10 August 2008

D&D 4th edition, 1st impressions

Played in my first Dungeons & Dragons “fourth edition” session Saturday.

“Blasting people with magical energy”

My first level Wizard, Tothamon, can launch silvery bolts of force, engulf his foes in a column of flames, and create a whip-crack of sonic power that lashes up from the ground. He can do one of these things every six seconds. Once an encounter, he can hurl an force-grenade.

Note that my other choices for these four powers were pretty much the same sort of things. This is exactly what I was afraid Andy Collin’s statement—“Being a wizard is about blasting people with magical energy”—meant.

He can cast a sleep spell once a day, and he has some nifty minor (non-combat) cantrips, and he has a couple of (non-combat) ritual spells. But he doesn’t get any “utility” spells until second level!

This is not what I think of when I think “wizard”. This is not what I think of when I think “D&D magic-user”. You cannot create a wizard by these rules who doesn’t have at least three “blasty” powers at first level.

That’s fine. I’ll enjoy it. “When in Rome.” But if you wonder why I might choose to play an older edition of D&D sometimes—if you wonder why I say “it’s not just a new edition, it’s a new game”—there’s at least one reason why.

“And when everyone’s super, no one will be.”

After looking at the rules, I said, “everyone’s a spell-caster”. After playing a session, I’d refine that.

Where playing a fighter or a magic-user used to be two very different experiences, now they are very, very similar. It’s not just that playing a fighter is now more like playing a wizard. It’s also that playing a wizard is more like playing a fighter. The engineer part of me loves it. The gamer part of me isn’t so sure.

This really has me rethinking some of my own homebrew system ideas and some of the systems I was looking forward to trying.

“If you can’t say something nice...”

There are definitely some things I like about the system too. I’ll try to post some about those things too.

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