Posted by : David Guyll April 02, 2009

There is a thread on RPGnet that talks abuot 4th Edition and what, in your opinion, makes it not feel like D&D. I decided to check it out because I figured it'd be a gold mine for mythbusting topics, and maybe it is. I havent gone to far into it because one comment stood out that gave me pause.

"Where D&D lost its flavor for me was in this: in older editions different classes used different parts of the system. Fighters fought, wizard casted spells, and thieves were skill monkeys (in an otherwise skill-less system, no less!).

In 4th edition, every class uses a nearly identical template. Power structures are identical, and the skill system favors no class. Fighters no longer have an advantage in a fight, because every class is an "adventuring" class, and perfectly combat capable. I know it was a design goal, but it doesn't sit well with me. It leaves my pacifist priestesses of Peoni out in the cold..."

"Lleaves his pacifist out in the cold"? Other posters were quick to question why in the world a pacifist would be touring around with a bunch of glorified vagabonds and murderers, but this brought to mind a more pressing question: why would you decide to play an action-adventure game like Dungeons & Dragons, only to make a character that refuses to participate in a large part of what the game is about?

Thats like playing Shadowrun and trying to play a straight-man lawyer that prosecutes runners for breaking too many laws to count...multiple times. I mean, it might work if your GM and group are really up for it, but that goes outside the established genre and point of the game. I mean, would you play Left 4 Dead and get upset that you its got crazy infected people, guns, and explosions?

It sounds like that he doesnt like D&D because the designers took the heart of the game and tried to ensure that everyone can meaningfully contribute. I never really liked the notion that only fighters were good with melee and thieves were good with skills. It enforced a rigid party building structure moreso than any other edition of D&D, while making it difficult to plan generic adventures on the off-chance that someone might not want to play a thief.
3rd Edition carried a similar restriction with traps and the trapfinding class feature, but 4th Edition finally just said bugger all and made traps more of an engaging challenge and less of a random nut-punching punishing element that exists just to cheap shot your hit points away.

Where was I?

Oh, right. The gist of this is that dont buy a game and get upset that you cant do the exact opposite of what its about. I find that strong games focus on a genre or style and roll with it instead of trying to cater to everything. D&D is an action-adventure fantasy role-playing game, not a sappy reality simulator where you go about being useless to your party and soaking up free XP and loot. You can do that much more effectively in World of WarCraft by latching onto a desperate raid party and ninja-ing the loot.

As an addendum if you really wanted to play a pacifist you could just not use attack powers and instead spend your time hiding in a corner and perhaps using the Aid Another action whenever you're not too busy pulling swords out of your kidneys.

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