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Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition Launches 159

Posted by timothy
from the when-it-must-be-pencils-and-dice dept.
darkwing_bmf writes "Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition rulebooks are now available. There's a review up at EuroGamer. Unfortunately, the online tools portion, D&D Insider, isn't ready yet."
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Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition Launches

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  • by jpatters (883) on Friday June 06, 2008 @02:59PM (#23686535)
    New alignment system: Lawful Good, Good, Unaligned, Evil, Chaotic Evil.

    um, no.

    I would have respected the choice to get rid of alignment, but this is a boneheaded move. The problem with alignment (with bad role players anyway) is that it reinforces trite stereotypes. This just gives you fewer trite stereotypes to choose from.
  • Re:Rulebook? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by h4rm0ny (722443) on Friday June 06, 2008 @03:15PM (#23686775) Journal

    The new rules are very much more elegant. They play quickly in all sorts of areas, from actual combat to monster customization and NPC creation. Character classes are very well balanced with each other and the "sweet spot" that you got in the mid-levels where you were tough enough to survive with good tactics but not so powerful the game became broken... well the game plays well at all levels now. Production values are also very high and I don't think when you read the books and grok the rules, you can really disagree with any of this. There are many well-thought out refinements to the system.

    However, the game, imo, seriously suffers on the role-playing side. Non-combat skills are all but gone, character abilities are designed solely for their tactical interest in combat with little thought to justifying them in the game or whether they make the remotest sense and playing with table-top miniatures is all but compulsory now. There are also serious concerns being voiced about whether the classes are now too balanced for their own good. If you can be a wizard firing off endless Magic Missiles (they're at will now), or a ranger firing off endless arrows and both have similar range and damage, you ask yourself whether everything has become a little meaningless through nothing being better than anything else.

    It's a difficult one that will only be resolved through trying it out. There's much good stuff in the new game, but there's a serious worry that it's lost it's sole as an actual role-playing game. We'll have to see.

    Selling like Charm Person scrolls on a Saturday night, though.
  • Re:Not a review (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PMuse (320639) on Friday June 06, 2008 @03:19PM (#23686831)

    So in summary, there are...

          1. New books!
          2. New art!
          3. Online tools!
        4. New prices!

    There, fixed that for you.
    Whether you plan to buy these books or not, remember to patronize your local independent gaming store. End of Plug.
  • Re:Rulebook? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by darkwing_bmf (178021) on Friday June 06, 2008 @03:30PM (#23687019)
    However, the game, imo, seriously suffers on the role-playing side. Non-combat skills are all but gone, character abilities are designed solely for their tactical interest in combat with little thought to justifying them in the game or whether they make the remotest sense and playing with table-top miniatures is all but compulsory now.

    There still are a hand full of non-combat skills, such as diplomacy and knowledge. But I think the general feeling is the "fluff rules" for non-combat weren't really needed. Do you really need rules to say how long it takes to make a non-magical weapon or how much money you could make playing an instrument in a medium sized village for a given skill roll? Or could you just work it out with the DM and agree on something reasonable for the type of campaign and setting you're in? The later option seems quicker (no need to look it up in a rulebook), less distracting for the other players and truer to the concept of role-playing. Resolving combat is where rules provide the most bang for the buck.

  • Re:Not a review (Score:4, Insightful)

    by h4rm0ny (722443) on Friday June 06, 2008 @03:33PM (#23687071) Journal

    My pre-play evaluation of 4e is that the rules are improved muchly in terms of game-play and ease of banging out encounters. There are a lot of nice ideas in it such as Minion rules to make High Level vs. Mooks a viable encounter again. Production values are fantastic. But the role-playing side seems to have been gutted both by a lack of non-combat rules and by character and monster abilities that make no sense at all except for the metagame reason of interesting combat tactics. The latter problem undermines immersion in the setting more than the designers realised, imo. But I wont say more here as I've already posted more detailed thoughts below.
  • by The Insane One (25793) on Friday June 06, 2008 @03:54PM (#23687345)
    As amazing as it sounds, our gaming group, who has been meeting for about 20 years now, still use the AD&D 2.0 edition with the Skills & Powers expansion. Some of the same customization without the lethality and long battles of RoleMaster. Since we all have extensive libraries of these older 2nd edition books, the odds are not good that we'll migrate to YAEODD (Yet Another Edition Of Dungeons & Dragons).

    I remember the WotC Slashdot questions regarding the release of the 4th edition. One of the questions was why we should bother to upgrade our libraries since D&D edition 5 is probably just around the corner? The answer was, and I'll paraphrase since I'm getting old, "Because it's just better." Great logic. I read that as "We need more money."

    Of course, a lot of our group play World of Warcraft between games and from all indications, 4th edition is tabletop WoW.
  • Re:Rulebook? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by h4rm0ny (722443) on Friday June 06, 2008 @04:07PM (#23687535) Journal

    We don't need rules for how much you can earn playing an instrument in a village of population X, there's no argument there. But not only have almost all non-combat skills been removed (incl. the generic catchalls you could use such as Profession), but most abilities aren't even defined except in the context of combat. Fey Pact warlocks can teleport after downing a foe. Can they teleport outside of combat? Under what circumstances? Do they carry round pockets full of bunnies so they can kill them if they ever need to teleport? We don't know, we're never told and there are numerous examples of the world just stopping at the edge of combat. Many players enjoy being able to say that they are a world class card player or whatever. The feeling you get from reading the books is very much that it's all about combat. The emphasis is bad.
  • Re:Not a review (Score:4, Insightful)

    by vux984 (928602) on Friday June 06, 2008 @04:13PM (#23687595)
    Fighters now have "tanking" abilities that "force" the monster to attack them...What the hell is that about? Didn't everyone and their mother used to role play that? Instead of being a simple framework, D&D is more like a complete game.

    Why should the monster do that? It should attack whoever it wants to attack. And the smarter it is the more intelligent its selection and tactics should be.

    The whole MMO inspired 'all the monsters wail on the tank, while the rest of the group focuses on one target at a time and burns it down' is the most absurd thing going.
  • Re:Not a review (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@MOSCOWgmail.com minus city> on Friday June 06, 2008 @04:15PM (#23687631) Journal
    Yea I agree...Mind you, one of the main jobs of the warrior was always TO tank, but you were supposed to haggle out how you were going to get the monsters attention, and role play it, not just use a special ability.
  • by El Gigante de Justic (994299) on Friday June 06, 2008 @05:04PM (#23688247)
    I don't look at the cleric only because it can heal, but the reality is that in most 3.0-3.5 campaigns, the Cleric likely spends 50% or more of his spells on various forms of healing (either HP or ability damage/drain) because players are loath to use their healing potions outside of combat, even if they barely ever use them in combat because it provokes AoO.
          The Cleric PC in the campaign I'm running even has the Touch of Healing feat (can basically heal PCs up to half HP for free) and still probably spends half or more of his spells on healing. In almost any campaign I've been in, the decision to rest is usually made because the Cleric is out of healing magic, or the wizard is >90% empty.
  • by El Gigante de Justic (994299) on Friday June 06, 2008 @05:13PM (#23688367)
    True, but a first level character really no longer as to worry every kobold or dire rat killing them in one hit (especially the minion types), or at least, being able to take off 75% of your HP in one hit since you only started with 6. The extra HP are a plus without adding the complication of a system like SDC from the Palladium systems, although that is a good system as well.

    The main things I noticed book keeping wise are as follows:
      1) Effects are no longer a number of rounds, its either a) until end of next turn, b) until you save at the end of your turn or c) until end of encounter, up to 5 minutes, which are essentially the same thing.
      2) You'll no longer waste 30 minutes as the spellcasters pick their new spells for the day. True wizards still pick their daily powers, but that should go quickly.
      3) Thanks to minions, you have to track HP for less monsters at a time.

    I think the effect tracking will be the most immediate increase in game speed. I just ran a 3.5 encounter last night with the following effects:
    1) Players cast Haste and several invisibilities before combat started, as well as several buffing spells with durations in rounds.
    2) BBEG had several defensive spells with duration in rounds.
    3) Other monsters had an ability that caused slow, which would tempoarily negate haste for characters afflicted by it for a random number of rounds
    4) BBEG was also a mind flayer, so there were mind blasts used at various times which caused stun for random number of rounds to each target.

          Now, if the combat is quick, this usually isn't a problem; but this fight went for 10-13 rounds, so various effects started wearing off at various times, and with 6 PCs and 3 monsters, and people using delay actions, its really easy to lose track of which round you're actually in and what round and when in each round a given effect ends.
  • by pluther (647209) <plutherNO@SPAMusa.net> on Friday June 06, 2008 @06:30PM (#23689133) Homepage
    Something about the new edition's been bothering me for a while, and I think I finally figured out what it was.

    I've only looked briefly at the rules, so maybe I'm wrong in some of this.

    The alignment system isn't as "broken" as it looks. The original frankly wasn't that great, and the new one isn't so very different. It looks silly at first, but only if you're used to the old one, which has been there since 1st edition. Neither one was a hard and fast stricture on how you can role-play your character, despite some people trying to make it that.

    The new races actually look kind of cool. And all classes having "powers" which are about the same. For instance, some have pointed out that there's now no functional difference between a ranger firing his bow every round and a wizard firing off a magic missile every round. OK, but there's still a big difference in flavor. Although I'm going to miss them each having their own separate advantages, disadvantages, and different defenses for each.

    Out of combat skills have been scaled way back, which is kind of a shame. In 3.5, you could give more information, or make the NPCs a little friendlier based on knowledge or gather information or diplomacy checks, letting a character be a diplomat or master of social situations even if the player wasn't. In 4th ed, it seems like things like this rely purely on the players skill at convincing the DM. Which eliminates all those characters whose builds were focused on their ability to resolve encounters through other than violent means.

    The biggest problem, though, is the online component. Maybe if I was playing regularly again I could justify it. But I'm between groups now and will probably be that way for a while. Normally, I'd be getting Dragon magazine during times like these, but they canceled that. But it's not just extra content it looks like. Significant parts of the rules - most of the classes, powers, monsters, etc. - will be online only. Having to pay an extra $15/month to make the core rulebooks complete makes me want to not buy the core rulebooks rather than make me want to pay extra for the online content.
  • by Seraphim_72 (622457) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @11:11AM (#23693855)

    Any seasoned optimizer will tell you that diplomacy builds are a joke
    And any 'seasoned' Role Player would tell you "Ish" If you want to build a Magic the Gathering (of money) deck go right ahead, just don't call in an RPG.
  • Re:Not a review (Score:3, Insightful)

    by menace3society (768451) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @11:39AM (#23694005)
    Your parent poster should have said, "Support your local establishment that provides friendly, efficient, and knowledgeable service."

    "Locally-owned" does not always mean "good." Sometimes it does, but more often than not it doesn't, and that's why chains succeed. You might not think much of McDonald's, but there's a reason people went there instead of diners and hamburger stands: McD's has always had high standards for customer service and cleanliness.

    The same is true of bookstores. I remember the last time I went into an independent new book store (as opposed to used-book stores, which are always independent). They had no inventory system to speak of, and the girl behind the counter, who couldn't have been older than 16, didn't know where anything was or whether they had anything I was looking for. The shelves weren't kept in any order I could recognize, and most of the sections were mislabeled.

    No thanks, I'd rather go to Borders or BN.

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