Chad Perrin: SOB

9 October 2008

the heart of the “edition wars”

Filed under: RPG — Tags: , , — apotheon @ 02:06

This is part of my RPG series of entries here at SOB. See the inaugural entry in the series for more details.

I ran across this description of a D&D 4E experience:

So let this little tale be an example/lesson/whatever. The edition wars are bunk. They exist due to a small minority of gamers being angry and wanting the rest of the hobby to agree with them. A surefire cure for it? Sit down. Shut up. And just roll the dice!

That’s great if you’re a roll-player. I’m more of a roleplayer, though, so I’ll stick with Pathfinder.

I think that pretty much sums up the heart of the problem. If you’re looking for hack-and-slash dungeon crawling, blood spilling, dice rolling fun, 4E might be exactly what the doctor ordered. If you want more “native” roleplaying opportunities in your games (such as — oh, I dunno — maybe an Enchantment/Charm school of magic), and like having an OGL and products from really creative, innovative third-party publishers, you might want to go with Pathfinder RPG instead.

I’m amazed when people like the author of the linked description of a game session completely forget that, run a quick stand-alone combat-centric session, and declare D&D 4E the King of the Hill. It assumes all any of us actually want is a game just like that.

Thanks anyway. I’ll stick with Pathfinder RPG.

30 Comments

  1. I stick with my belief that Dungeons & Dragons 3.0,3.5,and 4th are combat systems for a roleplaying game. Both have rules for non combat situations but be honest the majority of the rule books are for combat. I have played and DMed pathfinder and in my personal opinion it is no better nor worse at noncombat then 3rd or 4th. As for the edition wars in general we need to stop this nonsense and concentrate on what is important. Having a good time with this hobby regardless of system or edition and bringing new people into it. These wars and arguments only cause trouble in the rpg community and detracts from the community as a whole. I hope the above does not sound condescending it is just my 2 cents on the matter.

    Comment by Ben.Naveaux — 9 October 2008 @ 04:33

  2. If you want to end the “edition wars”, you might work on that by getting WotC to stop trying to kill anything OGL-related.

    The rules are much more than combat systems, at least pre-4E. They deal with a lot of other conflict and potential failure scenarios than just those related to combat. Anything that isn’t a conflict or potential failure scenario doesn’t need rules, though.

    If you want to play 4E, have at it. Be my guest. Have fun. Don’t expect that telling me “sit down, shut up, and roll dice” is going to make me want to play it, though. For my personal tastes, there’s a hell of a lot more to RPGs than rolling dice.

    Comment by apotheon — 9 October 2008 @ 05:41

  3. Ah, the classic ‘I’m a serious roleplayer, you’re a crude rollplayer’ ploy. Does that still work on some people? Personally, I’m always on the lookout for “hack-and-slash dungeon crawling, blood spilling, dice rolling fun” and 4E utterly fails to meet my needs. So while I agree with you that 4E isn’t the end-all and be-all of D&D gaming, I think this either/or thing you’ve got going doesn’t describe the whole situation.

    Comment by Jeff Rients — 9 October 2008 @ 05:44

  4. No, there’s no ploy, and nothing about serious vs. crude. There’s just what I said. Read what I said, or expect to be told you’re wrong when you read into what I said.

    Personally, I’m always on the lookout for “hack-and-slash dungeon crawling, blood spilling, dice rolling fun” and 4E utterly fails to meet my needs.

    I occasionally like some of that, too — but that’s not all I want, and since I can get that from other games as well without spending a bunch of money on 4E books, I don’t have much motivation to spend a bunch of money on 4E books. If I was in the mood for it and someone else offered to run a session, I might go for it, but in the general case I still prefer other games. It’s that simple.

    So while I agree with you that 4E isn’t the end-all and be-all of D&D gaming, I think this either/or thing you’ve got going doesn’t describe the whole situation.

    I’m confused. Where’s the either/or thing I’ve “got going”? Please quote it for me so I’ll know what you’re talking about.

    This must be another one of those cases where you read into what I said, rather than just reading it.

    Comment by apotheon — 9 October 2008 @ 05:52

  5. You know, for somebody who seems to regard “reading into” as a major sin, you’re not reading DonnytheDM’s posts very charitably at all. It seems pretty clear to me that he’s not saying “Shut up and play 4e” but “Shut up and play something you do like.”

    Comment by Joshua — 9 October 2008 @ 06:46

  6. Did you even read the same thing I did? The whole damned thing is about 4E — and how it’s really great because it works so well as a hack-and-slash game.

    Comment by apotheon — 9 October 2008 @ 07:00

  7. 4e edition is a well-designed combat engine, to be certain. So is 3rd ed, in different way. Both also have the fascination of character optimisation going for them.

    So, if these two things are where one wants rules, one should play 4th or 3rd edition. Personally, I have little interest in character optimisation and hence prefer other games without that particular focus.

    Also: The flavour of 4e is utterly stupid. So is the artwork.

    Comment by Tommi — 9 October 2008 @ 10:26

  8. “If you want to end the “edition wars”, you might work on that by getting WotC to stop trying to kill anything OGL-related.” ——–I have no say over Wizards of the Coast, but I can have fun playing Roleplaying games and not getting caught up in the fuss after all it is just a game.

    “The rules are much more than combat systems, at least pre-4E. They deal with a lot of other conflict and potential failure scenarios than just those related to combat. Anything that isn’t a conflict or potential failure scenario doesn’t need rules, though.” ———– I can’t comment on the first part of this since I have not played extensive 2nd or 1st edition, however though one does not need mechanics to “roleplay” good social and noncombat mechanics help enhance the experience such as “Burning Wheel”‘s Duel of Wits or the Risk system of “Houses of the Blooded”

    “If you want to play 4E, have at it. Be my guest. Have fun. Don’t expect that telling me “sit down, shut up, and roll dice” is going to make me want to play it, though. For my personal tastes, there’s a hell of a lot more to RPGs than rolling dice.”

    —– I am confused at this part. I have never tried to force 4th edition on some one nor told you to ” Sit down, shut up and roll dice” but I respect your opinion and agree with their being more to RPGs than rolling dice… but man dice are cool.

    Comment by Ben.Naveaux — 9 October 2008 @ 11:12

  9. I am roleplayer for quite some time now and I have played a lot of different games from almost all the World of Darkness titles to several editions of D&D, of course including classics like Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (the old and new edition) and Call of Cthulhu. I don’t get that edition-wars thing at all. What’s the most important point in ROLEplaying? No, it’s not the rules. So do your roleplaying and use the rules you like. If you prefer D&D 3.5 that’s ok, and if you use D&D 4.0 it’s fine with me. Heck, you can even throw out all the rules and play without them if it suits your fancy. You can roleplay with any set of rules. I have never encountered a game that actively prohibits roleplaying. Heck, we even roleplayed Diplomacy… And when I read your post’s title I hoped for a voice of reason, someone who wants to end this silly edition-war. But sadly you are just pouring oil into the fire. :(

    Comment by Stargazer — 9 October 2008 @ 11:18

  10. It has long been my opinion that the root of the edition wars is the false premise that a group has to choose one edition or the other. People saying they’re invalid while coming down on the side of one edition or the other in the same sentence–not going to do it. People trying to keep them going by either bringing up or accusing others of bringing up the old dichotomy–not going to do it.

    They’re two different games. Playing 3.5 and 4 in the same group isn’t any different from a group that can go from 3.5 to Spirit of the Century to discussing Exalted as soon as the guy who isn’t in the online games leaves. Or at least, it shouldn’t be. And the fact that people tend to use words that imply it is–“Why you should switch” being my personal favorite sticking point due to the use of switch rather than something a little more neutral–is what keeps the Wars going.

    Comment by Ravyn — 10 October 2008 @ 12:54

  11. @Ravyn: I agree 100%.

    Comment by Stargazer — 10 October 2008 @ 03:22

  12. “Did you even read the same thing I did? The whole damned thing is about 4E — and how it’s really great because it works so well as a hack-and-slash game.”

    Yup. Twice even. And his follow up post. And IMO what the “whole damn thing is about” is how it was fun and easy to pick up, and that people need to stop arguing about better and just sit down and play a game.

    Comment by justaguy — 10 October 2008 @ 07:03

  13. Greetings! First time here, but looks like a cool place.

    I’m not going to pick a fight. Indeed, I would offer an apology. My poor writing skills seem to have passed on the wrong message. See, there is nothing wrong with 3E, or 2e for that matter. What I was railing against is the jerks who have to be right, and everyone else has to agree to validate their opinion.

    I currently have a biweekly 4E game, with a Pathfinder game on weekends in between. I have no problems with PF, I admire Paizo’s efforts to support what will no doubt be a sustainable legacy crowd. The difference is I PLAY in the PF game, and DM the 4E game. Personally, I just prefer 4E.

    The one-shot was just an introduction to three newbies who joined my regular gaming circle. The article expressed my opinions and impressions only. To me it was a much more “friendly” game than previous editions, that allowed the n00bs to free-form their roleplaying experience much more loosely than they were used to in 3E. That’s all.

    As to the hack and slash angle, well…I’m reminded of the opinion of the Vampire group I joined years ago. They were pretty snobby about their “perfect” WoD storytelling system. They insisted that D&D was for meatheads that couldn’t roleplay, and therefore had to find something OTHER than WoD to play :)

    This of course raises the point of what IS the proper balance? The answer is easy. It’s whatever I say it is. The I being the subjective fly in the soup. I loved 4E, I gave my thoughts and opinions. You dont, but we can agree to disagree. It’s that simple. The “all of nothing” that Rayvn brings up is spot on, nothing stops anyone from liking both, I just like one better.

    Thanks for the link! And may natural 20’s fall often!

    Comment by Donny_the_DM — 10 October 2008 @ 08:44

  14. Regardless of how I feel about anyone’s opinions on the matter, I appreciate the comments. As long as you have something constructive (and somehow related to the main topic) to say, please continue to contribute your thoughts on the matter.

    I don’t have time to respond to everything right now. I may not have time to deal with this much stuff before the whole discussion gets stale, in fact. I’ll just cherry-pick a couple of statements and respond to those, then get back to work.

    It has long been my opinion that the root of the edition wars is the false premise that a group has to choose one edition or the other.

    Agreed — and if it wasn’t for open hostility to OGL, d20-compatible gaming from 4E converts (some of whom dress it up as “Oh, come on, 4E’s so much fun, you should play that!” with “instead” implied by surrounding statements) and Wizards of the Coast, I’d probably never have said anything about it other than “This is why it’s not for me.” As things stand, however, the fact that I find 4E kind of pointless (not as good as 3E for a decent RPG, not as good as WFB for miniatures-centric gaming, not as good as WoW for online combat resolution, doesn’t bring anything new to the table) just means that it makes my decision to boycott a game meant to drive the OGL out of the market that much easier.

    And IMO what the “whole damn thing is about” is how it was fun and easy to pick up, and that people need to stop arguing about better and just sit down and play a game.

    Poe-tay-toe, poe-tah-toe. In context, that basically boils down to exactly what I said the thing was about.

    Comment by apotheon — 10 October 2008 @ 08:44

  15. It’s good that two people can disagree calmly and civilly these days. After all the BS I deal with one the #@#$$%%$ paizo messageboards, it is refreshing!

    I agree, 4E is not everyone’s cup of tea. In gaining three, I lost one. He wouldn’t have anything to do with it. Wasn’t willing to try, or even watch. If you’ll forgive an emo lapse, it is a bit painful to see obviously intelligent people take such odd stances. His “protest” has led to his dropping out of the PF game too.

    I just don’t get it :/ But I respect his opinion, even if I don’t like it.

    Thank you for the quick reply, while I don’t mind disagreement at all, I hate the idea of a misperception lingering…then I’m that stupid #$%$% guy with the lame #$%$%# blog :)

    I DO plan on a review of PFRPG when it hits final. I own two copies of the beta, as well as chronicles. Do you have any of the adventures? I am trying to decide which path to start on, but with three or four of them now, it’s a tough call – money being what it is (or isn’t) these days.

    Comment by Donny_the_DM — 10 October 2008 @ 09:08

  16. Donny — your comment showed up while I was composing my previous comment post, so I’m responding to you separately.

    First, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I might have commented directly at your own Weblog, but the blogspot commenting interface is perversely difficult to deal with for those who don’t happen to have accounts there, so I avoid it.

    I’m not going to pick a fight. Indeed, I would offer an apology. My poor writing skills seem to have passed on the wrong message. See, there is nothing wrong with 3E, or 2e for that matter.

    Statements to the effect that 3E/PRPG was driving you away from RPGs until 4E brought you back did tend to give a pretty strong impression that, to you, 4E was the One True D&D.

    As to the hack and slash angle, well…I’m reminded of the opinion of the Vampire group I joined years ago. They were pretty snobby about their “perfect” WoD storytelling system.

    I’ve encountered that type, as well. That’s not how I feel about it all, though. I just find — as noted in my immediately previous comment — that 4E doesn’t really fill any niche that isn’t better handled by something else, and that it eliminates a lot of options available in 3E. In fact, it kinda feels like D&D with training wheels to me, because of the largely artificial feeling of separation of classes and the elimination of a lot of options. There are a lot of bad connotations to some of the flavor-related additions, too, like the whole Dragonborn thing, which just feels (to me) like a perpetuation of a juvenile dragon fetish that first arose in 2nd Edition, got out of control in 3rd, and has finally reached its ultimate conclusion in 4th where a sort of “half-dragon” PC race was introduced to the core books.

    In any case, the roleplaying related problems I have with 4E center around the fact that, as compared with 3E, it seems like a step toward discouraging more in-depth roleplaying. If it was just marketed as a separate game, I probably wouldn’t have as negative a reaction to it; I’d just say “Well, I’m not spending my money on that.” Since it’s called D&D, however, I find myself looking at it and marveling at how poorly it serves my purposes as a successor to 3E. It not only isn’t the same game — it isn’t even the same type of game as previous D&D editions have been for me and my friends.

    To me it was a much more “friendly” game than previous editions, that allowed the n00bs to free-form their roleplaying experience much more loosely than they were used to in 3E.

    I’m not really the type to put much stock in newbie-friendly at the expense of old-timer-friendly features. I’ve never really had any problem getting new people with whom I wanted to game to grasp the concepts and rules of previous editions, so the “newbie-friendly” approach of 4E seems unnecessary — and, since that friendliness seems to be achieved by cutting out whole categories of options and homogenizing the classes, it doesn’t suit my gaming style. If it suits yours, that’s good for you.

    Thanks for the link! And may natural 20’s fall often!

    You’re more than welcome, and thanks for the good wishes.

    As a side note, from my own personal experience, I agree with the guy from Compromise and Conceit (whose homebrew campaign setting is truly inspired and highly intriguing, by the way) — and find your response unconvincing. That may describe how you feel about it, but I think the real difference is not that you’re doing it “right”; rather, it’s that your priorities are clearly different. The whole “party role” thing that has taken over character concept design in 4E (more properly described as “combat role”) is a very combat encounter oriented concept, and if combat encounters are more central to your games I can see how your arguments stand up.

    In games that are more focused on storyline and character development, however — such as mine (and, I strongly suspect, those of the Compromise and Conceit writer) — combat roles can become largely irrelevant, or even counterproductive to a good game or even to game balance; lack of defined flavor translates as a poverty of background material and a paucity of ready-made inspiration, while its presence in earlier editions never stopped me from making up my own alternate material; and it’s not just about change, as many of us have been through five editions or so and a couple dozen or more entirely different games from other publishers without much problem before this.

    I had some significant issues with 3.0, but some of them were basically cleared up by some fixes in 3.5, and others are being cleared up by PRPG right now. I love change. Hell, back in 2E days, I eventually added so many house rules to my ongoing game that it wasn’t even recognizably “D&D” any longer. I just don’t like change that, for my purposes, is counterproductive. Dismissing those who object to the changes made to 4E as some kind of reactionary Luddite impulse misses the point.

    Comment by apotheon — 10 October 2008 @ 09:16

  17. Wow, you’re responding faster than I can, Donny.

    My SigO is running a campaign based on the first Adventure Path, Rise of the Rune Lords, using PRPG rules. So far it’s fun. My only ongoing game at the moment is still using (modified) 3.5 rules because I started it before there was a Pathfinder RPG, and we haven’t all jumped on the idea of converting the campaign to a new rule set — though a couple of PRPG rules have crept in (such as the grappling rules, since 3E grapple rules suck).

    I have a Pathfinder Adventure Path subscription that, so far, has only delivered part one of the third AP — though part two has shipped, apparently, after being held up at customs. While I haven’t actually read it yet, since I’m not sure I’m going to be the person running it and I don’t want to spoil any surprises in it, it looks like the same absurdly high publication standards as everything else Paizo does. The APs in particular are extremely well thought-out from what I’ve seen, quite comprehensive and well integrated, and it would be difficult to do better for adventure module quality.

    Each of the APs so far has a unique, and very different, style to it in terms of what kind of game you’re running. The second is very political, and the third is oriented toward a less obviously Good-aligned party with pretty dark themes to it. The first is by far the most traditionally themed, involving defense of a smallish community, motivations that work best for Good-aligned characters, and epic heroism as its primary focus, as far as I’ve been able to determine as a player (and not a GM). Hopefully that helps you pick one, if you choose to go the AP route.

    Comment by apotheon — 10 October 2008 @ 09:24

  18. It’s all good my friend :)

    I actually completely agree with you on most counts.

    My personal opinion is that they should have marketed 4E as “Basic D&D” and re-tooled 3.5 as “Advanced D&D”. No dount the oldsters would have railed, but WotC long ago ceased to care about them (no offense intended to grognards or oldsters!)

    I’m still “figuring out” 4E. I may end up like Odyssey over at http://revolution21days.blogspot.com/ who loved it, then got bored with it and left. It is going to be dependant on how much depth they will add. I seem to recall that there was plans to actually expand the skills slightly with Eberron and Psionics, but it might just be self-fulfilling figmentation or somesuch :)

    In the meantime, I still have my PFRPG game, so we’ll see how it goes. Until then, have a good one – even if you’re wrong :-P

    Comment by Donny_the_DM — 10 October 2008 @ 09:25

  19. My personal opinion is that they should have marketed 4E as “Basic D&D” and re-tooled 3.5 as “Advanced D&D”.

    Splitting the product line again makes a lot of sense — except from a short-term business perspective, unfortunately. I like your idea, but I’m sure Hasbro wouldn’t.

    No dount the oldsters would have railed, but WotC long ago ceased to care about them (no offense intended to grognards or oldsters!)

    No offense taken — and I’ve noticed the same trend, judging by what WotC has been doing.

    In the meantime, I still have my PFRPG game, so we’ll see how it goes. Until then, have a good one – even if you’re wrong :-P

    Back atcha.

    Comment by apotheon — 10 October 2008 @ 09:38

  20. sigh Actually, you are misinterpreting what I typed. I’m not sure if you are being purposefully obtuse about it or not but what I meant by “play a game” isn’t “play a game (of 4e)” it’s “play a game(of whatever you like)”. If you choose to interpret it as negatively as possible, I suppose that’s your prerogative on your blog… but I get this feeling that you are complaining about 4e folk saying 3e is inferior, and then turning around to call 4e an inferior baby game (your training wheels comment).

    I tend to think both games have their merits and flaws… I’m running (well, starting to run we’ve only done chargen so far) a Pathfidner beta game because I’m curious about their changes. And I’m playing in a 4e game. I have yet to gather enough data to even attempt to declare one superior to the other. I’ve already seen things I like and things I dislike in both games… I’m sure there is no perfect game for me, much less a perfect game for everyone, and I just don’t get the need people (on both sides) have to bag so entirely on the other system.

    Comment by justaguy — 10 October 2008 @ 09:59

  21. I know that you said “play a game”, and not “play a game of 4E”, but the obvious inference from the original post was “play a game of 4E” — especially since, inevitably, 3E will effectively be a dead game except for ongoing groups of gradually dwindling size. That’s one of the problems with 4E’s arrival on the scene that leads to perpetuation of the “edition wars”: the writing is on the wall for 3E, and a lot of people who aren’t served by the 4E rules are pissed about that.

    If you don’t believe me, try moving to a new town and gathering together a new group of current D&D players who want to start playing a bunch of 1E AD&D games and give up 3E and 4E games. If you’re not personally interested in 4E games at all, that’s what 3E is going to end up becoming: the obsolete, forgotten game, that nobody wants to play except perhaps on a limited nostalgia basis. Worse, it’s going to get harder and harder to find people for whom older editions are even valuable for nostalgia, as more and more new players are introduced only with newer editions, while more and more old players move on and take up golf instead.

    So . . . I’m not misinterpreting what you said. I’m just addressing it in context.

    I get this feeling that you are complaining about 4e folk saying 3e is inferior, and then turning around to call 4e an inferior baby game (your training wheels comment).

    That was the obvious inference in the original post that inspired my entry here at SOB — that 3E is (objectively) inferior. As Donny pointed out in discussion here, he didn’t mean it that way, which is great, but that doesn’t change the fact that as written the original statement seemed to make that point. As for 4E and my training wheels comment — I described how it feels to me. I very explicitly stated that’s what it was: my feeling on the matter. If specifically stating that it’s a subjective feeling isn’t enough for you, that sounds like a personal problem that you should discuss with a therapist rather than with me.

    I tend to think both games have their merits and flaws

    I agree. 4E’s don’t appeal to me, but they obviously do to others. The only actually well-supported statements I’ve seen about the merits of 4E are those offered by people concerned with the ease of drawing new players to the game or with having enough time to run a game with busy thirty-something lives. Whether drawing new players to the game is bought at the expense of not being able to keep them remains to be seen; I’m willing to invest the time in a game that is more richly appointed, personally, even though I have one of those extremely busy thirty-something lives, because the day I can’t devote that much time to it is the day I stop playing. Your mileage may vary.

    I have yet to gather enough data to even attempt to declare one superior to the other.

    I have more than enough data to declare PRPG superior to 4E for my purposes. Your purposes may differ.

    . . . and that doesn’t even take into account my utter dismay and disappointment at the way WotC/Hasbro decided to try to sink the entire OGL gaming industry. It’s clear to me that WotC has become Lawful Evil. Even if I liked more about 4E’s rules, I’d be inclined to avoid it simply because I don’t want to support an organization like that when I have other, better options available.

    Comment by apotheon — 10 October 2008 @ 10:22

  22. Eh, I don’t know why people feel the need to attack 4e/Pathfinder while defending Pathfinder/4e (however their particular preferences lie).

    3e is every bit as much a combat engine as 4e is. I have the experience of playing 3e since it came out to place along side the experience of playing 4e since it came out.

    There is no need to place the roll vs. role stigma upon either system. Either type of game play is perfectly possible under either system. The only, let me repeat for emphasis, ONLY area where 3e has an advantage in RP over 4e that I’ve seen is in the lack of background skills in 4e. In favor of 4e is the Skill Challenge system, the disease system (encourages a lot more RP than the the 3e system), and the value given to Quests. While all of these could be put into 3e via house rules, they aren’t an integral part of the system, and so I think it’s a fair comparison (plus you can add background skills into 4e, I know, I did it last week).

    Comment by Jeff Greiner — 10 October 2008 @ 04:49

  23. Eh, I don’t know why people feel the need to attack 4e/Pathfinder while defending Pathfinder/4e (however their particular preferences lie).

    In my experience, it tends to go something like this:

    1. Some 4E fan comes along and attacks some PRPG fan’s preference, talking about all the improvements in 4E and giving the PRPG fan a ration of shit for refusing to see the light, accusing him or her of essentially being a Luddite.

    2. The PRPG fan says “No, I have good reasons for preferring PRPG over 4E. Those are:” and lists some points of preference, basically as a means of explaining why (s)he prefers PRPG (or even just 3E).

    3. Someone else comes along and gives the PRPG fan grief for “attacking” 4E, because of course having preferences and explaining them is somehow politically incorrect if you’re not a 4E fan.

    3e is every bit as much a combat engine as 4e is. I have the experience of playing 3e since it came out to place along side the experience of playing 4e since it came out.

    3E offers a lot more than just combat. Compare the Enchantment/Charm school in 3E to that in 4E. Oh, wait, I guess you can’t — in 4E, every single damned thing the rules cover is related to doing damage, preventing damage, enhancing damage, or either enhancing or inhibiting damage-dealing or damage-prevention capabilities. 4E is far more combat focused, in terms of the rules, than 3E, and the mere fact that both systems provide a lot of combat-specific rules doesn’t change the fact that 3E does a crapload more than that.

    Either type of game play is perfectly possible under either system.

    There’s a lot of stuff the 3E system supports natively that 4E does not — a lot of more “role” oriented stuff, in particular. Sure, you can play a very “role” oriented game with 4E, but it requires either making up a bunch of rules or basically winging it to do a lot of the more “role” oriented stuff that is actually covered by game mechanics in 3E. 4E lacks a lot of the roleplaying support game mechanics that exist in 3E. That’s pretty much irrefutable fact.

    The only, let me repeat for emphasis, ONLY area where 3e has an advantage in RP over 4e that I’ve seen is in the lack of background skills in 4e.

    That’s a big thing, and it’s not the only thing. Classes used to have class features that were more roleplaying oriented than what’s available in 4E as class powers. There used to be feats that were more roleplaying oriented than anything that’s available in 4E (so far, anyway — maybe that’ll change with splatbooks and other expansion materials). Classes used to be more flexible in how they can be used to construct a character, so that concepts aren’t limited by various classes’ combat roles.

    In favor of 4e is the Skill Challenge system, the disease system (encourages a lot more RP than the the 3e system), and the value given to Quests.

    I’m not convinced the Skill Challenge system is any better. A lot of 4E gamers seem to like to import the 3E skill resolution system, in fact, rather than use the Skill Challenge system. I haven’t really looked into the disease system, but since diseases are poorly handled by the rules in 3E, I don’t doubt there’s room for improvement in 4E — but then, diseases are far down the list of systems that are likely to be encountered in play, in my experience. Quests are, well, kinda MMORPG-ish for my taste as presented in 4E, and the basic concept (the good parts) has existed for years in the form of “story awards” and “campaign story arcs”, among other terms. Paizo’s Adventure Paths make for an excellent example of that sort of thing in a published, formal format.

    Good job, by the way, starting out by talking about how you don’t understand the way people attack something in defense of something else, then spend the rest of your comment post trying to prove 4E is better. “Oh, the only thing better about 3E is the presence of background skills, and by the way, that’s really easy to add in, like I just did, so it doesn’t really count so much, but there’s all this other stuff 4E does better, so there.” Yeah. Very pacifistic of you.

    Comment by apotheon — 10 October 2008 @ 06:00

  24. Does it really matter if someone doesn’t like 3/3.5/4? As Rayvn mentioned you play the system you like. Just because you can’t buy 3rd edition specific books doesn’t mean you have to stop playing it. If you want to play traditional Forgotten Realms you can’t do it in 4th Edition.

    Actually you can and its the same reason why people still play all the editions that are out there. You want to play the new campaign setting? Almost everything in it will be compatible with the old systems. If your that desperate to play it the npcs and monsters can easily be converted and away you go. This works both ways. To sit and complain that you have to play 4th edition to use a specific campaign setting is rubbish. Put a bit of work into it and your sorted.

    There is a roleplay group in my home town that still uses the D&D Rules Cyclopedia as the basis for every campaign they run even if its supposed to be for the new versions of D&D.

    Comment by Bob — 15 October 2008 @ 02:05

  25. Bob . . . it seems, from what you’ve said, like you just ignored everything I said. Seriously. You’re arguing against points I never made.

    Comment by apotheon — 15 October 2008 @ 09:50

  26. Although I can see how 3.x might be better suited to encouraging role-playing than 4e, I still don’t see why–apart from going with the majority–people wanting to maximize the role-play part choose D&D of any edition in the first place. It’s always been first and foremost a hack-and-slash game that leaves the role-playing part chiefly freeform. 4th Edition is just really good at the one and only thing where D&D is actually better than other RPGs out there.

    Comment by Raven — 17 October 2008 @ 11:13

  27. still don’t see why–apart from going with the majority–people wanting to maximize the role-play part choose D&D of any edition in the first place.

    “Going with the majority” isn’t an entirely invalid reason in this case, because sometimes the only people you have available to you for gaming are those who only play D&D.

    There’s also the fact that different game sessions impart a different flavor to the game, and that flavor is not confined to how combat-oriented the game happens to be. Sometimes, you just want a game world that has the flavor of a world where D&D physics dominate. Have you tried running a game in a D&D-like world with epic questing high fantasy flavor using, for instance, WoD 2nd Edition rules? It just doesn’t work.

    Plus, y’know, D&D serves as a universal starting point, even if where you want to end up isn’t D&D:

    1. You get a group of gamers together.
    2. You get a D&D game going.
    3. You get a non-D&D game going.
    4. You focus on the non-D&D stuff.

    This process is effective because of the near-universality of the D&D experience among gamers. It’s less effective when D&D has been lobotomized (in an RPing sense) so that you have a lot further to go to get from step 2 to step 3. When Hackmaster offers greater built-in RPing opportunity than the latest D&D edition, and thus serves as a step 2.5, there’s a problem.

    Don’t forget that some people just like a more combat-oriented game that’s still technically a roleplaying game. 4E is more like an MMORPG (without the first M, without 3D graphics, and without the speed of combat resolution) than it is like an actual RPG, in many ways. I feel like I can get more out of World of Warcraft than 4E by scheduling a LAN party for raiding with some like-minded friends. Dice and arithmetic are not sufficient reasons all by themselves for playing D&D instead of WoW, in my opinion.

    Seriously, look at what’s getting cut out of D&D with the fourth edition: it’s the sort of stuff that doesn’t play well online. 4E really is aiming in a direction that makes it more like WoW and less like what sets actual RPGs apart from WoW. Pretty much the only benefits to 4E over WoW for people who want more depth are the variability of plotlines in 4E as contrasted with those in WoW (which is only really a benefit if you play WoW enough to run out of plotline you haven’t pursued yet before the next expansion is released) and the fact you can apply house rules to 4E to restore the kind of stuff that has been removed — and if you do that, I don’t know why you’re playing 4E in the first place.

    That’s just how it looks to me, mind you.

    There are good reasons for preferring 4E, but they don’t apply to me. For instance:

    1. If you just want a little light dungeon crawling, and don’t want to sit in front of a monitor after having done so all day at work, and don’t have time for deeply involved campaigns, 4E is probably ideal for you. It’s cheaper and more cooperative than tactical miniatures games, too — even though it’s really verging on becoming a tactical miniatures game itself (and, by the way, MMORPGs like WoW are verging on tactical miniatures games as well, with the caveat that your “miniatures” are made out of pixels rather than lead).
    2. It might also serve as a decent stepping stone between WoW (or EQ) and actual RPGs, too — or between an MMORPG and a tactical miniatures wargame, for that matter.

    I was going to make it a list of three, since threes seem to work better than twos, but I couldn’t come up with a third situation for which 4E seemed appropriate that wouldn’t come off as patronizing (like saying something along the lines of “You want to play an MMORPG or tactical miniatures game, but won’t admit it to yourself!”).

    game that leaves the role-playing part chiefly freeform

    Roleplaying should be “chiefly freeform”, with only conflict resolution and occasional NPC randomness handled by the rules, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t want to roll dice to decide whether my character is attracted primarily to blondes, redheads, or hermaphroditic dwarves — but that doesn’t mean I don’t want Charm Person spells or the option, as a GM, to use reaction rolls for NPCs when I feel like it.

    If that’s not what you meant — are you referring to some kind of flavor text material that creates more of an “official” RPing flavor or set of themes for the game? In D&D, that’s what game settings are for, because the game rules are intended to be usable with an effectively infinite number of game settings that have some core concepts in common, and not to be specific to a particular game setting the way the WoD games were designed. Both approaches to game design are useful, and neither is particularly less RPing-oriented, in my opinion — except for that whole metaplot thing in WoD Revised.

    If you don’t mean flavor text either, I’m not sure what you think is lacking that makes RPing too “freeform”. Please clarify your intent.

    Oh, yeah, one other thing:

    I don’t know of anyone that actually wants to maximize the roleplaying aspect. Doing so would involve throwing away the G in RPG — throwing away the rules, the dice, the paper, the pencils, the character stats, and so on. It would basically be replaced by street theater without scripts, or something roughly equivalent. Generally, people do want some Game to go with their Roleplaying, if they’re Roleplaying Gamers.

    Comment by apotheon — 17 October 2008 @ 11:43

  28. Apotheon…it seems like you glaze over other people’s responses and look for anything you can jump on (or anything that strokes your ego). In this thread you’ve obviously misunderstood many responses and then accused the responder that they are being unclear…I kind of wonder if you should question whether or not you’re right in interpreting their responses as attacks when it seems like nearly everyone who posted on this post has said you’ve misinterpreted him.

    On to the ad hominem-You’re acting like a child with these edition wars posts. You say that all the anti-3.5ers patronize the 3.5ers and yet you do the same thing against 4e. You say that no one has a clear list of things 4e does better…yet many people here have corrected you. Many players who focus on role playing have no problem with 4e or most other RPG’s. Personally, I always thought the role playing rules in 3e were a bit ridiculous. But I’ve always preferred the RP to be more free form. I don’t need to roll a reaction roll, it’s obvious how the npc will react given what type of person and attitude brought by the personality. Unfortunately your clear list of things 3e does better is about as paper thin as the rabid 4e-ers. There are benefits and loses with each, I’m glad you prefer 3e/pfrpg but get over yourself. You are a hypocrite. Everything you accuse the 4e-ers of doing you also do. Have you even played a 4e campaign? The one I’m in now has some of the best RPing I’ve ever experienced (and I’ve played 3e/wod/pfrpg). Does this mean that obviously 3e is inferior for roleplayers? No, it just means the DM and PC’s are better at roleplaying.

    Please, you are being an idiot in your edition wars posts, try not to be in the future. Not everyone who disagrees with you is an enemy (and many here have agreed with you and still been labeled an enemy).

    Comment by Your friend — 2 March 2009 @ 02:13

  29. I have been playing Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40k for a couple of years however, I’m really interested in getting into roleplaying games such as D&D.

    Which system would you advise me to pick up and attempt to encouarge other people to join in?

    Comment by Warhammer 40k — 11 December 2009 @ 08:59

  30. I quite like Pathfinder RPG, from Paizo — which continues to produce some of the highest quality materials for a fantasy RPG that I’ve ever seen. The company also offers a PDF of the core rulebook for about $10, which is an incredible deal for what amounts to the equivalent of the D&D Player’s Handbook (PHB) and Dungeon Master’s Guide (DMG) all in one volume, in case you find the price tag on the physical hardback CRB itself prohibitive. Of course, it’s worth remembering that the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook (CRB) covers the same material covered in two separate books if you’re buying D&D — the PHB and the DMG — and my SigO and I have found having two physical CRBs between us in addition to the PDF quite worthwhile.

    There’s also an online collection of the rules from the CRB called the Pathfinder RPG Reference Document (PRD), available at the Paizo site (paizo.com), so if you’re happy with a Website for your core rules you don’t even need to get the CRB itself and can spend that money on additional rulebooks, modules, et cetera.

    Comment by apotheon — 13 December 2009 @ 01:56

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All original content Copyright Chad Perrin: Distributed under the terms of the Open Works License