ZOMG Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition

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I caught wind of this announcement that affects d20 role-players everywhere, the new version of Dungeons and Dragons is slotted for release in 2008! I look at my D&D v3.5 book collection and wince a little, yet I find myself a little excited for Wizards of the Coast’s next iteration of the eons old pen & paper table top game that has kept males occupied and single for decades.

My attempts to read the announcement from the horses mouth have failed due to the Wizards Announcement section of their site has thoroughly been slashdotted. As such, I have a few tidbits that I’ve grabbed from various Slashdot comments and other blogs that I’ll cobble together here:

Rustmonster writes:

While there are changes in play (such as incorporating “epic-level play,” with 30 levels instead of 20), they are described as “evolutionary” rather than “revolutionary.” Other changes include new power sources, changes in resource management, and new encounter design, and more clearly defined monster roles. Changes will speed play, make the game easier to learn, and make DM-ing easier. Concepts for 4th Edition gameplay were tested in the new Star Wars RPG, and the Book of 9 Swords.

ShakuUVM a commenter on Slashdot writes:

[Star Wars] Saga Edition is 90% the same as [the new] D20 rules.

Saves [have been] almost totally revamped so that everyone’s saves will be within 2 points of each other (your class save bonus only applies once, and you get the best of all classes that you multiclass in, and then progresses the same for everyone). Likewise, everyone gets a bonus to damage equal to half their class level. The only difference in the classes are their ‘special ability’ talent trees, which work like in World of Warcraft. Essentially, every other level you get a new ‘talent’, many of which have prerequisites of other talents. So if you want the ability to reroll an attack roll once per day (a rogue ability) you might need the talent to reroll a skill check once per day. Sneak Attack is a talent, so if you want full Sneak Attack, you have to give up all these special abilities.

ShakuUVM seems to view the above in a negative light…I’m on the fence with the Saving Throw changes but the talent trees seems like an awesome change! Reading further in his comment, I see that feats ares still around in addition to the talents. If done right, this could feasibly reduce the complexity that has surrounded playing an odd-ball character that you want to hybridize in ways that only the Unearthed Arcana book could expose to you before.

It will be interesting to read more over the course of the next year. Sadly, I won’t be able to get my grubby paws on 4th Edition until May of 2008 when the Player’s Handbook is scheduled for release. The Monster Manual is due out in June and the Dungeon Master’s Guide will be released in July. So…die hard fans looking to play this as soon as possible won’t be able to play a solid game until those three books have been released.

Oh, another odd thing that is happening with this new Edition is a subscriber-based delivery of game content via a new Wizards of the Coast site: DnDInsider, which is basically a conglomeration of the Dungeons and Dragons magazines. Delivered through there will be tools, rules, and content available only to subscribers.

Interesting stuff.