RIP Hunter

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cracking the Spine: first thoughts on pages 1-60

Very brief first thoughts on the first 60 pages.

After flipping though the book a bit, I could understand some of the comparisons to MMORPGs, one of the original criticisms I had read was that 4th ed had become the equivalent of playing a video game Rpg vs a traditional pen and paper Rpg. A PC now seems to gain notable character upgrades on even levels much like the leveling curve in World of Warcraft.

Use of grid maps and figures seems to be almost mandatory since the 3rd Ed. This seems to move away from the cinematic role playing element at first but given that Gary Gygax designed the original version to focus on a single character per player vs the old larger scale war games.

Class roles: clearly the ideas of a tank, healer and dps are not new but were never really focused on the way they are in this edition, expanding it to include crowd control and Area of Effect attacks. Parties must be set up a lot like WoW instancing groups.

Powers: Abilities with cooldowns instead of the old spell pool or having to state what spells you are specifically memorizing for the day. I am sure this is deeper, I just haven't read that far yet.

Alignments: From 9 very good almost all encompassing personality concepts down to 5. All 5 seem to be attempting to shoehorn you into being a good, lawful, both or apathetic type of character. Why? What was wrong with the old way? The only thought is too many Munchkins playing Chaotic Neutral for the "I'll do what I want, whenever I want" factor. I still don't understand why Chaos = Evil in as such that it is too potent to let the PCs play that alignment.

Deities: The set of standard gods vs the ones that are usually setting specific seems to fit pretty well. After all pallys and clerics will need someone to call too. Again, no expanded outlines on any gods devoted to evil or chaos.

Leveling Tiers: 3 tiers, seems very cinematic, the rising scope of powers and abilities lends it self to an epic trilogy, pretty well.

Races: being an old school player, I am used to the Lord of the Rings races being the standard. However, playing the bad guys be they, drow, orcs, or any other creature in the Monster Manual has always ended up being included in one supplement or another. The inclusion of Dragon Born and Tieflings is sure to stimulate some interest beyond the vanilla, and I know that the trend of adding classes and races continues in the 2nd and 3rd volumes of the Players Handbook. Interestingly to me, they have removed all stat minuses from all the races. The inclusion of a specific racial ability helps make tuning a specific character concept a lot more enticing.

Power Sources: not sure what the point is yet, hasn't been explained this early in the book.

Paragon Paths: similar to MMO speccs, a way to greater tune your abilities to a firm concept. Might be somewhat limiting compared to the wide open possibilities of the previous editions. However, the specific paths may give a big power boost in the desired direction.

Powers: seem better organized and easier to know exactly what you can and can't do, when and how often.


  1. I believe the reason for downplaying the alignments in 4E is because in 3E, it became proselytized by the more power-gamish types as either an unwanted handicap or a potential hinderance. For example, being good meant that unholy weapons did more damage to you, prot. from good type effects could get you, monsters had "smite good" powers that'd bash you, and you'd incur negative levels while using evil magic items. I think those things, combined with the CN issue above, is why they dumbed down the alignment choices in 4E. To me, it has the effect of vacuuming out even more role-playing potential from the core books.

  2. I know the guys from Wizard's R&D stated on the Wizpodcast that they were removing things that detect alignment to bring some more roleplaying and intrigue back to the system. Rather than just "detect Evil"..this is a bad guy we should not listen to him and in fact are now justified to stab him in the neck. I am seing alot of the logic of the changes after a couple of months of play..but outright removing the 9 alignments especially the Chaotic non-Evil ones seems a bit like "crowbaring" the PC's into being the Good Guys.