Thursday, July 17, 2008

Old vs New Finisher

Short post today.

Continuing the Old vs New thing, I just have a hard time believing that people can be so defensive about their sacred cows. Aren't the changes necessary? Isn't there some sort of reason as to why they would have added/removed/altered content within the game itself?

Fourth edition of DND obviously favors the player - they are harder to kill, can alter their own fate with Action Points, and have a powerful cache of abilities to utilize to make the fight go their way. Third edition put everyone on even footing and insisted upon the DM to send tough but beatable fights your way, so you wouldn't dump time and effort into a story and campaign setting and preparation just to have your party get killed. If DMs were particularly sadistic or just sucked at math, this whole equation got thrown out of whack.

And Second Edition was even worse.

But this isn't even for just DND. New edition of Warhammer has brought out slews of naysayers all calling bullshit on the entire edition due to changes they made to make the game simpler and more fun.

If rules get in the way of the game being enjoyable and fair, they get changed. If you don't like the changes, play a different game.

Gritty realistic fantasy warfare is what Warhammer RPG does really well. Realistic anything is what Savage Worlds does.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Old vs New

One of the things I've been thinking alot about lately is the old versus new debate. And this doesn't just pertain to DND4, but I'll use it as an example.

Some people really, really hate change. Severely. Like, totally refuse to see the intent or point behind the content they have been handed. My favorite example of this was the third-fourth transition in DND's theme - they wanted to step away from the hyper-realism that second and third tended to, instead leaning more towards the idea that PCs in DND are heroes by trade.

Being a hero doesn't just mean lucky-enough-to-survive-an-entire-campaign. It means your very actions and path have been set before you by the gods whom have chosen you to be special, a cut above the rest.

Some people want the hero in their game to be just as easy to kill as the NPCs he encounters. And you know, that's fine for something like Savage Worlds, where you get three wounds (That progressively give you a -1 for each wound to everything you do) before you are dead or, if the DM prefers, permanently injured.

Savage Worlds had the system of Bennies; Bennies are chips of fate that you can use to reroll, add to, or otherwise fix a mistake you might make. 'Wild Cards' are those whom get it, and that ranges from named NPCs to the PCs themselves. It gives the players more control over their fate.

DND followed that idea, but instead, just gave them to the PCs only, and called it action points. The point is to show that the PCs have more control over their destiny. They can get killed, but it's much harder due to their die-hard nature and pluck.

Purists of DND don't see the point behind this. The point is to make the game less likely to get a lucky shot in and kill you, thereby forcing you to reroll a character whom the PCs meet in the next town that is identical to the guy who got killed. It gives the PCs options in combat.

But, hell, was it any different from the ADND to DND3 jump? You used to have to roll level 1 hit points, making it entirely possible that your wizard started with one hit point. Hell, it made it possible that your barbarian could start off with only a handful of hit points too. It made it realistic I suppose, but more than anything else it was just annoying.

In third, you get your dice's maximum hit points at first level, plus con modifier. Flat. And do you know why this is such an awesome decision by Wizards/TSR? Because there is no point in building a character that you really like only to have him die due to shitty luck he can't control. Any reasonable DM will let you just re-create them and put them back in the party, or more so, just ignore it.

One of the things they changed is, in third, wizards had tons of capabilities per day that did tons of things, as did all spellcasters. Fighters and anyone who didn't have spells barely could do more than swing their sword and, sometimes, stuff like Whirlwind Attack. Rangers and Paladins could cast a handful of spells, but it was halfway through their levels and only one or two. Wizards were a thousand times more fun to play than fighters. Clerics got tons of spells but it all was dumped into making sure the main characters didn't die. All this leads me to my next point.

The other thing that I'm hearing thrown around; "It's just like World of Warcraft now!"

Um, stop me if I'm wrong about this, but wasn't DND the first World of Warcraft? Like, DND at it's core required a fighter to tank, a healer to keep everyone together, a rouge for traps, and a wizard for area of effect and utility? Right? Cause I remember a good party in second edition, third edition, and 3.5e looked pretty much the same. Hell it even was like that in Baldur's Gate I and II, and that practically was ADND at it's core.

So they got to the "Lots of options to chose from" party a bit late. So what? They have molded the game itself to allow each class to do what the class was designed to do better and easier. Fighters have abilities that make it a really good idea for an enemy to fight him. This was originally the intent. In third, it was because he was in the front and everyone else would escape if the mob attacked them. In fourth, it's because if he doesn't attack the fighter, he gets a huge penalty on that attack.

So, the fighter is effectively all over him. How is this such an awful thing.

What I also hear is "But it's not DND anymore!", but like I said earlier, this is DND, they have changed the base mechanics to make it more fun. I'm sorry your wizard is no longer Inspector Gadget with his spells able to do everything you could ever ask and therefore totally bang your DM in the ass, since you could whip by any encounter or trap or puzzle with a well-placed Chain Lightning/Levitate/Knock spell. Really, it hurts me deeply that you feel this way, except I don't and I'm lying.

Just...just look at high-level third edition. A 15th level party needs to get to the city that's across the continent. The DM figures this will be enough random encounters - plus or minus the big evil that's sending assassins to kill your PCs - to level them up.

The Fighter jumps on his magic carpet. Rogue puts on his Cape of Flying. Wizard casts Overland Flight. Cleric puts on his Ring of Flight. Suddenly you have the Goddamn Justice League flying high over Metropolis, fifty feet in the air, unchecked by random encounters.

And multiclassing. God. Multiclassing. I won't go into detail, but suffice to say now instead of the disadvantage of not gaining a level in the class you were before (which didn't matter since picking up levels of Fighter as a Barbarian was the best thing you could do) you actually have to trade-in abilities your class has to get features and powers that you can use only once in a while from another class.

In short: Fourth Edition is fun in ways I never realized that DND3 lacked. I'll continue on the Old vs New thoughts later.