I Have a Lair!

Are you ready for this weekend’s D&D 4th Edition release? I have high expectations. Which is to say that I have high standards, with hopes that they will be met. (High standards, hah, look at what we play online.)

My favorite promo is the gnome‘s movement to the Monster Manual. He and Francis are adorable. He is very polite to share the stage with that horned upstart. You can see the change in the vision of the gnome. While 3rd Edition and WoW both took Dragonlance’s tinker gnomes and ran with them, 4th is returning to the 2nd Edition forest gnomes and running past them into fey.

Penny Arcade and PvP Online have a podcast series going to introduce you (and them). You get the fun mix of the Wizards of the Coast professional, long-term player, long-ago player, and complete newb. The first podcast focuses on introducing rules and picking names. If you flip to 3:09-3:19, you can hear the prospects of “Jim Darkmagic” and “Chet Awesomelaser.” The module introduction is a bit more narrative than I am used to from DMs. They resisted the urge to say, “I double-click on the NPC to get the quest.”

: Zubon

3 thoughts on “I Have a Lair!”

  1. I played a couple of demos last weekend, and I have to say, it’s really, really solid. It was a lot easier for new players to pick up, and there was a good amount of tactical depth still intact, without requiring a bunch of overly arcane memorization. The non-combat stuff is a lot less clunky, with fewer all-or-nothing single die rolls. In addition, combat is more interesting because big, dangerous monsters are actually big and dangerous, with multiple actions in a round, etc. while normal combats are much bigger affairs, with lots of enemies. In 3.5, a group of four level one characters might face one orc with a greataxe in a typical fight. In 4, it was between 4 and 6 monsters in any given fight for 5 to 6 characters. On top of all of that, the default world stuff is a lot more compelling; as I said somewhere else, it feels like when a writer stops writing Tolkien fanfic and moves into writing their own stuff while still displaying some influence from their favorite writer.

    The only complaint that I think is maybe worth listening to is that it can be harder to get to someone’s ideal character now. As an example, the only really good choice for a two weapon fighter, or at least the only class that emphasizes it, is the ranger, and then only if they mostly ignore bow usage. There’s still feats so that anyone can fight with two weapons in hand, and there’s multiclass feats for characters past 10, but there’s very little dabbling in off-skills and off-specs now.

    Still, all in all, I think it’s a big improvement.

  2. I would first answer with this. I would go on to say that the game looks well-executed but limited. What is there is a solid, level-based game that you play instead of overthinking. I like to engage in metagame overthinking, but I can see how rewarding that can be bad. But it is limited in that the range of initial options is fairly small without a clear and easy way to expand them. Each class is channeled into two or three paths, and the abilities go with that. You cannot add a new class with a few special abilities and a subset of the Sorc/Wiz spell list because that spell list does not exist anymore; making a new class involves the full 15 pages of filling out the new menu, unless you want it to have 0 options.

    It is like an MMO that has a solid release but not a fully satisfying content set at launch. You can play, and it plays well, but it only does so within a narrow domain. The Lord of the Rings Online™: Shadows of Angmar™, a year ago?

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