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4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons – Part 3

First, I want to clarify one thing. A significant amount of this post is going to be about a generic complaint regarding fantasy role playing games. No edition of Dungeons & Dragons has gotten the arms and armor right, so far as I’m concerned anyways. However, there are some specific complaints to 4th Edition that I’ll address, and a few things I actually think they got right. So, without further ado, here’s Part 3!

My pet peeve in regards to arms and armor in almost every fantasy game out there is the nomenclature they use for the various pieces of armor. Chain mail, plate mail, banded mail, scale mail; it all gets downright annoying. The term maille is a medieval term for interlinked armor that D&D called chain mail. This misunderstanding didn’t start in Gary Gygax’s basement or anything, but about a hundred years earlier. Victorian ear historians interpreted the term maille to mean armor, so chain mail was maille, plate armor was plate mail, scale armor was scale mail, etc. This annoys me that TSR continued using it, and WOTC continues. It passes along bad information and I constantly find myself correcting people’s use. Yeah…I can be an asshole at times about stuff like that. Sorry.

In addition, 3rd Edition started this idea of armor proficiency. I’ve personally worn several types of armor and frankly it didn’t take a lot of time to get comfortable in it. In truth, historical armor was custom made for the individual wearing it many times. I have a photograph in a book of a man in 15th century plate armor doing a handstand even. So much for maximum dexterity bonuses, eh?

As for 4th Edition specific criticisms, the first thing regards plate armor. For example, only the paladin is proficient with it without burning a feat. WTF? Since when can a fighter not wear any and all armor on the board? In truth, it makes absolutely no sense, since plate armor was worn by anyone who could afford it. Of course, 4th Edition has made plate armor significantly cheaper as well. Really, it’s just a tease to fighters. Now that they can actually afford plate armor early in their adventuring careers, they’re unable to use it. Go figure.

One good thing I feel WOTC did was streamline the weapon selection. Now, that’s not to say the list is perfect, but all the core weapons are there, along with a few to add some spice to the mix. Most of the exotic weapons in 3rd Edition, while looking cool, were impractical to say the least. The double sword, which gave a PC the chance to play Darth Maul in a medieval-esque setting, is thankfully missing. However, greatsword, long sword, bastard sword, falchion, all there. Pole arms have been cut down to just two, the glaive and the halberd, also not exactly a bad thing either.

The great thing about the weapons is that they do about the same damage as 3rd Edition weapons, so it’s actually one of the rare cases where 3rd Edition converts to 4th edition easily. So, if your character uses a kama, just take the kama’s damage and call it a 4th Edition weapon. Easy enough. Granted, I’d recommend you still play 3.5, but that’s just me.

There’s plenty of things out there that can be used to blast 4th Edition. I can see many flaws in the system myself, and frankly I’m uninspired by the rule set. If this thing didn’t say Dungeons & Dragons on it, a lot of people who are now loving it, wouldn’t have even bothered. WOTC counted on brand loyalty and it’s paid off to some extent. Unfortunately, the community is divided. Personally, I didn’t see this when 3rd Edition came out, although I wasn’t really on the net much back then either.

In time, there will be 4.5 or 5th Edition that will address many of the complaints folks have with 4th Edition. There will always been new editions, and the question is, will people keep spending all their money every few years for a new edition? Well, for what it’s worth, the kid’s money won’t be going to WOTC for a long, long time.

July 16, 2008 - Posted by | RPG |

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