Quickly summarizing many other websites, who are themselves summarizing the Q&A and “press sheets” Wizards of the Coast is putting out, 4th Edition is coming. The new PHB will come out next May, MM in June, DMG in July.
Wizards of the Coast has redone their D&D website to coincide with this change. Interestingly, if you go in through the Settings (hit the plus) and “Eberron” or “Forgotten Realms”, those pages still have the old layout and links to the old material.
I got sucked into way too much browsing last night and found that many sites are repeating the same stuff… which is probably what’s in the information packet.
The two articles Wizards put out, Design & Development: Race and Design & Development: Class make it sound like this will be a pretty big jump without “backward compatibility”– it’ll be its own thing.
A grab bag of what interests me so far:
- Built for 30 levels instead of twenty. They acknowledge that the old game had a small sweet spot (about levels 4-14 in their estimation) and they’re trying to expand that so play is fun at all levels.
- All characters have at will, per encounter, and per day powers. It sounds like Mages will get “at will” effects similar to reserve feats– so they don’t have to drag out a crossbow when they run out of spells… they’ll throw a “mage bolt” (or whatever) that works like a crossbow but fits their concept.
- Skill lists will be slimmed, with the less useful stuff taken out and the remainder shifted to emphasize what you can do with the skill.
- Magic items are getting pushed down in importance: it won’t take feats to make them, they won’t sell as easily, and they won’t be as essential to “keeping up” with other characters in your class.
- The races presented in the PHB will shift, which means that some of the races our group never uses (gnome, half-orc) might get replaced with ones that we will.
- Races will set you apart at throughout. In the final version of 4th Edition, most of your racial traits come into play right out of the gate at 1st level—dwarven resilience, elven evasion, a half-elf’s inspiring presence, and so on. As you go up levels, you can take racial feats to make those abilities even more exciting and gain new capabilities tied to your race. You can also take race-specific powers built into your class, which accomplish a lot of what racial substitution levels used to do: a dwarf fighter with the friend of earth power can do something that other 10th-level fighters just can’t do.
- The new book covers have pretty artwork.
A more complete roundup of the discussion is over at Jonathon Drain’s d20 source. Inquest magazine has a short article that hits the high points of the new edition, with a slightly different emphasis.
The Fourth Edition FAQ post is pretty handy too.
Mike Mearl wrote on his GenCon blog about D&D Insider, etc.:
Playing D&D Online: There’s a natural reaction to see this as similar to Warcraft and other MMOs, but I think that’s a mistake. A better analogy might be online poker. Imagine you had a Wednesday night poker game. If that game broke up for whatever reason, online poker is something you might turn to for your poker fix. Or, maybe you simply can’t find players. The really exciting thing to me is that it lets you game with friends you’ve met at conventions or via online forums. If someone talks about their cool campaign on the message boards, you can now play in that cool game without flying across the world.
More about D&D Insider.
Rodney Thompson talks about playtesting a 4e character, DMing, etc.
http://dnd4.com/ is gathering links and discussions and reposting the presentation videos.