29 August 2008

D&D 4th edition, second impressions

I know I promised to post about things I liked about 4e, but I’ve got some more dislikes first.

Second wind My general philosophy is that players don’t need to know the rules. They just tell the DM what they want their character to do, and it’s up to the DM to translate that into mechanics and then translate the results back into plain terms. This is an ideal that we perhaps can’t actually fully make it to, but I’d rather move towards it rather than away.

Second wind is not an action a player would ever think of his character wanting to take unless the player knew about the rule. Well, maybe. “I spend this turn catching my breath.” But you get the point, right?

Healing surges These seem like a completely unnecessary extra layer of abstraction on top of hit points.

The 15 minute adventuring day One of the things 4e sought to fix was that adventuring parties would often stop to take a full 8-hour rest and replenish “per day” resources. This didn’t seem to work, since our party did the same thing.

Too many subsystems? Powers, feats, skills, and rituals. Does the system really need and make the most of these subsystems? Feats in particular seem a bit redundant now that there are powers.

Unreliable magic One of the things I really liked about D&D is that magic spells tend to just work. Yeah, if a spell is cast on a creature, it might get a saving throw or magic resistance. And yeah, more and more spells that didn’t allow saving throws would in a new edition. Now, however, most spells are essentially attack rolls. I didn’t like having to roll to cast spells in any of the non-D&D RPGs I’ve played. I don’t like doing it in 4e either.

1 comment:

Matthew James Stanham said...

Just been having a chat about the very subject of rules visibility over on GitP:


I mention it because the discussion there led me to start a thread that took your short article "On Rules Light" as its starting point: