Sunday, April 27, 2008

4th Edition Ennui

In a few weeks time, the new edition of D&D will be out and about, and the face of the industry will undergo its periodical overhaul. And you know what? I can't be bothered, to be honest.

But the weird thing is, up until D&D Experience, where the core rules were mostly revealed, I was stoked. I checked ENWorld every day, I was on the boards every day, and I ate up every single tidbit that was given out to us.

But now I don't care, and I can't put my finger on why. It can't be that I haven't played in months, because I barely played in the time that I was looking forward to the new edition. It's certainly not that I'm a 3rd Edition purist - I've been waiting for an overhaul to that system for a few years now.

I think it's just that the excitement has gone out of it. Once Wizards of the Coast gave us the basics, I had nothing to look forward to. Especially since what they revealed was precisely not the game I was looking for. Instead of taking what worked from 3rd Edition and shifting the game back a bit closer to the AD&D paradigm, it's moving further and further away.

And therein lies my major problem, I think - I want to play old-school D&D again, but I can't. I have a couple of players who would probably play whatever I want, a couple who I know won't want to convert to a new system, and at least one who considers the old editions the equivalent of playing an old Colecovision when there's an X-Box 360 in the room. I'll never convince these guys to let me run old-school D&D, so I was hoping that 4e would solve my problem - because it's always easier to convince people that the new stuff is improved, whether it is or not.

And it's not just the new rules, but the new attitude. For example, beholders (and I assume medusae as well) don't turn you to stone instantly with a gaze - they slow you down gradually, gradually, until rounds later you're stoned. The rust monster is probably the same way, based on an older article by Mike Mearls. It seems to me like the potential for instant danger and surprise is lessened. Hey, look at my blog title - you think I'm going to enjoy casting Finger of Death from now on? For better or worse, the Tomb of Horrors as originally envisioned can't work with 4e. Some folks will jump for joy. I think it's a tragedy.

So yeah, I think Wizards gave us everything too quickly. If they hadn't revealed the rules back in February, I'd be there on the first day of release with cash in hand, and probably taking a day off work to read them in the bargain. As it is, I've known for months that 4e isn't the D&D I want. I was excited by the shiny newness of it all for a while, as some of my earlier blog entries indicate - but I waver on this point a lot. In a few weeks I might change my mind and fall in love with 4e again. But right now I've got little desire to buy the books, and even less desire to play the game. And I really, really wanted to like it.