First Impressions, Third Edition
It's been almost 5 years since I've purchased a D&D rulebook, so it was a big deal for me to finally buy a copy of the new Player's Handbook. My reaction upon diving into it for the first time was a mixture of excitement and disappointment...
I finally got around to actually buying the new 3rd Edition Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook. After just cracking it open some 12 hours ago, and going to sleep with visions of Halflings and Sorcerers dancing through my head, I woke up with some first impressions I thought I'd share. Granted, these are ONLY first impressions, and I'm probably off the mark on a few of them, but like they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
If you haven't seen the book yet, maybe these will change your mind. But probably not. Those who will buy the book will buy it regardless. The real issue, as the following will imply, is that those who aren't already fans probably won't be flocking to the bookstores to grab a copy. I simply don't think there's enough renovation here to inspire a new generation to start role-playing the way most of us did.
At any rate, here, in no particular order, are my first impressions...
- Ugly art. Come on guys, you had ten years. The pseudo-sketches are one thing, but some of these pictures are just awful and cartoony. Pick a style. Did the CEO of Hasbro have his 14-year-old daughter do some of the art? And what's with the hairstyles and nose piercings? Yikes!
- The bard looks like a sissy.
- Ugly cover. Brown is not a good color for an RPG. I almost didn't see this on the shelf, beside the bright greens and blues of the White Wolf stuff. And is this supposed to look like a magical tome? What wizard wants all those gemstones on his book? Talk about gaudy. And impractical to boot. Sell the gems, buy some vellum or squid ink or spell components. Geez.
- No mention of TSR anywhere except on the spine, in the code number. RIP.
- Is this a board game or an RPG? Everything seems dependent on the little tokens and maps. It's obvious Hasbro had its fingers in this one. The game is no longer in your mind, it's based on the little paper discs and figures. Maybe this is a ploy to sell more miniature figurines? An attempt to appeal to the masses?
- The Character Generation CD that comes with the book is Windows only. I'm willing to bet half of all those who play D&D own Macintoshes. This is a big mistake, imho.
- The "warning" about imagination on the bottom of the introduction page is cute. It's like, "Oh, you know, I thought that this game was real, and I was going to kill myself if my character died in the dungeon, but since you put a little blurb on page 3, I know now that it's all just imaginary. Thanks." Come on. Give me a break. If I was that unstable, watching Dragonball Z would have done me in by now.
- The introduction comes after the character creation brief. Thus making it not an introduction after all. Annoying.
- If there are elves and half-elves, why are there no orcs to go with the half-orcs? Is this discrimination? Which brings up another issue - if humans are human-sized, and orcs are human-sized, then why are half-orcs larger than human-sized?
- The new character sheets are a jumbled mass of columns and lines. Hard to follow. I don't see how this is any easier. The system appears to make more sense, but the character sheet doesn't.
- If it's the new d20 system, why are they still using 3d6 to generate characters? Especially when they tell you to reroll numbers if they're low. Why not just convert it all?
- The thief is now a rogue. Appropriate. My thief characters never stole anything, but they certainly did rogue a lot. But where's the assassin? Where's the "Instant DeathStrike" feat?
- The bard looks like a sissy.
- The spell lists are all tangled and mangled. What was wrong with splitting them into cleric and wizard spells? Unless this is an attempt to gloss over the religious aspect of clerics, I see no reason to mingle the spells so much. There's not that much crossover.
- Starting hit-points - no rolling, just take the max. Best thing they did for the rules. Playing a wizard and rolling a 1 for hit-points always sucked.
- Why would anyone play a straight-up fighter any more, what with the Ranger, Barbarian and Paladin to choose from?
- The end matter in the book is confusing. If this is a Player's Handbook, why did they include monsters and DM information? The experienced players know the other two books are coming, and the newbie players will only be confused. I see no benefit to including such material in this manner.
- Did I mention that the bard looks like a sissy?
Well, for better or worse, those are my first impressions in a nutshell. I'm sure as I have more time to play around with the system, I'll change my mind on a few, but I've found that my gut reaction to RPGs is usually pretty much on-target. Anyone care to tell me I'm wrong, or to add some more gripes?