Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Huh?

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, because I certainly hope I am: can a paladin fall in 4e? As I read it, there's no possibility for a paladin to lose his powers as a result of violating his code, which has been a feature of every version of the paladin since 1975. Now, I recognize that I'm rather strongly biased against 4e, so I'm willing to consider the possibility that I'm unconsciously reading the description of the class in the least favorable light. But I don't see any evidence in the text that there's a way to become an ex-paladin through misdeeds. Am I wrong about this?

50 comments:

  1. I think you are correct. Note that in 4E Paladin-ness is no longer alignment specific, and as far as I can tell you can be a Paladin of whatever the heck you want.

    I imagine this is an upshot of 4E's design, where you can't just drop the Paladin's special powers and have him act as a normal Fighter - because the Fighter has his own special powers too, you'd need to painstakingly replace all the ex-Paladin's powers with Fighter powers. Or, you know, run a character without powers at all, which in 4E is equivalent to running a character without oxygen - you're not likely to last long.

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  2. Yes, it's just not defined in the rules. I take this as another aspect of the game's (welcome) aversion about legislating morality to PCs, particularly as it relates to the Paladin who is now more of a standard religious warrior as opposed to a necessarily lawful good crusader.

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  3. Note that in 4E Paladin-ness is no longer alignment specific, and as far as I can tell you can be a Paladin of whatever the heck you want.

    True, but I think the bigger issue is that, while paladins somehow wield "divine powers," these powers aren't granted to them by the deity they serve (as the text states outright). The same is true of clerics, I should add. This makes deities more or less superfluous in the new cosmology.

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  4. I take this as another aspect of the game's (welcome) aversion about legislating morality to PCs

    I think more pertinently what it does is reduce deities to superfluousness, as they no longer have any role whatsoever in granting spells/divine abilities to their followers.

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  5. Sincerely, I am absolutely certain that "losing paladin powers" was one of those things which were absolutely, without any sort of hesitation, were identified as "not fun" in the new edition and treated accordingly.

    Asking the "and what about the role of deities?" question is, therefore, de facto erroneous: it assumes a consideration in the game design process that was just not there.

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  6. Alternatively, you could look at it as allowing you to more easily create a world in which the literal existence of the gods is uncertain, as the visible power rests with the religious organization.

    But as others have said, it's primarily a game-balance concern. Paladins are no longer fighters-plus, so they don't need a balance in the form of "act this way or lose your special powers."

    Given the number of complaints over the years that revolve around paladins -- either how the paladin's code cramps all the other players' styles, or how GMs love setting up screwjobs to make paladins fall -- I'm rather glad that those aspects of the paladin are no longer built into the game.

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  7. Alternatively, you could look at it as allowing you to more easily create a world in which the literal existence of the gods is uncertain, as the visible power rests with the religious organization.

    I'm not opposed to that at all, since it's a solid sword-and-sorcery approach. What bothers me is the default cosmology seems to presume that, even in worlds where the existence of gods is not in question, they have no role to play in divine magic/powers. That's a huge shift philosophically, particularly in long-established settings that have made a point of playing up the relationship between the gods and their worshipers (such as the Forgotten Realms). It's a clear break from the past.

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  8. In 4e defense just about everything outside of combat is very vague. 4th edition is bereft of rules outside of combat. In this respect it is more in the spirit of OD&D than any edition since OD&D.

    I will say if you enforce alignment on cleric and paladin that the price of a fall is very heavy as the loss of all the class power will just about cripple the character. There is no "fighter" fall back. The only you will retain, until redeemed or find another patron, is your base attack and anything you got from the multi-class feat.

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  9. What bothers me is the default cosmology seems to presume that, even in worlds where the existence of gods is not in question, they have no role to play in divine magic/powers. That's a huge shift philosophically, particularly in long-established settings that have made a point of playing up the relationship between the gods and their worshipers (such as the Forgotten Realms). It's a clear break from the past.

    I guess as another old schooler I don't see it that way. I see this as an attempt to put in generic framework by Wizards and it doesn't bother me as I will sharpen the details in my own game. My paladins can lose their status and it will be a very serious affair when it happens. I am not looking to Wizards for guidelines, I will establish them myself and let the players in the campaign know them. Not really different to how I would have handled it in the seventies. I guess I am less tied to playing the game exactly as written, as we never really could do that back when I started and I never bought into the stricter methods more modern DMs use.

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  10. In 4e defense just about everything outside of combat is very vague. 4th edition is bereft of rules outside of combat. In this respect it is more in the spirit of OD&D than any edition since OD&D.

    Oh, I recognize and approve of that. The problem is that, unlike OD&D -- or indeed any previous edition -- the game mechanics are built on such a rigorous basis that the referee's ability to make rulings that directly them is extremely limited without bringing down the entire structure of the game.

    Lots of people like to argue that 4e is somehow "flexible" because it's uninterested in spelling out every little detail like 3e was. The problem I see with this argument is that it fails to take into account that, so far as I can tell, there's actually a very narrow range of rulings the referee can make without negatively impacting the Swiss movement of the 4e rules. That's totally unlike OD&D.

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  11. Not really different to how I would have handled it in the seventies.

    The primary difference is that, as Rob Conley notes, attempting to impose an old school-style penalty on an offending paladin in 4e makes him utterly useless as a character. The 4e rules were not designed to allow that kind of penalty and adding it will be a much more serious penalty than the original. From my reading of the game, 4e is much less amenable to house ruling than was even 3e, because the rules are very tightly constructed around a specific philosophy of play, whereas previous editions were much more haphazard and hodgepodge.

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  12. One thing I thought- the Order of the paladin gives the paladin his powers in a ceremony. I think it is awesome that you can have a paladin go bad and abuse his powers. What happens then? One thing that occured to me is that you can have the order put out a bounty on his head. The whole order starts looking for this guy with orders to terminate with extreme prejudice.

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  13. It seems to me that now, if you want Bad Things (tm) to happen to a paladin who betrays his deity/order, you have a choice.

    You CAN remove his powers (which cripples him mechanically), you can make him a wanted man, you can out and out smite him, you can make him an NPC, or you can simply allow the player to roleplay it. The ex-paladin in the Tomb of Horrors novelization was a good representation of such a concept.

    I think James has a valid point, that the 4E rules seem very structured and fragile, but houseruling 4E isn't any more difficult than houseruling 3E. The trick is to satisfy the single most important aspect of a D&D game - the players (including the DM) must enjoy themselves.

    That, more than balance or keeping the rules intact, keeps everything running smoothly.

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  14. I won't be purchasing or reading 4e but I am very curious about this. If divine powers don't come from deities, where do clerics, paladins and their like get their powers?

    If they're not granted or channeled from a higher power, then how do they differ from wizards apart from a spell list?

    If it's from their religious order, where do they get their power? Is it like a circle of witches?

    If it's learned (or granted for all time in a ceremony) and comes from within, then how is it different than psionics?

    For a game whose adherents always cry out for a measure of verisimilitude in all things, there must be some sort of explanation.

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  15. For a game whose adherents always cry out for a measure of verisimilitude in all things, there must be some sort of explanation.

    So far as I can see, there is no explanation beyond the statement that clerics and paladins gain their abilities through an initiation/investiture ceremony and that, once gained, they can never be revoked.

    Let me state that I don't have a problem with this model in and of itself, but I do think that, contrary to those who claim that 4e is as agnostic as OD&D on this issue, those lines in the PHB have cosmological consequences. Those consequences can't just be handwaved away if you reject them, because they're built in to the way 4e works mechanically.

    Again, that's not a problem in and of itself, but it is a problem if you're making the claim that 4e is less restrictive than any edition since OD&D when it comes to constructing your fantasy setting.

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  16. I like how paladins can't fall, personally. But then again, I've never really been all that tough on alignment and morality anyways. We usually have played in a world of grays instead of blacks and whites, where a paladin is just a guy with holy powers instead of arcane ones. Sure, he thinks he's better than you because of X, Y, and Z, but isn't that what the wizard and the ranger and the fighter have all been saying, too?

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  17. You know, it strikes me that this is just the bottom of a slippery slope the game started sliding down once it started allowing people to be clerics of generic abstract concepts as opposed to actual deities or cosmic forces (I think this started in the 2E era). Once the only IC prerequisite to being a cleric becomes "believe in something really, really hard" then you can be a cleric - and therefore a paladin - of just about anything or anyone, including yourself.

    At which point the classes no longer resemble the classic, archetypal clerics and paladins of yore.

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  18. Another way that the 4E mechanics make deities meaningless is that paladins and clerics can use a magic holy symbol dedicated to any faith without restriction. I think this primarily results from the overbearing emphasis placed on game balance between the classes - a wizard can pick up the Dagonite's magic wand and start blasting right away, so the thinking is that players of cleric and paladin characters would complain if they weren't able to do so with their special implements as well.

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  19. Arthur,

    To be fair,the problem you describe has its roots in 1e, where it was made clear -- in Deities & Demigods, I think -- that 1st and 2nd level spells come not from the intercession of a divine power but from the cleric's own belief and so could never be taken away, even if the cleric had otherwise strayed from the tenets of his patron deity. This kernel was then expanded further in 2e and 3e and now we can have "generic" clerics who serve no god at all.

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  20. I'm not so much bothered by the loss of paladins.

    However, I find the loss of divine granted powers in 4E to be pretty weak. What is a cleric if not a servant of his deity? Why bother to pray? Why take a vow?
    I could see several ways of justifying clerics that get powers from other places. But none of them are as interesting to me as divine benefaction. 4e watered the concept of a cleric down.

    The paladin code might have been too strict to justify a primary character class, I can buy that. But priests that don't need their deity's favor to cast spells? Why? Because it's easier to play?!

    IMHO game balance can sometimes diminish interesting game concepts.
    In fact, I like a little imbalance in my games. It's like that pretty girl with an embarrassing laugh, -only makes her that much more compelling.

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  21. It's like that pretty girl with an embarrassing laugh, -only makes her that much more compelling.

    You don't know how pleased I am to see someone use a metaphor like this. I am a big believer in the power of "rough edges" to make things more compelling. I appreciate a little roughness here and there, because it's evidence that a human being was involved in its creation. Things that are too "smooth," too finely crafted bore me to tears.

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  22. Way back when in The Primal Order there was a system for a godling getting power from the number of worshipers and priests it had as adherents. Perhaps the enterprising GM could have such a system for clerics and paladins, except that the cleric mines the faith of the flock directly instead of an intermediary. Of course, this assumes that a character actually acts as a part of the religion and seeks converts, etc.

    Seems like a lot of work and bookkeeping, though.

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  23. Oh, I recognize and approve of that. The problem is that, unlike OD&D -- or indeed any previous edition -- the game mechanics are built on such a rigorous basis that the referee's ability to make rulings that directly them is extremely limited without bringing down the entire structure of the game.

    To me a RPG's combat system, lite or heavy, is it's physics. Consequences follow from the premise and the way the paladin and cleric powers read they are of divine power and thus subject to divine intent. So I don't view it as bringing down the whole game system if I strip a player of powers due to alignment violations.

    I don't see how this is any different than OD&D clerics.

    However doesn't mean there is no major downsides due to 4th edition not addressing it. If you play with random X group then this consequence is not part of their expectation.

    It also means that if you are a author you have to do more work if you want make this a plot point of your work. Along with the fact that it may be viewed as an undesired innovation in a 4E product by the fan base.

    However it is ruleset that needs to conform to your setting not the other way around. Deities punishing their minions for not following their tenets is part of the setting so the rule set must adapt.

    Just remember that your new players and/or customers are not aware of this so take time to explain your approach.

    I found that if it is fun and make sense. Players will buy into it.

    Rob Conley

    PS. I view a fall from alignment is a interesting start for a new plot for the player and go from there. I am sure the player knows his or her character life is not over and that there still more to come.

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  24. I actually think 4E is the easiest to house rule of any edition, and as I'm currently designing a setting for it, I find myself jumping through a lot less hoops than I expected. While the RAW do make some nominal metaphysical assumptions, they always go the minimalist route, meaning that everything is presented in a way that enables the addition of rules without the subtraction of any standing mechanic. So you can implement restrictions on divine characters to taste, and while this may throw off 'balance' in the abstract sense, that only makes the restriction you're presenting all the more effective. Similarly, setting designers are no longer restricted to a polytheistic cosmos and gods no longer have to be defined by 'spheres,' allowing a lot more nuance and variation.

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  25. Note: It's not the same game anymore. These sorts of things still surprise you to the point that you are asking "huh?" and genuinely surprised and confused over them? Now I know you're an intelligent guy... why haven't you managed to grasp this simple concept yet? Or do you merely enjoy acting like you don't get it to highlight what you consider faults in the new game? There are no sacred cows in D&D anymore, and virtually every penalty of any sort has been removed. Try to view further startling discoveries in that light to avoid confusion.

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  26. Now I know you're an intelligent guy... why haven't you managed to grasp this simple concept yet? Or do you merely enjoy acting like you don't get it to highlight what you consider faults in the new game?

    I think it's truer to say that, while I do get the fact that 4e is in fact a different game -- I've said as much in this blog on many occasions -- I don't really get it on a deep level. I keep hoping against hope that somehow, somewhere, beneath it all, there's still something left of the game I've been playing for nearly 30 years.

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  27. To me a RPG's combat system, lite or heavy, is it's physics.

    Not sure I understand the intent of this sentence correctly. If this refers to the rules of the game literally being the physics of the imagined reality, I probably could not oppose that view strongly enough.

    Somebody made the amusing comment over on GitP that now that Paladin's can no longer fall, the only recourse for gross misconduct is for a higher power to kill them. I got a chuckle out of that.

    I don't mind the idea of "belief" being enough to power spells, but I think one has to understand that you can't just believe in any old thing. What is believed is of considerable importance.

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  28. I'm surprised the loss of the "traditional" Paladin bothers you so much. After all, the Lay-on-Hands, I lose my powers if I fall Paladin is very much a product of D&D, not of any recognizable source material.

    Thinking about actual Fantasy or Mythology, I can't think of a single example of an individual who loses their God-given powers when the god turns against them. Lancelot didn't become a worse knight after he boinked Guenivere, Odysseus didn't lose his legendary cunning after he hacked off Athena. Darth Vader didn't become unable to control the Force when he turned to the Dark Side. The whole idea that betraying your calling makes you less powerful is very much a D&D-ism and one which *arguably* acutally cheapens the path of the Paladin. After all, what's more admirable, pursuing a life of virtue because it gives you cool powers, or pursuing a life of virtue because it's the right thing to do?

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  29. After all, the Lay-on-Hands, I lose my powers if I fall Paladin is very much a product of D&D, not of any recognizable source material.

    You have to remember that of equal importance to me is the mantra that "D&D is always right," which I've talked about in several entries. By this I mean that you don't mess with decades of tradition without good reason. So far as I can tell, the change to the way the paladin works in 4e was implemented for no reason other than "a bad DM could abuse this." That's simply not good enough reason in my opinion.

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  30. As a believer in predestination (note: I'm lying about that) I find the "once you get them, you have them for ever" approach to divine powers to be full delicious nuance.

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  31. I find the "once you get them, you have them for ever" approach to divine powers to be full delicious nuance.

    For what it's worth, this approach has a mild resemblance the orthodox Christian concept of a "sacramental character" imprinted by baptism, confirmation, and holy orders. A priest is ordained "a priest forever," for example, which means that even an evil priest retains his faculties, regardless of the state of his soul.

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  32. Not sure I understand the intent of this sentence correctly. If this refers to the rules of the game literally being the physics of the imagined reality, I probably could not oppose that view strongly enough.

    Within the areas the rules system covers it THE substitute for our world's physic.

    But the point of my statement is that the using a particular rule system straight up will cause certain consequences to occur for a setting.

    In D&D 4th those consequences are limited in the class and power section. It is the ritual system that has most implications for a campaign world.

    For example Leomund's Chest has implications for Dungeon Crawls. As well as the teleport ritual that allow you return to a arcane circle from anywhere in the world.

    My attitude is because the games rules are the physics for my setting. It is the game rules that must conform to my setting assumptions not the other way around. I will read the rule system and figure out all the rough spots where it doesn't fit well with the my Majestic Wilderlands and make a house rule on it.

    In general my experience is that switching between the assumptions of GURPS 4th Ed Magic and the assumptions of the D&D 4th Magic/Ritual system hasn't been difficult.

    Somebody made the amusing comment over on GitP that now that Paladin's can no longer fall

    The fallacy of that person's statement was also that the rules doesn't say that they CAN'T fall. 4e just doesn't address the issue at all.

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  33. Within the areas the rules system covers it THE substitute for our world's physic.

    I can't agree with that (as a perception I would be inclined towards), but this probably isn't the place to extensively debate it.

    My attitude is because the games rules are the physics for my setting. It is the game rules that must conform to my setting assumptions not the other way around. I will read the rule system and figure out all the rough spots where it doesn't fit well with the my Majestic Wilderlands and make a house rule on it.

    That seems more agreeable to me, but it is not a process I would favour.

    The fallacy of that person's statement was also that the rules doesn't say that they CAN'T fall. 4e just doesn't address the issue at all.

    I find that most jokes don't stand up to a close analysis.

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  34. Thinking about it, the impossibility of "losing" your paladin powers if you shift alignment raises a tantalising possibility: why not have paladins who "fall" get "headhunted" by gods of the appropriate alignment? Winning the loyalty of a sworn vassal of a rival is precisely the sort of thing gods love...

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  35. Now I know you're an intelligent guy... why haven't you managed to grasp this simple concept yet? Or do you merely enjoy acting like you don't get it to highlight what you consider faults in the new game?

    I think it's truer to say that, while I do get the fact that 4e is in fact a different game -- I've said as much in this blog on many occasions -- I don't really get it on a deep level. I keep hoping against hope that somehow, somewhere, beneath it all, there's still something left of the game I've been playing for nearly 30 years.


    Sadly, there's nothing left but the name. I wish that WotC had chosen to market their new game on its own merits, rather than use the name of an older game that they happen to own, but such is the world we live in.

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  36. I'm suprised I hadn't heard about this anywhere earlier. Definitely another major break with the traditions of D&D. Paladins have always been a tough choice for players: I can get a guy with wicked cool powers...but I have to play him as a good guy..all the time..or lose my wicked cool powers. I liked that a lot. Neither I nor anyone I knew played Paladins very often, but when we did it was something special. A lawful good Faustian bargain between the player and DM if you will.

    I think this comes about from 2 things:

    1. An obsession about "balancing" all the races, classes, etc.

    2. An obsession with eliminating (well at least minimizing) any kind of "negative reinforcement" for players as well as any discretion for the DM.

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  37. Sadly, there's nothing left but the name.

    That's increasingly my feeling too, but the name is a very powerful one -- which is why it continues to get re-used. I recall Ryan Dancey saying a few years ago that the name "Dungeons & Dragons" has public name recognition in the 90% range. If true, that more than explains why WotC/Hasbro will continue to use it for whatever fantasy-themed game they produce, no matter how dissimilar it is in content or spirit to the game Gygax and Arneson published in 1974.

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  38. 2. An obsession with eliminating (well at least minimizing) any kind of "negative reinforcement" for players as well as any discretion for the DM.

    From what I can tell, 4e is about increasing the latitude of referee control (compared to 3e) within a narrow range (compared to OD&D/AD&D). That narrow range specifically does not include anything that has implications for the way the player plays his character (thus the downplaying of alignment, the homogenization of races/classes, etc.). It's a strange hybrid approach who inconsistencies, I predict, will be the source of 4e's being eventually deemed "broken" by those arguing for the need for a new edition.

    (Of course, I don't think there will a 5e, but that's a separate topic)

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  39. Re: the last comment -- I believe that is correct. 4e-as-written seems to be mostly friendly to DM preparation; obviously, the designers have learned some lessons about 3e's problems in this regard (although, to be fair: if you are okay with stripped-down stat blocks and don't stray too far into templates and advanced monsters, 3.0 works well enough).

    But there are other areas which are very strongly considered off-limits to DM meddling - the assumption being that DMs are prone to an abuse of power. I think this lack of trust says a lot about where Official D&D is heading nowadays, and whom it is interested in accommodating.

    I have said my piece about the "positive reinforcement" bit some time ago (in fact, way back in 2006), and it still seems to be making the rounds over the internet, with a recent 500+ post thread on Gleemax, and choice quotes such as

    "Untruth dressed up as pretentious intelectualism and with heavy weight of text is still untruth." -- The Ubbergeek, Gleemax

    "Melan's an idiot. An eloquent, very well-written idiot, but an idiot nonetheless. He gets up on a soapbox with dreams of being a demagogue and gets it kicked out from under him because he forgot to build his soapbox out of facts twisted to support his argument." -- Ardent, Gleemax

    "This supposedly "brilliant" rant is, in actuality, the ramblings of a dim bulb."
    -- arderkrag, Gleemax

    "The general attitude I got from Melan is that not only should a game not be fun the entire time, but it should also frustrating and randomly punishing you for reasons beyond your control." -- Antioch, Gleemax

    "What's the point of having the Rust Monster at all if its only purpose is to be a "test of faith" that the DM will wave his magic wand and make it better afterwards?

    Oh, wait, I forgot, we're talking about the scary immersionist belief that *things that happen* in the game are inherently "fun", whether or not they're actually interesting or rewarding. Silly me."
    --ArcTan, Gleemax

    "It's just not fun. Maybe some people can wear that lack of fun as a badge of honor, but I say why? I learned modesty out in the real word. I learned humility from real people. I learned the error of pride in the arena of love. Why do I need to suffer those things in a game of fantasy where I've taken on the mantle of street scoundrel." --Exposed Wires, Gleemax

    "The article is written with such gravity and conviction, you would think the subject concerned such subject matters as loss of freedom, the censoring of art, or the loss of human life on a grand scale." -- Chef Mike, Gleemax

    I obviously did something right. Also, I am feeling a bit like Baron Boddissey.
    --Melan

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  40. "(Of course, I don't think there will a 5e, but that's a separate topic)"

    Care to speculate further on that topic, perhaps in a seperate post?

    I'm curious to hear what your theories are for the game's future.

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  41. "(Of course, I don't think there will a 5e, but that's a separate topic)"

    I'd also be interested in hearing your opinion on this subject. At this point, I find an eventual 5e likely, but very probable that it will lose most pretensions to the status of roleplaying games as we now know them.

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  42. But there are other areas which are very strongly considered off-limits to DM meddling - the assumption being that DMs are prone to an abuse of power. I think this lack of trust says a lot about where Official D&D is heading nowadays, and whom it is interested in accommodating.

    I agree. I grow very frustrated with the chorus of people who claim that 4e is somehow more "flexible" than any edition since OD&D, because they seem to be overlooking the central lack of trust that characterizes 4e's design. Yes, it's true that there's a lot of leeway give to the referee in adjudicating certain situational game mechanics -- moreso than 3e as written anyway -- but there are many, many areas that are verboten to such adjudication, most notably anything relating to characters and their play.

    Also, I am feeling a bit like Baron Boddissey.

    Bodissey often spoke good sense, so that's not a bad person to emulate.

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  43. Re: 5e

    My gut feeling is that 4e was produced, at least in part, to answer Hasbro's likely concerns that D&D is an "underperforming brand." Given the name recognition the game enjoys, I'm sure Hasbro wonders why it's not making more money from D&D than it is. 4e's design is at least partially an attempt to answer that challenge and I suspect, even if it does phenomenally well -- better than 3e -- it still won't do well enough to justify its continued existence as presently constituted. Any game in the future to carry the name Dungeons & Dragons will be less like a tabletop RPG and more like a board/minis game.

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  44. I agree. I grow very frustrated with the chorus of people who claim that 4e is somehow more "flexible" than any edition since OD&D, .. but there are many, many areas that are verboten to such adjudication, most notably anything relating to characters and their play.

    The combat system is crunch heavy like GURPS, Harnmaster, Rolemaster, and a dozen other RPGs.

    In those games you don't generally don't make up rules on the fly to handle various situations. Instead you make up tactics using the rules as building blocks to handle the situation.

    Each rule is very basic (facing, movement, to hit, damage, etc) but in a well designed game they combine to do a lot of interesting things.

    There is still the same amount of freedom and creativity in each approach.

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  45. Also I would add that the only other RPG I read that has a similar approach of D&D 4th's combat heavy non-combat lite. Is the Melee/Wizardry/Fantasy Trip series by Metagaming.

    You could argue that about Arms Law but that quickly evolved into the full Rolemaster RPG.

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  46. There is still the same amount of freedom and creativity in each approach.

    For me, not being able to make up rules on the fly is a good example of game's not being flexible. It might still be a good game; it's certainly a tightly designed one. That's not the same as a flexible one, though, particularly when you're comparing it to OD&D. I understand the point is to say that 4e is more flexible than its immediate predecessor, but, unless there's something about 4e I'm just not seeing, there is no way that it's more flexible than even 2e, never mind OD&D.

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  47. That's increasingly my feeling too, but the name is a very powerful one -- which is why it continues to get re-used. I recall Ryan Dancey saying a few years ago that the name "Dungeons & Dragons" has public name recognition in the 90% range. If true, that more than explains why WotC/Hasbro will continue to use it for whatever fantasy-themed game they produce, no matter how dissimilar it is in content or spirit to the game Gygax and Arneson published in 1974.

    Depressingly accurate, I fear.

    RE: The potential 5th Ed.

    When the 3.5 core books were announced, several friends and I started discussing why. Our thoughts were that any serious change would require a genuinely new edition, whereas any minor changes would warrant only an errata. Then one of us pointed out that WotC made more money by selling core books than they did by selling supplements... Virtually everybody in a group wants a copy of the PHB, fewer (but still a goodly amount) want the DMG and MM, and only a handful will buy modules and supplements. Given this line of thought, I suspect that a 5th edition will come sooner than we might otherwise think.

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  48. 1st and 2nd level spells come not from the intercession of a divine power but from the cleric's own belief and so could never be taken away, even if the cleric had otherwise strayed from the tenets of his patron deity.

    leads inevitably to the 4th level spell: al Ghazzali's question: On a failed saving throw, causes a cleric to lose that natural faith that is the source of spellcasting power. On a second failed save, also prompts 2D6 years of intense, introspective soul-searching, during which no adventuring is possible. At DM's option, the character may emerge from this soul-search as a new character class, Philosopher.

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  49. My gut feeling is that 4e was produced, at least in part, to answer Hasbro's likely concerns that D&D is an "underperforming brand."

    Assuming this is true... While I’m certainly one to rail about the potential stupidity of executives—having witnessed plenty of it first-hand—I think there’s actually a bit of hope here.

    If the execs perceive 4e as a move in the board game direction, and if they feel 4e also underperforms, then they may actually decide it needs to go in the opposite direction rather than continue farther along the board game route.

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  50. If the execs perceive 4e as a move in the board game direction, and if they feel 4e also underperforms, then they may actually decide it needs to go in the opposite direction rather than continue farther along the board game route.

    You are indeed an optimist :)

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