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20 March 2008 @ 10:40 am
4E Eberron, Continued  
So, looking back to the previous post, the topic is simple: Eberron was designed to be a 3E setting, so isn't it just a better idea to run it in 3E? Why would you change?

YOU may decide not to change. Again, I'm not some sort of WotC shill here. You may not like 4E. As it turns out, I do - not just as a system, but specifically as a system for Eberron. And that's the point of these posts: to explain why I think it actually works as well (or even better) for Eberron than 3E. The downsides are obvious; you can't use all the crunch from your old books, psionics won't be in place from day one, and who knows how quickly DDI will provide support for other unique features of the setting. So given that, why have I already jumped ship to the new system?

Last post I talked about the first basic principle: 4E embraces the idea that PCs are special. Action points are part of the core rules. PCs feel like tough and capable individuals from level one. NPCs follow their own rules; you don't have to have the bartender be a tenth level character just because you want him to have a good Insight score. All of this fits with my original idea of Eberron. It's easier to make a first-level character feel like Indiana Jones than it was before.

Point number two is one I have to approach with caution, because it's something that hasn't been fully revealed. And that's magic. The core, original idea of Eberron was that arcane magic was essentially a form of science - and that as a science, it ought to be incorporated into society over time and used to provide the basic services we've developed with technology: transportation, medicine, communication, entertainment, warfare, and so on. And we did the best we could, using dragonshard focus items and magewrights. The problem is that Vancian magic really doesn't lend itself to this principle. The concept is that the streets of the cities of Khorvaire are lit by continual flame. But when a magewright specializing in this spell can still only cast it once or twice a day, how many weeks will it take him to light Main Street? What does he do for the rest of the day after casting the spells? We just went ahead with it, saying that the most critical functions were provided by reusable magic items (like the Sivis speaking stones). But it wasn't really what I wanted - a world in which magewright could be a true occupation, not something where you could blow your professional specialty in five minutes.

Here's where I really can't reveal anything, because if someone official hasn't already explained how it works, I sure shouldn't be spilling the beans. However, I will say that the way non-combat magic (rituals) work creates a far stronger foundation for a magical economy than Vancian magic did. It's a system where it's clear how that lamplighter can put in a full day of work, as opposed to burning out his power with a single spell. So again, Eberron was founded on 3E, and the idea that magic was a force that followed logical patterns, that could be reliably controled by formula and ritual, and which could be taught - but Vancian magic always put some limits on the logic of a truly magical society. The rules for rituals make the idea of a professional, full-time magewright a simple and logical idea - and in fact, the system is such that it doesn't even require the existence of a separate magewright class.

More still to come!
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Fizzbangfizzbang on March 20th, 2008 07:07 pm (UTC)
It seems to me that even though Eberron was built for 3E, the embrace of cinematic style and PC dynamism at Eberron's core ended up becoming a core concept of 4E.

Making Eberron an important conceptual bridge between 3E and 4E, perhaps?

Either way, I'm looking forward to 4E and playing Eberron in it!
joannahurleyjoannahurley on March 20th, 2008 07:28 pm (UTC)
Hmm...I've never cared for Vancian magic, precisely because it can't do what Eberron tries to do - make magic "common." Add yet another reason that I need to go pre-order the core rules. :)
xutechxutech on March 20th, 2008 07:28 pm (UTC)
I always enjoy your journal. Informative and well thought out.

I would like to add that I hope there is a 4th edition modern update that is just as bravely revisional. In my opinion the current modern system is nigh on unplayable and I would like to see it rebuilt in a parallel manner. If there were exciting gun and baseball bat systems in the same mould as sword and sorcery systems of DnD 4th edition it would be a double win. Were both systems interchangable for eclectic games that would be even better.
Blues Drive Monster: Yomiko the Geekeslington on March 20th, 2008 07:55 pm (UTC)
I like the sound of rituals. I take it's for those non-combat utility spells, like knock and Tiny Hut?

Sounds like a good move to me. When I played a cleric I generally just ended up taking combat spells and, when another spell would be useful, waiting until we needed to rest to perform it.

Either way, glad to hear it.
Rechanrechan on March 20th, 2008 08:04 pm (UTC)
Examples of rituals we've been given are divinations, long distance teleportation, Raise Dead, Wish... I can't think of any more off hand.
Keith Bakergloomforge on March 20th, 2008 08:23 pm (UTC)
I'm not in a position to reveal anything that hasn't been said before. But I can certainly say that there's lots of other lower-level effects than raise dead or teleportation, and that CB is on the right track. And while I was speaking to its larger role in the world, for PCs it's exactly the case that it removes that issue of having to sacrifice combat efficiency for a noncombat spell - or sacrificing the utility and flavor of noncombat magic because you're more likely to need a fireball.
Rechanrechan on March 20th, 2008 08:40 pm (UTC)
But I can certainly say that there's lots of other lower-level effects than raise dead or teleportation

Certainly; I was just going by what I've seen exposed previously.

I mean, Identify has got to be the poster child for needing to be a 1st level ritual.
xael_renyocxael_renyoc on March 20th, 2008 08:05 pm (UTC)
I think Eberron should have embraced Recharge Magic. I think this is a great way to represent a heavy-magic campaign setting. 3e overcomes the Vancian restriction nicely this way:

http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/magic/rechargeMagic.htm

Billychronoscrow on March 20th, 2008 08:25 pm (UTC)
Now this is sounding very interesting.

I was never a fan of Vancian magic, I prefer spell points way more, but that's probably because I grew up with video games before I knew of pen & paper RPG.
Douglas Milewskidacuteturtle on March 20th, 2008 08:57 pm (UTC)
For every setting that I've held up to 4e, I like the setting better for 4e than 3e. It just feels more right. This is especially true for a historically based Charlemagne game.

I look forward to someone doing a true-to-form Arthurian setting. 4e will kick-ass in that regard. 3e never worked well with most literary settings, which is a big ding against it.

The Charlemagne setting took me a week to hammer out the 3e rules. For 4e, I haven't needed to write any rules, just convert a little fluff and it all works.
Beemer: Dr. Tectonicdr_tectonic on March 21st, 2008 04:12 am (UTC)
The new way of doing magic seemed a little weird to me on paper.

Then we actually had a combat and it was awesome.

We haven't had a chance to explore how the system works outside combat yet, but at this point, I have faith it'll be fine.
kesh on March 21st, 2008 04:51 am (UTC)
This is why I was hoping the first 4e setting out the door would be Eberron. It just fits so well, and would require very little tinkering to work. Alas, they went with the big guns (FR) instead, and I have to wait to '09 to get the full treatment. Still, I think it'll be good when Eberron for 4e comes out, to really showcase what the new rules are capable of.
Fobokfobok on March 21st, 2008 01:58 pm (UTC)
I have to admit, that's the one issue I had trouble wrapping my head around about the Eberron setting, which is why I never ran it in 3e. In 4e, it does seem to fit a lot better, and might just give it a try... if I can find a group. :)
(Anonymous) on March 22nd, 2008 01:25 pm (UTC)
Recharge Magic
I usually run my own setting. At players request I have been running Eberron for two months now. I have enjoyed it. It is very interesting and has much potential.

I use the recharge system as it is in Unearthed Arcana. Thanks for the link in the SRD, this will help my players get the hang of the system. Most encounters don't last long enough for a spell to become recharged. The problem that I'm running into is that my players can't keep track of the random recharge time. I feel that this is an imperfect solution to the Vanican problem. Vanican has turned me away from D&D in the past. My second choice is Champions 1e, but too complicated for most players. We've given 4e a try, but hard to get a feel without the actual rules. Excited about 4e.

Peace Keith