D&D 4th Edition Announced at GenCon


Wizards of the Coast announced at GenCon today that it will release the 4th Edition of its category-leading Dungeons and Dragon roleplaying game in 2008, the first full new edition in eight years. The three core books will be released next summer on a monthly schedule: Player's Handbook in May, Monster Manual in June, and Dungeon Master's Guide in July.



I'm not buying any more books.

I'll admit, I'm intrigued by some of the proposed changes, but I still haven't gotten my money's worth out of the 3.0 -> 3.5 debacle. They suckered me on buying the PHB twice, but not again.

I think I'll trying to get a group into Castles & Crusades. It's the goodness of the streamlines combat resolution in 3.x without all the extra Feats, Skills, and BS-unbalanced "specialist" classes, just like the old Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.

Sometimes D&D (or C&C) just needs to be about a Fighter, Cleric, Thief and Mage heading out on an adventure together.

I don't want D&D classes with super-powers anymore. Time to kick it old school.

Oh, PS... another thing that bothers me about the 4th edition -- it seems like a scheme to get gamers to give them even more money through their "website subscription" service.

The great thing about Dragon (and Dungeon somewhat) as a paper magazine is that you buy it and have your back issues sitting around to peruse where ever (at the gaming table, in bed, on the pot). With a website, it becomes much harder to browse old content (unless they actually plan to offer PDF downloads, or they have an exceptionally good menu/index for old issues) and you need a computer to access it. Oncee your subscription expires, no more "back issues" to look at. You're just locked out of the website.

WotC has demonstrated that their whole business plan is about getting gamers to buy the same sh!t again and again (ie- Magic) and now they're bringing that business plan to D&D.

Maybe I'm just an old curmudgeon, but I don't like it.

Now, get off my lawn! :)

Some thoughts on this from the Gherkin perspective:

First - no big surprise. Wizards are doing what seems only natural to them from a business perspective.

Are they wrong to want to bring out a 4th edition? In principle, not at all. 3.5e isn't perfect by any means, and there is certainly room for improvement. It has its broken bits, like all its predecessors, though to be fair, there are fewer system flaws. Most of the problems with 3/3.5e are in some of the character classes to be found in the non-core supplements (check out the Warshaper in Complete Adventurer if you don't believe me), and these can easily be fixed or excluded. And the broken classes do seem to be very much in the minority, to my eye. Ones that slipped past the game balance police.

The comments about wanting to make turns run more smoothly are fair ones. The problem 3/3.5e tends to suffer from is the double-edged sword of having a fairly detailed, wargame-like, position-critical combat system. This tends to lead certain players into try to 'game the system' to squeeze every last possible drop of advantage from their character's actions rather than just decide their character's actions based on what seems intuitively natural. This can slow things down. (The suggestion that these players can simply be excluded is a naiive one when you're talking about people you've known for 20+ years).

So, something that addresses these issues might be welcome.

What won't be welcome is changes to the rules that make all my existing supplements obsolete. The fact that a 4th edition Monster Manual and 4th edition player handbook supplements are planned doesn't bode well.

What also won't be welcome are attempts to pander to the 'youth market' by trying to make the setting 'cooler'. For 'cooler' read 'more childish, cartoonish'. Now it's tempting to put this kind of sentiment down to grumpy-old-man syndrome, but I happen to think RPGs should be challenging pastimes that kids aspire to play and that give them an alternative set of cultural references to the heavily marketed clichés that fill their world.

Of course, what I want and what Wizards want are different things. Their evident liking for the material in the Book of Nine Swords indicates the way they see things going - spells for fighters to make them 'cooler'. (The BoNS actually contains a bunch of character classes that I looked at and found to be unbalanced in the context of the other 3/3.5e classes, and I decided that, were I to introduce them, I'd need to tone them down a little, but that's by-the-by).

Will 4th edition fly off the shelves? I don't believe so. Truth is that I believe 3/3.5e has sold primarily to greying gamers like myself. If 4th edition bends over to the shallow popular youth market in an unseemly fashion it won't appeal to the biggest pen'n'paper gaming demographic, i.e. Boomers and Generation X. Who are also the biggest young-gamer-coaching demographic as well.

I definitely won't be buying into 4th edition big-time. I've invested too heavily in 3/3.5e material already. The present edition has largely fixed the problems 1/2e had with higher-level play, which is why I bothered at all with the painful migration from those older systems.

So Wizards think I should throw my campaign away and start over? Sorry, but I value my campaign far more highly than a mere rules iteration. What remains to be fixed with 3/3.5e can be fixed in-house without major effort. I don't need another edition. I'll be interested to see what their new ideas are with respect to speeding up combat turns. The on-line playing environment looks interesting, and is probably the biggest hook for the new edition, but if it doesn't work for 3/3.5e I won't use it, and furthermore I predict that similar open-source facilities will be developed for 3/3.5e by the fanbase of that edition (if they haven't already).

So, did I say all this about 3rd edition before it came out? No, actually. At the time I was running a 1e campaign with fairly low level characters, and 1e works OK for that. I didn't say 'Oh, I bet 3e will be a load of rubbish'. I said 'I don't see the necessity for us to use 3e'. At the time, I didn't even think that campaign would last anyhow - it was started as a lark-about game.

As time wore on, the campaign started to take on more of a life of its own and it became evident that it was going to be a keeper. I started to see problems with higher-level 1e play that 3e would resolve, so we made the jump. I can't really see that we will run into similar difficulties in the foreseeable future. (Then again, that's why they call it the 'foreseeable' future, I suppose).

I won't say 'never', but at this point my feeling is that it will be a good while before Wizards persuade me to part with money for 4th edition, if at all. Maybe the online thing will hook me in after all. We'll see. (3d character modelling engines will only impress me if they are uber-flexible and uber-lifelike - I mean WAY better than what you see in World of Warcraft.)

As a final note, when they decided to end Paizo's license to produce 'Dragon' magazine a few months back, I made the prediction that Wizards would discontinue the OGL with any future iteration of the game. I note that they haven't mentioned the OGL in this article at all. I suspect this is the death knell for OGL and d20 licensing - I predict they will try to keep 4th edition entirely in-house.

LOL @ Waldo's malice.

I myself thought that 3.5 was a mistake. It was an obvious ploy to gear the system towards their collectible (and prepainted...wtf?!?) minis line. I couldn't sink my money into that. 3.0 works just fine if you take the time to learn what works for you and what you want to houserule.

From what I've heard, the subscriptions to Dungeon and Dragon magazines will be pdfs that you can keep sitting around on your hardrive or print out...so no worries there. I believe firmly in paper magazines though; hence it's more likely that Paizo will keep getting my money through the Pathfinder series. WotC can bite me. LOL.

As for some basic classes just going on a quest together...any rules system will let you do that. Just because there's a bunch of other rules material in the books about super powered classes doesn't mean you have to use it. Rather than switch to a new rules system all together, you might want to just tell your players, "this time around, you can only use one of these four classes...now make a character."

Still, I'm not sinking any money into a new edition of the rules. 3.0 works perfect for me and my groups needs...so maybe I'm an old curmudgeon too. :)

They could go all the way with the classes reinventing and license material from Monte's Arcana Evolved. I mean, I never liked the idea that the Paladin was a completely good, perfect being. I like the concept of the Oathsworn more, it allows room for character defects, obsession and general depth.

Ok, I'm still in shock... just heard the news.
I'll have to go read up everything that's available to make up an opinion, though.

I'm such a fanboy :)

P.S. at least one good thing has already come out of it: It woke GameGrene out of its coma (at least for now)- let the debates begin!

Similar no-backward-compatibility approaches have worked for Microsoft with Windows and XBox, so it is hard to blame the Wizos for following along. But I'm disappointed they didn't try something more original.

So, I've had the FR core book (for 3) sitting on my "to read" pile for a long while now. Should I just hold off and wait for the 4th Edition book? Are they going to be reprinting all the world cores again?

The answer is Yes. And, apparently, FR is replacing GH as the core setting. Also, it appears that the D&D Game Table application (online roleplaying) will be Windows only at launch. Of course!

As I read it, there will not be any "implied core setting" like GH is for 3rd. However, FR will be the first setting published for 4th edition with the book coming out next August.

On a different topic, I'm kinda worried that with the focus on stuff like Game Table, there's too much attention given to combat encounters and maps, and too few to roleplaying aspects. Although, I'm not sure how much RP stuff can be put in a new RULES edition, if any.

Any thoughts?

I agree that the core 3rd ed rules do carry a GH implied setting. But the odd thing is that beyond being implied, it isn't really supported (to my knowledge) to anything like the extent of support for, say FR or Eberron.

Certainly, they've re-developed some of the classic Greyhawk adventures (eg Castle Greyhawk, Temple of Elemental Evil and Demonweb Pits), and Deities and Demigods details the Greyhawk pantheon. But there seems to be a dearth of sourcebooks for 3rd ed GH. By contrast there are zillions of sourcebooks and supplements for FR and Eberron.

(I noticed this, of course, as I am running a GH campaign myself!)

I guess with an online gaming table the RP is down to the players, just as it is with a conventional one. Rules facilitate character development, which is fuel for the RP fire but it needs the oxygen of the player's imaginative input to keep it burning.

If players are all chatting on headsets, either using the gaming table software or skype, will this somehow kill the fragile magic of having a get-together around a physical table?

I think small, close-knit groups help with RP because players feel less self-conscious than in an MMO environment and this lets them get into their character in more depth without feeling silly. The online gaming table might tend to encourage more player traffic between adventuring groups, which is not a bad thing in some ways, but may lead to groups losing the 'cosy' feeling that real-world gaming enforces.

At a real-world (I hate the phrase as online is real-world too, but I can't think of a better description right now) gaming table, players are forced to cooperate and play together as a team because good gaming groups are hard to come by. It encourages people to be less selfish and immature. Conversely, in an online environment, where you can easily leave one group and go find another, there is less incentive to grow the heck up. Perhaps. Only a viewpoint.

Returning to topic - anyone want to bet on a name change?

Unless they change the name to Money & Minis it won't be an accurate representation. I really truly don't like the direction they started to take with 3.5 and are continuing now. I understand that (and these are their words, not mine) "that's how most people play the game anyways"; however, when the range of my bow is measured in squares rather than feet it's rather telling.

I'll give them one thing...they know how to market the hell out of that plastic junk.

I can't help noticing this comment from a reviewer's pad on the Secrets of D&D seminar, held Friday at GenCon:

Alignment will not be as it is now. Andy Collins doesn't want it as a mechancial element, Bill backs him, so Andy's getting his way.


Oh, sorry.

Many things about 4ed sound great in a vacuum: toning down the role of magic items; using a setting where civilization is surrounded by wilderness (been reading Cthulhu Dark Ages, have we, or did someone actually pop into a library?); diminishing the importance of prestige classes; and so on.

However, my esteemed colleague lurkinggherkin points out the serious flaw in the marketing here - we've been spending an awful lot of money on D&D rulebooks. How many of us will keep forking over our hard-earned dollars, euros, and krugerrands for more?

I've been trying to get away from D&D for years now. 3d Ed lured me back in, and Eberron, I confess, lured me back yet again. Despite the relative excellence of these systems and settings, I am now more determined than ever to step away from d20 for good.

DWHoward, with whom I've never had the privilege of debating "in person" (i.e., on Gamegrene), posted a remark in these forums some years ago about "defining a fantasy world from first principles." I am picking up the gauntlet. Don't get me wrong -- Tolkien, Norse Myth, and our other Fantasy-genre standbys have permanent addresses in my heart -- but I think it's time more of us greybeards* gave serious consideration to that which we've taken for granted for far too long. My current project is an attempt to re-define what Fantasy means to me; I think the time is right, and I encourage others to do the same.

Finally, I would like to put in a plug for my system of choice, now in a stable fourth edition (all of you posting here, I believe, know what it is)...as well as giving a Texas-volume shout out to the revolutionary ideas being tested by our own Gilgamesh. Live free or die, my friends.

*gherkin, you wound me, sir: "Mr. [Gherkin], dear Mr. [Gherkin] / I'm only thirty-six, I still have my virility / And I can romp through Cupid's grove with great agility / But life is more than sexual combustibility"

I'm all in favor of redefining fantasy, but I do it through my setting. I generally ignore 70% of the flavor text and such in any given rule book and only keep what I can bend to my own design. Personally, I find that implied settings get in the way of my own creative vision. For me, like many others, my resistance to 4ed is monetary. I don't actually *need* new rules as the old ones work just fine (for me).

The catalyst for my effort to redefine my own personal definition of "fantasy" came from reading Moorcock's (yes, here I go with the Moorcock again) essays Epic Pooh and Starship Stormtroopers.

Still, count me in for any discussion that takes place around designing a breath of fresh air.

Epic Pooh:

Starship Stormtroopers:

The more I read of 4th ed. the less I like it, not that I can think of how else they could have crawled out of the 3.0 to 3.5 to Minis vector. The Windows-only offering was a real kick to the crotch though.

I'd love to contribute to a real alternative ... but after I get some schedule relief. I haven't even posted to 60BWC yet. *sigh*

Scott -

Still reading your links. Moorcock's literary analysis is fascinating.

I do not suggest a change of rules (though, as noted, I passive-aggressively loathe class-based systems of any kind), so much as a change of mode. Tolkien's archetypes have left such an indelible mark on all Fantasy gaming and most Fantasy writing that I have begun to want to take a wrecking-ball to the whole castle. The Little People are less relevant to us than they once were, though many of us still delight in tolkienesque elves and faeries. Elves, orcs, knights, wizards, thieves, barbarians.

A great body of myth awaits relatively untapped, and far more to the point, so does a very modern sense of dislocation, anxiety, and terror.

Like you, I resist 4ed in part because of the monetary factor; but I also resist it for the "stock fantasy" factor. D&D is, at long last, still D&D, still an uneasy mishmash of Tolkien's "deplorable cultus" (his words, not mine) with Leiber's moody urbanism, Moorcock's planar existentialism, and any moderately interesting mythological beastie thrown in for good measure - with a sly, and very occasional, nod to Lovecraft.

Well: enough knights and dragons for me. These archetypes are powerful, but they have begun to become unconsciously self-parodying. The more I think on the matter, the more I think DWHoward was absolutely right, and the irony is that he was arguing against what I suggest. I think the entire slate needs to be wiped clean. The Eddas and Romances are all very well, but we've mined them excessively; and as DWHoward pointed out, a castle makes little to no sense in a world where a great many soldiers and dangerous beasts have the power of flight.

In the meantime, Neal Stephenson, Philip Pullman, and others have begun to stretch the boundaries of the "high Fantasy" mode. I don't begrudge anyone who still wants to brave the charms of La Belle Dame Sans Merci, face down the hordes of Sauron, or stymie the machinations of Arioch. I, personally, wish to pick up a different thread in the tapestry of our myths and legends.

I understand the hesitation to use someone else's setting, since I (like you) almost always design my own. That said:

  • Skyrealms of Jorune
  • Empire of the Petal Throne
  • Shadowrun
  • The Star Wars EU
  • Firefly

...and the list goes on. Our desire for myth has not flagged, but some of the same old cycles seem, at least to me, to have run their course.

When it comes to rules, I've historically preferred skills-based systems and probably always will.

I can't - or more honestly, won't - get more specific about what I mean by reinventing Fantasy until I see who else answers Aeon's call. Relliot and I seem, at first blush, to have much in common. So we will see.

Much of the direction I've been going in the last few years with the campaigns I've run in my campaign setting has been inspired by real life events. What we do today will be the myth of the future, so I've hinged some plot lines etc. on that theory.

I've alway sort of "got my hate on" when it comes to elves and orcs and all that goes along with it. My setting started out in that vein, but that was almost 20 years ago. I've pushed forward in the settings timeline in order to start running more "human" campaigns. Not just in a race sense, but in a philosophical/sociological sense. Gone are the days of castles and dungeons...replacing them instead are interactions and relationships that influence and drive forward the settings collective mythos.

Wow...physical boundaries are a bitch. I suddenly have the urge to knock off work early and share pints and ideas at the pub with the rest of Gamegrene.

(on an only semi-related note...who stumbled across Alpha Omega while watching the videos on www.ethanhaaswasright.com back when we all thought it had to do with Cloverfield? Talk about reinventing the wheel...we'll have to read it to know for sure, but it seems that we're not the only ones that are tired of getting jam in our peanut butter and so have opted for a totally different sandwich all together)

I'm a bit sad to see that the Gamegrene crowd has succumbed to the internet habit of taking stands (although highly articulate and thought out stands) with little to no information to base it on.

While I'm still leery of what the new edition will bring, I have:
1) spent a couple of days gathering all the tidbits I can.
2) accepted the fact that not all the details are out yet and that I'll have to wait some more for a complete picture of the new edition.

These steps led me to my current stand that while I like some of what I see, I'm waiting to make judgment and can't say if I will buy the 4ed books or not.

and now, to some gripes:
What also won't be welcome are attempts to pander to the 'youth market' by trying to make the setting 'cooler'. For 'cooler' read 'more childish, cartoonish'.
Where did you get that? what in the quotes or images you've seen made you say it's childish?
So Wizards think I should throw my campaign away and start over?
This stems from their research that stated that the vast majorities of campaigns lasted for 6 to 9 months. while this is patently untrue for the people on this forum, their statement makes sense if you consider that evidence. (BTW, I have yet to play a campaign for over a year- but that's just me)

I suspect this is the death knell for OGL and d20 licensing - I predict they will try to keep 4th edition entirely in-house.
This is simply not true. The OGL is going forward, but apparently somewhat changed.

I myself thought that 3.5 was a mistake. It was an obvious ploy to gear the system towards their collectible (and prepainted...wtf?!?) minis line.
While I agree that some of 3.5 was really too much towards the minis game, I think (not sure) that 4th will back off a bit from that. Second, 3.5 also did some real good rules-wise, as far as I'm concerned. Third, I absolutely LOVE the fact that the minis are prepainted, as I have neither the time, inclination or skill to paint minis myself. I'm not so happy about the randomness, though.

heh... it's good to be right, eh?

OK, a few last notes:
1) If you're heavily invested (books and campaign material -wise) in 3rd Ed., feel free to skip updating for this edition. That, however, should not prevent WotC from improving (from their perspective, at least) the game for other gamers (new ones, rich ones, and those who haven't ran the same campaign for 18 years) :)
2) The Vancian spellcasting system is mostly gone (what does "mostly" mean... I don't know yet). that sounds like a good thing.
3) they're working on making it a better game in the hiest (now including epic) and lowest levels.
4) The "Reinventing Fantasy" stuff sounds enormously intriguing... I really want to see what you're up to.
5) shameless (and useless) plug: I've started publishing a gaming podcast... but, it's in Hebrew, so tough. :)

Great to see everyone here!

Hey zip! There ain't nuthin like a new edition to get the old timers to come out and take a stand, eh? LOL.

I respect where you're coming from on your rebuttals. You make good points, as always. As for your last notes at the bottom...all good things in my mind. Just not enough to reinvest in all the same stuff over again. I guess I'm just more interested to see what others are doing outside the WotC/WoD ghetto these days.

I did read in one article or interview where Slaviseck came right out and said that the new edition just wouldn't be compatible enough (due to race and class overhauls) to bother converting your old campaign to the new rules...and that his advice was to just start a new one. It's this disposable attitude that makes me cringe from these guys these days. With each edition they move more and more away from what we (or at least *I*) think of as a "campaign". I've crossed my current world and campaigns through four different rules systems (only 2 of them being editions of D&D) and it has never once occured to me to "just start over".

What it comes down to, I suppose, is that this product simply isn't being marketed to *me*. There's a whole different demographic of gamer out there that wants this or they wouldn't be doing it. One could go so far as to say that they probably don't *want* me buying it if I'm happy with what I already have. To some extent I guess this makes me a cranky old man that feels shafted by something that's been a part of his life forever. Looking at it from a different perspective though; I (and others like me) must sound like the ranchers did when the settlers started putting up fences, or like those same ranchers when the first horseless carriage boomed and clanked and steamed past them on the road in town.

Come to think of it, all my analogies point to me being a conservative old crank. Cool! Mission accomplished! My grandpa would be proud if he could see this...he said it would happen one day, that I'd turn out just like him.

Now...who's up for that pint? I got the horses hitched and ready.

a pint? I'll be right over, just wait a sec while those young'uns invent teleporters :)

Heya, zip!

I am trying - very slowly - to learn Hebrew, but it's not so easy for a middle-aged gentile (the right-to-left thing in particular is kicking my butt). When I master enough Hebrew to recognize more than the three or four words I've learned from squinting at ancient texts, I will be happy to give your podcast a listen. To be sure, I could stand to learn a thing or two.

As for being right, well, I'd rather be happy. Some of my friends think I am in love with my own opinion... *sob* so misunderstood...

More seriously, I am happy to see a thing that will cut down on the disputes (I hope). Every time I went after alignment, some people seemed to think I was attacking D&D. That was depressing. The Eberron setting's take on the matter encouraged me greatly (as a player; I've stopped GMing d20 for many months now). I still think Eberron is a thumping good setting, and I notice that several of my geezer friends are extremely excited about 4ed. I can see why; on the other hand, this is Gamegrene, and we (as a general rule) are sick of the typical. I wish WotC/Hasbro well, but in some ways it seems as though these designers are just starting to catch up with the old-timers.

Now...who's up for that pint? I got the horses hitched and ready.

As a recovering alcoholic and retired drug-head, I must respectfully decline. However, when zip's tesseractor is polished and fully hamster-tested (can't have any repetitions of King's "The Jaunt"), I will match you mug for mug, my coffee against your excellent British lager/ale/beer-smoothie.

I am a fair horseman, but my vision is as bad as Woodrow Call's; with me leading, we may well slam into a tree despite my sobriety. And no trotting, if'n you don't mind - I can't rightly see the sense in jouncing all over the place like a boar in a peach orchard (I have no idea what the heck that means, but it strikes me kinda funny).

Good luck with the Hebrew, man.
עברית שפה קשה

Can you read that (assuming you have Hebrew fonts)?

As you know (I think you do, anyway), I also really like Eberron. Maybe I'll get back to GMing there some day...although I fear what a move to 4th Ed. will cause to all the premade stuff I've got.

You might need more than one hamster...I'm a Canuck too. LOL.

(wait...that sounded suggestive. At least I didn't say gerbil...)

Have the font, can't read it...yet. I will wail for help if I get stuck.

I would like to say that I won't invest in it, but I said that about 3rd edition. I have manage to not spend a single dollar on D&D outside the 3.0 core books.

I do believe that 3e was a huge improvement over the 2nd edition, which I saw largely as a clean up of 1st. Not enough of an improvement to get a good review from me, but I will state that 3.0 sucked much less.

If when I play 4.0, I see a similar reduction of suckatude, I will probably buy PHB and maybe DMG, but only if the improvement is evident through play. Anecdotal and theoretical improvement won't cut it.

One of the huge differences between D&D and every other game is that D&D/WotC/Hasbro is run by Business Degrees for the singular purpose of making money. Most other games are produced by gamers who are willing to sacrifice some bottom line for quality product and consistancy.

The most moronic part of this is that if 4.0 is largely denied/boycotted, 5.0 will be released and heralded as a return to 3.x rules hoping again to sucker us in.

All that aside, the 3.0 "adventure box" was, by far, the best beginner product I've ever seen and if 4.0 has a similar product, it might be worth the investment to teach our kids and their friends about RPGs befoer moving them to a real game, be it Gurps, Hero, Runequest or any of the many other products out there.

In case anyone is wondering I deleted the tangential thread that discussed a separate project, as it was no longer relevant. So the missing comments are intentional. Just FYI.

First, isn't this early and wild speculation?
The most moronic part of this is that if 4.0 is largely denied/boycotted, 5.0 will be released and heralded as a return to 3.x rules hoping again to sucker us in.

Second, I remember that one of the other players in my RP group, who works as an instructor (read: GM) in a kids' D&D class, had a negative opinion about that product. I'll post it here when I have the details.

Edit: Guy (my buddy) says the built-in adventures have no internal logic, with a enemy wizard essentially locked in the final room in a dungeon, an orc lair stashed behind a gelatinous cube and a rescue mission that ends in finding the body of the victim stashed in a barrel for no apparent reason.

As usual I am late to the party, but what the heck . . .

I find the idea of 4E vaguely interesting. But I am not invested in 3.x, my last experience was with AD&D 1e in the early to mid nineties.

But as Cocytus pointd out, physical boundaries are a b!tch. My 4+ yr old TFT game has only met about 20 times, because half the players travel 4 hrs to get there. So the virtual tabletop idea sort of appeals to me - especially if I can use the maps and minis and roll 3d6 with the die roller, then I'll gladly pay up to run my TFT game online, if WOTC makes it work well. And if my old DM wants to run a game of 4E online, I may just have to learn the new system enough to play. I do not see me being willing to learn a new (likely large) ruleset well enough to run a game. Too time consuming for a tired old man like me.

On the topic of new myths, in particular Firefly, I got a copy of "Serenity" as a bribe from a buddy to run a game. The rules are lite enough that I think I've picked them up enough to give it a go - so within the next month the subset of our group who are local will experiment with new rules, and try exploring a new mythology- the firefly verse.

Finally, once that horse-drawn teleporter is up and running, count me in for a pint or two with the greatly gregarious gang gamegreen.

>> "With each edition they move more and more away from what we (or at least *I*) think of as a "campaign". I've crossed my current world and campaigns through four different rules systems"

Hells, yeah, baby! My campaign has been running since 1988. It's a mishmash of 1st, 2nd, and d20 mechanics, plus my homebrew stuff... but it's been the same world, characters, and timeline for almost twenty years. When I hear about "campaigns" lasting 6-9 months, I can't help but chuckle. Dude, that's not a campaign, that's a couple of adventures.

Sure, to each his own and all that. But, seriously. Six months? heh heh heh!

I've heard from several people that the 4th Ed looks "cartoony" and designed for the "video-game mentality" (i.e., more sooper-powerz). Can anyone point to an article that actually gives examples with this impression, or are these people just assuming? I'm just curious.

I think alot of that impression comes from interview statements that they want to "raise the cool factor" or some such thing. Likely most of it is based on assumption. I'm sure 4e won't be awful...the question each individual purchaser has to ask themselves (as was the case with 3.5e) is "do *I NEED* this new rules expansion/revision?"

My answer is unequivocably "no".


Know how you feel. Sensing all this would happen when i bought 3rd edition books (and there was MANY of them!) I refused to budge on the 3.5 debacle. It caused a bit of disruption with my current fellow players who have all semi-converted to 3.5 but we struggle through. Hence, once 4th edition comes out i am determined to get the player handbook as early as possible and once I have studdied it thoroughly will decide on how to proceed......

You gotta love WizardsOFthe Coast!! :-P

Well, I'm late, but I can't help but say something, being all opinionated and loud like I am.

First: my thoughts on 3.5. I'm actually pretty new at this (I've been gaming for about 4-5 years, now), so I guess I can bring something of a fresh perspective. I'll agree that a big part of 3.5 was the marketing of the minis. I've recently finished downloading all the 3rd ed dragon mag issues and have been mining through them to delete all the adds and possibly organize them so that they're usable. When 3.5 came out, I can't tell you how many times I deleted mini adds for their line, with a big picture of the minis, and the subscript (in deep red) "Easier." It seems easy to see that Wizards is about business, with gaming as a close second. I wouldn't blame this on WotC, though. We all know Hasbro serves the devil (I collect toys, and I like toys that move, and Hasbro toys don't move; therefore, they suck), so that probably explains a lot of the crap that comes out. Wizards is under a tremendous amount of pressure from Hasbro because out of all their branches, they bring in the least money. Perhaps if we bombed Hasbro we could save wizards and they'd join us in our quest.

Back to the point. I actually really like the minis, because I just can't spend money on the really nice ones and paint them. I devote so much time to my characters and campaigns that it's ridiculous enough as it is. If I were to paint minis...there would be nothing left. I agree with zip that the randomness sucks, though. I really hate the minis game and what's it's done to getting cool minis by choice. Arrgh! I just want that ONE mini because it looks like my character, but nooo, I have to shell out 15 bucks for a small hunk of plastic because it's "rare". *series of cusswords edited for those who don't want to read them* On that note, does anyone know of a website that makes plastic minis like these that you can custom order, like by sending in your characters description. That'd be so cool!

Now, the rules. I actually like 3.5 rules much more than 3. They cleaned up the ranger, who is possible the coolest class there, as well as the paladin and a few other things. They basically took the good stuff from 3 and added to it, while getting rid of most of the crap. I say most of because the Sorcerer still sucks, as does the wizard and the cleric (what the heck is up with those stupid rules for getting new spells in your spellbook - 100 g for one stupid page! oh, yes, we need a special quill, which apparently breaks after every page because wizards don't know how to hold it right!). And the magic system is really stupid. But it's an improvement, and I like most of the supplements, so I won't whine about what I don't like too loudly.

Now, here comes 4th edition. When I first heard about it, I reacted like most of you have. Something kinda like delirium and tremors with a dash of faintness. But I've heard more about it, and now I have a middle position. Perks - no alignment! Yay! Cocytus, will you dance with me on the grave of stupid rules? The magic system's getting revamped, too. That had to be the most idiotic system I've ever seen (keep in mind I haven't seen incredibly much). Slots, when you can cast spells because of internal power? Tell me where this makes sense? Also, monsters are getting more character - they will no longer be a collection of stats. Goblins will be sneaky bastards, gnolls pack animals, and orcs crazy berserkers. That I really like - adds flavor to each encounter and lessens the GM burden somewhat. Also, character and campaign creation (as far as rules) will be faster. Can't tell you how many DMs are crying tears of joy at that news.

Cons-certain favorities are gone forever. No gnomes, no sorcerers. I love sorcerers! Gnomes are pretty cool, too, but sorcerers! Isn't that, like, one of the main themes of fantasy, the idea of magic in the blood? Or have I just read the wrong books? But the biggest con is this - anime. I actually have a pdf of the Book of Nine Swords, but have yet to touch it out of fear of disappointment (not to mention there's a lot cooler stuff to look at first). However, we've all heard it. The idea behind it is to make things more like anime. Well, when it comes to anime, there's 3 groups - those who love and swear by it, those who get the torches and pitchforks at its very mention, and those who bear through all the silliness and ridiculousness to get at the gem that's in a few of the shows (this can only be done in small doses - to do more will damage your psyche forever). I personally am dreading anime style combat. The whole thing about anime is that the combat doesn't make sense. Characters that can't fly can just jump so high that they'll still bring down the giant bad guy (which doesn't make sense by itself). Only a few animes, like Rurouni Kenshin and Gundam Wing, have even attempted at realism in the realm of combat, but even they can't resist the inexorable push toward it at times.

Basically, my gripe here comes down to this: When I roleplay, it's not to make myself king of all creation. It's to explore interesting ideas, problems, issues, etc., through a relatively safe venue, that we all know will have no untoward negative consequences (excepting in a few cases, such as rape, which I will never do). I make characters not to be gods, but to be human, to have human problems, and to tell a story. Anime style gaming tells the story, but the human part is all too easy to miss. I'm afraid if we all play super heroes, we'll all be Supermans, without a single Batman. Anotherwords, we'll get all the cool stuff with lame drawbacks like being weak to a green rock. There will be no humanity, no complex and tense exploration of the themes of justice and mercy, and peace and violence. There will be no CHARACTER, the most important thing in any story. And there will be no tense situations, because, after all, nothing can kill me but a green rock.

That's my worry.

Perhaps I'm just being a fanboy, but I'm looking forward to 4E. I do have a bone to pick with a couple of your comments here.

As for the absence of certain favorites, they're not really going away. Gnomes are being taken out of the Player's Handbook as a race, but they are remaining in the Monster Manual, with the rules option to use them as a player character race. Gnomes are cool, yeah, and they're still fully accessible, but you'll have to hunt a little more to find them.

The sorcerer problem is a bit different, but I still don't see it being much of a problem, as the sorcerer has pretty much been absolved into the wizard and warlock classes. In 3.5, there are two main distinctions between wizards and sorcerers. The first is the spontaneous/prepared casting thing, which has pretty much been eliminated with the new approach to magic. From what I've read, they've set up magical abilities so that there are different recharge rates for each individual ability/spell. Some of them will be only usable once per day, but others are usuable once per encounter, once per X number of rounds, and others reset based on very specific circumstances (One example given was that of a monster with a cold attack that hurts creatures within the radius of the attack, and freezes the ground in that area, making movement difficult. In order to use this ability again, the monster has to go and "suck up" the cold it previously expended. Cool, eh?). One of the oft-stated goals of the new wizard class is that a wizard should never have to pull out a crossbow for his attack because he has run out of spells for the day. Instead, they (and we!) want wizards doing wizardy things every round, and fighters doing fightery things, and rogues doing roguish things, and you get the idea.

The other, more important difference is one of flavor. In 3.5, the wizard has gained his magical ability through study, whereas the sorcerer has an innate talent for magic. Flavor is one of those things about role-playing that is entirely arbitrary, and that calls more upon the players in the game than the rules themselves. Yes, rules mechanics should support and promote flavor, but the more important factor is whether the players support the flavor. I'm sure that the wizard class in 4E isn't so locked in as to completely prevent you playing a sorcerer-type character using the wizard rules. In fact, one of the stated goals of 4E is to make different characters more different from each other by both increasing race divirsity (being an elf or a dwarf means a lot more mechanically, now) and by providing more options within a given class. The new warlock class itself has shown incredible change and divirsity. The basic 3.5 premise was that the warlock was a descendant of demons, or that he had made pacts with these demons for power, while the new one allows a choice of pacts/ancenstry of demons, fey, dragons, and abstract concepts such as the stars. As I recall, one of the major theories of "where sorcerers came from" was that they descended from dragons, which fits right into this warlock class.

As for the anime-style combat, you're reading a little too much into it. The "anime combat" label that has been slapped on Book of Nine Swords is a bit misleading, and one that really threw me until I actually looked through it. With the ever-increasing globalization of our world, and the increasing popularity of Japanese culture out here in the West, the fantasy genre is being defined by much broader terms. The Matrix movies and games like Final Fantasy are classic examples of how Eastern and Western fantasy concepts are being blurred. Heck, there's already an martial-artist inspired monk class in DnD! Book of Nine Swords was deliberatly designed to encourage this mixing.

The real experiment of Book of Nine Swords was that it was the testbed for giving fighting classes more options in combat in 4E. The BoNS presents three new classes, which are, functionally, a paladin redesign, a fighter redesign, and a "gith" (fighter/magic user) class. They all allow you to mix and match tactical manuevers from different "disciplines." Disciplines range from things like "Desert Wind," which focuses on movement tactics, to things like "White Raven," which focuses on fighting "in concert with [your] allies," and giving them specifc bonuses.

One of the things that has always pushed me away from the fighting classes in 3.5 is the lack of options. I get bored using the same attack every turn, and occasionally using Power Attack for variety. One of the main reasons I'm looking forward to 4E is the increase of options, both in customization and combat.

As for your final gripe, we all know that the balance of role-playing and roll-playing is something that varies with every gaming group. The amount of personality of your characters will ultimately depend on your group dynamic, and not on the rules mechanics. I enjoy DnD, and although it certainly doesn't go out of it's way to promote the telling of a good story, it doesn't inhibit it either. Many of my very favorite characters have been inspired by the goofy set of rules that is DnD. Having rules mechanics that don't push for or against hardcore role-playing can be a good thing, as it opens the game up to a wider audience.

I know I may sound like a DnD fanboy, and I probably quailify as such, but I have some faith in WotC. I know and accept that being a corporate company has messed with a lot of things that we as consumers would rather not have messed with, but after listening to the DnD podcast (like I said, fanboy), and hearing how excited the two hosts (who both work in DnD R&D at WotC) are about "fixing" Dnd and creating a good game for people to enjoy, I have faith that they will produce a good game. I feel this way because the people that are creating 4E were chosen to do that because they love DnD, and they want to make a good game.

The more I explore the indie RPG scence, the more I come to believe that every person in this world would enjoy and pursue role-playing if they found the right game for them and approached it without the "wow, this is so nerdy" social stigma.

Maybe DnD will warp into a game that doesn't exactly suit me, and if so, there are always other games out there. I would rather be optimistic and chance being let down than be excessively critical and miss out on something I could enjoy. When it comes right down to it,
it really doesn't matter. If WotC produces a game that people enjoy, let them enjoy it, regardless of how many sacred cows they kick or longtime fans they disappoint. There's always older editions that can be played, if you prefer them, or entirely different games out there just waiting to be enjoyed. There's a whole wide world of RPGs out there, and if WotC falls on its face with 4E, then that's their problem.

Well said, Lorthyne. You've got some strong points, and are far more knowledgable concerning the subject than I am. I especially liked what you said last. Heck, if I hate 4th, I can just play 3.5 until I get sick of dnd. I'm just a little worried, that's all. Even though it's not my favorite game, it was my first, so I got the nostalgia and all, you know. I wanna see it succeed. Of course, my definition of a success and someone else's are entirely different so...we'll see what happens.

I'd actually forgotten to mention a pro in my last post, and that concerns one of my big pet peeves in 3.5. It seems in 3.5 at higher levels at least, that all the cool stuff you can do comes because you found a magic staff, a magic sword, or some other magic item. I hate this! I've always wanted the PCs to be able to do cool stuff because they could, not because of some item they found. To explain, I'll revert to the coolest superhero of all - Batman. I know this seems a strange position to take, but bear with me. Batman's a frigging genius. Yeah, he's got all kinds of gadgets, which is cool, but he made everyone of those. Also, his gadgets won't solve the crime for him. They just can't. When it comes down to it, each and everyone of them can and will fail at some point. They just can't replace good detective work and forensic brilliance. They help a lot, but they don't replace. That's the thing about dnd. The magic items get so ridiculous to the point that they just replace instead of helping. I really, really, really hate that. A character should succeed because he's got skills, not because he has a magic item. So, apparently, 4th will be much more about skills, which makes me happy.

As for the sorcerer, well, we'll see. I just love the concept, and now I'm feeling it die. Just pisses me off, you know?

Ok, about anime. There's a big difference between Eastern and anime. I generally like good anime. I love eastern culture. There's a huge difference between the two. For one thing, a lot of anime tries to represent western culture and people. Also, a lot of it is for kids. Every anime has a very specific group that they're being marketed to. So which group is the dnd anime going to? Are we gonna get Fruits Basket (the name says it all), or maybe Rurouni Kenshin? Or perhaps angsty Gundam Wing? Or maybe we'll get Naruto, cute and sometimes interesting but ultimately annoying and stupid? So what's it gonna be? Is it gonna be eastern or anime, because there's a huge difference, just like you can't use Hollywood to tell everything about American culture (not all of us are homicidal sex addicts). So I'm curious about the vagueness here. I understand trying to integrate different stuff here, but how much before it loses what it started with? That's my worry. How much anime? How much eastern? What's changing here? Besides, we've already seen attempts to easternize (forgive the word) dnd, and some have worked but others really sucked. I liked Oriental Adventures, but the Samurai class in complete warrior sucks balls. Not to mention, it completely ignores thousands of years of japanese history that says most samurai only fought with one sword. And that brings up another concern - here's a bunch of western guys trying to bring in eastern culture. Some attempts have worked, according to my western eyes, but others really, really sucked. Which will it be this time?

So, I'm curious, but not yet optimistic.

The amount of eastern or anime flavor will, ultimately, come down to the play group.

Also, remember that this whole "anime" thing is now Book of Nine Swords that we're talking about, not 4E. BoNS was an experiment to see if letting fighter classes do more than Power Attack would break the system, and it did so under a martial artist guise, because that was the only way it would make sense from a 3.5 perspective.

The fact that "monk" was an official 3.5 class didn't neccessarily turn all of DnD into a glorified anime. Neither will the fact that a vaguely Asian-themed book was a testbed for the future edition. Whether or not DnD becomes "easternized," "anime," or neither will depend on the individual play group.