Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tabletop Rundown (pt. 1)

Hey, this IS a gaming blog.

Anyways, right now I'm going to run down a few different tabletop systems that I play.

Dungeons and Dragons
The standard staple of the Fantasy RPG style game.  Lots of number crunching here, so be prepared for that.  The two "Editions" that I play are 3.5 and 4th edition (4e).  Each edition has pros and cons associated with it, so we'll dive into those.

Lots of character choices - With 3.5, you have a lot of choices for your character race, simply because the Monster Manuals have a template for letting you play as non-standard races.  Level adjustment means that a Drow (dark elf) can join the party, with the proper level adjustment (I believe Drow level adjustment is +3, which means that a level 1 Drow is equivalent to a level 3 or 4 standard race).  This opens up tons of options for a player to play some really strange characters.

Extensive Skill System: This can be both a blessing, and a curse.  It lets your character have training in various areas, but some of them aren't as useful as others.  While you can take ranks in Craft and Preform to earn money (or to do any of your Bard class features), you then end up with some semi-useless skills like Appraise.  Again, it's all about the depth you wish to put into your character.

Better Magic Item System: Ok, this is just for laughs, but it's hilarious seeing a Frost Flameburst Holy Vorpal Longsword (in order: Extra frost damage with every attack, extra fire damage on critical hits, extra damage against evil alignment, and vorpal is in 'mess your shit up' territory).

Multiclassing: Multiclassing in 3.5 is rewarding.  A good player can manage his levels for his character.  Unlike  4e, you aren't limited to a single multiclass.  For example, a player could be a Ranger/Rogue/Bard if he so desired.  This also means that Prestige Classes (think of them like, Advanced Jobs from any of the Final Fantasy Tactics Games) can be multiclassed as well.

Combat: Combat is slow and boring if you aren't a spellcaster.  Most of what you do is "I hit it with my sword" type stuff with no other effects, whereas spellcasters get all sorts of fun spells to mess with that have a variety of effects.

Difficulty Curve: 3.5 can be a tricky game to jump into, with it's extensive book-keeping and whatnot.  It can be really off-putting for people who haven't played a game before.

4th Edition
Easy to learn: Once you learn a few key phrases (At Will, Encounter, Daily, Utility, Push, Pull, Slide), you can understand the basics of the game fairly well.  With the streamlined skill selection, you don't need to dive through all the different skills like you did in 3.5.  The game is easy to learn for beginners, and a seasoned player can pull a character together in short order.

Increased Level Cap: The level cap in 3.5 is 20.  In 4e, it's 30.  The difference this makes is noticeable.  With a higher cap, the enemies and campaign can feel a little more spaced out.  What this also does is allow for 3 different tiers of play.  Heroic (levels 1-10), Paragon (11-20) and Epic Destiny (21-30).  Heroic tier is the foundation of your character, where you play just the base class (Ranger for instance).  At Paragon, you become more specialized within your class or race (Stormwarden for Ranger makes you better at killing things with two weapons for instance).  Then Epic Destiny re-generalizes your character and makes him into some legendary typecast (Demigod).

Honestly, I had some reservations when I first started playing.  It seemed like it was more difficult to make an individual character.  Once more of the supplementary books were released though, more build options, powers, feats, and general stuff came out that helped that.  I suppose one of the con's is that it's Hard to completely break the game (Pun-Pun in 3.5 can DESTROY A GAME if the DM allows it).

Part 2 will come in the future and will cover other games I'm familiar with.

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