Saturday, July 17, 2010

Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition -- first thoughts!


This isn't my review, but these are the thought that ran through my head while scanning the PHB.

The writing insults my intelligence.  I'm not a sixth grader, but the first page of the book talks down to me as if I am.

I like the dragonborn.  Yep, it's true, I like the dragonborn.

I'm pidgon holed!! Painfully obvious, but true.  I am pigeonholed. There is just so much Wizards could have done with Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition.

Ah, the Paladin.  Captain Moroni fighting for the freedom of his people.  Leading the troops.  Or a Christian Knight fighting for a clan of goblins, or saving them from a fate worse than death . . . AH . . . WHAT?!  THAT DEFIES ALL LOGIC AND PHYSICS!! The Divine Challenge ability.   Your reason, and apparently mine, for playing a paladin.  Oh the idiocy of it all, I'm reduced to playing a sterotypical paladin that prays at church, is good to other people, is turned into a meat shield, and if he isn't attacked by his enemy his enemy is divinely smited.  When I play the paladin, I want to play some romantic paladin in polished, shiny armor that would save damsels in distress and quest for holy grails and be the paragon of virtue.  I can't even play a Miles Gloriosus!

Wizards, with powers so fair and so powerful . . . I want to play . . . hey, how come I have only two roles?!? The wizard, born with the ability to use 100% of his brain.  Reduced to making war or controlling the battlefield.  What happened to the wonder, the romance, the appeal?

Warlords . . . what the paladin could have been.

Powers.  Good Idea.  I like.

Skill Challenges.  Good idea, I like them.

Miniature use.  Okay, where are my sissors?  I am not going to spend $1,000 on miniatures just for these rules.  I'm going to use a different battle mechanic.

Rituals. Finally, some real spells.  But why are they in the back?

My Cousin's summary of the game.  "4th Edition is exactly like WoW, I'm sorry, but there is no other way to describe the game.  You have to play these four roles and there is no way in or out or around it.  I'm sorry."

After skimming the book, I have to agree with him.  Give me a few days to read the PHB in depth and in detail.  But, after reading the PHB, I feel cheated!


greywulf said...

You're far less savage than I was the first time around :)

I still stand by much of what I said back then; the PHB is by far the weakest of the three core books. It's let down by poor layout, non-existent glossary, bad index and over-emphasis on combat above all.

Thankfully, the excellent DMG rectifies all that. That's the book which contains all the role-playing and romance (good choice of word, that). The PHB, in comparison, is just a Big Book of Ways To Hit Things.

And yes, that does give the (incorrect but widely spread) impression that 4e D&D is nothing more than WoW in print form. They lost an awful lot of love thanks to the design and style of the PHB.

It's a shame too, because 4e is a brilliant game to play.

I agree about the Paladin. The Warlord is a much more interesting class, both conceptually and mechanically. Mind you, one of my players loves the Paladin class, so each to their own, I guess :)

Looking forward to more of your thoughts.

Elton said...

I was only trying to get my first impressions of PHB 1 at first scan out.

Don't worry, Greywulf, my cousin says that there is a lot that they could have done with 4e that would make it a more interesting game. And make no mistake, he flat out identifies the game with World of Warcraft.

Anonymous said...

People always go with the WoW comparison. I've read through the book but never could convince myself to buy it. Everything I saw brought collectible card games to mind much more strongly than WoW.

Anonymous said...

Yor are not as smart as your think, my friend. This edition was created to SELL. Nothing more. That is why you need TONS of accessories. WotC does not think that you are stupid. They think that you have money to spend.

thadeous said...

Did you say the writing insults your intelligence and then go on to write as a complete sentence "I like."?

Words fail me at this point as I see they have failed for you at many points.

Elton said...

"Yor are not as smart as your think, my friend. This edition was created to SELL. Nothing more. That is why you need TONS of accessories. WotC does not think that you are stupid. They think that you have money to spend."

Yes, just not to people with my particular leanings in roleplaying. I'm not exactly in their demographic. By the way, not to be a prick, even though you think I am, but you either spelled "your" wrong or you're making reference to an imaginary country.

Anonymous said...


Neither your writing nor your logic make even the tiniest bit of sense. I feel as though I need a decoder ring to translate this blather into something even approaching a meaningful scrap of language.

It's as though you have a faint, nearly-extinguished spark of comprehension—enough to feel (if not exactly recognize) your own limitations—yet lack the sufficient capacity to understand that your issues stem from your own gross inadequacies, not the failings of those around you.

Your review (and this entire blog as a whole) is either the most elaborate, well-done farce or the saddest example of a wildly, staggeringly ignorant mind I have ever encountered.

Here's to hoping it's the former.

—Concerned internet citizen

Elton said...

My dear Anonymous.

It sounds like you are defending a wife, a lover, or your god.

Really, to insult me on my own space like this must mean I pushed a button somewhere. Anon, if you are this hot and bothered, then you have the exact same qualities you accuse me of.

I have a feeling that if I gave 4e a glowing review you would not be doing this. I'm really, really sad for you. You are so small minded. Your brain is totally given over to 4e and all you can think about is praising those who praise the game, and demonizing those that see the game through a different light. Since you spend your waking hours insulting people you should join the U.S. Foreign Service and be our Ambassador to Russia.

Anonymous said...


As much as I'm convinced that this will have the same force and effect as arguing with a wall, I feel compelled to set the record straight.

I'm not defending 4e, and if you go back and re-read what I've written, you'll see that at no point do I mention or even refer to D&D of any edition.

At no point do I "praise those who praise the game"; at no point do I "demonize those who see the game in a different light". You appear to be inventing words and sentiments instead of responding to what I've actually said—an understandable reaction, considering that my point was about your logical and rhetorical inadequacy, which I'm sure is a difficult thing to admit.

The sin you have committed, sir, is not disliking 4e (though critiquing an entire game after reading only one half of its core rules is a staggering lapse of logic and diligence)—you are free to like or dislike whatever you wish, without any comment from the peanut gallery.

No, the sin you have committed—grievous, nearly unforgivable, laughable if it wasn't so sad—is a flagrant disregard for basic logic or common sense, coupled with what can only be called hostility for the diction and syntax of the English language.

My reaction is visceral not because I'm some brainwashed fanboy, but because—as a lifelong speaker of English and proponent of logic and coherent discussion—I am offended by what you are doing here, apparently oblivious to your own egregious, contemptible failings.

—Concerned internet citizen

Elton said...


Go do yourself a favor and jump in the lake. Or better yet, do all of us a favor and study "How to Win Friends and Influence People." Or best yet -- yes, you are beating your head against a brick wall.

Go buy some books on the Law of Attraction and the Art of Manifestation if you want to see any change. Confronting me about it with that tone of voice will not illicit any change in me. If thou wishes to change me, thou must change thyself first. Instead of using an external means of evoking change, use an internal means of invoking change first.

You are, after all, a god. Stop acting like a blunderbuss and start acting like what you really are if you expect real change.

DAEvo said...

Hi! I don't really care for D&D 4e, but I did take offense to one mistake in your RPGnet review. The myth is that we only use 10% of our brains, not 3%. You shorted us 7%!

Also, it isn't true.

"The 10% statement may have been started with a misquote of Albert Einstein or the misinterpretation of the work of Pierre Flourens in the 1800s. It may have been William James who wrote in 1908: "We are making use of only a small part of our possible mental and physical resources" (from The Energies of Men, p. 12). surgeon Perhaps it was the work of Karl Lashley in the 1920s and 1930s that started it. Lashley removed large areas of the cerebral cortex in rats and found that these animals could still relearn specific tasks. We now know that destruction of even small areas of the human brain can have devastating effects on behavior. That is one reason why neurosurgeons must carefully map the brain before removing brain tissue during operations for epilepsy or brain tumors: they want to make sure that essential areas of the brain are not damaged."

Fun review, though. You ruffled some feathers, which I assume was your intent, and I enjoyed reading your thoughts and the fallout.

Best wishes!

Anonymous said...

I'm not usually the type to jump into flame war style back and forth but Anonymous' criticisms fascinate me. I see a lot of big words being thrown around that boil down to 'You're a stupid head'. There's just nothing concrete about the criticism at all. Not even a hint of 'I disagree with you about Paladins' or something. I could copy and paste it directly into any other review of a product and it would make just as much sense there as it does here. Is this the erudite trolling form letter?

Anonymous said...


Fair enough. This will be a tortuous voyage into the heart of darkness, but let's go.

"The writing insults my intelligence. I'm not a sixth grader, but the first page of the book talks down to me as if I am."

Fair enough, if the book was only targeted at adults. It is clearly not, and assuming the book is only for experienced adults (and taking personal offense for the book not being tailor-made for yourself) is myopic in the worst way. Did I think the writing was geared towards too young an audience? Yes. Was I offended by it? No, of course not—I am neither ignorant nor arrogant enough to demand that all products that interest me be specifically designed for me.

"Ah, the Paladin. Captain Moroni fighting for the freedom of his people. Leading the troops. Or a Christian Knight fighting for a clan of goblins, or saving them from a fate worse than death . . . AH . . . WHAT?! THAT DEFIES ALL LOGIC AND PHYSICS!!"

I'm not sure what to make of this. Not only does that last bit come nowhere near forming a coherent thought, it doesn't actually represent what was said in the book. But let's ignore that for a second. How does this defy physics? (I mean this: Tell me how a knight fighting for a clan of goblins defies the laws of physics. Is there some kind of Greenskin Law of Heraldic Thermodynamics that I've never heard of? Did Isaac Newton right a treatise on the ethics of fictional creatures?)

And why, in a description of a magical knight powered by divine will, are you looking for adherence to the laws of physics in the first place? I can't even say more about this—it'd be like arguing with a toddler about why dogs can't fly. It's just self-evidently foolish.

(Continued in another comment, as I've run out of characters.)

Anonymous said...

(Part 2)

"Oh the idiocy of it all, I'm reduced to playing a sterotypical paladin that prays at church, is good to other people, is turned into a meat shield, and if he isn't attacked by his enemy his enemy is divinely smited."

The past tense of "smite" is "smote", but that's largely irrelevant (except as an example of your half-baked grasp on grammar). If you read the passage, you'd see that paladins do not have to pray at a church (they can be dedicated to ideals instead of deities), nor do they have to be good to other people (it specifically mentions that you can be an evil paladin to an evil god). So here, you are simply inaccurate.

"When I play the paladin, I want to play some romantic paladin in polished, shiny armor that would save damsels in distress and quest for holy grails and be the paragon of virtue. I can't even play a Miles Gloriosus!"

Let's ignore the gross inconsistency here: that in the sentence immediately before this one, you bemoan that you are "reduced to playing a sterotypical [sic] paladin good to other people", and here you are whining that you want to be the paragon of virtue. No, let's focus on the fact that you are not prevented from doing any of these things. These are roleplaying choices, not mechanics. How does being classified as a "defender" keep you from being a braggart or rescuing damsels? It doesn't.

You appear to confuse reality with the game, as your primary complaint about the paladin is that it should have been the warlord. If you want to play a warlord, play a warlord; there is no reason you can't make the roleplaying choice to call yourself a Knight Templar in-game, while your out-of-game class is the warlord—in much the same way that a rogue is not forced to be a criminal.

"The wizard, born with the ability to use 100% of his brain. Reduced to making war or controlling the battlefield. What happened to the wonder, the romance, the appeal?"

Again, I'm almost at a loss on where to start with this passage. Please point to the section of the AD&D (or 3rd Edition, or 3.5) handbook that says that wizards use 100% of their brains. It's complaints like this one that made me think (and hope) that this was a parody.

Let's assume, for a second, that this is sincere, though. You want wonder and romance? Add it! Again, these are roleplaying choices, which you are free to create. The PHB is only discussing the mechanics of what these classes can do, not how they do it (and it even spends several paragraphs for each class suggesting just how you could inject flavor into the mechanics).

So here we see that several of his complaints are illogical at best and incoherent at worst. I want to reiterate that my problem is not that he dislikes 4e—I don't really care if he likes it or not. My problem is that I felt assaulted by reading the inanity of his linguistic scree posing as a review on, and I came to this blog in the feeble hope that the author's persona was all a clever gag. Sadly, it appears that this is not a joke, which is disheartening in the extreme.

—Concerned internet citizen

Elton said...


My anger is kindled. I had just about enough with you and your presumptions. Since you presume to judge me and my writing with such forceful language. You have good sense not to cuss, that I won't hold against you. But it is your judgment against me that I feel anger.

I implore you with my strongest language to cease and desist in your judgments against me. I have done nothing, NOTHING against you. I have not hurt your family, I have not hurt your friends, and I have not hurt you. All you are showing yourself to be is a big, blundering, blathering troll. Like I said, go be a better you. Apparently your knowledge shows that you are capable of being so. However, your actions and your words on my blog say otherwise.

Go, and never ever post on my blog again. Because if I see one more peep out of you, you are going to wish you hadn't survived World War III. And believe me, you may be anonymous to me but you are not anonymous to the Father. Go, and be a better person and trouble me no more on this matter.

Elton said...

Dark Touch,

Anon is trying to be a concerned citizen by pointing out my faults. But he presumes he can fix me before he can fix his own.

Really, my review, if anything -- hurts D&D 4e. However, Anon feels insulted by my writing and my writing voice. If he feels that insulted, he could have just left it alone.

I don't get very many comments on any of my posts. However, this sadly, has jumped up my comment tally. I'd rather have a flame war over the copyright law than my own qualities on my own blog. I am usually a peaceful man. When I post, even in troll threads, I am usually calm.

However, Anon persists. It's going to take more than calmness to inspire self change.

Anonymous said...

Not to get in the firing line here between you and Anon, but this is what you posted in that review of yours:

"If you feel the need to demean me, to say that my review has grammatical errors, or defend Wizards of the Coast for emotional reasons and you want a response from me, feel free to read my Blog Post on PHB1 and leave a comment."

Anonymous said...

You may also want to consider your following statements in that review to help you understand whether you insulted fans of D&D4e with it:

“Maybe the game writers of the PHB are looking for players who haven't a creative bone in their body and they want to teach them how to unlock that potential.”

"The game wasn't clearly written for roleplayers, although we can try."

"This review is for indy publishers and those people you like to call -- Roleplayers. It's not for gamists, World of Warcraft players (although I do play WoW), and it's not for rules lawyers, or another player or -ist."

"Okay, I give you that my emotional side was let loose and ran over the whole review. However, I wrote it just in case I offended lovers of 4e, so it was meant for actual roleplayers."

Anonymous said...


It appears that you post responses to my comments without actually reading (or possibly comprehending) what I've written. Let me be of assistance in this matter.

"I had just about enough with you and your presumptions."

A presumption is the assumption of some as-yet-unproven belief as fact. I went line-by-line quoting what you've written, and then asked direct, specific questions about it. How is that presumptive? (Also, quick grammar lesson: "I had" is a statement in the past tense, which suggest that at some point in time before now, you had just about enough, but that leaves undefined how you feel right now in the present. "I have had just about enough..." would suggest that your feelings of having just about enough persist from the past into the present.)

"I have done nothing, NOTHING against you."

I understand that sentiment, but I described above what you've done: you've apparently waged war against my language and all sense of logic. Have you ever heard the expression "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing"? I feel roughly the same way about how you're treating English and the notion of coherent communication.

Plus, as the other Anon above me mentioned, you specifically invited exactly this behavior in your "review".

"All you are showing yourself to be is a big, blundering, blathering troll."

I am also showing myself to be someone who understand syntax and grammar. I am also asking you direct questions which you have yet to answer.

" are going to wish you hadn't survived World War III."

Comments like this are what made me think your original "review" and your blog here were intended as parody (and I'm still not entirely convinced you're not the next Andy Kaufman). Please, honestly, answer this: Do you really believe World War III has happened?

"But he presumes he can fix me before he can fix his own."

I do? This is news to me, and a gravely hypocritical statement from someone railing against my perceived "presumptions". I don't think I've ever stated that I thought I was without flaw or fault—in fact, my flaws are many and varied. However, I clearly possess a more thorough understanding of the rules of grammar and logical discourse, so I am offering my assistance in aiding you in your sorely-needed education in those areas.

"Anon feels insulted by my writing and my writing voice."

Yes, I do. I further feel insulted by your utter disregard for logic or reason.

"I'd rather have a flame war over the copyright law than my own qualities on my own blog."

Then why did you specifically invite readers of your "review" to "read [your] Blog Post on PHB1 and leave a comment" if we felt "the need to demean" you or "say that my review has grammatical errors"? If you didn't want to hear criticism, why did you invite it? For that matter, if you didn't want to hear any criticism or dissent, why did you write and submit a review for public consumption in the first place? And why, in your earlier response to me, did you call me "a god" and start using "thou"?

Please, honestly, tell me: This is a joke, right? I worry that others will read your blog and erroneously find it an acceptable example of how to use the English language or make a coherent point.

Answer any of my questions, respond to any of the specific examples of your text that I've critiqued, or admit that this is all a very, very clever joke. You owe it to anyone who stumbles across your site. For myself, I'm done here.

—Concerned internet citizen

Elton said...


You are just going to have to love me. Apparently, I have some qualities you have that you don't like about yourself.

So, your just going to have to love me.

Anonymous said...


Sigh. Once again, your reply is barely relevant and only mildly coherent.

I challenged you to answer even one of the questions I posed, and you could not even bring yourself to do that.

Either this truly is a parody and you don't want to break character, or there is no end to your cowardice and inadequacy. If this is a parody, I salute you; if this is sincere, you have my pity.

—Concerned internet citizen

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