Worm Can: Open

Sunday’s post sure opened a can o’ worms. A few things have come up in comments, e-mails, and message board posts that I’d like to address about my 4E Test Drive.

1. I have had a taste of the new rules, but I have by no means come to a final verdict about them. I really do want to read the new core books and see the whole thing in the proper context. Green Ronin may indeed support 4E, but I need to see the GSL first and then review the game. The new rules do look like they support a specific style of play, but within that style I can envision some good products GR could do.

2. D&D; feel is indeed hard to nail down. All I can say is that play reminded me more of FFG’s Descent than D&D.;

3. When I bring up other types of games, I’m not making comparisons in a pejorative sense. I like Descent, I like minis games, and I like some CCGs. When I said the new rules were interesting, I meant it. The question is will they feel like D&D; to the players out there? I can’t speak for anyone but me on that issue.

4. I do think that a third party company could stick with 3.5 or do a “3.75” upgrade and make a good business for itself catering to fans who feel disenfranchised. Green Ronin, however, is not that company. Our last 3.5 books, the d20 Freeport Companion, just got back from the printer and is releasing this month. That’s going to be it for us. I just don’t think that we’re well-positioned to be that company and frankly I’d rather be more forward-looking. We have A Song of Ice and Fire coming out this summer and we have True20 as an already existing alternative.

5. Saying that I see TCG roots in the 4E rules does not mean that I think the game is a CCG. Of course 4E is a RPG. The question is how important is the “R” in the new edition and I don’t have enough info to say yet.

6. However this shakes out, I’m not worried about what I’ll play myself. I have more games already than I could play in a lifetime. If I want a D&D; experience and 4E doesn’t do it for me, I have many previous iterations to choose from. Hell, the most recent game I’ve been playing has been using the D&D; Rules Cyclopedia and that’s been a blast. At the moment my primary concerns about 4E are business oriented.

7. Gary Gygax died today. There’s no better way to honor him than playing some D&D–of; any edition–this week. I know I will.

7 thoughts on “Worm Can: Open

  1. < <4. I do think that a third party company could stick with 3.5 or do a "3.75" upgrade and make a good business for itself catering to fans who feel disenfranchised. Green Ronin, however, is not that company. ...
    I just don’t think that we’re well-positioned to be that company and frankly I’d rather be more forward-looking.>>

    Undoutedly, Paizo is the company best suited to do that, since they have a strong campaign world already in progress to tag to it and keep players/bring new ones in–not to mention a strong, loyal following. If other companies banded together with them, then I believe it could be doable. It would be interesting to see what kind of 3.75 rulebook you guys would come up with together, as Paizo and GR have created some great D20 stuff. Throw in some Monte Cook, and it would be really interesting.

    IF Paizo stayed and opened up the possibility for doing Pathfinder-licensed products, they (in conjunction with others) could make 3.75 a viable alternative to 4e. It wouldn’t be a large piece of the RPG pie, but it would be a very sustainable piece of it–and less susceptible to whims of Hasbro.

    Christina

  2. I’ve been one of the “gotta buy the new edition” folks ever since first edition. I have always been that gamer eager to shell out money for the next D&D; iteration, but so far, nothing I have heard has sold me on the need for 4e.

    Maybe I’m just finally getting old, but I have a shelf of WOTC 3.5 books plus so much material from third-party publishers that I can’t imagine ever working my way through it all. Within arm’s reach, I can count $600 worth of D&D; books and that is mostly at Amazon prices. The thought of throwing all that out for a new edition, just overwhelms me. Have I really gotten $20 worth of use out of MM IV or Player’s Handbook 2? How about the Ruins of Greyhawk that we haven’t even played?

    I never understood those old-timers (and this is coming from a 40-year-old) who stuck with 1st edition and vowed never to play a newer version, but 3.5 might be my line in the sand.

    At best, 4e is going to play more like a MMORPG, which I don’t much enjoy, or, as you suggested, it is going to feel like a CCG, which I don’t much enjoy. In fact, it is the very sort of “exception” based rules that have left me cold on CCGs. If that really is the core feel of the new game, then I am definitely out.

    I fact, I have been pretty appalled at the complete lack of discussion anywhere about how the new rules actually facilitate ROLE playing! Everything I have heard makes it sound like a character is a compilation of sleek, cool mechanics, 5-foot shifting and chain-attacking its way to victory, rather than an abstract way to express a character in a fictional world.

    I guess, I just don’t see the draw for a group of mid to late 30-somethings with an established game and a huge investment in the previous edition. But then again, I suspect I am exactly the customer WOTC is willing to sacrifice for the cool, young gamers they hope to attract.

  3. I appreciate Chris’ openness in his review. Although I can’t say I’ve been much of GR customer, I’ve always respected what GR’s been able to do for the industry. (I have the same respect for Paizo.)

    Personally, I’m glad that GR doesn’t plan on being that legacy 3.5 or “3.75” supporter. It simply seems like you’d have an ever-diminishing customer base. As time progresses, those customers would either eventually stop playing D&D; or transition to 4e. While not everyone would leave, many would, and you wouldn’t be getting much of an in flux of new players — they’d more than likely be entering the D&D; world at 4e.

    I respect the hell out of GR’s decision to support their own alternatives (such as True20, which is looking very attractive to me these days) as well as carrying some 4e content.

    I know all that’s a bit off topic, but Chris, I really just wanted to say that I was very happy to read about your initial 4e play experience. It was thoughtful, free from any undeserved judgment, and keenly aware of D&D; from the perspective of both a player and a designer.

    Thanks again!

  4. Gridian said: Personally, I’m glad that GR doesn’t plan on being that legacy 3.5 or “3.75” supporter. It simply seems like you’d have an ever-diminishing customer base. As time progresses, those customers would either eventually stop playing D&D; or transition to 4e. While not everyone would leave, many would, and you wouldn’t be getting much of an in flux of new players — they’d more than likely be entering the D&D; world at 4e….

    I don’t necessarily agree, gridian, especially if Paizo packaged it as the Pathfinder RPG. Gamers bring gamers into the fold. If people are playing the “Pathfinder RPG,” then they will bring new players into the fold to game with them. Those newbies never even have to know the game was built on 3.5. For that matter, new folks to True20 never have to know its foundations began with it.

    Repackaging is a fine answer to that issue–of course, the grognards will know where it came from and know it’s compatible, so it will make them happy, too.

    Christina

  5. I continue to agree with your sentiments about 4E wholeheartedly.

    As far as the “D&D; feel” goes, a friend of mine came up with a great metaphor. Say that you have an enormous bowl of M&Ms.; Anyone can look at that bowl and say that there are “a lot” of M&Ms.; Once you start taking away M&Ms; from the bowl, even if you add in other candies, eventually you will reach a point where you no longer have “a lot” of M&Ms.; Eventually, you just have “some” or “a few,” and that exact moment may be difficult to elucidate but you can tell it when you see it. Fourth Edition takes too many M&Ms; away from the bowl for my taste.

    And as far as a “3.75 Edition” goes, whatever company comes out with (a good version of) it first will probably have the lion’s share of my (and my gaming group’s) gaming fund from that point on.

    -Jeremy Puckett

  6. Its about time someone looked at the rules with a devils advocates eyes. I’ve played the board game Descent, and I wish you would elaborate on how the new edition feels like Descent. Descent has a lot of video game like elements to it. the enormous amount of eye cnady and game peices appeal to younger gamers. I also noticed while playing the game that attacks rarely miss, that most monsters are defeated on the first round or two and that real damage done to the players was done via some special move or card played by the overlord. Is this how 4e plays?

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