Ladies & Gentlemen & Hunters, the Leafshine Co-Operative are pleased to announce the first regular feature on this blog, AFK Gaming. People were so interested in my brief photo post about the Dungeons & Dragons tabletop game that I'm involved with, that I'm now going to do a post each Saturday about something related to tabletop gaming of various sorts. First up, D&D 4e in more detail!
I have a confession. Despite playing tabletops RPGs for over 25 years, and despite spending half a decade actually writing the damn things professionally, I've never played Dungeons & Dragons. That's right, I've never played the game that started it all. Embarassing, isn't it?
However, a good friend was getting a game together of the new edition and I couldn't resist joining in.
And it's...interesting. It's clearly a game very much informed by MMoRPGs. You start the game with a decent range of special abilities for each class, which gives combat a surprisingly computer-ish feel. Except without the, y'know, speed. Our first few skirmishes were epic in length, as we spent ages consulting the books to get to grips with both the new system and the new abilities each of you get. With six players in the game, a single round of combat can easily eat half an hour - if not more.
It's fun though, as you're throwing acid balls, or flurries of knives, or calling upon holy power to issue challenges from the start. It's got a heroic feel from the off that many games lack, casting you, as they do, as peasants with sharpened sticks. Combat isn't a pushover, but you do feel a distinct cut above the common mob which is nice (and quite MMoRPG-like again).
The net result is a game that feels surprisingly familiar to an audience that's main experience of the idea of an RPG comes through computer games. The combat-orientation gives you a good feeling of running through the early quests, and you have enough time to get to grips with your abilities - which takes a while, even for an experienced gamer - before you "ding" and gain more, just to complicate things.
But here's a thought: where's the roleplaying in all this? The being-in-character, doing half-elfy stuff part of the game? Well, for us, one silly scene in a bar, so far. Now, I've only read the Player's Handbook so far, but it only really gives cursory attention to the idea, but the initial adventures (we're working through Keep on the Shadowfell right now) seem to sow little seeds of potential roleplaying interaction amongst the combat, without thrusting it down your throats. So, you could probably skip it if you wanted, or use it as a steady learning experience for those coming from keyboard gaming.
Expect further reports from the Tabletop as the game develops...