4e stupidity: archons

Somehow I missed the change that 4e made to archons. Probably I was too overwhelmed by the clever marketing strategy to notice the change.

Okay, I can sorta understand why they’d make angels “generic” no-preset-alignment servitors of the gods, and thus you could have evil angels. I mean, we have that in existing mythology (fallen angels, angels of death, etc.).

But archons are no longer the LG protectors of the Mount Celestia (i.e., Heaven) and of innocents, they’re the servants of the primordial beings that battled the gods in antiquity. No longer do we have the benign lantern archons, the courageous hound archons, and the noble trumpet archons, we have weird vaguely-humanoid EVIL elemental creatures.

That’s … stupid. It’s literally taking 30 years of D&D history (hound and lantern archons appeared in 1977) and saying, “nope, everything we built up about the lore of this creature is wrong, we’re changing it, forget it.”

Why not create a NEW creature to be the servitors of the primordials? Why radically alter an existing creature with tons of well-thought-out lore? What’s next, changing the rust monster to a flying rust-brown fey that likes to heal people in exchange for kisses? Why not make Demogorgon a LG god of peace and bunnies?

Seriously … retarded.

To those of you involved in the decision to do this to the archons, and other inexplicable changes for the sake of change, I apologize for calling your design choice “stupid.” I meant to say “super-stupid.”

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104 thoughts on “4e stupidity: archons

  1. The latter two are examples of the opposite of the reason for this change. The basic reasoning was that archons were not something you would fight normally in 3E- generally speaking they were allies and therefore didn’t really need the space in the Monster Manual that could be spend on stuff you could fight. That was the same reason they made angels the way they did as well- to make more monsters you could fight. And they used the name “archon” for this purpose because, as I understand it, it was a good, attractive name and one they didn’t want to throw out because of changes in lore.

    For the record, Sean, I am in complete agreement with you on this one. I think the 4E game is okay but the new flavor is almost universally not what I want in my game.

    -E

    • See, I thought that having good guys in the MM was (1) necessary because you could summon them to help you, and (2) foes you could fight if you were neutral or evil, or if your campaign took a more real-world sort of stance where you could have two good religions battling each other.

      I understand the reasoning of taking out monsters that PCs aren’t likely to fight; if you want the book to be a book of foes, that makes sense. I do NOT understand throwing radically altering an existing creature, throwing away previous info about it, creating a creature that is essentially contrary to the previous one, just because you like the name of the old creature. If you’re going to be CREATIVE and come up with a new concept, how about you be CREATIVE and come up with a new damn name for your new creature?

      So, we’re in agreement: the change was retarded.

      • (1) isn’t applicable anymore because none of the classes (to my knowledge) actually summon monsters anymore; the summoning mechanics are much, much more simplified and the whatever-the-hell-it-is you summon is described wholly within the spell itself. A thing where you actually a summon a monster might be a ritual or something like that, though; I’m not sure. I think they just assumed that not enough games were evil-based (and certainly not real-world-ambiguity-based) for (2) to be viable either.

        I know they addressed this archon thing in an article on the Wizards site somewhere. Basically they thought that the name “archon” has proven staying power within the D&D community, whereas whatever new name they gave it might not have said staying power. Of course, I think the fact that the archons represented a part of the game that is pretty cool to many players was a bigger deal than their name… But then, I thought they were cool because I’m an old Planescape junkie, and they gutted everything that was remotely related to Planescape except for the Nine Hells and the Abyss.

        -E

      • (1) yes I’m sure. (2) way to close off or ignore a segment of their market, which seems to be the main plan for 4e. :/

        I read the article. I think the logic is flawed. D&D players know the word “archon” because of its history with D&D, not because it’s a neat word that D&D adopted for a particular group of creatures. Changing the D&Dness of the creature because you like the name attacks the very reason D&D players recognize the creature. :/

      • That is my overall greatest problem with 4E: I love the history of the game and finding out where all the things I love in it came from. I never played before 3rd Edition, so this isn’t purely nostalgia for some brighter era; I genuinely love to know where these things came from before they got to me.

        4E seems to have deadly little appreciation for the history of the game, and that, to me, is its greatest flaw. The rich history of all the little D&Disms is one of the things that makes the game great to me, and even though I’ve played games that were probably technically better designed- I’m thinking of Arcana Evolved, for example- I still ultimately preferred 3rd Edition D&D because those other games didn’t have the D&Disms.

        But then again I’m a compulsive researcher, so maybe I’m a niche market.

        And with that I think I have to bow out of this comment chain. Sleep calls. :-)

        -E

  2. Part of the goal for 4E seems to be destroying or disregarding as much prior lore as possible. I’m an FR fan, and they’ve particularly butchered that setting…

      • Yeah, I’m a long-time fan of the setting, and it just hurts to see what they’ve done to it. It used to be that I ran right out to get new Realms gamebooks, and started reading them within hours of buying them. The 4E stuff? I got it from eBay, because I wasn’t giving WotC my money for them and eBay was considerably cheaper — I wasn’t giving full price for them, either. I got all three of the books in September, and I’ve not been able to bring myself to get past the first page of the FRCG.

        I’ve actually come to the conclusion that — for some of the designers, at least — continuity started going out the window when 3E was inflicted on the setting.

        The Cowthulhu came from the Dork Tower website. Ditto for this one. ^^

  3. It’s weird, to me, that they could have easily avoided the issue by simply having Archons split along alignments, those who are bastions of Law and those who exalt Chaos, and played off of what came before, instead of undermine it. In a way, like with angels, it sorta makes sense, even if it’s not exactly there in canon.

    Instead, a lot of the design, even though it is well done in many cases, seems to steam from the turn it on its head motif. Know what I mean? I was talking to someone about this the other day, but more in the vein of television and movie concepts, where folk seem to think that change for the sake of change and shock for the sake of shock are good ideas, without paying attention to why those ideas worked in other things.

  4. After reading the 4e PHB in a little more depth, I’ve decided that I like most of the mechanical changes and virtually none of the seemingly random inclusions/exclusions and aesthetic/background changes.

    Two elf races. No gnomes. Tieflings but no aasimar. No druids or bards. Archons are actually these new weird things. Yeah okay.

  5. Sean, first off, lemme preface this: love you to death. Always.

    Now, this is something I have to admit I did have a beef with when I converted. They did change a lot of monsters in 4E. And as a Planescape fan (I GREW up on Planescape, for Chrissakes), any playing with the planes and its inhabitants hurts. A lot. For more, see Faction War. Grr.

    Now, here’s what I eventually realized: first off, when’s the last time I used angels/archons/etc. as villains, even in evil games (of which I’ve run a few)? And second off, 4E didn’t shut off my semi-functional-but-still-magical brain-meats. 4E is INCREDIBLY easy to adjust, flavor-wise. Hell, 3.X is easy to adjust flavor-wise (check out “The Petit Tarrasque [and Other Stories]” in Dragon 329, as well as some of the Dungeon articles on monster conversion). If it’s flavor you want, dude, we gots all sorts of books. Hell, we gots all sorts of memories. They’re not dead; they’re just awaiting our tender loving care.

    Just how I’ve been running it (and, from my player’s perspective, it seems to be working). Feel free to tear me a new asshole on this as necessary. :P

    • {Just how I’ve been running it (and, from my player’s perspective, it seems to be working). Feel free to tear me a new asshole on this as necessary. :P}

      No need to tear you a new one. The decision by the designers was a retarded one. Just because it’s relatively easy to compensate for that change doesn’t mean it wasn’t a retarded change.

      And what Wes said.

      And, to quote X-Men 2:
      Nightcrawler: Then why not stay in disguise all the time? You know, look like everyone else.
      Mystique: Because we shouldn’t have to.

      • Yeah, I’ll definitely give you the fact that some stuff was changed for dumbass reasons. Some VERY dumbass reasons.

        I just find the fixes to be about as easy as saying “succubi are still demons”. It may require more words to enunciate in some cases, but they’re still in the language of your choice. :D

        Even if that language is, “fuck you, D&D 4E Design Team, and the horse you rode in on! I play my game how I WANT!” (SNAP SNAP) :P

        And thank you for not tearing my ass a new one. It’s a delicate thing, and subtle variations on the norm make it rather… difficult. :P

      • Let’s say I like muscle cars, the Chevy Camaro in particular. I’ve been buying a new Chevy Camaro every 10 years because I know the company, I know the machine, I like how it handles, I like the slight upgrades.
        Then 2008 rolls around and Chevy is trying to get me excited about the new Camaro (though they sold me one just three years ago). Except this “Camaro” “muscle car” is actually a Geo Metro that they stuck the name “Camaro” on.

        A Geo Metro has very little to do with a Chevy Camaro. They’re both cars, sure, but one is a muscle car, and the other is a highly fuel-efficient lightweight supermini. Heck, the Metro isn’t technically a Chevrolet, it’s a Suzuki.

        I, as the long-term, brand-aware Camaro buyer, is pissed that they’re calling this new car a Camaro. It’s not a damn Camaro!

        You, as the relative newcomer to the car scene, may have driven a real Camaro before or at least ridden in one, but you don’t really car, you just want a car you can drive. You try out and like the new “Camaro” (i.e., Suzuki), like it, and buy it. You wanted a light, fuel-efficient small car, and it’s perfect for you.

        My CDs play in my car and your car. I can even hang my fuzzy dice from your rear-view mirror. We both drive using the same general rules of the road, though my acceleration, mileage, seating capacity, and crash survivability may be different than yours.

        I’m not stupid for liking the original Camaro.
        You’re not stupid for liking the new *choke* Camaro-Suzuki.
        But Chevy is stupid for trying to call its new non-Camaro car a Camaro and expecting its existing customers to swallow that one whole. If they called the new car a Cappucino and stopped producing the old Camaros, you’d still have angry fans of the old Camaro model but you wouldn’t be insulting their intelligence by insisting that the supermini was really a Camaro.

        So….

        I’m not stupid for liking 3e.
        You’re not stupid for liking 4e.
        Wizards is stupid for changing so many things in D&D to fit their definition of what D&D should be, ignoring that the existing players have been playing D&D the previous way for 30 years and might not want to change that.

        And by “stupid” I of course mean “retarded.”

        Time for bed. :)

      • Thank you for the additional rant. I utterly agree with both. I am adding “stupid changes to existing flavor” to my dislikes with 4th Edition. Which include “deleting tons of great flavor.” I admit that mechanically I like a lot of the decisions and the consistency, however so many little things like this explain the Edition Wars.

      • I have to say – the muscle car analogy is the best I’ve seen for this situation. I plan to steal and use it whenever I can. :) With proper attribution, of course.

        I find that I can like 4E if I don’t try to think about it as D&D at all. It’s sorta like a videogame, and if I keep that in mind, I’m more or less ok with it. I find it more fun to run than play.

      • Clearly I was tired, it was after 2am. Corrections:

        “I, as the long-term, brand-aware Camaro buyer, *am* pissed….”

        “but you don’t really *want a muscle* car”

      • I can’t completely agree. I’ll borrow you analogy. but let’s say the new “Camaro” is actually a 12-cylinder Lamborghini at the same price.

        Will Camaro lose some old Camaro loyalists? Sure.
        Will a LOT of people who never bought Camaros want to check out this new model. Hell yes.

        Change isn’t always bad.

        Personally, in my 30 years of playing D&D, from 1st edition to now, I have *never* used an Archon in my game or run into one in a game I’ve played. Archons are not even on the list of things that I consider to be the things that make D&D what it is, so to me 4e is as much D&D as any other edition.

      • You missed the part where some things (like archons) were changed to something that’s the OPPOSITE of what they are now. That’s why I made the Camaro –> Geo comparison.

      • But your Geo comparison assumes the old one was good and the new one is worse. More appropriate is “These cars have always been black, but now they are white.”

        That’s the opposite, but it’s not worse. Just different.

      • But in this scenario, the Metro is worse because I like muscle cars and the Geo is not a muscle car. As a fuel-efficient submini, the Metro excels (I should know, I used to own one). As a power vehicle that doubles as a chick magnet, the Metro utterly fails. There’s nothing wrong with the Metro as a car, but if I’ve been buying muscle cars for for 30 years, don’t slap the Camaro name on a Metro and tell me it’s a muscle car. It’s not.

      • And while I’ve never used an archon in a game I’ve run, I’ve never used githyanki or githzerai either, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to radically change them. Never used gold dragons, either.

        And as a counter-example, Monte used an archon to great effect in his 3e Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil game, where our PCs called one with planar ally and got him to help us out for part of the adventure, almost like a temporary cohort.

        So, to take a page from 4e marketing, without archons, you have been playing D&D wrong and haven’t been having fun. ;)

      • Not at all. We changed stuff in 3.0. We changed stuff in 3.5. We’re changing stuff in Pathfinder. But none* of those changes were major retcons to the D&D franchise. We didn’t say that all orcs are the good guys, or mix together gods from several worlds and present them as the new core pantheon, or blow up a campaign setting and kill half its gods and advance the timeline 100 years so all your current campaigns are dead, or change guardian paragons of good to evil elementals fighting the gods, or take the name of the mighty deva celestials and apply it to the barely-stronger-than-human aasimar, or the mighty CG celestials and make them human-power-level elves, we didn’t say that all gnome spells are powered by technology, we didn’t say that metallic dragons are evil so PCs would have another monster to fight. Or a ton of other changes that go against the continuity of the game for the past 30 years.

        It’s fine for an individual DM to say, “X is changed in my game, in fact, it’s opposite.” Because that only affects that campaign. And it’s ok for a publisher to say, “X is changed in this new campaign setting, in fact, it’s opposite.” (Dark Sun is a perfect example of radically changing core game concepts for a specific setting.) Because that only affects people who choose to play in that new campaign setting. But it’s NOT ok for a publisher to say, “X, in the entire game is now different, in fact, it’s opposite.” Because that affects everyone playing. And those who don’t go along with that change are left behind, and are told that they’re not playing the game right, that they’re not having fun.

        Imagine if TSR had made the 3e rules so that Dark Sun was the norm. Everyone had psionics. Halflings are cannibals. Elves are mean bastards. Magic defiles the earth. The default campaign is a desert. Dragons are actually powerful mutated human psionic-wizards. There are no gods. Do you think the 2e players would have accepted any one of those changes and adopted 3e as the new standard? The 4e changes may not be as universally radical as the Dark Sun changes, but they are significant.

        *Well, the 3.0 change to St. Cuthbert was, but I wasn’t happy with that.

      • In Greyhawk, Cuthbert is a LG deity with LN tendencies, portfolio of common sense, zeal, wisdom.

        With 3.0, the designers decided they needed a god of retribution and made Cuthbert LN (but intolerant of evil) into that god, ignoring that Greyhawk already had a CG god of liberty, retribution, and self defense (Tritherion, who is a cool cat).

        Greyhawk fans were not happy with the change.

      • I’ve seen the argument many times: “I’ve NEVER used monster X, and now that WotC changed it into something else, I will.” That isn’t an excuse or a defense… or if it is, it’s an incredibly self-centered one. There’s No Way for one person to use everything that’s been published for the game, even if they wanted to try. So what if there’s parts of the game that you’ve never used? I’ve been playing the game for over 25 years, and I’ve never played a monk (and since 3rd edition started, I’ve never played a wizard). Does that mean that I’d welcome monks into well-armed and armored ranged weapon specialists, or wizards into barbaric low-intelligence melee tanks?

        I agree with Sean 100%. Changing things like angels and archons and eladrins and demons and all the other things that have been changed for 4E is poor design. New gamers don’t care if something’s called an eladrin or a elvaranian. Old gamers do. These types of changes go a long way toward making established players of the game feel spurned and left behind. And on a more mechanical side of things, it makes it harder for an experienced D&D gamer to get into 4th edition, since they have to unlearn things that, to them, are second nature and logical, and then relearn things in arbitrary new ways.

        4E is not a “loyal-customer friendly” experience, and that’s at the root of the problem for me. It’s arrogant and disrespectful for a company to take something with that much tradition and to reinvent it. Didn’t work out all that well for George Lucas either.

      • I’ve seen the argument many times: “I’ve NEVER used monster X, and now that WotC changed it into something else, I will.” That isn’t an excuse or a defense…
        I agree.

        At the same time, I’ve never seen anyone on the entire planet run a D&D campaign entirely by the book without modification to the story elements, and this issue is a story element, and that includes people who work at professional game companies.

        I would wager that it’s probably not hyperbole to say literally no one plays D&D (or for that matter, will play Pathfinder) wholly according to the story elements that have been set forth in the books.

        In fact, the only strength that RPGs have over other games is their ability to be modified and customized. That’s why people buy them.

        I can see the argument of not wanting to change yet one more thing and that’s an entirely valid argument—but it’s no where near the magnitude of analogy you’re using with the car.

        If you buy a muscle car, you’re doing it for performance and specifically to modify it, not to get groceries. Complaining that they’ve changed a cosmetic element so you’ll have to change them back is valid—but you’re already going to be changing the vehicle even beyond cosmetics. If you look at everyone who buys it, it’s fair to say that the chance to work on such a machine is why people get it in the first place.

        Thus, if you the manufacturer try something new, it probably won’t hurt extant customers, who’re going to change what you put out anyway, and it might attract new customers, who’ll perceive the cosmetic changes as new enough to give the car another look where before they might have dismissed it as “same old same old.” And in this case, on top of cosmetic changes, there is a superior engine.

        I understand that you’re pained by the cosmetic change. I don’t understand why it matters so much when so much is routinely changed already.

        A corollary: A criticism I saw many times was that WotC tried to pimp D&D by explaining how previous editions were broken and this was seen as A Bad Thing.

        I’m beginning to notice the same thing here and on ‘s, where you’ll talk about the failings of D&D—but not offer Pathfinder as an alternative or why we should play it instead of D&D, or how your game fixes the problem that has just been described. All there is is D&D = bad and no solution to the problem.

        I guess the conclusion of this overlong ramble is that I don’t mind reading anti-anything posts as long as there is a chance that it will affect change or there’s a suggestion of a solution. It seems to me the solution for anti-D&D posts should be reasons why we play Pathfinder instead.

        Does Pathfinder address your archon problem?

      • Pathfinder does address the problem. It does so by not turning it IN to a problem.

        Archons in Pathfinder are the same archons that 3.5 has, which are the same archons the game’s always had.

        Pathfinder also has NEW stuff too. The neutral good outsiders (guardinals) and the chaotic good ones (eladrins) use names that aren’t open content, so we have to change names. But the actual creatures themselves; their actual stats and names and all that, ARE open content. So instead of guardinals, we have agathions, and instead of eladrins, we have azatas. Both are, incidentally, names culled somewhat from real-world myth, just like the word “archon” was.

        And to go a little deeper into the rabbit hole; back in the 1st edition MM2, there was a monster called an agathion, which was based on the same real-world myths that we went to when we were looking for a new name for the neutral good outsider race. So on one level, we HAVE robbed an older version of the game’s word and redefined it… but look closer. The 1st edition agathion is a neutral good outsider already. The Pathfinder version of an agathion plays very well with the version from 1st edition. Even though we can’t actually USE the 1st edition version, that older version is thematically similar to what we’re doing in Pathfinder. If a GM has a long-running homebrew that has agathions in it and he wants to update his game to Pathfinder RPG, it’s really easy to square the 1st edition agathion with the Pathfinder version. They’re different, yes (1st ed is a single type of monster, while PF RPG is a whole race), but not nearly on the scale of the change that archons went through in 4th edition.

      • {I’m beginning to notice the same thing here and on bigfootcountry’s, where you’ll talk about the failings of D&D—but not offer Pathfinder as an alternative or why we should play it instead of D&D, or how your game fixes the problem that has just been described. All there is is D&D = bad and no solution to the problem.}

        I disagree. Paizo’s stance is that 3.5 is pretty solid, but has some flaws (dead class levels, casters outshine melee types, etc.), and that Pathfinder is addressing those flaws while still maintaining backwards compatibility with 3.5.

        {If you buy a muscle car, you’re doing it for performance and specifically to modify it, not to get groceries.}

        Ah, so now you’re telling me why I like muscle cars. Please tell me more about what I do and do not like. ;)

        {and it might attract new customers, who’ll perceive the cosmetic changes as new enough to give the car another look where before they might have dismissed it as “same old same old.”}

        So if you’re going to make cosmetic changes, why give it the same name? Why not call it something new? Why tear down the old version and recast it as something new? Why not just make something new and not crap on the old one?

        In a game where by definition you have an infinite sandbox for playing in, why go out of your way to stomp on other peoples’ sandcastles, when you can just build your own big sandcastle? If your sandcastle is so cool, why do you have to be a bully and mess with the other sandcastles? It’s not like there’s a limited amount of sand in the infinite sandbox.

        {And in this case, on top of cosmetic changes, there is a superior engine.}

        Superior is a relative term. The Geo Metro’s engine may be superior in terms of gas mileage and ease of servicing, but the classic Camaro excels in power and acceleration. If I’ve been buying a Camaro for the past 30 years partly because I need power and acceleration, don’t try to sell me a Geo Metro and claim it’s as good as a Camaro.

        {Does Pathfinder address your archon problem?}

        Having just finished writing the archon section of the Pathfinder Bestiary, and having written it to remain consistent with 30 years of D&D lore that our players find important, yes, it does.

      • I disagree. Paizo’s stanceI wasn’t referring to Paizo’s stance, I’m referring to your and ‘s LJ posts.

        Ah, so now you’re telling me why I like muscle cars. Please tell me more about what I do and do not like. ;)Heh—am I wrong? Do you play RPGs so you can’t change anything?

        So if you’re going to make cosmetic changes, why give it the same name?I don’t know—ask them. Maybe because it’s cheaper to capitalize on an established brand?

        Having just finished writing the archon section of the Pathfinder Bestiary, and having written it to remain consistent with 30 years of D&D lore that our players find important, yes, it does.And the point of my corollary is that we should’ve seen this in your original post. Otherwise, you’re on the same wrong track that WotC was on, that of harping on the negative aspects of something past rather than on the positive of what’s soon to come.

        The sandcastle analogy is a bit flawed in that the previous sandcastles are not stomped on. They exist for as long as anyone cares to maintain them.

      • {I wasn’t referring to Paizo’s stance, I’m referring to your and bigfootcountry’s LJ posts.}

        Don’t quibble. James and I work at Paizo partly because we agree with the stance that Paizo is taking with Pathfinder.

        {Heh—am I wrong? Do you play RPGs so you can’t change anything?}

        This may surprise you, but when I run a D&D game it’s usually 3 Core books + small list of variants. Anyway, that’s irrelevant to why someone might buy a muscle car. Sure, I may get it for performance. Perhaps I’m also trying to recapture my youth. And maybe it needs to hold groceries, too, because my wife hates to drive. The point is, there’s more than one reason why I might want a muscle car. And trying to sell me a different kind of car that you’re calling a muscle car is an insult to my intelligence.

        {I don’t know—ask them. Maybe because it’s cheaper to capitalize on an established brand?}

        (1) They won’t answer, except for marketspeak. You know what it’s like working there. And nobody at Wizards is going to go against the mantra of “4E IS TEH BEST EVAR.” Even if they disagree, it’s not polite for them to say otherwise.
        (2) They don’t have to answer, because changing something because you think it’s cool to change it is (wait for it) retarded. :)

        {And the point of my corollary is that we should’ve seen this in your original post. Otherwise, you’re on the same wrong track that WotC was on, that of harping on the negative aspects of something past rather than on the positive of what’s soon to come.}

        My post wasn’t about “Pathfinder is better that 4e because X Y Z.” My post was “This was a retarded thing that Wizards did for 4e.” It’s a rant. If I were trying to be constructive instead of ranting, I would have used the word “retarded” less.

        {The sandcastle analogy is a bit flawed in that the previous sandcastles are not stomped on. They exist for as long as anyone cares to maintain them.}

        Tell that to the 4e marketing. Tell that to the people who wanted to build a sand bridge between their 3e sandcastle and the 4e sandcastle, and find that 4e cars drive on the left side of the road instead of the right side.

      • The muscle car analogy has ceased to be useful when we’re arguing over the analogy itself instead of the thing it’s supposed to address.

        That is to say: I think people, including you, me, all of us, play RPGs because we can individualize them to tell our own stories. I say this because this is pretty much the strongest advantage RPGs have over other games.

        They won’t answerSo we’ll never know. What difference does it make in any case?

        Tell that to the 4e marketing.Why? It’s a true fact that extant campaigns and worlds exist for as long as people play them, and there’s nothing and no one stomping on any of them. I know people who’re still playing 3.5 as-is with no plans of changing to any other system. Don’t you?

        There’s D&D and it’s there for people to play, or not. It’s their choice. It’s new, it’s better for what I was looking for in D&D to be sure, and it addressed all of my four most retarded things in D&D (remember that post from ye olden tymes?) except for polymorphing which, I assume, is being addressed in a future book or other.

      • {So we’ll never know. What difference does it make in any case?}

        You’re the one who wants me to ask them. I am content to point out that the decision was stupid and accept that I’m never going to get any satisfactory feedback from them about it. :)

        You’re getting very meta-argument here. I’m just saying the decision was stupid. I know the reasons they’ve stated for it, and the reasons are stupid. And while it’s easy for you to accept 4e because it changed the things you wanted changed, it’s totally fair for me to be on my side of the fence complaining that it changed things I didn’t want changed. If my daughter has a cleft palate and I send her off to get it surgically corrected, don’t send her back with a free nose job and expect me to be happy about it.

      • Actually… I take as much, if not more, solace in things that DON’T change. And one of my own driving philosophies of game design is to ADD, not CHANGE. If you add stuff, then it stands or falls on its own. It can be propped up by similar content in the game, of course, or build on existing things to help support itself, but it doesn’t change what goes before.

        When you design with change, you’re removing something from the game by overwriting it, rather than adding to the game. The net total of content remains static rather than increasing, because you’ve contradicted and replaced existing content with new content that may or may not be as good.

        In my world view, you change content only because you think that what they were before is inferior, whereas you add content because you want there to be more of something you think is good. So in my world view, WotC is changing things in D&D because they think what’s gone before is inferior, which is the opposite of what I believe, and it annoys me to see it happen because for 25+ years I’ve been a D&D fan—something that, going forward at this point, has come to an end.

      • Definitely well-put analogy. I’m especially amazed that it involved cars and I understood it. :D

        Totally agree with you on this, and if I could ever learn how to use the English language, I’d find a way to communicate these things from the get-go. Sadly, that is an ares wherein calling me “stupid” would be an accurate assumption.

        Hooray for us not being retarded! :D

  6. I felt the same way about the eladrin. You want to have high elves in the PHB, great. Call them that or make up some new name. But why take a name with an established meaning in D&D and change it into something totally different?

    • “I hear that the color ‘red’ has some real fans. What if we repurpose it to mean ‘umber’? No one really knows what umber means anyway, right?”

      This is pretty much the change that makes me a grognard.

  7. Understandable and understood. Especially on the video game front (though I’ve been out of the scene for so long it actually kinda hurts my insides).

    As a cheap cop-out, since it’s not my job to tell people how to do things, like, ever, especially on the D&D front, I will admit that my understanding of D&D history, aside from Planescape (which my friend and I scooped up as we could at the FLGS as it was released knowing nothing more than it was an interesting box), was that there were books on the shelves of bookstores stamped with Forgotten Realms on it. We played 2E for years without knowing who E. Gary Gygax was. I didn’t buy an issue of Dragon or Dungeon until 2000 because my old copy of City Sites had an ad for them involving what looked like Sturm with bell-bottoms. You know who supposedly wore bell-bottoms? My parents. This was clearly not the magazine for lil’ fifteen-year-old Ashton.

    Or so I thought. I’ve been proven wrong so many times now that it hurts, even a year-plus away from the death of Dungeon and Dragon in print.

    Part of the mental disconnect (and I fault no one in this) is that I’m just not that into tradition. Hell, I’m playing in the Pathfinder campaign setting (a universe you guys have been creating whole cloth/based off of your various homebrew games). This campaign, from the fan standpoint, is less than two years old. James may have played it since 1749, but we’ve only known Sarenrae for a year and a half. 4E’s been around a third of that time, and it has caused no problems for me.

    I promise, I will shut up soon. Just one more incredibly poorly-worded talking point. My brain sucks. Sorry.

    I just finished your kickass adventure, “Seven Days to the Grave”, Wes. And it was AWESOME. Seriously. Converting it was a breeze. We just finished the final encounter(s) with Lady Andaisin (spelling error, I’m sure, sorry), and it took me all of ten minutes to stat those encounters out. And I was drunk at the time I did so (no foolin’). The stats didn’t matter. At all. Aside from picking a beastie of appropriate level, my work was done for me, because you write a kickass adventure regardless of what system sits behind it. My group was trying desperately to pound down the doors and escape before Lady A’s Daughter of Urgathoa form even arrived.

    And that “Daughter of Urgathoa” was a DMG-templated worg, between you and me. A “worg” and four skeletons made my 6th-level PCs crap their pants.

    And the encounter took ten minutes to build. Drunk. :P

    Dudes, you guys are amazingly awesome, and if you need to beat my ass in person for being a 4E fan, there’s always June. I promise I won’t fight back. But the secret is that the flavor is always there. The flavor has very little to do with rules. The rules are malleable.

    How many of you have bumped a BBEG’s hit points to make him more of a challenge? I have. I’ve got 3 different “official” Demogorgon stats for 3.X (not including scale-downs for “Prince of Demons”). Which one’s right? The one I use.

    And now I shut up, ‘cuz it’s like almost 3 a.m., and I really hate arguing. I mean that. Everybody have a good night, and I hope that we can all get along.

  8. Dude, Wes, LiveJournal sent me seven messages informing me you had edited this. You came back and fixed this thing SEVEN times?

    You are such an editor. :P

  9. Yeah, I understand wanting to use Archon as a name. I even understand not wanting to keep Lantern and Trumpet Archons…

    But I just don’t see the leap to the new Archon.

    That said, what do you think about Eladrin and Devas, Sean? Eladrin being the more fey high elves and Devas being basically Aasimar.

    Those are repurposed names that bother me a lot less.

    • Those changes bother me as much as the changes to what an archon is. In fact, the eladrin change bothers me quite a lot, since I HAVE used eladrin a lot in the game… particularly in publishing the last few adventures of Savage Tide, where they play a huge role.

      To me, the problem is more than “WotC changed the names of things that I use in my game,” to be honest. To me, it’s disapointing and depressing to see a lot of my work for 3rd Edition (such as the Fiendish Codex I and a LOT of what got put into Dungeon) basically get thrown out the window, as if WotC said, “We’re aware of what you’ve written for the game, but it’s not good enough for 4th edition so we’re ignoring the work you did and doing something new.”

      Now, that’s WotC’s prerogative; they own the material and can do with it as they please. All the work I’ve done for them was work for hire, and I went into it eyes open knowing that what I designed for them is no longer mine.

      Doesn’t change the fact that once upon a time I bought every D&D book that came out and had a strong professional relationship with Wizards of the Coast. Since 4th edition came out, I’ve not bought a single D&D book, and with every change or reversal to something that I’ve long loved in the game (or have designed myself for the game), it’s like the company I once thought of as a friend and an employer is firing me.

      And to an extent, that DOES extend to everyone who’s spent years or decades as a GM crafting their own campaigns and home-brew settings. Sure, you’re not writing for WotC to publish them… but from that GM’s perspective and his players’ perspective, what he creates and expands upon is just as “official” as anything else. And for the GM who, say, has done a lot with something that changed in 4th edition, it’s hard not to feel like the rug got ripped out from under you.

      • And just to continue the rant about the 4e deva aka aasimar, here’s a quote from Wikipedia:

        Preview materials for the “Dungeon & Dragons Player’s Handbook 2” (due to be released in March 2009) indicate the deva will be a included as a playable race, well suited to the invoker class (a divine powered class).

        Sorry, wasn’t the invoker the name for the 2e evocation-specialist wizard? Isn’t evoker the name for the 3e evocation-specialist wizard? And now it’s going to be a divine class? Are they deliberately trying to confuse people who played the old version of the game? WTH?

    • Eladrin already had a definition in D&D: they’re the CG celestials such as ghaeles and bralani. Given, they’re the weirdest celestials and probably didn’t get used much, but that’s no reason to retool them and make them a PC race. As you point out, 4e eladrin are fey high elves … why not call them that? Or make up a new name, instead of scrapping the old concept and looting its name?

      As for devas, “deva” has meant something specific in D&D for 30 years, derived from real-world mythology that is thousands of years old. Now 4e makes a PC-playable race of celestials, calls them devas, and says “on their homeworld they were called aasimar.” Why not just CALL them aasimar, then?

      It’s like whoever designed 4e just took all the proper names for things, stuck them on beach balls, threw them in a tank of water, and had a bunch of manatees randomly pick out a beach ball whenever the designers needed a name for something.

      These changes amount to Wizards saying, “All you people who have been playing for 30 years, who loved the game, who paid our salaries, who put up with the D&D movie and the Dragonlance movie, who teach D&D to your kids… we don’t care if you don’t like these changes. If you don’t like these changes, you’re not the customer we’re looking for. We’re willing to abandon you in the hopes of grabbing the new MMO- and console-fan, who doesn’t care about the lore or history of the game. We got your money, thank you for that, now like what we tell you to like, or go away.”

      Retarded retarded retarded! And I mean that in the most helpful, respectful, Idiocracy-medical-diagnosis sort of way.

      • Cool, so at least you’re consistent in condemning them – that makes sense to me.

        As for why not call them aasimar… c’mon, we know why. :)

      • Do we? I liked the name aasimar and they made frequent appearances in my games. (For that matter so did Astral Devas and Archons… Hell, I once had a player who played a Ghaele using the Savage Species rules.)

        -E

      • Indeed – a reasonable slice of people just have issues with it for that simple reason. Ah well.

        Amusingly, quoting an article posted today: ‘be careful when using a familiar name for a new concept — frequently in evaluating new design.’

        Talking about the idea of using ‘feats’ to represent martial exploits, but perhaps something to have taken to heart for Archons and the rest. After all, even if they just never published some of the old monsters they didn’t have a use for… they’d bother folks from older editions less than the redesign, since someone would eventually just make stats for them.

    • I thought, pretty much from the start when I heard about 4E that if they wanted a more “fey” otherworldly elf race, why not use sidhe?

      The term already existed, and they were already one of the main inhabitants of the Plane of Faerie as it existed in 3E.

  10. One of the things I’ve maintained for a while about 4E D&D is that they wanted to get some of the MMO players, so they made the game as MMO-like as a PnP game can get. They apparently think the strength of MMOs is playability, and tried to capture that… But the strength of MMOs, and the reason they’ve come to dominate the RPG market, is their convenience. You can play any time you want, in the comfort of your own home, with people that are anywhere else in the world, for as long or as short as you want, and there’s no need to buy and read a constant stream of rule books. You have a one-time upfront cost, a low monthly fee (half the price of a rule book!), and you play on your computer — which you and your family can use for any number of games, and for a whole lot of other purposes, including school, work, other hobbies, and communication.

    Not all of us are teenagers, able to do marathon sessions on weekends and in the summer… And MMOs capitalize on that fact. Until they give us an easy to use, low-cost, highly functional and rules-neutral virtual gaming table, the PnP market is going to continue to dwindle.

  11. I think my other problem with this philosophy is that it would have robbed me of a couple of my favorite moments in D&D.

    Take, for example, the final encounter in Ptolus. (Spoilers, obviously.) The monster portion of the encounter is a twisted, corrupted Solar. That encounter loses much of its pathos and meaning if angels are something you would regularly fight. In fact, the whole “corrupted celestial” trick- which I have seen used in several games to very, very good effect- becomes meaningless in this way of thinking.

    The last great encounter I had before I moved away from all my gaming friends was a battle between the party, nominally led by my paladin, versus a planetar who was STILL GOOD- just overly-zealous. (We actually stole the Baby With The Bathwater scenario from you, Sean- did that adventure ever come out?) That was a fantastic campaign, one of the most emotionally involved fights I’ve ever been in.

    It means NOTHING if the planetar is not expected to be both good and an ally. As much as I love demons, fighting angels is almost always a more memorable experience. 4E… Well, 4E kind of puts the kibosh on that.

    -E

      • I mean that I don’t think it’s a good judge of quality to say “I dislike the change, because if it was true, some of my favourite scenes wouldn’t have happened”. They already did happen, and are unaffected by the change. In fact, seeing the same thing happen two or three times may be cheapened.

        I like to compare it to a “no do-overs” house rule, where you can’t insist on re-writing the past five combat rounds based on something you “would have done”, or that “would have happened” if you hadn’t forgotten a relevant bonus or effect.

  12. Oh well.

    Change for the sake of change is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes a franchise needs to look at things and give them a little shake to freshen it up and break up clumpy bits.

    Frankly, I like the change. Elementals prior to 4e were boring and generic. Perhaps another name than “Archon” could be used, but it still conjures images of ancient power to my mind and makes me think of immortal rulers in a D&D sense.

    As a personal note, this rather bitter and angry post I’m responding to is the reason I shall no longer be reading this blog. I appreciate that there will be things that people disagree about and that you might be justifiably irritated with WotC, but to constantly snipe at 4e and make ad hominem arguments like “retarded”…? It’s too much.
    It’s been fun reading, but I won’t be back.

    • Re: Oh well.

      {Frankly, I like the change. Elementals prior to 4e were boring and generic. Perhaps another name than “Archon” could be used,}

      Yes, if you want primordial elemental servants in the game, perhaps they could have picked another name, like “elemental.”

      {but it still conjures images of ancient power to my mind and makes me think of immortal rulers in a D&D sense.}

      Interesting, because I’m 99% sure that your awareness of the word “archon” comes from the traditional D&D meaning. Imagine what images will come to your mind in 5e when they redefine “lich”? :)

      {As a personal note, this rather bitter and angry post I’m responding to is the reason I shall no longer be reading this blog. I appreciate that there will be things that people disagree about and that you might be justifiably irritated with WotC, but to constantly snipe at 4e and make ad hominem arguments like “retarded”…? It’s too much.}

      An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: “argument to the man”, “argument against the man”) consists of replying to an argument or factual claim by attacking or appealing to a characteristic or belief of the source making the argument or claim, rather than by addressing the substance of the argument or producing evidence against the claim.

      At no point did I attack the designers about this decision. I called the design decision retarded, not the designers (some of whom are my friends). Smart people can make stupid decisions.

      {It’s been fun reading, but I won’t be back.}

      But… but… what about my lucrative LJ-based revenue?

      • Re: Oh well.

        Hahaha, love your closing line! I would like to remind serial Heretic that Sean’s website is subtitled “Very Opinionated d20 gaming.”

      • Re: Oh well.

        You’re think people would get that, but they somehow miss it all the time, weird, huh?

        Personally, I always love how everyone protests things by running away in a huff, rather than just thinking things through and talking about them. It’s like the kid who’d take his ball and go home, exception this time he rolls his eyes and sighs first, before nailing himself to a cross or pedestal and then going home with the ball.

  13. After reading all of the above posts (and agreeing with much of it, not a great $E fan here…hmm, 4 in uppercase is $…weird), I only have two questions:

    1) Has anyone heard anything about sales for 4e, or provide a link? I’d like to bask in the glory of suffering figures, or stand stunned in their success. Either way, I’d like to be educated on how their marketing decisions went.

    2) Why has the word ass-hat not been used yet? I think it is appropriate.

    • I’d like to bask in the glory of suffering figuresSo, you’re an a-hole, then?

      Wishing a business to fail, and as a result more people to be laid off and all the anguish that is associated with that—not to mention turning out people whose entire life’s dream is to work on D&D so you can feel better about your personal choice is malicious.

      Instead you could wish for success for other people so they can stay in business and continue to make happy the people they’re making happy, especially considering there’s market enough for different kinds of games. There are people who enjoy D&D and would like to continue to buy and play D&D. Wishing it to fail, and thus to take that away from them, is purposefully cruel.

      What’s Australian asshole?

      • Wanting a product line to fail is not the same as wishing a company would fold. Perhaps a little perspective is in order.

        WotC could go back to making 3.5 and make a hell of a lot of people very happy. And it’s not like D&D is the only thing they’ve ever done, either.

      • Wanting a product line to fail is not the same as wishing a company would fold.True.

        Perhaps a little perspective is in order.The perspective I have is that behind every D&D product are people who wouldn’t have a job if not for D&D. Is D&D the entire company? No. But if D&D fails, there’s no way around the fact that that means people, including people who don’t make high-level decisions, lose their jobs.

        By wishing for that, you’re maliciously wishing for people to lose their jobs and families to be deleteriously affected. It’s malicious because the market’s big enough to support both D&D and non-D&D products. You’re wishing ill on people for no good reason.

      • Hmmm…well, firstly I’d like to avoid turning someone else’s journal into a p***ing match, but obviously that’s not a problem with you. Points for respect.

        If a business suffers because of their marketing choices, perhaps they will make some effort to target their audience with products that will bolster their sales and strengthen their company.

        At no point did I mention that I wanted them to fail, but apparently I cannot see the true meaning of my own words without mounting a large equine.

        As I am an individual that did not enjoy the direction of $E, I’m in my rights to wish it poorly. I hope that they make enough money to make a better choice in D&D’s next incarnation.

        So, calling me an asshole is a classy way of…what? Being a net-jerk? To tell the truth I am a bit of an asshole, but on other people’s journal I have the respect to contain my rampant uneducated opinions on subjects fueled by excesses of whisky, country music and inbreeding.

        To this measure I’d like to suggest that Sean can delete all posts attributed to (and including) my initial post. As having a negative opinion on something is bad kiddies.

      • At no point did I mention that I wanted them to failNope. That’s what I’d like to bask in the glory of suffering figures says. Unless “suffering” means “having a party.”
        I’m in my rights to wish it poorly.As I mentioned upstream, there are people behind the “it.” Your wishing suffering onto those people is bad enough, but basking in the glory of that is what colors you the asshole.

      • Continuing the theme of the blog entry, remember what they say about winning arguments on the internet and being retarded. ;) Let’s put this subthread to rest, shall we?

      • Fine. Sean, if you want to delete this group of postings, please do so. I would rather ignore this ass-hat. I’m happy to debate my negative opinions towards the company’s decisions, but if it’s coming down to name calling, I’m fairly sure there are better ways to do it than here.

        If you’d like to actually have an intelligent arguement about this, rather than spatter fecal matter on a perfetly good thread, you know where to find me.

  14. So what you are saying is that Greedo shooting first is simply retarded? Or that the source of the Force is midichlorians? Or that Starbuck is a man, dammit! Oh wait, forget that last one…

    Seriously, I totally agree with you. They used the same name when they should have created a new one and simply not included archons at all.

    • I know you were just joking, but Starbuck is actually a really good example.

      Starbuck in OBSG was a male Viper pilot, very cocky, sexual.
      Starbuck in NBSG is a female Viper pilot, very cocky, sexual.

      If you’re a fan of OBSG and are complaining that “Starbuck should be a male because he was a male before,” you’re kinda sexist, because the essentials of the character are still the same.

      Now if in NBSG Starbuck were a doctor or a politician, I think you’d be justified in complaining because the essential nature of the character has changed; there’s no reason to name that doctor or politician “Starbuck” other than as a pointer back at the OBSG. It would have been stupid for the writers to do that.

      Just as it would have been stupid to have Scarlett Johannson play Professor X in the X-Men movies (because the Prof is an older bald guy in a wheelchair). Or have all the elves in Peter Jackson’s LotR movies be Inuit (because Tolkein describes his elves as tall and fair-skinned). Or have Sydney Poitier play Hitler in a cameo role in Valkyrie (because Hitler wasn’t black).

      Jarring, stupid, unnecessary changes that don’t add to what you’re trying to create.

  15. This is a keen observation, I say.

    I wonder if this is the fundamental disconnect that runs through everything.

    I say that because I’ve never thought of D&D as being a story. I’ll explain: My mates ‘n’ I played boxed D&D and then AD&D for a bit but were looking for a single book system because multiple books were too much to manage and we were just looking for a change generally.

    We just fell in love with Palladium RPG because it was a single book, a single world, with a story and great art, and was $20 the year it came out at Gen Con at Parkside (we even pooled our money for a copy, I kid you not). It was only later that we realized how terrifically awful the system was.

    D&D, on the other hand, had no default world—not as far as we could discern. The very fact that there was both a Greyhawk and a Forgotten Realms meant that really D&D was entirely modular with really no attachment to a game world to speak of, not when compared to many other systems who did have their own world.

    So, from our perspective which was formed in our formative years, D&D’s always been a game, not a story. And then came Dark Sun and Planescape and Ravenloft and all of that, and it was by then abundantly clear what D&D’s purpose was: It is the game best suited to present a wide variety of stories—and here are the tools to help you tell those stories and have the adventures you want. You can have a low magic world of barbarism, or a high magic world of fantasy, or even play on a donut city in another dimension, and all using the same rules system.

    And so it is within this framework that when I see D&D has changed a story element, which is already tertiary from the outset, that I have a profound non-plussed reaction, if there is such a thing as profoundly apathetic. ;)

    As to taste, I’m not suggesting a proper course is to end every post with a Buy Pathfinder ftw! tag at the bottom. I’m just suggesting that to avoid becoming what you beheld, meaning dissing the past in order to pump the new, that constructively positive Pathfinder posts outweigh negative pessimistic D&D posts.

    If you didn’t work at Paizo, it wouldn’t matter, but since y’all do, it does.

    (edited to correct HTML)

    • {I’m just suggesting that to avoid becoming what you beheld, meaning dissing the past in order to pump the new, that constructively positive Pathfinder posts outweigh negative pessimistic D&D posts.}

      True, though technically dissing 4e is dissing the present rather than the past. ;)

  16. a generic quote…

    I modified what you said…

    “It’s literally taking 30 years of D&D history ( [insert anything here] ) and saying, “nope, everything we built up about the lore of this [insert matching word] is wrong, we’re changing it, forget it.”

    Welcome to 4e Sean.

    • Re: a generic quote…

      That’s pretty much it. The new archons aren’t necessarily bad, and in fact have their advantages – they’re more flexible, more usable, and arguably cooler with better story potential. What’s damning is that they’ve sacrificed thirty years of D&D history to do it.

      The latest wave of superhero movies have done well to keep to established canon, because they know that nerdy twenty- and thirty-somethings take their fictional traditions very seriously. Are the decision-makers at Wizards of the Coast so out of touch that they don’t understand this, or are they genuinely willing to sacrifice older players in the forlorn hope of competing with online MMOs?

      • Re: a generic quote…

        “are they genuinely willing to sacrifice older players in the forlorn hope of competing with online MMOs?”

        Yes and they said so at all the pre-4e convention panels they ran. 4e isn’t designed to appeal to the older players, it’s designed to appeal to new ones.

      • Re: a generic quote…

        It’s certainly working that way, it seems. Lapsed players and players of other RPGs seem to love it, but the biggest fans of D&D 3E can’t stand it.

      • Re: a generic quote…

        I don’t mind the rule system.. it’s just the changes to lore (and fundamentals like magic missiles) that bother me.

  17. This is why I refuse to touch 4e

    If they don’t care about all the accumulated lore and history of the game and change stuff left and right for no good reason, I don’t care about their new game, even if *some* of the mechanics sound better.

    Call it something else, just not D&D.

    • Re: This is why I refuse to touch 4e

      I call it “DND Basic Edition” (no points if you get the reference.

      I don’t dislike the game. I actually like it for showing new players what roleplaying (in general) is like/can be.

      But the lore randomization and the utter lack of flavor text (some of which is useful and needed) means that it’s not just a new rules system, it’s a new game.

      The only real mistake Hasbro made was to call it “Dungeons and Dragons”, but that mistake will cost them many, many old-time players.

      • Re: This is why I refuse to touch 4e

        You know what’s awesome? It’s when someone comes across your thread after doing a search for something SIX MONTHS LATER, and it’s not even someone you know, and he feels compelled to respond anyway, setting off a bunch of reply notifications!

        When 3rd edition came out, my college roommate made pretty much this very same point. It may be a good game, he said, but it’s not D&D. This was when they took armor class, which for more than 20 years had been lower number = better armor, and reversed it.

        Personally, I think it can be argued that 4th is more D&D than 3rd was. For all of 1st and 2nd, class was the most important thing, it was what you were. Most characters were one class. Multiclassing was rampant, but it was regulated, and it was still what you were.

        Then 3rd came along and made class just a tool. Sure, I’m a fighter, but I’ve also got a level of rogue for the skill points, and I’m going to pick up a level of something else so that later I can take levels of this prestige class” which will make me something else entirely.

        4th Edition has returned us to, again, having class be the center of your character, and in that way is truer to 1st than 3rd ever was.

      • Re: This is why I refuse to touch 4e

        You know what else would be true to 1st? Level limits. Those were awesome.

        I’d also like more charts to look up in the middle of combat. Say, attack roll vs. target armor class charts, or weapon type vs. armor type charts.

        And let’s make it almost impossible to make new magic items, and when you do get to, they cost almost all your gold.

        Heck, let’s take it even further back than 1st edition, let’s play Basic/Advanced D&D, where if you weren’t a human, your race was your class. Elf = fighter-mage. Dwarf = slightly different than a regular fighter. Halfling = slightly different than a regular rogue. No gnomes or half-orcs. That would be really true to how we used to play. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

        No, it wouldn’t.

        Just because we did something in 1st edition doesn’t mean it was better than what we’re doing now. “We used to do it this way” isn’t always a good reason to keep doing it.

        And yeah, it’s perfectly intuitive that “lower armor class is better.” Even though the rest of the game told you “higher is better,” whether it’s your attack rolls, a rogue’s %skills, your hit points, your level, your XP, your ability scores, how much damage you do….

      • Re: This is why I refuse to touch 4e

        That’s a straw man, right? Where you make an argument close to, but not quite, the one I made, and then demolish it?

        My argument was not that 1st was better. It’s that this notion of This Is D&D And This Is Not can be turned against 3rd as well as 4th.

        “4th is not 3rd, so it’s not D&D” makes exactly as much sense as “3rd is not 2nd/1st, so it’s not D&D.”

      • Re: This is why I refuse to touch 4e

        Someone else touched on how 1st edition wasn’t the greatest, and yes, that is somewhat of a straw-man. Yay for saved typing.

        On to “why 4th edition isn’t DND”.

        1st-3rd edition had skills that were generic without checks, or skills that were specific with checks. 4th edition has skills that are generic and have checks.

        It’s good to keep it simple. 4th edition goes quite beyond keeping it simple and into the realm of denying character customization.

        1st-3rd edition has game mechanics specific to individual classes. 4th does not.

        This could have been much less of a problem. However, WoTC decided for some reason that a game at risk from lack of immersion has a specific chapter detailing how to break immersion.

        I would have clearly noticed that classes are now shoehorned into specific roles. I would not have minded so much (other than my general dislike of the extreme way in which the new powers are balanced).

        However, in a long-winded discussion of the Striker, Defender, Controller, and Leader roles, the game designers made sure I was very aware that the classes are very cookie-cutter. The difference between a Fighter and a Wizard is that one is a Martial Defender and one is a Arcane Controller. If I copied all of the Wizard powers to the Fighter and made them Martial-powered (for flavor), I’d have a Wizard.

        1st-3rd editions don’t have a concept of “Role”, and in 4th you aren’t playing a class, you’re playing a Role.

      • Re: This is why I refuse to touch 4e

        1st-3rd edition had skills that were generic without checks, or skills that were specific with checks. 4th edition has skills that are generic and have checks.

        I don’t understand what you mean. Please elaborate.

        It’s good to keep it simple. 4th edition goes quite beyond keeping it simple and into the realm of denying character customization.

        I’ve heard this a lot, but don’t understand it. You can make the character you want. Armored fighter with (insert weapon here)? Thief with some healing abilities? Multi-classing is way less versatile in 4th, I’ll grant you (although, as I said above, it was way too versatile in 3rd IMO), but otherwise you can make the characters you want.

        1st-3rd edition has game mechanics specific to individual classes. 4th does not.

        This is just not true. The rogue has backstab; other classes do not. Divine classes (clerics and paladins and the new classes which are basically cleric variants) have channel divinity; other classes do not. Wizards have spellbooks and the ability to choose powers daily’ other classes do not. Fighters, paladins and wardens all have challenges, and each works differently.

        (other than my general dislike of the extreme way in which the new powers are balanced).

        This is just a matter of taste, I think. I love the way new powers are balanced, and the resulting way the classes are balanced. Now, we take classes because we think they’re cool, not because they’re more powerful.

        The difference between a Fighter and a Wizard is that one is a Martial Defender and one is a Arcane Controller. If I copied all of the Wizard powers to the Fighter and made them Martial-powered (for flavor), I’d have a Wizard.

        Yes, the power sources are merely flavor. So? If you copied the powers over, I’d like to see how a martial character was causing a cloud of shards to exist in an area away from him, when he has no magic. The difference is in their roles; the fighter has melee powers and the wizard has ranged powers.

        1st-3rd editions don’t have a concept of “Role”

        Not expressly, but every time the fighter went out in front and the wizard stood in the back and cast sleep, the characters were playing their roles.

        and in 4th you aren’t playing a class, you’re playing a Role.

        Yet the fighter, paladin and warden — all defenders — play slightly differently. The ranger and rogue — both martial strikers — play differently. Hell, even the three different types of ranger, the archer, two-weapon fighter and beastmaster, play differently. (You’ll recall that the division of ranger into two fighting styles actually began with 3rd. However, 3rd still had rangers casting nature spells, something you can do in 4th if you spend the feats for it. The de-naturing of the ranger is among my least favorite things in 4th.)

      • Re: This is why I refuse to touch 4e

        1) Previous editions either had a lot of skills that had checks associated with them, or a few secondary skills that were very generic and were based more on character background.

        4th edition overly consolidated skills. One example: John is invisible. Since John cannot be seen, a hide in shadows check is redundant. A move silently check is not.

        4th edition also has too little in the way of variation between skilled characters. Characters X, Y, and Z are going to be rolling about (exactly?)the same check. Want to be a skills-based character? Pick another game.

        2) As for the game mechanics between classes, I’m talking about the Vancian magic system vs. spell point, and casting vs. class skills in general. Everything is now a “spell” used a certain number of times a day.

        3) Game balance is a crying shame. Here we have a form of entertainment that is guaranteed to be protored (the DM), and we toss that advantage right out the window. To be blunt, pen-and-paper games don’t need careful balance, and though I agree it is a huge factor in online games, this isn’t one (yet?).

        Soapbox moment: If you ever have been picking a class because it’s “better” than another one you wanted to play, you or your GM is doing something wrong.

        I’ve been running 3.0 games since it came out, and without exception some characters end up being radically more capable than others. Fortunately, they are on a team and I match the opponents to the sum total power of the group.

        I’ve even seen players (very rarely) get “power envy”. I let them roll up some absurd thing, and then they are inevitably sad puppies when thier Celestial Half-Ogre Fighter/Rogue/Titan Smasher runs into the dreaded “Rescue the Princess’ pet cat” adventure. It’s not all combat, all the time. Usually they don’t get to that point, though.

        4) I agree that roles always existed. But they weren’t locked to classes the way they are now. In previous editions a Fighter could be tuned to be a Striker or a Defender, or even a (gimpy) Leader. Now they are Defenders whether they like it or not because that is how their class abilities are geared.

        5) Flavor shouldn’t be clearly labeled as flavor; I find that this pulls me out of “player having fun” mode and into “game reviewer” mode. The books shouldn’t advertize their own faults. Speaking of flavor, I find the 4E books to be very dry.

        6) All of the classes have been tweaked in various ways, which is fine, really. But why should I have to buy two PHB’s to get the content that fit into one before? All game considerations aside 4th gives the impression of a money grab even though it likely isn’t.

      • Re: This is why I refuse to touch 4e

        1) This is a valid point, but so is the other side. John is invisible. Why not just give him a big bonus to Stealth rolls, especially since both his Move Silently and Hide in Shadows rolls would be opposed by the same Perception? It’s not like there were See and Hear skills before. Also, it doesn’t rise to “It’s Not D&D.” Want to be a skills-based character? Don’t play 1st or 2nd, either.

        2) Except for rituals, which are the spells you don’t use in combat. It makes more sense for Speak with Dead to be in a different bucket than Magic Missile.

        4) Assuming you have just PHB1, you can still do that. Want a fighter to be a striker? Play a ranger. Want him to be a leader? Play a warlord. They’re the same thing. They’re not called fighters, but they’re either lightly armored with two weapons or a bow, or heavily armored with healing and buffing abilities. (With Martial Power, you can take two-weapon abilities for the fighter, which makes him a little more damage-dealing.) But the designers would say you’re complaining that you can’t make bad characters (the gimpy leader).

        5) Yes it should. Perhaps this is my instinct as also a miniatures gamer, but I want to know what’s a Rule and what’s Not a Rule. Power sources give a perspective on where it comes from, and if we don’t distinguish between an arcane striker and a martial striker, then what is the difference between the halfling rogue and the tiefling warlock?

        6) The 3.0 PHB has seven races and eleven classes; the 4e PHB has eight races and eight classes. Some classes in 4e have more pages (fighter), others fewer (wizard). I think a big difference is that the 4e book has more white space, more large type (every power and magic item) and more large pictures. And of course 4e is a money grab; that’s what it’s for, from Wizards’ standpoint. They’re releasing 13 hardcovers a year at the current pace, one a month except two in July. I don’t know how many 3.0/3.5 books were released, but it was a buttload.

        In short, I can see all your points, and I accept them all as valid if disputable; but I don’t see them, individually or in sum, rising to the level of “It’s Not D&D.” We still have the fighter, cleric, thief and magic-user; we still have hit points and armor class; we still roll d20 to hit and different polyhedrals for damage; we’re still fighting kobolds at 1st level and beholders later. There’s no subdual damage against dragons anymore, though.

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