Monday, July 25, 2011
Bring out your dead!
So as I mentioned, there's a guy here in Busan who is putting together a 4E group. Josh's Gamma World game will be finishing soon one way or the other (only another month before he leaves, and if we don't finish it next month we're never gonna...). As I mentioned in my comments in my last post, I'm also curious about how the game plays over a longer period than what we, the Board Game Group, tried before. My old Yamanashi Group got a good long campaign out of it, and had a lot of fun.
So is it just the fact that a good group of people can have a good time regardless of the rule set used? Or are my first impressions of 4E somehow skewed? It's possible that it's the latter. Pat had us do a few playtest encounters, then ran us through part of Keep on the Shadowfell, a module that has gotten nothing but bad press from what I've read.
I'm gonna give it another try. I'm creating a Half-Elf Wizard, specializing in illusions and ice magic (having read the entire Lankhmar series recently, that may be the unconscious inspiration for my guy. No, he won't be like Khakht (or however it was spelled), but illusions and ice are his theme.
I use the word 'create' above, and bolded it, because I can't say I rolled up a character. No dice were involved in the creation of the character. Point buy ability scores, set hit points, pick and choose your class, race and powers. Not even a roll for starting gold. Everyone gets 100gp to spend. Now, I can deal with this, but it's definitely a lot less fun than throwing in some rolls and seeing what you get (and having to work with the consequences, both good and bad).
The next stumbling block for me with character creation is one of tone. I just can't help but laugh when the rule books give some predetermined arrays of scores that you could create with point buy, and one of the arrays leaves that low 8 as an 8. Then it says something like, "This character is good in a few areas, but still has a significant weakness in one area." A -1 to a few checks you likely won't use ever anyway is a significant weakness?
Seriously, they've done just about everything they can in this rule-set to ensure that your character really only needs three good ability scores and the rest are dump stats. All the defenses: AC, Fortitude, Reflex and Will, are governed by two stats, take your pick of the better one. Most of the attack powers likewise give you a choice of two or three abilities to use for hit/damage modifiers. And if you've got a crap stat in that ability, you can pick a different power anyway. So, as I've done, I've dropped that 8 in Strength. I doubt I'll be doing much melee as a Wizard, and if I have to take a -1 penalty to any Athletics skill checks, so be it. It's not crippling my character in the least. It's a minor nuisance at best to have a slight penalty in an ability score I don't need to use.
Finally, there's the choice overload. I'm playing a Wizard. I still haven't looked over enough of the other classes to know if there's something I'd rather be playing. Seriously, there's a lot of reading to be done there to make an informed decision. Now, if I were a high school kid out on summer vacation, with plenty of time to dive into the books, sure, no problem. As a working adult, with a wife and kid, side writing projects of my own, and just general other stuff to do, I don't have time to read through the literally hundreds of pages worth of information on all the various character classes.
Now, the good side. I downloaded the two Essentials character books, Heroes of the Fallen Lands and Forgotten Kingdoms, and used them to build my character. From what I did see, especially with regards to the Fighter class, Essentials cleared up some of the suck from the original set of rules. The Fighter looks much more playable, especially since they're not trying to make it work exactly as the Wizard or Cleric (never looked at the Rogue or the other classes enough to really judge). No Daily powers, and several general purpose At Will Utility powers at first level so the Fighter can enter each fight with some tactical options besides when to use the Encounter Powers (and hope they hit).
That leads me to the final problem I'm having. There are tons of errata out there, and I'm not reading any of it (don't really care), but it seems like the DM might. He's asked me several times now to subscribe to D&D Insider so I can get whatever updates and the character builder program and what not. Sorry, Enzo, not gonna happen. I've got better ways to spend my money, and I'm fairly happy with the character I created who mixes IMO the best stuff I could find from the two Essentials character books and the PHB1. There may be stuff I'd enjoy using from PHB2 and 3...there is a 3, right?...but again I just don't have the time or motivation to scour through another 50 or so pages of Wizard powers just because there might be one power that is slightly more advantageous than one of the ones I already picked (and seriously, there's often not much difference between two powers of the same level, other than what minor secondary effect it might have, or energy type).
So, 4E has not won me over from its character creation stage. Maybe playing it will grow on me. If it doesn't, I may be out of gaming for a while.