Posted by : David Guyll August 16, 2014

Since it isn't explicit as to whether the game must exist, and given that there isn't any game currently out there that I wish I owned (otherwise I would own it), I'm going to talk about a game that I wish existed, just so I could briefly wish about owning it before just plunking down however many dollars necessary to get it.

That game would be...an actually decent successor to 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons.

4th Edition has it's problems. No, I'm not talking about the trollshit, uninformed, arbitrary claims of class "samey-ness", superheroic characters, "magical" fighters, video game button mashing, the "always perfectly balanced so that the characters can win without being killed or even really challenged" encounters, or all that other crap that was disproved over six years ago.

I'm talking legitimate problems, like how combat can take too long to setup and get through (especially the "trash fights"), characters can accumulate too many things to keep track of, the default power structure is not ideal for conveying/evoking the fiction/narrative behind each class, some class concepts are pointlessly rooted in the past (like bards and clerics), pseudo-Vancian magic is a thing, the +1 bonus every two levels is fucking pointless, skill challenges need some refinement, and so on.

Yeah, a lot of those things can be easily houseruled away (in particular the hit points, half-level bonus, and combat setup), but some of the other stuff (power structure and accumulation) would take a lot more work, especially if you wanted to get it right, and that's what I was hoping to see out of 5th Edition. Not a pointless regression to the past for it's own sake, but a game that took 4th Edition, stripped out the bad shit, and continued to innovate and evolve the game.

Which of course is not what we got. We got something "classic". Something that stuck to the traditions of editions past, good or bad (I mean they shoehorned in Hit Dice for fucks sake). Something that was familiar in all the bad ways. Something that was different enough—but not so different as to scare away the traditionalists and grognards, mind you—to get you to buy all new books for a game that you basically already own.

Me? I can tack on a botched "roll two dice and keep the best/worst" system and houserule in a shallow implementation of FATE's aspects (we actually gave that a shot during our 4th Edition run of Sundered World). I don't need to pay a company with two teams of "designers" over a hundred bucks for the privilege of playing with some antiquated rules from a previous edition that I already paid them for, even if they did dress it up with new art.

{ 7 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. This is about what I was hoping from for 5th too. A streamlined game based on some of the design philosophies they showed towards the end of 4th.

    Alas, what we got was a very different beast.

    Cheers!
    Kinak

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    Replies
    1. @Kinak: It's on the docket! I'm gonna keep picking your brain as things develop.

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  2. David>That game would be...an actually decent successor to 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons.

    Have you looked at 13th Age yet? I've yet to read it myself, but from what I understand it is a spiritual successor to 4e like how Pathfinder is the successor to 3.5.

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    Replies
    1. @Cory: I own it but have never played it. It looks slimmer than 4th Edition, but I'm not a fan of the +1/level bonus and how the magic works. Even so, it looks a lot more enjoyable than 5th. :-)

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    2. My only grip against 13th Age, too much dice rolls...
      And Fighter are kinda "meh".

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    3. Why do people like to talk about 13th Age as a successor to 4e? The two games have almost nothing in common besides a few stock tropes and a designer. It makes about as much sense as calling Numenera a successor to Ptolus, or Houses of the Blooded a successor to 7th Sea.

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    4. @Darcy: I kind of like how some fighter maneuvers aren't fully reliable, but I don't think it's quite where I want it. I really have no problem with 4th Edition's "narrative control", but I think how they manage their stuff could be better handled, either using a Stamina system or something like Dragon Age's stunt die.

      @L0st: I wouldn't call it a successor, but I think that if you like 4th Edition you're more likely to enjoy it than, say, 5th Edition or Pathfinder. In just reading it, I wish that they ditched feats and just made everything talents, and scrapped the +1/level bonus.

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