A 20-Point Letter of Protest Regarding the New 4th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons (from a Gnome and a Half-Orc)

By Rob Bricken in Daily Lists
Friday, April 11, 2008 at 5:03 am

PHB35_PG27_WEB.jpgPHB35_PG25_WEB.jpgBy Teague Bohlen

Recently, a trove of legal proceedings and assorted arcana was unearthed regarding demi-human protests to the upcoming 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons release. This list of demands was signed by 8th level half-orc fighter Angrus Torn-Eye and 9th level gnome Illusionist Gnor Fnortner, representing a group calling itself "Gruumsh, Glittergold, and Sons". It was found sealed in a bone scroll case and capped with a glyph of insanity. We publish it in hope that D&D publisher Wizards of the Coast will hear their requests.

1) Reinstate half-orcs and gnomes as a viable PC races.

Their exclusion from the new edition of the game is short-sighted at best. Half-orcs are the standard choice for assassin or barbarian, the legendary bandit king with the magical blade, Slave Lord Theg Narlot. Gnomes are…well, let's just stipulate that gnomes have an important place, and move on.

2) Make Greyhawk the defacto D&D setting.

This is an easy call. Eberron is too steampunk, and Forgotten Realms is just all elves and angst, drow-this and Elminster-that. Blah, blah. If it’s not the land where the Keep on the Borderlands sits? Guess what—it ain't D&D.

3) Stop with the racial ability bonuses already.

To suggest that all elves have one (or two) better dexterity than orcs or gnomes is an offensive and biased generalization. That said, our coalition does concur with the statement that elves are “flighty and frivolous” as mentioned in the original Dungeon Masters Guide (page 16). That should carry over into the new edition; we’d also like to add the descriptors “ridiculous” and “eminently killable” to that list of adjectives, for the sake of accuracy and precision.

4) Cease and desist using "orcs watching chests in small spaces" as a pejorative.

There is nothing inherently wrong with an orc guarding a chest in a 10’x10’ room. Whty, my father was an orc who guarded a chest in a 10'x10' room, and he always provided for us!

5) Stop messing with Halflings.

So Gygax and company ripped off Tolkien. Who cares? Making hobbits thinner didn't make them suddenly original. And the 4th edition silliness of swamp Halflings rafting up and down river channels? No. Halflings should smoke pipes, live in hills with round doors, and be a name-change away from complete copyright violation.

6) Okay, we thought of something to say about Gnomes.

They used to be illusionists, until illusionists went away. Then they were bards, but no one bought that. They're basically magic-using dwarves, right? So go with that. Is that so hard? And while we're at it, stop pigeonholing gnomes as merry pranksters. We know quite a few seriously pissed off gnomes, several of whom, based on their move from PC race to "monster" class, are planning retaliatory "pranks" that are decidedly un-merry.

7) Put electrum back into the money supply.

Economies are fragile things, and we need a coin to bridge the silver-gold gap. Besides, streamlining an entire system of monetary measure just so every coin is worth the same fraction of the coin above it is just inviting declination of the intellectual capacity of the average gamer. In short, getting rid of electrum is like saying “who the fuck needs quarters?”

8) Include orcish weaponry.

Didn't you see the Lords of the Rings movies? The swords and axes those orcs had were sweet. D&D orcs totally deserve some of that. But please note that orcish weaponry has absolutely nothing to do with Klingon weaponry.

9) Put that bashful naked succubus back on page 230 of the Dungeon Master's Guide.

Every DMG page 230 should have a bashful naked succubus. In fact, let's add one to all D&D books and supplements. Who's it going to hurt?

10) Restrain ability scores.

Back in the day, all scores were maxed out at 25. The gods themselves maxed out at 25. Now, any tenth-level fighter worth his ioun stones boasts a 25 strength. What, 18/00 isn’t good enough for you? We used to kill Odin with 18/00 strength, boy. And don't even get us started on how lame Gauntlets of Ogre Power are anymore.

11) Seriously, we can’t stress enough just how ridiculous elves are.

Start with the ears and work to the pointy shoes. Nothing but ridiculous, all the way down.

12) Make the twelve-sider useful again.

There are six dice, you know. Okay, seven if you count both percentile. Twelve-siders used to be for all the cool stuff—barbarians rolling HP, swinging a two-handed sword, that sort of thing. Now, the twelve-sider languishes in the Crown Royale bag, with the mud die from the original basic set and that golf-ball 100-sider that seemed cool at the time, but is too much of a pain in the ass to roll.

13) Re-establish Level Titles.

Remember how cool it was to reach "name level"? Even at lower levels, this made everything a little more interesting. That wasn't just a second-level thief and a fourth level ranger you just met—that was a footpad and a courser. Nowadays, paladins are paladins, not protectors, defenders, or justiciars. Which makes them less interesting as you're killing them.

14) Make clerics less awesome.

Remember when you'd roll up characters with your friends, and everyone raced to call "Not the cleric!" Yeah, that was back when clerics were just mace-carrying healers with a couple of decent spells and the ability to turn undead. Now most clerics are sword-wielding hyper-buffed egomaniacs with cherry-picked domains and no need to memorize healing spells at all. Let's at least go back to the charming hypocrisy of bludgeoning weapons somehow being thought of as more merciful.

15) Restore Barbarians, Druids, and Bards.

We can live with some of the classes going away for a little while. Monks were an experiment in 1st edition, along with psionics, that never truly made sense. Chop-socky just isn't fantasy role-playing. And Sorcerers? They were interesting while they lasted, but with the new magic system, they might be redundant. (And besides, sorcerers are really 8th level magic-users…see demand #13.) But barbarians, druids, and bards? If nothing else, who's going to use all the hide armor, scimitars, and lutes that are just laying around?

16) Bring back ring mail.

No one cares that it didn’t really exist. It just looks cool on your fighters, which is sort of the point, isn't it? No one’s getting a PhD in History here. There were no vorpal blades either, professor, but I don’t see your Ranger Lord tossing it away in protest.

17) Forget the D20 system.

Why does everything have to be rolled on the same die, or even on the same end of a die's range? Good ACs are low, successful saves are high, the Tomb of Horrors will kill you, and all’s right with the world.

18) Lose the skill checks.

If one class and a secondary profession were enough for our forefathers, they’re good enough for us. If I was trained as a sailor, then I probably know my stuff as it pertains to rope use, navigation, astronomy, and maybe even some knowledge about foreign lands. Why would you need to complicate it by ranking every composite ability separately? And really, no one's ever going to put points into Rope Use. Really.

19) Keep alignments.

Come on, no alignment in D&D means a domino effect throughout the system. No alignments means no paladins falling from grace, no restrictions on character behavior, no aligned magical weaponry, no "detect" or "protection from" spells. The list goes on. Alignments are a shorthand way of telling who's on your side, and who’s not. Without that, there'll be a lot more of "kill first, determine if that was the right call later" sort of adventuring. And then all those neutral lizardmen in Dunwater are just screwed.

20) We hate to beat a dead horse, but we’ll beat a dead elf.

Think about it.

Tags: D&D

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