8 hours ago
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Playing the 4E
This is going to be a short post...Mostly because I'm done "*making strange" with 4E. (*My grandma used to say that about babies that didn't seem to "like" someone. I've always thought that was such a wonderful colloquialism)
On with the post. The Longmont group held our monthly game of Dungeons and Dragons again last night. I hadn't played in the previous one but HAD been there the time before that. Odd thing is, the map looked exactly the same as it had the last time I left. In other words, it took two sessions to run an encounter.
This is not a new observation. Not too long ago I wrote a very similar posting regarding the same exact thing. Our group has the habit of sitting around and chatting more than we play. I think I know why. The "story" that the DM is weaving is, for the most part, forgotten from session to session. It's just that too much time passes between games for us, and when he attempts to bring us back up to speed, many of us tune out.
This is never done on purpose. Unfortunately we just don't have much invested in the story. If we play once a month (or less) then it's tough to keep any kind of emotional attachment to what's going on. Heck, most of us don't even remember our characters. So a lot of time is spent trying to bring everybody back up to speed with what's currently going on. It's a very involved story and we're a tough audience. (Again though, NOT intentionally.)
One thing that happened last night really opened my eyes to something that I've only just touched upon before. You know how in 4E each character has a slew of powers? Last night my buddy, who was sitting next to me, looks over and observes all of my powers, which are cut into individual "cards", and says "Dude, holy shit! How many powers do you have?!?" I counted through them...22. This didn't include my magic items that I had also cut out and laid out in the same format. Or my Second Wind. Or my Action Points.
I think that you can see where I'm going with this.
We're 13th level characters, so of course we're going to have a plethora of choices open to us. Especially the magic slingers, and I was playing a cleric. I said as much to my buddy. He's playing a sword mage, so he counts through his "cards" and comes up with the same number...and then my friend on the other side counts his up, 22. And he's playing a paladin.
It dawned on me then as I looked around the table. Since many of us had taken our powers and cut them out into cards and placed them in sleeves, it served as a very good physical representation of just how MANY powers each of us had. Therein lay another reason that our games took so darned long. Each of us basically had to relearn our characters each and every time we played.
As I've said above, I'm done banging the anti-4E drum. Many people actually like the fact that they have all of these options spelled out for them. And it's obvious that we've sort of shot ourselves in the collective foot by playing as infrequently as we do. What I've realized from all of this is that 4E is a game that NEEDS to be played much more frequently than pre-3E games. There's just a LOT of stuff to keep track of.
If someone needs to reacquaint themselves with their character, and / or take minutes looking through their options, then the game is stalling. As an example, last night, I was looking through some of the things that I can "do" and wasn't paying one whit of attention to the DM. I looked up while he was 1/2 through and sentence and realized what it is that I had been doing. I put my stuff down and tuned back in.
Maybe it's my fault that I don't have a photographic memory. Let's just chalk it up to that. Shall we?
Until next time, adieu.