Monday, March 22, 2010

4E and Me (Books, that is)

I think the last 4e book I bought was Divine Power, or maybe PHB2, I forget which came last. I got AV2 and DMG2 comp copies but that's been about it. It's no because I have no love of 4E, but rather that my DDI subscrption gets me everything I need from the books. I know there's some extra color material I'm missing out on, but for the bulk of books, the extra content is not worth the extra money. This is no sleight to the content - it's good stuff - but I've already put in the cost of DDI, so a book needs to be able to support it's cover price purely on the materia I DON'T have, and that's hard.

But not impossible[1]. I just picked up the PHB3 in large part because the PHBs are historically pretty awesome, and they tend to be the sharp end of new ideas for the game. That much content is a lot easier to flip through as a book than on the website.

It's pretty cool. Monks still scare me, psonics still seem to work ok. The races don't really excite me much, but I'm sure they're to somebody's taste. Hybrid classes look like they're A) fun and B) something I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole without the character builder software. Skill powers are...blah.[2]

But what's interesting to me is that at this point, I can no longer imagine using all the classes and races in the game at the same time. PHB2 was pushing the bounds of this, but 3 absolutely makes it so. It's rather like my observation on Mage - there's too much stuff to take in all at once, but you can extract specific narrow slices of it and find something awesome.

What's funnier still is that this recognition actually improves the game for me. Whereas imagining everything all at once produces a muddy mess, imagining the game with any 8 character classes (or less) produces all sorts of interesting ideas. Why _this_ set? What does this say about the world?

Sadly, that's probably not enough to get a new game up and running. The overhead of playing 4e is still more than I'm really ready to wrestle with. So I'll keep waiting for the box set and hoping maybe it's the thing I hope it will be.

1 - I'll also probably pick up the Dark Sun books. Setting doesn't do so well on DDI.

2 - They're not bad, but it's a matter of what I'd want. They don't make Skills more useful as skills, they just make them more useful in combat. For me, that's a problem that was really, really not looking for a solution. But, hey, more powers.


  1. Excellent observation. D&D4 is the Dominion of RPGs. It's the combination of the subset of elements that makes each game different and cool.

  2. And I am beaten to the Dominion reference. Heh. :)


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