Saturday, 25 July 2009

My favourite system is ...

OK so if I'm going to blog about RPGs I think its only fair you should know which systems I play and what I think of them. So I'll start with my favourite system - D&D 4e.

First off I don't want to start a flame war and I'm not going to impose my likes on anyone else but I do want to talk about what works for me.

So in no particular order this is what I love about 4e.

1. Skill challenges - What a cool mechanic for tackling non combat challenges. I love these and throw 5 or 6 into every adventure from simple to really complex. When they really work they are seemless and challenging. I love sitting down and coming up with them - I think it pushes DMs particularly, but players as well, to ensure everybody is involved and that the challenge is well rounded.

2. Conditions - Adds spice to combat although they can be tricky to keep track of - I use Alea Tools - which makes things much easier. So much more interesting and tactically important to have attacks do more than just damage.

3. Forced movement and shifting - Icing on the cake. Push, pull, slide your enemies, gang up on them and then shift away. For anyone who gets a kick out of outthinking their enemy these are just perfect.

4. Character Builder - Need a PC in 5 mins? No problem! Want an NPC warlock, 5th level - 2 minutes. Need everything added up correctly and power cards to keep track of what you have used and speed up play - just press print.

5. D&D Insider - Living in the UK getting hold of Dungeon or Dragon used to be a bit hit or miss and expensive. I now get both, plus a bunch of other things, regularly and for about half the price.

6. Class roles - every class has a role, players understand their responsibilities in and out of combat. The best parties are built as teams, where weaknesses are identified and compensated for. No class is significantly weaker than another and no PC is ever stuck with nothing to do, no action to take or no contribution to make.

7. Powers - A-will, encounter, daily, utility, monster, magic item - hundreds if not thousands each subtely different.

8. Combat - Encounters are simple to plan, with monsters, traps and hazards easily assembled to provide just the right challenge for the PCs.

9. Simplification - I like complication in my games but I want to be in charge of that complication, hidden traitors, sub plots, false leads - complications that add to the game. I don't want to spend hours worrying about NPC design and rules.

10. Page 42 of the DMG - Rules for everything not covered in the rules.

All in all I have found the game to be easier to run and more exciting as a player than any of the other excellent versions of the game I've played dating all the way back to the 1980's. More near TPK's, more excitement, greater challenge and fewer constraints all combined with simpler prep for DM's.