Today we take another look at the depths of my dissatisfaction with 4th Edition D&D:
Hey Mr. DM,
I know, from your previous posts, that you despise 4E. I never really liked 4E, but I have come to truly hate it through the terrible experience of a serious year long 4E campaign. My question is, what is it about 4E that you hate the most? Or in other words, what change did they make to 4E that you despise the most?
D&D’s underlying system worked in the original game, in the red box, in ad&d, in 3e, and in 3.5E… why the fuck did they have to throw all of that out? Furthermore, I hear word on the street that 5E is going back to the traditional system’s feel, not sure the validity of that… but I’d be interested in knowing the DM’s take on all of this.
With mountain dew and cheetos,
As you’ve pointed out, I have ranted about 4e from time to time, so I’ll try and keep this blog short and not repeat myself too much. First some context: I’ve been playing D&D since AD&D, so I’ve seen it through most of its iterations.
D&D has always been very dear to me, as I was introduced to it during the fragile Middle School years. It became an outlet for my infinite seething rage, and a way to build friendships. Also, being a Dungeon Master meant I was finally in control of something. An entire world no less. So, it’s hard for me to talk too much trash, but 4th Edition has been a big let down, and a lot of that has to do with Wizards of the Coast and what I perceive as greed-mongering.
Here’s a past article I wrote about 4th Edition which summarizes most of my feelings nicely. So you might want to read that first if you haven’t already. And here’s an excerpt from another one of my articles, Imagination: Roleplaying Rule #1:
“Even if I ignore the fact that maps and miniatures are an obvious ploy from Wizards of the Coast to squeeze as much blood and money from gamers as possible, I still don’t like them. They brought the focus back to the wargamer’s battle, helped to create an overly complex set of rules of engagement, and created more strategy than a Roleplaying game should ever have. 4th Edition is a wargame with Roleplaying elements.”
Taken from Meme Generator.
What I would like to add on top of my previous articles has more to do with the evolution of D&D over the years. The trend that I’ve noticed is more rules, more supplements, and a deeper complexity (though some would argue this started moving backwards with 4e). I’m not advocating for simplistic RPG systems. Personally, in my own homebrew system I have documents of rules clogging up Dropbox and two different hard drives. I love rules, and I love using them to create complex systems that more closely align to reality. However, as a DM I have a very specific style, which is:
Fuck the Rules
I spend hours creating and revising rules every month only to ignore most of them when my Players and I sit down to play. Why do I do this? Because as I’ve said many times before, Roleplaying is about having a good time. If rules get in the way of that, fuck ‘em. They’re helpful guidelines and nothing more.
I could just as easily do this with any system. If I like the basic rules or the Universe or whatever, I can just write a campaign on fudge things as necessary. I can do this, but what I’ve noticed is that not a lot of other people can or want to. The result of this is that the rule system defines the game. 4th Edition’s rules make it combat focused. The games become centered only around killing things, so we lose sight of what’s important: being goofballs and playing pretend.
I think Obi-Wan Kenobi did a good job of encapsulating the experience of many long-time gamers after playing 4th Edition for the first time: It was “as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.”
I too have heard that D&D Next is attempting to go back to the roots of D&D, and all I can say is, I sure hope this is true. If it is, it means WotC has heard the collective cry of Geekdom and is responding accordingly. Only time will tell.
Yours in frustration,
The Dungeon Master
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