The two systems I’m learning at the moment are the new editions of D&D and Exalted. I don’t often have problems with the actual roleplaying parts of the game, so this declaration mostly means I’m figuring out what is involved in the murder portion of the game — combat.
I’ve skipped an edition for each system because of my move to Asia and the long time it took for me to pick up new groups to revisit these games with. (It took time to find people here with my hobbies.) As such, my impressions are based on older permutations of each game.
- This is short since I only really have one observation. I really like withering and decisive attacks in that they suit my bias for battles that set up for big finishers. Each round of withering attack seems like Creating an Advantage in Fate — all leading up to the decisive attack that ends it all. Didn’t get the chance to test this with a true battle between equals, however, and the GM running the game isn’t really a combat-oriented one, so this observation may be inaccurate in the long run.
- So, apparently grids are a thing now. Apparently, they were even a thing back in AD&D!? What rock was I living under that I never noticed? From my perspective as a strictly theatre-of-the-mind player, the added tracking that comes from exact measurements and five-foot-squares seems to really bog down the game.
- I’m glad they removed the 3.5 wall of rules surrounding Attacks of Opportunity, for the most part. However, it’s still there through feats such as Sentinel, and actually still kind of annoying to track because it cuts into the tension and flow of combat by constantly interrupting it.
- Speaking of, what are hit points even supposed to represent now? They still bloat at higher levels to ridiculous levels (I’m a 2nd level warlock and have 23 hit points) and regenerate at extremely fast rates. I’m thinking it may be best to consider them as a measure of system shock, but what now tracks physical wounds and other consequences of deadly combat? Exhaustion?
- I’m embarrassed this took me all battle to realise, but it seems that it may be possible to play with the shiny-new Advantage/Disadvantage system in a way that emulates Fate’s Create an Advantage system. Maybe, like a full action to commit to an action like the Bard’s Inspiration move. This may be helpful as it was really sad to watch one of our best combatants whiff misses for ten consecutive rounds in a battle that lasted four hours. It’d also add a much needed narrative approach to combat that the current mechanically minded ruleset doesn’t outright reward.
- I like the new single-roll party initiative die, but it’s funny to see time-saving, party-focused innovations amidst the fossils of crunch. The streamlining effort feels a bit half-way in that respect.
I’ll be trying to keep it to what I’m used to when I run Ravenloft and Out of the Abyss later this year to see if it still works (and if anyone complains because I’m weird for not wanting grids), so I’ll form more concrete thoughts on all of this later.