June 1st Ampersand -- online ONLY races and classes coming to DDI!


4th Edition

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Arcmagik wrote:


Since the Fighter or Sorcerer or Druid or Monk or Wizard is already printed in a book then it is kinda redundant to use them as examples for being "too much".

...in this edition. If this flies there may never be another printed D&D. Some people are OK with that; I'm not.


Shroomy wrote:


If I remembering correcty from the time, the concern that Bill was addressing was over 4e and DDI forcing you to play D&D online (like a MMORPG) or that it would require a computer to play, instead of being principally a PnP game. The concern was not that some content would be delivered digitially; they've been doing that in 4e since June of last year.

The point is the scope of the material available online-only keeps growing, and has now swallowed a class from the 1E PHB. If I want to play an assassin, I DO need a computer (and subscription) to play. How much can go online-only before the game can no longer be said to be "principally PnP?" I'd argue that the assassin is a long step on a short road in that direction.


bugleyman wrote:
Arcmagik wrote:


Since the Fighter or Sorcerer or Druid or Monk or Wizard is already printed in a book then it is kinda redundant to use them as examples for being "too much".
...in this edition. If this flies there may never be another printed D&D. Some people are OK with that; I'm not.

I highly doubt it because fundamentally physical books are the cornerstone of sales for a RPG company. PDF sales are very low in comparison to books sales so I doubt it will ever come to the point that they will not make it into physical books.

bugleyman wrote:
Shroomy wrote:


If I remembering correcty from the time, the concern that Bill was addressing was over 4e and DDI forcing you to play D&D online (like a MMORPG) or that it would require a computer to play, instead of being principally a PnP game. The concern was not that some content would be delivered digitially; they've been doing that in 4e since June of last year.
The point is the scope of the material available online-only keeps growing, and has now swallowed a class from the 1E PHB. If I want to play an assassin, I DO need a computer (and subscription) to play. How much can go online-only before the game can no longer be said to be "principally PnP?" I'd argue that the assassin is a long step on a short road in that direction.

There was already a physical copy of the Assassin. You played a Rogue, you then took the Master Assassin paragon path. You have your assassin in your physical book already. Though I admit this is just redundant to have a full Assassin class and I admit they should have gotten a different name because now people are going to be all "Ooooo I want to play a hired killer!! yay! I am an Assassin! I backstab the party!" phfffft. Almost as bad as the flail human mages with evil tendencies or twin-scimitar wielding drow rangers niche.


bugleyman wrote:


The point is the scope of the material available online-only keeps growing, and has now swallowed a class from the 1E PHB. If I want to play an assassin, I DO need a computer (and subscription) to play. How much can go online only before the game can no longer be said to be "principally PnP?" I'd argue that the assassin is a long step on a short road in that direction.

If you want to play that version of the assassin class (which will likely be a shadow striker quite different from the 1e version) you will need access to a DDI subscription at some point before you begin. Whether you play with your laptop or print off the relevant information beforehand is up to you. If you want to play an assassin archetype, there's the rogue and the avenger, both of which appear in a traditional printed format; in fact, the 4e rogue would probably be a better analog to the 1e assassin.

There's plenty of stuff already out there that is only available online; this is just a matter of distribution changes, not gameplay changes (and its not even a total online release model, there's still tons of books being released at a rate of 1 or 2 a month). I seriously don't think decision heralds armageddon for the PnP experience.


Seems a grab for more DDI subscribers to me, and I see this continuing. To add to the "how much is too much" question of the OP, what if WotC decided that next year's campaign setting--let's give in to the rumors and say it's Dark Sun--is going to be entirely on-line? That is, no print version of the Dark Sun materials is ever going to be produced, but it will all be available on-line with a DDI subscription (player's book, campaign setting, adventures, etc.). I think that would make many people as mad as the OP. So there is a spectrum here, regardless of whether it's reasonable or unreasonable for WotC to do.

The thing to realize about this brouhaha is that many people aren't going to consider something they can't get in a printed book "official." That is, if I sit down to play a 4E game, I can be fairly sure that the DM will allow "core" materials (PHB, PHB2). Maybe he'll allow "splatbook" materials (Arcane Power, Martial Power). Unlikely he'll allow other very specific materials unless they are somehow central to his campaign (weapons from E1: Death's Reach; feats from Open Grave). I think that the Assassin class is "de-legitimized" by having it DDI only.

Face it, if someone showed up at your game and said, "I've got this cool class I want to play" and he produces a 4-page black and white printout, aren't you going to consider that at least a little less official than a class between the covers of a book called "Players Handbook N"?


houstonderek wrote:
Raevhen wrote:

I don't see this as anything new or different. Remember the 1st edition classes and races from Dragon Magazine? This is just more of the same.

My laptop feels funny in my lap when I'm taking my daily constitutional. No, this isn't "more of the same". Dragon wasn't an "official" rules supplement, it was a collection of houserules. 99% of those classes you refer to were NPC classes, not for player use.

Okay, I can see your point about them being houserules, where this Assassin will be 'official'. I'm at work so I can't look, but did Sage Advice ever have any errata, or just rules interpretation, and if it was just interpretation, does that make it only a houserule?


bugleyman wrote:
The point is the scope of the material available online-only keeps growing, and has now swallowed a class from the 1E PHB. If I want to play an assassin, I DO need a computer (and subscription) to play. How much can go online-only before the game can no longer be said to be "principally PnP?" I'd argue that the assassin is a long step on a short road in that direction.

If you're really getting this worked up about one repeat ONE class out of seventeen being only available online, and wondering whether this means the game is "principally PnP", then I suggest a class in simple statistics would be useful for you. Particularly since there are also two assassin paragon paths. Storm in a teacup is the most sensible comment in this thread.


bugleyman wrote:
The point is the scope of the material available online-only keeps growing, and has now swallowed a class from the 1E PHB.

In name only. In all likelihood the similarities between the 1st Edition Assassin and 4th Edition Assassin classes will be skin-deep.

As has been pointed out already, the actual iconic assassin is a paragon path (just as it was a prestige class in 3.5).

bugleyman wrote:
If I want to play an assassin, I DO need a computer (and subscription) to play.

If you want to play the Shadow-powered Assassin class you need to have purchased a subscription at some point, downloaded the PDF and printed it out.

If you want to play an assassin, you don't need anything but the PHB.

Really, though, why is the former situation so fundamentally unacceptable? Is it your contention that D&D Insider is not worth it, keeping in mind that you pay money for classes to begin with (in the form of PHBs)? Do you simply dislike having to print things yourself? I mean, yeah, for a small group of people the transition of the tabletop game to a hybrid medium that takes advantage of modern technology is going to be a small inconvenience. But I can't for the life of me imagine a truly legitimate gripe (in other words, something that would significantly impact your enjoyment of the game in a fundamental way) arising from having a class and race released online.

I mean, releasing material online is nothing new. Everyone is doing it now. Paizo has released online-exclusive material. Wizards has been publishing online-exclusive material years before D&D Insider. It's the natural progression of where the hobby needs to go in order to continue to be perceived as relevant rather than outdated. It's good for the hobby. It's a shame that it's not your preferred medium, but I'd suggest sticking with it. We're adaptable creatures, and in time we tend to get over initial reservations and discomforts if it means taking advantage of new opportunities. I think this is just another example of that phenomenon.

bugleyman wrote:
How much can go online-only before the game can no longer be said to be "principally PnP?" I'd argue that the assassin is a long step on a short road in that direction.

When most people aren't playing it as a pen and paper game, it is no longer "principally PnP". Really, though, as long as people are enjoying the game I don't care whether it gets classified as PnP or not.


Bluenose wrote:


If you're really getting this worked up about one repeat ONE class out of seventeen being only available online, and wondering whether this means the game is "principally PnP", then I suggest a class in simple statistics would be useful for you. Particularly since there are also two assassin paragon paths. Storm in a teacup is the most sensible comment in this thread.

Straw men and veiled insults; That took longer than I thought.

Ooops! I forgot: Don't feed the trolls. :P

Liberty's Edge

Raevhen wrote:
houstonderek wrote:
Raevhen wrote:

I don't see this as anything new or different. Remember the 1st edition classes and races from Dragon Magazine? This is just more of the same.

My laptop feels funny in my lap when I'm taking my daily constitutional. No, this isn't "more of the same". Dragon wasn't an "official" rules supplement, it was a collection of houserules. 99% of those classes you refer to were NPC classes, not for player use.

Okay, I can see your point about them being houserules, where this Assassin will be 'official'. I'm at work so I can't look, but did Sage Advice ever have any errata, or just rules interpretation, and if it was just interpretation, does that make it only a houserule?

Sage Advice was Skip Williams's interpretation of whatever rule was being questioned. I don't remember if they were "official" rulings or not.

Grand Lodge

And how long until the text of the Assasin 4e shows up on P2P networks. If you put up a form of barrier to general use, it will be pirated.

I don't condone it. I even will defend WOTC's right to do so. But i don't think this is a good idea.


David Fryer wrote:
My one question is this, How did you know about the assassin being the first on-line class if you don't support them financially

He used to, until shortly.

He said so, repeatedly, I think even in this thread.

David Fryer wrote:


I think the dumb thing is you need a subscription to find out if it'worth getting a subsription.

Not dumb for them, because by the time you find out it isn't for you, you have already paid.

Ken Marable wrote:


Both formats have their own pros and cons.

No argument there. I totally agree. Therefore I like it when both are supported. At the same time.

It hasn't been that long since they were protraying PDFs as the Evil Pirate's Greatest Weapon, and now, they go against print again.

If I were a customer, I'd be getting some serious mixed signals there. I'd think "make up your f~~%ing minds already".

As a non-customer, I feel re-inforced in that choice.


Scott:

While *I* don't like it, I get that is a subjective matter of taste. The thing is, I'm not only making a value judgement about D&D adopting a hybrid delivery mechanism; I'm arguing that this is exactly what we were told wouldn't happen with the DDI; which was that it would supplement, not replace, printed material. When you start needing to be a DDI subscriber to play, which this seems a huge step toward, then clearly the DDI is no longer supplementary.

I also don't see how you can try to turn this into an issue of "progress." I'm in technology; I get it. In fact, the removal of the PDFs was one of the things that showed me WotC DOESN'T GET IT. Some things are fine exclusively electronically; core content isn't one of them (imo).


mouthymerc wrote:
At the end of the day, though, it is no different than someone complaining because they can not play a swordmage because they are in the Forgotten Realms Player's Guide and they do not want to pick it up because they are uninterested in any other part of the book. Sometimes you have to make choices.

Since you brought it up: Putting something I think a lot of people have been waiting for in a campaign book instead of, say, the PHB, is rotten.


Just a general hint for the smug: I don't expect everyone to agree with me, but if you're convinced my position is simple-minded, you don't get it. Remember the bit about the card player who can't spot the fool?

Think before you post.


Herald wrote:
And how long until the text of the Assasin 4e shows up on P2P networks.

Hm... Add the time between it being put up and the first "pirate" finding it, the time it may take that "pirate" to convert the class from whatever format it is into PDF (if it isn't already PDF), the time it takes them to get rid of any trace of whose this is, and the time it takes to upload, and you have your answer.

My bet is less than 6 hours all in all.


KaeYoss wrote:


Since you brought it up: Putting something I think a lot of people have been waiting for in a campaign book instead of, say, the PHB, is rotten.

Agree...that was damn annoying. But it least it was available in book form someplace.


bugleyman wrote:
KaeYoss wrote:


Since you brought it up: Putting something I think a lot of people have been waiting for in a campaign book instead of, say, the PHB, is rotten.
Agree...that was damn annoying. But it least it was available in book form someplace.

What was in the Campaign book that wasn't in the PHB that people were looking for? (Honest question...not tryng to stir anything up :) ).


WelbyBumpus wrote:


The thing to realize about this brouhaha is that many people aren't going to consider something they can't get in a printed book "official." That is, if I sit down to play a 4E game, I can be fairly sure that the DM will allow "core" materials (PHB, PHB2). Maybe he'll allow "splatbook" materials (Arcane Power, Martial Power). Unlikely he'll allow other very specific materials unless they are somehow central to his campaign (weapons from E1: Death's Reach; feats from Open Grave). I think that the Assassin class is "de-legitimized" by having it DDI only.

Face it, if someone showed up at your game and said, "I've got this cool class I want to play" and he produces a 4-page black and white printout, aren't you going to consider that at least a little less official than a class between the covers of a book called "Players Handbook N"?

No, not if its the actual printout from the DDI. Its the same freelancers, developers, and designers writing both the books and the DDI articles, and so far, there's been little to nothing overpowered about the DDI-only content. Add that to the fact that the content will be fully integrated into the Character Builder and Compendium, and I have no problems.


So, Wizards wants to provide exclusive content through DDI?

Good for them. I'm paying for the DDI; I might as well get something for my money.


Larry Latourneau wrote:
bugleyman wrote:
KaeYoss wrote:


Since you brought it up: Putting something I think a lot of people have been waiting for in a campaign book instead of, say, the PHB, is rotten.
Agree...that was damn annoying. But it least it was available in book form someplace.
What was in the Campaign book that wasn't in the PHB that people were looking for? (Honest question...not tryng to stir anything up :) ).

Ok, I think we have a terminology snafu; the Swordmage appeared in the FR player's guide, not the FR campaign book.

A separate issue was that many people, myself included, thought that the swordmage was an archetype that should have been in a PHB. I think something like the artificer is a much better choice for a campaign-specific book.


Riley wrote:

So, Wizards wants to provide exclusive content through DDI?

Good for them. I'm paying for the DDI; I might as well get something for my money.

Again, The issue isn't DDI exclusive content; the issue is DDI exclusive content the replicates a very common archetype that was in previous PHBs when WotC is clearly on record saying this edition is first-and-foremost a PnP RPG.


bugleyman wrote:

Again, like or dislike is beside the point. The issue isn't exclusive content; the issue is is exclusive content the replicates a very common archetype that was in previous PHBs when WotC is clearly on record saying this edition is first-and-foremost a PnP RPG.

It is a first and foremost a PnP RPG, as my burgeoning book collection and weekly, in person, PnP games attests to. Hell, 4e will be a year old in a couple of days and I'm already beginning to run out of shelf space.

And I'm sorry, but I seriously doubt that the assassin that will be released in September will be recognizable to most as a classic archetype, which is already well-served by both the rogue and avenger.


bugleyman wrote:
Riley wrote:

So, Wizards wants to provide exclusive content through DDI?

Good for them. I'm paying for the DDI; I might as well get something for my money.

Again, like or dislike is beside the point. The issue isn't exclusive content; the issue is is exclusive content the replicates a very common archetype that was in previous PHBs when WotC is clearly on record saying this edition is first-and-foremost a PnP RPG.

Then really, doesn't this boil down to everyone's own opinion? I didn't play 1e...I started playing about 1 month before 3.5 came out, so Assassin does not come across as a common archetype, and was not present in the PHBs I have used. So, given my realm of experience in D&D, WoTC has not gone back on their word. I can see your side of it too...if they announced that the Artificer would be an on-line only class, I would be miffed. I think both sides needs to be able to step back and just deal with the fact that people can, and do, have different opinions. That doesn't mean they are wrong....


I am personally fine with it, (despite not having a subscription due to my own issues) I think I would actually feel worse about the magazines if they didn't get good exclusive content.

However, it does go into my mind as a movement toward making D&D a game where you will be looking online for new material, rather than published books. In my mind there is a growing value of the online subscription and a growing cost of published rule books. Part of me expects that within a few years, WotC will be publishing fewer books almost entirely composed of mechanics, like Martial Power, and will instead move that material toward online venues.

In my mind, the online subscription has been gaining a bit of exclusive content while the books themselves have been getting much less in exclusive content that, I feel, that the person buying the book is rewarded for.


bugleyman wrote:
Riley wrote:

So, Wizards wants to provide exclusive content through DDI?

Good for them. I'm paying for the DDI; I might as well get something for my money.

Again, The issue isn't DDI exclusive content; the issue is DDI exclusive content the replicates a very common archetype that was in previous PHBs when WotC is clearly on record saying this edition is first-and-foremost a PnP RPG.

You are simply ignoring that fact that the Assassin is already represented in the physical core books. PG 128 PHB the Shadow Assassin.

This is an entirely different issue that is just a DDI class with a stupid name.


bugleyman wrote:
When you start needing to be a DDI subscriber to play, which this seems a huge step toward, then clearly the DDI is no longer supplementary.

This strikes more as "The sky is falling!" than anything else. I do not see the game being predominately in digital form for many years to come. You are clearly ascribing way too much weight to the online material. It is just as supplementary as any material printed in any of the supplemental books (in any edition). Its value is subjective. If you've been dying to play a shadow striker class, then you may be out of luck until PHB4. At no point do I see you needing to be a D&Di subcriber to play the game, now or any time in the future. I will not deny, though, that being one definitely has its perks.


Arcmagik wrote:

You are simply ignoring that fact that the Assassin is already represented in the physical core books. PG 128 PHB the Shadow Assassin.

This is an entirely different issue that is just a DDI class with a stupid name.

I'm not ignoring it; I'm expecting that if one wants to play as assassin, the assassin class will be the best way to go about doing so. Or at least that, because of the name of the class, that the reasonable expectation that this is so will exist in the minds of many players. If I have a player who wants to play a stealthy killer, and the class built to represent that isn't in a book, then to me we are not longer talking about a PnP game.

It may simply be a case of extremely poor class naming by WotC; I suspect we won't be absolutely sure until we get a look at the DDI assassin.


mouthymerc wrote:


This strikes more as "The sky is falling!" than anything else. I do not see the game being predominately in digital form for many years to come. You are clearly ascribing way too much weight to the online material. It is just as supplementary as any material printed in any of the supplemental books (in any edition). Its value is subjective. If you've been dying to play a shadow striker class, then you may be out of luck until PHB4. At no point do I see you needing to be a D&Di subcriber to play the game, now or any time in the future. I will not deny, though, that being one definitely has its perks.

But I am one; at least, my account has several months of access left. An "assassin" isn't supplementary material to me; to me that is a basic archetype that should be in a PHB. This contention is supported by the presence of the assassin in the PHB in previous editions. As has been pointed out, this may be a semnatics issue, but I'm nonetheless disturbed. If the assassin class can't do an "assassin" better than the rogue, what's the point? If it can, then "book only" players lose out on replicating a classic archetype, which is specifically what was promised wouldn't happen.

But again, we're going in circles; I don't think we're going to agree. I would love, however, to archive this thread and revisit it in five years. I would not be at all surprised if the assassin ends up being the turning point in the death of D&D as a PnP game.


Assassin is probably the most recognizable name for a western "ninja". Look at Assassin's Creed and you could definitely see the game in an eastern setting with the main character being a ninja. So now they are making a Shadow Striker which sounds like a Ninja to me but they named it by the western theme "Assassin". Also an Assassin is definitely more adult-oriented then what has been seen in the books and what the "book" 4E is aiming for because they don't want a parent to pick up a book and see something that could be a negative influence on their child. I also agree with the doomsaying in this instance and I am sorry but a class from three editions ago seems to hardly qualify as "core" or a staple "archetype" of D&D history.

Assassin is a more mature-themed supplement class which has a place in DDI (and there is vast examples of the DDI material being more mature-themed). A rogue is a more PG-friendly-themed class that can be used for an assassin if you are playing with more mature people and therefore can be done out of the core without needing a computer.


Arcmagik wrote:

Assassin is probably the most recognizable name for a western "ninja". Look at Assassin's Creed and you could definitely see the game in an eastern setting with the main character being a ninja. So now they are making a Shadow Striker which sounds like a Ninja to me but they named it by the western theme "Assassin". Also an Assassin is definitely more adult-oriented then what has been seen in the books and what the "book" 4E is aiming for because they don't want a parent to pick up a book and see something that could be a negative influence on their child. I also agree with the doomsaying in this instance and I am sorry but a class from three editions ago seems to hardly qualify as "core" or a staple "archetype" of D&D history.

Assassin is a more mature-themed supplement class which has a place in DDI (and there is vast examples of the DDI material being more mature-themed). A rogue is a more PG-friendly-themed class that can be used for an assassin if you are playing with more mature people and therefore can be done out of the core without needing a computer.

I confess I hadn't considered the parenting/child appropriateness angle, but I'm not convinced that is what motivated them. Even if it was, that is a whole other can 'o worms...


I guess I'm confused here.

Initially there was a complaint that the assassin is too iconic to be online-only. Then it was pointed out that assassins exist in the game already, in print. The complaint was repeated with the extremely dubious claim that unless the Assassin class can be a "better" assassin than the Shadow Assassin paragon path, there's no point. This is fruitless, since we have no idea what the Assassin class will actually look like, we have no objective metric for comparing which one is better than which, and the very concept of what makes an assassin an assassin is subjective to begin with.

The end result is that this particular complaint looks pretty minor.

The other complaint was that publishing an online-only class represents a "long step down a short road" towards un-PnPing Dungeons & Dragons. This was backed up by saying that when you need D&D Insider to play, D&D will no longer be PnP.

This is ridiculous, and I'll explain why.

First, D&D Insider isn't required to play. It's not even close to required to play. It's not even required to play an assassin.

Second, what makes a game pen-and-paper isn't necessarily the format that the game's rules come in. Heck, the fact that the game has rules that require adjudication speaks to its nature as a pen-and-paper game, regardless of whether the rules appear on a computer screen, a home-printed document or in a published book.

What makes a game pen-and-paper is that it's played in real life, around a table, and requires someone at the table to adjudicate the game for the players. I think that's a definition that we can all agree upon. Playing D&D online is a possibility, but it's not the way most people play it (and, if the game table comes out, people will probably still play it mostly in meatspace). Having an assassin class published online does nothing to change this. It doesn't make D&D less playable in the real world, or more playable online. It doesn't turn D&D into a computer game. It doesn't make your books, your character sheets, your dice or your pens and pencils less useful. It's a supplement that is available online, that's all. Again, this is nothing new. Publishers (including our very own Paizo) have been creating online-only material for years. Heck, Wizards published prestige and variant classes online years ago that never appeared in any books.

I have not seen an argument presented in this thread that would justify any negative reaction to the news other than a shrug (or, perhaps, jealousy towards those who have a subscription). And this probably generates excitement more than anything else, for most people, especially those who have or are considering getting D&D Insider subscriptions.


Scott Betts wrote:

I guess I'm confused here.

Initially there was a complaint that the assassin is too iconic to be online-only. Then it was pointed out that assassins exist in the game already, in print. The complaint was repeated with the extremely dubious claim that unless the Assassin class can be a "better" assassin than the Shadow Assassin paragon path, there's no point. This is fruitless, since we have no idea what the Assassin class will actually look like, we have no objective metric for comparing which one is better than which, and the very concept of what makes an assassin an assassin is subjective to begin with.

The end result is that this particular complaint looks pretty minor.

To you, maybe. Not to me. If the class designed to represent the D&D archetype of an assassin isn't the class called "assassin," well then, imo that's a whole other problem. If, on the other hand, we can't even agree what an assassin is, they why the heck do we have a class for it?

I think the fundamental problem is some of us still see classes as archetypes, while some of us are thinking in 4E terms, where classes are much more bundles of interesting, thematically-related powers. Where I see an assassin, some see a "shadow striker."

Scott Betts wrote:


The other complaint was that publishing an online-only class represents a "long step down a short road" towards un-PnPing Dungeons & Dragons. This was backed up by saying that when you need D&D Insider to play, D&D will no longer be PnP.

This is ridiculous, and I'll explain why.

Stop. Right. There.

Scott, you'd be doing yourself a favor if you came to grips with the fact that not everything you don't agree with is "ridiculous". You're a bright guy, but you have a way of being so insufferably condescending and snide that no one can hear you. And yes, I know you're fond of "attack the message, not the messenger." The problem is that tone can convey as much meaning as the "message."

Scott Betts wrote:


First, D&D Insider isn't required to play. It's not even close to required to play. It's not even required to play an assassin.

It isn't? What other (legal) avenue is available to access the material?

Scott Betts wrote:


Second, what makes a game pen-and-paper isn't necessarily the format that the game's rules come in. Heck, the fact that the game has rules that require adjudication speaks to its nature as a pen-and-paper game, regardless of whether the rules appear on a computer screen, a home-printed document or in a published book.

What makes a game pen-and-paper is that it's played in real life, around a table, and requires someone at the table to adjudicate the game for the players. I think that's a definition that we can all agree upon. Playing D&D online is a possibility, but it's not the way most people play it (and, if the game table comes out, people will probably still play it mostly in meatspace). Having an assassin class published online does nothing to change this. It doesn't make D&D less playable in the real world, or more playable online. It doesn't turn D&D into a computer game. It doesn't make your books, your character sheets, your dice or your pens and pencils less useful. It's a supplement that is available online, that's all. Again, this is nothing new. Publishers (including our very own Paizo) have been creating online-only material for years. Heck, Wizards published prestige and variant classes online years ago that never appeared in any books.

Of course it will always be possible to play around a table, but that clearly wasn't what was meant when the question was posed to Mr. Slavicsek. In light of the assassin announcement, his answer to that question is no longer accurate. I happen to find that upsetting. Even if you don't, are you really incapable of understanding why I do?

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
bugleyman wrote:
Well, despite all the assurances that 4th edition was, first and foremost, a traditional (read: book-based) RPG, WoTC has just announced, via the June 1st Ampersand, a D&D Insider exclusive, online-only class: The assassin. The fact that this is such an iconic class just rubs salt in the wound.

And how appropriate that this announcement itself is behind a subscription wall.


delabarre wrote:
bugleyman wrote:
Well, despite all the assurances that 4th edition was, first and foremost, a traditional (read: book-based) RPG, WoTC has just announced, via the June 1st Ampersand, a D&D Insider exclusive, online-only class: The assassin. The fact that this is such an iconic class just rubs salt in the wound.
And how appropriate that this announcement itself is behind a subscription wall.

Yes, that gave me a chuckle. Besides, you would think Ampersand would be a prime candidate for public access...


bugleyman wrote:
But I am one; at least, my account has several months of access left. An "assassin" isn't supplementary material to me; to me that is a basic archetype that should be in a PHB. This contention is supported by the presence of the assassin in the PHB in previous editions. As has been pointed out, this may be a semnatics issue, but I'm nonetheless disturbed.

The assassin only ever made it into one PHB, the AD&D 1E one. I think you are ascribing more importance to this than is needed. Assassins, beyond being killers, are not iconic to the game. Maybe they were to some extent back in 1E, but neither before or after that. Anybody can be an assassin.

bugleyman wrote:

If the assassin class can't do an "assassin" better than the rogue, what's the point? If it can, then "book only" players lose out on replicating a classic archetype, which is specifically what was promised wouldn't happen.

Why does it have to be better? Why can it not just be different? The simple fact that it is going to be a shadow striker declares that it is going to be different.

bugleyman wrote:
But again, we're going in circles; I don't think we're going to agree. I would love, however, to archive this thread and revisit it in five years. I would not be at all surprised if the assassin ends up being the turning point in the death of D&D as a PnP game.

Yes, please do. I'm still waiting for all the naysayers from last year that were stating that D&D4E wouldn't last the year due to poor sales and whatever reasons to come back and say "I told you so!". Books are going to be around for a while. At least until cheap forms of electronic readers become available. I think it will definitely still be a table top game, though.


bugleyman wrote:
To you, maybe. Not to me. If the class designed to represent the D&D archetype of an assassin isn't the class called "assassin," well then, imo that's a whole other problem.

Yes, a minor one, of semantics. "The Assassin should be called Shadow Warrior!" is a pretty small quibble.

bugleyman wrote:
If, on the other hand, we can't even agree what an assassin is, they why the heck do we have a class for it?

Why is this a concern? You and I may not agree on what a "Warlord" is, but that doesn't mean that WotC can't create a class for it and codify it. Come on.

bugleyman wrote:
I think the fundamental problem is some of us still see classes as archetypes, while some of us are thinking in 4E terms, where classes are much more bundles of interesting, thematically-related powers. Where I see an assassin, some see a "shadow striker."

That may well be true.

bugleyman wrote:

Stop. Right. There.

Scott, you'd be doing yourself a favor if you came to grips with the fact that not everything you don't agree with is "ridiculous".

You're right, which is why I only identified the second part of your post as containing a ridiculous complaint.

bugleyman wrote:
You're a bright guy, but you have a way of being so insufferably condescending and snide that no one can hear you. And yes, I know you're fond of "attack the message, not the messenger." The problem is that tone can convey as much meaning as the "message."

If you don't think your position is ridiculous, feel free to try and show that I'm wrong. I think the last page of dialogue has demonstrated pretty clearly that both a) I'm far from the only person who shares that opinion, and b) "ridiculous" about sums it up. If you'd really prefer that I use a term that you find more acceptable, I will. "Outlandish", perhaps? "Unreasonable"? The message I'm trying to convey here is that not only is your conclusion incorrect, but the principles that it's based on are also lacking.

Furthermore, I knew when I wrote it that you (and perhaps others) might attack it as being condescending or snide, which is why I made sure to follow it up with a thorough explanation of why I made that call. That way, if you disagreed with me, you might be able to demonstrate that calling it "ridiculous" was unwarranted, and justify your complaints of condescension.

Above all, the tone I aim for is one of reasonableness. It generally conveys exactly what I want it to. If you were taken aback by the reaction to your complaints, consider perhaps that your complaints merited the reaction they received.

That's all I'll say on that. I'm not going to let another thread get sidetracked by someone's attempt to "reform" my style of discussion.

bugleyman wrote:
It isn't? What other (legal) avenue is available to access the material?

You can play an assassin by opening up the Player's Handbook, creating a rogue, and eventually heading into the Shadow Assassin paragon path (and, perhaps, the Deadly Trickster epic destiny). Legal and alternative.

bugleyman wrote:
Of course it will always be possible to play around a table, but that clearly wasn't what was meant when the question was posed to Mr. Slavicsek. In light of the assassin announcement, his answer to that question is no longer accurate. I happen to find that upsetting. Even if you don't, are you really incapable of understanding why I do?

Yes, because his answer remains accurate. That's what everyone has been telling you. Just because one class is released in an online format doesn't mean the game isn't "first and foremost" or "principally" a pen-and-paper game. I find it baffling that you think this represents a shift in publishing or design philosophy when it's demonstrably clear that this has been going on for quite some time now across the entire industry.


mouthymerc wrote:


The assassin only ever made it into one PHB, the AD&D 1E one. I think you are ascribing more importance to this than is needed. Assassins, beyond being killers, are not iconic to the game. Maybe they were to some extent back in 1E, but neither before or after that. Anybody can be an assassin.

If assassin is a job description rather than a particular set of abilities, then WHY IS IT A CLASS?

mouthymerc wrote:


Why does it have to be better? Why can it not just be different? The simple fact that it is going to be a shadow striker declares that it is going to be different.

Heh...I addressed this point a few posts up. To me (power source) X (role) doesn't a class make. YMMV.

mouthymerc wrote:


Yes, please do. I'm still waiting for all the naysayers from last year that were stating that D&D4E wouldn't last the year due to poor sales and whatever reasons to come back and say "I told you so!".

I have no idea what that situation has to do with this one. Can we skip the edition war?

mouthymerc wrote:


Books are going to be around for a while. At least until cheap forms of electronic readers become available. I think it will definitely still be a table top game, though.

Will books be around a while? Of course. Will D&D be around a while, at least as a game with content primarily delivered through books? Not looking likely. Whether that means D&D will no longer be a "table top game" seems to be a matter of opinion, but I do know that isn't what was advertised when people were expressing concerns about the DDI.


bugleyman wrote:
If assassin is a job description rather than a particular set of abilities, then WHY IS IT A CLASS?

I don't know. How about you call the Assassin class "Shadow Striker" and roll with it? Would that make you happy? It's nothing but a name.

bugleyman wrote:
I have no idea what that situation has to do with this one. Can we skip the edition war?

He was pointing out that the internet has a habit of making wild predictions of doom or monumental change that end up pretty innocuous in the end.

bugleyman wrote:
Will books be around a while? Of course. Will D&D be around a while, at least as a game with content primarily delivered through books? Not looking likely. Whether that means D&D will no longer be a "table top game" seems to be a matter of opinion, but I do know that isn't what was advertised when people were expressing concerns about the DDI.

You are witnessing a single publisher declaring that they're going to publish a single class in an online-only format and taking that to be the herald of the death of D&D books, a shift in design philosophy, and a signal of broken promises even though none of these things can be shown to be objectively true. Can you see how others might perceive this position as reactionary?


Scott Betts wrote:


Yes, a minor one, of semantics. "The Assassin should be called Shadow Warrior!" is a pretty small quibble. Why is this a concern? You and I may not agree on what a "Warlord" is, but that doesn't mean that WotC can't create a class for it and codify it. Come on.

As previously mentioned, assassin has a history in D&D. The Warlord did not. Of course, I'd rather there be *no* online-exclusive classes in a PnP game, but as I said earlier, making a 1E class online-exclusive was salt in the wound.

I wonder if you'd feel the same if "Wizard" were the online-only class.

Scott Betts wrote:


If you don't think your position is ridiculous, feel free to try and show that I'm wrong. I think the last page of dialogue has demonstrated pretty clearly that both a) I'm far from the only person who shares that opinion, and b) "ridiculous" about sums it up.

Consensus is irrelevant in logic. I know you are aware of that. Let's agree to do better, shall we?

I don't care about your specific terminology, rather than the implicity insults therein. How about "wrong" or "incorrect," rather than "ridiculous." I believe you are framing me as oversensitive in order to throw the focus away from your hyperbole.

Scott Betts wrote:


You are witnessing a single publisher declaring that they're going to publish a single class in an online-only format and taking that to be the herald of the death of D&D books, a shift in design philosophy, and a signal of broken promises even though none of these things can be shown to be objectively true. Can you see how others might perceive this position as reactionary?

I'm witnessing the sole publisher of D&D doing (in my opinion) exactly what they said they wouldn't, and calling it what I perceive it to be: A broken promise. You disagree. I fail to see how that makes you "objectively" correct.

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

I'm just not feeling the rage. WotC could release official content in packages of post-it notes, and that wouldn't mean that (a) you have to buy post-it notes to play D&D or (b) that D&D can only be played with post-it notes or even (c) that publishing of D&D products in non-post-it note format is going to vanish.

It seems like WotC is exploring how to tap into the gamer mentality of "got to collect them all" by releasing some content in non-book format. There are some powers that are only available in the various miniature lines as well. Do I like it? Not really, but mostly I just don't give a damn. I'm not going to purchase miniatures to get the rules, nor will I buy cereal boxes, dog grooming kits, or whatever other product WotC decides is an appropriate vehicle for a rules release. I just don't find the content that compelling.

Now, that being said, I do expect the DDI to include a tool to allow me to access the content that WotC publishes in whatever format. That's the function of that tool and it allows them to experiment with various media formats as they release content.

So, chalk me up in the meh column. It's a bit gimmicky, but it's not a huge shift in the way the game is played or even sold, and it strikes me as requiring a very narrow reading of prior statements to manufacture a contradiction between this gimmick and prior statements that D&D would continue to be a PnP product. It's just a new distribution method for content, not a change in how the game is played (as Scott Betts articulated very clearly above).

Of course, part of my reaction is because my attitude is "oh wow, new content, woopty-doo." I'm not in love with the 4e content, I find a lot of it to be bland and uninteresting to read, and the fact that they are already publishing yet another take on the assassin already doesn't fill me with excitement. Unless you really care that much about acquiring all the content available (in which case, you should theoretically already be a subscriber to DDI), I don't see how this issue actually affects any real human with any real interest in playing 4e. We all know that WotC is trying to make DDI the indespensible 4th core book, I generally think that's a good thing (though god forbid they actually do a good job creating it), and this is just part of that reality.


bugleyman wrote:

If assassin is a job description rather than a particular set of abilities, then WHY IS IT A CLASS?

Because they came up with a concept (shadow striker) and needed a name for it. Voila, assassin. They could have used ninja, killer, shadow stalker, or what have you. They settled on assassin.

bugleyman wrote:
Will books be around a while? Of course. Will D&D be around a while, at least as a game with content primarily delivered through books? Not looking likely. Whether that means D&D will no longer be a "table top game" seems to be a matter of opinion, but I do know that isn't what was advertised when people were expressing concerns about the DDI.

D&Di is just another form of medium which they put out information in. Why aren't the classes from the PHB2 in PHB1? Not everyone playing has gone out and bought the PHB2. Is their game any less for it? Only they can say. It is not a necessity to play, though. I am not seeing anything here that portends that their material is heading in the direction of being available only electronically. Only some exclusive goodies for those that subscribe. It is still a very small, if growing, part of the market.


mouthymerc wrote:


I am not seeing anything here that portends that their material is heading in the direction of being available only electronically.

And I guess that is the crux of the matter: I am. But I could be wrong; it wouldn't be the first time.


bugleyman wrote:
As previously mentioned, assassin has a history in D&D. The Warlord did not. Of course, I'd rather there be *no* online-exclusive classes in a PnP game, but as I said earlier, making a 1E class online-exclusive was salt in the wound.

What history? It showed up in one PHB. At this point it is even with the warlord; 1 for 1. You must have had a serious hankerin' for the assassin class from way back when for this to affect you so seriously.

bugleyman wrote:
I wonder if you'd feel the same if "Wizard" were the online-only class.

You are seriously going to compare the assassin to the wizard. One class which only showed up in one PHB compared to another which is definitely considered iconic and has been in every iteration of the game. They are not even close to being the same. You would be better comparing it to the barbarian. It only made it into one PHB (2 if you count 3.5) before 4E, too.


bugleyman wrote:
And I guess that is the crux of the matter: I am. But I could be wrong; it wouldn't be the first time.

Pessimists are never disappointed, right?


mouthymerc wrote:
bugleyman wrote:
And I guess that is the crux of the matter: I am. But I could be wrong; it wouldn't be the first time.
Pessimists are never disappointed, right?

I'm sure I have no idea.

And, with that, this thread has officially jumped the shark. Good day.

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

And as MY next trick, I'm suppressing posts in this thread designed to insult the Paizo.com community.

Spirited argument is fine, but if you find yourself wanting to classify members of the community in ways intended to cause offense, I suggest not doing so.

Let's try to keep it civil, eh?


I'm not a DDI subscriber (due to economic reasons) but I don't believe this is the "long step down a short road" it's being made out to be. If I was to be truly pessimistic I could consider it to be a "short step down a long road that WotC has already started travelling" but nothing about this latest announcement is particularly groundbreaking.

To my mind, the shift to online only distribution for Dungeon and Dragon magazines was much more significant to changing the distribution model than deciding to do an exclusive release of a single class via DDI. To illustrate this, imagine a scenario where the Assassin class is released via an article in Dragon magazine and consider what difference Dragon being published in print versus online-only makes to how you feel about the exclusivity of this class. (I'm not trying to re-litigate the changes WotC made to Dragon and Dungeon magazines here, I wasn't a subscriber to the print form of the magazines either, so I don't have a horse in this particular race.)

I accept that releasing an "iconic" class as an exclusive (in whatever format) is different, but as responses to this thread has shown, not everyone considers Assassin to be iconic (or that this new class will accurately represent the iconic Assassin), so not everyone is going to feel the same level of emotion about this class.

I do agree that WotC have made some (IMO) stupid business decisions recently (e.g. pulling legal pdfs from sale) but attempting to provide extra value to DDI subscribers doesn't fall into that category for me. There is already content I can't access due to not being a subscriber to DDI, but none of it is necessary to play the game. I don't see that changing any time soon.

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