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Massawyrm Reviews D&D 4E Part 3!!

Hola all. Massawyrm here. With the rebalancing of all the classes, WotC has given a static, steady progression to leveling up. No longer are there any plateau levels like level 5 (when you get Flight and Fireball) in which players get access to something radically more powerful than what they possessed just a single level before – and no longer hamstringing DM’s by what monsters are effective at one level and not the next. Monsters are now also scaled the same way. There are no more monsters that while being a specific level, possess abilities that make them completely inaccessible as opponents to lower levels. Sure, a 10th level monster will still decimate a first level party – but not because they lack the spells or abilities to so much as touch it. They’ll get their ass kicked because it is simply far more badass than they are. But there are no more monsters that a DM cannot throw against his players because they don’t have the right spell or equipment to fight it. This opens up a whole world of opportunities and possible combinations. But more importantly, it also allows the quick and easy creation of your own monster stat blocks. Every monster is built with a simple series of equations in which you plug in their level and modify them by their role in combat and get exact, solid scores for their Hit points, damage output and defenses. Of course that doesn’t mean that every 2 nd level monster will have the same amount of hit points and do the same damage with an attack. It takes various factors into account, but if creature of a certain level should be doing five points of damage on average he could do one attack that does 5 straight damage, have an attack that does 1d8+1 or two attacks that do 1d4 a piece. You won’t notice that average of 5 damage, but it will be there hidden in the mechanics. It takes roughly 5 minutes to stat out a new critter. Is there something missing from the MM that you love? Odds are the answer is a BIG YES (more on that in a bit.) Well, stat it out. The first thing you’ll notice about the monsters is that they broken down into roles and toughness. The roles are pretty self explanatory and WtC has been all about talking about them. These are things like Lurkers (monsters that hide and attack from shadows or while invisible), artillery (ranged attackers), brutes (big damage dealers), soldiers (tanks), and controllers (spellcasters and creatures with abilities that allow them to move players around or hinder their movement.) A good monster mob has a healthy mix of two or three of these types. This isn’t so much of a game altering change as much as it is just a great system for eyeballing what a given encounter needs or what a creatures stats look like. The big change is really the new classifications of monster power level. You’ve got Minions, Elite and Solo types as extra modifiers. Elites are just pretty much twice as tough as your average monster. There’s both listings for Elite monsters and rules for beefing one up to Elite (for example having a group of 3 Ogres led by a super tough Ogre Chief.) Solos are pretty self explanatory – they’re meant to be fought alone or only with a little help. These are your dragons, your aspects of deities, or super tough large monsters. Solo’s have proven to be the trickiest to work with as you have to choose just the right point in the adventuring day to unleash them on your party. Too late in the day and they don’t have enough powerful daily abilities left to take it out – too early and they have too man, stacking status effect after status effect on it to the point of silliness. You haven’t encountered 4E frustration until you’ve put a Red Dragon as an early encounter and watched him hobbled, slowed, dazed and covered in ongoing damage before he gets to round 2. But my favorite addition so far is minions. These are super weak monsters that amount to an average of 4 monsters to a character of equal level. But this by no means is to say that they don’t pose any kind of threat. Quite often they can do much more damage when attacking en masse. These are your zombie hordes or your weak demon spawn and the like. Our very first game began in a tavern, with a brawl (yes, the cliché) but was interrupted by a woman bursting through the door screaming. Two zombies rushed in after her and tore her apart. Our brave fighter rushed forward, hacked them to pieces and threw open the door ready for 2 or 3 more. Only to discover 2 dozen zombies shambling toward her. Overkill? Not in 4E. 24 Zombie Rotters are a standard encounter for 6 level 1 PCs. You don’t HAVE to run minion fights that large, but man are they a good time. They make your PCs feel highly effective as they drop zombie after zombie beneath their feet, but also prove tactically challenging as they have to fight off swarms with completely different tactics. It also lets you have a little fun by replacing several of the minions with a regular fighter type of the same monster. Why are there only 13 zombies this time? Because one of them is a level 3 nasty. Guess which one it is before it eats your cleric. Most of your time as Dungeon master will be spent on two things: planning the story of your game and planning the monster and tactic selection. It really is challenging. 4E fights really have a different feel. It’s not about running across some random fight anymore. It’s about planning, it’s about strategy, it’s about the fun or frustration of the big beat down. You are encouraged to get exotic – and that equals fun for all. So I’ve been incredibly positive up until now. I know there’s many of you out there who have got to be wondering if there’s anything about 4E that I don’t like. Yes. There is, but it’s almost all entirely nit picky stuff about what they chose to release. Personally, I’m just a wee bit annoyed that certain monsters were held back for other monster manuals – especially in lieu of the fact that there are quite a few new editions to the core monsters. Dungeon & Dragon Miniatures fans (like myself) will be happy to know that several of your favorite minis have been added to the core book. The awesome Boneclaw is core, the Kruthik has worked its way in, and Flameskulls have two different incarnations (one Heroic and one Epic.) But there are no metallic dragons in the core MM. And while Metallics have for the longest time been GOOD creatures, the new 4E lack of standard alignment allows you to be pitted against ANYTHING as long as there’s a good reason for it. No more ALWAYS LG means a crazed, deluded or simply ornery Silver dragon could actually be an opponent for the party. But not on release it can’t. The lack of certain classic giants like the Frost Giants is a bit lame – they include Death Giants, but not Frost? But don’t worry, Fire, Hill and Storm all make appearances. It’s not that there are bad choices and aditions – it’s just that you have to ask why a whole section on Kruthiks but not one on the metallics. I’ll trade you know. It’s not called Dungeons and Kruthiks. Then there are dragons. First of all, dragons ROCK. Every chromatic dragon fights and plays much differently than each and every other type now and they are ALL nasty. Every last one of them. AND, just to sweeten the deal, there are now real, honest to god dragon encounters set as low as level 3. Yes, you can actually fight a white dragon in a tough fight at level 1. That’s pretty damned awesome, once again deserving its title Dungeons & Dragons. So what’s wrong with dragons? Well, for starters, there is longer any dragons smaller than LARGE size. To many of you that won’t mean anything. But to those of us who have collected Dungeons and dragon Minis from way back in harbinger – we’ve just gotten screwed. I have a whole drawer of small and medium dragons that no longer serve any use. I mean, I guess I can paint them and use them as drakes. But not as dragons. Especially since many of them weren’t exactly easy to come by. That got me a little pissy. Which leads to the one glaring problem some folks will have with 4E. It is very dependant upon maps, terrain and miniatures. That’s great for guys like me with a closet full of toys. But for others, especially those who like to play much more esoteric games all through discussion rather than using maps and positioning – they’re going to find it a lot harder to covert over to that style of play than 3.5. Most abilities and classes are built around their existence on a map grid. And a lot of the abilities just don’t translate to the abstract. I’m not certain why percentage of players out there still play this way – but they’re going to have the strongest argument against converting to 4E. But for me these really are some minor gripes compared to the sheer number of mechanics that 4E has fixed. There are no more wallflowers in combats. No more totaling up each players loot to make sure they are equally matched to the monsters they’ll be facing. No more resting before the party needs to. No more “Why can’t I buy this magic item anywhere”. No more broken min/maxing. No more all human parties because the free feat and skill point are worth more. There are a thousand little things that are streamlined, that are better. And once people have had the chance to sit down with it, all the prerelease gripes will go away. It really is like digging into 1st Ed all over again. This weekend WotC is taking the muzzle off of us playtesters, so over the next few days and weeks, sites will be flooded with all the details. I’m dying to see how closely other groups experiences match my own – but I’m also confident that we’re about to see a lot of positivity out there. This is a great game. Whether you’re a long time player or an online gamer looking for a little more face time with your friends, 4E has a lot to offer the table top community. It’s a revelation and a revolution. And it’s gong to change the way you play forever. Man I can’t wait to have these in hardback. Until next time friends, smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em. Massawyrm
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Readers Talkback
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  • March 1, 2008, 4:47 p.m. CST


    by BrightEyes


  • March 1, 2008, 4:51 p.m. CST

    The Nerd Trifecta

    by Thrillho77


  • March 1, 2008, 4:59 p.m. CST

    People still play this?

    by skywalkerfamily

    I thought everyone went to online gaming?

  • March 1, 2008, 5:09 p.m. CST

    Nice posts Massa

    by kwisatzhaderach

    I might take a peek at the 4th edition myself.

  • March 1, 2008, 5:24 p.m. CST


    by LordTwinkie

    are monsters now apparently.

  • March 1, 2008, 5:27 p.m. CST

    I still think "Dungeons and Dragons" is the wrong name for this

    by KnightShift

    Again, when was the last time that ANY campaign for this game called for the characters to go into a *dungeon*? Concordantly, how many times do players have to face a DRAGON? That's false advertising, folks. This game should be renamed "Bushes and Orcs" instead.

  • March 1, 2008, 5:57 p.m. CST

    Nah it should be called Forests and Castles.

    by skywalkerfamily

    Since that's what it is.

  • March 1, 2008, 5:59 p.m. CST

    death giants instead of frost giants?

    by newc0253

    lame.<p> really frakking lame.<p>

  • March 1, 2008, 6:12 p.m. CST


    by la_sith

  • March 1, 2008, 6:14 p.m. CST

    Interesting read... but

    by Shayde

    I am still playing first edition. Never saw the need to upgrade, and it looks like this is just another attempt to "fix" what was never broken in the first place.

  • March 1, 2008, 7:17 p.m. CST

    Long Live First Edition

    by Wrath4771

    First edition is still by far the best version of the game, though I know people who swear by second edition that I don't think are completely out of their heads. As for those of us who don't play with minatures and maps - it's called imagination. What I visualize in my head is more exciting than some damn map. If something was ever really confusing then we would just draw it out. And I'm so sick of WotC messing with something that Gary Gygax and the other founders of the game have created. In tyring to make a "better" game I think they continually just screw the pooch.

  • March 1, 2008, 7:27 p.m. CST


    by Celicynd

    This game sounds terrible. Completely homogonized so that everything is exactly the same so everything can scale happily. Everything that massawyrm is making sound awesome sounds incredibly boring to me. I love how the game has now progressed to having to use miniatures (so they can sell more stuff). I think my friends had it right in sticking with 1e and 2e, and not switching over to the 3e/3.5e mechanics.

  • March 1, 2008, 7:28 p.m. CST

    Sounds exactly like Diablo II actually

    by CarmillaVonDoom

    Seems they are trying to make it more like a computer game instead of embracing what makes it *different* from computer games.

  • March 1, 2008, 7:33 p.m. CST


    by Stevie Grant


  • March 1, 2008, 7:54 p.m. CST

    This doesn't sound like an RPG

    by GarethKeenan

    This whole series confirms my suspicions: that D&D is less and less an RPG and more and more a tactical miniatures game. I don't recall anything in Massawyrm's articles that mentions roleplaying. It has all been about game balance, combat, and "kewl stuff". Is there anything that promotes character story or background development? Anything about interesting plots? Or is it just combat and kewl abilities? I don't know of any RPG so obsessed with game balance as D&D. Too bad.

  • March 1, 2008, 7:55 p.m. CST

    When you're crazy...

    by FlickaPoo you know you're crazy? I mean when you're at home in the dark, playing Dungeons and Dragons and masturbating in your own you ever stop and say to yourself..."...MAN!, am I fucking CRAZY!!"

  • March 1, 2008, 8 p.m. CST


    by DOGSOUP


  • March 1, 2008, 8:20 p.m. CST

    Thanks for the writeup, Massa

    by chrth

    It's about time AICN started posting relevant articles

  • March 1, 2008, 8:22 p.m. CST

    GarethKeenan: Roleplaying is what happens between battles

    by chrth

    And it's the players and the DM that determine how good the roleplaying is. No set of rules can do it for you. It makes sense that the writeups would focus on encounters because that's where the rules lie, and that's really the only part Massa can speak to. If he said "Roleplaying was great!" we wouldn't be able to discern whether that was because of the game or the players.

  • March 1, 2008, 8:57 p.m. CST

    D&D 5.0

    by StarchildAD

    Comes with a pair of scissors to cut your dick off. I for one will buy the books for the sheer fact that I do have a girlfriend and do get pussy. The game happens to be entertaining. Sadly the people that usually play these games are pretty nerdy for my tastes. I dont have others to play this game with as my friends have lives but It would be nice to play. For those that have never played this game, it can be alot of fun. Im not into the minis and maps. Im the few that just enjoy using their mind instead of looking at my perspective on a little square. Kinda kills the mood for me. Fifth edition in 3 years.

  • March 1, 2008, 9:09 p.m. CST

    StarchildAD: Do what I did

    by chrth

    Have a son*. Wait 8 years, then introduce him and his friends to the game (7 years, 2 months to go, so it'll probably be 5th edition). They'll need a DM, and I guess I could volunteer.<p> *A daughter can work as well, if you raise her right.

  • March 1, 2008, 9:24 p.m. CST

    I thought everyone made up their own rules anyway?

    by skywalkerfamily

    Who wants to wade through some 70 page Manuel? We just came up with our own basic system.

  • March 1, 2008, 10:21 p.m. CST

    Part 3??

    by RobertBaron

    This really needs 3 parts? How about a 3 part article about a new floppy drive?

  • March 1, 2008, 10:31 p.m. CST

    Chrth: have you played any other RPGs?

    by GarethKeenan

    Virtually every other RPG out there focuses on character background and roleplaying elements (witness the Aspects of FATE or the passions of Pendragon). There is a hell of a lot more to an RPG than combat, even if you don't pay any attention to roleplaying mechanics. What about skills and magic, for a start?

  • March 1, 2008, 10:48 p.m. CST

    The best part about 4th Edition is...

    by thedarklinglord

    You'll be able to pick up a lot of 3.X books for really cheap. At least, that's what I'm looking forward to, since I hardly bought any beyond the core rulebooks and have been updating all the 2nd Edition stuff myself. What pisses me off about WotC is the way they milk this shit for every last dime. They released dozens of 3.X books, at $30 a pop for a barely 200-page book, and there's only a handful of useful bits or none at all. And more times than not, there's glaringly obvious gaps of information or ideas they could have explored and added to beef the book up. Instead, they save it so they can release yet another shitty supplemental book that you'll have to plunk down $30 for. Is it any wonder people get pissed whenever they release new editions? And the fact that 4th is heavily reliant upon miniatures and maps comes as no surprise, since they want ensure players all but HAVE to buy their other products like D&D miniatures and the now defunct Fantastic Locations map packs which have been replaced by the less bang-for-your-buck Dungeon Tiles. I think I'll be sticking to 3.X for a few years still. Especially since, as Massa points out, there's a lot of stuff missing from the Monster Manual - which means it'll be a few months before they release the next MM and milk another $30-$40 bucks from us. And even after they've finally included all the dragons in the Monster Manuals, then they'll release the 4th Edition Draconomicon with a few crumbs of extra info that just as easily could have been included in the MM.

  • March 1, 2008, 11:47 p.m. CST

    Thanks again :)

    by BlindOgre

    Thanks, Massawyrm! Good info. I had already heard about the missing critters and reliance on maps and minis. However, there may be some justification for both, even for heavy RP groups. Metallics generally leave humans and such alone and are only rarely approached by lower level adventurers. Since 4e really requires a new group of PCs anyway, it will be a while before the party is ready for such an encounter, and by that time the expansion with metallics should be out. Also, since the advent of battle-mats many moons ago, just about everyone I know uses the mats to run combat, even if coins and dice are used in place of figures when such are in short supply. Simplifying the combat and movement rules actually makes using the 1" grid map easier, so the group spends less time measuring (and arguing about measurements). So, the delay in metallics is an iffy call, but I can see their point, and the new rules may lead no-maps/no-minis players to actually prefer maps and minis - if they can be convinced to give it a chance. Please know that there are many of us who appreciate your work and insight. Thanks again! :)

  • March 1, 2008, 11:55 p.m. CST

    Monster Manuals

    by Maegnarval

    From what i saw, they are putting the dragons in their own Monster Manual Book. Heck, they could do another one for Undead Monsters, one for Elemental Planes Monsters, One for Sea Monsters, one for Forest Monsters, one for Cave Monsters, one for other Aerial & Heavenly monsters, one for desert monsters, one for cold climate monsters, one for tropical jungle monsters, another Monster Manual for Demons, Devils & other dark creatures. And Finally an expanded Deities & DemiGods manual.

  • March 2, 2008, midnight CST

    Miniatures combat...boring.

    by Pariah74

    So in three reviews not once did he qualify his statement that 4th Ed. encourages role playing and character story driven games. Sounds like it's tactical combat, with homogenized monsters who burst like pinatas when the uber-PCs fart in thier general direction. Thanks but no-thanks. If I want miniatures combat I will play Warmachine or Hordes, if I want role playing I'll choose any of a dozen systems that don't need grids and minis.

  • March 2, 2008, 1:13 a.m. CST

    Updating the Old Modules for 4.0?!?!

    by Maegnarval

    I hope that they do update the old Modules. Would be nice to see the Tomb of Horrors series combined & updated for 4.0 with new artwork & expanded adventuring, for example.

  • March 2, 2008, 1:13 a.m. CST


    by John Maddening

    It's been awesome to read these three articles. I haven't played RPGs for 20 years, but this has been great to read. More nerdy gaming articles like this, please!

  • March 2, 2008, 2:46 a.m. CST

    What. The. Fuck.

    by Grando

    Is this shit? Fucking nerds.

  • March 2, 2008, 3:18 a.m. CST

    Ever try New Dimension Games?

    by The Game Master

    It seems most people hate WotC's turning D&D into a tabletop video game or a buy-more-miniatures game. Well, try for RPGs made in the style of Gygax. They do things old school; Pure imagination, no toys. Hell, the core rules even have a dedication to Gygax and Tolkien.

  • March 2, 2008, 4:15 a.m. CST

    Thanks, Massawyrm

    by Bald Evil

    I really enjoyed this review series. I was already looking forward to the new system, now I am looking forward to it even more. Having played D&D since 1978, I am very glad to see a lot of the stuff I have always wanted to see actually being built into the game. I'm not sure why some people are so vehemently resistant to this change... but I also don't care that much, because I don't know them and their opinions don't matter to me or to WOTC. What matters is that we're being given better balance, easier to use tools, less kibble, and more time to spend designing, running, and playing in cool games. Roleplaying is a function of the players and the GM, the system has nothing to do with it; a good group can RP a dramatic and memorable Toon or Macho Women with Guns game, if they want to. Sounds to me like WOTC has done an outstanding job of listening to what the new generation of RPG'ers want and want to see, and have delivered it. As far as the aging beardos who worship the ground Gygax walks on and curse all things 3.5 and 4E... keep complaining, it gives me something to laugh at while I'm at work. Thanks again, Wyrm!

  • March 2, 2008, 4:15 a.m. CST

    Using the miniatures

    by Maegnarval

    ok, sure use your imagination, no problem, however, when when played b4 we had miniatures we still had to draw littles X's for how our party was lined-up for exploring or combating so the DM could see how to stage the events that happen to the party. That being said, the miniatures only enhance the gameplay! Now, tell me would you rather play Chess by just drawing your moves on paper?!

  • March 2, 2008, 4:21 a.m. CST

    Enhancing the 4.0 gamplay for the computer age

    by Maegnarval

    Ok, on that note i wouldn't mind if the new & updated old game modules included a dvd/blu-ray of graphics representing the areas to explore & the monsters & NPC's! Along with any other supplemental materials, such as programs that help keep track of Player XP & combat Hit points tracking. Just another way to enhance the gameplay, by way of using like a computer Notebook.

  • March 2, 2008, 5:20 a.m. CST

    What about your imagination?

    by ikkyu

    Ok, so it's been 20 years since i played any RPG, tabletop, computer or otherwise, but i have to say: what's with the slavish devotion to the rules? from the articles, and many of the TB comments, i'm picking up a lot of "it's great, but this particular rule is kinda restrictive, or this system is now more playable than the unintuitive 2nd or 3rd edition..."<p>so - um - why not change it? when i did used to play, my group of friends used the old Runequest(2) percentile system, which was infinitely scaleable and applicable to any gameplay situation. this meant that the GM (DM) could arbitrate and decide on the fly the mechanics for any situation. the point being that then *the rules and numbers existed only to allow the story to unfold and develop fluidly* - the rules were, by design, almost invisible during gameplay, so that we were very rarely taken out of character into a long and boring consultation of lots of rulebooks.<p>sure - this meant that the GM was god, and had to be scrupulously fair and even-handed (where your write-up sounds at times like your D&D games are a case of PCs *versus* DM...) - but that just made the role of GM more challenging and fun.<p>all this inflexible adherence to complicated rules, and reliance on props (viz. miniatures: miniatures, for god's sake! what's wrong with your imagination?!) seems to me a real buzz-killer.<p>but what do i know? i guess i'm not 15 any more...

  • March 2, 2008, 5:26 a.m. CST

    in fact, we used to write games...

    by ikkyu

    in addition to the above, i remember many, many hours spent playing games we wrote ourselves, based on more or less adapted versions of the RQ2 game mechanics.<p>i always thought that was the point - to use your own creativity and imagination - not to be bound to some corporation's (expensive) canon (tm).

  • March 2, 2008, 6:08 a.m. CST

    KnightShift, it wasn't funny the first time you said it

    by Lemming

    and it's not funny now. Give it a rest will you?

  • March 2, 2008, 6:29 a.m. CST

    I'm trying to avoid Flaming people who don't know what they're t

    by Captain_Jester

    I'm looking forward to this new edition more and more. With less time worrying about how to resolve mechanics, It means there's more time to develop a character's personality both in and out of combat. Yes, I think a character's personality shows in both. My favorite characters are the ones who showed personality all the time. The show-man wizard who used cantrips to spook thugs so he could protect kids and who was terrible at sneaking but convinced that Camouflage robes were all he needed, even within the city. the brave swashbuckling thief who was more prone to finding a way to get above the action and later leap down into the fray and who used anything lying around to his advantage, but also donated a tenth of his take to the goddess of luck and always made sure to leave a calling card, made especially fun when he later turned in someone who tried to mug him and told the guards that the man had been carrying a stack of said calling cards, letting him collect the reward on his own head. These are the things that make D&D great and the more they simplify, the easier it will be to do the things you love and to make characters into something more than a collection of numbers on paper. Yes, they've made it so that it's balanced across every level, but for those who would compare it to WoW or Everquest I ask...when was the last time you sat around with friends, eating pizza, Drinking Dew, and joking with each other, while playing an MMORPG? When was the last time you played a character so vivid that you remembered his foibles a decade later? That's what I thought.

  • March 2, 2008, 7:15 a.m. CST

    Maegnarval & Bald Evil

    by Pariah74

    It's not the fact that it uses miniatures that irritates me. (I have a shit ton of minis in my basement), no what ticks me off is that you can't NOT use miniatures if you want combat. That's crap and wreaks of a system designed only to force you to buy miniatures. And Bald Evil, I hardly worship the ground Gygax walks on. I think there are better games out there than D&D. It's just that this doesn't sound like ROLE playing to me. More like miniatures combat...and if that's the case there are waaaaay better rules out WARMACHINE!!

  • March 2, 2008, 7:46 a.m. CST

    It sounds to me like...

    by Pariah74

    WOTC put out a remake of Chainmail as a miniatures combat game, but it flopped so the reworked D&D into a miniatures combat game. The sad thing is that it will work this time because there's a load of lemmings out there who will play anything. After playing 3.5 for a long time I recently broke out Palladium's TMNT game and it was like rediscovering roleplaying. It was just light and fun and totally ROLE playing! D&D has sucked for awhile, I just didn't know it. I'm excited to play some other NON-D20 games again!

  • March 2, 2008, 7:59 a.m. CST

    So will 4e be released with an open gaming license?

    by Mr Willi

    I must admit, I'm glad WOTC has gone the route of many independent publishers and simplified things considerably. While I'm not sold just yet, I do see possibilities. Still, I'm not into D&D and that whole "let's steal from Tolkien" kind of fantasy. I would like to see the system uses for other genres, like pulp. Any chance the 4e rules will be releases under the open gaming license? Often independent publishers are far more creative with the system than the unimaginative folks over at WOTC.

  • March 2, 2008, 8:08 a.m. CST

    The secret to life is..

    by McTreble

    to find something you like to do and do it, whenever you can. You asshats need to leave these people alone. They play a fucking game in their own free time, it doesn't make your life any better or worse. Not that it makes a shit's bit of difference, but I'm married, a teacher, and have a 7 month old kid, as well as a bunch of friends (some game players, most not). If I could, I'd play DnD every weekend of my life. It's that much fun.. TO ME. Fuck you for judging me. And for those of you who are so quick to dismiss 4e as a WoW clone, or videotop RPG, have you played the game? Can you even intelligently make that comparison? Nobody in all 3 talkbacks have said they've played 4e yet. With the exception of Wyrm, none of you have any idea what you're talking about, even me. So fuck you all for that one too. I thought I'd hate 3.5 till I actually played it and saw how miniatures and the grid make the game better for me at least. For those who didn't like it, they condemned it AFTER they played it, which is what anyone with a fucking BRAIN would do. In closing, FUCK YOU for judging other people and jumping to conclusions about things which you know little.

  • March 2, 2008, 8:39 a.m. CST

    This is crazy

    by dr sauch

    Reading these, I feel like the first time I went to a molecular biology seminar.

  • March 2, 2008, 9:11 a.m. CST


    by kwisatzhaderach

    I have something heartbreaing to tell you. You're a nerd too.

  • March 2, 2008, 9:20 a.m. CST

    WTF do all of these abbreviations mean?????

    by skeletonjack

    Don't assume everyone knows what all of these acroynms stand for, I don't have a fucking clue what most of them are (though from reading the article that's probably a good thing). If you're gonna use abbreviations at least use the full title at the beginning so people know what you're on about as not everyone is into this stuff.

  • March 2, 2008, 9:45 a.m. CST

    Mandatory Minis

    by Bald Evil

    My current D&D group has been together for about six years now. Since we started playing, we've been using the same wet-erase battlemat and the same mixed bag of leftover and unwanted Mage Knight miniatures to fill in for every PC, NPC, bulette, dragon, troll, etc. that has ever set foot on the table. Total investment for our minis? About $25 for 200-300 of them. Do they fit the squares? No. Do they ever look anything like what they're supposed to represent? Extremely rarely. Do we have the same amount of fun? Yes we do. :) You don't have to buy WOTC's minis if you don't want... for years I just drew the PC's and monsters on the mat with a wet erase pen and wiped em off whenever they changed places. Miniatures are a play aid in an RPG, not a mandate like in a wargame. If you don't want to spend money on them, there are plenty of bargains out there, or just use coins, candy corns, bottle caps, whatever you have. Your imaginations should be doing the heavy lifting in any case; the minis are just there to give you a better frame of reference and remind you that there is a 15' raging behemoth ten feet away from you.

  • March 2, 2008, 10:12 a.m. CST

    Hack & Slash is what 4E is all about, sounds lame Massa

    by Stereotypical Evil Archer

    Massa, tell us about the story and the characters please. I guess you need to write part 4.

  • March 2, 2008, 10:23 a.m. CST

    The beauty of D&D...

    by Dan Halen

    was that you could modify the rules to your group's liking. I played 2E from the age of 12-17 and we always would adapt our own rules or eliminate cumbersome ones. I've never played any of the later edtions but I remember how bad the running/chasing rules were in 2E. Instead of excitement and tension we'd have to break out the book to figure it out. D&D is about the roleplaying. I'm still friends with most of the guys I played with and we still joke about all the shit that went down in adventures. I'd love to see an online component, or dvd component added to adventures as long as the core pencil and paper/imagination aspect wasn't lost.

  • March 2, 2008, 10:24 a.m. CST

    "Temple of Elemental Evil" Greyhawk adventure?

    by Dan Halen

    Anyone ever play that? I can remember trying to prep that one in 1992 as a 13 year old DM and being blown away by the drug induced weirdness of that one. Some reall early 80's wacko sword and sorcery shit going on there.

  • March 2, 2008, 10:25 a.m. CST


    by Dan Halen

    You seem like a miserable human being.

  • March 2, 2008, 11:04 a.m. CST

    grid = showstopper

    by Dreamfasting

    For me, being dependent on a grid is a complete showstopper. Don't get me wrong - there are some fun games I've had plotting out traffic jams in a dungeon, but for the most part I want heroic fantasy, where the DM is a storyteller, not a chess opponent against the players. I think it will appeal very strongly to a certain segment of the gaming population and likely turn a strong profit on miniature/computer tie-ins, so as a business choice, it's probably the right game for them to have made. But for myself, there's nothing that I've read in this or other reviews I've seen on the web that matches what I'm looking for in a game system.

  • March 2, 2008, 11:25 a.m. CST

    You CAN use substitutes for minis...

    by ZeroCorpse

    BUT let us clarify that a lot of recent D&D material does seem to be "suggesting" that you buy minis that look EXACTLY like your character, or the monsters in your campaign. Even the recent "Girls' Guide to D&D" spends a lot of time talking about how "cute" and "cool" the minis are.<p> It's clear what WotC's agenda is, here. They made their fortune selling crack cards- er- Magic The Gathering Cards-- and ever since they came into possession of TSR they've been trying to find ways to make D&D have the same level of constant near-consumable, semi-collectible purchases for players and dungeonmasters alike. For WotC it's all about how to maximize profits, and it's obvious from their release schedules and the way they limit their products that they're not in it for the joy of making a cool game like Gygax and company. Hell, in 3.5e they've been releasing 30-page modules in HARDCOVER and charging $30 for them. I miss the days of $7 adventures. <p> I *am* interested in 4e, but only because I haven't played in a dozen years and kind of miss it, and this is a good opportunity to start a group of people who are equally new to the rules. If I play, I will do everything I can to avoid minis, though. I'm thinking that the PCs are going to represented by game tokens from LIFE or SORRY, and that NPCs will be different colored Hershey's Kisses, or maybe some cardboard cutouts. I am ABSOLUTELY NOT going to dump a crapton of cash into WotC's coffers by purchasing their D&D minis. They can shove their minis where the sun don't shine. <p> And I think I will be one of those DMs who shuns everything but the core rulebooks. No buying every supplement that comes out. Player's Handbook, DMG, Monster Manual (maybe a couple of those) and perhaps the first major supplement that adds player character classes and races. <p> We're not doing any of that crap where we buy a book for each RACE and CLASS. None of this "Complete Book of Dwarves" or "Complete Fighter's Manual" bullshit. It will be simple: If it isn't in the core rulebooks, it probably isn't in my game. <p> And FUCK The Forgotten Realms. Seriously. I love the books and stories, but I HATE that I'm supposed to keep up on current events in a particular world every time a new novel changes things dramatically: <p>DM: "A Banite cleric stands before you." <p>Player: "Uhm. Bane is dead. There are no more Banite clerics." <p>DM: "Grrr. Fine." <p>SIX MONTHS LATER: <p> DM: "An ex-Banite cleric, stripped of his powers, stands before you." <p> Player: "Actually, Bane is alive again, so the cleric would have his powers." <p>DM: "Arrrgh!" <p> I dunno. I miss the superhero role-playing. I was always a big fan of Villains & Vigilantes, GURPS Supers, and Heroes Unlimited. I even had both editions of the Marvel Superheroes RPG. Those were fun.

  • March 2, 2008, 12:54 p.m. CST


    by maxwell's hammer

    Anyone here ever play with with all those Paladium RPGs? When I was in middle school, we used to combine Rifts, Heroes Unlimited, Ninjas & Superspies, TMNT, and sort of make up our own rules. I think when we were playing, having maps and miniatures would have totally sapped all the fun out of everthing.

  • haha

  • March 2, 2008, 2:12 p.m. CST

    maxwell's hammer

    by Pariah74

    I am currently running a TMNT (now called After the Bomb) campaign. It's just as fun I remember. I played with D20 for the last several years and when i moved to a new area the gamers here became interested in Palladium, and they had never played anything BUT D20. One of them has had a rough adjustment but the others are loving the "new" style of role playing.

  • March 2, 2008, 2:20 p.m. CST

    The Creepy Thin Man

    by Vesuvio

    No. 1.000.000 points' Guitar Hero players are faggots. Get your facts right.

  • March 2, 2008, 2:32 p.m. CST

    I used to play the Star Wars roleplaying game

    by skywalkerfamily

    that was kind of fun. The force powers were cool.

  • March 2, 2008, 2:44 p.m. CST


    by maxwell's hammer

    I wish i knew some people around where I currently live that played, I'd love to get back in that stuff.<BR> <BR> btw, we experimented with Star Wars and Marvel Super Heroes (which is the first RPG I ever played...even after we switched primarily over to the Rifts related stuff, my love for comics stuck around.) I think the Palladium games just offered more 'out there' ideas, and broader opportunities for being creative and waaay outside the box in our adventures.

  • March 2, 2008, 2:53 p.m. CST

    with all this whining about miniatures...

    by Mr Willi

    ... you'd think you actually have to go out and buy them with a WOTC employee holding you at gunpoint. Just do what I do, purchase paper miniatures on the Web or find Web images, scale them down and print them out. I think this is a case of WOTC reacting to customer demand, for once, because a lot of players use them to get a feel for the battlefield. That said, I agree with ZeroCorpse in that WOTC charges ridiculous sums of money for their books, and you usually need more than one to run a decent campaign. Sadly that's been a trend for all RPGs these days, regardless of publisher, although you can buy cheaper PDF versions of the books. The only exception is Savage Worlds (my favorite system) which sells its corebook for only $10, which gives you a chance to try it out before you go buy other Savage Worlds books.

  • March 2, 2008, 5:08 p.m. CST

    no smaller than large?

    by Staldo

    What, do Dragons just hatch out of the egg as large now? or has it been decided the hatchlings are so well hidden it's impossible to hunt down and stab the little bastards? I had fun thinking of alternate names for D&D . Furrows and Fiends is my favorite, followed by Abbatoirs and Abominations and Shrubs and Spiders.

  • March 2, 2008, 5:20 p.m. CST

    Holy fuck

    by Lucifer Haywood

    never mind

  • March 2, 2008, 5:56 p.m. CST

    Mr Willi

    by Pariah74

    Once again, you and the others don't seem to understand. I have a basement full of miniatures. I play several miniatures games. (Hell I have even do conceptual sketches for a miniatures company). I don't mind miniatures combat. D&D is not a miniatures combat game. Role Playing is only slowed down (or even halted) in such an environment. You could always use minis in D& was just a choice before. Now, if you don't want to use a grid you have house rule things...and if I am gonna do that why would I lay out the cash for the game? Why not just play the rules already in existence that don't require a grid?

  • March 2, 2008, 8 p.m. CST


    by Stereotypical Evil Archer

  • March 2, 2008, 9:13 p.m. CST


    by skywalkerfamily

    D and D sucks!

  • March 2, 2008, 10:09 p.m. CST

    Nerd Alert

    by maxwell's hammer

    I just dug out an old Rifts book and rolled up a character. Just for the hell of it. If only i knew some other nerds to play with.<BR> <BR> That's the main drawback of being a closet nerd. Not enough opportunities for true nerd-to-nerd interactions.

  • March 2, 2008, 10:28 p.m. CST

    Rifts is only fun to me for an out of control break...

    by Pariah74

    The real problem with Rifts is that it's a riot a minute to play so damn crazy to GM. When players are dropping 6D6 MDC damage 4 and 5 times a round things get out of hand fast!! lol but fun! The most fun I have had with Rifts is just using the rules and some of the classes for my own Flash Gordon/Star Wars/Buck Rogers type of campaign setting. The rules are perfect for over the top sci-fi action.

  • March 2, 2008, 10:30 p.m. CST

    Does anyone remember the Indiana Jones game?

    by skywalkerfamily

    They had awesome books for Raiders and Temple of Doom.

  • March 2, 2008, 10:51 p.m. CST


    by maxwell's hammer

    ...we crossed over Rifts with "Ninjas & Super Spies" a lot, and blew shit up all the time. It was perfect for a bunch of teenage boys. I'd love to play it again as an adult and see if it was still as fun.

  • March 3, 2008, 1 a.m. CST


    by Deagle2

    Didn't this used to be a movie site?

  • March 3, 2008, 2:04 a.m. CST

    Ain't it Cool News... Not "Ain't it Movie News"

    by ZeroCorpse

    I don't remember seeing any rules that require everything to be about movies and TV shows. This is more like entertainment geek headquarters. Has been for as long as I've been here, and I'm certainly one of the old-timers now.

  • March 3, 2008, 5:24 a.m. CST

    Luckywand3rboy is a pinhead yeshiva boy

    by ToneTone

    I don't know if winter is coming but fall is in the air.

  • March 3, 2008, 5:34 a.m. CST

    Shut up, ToneTone

    by Dickbeater

    You think your hot shit on a silver platter but you'r realy just cold diarrea on a plastic plate. BURN!!

  • March 3, 2008, 6:13 a.m. CST

    I don´t understand anything

    by CuervoJones

    No comprendo.

  • March 3, 2008, 6:40 a.m. CST

    Wow, so D&D has finally caught up with

    by brobdingnag

    1st Edition Rolemaster or RuneQuest that came out in the early 80' and late 70's? Good job! D&D is the Microsoft of Role Playing Games. It's the worst game but it sells the most because they advertise well.

  • March 3, 2008, 7:48 a.m. CST


    by Wungolioth

    I haven't played in years, and gotten so used to computer games I can't imagine going through all the trouble. However, I wish I still had all those 1st edition manuals, including the Dieties & Demigods with the Lovecraftian and Melnibonean Mythos, and the original Fiend Folio. Oddly enough, my name is from an old D&D character.

  • March 3, 2008, 10:48 a.m. CST


    by MonkeyBoy88

    I would have thought that there would have been something about some of the more dynamic role-playing aspects. It good to see that WOTC got away from front-loading characters and adpoting a minion rule that's been around in some forms in other games for a really long time.

  • March 3, 2008, 12:20 p.m. CST

    Cool articles Massa

    by DarthJedi

    but I have to say that after reading them, it sounds like WOTC fucked up again. All they're doing is retreading a system that sucked balls from the beginning. No alignment rules? You HAVE to have miniatures and terrain to play? WTF?!?! Sounds like all they're doing is making sure they'll keep making money because of the shit you have to buy to play now. I pretty much gave up on this system when 3rd Ed came out, and my decision is even more reinforced after reading about 4th. The only reason I can think of to buy any of these books is if they continue on with the stories and history of the relevant worlds. Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, Planescape. Other than that, stick to the old 2nd Ed rulebooks.

  • March 3, 2008, 12:42 p.m. CST

    Those of you complaining about "having to buy minis..."

    by jacobkosh

    Do what my friends and I do, and use pennies, Bratz dolls, and lumps of Play-Doh. It's really not that hard, dudes.

  • March 3, 2008, 12:43 p.m. CST

    Plenty of RP discussion here

    by Jed

    I wouldn't play D&D with any of you "what about the roleplaying?!?!111" fatbeards. Also? Second Edition? unplayable. First Edition? Sexist. Reliance upon miniatures? Yeah, my friends and I thought miniatures were lame and we didn't need miniatures to visualise the experience, it was cheapening... then we played a single 3.0 game with a battle-mat. forget about it. This shift to a positional-based combat system is a 3.x innovation in the first place. I work in the retail end of roleplaying, and this talkback has me ready to tell my boss to scrap our entire roleplaying business. You people are untenable. If many of you had it your way TSR would still be putting out B&W 100 page tax code monster manuals. There is no pride to be taken in how complex, arcane, and archaic your task resolution system can be. you play the new edition of D&D because D&D will always need new players, and the newest edition of D&D will invariably be the easiest to learn. IF NEW PEOPLE DON'T PLAY, IT ISN'T PROFITABLE AND THERE'S NO MORE D&D. clutching your complete blabedebla, your Thac0, your non-weapon-proficiencies, holding on too tight. It's not worth the effort to try pleasing you people. It's sad.

  • March 3, 2008, 2:25 p.m. CST

    Combat Roleplay

    by rengaw

    You can roleplay during combat. My clerics often turn invisible (I replace their mini with a quarter) and go around healing or buffing characters as needed. My enchantress loves to charm or otherwise dominate monsters to aid or add to the party.

  • March 3, 2008, 2:39 p.m. CST

    God bless you, Jed

    by jacobkosh

    I completely agree. Of course, you're in the business of trying to get new people into the hobby, something Lardass McFatfuck and the other first-edition players at the old folks' home don't have to bother with. That was the edition, after all, that Cecil at the Straight Dope once described as "having all the excitement of double-entry bookkeeping." Everything Massawyrm wrote has me pretty jazzed about 4.0. I know my rogue friend doesn't like having to sit on his ass for half the combats and who can blame him? Why should he have to do that just because it was decreed thus back in 1972? The idea of genuinely active combats, where everyone gets to contribute and there's always something more fun to do than just saying "I attack" over and over again, is one whose time has come.

  • March 3, 2008, 9:15 p.m. CST

    Arduin Grimoire! :) Remember Phraints and Kill Kittens?

    by BlindOgre

    I wonder how many of the anti-D&D folks who profess to be fans of cool movies realize how much D&D and the like influenced film over the past 30 years, even though the official D&D movies stank like orc poo....

  • March 3, 2008, 10:36 p.m. CST


    by Pariah74

    That's your idea of role playing? Using your character's abilities does not equate to role playing sorry. Now if your Cleric refused to use certain spells because he found them to be evil, or taboo I would call that role playing. Or if your enchantress was a shy and quiet gal who when dominating a monster absorbed part of their personality and began cursing like an orc at the PC's I would call that role playing. What you are doing is called tactics.

  • March 4, 2008, 1:01 p.m. CST

    Gary Gygax has died.

    by FluffyUnbound

    And I think he deserves his own thread, Massa.

  • March 4, 2008, 1:06 p.m. CST

    His own thread and so much more...

    by gotilk

    unfortunately it's true. <br> <br> <br> <br>

  • March 4, 2008, 1:12 p.m. CST

    D&D Co-Creator Dies

    by BilboRing

    Run out of hit points. Should have made himself a lich. Sad news.

  • March 4, 2008, 1:20 p.m. CST

    R.I.P. Gary Gygax

    by Ye Not Guilty

    Man, I just looked up Gygax on Wikipedia the other day to see what had happened to him since the old TSR days. I'm was an old-school AD&D player, though I haven't played in probably 15 years or so.

  • March 4, 2008, 1:37 p.m. CST

    Ye Not Guilty

    by gotilk

    I know what you mean. I have not been in a game for many, many years. Going to have to get the old guys together for a game now, and all-nighter. Sad, sad day.

  • March 4, 2008, 2:29 p.m. CST


    by Pariah74

    Gygax read this review. The good news is that if you wrap his body in copper wire and make his casket out of magnets we can power the country while he rolls over in his grave from 4th edition.

  • March 4, 2008, 3 p.m. CST

    Just saying...

    by rutgersjaffo

    When I find the guy who revamped my beloved D&D, I am gonna put on my girdle of storm giant strength and plus 6 to hit plus twelve to damage all over his ass!

  • March 4, 2008, 3:07 p.m. CST

    Gygax the Great reaches -10 H.P.

    by Frietag

    This should be front page news at AICN, don't you think? I mean, the ÜberGeek is dead. I mean, Ur-Geek. <br> <br> Mr. Gygax would have instantly corrected me on that -- he was a polymath as well a world-builder. We won't see his like again for a long time. I hope he enjoys his sojourn on the Positive Material Plane.

  • March 4, 2008, 3:11 p.m. CST

    "Gygax fails his last saving throw"...

    by Frietag

    ...that's the most common "funny" (if affectionate) tribute I've seen from commenters on other sites. <br> <br> But that's ridiculous. Not because it's disrespectful; but because everyone knows that E. Gary Gygax ... ALWAYS ... made his save. <br> <br> (Damn. I miss him already.)

  • March 4, 2008, 3:25 p.m. CST


    by rutgersjaffo

    Oh man that sucks! Sorry, but for those of us familiar with the game, we all know that it's more creativity and cranial-based than anything else out there!

  • March 4, 2008, 4:47 p.m. CST

    Was Gygax the name of any monsters?

    by Mel Gibsteinberg

    It sure sounds like some fantastical beast from one of those massive monster manuals.

  • March 4, 2008, 5:27 p.m. CST

    There needs to be a gygax monster

    by Staldo

    or a whole plane called the World of Gygax, with Gygactic dragons and a race of people called Gygaxians. Or what if the God who stands behind all the archons and Solar angels throughout the planes is, in fact, named Gygax.

  • March 4, 2008, 6:25 p.m. CST

    RIP Gary Gygax

    by darquelyte

    This is one more geek who, for better or worse, changed the world. Without him, so many fantasy stories and RPGs would never have seen the light of day. Truly a sad day in geekdom. RIP Original Dungeon Master Gygax.

  • March 4, 2008, 6:44 p.m. CST


    by LordTwinkie

    Give Gygax his own talkback! He's the godfather of geekdom.

  • March 4, 2008, 11:55 p.m. CST

    How many copies of LOTR did Gygax sell?

    by Pops Freshemeyer

    Got to believe that more than a few peeps picked up the books because of D&D...

  • March 5, 2008, 2:41 p.m. CST

    Roleplaying as the Hated Ranger

    by RavenRoadkill

    So, I'm the hated ranger in massa's game. As a striker, I do shit tons of damage... Yay me! As a role player I'm a broken man and refugee of the last war. Hunting and killing other broken men who do harm to civilians. My young wife and daughter were murdered in front of my eyes and it's driven me slightly insane with my only relief being killing others like myself. Lucky me, I can shoot them from a LONG way away. (Massa has to stack battlemaps next to each other lenghtwise for my short range increment to kick in.) I've made a deal with NPC bad guys to turn in the parties rogue... if I can ever get him to a town where this is possible without him killing me in the process. Then again, after the last day we adventured where he was dropped into the negative hit-points over 5 times (once by me - on purpose - we don't like each other very much) I'm beginning to have a grudging respect for the guy for finding innumerable ways to suicide. Not to mention... he's now a rogue of 9 fingers and I'm thinking of nicknaming him Frodo just to push him over the edge. I've got a thing for the elf cleric (my real life wife) but woe is me - us elves are married for life in this world and she sees me as still taken. /cry The eladrin mage and I are constantly joking about our desire to be WAY BACK HERE - kinda hard to do when crawling along 5 foot passages with zombies swarming ahead, giant club wielding skeletons playing baseball with the warrior, demon shadow panthers chewing on our asses and a flameskull cackling in the distance and raining fireballs on our heads. Yes, that was a real fight. The warlord (melee leader type) JUST figured out that standing back here with the ranged folk makes very little sense. We've been teasing him about his fear of getting hit for a while. So all in all, RP *is* present... and with the rules simplified to a huge degree there are soo many more opportunities for us to have effective in character dialog while still moving each combat through it's 10+ rounds. Oh - did I mention that I do a crap ton of damage... :)