Thoughts on 4e

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Fourth edition is almost upon us - only four more months until the beast rears its ugly head.

It is predicted that mechanical information will begin to trickle down from WotC about this time. I am trying to keep tabs on all the information coming down the tubes; rather than regurgitate that information here, I'm going to try to store my current considerations for 4e here. Hopefully it will serve as a record of my thoughts and plans for how to deal with 4e, when the time comes.

Power Sources

One of the big deals in 4e is the idea of "power sources." Nobody is really sure what this means, but there are three of them confirmed - arcane, divine, and martial. An interesting premise is that each power source will behave differently - not just grant their users different abilities, but actually be mechanically different.

Clearly, this would be a great boon for Trinity, and a solid reason to convert. If each power source is easily differentiable, then the differences between the nine forces can be better reinforced. As is, some of them seem somewhat muddled. With a "mechanics reinforce the flavor" philosophy, these divisions could be made razor-sharp, as they should be.

Class Roles

Each class has a role, defined by their job in a combat situation. So far, we have: the striker; the controller; the defender; and the leader. These distinctions are useful for new players, and they make a class's purpose more defined. However, adapting the melee class theory to this system may be difficult, if not downright impossible.

Gamist v. Simulationist

4e seems to be headed the "gamist" path, rather than the "simulationist" path. Gamism takes the path that it is first and foremost a game, meaning that the game is made balanced without in-game-world repercussions considered; whereas simulationism takes the route that the gameworld should be treated as a "living" setting, and the mechanics need to be consistent across the board. From these descriptions, it should be rather clear that I am biased towards simulationism.

As I mentioned, 4e is heading the "gamist" route. That means that (1) monsters will not have any abilities not directly related to combat, and (2) that NPCs will not have normal classes, but will instead be given ad hoc abilities to make them appropriate encounters. The first point can be overlooked, with some work, but the second is a massive blow to the simulationist view. As such, at least that part of the system will need consideration.

Learners and Monsters

A rather niche note, but important - the way monsters are written up in 4e, they seem to all be given rather unique abilities. As such, the learner class will have a definite niche and use.

The Plan, as of 2-28-08

Having seen a good deal of mechanical information in the past few days, I've come to the conclusion that 4e is not at all what I had been led to believe it would be. Rather than having more options available in terms of classes, each class now seems to be much more of an archetype, forcing the player into one of two or (maybe) three cliches of the class.

This is not acceptable.

As such, my plans for 4e and Trinity are changed. Rather than take the system wholesale and convert Trinity to it slowly, I am going to gut the system and learn what makes it tick. I am going to take the engine of the system and strap 3e and Trinity onto it, making a so-called "3.75" edition. I think that this will result in a system that I am happy with, that affords players a good deal of customizability, and that will carry the feel of the setting in the system itself. Having reconciled myself with the idea that I don't have to keep as closely to the original system as possible, I can take the parts of 3e I like and the parts of 4e I like, mash them together, and come out with something relatively unique to the world it's going to be used in.

This will make bringing in new players more difficult, but with a wiki, that problem should be more of an annoyance and less of an actual hindrance to new blood.

There are a few ideas I've had floating around in my head the past couple months that would've made 4e better, in my eyes, but since WotC is not implementing them, I think it's time that I sat down and worked out the mechanics behind the ideas. I've been somewhat lost lately, what with not working on mechanics, since 4e was coming; now that I've decided to mold the two editions into something I want, I think that feeling of being lost will go away.