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  1. #201
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    Quote Originally Posted by CapnZapp View Post
    In short, yes 4E has been much discussed. But seldom has its fundamentally overwrought design complexity been questioned.
    The edition war rarely reached the intellectual level of a discussion or debate, it was characterized by fallacies, especially personal attacks, intellectual dishonesty, questionable agendas, and many persistent factual errors & misrepresentations.

    Actual discussion of 4e, itself, rather than the straw man effigies of it being attacked, was rare by comparison. The game has been dead & burried for 7 years now, and it's still not possible to have an honest discussion of its actual qualities.

    4e being overly complex and hard to learn/play has been an edition-war accusation very nearly as long as the accusation that it was dumbed-down and simplistic. Both were equally valid.

    Of course, RPGing is a complex activity, and there are many ways to manage, conceal, or otherwise render that complexity acceptable. Rules Lite games - including no version of D&D ever - cope with it by off-loading complexity to the GM, and in more progressive ones, the players, as well. Rules-heavy games, by over-rewarding mastery of that same complexity. D&D has generally skated on the issue of complexity, because it's the oldest, most-played of RPGs, it's familiar and familiarity reduces the perception of complexity. TSR eds are often considered less complex than WotC eds, when the opposite is true - 3e & 4e each consolidated the needless complexity of prior the edition, and 5e re-einstated only some of that. But less complex than Gygax's baroque masterpieces is still plenty complex.

    5e relies on that same familiarity to mask complexity more than the other WotC editions, while 3e encintivizes the embrace of complexity with lavish rewards for system mastery. 4e reduced the experience of complexity through clarity & consistency, but that approach only worked for new & casual players, having the opposite effect on those already very familiar with past editions.

    I mean, the absolute priority is to avoid Boring, right?
    Not really: like 'fun,' it can be awfully subjective. Some players may be fascinated by, say, building up a town and keep in meticulous, economically-realistic detail, others bored to tears.

    The point of 'fast combat' is to minimize boredom or distaste for those who don't like combat, in the first place, by /just getting it over with/ - that it also minimizes fun for those who might enjoy a good combat notwithstanding.

    If the only way to make a fight sufficiently challenging to avoid Boring is to make it take a long time, then your core game is too involved.
    The point of a more involved, dramatic and engaging combat is not to avoid boring with the threat of quick death, but to be interesting and even fun for all the players involved, in the first place - thus, if it takes 40 or 90 minutes, instead of 15 or 60, it's time well spent, rather than wasted time minimized.

    I think that shows why there is a limit to the lengths a game should and can go to avoid anti-climactic and/or Rocket Tag.
    Some groups are going to like that, and others are going to like all getting to participate.

    It's up to the DM to decide how to run & pace his game. I played in a 3e campaign where the DM went to great lengths to manage elaborate, tactically engaging combats - it helped that no one played a wizard or CoDzilla build, but it was still quite a feat - and in a 4e campaign where the DM would use over-leveled minions, even minimized bodaks with the death-gaze intact - to create fast/difficult combats where you felt overmatched, at first, but it wrapped quickly.

    The key is actually balance: in that 3e campaign, player restraint played a meaningful role in keeping it enjoyable for all - our resident Powergamers amused themselves with complex melee builds, well the most casual player had a sorcerer, for instance - had someone been optimizing SoDs, it'd've been different.

    4e was more consistent, so if you colored outside the lines, to get something different from the default, no one's PC was likely to be marginalized, and the something different was more likely to happen. The issue was that it was so easy to run a decent session, DMs weren't often gripped with that urge to achieve something different.

    5e accomplishes the same thing without resorting to the iconoclastic, sacred-cattle-mutilation of class/encounter balance, through DM fiat, which require more art, artifice, & and just plain guts on the part of the DM. But, that same DM who ran rocket tag with minion bodaks in 4e, ran set-pieces in 5e.
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  2. #202
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fanaelialae View Post
    You could literally die before getting a turn to act, and it wasn't that uncommon. It might be exciting for a one-shot, but by the time you're rolling up your twelve character in the same number of sessions, it got very old very fast (IME).
    You could also watch the encounter end without getting to act - not just combat encounters, either, many other challenges would also likely be resolved by a single PC, as well.

    The issue wasn't so much fast v slow or boring v exciting, but spectator v participant.
    IME, 4e did a good job of making PCs robust enough that they'd pretty much never get one shot without being able to act.. 5e, by comparison, seems to deliver a compromise of the two. I've seen characters get one shot without being able to act, but it's rare
    Nod, 5e is that kind of deadly only at the lowest levels, but it establishes, especially in the eyes of a new player "this game is deadly," while those contrasting it to other eds may see it as "too easy."
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  3. #203
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    Combat is like sex. If you are enjoying it, it doesn't matter how long it takes.

    Also like sex, combat is highly personal. You might enjoy it a certain way, and another person (group) might enjoy it another way, and that's OK.

    = = =

    There are many things that can be done in any game to make "time spent in combat" expand or contract to the group's desires. Few of those techniques have to do with the game's rules; most of those techniques have to do with table management, time management, and choosing a group that all has similar tastes for sexy combat.
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  4. #204
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    The edition war rarely reached the intellectual level of a discussion or debate, it was characterized by fallacies, especially personal attacks, intellectual dishonesty, questionable agendas, and many persistent factual errors & misrepresentations.

    Actual discussion of 4e, itself, rather than the straw man effigies of it being attacked, was rare by comparison. The game has been dead & burried for 7 years now, and it's still not possible to have an honest discussion of its actual qualities.

    4e being overly complex and hard to learn/play has been an edition-war accusation very nearly as long as the accusation that it was dumbed-down and simplistic. Both were equally valid.

    Of course, RPGing is a complex activity, and there are many ways to manage, conceal, or otherwise render that complexity acceptable. Rules Lite games - including no version of D&D ever - cope with it by off-loading complexity to the GM, and in more progressive ones, the players, as well. Rules-heavy games, by over-rewarding mastery of that same complexity. D&D has generally skated on the issue of complexity, because it's the oldest, most-played of RPGs, it's familiar and familiarity reduces the perception of complexity. TSR eds are often considered less complex than WotC eds, when the opposite is true - 3e & 4e each consolidated the needless complexity of prior the edition, and 5e re-einstated only some of that. But less complex than Gygax's baroque masterpieces is still plenty complex.

    5e relies on that same familiarity to mask complexity more than the other WotC editions, while 3e encintivizes the embrace of complexity with lavish rewards for system mastery. 4e reduced the experience of complexity through clarity & consistency, but that approach only worked for new & casual players, having the opposite effect on those already very familiar with past editions.
    I'm going to post a few thoughts on this, while noting that some of your statements are not going to be agreeable, and that may be why certain things are missed by you (such as 3e and 4e merely "consolidating" "needless complexity" of prior editions).


    Necessary Disclaimer
    I don't care about any edition wars; I think everything since UA in 1985 is, for the most part, crud, and 5e is ... it's fine. It's good. I'm running 5e right now, along with 1e (AD&D) and I'm doing a Moldvay/Cook B/X. I think the rest is, well, whatever. 2e or 4e, it's all the same crud IMO. Play what you want. I'll probably make fun of it. In fact, I'll probably mock it even more if it's what I'm playing (because familiarity, contempt, and because then I can write better jokes from a place of knowledge).

    Good?


    Okay, so here's what I can discern based on the research I've been trying to do on pro-, anti-, and supposedly neutral 4e websites. Everyone ties to claim a success, but a failure (and 4e was a failure, as I will explain, but not in a pejorative way- but in a different sense) is an orphan, but an orphan with a lot of causes.


    So, based upon what I read and understood, why do I start by saying that 4e was a failure?

    Because it was. The system was designed to 1) represent a break from 3e; 2) provide a new path forward for D&D; 3) provide a basis for CRPGs based on the 4e engine; 4) provide a subscription-based revenue stream for Hasbro; 5) attract new gamers that had not previously played D&D; and 6) crush PF and the nascent retroclone/OSR market and re-establish official licensed Hasbro D&D as the dominant RPG.

    It failed in its goals, was the shortest-lived edition in D&D history, and resulted in the layoff of ... well... almost everyone ... and Hasbro quickly pivoting to the 5e strategy.* Arguably, the D&D brand was at death's door for a while.

    But ...

    That's just, like, one opinion man. While it was a failure, it's important to understand the metrics involved. As far as I can tell, 4e wasn't unprofitable, it just wasn't profitable in the way it was projected to be. And while the new systems weren't adopted wholesale by the entire community as 4e, many of the mechanics surfaced in 5e. So ... it's complicated. I mean ... it's like saying, "Well the Apple Newton was a failure." Yes, but ....

    So what does it all mean? How do *I* evaluate various claims?

    1. 4e is like a videogame. Partly true.
    This is one of those really contentious areas, but, near as I can tell, the designers are on the record as saying that (1) they wanted to attract new players, (2) they believed those players would be playing videogames, (3) they used MMOs, and Warcraft, as inspiration for some of the rules, and (4) this inspiration was a big part of the design choices with regards to character creation (people enjoyed building characters as much as playing them), roles (striker, etc.) and powers. AEDU and related concepts, while not foreign to RPGs, are very close to Diablo/Warcraft cooldowns.

    In addition, there is ample evidence that Hasbro wanted that sweet, sweet subscription revenue. After all, why sell a book one time for $35 when you can sell each person a $10/month subscription (BRILLIANT!). And, of course, an underlying ruleset that was ... videogame friendly ... would make for great videogames. More money.

    So ... why is this only partly true? Because a lot of this reputation came from a botched rollout (this seems to a common theme in my research). So, you're announcing your product in 2007. People are hyped about the new D&D! And instead of emphasizing the awesome new system, you spend all of your time discussing a virtual tabletop and D&D Insider - apparently to such an extent that many of the people there (who were influential and quickly spread the word) weren't even sure you could play it without a computer. So ... yeah, first impressions can matter, and this one set quickly, and badly.

    2. The "Edition War" Ruined 4e. Mostly false. So this is a little more complicated. But, succinctly, there are two truisms in life- you can't yuck someone else's yum, and you can't yum someone else's yuck. The edition war was not the cause of the rejection by some of 4e; rather, the causal relation was the other way around. When you look at 4e, notice the changes from prior editions:
    1e: Codified and expanded on OD&D. Compatible with OD&D, B/X, BECMI.
    2e: Compatible with 2e.
    (We now have a quarter century of compatibility)
    3e: A big leap that incorporated some modern game design (so long, THACO, au revoir, negative AC!) while retaining most of what was familiar to D&D.

    Now, with 4e, I will quote Mearls: "I think of D&D as a conversation, in terms of game design, between the designers and the audience. To designers, and players who followed every release. the transition to fourth made sense. [But] If you got a 3.5 Players Handbook and thats the only D&D book you have and the only one you read, and then you got the fourth edition Players Handbook there was a gap." Or, as 4e's lead designer stated, "[S]hifting both the world and the mechanics at the same time proved difficult for some of the D&D faithful to swallow."

    The Edition Wars arose because there was a substantial number of players who just couldn't accept all the changes so quickly, and given that they had alternatives (including PF) they were going to be vocal.

    3. 4e Could Have Survived, If It Had Support. Mostly true, with the counterfactual caveat.

    This is probably the hardest, because anything could be different, if only things had been ... different! But 4e seems to have been particularly snakebitten.
    a. There was the terrible rollout at 2007 GenCon. That poisoned the minds of a lot of influential gamers.
    b. The virtual tabletop was a disaster. That's a different story, filled with some terrible details, but it didn't help.
    c. 4e was ruched- the designers themselves say that they ran out of time, resulting in errors, bugs, and sameness in the classes.
    d. By the time Essentials came out, in 2010, it was already too late.

    I want to emphasize that last point; so many times I have seen people that love 4e point to Essentials as the go-to resource for "good" 4e experiences; however, by the time it was released in 2010, 4e was already a dead man walking, and 5e was a necessity.

    But yes, if Hasbro had backed 4e, if it hadn't been rushed, if Essentials (or a better-baked 4e) had come out, if 2007 GenCon had been different ... things could have been very different ... because ....

    From what I gather, 4e tried some very cool stuff! And trying cool stuff comes with a risk of failure.

    Bonus: What's the deal with the Warlord, anyway?

    Okay, so a little armchair analysis. I like to joke about the Warlord, because it always pops up in these threads. It's the answer to the question, "Ask someone who liked 4e what is missing in 5e, and they will answer ...WARLORD." Why is that? Well... it's not the name, because you can just name the Battlemaster the Warlord. It's not a particular collection of abilities, because more often than not people aren't particularly enthused about homebrew Warlords. IMO, it's more about what it represents. 5e is supposed to represent various editions from the past, and I think that while 5e borrows mechanics from 4e (ex. long rest/short rest), many 4e veterans think that 5e doesn't borrow enough of the simplicity and elegance of the 4e system.

    As such, the Warlord represents not just a particular desire (more martial options, say), but is a synecdoche for 4e within 5e; more specifically, that people that loved 4e, and spent time clearing up misconceptions about it, and evangelizing for it on behalf of Hasbro feel wronged and abandoned at this point, and asking for the Warlord is, on a subconscious level, a way of asking Hasbro and the powers that be to acknowledge that abandonment. IMO.

    Anyway, I would hope that Hasbro/WoTC releases 4e into the public domain, because it has a passionate fanbase, and is an interesting ruleset, even if it isn't for me.



    *Okay, more like Hasbro allowing a few people to keep working on D&D ... you get the idea.
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  5. #205
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    Lots of products have botched rollouts. They can be survived if the company handles them well.

    Does anyone remember all the flack that Microsoft took when the Xbox One was coming out, over its supposedly restrictive game-sharing policies? If you don't remember, it's because Microsoft quickly pivoted to emphasize other aspects of the product, while modifying the most objectionable parts.

    Wizards didn't do that with 4e. Possibly due to incompetence, possibly due to business politics, possibly due to indifferences from Hasbro. We'll never know, and it really doesn't matter at this point.

    What does matter is that the answer to *most* questions about "should I play X?" is "yes". Play it and make up your own mind. There are very few games *so* bad that you can't get *something* good out of them.

    For example, even 5e has a few good parts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lowkey13 View Post
    I'm going to post a few thoughts on this, while noting that some of your statements are not going to be agreeable, and that may be why certain things are missed by you (such as 3e and 4e merely "consolidating" "needless complexity" of prior editions).


    Necessary Disclaimer
    I don't care about any edition wars; I think everything since UA in 1985 is, for the most part, crud, and 5e is ... it's fine. It's good. I'm running 5e right now, along with 1e (AD&D) and I'm doing a Moldvay/Cook B/X. I think the rest is, well, whatever. 2e or 4e, it's all the same crud IMO. Play what you want. I'll probably make fun of it. In fact, I'll probably mock it even more if it's what I'm playing (because familiarity, contempt, and because then I can write better jokes from a place of knowledge).

    Good?


    Okay, so here's what I can discern based on the research I've been trying to do on pro-, anti-, and supposedly neutral 4e websites. Everyone ties to claim a success, but a failure (and 4e was a failure, as I will explain, but not in a pejorative way- but in a different sense) is an orphan, but an orphan with a lot of causes.


    So, based upon what I read and understood, why do I start by saying that 4e was a failure?

    Because it was. The system was designed to 1) represent a break from 3e; 2) provide a new path forward for D&D; 3) provide a basis for CRPGs based on the 4e engine; 4) provide a subscription-based revenue stream for Hasbro; 5) attract new gamers that had not previously played D&D; and 6) crush PF and the nascent retroclone/OSR market and re-establish official licensed Hasbro D&D as the dominant RPG.

    It failed in its goals, was the shortest-lived edition in D&D history, and resulted in the layoff of ... well... almost everyone ... and Hasbro quickly pivoting to the 5e strategy.* Arguably, the D&D brand was at death's door for a while.

    But ...

    That's just, like, one opinion man. While it was a failure, it's important to understand the metrics involved. As far as I can tell, 4e wasn't unprofitable, it just wasn't profitable in the way it was projected to be. And while the new systems weren't adopted wholesale by the entire community as 4e, many of the mechanics surfaced in 5e. So ... it's complicated. I mean ... it's like saying, "Well the Apple Newton was a failure." Yes, but ....

    So what does it all mean? How do *I* evaluate various claims?

    1. 4e is like a videogame. Partly true.
    This is one of those really contentious areas, but, near as I can tell, the designers are on the record as saying that (1) they wanted to attract new players, (2) they believed those players would be playing videogames, (3) they used MMOs, and Warcraft, as inspiration for some of the rules, and (4) this inspiration was a big part of the design choices with regards to character creation (people enjoyed building characters as much as playing them), roles (striker, etc.) and powers. AEDU and related concepts, while not foreign to RPGs, are very close to Diablo/Warcraft cooldowns.

    In addition, there is ample evidence that Hasbro wanted that sweet, sweet subscription revenue. After all, why sell a book one time for $35 when you can sell each person a $10/month subscription (BRILLIANT!). And, of course, an underlying ruleset that was ... videogame friendly ... would make for great videogames. More money.

    So ... why is this only partly true? Because a lot of this reputation came from a botched rollout (this seems to a common theme in my research). So, you're announcing your product in 2007. People are hyped about the new D&D! And instead of emphasizing the awesome new system, you spend all of your time discussing a virtual tabletop and D&D Insider - apparently to such an extent that many of the people there (who were influential and quickly spread the word) weren't even sure you could play it without a computer. So ... yeah, first impressions can matter, and this one set quickly, and badly.

    2. The "Edition War" Ruined 4e. Mostly false. So this is a little more complicated. But, succinctly, there are two truisms in life- you can't yuck someone else's yum, and you can't yum someone else's yuck. The edition war was not the cause of the rejection by some of 4e; rather, the causal relation was the other way around. When you look at 4e, notice the changes from prior editions:
    1e: Codified and expanded on OD&D. Compatible with OD&D, B/X, BECMI.
    2e: Compatible with 2e.
    (We now have a quarter century of compatibility)
    3e: A big leap that incorporated some modern game design (so long, THACO, au revoir, negative AC!) while retaining most of what was familiar to D&D.

    Now, with 4e, I will quote Mearls: "I think of D&D as a conversation, in terms of game design, between the designers and the audience. To designers, and players who followed every release. the transition to fourth made sense. [But] If you got a 3.5 Players Handbook and thats the only D&D book you have and the only one you read, and then you got the fourth edition Players Handbook there was a gap." Or, as 4e's lead designer stated, "[S]hifting both the world and the mechanics at the same time proved difficult for some of the D&D faithful to swallow."

    The Edition Wars arose because there was a substantial number of players who just couldn't accept all the changes so quickly, and given that they had alternatives (including PF) they were going to be vocal.

    3. 4e Could Have Survived, If It Had Support. Mostly true, with the counterfactual caveat.

    This is probably the hardest, because anything could be different, if only things had been ... different! But 4e seems to have been particularly snakebitten.
    a. There was the terrible rollout at 2007 GenCon. That poisoned the minds of a lot of influential gamers.
    b. The virtual tabletop was a disaster. That's a different story, filled with some terrible details, but it didn't help.
    c. 4e was ruched- the designers themselves say that they ran out of time, resulting in errors, bugs, and sameness in the classes.
    d. By the time Essentials came out, in 2010, it was already too late.

    I want to emphasize that last point; so many times I have seen people that love 4e point to Essentials as the go-to resource for "good" 4e experiences; however, by the time it was released in 2010, 4e was already a dead man walking, and 5e was a necessity.

    But yes, if Hasbro had backed 4e, if it hadn't been rushed, if Essentials (or a better-baked 4e) had come out, if 2007 GenCon had been different ... things could have been very different ... because ....

    From what I gather, 4e tried some very cool stuff! And trying cool stuff comes with a risk of failure.

    Bonus: What's the deal with the Warlord, anyway?

    Okay, so a little armchair analysis. I like to joke about the Warlord, because it always pops up in these threads. It's the answer to the question, "Ask someone who liked 4e what is missing in 5e, and they will answer ...WARLORD." Why is that? Well... it's not the name, because you can just name the Battlemaster the Warlord. It's not a particular collection of abilities, because more often than not people aren't particularly enthused about homebrew Warlords. IMO, it's more about what it represents. 5e is supposed to represent various editions from the past, and I think that while 5e borrows mechanics from 4e (ex. long rest/short rest), many 4e veterans think that 5e doesn't borrow enough of the simplicity and elegance of the 4e system.

    As such, the Warlord represents not just a particular desire (more martial options, say), but is a synecdoche for 4e within 5e; more specifically, that people that loved 4e, and spent time clearing up misconceptions about it, and evangelizing for it on behalf of Hasbro feel wronged and abandoned at this point, and asking for the Warlord is, on a subconscious level, a way of asking Hasbro and the powers that be to acknowledge that abandonment. IMO.

    Anyway, I would hope that Hasbro/WoTC releases 4e into the public domain, because it has a passionate fanbase, and is an interesting ruleset, even if it isn't for me.



    *Okay, more like Hasbro allowing a few people to keep working on D&D ... you get the idea.
    I appreciate the analysis and think it was very well thought out.

    That being said, talking about 4e as to whether or not it was financially successful (the focus of your argument) is...well, largely missing the point. Unless they owned stock or shares in the company producing it, whether or not 4e sold 100 copies or a million copies doesn't matter to the average gamer. Yes, more sales means more support but just glancing at the 4e products I have sitting on my bookshelf, they had a LOT of product released for it. Actually, in my opinion, a bit too much. But as for financial success...honestly, it has no bearing on the quality of a thing.

    The videogame criticism always makes me grin...because videogames (especially MMOs) largely took their inspiration originally from Tabletop games...mainly, well, Dungeons and Dragons. Its like criticizing the harry potter books because they were 'too much like the movie'.

    The warlord segment is also odd...as I mean, do I feel 'abandoned' by WOTC/Hasbro? Not really, since I never put my enjoyment or interest in a game based on it continually having releases? 4e was a very complete product and there are enough options and such out there to keep me playing for the rest of my life (if I wanted to just play a single system for the rest of my life, ew). I cannot speak for anyone else who lobbies for the warlord, but for me I dont really care if its the warlord or not...I just want a 5e martial class that isnt boring as snot to play in combat.

    Honestly, my biggest disappointment with 5e was how just...not fun it is to play in combat?

    But, I get that people like 5e. Cool. I am glad they have a fun game that they enjoy. It just isn't my choice for playing (or especially running) D&D
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    Quote Originally Posted by HJFudge View Post
    I appreciate the analysis and think it was very well thought out.

    That being said, talking about 4e as to whether or not it was financially successful (the focus of your argument) is...well, largely missing the point. Unless they owned stock or shares in the company producing it, whether or not 4e sold 100 copies or a million copies doesn't matter to the average gamer. Yes, more sales means more support but just glancing at the 4e products I have sitting on my bookshelf, they had a LOT of product released for it. Actually, in my opinion, a bit too much. But as for financial success...honestly, it has no bearing on the quality of a thing.
    Well, I should start by saying that I'm not making an "argument." It's more of an analysis of the various claims (and counterclaims) that I see flying around about 4e; I decided to finally get around to researching them, and this is what I think of these main claims.

    That said, quality is completely subjective, right? I mean, someone who grew up in the 80s can say that in 1984, The Adevntures of Buckaroo Banzai was a much, much better movie than Police Academy. Yet, because PA made a ton of money (esp. compared to its cost) and Banzai didn't one kept getting sequels.

    Which is a long way of saying- people can have wonderful discussions about their opinions of the quality of an edition (.... that I am positive will go well!) but given that 4e was a commercial product, the financial success (lack thereof) of 4e is the reason it was already dead by the time Essentials came out. Which was two year after 4e was released.

    I agree that quality matters; but quality, AND five dollars, gets you a cup of coffee at Starbucks.


    The videogame criticism always makes me grin...because videogames (especially MMOs) largely took their inspiration originally from Tabletop games...mainly, well, Dungeons and Dragons. Its like criticizing the harry potter books because they were 'too much like the movie'.
    I think that there were multiple aspects to that issue; I didn't address whether or not it is good or bad (a normative claim), only the historical issue (a descriptive claim). I think that many people end up contesting whether it is the case, as opposed to discussing the ways in which the influence can be beneficial (or detrimental).

    (As an aside, while the internet was fairly common back then, the first iPhone was released in .... 2007, so ... having such a strong computer component may have been a little ahead of its time... just by a few years, but still).


    The warlord segment is also odd...as I mean, do I feel 'abandoned' by WOTC/Hasbro? Not really, since I never put my enjoyment or interest in a game based on it continually having releases? 4e was a very complete product and there are enough options and such out there to keep me playing for the rest of my life (if I wanted to just play a single system for the rest of my life, ew). I cannot speak for anyone else who lobbies for the warlord, but for me I dont really care if its the warlord or not...I just want a 5e martial class that isnt boring as snot to play in combat.

    Honestly, my biggest disappointment with 5e was how just...not fun it is to play in combat?

    But, I get that people like 5e. Cool. I am glad they have a fun game that they enjoy. It just isn't my choice for playing (or especially running) D&D
    Hey- no worries! I skipped right past 2e, 3e, and 4e. So I can assure you- you never have to upgrade if you don't want to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lowkey13 View Post
    I'm going to post a few thoughts on this, while noting that some of your statements are not going to be agreeable, and that may be why certain things are missed by you (such as 3e and 4e merely "consolidating" "needless complexity" of prior editions).
    3e & 4e /certainly/ consolidated a lot of needless complexity. Just the d20 core mechanic was huge (tiny?) that way. Nothing 'mere' about it.

    Necessary Disclaimer
    I don't care about any edition wars; I think everything since UA in 1985 is, for the most part, crud,
    Yet, here you are, weighing in. ;P



    why do I start by saying that 4e was a failure?
    Because it was. The system was designed to[s] 1) represent a break from 3e; 2) provide a new path forward for D&D; 3) provide a basis for CRPGs based on the 4e engine; 4) provide a subscription-based revenue stream for Hasbro; 5) attract new gamers that had not previously played D&D; and 6) crush PF and the nascent retroclone/OSR market and re-establish official licensed Hasbro D&D as the dominant RPG.
    PUll down $50-100 million in a $20 million market, at the brink of the worst recession since the great depression, using as a prime selling point a bit of software developed by one guy, who, to put it very delicately, died. (nor is that the whole story)

    It failed in its goals, was the shortest-lived edition in D&D history, and resulted in the layoff of ... well... almost everyone ... and Hasbro quickly pivoting to the 5e strategy.* Arguably, the D&D brand was at death's door for a while.
    Downright tragic, really.


    1. 4e is like a videogame. Partly true. [/B]This is one of those really contentious areas, but, near as I can tell, the designers are on the record as saying that (1) they wanted to attract new players, (2) they believed those players would be playing videogames, (3) they used MMOs, and Warcraft, as inspiration for some of the rules
    Of course, those videogames & MMOs were derivative of D&D, to begin with, so, meh.

    Bottom line, 4e was an RPG. To say it's "like a video game" or "like an heroic fantasy movie" isn't entirely false, but it in no way makes it less of an RPG.

    2. The "Edition War" Ruined 4e. Mostly false. [/B]So this is a little more complicated. But, succinctly, there are two truisms in life- you can't yuck someone else's yum, and you can't yum someone else's yuck. The edition war was not the cause of the rejection by some of 4e
    The edition war probably didn't cause anyone who actually gave 4e a real try to reject it... OK... not many people, there are some serious 'followers' out there, I suppose. 4e was as good a game as D&D has ever managed to be, and if you weren't too deeply wedded to the flaws of past editions, it was hard to dislike.

    But the controversy of the edition war definitely kept a LOT of people from trying it. Just like nerdrage has torpedoed many a franchise's attempt to break into the mainstream before.


    4e Could Have Survived, If It Had Support. Mostly true, with the counterfactual caveat.
    You'd need a few more counter-factuals, like a realistic revenue goal, or a realistic software-development effort; or being released in 2013 after running 3.5 into the ground; or something, probably several somethings. 4e was released into a perfect storm. It could have cured cancer and brought peace to the middle east and still failed.


    I want to emphasize that last point; so many times I have seen people that love 4e point to Essentials as the go-to resource for "good" 4e experiences
    I want to clarify: If you hated 4e because it wasn't broken in the old familiar way, you might've hated it less if you gave Essentials a fair shot. So not a good experience, but a more familiarly D&D - bad - experience.


    Bonus: What's the deal with the Warlord, anyway?

    Okay, so a little armchair analysis. I like to joke about the Warlord, because it always pops up in these threads. It's the answer to the question, "Ask someone who liked 4e what is missing in 5e, and they will answer ...WARLORD." Why is that? Well... it's not the name, because you can just name the Battlemaster the Warlord. It's not a particular collection of abilities, because more often than not people aren't particularly enthused about homebrew Warlords. IMO, it's more about what it represents. 5e is supposed to represent various editions from the past, and I think that while 5e borrows mechanics from 4e (ex. long rest/short rest), many 4e veterans think that 5e doesn't borrow enough of the simplicity and elegance of the 4e system.
    It's also really simple: The Warlord was the only class in the 4e PH1 that was unique to that edition. Because of the "PH1" caveat, to include it was to include 4e fans and to exclude it was to willfully snub them. By the same token, to include it was to just start the edition war all over again, and sabotage yourself. So they did what they had to do.


    Anyway, I would hope that Hasbro/WoTC releases 4e into the public domain, because it has a passionate fanbase, and is an interesting ruleset, even if it isn't for me.
    From Hasbro's PoV, the d20 SRD is probably the worst thing WotC ever did, so I'm guess'n that'll happen, never.
    Last edited by Tony Vargas; Monday, 17th June, 2019 at 09:22 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post

    From Hasbro's PoV, the d20 SRD is probably the worst thing WotC ever did, so I'm guess'n that'll happen, never.
    Well, the difference being that this would be the release of a system that is no longer supported, and isn't very popular (no offense).

    I am sure that there would be some 3PP that would seize the chance to take it out for a spin, but, yeah, given that it wouldn't have D&D behind it, it wouldn't go very far. So ... yeah.

    (Now, given the general risk-adverseness of corporations, I would be surprised if they do; you never know when you might make some additional scratch off of some IP for little-to-no money; maybe a 25th anniversary re-release of the rules in hardcover. *shrug*)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    The edition war probably didn't cause anyone who actually gave 4e a real try to reject it... OK... not many people, there are some serious 'followers' out there, I suppose. 4e was as good a game as D&D has ever managed to be, and if you weren't too deeply wedded to the flaws of past editions, it was hard to dislike.
    I didn't want to comment on the rest of your post, but something stuck with me, and I went back, and this was it.

    There is a large disconnect if you keep insisting (as I have seen various designers insist) that the consumers are "just doing it wrong."

    Let's give an easy example- a lot of what you hear is engineered to please you. Like ... the thunk of your car door when it closes. You may, or may not, know this but the door doesn't naturally sound like this anymore (the deep and satisfying clunk); instead, engineers had to alter car doors to provide the sound that people were expecting and wanting.

    You know where this is going, right? Okay, how about when you take a photo on your phone- that satisfying sound of the shutter noise that doesn't exist. It's all electronic, so why not have it sound like, oh, church bells ringing? Because that's the sound people expect. At some point, people will expect the signifier (the shutter sound) without even having a reference to the signified (a physical camera that would make the sound), in the same way that we still use 5 1/4" floppy disk icons to indicate something to be saved.

    So from a design standpoint, you have it entirely wrong. Designing something that is (in your opinion) good unless you're some sort of bad consumer that likes bad previous editions completely missed the dynamic; the job of a good designer is to allow people to embrace the changes; and sometimes designers simply have to give consumers what they want and what they expect, or find a way to meld the changes into what the consumers want and expect.

    This is even moreso when you are designing for the flagship product in an product category- like D&D. If you're designing for D&D, you don't get a blank slate, unfortunately. It's the blessing AND the curse; you get the built-in name brand loyalty and advantage of all those consumers eager to buy your products, but you also have to deign within the strictures of those years of products that have come before you.

    You can't blame people for not liking something.

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