Looking back on Dungeons and Dragons 4e

Andy started this thread on S-G about folks’ experiences with D&D4e and I thought I’d post up my response for reflection, responses and just to have this saved somewhere close by:

Played a fun Tiefling Rogue and a cool human Paladin. The rogue’s game fell through because of scheduling and the paladin’s game fell through because the DM nailed a TPK and got gun-shy about running the game.

The Good
I like the Raven Queen; she is a cool addition to the D&D mythos. I liked the way the different powers and stuff allowed me to make my friends’ characters even more awesome; teamwork was cool in 4e. I like the way the Points of Light idea was explained.

In my D&D 4e best moment, my tiefling rogue blinded a green dragon and effed up its wings to the other characters could swarm the bastard and kill it. It was sweet.

The Bad
Skill Challenges seemed a bit flat. Experience points never felt like a reward mechanism, more of a timing mechanism, which is fine if that is the way they are presented. There was still shitty DM advice about fudging rolls.

It felt like the dice could run cold for folks and they could spend an entire session not doing cool shit.

The Judd
I think I have been looking for a robust, character driven RPG since I figured out what these games could do and for me, that game is Burning Wheel. I enjoyed this iteration of D&D in a new way because it was the first edition of the game that I didn’t want to be something it wasn’t. I have BW and don’t need other games to be it anymore. I could just enjoy this game for what it was.

Right before D&Dnext was announced, I was cleaning out books for my future move to NYC and realized that I would probably never play D&D4e ever again. I gave them to a friend who was getting ready to play in a campaign.


If you have any thoughts of your own about 4e, please feel free to share your own experiences or ask questions about mine.

5 thoughts on “Looking back on Dungeons and Dragons 4e

  1. All I have to say is, keep an eye out for 13th Age. I was super skeptical at first, but it appears that it might be scratching all of my itches with OSR-style gaming: A crazy and simple mashup of 4e, 3e, and other games like Sorcerer.


  2. For what it wanted to do, 4e did it well. For what I wanted it to do, not so much. Ever since I was introduced to FATE via Spirit of the Century (thanks to the Sons of Kryos podcast) I found that FATE is the system that works for me as a GM and player, and I was introduced to a whole new world of indie RPGs. I can add elements of FATE to 4e, but it’s not the same.

  3. 4E took all the stuff I loved from Iron Heroes and boiled it down to a much cleaner rules set.

    I only got to play and run a few one shots, since, we’ve been tied up in so many other games.

    The only major design issue I’m unhappy with is that the monsters are built just as tough as the PCs, which forces a lot more drag on fights than needs to be.

    The fluff issue is that things are just a little too gonzo, but that’s been an issue I had since 3E, and Essentials seems to clean it up nicely.

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