Saturday, September 11, 2010

I quit playing 4E for an undetermined time and other musings

Well I told my gaming group that I was just burnt out on 4th edition. Yep I know that is former post I said I was going to put away my OSR setting and embrace the 4th edition and just shut up and play!

AND play we did. I was playing a cleric. The battles were few but LONG. We had in the past discussed that the players need to know their characters and use strategy. Much strategy was used and many monsters fell. It still took too long and many battles just drug along.

Due to my job I had to give up the DM chair and we had some of the other members running games.

The system is fairly clunky. The monsters have a full page of stats. Why? Worst of all everything except minions has way too many hit points. Why would someone design a game in a way that purposefully makes battles last over 30 minutes?

I thought they play-tested it for over a year. How can there be so much errata? Then the Essentials are coming out which is a whole another version.

I remember one battle where a character did over 30 points of damage to a gnoll and this had just only bloodied it after 20 minutes of battle.

Slow. boardgamish, no story just battle, well I just stopped having fun or at least very much fun.

I had suggested many times for my group to try my LL mega-dungeon but I always got the blow off and the statement "I only like 4th". I always stated that we did not have to stop playing 4th but every so often try another system.

The standard answer was "I only like 4th" even though many of them have never played anything else or very little of anything else. In the past when anything else was going to be ran they would not show up that day.

So we were back to the every Saturday only playing 4th edition and it stopped being fun. I mean I love my group of friends but every weekend we were just playing a game and using per encounters, dailies, healing surges, too many hit point, too much math, too many rules, and it just got all the same. I asked my wife and my 14 year old what they thought. They too had not been having fun for a long time either. That settled it.

What about the fear of your character dieing? What about running out of spells and supplies? What about having to go back to town to heal up? What about it being a challenge?

A game where your character had fought and clawed his way for every XP he ever got.


I told my players for an undetermined time no 4th for me and soon I will be playing something else. The reaction was not surprising and I was not surprised by "I only like 4th and only want to play 4th" and one of the players said that if any other game was ran "he would not be attending".

I was even schooled on how I should have finished the 4th game that we were playing and then they would think about another game.

I did not recall asking them to stop playing 4th nor would I ever. I do not want this to end friendships but they seem to be taking the less than savory path. I will continue to be friendly and hope the best for them.

I only asked for them to try another style of gaming and was shot down for at least as long as I have had this blog save a few sessions.


So the new Red Box is out? It only cover 2 levels. Gee sounds like a sample more than a game sight unseen. Gee I told WOTC to do that back on their forums during the first really crappy 3rd edition boxed set.

It's causing a stir and that is good and now the OSR Game Writers need to get off their asses and make a real basic set.

There needs to be a LL/AEC, OSRIC, BFRPG. and/or S&W (S&W is already kinda basic though) intro/basic set.

It should cover all the races and all the classes up to 5th level.

Have a selection of monsters and a guide on how to play as well as an adventure included.

Make it cheap. Get it out there!

A boxed set? Possibly but the OSR publishers need to get off their asses and take advantage of what is going on.


  1. Sounds like you need to find another group to play an old-school game with, and just play with your current group when you want to. If they don't show up because you want to play a different game instead of 4E, why do you need to show up for 4th when you'd rather play/run something else?

    There is one quick fix for lengthy 4e combat to make it go faster. Halve all the monster hit points.

    The argument that 4e is all combat and no roleplaying is total bunk. That depends on the DM and what his/her focus is, and the players need to follow suit. I've DM'd 4e in the same style I've run previous editions of the game and there was plenty of story and room for players to roleplay.

    But if the DM is only running combat after combat, then yeah that can get boring. To be honest the 4e monster statblocks are a far cry smaller and easier than they were in 3E or 3.5E and it is so easy to prep encounters.

    The Red Box Starter & Essentials set is not a new version of 4e. Its a more stripped down version of the same game. The rules haven't changed they just left out some rules options so to make it easier for beginning players to learn the game. If you already have the 4e books, you don't need the Red Box or Essentials. These are intended for new players to D&D.

  2. Sorry to hear your group isn't more flexible/open minded.

  3. It seems like you and your group are no longer compatible. I wouldn't expect the majority to conform to the will of one - then you would have a full group that isnt content with their gaming.

    Moving on seems to be the best for your friendships. It's not easy, but it might be the best course.

    Best of luck. With my group it isnt the game rules that is the problem, it trying to heard the damn cats to a set time and day that's our problem ;)

  4. There's no reason to stick with a group as inflexible as that. If they won't even TRY your game, then what kind of friends (or gamers) are those? Cool if you can be friends with them outside gaming, but don't put yourself through painfully dull sessions if they re never going to change their ways. Play what you like with people who will be accepting.

  5. AS for 4e being all comabt no roleplaying... well, yeah, it does depend on the group. But sadly, the combats are so long and meticulous, it leaves little time for roleplaying unless you are used to marathon sessions for many hours on end. In the 4e campaign we played for several months, it only felt like a real RPG when we got into some NPC interactions in town once and didn't use the game rules at all (no combat, you see.) ASide from that, yes, dungeon exploration is not really anything like it used to be, or like real life, it is a series of combat encounters, by design. With predictable set rewards and "magic items" that feel like mere trinkets (yet take a ton of bookeeping to use... it became a pain to even add a new magic item!) Ok, ranting... sorry.

  6. Sounds like you're going to have to badger your players into trying something else. How can they claim they only like 4th when they've never played anything else?

    You can always try the "Hey, I found a new game I think you guys would like, wanna come over and play a session? If we don't like it, we can always play something else," that I used successfully to get my players to play Labyrinth Lord, and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, and 4e among others. Some of them we liked, some we didn't, but we expanded our gaming significantly. :)

  7. I've had almost the same experience with my current gaming group. I've been trying to branch into a more old-school experience (running Swords & Wizardry and a mash-up of Holmes and B/X), but the players want to stick with 4e for some reason.

  8. Some people just get comfortable with what they are doing and don't want to change it up. Not much you can do if they don't want to try LL. If 4e isn't fun for you, might as well move on.

    Sounds like you can start LL with your wife and 14 year old anyway, and who knows? You may find somebody else to give it a try. Schedule it on a night that 4e is happening and extend an invite to the others. If they say no, you still have 2 others to play with.

    As for the basic game. Before LL came out, I was working on my own project that would do pretty much what you describe. Not old school D&D, but very similar and simple.

    We have Dark Dungeons and LL, and I was wondering why they don't do what you describe. A simple Basic game. I think using the Mentzer style would be the way to go.

    Do a Player's Handbook and DM Book in the same style. This means explaining character creation in Frank's style, though with a different story. Frank had Aleena, Bargle, the room with the treasure that needed a thief to pick the lock. Create a new story for this sample adventure.

    It would be a cool way to go. I don't see LL or DD doing this, and if they don't authorize it, you can't link it with either game. The other possibility is a person could just recreate each book in the same style from Basic to Masters. Anyway, just a thought.