Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Oh dnd. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I started working on a "wish list" for what I'd like to see in 4e. I started with things like more metamagic feats, simpler combat rules, better handling of the Diplomacy skill. Flying monkey ninjas. And from there the list went downhill.

Besides low blood sugar and too much coffee my list suffered because I really can't find many flaws in 3.5 DnD. There are a few things that can use some tweaking, or even a major overhaul (Grappling rules, I'm looking at you), but overall the game play is smooth and fun.

But why is it so fun? What is it about DnD that makes it my game of choice over Monopoly, Hungry Hungry Hippos, or Settlers of Cattan?

In no particular order:

1. the social aspect. Solitaire not withstanding all games have some sort of social aspect, but in what other game can you deride a fellow player for casting Finger of Death on a vampire, or huzzah at an attempt to ride a beholder?

Plus, there's the added element of cooperation that sets DnD apart. We're a party, a team, with a more or less shared goal. More importantly, it's us against that guy sitting behind the DM screens with an evil grin on his face. Oh, how we all hate him so much!

2. the die rolls. I don't know of any other game where the single roll of a die can cause so much tension. Just thinking of the words "roll a fortitude save" instantly fills me with fear. In fact, I just peed a little bit.

That said, too many die rolls can be a bad thing. There are only two things that slow down a game more than watching a fellow player insist on finding and counting out 15 seperate six-sided dice. Those are, 1. looking up the rules on counterspells, and 2. Jessica Alba.

3. character generation. I love everything about creating new characters. From the initial concept to rolling or picking stats to feats, spells, and equipment. I love it all. Then there's the cherry picking levels of other classes or coming up with some odd mixture of race and classes to make something viable. If I announce my latest character and my fellow players look at me with a mix of horror and confusion, I know I'm on the right track. Then it's just a matter of seeing if I can actually pull it off in game and get a few levels.

4. roleplaying. Doy Griff! It's a roleplaying game. You twit.

I know that this should go without saying but I love the roleplaying involved in DnD. We could hack'n'slash our way through, and sometimes do, but the most memorable moments are when we've used guile and roleplaying. Sometimes it's sweet talking a guard into running down the hall where the party's barbarian tanarruk waits with greatsword at the ready. Other times it's simply losing myself in the moment and honestly stepping into the shoes of my character. This kind of gameplay is transcendent for me.

5. the feeling of accomplishment. I'm talking about experience points. XP. The two sweetest letters in the English language. I know that it's all delayed gratification, but I love it more than all the loot in the DMG combined. I love seeing my carefully laid plans for feat progressions, spell selections, and abilities all coming together with each and every level up.

I'm sure I could come up with more but enough is enough already.

In short, I hope that DnD 4e continues the spirit of 3.5 with some simplifications, some clarifications, and even greater variety in character choices. More choice, less dice. Can WotC deliver on that in 4e? I sure hope so.

ps. Keep the look of the books. I love all the sidebars, the text boxes, and the background illustrations. If the Eberron books, with their blase text book appearance are a taste of what's to come... yuck!

1 comment:

Crwth said...

Tsktsk. I never say "roll a fortitude save", I always ask, "can you make a fortitude save?" as in "can you make it? Can you? Really? You can avoid rolling a 1? Really?"