A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bad News for 4e D&D and Other Ponderings

Over at the Something Awful forums there is an over 1300 PAGE thread on their Traditional Games subforum to the normal Games forum called Grognards.txt.  In general its a bunch of smug 4th edition D&D fans bashing anyone butthurt over 4th edition.  "Nerds angry at nerds angry at D&D" is what I call it.


There is a LOT of good game theory and plenty of examples of terrible RPG players in that thread.  (And its not the two times I have been uncredited quoted as being a grognard either.  I'm on page 1 and in the 1130s.  Neither quote is particularly good or bad really.  When you read the thread and some of the sheer creepy, horrible, and just plain WRONG things gamers on the net say and talk about their campaigns me at my most anti 4e aint doodly squat.  This depresses me greatly.  People never disappoint at disappointing..)

Recently there has been the discussion of people saying 4e "ISN'T D&D" and a topic I have probably blogged about before on the lethality of classic D&D and how it sucks.  What follows is both a fellow I am quoting, and my own thoughts on both the lethality, and if 4e is D&D or not:

Guilty Spork posted:

The one thing I have really and truly never understood about D&D is why the paradigm of ridiculously fragile PCs lasted more than a month or so. Having wizards who can't be scratched to death by a single housecat somehow equates to having totally consequence-free play like in an MMO that only exists in grognard's minds.

I honestly say this is what really killed RPGs. Not videogames being easier to get into, not MMOs.

It was kids and preteens in the 80s with thoughts of He Man, Conan, Thundarr, and Lion O in their heads. (And maybe a couple of girls with She Ra or Red Sonja)

Then they get to the table and bring their character into battle. Only to die in the first or second fight.

Ok fuck this let's go play Atari 2600 instead. (Even moreso with the creepy sex deviants who have been ruining everything ever. The Internet just gives sickos a group to talk about how they want to see Rainbow Brite having "group relations" with the Carebears or something. Human sexuality is a terrible thing.)

Its not the effort involved. Sure it might be a lot of work but if its your thing, you won't mind the work.

Some people love to fix and repair their own cars. You have nerds spending 100s of hours painting their wargaming minis. People who love sewing.

But when so many cards are stacked against RPGs as is, the sheer lethality of RAW TSR D&D is just a giant turnoff.

And even beyond the creepy players, what about the PVP parties who think backstabbing a fellow player is FUNNY? That sort of crap drove people away from online games like Diablo and Phantasy Star Online in droves. And basically the PVP flag alone is what helped Everquest beat Ultima Online regardless of what a few hardcore say. Even though in nearly every other way UO was tons more fun.


Going back to IT IS ITS NOT D&D: Well, for a load of people 4e isn't D&D as they know it.

If people were happy about it, would this news have ever happened?

D&D has pretty much always been the Number One RPG regardless of quality.

It keeps losing out or at the very least has shed marketshare.

Compare the style of game you played from 74-99 to 3 and 4e. It really feels completely damned different.

(As much as the 3e fans would like to say otherwise, it really is a transitional phase between TSR D&D and 4th. Its sort of a well intentioned mutt that got overdesigned somewhere in the middle. My least favorite version of D&D. 4th Essentials and a house ruled Basic are my go to D&D branded games, with a houseruled Castles & Crusades my preferred D&D game PERIOD, X-Plorers coming in a close second.)

Sure WOTC says what the brand is on, but ask any Godzilla fan what they think of the 98 movie and its creature is called "GINO" (Godzilla in Name Only), Deanzilla, Sh&*zilla, or similarly childish names. The Godzilla owners ended up calling it 'Zilla and having it get completely smacked down by a Godzilla closer to what people love.

Heck, ask horror fans about how they feel on the Friday the 13th, Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Nightmare on Elm Street Remakes. They are almost universally rejected by the fanbase.

Doesn't matter if its good or not. With consumer products its the fanbase that has some control over the property.  (Though having seen the Halloween remake I can safely say its only slightly less terrible than Halloween 5 and 6.  But only the parts where its not trying to be an actual Halloween remake.  If they removed the remake bits it would actually be an interesting look into a child who murders most of his family and his inability to be rehabilitated in a mental institution.  Once the remake part properly begins it sucks ass.  Lots and lots of ass.  Epic Ass Sucking Time is what it becomes.  Apparently its sequel is even worse.  How you get worse than a movie whose Chud.com review scored it as a "F*&K YOU out of 10" I do not know.)

Change is good, but if you change too much too fast and don't keep enough of what people love it will get creamed unless you find enough of a replacement audience.

Games Workshop was lucky when 3rd edition 40K did a massive shift. Rackham games with the final version of Confrontation was not. WOTC is getting hammered similarly.

(I would say Transformers survives and thrives with constant changes in style and scope because it never really throws away the previous. Hate the idiotic Bay movies? Well IDW makes Generation 1 comics in a modern style and even reprints the old. Are a kid? Transformers Animated and Prime are right up your alley. Heck, they have a line and upcoming show JUST for the 3-6 year old set who probably would cry trying to transform the main line's deluxe class figures.  I've bought the Optimus Prime from this line for my cousin's 5 year old for Christmas.  Its so adorable I kind of want one for myself.)

And I do find it a shame because there is a LOT to like about 4e once you don't look at it as how you would TSR D&D. And its a load better than 3.x.

But I doubt the improvements of 4th will carry to 5th. Class balance, streamlining, pick up and play, not swetting the spergy details? These will all probably be ignored next edition and its a Cthulhu damned shame.

I'm enjoying the 4th ed campaign I am running, I enjoy Encounters when I get the opportunity to play, and I even have an open invite to a Friday game I will finally get to play in for at least one session soon.

WOTC dropped the ball, and a LOT of it has to do with changing too much too fast, hosing over Paizo during the change, and the suits (WOTC and Hasbro most likely) trying to sell RPGs to make Magic the Gathering profits. Which just can't happen.

And I doubt anyone outside of accountants wanting RPGs to sell on a CCG business model.

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