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4E Mouseferatu weighs in on 4e

Piratecat

Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
From Ari Marmell's blog. I believe he's posted it here as well, but since I'm not sure where...

[bq]I've finally been told that it's okay to talk about my opinions in a little more detail.

As most of you already know, I've been both playtesting and working on 4E material. I can't say what, of course. But it does mean that I've had the rules for months now, and have been playing in an ongoing 4E campaign with a group of NDAed playtesters.

What I am about to offer are my true feelings. Anyone who feels like dismissing what I have to say because of any assumed bias is cordially invited to stop reading now.

When I first heard about 4E, I knew I'd have to learn the rules so I could keep working. But I was fully prepared to do so only for professional reasons, and keep playing 3.5 in my own campaigns.

That has, thankfully, turned out to be utterly unnecessary. I am absolutely in love with the 4E system, to the point where I'm not sure I would even be willing to play 3.5 again. Seriously; I like the system that much more.

The mechanics are more intuitive, the characters more mechanically interesting and--here's the big one--I haven't found D&D combat this exciting in years. I'm having a blast with this campaign.

Are there a few things I'd like to see done differently? I think that goes without saying. There's no such thing as a perfect system for anyone. But on a scale of 1 to 10, measuring to what extent I like and agree with all the changes, 4E easily rates an 8.5 to 9.

I'm sold--not just as a writer, but as a fan of the game who's been playing since 1983.[/bq]​

And from the comments:

[bq]You know, I've sort of--not completely, but in a way--put my finger on what I like so much.

It feels like they've managed to create a complete game that doesn't feel cluttered. In a way, it's a feeling I haven't had since the Red Box basic set.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that

A) 4E is as simple as Basic, or
B) That Basic didn't have a great many flaws and mechanical problems.

But I believe that Basic D&D did a good job of separating out what did and did not need hardwired mechanics. I don't need ranks in "tailor" on my character sheet, if that's never going to have a mechanical impact on gameplay.

I'm a huge believer in roleplaying. I don't want my D&D to be pure combat simulation. But I've also, after the mechanics glut of 3.5, come to realize that if something doesn't have a mechanical impact, it doesn't need to appear in the mechanics--and that doesn't make it any less real to the character. Roleplayers will roleplay because they want to; people who don't want to RP won't no matter what the rules say.

4E manages, IMO, to give you exactly the mechanics you need, without giving excessive mechanics to what you don't, in a way that no prior edition has managed.[/bq]​

This is a good sign. I value Ari's opinion.
 

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TwinBahamut

First Post
Truth Seeker said:
I don't like that line...IMHO.
Err... why not? Obviously you don't like something about it, but I can't see anything wrong at all with intuitive mechanics and interesting characters, so I really don't see what you mean...
 


Zamkaizer

First Post
This statement is significant, not only because they're from an excellent designer experienced in roleplaying games, but also because it's one of the first appraisals of the new system we've heard that's not from the developers themselves.

Edit: it also leaves me feeling extremely positive of 4E, or apprehensive about Ari's integrity. Kidding.
 

rounser

First Post
Never doubted that it'd be a class act mechanically. I just hope that the warforged hexblade wielding a spiked chain factor is minimised in the core, because WOTC's idea of cool is not always my own.
 

TarionzCousin

Second Most Angelic Devil Ever
PKitty said:
This is a good sign.
This is the most encouraging thing I've seen in months. Thanks for cross-posting this here.

...and thanks, Ari, for being courageous enough to tell us how you feel. You, sir, rock.
 

Agamon

Adventurer
jeffh said:
What's not to like about it?
Maybe he prefers a more complicated game with boring PC mechanics.

Hmmm, after writing that, maybe he doesn't like how contradictory it sounds. It is what WotC has said is one of their main goals for the game though.
 

TarionzCousin said:
...and thanks, Ari, for being courageous enough to tell us how you feel. You, sir, rock.
Well, I don't know if "courageous" is the word I'd use--it was actually pretty easy, since it (thankfully) turned out that I really liked the new game ;)--but you're quite welcome.
 

Hussar

Legend
Considering how much I like what the Mouse has done in the past, this does mean quite a bit. I mean, I loved Tome of Magic and the Binder specifically, so, seeing a thumbs up from Ari moves me a bit closer to the "I might buy this when it comes out" category.
 

Greg K

Adventurer
Zamkaizer said:
This statement is significant, not only because they're from an excellent designer experienced in roleplaying games, but also because it's one of the first appraisals of the new system we've heard that's not from the developers themselves.
True. However, I recall a writer/designer of one game writing an excellent review of a new licensed game that he had not developed. I bought the game on that designer's review. The game had great character generation and combat rules, but had horrible mechanics in some other areas. When the game tanked, the writer admitted that the only reason he wrote a favorable review was that he liked the game universe and, therefore, wanted to write for it. Not saying that Ari would do this, but Ari is a game developer/writer, who freelances for WOTC and the DND line- once bitten, twice shy and all that stuff.
 


WanderingMonster

First Post
jeffh said:
What's not to like about it?
Too mechanical?

I'm glad to hear from someone who's seen the complete ruleset. Still, I think the argument that "Mouseferatu says it's great" won't mean much to my group. I may have to have to wear my +1 d20 cajones of DMing if I want to play 4e. Heck I may put them on just 'cuz.
 

Greg K said:
True. However, I recall a writer/designer of one game writing an excellent review of a new licensed game that he had not developed. I bought the game on that designer's review. The game had great character generation and combat rules, but had horrible mechanics in some other areas. When the game tanked, the writer admitted that the only reason he wrote a favorable review was that he liked the game universe and, therefore, wanted to write for it. Not saying that Ari would do this, but Ari is a game developer/writer, who freelances for WOTC and the DND line- once bitten, twice shy and all that stuff.
And I'm not asking anyone to buy it on my word alone. I'm not making anyone any guarantees or any promises about what they'll think when they see the game. I like 4E, and I've tried to explain why I like it as much as I can, without violating my NDA. (If I could give more details, I would, believe me.)

I offered an opinion, pure and simple. What people choose to do with it, or whether or not people even choose to acknowledge it, is entirely up to them. :)
 

Pale

First Post
I knew something like this had to have happened when you dropped off the face of the messageboards, Ari.

I, also, value Ari's opinion highly in these matters as I know that he and I have very similar values when it comes to gaming (from reading his opinions and doing a lot of head-nodding *laugh*).

I would also like to point out that Clark Peterson has previously announced that Ari will be working on Necromancer Games' "Advanced Player's Handbook" (or whatever the final title will be) which will help those of us who may be slightly grognardesque in our gaming approach feel the groove of 4E a little better by filling in the what's been 'left out'. (This will be in tandem with a Tome of Horrors 4E, of course.)

Thanks for spilling out your opinion as soon as you could, Mouse... even if you did just convince me to give money to Hasbro! *shakes fist at the skyline of the corporate machine*


EDIT: Damnable spelling errors
 
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Glyfair

First Post
Greg K said:
When the game tanked, the writer admitted that the only reason he wrote a favorable review was that he liked the game universe and, therefore, wanted to write for it.
Except he is already working on the game line, so trying to get in wouldn't be a reason to write a favorable review. If he thought it wasn't up to snuff he could just remain quite and rake in the jobs that he seems to have been deluged with recently.
 

catsclaw227

First Post
This is good to see. If Ari's work is as good as his work with Tome of Magic, or with one of my favorite adventures of all time, Doom of Listenshire (which, BTW, is not listed at pen-paper.net).

<threadjack> I had no idea you were one of the writers for the first Scarred Lands trilogy. That's awesome, my players loved that series.</threadjack>

EDIT: Ari -- How do you think the Scarred Lands would look as a 4e gameworld?
 

Aus_Snow

First Post
Thanks for communicating your thoughts on 4e, as much as is possible, Mouse.

I like much of your work for 3e, and hey, some nWoD too. In fact, I can't think of anything bad, off hand. :cool:

The sig probably gives away my feelings on the edition-to-be :D - but that doesn't mean I don't have respect and regard for many designers, developers, writers, artists, playtesters (etc.) and (soon enough) regular ol' DMs and players of 4e.

And, as I've said before, on these boards, if anything really leaps out at me from the 4e (and [n]d20) range, I'll consider buying it, so I can kill it and take its stuff for my 3.x/[O]d20 games.

I'll keep an eye out for things you've worked on, FWIW. :)
 

Greg K

Adventurer
Glyfair said:
Except he is already working on the game line, so trying to get in wouldn't be a reason to write a favorable review. If he thought it wasn't up to snuff he could just remain quite and rake in the jobs that he seems to have been deluged with recently.
I generally like Ari's work. The only products that I have had problems with were Complete Champion and Complete Mage. And my problem with the latter was not with the ideas, but with mechanics- at least some of which, by Ari's admission, underwent changes after leaving his hands.

Still, there are a lot of factors that can influence a freelancers decision of for whom to work. For instance, the issue of payment. I would imagine that WOTC can afford to pay its writers better rates than other RPG companies as they pretty much dominate the rpg market in sales. Second, by nature of WOTC's place in the market and being owned by Hasbro, there is less worry of payment issues arising due to various snafu's that might hinder a reputable smaller company (e.g., the distributor issue a few years back that hurt several third party companies).

Again, I am not saying that these have any bearing as to whom Ari chooses to work. However, they are still considerations when discussing freelancers and for whom they choose to work.

All that said, I am more likely to give 4e a look now despite not liking most of the mechanical and decisions revealed via the design columns and playtest reports and the "preview" products TOB, Star Wars Saga Edition, and MM V.
 
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