Nov. 23rd, 2008

miss_yt: (Ale and Whores!)
So I've spent much of the last couple days at U-con, an annual gaming convention at the University of Michigan. I've played two Dungeons and Dragons games so far, both 4th edition, and I feel I should provide some kind of review for the curious (and/or skeptical).

I'll do this in the form of a quick rundown. Here's the good stuff about the new D&D:

  1. New races: Dragonborn and Tieflings. The former are, as you might think, a humanoid dragon-ish race: the latter, a race of demon/human crossbreeds. Both have some awesome racial skills (particularly Dragonborn), and Tieflings are nice if you want to play a conflicted character. There are also Eladrin, a cousin race to the elves, but in my view they're just another flavor of elf and not all that interesting, although they don't suck either.

  2. Low-level heroes do not suck. They have quite a few abilities and can actually do some real damage.

  3. New classes: Warlock and Warlord. Warlocks are kind of like sorcerers but they handle better. Warlords provide leadership bonuses and stat buffs to the party.

  4. Mark, quarry and curse: Mark is usable by fighters, paladins, and certain other fighter-ish classes. Quarry is used by rangers (it may be used by other classes, but I don't know). Curse is used by warlocks. They are all class-based free actions that either provide the player with certain advantages against a particular enemy or debuff that enemy. It's a nice touch.

  5. It's easier to crit: you just have to roll a 20, no re-rolling, and it just means you do your maximum possible damage.

  6. Movement is by tiles (which are basically 5-foot increments), not feet, which makes moving and range and such easier to work out. You can also move diagonally without any penalties or other weirdness.

  7. Healing surge: Certain classes, like the cleric and paladin, can use something called a "healing surge" a certain number of times a day. It's just a straight way to regenerate a fixed amount of hit points and you don't have to roll for it. With certain spells, you can enhance healing surges or activate a healing surge for another player who can't "self-activate." It takes a lot of the frustration out of magical healing.

  8. Minor actions: In addition to move and standard actions, there are now "minor actions" as well. You don't have to give up an opportunity to move or attack to perform some small action like drinking a potion. Certain special abilities and spells are also classified as minor actions.

  9. And here's the big one: abilities. This covers many special attacks, spells, and "active" feats. You have "at-will," "encounter" and "daily" abilities. "At-will" abilities can be used as often as you like during battle. "Encounter" abilities can be used once per battle. And "daily" is, well...what it sounds like, pretty much. The spells you used to have to memorize and cast-and-forget are now abilities, which takes a lot of the headache out of being a spellcaster.

And the bad stuff:

  1. Half-orcs and gnomes are not listed as races in the standard player's handbook. Gnomes now default to being a monster race (although you can still create a gnome hero - it's just weird). I don't know about half-orcs yet.

  2. Some classes, like bards and barbarians, have been cut out of the player's handbook. Barbarians, at least, are supposed to be covered in some kind of supplement: I don't know what happened to bards.

  3. Half-elves have been retconned. Instead of being loners they are now apparently social butterflies.

Some of the DMs around the con and others who have been playing D&D 4th Ed. were making other complaints too, although I forgot about those. Overall, I actually think that the fourth edition has many distinct advantages over 3.5, and is much more streamlined than its predecessor. I enjoy it, warts and all, and I would recommend to my DM friends that they give some serious consideration to adopting the new play system. Of course, that would mean spending a small fortune on all the source books, so I won't insist on it.
miss_yt: (Ale and Whores!)
Spent most of the morning at U-con playing Settlers of Catan. Not just regular Catan, but "Big Catan," a game on a custom-made large-sized board made with foam hexes and the kind of modeling equipment people use to build model railroad landscapes. I won one of the games and got a Cthulhu activity book as a prize. XD

In the afternoon I joined yet another D&D game, this one old-school 3.5 edition. The DM actually lives in the area and runs campaigns. I said It had been a long time since I'd done regular gaming (not since I left Philly, actually), and asked if he would be okay with me joining a game next semester. He said he's planning a new 4th edition game in January and that I was welcome to join it. We exchanged e-mails, and I will get back in touch with him after winter break. Yay!

I think I'll be a fighter this time, and maybe a Dragonborn. I'm tired of being a spellcaster (I usually play clerics). I'd just like to wade in and hit stuff.


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