Saturday, September 25, 2010

Thinking Outside the Power Description

I hereby inaugurate this brand spanking new blog with a post about... well, what else? Dungeons & Dragons, 4th Edition. Not that I'll be talking about it all the time (in fact, I'd rather not), but I might as well kick things off by explaining why I selected the name that I did above.

The system as it's currently defined in the 4th edition rules has, in theory, a great deal of flexibility. Not in the powers themselves, mind you, which are scripted out in level-by-level increments for every published character class to date (by necessity, no less), but in the definitions of how those powers work.

Consider the case of the halfling warlord who declares, "I pants the dwarf, causing him to bend over and pick up his pants. Irritated, he arises a little too fast, cleaving someone up the middle with his axe on the way up." As silly as it sounds, it would be a valid declaration as warlord powers that allow other characters to take attacks are fairly common.

I've even heard someone (at another gaming group) playing that way: that the character can be described and played as woefully incompetent, but still act greatly to the group's benefit in combat.

So why doesn't it happen more often?

I play fairly regularly in the local LFR campaign, and nobody I see there ever plays in this extended fashion. It's always the powers as they're defined on the character sheet or the cards, never in this nifty, almost flamboyant variant style.

I haven't done it myself much, either, because I've mostly been learning the system and just trying to advance characters. I don't consider them bad roleplayers, any more than I consider myself a bad roleplayer for not doing this. But however convenient the form is to play, nobody ever does it.

The moral of the story, I think, is that if you want people to think outside the box, perhaps you shouldn't provide a box in the first place.

And yes, I named this blog after the hypothetical move above. Even though I'm not playing a halfling.

Frankly, I think it's just good to post to Blogspot without using the accurséd Adobe Contribute.

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(Edited to correct some HTML fu-fus that slipped in.)

1 comment:

  1. I never tried the 4th ed. I was more happy with the AD&D 2nd ed, and that is where I have more loyalty, I did a 3rd ed. campaign, but the restrictions were hard to deal with, and then did some 3.5. Now I am creating a character for Pathfinder which is apparently a repackage of 3.5.
    Essentially, any system can support good roleplaying, because it is used by good roleplayers.