The UX of D&D 4th Edition

I used to play aD&D (Advanced Dungeones and Dragons) when I was about 10 years old.  It was made by a company called TSR. It was a great game that exercised my imagination and taught me how to think creatively.  It also gave me a life-long appreciation for mythology and cross-culturalism.  The books back then had all kinds of cool stories about real mythological characters.  The game was easy to play too.  Here was the basic setup:

  1. You had a character with a race and a class (like Elf Fighter) and gave him/her 5 statistics. (Strength, Charisma, Dexterity, Intelligence, Constitution).  Done, that was the end of character creation.
  2. You met monsters and tried to kill them.  If you did, you got their treasure and experience points.  Experience raised you up a level.  Treasure helped you attack harder.
  3. Attack stronger monsters and repeat.

That was it.  That was the game.  There was one person in charge of the narration, and that’s called the dungeon master.  Most of the details were left to the dungeon masters discretion.  if you wanted to pick a lock on a safe, he said, “Umm, it feels like a 13.  Try to roll a 13 on a 20-sided die.  If you get it, you unlock the safe.”  It was all discretion.  No rules to nitpick about.

Ok, now fast forward 20 years.  TSR Was bought by Wizards of the Coast.  They now have a 4th edition of D&D.  Apparently, they changed everything.  They added a ton of rules.  You can learn “lock-picking” or “gymnastics” or a bunch of other things called feats.  You have WAY more stats.  Figuring out how to do anything is complicated now.  No more Dungeon Master discretion.  Now, you have rules, rules rules, rules and more rules.  And they got rid of the real mythology!  Now, it’s fake mythology.  No more egyptian, greek, native american gods.  It’s just make-believe crap!  Why did they do that?  Are they so politically correct that they felt they had to get rid of real historical myths??  I am so annoyed by that alone.  But it gets worse.

I can’t even get started.  I bought the books for the kids to play with.  We can’t even design the first character right!  I know what the problem is.  The people making the rules are geeks.  They got WAY into the game and started arguing.  They said, “No, that’s not a 13, it should be a 11, because I learned how the lock-pick from that drawf, remember!!”  So they added in all kinds of rules to avoid arguing about this non-sense.

However, in doing so, they alienated all new players.  SIMPLE RULES!!!  This is the thing that made D&D great.  I am so disappointed.

Now, I face a dilema.  I could keep trying and muddle through it until we figure it out.  I could shelve it until Ethan is 12 and more able to help.  I could shelve it forever.  I could buy the original books that I used.  We could try something else.

I love role-playing games and the boys would too.  We just want something that is easy to get started.  Is that so much to ask?  I am so disappointed.

We just went to game store and bought Munchkin from Steve Jackson games.  It was a fun card-game!  I don’t know how long it will remain fun, but it was a well-designed game.  Maybe I should check out his role-playing games.  I remember Car Wars was a Steve Jackson game and it was brilliant.  Hmm, there is even a munchkin role-playing version.  I’m going to check it out.

2 replies on “The UX of D&D 4th Edition”

I think you should get into euro board games.
Have you ever played Settlers of Catan?
There are a large number of awesome board games out there that have more depth to them than American games.
Some of my favorites right now include Agricola and Dominion.

Whatya think?