Reply To: 4th edition DnD

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  • Markshire PCs: Grottle, Gruzk, Ashimar

I just hope they realize that they have effectively lost a lot of “oldtimers,” such as myself, who tire of buying new gear.

I’ve done it enough to say there’s no perfect system and while I believe in making things better I think there’s a HUGE difference between remodeling and starting over.

I want to be clear here … I bought into 2nd Edition. I got ALL of the Monster Compendium Supplements (the three ring binders of monsters was INGENIOUS), I bought ALL of the Magic Item Manuals, AND the Wizard Spell Books, AND the Cleric Cards (another ingenious idea), AND the Class Handbooks.

Great concepts. Sitting on a shelf in my dining room.

3rd Edition came around … Simplification. Like it. No more THAC0. Simpler system of determining success (DCs). More options for taking PCs outside the archetypes (the classes) and creating your idea of a true hero or retched scum. So I bought into it. It’s a solid system that I still play.

Then the crackpots from WotC’s business dept jumped in.

3.5 … okay … changes and improvements are to be commended but it’s only been a short period of time. And a HALF upgrade to a gaming system? This isn’t a video game you can just download an update or add an expansion.

They could EASILY have issued a supplement to the game … they’ve done it enough over the years.

And now … 4.0.

Okay, the digital age has come and WotC wants its fair cut. Fine. But honestly, a WHOLE new system?

Sure, combat takes time in PnP. You can streamline it all you want but it will still be time consuming in a dice rolling, sit around the table format. People waffle, they hem and haw, others tell a story, a joke stops everything for a few minutes, and then the player finally decides on a course of action … WHAT??? YOU DON’T WANT TO DO THAT!!! YOU’LL GET US ALL KILLED!! … arguing ensues. Ah… the memories.

And now they want us to play it all online … Sure. Let me fire up NWN. So much faster. No dice, no waiting and I can see what I am fighting and doing… sorry… crossed over to video games there for a moment. More on that in a bit.

I have nothing against playing the game online via their system. But honestly I can play over the phone, via e-mail or via video and satellite on national TV. It all boils down to the same thing … the system can only go as fast the group of people playing it. You can play it like tournament chess and include a chess timer in making decisions or you can let people kibitz and discuss the story put before them.

But how could they expect the masses of previously vested players and DMs to buy into a whole new Pen-n-Paper game? Honestly, if you are going digital … do it.

Build the new game around the computer and make it a DVD with a Player application and a DM application that allow everyone to build and manage their PC or Campaign. Then incorporate that into the online management system for long distance playing. No books, just a simple manual … you know the kind we all toss after a week.

I really don’t see the point of reprinting everything. Sell this new game as a Pen-N-Paper alternate and still publish the old 3.X system until the medium dies out.

Imagine the profit margin … no overhead … no printing presses, no book binders, no specialty stores … hel, you don’t even need the DVD and case … Direct2Drive it.

Then … you don’t have to worry about them networking. Your apps do it automatically if they are online. Join a group, start a campaign, advertise for players, or schedule a one-nighter, all run by the Player and DM apps.

Need a rule, click a button. Need a grapple check … it does it. No need to look up what the numbers are or all the special circumstances. The PC app talks to the DM app running the game and voila the outcome. You don’t fight in a virtual environment … we have NWN for that… but you see a picture of the creature … and if you succeeded in a skill check you might even know something about it … shown right there for you to see.

Now, I haven’t seen even a screenshot of their special connection software but I honestly doubt that it’s terribly special. WotC isn’t a computer game company. They’ve tried to just generate a PC building program … unsuccessfully … several times.

But IMAGINE the finished product … you sitting at a table with your laptop. The dice put away. Pencils sitting next to a pad for those people who have issues typing notes, at the most. The DM sitting at the end of the table sending you information WHILE telling the story for you. Jimmy couldn’t come because he’s got to watch the kids but he’s still in the game. Monica moved to another state all together but she still shows up for the game.

The adventure begins and the players enter a bar … a layout appears on the screen. They don’t get 3d avatars but they do get a 2d icon that represents them and they can move it on the map on their turn. No, need for figures and paper or vinyl maps … a shame but livable. They move about the bar and make their decisions.

Player A asks a question of the barkeep by clicking on him and submitting it to the DM. The DM instigates a skill check … automatically run … and replies with what they think should be revealed.

Player B … decides to insult the dwarf in the corner quietly sipping his ale. There’s always one moron playing, right? A bar fight ensues.

The DM causes all of the participants to determine initiative order. The PCs only see their’s. The DM gets a list of the PCs and the NPCs. The DM goes around “the room” asking people for their actions on their initiative. Nothing’s written down. No dice rolled.

And so on.

No rules to consult … they are in the game. Need help with a particular rule … click the help button and do a search.

I’m sure Mule or Cayle are ready to hop in and state that this is done elsewhere already, etc.

BUT not by WotC with the D20 system with EVERYTHING.

It seems to me that this is where we should be.