D&D 4th Edition

I have finally got my hands on the D&D 4E books. They weren't a priority for me, since I've no immediate intentions to play the game - we switched to Fate 2.0 some time ago, and I'm very happy with it. But you can't talk sensibly about gaming unless you know the baseline systems, and just as that's been d20 for the last however-many years, it'll be 4th Edition for some time to come. So having got them as a present (thanks, Dave!) is very welcome.

Now, as I said, I've no intentions of playing the game anytime soon. I do have a 4E campaign in mind; it's on my "Someday/Maybe" list, along with a rough outline of a setting riffing off the "points of light" idea, but I have two other main campaigns running, and one that has occasional games as I and the other players find time - and ideas for a good few more.

I've been fully prepared to dislike the 4E ruleset. It has lots of things that, to my mind, constrain the players, and in GNS terms, it's very gamist, somewhat narrativist, and not at all simulationist. Being as my tendencies are exactly the reverse of that... well, I wasn't expecting to be bowled over. And I wasn't, but there's a sneaking feeling creeping up on me that 4E is a very good game.

Certainly, it's clear. It's also easy to learn, and considering some other games I've dealt with recently, that's a big bonus. I reckon it would also be easy to run; the modular nature of the monsters, powers, etc makes me think you could essentially pull elements "off the shelf", and slot them into your plot or adventure outline. 3.0 and 3.5 improved a great deal over 2nd Edition for rationality in the number-crunching, but it was still entirely possible to build encounters that didn't work as expected. I don't suppose you can ever expect to eliminate that, given that it happens even in CRPGs, but I think there's less of it in 4E.

And admirably, it's well-written and even inspirational. Reading the DMG this morning on the train has provoked me into making more complete and more useful notes for several upcoming encounters in all three games than I've made in some time. It also has a firm emphasis on fun, both at the playing and preparation stages.

So while it's still not in my top three next games to run, it's hovering around number four. It might even move up if the rest of the DMG is as good, and it continues to look as easy to run as it does now.

Posted by Drew Shiel at November 12, 2008 2:04 PM

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