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Steve D [userpic]

And now I've played D&D...

June 30th, 2008 (09:15 pm)

And it's about as dull as 3E.   That is to say, any sort of storytelling interest has to be added to it; playing them both for combat is equally dull.  There are a few things gone which make it even easier to forgt about storytelling, but it wasn't that hard to forget in the first place. 

I think the biggest change is the division into Tanks and Blasters, sorry, Defenders and Strikers.  I was playing a fighter and had to get used to the fact that the rogue could do heaps more damage than me, and that my role was to just stand there and take hits.  Normally when I play a fighter I get to do both, while everyone else is bored.  Much like MMORPGS, tanking is kind of dull, and boy do you need taunts.  The GM made sure his creatures attacked the Striker whenever they could, because that's tactically the best idea.  No more attacking whoever is the most dramatic...but as mentioned, there ARE compensations for this, in that it does what a lot of people were already doing with D&D (playing it tactically) a lot better and smoother.  And that allows for D&D combats to be a lot more interesting as games - kobolds sticking us to the floor with gluepots so we could get squished by rolling rocks made for interesting gaming, and for once doing something INTERESTING was tactically sound, which it so rarely was before.

Much like MMORPGs, it's about the grind.  The story comes not from the game, but entirely from you.  But the grind is well balanced and multi-faceted.


Posted by: Geoff (nuclear_powered)
Posted at: June 30th, 2008 11:36 am (UTC)

Sounds like I may as well just play a MMORPG or a good, tactical boardgame and then roleplay with a product designed to facilitate actual roleplaying. Ho-hum.

Congrats on the WFRP gig with FFG by the way.

Posted by: burgonet (burgonet)
Posted at: June 30th, 2008 11:38 am (UTC)

I'm hearing the game is less dependant on magic items, more balanced and encourages interesting tactics and combat/dungeon/battle environments.

So, for what it does, it sounds like a major improvement.
I'm sold, so to speak.

Posted by: Steve D (d_fuses)
Posted at: June 30th, 2008 11:43 am (UTC)

This is all true. Not least because of the influence of Mike Mearls, who wrote the excellent Iron Heroes, and is awesome.

Posted by: burgonet (burgonet)
Posted at: July 1st, 2008 12:00 am (UTC)

Ah! I rather liked Iron Heroes, good to see that WotC did as well and took his ideas on board.

"Adventure" should be more about deeds and battles, less a trip to a shopping catalogue.

Posted by: gbsteve (gbsteve)
Posted at: June 30th, 2008 11:51 am (UTC)

That's pretty much our experience too. It's about the grind.

Posted by: Steve D (d_fuses)
Posted at: June 30th, 2008 11:56 am (UTC)

That may be slightly too pejorative, since sometimes grind means "killing rabbits for ten hours and then clicking "CHOP WOOD" for another ten just so your stat goes up 0.1%". Grind here means what MMORPGs do in a more general sense. Get mish, complete mish, get powers, lather, rinse, enjoy.

Posted by: gbsteve (gbsteve)
Posted at: June 30th, 2008 12:09 pm (UTC)

It was supposed to be pejorative. I've always found levels rather depressing.

Posted by: Steve D (d_fuses)
Posted at: June 30th, 2008 12:20 pm (UTC)

I enjoy it, but I do agree it tends to completely dominate whatever game it is in because everything becomes about what the character will do next, not what they are doing now. Which is why the only time I've ever run a D20 game, I deliberately woven change into the narrative (between each session, the PCs were apart for a year and met back up again for the next one, with new abilities).

Posted by: Adrian Forest (dalziel_86)
Posted at: June 30th, 2008 01:39 pm (UTC)

So, essentially it reinforces what I realised a long time ago: If you want tactical fantasy medieval combat, you might as well just play WoW.

Posted by: Patrick (artbroken)
Posted at: June 30th, 2008 11:34 pm (UTC)

That is to say, any sort of storytelling interest has to be added to it... The story comes not from the game, but entirely from you.

I must admit that I have yet to see any RPG that tells a story without input from players or that roleplays itself.

Which is a good thing. Because then the RPGs will have won and can wipe us out; megatonnes of d20s will fall from orbit to destroy us, and a copy of 8th Edition D&D will be sent back in time to kill you. And I don't want that, even if you do.

Also, don't make assumptions on how fighters work based on one combat; they have a strong consistent damage output and can go through minions like hot butter. Meanwhile the rogue is made of tinfoil and can only summon up big damage spikes when the circumstances are right.

Posted by: IMAGinES (ext_2136)
Posted at: July 4th, 2008 01:14 am (UTC)

Art, I don't know you so my apologies if I'm taking a tongue-in-cheek post to be snark, but I think you're taking a general point a little too by the letter. Sure, there's no game without players. Still, any given well-designed set of rules will encourage and support a particular set of behaviours amongst players. There are games out there whose rules support and encourage interst in storytelling, characterisation, drama et. al (Dogs in the Vineyard, The Shadow of Yesterday, the upcoming Houses of the Blooded come to mind as examples - heck, Primetime Adventures has the most explicit "if this guy entertains, give him a reward right now" mechanic I've ever seen). By all accounts I've read/heard, the rules of D&D 4E don't - they encourage tactical thinking in response to tactical challenges.

I'm listening to the podcasts of the Penny Arcade/PvP lads playing 4E with WotC's DMs, and while they're definitely entertaining, the character dialogue (such as it is) and laugh-out-loud moments seem to be generated as a by-product of the activity of playing. I'm of the opinion that I'd only want to play D&D with a bunch of guys as intelligent, as witty and as willing to simultaneously respct the rules and not take the game seriously as them; otherwise it degenerates into "I roll, you roll", which I find dull (and those moments aren't infrequent in those padcasts either).

Posted by: Patrick (artbroken)
Posted at: July 4th, 2008 01:27 am (UTC)

I am being rather tongue-in-cheek, yes.

But that said, I've played a lot of games and written my fair share of sourcebooks, and while I agree that a system will reward some behaviours more than others, the most important influence comes from the desires and personalities of the players and GM. When the GM rewards a certain kind of behaviour, that's far more influential than when the game rewards it, and the players will game in whatever way feels right to them, even if the system discourages it. No system can force a player to roleplay; no system can stop a player from roleplaying. Feedback loops and system encouragement are nice, but remove the human element - remove the internal aesthetics and personalities of the player - and it doesn't matter how encouraging or tactical the game is, it's just words on a page.

I've yet to play 4E, but my reading doesn't make me see it as 'tactically' focused as gameplay focused - that its primary purpose is to make the major gameplay element (action scenes) engaging and enjoyable in their own right for every player, and to let the roleplaying emerge from the players themselves, as it always has done.

I'll confirm this for myself when I finally play it, of course, and I'll admit it if I'm wrong.

I'm of the opinion that I'd only want to play D&D with a bunch of guys as intelligent, as witty and as willing to simultaneously respct the rules and not take the game seriously as them

Well... yeah. That's really my attitude towards all gaming, whatever the system, and I don't see why it would be different here.

Oh, and it's Patrick, not Art.

Posted by: scurvy_platypus (scurvy_platypus)
Posted at: July 1st, 2008 02:52 pm (UTC)

Much like MMORPGs, it's about the grind. The story comes not from the game, but entirely from you. But the grind is well balanced and multi-faceted.

I'm curious, how is the WHFRPG different?

I get that D&D is a game with a strong tactical focus. Some argue that the newest iteration is almost impossible for the game to _not_ have involved tactical gameplay take place during the session.

But what is it that WHFRPG brings to the table that couldn't be achieved by someone running a 4E game simply saying, "Ok, we're not using a battlemat, grid, miniatures, whatever. You don't go to an action movie and watch Bruce Willis take a 5' step back, and by god you're not going to see it in this game!! Neo totally beat on Agent Smith and those guys were moving around _everywhere_. That's what we're going to do here."

I'll note I don't own the 4E books, and I won't until sometime next year unless someone gifts me with 'em. So I'm not asking because I want to defend 4E, I'm just curious to see where the disconnect is coming from.

Also related to that is another question. You mention 3E as being dull. Is that D&D specifically or d20 in general? I thought the Lone Wolf rpg done by Mongoose for example was pretty groovy, and I got a kind of similar vibe from it as I did from reading 1st ed WHFRP waaaay back in the day. Lone Wolf characters being "heroes" as opposed to "ordinary folks" like WHFRPG, but otherwise it seemed to have an overall similar... "feel"... is about the only way I can describe it.

I tend towards much lighter systems than either WHFRPG or D&D/d20 personally, but I've honestly never known anyone that played WHFRPG. I've never really had a chance to have a dialogue with someone about it, especially in comparison to other stuff. So my questions stem from that, not looking to defend anyone's honor. :)

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