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I’ve actually spent a fair amount of time lately looking at old D&D stuff, including things like Planescape, Dark Sun, AD&D 1st Edition, and some old modules like Temple of Elemental Evil. While reading through T1, something in the text jumped out at me. Specifically, in the Dungeon Master’s section, this passage occurs amid a brief discussion the players’ power level:

You should sharply limit the amount of gear and treasure they can bring to the village (as you will understand when you read the adventure). If your group of players has had exceptional luck, simply engineer a minor encounter or two along the way—light-fingered leprechauns, a thief or two, or perhaps some brigands—to rid them of a few of those cumbersome gems, coins, and magical items.

Good times, eh?

As much as I love some of the old D&D stuff, this sort of thing reminds me of how far we’ve come (despite the overall decline of the industry, perceived or otherwise). The relationship between rules, the DM, and the players have evolved quite a bit since then, and this is one example.

All right, so what should you do instead? I don’t want to get too much into this. I’m guessing this scenario is somewhat less likely these days, though perhaps this reveals something about the assumed style of play. These days, I would probably create a new character, but my impression is that people tended to stick with their character. It makes a certain amount of sense, and I’ve thought a bit about a similar structure of play. More on that later, perhaps!

So, assuming someone wants to bring an existing, over-leveled character with them, instead of taking stuff away, I would probably just ask them to play something else and try to relate this person to their character somehow. Maybe they’re a relative or acquaintance. Alternatively, they could power down their PC and play this like it’s in the PC’s past (though most likely without whatever accumulated wealth and magic items the over-leveled character had).

So last time I was wondering about race and class affinity, and I’ve since come up with some data. This contains a lot of discussion of crunch and rules. I can’t really explain why I like this stuff, as this is very much not in character for me, but there you are. Skip this if this topic bores you!

Right off the bat, let me say that there’s a lot that goes into whether a race/class combination is any good. Attributes are one factor. Racial feats, traits, and powers are another. For instance, Dragonborn are viable for most if not all melee classes, whereas dwarves have considerably fewer builds for which they’re viable. Nevertheless, Dwarven Weapon Training and Dwarven Resilience make dwarves an excellent choice for some builds where they might otherwise have been average (e.g. tempest fighter, two-weapon ranger). It’s something to keep in mind.

Despite that, attributes are a decent predictor of whether or not a race/class combo is viable. Ain’t nothing wrong with having a 20 in your primary, and when it comes to classes like the warlock or artful dodger rogue, high Intelligence or Charisma render a lot of good abilities even more powerful.

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I have a tendency to like new things. The real test, though, is whether I like such a thing after I’ve had some time to get acquainted. Inevitably, there are problems that only emerge after a lot of time has passed, and the true metric as to whether I like something is to what extent those problems bother me.

4e is about six months out now, and I’ve had a few thoughts about things that don’t work for me with or bother me about 4th Edition.

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All right, so let’s talk about Manual of the Planes.

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