Me & my [expletive deleted]

Discussion in 'RPG Discussion' started by prolificvoid, Jul 25, 2009.

  1. Emperor Xan

    Emperor Xan Troubadour

    Other than the characters feeling like they stepped out of some video game, my greatest problem with 4.0 is how it is strangling the art of story.
  2. shalaban

    shalaban Chevalier

    Spoken like a true Gygax! :cool:
  3. Druvas

    Druvas Spellbinder

    Castles and Crusades is the next best thing to AD&D, IMO,despite its D20 roots. They kept it simple. As much as I would like to see a Castle Keepers Guide, the game really doesn't seem to need it. I have been playing fine for a year or so now and have not found the game lacking. Mucho fun-o.
  4. geekpreacher

    geekpreacher Spellbinder

    True. I've enjoyed it. Seems like everyone around here is either into Pathfinder or 4E. Wish I had more time to seek out a group that played something regularly. My friends want me to run a game but I sure don't have the time for it.

    I've looked at a number of options and if I do run it will either be a retro-D&D clone or C&C. Maybe one of these days I'll be able to game more regularly. Just got to get through seminary.
  5. JRT

    JRT Level 0 Character

    I think the key thing with 4e is the following.

    This was the first version of the game designed to be "totally different". Outside of lip service to "legacy" (such as keeping Mind Flayers as they were, according to the design team), they pretty much only kept the six attributes and some core elements of 3e.

    This is a far cry from 3e. Despite what people might think about 3e, at least it was still pretty true to the core concepts. A person could go from 1e to 3e, and while he would have to get used to new rules, it's mostly an evolution. A wizard is still a wizard, the orc is still the orc, a fireball is a third level spell that has an explosive effect, etc.

    I think it was caused by the following:

    1) Culture change. TSR grew organically. Even though Gary was pushed out, I got the sense a lot of the people who mentored under EGG still loved the game as it is. When TSR was absorbed by WoTC cultures had to merge. And I think what happened over time is that the WoTC look at games slowly took over. Not to mention after Peter Atkinson left things changed--if he was still there and in charge I doubt this type of radical change would have occurred. He was the one guy Gary and Gail trusted at the new shop.

    2) The OGL. The OGL did two things I see as a negative. The first was giving long-time people incentive to actually leave and do their own things. If they didn't do that, I bet some of the long time staff would have wanted to stay--it looks like it was actually more profitable to form your own label. So that, along with creating a ruleset that could be freely copied, made them compete with themselves. It also contributed to culture change--as the old guard leaves, a new group of young turks take over. I also believe that corporate may have ordered a complete "reboot" of D&D in part to effectively neutralize the OGL version of D&D by no longer supporting the old system. EGG was right--it was kind of foolish for them to license in this way.

    3) Designer Ego. In many companies, when a new owner comes in, they tend to cancel pet projects from the previous owners. I also note that there is a tendency now to do "re-imagining" in this day and age, less respect for the classics and more stirring things up. When writers go into a property and boast that they "never saw an episode of the original", I wonder "well, what's the point". If all you're going to do is just exploit a trademark, why not just create something new?

    My hope is that maybe the next design team will look at all versions and do a job similar to 3e, preserve as much of the past as they can and understand the core. Maybe D&D is like Star Trek movies except instead of the even numbers doing good it's the "odd numbers".

    Gary was right about one thing--the more they keep switching editions around, the more the player base becomes fractured. If WoTC decides to do another version 10 years from now, it'll get worse. That's not the way to make an evergreen game.
  6. kveldulf

    kveldulf Chevalier

    While the OGL may have had some negative effects in terms of TSR / WOTC folks splitting off to do their own stuff, I think in the grand scheme of things it was a brilliant idea.

    So long as the D&D intellectual property belongs to a single company - especially a major corporation with no substantive relationship to the original creators and frankly who don't seem to be gamers - it can be either perverted out of all resemblance to the original (such as 4e) or simply retired when unprofitable.

    With the OGL, the core mechanics are passed into the gamer community. Without the OGL, there would be no retro clones and the only way to keep the spirit of the older editions alive would be buying up old books on the collectors' market and trying to introduce them to younger players. With the OGL and retro clones, "pretty close" versions of the older editions can be produced, supported and promoted by the gaming and small press community. Just as the internet was originally designed as a distributed network which could survive a nuclear war (to completely kill it, you'd have to have gotten every last node), so the OGL passes the DNA of the game to the community at large, where individual gamers - including "old school" gamers - can legally use it for their own creative pursuits.

    While there are a lot of things about 3e I don't like, I say hooray for the OGL. If it were up to the *ss clowns at Hasbro, the only way to play would be to log onto their website and subscribe to their content and service. F that.. Personally, I hope that Hasbro's current division handling D&D one day all find themselves in the 9th rin of H*ll for the raping of the game they've perpetrated with 4e. I probably spent close to $700 or $800 on 3e stuff since it came out, either for use by my local group or as inspirational reading. To my dying day, I will not spend a single cent on anything 4e related. Hasbro may make money off gamers with this sorry excuse of a rules set, but I won't be one of them.

  7. JRT

    JRT Level 0 Character

    My statement about the OGL wasn't so much a general judgement of it, but rather seeing it from a business and traditional perspective. On the one hand, it ends up being great for the fans. But on the other hand I think it was very foolish as a business move.
  8. Emperor Xan

    Emperor Xan Troubadour

    Maybe I'm missing something here, but it seems that no one is overly concerned about the limitation of scope that 4e generates in addition to removing entire genres/play styles from the hands of the gamers. Is there no one bothered by the imposition of "acceptable" storytelling techniques in WotC's "re-envisioning" of the brand?

    As to the OGL, I agree with JRT and Gary from a business perspective, giving out the rules set to a game well before its profitability has run its course is not only dangerous, it is downright strange. However, as a storyteller, it is refreshing that the core system was available for designers to introduce it with their own style impressed upon the rules. Not only does this force writers to be more creative and produce greater quality work, it also gives players more freedom to play as they wish. It is akin to scriptwriting in that it is better to spill the trade secrets to pump new life into the field than it is to keep one's apprentices in the dark. So, beyond the OGL, what really made 3e a revolution in the game's growth was that it removed artificial limitations on the types of roles characters could fill. Some may argue that this isn't necessarily a good thing as some combinations of skills, classes, and feats do not work well together, it is the ultimate in personal expression in the storytelling aspect of the game. Maybe I'm just weird, but story really matters to me as well as the self-exploration that this art grants us without any training needed beyond reading a book or two and then throwing some dice.
  9. geekpreacher

    geekpreacher Spellbinder

    I was a fan of 3.0 because it seemed to hold to a bit of free form roleplaying. There seemed to be a bit more the DM could do on the fly. 3.5 took a good bit of that away but was still pretty good. Overall I enjoyed the customization of the system.

    With 4E my biggest beef has been the lack of customization. In some ways, imo, it harkens back to the days when multiclassing was very difficult if not downright impossible. I like being able to craft a character with a good story and I liked the skills system for the most part because that, if used properly, could also help.

    4E just doesn't have the same appeal but, in my experience, can still be done well with the proper DM. Oh, and storytelling _guidelines_ are a great idea but trying to funnel someone in with the "correct" way to do it is annoying. I haven't seen this in 4E but may have overlooked something. Can you give an example?
  10. kveldulf

    kveldulf Chevalier

    3e honestly had a lot of promise. One of my local groups was playing AD&D 2e at the time, and it took us about 2 years to have a go at 3e - everyone had a bad taste at the time since we'd invested large sums in sourcebooks for 2e so the edition change pissed everyone off.

    I initially liked the idea of feats and skills when we started 3e, but have found over time that instead of a benefit it became a hindrance in play.

    On the character side, tracking and planning all the new fiddly bits (feats, skill points, class abilities, etc.) led to so much overhead that we had problems with what I call "character fetishism" (people spending so much time on out of game character maintenance that they get obsessively attached, affecting in game behavior to avoid risk taking in order to avoid character death). When a game gets to the point that spreadsheets and online character generators / trackers go from optional to mandatory just to handle the bookkeeping, that turns me off. The other annoyance was that since you level up so quickly and prestige classes often have kewler abilities than base classes, the goal became to plan out 10 levels ahead of time what feats / skills etc you would need for a character. It just got tired and annoying and took the fun out of roleplaying for me as a player. Some folks east that up though.

    The other major fail I saw with 3e's skills and feats was that every character action became a die roll. Need to negotiate with an NPC? Quick, find the PC with the Diplomacy skill to roll; they're not there - better to avoid the whole encounter.

    On the combat side, with every PC, NPC and critter having multiple skills, feats and abilities even minor combats went from maybe 15-30 minutes to over an hour. Play sessions on a weeknight lasting 4-5 hours went from being able to explore, fight, negotiate etc. to one or two "setup encounters", a warmup fight and a big melee. Wash, rinse, repeat.

    This is more or less why I have soured on 3.x and turned back to AD&D and BECM. While the rules may be quirky, sometimes illogical and occasionally have holes like a swiss cheese they are "loose" enough to encourage roleplaying and house rule easily.

    On a totally different note, has anyone played both C&C and the retro clones and care to comment on the benefits / drawbacks of each?

  11. Emperor Xan

    Emperor Xan Troubadour

    I don't know if you read my blog entry I copied-and-pasted into this thread, but In just covering the first four chapters of the PHB for 4e, I showed how character advancement is tightly controlled by the game's design. Characters fit narrowly defined roles not by their overall function, but their battlefield operations. Once the character hits the threshold levels of 11 and 21, the character must choose a prestige class. It's mandatory. The only way to opt out of a prestige class, and the further definition of your character's battlefield role, is to select a feat or three that allows you to do remain a pure-classed character. Similarly, multiclassing requires that a player take a series of feats that, while it doesn't grant levels in that class, it gives access to some of the powers.

    As to Kveldulf, I've never encountered any of the problems you did in terms of character development. 3.0 and 3.5 both encouraged a greater level of communication between the DM and players in developing story arcs.
  12. Druvas

    Druvas Spellbinder

    Good Lord?! You HAVE to prestige class?! Remind me, when I run out of toilet paper, to print out a copy of my 4e pdf's.
  13. GeneWeigel

    GeneWeigel Footpad

    4e and 3e failed to save D&D from the grotesqueries of the late 1e & 2e years thats all I know. Storytime being a good thing doesn't fit right to me at all. Just to let you know, that Gygax "secret" quote thats been going around is full of crap. Either he didn't say it or he suffered from a momentary lapse of reasoning. You can't have a good game just telling a story.

    In regards to other rpgs besides "D&D heavily overseen by Gary Gygax" is there anything even remotely close?

    Seriously, where are the challengers?

    I've had the same mouthpieces on my forums swear by Chaosium up and down through thick and thin. And I'm sorry but I am never going to enjoy those games. "Old" is not necessarily good, even under Gygax's watch didn't automatically make a game great. (DRAGONLANCE for example happened right underneath Gary's nose. Of course there isn't an ounce of him in there and its fairly obvious.) I recall a GURPS player who answered a notice for one of my games that I posted at a Waldenbooks in a mall in 1992 (GURPS had been out around 5 years prior) and all he could talk about was how stupid D&D was but in the most uninformative and apocryphal ways. So I dropped around a hundred bucks to "catch up" on GURPS and was severely disappointed. I wish I can say that that only happened once but that happened many times with many games before and after that episode. Thats the "rub" of rpgs you never know if it sucks until you've digested the whole body of it. EARTHDAWN, PALLADIUM, STORMBRINGER, DARK EYE, RUNE QUEST, etc these are games that I was URGED to have to see as if it was a requirement. Yeah they were"requirements" that forced me never to trust a game designer again! ;) But seriously these days, theres a lot of people out there who play on a laptop and they don't understand the damage of having a really great entertaining guy (Gary) who gave you your money's worth almost always get replaced by overpriced "non-entertainment".

    Now if I keep ignoring my tried and true conclusions that rpgs aren't that great in general with the sole exception of Gary's work aren't I being a bastard for not saying these conclusions? I mean honestly, I'm not a corporate guy. I've got no affiliation with any clubs. I'm just a guy who has been playing D&D for 30 years and I'm telling you the way I see it. If thats offensive well, I have to be honest, right? I'm sure there are people who look at Gary as some kind of contributor of their games as "father of rpgs" and all that but I'm not associated with anything like that. Just "Gary fan" by default and critical of his work as well.

    So thats all I'm saying. There seems to be a lot of build up around old games going on around here which'll probably be brought up at the convention itself and I'm just giving off "worm sign" that I wouldn't want to waste my time with somebody who is going to go on and on about the INDIANA JONES game or STAR FRONTIERS or a non-TSR fantasy game or FORGOTTEN REALMS or something like that because I don't want to listen to and then "down" anybody.

    These are the kind of examples of topics that I will discuss:

    Leomund's Tiny Hut: the Poor Man's Sorceror's Scroll?

    Stirge: Bug-bat? Or humanoid owl-anteater?

    Chain Mail Fraud: Did the Blackmoor campaign really exist?

    Ten Foot Pole Touching Spells

    Etc, etc

    I might just flee otherwise....

    RUN! RUN! He's talking about skills for characters! RUN! RUN!

    Seriously, I know there'll be people there for other reasons but really honestly? If you want to get down to brass tacks? I'm going out of some kind of guilt that I haven't cared enough about Gary's stuff as much as I used to. So I don't want to talk about rpgs in general or "Tom Moldvay as a lost genius" this time around. This time its the real deal.

    What was I talking about again?

  14. kveldulf

    kveldulf Chevalier

    For what its worth, I like AD&D for fantasy gaming. I came to the hobby too late for OD&D (was in 4th grade in 1980, so we went directly from Holmes Basic to AD&D 1e) and in retrospect OD&D is too rules light for my taste. We did play some Basic-Expert as well, despite initial confusion as to how Expert etc. fit with AD&D.

    There are a lot of other good RPG's out there, mainly in genres that AD&D does not and never was designed to cover. A few of my preferred systems would include:
    - Gamma World (1e and 2e): dark science fantasy and survival; open enough to run any number of game style from gritty survival to over the top power games
    - Star Frontiers (space opera): simple, streamlined skills system and die mechanic (d100), great sandbox campaign setting
    - Cyberpunk 2020 (cyberpunk): eventually choked on its own concepts, but great for near future science fiction a la Bladerunner; clean rules system and die mechanic (d10)
    - Castle Falkenstein (steampunk): innovative resolution system using regular playing cards; fast playing system in alternate Steampunk Victorian Europe

    As for some of the others you mention, they weren't all bad. Earthdawn had some neat ideas (some of which I stole for AD&D gaming) and a strong setting, just sort of petered out. Stormbringer had a great setting and some interesting ideas on magic (stole some ideas and stuff from this one too). My group played some Vampire back in the 90's, but you can only be angsty for so long before you have to open the curtains and let some sun in; that petered out and we never went back to it.

    I'm going for several reasons.. The biggest is that Lake Geneva has always occupied an odd place in my brain; growing up on D&D/AD&D, we always had this mental image of Lake Geneva as sort of a Santa's North Pole, with the mythical TSR cottage up there and Gary presiding over the elves who churned out hardbacks with Tramp and Sutherland covers and monocolor covered modules. Now, as an adult soon to turn 40, I look forward to visiting the place and actually meeting some of the old Grand Masters from Gary's workshop, other folks from the era, and likeminded gamers. For me, its like the episode of Family Guy where Peter and Lois run into Kiss at a diner and get to hang out with them.

    The other reason, of course, is I want to enjoy an entire bloody weekend of playing long OOP games. None of the gamers in my circle of friends shares my taste for older RPG's, so it will be a treat to play among the faithful <g> And let me say, I can't wait!!


    PS - There is one other reason.. after decades of gaming in, and writing up stuff on, the Barony of Horn, I want to actually visit the darn place! ; )
  15. francisca

    francisca Troubadour

    Yeah. Kask is nothin' like a freakin' elf, I can tell you that!
  16. Emperor Xan

    Emperor Xan Troubadour

    In case you missed it or skipped my cut-and-paste of my review of the first for chapters, here's the relevant piece that discusses hat aspect of 4e:

    The chapter on character classes definitely betrays the audience Hasbro has chosen to go after. Each class has “builds” that are recommended according to the text on p. 52. Anyone familiar with MMORPGs will note that a build is the term for creating a character that is highly specialized (often referred to as “speced”). The midrange levels of the game are referred to as the “paragon tier” of play. Here, you must choose a specialization. Every class has four choices, with the exception of the Warlock, which has three. After all of that work and effort to reach these levels and forced into a specialty role, your character gets to choose from one of 4 paths to reach an “epic destiny.” Coincidentally, these correspond with the four categories character classes are pigeonholed into to describe their roles in combat.
  17. Druvas

    Druvas Spellbinder

    Thanks! I did miss that!
  18. kveldulf

    kveldulf Chevalier

    I would comment on this aspect on 4e, but I'm too busy throwing up in my mouth : P
  19. Emperor Xan

    Emperor Xan Troubadour

    This is one of the reasons why my review stopped after only 4 chapters.
  20. Druvas

    Druvas Spellbinder

    I don't blame you for stopping. I am, frankly, shocked that a few of my old school friends would abandon 1e for 4e. It is in no way shape or form the same game. It just has the same name.

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