Monday, March 28, 2011

4E Rules Compendium First Impressions

First of all, apologies to those of you who read this blog for Old School D&D stuff.  I've been busy, and what energy I have for that has been going into my Megadungeon project.  Don't worry, though, I'll get back in the swing of things one of these days.

Now, about the 4E RC.  It's nice and compact.  It's somewhere between A5 and B5 size paper, standard trade paperback size, rather than the big A4/Letter size of the standard RPG book.  I was a bit surprised that none of the art was by Wayne Reynolds, since a lot of it seems to copy the style 3E established, only with different feel.  I was never a WAR fan, though, so I don't miss his art. 

I've read through the first chapter, all the intro stuff, how to use the dice, what's an RPG, a brief history of the game, an overview of the expected style of play, some advice on winging it and making the game your own, the world and Planes, and then a product placement section. 

I found some of the advice it gave pretty good, actually.  For people just starting in on RPGs with this product, there's some good advice there.  Unfortunately, from what little I've played of 4E or read of play reports by others, the modules seem to go against the advice given here, and are more or less just combat railroads.  But the writers at least tried to get a more varied, vibrant game style going.

My first impression of it isn't that it's terrible or anything, though.  It could be a pretty fun game, and it does actually challenge the player, not the character (which was supposed to be the Old School thing).  Unfortunately it challenges the players not so much within play, but with learning the system.  Yes, just like 3E it appears the 'player challenge' is the meta-game, rather than the game.

Maybe further reading will prove me wrong.  I'm only 60 pages in at the moment.  And it hasn't covered any of the real rules yet.


  1. The first few modules were all pretty boring and samey, but the one that I got in my Monster Vault is pretty solid and I've heard that the Slaying Stone (the new 1st level module) is definitely better than the Keep on the Shadowfell when it comes to non-combat encounters and advice.

  2. Well, it would be difficult to be worse than The Keep on the Shadowfell!

    I may be wrong -- I probably am -- but I think Reynolds is now semi-exclusive to Paizo and Pathfinder, hence his absence from D&D4.

  3. That may well have colored my views of 4E. KotS was what Pat was running us through, and I really didn't like it. And a lot of early play reports I read about 4E seemed to follow that style of play.

    But my old Yamanashi crew have been having a good time with 4E, so there must be some good things about it.

    Trying to keep an open mind.