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Thread: 4e D&D verging on generic?

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    Question 4e D&D verging on generic?

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    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."
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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."
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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.
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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."
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    Quote Originally Posted by fmitchell View Post
    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.
    D&D can be made to serve by someone that wishes to make it. d20 has a certain feel and you don't really alter that by changing the name. Star Wars is D&D with spaceships and blasters. Modern is D&D film nior. But you can dress the cow pretty much as you please, it is still a cow.

    All this is a fancy way of agreeing I suppose. D20 the class system no matter what you tag with it is still at it's heart a fantasy game. Just calling on the existing products I could cobble together a game of any genre you cared to play, but that doesn't mean I will not get a cow in a skirt.

    While it is nice to be able with little effort to expand my D&D game in various directions without a great deal of work. I just ran an entire segment of run and gun Shandowrun style D&D as a change of pace. But poke the beast it will moo.

    Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tesral View Post
    D&D can be made to serve by someone that wishes to make it. d20 has a certain feel and you don't really alter that by changing the name. Star Wars is D&D with spaceships and blasters. Modern is D&D film nior. But you can dress the cow pretty much as you please, it is still a cow.

    All this is a fancy way of agreeing I suppose. D20 the class system no matter what you tag with it is still at it's heart a fantasy game. Just calling on the existing products I could cobble together a game of any genre you cared to play, but that doesn't mean I will not get a cow in a skirt.

    While it is nice to be able with little effort to expand my D&D game in various directions without a great deal of work. I just ran an entire segment of run and gun Shandowrun style D&D as a change of pace. But poke the beast it will moo.
    Agreed. The d20 system (from which 4e is inevitably derived) was, itself, the spawn of D&D. Therefore, while it has certainly become much more tweakable in recent editions, it is still D&D at heart. Whether the cow wears chainmail, a spacesuit or a cowboy hat, it still is what it is.

    That probably explains why all editions of Star Wars d20 always felt a little weird to me. There's no denying that there is more than a little "D&D" in it. But it's all about what the GM and players like in their games.
    Last edited by Webhead; 05-13-2008 at 10:31 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fmitchell View Post
    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.
    Sounds like that suits you well. Seems like there is a varying level of RPG literacy though that can change what a GM chooses. Not everybody has or wants a library of RPG books

    The cost benefit analysis for me is to stick with the Model T called DnD. Which makes me think of something else; my brother and I are working on a persistent world in NWN2 that will be very nitty gritty not to mention Human oriented. I wonder what the next generation of NWN type games will bring with the presence of 4e. I imagine it'll translate well with all the once a days?

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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.
    That was my decision many years ago. I'll play almost anything if the game is fun, but I only run D&D.

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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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