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4TH EDITION - WORLD SIMULATION AND HEROIC STORY TELLING





The White Council courtesy of Maria Lombide Ezpeleta

 
Regarding 4.0 D&D specifically... in my opinion, it is AWESOME for heroic story telling. It does have some sacrifices, but it fixed many of the pitfalls I found with 3.0.

I would like to point out that the 4.0 D&D system can work, almost entirely without magic. Healing and everything... yes, you heard me right. No healing magic, but viable adventure groups. I really wish the 4.0 D&D was under the OGL, as I would make a huge case for it to be the better system for a Middle Earth conversion.
This is a broad concept that was brought up with 4.0 as reasoning for dropping much of the 'world detail' that 3.0+ contained. The reasoning goes something like this:

PC centrism embraced.

RPG's in general, D&D specifically, are typically played to tell 'Heroic stories'. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, are staples of Heroic stories. Uncommon folks, put in extraordinary circumstances in a slightly unfamiliar (to us) environment. 3.0, much like Rolemaster, attempts to create a rules system to define all of reality down to the minutiae of "what size of an implement could be effectively used when wrestling". 4.0 decides off the bat, that your characters are Heroic at level 1. Your characters are uncommon, in that, they are the heroes of the story. This is reflected in many ways that a 1st level character is vastly differentiated from NPCs who are only vaguely fleshed out. In 3.0, entire sections of the DMG were devoted fleshing out NPC's. Not that NPC's couldn’t have 'special characteristics', but, If your players aren't going to combat the NPC's, then the question becomes, is there any real need to know what Gaffer Gamgee's hitpoints are? The fact that NPCs are really up to the DM to decide as necessary reflects the 'PC centric' themes of 4.0. Elrond, though a spectacularly well thought out character, only needs to be defined in a story so much as the characters are going to interact with him. Meaning, if the characters need a special item and the Story is that they need to contact Elrond to get it, so be it, but you don't need to know Elrond's hit points or character level. He's an NPC. IF a troop of Orcs attack Rivendell and Elrond rides out along with the PC's to fend them off, Elrond's actions, for the most part, should be scripted, and appropriate, because ultimately, this is the NPC's story, not Elrond's.

Knowing the Tolkien-files I have talked to, and their obsessive need for detail and over development, this theme may be a bit controversial, but I have yet to be dissuaded from the view that, if you only have an average of 4-8 hours per month to devote to playing a Roleplaying game, any time spent not on the characters and their specific story could be viewed as waste or distraction.

Release from the need of a healer in an adventuring party.

Consider, Conan, beaten and bruised, taking on challenger after challenger, with only a day's recuperation in between. Realistic? no. Heroic? yes. Consider Bruce Willis in Die Hard. Beaten, Blown up, bare foot, tossed around and dropped from heights. no cleric, no healing assistance just pure heroism. Realistic? no. heroic? yes. Consider the Fellowship of the ring. combat after combat vs orcs, wargs, Goblins, trolls, not to mention the environment. No clerics. No paladins. No Druids, no magical healing. Just TRUE GRIT. This heroic quality of Heroic Characters to lift themselves up with inner purpose and determination, to fight through opposition and physical punishment is reflected in 4.0 as Healing Surges. Everyone gets them. All classes. Now, 4.0 does have a cleric class, that does enable players to use their healing surges more often through magic, BUT, the cleric is not necessary. I repeat. A magical healing class in 4.0 is not necessary for a party to be very effective. In 4.0 you could make the entire Fellowship of the ring... (I would argue that Gandalf is almost an NPC given his role and uniqueness of character, but I digress) and actually play it out like the heroes you are... with NO CLERIC. This is one aspect that, if you were to consider a Tolkien system, I would think to be necessary. The release of dependency on healing magic that is so rampant in popular RPG systems.
Ryan Thomas

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