Home > Uncategorized > Meet the new boss

Meet the new boss

This past weekend, I got my first real taste of Dungeons & Dragons, Fourth Edition, playing The Keep on the Shadowfell, a preview adventure using 4e rules. And, I’m happy to say, it works.

Along with the bulk of my gaming group, I was initially hostile to the idea of change. “What do I have to gain? The rules work well as they are.”

Of course, the truth was that Third Edition had its problems and we knew it. And once flaws began being pointed out to us and the features of 4e touted, we began to sway. And now we’re behind the change, all the way.

From my experience during the first level of the adventure, I can say they’ve at least done one thing very well: making the game really start at level 1. Gone are the days of first level being one die of hit points and perhaps one ability above a standard attack.

In fact, it seems that in 4e, there was an effort to make sure that you should never have to use regular attacks except in a few select cases. Why should a Paladin simply swing his hammer, when he can also swing his hammer and invoke his deity to bolster his comrades? (Answer: because he can’t do the latter as a part of a charge. But that’s it.) Also gone are the days of the Wizard running out of spells and switching over to a measly crossbow: he can now cast as many magic missiles as the day is long.

There have been some analyses of the new rules that point out that they do bear more than a passing resemblance to some rules from some computer RPGs, like World of Warcraft. There’s some truth to this, and that’s not a bad thing: WoW is fun. Similarly to WoW, some classes can specialize in different tasks, where some can only really specialize into damage-dealing in different ways.

Take the Cleric, for example, who can be more skewed towards healing his party or towards damaging enemies. The character I’ve been playing is one of the latter, whose specialties truly lie in keeping his pals alive, and yet still fires off a few volleys of holy smiting in a given combat.

There is something to be said, however, for the fact that, when you’re the designated healer among some former WoW players, you’ll be expected to spend all your time trying to heal. Your party will then proceed to take idiotic chances, because they know the heal is coming. This isn’t a criticism of the rules, per se, more of a lament about playing with recreational boneheads.

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