Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Dungeons and Dragons, a look

So, I've been playing a bit more 4th Edition of D&D then I have been recently, and got to thinking and discussing with some friends the differences we've been seeing between this and 3.0 and 3.5 Editions Let me preface this by saying I originally started D&D with 2nd Edition, took a small break and spent a long while playing 3.0 and 3.5 Editions, with various supplements to accommodate the different play styles (my favorite setting to this day is still Ravenloft, but that's a different tale). So after playing 4th Edition for awhile and playing around with some of the classes, I feel I've gotten a decent enough grasp to compare the two systems.

Quick intro for those of you that have never played D&D. D&D is a tabletop role playing game, played using dice, miniatures and paper. Players will design characters to play, using core classes such as fighter, cleric, wizard etc etc. You assume control of your character and are thrust into a world that is created by the Game Master, to fight monsters, solve puzzles, rescue people, challenge old powers, whatever the adventure may be. As you conquer the challenges in front of you, you accumulate levels, which grant you more powers, access to new skills and an overall increase in power. What draws so many people to this game is not only the amount of choices available to them (other game systems exist, such as GURPS which grant more choices, but we'll talk about those at another time) but also that there is no real victory. Your end goal is to tell a story involving your character, their exploits, adventures, failures and eventually what happens to them in the end.

So now that we've given out some basic info for people to follow along with, here we go. Now, both systems use similar basics. They both involve basic stats (strength, intelligence etc), races and classes for characters. The first major difference between the two is how classes work. In 3rd/3.5 Editions, a class is a basic template for a character. We'll use the fighter as a good example. A fighter gets an advantage in acquiring more feats then any other core class in the game (feats grant new skills, bonuses with certain weapons, special abilities such as whirlwind attack with weapons etc etc). So as a fighter gains in levels, they begin to diverge quite drastically from each other. So one fighter may decide to invest their feats into certain weapons or attacks, becoming a whirling machine of death, whilst another may take their bend towards a more defensive posture, granting themselves more bonuses to resist effects, extra hit points or even more ways to defend their team mates. A 4th Edition fighter can also go into the realms of tanking or damage dealing, but powers work differently in 4th Edition. They still have feats and stat points, but they gain powers specific to their levels. When you gain a level, you are allowed access to utility, attack, trigger powers etc. These are split into "at will", "encounter" and "daily" powers. How these break down is, an "at will" can be used as many times as you want during an encounter, "encounter" powers can be used once during a fight, and "daily" powers can only be used once per day, no matter how many encounters are in that day. Each of these scale in power, so a daily is quite powerful in it's execution, but you can only use it once, so you need to gauge when it is needed. In 3rd/3.5 Editions, the only classes limited by using powers were generally casters (unless you got into the book for the nine swords, which was the basis for a lot of 4th Edition powers).

This is actually going to be a multi-part post, as I'm trying to make sure my points come across, give me time to better articulate my ideas, and also a plug for my next post, which will be a continuation of this post, and also a review of a new game I just picked up, Elemental, War of Magic.

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