Qu3stion and 4nswer, Part 0

Well, Gamer Bling’s last 4e post generated a lot of traffic. It was Tweeted, socially flagged, translated, and generated a lot of commentary. However, some people (possibly gam3rs, possibly trolls, possibly neither) misunderstood Gamer Bling’s intent behind the post, so he thought he ought to take a moment and explain the basis of the Qu3stion and 4nswer series. Hence this one, Part 0, the prequel that (hopefully) puts everything into perspective.

The Qu3stion and 4nswer series is not intended to be a discussion of the comparative merits of 3e and 4e. At least that is not its primary purpose, however a discussion of the various merits is necessarily required as part of its primary purpose and Gamer Bling will not shirk from that.

The primary purpose of the series is to address the misconceptions that Gamer Bling has heard regarding 4e. Some of these are clearly misconceptions, and of these, some are quite understandable. For example, a casual glance at the graphic design of 4e can easily lead to an incorrect conclusion regarding the game design.

Other arguments are clearly born of fear and ignorance. Gamer Bling uses the phrase “fear and ignorance” deliberately and with tongue planted firmly in cheek, inasmuch it has been used often in the American public and political arena to silence opposition to the self-proclaimed “enlightened” point of view. It does so by immediately shifting the subject of discourse from opposition to the actual subject to whether or not the detractor is fearful or ignorant. It creates an unstated assumption that the self-appointed enlightened position holds a view that is morally and intellectually superior.

“I think a handful of steaming dog poo is disgusting.”

“That’s just your fear and ignorance speaking.”

“You’re saying that I’m afraid of dog poo? No, I’m not.”

(Roll eyes, gives a condescending sigh.)
“Why else would you think it’s disgusting?”

At this point, Gamer Bling will casually observe that disillusioned and Jroc have called Gamer Bling’s puncturing of anti-4e rhetoric “boring,” which itself could be a gam3r’s method to undermine the arguments by diverting attention away from the subject (i.e., let’s not debate the accuracy of Gamer Bling’s analysis, but rather its entertainment value, which is patently subjective). It may also simply indicate that they prefer to play Vampire: the Masquerade over D&D, but then, why would they bother to read a long diatribe regarding a game they don’t play? Regardless, Gamer Bling prefers not to prejudge them, so disillusioned and Jroc, you are both cordially invited to comment and clarify.

As for the motivation behind this series, Gamer Bling is not motivated by the desire to destroy 3.5 and its derivatives. Gamer Bling does wish to promote 4e, but that alone is not enough to make him postpone posting his reviews of excellent excessories. No, Gamer Bling’s motivation is to remove misconceptions or downright lies about 4e, because Gamer Bling is disgusted that most people (not just Americans) have lost the ability to have a meaningful debate without resorting to denigration, ad hominem attacks, abrupt dismissal, or spurious logic. The goal is to disarm the hat3rs so that the common gamer can freely choose to try 4e or not to try 4e without “conventional wisdom” getting in the way, since conventional wisdom is often neither conventional nor wise.

Gamer Bling prefers to have people view things afresh, with a clean perspective free from confirmational bias (i.e., listening only to that which you agree with, and disregarding anything that you disagree with no matter how true it may be) and without the blinders of prejudice.

And prejudice might in fact be the best word to describe what gam3rs have against 4e. Well, no, gam3rs in general I think are fine people. However, many of them are being led by hat3rs, and Gamer Bling wishes to bring out the truth, since truth generally shuts hat3rs up.

Gamer Bling holds no distaste for 3rd. Gamer Bling loved 3rd; it restored his faith in role-playing, and brought him back from various other games and homebrew campaigns to D&D after years and years away. In one fell stroke, 3rd got rid of many design problems that had plagued the game from the start. It raised the bar for RPG design, and reinvigorated the industry.

However, Gamer Bling believes that 4e is better, just as he believes that 3rd is better than AD&D.

If you have played both versions and prefer 3.5, more power to you. Gamer Bling doffs his imaginary chapeau and bows in the general direction of your computer screen, for he greatly respects people who have approached the whole 3.5 / 4e clash of cultures with an open mind. And Gamer Bling will continue to write reviews of items that only bear upon the 3.5 game system, because he wants everyone to prosper.

If you do not want to try 4e, then the question is “why not?” Gamer Bling will try most any game at least once, so long as the subject matter is neither offensive nor actively disinteresting to him. If you find you don’t have a solid reason for avoiding 4e, or your primary reason has been (or will be) disarmed by Gamer Bling, then maybe you ought to rethink your opposition, because no one is served by prejudice.

Note that Gamer Bling has not had 100% success in getting his own gaming group to try 4e, although those who have tried it consider 4e to be at worst a viable alternative. But as regards the one who hasn’t tried it, Gamer Bling isn’t going to think the less of him. This gam3r has limited gaming time, he has years of experience with 3.5, and he has invested in lots of books. He wants to spend his limited gaming time playing 3.5 rather than trying something new. That’s fine. Gamer Bling does not entirely agree with the logic behind the decision, but at least the reasons are not inherently fallacious and he’s not a hat3r. So more power to him.

So let’s review: the Qu3stion and 4nswer series is not meant to destroy 3rd, nor to force everyone to play 4e. It is designed to shoot down the meritless misconceptions, rumors, and, um, creative reality that seems to surround 4e without just cause.

And here are the fallacious statements that Gamer Bling refutes (other suggestions always welcome):

Part 0: Gamer Bling wants everyone to play 4e instead.
Part 1: 4e is too restrictive; 3e is wide open.
Part 2: 4e is not D&D.
Part 3: 4e is not a role-playing game.
Part 4: 4e is just a paper MMO.
Part 5: WotC just wants to dumb down D&D (forthcoming).
Part 6: 4e has way more rules (forthcoming).

If you want to read some of why Gamer Bling likes 4e better than 3.5, you can look at these posts:

Rants on Vance: Why 3e wizards are self-defeating.
Two URLs, One Class: Why 3rd fails on its promise of being magical.
4th Time’s the Charm: Why 4e gets magic right.
Hit Locker: A Comparison of 3rd and 4e Character Durability.
Spelling Test: Magic mechanics in 3.5 and 4e (forthcoming).

… and others in the future.


~ by Gamer Bling on 17 February 2010.

9 Responses to “Qu3stion and 4nswer, Part 0”

  1. This post was great. But I doubt it’ll get anyone off your back. Haters gonna hate, man, but good luck with the series. It’s been good so far.

  2. When 5e hits, will all the 4e articles be obsolete?

    • 😀 Of course not. Gamer Bling’s wisdom lasts throughout the ages, or until the Gamer Bling Official Companion gives him That Look™, whichever comes first.

      The question is, “Will 5e be such a design improvement over 4e that Gamer Bling starts a new series of ‘Que5tion and 4nswer’ posts?”

      The other question is whether or not there will be h4ters, but Gamer Bling is suitably confident that they will arise.

      Note also that Gamer Bling does not always upgrade; he did not do so with each Paranoia edition, and in fact abandoned RuneQuest due to an upgrade he felt was retrograde.

  3. Good article. Commenting on something from your previous post – yes, 4e apparently talks more about “role-playing” than 3.5, but the mechanics just aren’t there to support it.

    For example – how good is your bard at playing a lute? How about a piano? How good is he compared to some other bard somewhere? There’s no “Perform” skill like 3rd edition had, so how do you resolve it? How do you measure a bard who’s good with a lot of instruments, vs a bard who’s awesome with one and can’t play the rest? As far as I can see, there are no rules for that, other than “You’re as good as you say you are”.

    Not that this makes 4e a bad game! Having played it, I really don’t want to play 3rd edition again – but I’m still disappointed that they totally skip over the whole “how good at X are you” for everything that isn’t combat related in some way.

    • Colen! Folks, meet the brogue-alicious Colen “Wolflair.com” McAlister. (Salute!)

      In reply, well, first off, Gamer Bling must point out that he has a personal bias against bards. He has a hard time envisioning Troob (from the comic Wizard of Id) playing a lute in the midst of a melee of screaming armored knights. And if someone ever forces Gamer Bling to play a bard, he will choose bagpipes. Or a sousaphone. Or maybe a PVC tubulum backpack.

      That said, it appears that skill at an instrument falls into the same vague role-playing netherworld that height and weight do in 4e: you decide, based on the vision you have for your character. And for who’s better, that would likely be a skill challenge including memorized pieces (History + Wisdom skill check), improv (Insight + Charisma), sight-reading (Perception + Intelligence), or sheer volume (Intimidate + Constitution). Or a cage match using instruments as weapons (Strength or Dexterity as appropriate), which has the advantage of eliminating one bard.

      Still, a very good point. Bards may be a class that gets kind of tooled in 4e as far as the brand vision / promise goes. Gamer Bling will look into that… if he can keep his bile down. He really doesn’t care for bards outside of a tavern.

  4. Hello Gamer Bling, long time reader, first time poster here.

    I just wanted to throw my hat into the ring and say that with every new segment of the Qu4stion and 4nswer series another piece of all the pent up frustration I’ve had for these “hat3rs” simmers down.

    Allow me to explain; the forums I frequent can be as turbulent as pack of dire weasels, and it greatly pained me to see people who were completely new to the tabletop genre (read: no experience whatsoever) begin their delve with the false assumptions that 4E is inferior to 3.5 because it is “Like WoW”, or a “Tabletop MMO”, and even because it is “not a Role-Playing Game”. Now, preferring 3.5 to 4E and vice-versa is completely fine when grounded on one’s own rational observations and comparisons of the two, but I had no idea that the situation had decayed to the point where complete newbies to RPGs already had these assumptions planted into their minds.

    It’s just calming to know that I’m not the only one who’s had enough of this widespread ignorance, and even somewhat liberating to see someone who can break apart the myth with while still keeping a level head and a sharp and witty tongue.

    Keep up the great work Gamer Bling.

    • Thank you very much for the compliments. Of course, as a public service, you may wish to point the forum monkeys to this post. It will educate those who can be saved (freeing their minds whether or not they end up playing 4e) and annoy the hat3rs, which is a win-win situation.

  5. Salute returned 😉

    Bards are really just the best example of the problem – there’s really no way to “express” your character, except through the combat-focused system. What if I want to be a blacksmith, or a fisherman, or a sailor? All I can do is take high strength and say “well that makes me good at smithing”, or high dexterity and say “that makes me good at fishing”, or Acrobatics and say “that’s from my years splicing the mainbrace”.

    4e optimized the combat system so that everyone has interesting choices – you don’t have the problem with “Well, I suck in combat, so I can’t do much once the fighting starts” any more.

    I’d like it to have done the opposite, too – given everyone interesting choices that didn’t detract from their combat opportunities, so you didn’t feel like you had to min-max your character by spending all your points in combat-focused stuff. That way everyone’s character can be interesting and well-rounded.

    • Ah, now that is a very good point. Which is why Gamer Bling is generally in favor of a “background” sort of feat or what have you.

      But that can be covered by really good character creation on the part of the players. In Gamer Bling’s little group, for example, Jason always writes out a two-page synopsis of who his character is, and why he is an advanturer. In contrast, our druicidal maniac became a druid because he thought scimitars were cool…

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