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4e retardation: archons

Somehow I missed the change that 4e made to archons. Probably I was too overwhelmed by the clever marketing strategy to notice the change.

Okay, I can sorta understand why they'd make angels "generic" no-preset-alignment servitors of the gods, and thus you could have evil angels. I mean, we have that in existing mythology (fallen angels, angels of death, etc.).

But archons are no longer the LG protectors of the Mount Celestia (i.e., Heaven) and of innocents, they're the servants of the primordial beings that battled the gods in antiquity. No longer do we have the benign lantern archons, the courageous hound archons, and the noble trumpet archons, we have weird vaguely-humanoid EVIL elemental creatures.

That's ... retarded. It's literally taking 30 years of D&D history (hound and lantern archons appeared in 1977) and saying, "nope, everything we built up about the lore of this creature is wrong, we're changing it, forget it."

Why not create a NEW creature to be the servitors of the primordials? Why radically alter an existing creature with tons of well-thought-out lore? What's next, changing the rust monster to a flying rust-brown fey that likes to heal people in exchange for kisses? Why not make Demogorgon a LG god of peace and bunnies?

Seriously ... retarded.

To those of you involved in the decision to do this to the archons, and other inexplicable changes for the sake of change, I apologize for calling your design choice "retarded." I meant to say "super-retarded."

Comments

( 103 comments — Leave a comment )
lofro
Jan. 19th, 2009 07:02 am (UTC)
The latter two are examples of the opposite of the reason for this change. The basic reasoning was that archons were not something you would fight normally in 3E- generally speaking they were allies and therefore didn't really need the space in the Monster Manual that could be spend on stuff you could fight. That was the same reason they made angels the way they did as well- to make more monsters you could fight. And they used the name "archon" for this purpose because, as I understand it, it was a good, attractive name and one they didn't want to throw out because of changes in lore.

For the record, Sean, I am in complete agreement with you on this one. I think the 4E game is okay but the new flavor is almost universally not what I want in my game.

-E
seankreynolds
Jan. 19th, 2009 07:10 am (UTC)
See, I thought that having good guys in the MM was (1) necessary because you could summon them to help you, and (2) foes you could fight if you were neutral or evil, or if your campaign took a more real-world sort of stance where you could have two good religions battling each other.

I understand the reasoning of taking out monsters that PCs aren't likely to fight; if you want the book to be a book of foes, that makes sense. I do NOT understand throwing radically altering an existing creature, throwing away previous info about it, creating a creature that is essentially contrary to the previous one, just because you like the name of the old creature. If you're going to be CREATIVE and come up with a new concept, how about you be CREATIVE and come up with a new damn name for your new creature?

So, we're in agreement: the change was retarded.
(no subject) - seankreynolds - Jan. 19th, 2009 07:11 am (UTC) - Expand
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greysil
Jan. 19th, 2009 07:33 am (UTC)
Part of the goal for 4E seems to be destroying or disregarding as much prior lore as possible. I'm an FR fan, and they've particularly butchered that setting...
seankreynolds
Jan. 19th, 2009 07:35 am (UTC)
Oh, don't get me started on 4e Forgotten "it's too much lore to remember, let's blow it up" Realms.... :p

Cute Cowthulu, by the way. :)
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baby_goat
Jan. 19th, 2009 07:58 am (UTC)
After reading the 4e PHB in a little more depth, I've decided that I like most of the mechanical changes and virtually none of the seemingly random inclusions/exclusions and aesthetic/background changes.

Two elf races. No gnomes. Tieflings but no aasimar. No druids or bards. Archons are actually these new weird things. Yeah okay.
nwah
Jan. 19th, 2009 08:21 am (UTC)
Sean, first off, lemme preface this: love you to death. Always.

Now, this is something I have to admit I did have a beef with when I converted. They did change a lot of monsters in 4E. And as a Planescape fan (I GREW up on Planescape, for Chrissakes), any playing with the planes and its inhabitants hurts. A lot. For more, see Faction War. Grr.

Now, here's what I eventually realized: first off, when's the last time I used angels/archons/etc. as villains, even in evil games (of which I've run a few)? And second off, 4E didn't shut off my semi-functional-but-still-magical brain-meats. 4E is INCREDIBLY easy to adjust, flavor-wise. Hell, 3.X is easy to adjust flavor-wise (check out "The Petit Tarrasque [and Other Stories]" in Dragon 329, as well as some of the Dungeon articles on monster conversion). If it's flavor you want, dude, we gots all sorts of books. Hell, we gots all sorts of memories. They're not dead; they're just awaiting our tender loving care.

Just how I've been running it (and, from my player's perspective, it seems to be working). Feel free to tear me a new asshole on this as necessary. :P
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freeport_pirate
Jan. 19th, 2009 09:23 am (UTC)
I felt the same way about the eladrin. You want to have high elves in the PHB, great. Call them that or make up some new name. But why take a name with an established meaning in D&D and change it into something totally different?
raging_swan
Jan. 19th, 2009 09:34 am (UTC)
Don't mince your words. Say what you really think!

;-)
justinsluder
Jan. 19th, 2009 02:50 pm (UTC)
hehehe, peace and bunnies, roflmao
keterys
Jan. 19th, 2009 06:51 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I understand wanting to use Archon as a name. I even understand not wanting to keep Lantern and Trumpet Archons...

But I just don't see the leap to the new Archon.

That said, what do you think about Eladrin and Devas, Sean? Eladrin being the more fey high elves and Devas being basically Aasimar.

Those are repurposed names that bother me a lot less.
bigfootcountry
Jan. 19th, 2009 07:01 pm (UTC)
Those changes bother me as much as the changes to what an archon is. In fact, the eladrin change bothers me quite a lot, since I HAVE used eladrin a lot in the game... particularly in publishing the last few adventures of Savage Tide, where they play a huge role.

To me, the problem is more than "WotC changed the names of things that I use in my game," to be honest. To me, it's disapointing and depressing to see a lot of my work for 3rd Edition (such as the Fiendish Codex I and a LOT of what got put into Dungeon) basically get thrown out the window, as if WotC said, "We're aware of what you've written for the game, but it's not good enough for 4th edition so we're ignoring the work you did and doing something new."

Now, that's WotC's prerogative; they own the material and can do with it as they please. All the work I've done for them was work for hire, and I went into it eyes open knowing that what I designed for them is no longer mine.

Doesn't change the fact that once upon a time I bought every D&D book that came out and had a strong professional relationship with Wizards of the Coast. Since 4th edition came out, I've not bought a single D&D book, and with every change or reversal to something that I've long loved in the game (or have designed myself for the game), it's like the company I once thought of as a friend and an employer is firing me.

And to an extent, that DOES extend to everyone who's spent years or decades as a GM crafting their own campaigns and home-brew settings. Sure, you're not writing for WotC to publish them... but from that GM's perspective and his players' perspective, what he creates and expands upon is just as "official" as anything else. And for the GM who, say, has done a lot with something that changed in 4th edition, it's hard not to feel like the rug got ripped out from under you.
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greysil
Jan. 19th, 2009 08:31 pm (UTC)
One of the things I've maintained for a while about 4E D&D is that they wanted to get some of the MMO players, so they made the game as MMO-like as a PnP game can get. They apparently think the strength of MMOs is playability, and tried to capture that... But the strength of MMOs, and the reason they've come to dominate the RPG market, is their convenience. You can play any time you want, in the comfort of your own home, with people that are anywhere else in the world, for as long or as short as you want, and there's no need to buy and read a constant stream of rule books. You have a one-time upfront cost, a low monthly fee (half the price of a rule book!), and you play on your computer -- which you and your family can use for any number of games, and for a whole lot of other purposes, including school, work, other hobbies, and communication.

Not all of us are teenagers, able to do marathon sessions on weekends and in the summer... And MMOs capitalize on that fact. Until they give us an easy to use, low-cost, highly functional and rules-neutral virtual gaming table, the PnP market is going to continue to dwindle.
keterys
Jan. 19th, 2009 10:16 pm (UTC)
Check out Maptools (rptools.net) sometime - it's honestly amazing for the price (free) and dedication of some of the people working on it.
lofro
Jan. 19th, 2009 08:40 pm (UTC)
I think my other problem with this philosophy is that it would have robbed me of a couple of my favorite moments in D&D.

Take, for example, the final encounter in Ptolus. (Spoilers, obviously.) The monster portion of the encounter is a twisted, corrupted Solar. That encounter loses much of its pathos and meaning if angels are something you would regularly fight. In fact, the whole "corrupted celestial" trick- which I have seen used in several games to very, very good effect- becomes meaningless in this way of thinking.

The last great encounter I had before I moved away from all my gaming friends was a battle between the party, nominally led by my paladin, versus a planetar who was STILL GOOD- just overly-zealous. (We actually stole the Baby With The Bathwater scenario from you, Sean- did that adventure ever come out?) That was a fantastic campaign, one of the most emotionally involved fights I've ever been in.

It means NOTHING if the planetar is not expected to be both good and an ally. As much as I love demons, fighting angels is almost always a more memorable experience. 4E... Well, 4E kind of puts the kibosh on that.

-E
jdigital
Jan. 19th, 2009 10:39 pm (UTC)
I ignore "would-haves". No do-overs.
(no subject) - seankreynolds - Jan. 19th, 2009 10:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jdigital - Jan. 19th, 2009 10:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
serial_heretic
Jan. 19th, 2009 09:56 pm (UTC)
Oh well.
Change for the sake of change is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes a franchise needs to look at things and give them a little shake to freshen it up and break up clumpy bits.

Frankly, I like the change. Elementals prior to 4e were boring and generic. Perhaps another name than "Archon" could be used, but it still conjures images of ancient power to my mind and makes me think of immortal rulers in a D&D sense.

As a personal note, this rather bitter and angry post I'm responding to is the reason I shall no longer be reading this blog. I appreciate that there will be things that people disagree about and that you might be justifiably irritated with WotC, but to constantly snipe at 4e and make ad hominem arguments like "retarded"...? It's too much.
It's been fun reading, but I won't be back.
seankreynolds
Jan. 19th, 2009 10:25 pm (UTC)
Re: Oh well.
{Frankly, I like the change. Elementals prior to 4e were boring and generic. Perhaps another name than "Archon" could be used,}

Yes, if you want primordial elemental servants in the game, perhaps they could have picked another name, like "elemental."

{but it still conjures images of ancient power to my mind and makes me think of immortal rulers in a D&D sense.}

Interesting, because I'm 99% sure that your awareness of the word "archon" comes from the traditional D&D meaning. Imagine what images will come to your mind in 5e when they redefine "lich"? :)

{As a personal note, this rather bitter and angry post I'm responding to is the reason I shall no longer be reading this blog. I appreciate that there will be things that people disagree about and that you might be justifiably irritated with WotC, but to constantly snipe at 4e and make ad hominem arguments like "retarded"...? It's too much.}

An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: "argument to the man", "argument against the man") consists of replying to an argument or factual claim by attacking or appealing to a characteristic or belief of the source making the argument or claim, rather than by addressing the substance of the argument or producing evidence against the claim.

At no point did I attack the designers about this decision. I called the design decision retarded, not the designers (some of whom are my friends). Smart people can make stupid decisions.

{It's been fun reading, but I won't be back.}

But... but... what about my lucrative LJ-based revenue?
Re: Oh well. - krenolds - Jan. 19th, 2009 11:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
pastryproducts
Jan. 19th, 2009 11:01 pm (UTC)
After reading all of the above posts (and agreeing with much of it, not a great $E fan here...hmm, 4 in uppercase is $...weird), I only have two questions:

1) Has anyone heard anything about sales for 4e, or provide a link? I'd like to bask in the glory of suffering figures, or stand stunned in their success. Either way, I'd like to be educated on how their marketing decisions went.

2) Why has the word ass-hat not been used yet? I think it is appropriate.
mysticalforest
Jan. 20th, 2009 02:05 am (UTC)
I'd like to bask in the glory of suffering figures
So, you're an a-hole, then?

Wishing a business to fail, and as a result more people to be laid off and all the anguish that is associated with that—not to mention turning out people whose entire life's dream is to work on D&D so you can feel better about your personal choice is malicious.

Instead you could wish for success for other people so they can stay in business and continue to make happy the people they're making happy, especially considering there's market enough for different kinds of games. There are people who enjoy D&D and would like to continue to buy and play D&D. Wishing it to fail, and thus to take that away from them, is purposefully cruel.

What's Australian asshole?
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krenolds
Jan. 19th, 2009 11:03 pm (UTC)
So what you are saying is that Greedo shooting first is simply retarded? Or that the source of the Force is midichlorians? Or that Starbuck is a man, dammit! Oh wait, forget that last one...

Seriously, I totally agree with you. They used the same name when they should have created a new one and simply not included archons at all.
seankreynolds
Jan. 19th, 2009 11:16 pm (UTC)
I know you were just joking, but Starbuck is actually a really good example.

Starbuck in OBSG was a male Viper pilot, very cocky, sexual.
Starbuck in NBSG is a female Viper pilot, very cocky, sexual.

If you're a fan of OBSG and are complaining that "Starbuck should be a male because he was a male before," you're kinda sexist, because the essentials of the character are still the same.

Now if in NBSG Starbuck were a doctor or a politician, I think you'd be justified in complaining because the essential nature of the character has changed; there's no reason to name that doctor or politician "Starbuck" other than as a pointer back at the OBSG. It would have been stupid for the writers to do that.

Just as it would have been stupid to have Scarlett Johannson play Professor X in the X-Men movies (because the Prof is an older bald guy in a wheelchair). Or have all the elves in Peter Jackson's LotR movies be Inuit (because Tolkein describes his elves as tall and fair-skinned). Or have Sydney Poitier play Hitler in a cameo role in Valkyrie (because Hitler wasn't black).

Jarring, stupid, unnecessary changes that don't add to what you're trying to create.
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sirurza
Jan. 20th, 2009 02:19 am (UTC)
a generic quote...
I modified what you said...

"It's literally taking 30 years of D&D history ( [insert anything here] ) and saying, "nope, everything we built up about the lore of this [insert matching word] is wrong, we're changing it, forget it."

Welcome to 4e Sean.
jdigital
Jan. 20th, 2009 04:41 am (UTC)
Re: a generic quote...
That's pretty much it. The new archons aren't necessarily bad, and in fact have their advantages - they're more flexible, more usable, and arguably cooler with better story potential. What's damning is that they've sacrificed thirty years of D&D history to do it.

The latest wave of superhero movies have done well to keep to established canon, because they know that nerdy twenty- and thirty-somethings take their fictional traditions very seriously. Are the decision-makers at Wizards of the Coast so out of touch that they don't understand this, or are they genuinely willing to sacrifice older players in the forlorn hope of competing with online MMOs?
Re: a generic quote... - sirurza - Jan. 20th, 2009 11:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: a generic quote... - jdigital - Jan. 21st, 2009 04:42 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: a generic quote... - sirurza - Jan. 22nd, 2009 03:51 am (UTC) - Expand
naterajj
Jan. 21st, 2009 05:39 pm (UTC)
This is why I refuse to touch 4e
If they don't care about all the accumulated lore and history of the game and change stuff left and right for no good reason, I don't care about their new game, even if *some* of the mechanics sound better.

Call it something else, just not D&D.
vhalidictes
Jan. 26th, 2009 02:02 am (UTC)
Re: This is why I refuse to touch 4e
I call it "DND Basic Edition" (no points if you get the reference.

I don't dislike the game. I actually like it for showing new players what roleplaying (in general) is like/can be.

But the lore randomization and the utter lack of flavor text (some of which is useful and needed) means that it's not just a new rules system, it's a new game.

The only real mistake Hasbro made was to call it "Dungeons and Dragons", but that mistake will cost them many, many old-time players.
Re: This is why I refuse to touch 4e - warpdragon - Jul. 7th, 2009 03:37 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: This is why I refuse to touch 4e - seankreynolds - Jul. 7th, 2009 03:46 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: This is why I refuse to touch 4e - warpdragon - Jul. 7th, 2009 04:25 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: This is why I refuse to touch 4e - seankreynolds - Jul. 7th, 2009 04:46 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: This is why I refuse to touch 4e - vhalidictes - Jul. 7th, 2009 10:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: This is why I refuse to touch 4e - warpdragon - Jul. 8th, 2009 09:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: This is why I refuse to touch 4e - vhalidictes - Jul. 8th, 2009 11:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: This is why I refuse to touch 4e - warpdragon - Jul. 10th, 2009 06:08 am (UTC) - Expand
( 103 comments — Leave a comment )

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