>So. In my most recent session with my DM, the heroic party of adventurers (and the assassin, I guess) had saved the tavern from peril, and were speaking about it with the city guard, and then they had to defend it again, this time from an ogre and two hobgoblin archers. With explosives. This took pretty much the whole session.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good combat as much as the next guy, but if it takes that long to beat something I tend to think that either the party isn’t strong enough, or the monster is too strong. And I’m really not sure which it is.
I also learned that I’m really, really bad at making Opportunity Attacks. Seriously, they came up like, 8 times in the fight, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t hit with any of them. They might as well be cut from the system for all the difference they seem to make. (Maybe other people’s experience is different, I don’t know, but to me they felt useless, and I’d just as soon they be the exclusive province of the Defender – then, at least only ONE of the party members would feel lousy about their dice rolls).
I’ve been doing some thinking, though, and I think I get the real reason why so many people are frustrated with D&D 4E: it’s different. But the funny part is, the complaints I hear aren’t actually resolved in the system they choose to replace it. Not usually.
Yeah, you heard me.
Take Pathfinder, for instance. Combats aren’t exactly SHORT there, either (Though perhaps less long). They use miniatures, too, so it’s not like the claim that “4E is about miniature combat” is really a blow against it. I’ll admit, it’s been errata’ed a LOT. . . and there are quite a few books, but they aren’t exactly mandatory.
Yes, there are a lot of choices. Choice is basically good. Pathfinder has done an excellent job, admittedly, of keeping it’s FEWER choices looking fairly compelling, while 4E has taken a different approach. Each is valid, each is worth considering. And despite the wide array of almost overwhelming choices, 4th Edition STILL looks friendlier to the new player than Pathfinder. Pathfinder looks to me to have marketed itself to D&D veterans who really wanted to keep playing the same way they always have. Only, you know, with a few of their long time complaints fixed.
4E has actually solved most of those complaints, too, it’s just introduced a few new ones.
The biggest complaints I have, really, still boil down to this:
1) Combat takes a LONG time.
2) The whim of the dice still has more control over my fate than I do sometimes.
3) Rituals are overpriced, under emphasized, and underutilized.
4) Classes and levels. Though this is less of a complaint than with 3.5E/Pathfinder.
Combat: I’m still trying to decide what the best solution is.
Dice: I think 4E could stand a complications/hero point mechanic like Mutants and Masterminds uses, and I’d tend to go that route: use complications to grant “action points” and adjust a few things about the way they work and make them easier to get and spend.
Rituals: Personally, I feel like most of the ‘mundane’ rituals shouldn’t have a monetary cost at all. I’d either houserule it out completely, or raise the cost to acquire the ritual instead. Of course, the exception is for rituals like Raise Dead or Enchant Object. Everything else should be a one time fee.
Classes: Eh. This is more a gripe with ‘retro’ game systems in general, and it’s something that I really don’t mind as much as I say I do. As long as I can find a way to fit my idea into the system, I’ll live with it. And all things considered, I like multiclassing in 4E MUCH better than in 3.5/Pathfinder, though it still gets a little challenging.
The hybrid rules negate some of that, of course …
Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to 4E’s new set, D&D Essentials. The workover the core classes have gotten seems like a good direction, and I like the new approach to martial classes especially. But that’s a digression for another time.