Legends & Lore - Mike Mearls' new column

But pre essential 4e is good.

I think rituals and multiclassing really need to be reintroduced. And in a little bit more lenient way. (1-2 feats seems reasonable, paragon multiclassing should give a little benefit.)

I also believe all those subclasses should be lined up under "builds" in the CB. The build options is just redundant as it is now.
What the really need is making this choice non redundant, by preselecting all powers associated with a build when you don´t mark "show additional options"
And suddenly you have a structured character builder that is much more newbie friendly even when chosing non essential builds, without messing up anything for pre essential 4e people.
All it needs is 2 or 3 hours of work per class.

Also all redundant feats should be hidden when "show additional options" are not marked. By the number of feats, i guess this takes a bit more time.

Right, we agree, pre-Essentials 'classic' 4e is great. I don't have an issue with Essentials either. In fact I don't really have any big issues with the mix of materials WotC is coming out with now vis-a-vis the two. I just get the impression that it would be mighty convenient for WotC if they could forget pre-Essentials 4e exists. In a way it would be nice as it would kick the clutter WAY down, they could pull out of the old stuff what really worked well and leave behind a bunch of stuff that was just kind of marginal noise (loads of feats, a lot of rather useless powers, certain builds that simply never really worked well, etc). The rest could be Essentialized to one degree or another. I totally agree rituals should get revisited and brought back up to date with a refresh too.

I think your ideas for CB are pretty much right on as well. A lot of existing builds could simply be brought in pretty much as-is with maybe a bit of cleanup and then given defaults that can be overridden. Warpriest sort of does that, but even old builds could be presented that way.

It sort of sounds like some variation on this is what will probably happen going forward. Ironically for all of the screaming of "this is not 4.5" it almost would be best if we DID have a 4.5. Like I say, I really suspect the dev people feel that way to some extent too.

log in or register to remove this ad


First Post
I think it's a generational thing. 3.5 and 4 were more comprehensive with rules than in previous editions. I think people try to stick closer to rules as worded rather than tinker and fix things that aren't working in their home games, which in some ways is good and some bad, depending upon the person doing the tinkering.

Perhaps, but it's not simply a generational thing, or just about current editions being more formalized. I think many (if not most) of us older gamers just don't have enough time to tinker with everything; we have kids, wives, spouses, girlfriends, busy jobs, etcetera. Twenty years ago we gamed every weekend, and all I had to worry about was studying and finding some time for hanging out and parties -- the rest of my spare time was devoted to reading and gaming. Looking back, I now realize that I've been spending less and less time on gaming with each passing year; and it's not just me, because the rest of the guys have changed their priorities as well. These days it's quite rare to get the whole group together, and we have too many ongoing campaigns (some of which started back in high school) to ever finish them all. And gone are the days when we used to spend two or three days holed up in someone's room or garage, rolling dice and being heroes. No, these days it's more like 5-8 hours once every two months or so.

When I'm writing material for my campaign, I just don't have the luxury to tinker with rules anymore; I barely have the time to put together the adventure, and if I'm feeling really creative, I might do some worldbuilding every now and then. But that's all I can manage at the moment. And that is why I'm adamant about having a coherent rules set that enables me to write and run the game without too much houseruling or tinkering. If a player suggests using some alternative/houseruled subsystem, or material he's found from 3PP supplements or Internet, I refuse him. It may feel like I'm a restrictive GM, but I have too little spare time as it is; if I can manage to find some time to sit down and write, I'd rather devote as much of it as only possible to writing and worldbuilding, not thinking about whether we should tinker with classes X and Y or rules Z and Q.

I'm A Banana

I just get the impression that it would be mighty convenient for WotC if they could forget pre-Essentials 4e exists.

It's my pet theory that, at least in-house, they recognized that 4e's initial launch wasn't quite what they were hoping to achieve. This could have been for any number of reasons, and I'm sure that (if this was the case), they tried to figure out what those reasons were. Esssentials, in addition to being an on-ramp for new players, was an attempt to correct those after-the-fact missteps. This is much like 3.5 tried to "fix" problems with 3.0.

So I think they legitimately think there were some things that they have really "fixed" with Essentials, that they're happy to have fixed, and that they don't plan on abandoning any time soon.

I may have this pet theory because I am partial to Essentials myself. I love Essentials like I couldn't love 4e's original launch. Essentials IS 4e, though. It's still the same game. They can't forget the 4.0 material, and, unique for .5 editions (skills&powers, 3.5, and now 4.e), they didn't choose to invalidate what had come before. They specifically said, "It's still all good. And here is another way to do it."

This other way has its uses and its strengths that they will probably employ going forward. That doesn't mean they're forgetting 4.0, though. It does mean that the game is a flexible, changable beast. And I find that very reassuring, because it means that problems with the game can be addressed without destroying everything that has come before. I can still play 4.0 games after Essentials. I can still play my NES games on my Wii. This is extremely valuable for gaming, because it keeps the same audience (and manages to expose them to new things along the way). Games by their nature rise and fall over time (the usual duration of a WoW player is about a year). A D&D that remains backwards compatible means that it can let people do this at their own pace, rather than forcing it with edition breaks. And that means possibly more "current" D&D players than "lapsed" D&D players.

They might not be releasing much stuff that looks like the 4.0 material anymore, but Nintendo isn't releasing anything that looks like the original Super Mario Brothers anymore. It's natural for design to evolve.

What would be a neat trick is if they could re-inject 1e, 2e, and 3e into the 4e ruleset. So that you could literally take a 1e character, and run them through a 4e adventure, and have it work just fine. Or write a 1e adventure and run it using 4e rules ("software"). That's not so possible right now, possibly not ever, but it's a sexy idea for anyone who wants that audience of millions of lapsed D&D players to come back to the game.


I find this comment interesting.

It suggests that fixing something, tweaking it to your liking is more of a chore than a pleasure? Requires an expenditure of time which you would rather not spend?
After some reflection, no this is not the case and slightly misses what seems to me an important point.

Back in the seventies (I started gaming around 1975, I think, and I was DMing regularly by 1977 at least) I tinkered with rules and imported "neat ideas" from all manner of sources. The D&D of the time was amenable to this sort of thing and, being young, new=good was a sort of built-in paradigm... I wasn't really sure what I wanted out of the game, but cool ideas are good, so using them in whatever I was doing now must be good, right?

With time, a growing dissatisfaction with D&D led me to modify more, and this exploded when I went to University at around the same time as several dozen new games hit the (newly burgeoning) game stores; RuneQuest, Traveller, Chivalry and Sorcery, Bushido, Daredevils, and radically altered "house versions" of D&D took over completely from the "old" AD&D.

More years passed and I began to see the multiple distinct pleasures that could be had from RPGs, and the advent of the Internet allowed open, recorded discussion of the actual activity and nature of roleplaying with a wide circle. Eventually, I began to see different types of "fun" in different games. My ideas on what I might get from a game and how I might go about getting it clarified and began to crystallise in my mind - this process is still ongoing...

Enter 3.x D&D. In a trial game of D&D 3.0 (which became a series of 3.x campaigns with the same DM - not me) I found I liked the tactical combat and some of the "game" elements around skills, crafting and such like. I also (re?)discovered D&D through a number of world settings around this time (Birthright, Planescape and Dark Sun especially). It seemed to me that 3.x did tactical "encounter-based" play better that any previous game.

Then 4E blew it clean out of the water.

To me, 4E does simple, clean "encounter based" (actually, "challenge based") play better than any other roleplaying game, bar none. It compromises many other areas, but retains total mastery of the "challenge play" - especially combat challenges (it's actually better at all others than any other RPG, too, IMO, but the bar is just not very high...)

Now, for that kind of play, I want fixed, clear rules. I do not want to have to make up rulings on the spot or modify things as we go, because, as DM, my role in the game is to make the challenges tough. Any rulings I have to make in actual play will risk being coloured by my in-game role - and even if they are not, the players will feel that they may be!

For my purposes when I run (or play) 4E, therefore, I want the ruleset handed to me entire. Adventures, settings and such are not essential (though they might save me some work), but the actual game system I want to be clear and fixed up-front. I want to be able to 'grok' it myself and have the players do the same and come to the same understanding.

Set against that that I remain, after over 25 years, an avid devotee of the Hârn world and system. But, here I tinker. And I am happy doing so, because, for a world-based roleplay such as Hârn lends itself to, the rules follow the world, not the other way around.

I visit Hârn to dream in company with others - to inhabit an alien world. I come to D&D (4E) to game, pure and simple.


The Laughing One
I read the column and the first thought that popped into my mind was "Blatant damage control!", it looks to me that WotC is feeling the hurt of PF and all the other (far) smaller competitors.

Previously D&D was like the main road through the RPG world, there were many other roads, but D&D was the biggest and most well paved. New editions always led to a small part of the community sticking with the older editions. 3E made of D&D a super highway, the OGL made many smaller roads, some larger then others. Eventually 4E came and for the first time a lot of folks didn't migrate to the new road, some dipped their feet in it and hastily retreated. The reason was that 4E was a lot different from 3E, Paizo promised that PF would be compatible with 3E and that kept a lot of folks away from 4E, eventually it became clear that PF wasn't as compatible as first thought but still a lot of folks stuck around for it. Now we have two big roads, neither is a super highway, but they are big enough, and the other RPGs/roads are bigger then they ever where.

It looks like 4E is loosing ground to it's competition (both PF and other RPG manufacturers), they first flood their own market, then they go (for lack of a better word) Schizo (Essentials line), they go collectible, they cancel the miniatures products, and the product pipeline pretty much dries up. It almost seems like WotC (and Mike in this case) are now scrambling to save what's left of their game's community by tauting the D&D brand as an eternal flame in the night.

Personally I think 4E is mechanically far stronger then 3E ever was, but the mechanics do not make the game, it requires sources inspiration. I found the presentation extremely lacking, and some of the filling was imho poorly chosen. As a player I would not mind playing 4E at all, as a GM I dislike it. As a GM PF inspires me far more. I would love to see more overlap between PF and D&D (and others like Fantasy Craft, etc.), but WotC threw in their own windows with that, forcing publishers to choose between 4E and OGL products. I would have loved to see Paizo doing 4E stats for their PF adventure paths, or even ENworld doing their new adventure paths dual stated. If WotC is indeed committed to healing the fractures between the communities, that particular restriction should go asap, otherwise they'll keep fracturing their player base more and more. And to be honest, they are loosing the edition war if their recent actions and future products are any indication.

As a side note, I have virtually all the D&D 4E products and only a single adventure path and four PF core books.

A different thought occurs to me, WotC seems to be moving to a digital subscription format. And while I like my digital RPG tools as much as the next RPG Nerd, they begin and end with the current edition. WotC seems to be positioning themselves to 'force' more folks to new editions when they publish them, simply by enforcing the digital subscription model.

Anyway, for each their own, but there indeed doesn't need to be so much hostility between the different edition groups.

Plane Sailing

Astral Admin - Mwahahaha!
After some reflection, no this is not the case and slightly misses what seems to me an important point.

Cool, thanks for the detailed reply!

I like the distinction you draw between your use of Harn and 4e to scratch different itches. Vive le difference!


Remove ads


Remove ads

Recent & Upcoming Releases