I know I can give Wizards a bit of a hard time for some of the shit they pull (I am looking at you turd builder and your pal cash grab cards), but I really do enjoy and have fun playing their current version of D&D, as I have with all previous editions. I am, however, no fanboy that gets down on his knees and well..fluffs them no matter what they do nor am I a hater that looks for a way to take a flaming dump on every offering or move they make. I fall more in the middle, a cynical douche whose hackles go up at the first hint of marketing spin or duplicity.
So I thought I would give Wizards’ some love for the noticeable increase of fluff/story in their published offerings beginning with the essentials materials, which I have found to be fantastic. I love these little story elements as I feel it brings things to life. I have to admit when I first got the core books and was reading through them it was a bit like reading the owners manual for my Blu-Ray player, and I often found my eyes sort of glazing over (you know kind of like when your wife is talking/nagging). I know some of you crunch warriors out there get all worked into a shoot and start talking about how you don’t need any fluff as you can make your own. I feel your pain, but we have talked before about my somewhat challenged creativity and how I really appreciate a helping hand now and again. Wizards’ latest monster book Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale is particularly awesome. Monsters, villains, and threats are grouped together and bound with a story or background that is not only interesting to read but stirs the imagination for use in your game as is or as an easily re-skinned jumping off point.
Another shift I have noticed is an effort to include powers or mechanics for non-combat use. I have struggled sometimes with most of the powers and effects being so tied to the combat mechanics and how to do things when not in combat. A great example of this for me is in Heroes of Shadow and the poisons that the Executioner Assassin has at his disposable. Each entry has an in-combat effect as well as an out of combat effect. Again, I know a more skillful DM can create and adjudicate these things just fine using skills, powers and role-playing, but I prefer a little more guidance to sort of keep me within the white lines of the highway and prevent a situation such as this:
“Okay so as the count is distracted I slip the poison in his drink”
“Cool, so he takes a sip as he gives you a condescending look”
“Great what happens?”
“He clutches at his throat and staggers to his feat, his rage visible as he draws his sword”
“That’s it? What does the poison do?” “
Oh yah, good point…ahh…you see him grab painfully at his crotch as his dick falls off.”
“Yah, his dick totally falls off.”
“What the fuck does that mean?”
“Well I guess he would take a penalty to his reflex defense on account of being off balance”
“So let me get this straight, I am a master assassin with years of training and plying my craft and I would brew a poison that would make my target’s dick fall off?”
“Hmm yah I see what you mean, okay he’s dead”
“So now he is dead?”
“Yep totally dead…and his dick falls off”
So thanks again Wizards for preventing something like this from happening at my table and keep up the good work.