June 22, 2013
A Look At The Fluff Of Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition
Here is where I can actually say some nice things regarding D&D 4E. In terms of fluff, they got a lot of things right. I will even go as far as to say that a lot of the fluff of the game is excellent. So, while I still cannot recommend D&D Fourth Edition as a game, I will say that there are elements of it that you can look at and take inspiration from.
When looking at the world of Dungeons & Dragons, albeit a generic fantasy setting or one of the various specific campaign worlds, Fourth Edition describes the world as “points of light within the darkness.” What this means is that the world, as a whole, is dangerous and teeming with both threat and adventure. When your characters leave a secure town, a point of light, and enter the wilderness, dungeon, or wherever they set out to, they must be aware that danger lurks around every corner. This also separates the normal people of the world from the adventures, as these are the men and women ready to face those dangers and do what others cannot. It is only by their strength, skill, knowledge, and wit that these characters will either become legends in their own right or litter the floor of some dungeon with their bones. While this has some issues in terms of creating a narrative, the concept of “points of light in the darkness” works incredibly well for a purely adventure game.
Each of the major races were given a lot of detail into their home regions. Humans, of course, live anywhere they are able and built settlements to suit their needs. Half-elves and half-orcs live wherever they can, be it with their own kind or that of one of their parents. Dwarves reside in their mountain homes, though often had settlements above ground,, as well as below to accommodate for trade (and so people without dark-vision could adventure in dwarf kingdoms). Halflings became river-folk, which I really liked since it gave something unique to a race that was, until then, pretty much just adventuresome hobbits. Making them river-people who lived much like romanticized gypsies was a new and interesting change to a people who, in D&D at large, simply lived among humans or in “Hobbiton-like” communities no one ever really went to, since there was never really anything to do there.
Then, there are the elves. I am as much a fan of these pointy-eared immortals (or nigh-immortals) as the next fan of J. R. R. Tolkien, but in previous versions of the game, the variety of elves just got ridiculous. I remember there being wood elves, high elves, dark elves, gray elves, sea elves, winged elves, wild elves, sun elves, moon elves, star elves, and more. It was crazy. Why where there so many elves? In Fourth Edition there are three kinds of elves, and that is it. There are the eladrin, or high elves, there are elves, which are basically the wood elves, and there are the drow, dark elves. All other variety of elf was just added into one of these three and, honestly, I was a fan. I know this may seem like such a little thing to make mention of, but I don’t care. There were just too many elves.
So, there you have it, my look at the fluff of one of my least favorite games. Personally, I hate being this negative about a game, especially one that I held such high hopes for pre-release. Still, we all have our preferences. Just because I did not enjoy Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition doesn’t mean that it was a bad game. It just wasn’t for me. If it is the game for you, then please enjoy it with my blessing. As long as someone is able to enjoy it, they obviously did something right.
Image Credit: Ana Cmelic / Shutterstock