Be that as it may, there are few parts that are, in and of themselves, jokes. For example, the coin types: There is copper, silver, gold, platinum, and astral diamonds. Huh?

The setting implied by all of this material is awfully flashy. It has preciously little to do with any fantasy I enjoy. Even the D&D literature I have read is much less flashy. The Drizzt books have, in comparison, very little obviously magical stuff going on (though I am have not read the recent ones).

Maybe the style of the books comes from bad anime (defined as anime I don’t watch or like). Maybe it comes from WoW and its ilk. Wherever it comes from, it completely kills any desire I have for reading the books, running the game, or even playing it as anything except a glorified miniature game.

(A necessary disclaimer: The martial classes are an exception to practically everything I have written here.)

26 Comments

  1. The Chatty DM said,

    As always, a respectful and well constructed critique.

    Given that a cleric can probably shoot lasers or sacred flames or something, can I blind someone by using these powers in total darkness? How bright are they? My warlock also has a laser. Can I use it to harm objects? All the powers are targeted at creatures, according to their descriptions

    Before Gen Con’ I would have said: You can’t, The rules aren’t flexible enough.

    After Gen Con, I see it differently.

    If my player’s cleric with lance of Faith wants to blind someone, I’d allow to replace the +2 to attack effect the ‘laser’ grants to an ally (i.e. the target is easier to see after a hit because he glows for 6 seconds) to making the target ‘dazed’ or giving Concealment to all targets for 1 round (Seeing spots of color).

    I’d do similar things for all other questions you had.

    As you say none of this matters a lot in combat, except you run the risk of having a player try to exploit this by having one class ‘gain’ all powers by continuously re-fluffing/re-crunching his one power.

    Your Magic the Gathering analogy helps me here. In magic each ‘color’ of the 5-colors wheel have a distinct flavour with associated crunch. For example Red Magic is damage and speed while White is Protection and Cheap troops. While there is overlap, some colors don’t do some things.

    So as a suggestion, you can list mechanics per classes. Then to make combat more freeform, without affecting the fun of other players by having a cleric player do rogue things (pushing minis) with Lance of Light, allow exceptional, fun driven modifications of powers within the defined designed space.

    Or just do whatever you want as long as all players are smiling and nodding their heads.

    And Powers can target object if DM is comfortable with what player wishes to attempt… This was a clearly identified change in the errata.

  2. Micah said,

    I would disagree…that the martial classes are any different. Having played a little, they seem just as “arcadey” as the spellcasters.

    Great post. This sums up pretty well what’s (different | new | strange | wrong) about 4E.

  3. Gastogh said,

    Whoo, I’m a reliable source now!

    But yeah, it’s a new game, at least by D&D standards. The best points of comparison are almost certainly not the previous D&D incarnations.
    I miss some of the noncombat stuff that made even low-level casters interesting in 3.0&5 (I already gave up on hope for druids, it’s all combat… *bawww*), but so far the interplay of combat and non-combat stuff hasn’t seemed like such an issue, with requirements for strict rules and what-have-you. We’ve had wizards and warlocks chip their way through trapped doors that we couldn’t disarm and it all goes well if you’re not in a hurry.

    I can’t imagine the style – if any – that the game chases after, but I do know that I’m not very interested in seeing it laid out for me in books or such, when usually I might be speculating for hours about how a game system affects its world. I don’t want to see anyone try to describe the utilization of many of those powers seriously; the Cleric powers (for example) are all fun as long as you can scream “Ai Lazorz!” or “Hiiringu Straiku!” in the right places.

  4. ve4grm said,

    I really have trouble seeing how laser clerics are a new thing, anyways.

    Isn’t Lance of Faith just 4e’s Searing Light?

    Aside from that, shouldn’t the cleric have a legitimate ranged support option, calling down holy fire and the like? Every cleric needing to be a melee battle cleric was one of the more frequent criticisms of 3e’s cleric class, after all.

  5. ve4grm said,

    Oh, and Sound Burst. Why the heck did 3.5e clerics get Sound Burst?

  6. Donny_the_DM said,

    Interesting points. I had never given any thought to that…probably because 3E’s Searing Light is actually defined as a ray that deals fire damage.

    I am cautiously optimistic. After changing my thinking a bit, I have found it much easier to like the game. Mainly, it’s just accepting that it’s different. I’m still having trouble with a couple of it’s lean spots (Role-playing is not as heavily supported as combat by far), but I like the skill challenges. Thay have helped by giving the party a tangible goal during party interactions.

    As an example, I am a MUCH better debater than my players. If we only did free form RPing of them vs. NPC – they would fail. It’s that simple. By creating a framework in which I can say, “Your 2 diplomacy checks have weakened his position enough that an intimidating growl from the barbarian sends him over in your favor.”

    Sadly, not every gamer has the kind of social imagineering skills to figure out a cause/effect chain like this. At first I was insulted by their intentional designing to a lower common denominator, but I see it now, as being less work for me.

    THAT’s ultimately the reason I took the plunge…no more 12+ hours of weekly prep time for my game!

  7. Dasis said,

    You say that it is too flashy and does not compare to books you read, i would ask what books are those?

    The Drizzt books were littered with magical weapons, and Drizzt him self performed many moves that one could say could be compared to “powers”. His faithful friend pather was a magic item, the deep gnome who became his friend had a magical pair of hands. All the dealings with the drow clerics. I guess i could go on but from the way i see those books had all that flashy stuff.

    If this is simply “how you see” great, i am glad for your ideas, but i dont agree with your opinion. I find it to be fun and freeing. The style provokes excitement in me, and makes me want to explore the game more. That fact that the fluff can change with in a streamlined system to allow me to create, is great. I have played many game systems and none i have ever played answered all or even most of the questions you posed for this edtion, gravity is a very simple concept yet i doubt you could name one game system that took in angles of fall, speed, mass, distance, bone density, or history of previous accidents into the equation of what happens when someone falls. Mostly the GM or DM “eyeballs” it. That’s what they do make it work in the game world. So really you just need a system that makes it easy to “eyeball” That way we can get back to why we play a game. For Fun.

  8. Jonathan said,

    [Grabs Fire Extinguisher]
    [Readies an Action: Use it when I see flames]
    Nothing is “wrong” with 4E. 3E lives on in the very healthy RPG ‘indie’ market. 4E is something different. Something better. All the ” non-combat encounters ” (gods i hate that term) should be very loosely defined by the RAW, by design. “Non-combat encounters” (aka roleplaying encounters, non-fighting encounters) are far more open ended and loosely scripted (unscripted) – 3E sought to make a rule up for every situation imaginable for these “encounters”. 4E rightly steps back and makes these “encounters” more like 2E IMHO. The “rules” only vaguely define what is possible and encourage the DM to fit the fluff to the setting and the situation.

    Combat, however, should be fast/fun/playable. The encumbrance of 3E rules killed my interest in D&D combat. It too was a “glorified miniatures game”. 4E simply makes those hellish 945 pages of 3E combat rules concise, streamlined, and fun to play. But then again, in 2E we never even thought to use miniatures. 10-years later and 2 editions later, their use has pros and cons – it just depends on what you want i guess.

  9. Ravyn said,

    I’m with you. The assumed world in 4E strikes me as more shiny but less colorful than almost anything I’ve played, and the emphasis on combat is…. a bit of a turnoff for me. If you’re prone to understatement.

    Excellent post!

  10. Tommi said,

    Phil;

    So as a suggestion, you can list mechanics per classes. Then to make combat more freeform, without affecting the fun of other players by having a cleric player do rogue things (pushing minis) with Lance of Light, allow exceptional, fun driven modifications of powers within the defined designed space.

    This is an excellent idea. A quick read of the GSL and SRD indicates that it might even be allowed under that particular license (which is about to change, so…).

    If this is also how some of the people at WotC play, why did they not design the system to be like this from the beginning?

    Micah;
    There is a difference between how something feels in play and what kind of fiction something creates in play. You are probably correct.

    Gastogh;
    Wizards have presitidigitation and so on available at will. One could make an argument for giving druids goodberry as an automatic daily ability. Cost of one feat, if necessary.

    ve4grm;
    3rd edition is not wuite as egregious. Lance of faith is first level power available at will. That is certainly a remarkable change.

    Gameplay-wise I have no problems with clerics being able to have ranged attacks. Fiction-wise, holy people calling fire upon the unfortunate is something that I would like to see as a once-a-century miracle, if at all. This is, of course, a matter of taste.

    Donny_the_DM;
    Skill challenges are a decent implementation of unified resolution systems. I approve of such development. It was about time, really.

    Dasis;
    Thank you for asking about the books I read. Here are some I consider to be my favourites (and relevant to the discourse at hand): Gregory Keyes’ Briar king and so on, Robin Hobb/Megan Lindholm’s Assassin, Fool and Liveship traders trilogies, Howard’s Conan stories, Nibelungenlied, Roland’s song, Beowulf, Eddas (poetic and prose), Holdstock’s Celtika and the books with the Ryhope forest, Iliad, Odysseia, Kalevala. I’m probably forgetting something pretty important, but these provide a good picture, hopefully.

    I am not going to argue that there is not much magic in Drizzt books. I do distinctly remember that there are few occasions where priests laser a horde of orcs. Even the mages are, IIRC (and I might not), somewhat restrained in their use of magic. Mages are a big deal. Clerics and mages did not give an impression of being able to do their magic all day long.

    I am glad that you enjoy 4e. Really. I believe the gameplay is good. I am also a huge proponent of game master and players alike eyeballing things. 4e just has this weird, at least to me, case of some things being utterly detailed (powers in combat) and others left vague (powers outside combat).

    Jonathan;
    I agree completely with regards to 3rd edition. Go read mister Särkijärvi’s blog if you want to fight that particular war. I also agree completely that different games have different strong points and are for particular audiences.

    Personally, I like combat to work much like other conflicts do; mechanically simple, but still solid. D&D has never done this. Hence, it is not my game of choice unless I really want to play fantasy game with, ahem, unique setting and heavy emphasis on combat.

    Ravyn;
    Thanks. Could you elaborate a bit on the difference between shiny and colourful?

  11. The Chatty DM said,

    I argue that it was designed in it… but was removed to prevent the very rules-needy fan base from self combusting…

  12. Tommi said,

    Well, it would be possible to write in actual rules-speak.

    Like: Cleric laser, 1st level at will, blah blah…
    Effect: damage and one of the following: (1) daze until the start of your next turn (2) ally gets a bonus to attack (3) so on.

    Or create a set of effects each class has access to, tell which effects are worth the same and hence are interchangeable, balance-wise.

    Or make a feat that allows minor changes like above in powers. Offer an optional rule to give the feat for free to everyone, recommended only for experienced players to prevent analysis paralysis.

    Or any other solution. If I can figure out three ways of dealing with the problem, a company with several professional designers and lots of time ought to be able to come up with one that actually works.

  13. the_blunderbuss said,

    @Tommi
    “Personally, I like combat to work much like other conflicts do; mechanically simple, but still solid.”

    I completely agree. I specially want combat to be manageable enough that let’s me work with the meta-game momentum that the perilous situation creates so that the excitement doesn’t wane too much. Personally I’m not excited at all about rolling dice, in particular when I’ve been doing that for more than two hours straight.

    “Wherever it comes from, it completely kills any desire I have for reading the books, running the game, or even playing it as anything except a glorified miniature game.”

    I have stated it numerous times, but specially the last statement (the miniature game thing) is very true for me. I reckon it to be a fun game and I’m sure I’d like it as much (or even more) as I like other games like Mordheim or Inquisitor for that matter. I just can’t mix it with roleplaying without it creating the anti-fun bomb for me.

    That’s just current opinions though, and I obviously won’t state anything bad about the books since I’m doing articles on them all and it might be bad mojo to anger the D&D gods :)

  14. wickedmurph said,

    @Tommi
    No. Just.. No. Creating 3 (or more) variant rule sets for each power, depending on how you fluff them? That way lies insanity, and 5000 page rule books.

    I know some people might not agree, but I firmly believe that NOT having rules for some things is BETTER than having rules for them. If there IS a rule for something, then you have to A: Look it up, B: Remember it and C: Argue about it with one of your players when they don’t agree with it or your interpretation of it.

    If there isn’t a rule for something, you can use the 3 golden rules on it. First, you consider (briefly) the “Rule of Cool”, if it’s Cool, you say “Yes”. Then you refer to page 42. Issue resolved in a fun, cool and consistent way. In an exception-based system, I think it’s better to not have rules for most things.

    On a similar vein, I seem to be seeing resistance from players and DM’s both to put in the time to create their own fluff, both world-fluff and rule-fluff. Have the 400 3e splatbooks made us too lazy to create our own spin on what we have presented? Do we want all our gaming fluff scraped out of the WotC lint-screen?

    I mean, can anyone possibly imagine writing a letter to TSR after the red box came out saying “I like some of the ideas, but information about the campaign world in which this game is intended to be played are a little thin on the ground.” Please rethink the integration between player classes, powers and the game world in general. Oh, and we want more monsters, more classes and rules that provide for all possible non-combat interactions.”

    RPGs are about imagination and creation of interesting worlds. If yours doesn’t include laser-clerics, that’s cool. I’m down with lasers. And Clerics. And clerics packing lasers. And dogs with bees in their mouth and when they bark, they shoot bees at you.

  15. Tommi said,

    Fred;
    It seems like we share many gaming preferences. That’s good. And, at least in my case, somewhat rare.

    Hello wickedmurph.

    I know some people might not agree, but I firmly believe that NOT having rules for some things is BETTER than having rules for them.

    Usually I agree. The exception to this is exception-based designs, such as D&D 4th (and 3rd), which pretty much live by having several different options in rules.

    I have no trouble generating my own fluff (and further prefer sets of rules where “fluff” and “crunch” are not useful terms). I fear there will be friction when people take a power, assign it fluff, internalise that fluff, and then mentally assign crunch to it. This logical or realistic new rules material is unlikely to be the same as the original one. (In mathematics, because I do have a reputation to uphold: The relevant function from rules to fiction is not an injection.)

    It is good that you enjoy laser clerics. It seems WotC did not make a marketing mistake when including them in the game. Good for them and people who enjoy the new, or at least newly exaggereted, direction the implied setting is going to.

  16. wickedmurph said,

    Hi Tommi,
    Thanks for the reasonable reply to a post which I intended to be a *little* provocational. I’m afraid I have to provoke a bit more, but hopefully just answers to questions.

    I’m curious as to why exception-based designs would require more options within the context of a single rule. The idea (as I understand it – which is always shaky ground) is that there are very simple rules, and powers, skills or what-have-you allow you to break those simple rules. The broad range of powers that I see in the current 4e books – and the numbers are growing constantly, reflect a very extensive set of “options”. I’m not sure why it is desirable to add to those extensive options by having each power have a variety of sub-options. Seems better to decide on a group-by-group basis if you want to go there.

    I agree with you totally in regards to the potential for problems when you create fluff and then assign in-game effects to it. Serious issues of player dissatisfaction and game imbalance can result there. It’s a large part of the reason that RPGs require a game master, really.

    I’m a little curious by what you mean when you say you “prefer sets of rules where fluff and crunch are not useful terms”. Perhaps we disagree on our definitions of crunch and fluff – I say crunch when I mean specific rules (roll this dice to hit, if you do, roll this dice for damage), and by fluff I mean imaginative stuff that is built around the rules to make things more interesting than say a miniatures tactical wargame (I swing my sword over my head and call out to Pelor as I hammer at the enemy).

    If you agree with my definitions (and how could anyone not… ;) then I don’t really see how you can play RPGs without having some elements of both involved. I mean, card games are all crunch. Group interactive fiction is pretty much all fluff. RPG’s by definition, fall somewhere in the middle. Could you give me an example of a rule set where crunch and fluff are not useful terms, cause I’m kinda lost there?

    Your last paragraph seemed to contain a kind of slightly condescending attitude towards “exaggerated” gaming that I first encountered (and intensely disliked) when I started playing Vampire some years ago. Now, I’m not sure what RPG’s your coming from, but the idea that any gamer can, with a straight face, refer to anothers game as “exaggerated” is utterly hilarious to me. Finely slicing the degree of geekitude in this hobby appears to be a popular pass time, but it strikes me as somewhat ridiculous. I think if we all lean back and take a look at whatever game we’re playing, exaggerated will be just about the nicest thing that can be said about it. Sorry to have gone on so long, but I’m quite curious about this conversation.

  17. Tommi said,

    Hey wickedmurph.

    Seems better to decide on a group-by-group basis if you want to go there.

    Yes, it probably is.

    I’m a little curious by what you mean when you say you “prefer sets of rules where fluff and crunch are not useful terms”. Perhaps we disagree on our definitions of crunch and fluff – I say crunch when I mean specific rules (roll this dice to hit, if you do, roll this dice for damage), and by fluff I mean imaginative stuff that is built around the rules to make things more interesting than say a miniatures tactical wargame (I swing my sword over my head and call out to Pelor as I hammer at the enemy).

    An example from my default house system: A thief, skilled in the use of edged weapons is fighting a swamp dragon. Thief’s player rolls four dice for edged weapons, I roll 4 dice for the dragon’s ability to bite people. I get 2 successes (and hence the thief’s player gets none). Because I won I can suggest what happens, like: “The dragon leaps on you and pins you to ground.” The thief’s player can accept this course of events or decline, but that would mean that the character takes 2 harm. (There are no specific rules for being pinned under a swamp dragon, but it certainly makes any activity other than getting away pretty impossible.)

    On more abstract level: When a conflict happens, roll dice. Winner gets to suggest what actually happens and the loser can accept that or have their character take harm equal to the winner’s margin of victory.

    Often the suggestion happen purely on story level. Sometimes they include mechanical effects (…and take trait “broken bones 3”). Taking harm is purely mechanical effect.

    I am not saying that you can’t say what is crunch and what is fluff. I am saying that the distinction is not particularly meaningful.

    Your last paragraph seemed to contain a kind of slightly condescending attitude towards “exaggerated” gaming that I first encountered (and intensely disliked) when I started playing Vampire some years ago.

    To be more precise, I said:

    Good for them and people who enjoy the new, or at least newly exaggereted, direction the implied setting is going to.

    My intention was not to take a style of play and name it as bad. Rather, I was (trying to) refer to the flashy art, laser clerics, powers with flashy named, stuff like starweave armour, and so on, which is a new aesthetic, or at least an aesthetic that has been significantly exaggerated when compared to the role it had before.

    Perhaps “emphasised” would have been a better word than “exaggerated”.

    (No problem with long comments. Go ahead. If they get too long, start a blog.)

  18. In spite of laser clerics, or not bashing 4e « Cogito, ergo ludo. said,

    […] 21 August, 2008 at 10:30 am (rpg design) (4e, D&D, dungeons and dragons) I’m not exactly a 4e hater. (Even though laser clerics and astral diamonds and starblah armours are profoundly stupid. In my opinion.) […]

  19. wickedmurph said,

    Hi Tommi
    Interesting mechanic. It uses a very straightforward rule set combined with a lot of cost/benefit desision making that I find very attractive. It does seem to require some particular skills on the part of both the storyteller and the players that I’m not sure everyone has. Fairness on the part of the DM is a big one there, great narrative skills by all players, too. Be nice if I could get that consistently…

    You’re right though, the concepts of crunch and fluff are less integral to the game you describe, although I think a case could be made that you are playing a game that is almost all “fluff”, in the sense that it’s primarily descriptive/narrative, with very streamlined “crunch”.

    I’ve also done some reading on your blog archive, and about dissociative mechanics since yesterday, and I have to say that I’m starting to agree about the difficulties of creating your own “fluff” for each power in 4e. I like the concept, since its intention is to give the players, to some extent, the same kind of narrative freedom enjoyed by the players in your house rules. On the other hand, it also requires the DM to make a lot of on-the-fly descision about various fluff interactions, which can definitely result in friction.

    The basically dissociative nature of the Powers structure was also made somewhat clearer to me during a play session last night. Gaming with a few young and inexperienced DnD players, I found myself constantly prompting “Which power do you use”, when they just wanted get narrative, “I throw another shuriken at him.” It meant constantly dropping out of narrative and into game-speak, as a necessary function of determining what mechanics to use for the attack. Not ideal at all.

    I have to whole-heartedly agree with you on the silly-ass stuff in 4e. Astral Diamonds and Feyweave and Residuum are a little bit close to Arcane Crystals and Netherweave and Glowing Dust from the year-odd I wasted on WoW. OTOH, I’ve never run any game out-of the box exactly the way it’s written, so I’m not too put off. I just ignore the stuff I dislike.

    I’m going to have to play it a lot more before I come to a final conclusion, but so far, with the groups I’ve had, and the type of games we like to play, it’s been smooth and fun, which is more than I could ever say for 3e.

  20. The Defense of Laser Clerics and Infinite Wizards : Critical Hits said,

    […] ChattyDM likes laser clerics. Tommi does not. […]

  21. Tommi said,

    Just a quick note: I’ll be offline for at least three days, starting approximately now. I’ll try to respond to comments (and posts) after that. And moderate anything Akismet eats.

  22. Tommi said,

    Greetings, wickedmurph.

    Interesting mechanic. It uses a very straightforward rule set combined with a lot of cost/benefit desision making that I find very attractive. It does seem to require some particular skills on the part of both the storyteller and the players that I’m not sure everyone has. Fairness on the part of the DM is a big one there, great narrative skills by all players, too.

    Thanks for the compliment. (The mechanic is somewhat stolen from In a wicked age.) GM fairness is not a big issue, because the player can choose to take harm in the event of being screwed. Narrative skills are skills and hence can be learned through practice. I hope. Because I am not very good at that stuff.

    The basically dissociative nature of the Powers structure was also made somewhat clearer to me during a play session last night. Gaming with a few young and inexperienced DnD players, I found myself constantly prompting “Which power do you use”, when they just wanted get narrative, “I throw another shuriken at him.” It meant constantly dropping out of narrative and into game-speak, as a necessary function of determining what mechanics to use for the attack. Not ideal at all.

    That is bad for several styles of play, including the one I enjoy the most.

    4e makes it easy to translate fiction into mechanics. The other way, not so much. This may be worth more investigation.

  23. the_blunderbuss said,

    “An example from my default house system: A thief, skilled in the use of edged weapons is fighting a swamp dragon. Thief’s player rolls four dice for edged weapons, I roll 4 dice for the dragon’s ability to bite people. I get 2 successes (and hence the thief’s player gets none). Because I won I can suggest what happens, like: “The dragon leaps on you and pins you to ground.” The thief’s player can accept this course of events or decline, but that would mean that the character takes 2 harm. (There are no specific rules for being pinned under a swamp dragon, but it certainly makes any activity other than getting away pretty impossible.)”

    I now want to play this… or the second best, get a copy (written or verbal) of the rules you’re using. I would specially like to play this because it resembles the style of play I like the most and quite stunningly I believe your system (the little piece I now know of it, and whatever I can extrapolate) can actually comply with my ‘requirements’ (as I posted on my “Kick Combat Back Into Shape” posts) for conflict resolution… with the plus of leaving a nice space of narrative control in the hands of the player (with the “oh no you don’t, I take 2 harm instead.”).

    Did I mention I want to play this?

    Also…

    “4e makes it easy to translate fiction into mechanics. The other way, not so much. This may be worth more investigation.”

    With the people I play with, this has led to playing with no fiction to mechanics translation and instead doing all mechanics WITHOUT translating them into anything. And I swear my head is about to implode at times…

    Did I mention that I’m bitter? :P

    Fred.

  24. Tommi said,

    Fred, I invited you to Gmail chat.

    There’s a post coming that describes the rules I use. It is a long and involved post. It will take time. But it is coming.

  25. Ptorq said,

    The big brouhaha has died down now, but I’m a little curious as to how people’s initial impressions have changed (if they HAVE changed). I was initially anti-4e, but we’ve recently started a 4e campaign and, you know, it’s turning out to be better than I thought. I always hated the D&D magic system, and I really like that a first-level mage is no longer a mage for 1, maybe 2, rounds of combat and then a really crappy fighter with no armor for the rest of the day. I really like that a first-level cleric isn’t limited to praying once or twice a day, after which his god starts ignoring him and he resorts to bashing stuff with a club. In other words…

    Though it’s not strictly and explicitly in The Rules, I find it’s EASIER to role-play. Every single round of combat, even at low levels, clerics and mages get to do clericy or magey stuff instead of “I hit it with my mace” or “My to-hit rolls suck, and I only do 1d4 even if I DO hit, so I’m gonna go hide behind the meat shields and do nothing now, for I am squishy and quick to die.”

    • Tommi Brander said,

      Greetings Ptorq.

      I have come to the conclusion that the fourth edition of D&D, much like the third, are solid games, but I am utterly disinterested in actually playing or gamemastering them. They get in the way of what I find valuable in roleplaying and do very little to promote it, so I prefer to play other games.

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