Posts Tagged ‘4th Ed’

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other

May 14th, 2009 6 comments

D&D 4th Edition is not WoW in tabletop form, and you’re avoiding it for the wrong reasons.

I think the comparison stems primarily from the “role” aspect that is now a core part of D&D characters, and it’s kind of a bad thing to make a sticking point out of. If you’re going to compare two things, you should compare all of their aspects, and in this case, 4th ed is hardly like WoW at all.

Let’s start with the hardware issue, because it’s fairly obvious. WoW requires a computer with a high-speed internet connection. D&D requires three books, a handful of dice, and paper. This means that D&D tends to be more portable than Blizzard’s little gold mine, and this difference is a fairly simple one, yet very important to establish. Where I can typically only play WoW at home, I can go over to other friends houses and play D&D with them there, or even take it to Cons and libraries, for a totally different experience. On the other hand, it can be quite a hassle to get my laptop set up at some other place, the internet connection of which I’m not in control of at all. I also don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on a top of the line machine to run D&D, nor do I pay a monthly subscription fee for it (though I could.)

On the other hand, the hardware enables another major difference between D&D and WoW: MMORPG means of course that you are online with thousands of other players. Instead of my core group of friends, I interact with hundreds of people in a week, in a myriad of ways. I buy their auctions, debate with them in trade channel, or PuG Naxxramas. While doing that, I’m listening to my favorite tracks on iTunes, following an e-mail conversation going on between a few colleagues, and surfing the web for pr0… I mean helpful tips about how to help people. (C’mon, it’s what the internet’s for.) This creates, by necessity, a different group dynamic. I know the people I play D&D with, and have for years, but in WoW, I might group with someone who I’ll only know for those few minutes when we’re killing some trash together. This creates a server based community, where some figures are heralded, and others reviled. An Alliance Night Elf Rogue on my own server of Quel’Dorei who goes by the name Hood is a particularly good example. The Horde side of the server actively goes insane when he’s mentioned, whereas I’m told he’s actually a fairly cool guy to the Alliance. The culture that surrounds an MMO is impossible to recreate on D&D’s scale, and vice versa. I can play WoW with my best friends, but it’s a very different experience to enjoy D&D with them.

Then there’s the story aspect of WoW. Even though WoW presents itself as a roleplaying game, it’s not. Yes, they have RP servers, and yes, you are expected to develop a character, and yes, if you break character, it’s technically against the Realm’s ToS, and you could be penalized for it, but it’s not a roleplaying game. In a roleplaying game, you can interact with the story and you have a direct impact on it. Indeed, a story may have been created just for your tabletop group, as I’m doing currently with a 4th ed. game I’m running. However rich and deep the lore of WoW is (and it is, trust me), it’s not something you can direclty interact or effect. If a group of Horde rushes up to Darnassus in search of glory, and kills Tyrande, she’ll respawn in 3-5 hours. She’s not going to be permanently affected, and you don’t have the story to tell of how you killed one of the most powerful characters in WoW’s cannon. Well, you do, but when she respawns, what do you tell your guild? How do you justify doing something that can’t actually be done? When you clear out a raid instance, but still need to go in there for the gear, how do you rationalize the fact that all the monsters are back after just over a week? Whereas in D&D, if your group manages to kill the leader of a small community, if the DM pays attention to it, that could be a pretty big change. Even bigger if it’s a not-so-small community. D&D’s world has more flexibility, and is more responsive to change than WoW can ever be, and that’s fine, because it’s a different game.

Don’t get me wrong. I love WoW. Big fan. I love the friends I’ve made with it, and the things I’ve done with it. This blog concerns itself with gaming, and was supposed to be about WoW in particular. It’s kind of drifted from that, but I digress. What’s important is that I’m a big fan of D&D fourth ed. too. I think a lot of people are missing out because they have preconceived notions of what 4th edition is and is not. My best friend doesn’t think it’s WoW per se, but he doesn’t accept it as D&D proper, because it doesn’t have some setting material from older editions. A good friend of mine is upset for the reasons that it feels too much like a MMORPG.

But it’s not. It’s not D&D 3rd edition, or second, or oWoD, or 7th Sea, or any other game.

It’s D&D 4th ed, and it’s a lot of fun. So find a group, and play.

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