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4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons – Part 4

For the final post on 4th Edition, I want to talk about the powers. For those who don’t know, each class now has “powers”, though they’re called different things depending on the class. Still, a rose by any other name and such. The powers are, however, designed to be balanced between all classes and all levels. For example, a 20th level wizard is no longer more powerful than a 20th level fighter or a 20th level rogue. In short, 4th Edition has made everyone equal.

Equality and balance are good things, right? Not necessarily. If the game were against other players, then certainly it would matter a great deal that everyone be equal. However, you’re not playing against the other PCs. You’re playing with them, and that’s the crucial difference in my mind. So long as everyone is equal in enjoyment, what does it matter?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t consider the powers to be all bad. Wizard’s powers are now called spells, but a fighters are called exploits, and a fighter can supposedly do nifty stuff in combat with these exploits. That’s not a bad thing at all. Unfortunately, they also depowered the wizard to the point that he’s nowhere near as powerful as before, and no matter what level he becomes, he’ll still only have X number of spells. Same with all the other classes.

With the roles that each class is assigned, a major sticking point for me, the powers are set up to help the character fulfill that function. A fighter’s exploits are often geared toward making himself the target so he can defend the other characters, a wizard’s spells are a lot of area affect spells, and a clerics are about buffing the party. This is not a bad thing necessarily. The problem comes in, when the powers don’t fit the role the character wants his character to fulfill. For example, strikers are the damage dealers to a single foe. But what if I want my fighter to do that? Well, they’re called Rangers in that case, despite the fact that rangers and fighters have different skill sets.

Another problem with the powers is the difficulty in making high level NPCs from a homebrew world fit within the 4th Edition context. While it can be done to some extent, it’s far from a simple conversion. Instead, it can require hours of work trying to build up powers that will work within the context of what your world requires. From what I can tell, many DMs with significant investment in their worlds are passing on 4th Edition.

Me personally? I’ll be passing on it as well. While it may work down the road with the new books to come, it doesn’t work for me now, and I damn sure don’t want to have to spend even MORE money just to play the classes my world calls for when they’re already in 3.5. Some people will disagree I’m sure. But that’s the great thing about our world…we don’t have to agree. Just so long as we enjoy what we’re doing, who gives a damn?

July 16, 2008 - Posted by | RPG |

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