Sunday, February 20, 2011

D&D Essentials In review

So I've read through both Players Books and the Dungeon Masters book. On the whole I like how 4th Edition (and Essentials in particular) works and how it plays. I've run several encounters with my Boys and a friend of theirs (aged 6 - 8) and they all enjoyed it immensely. Heck in the last game they actually started working together instead of just attacking things at random, and my 6 year old actually had his Cleric character use healing word on his brother's character without being prompted to do so. Up next is another encounter and then a Skill Challenge, which should be interesting.

That said I have a few comments on the book themselves. First up, obvious cut and paste jobs are not what I expect in a book I pay money for. The Dungeon Masters book has at least one of these where it refers to the monster section later in this book. This is obviously pasted from one of the Fast Play Rules books (which indeed had a monster section), while the Dungeon Masters book does not.

Now a Word about the Rules Compendium. I have seen a lot of good reviews about this book, but I really can't echo them. Having just bought the rest of the essentials line I now have 90% of what is in this book, and really I'm not going to pay again just to get a page each on Mounted Combat, Aquatic Combat and Disease.

What I would have like to change about Essentials

  1. Dump the Slayer build to make room for other stuff.
  2. Dump the Scout build, to make room for other stuff.

Now that we have some extra space in the Hero books add the following:

  1. Add a Paragon path to each race.
  2. Make the class paragon paths work based on Power Source. so that Fighter and Rouge can pick each others (and you end up with a slayer paragon path). Ditto for Cleric and Paladin, Wizard and Warlock, Ranger and Druid.
  3. Put in Skill based utility powers
  4. Each book should have 2 rather then one Epic Destines, one geared to Lawful Good and the other towards Unaligned characters.
  5. if we still have room left add some more feats.

Assuming you get both books this would end up with a subset that has 2 builds for each role. Each character now has a choice of three paragon paths (one based on race and two on class power source) And 4 epic destines. And with skill based utility powers has a range of options to choose from.

House Rule
As somewhat of an old school player the idea of magic items that have no mystery about them rubbed me the wrong way. So my house rule here is that Arcane checks are required to work this out. The DC being based on the Items level. Say Easy to work out that it is definitely enchanted, Moderate to work out the basic bonus penalty. And Hard to work out each additional power the item has.

The biggest advantage of this is that it allows me to bring back the idea of cursed items. Which is really part of the fun, even if it just requires an application of a remove curse ritual now and then.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dungeons & Dragons

Well, it looks like Wizards of the Coast have lost me as much of a customer, just as they where about to win me back.

  1. I like the Essentials book format. Which now appears to be canned for all future releases. so that's an end to that then. The digest size is lighter, and frankly more convent.
  2. I like the idea of downloading 1 or 2 PDFs per month for the articles. but that is finished now. So I'll probably get a D&D Insider membership long enough to get what already exists and then forget about it.
  3. I might get future Monster's vault products, providing they come with tokens. But I would hope that they come with digest sized soft cover books.

Its depressing really. As a casual gamer I embraced what they released for casual gamers. The hard core faction poo pooed the idea to the point that it won't be continued. I'm disappointed by this, but I guess if I'm in the minority then so be it. I;'m sure with a bit of online digging I can invent the bits that are missing, such as the Autumn and Winter varients for Essentials Druids.