Aug 2, 2009

I like the 4e DMG

I don't know how so many of the OSR bloggers manage to post so frequently! I have a full time job and I come home and do illustrations for commission and personal projects. In addition I write and design games. So time posting here is precious.

I was looking through my 4e D&D books - I only ever purchased the 3 core books - and realized I don't dislike 4e, I don't feel anything for it really (other than some admiration for the quality of writing, graphic design, and art). I'm just not the audience for playing it. You see I played World of Warcraft for 14 days once. It was one of those free trial things. I realized at the end of the trial that I really should not play anymore. Because I have a life. Not to say that people who do play don't have a life, what I mean is I have a lot going on in my life. A toddler, A wonderful wife. A fun job making art for video games. Freelance work. And my own personal creative projects. There just isn't time for WoW. Besides, I'd rather play an actual role-playing game the old fashioned and best way: face to face.

It has been stated so many times that 4e is like an MMO I don't need to repeat it here (oops, I guess I just did). So in that sense it really is a "modern" RPG. The game has to evolve and grow and necessarilly change in order to remain vital, relevant, and alive. I understand that. So I admire what they've done, from what I understand the sales numbers remain strong.

But what I really admire is the 4e DMG. I think they hit that book out of the ballpark. the original DMG was my favorite TSR product, it was my introduction to the world of D&D. I despised the 2nd edition, my dissapointment cannot be measured. It felt like a cheap pamphlet in comparison to the original. Then 3rd and 3.5 editions of the DMG were pretty good, but I wouldn't think of them as great or classics, merely pretty good. But this 4th edition DMG is quite a piece of work. It is filled to the brim with excellent advice on running a game, good solid pointers on how to make the game fun. It works almost sans-system as a generic RPG advice book. For example I think it's description of the DM's job is on the mark:
Most games have a winner and a loser, but the Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game is fundamentally a cooperative game. The Dungeon Master (DM) plays the roles of the antagonists in the adventure, but the DM isn’t playing against the player characters (PCs). Although the DM represents all the PCs’ opponents and adversaries—monsters, nonplayer characters (NPCs), traps, and the like—he or she doesn’t want the player characters to fail any more than the other players do. The players all cooperate to achieve success for their characters. The DM’s goal is to make success taste its sweetest by presenting challenges that are just hard enough that the other players have to work to overcome them, but not so hard that they leave all the characters dead.

At the table, having fun is the most important goal—more important than the characters’ success in an adventure. It’s just as vital for everyone at the table to cooperate toward making the game fun for everyone as it is for the player characters to cooperate within the adventure.
That's pretty good stuff. Not enough to get me to fire up a 4th edition game. I'm too busy with my Swords & Wizardry game, in addition to some personal game projects I'm playtesting out. However you have to give credit where it is due.