A collection of rambling posts about gaming, running, and politics. (and, in 2009, photography.)

Friday, September 21, 2007

D&D 4e

So I have a gaming blog, sortof.

Actually I have a terrible gaming blog. I talk entirely too much about running, and work, and money, and what I think about movies.

Anyway, I've been reading a number of really good gaming blogs, and they make me wish that I was more articulate, better organized, and was writing a gaming blog.

I'm sidetracked already.

I was going to blog about how I'm excited about D&D 4e.

There are a few reasons that I feel this way, even though I've been rather vocal about my disdain for < 4e.

Let me drift again.

I didn't start role playing with D&D, but I started it with some home-brew fantasy gaming- because I wasn't allowed to own/play D&D. But I eventually picked up the 2nd edition AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide. I didn't have the player handbook, so I still wasn't playing D&D, but I still gleaned lots of creativity from it. Eventually I did make it over to 2nd edition AD&D. I had a ton of fun with it. I DM'd everything during my first few years at it, and only after high school did I meet up with someone else who would do the job of DMing. That stretches my memory, but I do not recall doing much prep work way back then. Any prep work, in fact. It was all about the characters that folks were playing, and building stories around them. Here's a way that I'm relating this back to D&D 4e. In 4e, they're talking about resource management, and number of encounters per day. They're gaming it. To the max. Which is fine, and is certainly the way that it should be treated, I think. But I didn't use the game that way, back then. It was an outlet to be a fantastic warrior, or to slay orcs, or do fantastic things. I didn't dissect the system. I didn't think about the mechanics, I just used them. And they were so great.

Well, everyone grows up. In the same way that the television shows that we watch, change as we age, our gaming changes too. How we see it, how we use it, what we expect out of it.

Now - back around to my topic. I'm excited about 4th edition D&D.

I loved Fallout Tactics, a PC game that was all about turn based squad tactics in the universe of the Fallout games. There was some story built on to it, but you didn't play it to see the story unfold, really - not the way you would be interested in reading a book. No, I played it because I wanted to lead my squad through strange and unknown territory, overcoming obstacles and stuff. I was fine with making some "role playing" decisions along the way. And I feel exactly the same way about D&D 4.

Why not 3rd edition, or 3.5? Honestly, I liked 3rd edition. Played in a campaign at it. Even ran a couple of games with it. It was fun. I didn't like 3.5 so much. I'm at a bit of a loss to clearly explain why, but to me, it felt like it was hovering between "Hey! I'm D&D and I'm a role playing game!" and "Hey! I'm D&D, and I'm a tactical miniatures combat game!" and instead of hitting a mark, to me, it just fell down between the cracks. Anyway, I didn't like it, really. Looking back at all of the iterations of D&D, now, there are all kinds of mechanical issues and problems. And it seems like they're trying to address/fix many of those things in 4th edition. Like wizards. One of the things that always annoyed me was the slots that they gave to spell casters. They've been calling it 'Vancian'. The idea that a wizard or spell caster, especially a low-level one, gets to blow his limited load, then hang out at the back of the party and try not to get killed. Its both frustrating and boring.

In the same way that sometimes you may be in the mood for a tense crime-drama, other times you may want some high flying action and adventure. I kindof feel that way. I've done the pendulum swing, leaving D&D and discovering the world and the philosophy of indie gaming. And - wow - its been incredible. Eye opening and such a learning experience. I'm kinda eager to go and apply some things to a game of D&D. Like... pacing, and structure, and the simple, but often lost mindset of "We're here to play a game and have fun doing it".

I'll leave with an analogy. I think that part of my problem with D&D, and my move to indie games, was that I really wanted a hamburger, and when D&D served me, it was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And I was like "WTF? This is the worst hamburger I've ever had." So I went and found hamburgers, and enjoyed the fuck out of them. Kinda feel like I'm hungry for a little peanut butter and jelly.

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