>D&D 4e: Playtest Results

>Okay, my friend convinced me to take another look at 4th edition because he’s hoping (like many) to find a way to ‘fix’ it in a few little ways. So, in the interests of helping him out, I put together a party of characters and we ran through a combat at first level. As a way of testing the combat system, it wasn’t terrible, though naturally role-playing for 4-6 characters isn’t ideal. But I digress.

Here’s the scenario. An Assassin, a Monk, a Psion, a Bard, a Druid, and a Swordmage meet for drinks in a bar.

No, not to meet the first time, this is apparently just something they do (I’ve come to hate the idea of the tavern as an icebreaker for a new party – I used it myself, once. Once. So these are all old friends who happened to meet for drinks.)

To be a little more specific, Andrew Darkthorne, the assassin, Krystal the Druid, Josephus the Swordmage, Amanda the Monk, Chloe the Psion, and Lil’ana, the only non-human among them, a Drow bard. They have histories and backstories and hopes and dreams, and I’m sure I’ll cover them in a later post. I like them enough that I might have to convert them to M&M at some point. . . but that’s a digression. They work very neatly as they are, considering.

Naturally, the tavern chooses this night to get attacked by hobgoblins. Quite a lot of them, actually, which managed to drag thing out quite a bit, though eventually the PC’s triumph. Not especially surprising outcome, of course. This is complicated just slightly by the hobgoblins trying to burn the place down, but the players manage to contain the fire and everything works out okay in the end.

Only THEN does the city guard show up – one is left to assume that they had troubles of their own, as they were rather badly beaten.

They said it couldn’t be done . . .

Oh, and in the confusion the hobgoblins managed to kill the owner of the bar, which by the philosophy the PCs adopted midway through the fight (“you keep what you kill”) means that they now have a legitimate claim for ownership of the tavern. So they passed out free drinks to the few remaining patrons. So, yeah, it was fun, and I’m looking forward to playing them again, in some form or another. And since, at first level, commandeering a tavern counts as a victory in my book:

I have just a few observations I have to make, many of which are undoubtedly obvious to those who’ve played and complained about issues in the many, many other blogs on the issues out there already:

First and foremost, that one combat took a LONG time. A really, REALLY long time. I can’t even imagine how that scales to the higher levels, though I gather that it only gets worse.

The minion rules need a little work, though they work reasonably well – just require a little fine tuning (Or maybe the mod just called for more of them than was really necessary to drag things out).

And rituals need work. Mainly because they’re too expensive for a one-time benefit in many cases. 

However, there’s a positive point to be made, too: I have yet to touch a class in 4e that I didn’t enjoy completely. The assassin worked really well, too – one hobgoblin was unlucky enough to run afoul of his blade, and wound up caught in a mortal-combat style fatality move.

Imagination is a wonderful thing. . .

While the concepts available are limited somewhat, and the flavor of things is a little off of where I’d like it (I prefer things a little more “we have a noble quest” and a little less “let’s kill some monsters and take their stuff”), the character concepts that are there are cool, and they work well in practice.

M&M offers a lot of freedom. Sometimes the price of freedom is the possibility that an idea just won’t work all that well, and class systems avoid that somewhat – or at least reduce the risk of it. 4e especially, it’s hard to make a bad choice, because the choices there are are pretty much all good ones. True confessions; there were moments during character creation where I was looking at lists of powers (which in 4e are mostly like the special moves and tricks a character uses), and they were all good enough that I wound up randomizing my choice and being perfectly happy with the results. And the truth is, once I’m playing, I don’t really miss the flexible character creation I’ve been used to (though there are moments I wish I’d had it, or a combination of the two).

I DO miss Hero Points (a lot during that lengthy fight, actually). And I miss complications, and the flexibility of power stunts. And I suspect I’ll start missing power points before too long. . . but for now I’m enjoying having something to play in again. I’ll let you know how the game, and the troubleshooting process, goes.


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