Sunday, May 3, 2009

Vicious Mockery

After some delays over the last couple weeks, I finally played my first game of D&D 4e tonight.

As expected, I can now officially confirm that I fall into the camp that sums it up as "a fine game, but it ain't for me". We didn't really do enough for me to form a judgment on whether I'd go so far as to call it a tactical miniatures game with role-playing elements, but...

I played with my old group via Ventrilo, so were on a double learning curve: learning the 4e system as well as how to take advantage of the many awesome features of MapTools (which would work great in a tabletop session too, if the group all had access to laptops or a projection system). We only got through the first combat (Alex, the DM, is running "Keep on the Shadowfell," so it was the kobold ambush). My character is a bard, and I rather memorably used his Vicious Mockery ability to...mock...three death. No, I'm not joking. It kind of put me in mind of this scene from Arrested Development:

Tobias Fünke: I'm going to take a stab at something and say that you hate White Power Bill.
White Power Bill: I hate you!
Tobias Fünke: You HATE White Power Bill.
White Power Bill: I hate the government!
Tobias Fünke: You HATE White Power Bill.
White Power Bill: I hate my father!
[thinks about it for a second]
White Power Bill: I hate White Power Bill.
[he jumps off the railing and dies]

I came up with in-game explanations for each one (e.g., my mockery distracted the kobold as he was running at me and he tripped and cracked his head open), but I have to say that the mechanics felt really divorced from the action. Like, if I hadn't chosen to explain the in-game rationale behind my Mockery, the game would have progressed along exactly the same. Which leads me back towards thinking that maybe this really is a tactical miniatures game. I mean, I'll make the same sort of "fluff" extrapolations when I play wargames, too. But I'm withholding judgment on that for now.

In the meantime, there's a pretty good article on 4e's dissociated mechanics here. Time to head back and re-read it in light of tonight's game.
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