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Do certain settings come out better in certain editions?

Ravellion

serves Gnome Master
Hello folks,

I lately have seen a few people on these boards say that Dark Sun would be great in 4e. I remember having trouble running Dragonlance around the War of the Lance era in 3e, while loving said setting and era in 2e. Forgotten realms worked better in 3e than in 2e. It was certain small things in the setting that just seemed to click into place. 3e allowed faster leveling and easier magic item creation - it seemed Faerun was a good fit. Dragonlance had a lot of the game's 1e and 2e rules built into the flavour of the game and vice versa, such as faster advancement for the black robed wizards, or wizards not being able to use anything other than a staff or a dagger. 2e Dark Sun started PCs less fragile to survive the miserable place that is Athas. 4e just starts PCs less fragile. Is there a match there? If these or other examples hold true, I might just be tempted to dust off an old campaign setting for my next campaign, and play it in an edition it wasn't written for.

In a way, what I want to bring up is the system over setting debate we have had on these boards earlier. But what I would really like to know are there settings you would like to try out in an edition you haven't played in (yet), or are there settings that you would never want to play outside of the editions that spawned them? If there are, why? Or perhaps you already converted a setting to a new edition and liked or disliked it. I'd just like to hear your thoughts.
 

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Dragonbait

Explorer
I start this one out as a YMMV

As a fan of Planescape, I always thought that 3ed would have been a great fit for the setting. Feats, Prestige Classes, and so on seemed perfect for Factions. However, Factions, when presented in 2ed, were meant to tack on to a character. They provided additional abilities, restrictions, and quirks about a character independent of race or class. Almost everyone in Sigil belonged to a Faction, and while most did NOT have any special ability tied to their Faction, the PCs represented characters that were more than just Namers (people who claimed to be of a particular faction but have done nothing to raise in the ranks). The setting was pretty specific: all PCs should be a member one of the Faction.

In 3E, by making Faction powers into feats, they start to change some fundamental functions of some classes (like fighters). Some classes (again, fighter, for example) have to sacrifice function so that they could have powers and abilities that represent their preferred faction. Also, limiting a Faction to a Prestige Class or feat chain limited the appeal of many Factions depending on your class/skill selection. In my experience, few people were willing to sacrifice all that it took to become a member of a Faction (beyond Namer status) and those that were began to view Factions as an association to a specific classes.
 

Spatula

Explorer
Mechanics definitely inform flavor and vice versa, so I think you're correct that the rules matter. Just about any 1e/2e setting was built up with certain assumptions in place, and those assumptions don't necessarily make much sense in other editions. I suppose it works in reverse, as well. Eberron depends on the existance of some feat-like mechanic for personal abilities such as dragonmarks, which doesn't work very well in 1e/2e.

Dark Sun is probably the prime example, being the ultimate "out there" setting. The barren, alien setting and the bizarre races were fine in 2e, which had a strong story-over-rules vibe to it (just as well, since the rules were awful). But it works less well with 3e/4e's obsession with balance and 4e's insistance that players always get what they want.
 

pawsplay

First Post
Potential conflicts between Dark Sun and 4e:

- Equipment scarcity.
- Multiple power sources. Right off the bat, everyone was psionic, but on top of that, multiclassing was very common.
- Dirty tactics and trumps emphasized. For instance, you used psionics on magical beasts, magic on psionic ones, turned the gladiator after the physically fragile opponents, etc.
- Different cosmology. I don't remember much plane-hopping stuff in Dark Sun, and the elemental clerics had a very different feel than 3e clerics and presumably 4e ones as well, unless you wanted to build entirely new power lists.
- Lack of magical conveniences. In Dark Sun, magic is a tool of the powerful and secretive. A lot of "handy" magic items just wouldn't make sense, and even unscrupulous wizards would be loathe to burn magic on minor effects.

Dark Sun really screams out to me for a retrofit based on True20 or Modern d20. Or Hero System, with prebuilt psionics. I don't know how this would play out, but in terms of design, I think Castles & Crusades matches it philosophically.
 

Keefe the Thief

Adventurer
I´d argue that a lot of settings didn´t even fit their original rulesset. Planescape was never a good fit for AD&D - you simply need more flexible rules for magic, more monster race options and more weirdness for this setting. The first Planescape novel had an intelligent manta ray as a party member - try playing that in AD&D.

Dark Sun did fit, and is IMHO the easiest to port to 4e. Just go easy on the planar stuff - remember, every world has it´s own Shadowfell, and what exists in the core world doesn´t have to exist on Athas. The powers system and the greater freedom at monster creation mean all the weird stuff coming in from the desert can be easily described. As long as they try to emulate the first box, they´ll be golden.

Dragonlance... thats a problematic one for me. On the one hand, you see how Raistlin is influenced by vancian magic rules in his abilities - seems like a good fit for AD&D. On the other hand, in game terms he was never as powerful or special as the novels described him. The effects of the moons are easy to emulate in 4e, and Cam Banks had a couple of excellent ideas for 4e Dragonlance over at the Dragonlance nexus. I think it will be in the details: Artwork (grunge elves, weird knights) and implementation (boring prestige classes define everything!) will show if a 4e Dragonlance is better than the 3.x corebook.

I´ll keep my fingers crossed: IMHO 4e is flexible enough to describe all those settings mentioned. Now, Wotc just has to make them.
 

S'mon

Legend
I agree - some rulesets just click with some settings. For instance I found this recently running Castles & Crusades with the 1e box set.
 

Derro

First Post
I start this one out as a YMMV

As a fan of Planescape, I always thought that 3ed would have been a great fit for the setting. <snip>

In 3E, by making Faction powers into feats, they start to change some fundamental functions of some classes (like fighters). <snip>

Snipped for brevity not relevance.

I totally agree with you. When the Planar Handbook came out and had so many familiar faction prestige classes I was excited to play some 3e Planescape. On further examination it just seemed like a lot of shoe-horning was required to give the characters the names of previously familiar archetypes without the real worth of what the factions were about. I wasn't too interested in playing in Planescape where anybody of the same faction were so similar as to qualify for a prestige class.

I found the most elegant fix on Planewalker. In their massive campaign document (which is just full of awesomeness) they give factions as bloodlines as per Unearthed Arcana. Beautiful. Check it out if 3.x Planescape is still your bag.
 

Plane Sailing

Astral Admin - Mwahahaha!
Dark Sun really screams out to me for a retrofit based on True20 or Modern d20. Or Hero System, with prebuilt psionics. I don't know how this would play out, but in terms of design, I think Castles & Crusades matches it philosophically.

I ran a RQ2 conversion which worked brilliantly. It helped with the whole 'fragile weapons', 'scarce metal' thing nicely, battlemagic was flavoured as psionics, rune magic was flavoured as 'magic spells' and you couldn't want for a grittier system!

Cheers
 

slwoyach

First Post
It's mainly about how worlds are presented. There's nothing about Dragonlance that makes it inherently a poor fit for 3e, but the 3e books were just god awful and often a radical departure. They especially fumbled the Solamnic Knights.
 

Kzach

First Post
IMO, yes, editions and systems can definitely fit various settings better or worse depending on how they play. If that wasn't the case, we wouldn't have customised systems for settings like the Game of Thrones one coming out from Green Ronin. We would be happy with GURPS or some equivalent for every game we played.

I'm actually really happy with 4e primarily because, with a few minor changes here and there and some conceptual guidelines, it fits my homebrew setting extremely well, whereas I could never have pulled it off with 3.x or 1e/2e.
 

arscott

First Post
Technically, yeah, the various settings will work better or worse in with certain rulesets. But I think in most cases, it boils down to implementation. Most settings are great and/or suck regardless of their ruleset, not because of it.

And when it comes to a 4e dark sun, I think that will be true as well--The 4e rules are flexible enough that they could handle Dark Sun really well, but if the designers adhere to the 4e "everything in each book works everywhere", they'll cripple the setting.
 

Ravellion

serves Gnome Master
The 4e rules are flexible enough that they could handle Dark Sun really well, but if the designers adhere to the 4e "everything in each book works everywhere", they'll cripple the setting.
I found conversion on the fly aided by filing off serial numbers from monsters etc. to be very easy so far in converting stuff not yet available in 4e.

That's why flavour changes don't bother me - if I like the old feel better, that's what it will have to be, and I'll change back the mechanical ramifications if there are any. Unless it becomes too hard fro me to do, which I sometimes felt in 3e (because I wanted everything to be just right - not bashing 3e here).

Anyone have any ideas on Birthright or Ravenloft 3e/4e?
 

Trying ot get a 4th ed Dark Sun game running online, at moment ;)

Eh, the only real problems are :
a) No psionics as yet in 4th ed, just gonna say psions = warlocks, functionally.

b) Not everyone SHOULD have psionics, rather, they could have psionics. So, just let them multi class if wish, works perfect with 4th ed: take power swap feats ;)

c) Warlock class fits ok too, mysterious, weird arcane powers, but I'd say they are elemental in nature (no change though)
However, they should be rare and many folk would think they are wizards...hehe ;)


d) Wizards, remove Dungeoneering as class skill (no reason they'd have it) change it to BLuff, use Bluff to hide spells as psionics or cleric magic,and lie to templars.

E) Treat halfgiants as minotaurs for rules (Monster Manual). Halfigants ARE 10' tall half ton dumb ass behemoths though, but until I see good rules for such, just go with minotaur.

f) Endurance checks are perfect for amour and heat exhaustion.

g) Templars are either clerics, warlords, fighters or non-combat NPCs. making them a "special" class was just dumb. Sorceror Kings don't give a hoot what they are, long as they are good at running the city etc.
Read up on them and the descriptions even say Hammanu preffers fighter types (so they'd be fighters or walords), and Andropinis wants templars to be concubines.
Warlord class makes perfect sense for templars, and for Dark Sun where ocmbat leaders are more useful than another dumb grunt.

h) Gladiator is *not* a class!! It's a profession, again, no need for a seperate class, they cna be anything, fighter, rogue, ranger etc.

i) Run druids as clerics, until PHB2 is out.

j) Potions are common in Athas, at least in some cities, as far as magic items go, fyi.
Likewise the Elven Markets do sell magic items dug up or stolen. Jsut you wouldn't get many being made except by templars.

k) Run bards as rogues. AThasian bards were entertainers/assassins anyway, again no need for a special class, it's a profession, doesn't matter who fills it.

l) I've always had it that in Athas, psionics is used by craftsmen to create materials as good as steel..for a price! Considering how common psionics is, and that much of it, in 2nd ed anyway, dealt with altering items, you can magine craftsmen psionically "tempering" obsidian to remove flaws, which would leave you with a material better than steel for slashing wepaons and the like.
It's the flaws that make obsidian shatter, like diamonds it's incredibly hard, so if you can remove the flaws in the crystal you'd get a superb material.
However, steel still has several advantages (moulding/crating which you'd otherwise need to use another psionic power to do, one that lets you work solids as if they were clay like Stone SHape, density makes for a good bashing/cleaving wepaon, and on Athas some creatures are resistant to weapons not made of iron).

Over the millenia, I see Athasian crafters being forced to come up with new, better equipment, they are smart, they have psionics....so damned right they would innovate things we Terran Humans haven't! Athas is a barren but not dead or stupid world.

I'd imagine templars wearing chitin scalemail, using rituals cast to keep cool all day or even enchanted amrour with such.
Insects, drakes etc providing materials, plus crystals, Athas is rich in crystals.

M) NO Eladrin or dargoborn, ugh, I agree, just bringing in everything ruins a setting.

N) Keep Athas cut off form the Astral Plane and the Phlogiston, only allow have connections with the Shadowfell (fits with the "Grey" as originally described for Dark Sun), and the Elemental CHaos (which is most definately appropriate for Athas), and thus also the Abyss as demons are known on Athas.
Have the Feywild cut off too.

:)
 
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Melba Toast

First Post
If you are running a Dark Sun campaign the way it was conceived to be played, you would never "skip to the good part". All the stuff that would be mundane in other settings is very complicated in Athas. Nothing is easy and players need to consider all their options as well as the consequences of their actions.

I can't imagine playing Dark Sun in 4th edition just because 4th edition devalues role-play. Even though Dark Sun has a reputation as a "violent, action-oriented setting", it's really the most role-play intensive setting TSR has ever produced. (This is why every Dark Sun release came with an accompanying short story and a novel tie-in.)
 


Aus_Snow

First Post
I can't help wondering if systems shouldn't just be crafted individually to perfectly suit each setting. I certainly favour the descriptive text (or concept) -> mechanics approach.

Second best, genre-neutral toolkit systems, I guess.

That said, a couple of the heavily altered D&D systems released with certain settings have worked fairly well. Well enough that it doesn't grate on the nerves too badly, or too often (because of crunch directly contradicting fluff, that is).
 
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I'm actually really happy with 4e primarily because, with a few minor changes here and there and some conceptual guidelines, it fits my homebrew setting extremely well, whereas I could never have pulled it off with 3.x or 1e/2e.
This statement makes me plain curious? If you have the time, energy or both, could you please expand?

Best Regards
Herremann the Wise
 

pawsplay

First Post
I ran a RQ2 conversion which worked brilliantly. It helped with the whole 'fragile weapons', 'scarce metal' thing nicely, battlemagic was flavoured as psionics, rune magic was flavoured as 'magic spells' and you couldn't want for a grittier system!

Cheers

That's... insane. And wonderful.
 

Faraer

Explorer
Forgotten realms worked better in 3e than in 2e. It was certain small things in the setting that just seemed to click into place. 3e allowed faster leveling and easier magic item creation - it seemed Faerun was a good fit.
Eh? Both those things are strongly at odds with the Realms. The Knights of Myth Drannor, the model of PC advancement, are low teens in level after 30 years of play, while most high-level non-player characters are in their thirties at the very least. 3E's easy magic item creation and selling also directly contradict Realmslore, which emphasizes the antiquity and history of magic items.

3E's bells-&-whistles rules-curlicuery is also a very different way of thinking from the Realms', and its rendition of Faerûnian magic never approached what was managed with 2E. On the other hand, its relaxation of class/level limits, treatment of multiclassing and perhaps of skills do mirror Faerûn more accurately.
I can't help wondering if systems shouldn't just be crafted individually to perfectly suit each setting. I certainly favour the descriptive text (or concept) -> mechanics approach.
That's how I'd prefer things: D&D doesn't appeal to me as a general toolkit but for a few of its specific incarnations/applications. James Maliszewski also agrees. Unfortunately for us, this is the opposite of Wizards' Two Core Brands business strategy.
 
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Thanael

First Post
Anyone have any ideas on Birthright or Ravenloft 3e/4e?

Well Ravenloft imho thrived in 3E. The Sword & Sorcery publication are great mostly, and you can get good things even from the bad ones. Many of 3E's rules fit Ravenloft very well: NPC classes, more customized builds due to multiclassing, customized monsters with classes. And as Ravenloft is a low to medium level game and encourages non-minmaxed PCs I find 3E to be a very good fit for Ravenloft with out 3E's downsides coming into play too much.

Check out the Ravenloft: Fraternity of Shadows: Home of Ravenloft on the Net site, for lots of excellent 3E Ravenloft netbooks and the Ravenloft forums.

As for Birthright there's a 3E conversion on www.birthright.net, but i've neither played nor read it. But i think many of the points above apply here too.
 

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