We finally ran it. A few of us got together this weekend to play 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons. We wanted to give the game a fair shake so we played strictly by the rules. (We’ve got so many house rules for DnD that this was almost a challenge, heh.) We also played the adventure in the back of the Dungeons Masters guide as that seemed like a good way to start.

I was Tolvan an Eladrin Rogue. We also had a Dragonborn Warlord, a Dwarven Figher and a Tiefling Warlock. One character short of a full party but we scaled the monsters down as needed. As I mentioned, this was a learning game, there were a lot of combat rules referenced.

So, how did it go? The campaign went well. We accomplished the required quests (although I was an hour late leaving to visit my parents.) I think we got a feel for the game played with a strict adherence to the rules and I think we all got a feel on what we thought of 4th edition.

Now, I know you’re all chomping at the bit to know what I think but, one more interlude. These comments are based on playing with the real rules. Like I said, we never play with the real rules as we’ve house-ruled everything. We’re going to give this another shake at some point to see how it feels with our custom changes attached.

That aside, I was a little disappointed in how the game played. It has been mentioned in several places that 4th gives DnD an feel similar to a massively multiplayer online game. I’d have to agree with this statement. They’ve done a lot of work to simplify things (which, in some cases, makes it more convoluted) and changed the game a lot to cater to new players. Some of this served more to distract me then to add to the game.

What did I like? Well, I like the new skill combinations. Makes everything a lot simpler and makes a lot of sense. The idea that you just have Perception instead of Search, Spot, Listen and who knows what else is a good abstraction. The fact that you’re either Trained or Un-Trained I’m not so hot on. As well, the fact that you can only learn new skills though a feat? What the duse? (Yes, I know, re-training, but we’ll get to that.) I think the concept of skill points and ranks wasn’t too bad. It let me put points into things that aren’t necessarily combat related (yes, one of my characters has ranks in profession sailing) and the removal of the craft related skills takes something away from the game.

Powers are an interesting one. I’m on the fence about these. I like the idea, I think they add flavor to the game. The fact that I have to make every attack use a power or I’m gimped drives me up the wall. Whatever happened to good old fashioned, I’m hitting that guy? Now it’s I’m using my Sly Flourish power to hit that guy. Damn it, sometimes I just want to hit things and I don’t want to get gimped for it. (I’m also a little bitter in that every time I used my Daily power I missed so it didn’t have any effect.) The other side of powers that I both like and dislike is how they work. Your power will tell you what to roll and what’s used for defense against the power. Say, Dexterity vs Reflex. This is good, this is kinda cool. This gives me a way to hit the fighter with an armor class of 21 but a Reflex save of 10. This also kinda sucks in that it’s a pain in the ass to remember what modifiers you’re adding and what the defense is for that role.

What’s the deal with feats? There aren’t very many and even when you dig into them so many are class specific that there is a very small pool to choose from.

I said I’d get to it, so here we go, re-training. Similar to powers I both like and dislike re-training. Why is it good? Well, there have been several occasions where I get high enough level, pick a prestige class (yes, yes, 3.5 reference but it’s my reference point) and realize I’m missing a simple skill pre-requisite. I then have to wait until I’ve got enough skill points I can use to raise that skill. This always kinda sucks. (I guess if I was really anal I would plan out my character from first to 30th before I start to play but I’m just too lazy. I like the more random approach.)

In this situation re-training would be helpful as I can move the training from a more minor skill into the needed skill.

This also doesn’t make any sense. What, I magically wake up one day and forget about Religion and learn everything there is to know about Nature? Same argument for feats. What, I suddenly forget how to stab someone in the back so my Sneak Attack damage has decreased?

Re-training does make sense for powers as I still think of them similar to spells.

Speaking of spells, personally, I think wizards got gimped. Sure, they get twice as many powers but they still have to pick the same number as everyone else at the start of the day, they just have a wider selection. You can’t memorize the same spell twice, so I can’t cast fly on two characters in the same day? Suck.

As Deacon said, I can’t play this game, there’s no 10 foot pole.

Concluding, I’m going to give 4e another shake. We’ll see what happens when we house rule a few things. I’m leaning towards preferring 3.5 but who knows.