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Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, Latest News 350

Lord Aramil of Dreadwood writes "Blogger and Dragon magazine writer Jonathan Drain is tracking the latest developments on the new D&D edition. Highlights include: Thirty levels instead of twenty, no more XP costs for magic items creation, flexible talent trees replacing feats and prestige classes, a new racial bonuses system that obsoletes ECL, and an end to rubbish skills like Forgery and Use Rope. A quote from the blog: 'Unlike 3.5, all the changes this time around sound like they're definitely for the better... If nothing else, at least they have the opportunity to get rid of Mialee.'"
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Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, Latest News

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  • Re:Ok... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ryvar ( 122400 ) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @05:04AM (#20284527) Homepage
    I suppose somebody should explain it for the newbs who are passingly curious:

    Thirty levels instead of twenty basically means there's more headroom for higher-level adventuring before normal players have to worry about abtruse and convoluted 'epic character' rulesets/feats/whatever that often feel very non-canon.

    No more XP costs for magic items creation means that you no longer lose experience points (gained by running quests, killing monsters) whenever you create a magic item. This is a Really Good Thing(tm) because it would invariably mean that the one person in each group who got saddled with building a character capable of crafting specialized magic weapons for everyone got shafted good and hard when the time came to start whipping up custom +5 swords of Destroy All Life that cast Karsus Avatar three times a day (injoke, sorry).

    Feats were basically very generalized character bonus property snapons that you would add (on average) every three levels. This could be anything from improving your character's skill at the short sword (Weapon Focus: Short Sword), to them gaining the general ability to to double the duration of beneficial spells (although doing so made them harder to cast). Prestige classes were basically specialized variants of the normal basic classes (or occupations, examples of classes would be fighter, mage, thief, etc.) that had special properties: examples include the "Frenzied Berserker" spinoff of the Barbarian, the "Assassin" spinoff of the Rogue, and so forth. Canon prestige classes were *in general* slightly weaker than the base classes they were derived from, but if used very very carefully in moderate proportions could be game-breakingly powerful (Fighter/Bard/Red Dragon Disciple/Frenzied Berserker players will know exactly what I am talking about). Both of those systems apparently got folded in to class-specific development trees, which is very similar to how (surprise!) World of Warcraft handles this basic concept.

    Racial Bonus system shedding ECL: ECL stands for Effective Character Level. With so many different races/sub-races in D&D it was impossible to keep them all balanced, so certain 'uber' races like Aasimar, Tieflings, Drow, and Deep Gnomes were assigned Effective Character Levels. What this basically meant was that they got pushed back one to three levels on the experience tree so that at the point where a human character was level 5, a drow party member of theirs was likely to be 3. Given the degree to which levels are the beginning and end of a character in D&D (particularly spell-casting classes, double-particularly sorcerers) this could make things very un-fun, especially in the upper game where levels are few and far inbetween. Getting rid of this comes as a massive relief to me, as it's always struck me as the single least pleasant 3.x convention.

    The final bit is just cleaning up some of the more ridiculous skills out there which nobody uses.

    In general, all of this is *hugely* positive news for D&D fans. I hope to God clerics got toned back a bit as well, but that might be asking for too much.


  • by Ryvar ( 122400 ) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @05:16AM (#20284583) Homepage
    Speaking as a diehard gamer still smoldering over the entire 3.x debacle . . . No. All of these, especially the ECL garbage, were really good revisions.
  • Some useful links (Score:5, Informative)

    by blixel ( 158224 ) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @06:45AM (#20284851)
    Video 1 []
    Video 2 []
    Video 3 []
    Video 4 []
    Video 5 []

    There are more ... check the Related Videos on the right side of any video you look at.
  • Re:Half-assed fixes (Score:5, Informative)

    by Wellspring ( 111524 ) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @07:48AM (#20285107)

    I'm chuckling at people who think any change to simplify the system is a change for the worse. The Hackmaster crowd can always play Shadowrun if they want an evershifting catalog of contradictory rules and exceptions.

    Obviously, the proof is in the pudding, but for now what I'm hearing about D&D 4.0 is very positive. There are lots of rules like grappling that bear no relation to the other game rules and which grind the game to a halt when you try to use them. There are skills like Use Rope which are clearly inferior to other uses of your skill points, like Spot or Use Magic Device. Other skills and abilities quickly become obsolete: e.g. Climb, Heal and Jump (both are replaced by spells). Gear, especially flat +stats items, has become the end-all and be-all of advancement. And the endless prep work and bookkeeping, especially for the GM, is a waste of time and detracts from the fun of the game.

    Plus, a game needs a reboot from time to time. AD&D became bloated with endless supplements, kits and spells that eventually made play completely impenetrable. 3.5 is heading in the same direction. YOu can't stop that, but you can occassionally reboot, reproducing and refining the stuff that works and dumping or rewriting the stuff that doesn't.

    None of this is specific to newbies, either. Hard-core players would love to have a simplier but still thematically and tactically rich game, because then you can have five fights a night instead of three. Or your GM can afford to make the same three fights much more interesting, unique and challenging. Or you can free up some time for, G-d forbid, actually RP your character.

    There are tons of games out there with clunky rules if you want difficulty and tedium for its own sake. I'm cheering for D&D because while I love 3.5, I can see the game becoming much more fun.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 19, 2007 @07:59AM (#20285183)
    Except in this case, I think they're not tacking on extra levels to make godlike characters; instead, what was spread over twenty levels in 3.x is spread over thirty in 4. Meaning that the characters' skills are gained more gradually instead of in big lumps.
  • by davesag ( 140186 ) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @08:37AM (#20285337) Homepage
    I was into D&D in school, as were lots of us, but then in university I discovered RuneQuest, then the awesome Call of Cthulhu. Please someone turn that into an online MMORG. There there was Paranoia, Aftermath, that Toon one whose name escapes me for the moment, Villians and Vigilanties, Champions, Stormbringer, the one about being a muskateer. Then I found Steve Jackson games and still love a good game of Illuminati and Car Wars. My goodness I must be so damn old now! Ahh memories.
  • by Saracenus ( 1144705 ) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @09:41AM (#20285655)
    I am surprise someone from this list hasn't talked about the possible forking between the 3.0/3.5 Open Gaming License (OLG) and the proposed new 4e OGL. Unlike a new version of Linux, the new D&D rules do not have to be under the old OGL, they are in effect a completely new operating system for D&D. It has been confirmed there will be a version of the OGL/D20 license, but with some added restrictions: 1) Professional game companies will need to pay a license. 2) Fan/Non-Pro offerings will have to be through their site (unconfirmed). Here is a list of known stuff about the new edition on the ENWorld forums: [] has stirred some controversy already because of the Terms of Service. The most blatant is that anything you post their grants Wizard's of the Coast limited rights to republish your material and limits your ability to publish anything that uses their IP, e.g. Greyhawk, Planscape, Forgotten Realms, etc. So, what does this all mean? Well, if the use restrictions on the 4e OGL/D20 license are, well too restrictive (and kinda takes the O out of OGL) that will mean a fork in the D&D development path. Some publishers will want the latest and greatest and put up with it, others will not and use the 3e OGL which has no licensing fees and cannot be terminated. There are already some development forks in 3e, Green Ronin's True 20 and Mutants and Masterminds rules, Iron Heroes and Arcana Evolved from Malhavoc Press (Monte Cooke) which take the core mechanics in new and different directions. Anyway, my two coppers on the subject, Saracenus
  • by dcollins ( 135727 ) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @09:41AM (#20285663) Homepage
    Actually, you're more correct than you may realize. A major part of 4E is that it's tied into a "Digital Initiative", with Dragon & Dungeon magazines online-only, and character generation, mapping, and campaign utilities all online, for a monthly $10 subscription fee (think WOW).

    There's even an online gaming table -- the demo is a native Wiondows desktop application, and it does indeed rely on DirectX: e=1&pp=40 []

  • by kitsunewarlock ( 971818 ) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @03:40PM (#20287769) Journal
    D20 modern came out years before World of Warcraft and used a talent tree progression system. If you talking about that.

    If your talking about not using XP for item crafting...well a ton of games does that.

    And if your talking about...well I can't think of much else really that is comparable.

    Blizzard will always be ahead of them? You do know that Dungeons and Dragons came out 30 years before the release of World of Warcraft, right? WoW copied Dungeons and Dragons HP system! Blatant ripp-off! And levelling. And the idea of getting exp from killing things and completing quests. Not to mention the platnuim-gold-silver-copper exchange rate (minus the gold for WoW). The class system too. Talents are basically feats, to be honest (some have prerequisites...wait just like in DnD!). The only major difference between a talent and a feat is that feats use a core level based prerequsite, whereas feats have a prerequisite both level based AND based on the amount of feats gained prior (but not specific feats), much like the martial arts styles of various 3rd party books.

    The idea of rangers getting pets was done first in DnD. Oh, and the idea of dark elves. Yeah, they were in Tolkein, but they were short and midgety and more like dwarves even in those books to be honest. Sithulus is based around Dark Sun in more ways then I can count (especially in history/background of the whole magic war, the bugs just make it more obvious). Yeah, part of it is Dune and even Starship Trooper driven too...but Darksun is present if you know what your looking for.

    The concept of charging as warriors do so is really a DnD thing too (is really an overrun/bullrush in so many ways). A warlock's shadowball and evocations are based directly on the Richard Wulf 3rd party book (one of the first open liscence e-books, if not one of the first and most popular D20 system books released after the Player's Handbook came out). Weapon proficencies being dependant on class is a DnD innvoation. I'm not sure about skills though...

    The list goes on. And as for your precious blizzard--there's a good company. Sure they fired their entire d20 book writing staff, released a new set of books for 3.5 that were identical in every way except with art (naming things like "More..." and "The Expanded...") and the author's names suddenly changed! The list goes on.

    Blizzard is good at a lot of things. But not innovation. They are good at bringing together multiple genres of games. Perfecting genres even. They are great at details and have decent storylines...but in the end can you find me one game that's a "WoW clone" that's not an "everquest" clone? Didn't think so.

    Great at marketting too. The same people who made fun of me for playing EQ now play WoW more than I ever have.
  • Re:WOTC Death Throes (Score:5, Informative)

    by Macgrrl ( 762836 ) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @06:34PM (#20288661)

    You obviously never saw the 2nd Ed rules books and suppliments. Or the rules for systems such as Rolemaster or GURPs.

    D20 is actually quite straight forward rules wise. Many table top games rely on probability matricies, d20 simplified the matricies compared with the old THAC0 (to hit armor class zero) rules and the like.

I bet the human brain is a kludge. -- Marvin Minsky