Thursday, October 25, 2007

4e: This whole backstory changing thing...

So one of the comments I hear a lot about 4e is how this edition will be "different" from previous edition changes.

How? They're changing the backstory!

Monsters that have been Devils for decades are suddenly Demons, just like that! (Or is it vice versa?)

The Great Wheel is going away.

Mechanics changes are fine I'm told, so long as the underlying backstory doesn't change.

I've been trying to put my finger on why this puzzles me for a bit now, and I finally have it:

The mechanics changes of previous editions changed the backstory of everyone's game WAY more profoundly than anything going on here.

In second edition, the whole makeup of the Cleric spell list changed overnight.

Many gods no longer granted healing or protection spells to their clerics.

Let me tell you, that had a bigger impact on MY homebrew than what extradimensional team some of the players belonged to.

And Bards. They became something completely different between 1 and 2e.

I had a PC Bard, who had clawed tooth and nail to get there, and there was no WAY he was becoming some wimpy druid/illusionist with a d6 HD.

So he became, in effect, the last of his kind. Other Bards whispered about the abilities he possessed as he walked down the street. Abilities they could no longer attain.

Between 2nd and 3rd?

Two words: Human. Multiclassing.

Again, talk about backstory changes!

Either all humans encountered in the past never chose to multi-class for some mysterious reason, while the younger set LOVED to multi-class, or, they suddenly cropped up with new abilities.

And those demi-human level limits? Turns out they were really more of a guideline than a rule and the elves could advance to high levels all along.

Sure, the elf queen stayed at 7th level fighter for 1,000 YEARS, but now, she could put on her muck boots and explore dungeons to get more powerful with the young whippersnappers.

Who knew?

I could come up with some more, but in short: change happens. And every change, even the mechanical ones, change the look, feel and smell of a world profoundly.

I think some of the mechanical changed of previous editions affected the backstory of worlds much more than the Succubus switching teams, and her home being an island in and astral sea as opposed to spinning in the spoked of a Newtonian wheel.

And those worlds survived just fine.

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