I’ve decided that I won’t review the 4e Core Books. I will probably do a few ‘Chatty on 4e’ and ‘Chatty’s Debate’ posts on things in the core but I won’t review them.
Part of this is because my way of doing reviews tend to be pretty massive. I’d end up with a multi-parter series for each book that would take this way past the period people cared about it.
Secondly is that as much as I like reading it right now, I really need to play the damn game and make my own mind as I keep alternating between anticipation and slight irritation as I read things (Especially the DMG).
But heres a few of tidbits from what I gleaned so far.
- Races are all cool, even the half elf (who gets to learn and use another class’ power)
- The Magic Item “economy” is different. Anyone can buy magic Item, if you can work out how with your DM…If you can’t, well just buy a ritual and make your own! But buying and making it is the exact same cost (+ paying for the ritual). Selling magic item, or disenchanting it into components, yields exactly 20% of its market value.
- The Vorpal weapon is awesome, You get a bunch of extra dice of damage on crits or using it’s daily power. On top of that, whenever you play max damage with it (not just while doing a crit), you get to reroll damage and add it up. You keep re-rolling as long as you play maximum damage. Here’s to hoping to see a player break the Bell Curve!
- You get to a swap powers, skills or feat (max one per level) whenever you level up.
The DMG (partly read):
- Written by James Wyatt, I don’t quite like his writing style but once I got over it I was okay. This is not Monte Cook (3.0 DMG) or Robin Laws (1st part of 3.5 DMG II) whose styles I’m more in line with.
- The way he proposes to deal with Rules Lawyers is shocking but possibly quite effective (let him step out of the game, fading his character out, for as long as he looks in the book, missing out on the game without keeping others from playing)
- Monster mod and creation is truly easy and useful. Templates take minutes to apply. NPCs can be full characters or Faked ones where simple stats and hand picked powers simulate a full character.
- Random tables are gone. Make your own or start an Imprint and make PDFs full of random tables if you like them… If they are good you will make money.
- Treasure attribution is highly structured (I’d say even clinical), see previous comment.
I had a 3 paragraph long rant about the absence of the second Rule 0 (1st one is: Everybody must have fun, it’s there all right) which is “Feel free to ignore rules and/or make your own”.
Then I decided to properly research my rant lest I get a (well deserved) stern remonstrance by my Winnipeg buddy.
On page 189, there’s actually a full section on House Rules and how to approach them (with quite sensible suggestion of thinking things throughly).
So Rule 0 is there, in the following form:
If you disagree with how the rules handle something, changing them is within your rights
More important, do the other players agree to the need for a change? You have the authority to do whatever you want with the game, but your efforts won’t help if you have no group.
While the suggestions above is sensible, the key philosophy of this book is that it does not try to picture the DM’s as a figure of authority but more like a partner and an interpreter of the rules.
I think that is a wrong move (or at least it paints an incomplete picture). As I discussed in my 4 stages series, the partner DM is a later, natural evolution of a norming gaming group. The more supervisor-like DM is a necessity earlier in the group’s ‘career’. The needs of less experienced, less cohesive groups should have been addressed.
Once again, it’s a question of style. James Wyatt and I are describing the same elephant from different angles. Not a deal breaker… but it is making my reading of the DMG more arduous than any GMing book I have read since the 2e DMG. YMMV.
It is filled with good, sensible DMing advice but somehow it seems to be smeared in brussel sprout paste and I need to digest it before seeing it for what it is.
I get to finally play Keep on the Shadowfell next Friday, I really can’t wait. We’ll use the pre-gens as this is going to be an exercise in learning the rules. Players are also encouraged to trade PCs between encounters to get to see what each one does. We’ll see how it goes.
So there you go… I managed to make it into some sort of review after all…sigh.
Have a nice week!