I’ve been debating this back and forth in my head for a good long while now. I was blessed enough to (finally) play both the Dark Sun Game Day as well as the Red Box Game Day– both with different groups of players and even in different states. And my experiences there, I think, color my opinions on this more than anything else.
I gotta admit, the marketing campaign for Essentials kinda threw me for a loop. The talking heads at WotC seemed to make a point over and over again in podcasts, interviews and articles on their own website of how Essentials and Core 4E were intended to be used together, in tandem, and how Essentials was just another approach to the game in general. From my point of view, they seemed to go out of their way to tell consumers that the two were inter-mixable.
But are they, really?
I think I’m inclined to say no. I don’t really want to say no, mind you, but my instinct tells me that Essentials and 4E are different enough beasts that having them together in the same game might be troublesome, with either the Essentials player feeling outclassed by the 4E player or, in contrast, the 4E player feeling like the Essentials player has a better version of the rules– more streamlined, easier to play, etc.
Also, if this is such a selling point for 4E & Essentials both, where’s the support for it? Dungeon/Dragon articles, Character Builder and Compendium updates, etc? Seems like WotC dropped the ball on this launch to me. I’m still a 4E fan, mind you– I’m just not sure the essentials line is as solid a product as they want it to be.
I know this is a quick post, and I also know I’m definitely not a numbers-cruncher who has the time or wherewithal to put Essentials and Core side by side… but I really wonder if anybody has run Essentials and 4E characters together in any kind of playtest or put the numbers side by side to see how they stack up. Is a combined 4E/Essentials party a viable option? Is it doable in terms of numbers, in terms of playability, and most especially in terms of fun?
Let me know. I’m really interested to hear what the community at large has to say here.
If anybody wants to write a post on the topic, especially if you have tried to combine the two at your table, link back here in a comment and I’ll happily put it up RPG Blog Circus-style!!