Daily Archives: July 20, 2010

Is it Only an “Essential” Reaction?

Note: This is a post to pose a question, not challenge what version of a game someone wants to play, or say that their enjoyment/choice is any less deserved or important. No trolling, only actual discussion please.

I’ve noticed many people on RPG Bloggers and others whom I talk to regularly via email seem to be unsatisfied with 4e Mechanics, especially once the players get to higher level. Some say that the easy prep and manageability of adventure crafting when the game was first released and at lower levels disappears once the game reaches Paragon level and beyond.

There have also been posts made about the clutter of errata, changes and fixes, etc.

Many people are wondering if the Essentials line is basically 4.5 using smoke and mirrors to hide its true purpose. Others say it is just another way for WotC to pull in revenue, and I am very inclined to agree with this statement.

WotC keeps saying that this game is a way to lure in new blood and refresh players who feel the game has grown too complex, overburdened and stagnant.

While I don’t doubt that WotC wants to pull in new blood and keep old blood buying their products, I think the real smoke and mirror here is to cover up what WotC has done.

They have errata’d and released and pushed till peoples eyes roll up in their heads, blood trickles down their nose, and they are found dead in their basements. Cheesy poofs still clutch in hand.. Oh so sad.

Mike Shea’s post over at Critical Hits had a couple of statements that really jogged my brain on this:

4e has changed a lot over the past two years. The mechanical design we see in later books is quite different from the design we see in the early releases. For DM’s, I think these design changes are clearly seen when comparing monsters at the paragon tier and above across all three Monster Manuals. I’ll talk more about this in a bit. For players, it’s seen clearly in the huge number of updates to the core classes and powers in the original Player’s Handbook. The core classes today are very different from those in the original Player’s Handbook. The recent change to Magic Missile is one such example.

The one thing keeping players sane is the Character Builder. Because it’s constantly updated, we don’t have to worry too much about keeping up with all of the updates. Of course, it makes us look at our core rulebooks and wonder why we bother to carry them around. I know I’ve stopped doing so. I might as well be bringing a Laura K. Hamilton hardback for all the good they’d do me at the table.


While current players have the character builder to keep them updated, DM’s don’t have it as easy. Unlike the Character Builder with it’s continued updates, WOTC never actually updated the original monsters with the updated math we find in the Monster Manual 3. Our first Monster Manual is pretty useless above level 10 and there’s no other way to update the monsters within other than to do it ourselves.

*scratches head* I like the idea of the character builder and can understand and appreciate the ease of it.. but to MAKE it essential to play a game and make the books you’ve spent your hard earned money on in just 2 years really just boggles my mind.

So I’m wondering if WotC is launching the Essentials line to combat this. To hopefully get players who are turned off by the whirlwind of information that has been placed before them.

What about you? Is Essentials more of a plan of action or a reaction to how 4e is now currently being perceived? Especially in light of Pathfinders success?