What is the essence of D&D

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I don't buy the crashing economy excuse as Pathfinder launched in the same conditions.
Sure but there is more to it.
1 success for pathfinder is on a different scale than D&D (and all they needed was old players not a massive demand like was actually called for by the Bureaucrats on the back of D&D)
2 someone grabbing pathfinder very possibly had literally huge amounts of already usable material no real cost or available used pretty cheap.
 
I don't buy the crashing economy excuse as Pathfinder launched in the same conditions.
It'd seem reasonable to expect RPGs to be downright counter-cyclical.
It's also irrelevant to D&D-ness. D&D, between the fad years of the 80s and today's tabletop renaissance, had not been much of a commercial success for it's IP holders. 4e could've been commercially successful and still not felt like it was Really D&D.

Era but also mystery vs dungeon crawl vs exploration. High magic vs low, pseudo medieval vs steam punk and so on.
Sounds like the 'pillars' : Mystery = Social, dungeon crawl = Exploration + Combat, Exploration = Exploration. ;)
'Mystery,' at least, is a recognizable genre in it's own right. (Picturing Brother Cadfael casting Speak With Dead to identify the murderer and Hold Person to apprehend him.) Steampunk we've already mentioned, and D&D starts out quasi-medieval.

High Magic vs Low is always a thorny topic. There's high- or low- magic setting, with standard-issue PCs. There's settings with super-abundant or vanishingly rare magic /items/ ( back in the day, "low magic" usually seemed to mean very few items). There's genres (most genres, really) with far less magic in the hands of the protagonists than D&D PCs tend to have on tap.

There's also genres where the nature or rationale or 'laws' of magic are quite different from D&D. Science-fantasy can have fantasy trappings, but the magic is replaced by psionics, for instance (Athas partially does that, for instance - psionics has varied so much over the editions, in some, psionics as the only supernatural power would be wildly OP, or inadequate to keep the party going, others just fine. 5e, obviously, isn't ready for that one yet.) Or all magic can come from the gods, or from spirits, or from Pacts with demons or something. Or 'magic' might be found only in items.
It's quite a range. A much broader range than Vancian.
 
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Zardnaar

Hero
I wish I could say that was an un-heard-of event.
The first year 4e was out, I had the bizarre experience of watching a player sit down at a 4e table, declare he was trying it for the very first time, choose a rogue, complain bitterly about being 'forced' to use a dagger, and just generally dragged the whole thing down. Twice. In two separate games, on two different days.

Guess I don't look too distinctive at a convention, or he might've recognized me and moderated his behavior, or at least changed up his initial spiel.

And, yeah, famously, books were burned.

The edition war went beyond a torrent of on-line nerd-rage. It was a toxic culture. Like any other form of bigotry, but all the more uncompromising because the subject was so trivial.

Some of it also became visible only in retrospect. A convention I used to go to was very cold to the idea when, in 2008, I submitted a proposal to run a short introductory game of the new edition - 4 players, 4 hours - as a gimmick. Too short. They'd never allow 4-hr games. I shelved the idea, but improv'd it in open gaming because there was interest, anyway (5 min prep, including re-skinning a monster because there were no water elementals the right level).
2014, I get an email from the same con - run a half-session (4 hr) game to introduce 5e and get the same credit as running a full session. Mind you, I was enthused about 5e and ran a bunch of them - converting In Search of the Unknown, Village of Homlet, Sunless Citadel, the first chapter of Council of Thieves, KotSf (shudder), and Twisting Halls, each to boiled-down, 4-hr 5e adventures. It was a blast. I was in an altered state of consciousness by Monday morning. ;)

2008, little disappointed, still ran a great game; 2014, excited, exhausted, had a great time … but, y'know, in retrospect, that was quite the change in attitude.



I'm not sure which is worse, the digs at 4e in passing, or pretending it never happened?

I'm not sure I follow. Hussar & I have both pointed out that a lot of little things "DNA" made it from 4e to 5e. They're not things that made 4e 'great' (good at what it was good at - balanced, playable, genre emulation - I'm sure you can throw out a few Forge labels I'd rather not use), at least, not in the form they made it into 5e, but among them are many supposedly-intolerable concepts that, in the context of 5e (with The Primacy of Magic restored!), are now fine.

Oh, wait, I think I see what you mean: Yes, yes I am. I did the same thing to grognards grousing about 3.0, too. You get a complaint that the new edition sux because it lacks X, you point out that X is, in fact, right there, they get mad at you. I'm glad you have the patience to explain the synergies and emergent characteristics based on the subtle differences in how (or greater degrees to which) X (& Q & Y & Z) are /implemented/ in the old edition, don't arise in the new (again, if I'm getting the allusion).

I've just had to do it a /lot/ more since 2008, rarely with anyone showing the same kind of patience & expansion upon their issues as you're up for.
Grogs liked 4E it was good at getting new players. On Dragonsfoot back then it was very common "ex 4E player burnt out on 3E".

Alot if clones popped up in 4E era but the process started in 3E. OSR was a reaction to 3E, 4E made it relatively popular.
 
Alot if clones popped up in 4E era but the process started in 3E. OSR was a reaction to 3E, 4E made it relatively popular.
I suspect OSR may just have been the leading edge of the comeback cycle, but sure, those observations are entirely consistent with the whole "Not Really D&D" narrative.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I just wanted to chime in that this 100% mirrored my own experiences, as well. As a 4E customer, I was repeatedly harassed or proselytized to at multiple different gaming stores as well as a Barnes & Noble whenever I tried to purchase a 4E product or, in one instance, even talk about the game with my own players while in earshot of one of the Essence of D&D gatekeepers.

Things are "better now", as @lowkey13 put it, only in the sense that the gatekeepers succeeded in stamping out the edition prematurely and scaring away many people who enjoyed it. You'll notice many of the people who used to be big 4E aficianados don't post here anymore. There's a reason for that. I myself rarely post here for much the same reason.

Like you, @Campbell , it bounced me off D&D hard and I explored indie games like Apocalypse World and Blades in the Dark. I've recently returned to running 4E with a renewed sense of aporeciation coming from that perspective.
That is one kind of better I suppose I have met with some of it IRL but I am kind of brassy myself when it happens.
 

Hussar

Legend
The financial or popular success or failure of 4e is orthogonal to the point that is being made though.

The basic premise is that one of the elements that differentiates 4e from other editions is the lack of primacy of magic. Magic items are massively toned down in power and the classes are far more on par with each other. Martial classes are given abilities that equal (or even exceed) what magic can do.

That's not edition warring or complaining. That's just true. It's demonstrably true. A 4e rogue is capable of reliably performing feats that any other edition rogue couldn't possibly replicate. Such as "Cloud Jump" a 22nd level utility that lets the rogue chain two jump checks together without landing in between. IOW, it's a low powered fly spell, that, by that level, would likely allow the rogue to "jump" about 60 feet or more as a single move.

In any other edition, doing this would be impossible for a rogue. It would REQUIRE magic to replicate. There is just no way for a rogue, without magic, to do this.

Again, folks keep adding in value judgements here that do not exist. It's not that 4e is good, bad or indifferent. It's not. It's just DIFFERENT.

And that difference is a big difference. So many of the criticisms of 4e can be boiled down to the lack of "magical ness" in magic. The fact that 4e characters and the 4e system, makes magic far less "magical".

Other criticisms, like "reliance on the battle grid" apply to other editions and can be safely ignored. 3e was nearly as dependent on the grid as 4e. It was certainly expected in 3e that you would play on a grid (you don't have several pages of forced movement and Attacks of Opportunity rules for nothing). Did 4e take it further? Sure. Of course it did. It flat out presumed that the battle map would be used and leveraged that use in the rules. But, it's not like 3e presumed theater of the mind combat. Or 1e for that matter which has a large chunk of rules (mostly ignored to be fair) that relied on using a battle map, including things like space/reach and facing rules.

So, using a battle map isn't essential to the game, since Basic/Expert, 2e and 5e aren't really focused on needing a battle map, but 1e, 3e and 4e all do.

That's why the argument keeps getting brought up that most of the elements of 4e that people complain about DO exist in other editions. Maybe not to the same degree, but, they are there. OTOH, the one distinct element of 4e that differentiates it from all other editions is the degree to which magic plays a role in the game.

When trying to pin down the essential element of D&D, looking at the exceptions seems to be the logical route to take.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
OTOH, the one distinct element of 4e that differentiates it from all other editions is the degree to which magic plays a role in the game.
Counterpoint:

1. No. It's not.

2. That's not what people say.

Ergo, no.
 

Zardnaar

Hero
The financial or popular success or failure of 4e is orthogonal to the point that is being made though.

The basic premise is that one of the elements that differentiates 4e from other editions is the lack of primacy of magic. Magic items are massively toned down in power and the classes are far more on par with each other. Martial classes are given abilities that equal (or even exceed) what magic can do.

That's not edition warring or complaining. That's just true. It's demonstrably true. A 4e rogue is capable of reliably performing feats that any other edition rogue couldn't possibly replicate. Such as "Cloud Jump" a 22nd level utility that lets the rogue chain two jump checks together without landing in between. IOW, it's a low powered fly spell, that, by that level, would likely allow the rogue to "jump" about 60 feet or more as a single move.

In any other edition, doing this would be impossible for a rogue. It would REQUIRE magic to replicate. There is just no way for a rogue, without magic, to do this.

Again, folks keep adding in value judgements here that do not exist. It's not that 4e is good, bad or indifferent. It's not. It's just DIFFERENT.

And that difference is a big difference. So many of the criticisms of 4e can be boiled down to the lack of "magical ness" in magic. The fact that 4e characters and the 4e system, makes magic far less "magical".

Other criticisms, like "reliance on the battle grid" apply to other editions and can be safely ignored. 3e was nearly as dependent on the grid as 4e. It was certainly expected in 3e that you would play on a grid (you don't have several pages of forced movement and Attacks of Opportunity rules for nothing). Did 4e take it further? Sure. Of course it did. It flat out presumed that the battle map would be used and leveraged that use in the rules. But, it's not like 3e presumed theater of the mind combat. Or 1e for that matter which has a large chunk of rules (mostly ignored to be fair) that relied on using a battle map, including things like space/reach and facing rules.

So, using a battle map isn't essential to the game, since Basic/Expert, 2e and 5e aren't really focused on needing a battle map, but 1e, 3e and 4e all do.

That's why the argument keeps getting brought up that most of the elements of 4e that people complain about DO exist in other editions. Maybe not to the same degree, but, they are there. OTOH, the one distinct element of 4e that differentiates it from all other editions is the degree to which magic plays a role in the game.

When trying to pin down the essential element of D&D, looking at the exceptions seems to be the logical route to take.
If you have Rogue double jumping 60 feet without an explaination it's getting into a different genre. That's superhero or wuxia.

If you can't see how that's not D&D as most people would understand it there's not a lot of hope. Doesn't have to be a magical explaination but low gravity would explain it.

That's different genre stuff.
 

Imaro

Adventurer
OTOH, the one distinct element of 4e that differentiates it from all other editions is the degree to which magic plays a role in the game.
Being based around set piece battles vs. numerous smaller battles of attrition seems pretty distinct to me.
 

Eric V

Explorer
The financial or popular success or failure of 4e is orthogonal to the point that is being made though.

The basic premise is that one of the elements that differentiates 4e from other editions is the lack of primacy of magic. Magic items are massively toned down in power and the classes are far more on par with each other. Martial classes are given abilities that equal (or even exceed) what magic can do.

That's not edition warring or complaining. That's just true. It's demonstrably true. A 4e rogue is capable of reliably performing feats that any other edition rogue couldn't possibly replicate. Such as "Cloud Jump" a 22nd level utility that lets the rogue chain two jump checks together without landing in between. IOW, it's a low powered fly spell, that, by that level, would likely allow the rogue to "jump" about 60 feet or more as a single move.

In any other edition, doing this would be impossible for a rogue. It would REQUIRE magic to replicate. There is just no way for a rogue, without magic, to do this.

Again, folks keep adding in value judgements here that do not exist. It's not that 4e is good, bad or indifferent. It's not. It's just DIFFERENT.

And that difference is a big difference. So many of the criticisms of 4e can be boiled down to the lack of "magical ness" in magic. The fact that 4e characters and the 4e system, makes magic far less "magical".

Other criticisms, like "reliance on the battle grid" apply to other editions and can be safely ignored. 3e was nearly as dependent on the grid as 4e. It was certainly expected in 3e that you would play on a grid (you don't have several pages of forced movement and Attacks of Opportunity rules for nothing). Did 4e take it further? Sure. Of course it did. It flat out presumed that the battle map would be used and leveraged that use in the rules. But, it's not like 3e presumed theater of the mind combat. Or 1e for that matter which has a large chunk of rules (mostly ignored to be fair) that relied on using a battle map, including things like space/reach and facing rules.

So, using a battle map isn't essential to the game, since Basic/Expert, 2e and 5e aren't really focused on needing a battle map, but 1e, 3e and 4e all do.

That's why the argument keeps getting brought up that most of the elements of 4e that people complain about DO exist in other editions. Maybe not to the same degree, but, they are there. OTOH, the one distinct element of 4e that differentiates it from all other editions is the degree to which magic plays a role in the game.

When trying to pin down the essential element of D&D, looking at the exceptions seems to be the logical route to take.
I really don't understand why this is seen as such a controversial idea, or why people are getting offended by it. People may like or dislike a game for certain reasons, but that's not what's being discussed here. It's specifically the "Doesn't feel like D&D" statement (didn't Oofta just repeat it above?) that is being examined. The game made a shift to rely less on magic; it's a defining feature of it that -isn't- found in other editions. It's right there in the game and not really debatable.

Hussar is right, this is just the logical route to take. It's not about like/dislike. The visceral responses to something so evident are really perplexing...
 

Hussar

Legend
Counterpoint:

1. No. It's not.

2. That's not what people say.

Ergo, no.
Huh, really? Because, here's the response right under yours.

If you have Rogue double jumping 60 feet without an explaination it's getting into a different genre. That's superhero or wuxia.

If you can't see how that's not D&D as most people would understand it there's not a lot of hope. Doesn't have to be a magical explaination but low gravity would explain it.

That's different genre stuff.
Seems like it's EXACTLY what people are saying. We're got @Zardnaar, right here, saying that 4e isn't D&D. Do I need more examples @lowkey13?
 

Hussar

Legend
Being based around set piece battles vs. numerous smaller battles of attrition seems pretty distinct to me.
This is a bit problematic.

1. The notion that 4e is based around set piece battles isn't true. The live plays that Chris Perkins did during 4e's run showed this not to be true. Particularly when he would run multiple encounters, as in 5 or 6 encounters, in a 2 or 3 hour session. Some were set piece, but, not all.

2. Set piece encounters are found in every edition of D&D. Going back to every single module ever published, you'll find set piece encounters routinely detailed. Whether it's the Hall of the Giants, or whatever, set piece encounters are part and parcel to adventure design in every edition.

So, as far as set piece vs numerous smaller battles goes, that's largely in the eye of the beholder. I can find examples of both within and without every edition of D&D.

To be fair, 4e tended to follow the 3e route of balancing on the encounter, rather than over the course of the day. 3e achieved this through cheap magic items like wands of cure light wounds and scrolls. I could see if you played 3e without healing wands, it might seem like a bigger difference.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Huh, really? Because, here's the response right under yours.



Seems like it's EXACTLY what people are saying. We're got @Zardnaar, right here, saying that 4e isn't D&D. Do I need more examples @lowkey13?
Yeah, you do. How about this thread, where I gave my own example, and cited what other people said right in front of me?

Or, you know, just keep assuming that everyone is lying because you know me better than I do.

You want to know why I'm angry? Because I don't much care for someone forumsplaining to me what I think.

And I also don't like people highjacking threads for their personal wars, even if they start their latest edition wars by saying, AKTUALLY, IM NOT HERE FOR AN EDITION WAR, BUT IM GONNA THROW SOME LOGS ON THE FIRE!

K? THXBYE!
 

Arnwolf666

Adventurer
If you have Rogue double jumping 60 feet without an explaination it's getting into a different genre. That's superhero or wuxia.

If you can't see how that's not D&D as most people would understand it there's not a lot of hope. Doesn't have to be a magical explaination but low gravity would explain it.

That's different genre stuff.
You mean like 1E oriental adventures. That was very wuxia. I still play with that product. Although 90 percent of the time I don’t want wuxia in my ad&d there is a rare time when the ninja bug hits me.

There was also a 2E ninja handbook.
There is a monk class in the 1E phb. And RC has the mystic class that was just the monk with a different name.

And the monk first premiered with all its wuxia in the 1975 blackmoor supplement.
 

Zardnaar

Hero
You mean like 1E oriental adventures. That was very wuxia. I still play with that product. Although 90 percent of the time I don’t want wuxia in my ad&d there is a rare time when the ninja bug hits me.

There was also a 2E ninja handbook.
There is a monk class in the 1E phb. And RC has the mystic class that was just the monk with a different name.

And the monk first premiered with all its wuxia in the 1975 blackmoor supplement.
Monks semi magical and OA is a wuxia type splat book. Generally I don't care what goes in splats. Raven Queens Guide to Nerath big whoop. 5E OA who cares. 5E Book if Nine Swords knock yourself out.

I don't care what they add to D&D I do care how/where they do it especially if they remove stuff. I don't like Ravenloft but it's opt in so I don't care if it exists. It's not for me and to make it appeal to me it would alienate fans of RL and I don't expect that.

Also like 2E no Monks.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
If you have Rogue double jumping 60 feet without an explaination it's getting into a different genre. That's superhero or wuxia.

If you can't see how that's not D&D as most people would understand it there's not a lot of hope. Doesn't have to be a magical explaination but low gravity would explain it.

That's different genre stuff.
I was kind of startled that the example of this super-jump was used as an example. So 4e reduced this imaginary "Primacy of Magic" by...giving rogues magical powers? WTF?
 

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