So, I can’t just let my friends get all up in my blog and throw around their own opinions without adding my own, can I? I figure that it’s high time that I throw down and explain just why I love 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons to itty bitty little pieces.
My friends and those that know me through various message boards generally know that I’ve always been a big supporter of the latest edition of just about any game (Changeling: the Lost notwithstanding). Generally I feel that most new editions are actual improvements over the old ones, at least when it comes to my own preferences when it comes to roleplaying games. Now, in the past I’ve been a bit of an edition elitist when it came to my favorite, but thankfully my friends disabused me of my superiority and I’m now what you’ll call a positive champion. Yes, I like 4th edition over any other editions, but I realize know that it’s because the rules adhere to what I want in a game and not because it’s flat out superior. I’ll never say that one game is strictly better than another game or edition, but I will state that I think it works better for me.
So, why do I love 4th edition so very much? There are a variety of reasons, but the biggest is because I really love crunchy bits in a game, so long as those crunchy bits aren’t too complex. I love 4th edition, and Mutants and Masterminds, but I also like games like Spirit of the Century or Savage Worlds. I like my crunch on the medium to moderate level, not super complex like Hero or as fiddly as GURPs.
For me, 4th edition hits that perfect level of crunchy and “rules light.” Yes, there are a lot of powers and fiddly bits, but by and large they all follow one generic framework that’s easy for me to understand. I like combing through all the books looking for that perfect feat or power, I gather a great deal of enjoyment finding things like this. For me character creation is just as much a fun part of the game as playing itself. I love finding that combination of feats, powers, and skills that can be combined in an awesome way.
Some of my friends call me a power gamer, and I suppose that I have to cop to that to a certain extent. I don’t like breaking the game or coming up with stupidly powerful combinations of things, but I do like my characters to be really effective. System mastery and rules mastery are fun and enjoyable to me, and 4th edition definitely scratches that itch. And best of all once I know all those rules I can tweak or ignore them to my hearts content when I run a game.
I also like class base systems, and after running at least two or three games for groups of newbies I can tell you that classes are actually really valuable when introducing new players to the hobby. They’re a wonderful package of “cool things you can do” that are a nice shorthand for a new player to wrap their head around. If I have a new player who wants to help his buddies I can point him right at any leader class and then let them go from there.
I also love running games, and for me 4th edition has been a vast improvement over the earlier editions. I have all the tools, digital and otherwise, to create fun and dynamic encounters that are both flavorable and tactically interesting enough to make running them very enjoyable. There is just something about how 4th edition monsters work that I can so easily understand that it’s been pretty trivial to prepare an adventure. Compared to the previous edition my prep time is about 1/10th of what it used to be, which means I can concentrate more on creating interesting areas and plots than on what magic items an NPC might be carrying.
That and 4th edition is also interesting in that it’s kind of two games in one. On one hand you have your classic “kill them and take their stuff” challenge of a traditional D&D game (not to say that my games are that simple). On the other hand you have this wonderful tactical miniature style battle game when you start rolling initiative. I have so much fun figuring out how my group of monsters is going to beat up the PCs, running each combat like a little miniatures skirmish game. I live for this kind of stuff and 4th edition is pretty unique in that I can sort of get two games in one.
Finally, the rest of my regularly weekday group has always been a D&D group. It’s the game they like far mroe than any other and we generally use the newest edition. I’m lucky in the fact that my players actually enjoy the same system that I do, and that my good friend and fellow GM upstairs is just as enthusiastic as I am. We talk for hours about how to do various things and what we’re going to spring on each other the next time we run.
All that said, I still enjoy a lot of other systems too. The weekend group I have (I’m fortunate enough to have not one, not two, but three different groups) tends to dabble in a lot of different systems, and I have to say that it’s been really good for me over all to try out so many different things. Learning how other systems work just reinforces my love of 4th edition and all the other games, because each one brings something different to the table. And in this day and age all us gamers have no excuse not to use the perfect tool for the job. Or the right system for our preferences. And when it comes to a fantasy game, that right system is 4th edition for me.