Romeo Papa Golf, Revisited

So I was looking around for things to fine-tune my D&D game, and as a result I have more thoughts (of doubtful utility, I concede) on RPGs. Why am I so fond of the NATO alphabet, anyway? I mean, sure, Halo, but I'd actually already had the idea of having the colonials in my SF story use those letters instead of the normal ones (either because they assimilated a lot of crew terminology, the way French and Spanish use a lot of late-Roman military slang as standard vocabulary, or just from the practical need to be clear over radio).

  • The more I read about D&D 4E the less I like it. Apparently they felt free to just start over from scratch in much of the system, and screw the 35 years (!) they've spent building brand loyalty. Why? To get the MMORPG crowd. As one commenter said, Lord knows becoming a bad imitation of your competitor is always a winning strategy, right? It doesn't feel like the game I bought at Waldenbooks in the spring of my thirteenth year, not anymore. Anathema sit.

  • Now admittedly I initially said the same thing about 3rd Edition, which is probably my favorite one—but it's different. Part of what I didn't like about 3e at first was that it was, in many ways, a throwback to 1st Edition—monks, barbarians, half-orcs, Greyhawk as default, assassins in a core rulebook (albeit only as a prestige class this time around...but am I the only one who remembers paladins in Original Dungeons & Dragons being a class fighters could switch to at 9th level?). But though it brought back things I wasn't crazy about (even Gygax agrees the monks were a mistake), it was at least in continuity. It's like the Eastern Orthodox: I got more than my share of gripes with 'em, but the fact is they retain apostolic succession.

    4th Edition, on the other hand, is rank heresy, apostasy from the faith delivered to the saints. If I can belabor a metaphor. The trouble really started with 3.5 Edition, introducing all those "Mass (Whatever)" versions of spells, and adding in spells like Owl's Wisdom, to buff any particular stat that needed buffing. That kind of thing is fine for a video game but it takes a lot of the flavor out of the pen-and-paper kind. Next they'll be changing spellcasters from divine (druid, cleric) and arcane (sorcerer, wizard) to red, white, blue, and black mages.

  • On the other hand, I kinda like d20 Modern/Future. I don't think it'll ever replace Alternity in my heart (though I like the statistical distribution more, with the d20 dice mechanic), but it seems fairly solid. Future, anyway; Modern frankly seems like an attempt to hijack White Wolf and Call of Cthulhu's successes, since several of the settings for them are horror or dark/urban fantasy. Future, though, has mecha rules, which I'd always thought were lacking from Alternity—though they're probably a knockoff of MechWarrior somewhere along the way. The mecha-themed setting, to judge by how it's described in the reviews, is Gundam. But then, of course it is.

  • Still, though, and I can't say this enough, 4th edition is a war-crime. Between how everyone involved in 3rd Edition appears to have been hounded out of the company by the time 3.5 came around, and the way they've been running roughshod over their inherited TSR properties, I think I need to name a rapacious, exploitative merchant race in something "Littoromagi".

    It was bought by Hasbro, though, and, well, let's just say Hasbro's first outlet store was in the Plaza of Dark Delights. You know, in Lankhmar.

  • The OGL sorta seems like more trouble than it's worth, at least with how Wizards interprets it—the phrase "Byzantine complexity" can be used, and understand when I say that, I've actually tried to work out the order of precedence in the titles of New Rome's Court.

    Still, a lot of people are just leery of rights-licensing, and run screaming from the specter of lawyers being unleashed upon their houses.

  • Ahright, enough bitching about WOTC. A guy had an interesting point, about how 2nd and 3.5 Edition were slightly ill-thought-out—1st and 3rd were very extensively play-tested, while 2nd was a bit slapdash and 3.5...yeah, it sucks in a number of ways.

    On the other hand I do like it giving rangers more powers than just extra favored enemies.

  • I am perhaps unique in not having much reverence for Gary Gygax. The man liked Conan and The Hobbit more than LotR; in a rational state that'd be grounds to lose suffrage. 1st Edition is really just pedantic, and, though the core version was play-tested and established as serviceable, it's really, really complicated.

  • Speaking of, in Oriental Adventures (and all subsequent editions thereof), what's with "Wu Jen"? Why not "onmyôji"? For that matter "bushi" and "samurai" are the same thing, not two different classes.

    I seem to recall the yakuza aren't quite right, and personally I would've kept sohei, gotten rid of shugenja and monks so-called, and swapped in two priest classes, one Buddhist and the other Shinto (or one of the other traditional religions). Taoist priests would be covered under onmyôji.

    'Course, you probably want to give them English names, so's not to have Chinese class-names in the Japan-analogue, or vice-versa; if I had to write a class-based Asian fantasy, the classes would be fighter (weapons or martial arts), knight (youxia/hwarang/samurai), thief, gangster (yakuza/triad, the Korean equivalent of which only dates to World War II), spy (ninja/brocade guard/amhaeng-eosa), exorcist (the mage-thingy), monk (the Buddhist type priest, not the monk-class as we know it), shaman (the kannushi/manshin type priest), and maybe fanatic (the current "sohei", a religious militiaman; China's equivalent would be the Yellow Turban Society and similar movements).

  • Finally, I'm in favor of disallowing certain things. My current campaign's not set in a standard D&D world, but when I do use one, there are no barbarians (they're over-powered and the assumptions that inform the class are racist at best), no monks (they're pointless and based on some weird Fox Zen thing) and no half-orcs, because let's face it, there's no way that's not just yucky. I generally prefer to eliminate orcs, since they're largely redundant with hobgoblins and less cool.

    Also, there really need to be more elf paladins.

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