4th Edition D&D: Simply Elegant or Simpleminded?

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My Player's Handbook (4th Edition)

I guess we should establish a few things upfront.

First, I am a D&D grognard. I started playing D&D in 1976. At that time, there was only one version of the game, now affectionately known as Original D&D. I can remember with fondness a long summer at our lake house in the Ozarks spent pouring over the white boxed set of rules with supplements for Greyhawk and Blackmoor. To say that character attrition was high back then might have been an understatement. I dutifully bought each supplement, reveling in the glimpses it provided; frustrated that so many holes remained. During this time, I was a player but I knew the future held something more.

With the release of Basic D&D and AD&D in 1977, I quickly realized that as an “experienced” gamer, AD&D was the system for me (and consequently never bought the Basic D&D books). While we continued to play OD&D, I was captivated by the completeness of the AD&D books. In late August 1979, after several agonizingly unsuccessful trips to the King’s Crown, the Dungeon Master’s Guide finally arrived. By the start of the school year, I was ready to run my first adventures: Tegel Manor and the City-State of the Invincible Overlord. Game on. So, while OD&D provided the catalyst and sparked the interest, AD&D was the hook that kept me playing.

This brings me to my second point. During my long gaming career, I have tried many, many gaming systems. Not all of them, mind you, but enough to come to an important conclusion. Role-playing is about the story and the adventure. The rule set should provide a means to have a consistent, fun experience, but it shouldn’t be the focus. If I want rules, I’ll play Third Reich. I played Traveler, Runequest, etc. I found things I liked about each of them, and I found things I didn’t like – hit location comes to mind as a particularly onerous concept. But, in the end it is not about the combat rules, skill trees, or any single mechanic. It is about unlocking imagination, having fun, and keeping things moving. Historical realism is not the point for me.

By the time the Monster Manual II and Unearthed Arcana came out, I found myself getting less and less out of each new rulebook. And, while I bought each dutifully, I can honestly admit that my Manual of the Planes is relatively untouched. When 2E AD&D came out, it left me flat. Granted, it was aimed at younger players (me being 26 at the time), but the mechanics did not provide a better playing experience. The system was not elegant, nor did it provide a more realistic game. The tipper for me was the thinly-veiled attempt to make D&D mainstream, eliminating demons, assassins and half-orcs, because I might not be able to distinguish those from doctors, lawyers and politicians. While I threw away my 2E AD&D books, I have never regretted the decision.

In 1988, I published my own set of Rules of the Realm, an offshoot of AD&D meant to plug the gaps that I felt remained. We have played the Rules of the Realm for 17 years, and they still get an occasional workout even today. Ironically, many of the ideas that I expanded resurfaced in D&D 3.5 almost 20 years later. For example, I created 30 “adventuring percentages” to cover all the miscellaneous tasks such as searching and climbing. These were trained at each level and only slightly restricted by class and race. Now, I won’t claim to have covered the topic as completely as “Skills” in D&D 3.5, but the ideas and mechanics are the same. Overall, I managed to reduce 400 tables in AD&D down to a couple of dozen. The Rules of the Realm, in my estimation, were elegant; relatively-well balanced, and certainly provided fast-paced play.

So, now we come to D&D 3.5. I might have missed out on this wonderful edition of the game altogether except for joining another local group (as a player for the first time in almost 25 years) in 2003. After hours of playing and several complete readings of the core books, I realized that the Rules of the Realm and D&D 3.5 had come together again. While I’m not saying that the D&D 3.5 rules are perfect (how complicated can you making turning undead?), the basics are all there. In 2006, I started running my first D&D 3.5 campaign (once a DM, always a DM). Ironically, it was called Return to Tegel Manor. D&D 3.5 is a system that I really like for its ability to provide an interesting, useable structure to the game and yet have enough interesting twists to keep the hard-core character builder happy.

When D&D4e came out in 2008, I bought a set of core rulebooks (surprised?). I have now completely read the rules twice, and here are my opinions and insights.

  • The overall feel of reading the manuals is like reading the Player’s Guide to WOW. Excessive thought has apparently gone into eliminating all of the game’s quirkiness (which I was happy to see retained in D&D 3.5). In many cases, this feels like change just for change’s sake.
  • There appears to be a slot for everything and everything in its slot. I guess my initial perspective is that I feel restricted – not a good thing for somebody who wants their imagination ignited.
  • Indeed, I am assuming that a computer game version of 4e is already programmed and ready to go. Hmm. That might explain some of the bizarre rules simplifications below. The tipper would have been to include shortcut keys in the Player’s Handbook.

Here are my specific thoughts about the game, chapter-by-chapter, starting with the Player’s Handbook.

Chapters 1-2: Character Creation

  • Undue simplification. For example, there are only five alignments in 4e. LG, G, E, CE and Unaligned. Why? I like LE characters.
  • Elimination of individual character class progression. Having played several systems where all characters start as “generic human” and progress evenly at the same rate, it seems like these systems typically don’t facilitate very interesting characters. 4e, in actuality, doesn’t really have character classes. There are five buckets of abilities (feats, at-will powers, encounter powers, daily powers, and utility powers) and each character gets one dip out of each bucket to start, one more dip from the same bucket at each additional level regardless of class, etc. While this “build” system probably creates more balanced characters, it significantly narrows the range of creativity. Playing an illusionist in AD&D was a challenge to stay alive, required outrageous amounts of experience, and rewarded the patient with an uber-powerful character. In my estimation, D&D 3.5 took the “generification” of character classes to the limits. In 4e, that line has been crossed.

Chapter 3: Races

  • No gnomes??? I can see adding new races, but why take away our beloved gnomes? Elves are simple woodland archers? Bah, they are one of the oldest and most complex races in the game. Again, this is more of a point of flavor than a real complaint. No half-orcs? Sigh.
  • Not much diversity. Every race gets +2 to two abilities, +2 to two skills, etc. Again, every race takes an identical dip out of the same buckets. I like adding +2 to my strength while taking a -2 to charisma. It makes me realize that my character is going to have tough times being an actor, not that a half-orc actor is really that common…. Of course professions have been eliminated, so there goes being an actor anyway.
  • Another example. While I like the new races, the deltas between the statistics are too small to be interesting. Let’s look at speed. A halfling moves at 6. A human moves at 6. Huh? Only elves move one square faster and only dwarves one square slower. In the end, this is a great example of taking too much of the quirkiness out of the game. The hobbit thief used to have to leave two rounds early sneaking up just to arrive at the battle at the same time as everybody else.

Chapter 4: Classes

  • Again, it seems like many character classes have been eliminated somewhat arbitrarily. For example, no druids? This might be to make room for future books, but my guess would be that the missing classes met their fate simply because they didn’t fit neatly into the general class “box”. With only eight classes, we are almost back to OD&D.
  • Similarly, I am concerned with the narrowing of differences between the classes. The simplified rules have taken away many of the knobs that could be tweaked to balance the classes (i.e., everybody needs the same experience points to get the same number of feats, etc.). But it seems that making the best and worst performers differ by less than 10% on anything really creates a pile of grey characters.
  • Eliminating dice rolling for hit points is just wrong. One of the best moments of every gaming evening is the rushed calculation of experience followed by the moment of truth.
  • The concept of healing surges, allowing characters to get back 25% of their hit points during combat, regardless of class, greatly reduces the tactical elements of having the healer positioned well in combat, having the right healing potions with the right characters, etc. Deciding whether to heal up after a combat (and use the cleric’s precious spells) is now a no-brainer with every character having multiple surges, and I can’t imagine a case where any character would go into any combat without full hit points. While the new rules more closely simulate computer game play (where you heal while you're walking to the next battle), this changes takes away from the role-playing (the healing craft as a means for clerics to make money for their deity, for example) as well as the strategic and tactical gaming aspects of healing.
  • Something I like. I like the concept of the epic and paragon classes as a replacement for prestige classes. The main difference is that they are better integrated and less vague than prestige classes, which were cool, but had the potential to really un-balance a campaign. There are still some prestige classes in D&D 3.5 that I don’t completely understand.
  • Comparing a 10th level wizard and a 10th level fighter:
    Wizard (10th level) Fighter (10th level)
    Hit Points 50 75
    Healing Surges (per day) 6 9
    Skills 4 4
    Feats 6 6
    Powers 11 out of 44 11 out of 38
    Special #1 Implement Mastery Mark: -2 to attack
    Special #2 4 Cantrips (Light, etc.) Superiority: +1 AOO
    Special #3 5 Rituals (aka spells) Talent: +1 to attack
    • All the fighter powers (exploits) are useful only in melee. Let’s face it, the fighter “utility” powers (i.e., Unbreakable which “reduces the damage from the next attack by 5”) are really just combat powers. I guess this gives them optional charts which make combat more interesting for fighters.
    • Most of the wizard powers (spells) are used only in melee (35 out of 44). And most of these are just different flavors of the same thing. So, while wizards have five “at-will” first-level spells, these all do the same thing: minor damage. They just cause a different type of damage: cloud of daggers (force), magic missile (force), ray of frost (cold), scorching burst (fire) and thunderwave (sound).
    • A 10th level wizard has only 9 possible “real utility” spells. These are: feather fall, jump, dimension door, disguise self, dispel magic, invisibility, levitate, wall of fog, and arcane gate. Granted they are good spells, but by 10th level, I want a spellbook brimming with weird spells.
    • So, our 10th level wizard has 20 total spells in his spellbook (11 powers + 4 cantrips + 5 rituals). These are chosen from a total pool of 18 non-combat and 35 combat spells.

    Compare this to a 10th level D&D 3.5 Wizard who has the same 20 total spells in his spellbook. However, his total pool of possible spells is 215. Of all the things I don’t like about 4e, this is my biggest complaint. Sure, the game is more controlled by only having 18 utility spells instead of 200. Remember, unlocking imagination is what D&D is all about. I know that my players who like character building are going to be disappointed by the lack of choices.

    So how many spells is the right number to include in the game? In writing the Rules of the Realm, I distilled the total list of spells to 440. In the last 20 years, we have come up with about 60 new spells that are truly unique. So, my answer would be about 500. D&D 3.5 probably has a few more. Remember, there are almost 10,000 unique-play Magic the Gathering cards. Now, some of them are real losers, but it puts things into perspective.

  • That said, I don’t mind the elimination of the “level” concept for powers (spells). If it takes an 18th level character to use a power, why not call it an 18th level power? That’s cool.
  • And, the “at-will”, “encounter” and “daily” designations are fine. This eliminates casting times, which really boiled down to the same thing anyway. Rules of the Realm had casting times of 1 round (in melee), 1 turn (not during melee), and 1 day (really big stuff). I never really understood the “segment” system which seems like a lot of paperwork. D&D 3.5 got it right. 4e seems fine.
  • That said, I think that 4e will allow characters to string endless encounters together in a single day (since characters completely heal and get almost all their powers back between fights). But, the story can be controlled by the DM - it just has the earmarks of being easily abused.
  • A much bigger problem and one that might really make 4e games suffer is the number of optional charts. Remember, for me quick resolution of battle moves the story along. I don’t want to fight six orcs and call it a night. That is what miniature wargames are for (which I like too, btw). In D&D 3.5, your experienced players usually take the tough roles (i.e., the wizard) where you might have to choose between 20 spells to cast each round of melee. Fighters usually have a couple of choices (typically swing away or use a feat). In 4e, everybody has 10-20 powers they can use each round (at 10th level). My fear, and it may not be correct, is that this will slow melee down even more. While there is a focus on more team-oriented action, it seems that six people with 90 total melee options means that the game either drags as the party seeks group consensus about which powers should be used OR it moves at the pace of the slowest (or most inexperienced) player. Both could be really, really bad.

Chapter 5: Skills

  • I was disappointed by the de-focusing of value on skills. I really liked the implementation of D&D 3.5 which had a nice, big list of skills to help players could really customize their character. Professions and performance were great skills. Mostly useless except when very useful.
  • Again, the skill list is down to 18 in 4e, and I really hated to see some of the key skills gone. (Remember, I had 30 skills in Rules of the Realm.) While D&D 3.5 was a bit cumbersome with class and cross-class skill costs and too many skill points per level in some cases, in 4e, you pick four skills (one is assigned by your class) and you are done. You get a +5 for the rest of your life, end of story. Sigh. No more skill advancement, no more learning to play the flute because the queen is fond of the muse.
  • I feel the death of skills is really stressing the combat focus of 4e, loosely tied together with role-playing. Sure, it may be boring (for some in the party) to watch the thief to hide in shadows, move silently, climb and rope and then try to pick the lock on a chest hanging over a flaming pit. But, it’s not all about combat. Remember, we aren’t playing WOW here.

Chapter 6: Feats

  • Like skills, feats have been gutted in order to create powers (see my discussion above). This is somewhat too bad, as feats were a cool concept in D&D 3.5. I especially liked the feat trees which allowed a character to continue to get crazy good at one particular thing, at the expense, of course, of getting somewhat good at lots of things.
  • Again, the feat rules are too combat oriented, just providing tweaks to combat bonuses. In fact, a 10th level character has only three non-combat feats to pick from (expanded spellbook, linguist, and ritual caster). Sigh.

Chapter 7: Equipment (and Magic Items)

  • Another thing I like. I really like the magic item system in 4e better than D&D 3.5. The previous system, in my estimation, was unnecessarily complex. While flexible, it made answering a simple question like the cost of magical armor into a three-step calculation. I applaud the simplicity of the new system. Level = cost. Good enough.
  • I have two general complaints about all the new D&D systems (3.5 and 4e) when it comes to treasure, equipment and magic items. First, gold is way too plentiful. A starting character can buy not 1 but 2 sets of plate mail! What’s up with that? 100 gold pieces is the total income for a village for a year. All characters get the same gold to start? Bah.
  • While I realize that the development of campaign scenarios can be loaded with as many or as few magic items as the DM likes, the trend seems to be to load up characters with a full slate of items (again, one for each slot) immediately. This makes magic items ho-hum in my opinion. My campaigns tend to be about character development with an occasional magic item rather than filling up all the slots on your character sheet on the first adventure. There are some really cool items out for D&D 3.5, but they seem to have been lost in 4e.
  • This brings me to my second gripe. My most significant knock against 4e magic items is that they are boring. Almost all the magic items are again about combat (i.e., all the wands, staves, rods, etc.). Again, they focus on adding a +2 here and there. What happened to the Deck of Many Things? Too hard to program? As an example, where my players enjoy dozens of different types of potions, 4e has only four different potions. These are all healing potions at different levels of power. Creativity = 0. Why do this?

Chapter 8: Adventuring

  • This chapter is very short, only 6 pages. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that the Combat chapter is five times as long at 30 pages.
  • Overall, the adventuring rules are fine. I am still concerned about the ability to do over 50 healing surges in a party per day. With six hours of rest, all hit points are restored and all healing surges are regained. Wow. The party just got a lot tougher to kill. “In the old days, we used to have leg wounds that would bother us for days…. you kids just don’t know how tough things used to be.”

Chapter 9: Combat

  • The Combat chapter is exhaustive and very well organized. While I still think that there is too much focus on combat in 4e overall, and that the pace of play could be very slow, a good DM should be able to keep things moving. At least all the rules are there in minute detail for those who like that kind of thing. There are even start phases, main phases, and end phases to each player’s turn with stacking effects. Hmmm. Sounds like Magic the Gathering.
  • While I’m sure that the rules were extensively play tested, there are some seemingly random changes. For example, now you add one-half your level to your initiative roll. So, the old grognard fighter is going to get the jump on the street urchin every time. I don’t think so….
  • I do like the simplified critical hit. Roll a 20 and do max damage. Ouch.
  • The concept of the Action Point (which monsters don’t get, btw) is another random change. Every time you reach a milestone, you get an Action Point which allows you to take an additional action in the turn. Why? With everybody getting a standard action, move action, minor action, and as many free actions as they want each round, giving characters yet another option seems like overkill.
  • Overall, I like the Combat rules. There are only a few things I really hate about them. One is death. Or the lack thereof. If you go to -10,000 points, you are just unconscious (never mind the 50,000 ton boulder that landed on you). And, you get a saving throw each round against a 10 (with bonus modifiers) to survive until someone hits you with a healing surge which brings you back to life. And, you have to miss three saving throws to actually die! And, if you roll a 20 on any roll, you get cured automatically by yourself. Bah. If there is no chance of death, then the game is all about grinding it out – just another version of WOW. Deaths should be rare (see my previous comment about OD&D), but it should be possible.
  • Also, all saving throws are now against a 10??? This makes that old 30th level wizard pretty useless, as with modifiers, most saving throws are going to be trivial. I really liked the DC concept in D&D 3.5 much, much better.

Chapter 10: Rituals

  • And so we get to the end of the Player’s Handbook. Rituals are the old favorite spells of D&D: Silence, Knock, Speak with Dead, Drawmij’s Instant Summons (long live Jim Ward), Passwall and the like. Of course, there are only 49 of them (down from more than 400). It seems fitting that they are stuck at the end of the book, almost forgotten.
  • Remember our 10th level wizard gets only 5 of them (with 3 being 1st level rituals). With Water Breathing being an 8th level ritual, they are almost impossible to really bring into play. Sigh. While many have complained over the last two decades that magic-users are all powerful at high levels, it would seem that in 4e their day of relevancy is over.

So, just a few wrap-up thoughts about the Player’s Handbook. 4e is a completely different game than D&D 3.5, and indeed all previous versions of the game. I’m not even sure if I would call it D&D, as the changes are so radical. For a new generation of gamers who were raised on more-structured video games, it should be comfortable fit. However, for old-time players, 4e feels awkward and, this may sound strange, “too balanced”. There was something fun about creating wacky characters that had terrific powers and tragic weaknesses. I don’t want to be another vanilla character with one dip out of each bucket – it’s a bit too much like real life. Which is exactly the point, to let you imagination go free.

So, what about the Monster Manual? As a compendium of strange creatures, here are a few thoughts after an evening’s rumble through its pages. First off, I really like the 4e Monster Manual more than the one for D&D 3.5. That said I do have a few comments about both.

  • While the concept of “templates” was very cool and infinitely flexible in D&D 3.5, the actual mechanics of making monsters required too much work. Now, I like to have everything rolled up in advance, but taking 15 minutes to up-level a monster pushed me to the limits. Again, I really appreciate that the templates were all self-consistent, but there had to be a better way of presenting them.
  • 4e takes the concept and (what else?) simplifies it. For example, instead of Hobgoblin with rules for several templates, the authors have just rolled them up: Hobgoblin Grunt, Hobgoblin Warrior, Hobgoblin Archer, etc. This gives the DM quick reference to a number of interesting variations. However, my standard complaint of almost all the variations being just battle modifiers still applies.
  • BTW, I realize that by naming each template of each monster, they can sell more minis. Even if this is the intention, I like it. And, I’m not going to buy plastic minis anyway.
  • The overall presentation block for each monster is significantly better. Much more readable. The artwork still leaves a bit to be desired, but the overall book is much more useable.
  • I really like the simplified XP points. A 3rd level Doppleganger Sneak is worth 150 XP. For 1st level characters, that’s quite a bit (and a tough fight most likely). For 10th level characters, that’s not much at all (and probably not much of a challenge). The whole XP table with level vs. level adjustments was just wrong. I can do integral calculus, but it is really hard after a few gin and tonics. Also, I think the XP values are much more in line with my reckoning. An 18th level elemental is worth 2000 XPs. Well spoken.
  • One complaint that I have for D&D 3.5 and 4e is that the new monsters seem to lack imagination. Names like balhannoth, githyanki, kruthik, and githzerai? Come on guys, random letter generation was in vogue back in 1975. Buy some vowels and make up some good names. And, try to put some fresh new powers in the game. We don’t need ten monsters that are identical except for a randomly-generated name and a piece of artwork. Grizzly Bears are 2/2 creatures. You don’t need ten more types of 2/2 creatures. Now, you really are just selling minis.
  • Hopefully Monster Manual 2, 3, 4, 5, etc. will be filled with something more interesting than Grells and Gricks.

And so we come to the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Ah, the pinnacle of learning. But why is it the thinnest book? Is it not the Agrippa? Here are my thoughts, trying not to harp on the topics that I have discussed above.

  • The first two chapters are really for beginners trying to figure out what makes the game fun, although I was amused that “snacks” are a required tool for D&D. Hmmm. It didn’t mention “drinks”.
  • Chapter 3 is the Combat chapter, although the topic is covered extensively in the Player’s Handbook. This is more about how to keep things moving along with guidelines for miscellaneous things like underwater and aerial combat, diseases, and poison.
  • Chapter 4 is a guide to setting up Combat Encounters. It starts by showing how to balance encounters for appropriate challenge ratings (number of monsters of which type for the level and composition of the party). I fundamentally don’t like this approach as I believe that characters that wander into a really tough part of the dungeon should get significantly overmatched. Run away! I have played in a campaign where every encounter is modified to be level-appropriate. It really cuts down on the excitement and initial “oh shit” factor. On the other side, a quick toodle through a big old group of orcs is still kind of satisfying for a 10th level fighter.
  • The balance of the chapter is about getting the right terrain to exercise all those myriad of combat modifiers that were covered in the Player’s Handbook. It could be entitled, “how to make an interesting room”. Eight pages is quite a bit to devote to the topic, although there were some really fun ideas. Again, this primarily supports the concept of D&D as a tactical miniatures game – without any mention of role-playing. Sigh.
  • Chapter 5 is a guide to setting up Non-Combat Encounters. It’s much shorter, but at least it is there. The chapter covers Skills Challenges, Puzzles and Traps. Again, it is mostly for beginners, explaining the different types of things that you can throw at a party. There is structure, but the sections are far from comprehensive.
  • I do like the fact that Skills Challenges have equal XP importance to Combat Encounters, although I think that having to roll 12 times to climb one high cliff is probably not going to be terribly exciting. At least, there is value place on non-combat activities.
  • Puzzles have a brief mention, although my fascination with puzzles could probably fill a volume by itself. I do like the way that traps are laid out with multiple skill checks needed for success. I was also pleased to see a fairly nice range of traps.
  • Chapter 6 talks about putting encounters together to form an adventure. This includes narrative on structuring the adventure (including my pet peeve, railroading), quests, settings (including lists of sample furnishings, etc.), and a discussion on casts of NPCs. While it was an interesting read, there isn’t anything in this chapter for experienced DMs, and very little value as a reference guide.
  • Chapter 7 is about rewards and spends equal time on experience points and money. I really like the experience point chart, as I always felt the sliding scale was just wrong (see above). A kobald is worth 50 experience points regardless of when you kill it. The treasure section is uninspired, as are most of the items in 4e, and I feel way too generous with gold. Most D&D campaigns end up with money being somewhat useless as a single magic +1 sword is equal to the wages of a village for a year.
  • Chapter 8 picks up where Chapter 6 left off, putting adventures together to form campaigns and write a story. Again, there are some general guidelines, such as a list of campaign themes (i.e, on a mission, ultimate villain, world-shaking events, etc.). So, again, no reference materials. Well written, but not something I’ll read again.
  • Chapter 9 culminates the building phase by discussing how to put campaigns together to form the World. There are good guidelines for villages, weather, wilderness, and planar travel, and languages. Again, less descriptive and more proscriptive. A final section on deities (now only 9) and artifacts (now only 4) again show the desire to simplify, although these can be used as templates for a richer experience.
  • Chapter 10 is called the DM’s toolbox. This is where the monster templates are. Hmm. I would have put them into the Monster Manual. However, there is a pretty good selection of functional (i.e., mummy) and class (i.e., fighter) templates including some rules on creating NPCs. This might be moderately useful, although the remainder of the chapter is really about generating random dungeons and doing solo adventures.
  • The final chapter is a sample wilderness, town and dungeon called Fallcrest. It is very much an encounter-based setup. It has high production values (including an awesome town map), but very little in the way of creativity.

So in wrapping up about the DM’s Guide, it is not really a reference book as much as is it a Dummies Guide. I’m not sure that I would even take it to a game. It might be useful in creating monsters and inserting some traps, but it a far cry from the AD&D tome of all charts and knowledge.

And in conclusion…

It has been a fun few weeks poking through the 4e core books. So far, I must admit that the even-numbered D&D systems (2E and 4e) don’t seem to have much initial appeal. I will not be creating a 4e campaign, although I would play in one if the opportunity came up. I guess my three main thoughts are:

  1. Overall, the game has lost the quirkiness that I really liked in exchange for an absolute focus on having everything balanced. Let’s face it; at some point wizards are going to be all-powerful. I can live with that. Don’t put me in a box – it reminds me too much of a cubicle.
  2. The game has lost its depth; the rich background of D&D was partially in the thousands of spells, magic items, races, classes and monsters. To boil these down to a few programmable options is to lose sight of one’s roots. I, for one, enjoyed having corners of the game unexplored and discovering new things even after years of play. I guess I am a hardcore character builder at heart.
  3. The rules may be more elegant than D&D 3.5, but I fear the game itself will be slowed down tremendously with combat being so overwhelmingly the focus of an evening’s gathering that the story, role-playing and imagination will get lost.

I welcome any comments, thoughts or counter-thoughts. Remember, I’m rolling dice, so what I say must be important. Cheers.