Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Dungeons & Dragons 4e Review

This past weekend I participated at the public launch of Dungeons  
Dragon 4e at the D&D Experience here in Virginia. 
I'm a bit disappointed to report that it was a bit of a
mixed bag. I had been looking forward to 4e since it's
announcement. Most of the Design & Development articles
really resonated with my own (current) philosophies
towards the game. There were a few causes for alarm
(specifically, some racial powers and premature death of
the magic-item christmas tree). But all in all, I have
been thrilled. I even really liked the two preview books
(especially Worlds & Monsters, which will remain useful
even once the rulebooks come out).

But my first 4e game was kind of lame.

Let me state up front that I think it was mostly poor
GMing and the nature of the demo scenario. The GM ran the
encounters and disjointed miniatures fights and had
substandard table-management skills. He failed to really
make use of the cool new kobold tactics and made no effort
to inspire roleplaying.

But, seeing through the poor presentation (and after
talking to other folks with better experiences), I did
come away from the event with my high hopes for 4e
*largely* intact. I do still have some concerns. I'm
worried that the new save mechanic will be cumbersome for
area-of-effect attacks. And I'm not sure how I liked the
defender's "sticky" maneuvers (though, in fairness, these
have been supposedly fixed). It was stated up front that
minions weren't completely worked out yet (a worry, since
the game is so close to shipping). And while I'm ok with
the healing surges, I don't like that *everything* is
healed/reset after 6 hours of camping. I may need to house
rule that.

Let me just say that I *loved* playing the first level
wizard. I used magic in almost every round. Granted, most
of my spells were blast effects (aside from a few spells I
didn't use). I really hope that more utility spells are
available during character generation. And I can't wait to
see the rules for rituals. That could make our break my
enthusiasm for the game.

The others classes seemed cool (other than the now-fixed
fighter/paladins). I like the new trtun undead mechanic.
The Eladrin Ranger really pulled some cool Legolas stunts.

As first level characters, we seemed as tough (if not
tougher than) 3rd level characters. Monsters were equally
tough and I worry that combats will take about the same
time. True, more cool stuff seemed to be happening, so
that is ok.

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