Friday, August 24, 2007

Barking up the wrong tree

Admittedly, I'm not very familiar with "Talent Trees" and such. I've never played the Star Wars RPG, and never will. However I'm hearing again and again how DnD 4e will have this concept as a core part of character creation. One poster in the WotC forums (search for SavageCheater's remarks here ) offers what I feel is a damn fine guess.

It is a little lacking in exactly what skills or feats might make up each tree, but that can be forgiven considering there's no certainty that feats and/or skills will even be included in 4e. I've seen devs refer to feats and skill checks so it's almost a sure thing but I wouldn't cement anything into place just yet.

I suppose my initial qualms with talent trees is that they seem to remove some of the variety and versatility of 3.5.

I know what you are thinking right now. That Griff is a total R-tard! I'm gonna flame his posts so harshly that his house, his car, his entire world will actually catch on fire.

Whoa there boys and girls! Allow me to explain.

In 3.5 my fighter can be radically different from another fighter in the same party simply by taking different feats. Throw in choices in weapon specialization, dodge, mobility, combat expertise, power attack, cleave etc... and you have a ton of variety.

The 3.5 skills system allows two rogues to be completely different as well. One could specialize in the traditional rogue skills of disarm and open lock. Another could be the sneaky scout with lots of hide and move silently. A third could load up the social skills like bluff, diplomacy, and gather information.

The 3.5 magic system offers not only metamagic feats but school specialization, focus, and a ton of prestige classes. My shadowcasting sorcerer is completely different from my abjuration focused sorcerer.

It's been over seven years and I still haven't come close to trying all the character concepts rattling around in my head. Every new book with it's pages of new feats, classes, and magic types has provided even more selection and idea.

Talent trees on the other hand strike me as very cookie cutter. Want a stealthy ranger with a focus on archery? Take the ranger, apply this talent tree which says take this feat here, put these ranks into these skills, and voila!

Road map. Recipe. Pick your analogy. Either way you follow the directions and you have an instant character. Instant and bland, like a microwave burrito.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi There.

In SW SAGA and d20 Modern, Talent Trees aren't character recipes or pre-determined paths. They are groups of thematically linked class features. You can pick and choose talents from different trees belonging to your class (as long as you meet prerequisite) which means you can customize your class features quite a lot.

Think of them as a buffet of class features that replace the set menu for 3E classes.

Here's hoping that the d20 SW/Modern Talent Tree model, or something like it, holds true in 4E rather than a character shoehorn model.