Saturday, April 5, 2008

Redefining geometry for fun and profit!

There has been a lot of furor over a recently announced change in Fourth Edition D&D.  Perhaps you are asking, "What could it be? Is it a new race?  New spells?  Magic Items?"  I am here to tell you it is none of these.

It was announced that in Fourth Edition it will only cost only cost 1 square of movement to move diagonally across the board instead of 1.5 squares like it did in Third Edition.

DiagMoveWell, technically it cost 1 square for the first diagonal, then 2 for the second, then 1 for the third, etc.  If you are confused, and certainly some people were, simply refer to the handy chart on the right.

Personally, I don't see what the big deal is.  I am generally a fan of anything that speeds up play. I'll admit that it doesn't take a rocket scientist to count 1 square, 2 squares, 1 square, etc.  Nevertheless, I have noticed several times over the years where someone at our table has had to redo a movement because they forgot this rule.

Now, I understand that we are redefining geometry a bit here.  Not that the old rule was accurately defining the diagonal distance (that would be the Pythagorean Theorem).  Still, it was close enough.  This new method just strikes them as giving up too much realism for the sake of ease of play.

Now, I think the game needs to be a bit easier, but that's not why I like the new method.  The reason is that I always saw movement in D&D as very abstract anyway.  Even though we move the characters around the board like chess pieces, I doubt they are really just standing in one place.  They are whirling like dervishes, trying to block and dodge attacks coming at them from every direction at once.  The battle grid is just a crude approximation of what is really going on.

Besides, this new rule will make my monk who only moves diagonally totally rock!


Bronz said...

Yes, this is one of those topics that cause a geek maelstrom. It is really the defining topic of the 4e taking DnD back to its gamist roots, to making the game quicker to play and more fun while SOMEWHAT defining what happens. The simulationist players hate this though, and says it destroys the game for them, much like Dragonborn female boobs.

DnD has never been a simulationist game though. At its core it is a game about "heroic fantasy" and neither of those words or the phrase itself promotes a simulation of reality by any stretch. Every aspect of DnD is abstract: Hit Points, AC, Saving throws...none of this reflects reality yet movement is supposed to be precise?

Sometimes I guess I just don't understand.