Yeah, I ate up AD&D when I was younger. The whole ‘fire and forget’ magic user, demi-humans, you name it, I played the game. It was cool. And who the hell was I to question anything? After all, at the time AD&D was the only fantasy RPG out there.
Fast forward several years. I dabbled in other RPGs for other genres, but left D&D in the ditch. I finally got back into the game for a 3.5 campaign and found…well…some things just sucked the fun out of it. Maybe it was being away from the absolute canon that was Dungeons and Dragons 3.0, but there were elements in that version which were simply just no fun at all. 4ed shook up some things by making a few changes.
Cool stuff, all the time – Forget the one fight day. You know that big fight where the casters blow all their spells and are now powerless, so you all decide to take an 8 hour rest? Not anymore. And more importantly, your melee types also have a few choices other than doing the same attack, over and over again. Yeah, a variety of abilities and you can use them more than just once a day. Fun stuff.
No Cleric? No problem – Well most of the time at least. Healing surges are great. No longer is a party totally crippled without a healer type. And the types that do heal typically just make using healing surges more efficient. Now Clerics are more than just walking band aids in chain mail. They get to get into the action a little more also.
Melee or magic, it works the same – As I’m DMing some new RPers, they had a hard time wrapping their heads around the save mechanic and spells in 3.5. Melee attacks were simple enough. Roll a D20 and check against the AC. But spells got things wonky. Sometimes it was a touch attack. Sometimes you automatically hit, but the creature had a save. Spell casting was clunky.
Now you have a uniform mechanic. Roll versus a defense type and then roll damage. Saves are just for ongoing effects. Simple and easy to remember.
Save or die is ditched – Yeah I’m sure this upsets the iron man RPers out there. But having an absolute, one-shot die roll decide the fate of a character sucks. There is a little room now for flubbing a few die rolls. I love it. I don’t feel like I have to pull punches now when DMing. At the same time, my players know a single missed save doesn’t mean they have to roll up a new character.
4ED is not perfect, but I think they added a few tweaks to the game to bring the fun back. And isn’t having fun what it is all about anyways? I guess the fervor has settled down over 4ED hate/love, but feel free to pipe up with your thoughts. And if you haven’t tried it, why not give it a whirl for free?