I haven’t been writing a lot about 4e, but I’ve been keeping up on the released information (official and unofficial). One thing that got me thinking was Keith Baker’s recent LJ post, in which he talked about how the PCs in an Eberron game are presumed to be special and use different rules from most NPCs.
Now, I’ve long been a proponent of PCs being consequential. Its one of the reasons I rarely enjoy Call of Cthulhu… and one of the reasons I tend not enjoy the old school GM vs. player high-PC-lethality style of gaming. Similarly, I’m not happy when NPCs play by special rules. Even when I was younger, AD&D bugged me for its proliferation of magic items that it was near-impossible to make as a PC. NPCs that break PC rules feels like cheating to me somehow.
So… I have mixed feelings about what Keith Baker is telling us about 4e here. I think it is perfectly fine for PCs to be valid targets of Raise Dead when many NPCs aren’t. Like him, I think it resolves a lot of funky issues (though those funky issues could easily generate some interesting plot/setting ideas) and emphasizes the PCs as agents of destiny or somesuch. While I also like the idea of being able to throw NPCs together quickly, I don’t know how I feel about the possibility of a low-level NPC having a very high skill total. I mean, in principle it is OK – but why can’t a PC do so as well?