The skill challenge represents one of the many pieces of 4th Edition D&D technology that was underappreciated in its time and misunderstood in hindsight.
Ability scores in Dungeons & Dragons are one of the game’s many mechanical systems that float atop a liquid surface of questionable justifications. They’re a perfectly serviceable set of dials to use to define a character, they do a job and they create a lot of thematic hooks you can use, but also, under the hood, they are not sensible at all.
The Warlock is Alone
It’s a well-worn meme that Warlocks and Paladins are different only in that one has an employer, and one has a sugar daddy. Notably, recognise that the Warlock’s the one with a contract, but the Paladin’s the one with a code of conduct.
4e: Deploying Monster Types
People say that 4e D&D was ‘only good for tactical combat,’ which I don’t agree with, but I can understand the feeling when you consider it was the first time that it made the combat system kinda work. Part of how it worked was that rather than treat monsters as if they were all generic spots on a continuum, monsters were balanced based on general formulas of things they could do and ways they could be represented, and part of that was recognising that some types of monster were best suited to particular types of role.
The Yakuza Theme
There’s a chance if you played 4th edition, you never even knew Themes were a thing. They were introduced in a campaign sourcebook as a way to flesh out characters under level 10, to give more of that kind of granularity you might want if you say, belonged to a particular organisation, or had something […]
Alright, so yeah, I may have talked about how terrible a bunch of the 3.5 D&D classes were, but that’s a little bit unfair, right? Rubbishing on bad design in a system I don’t play, that’s ammunition in the edition wars, what about the bad classes in 4th edition? I have thought about that, about […]
Dodge Roll Or Die
If you’ve read my How To Be Series you may have noticed the way that lightly or unarmoured characters present a potential contention for the project. In some cases it’s that characters don’t obviously have much armour on and there’s the counterpoint of characters who definitely don’t have much armour on. What’s the problem? Just […]
Look, don’t let the way I talk about 4e D&D (which is the best edition of D&D) leave you thinking that I think the game is flawless. It’s just much better than 3e and good enough that I don’t care to look at 5e. That excellence however doesn’t mean that the design within it is […]
4e: Methods & Practice
Here’s a valuable lesson for tabletop RPG designers of all kinds I want you to learn from 4th edition D&D. I’ve been brewing on it for a while and I think I can summarise it cleanly thus: Methods & Practices should not be Entangled.
4e: Mind Control
Content Warning: I’m going to discuss some mind control stuff in ways that violates consent. Not any specific outcomes from that, but if you find the whole vibe icky, that’s what this is about. Also, other, I guess, content warning: This isn’t about the horny topic of mind control, so if that’s the vibe you’re […]