More 4th Ed.

...I like the 4th Edition of D&D, though I'm saying this without having actually play-tested it.

It's not without its faults.  First and foremost, I have to chide the team that worked on the Monster Manual this time around: they did a miserable job.  Few of the illustrations are on par with 3, they left out some of my favourite races, they tampered with other races I liked, and the additions are weak at best: they smell of cheesy module encounters.

Not all of the illustrations are of worse quality: the tarrasque, bullette, shambling mound, and kuo-toa are improvements, for example. It was nice of them to *finally* show off the hands of rakshassa, too.  And I think the Lizardman's spear kicks some serious ass.. but the 3.5 MM had a nice illustration, too.  But some of them are markedly worse, like the azer (LAME!), marut, ogres, orcs, salamanders, satyrs, bears, carrion crawler, doppleganger...

WHY?!? These guys are frickin' Wizards of the Coast!  They have access to the best artists in the industry. I expected much, much better.  ...On the same note, I think the design of the books (all three) is much cleaner, which is nice, but I really actually liked the rustic feel of the 3.5 books, even if they were busy.  But I suppose they couldn't just do that again... so I won't mark them down for that.

Elemtnals are gone!  ...Well, more to the point: they are spread out in the form of angels, giants, and other creatures.  ...I think that's a damn, damn shame: summoning elementals was really the thing that brought me to the table in 3.5.  ...And they even re-arranged the planes such that "Elemental Chaos" plays--ostensibly--as large a role as all of the "Astral Sea".  They need elementals.

They got rid of the inevitables, which is also a shame.  ...I mean, they kept the Marut, but in a dumbed-down, crippled form, and I suppose you could get a Kolyarut out of a warforged... but still, I liked the concept.  ...Makes sense in light of the new alignment system, I suppose, but I think it's a tough sacrifice.

No pixies!  For that matter, no fey, aside from Eladrin and "Banshrae", which I'm not sure I like.  Oh, and a few animals, which is fine.  Strange omission.

And they had to go an muck with the Slaadi.  ...The Death Slaad was the coolest of them (made the stupid reds and greens worthwhile), and they 'nixed it for the lame "chaos incarnate" kind of thing. ...Just doesn't make sense to me.  The changes to Angels is also lame (making them, essentially, elementals)... no longer are they an answer to demons and devils: they're just trinkets of the lawful gods.  ...While they're kinda neat, they also lost something.

And I just don't like the additions.  Well, mostly.  I like the Dark Ones/Shadar-Kai: they fit well... but they aren't extreme.  Sorrowsworn, Rot Harbinger, Magma Beasts, Larva Mage, Foulspawn, and so on: these are the things you would expect to see from lame D20 expansions in the 3.0 era.  They are generic bastardizations of other creatures.  I would much rather have seen them cut down on these additions and add a section for templates.  Templates provide the same results without smelling so strongly of cheese.  Or, expand on the races that are already strong and have some buy-in, like tieflings, cambion, and frickin' elementals!  ; )

All in all, I was sorely disappointed with MM4.

On the positive side, the monsters in a setting are the easiest thing to customize... so it's not a huge loss.  My players will never see 80% of these creatures.

Wait, did I just say "my players"?  ...But that's for another post...

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