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The Dungeons and Dragons Fourth Edition Preview Books

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the races-and-classes-worlds-and-monster-why-can't-we-get-along dept.

378

It's a big year for tabletop gamers. In just a few months the first books for the Fourth Edition of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) will be released by publisher Wizards of the Coast (WotC). The last major update to the game rules was released in 1999, and sparked interest in D&D not seen since the early 80s. To attempt to answer some of the biggest questions about this newest edition, WotC has learned from mistakes made in 99', and is previewing their game updates with a pair of softcover books. Called "Races and Classes" and "Worlds and Monsters", the two titles cover everything from character creation to the new default world's pantheon. More importantly, it includes a large amount of commentary from the designers about why things are going to be as they are. In short: they're must-haves for hardcore D&D fans. Read on for my impressions of these highly entertaining (and vastly overpriced) chapbooks.Races and Classes
Compiled and Edited by Michele Carter
95 pages
Published by Wizards of the Coast
Rating: 9
ISBN: 9780786948017

From a player's perspective, "Races and Classes" is definitely the more important of these two books. Acting as a stand-in for the upcoming Player's Handbook (due out in June of this year), it shows off the player races and character classes Dungeons and Dragons players will be able to choose for their first Player Characters (PCs). The book is broken up into five sections, with two devoted to the titular character aspects. The other three outline the process of rethinking the game's core. Each section is broken up into a series of short essays on specific subtopics. Each race and class gets at least one essay, with some requiring three or more to fully explore.

As a veteran DM of the 3.0/3.5 era, their choices for which races and classes to include are at the same time surprising and reassuring. Their picks have definitely shaken up the status quo, bucking traditions that date back to the late 80's. The Gnomish race, for example, won't be in the first Player's Handbook. Half-Orcs, one of the favorite races of the current edition, won't be addressed until the Forgotten Realms sourcebook in the Fall.

Instead, standbys like the Elf, Dwarf, and Hafling have been refined and polished to clarify their place in the world. Haflings in particular have been given a fictive solidness they previously lacked: they're now a nomadic boat-people, tending to the waters in the same way the Elves tend to forests or Dwarves to hills and mountains. New additions to the racial roster fill in gaps that have been patched previously in non-core supplements. The Dragonborn race, a reptilian species, is the most obvious of these. Previous 'dragon-ish' races have fit into campaign worlds roughly compared to the core races. Tieflings (half-demons) are another example of this trend. A popular player race in 3.0/3.5, it was challenging to play a Tiefling because of restrictions at character creation.

The process of making and growing a character seems to be the element they examine most closely in the commentary sections of the book. One subheading says it all: "Expanding the Sweet Spot". 3.0/3.5, it has often been noted, follows a power curve that starts somewhat underpowered and eventually reaches a point where players are too powerful to be seriously challenged. Though there's a lot of debate on this point, personal experience suggests the sweet spot for D&D 3.5 is about 5th level to 14th. Though many campaigns will never make it that far, it's frustrating to deal with mechanical weaknesses like that over the lifespan of a game. Fourth edition is a valiant attempt to rectify that by making all levels viable for play.

For a player, viability essentially boils down to "fun". At any given moment, is the player having fun at the gaming table? The Classes they've chosen for core inclusion speak directly to the need for fun. While the Core Four (Fighter, Cleric, Rogue, Wizard) are there, they've also included a number of fun tweaks for additional classes. In 3.5 hybrid classes were rough to play; why would you want to play a Paladin (a weak fighter bolted to a weak cleric) when you could play one of the core four and do something well? Fourth edition solves this issue by looking at the roles behind the classes rather than at class particulars. The Rogue, for example, is the classic Striker. He uses stealth and guile to cause spikes of high damage at opportune times. But that's not the only interpretation you can have of that role; the Warlock (another fourth edition core class) is also a Striker, but he relies on Damage over Time spells and arcane blasts to do his job. The Cleric is the classic Leader, keeping his allies up and in the fight by tapping into a spiritual power. The Warlord does the same through discipline and sheer force of will; the same role, but with a different interpretation.

The real advance is that each class role should always have something interesting to do in a fight, because every role is defined. If you're a Defender, and you're not interposing yourself between the bad guys and the party, you're doing it wrong. That great start is expanded by the inclusion of 'powers'. Previously the domain of spellcasters only, powers are going to be a staple for every class. Instead of the Fighter being forced to dully repeat "I hit it" over and over again, every class will have unique moves and attacks that support their role in the party. And if the Warlock (with powers labeled things like hurl through hell or iron chains of misery) are a good representation, each class should be a lot of fun to play.

I've been reading information about fourth edition greedily since last year on the D&D Insider site, and I thought I had a handle on what this game was going to be like. The class book, though, has been an eye opening experience. The designers just 'get it'. Everything that gets in the way of having fun needs to be excised. This book illustrates that, fundamentally, the WotC designers understand that. In 3.5 Fighters have too few options and Wizards have too many. Fixed. In 3.5 race didn't fundamentally matter, and on top of that each race was fairly poorly defined in the core books. Fixed. In 3.5 class roles were a challenge to understand for new and old players alike. Fixed.

Reading this text read like an answer to every player frustration I've experienced in the past 9 years. The game they describe in the pages of "Races and Classes" sounds like an intrinsically different experience than Dungeons and Dragons 3.5. For some people it's not going to be what they're looking for. For me personally, it's everything I could have hoped for and more. It's always been easy to have fun roleplaying; if they can make character creation fun? If they can make combat purely fun? That's an innovation worth rebooting the system for.

My only complaint with this book is the price. For more on that, please read on.

Worlds and Monsters
Compiled and Edited by Jennifer Clarke Wilkes
95 pages
Published by Wizards of the Coast
Rating: 7
ISBN: 9780786948024

Whereas the "Races and Classes" book speaks directly to the core of the new D&D, "Worlds and Monsters" primarily deals with the frippery and window dressing associated with the new core world. The loosely defined core setting that has always existed in previous editions of the game is going to become more codified in fourth edition. This text talks a bit about that world, and the decisions that went into that choice. It also runs through some of the most well-known monsters in Dungeons and Dragons, explaining how they've been adapted for the new version of the game.

For Dungeon Masters, this is far and away the more fascinating book. This stand-in for the DMG speaks directly to the storytelling core of the game, and hints at the kinds of high-adventure tales we'll be able to craft later this year. The game world sounds quite interesting, both for its specificity and its vagueness. Races, for example, are quite specifically outlined. Tieflings, Dragonborn, Elves ... all have specific creation stories that PCs can share as a common background. Racial traits stemming from historical events will add a lot of texture to character portrayals. At the same time, much of the world is being left deliberately vague. This setting is described just enough to hang plot hooks on, but not enough so that as a DM you'll have to deal with backstory cruft.

The world they describe sounds quite interesting, too. They're calling the core concept "Points of Light". Adventurers are heroes living in a world mostly covered by the darkness of wilderness and the unknown. Small cities and villages dot the landscape, providing shelter and a bright spot in this darkness. The wilderness hides numerous ruins, leftovers from the rise and fall of ancient civilizations. The last great human empire fell about a hundred years ago, in the setting, and the result is something akin to the historical dark ages. Layered on top of this ruin-strewn landscape is a faerie realm, accessible via special holes in the world. Monsters live in the deep woods, and dark magics are hidden underground. It sounds like a great place to adventure.

The monsters section of the book clarifies a number of things about what D&D combat will be like in fourth edition, and speaks again to their goal of 'fun all the time'. 3.5 combat was balanced around the concept of a party fighting one creature of an appropriate level. It turns out? That tends to get kind of boring. Fourth edition combat, instead, is balanced around an equal number of opponents for the players. Having the concept of 'slots', where monsters oppose players on equal footing, and roles (not unlike PC roles) ensures that fights will be actually challenging. 3.5 fights tend to be either bloodbaths or total routs, with little room in-between for contesting the outcome.

That concept of roles has been applied to monsters quite deliberately. Balancing a monster party with Defenders, Skirmishers, Controllers, and Leaders will result in a mixed bag of interesting critters. Monster races that tended toward the generic have even been given a degree of specificity. Instead of Gnolls just being Orcs with Hyena masks on, they'll now apparently fight with pack tactics and cowardly tricks. Giving flavour to the opposition seems to be the basic idea: off-the-rack encounters will no longer feel so rote.

Again, the game they're describing sounds like a lot of fun. My frustration with this text was high on the price side, though. While the "Races and Classes" book speaks directly to the core of the new D&D game, and is a great book to throw at someone still griping about the lack of Gnomes, "Worlds and Monsters" seems like it's mostly a lot of set dressing. Set dressing which (I can only assume) will be reiterated in more detail in the core books. Did I enjoy reading it? Of course. It's interesting stuff. But twenty dollars for set dressing is hard to swallow, especially when we're going to have to repurchase that information in the DMG for another thirty bucks.

At a cost of forty dollars for the pair, it's hard to say if the extremely interesting content is worth the price of admission. In podcasts and commentaries WotC has said how they enjoy the 'DVD extras' model, where consumers pay a premium for 'behind-the-scenes' info. If you really enjoy that kind of content, or just can't wait the next four months for the core books, these will be easy buys for you. The ideal would have been if purchasing these books represented preorders for the core books. Pay $40 now, buy the core books for only $20 each? Anything to make this investment last past May? Instead, we're left with the reality that nothing in these books can't wait until June.

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FIST SPORT (0, Troll)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 6 years ago | (#22296912)

I think I speak for everyone when I say that pen and paper RPGs died 20 years ago.

Isn't it about time these pathetic man-children grew up and started to accept some responsibility for their place in the world?

You can't THAC0 save against global recession, dweebs!

Re:FIST SPORT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22297088)

I'm surprised you took time off of throwing tennis balls while shouting "Fireball" to post in Slashdot.

Re:FIST SPORT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22298088)

"I want you to look over there."

"Hello, Daniel..."

"Look over there. That's my son. You see? See?"

"Daniel..."

"You see him? You don't tell me Orihime is cuter than Rukia. I told you not to tell me Orihime is cuter than Rukia. So, what do you see?"

"I'm happy for you that everything..."

"I've made a deal with Union and my son is happy and safe and Rukia is cuter than Orihime. So you look like a fool, Tilford, don't you?"

"...Yes."

"I told you what I was gonna do."

D&D (1)

BoomerSooner (308737) | more than 6 years ago | (#22296918)

So overpriced... The joys of inflation :)

Am I the only one... (5, Interesting)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 6 years ago | (#22296952)

... who feels like they may have simplified the most interesting parts clear out of the game, filled the gaps liberally with WoW, and ended up with a game that, admittedly, has a much lower barrier to entry but is also not particularly interesting?

I mean, you can make Monopoly a lot easier to play and simpler to learn if you ditch hotel and house building, the rent for each property is the same, and instead of rolling the dice to move you move one space each time on your turn, but would it be fun?

3/3.5E's not perfect by a long shot to me either, but what we've seen of 4E so far is honestly just not interesting to me.

Re:Am I the only one... (3, Interesting)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297126)

I concur. They have taken the core D&D concepts, a copy of WoW; thrown it in the food processor and then homogenized the whole mess. Eliminating Greyhawk as the default setting should be a good indicator of their mindset. They want to make a brainless game to lure in the MMO players. (Don't jump on me. I played WoW for 2 years. It was fun but its not pen & paper gaming.) If they can chisel of some of that 10 million player WoW goodness they see it as a fair trade for shitting on their product.

My group will be staying with 3.5 despite its shortcomings. My hope is that 4th Ed. is to Wizards of the Coast what Vista is to Microsoft.

Re:Am I the only one... (3, Interesting)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297230)

I still like 1st edition......and it's kept me from shelling out too many $$'s for 2nd, 3rd, 3.5th, and now 4th editions of each book.

Layne

Re:Am I the only one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22297888)

2nd Ed with multiclassing/experience from 3rd would do it for me.

My primary game interest was Dark Sun, which was only available for 2nd ed. Given the huge leap in book prices for 3rd/3.5 I couldn't warrant getting anything beyond the core rulebooks (especially since somewhere in 3rd ed PHB I believe it actually stated 'these 12 classes are all you need to create any kind of character you can imagine'.... Then why did they feel the need to provide rulebooks for all these other new classes?)

Besides Hasbro, FASA/WizKids, WW, and WEG have all gone the same way, either books with far less thought places in the rules, no upgrade path from older editions, etc. I was just in a local Gaming/Comic shop for the first time in a couple of years, and the most surprising thing to me was the only two gaming systems on the shelves were D20 based, and Games Workshop based, neither companies I can either endorse, nor enjoy.

Perhaps there are new up and coming systems out there I just haven't seen, but finding a replacement for the older systems that's enjoyable, easy to learn, etc seems to be the new quest, given that more focus is places on minatures and CCGs than actual role playing games and supplemental text (and who can complain? It's a helluva lot cheaper to hire guys to write some 15 second excerpts than it is to write a whole 200+ page both with enough worthwhile information in it to buy @ 30+ dollars a book!)

Re:Am I the only one... (2, Insightful)

Darfeld (1147131) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297896)

Isn't Role Playing the whole point of role playing games? who cares the rules are complex enough to role a dice for eating an egg? you won't remember to eat anyway...

D&D have always been more like a dice game anyway...

Re:Am I the only one... (1)

Analog Squirrel (547794) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297158)

I've got to admit that I've been apprehensive ever since I heard they were developing a fourth edition - 3.0/3.5 is a good system, even with all its flaws.... plus I have enough of an investment in it that I shrink back at the idea of doing it all over again.

My D&D got a set of the "preview books" (no sense in giving WotC more money for fluff than necessary) and we've been passing it around. They are very limited on implementation details, but there does seem to be enough interesting parts that I'll likely pick up a set of books when they're published. If the implementation is lame, there's always E-bay to dump them on and I can fall back on my 3e books....

Re:Am I the only one... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22297188)

Nope, I feel the same way, but that's also how I felt about the jump from modified 2nd ed. to 3.0, and still do.

But I really think the defining factor boils down to whether or not your DM is fun and imaginative. 2nd ed. had some issues, but way back when, our party had a very imaginative (and rules obsessive) DM, who worked within the system to build some pretty badass campaigns and adventures. I think the same thing could be true of any game system.

Re:Am I the only one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22297202)

Exactly. I play WoW and I play D&D. But when I'm playing D&D I don't wish it were more like playing WoW. Unfortunately the current designers seem to. If I read another designer interview where they make a WoW reference to talk about integrating some concept from there into D&D (aggro? tanking? you've got to be kidding me) I'm going to abandon the whole thing. I fully expect what started as "modules" and morphed into "adventures" to be called "instances" in 4e.

I roll Alliance (-1, Troll)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297336)

I mean, you can make Monopoly a lot easier to play and simpler to learn if you ditch hotel and house building, the rent for each property is the same, and instead of rolling the dice to move you move one space each time on your turn,
Ah, Monopoly: Karl Marx Edition. I hear Hillary plays this a lot on the campaign trail. :-)

but would it be fun?
If your character could be randomly attacked by profit breathing dragons and hordes of evil, selfish productive people, maybe.

Re:I roll Alliance (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22297918)

Ah, Monopoly: Karl Marx Edition. I hear Hillary plays this a lot on the campaign trail.

What the hell is Karl Rove doing on Slashdot?

Re:Am I the only one... (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297458)

Other people have replied, and I'll add mine to theirs. You aren't the only one.

I suspect one of the two groups I play with will adopt 4ed. If that happens I'll probably leave a gaming group I've been with for about 24 years. Everything I've read about the 4ed rules leads me to believe that it will be complete crap. I'd like to keep my EQ/WoW separate from my D&D, thanks.

Re:Am I the only one... (4, Insightful)

Nightspirit (846159) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297650)

Dude, you're going to leave a gaming group you've had for 24 years because of a ruleset? Any ruleset is playable with a good group; I have a great time with my shadowrun group even through the ruleset is a disaster.

Re:Am I the only one... (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297796)

If it came down to that, it would be because I don't want to support WotC anymore. I certainly wouldn't lose the people as friends or anything like that. I just wouldn't play 4ed D&D.

It's still speculation to me at this point. I intend to give 4ed a fair chance once the actual rulebooks come out. It's just that what I've heard and seen so far has not been promising.

Re:Am I the only one... (5, Insightful)

crashfrog (126007) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297554)

... who feels like they may have simplified the most interesting parts clear out of the game, filled the gaps liberally with WoW, and ended up with a game that, admittedly, has a much lower barrier to entry but is also not particularly interesting?

Neither of us know what the mechanics are going to be like, but from my perspective you couldn't be more wrong. I don't know specifically what you're talking about when you say "the most interesting parts", but the parts that they've confirmed aren't there anymore are the parts that always bothered me the most - like the way any dungeon adventure longer than four encounters stops being "let's go have adventures" and becomes "we need to find a way to sleep."

I mean, my idea of heroic fantasy doesn't include a desperate search for a Motel 6 (or, God forbid, a magic spell that simply creates one.) So the new spellcasting mechanic of "at-will" powers sounds pitch-perfect to me. But, at the same time, a few of the powers are attrition-based, too, so having to decide whether or not to blow your big spells now or save them for something even more tough is still there.

The more I hear about 4th Edition the more I wish it was the D&D I was running right now. As it is, every single one of my players now has at least one maneuver , if not their class or PrC, from Book of the Nine Swords - which is sort of prototype 4th Edition in some ways - and I think that speaks volumes. My players don't even want to sleep in dungeons, that's how stupid it feels to play that way, and they've all, independently, gravitated to ways to keep the power level up without using attrition powers.

I don't know what it means to "fill the gaps liberally with WoW", except as far as WoW simply game-ified what players and DM's were already doing. Maybe you could elaborate on that.

Re:Am I the only one... (4, Interesting)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 6 years ago | (#22298032)

I don't know specifically what you're talking about when you say "the most interesting parts"

Some of it for me is certainly in resource management, which from the rest of your post is something I can tell you don't particularly enjoy. I really like prepared spellcasting (AKA memorization), although I also like that you can play spontaneous casters if you choose. I really like the variety of having some characters in a group that are on a fairly even keel of power where others have only a few moments of greatness throughout a day (often, many fights) that they have to carefully hoard and marshal at appropriate times. I like that there are a ton of feats and spells and things in the game that are combat-important but don't deal damage, such as sleep or entangle. I like that you can play a wide variety of characters that all feel/play really different.

This isn't meant to be an exhaustive list, but everything I know so far about 4E suggests that some of these things are going outright and others are being diminished in importance severely, and that we're moving more to a game where everyone's got a bunch of 'once per encounter' abilities, and every fight of their career involves every character firing off their toughest ones in succession. In other words, choosing nearly the same sequence of actions in nearly every fight.


I don't know what it means to "fill the gaps liberally with WoW", except as far as WoW simply game-ified what players and DM's were already doing. Maybe you could elaborate on that.


Things like: pushing more to an 'everyone does damage' model vs. non-damaging malediction/battlefield control, or designing classes more along the MMORPG 'holy trinity' of tank/healing/DPS. The 4E rogue sounds like the typical MMO DPS-machine; the 3E rogue, I would argue, is more defined by his skills -- especially since as his level increases the number of sneak-attack-able enemies he typically encounters drops drastically.

Re:Am I the only one... (4, Interesting)

QuantumFTL (197300) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297668)

I think a lot of folks are just getting tired of the same stale dungeon-crawling that D&D has been pushing for the last 25 years, moving on to bigger and better things (like GURPS, as mentioned in the tags).

I'm very active in the Role-Playing Felllowship of Greater Boston [meetup.com] and lately we've been trying many new things. Probably my favorite is a small indy system called Universalis [indie-rpgs.com] , a GM-less collaborative roleplaying/storytelling system which uses a set of simple socioeconomic feedback mechanisms to regulate the narrative and resolve conflicts without any centralized authority. This has the effect of making the game much more about creativity and interesting stories (indeed the game itself "pays" you to create conflicts in the story) than about playing what is essentially a video game on pen and paper. In a manner similar to brainstorming, Universalis combines the intellectual and creative abilities of the players in such a way that other players act as randomizing agents on your ideas, taking characters and story elements in directions that you yourself would have never thought of. I think it's absolutely brilliant, and indeed a feasible system for brainstorming and generating new and unique stories.

If you live in the Greater Boston area, you should check us out. It's one of the few places you'll find roleplayers willing to try just about anything.

Re:Am I the only one... (1)

Joreallean (969424) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297800)

It's always easier to lay on layers of detail and complexity if you want them. It is not so easy to present a simple to understand and fun initial set of rules to attract new people. I think this is an excellent change if they can pull it off.

What bothers me more is that people pigeon-hole any simplifying into being WoW-like. WoW has made a dramatic impression on many aspects of gaming, but to constantly compare or equate future products back to WoW will require a non-WoW-like product to be overly complex and often unworkable simply for the sake of disassociation. Leave WoW in its own category and judge things upon their own merit.

Re:Am I the only one... (2, Insightful)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297864)

... who feels like they may have simplified the most interesting parts clear out of the game, filled the gaps liberally with WoW, and ended up with a game that, admittedly, has a much lower barrier to entry but is also not particularly interesting?
That is what I felt began with D&D 3e, but unlike this time, I felt that sort of change was needed. D&D 3e ended up pretty nicely IMO, and 3.5 touching up some of the problems and adding minor improvements to some other things. It started feeling quite mature. Then this arrived. :-S No, I can't say I'm sitting on nails with my expectations up.

Developer commentary is a must-have? (2, Interesting)

cryptomancer (158526) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297000)

If I wanted the annotated versions, to explain just what people were thinking when they designed the game, I'd either wait for that version or read their blog. So far I still havn't read anything to impress me about this system; nothing as drastic, experimental and "fun" (rtfa) as say, the player's option books were to 2nd ed.

suggestions ... (3, Interesting)

boxlight (928484) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297032)

I used to play D&D (and AD&D) a lot when I was in junior high (I'm a crusty old 38 years now). I had a lot of fun. Occasionally I browse through the computer games at the box store and see things that look D&D-ish. But, I think I really would like to have something that feels like the old "pen-and-graph-paper" game rather than the most awesome 3d graphics.

Is there a computer game out there that can give me that nostalgic experience? Or will I have to buy the books and get a group of like-minded geeks together for old times sake?

Re:suggestions ... (1)

Evangelion (2145) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297144)

NWN1 aimed for that -- you could create modules that could be run by a DM for friends. Given the bomb than NWN2 was, NWN1 has maintained community interest, and should still be reasonably available.

If you just want to hang out with geeks in a class-based fantasy game, WoW works fine and is easier to temporally coordinate, but it's certainly not the same as Pen & Paper action.

Re:suggestions ... (3, Informative)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297150)

Try some of the GM'ed games of Neverwinter Nights (1 or 2).....it will add a different flavor. All of the fun and social interaction of the pen and paper with the nice graphics. Of course, it will depend on how good of a GM you actually hook up with (but the same was true of pen and paper).

Layne

Re:suggestions ... (1)

rho (6063) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297858)

NWN also lets you get back in a game with your old D&D buddies no matter where they are. NWN 1 has such a low entry barrier these days nearly any laptop can handle it. Add Teamspeak and some good whiskey and you'll have a blast even if you're just playing some random non-DMed module.

It's also nice that your buddies won't be playing on their own and leveling up way beyond the rest of the party.

Re:suggestions ... (1)

TDyl (862130) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297182)

I would always recommend the first Neverwinter Nights [bioware.com] (which, if you need it, has a Linux port).
TDyl

Re:suggestions ... (3, Interesting)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297304)

Or will I have to buy the books and get a group of like-minded geeks together for old times sake?


I'm actually a bit curious about this aspect. I've recently moved, and unfortunately had to leave my gaming group behind. In the meantime, I've turned a few acres of my property into a nice pen and paper gaming area (Deck, grill, 2 room building for when it rains). It is great for bringing together the old gang for some planned weekends, but for most of them its at best a 3 hour drive. I'm looking for some more regular players rather than the 3x/year events we currently plan.

Slashdot seems as an appropriate place as any to ask, Has anyone come across a good bulletin board, or method of finding a new group of 'geeks'? Have any of you met with any success?

Re:suggestions ... (2, Informative)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297652)

The Wizards of the Coast forums are a good place to start. They have a section dedicated to Looking for Group. They also have links to some affiliated sites. I'm at work or I'd provide links. I'll reply back to this with some good ones when I get home.

Re:suggestions ... (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297822)

I'd appreciate it. I'll also go check out the forums. Thanks :)

Re:suggestions ... (2, Interesting)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 6 years ago | (#22298120)

If they have any in your area, attending a local gaming convention is probably the best way.

Usually over the course of a day/weekend/whatever you'll get to game with different handfuls of people at a time. Even if you decide the con scene isn't to your liking, probably you'll get to game with some people that you get along with and would like to play with again, and some people you don't. Talk to the people you do enjoy playing with and there you are.

Re:suggestions ... (1)

paganizer (566360) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297354)

The only way to get the fun of gaming that you got with 1st ed. AD&D or Classic D&D, is to play 1st ed. AD&D or Classic D&D. there really isn't a way for a computer game to come close. The only experience I've had similar is online gaming via lejendary.com , using the Lejendary Rules game system that Mr. Gygax has kindly supplied us.
Planescape: Torment will sort of hit you in a similar spot, also.

Note: if you treated the 2nd edition AD&D books as sourcebooks, they were OK to add to a 1st ed game. It also wasn't hard to transition to "Dangerous Dimensions", oops, I meant "Dangerous Journeys", or "Dark Conspiracy" if you were a LONG time player and weren't surprised at having Aliens or Gunfighters or Waffen SS show up mid-game.

Re:suggestions ... (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297408)

"I used to play D&D (and AD&D) a lot when I was in junior high"

Which is why I tagged it ... "momsbasement"

Re:suggestions ... (1)

stummies (868371) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297538)

If you don't mind single player, the Baldur's Gate series and the Icewind Dale series are both really decent. Good stories, interesting characters, big games that you can play at your leisure. At this point you wouldn't need much of a machine to run either of these, and I'm sure you could pick them up cheap.

If you're looking for multi-player, NWN 1 is the way to go, as everyone else has pointed out.

Re:suggestions ... (1)

SpuriousLogic (1183411) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297682)

Like others have said, Neverwinter Nights (1 or 2) can give you this. NWN2 has fairly steep hardware requirements for what it offers, but a easier to use toolset. BUT these use 3.0/3.5 rules. I've been playing D&D since the old "red box" days. 3.0/3.5, while better in defining the mechanics that 1 or 2 ever did, can be a real bear to run encounters at of higher levels, or large encounters. I'm awaiting the arrival of the 4th edition with some trepidation, but also eagerness. there are a lot of things that are jsut very cumbersome in the current version. If they can streamline D&D while keeping the feel, I'm all for it. If I want super exacting rules I will play a game of Star Fleet Battles http://www.starfleetgames.com/ [starfleetgames.com] . But when playing an RPG, I really want more easy to use rules that allow a story to be told more readily.

Re:suggestions ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22297684)

While not placed in a fantasy setting, Fallout 1 & 2 will definitely bring you back to the old Pen and Paper feeling. One of my all-time favorite RPG series of all time. Even up there with the old Apple II / DOS classics Ultima and Darklands.

Re:suggestions ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22297708)

The closest games I've played are:
Baldur's Gate (I and II, plus expansions)
Planescape Torment

They're all old games.

A multiplayer version of Neverwinter Nights has some potential (I haven't played NWN 2).

In recent games, I've seen nothing that's sufficiently D&D like. But I don't play many computer games these days (I've run out of time) . . .

Re:suggestions ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22297730)

Planescape: Torment

Simply awesome!

Re:suggestions ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22297786)

I'd definitely check out independent game sites first - the closer to pen & paper it is, the smaller a niche it's in. As an example, check out this Q&A regarding Age of Decadence: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/?p=1028 [rockpapershotgun.com]

Also, bear in mind that a big chunk of the beauty of pen and paper is that your imagination is the limit to the possibilities, while on the computer, the designer's BUDGET is the limit to the possibilities.

I feel like D&D was always kind of like a mix of mathblaster and poorly performed improv theatre. If playing the math is what you're trying to do, check out SRPGs. I've always played them on consoles, but I recommend Disgaea or Final Fantasy Tactics as games to go looking for clones of.

Civilization is also an excellent scratch for that math itch, especially Civ IV, since it shows you all of the adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing that it's doing to get to your final number.

People play computer games for different reasons than they play pen and paper games. Look at WHY you want to play games, and then look for the games that will most suit your needs and the medium you're using.

Re:suggestions ... (1)

vimh42 (981236) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297990)

Well, you've probably played them, and no doubt people will have made the same suggestion as I. Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate 2. Icewind Dale and Icewind Dale 2 are also pretty good. Oh and Planescape Torment. Neverwinter Nights (has the ability to have a DM and play Co-OP, make campaigns ect) was good but not as good as Baldur's Gate 1&2. The Temple of Elemental Evil wasn't bad either.

Neverwinter Nights 2 and more recently The Witcher are both decent games but fall into the category of games where graphics get in the way of the game. I don't mean to say that it's bad to have nice graphics but rather these games brought decently fast systems to their knee's. Computer Games tend to follow a one step forward, two steps back in terms of graphics quality. A game will use all sorts of cool stuff to make it look great, however in order to actually run the game you have to turn all the detail off so it looks graphically worse than the previous generation of games. I suppose that's a different topic though.

In other news... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22297080)

...Slashdot continues its efforts to appeal to the mainstream and less to geek culture.

Wow, just wow (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22297110)

this is why you geeks will never get laid. The closest you will come to pussy will be the tubby porn you download on you mom's hand-me-down computer.

Zonk, get a clue? (0)

Kirin Fenrir (1001780) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297118)

Tieflings (half-demons) are another example of this trend.

Tieflings are not half-anything, they are humans with a distant fiendish ancestor, showing only one or two traits of demonic heritage.

In 3.5 hybrid classes were rough to play; why would you want to play a Paladin (a weak fighter bolted to a weak cleric) when you could play one of the core four and do something well?


Are you -crazy-? Paladins are probably the most powerful class in DnD! Oft ridiculed for being the choice of people wanting to play "easymode", both RP and combat-wise.

I'm sorry, I could read no further. You claim to be a DnD vet in this beginning of this article, but obviously have no clue as to the intricacies of the game.

Re:Zonk, get a clue? (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297308)

Are you -crazy-? Paladins are probably the most powerful class in DnD! Oft ridiculed for being the choice of people wanting to play "easymode", both RP and combat-wise.

Uh, in what edition would that be? Because it's not 3.0 or 3.5.

Re:Zonk, get a clue? (1)

SpiritGod21 (884402) | more than 6 years ago | (#22298138)

v4.0: WoW edition.

Re:Zonk, get a clue? (1)

DM9290 (797337) | more than 6 years ago | (#22298168)

if the dm throws a different mix of enemies, then the fighter can shine, or the wizard or the cleric or the rogue or even a diviner.. its all up to the DM's mix.

anyone who hasn't figured that out, isn't paying much attention to the fact that certain challenges tend to favour certain kinds of solutions and not all classes as equal.

if you are faced with countless locks and traps then a rogue is going to seem very powerful. if you face undead constantly then clerics seem the best. if you are always stuck magic-dead zones obviously the wizard will appear useless.

if you face enemies which a paladins strengths are well suited to.. paladins will shine.

challenges which assault the party with many moderate to easy DC saving throw resistable attacks, fear and combined with numerous low damage physical attacks and a moderate level of easy to turn undead will make paladins seem extremely powerful.

its easy to see how the circumstances really affects who appears to be more powerful.

Re:Zonk, get a clue? (3, Insightful)

lord_dragonsfyre (89589) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297312)

Uh... no. Paladins are competent, with a few useful abilities and a lot of bad ones. You can make them good, but it takes a lot of effort to get there. Their spellcasting has a few gems, but is overall lackluster, and the only thing their turning attempts are good for is burning for Divine feats.

Clerics and Druids, hands down, are the "most powerful" core classes, with probably an edge to druids, because making a good one requires almost no effort.

Overall, it's a reasonably good review that is, in my view, overly optimistic about how 4th ed will turn out. He's definitely right about combats: "3.5 fights tend to be either bloodbaths or total routs, with little room in-between for contesting the outcome." is exactly how a lot of fights turn out, particularly when players discover the joys of Save-or-Die. Part of the problem with the "four encounters per day" balance idea was that the fourth was the only one that was actually challenging, because it's the only time the players would be getting low on resources.

Re:Zonk, get a clue? (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297402)

Is this you [theonion.com] ?

Re:Zonk, get a clue? (1)

godscent (22976) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297414)

Tieflings are not half-anything, they are humans with a distant fiendish ancestor, showing only one or two traits of demonic heritage.
Or to put more simply, half-demons.

Are you -crazy-? Paladins are probably the most powerful class in DnD! Oft ridiculed for being the choice of people wanting to play "easymode", both RP and combat-wise.
That's absurd. Paladins are fine, but they are far from the most powerful class in D&D. They are fighters without the useful feats, and instead with a few low level cleric spells, a magic horse, and a special attack they get to use a few times a day. On top of that, they should have at least 4 high stats.

Re:Zonk, get a clue? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22298228)

Tieflings are not half-anything, they are humans with a distant fiendish ancestor, showing only one or two traits of demonic heritage.

Or to put more simply, half-demons

Are you fucking retarded? You were explicitly told that they are not half-demon and had it explained to you what they actually were and they you had the nerve to scrunch your neanderthal brow and grunt, "err, so like half-demons then?" No, dip-shit. They are not like half-demons. In my long line of German and Irish ancestry there is one black woman about 200 years back. While that may make a black in the minds of some primitives using the "single drop" rule, it doesn't make me a mulatto child eligible for an NAACP scholarship. Do you understand the difference now, or shall I try to grunt it out a little more slowly and simply for you?

Re:Zonk, get a clue? (3, Insightful)

Yosho (135835) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297440)

Paladins are probably the most powerful class in DnD!

Wait, are we both talking about 3.5 D&D? If so, I think you're the only person I've ever heard say it's the most powerful class. The common opinion among everybody I've talked to is that paladin is one of the worst-designed classes in the PHB, and possibly the weakest, although some people will argue that monks are weaker.

No, seriously -- if you think paladins are that great, I'd be interested in hearing why. From what I can see, the class basically just stops growing after 5th level. Remove disease a few times per weak is pitiful compared to the cleric who can do it several times per day; their signature ability, smite evil, is usable on only a few attacks per day, and the bonus to damage is miniscule compared to how much high-level spells can do; and their spellcasting can't hold a candle to any of the full spellcasters. The only other thing they get is minor improvements to their mount; the mount is almost as useful as the party's fighter when you first get one, but later on they're nothing but an extra target on the battlefield.

If you want a holy warrior type character, paladin 4 / cleric 16 is objectively just a better build. You'll have a 16 BAB, which is still enough for four attacks, plus a much better will save and a better fort save due to the way multiclassing saves works, plus you'll be able to cast 8th level cleric spells. The only things you lose are a few hit points, a few uses of smite evil & remove disease, and a rather weak mount. Of course, spending a couple of your fourth level spell slots on Divine Power will bump your BAB up to 20 and give you effectively a d10 hit die, anyway, not to mention +6 to strength.

Heck, just ditch those paladin levels, and the only things you lose are a few class abilities that are easily emulated by other spells; in exchange you can turn undead better and get game-breaking 9th level spells.

Even compared to other melee classes, the paladin lacks the mobility & damage potential of a bow ranger, a TWF/UMD rogue, or a raging barbarian. Even the fighter is more versatile with all of his fights, but mind you, I'm not making the case that fighter is actually a good class, either.

Re:Zonk, get a clue? (1)

Yosho (135835) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297504)

Even the fighter is more versatile with all of his fights

Oops. Feats, not fights.

Re:Zonk, get a clue? (1)

Quill (238781) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297462)

Are you -crazy-? Paladins are probably the most powerful class in DnD! Oft ridiculed for being the choice of people wanting to play "easymode", both RP and combat-wise.
Druids are by far the most powerful class.

I am a druid. I have special abilities that are more powerful than your entire class! [giantitp.com]

And Clerics are far stronger than Paladins simply because they are full casters. Giving up a few points of BAB and some sub-par abilities to gain 9th-level spells? Yes, please.

The only thing that a Paladin might beat is a Fighter. And Fighters are *terrible*. Tome of Battle FTW!

Re:Zonk, get a clue? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22297656)

Are you -crazy-? Paladins are probably the most powerful class in DnD! Oft ridiculed for being the choice of people wanting to play "easymode", both RP and combat-wise.

I'm sorry, I could read no further. You claim to be a DnD vet in this beginning of this article, but obviously have no clue as to the intricacies of the game.
Not to disparage the parent post, but am I the only one here who can imagine this post, especially the last line, being read as the fanboy (the one who did the Go-bots skit) on Robot Chicken? Seriously, all we need is a "Steve, time for supper!" "Not yet ma, and I told you, my name is Kirin Fenrir now!" "*snort* Okay honey..." bit at the end...

Well actually... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22297764)

Are you -crazy-? Paladins are probably the most powerful class in DnD! Oft ridiculed for being the choice of people wanting to play "easymode", both RP and combat-wise


Uh... I hate to tell you this, but paladins *are* one of the weakest classes, statistically. While you're right that they're very easy mechanically to play, there's just no end-game benefit to them.

The druid and cleric are by far the best classes in the game, combining strong melee with decent to strong spellcasting. But let us examine the paladin in detail:

Full base attack bonus, great saves, large hit die. Sounds fantastic. Throw in some limited healing and smite evil, and it sounds pretty great. But, lets take it level by level.

For the first 4-5 levels, you're a below fighter, though above most casting classes, as martial classes are strong in this range. Sure, you have great saves and some limited healing, but needing to split your stats to have strong cha and wis too means that your con will be lower than the fighter's, so your healing just makes up for lower hp. Furthermore, at that level, adding your level to damage once a day isn't that great, as in DnD you are supposed to have 4 encounters per day. The fighter, meanwhile, is getting his way up to power attack, cleave, weapon focus, and weapon specialisation in this range. that's +4 to damage (if he power attacks with his 1 point of weapon focus) on *every attack*, which is what the paladin gets to add once. Sure, the paladin is slightly more accurate on that one hit, adding his cha to attack, but that just doesn't stack up.

Move on from there to the sweet spot, level 6-13. At this point, the casters start coming into their own. The clerics are getting their protections from evil, their searing lights, and all that jazz. The druids are getting into wild shape, turning into something that can beat you in a straight fight, while still having spellcasting on their side. The sorcerer is getting fireball. At this point, the fighter is probably hunting a prestige class, but is not yet feeling the hurt of the martial character. If he multiclasses well, he can keep par in power with the casters. Not so for the paladin. Sure, his smite is up to doing a decent amount of damage. Hey, he can even use it almost once per encounter. His healing is starting to get useful, but the cleric pretty much has that covered. More and more, he's hurting for feats as the fighter's build is nearing completion, and he still has just 3-4 feats to his name, leaving him to power attack with a greatsword, at best, for an average of maybe 15 damage or so (7 from the weapon, 4 from strength, 4 from a decent power attack), and probably 33 smiting (8 more from power attack, he's going to throw the cha in there, and another 10 from level), something that the wizard at this point can reliable get out of scorching ray, a second level spell. The fighter isn't doing much better, but at least with his huge number of feats, he's probably doing something cool. Leap attacks, maybe, which increases his power attack multiplier to x3, letting him do a lot more damage for the effort.

Then, you leave the sweet spot. The casters are so far beyond the melee characters that most of them feel useless, except occasionally the fighter, who may have found the right prestige classes to be exquisitely optimized into some sort of godless killing machine. Not so for the paladin, who would need to spare one of his precious few feats to multiclass, and even still, it'd kill his two big class features. His smite looks less and less relevant with each passing level as the monsters get exponentially tougher, gaining 10-20 hit points for each 1 extra damage he can do. That healing of his is starting to make him harder to kill than the fighter, but he can't back it up enough damage for it to ever really come up.

Over all, the paladin is crippled by having his special abilities have the per day usage issues of high-end spellcasting, but at a power level that puts it below or on par with at will class features like sneak attack. By making paladin smites an at-will power, they've done much to revitalise an otherwise crippled class, sharing a seat with the bard, shugenja and soulknife at the table of useless classes.

Which was a dire shame, because paladins are awesome.

Re:Zonk, get a clue? (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297862)

Yea, as a sibling post noted (and I agree with) Druids and Clerics rock the house in edition 3+, and even Fighters, with their obscene bonus feats, beat out Rangers and Paladins. Weapon specialization at freaking level 3? Fighters start running out of things to spend their feats on before Paladins even get started.

In edition 3, paladins get crap spells, and the special abilities don't make up for it. They're all "once a day" crap. What use is that? I can heal a handful of hit points once a day? I have one slightly-higher-damage-than-normal attack, once a day? Contrast that with a Cleric who can self-buff themselves to a higher level of combat in the early levels, and does a hell of a lot more healing as well. Pick the right spheres and you end up with crap like Stoneskin...as a priest.

I used to love the paladin class, but they really stripped out a lot of its coolness in 3rd edition. 4th Edition looks even worse; I can sympathize with wanting to simplify your classes, but I can't sympathize with blatant WoW pandering. Fricking Warlocks? A tank class? Jesus Christ.

What it needs (5, Insightful)

lord_dragonsfyre (89589) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297132)

Want D&D to run smoothly again?

1: The keywords here are "simple" and "straightforward". The current grapple rules are painful, many conditions make no sense (can a construct be nauseated? the answer may surprise you), and what exactly does polymorph do these days? You don't know. No one knows. It's been errata'd like eight times. If a rule takes longer than two or three sentences to explain, people have already stopped caring.

2: Fix stacking and inherited bonuses. The days of sixteen different kinds of bonus all adding up to push a character WAY off the random number generator have to end; at the same time, feats that provide an advantage so small you frequently forget about it also must end. Feats and abilities need to provide meaningful options without turning rolls into "no lose" situations.

3: Get rid of gold = power. The 3.5 conceit of assuming characters of level X would have Y gp worth of Magical Stuff ruined a lot of flavor and a lot of system. Let the GM handle the distribution of magic items, and let the PCs spend their gold the way it was intended: on ale and whores.

4: Fix the phrase "level appropriate ability" firmly in mind. At every level, every character should gain new abilities appropriate to that level. Every one. It's WAY too easy in 3.5 to fall off the level appropriate ability train for life.

5: Want to playtest? Recruit the twinkiest, most outrageous powergamers you can find. They're the ones that spot inane bullshit like Balor mining, chain-binding djinni, and the truly stupid amount of awesome that 3.5 clerics and druids bring to the table.

Since based on what I've heard so far, not one of these is actually happening (with the possible exception of #1), I am not optimistic.

Re:What it needs (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297512)

3: Get rid of gold = power. The 3.5 conceit of assuming characters of level X would have Y gp worth of Magical Stuff ruined a lot of flavor and a lot of system. Let the GM handle the distribution of magic items, and let the PCs spend their gold the way it was intended: on ale and whores.
I really can't help but think that mirroring RL isn't the greatest idea in the world. [/obligatory comment on geek lack of action]

5: Want to playtest? Recruit the twinkiest, most outrageous powergamers you can find. They're the ones that spot inane bullshit like Balor mining, chain-binding djinni, and the truly stupid amount of awesome that 3.5 clerics and druids bring to the table.
In general that's the best way of going about things. I seem to recall magic having quite a few of these sorts of problems as well that had to be corrected.

There's probably always going to be somebody that prefers this sort of complicated game to less complicated choices like computer games or LARP, but it's got to be meaningful details rather than an exercise in how many rules we can force players to learn or how many tomes a player has to schlep along to a game. The game is at enough of a disadvantage compared with other options without requiring the kind of study that D&D is associated with.

Magic, while being a completely different sort of game in basically every way possible managed to get that right. While it seemed to get it less right each iteration with more pointless or questionable mechanisms added each addition. It did manage to get things right in the sense that one can learn the basics pretty quickly and then wade further into thing as one gets comfortable with that. There's no reason to know much more than HP, mana, tapping, attack and defense right away. Things should be set up so that a new player can focus on a few basic mechanics early on until the player is somewhat immersed in the story.

But then again, I've never had the attention span for RPGs of any variety, nethack, zork, colossal caverns is as deep as my attention span will typically allow. I wish that things could have started out simply enough that I was at least making a decision based upon the game rather than upon my ability to keep up with the basics.

Re:What it needs (2, Informative)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297696)

"Since based on what I've heard so far, not one of these is actually happening"

Then you should pay better attention. When I was reading your post, I assumed you were making a list of what they were doing right, because based on what I've heard so far, they're doing all those things. Grapple cleaned up, stacking bonuses cleared up (by simplifying and clarifying item slots mostly), the effect of gold->magicitems->power weakened (again, mostly through magic item slots, but through other means too), level appropriate abilities up the wazoo (no more "I guess I'll take dodge as my 18th level feat and that's the most interesting thing I got this level")... okay, I don't know who they've got doing playtesting.

I'm very excited, because everything that was really pissing me off in 3.x is precisely the stuff they're fixing.

Re:What it needs (1)

lord_dragonsfyre (89589) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297962)

I really hope you're right. The item slot article I saw, though, was very disappointing. I think they removed something like two slots, but it's pretty clear the implicit assumption continues to be "want to compete at your level? You NEED the following shinies, or you lose and fail and die". I haven't seen any clear sign of moving towards clarity. Someone coming out and saying "alright, there is ONE bonus type, it does not stack, and that means no more +80 to bluff checks because you've got a Cloak of Swank, a pimped-out Marshal, a wand of glibness, and two bags of unicorn bits" would go a long way towards demonstrating it.

Similarly, they've stated that Tome of Battle (Book of Nine Swords) and Star Wars Saga Edition were testbeds for some 4th ed ideas, and that concerns me. Book of Nine Swords was a desperately needed boost to melee classes, but still suffered from a lot of design issues, like lackluster Strikes that were never worth giving up a full attack for; Saga Edition did skills about as well as I've ever seen D&D do them, but the talent trees were deeply underwhelming.

As for playtesting, from what I've read, they're pretty much only tracking class balance by damage output. This is pointless and stupid, since battlefield control and save-or-lose effects have a MUCH higher impact on the fight and are being completely glossed over.

I could be wrong. I hope I'm wrong. But after almost ten years of idiotic design decisions from Wizards, I'm far from optimistic.

Re:What it needs (2, Informative)

crashfrog (126007) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297834)

Since based on what I've heard so far, not one of these is actually happening

You must not be listening, then, since they're actually doing every single thing you mentioned in your list.

1) Grapple and other complicated rules are being totally revamped, though they haven't said how.

2) Static bonuses to stats are pretty much out - not from spells, not from magic items. That leads to...

3) Since magic items no longer provide static benefits to stats, you no longer have to have stat-improving magic items just to keep up with the "standard" power curve. No more Amulets of Natural Armor +2 or whatever. Gone. Good riddance. Characters should be heroes because they're heroic, not because they're weighed down with stat-improving gear. (On the other hand, some characters are heroes because of magic swords, or what have you, but the Weapon of Legacy mechanic is, in my games, how I plan to deal with that in 4th edition. Somehow.)

4) Every level, some choice to make - some feat or power or spell to choose, instead of 2 levels out of three simply recording a new BAB, saves, and HP.

5) I don't know the playtesters, but it's hard to imagine anybody but twinks wanting to work at WoTC in the first place, so I think they have that one covered.

So, have a little optimism. They're covering this stuff. Listen to their podcast or something.

Re:What it needs (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 6 years ago | (#22298206)

5) I don't know the playtesters, but it's hard to imagine anybody but twinks wanting to work at WoTC in the first place, so I think they have that one covered.

I don't know, man. I remember all the sharpest super-twinks I know declaring that in 3.0 druid was either the flat-out toughest or in the running for toughest class (depending on who you asked), and 3.5 made them tougher. The word on the street (which I believe but can't vouch for the truth of) was that in the internal games at WotC no one really wanted to play druids so they thought they needed to be better.

Re:What it needs is to drop that d20 (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22298240)

What they really need to do is get rid of that stupid 20 sided die of pure chaos. Go to something like 3d6 for anything that d20 would be used. I and several of my friends quit D&D because of the absurdity of a single random fight with an archlich which we spent 5 sessions building up to. We run up and everyone hits it and both the fighter and the ranger roll their threat range and do double damage, so we kill it in a single round. After all the planning on both our side and the DMs side it turns out to be nothing. So the DM laughs and says "So I see you have killed my doppelganger..." which everyone knew was a joke and we fight it again. This time the DM makes things a little tougher and then the stupid fighter can't hit for 4 random rounds in a row. The lich ends up killing the entire party almost on accident. Afterwards we all just gave up on any game that uses d20, it is just too hard to plan a good fight when every single thing is so purely unpredictable.

2000 (1)

etherlad (410990) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297146)

Minor correction - D&D 3e came out in 2000, not 1999. Thus it's been eight years since the last major revision, not nine.

I have thus far only ever been to one GenCon, and it was in 2000, and there was a big rush for the new edition. I remember it well. Scarred Lands was released to capitalize on this, and Exalted was postponed for another year because White Wolf didn't want to release their new fantasy game in direct competition with D&D.

Online Tools (1)

kingmundi (54911) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297190)


Many moons ago, I spent some time trying to write up some tools to generate characters in dungeons and dragons, to generate realistic sounding names. Shameless plug http://www.kirith.com/ [kirith.com]

I really thought back then that the online community would kind of take over. Have something like a wiki setup for role playing rules.

Rules Come & Go (1)

milsoRgen (1016505) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297276)

I've had experience with the various releases of D&D rule sets over the years. So I say if this one doesn't improve the game in any meaningful way for you, just play with you're favorite rule set or even modify your favorite edition. It is a game of imagination after all.

But on a slightly different note I have always found the core problem of the game, wasn't pacing or power curves or sweet spots. It was finding a competent DM. I grew up in a small dairy community on the Oregon Coast... So let's just say the pool of available and likable D&D players was quite small. And even smaller still were those willing to DM. I've often pondered why no one has made a software program that could DM once certain parameters were established. It seems AI in gaming has advanced to the point where this is at least feasible. Of course it wouldn't be anything as great as a competent human DM, but for those of us outside large urban centers it would of been a god send. Unfortunately for WoTC that is a chapter in my past that has long since been closed. I moved on to other endeavors, I'm just glad to have experiance the legendary D&D first hand as part of my adolescent life.

All that being said, Baldur's Gate 1, 2 & ToB was the pinnacle of electronic D&D experiance thus far. IMHO

Re:Rules Come & Go (2, Insightful)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297362)

I've had experience with the various releases of D&D rule sets over the years. So I say if this one doesn't improve the game in any meaningful way for you, just play with you're favorite rule set or even modify your favorite edition. It is a game of imagination after all.
Isn't the first "rule" in the 3.0 DMG that the rule books are just something for you to use as a starting point and to change them how you want to work in your game?

Re:Rules Come & Go (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297448)

I've had experience with the various releases of D&D rule sets over the years. So I say if this one doesn't improve the game in any meaningful way for you, just play with you're favorite rule set or even modify your favorite edition. It is a game of imagination after all.


This is completely true for home play, but if you're into "Living Campaigns" or other tournament/convention-based play, you're more or less stuck with the rules as written. If they bork up the game to the point that it's not fun for you anymore, you're kind of screwed.

I don't really have the time or energy to be a conventioning or even very regular gamer anymore, but there was a time.

I'll try to reserve my judgment for when the real 4E books are released, but I'm not optimistic.

Re:Rules Come & Go (2, Insightful)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297826)

I've often pondered why no one has made a software program that could DM once certain parameters were established. It seems AI in gaming has advanced to the point where this is at least feasible. Of course it wouldn't be anything as great as a competent human DM, but for those of us outside large urban centers it would of been a god send.
To DM *well,* it would have to pass the Turing test. The hard part of being a DM is breathing life into your NPCs and your worlds.

(Also, try out Planescape: Torment if you can find it.)

Just in Time for GenCon Registration (1)

Webcommando (755831) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297284)

Although off-topic, strangely appropriate this appears just as GenCon badge/housing registration opens. Today housing for GenCon openned up and as always....server crawled and good housing disappeared in seconds. Good thing my wife and I both were hitting the site at the same time and finally got someplace to stay! Can hardly wait for the fiasco that will be event registration.

On topic: Although I purchased the 3.5 books, I never could really warm up to them. My style of GM'ing was to paint a verbal picture and allow players to make broad, heroic statements for actions and results. I thought 3.0 and 3.5 added way too much overhead in movement, combat, and feats that took away from some of heroic flair.

So, I'm looking forward to taking V4 for a test drive this August at GenCon just to see if anything gets me excited again about the game! Based on early reading from fans, maybe not. However, I'll give it a chance.

Ouroboros (4, Interesting)

Aeonite (263338) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297296)

D&D --> Diku/CircleMUD --> Everquest --> World of Warcraft --> D&D

Spend our reward... (4, Funny)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297298)

Adventurer 1: I spend my reward on new spells and potions how about you?
Adventurer 2: I spend mine on ale and whores...So you know cure disease?

I don't care the version, you won't lose some of the best "non-battle conversation"

small correction (1)

Teflon_Jeff (1221290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297358)

The last update of the rules was released in 2000, not 1999. As for the review of the preview books, they give an interesting behind the scenes look at the process of development and why they're changing SOME of the things they're changing. But really, you should just wait until the game comes out and judge it in it's entirety. You may read about one change you don't like, and miss the 99 you would like, but weren't highly publicized.

What happened to the interview? (5, Insightful)

Otis2222222 (581406) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297360)

What happened to "Ask The Designers of D&D Fourth Edition [slashdot.org] " that was posted back in January? Are we ever going to see a follow-up to this? Did they not like all the questions? Guess I shouldn't hold my breath...

Re:What happened to the interview? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22297804)

These are the answers to that interview. In typical D&D fashion, you need to buy the books to find out the answers. : p

Only $40 dollars? (1)

SnapperJo (789775) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297426)

Actually that's not really that bad. I still have every single 1st edition AD&D book, including the reprints with different covers, so I'm a bit of a hardcore D&D nut. If your into the collection of this kind of thing, the price is actually fairly cheap. Even if you are far in the poverty level, and unless you have some MAJOR debt issues in which case you shouldn't be buying toys anyways, 20 bucks a pop is nothing these days. Even with the growing recession. Until recently I made a whopping 9 grand a year. Woo. I only worked 20 hours a week at minimum wage, and yes I had bills to pay. I'd still be able to afford to get these things without saving for them. Now unless I misunderstood, the main gripe is that the same info is going to be in the core books. So your just choosing between the 'collector's edition' and the 'regular' version. It's a bit strange that they're releasing just the 'collector's edition' before the regular version I'll admit. But look at the price for these rulebooks in the past. They're always around 20 bucks at stores, and online purchases are a recent option. Bah, ramblign now. Little distracted at the moment, but I just have problems seeing the price as a problem. It's pretty much a standard price, and not too expensive. Especially considering the other things that cost 20 bucks (eg movies) and how much value this has over them (to me at least). Oh, and having multiple copies of rulebooks is always good. Around here, I've yet to talk to people with a gaming group that each person has their own copy of everything.

Re:Only $40 dollars? (1)

darkwing_bmf (178021) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297814)

I think the complaint wasn't just that they were expensive, but that they were expensive for a "preview." You'll still need to buy the regular books later.

tl;dr (5, Insightful)

snarfies (115214) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297480)

"why would you want to play a Paladin (a weak fighter bolted to a weak cleric) when you could play one of the core four and do something well?"

Because you're ROLE-PLAYING. Aren't you? You aren't just rolling dice and putting the business end of a sword into randomly-generated monsters to acquire their gold and +2 swords (+4 vs. randomly-generated monsters), are you?

Re:tl;dr (4, Interesting)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297702)

But if you could (for example) build a character you would RP the exact same way you'd play your paladin as a fighter/cleric or something much, much tougher (and you could), why wouldn't you?

Honestly, there's power-gaming, and then there's just wanting to be a useful member of the team. Not everyone has the teenage fixation on being the toughest guy, but I think most people like to feel more like a contributing part of the group and less like the soldier with two broken legs whose comrades are slowly dragging back from enemy lines at great risk to themselves.

Roleplaying does not require sucking in combat. (3, Interesting)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297738)

Because you're ROLE-PLAYING. Aren't you? You aren't just rolling dice and putting the business end of a sword into randomly-generated monsters to acquire their gold and +2 swords (+4 vs. randomly-generated monsters), are you?
What exactly can you RP as a Paladin that you can't roleplay as a LG Cleric?
Why do some people think that you can only RP if you pick a sub-optimal character?

Re:tl;dr (1)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 6 years ago | (#22298010)

Well, yeah; but it'd be nice to be able to ROLE-PLAY a competant, faith-driven, warrior-priest that can actually... you know... get anything done within the framework of the rules. So, play a cleric and call yourself a paladin. Or, atlernately, fix the mechanic called "paladin" to actually reflect what the flavor-text claims it should be.

Standard WotC cash grab (5, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297530)

In short: they're must-haves for hardcore D&D fans.

I'll bet there isn't anything worth justifying the price of the new books in there if you look at it honestly.

Called "Races and Classes" and "Worlds and Monsters", the two titles cover everything from character creation to the new default world's pantheon.

They've done that dozens of times. Races and Classes was originally called Player's Manual back when I was a kid. The pantheon book was Deities and Demigods, or optionally Greyhawk. It's been done and done and done.

This is what WotC does. Take it out, polish it, change things just enough to be incompatible with the last version, and resell. Expensively. Look at Magic the Gathering for another example. Each expansion came out with something that would absolutely devastate the previous versions - to stay current you HAD to keep buying it. And for tournament play you weren't allowed to use older sets either. That's why they called MtG Cardboard Crack.

This is just the latest round of "buy this update we need another injection of cash" from WotC. I'll pass.

2.0 - 3.0 (1)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297670)

I only started playing D&D seriously in 2006, so I missed the whole conversion from 2.0 to 3.0, but I have to ask. How many of the complaints about 4.0 were also made about 3.0 between its announcement and release? (MMORPG references naturally aside)

Re:2.0 - 3.0 (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 6 years ago | (#22298116)

How many of the complaints about 4.0 were also made about 3.0 between its announcement and release? (MMORPG references naturally aside)
Basically all of them, including allegations that WotC was "pandering to videogamers" and "dumbing down the game"

And you know what? D&D 3.0 was better than 2nd edition, and D&D 3.5 is better than 3.0... (I wasnt there for the 1st-2nd edition shift)

I am definitely buying 4th edition, as I am happy about the changes proposed (many are similar to my houserules)

There is no core world (1)

Asmor (775910) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297748)

Points of Light is a design ethos, not a campaign setting.. All the proper names and histories mentioned in the book are like menu items for you to pick and choose. There are no maps, no geographies, no time lines. They're all just things to inspire you, detailed vaguely enough for you to run with or ignore as you desire.

D&D Rules vs Imagination (1)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297756)

I often think that D&D should have a basic character generation book, a world book, and a monster manual. No real rules...no dice. Just stuff for ideas and basic gauging of relative strength. We'd have D&D sessions at recess (yes...in the 6th grade) just walking around the athletic field. That being said, I can see how MMORPGs are going to affect a DM:

DM: You are running down the middle of the street. A team of wild black horses pulling a demonic carriage is heading right for you.

Player: I dive out of the way onto the sidewalk and draw my sword as they pass by!

DM: You can't clear the curb with a jump. Do you want to think of something else?

Player: I spin to the side as the horses dash past and hamstring the lead, hoping to take them all down.

DM: You can't "spin". Do you want to attack the carriage or not?

Player: I attack carriage.

DM: You hit for 10 points of damage. The carriage hits you for 8 points of damage. You have 5 hit points left. Attack again?

Player: Sure.

Re:D&D Rules vs Imagination (1)

Yosho (135835) | more than 6 years ago | (#22298178)

I often think that D&D should have a basic character generation book, a world book, and a monster manual. No real rules...no dice.

For better or worse, that's not what modern D&D is about. D&D 3.x is just as much a game of tactical combat as it is a game of roleplaying, and it's very important to have clear, concrete rules for governing that sort of thing. Granted, as things currently are, the rules aren't always clear or concrete, and sometimes the game swings heavily in the direction of either combat or roleplaying, but they're hoping to smooth out these problems in 4e. If you want a heavier emphasis on roleplaying than number crunching, you might check out White Wolf's games or GURPS. (at least, my impression of those systems is that they lean more heavily towards roleplaying, but I admit I'm not as intimately familiar with either of them as I am with D&D)

Based on the comments (2, Insightful)

TheJerg (1052952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297762)

This article needs a getoffmylawn tag. I know that this is hard for a lot of vets to understand but things change. The mentality of "they're just trying to make more money off of me" is accurate but that is the nature of business. If you want to turn a blind eye to the myriad flaws in the 3.X series feel free, but don't try to bring the rest of us down with you. This will probably be marked for trolling but the truth is the people who are complaining about 4.0 haven't played it yet and have only seen a sample of what it will have to offer and already are complaining. Change is often hard to accept, fortunately if they don't like it they still have their beloved 3.X(or AD&D even...). I just don't see the need to try to ruin it for the rest of us who actually are excited for/curious about it.

Maybe this has already been said (1)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297872)

Haven't read the comments, and maybe this has already been said, but:

Instead of Gnolls just being Orcs with Hyena masks on, they'll now apparently fight with pack tactics and cowardly tricks. Giving flavour to the opposition seems to be the basic idea: off-the-rack encounters will no longer feel so rote.

If you need specific instructions to tell you that one race might act/fight differently than another race, remind me not to game with you.

Heh, a different game, D&D by name only (4, Interesting)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297936)

Since 4.0 shares at most some words and concepts with cannonical AD&D, it should be considered just one of the many of AD&D-inspired RPGs.

Is it the best of the AD&D-inspired RPGs? I don't know, but I don't like what I've read so far. Besiders it will be hard to beat Hackmaster.

Seeing the price of the books, what I would recommend to a beginner is the following: Go to a used book store and buy a set of the excellent hardcover AD&D books by Gary Gygax. Why play immitations when you can play the real thing? I can buy them locally in excellent condition for $10 each. For the DMG, PH, MM1&2 and Unearthed Arcana you will pay $50, but you'll walk away with something substantial, historical and cannonical. You'll also learn about the real spirit of AD&D, which has since been emasculated by various marketeers who tried to cash in on the game (by targeting 11-year-olds). Also, the binding is built to last for decades, unlike the modern glue crap.

Many people are realizing the value of the AD&D, and several game cons are now hosting AD&D tables.

Re:Heh, a different game, D&D by name only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22298270)

Great comment. I played AD&D night and day in junior high and high school with my last game being ~1985 or so. I still thumb through some of the newer versions when I see them in stores but the just seem to lack something. Maybe imagination? We used to depend on a good DM to create the world around us, now it seems like that's gone with just endless die rolling to determing things that a competent DM... pardon me GM... could make up for his players.

Gamer: What's it like outside.

GM: [rolls dice, rolls dice, rolls dice, rolls dice, rolls dice, rolls dice, rolls dice, rolls dice] 23C, 72% humidity with 10 km hour winds from the north-northwest.

Cut to the chase, and give it to me straight (4, Funny)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297970)

Did they bring back weapon speed factors and "vs. armor type" modifiers? And are there crude b/w drawings of bare-chested female monsters?

Price - Try it before you buy it (2, Insightful)

BDZ (632292) | more than 6 years ago | (#22297984)

The price does sound pretty high for what sounds like basically a pair of ads for the upcoming new core books.

Will the contents of these two books be worth much once the core books are out and I pay good money for them as well? (If I do that is...The system sounds a lot like a CRPG. Don't get me wrong; I play and enjoy WoW...it's just not what I'm seeking in a table top game.)

Personally, I'm going to wait until the first scans hit usenet and check them thoroughly before laying down my pair of twenties.

Still For Powergamers... (1)

morari (1080535) | more than 6 years ago | (#22298068)

That much hasn't changed. To be fair however, that only counts as a flaw due to my personal preference. If I want hard skill levels, I'll just play an RPG on the computer. I like to do table top because of the drama involved in the characters and story. For that reason, I've always been a fan of Vampire: the Masquerade (and even Vampire: the Requiem nowadays). The character is more important than the character's stats.

Change for change's sake (1)

elchip (1233100) | more than 6 years ago | (#22298104)

Way too much of 4ed seems to be change for the sake of change, and little else. 3.5ed wasn't perfect, and could use some polishing; I like their idea of rolling related skills together and making skills either "trained" or "untrained" instead of putting points into them at every level. I also like that spellcasters won't run out of power after a few encounters. I like the fact that saving throws have a simple value like armor class, and you don't have to roll saves. I like the elimination of CRs. I like the elimination of critical hit confirmation rolls. Those are nice changes that streamline things without drastically overhauling the gameplay.

But why the needless changes? I liked bards as a base class. I liked gnomes (forgive me). Why bother changing the nature of Tieflings and Halflings? Why bother adding new base classes and, when the old ones were varied and useful? Why complicate things with the additions of "Power Sources," and replacing the long-standing magic schools with "Foci"? What's the point of these changes besides change for the sake of change?

And what's with all of the freaking WoW-like changes? Bizarre WoW-like "on hit" effects, talent trees, WoW-like racial feats... are they trying to market towards WoW kiddies? I doubt they're going to shell out tons of money for books and sit down, learn the rules and play with a pen and paper.

But maybe I'm just a curmudgeon.

Just like WoW? (1)

nordee (104555) | more than 6 years ago | (#22298108)

The Rogue, for example, is the classic Striker. He uses stealth and guile to cause spikes of high damage at opportune times. But that's not the only interpretation you can have of that role; the Warlock (another fourth edition core class) is also a Striker, but he relies on Damage over Time spells and arcane blasts to do his job...
...so...just like WoW?

3.75ed Books (2, Interesting)

James McP (3700) | more than 6 years ago | (#22298158)

For those curious, the Tome of Magic and the Tome of Battle (aka Book of Nine Swords aka Bo9S) and the Warlock from Complete Arcane, and the Dragon Shaman from PHBII were draft 4e rules that were modified for 3.5ed.

If you can get past the balance issues with those books and the rest of 3.5ed, you can see the basic mechanics and approach that 4e is moving towards. (For those who haven't seen them, the Tome of Magic classes tended to be weak while the Bo9S classes are quite potent, at least compared to their "core rules" 3.5 equivalents)

I'll say that many players love the heck out of the 4e-type classes; they are generally easier to play and tend to always have something useful to do. The warrior classes have some high-damage attacks and special moves that make up for their innate lack of spells. The "magic users" have a smaller list of mostly unlimited use powers that tend to be useful in many circumstances.

The downside is that the magic-using classes are constrained in many ways compared to the traditional wizard or cleric, and that drives some people nuts. The arguement tends to boil down to "warlocks/binders/shadowcasters have less than a dozen powers available compared to the hundreds of spells a caster can prepare." On the other hand, I've never seen someone playing a warlock freeze with indecision the way a mage/cleric player might when staring at a couple dozen prepared spells.

DMs are much more divided but they are also concerned with making those classes work with 3.x games, so there are other factors influencing their opinions. I don't like the ToM and Bo9S in comparison to 3.x but as sample mechanics I'm pleased with them, just so you know where I stand.
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