It’s now that I remember the days when 3rd edition came up – replacing the beloved 2nd edition with new rules, new ideas, a new flow that simply was strange to many fellow players and I do remember when dozens of them vowed to stick to the 2nd edition because of it’s (in their eyes) obvious advantages.
Back then, my first impression was not that good of this new version, but I thought – let’S give it a try… and after several games it felt okay – it lost a bit here and there, but the general game was a bit easier and nicer to play with these new rules.
Lately something happened again – theyÂ released the fourth edition, a new approach and – hey guess what – everything started with quite the same feelings – I read a lot on these new rules before they were released – of course I ordered the new package of mm, dmg and phb – I went through the rules and though my feeling was not the same as it was when 2nd edition was “replaced” – this time I said again, let’s try it.
Though I have had severe discussions on that matter, the fourth edition is (in my very humble opinion) not worth spending more than a few euros on. I do like a few approaches and my first positive impressions were: Hey! Finally every character has really the same powerlevel! Honestly I loved this feature from the first moment onward – and I do like the new passive skills for perception (physical)Â and insight (social) – that’s a great approach.
I even do like the quick and simple combat rules – you got your powers – that’s it – deal with it – and not to forget the great descriptions for the various powers, that’s probably the one flair-element that’s really great and made it into the game. (Similiar to 3e Spell Compendium’s descriptions of spells – finally they got something here!)
Ok these were the advantages…
Unfortunately it’s not all about pro 4e. You know, I’ve played a lot of rpg-systems in the last 16 years, but up to day I have not met one system that competes to be a computer game in level of flair. Let me explain this a bit more – for me the fourth edition is a great system for a computer game, it’s not a secret that they have integrated vital aspects of games like Diablo or World ofÂ Warcraft into this game. But honestly – who wants to play a Tank in a pen and paper game?
We’re describing here perfect rules for a game without imagination – and honestly while I can make up a lot of flair and fantasy and the whole environment, I prefer a system that supplements and assists in this – not one based solely on combat with a few clues dropped on a skill-check system that we’ve been using in a similiar way for ages now…
The system feels blunt to me (and at least some of my players, since not all were present on Sunday). While streamlining was a great improvement of 3rd edition over 2nd edition and made things a lot easier for new players to this extraordinary and just great hobby – the streamlining of the newest edition does not enable a new dungeon master to create something to remember. Of course, experience will help here – and you can do virtually everything… Rules are just a guideline… I’ve heard a lot of these lately when I started a discussion on that matter… I have to admit, lack of flair in a RULEBOOK is hard to define, but read through the older 2nd and 3rd edition (or even better Pathfinder) classes and compare their powers and their descriptions with the 4e ones.
“Play a dragonborn if you want to – look like a dragon.”
“Play a dwarf if you want to be tough, gruff and strong as bedrock.”
Sorry, no flavour in these words for me :(.
Still, we got a great mix in our Ptolus Campaign, we got 2 100% newbies which hardly ever played anything like an RPG before, we got a few with intermediate experience and knowledge of aÂ few systems and we got two players who enjoy dungeon-mastering probably as much as I do – and spent a good share of their past with various different systems.
I doubt anyone will, after our next session, spend a single thought on going back to the fourth edition. I honestly doubt that a lot.