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I just can't leave it alone
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Part of what I dislike about 4e is that it's too balanced. Yeah, that sounds loony since poor balance has always been a bugbear for D&D mechanics. But it's true.

Still, there is such as thing as so much balance that there's no difference left. There really should be a tonne of details that make playing a ranger different from playing a warlock, because they're such very different sorts of characters. And yet, they're pretty much the same thing during the majority of a 4e game (i.e., in combat) because their abilities are pretty much the same but with different flavour text.

Magic items suffer this particularly strongly in 4e. A wand in 4e is just a +X to-hit magic weapon with a daily special effect, that can only be used by magic classes. A magic sword, to (not) contrast, is just a +X to-hit magic weapon with a daily special effect, usable only by martial classes. For (real) contrast, magic items in 3e and earlier were so cool that just reading about them was fun.

Jeff Rients puts it well in a blog post:
To me, it looks a little bit like a Euro style boardgame: an exquisitely balanced abstract game about nothing in particular with a whitewash to give it a little context. In this case the whitewash is "D&D but not the boring old D&D you've loved for 30+ years".
Exquisite balance just isn't a selling point in a roleplaying game for me. I know outside of combat (and the non-combat "just like combat" encounters) this isn't a problem with 4e. Considering how much time is spent on the battlemat in 4e, though, it's a huge black mark against the system.

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I quite agree that (a) there are too many striker classes that feel too similar, and (b) the magic items suck hard. There's no interesting flavour anymore, just the bare mechanical description, and the mechanics aren't even all that interesting most of the time. In general, there's way too much emphasis on character advancement and not on crafting an interesting plot or world.

It's still fun, in that it's still a well-designed miniatures combat game that's reasonably easy to run, but it just doesn't feel much like D&D. 2E had great fluff, 3E had great crunch, but this doesn't really have either.

Does this make me a bitter old man, waving my cane and shouting "Get off my lawn, you durn kids!"?

I don't think it does. Another comment in the post I linked to made the point that, if 4e didn't have the Dungeons & Dragons trademark on it, nobody would be paying it any more attention than they do some other Yet Another D&D Clone. What compels people to "give it a try/chance/another look" is the name, not the system.

I think my take on it from now on will be "it's an ok game, but I like D&D better".

I remember looking at the sample characters and thinking huh, those all look totally identical; I can't tell wizard from fighter except that one has a bonus to hit from intelligence; the other, from strength

It's like World of Warcraft, now playable without a computer, but with less variety.

Then again, I've come to the conclusion that one of the things that associates fond memories with D&D is that everything seemed more awesome when I was younger and had no taste and was not versed in comparing better things to worse things. That and there's a large amount of material for this honestly pretty crappy game.

Playing WoW with pencil and paper sounds ridiculous, and it is. What 4e does well, computers do better. What pencil & paper gaming does well, 4e doesn't bother with.

I think that D&D (excluding 4e for the moment) is a good game for what it was designed to do: model the things that are important for delving into underground ruins in search of treasure.

4e seems to have suffered from evolutionary drift, like languages do. The designers got their idea of what D&D was all about from what the game was like in recent history, and in the process missed some of the foundations from which all the overt qualities derived. So we get a 4e with some of the trappings and a foundation that's been developed to support them, rather than a new iteration of the foundations of D&D with an improved expression of them.

Y'know, I ran through the first couple battles in Shadowkeep and must say it felt... bland. I really felt no desire to play the rest of the game. It definitely feels like there is something wrong with the system.

I'm thinking of continuing with 3.5 and just adopting some of the elements of 4.0, like making some spells encounter spells and some daily.

I'm on the fence about the encounter and daily powers. On the one hand, it's nice to not ever run out of "guns". On the other hand, not running out of resources subtly alters the adventuring calculus: if I've always got good-hitting stuff that I can rely on, I don't need to pace myself or be careful about knowing my limits so much. Hit points are the only limiter left then.

Something I plan on doing to get some of the flavour of at-will powers is to let spellcasters have special effects from memorised spells. Kind of like cantrips, but with more individual flavour and much cooler.

I like the encounter powers because it means after each battle you don't have this big pleasure to sleep. It always seemed lame fo the party to try to find an excuse to rest all the time.

Hit points aren't even the limiter they used to be with healing surges. Basically during a battle you can only have three costs :
1. Use some healing surgest.
2. Use your daily powers.
3. Somebody dies.

I've not had a problem running out of healing surges and everyone ends up saving their daily powers til a big battle in which it makes sense to sleep afterwards anyway (good). But all this does make each battle pretty cost free.. unless someone dies and then it's really painful.
I don't know, I waiver. I suppose it's better than cleric in a pocket, but I'm unsure as to how to do it right.

I like the special effects idea, but I'm kinda stuck on the sameness of everyone getting exactly two at will powers. Or perhaps just the sameness of powers in general. It seems a bland choice of rogue vs mage when it just changes which squares I target.

Hit points aren't a limiter anymore, but healing surges are a very, very hard limit now. It's odd that a healing potion is just so much flavoured water to a PC who's out of healing surges. And that cleric's healing prayer? Useless for that rogue over there who's out of surges, but works on that ranger over there who's not? Odd, immersion-breaking, and turns "we should rest now to regain spells" into "we NEED to rest now or die".

I think the pressure to sleep in earlier editions is OK. I'd rather let them do so when it makes sense, and as a DM make them think carefully about it when it doesn't. ("Well that was a hard battle, but there's still one vampire out there hunting us, not to mention we're in goblin territory...") Wandering monster tables get a bad rap, but when carefully and thematically designed for the area they're wonderful.

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