I made the mistake of typing “D&D 4e blog” into Google today. Gods below, so much crying. If you’re not having fun with something, there’s a simple, three-step process that will fix the problem:
- Stop playing.
- Find something else to do
- Refrain from bad-mouthing what you used to do.
It’s step 3 that is so hard for people. I get that, having invested so much of yourself in something, it can be hard to let go. Lord knows I have felt the simmering frustration of a game system that no longer satisfies my needs (post-reset World of Darkness, I’m looking at you!). And it’s not as though I don’t have problems with WotC, either. I think the best thing that could happen is for the retards up the food chain at Hasbro to somehow come to grips with the idea that Dungeons and Dragons isn’t some sort of magical cash cow and be happy with the profit they make off the game, rather than the profit they don’t make.
It also pisses me off when people kvetch that “4e doesn’t support roleplaying.” Hogwash. As his blog posts clearly show, Mearls gets it. He thinks that roleplaying is awesome, same as the rest of us, he just doesn’t want it hard-coded into the system. As an example, I was reading a blog in which the author was commenting on Pathfinder’s including a spell that allows a character to speak with animals. Guess what, 4e has exactly the same thing, it’s called a skill check. You, the GM, are God, the alpha and omega of your table. If a player wants to speak with animals as a means of figuring out where to go, just let him. If he wants to turn into a cat in order to sneak past the guards, let him. The first is a simple Arcane or Nature check, though at my table I’m not likely to give away much from an animal’s perspective. The second is more tricky to imagine in terms of mechanics, but why, honestly, should you care? Do you need to place such high barriers to what is probably nothing more than a simple reconnaissance? At the end of the day, your game is as realistic or fantastical as you and the players want to make it. The rules are there to keep things fair and (mostly) balanced, not to stick a shiv in fun’s kidney.
There’s a piece of advice I wish they would include in the PHB: stop making simple things hard. If the PCs need information from the book, ask who is trained in History and give it to those characters. You can do the same thing with pretty much every non-mechanical application of skill. Character wants to know where the red light district is in a new town? Streetwise will get you there. The only time dice need to be rolled is when there’s a meaningful consequence to failure.
It’s important to remember that there’s a critical mass with regards to non-combat rules. 4e was the first RPG to acknowledge this and make the conscious decision to stay below that threshold. That’s not just a good thing, it’s an amazing thing. Once you understand how WotC taught you how to fish, you can feed your game.