Learning 4e: First Impressions through character generation…

2008 July 28
by Dante

As previously mentioned, Sunday was our intrepid group’s first experience with the fourth edition of D&D. We decided to do character generation as its own session, namely because we were sure there was going to be a lot of questions.

There were.

Learning is a two way street!

I asked that we get a buffet style look at the character generation options that existed within the new edition. Each of our three players took the three rolling methods described by the PHB: point buy, random rolling, and the standard array.

I believe that all three ended up with satisfactory stats, however there was a great deal of nostalgia for actually rolling the dice. Yeah, you were pretty much guaranteed a better average to high set of stats for the point buy system, but unsurprisingly…. people want to roll dice!

There was a considerable learning curve involved with negotiating the books themselves… some aspects of the Player’s Handbook seemed confusingly laid out and it took some considerable effort to fully understand where all the rules fell together.

Our group got into some interesting philosophical discussions about the class changes that went into place with 4e. It seems that many of the changes make logical sense, and they are intended to make the game more digestible for new gamers. The trouble is that many of us are not new gamers, and we see opportunities for extension, expansion, and growth in the system that excites us. Having such a stripped down core system has left me wanting more to work with.

Do not misunderstand… I think the gameplay of 4e will be fast, fun, and very classic D&D. I’m just afraid that we’ll be subjected to scads and scads of expansion books just to get us back to “normal” and essentially the sound of my wallet emptying is the only motivator in the end.

Time will tell and so will gameplay. Hopefully Vanir and SR will come along in the next few days and provide their insights!

3 Responses leave one →
  1. ChattyDM permalink
    July 29, 2008

    Having such a stripped down core system has left me wanting more to work with.

    You hit one of 4e's marketing issues on the head. D&D Gamers were used to a mature, complete system in 3.5.

    The new Core Set feels like a Magic the Gathering Starter Set like Portal or those dinky pre-shuffled small Decks you get with a CD Rom.

    It will get better… just not now…

  2. The Storyteller permalink
    July 29, 2008

    I think the gameplay of 4e will be fast, fun, and very classic D&D.

    This is great to hear! I tried out 4e at D&D Experience and felt like it was pulling away from the classic game. It's always nice to hear a fresh opinion on everything.

    For me in the end though, it is a matter of money. As you hinted at, WOtC definitely enjoys expansion books, if 3.5 wasn't already a clue to that. I gave into that with 3.5 and have very happily invested my life savings into the 3.5 craze which sits on my bookshelf today. I don't have room for another bookshelf, either in my house, or in my budget.

    Thanks for the reflection though!

  3. Donny_the_Dm permalink
    July 29, 2008

    My feelings are very similar. One can only wonder how things would be today if 4E had been released as:

    D&D minis Advanced or
    Magic: The RPG

    I mean no negativity by this opinion, just that for all it's flaws, 3.5 has a very large fan base who have drawn the proverbial line in the sand.

    It will get better when the splat starts dropping, but we're talking a year or two until we even get to see a shadow of the previous edition.

    Expect the frothing flame wars to fire up again next month when the FR campaign setting releases. That seems to be a pretty big point of contention.

    On the other hand, 4e IS simpler, though the customization options seem to have taken a bit of a hit. My kids love it though, and that's good enough for me.

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