Behind the Screen: Old vs. New?

2008 December 31
by Dante

Stupid Ranger and I have recently made the long round-trip to Illinois to spend the holidays with our family, and this resulted in a fairly long hiatus from our standard RPG fare. Thankfully, our good buddy Vanir threw in some excellent roleplaying holiday specials for you all to enjoy!

Out with the old… or not?

On the 16 hour car ride from Illinois, Stupid Ranger and I mulled the start of our new D&D campaign, which will begin in coming weeks. I told her that I’ve got some exciting ideas percolating and we should get serious about pulling our group together, and then she asked a fairly innocuous question: “Are you going to run [D&D] 3.5 or 4.0?”

On one hand, we are both intimately familiar with D&D 3.5 and she knows the rules inside and out. When starting to play in a new environment with a new group of roleplaying friends, the familiarity is very attractive. One wants to bring his A-game to a new group, yes?

On the other hand, if I am never forced to fully acclimate to the new rule set I am unlikely to ever learn it. Our small group of players are returning to D&D after a long lapse, so they will be unfamiliar with either option which should allow some bandwidth for SR and I to learn along with them. Regardless of the final decision, I’m going to get out my D&D 4.0 books and really give them another read.

I will gladly welcome sage advice on this matter as I plunge headlong into campaign planning!

Thanks for putting up with the cold winter hiatus, we’ve got some exciting things in store for the new year that will be announced soon! Stay tuned!

5 Responses leave one →
  1. Questing GM permalink
    December 31, 2008

    I can only say that 4E would be a much easier game for newcomers to the game than 3.5, which if you are intending to introduce it to a bunch of new gamers would be a better choice for you and everyone else to have fun.

    If you have found a bunch of more veteran players who are familiar with the 3.5 ruleset then by all means why not go for something that you enjoy. Which by the way, can I interest you in some Pathfinder?

  2. Mike Hargreaves permalink
    December 31, 2008

    I would disagree with the previous poster in a small part. 4th Ed is indeed a simplified system and suitable for a group who have not played D&D before/ in a while, but it would be a poor choice for a group just starting out with no roleplay experiance.

    That isn't the case here though. Your players are all veterans of RPGing. I'm sure they have the Role Playing part well established, and as such they won't struggle to find the, near non-existant, cues for character driven role playing that 4th Ed brings to the table.

    Don't get me wrong its a great system, but I suspect you will find that the large amount of that system is purely designed to deal with your combat encounters. For any actual role playing content you will be putting the books down.

    Not to come off bitter. My own campaign struggled for a good balanced combat system and when I swapped to 4th Ed I found one. But my brother ran a set of new players through the WotC Heroic campaign path and soon found himself frustrated at how the game failed to introduce any form of character driven advancement.

    Still I wish you luck in the new campaign and look forward to hearing how it goes. Happy New Year.

  3. Ryan permalink
    December 31, 2008

    “For any actual role playing content you will be putting the books down.”

    I don’t see anything wrong with this as a concept. Roleplaying “rules” should never be in a book. They should be determined by a GOOD DM and the encounters.

    This was kind of the point I was trying to make about 3.5 with my last character and abusing the diplomacy rules. It was a rule base for roleplaying encounters. It was clunky and I think they realized that.

    Why put rules behind actual roleplaying?

  4. Norman Harman permalink
    December 31, 2008

    @ryan Why put rules behind actual roleplaying?

    First, there is(should be) more to game books than just rules.

    Without examples, “cues” as Mike put it, and general description of roleplay new players will have a hard time learning / even knowing there is more than rolling dice.

    (not played my impression from others) is that 4ed rulefied even more rp stuff with the skill challenges, the character “roles”, no?

    To answer original question. Shouldn’t you involve players in the choice? or will players be determined by system choice? I’d lean towards 4ed just cause it’s new. But I have gamer ADD, so maybe don’t listen to me. 😉

  5. R.M. Walker permalink
    January 2, 2009

    Dante, being both familiar and experienced now with 3.5 and 4E; I have to say that 4E will be easier to DM. While I think Mike is right when he says that 4E de-emphasizes role-playing as far as codified rules are concerned (I’m para-phrasing greatly here), I think that if your group are experienced role-players, you’ll be able to drop that portion into the game without any difficulty.

    If you create your own campaign material, this won’t be a problem. However, if you rely on Wizard’s material, do be prepared to rationalize some of the creatures’ motivations. There’s not much to go on in the modules.

    Good luck with your game!

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