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Thread: 4e D&D verging on generic?

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    Question 4e D&D verging on generic?

    Is it me or do some of the 4e rules for D&D strike a familiar cord? The formula for caster's spells in particular strike me as stemming from a generic power system with the focus being a generic approach to D&D. It's like they took and removed the technical framework after they constructed the powers with the Hero system (not specifically Hero, but something similar in method).

    It also looks as though simple game elements can be added to the system to make it generic. The mechanics are there, just add interactive elements.
    Such as adding Damage Type: Cyber
    or Effect Type: Biotic
    Poof! Instant shadowrun a la d&d.

    Then again, I don't have the rules yet. So, I'm just speculating.

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    With only the scraps we have now, any statements about D&D 4e are purely speculative.

    However, for me a "generic" system is one a GM can tinker with and customize for just about any genre. Some, like GURPS and Hero, give you tools to synthesize any ability you need; others, like BRP and especially PDQ, have such a simple foundation that a GM can add whatever he or she needs.

    D&D has never really been either of those things. Creating new classes (and now feats) has always been a black art, requiring rigorous playtesting to avoid PCs who are either wimps or gods. D&D itself also makes certain assumptions: PCs fall into discrete classes, magic works in a specific way (or three specific ways: arcane, divine, psionic), etc.

    Maybe the promised Modern system will provide more flexibility, but I doubt the upcoming D&D will encompass anything but, well, D&D.
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

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    more generic or easier to customize?

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    Quote Originally Posted by GBVenkman View Post
    more generic or easier to customize?
    True, those are separate issues. I've already discussed "generic".

    As far as "easier to customize" ... well, we'll see. Certainly one stated goal seems to be making play simpler, and making abilities more discrete. The article on "multiclassing" implies a PC can incorporate abilities of another class simply by taking feats. So, within the constraints of the existing feats, or whatever WotC, third party companies, or individual GMs come up with, you can tailor a PC to a particular "superheroic fantasy" character concept.

    However, I expect those of us who prefer grittier or low-magic worlds will have to look elsewhere. As with 3rd Edition, a "low-magic" D&D would restrict classes to Fighters, Rogues, Warlords, and Rangers, with only a few select feats from other classes. "Gritty" play seems wholly outside the bounds of 4th edition.

    So D&D likely won't cover even the entire Fantasy genre, let alone others.
    Last edited by fmitchell; 05-10-2008 at 04:41 AM.
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

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    Very true. D&D has never been good with scale. But I was referring to hints of D&D stemming from a generic framework. Not like the elegance of Champions evolving into Hero System, but 5th ed Hero deriving a fantasy setting and nixing the framework to the point that no one would recognize it was derived from Hero save a few hints in the structure (like dice).

    Maybe my mind is just playing tricks on me, but it looks formulaic to me, which promises some overarching generic system is behind the scenes.

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    You already have the Star Wars SAGA which is the same system in all the important points. Lizards just might be headed that way.

    Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
    My favorite game console is a table and chairs.
    The Olde Phoenix Inn

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    Quote Originally Posted by fmitchell View Post
    True, those are separate issues. I've already discussed "generic".

    As far as "easier to customize" ... well, we'll see. Certainly one stated goal seems to be making play simpler, and making abilities more discrete. The article on "multiclassing" implies a PC can incorporate abilities of another class simply by taking feats. So, within the constraints of the existing feats, or whatever WotC, third party companies, or individual GMs come up with, you can tailor a PC to a particular "superheroic fantasy" character concept.

    However, I expect those of us who prefer grittier or low-magic worlds will have to look elsewhere. As with 3rd Edition, a "low-magic" D&D would restrict classes to Fighters, Rogues, Warlords, and Rangers, with only a few select feats from other classes. "Gritty" play seems wholly outside the bounds of 4th edition.

    So D&D likely won't cover even the entire Fantasy genre, let alone others.
    I still think a good GM will be able to nip-tuck 4e to his/her needs.

    We'll see though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GBVenkman View Post
    I still think a good GM will be able to nip-tuck 4e to his/her needs.
    Possibly, but I went through a cost-benefit analysis with 3.5. I could either labor over my heavily edited D&D and then try to sell orthodox D&D players on it, or I could use another, more easily tweaked game system entirely. The latter sounds far more attractive to me.

    Someone who knows D&D inside-out might come to a different conclusion ... but I wonder if the GSL will make something like Midnight much harder for commercial companies to produce.
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

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    Generic? Not more so than before. I would think a generic system would have to include meta-rules for customization (i.e. a point cost for everything, a la Hero or GURPS).

    Easily customizable? Actually, less customizable from a rules perspective, I think. The core rules will be simpler, so tweaking one aspect will have a bigger effect on the rest of the game (like putting 3e-style saving throws back in would skew things in drastic and unexpected ways).

    4e will be better for "low fantasy" than 3e, just because you've got a Warlord that can fill in for a Cleric. By the rules as written, you won't have a Controller class (Wizard), but doing what the Wizard does without magic seems to be a little far-fetched (there are lots and lots of threads about martial controllers on the Wizard boards, and the conclusion there is that a Martial controller will either be stretching disbelief, or not have enough shtick to get them through 30 levels).

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    Quote Originally Posted by GBVenkman View Post
    The cost benefit analysis for me is to stick with the Model T called DnD.
    Quote Originally Posted by tesral View Post
    That was my decision many years ago. I'll play almost anything if the game is fun, but I only run D&D.


    I totally agree, especially now with the cost of fuel driving up the cost of everything else.

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