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Nerd Watching: It Took a Whole Year to Get Undead Assassins!

Written by Nicholas - Published on June 10, 2009

Nicholas is the columnist in charge of Nerd Watching and part-time Expy wrangler. He also works as the community manager, so keep an eye out for him on RPG blogs and forums.

4e One Year Later

Holy cow, we’ve got a lot to talk about this week! Starting with the one year anniversary of the release of D&D Fourth Edition. They grow up so fast, don’t they? As part of the one year festivities I was invited to participate in a wonderful project put together by Jeff over at the Tome Show. Jeff organized a group of bloggers and podcasts (no easy feat on its own) and put together a little chat session where we got to ask our questions about the first year of 4e to D&D designers James Wyatt and Chris Perkins. Best of all, we recorded the whole thing as a podcast and you can go over to the Tome Show and give it a listen!

Due to time constrains (apparently the WotC folks were quite busy working on some sort of game, Dungeons & something I think) most of the bloggers only got to ask a single question of our game designing guests. I cheated and asked a question with a bunch of parts, “what went well with the launch of 4e, what didn’t go so well and how did this launch compare to that of previous editions?”.  The short version is that they are proud of the innovations in 4e. They realize they made some mistakes in the promises they made with D&D Insider compared to what they have been able to deliver. Also, this launch was harder because third edition is not broken, just a little buggy. The release of third edition was easier because, well… Chris Perkins has some unkind things to say about second edition. Although I have fond memories of the game, I have to admit he is right. But you should go and listen for yourself!

Overall, I found myself impressed by the WotC guys being able to admit where they fell short. I’m a fan of 4e but it does have its flaws. The designers are well aware of what these are and are working hard to correct them. Talking to these guys also confirmed what I have long believed. These guys are gamers to the bone and they love what they are doing! I always cringe when people start accusing them of money grubbing every time they release a new book. The reality is the guys and gals over at WotC had ideas that they find a lot of fun and they want to share it with you. Unfortunately, being able to keep producing content requires them to charge for those fun ideas.

You don’t need to just listen to me yammer on about this fun project, there should be a ton of people talking about it today. You can go straight to the source and listen. All of the fellow bloggers involved are be talking about it today. There’s a long list, Dave over at Critical Hits, Phil the Chatty DM, Mike at Sly Flourish, Ethan of the Gamer’s Haven podcast, and Quinn of At-Will (hope I didn’t forget anyone!).

Members Only Race and Class

This month’s Ampersand column revealed plans for a new race and new class exclusively for D&D Insider subscribers. I don’t have a problem with the concept but the new race and class teased at gives me pause.

The new race is called the revenant. In the column, Bill Slavicsek describes the as “The revenant is an undead creature who could have been of any other race in life but returns after death as a revenant with a new life and a new purpose.” Now, I realize that you can’t live and die by people’s criticisms of your product. It will only make you miserable and not actually produce a better product. With that said, when you already have people criticize your product for being too much like World of Warcraft, releasing a race that sounds just like the forsaken might not be the best idea. Admittedly, I love the forsaken and would probably enjoy playing a revenant. We haven’t seen the stats yet, but a revenant paladin of the Raven Queen sounds pretty good already. I’m not too worried about them ripping off Warcraft, after all, Warcraft ripped off Warhammer (and Warhammer probably ripped off something else!).

It is the new class that worries me the most, the assassin. Not much has been revealed about the assassin yet, only the name and that it comes coupled with a new power source. If the assassin is anything like previous editions, I will be disappointed. Not that the old assassins were bad, but I think it runs counter to the 4e philosophy of classes. In my mind, one of the great accomplishments of 4e was to add flexibility to the classes so we can avoid a mass of classes and prestige classes that are just slight variations of each other. There is no need in 4e for a swashbuckler class, it could just be a build of a fighter or rogue. There’s no need for a samurai class, it could easily be a reflavored version of another martial hero. If the assassin is similar to his old ways, I just don’t see why he couldn’t be a build of rogue. I suppose the new power source could surprise me. Perhaps it is the fabled “shadow” power source and the assassin will be like a shadow dancer. Whatever assassin turns out to be, I hope there is some true distinction from the other classes.

Twitter Relations

In my twitter listings last week, I neglected some very important folks. The D&D public relations crew. They are rather unsung but they work behind the scenes to help arrange things like the podcast above, getting review copies to us freeloading bloggers so that we can talk to you about them and getting questions answered for irate columnists. They also tweet about D&D regularly and even let some secret information out into the twitter-verse. So without further ado, the WotC PR crew: Katie Page (and her adorable kitty avatar), Emil Rodriguez, and Gina Lindblad

Sorry for the omission, ladies and gent!

What are your thoughts about 4e one year later? Will you celebrate by making an undead assassin?

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Written by Nicholas

Nick DiPetrillo is the original author behind the games Arete and Zombie Murder Mystery available at http://games.dungeonmastering.com

Nick is no longer active with DungeonMastering.com, however he is an accomplished writer and published his first game in 2009.

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Nicholas is the columnist in charge of Nerd Watching and part-time Expy wrangler. He also works as the community manager, so keep an eye out for him on RPG blogs and forums.

 

 Comments

9 Responses to “Nerd Watching: It Took a Whole Year to Get Undead Assassins!”
  1. shinobicow says:

    personally i hope that they turn the assassin into something more like the ninjas that are depicted in Anime such as Ninja Scroll, Basilisk, and other darker Japanese Anime. If they do this, I think there would be a significant difference between the current rogue and the Assassin.

  2. Sean Brady says:

    I imagine that Warhammer took it’s inspiration, at least in part, from games like Chainmail and maybe D&D. Games are like that, they take good ideas and adapt.

    I am pretty excited about the Revenant. I have not played WoW so I did not know about the tie in, but still sounds like an interesting race.

  3. Charles says:

    The Revenant originally appeared in AD&D 1st ed. Fiend Folio, circa 1981. If I remember correctly, they were playable as characters then, too.

  4. Nicholas says:

    @Charles: Well, I stand corrected. Thanks.

  5. andro101010 says:

    AFAIR. The revenant was in Fiend Folio, following its first sighting in White Dwarf magazine by Games Workshop, who later went on to write err, Warhammer (There’s very little new under the sun). The Gith* were the other memorable addition of that era.
    It wasn’t exactly a player character race but was definitely a way for a player to continue their roleplaying opportunities. The revenant was an undead that was not animated by evil but by some ‘unfinished business’ that meant it wasn’t necessarily evil, or turnable. Players got the chance to become one if they were unfortunate to get toasted.
    I’ll head off and find a life now…(pun intended)

  6. Andy Collins says:

    “Whatever assassin turns out to be, I hope there is some true distinction from the other classes.”

    I think you’ll be quite happy with the direction the designers have chosen for this class.

  7. I hope assassins taste better than other classes.

  8. Nicholas says:

    @Expy: Their use of BBQ sauce as fake blood for feigning death will truly be their undoing.

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  1. […] few months back when the class was first announced, I posted about my worries. I was afraid that assassins would just be rogues with a darker cloak. Now that the classes have […]



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