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

Friday, January 11, 2008

D&D ramble

So why am I excited about D&D 4e? I'm still trying to solidify the concept in my own mind.

I enjoyed the heck out of some D&D awhile back, before three things happened:

1. I found other exciting games and game concepts

2. I got frustrated with the tedious mechanisms of D&D

3. There were some player issues with the D&D group I was playing with.

I think I've run into two big hurdles in the last couple of years with my non-D&D gaming.

1. Alot of my available player base are interested in simple concepts like "leveling up", and killing monsters.

2. I've had a fair amount of difficulty bending systems to do what I want.

To address that second point - I've been running a Werewolf game that I've been enjoying alot, but I've found the dice and game mechanics often to be restricting to me. I've been in almost total narrator mode, which means that when dice start telling me things that I didn't intend to be saying, it throws me a curve. I would be in mid-game, when it occurred to me that what I wanted to have happen next, and what the players wanted and expected to happen next were different, and that the players were using the system exactly in the way that they are supposed to in order to achieve these results that they desired. So I found myself a deer in headlights a few times. It makes in hard, in those circumstances to bend the rules to my whim, when the dice are lying on the table, and the player is staring at me with big childlike eyes wanting to have been successful. So it kept occurring to me that at least some of my players are still playing D&D, just with werewolves and with different dice mechanics. You can take the gamer out of D&D, but you can't take D&D out of the gamer, it seems.

So, I don't mean this to sound like I want to play D&D just as a last resort and because nothing else worked, although I do feel just a tad like I'm throwing up my hands. I kinda want to play D&D because, well, I like rewarding my players with what they want. And they want to kill monsters and level up. What better medium for that than D&D.

I hate the tone of this post, but I'm pressing on anyway.

I'm excited about D&D4e for a few reasons:

1. Cleaning up mechanics in a big way. Obviously, 4e is not out yet, and so I can only make assumptions based on what I'm seeing in the info released sofar. But one of my big gripes with D&D was how mechanically stupid, unfun, tedious and boring it was.

2. Cleaning up how the game is played. Another thing I hated about D&D was how tedious and boring playing it could be. Who's excited about playing a 1st level wizard? I'm trying not to fall prey to reading each snippet and retconning my thoughts on D&D to meet the latest cool snippet, but I do like alot of the snippets I've seen.

3. The chance to connect with a couple of current players, and maybe a few people who I haven't gamed with in some time, using a medium that we all can understand. With werewolf sometimes I felt like I was playing Axis and Allies while someone else was playing Risk, and as you can imagine, it felt a little forced and awkward. Sure, sure, I accept responsibility for this, though its not like I didn't try to communicate and get everyone onto the same page.

Whew, that felt mighty rambly and not structured at all, but now that I've purged most of that from my system I feel better.

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