So Why 4E?

I’ve been reading a lot of D&D blogs lately in preparation for running my own game.  And because I find them interesting.  But I’ve noticed that most of the blogs that I read are “old-school D&D” blogs (3.5 and earlier).  Sometimes, the Old School Renaissance folk can be pretty hard on 4E.  When I was a younger man, I had a lot of fun playing older versions of D&D – in fact, it was my first role-playing game.  But I have chosen to run 4E for my game.  So, why have I chosen 4E?

There’s a lot of little reasons, actually.  Most of them have to do with my players.  You see, I invited them to play the game with me.  They didn’t come looking for a DM.  Most of them have never played a tabletop RPG previously.  You can imagine that I want to make this as easy on them – and as fun! – as I possibly can.

The Dungeons and Dragons name is the first concern.  I could have invited them to play any system out there:  GURPS, White Wolf, d20 Heroes/Modern, Shadowrun, or any other game that is currently commercially available.  But if I had, they might not have known what I was talking about.  Or they might have some attached stigma in their minds associated with one or more of those specific games, or RPGs in general.  But when you say “Dungeons and Dragons” to a non-gamer, they know instantly what you’re talking about, and any stigma has worn off of that particular name now that more famous people are admitting to having played it (Vin Diesel, Stephen Colbert, many others).  When I asked them to play, they got very excited, like they’d been invited to a private club from which they’d been previously excluded.

But at this point, we could be playing any edition of D&D.  They just know that they are going to be playing D&D, not what edition, and likely, they don’t care.  But they can’t go to Borders or Barnes and Noble and pick up a 2nd Edition Player’s Handbook.  What’s in the stores right now is 4E.  If they like the game and want to purchase sourcebooks, they will have to purchase 4E books.  For that matter, if I want to purchase sourcebooks, 4E D&D is a lot easier for me to get hold of, too.

Also in consideration is my players’ histories.  Few of them have played tabletop RPGs before, but almost all of them have played online MMOs.  What they are used to is a limited set of “maneuvers” that any given character class is capable of.  4E D&D is similar.  Is it somewhat limiting to an experienced RPG gamer?  Absolutely.  Do I want to give my players the total freedom that previous editions gave?  No.  Not yet, anyway.  That kind of freedom could be seriously overwhelming to someone not used to it.  Do I hope that they’ll eventually start seeking it on their own?  Sure, if they want to.  And if they do, I’ll find ways to grant it to them.  Or maybe having the combat bits so easy will give them the freedom to explore other creative avenues that can be afforded by the game, like exploring, playing out dialog scenes, dealing with the minutiae of existing in the game world, whatever they find fun.

4E D&D is not perfect.  It has its problems, just like any system.  Just like any system, you can work around the bits you don’t like.  For me, it’s mostly just more convenient.  And it not a bad system, by any means.  Just very different from older editions.  Feel free to flame me in the comments now. 🙂

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5 Responses to “So Why 4E?”

  1. I’ve got no tabletop RPG experience, but I’m hoping to get some similarly inexperienced friends together and try one out. I’ll be interested to hear how your new group goes!

  2. Thanks for commenting! Keep watching this blog, and I’ll update with how each session goes. The first session is tentatively scheduled for March 21, so any time after that you should be seeing session-related posts. Meanwhile, I’ll keep writing about other stuff.

    Stay tuned for my post about why I decided to run the game…

  3. Hi Eabod

    Your 5th paragraph speaks a great deal of truth. You are making your choice of system based on what you know your players can handle. As a way in from MMORPGs, 4e is probably the best way to go. The culture shock of going from online games to the Old School games would probably be too great. I like the way that you are being totally open as to the direction of the game as your players find their feet. Way cool – respect.

    You’re on my blogroll now, so you may get some through traffic. Can’t guarantee it’ll be friendly, mind. Old Schooler though I be, I’ve read enough of Carl Nash’s 4e game to know that it’s the philosophy and style that counts, rather than the system. So good luck to you and may your games go well!

    High fives and natural twenties to you all!

  4. best of luck! And thanks for the shoutout, Daddy Grognard!

  5. You’re welcome, Carl.

    Gamers helping gamers, that’s what it’s all about.

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