Friday, July 11, 2008

A fun system

Last night I printed up the pre generated characters for the D&D 4e off the Wizards site and made a 'Level 3' encounter for four of the characters to fight. The concept of 'Level' is kind of weird from a build perspective. The DM's guide doesn't just come out and say players level = encounter level, but suggests that the average player level +/- 3 levels and you should be OK. I thought that was odd, so I tried out following:

The good guys, all level one, were:
  • A Half Elf Cleric
  • A Dragonborn Paladin
  • A Dwarf Fighter
  • A Human Wizard

The bad guys were:

  • 8 Minion Goblins (lvl 1)
  • 2 Goblin Sharpshooters (lvl 3)
  • 1 Goblin Hex Thrower (lvl 3)

It took me about 90 mins to run this combat. With that said, I was still looking up a ton of rules, mostly conditions. Highlights:

  • Paladin got pummelled. I ganged up the sharpshooters and the Hexer's abilities on him early and he did go down at one point. The Cleric used one of his 'hit and heal' type strikes to get him back on his feet. Of all the characters he took the worst beating going to zero, making his death save, and spending over half his healing surges to keep in the fight.
  • The Goblin Hexer was nasty. He kept dropping blind and a nifty, "You can't move or you take 3D6" spell. Couldn't find the re-charge rolls, so I faked it.
  • Good guys used three of the daily powers and two used action points. This would have made any further encounters of this strength very tough with out an extended rest. As they state, daily powers can only be used once per day.
  • Low level wizards can hang with the battle. This guy dropped a sleep spell that took half of the Minions out for a bit, allowing the party to work on the immediate threat.
  • Going to be tough to remember the specials. The Hexer had an ability that allowed one goblin a turn that got missed to not only shift but attack out of cycle. Would have been great for a brute vice a minion. :)
  • Minions are a great mix I think. They allow more bodies on the table for a cinematic effect, will still do damage, and general be a pain in the arse.
  • All characters got beat up to various degrees. The Paladin was the worst of the lot having even dropped in combat, but the wizard & fighter both got bloodied or worse (under half) and the cleric was doing his best to provide support.
  • Miniature movement was a lot. In the old systems, if I remember right, you kind of moved your mini up to the bad guys and were kind of static. The push/pull effects in the game allow for a great deal of table movement. Push the bad guy over the waterfall, watch that he doesn't push you over the pit trap. Once again, it felt like it added to the adventure theater of the game.

Overall, I like the mechanics. It feels like a miniature game, heck in a lot of ways it 'feels' a bit like Warmachine with the specials that fly around the table. Does this make it not a role playing game? I don't think so. Role playing is reliant upon the players, not the mechanics of the game so I think it would be fun to continue to explore playing. Fun and interesting combats with a integrated story, throw in a couple of traps and encounter effects, set up a town with a patron and I think you got a start to a good campaign system.

Anyone else take a look at it yet?


DM wannabe


Paul said...

I've picked up the Players HB and have started to read through it to understand what's going on. It doesn't look as "munchkinny" as I feared it would be. I understand where the it has that MMORPG or WoW that several reviews have pointed to. It'll be interesting to see in action when we sit down to the table and play it.

JP's RPG Blog said...

Hey Paul,

I agree about the heavy MMO fell to the game. You can tell Wizards took it that direction, and I am pretty sure it was a very eyes wide open purpose. If Wizards even gets a fraction of the WoW traffic... That is a lot of DM guides being sold.