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Role Playing (Games)

Ask the Designers of D&D Fourth Edition 482

This past August, big news dropped in the tabletop gaming community: 2008 would see the release of a fourth edition of Dungeons and Dragons. Since then the official D&D Insider site, and communities like the excellent ENWorld, have been doing their best to keep us up to date on the ins and outs of the newest way to dungeon-delve. With the release just five months away, we've been given a chance to put some questions to the team developing the game. One question per post, if you would, and we'll make sure to pass the best questions on to the designers. Don't forget to ask about the online version of the D&D tools as well! We'll get their answers back to you as soon as we get them, so fire away.
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Ask the Designers of D&D Fourth Edition

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  • New spells? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 07, 2008 @01:24PM (#21943570)
    Will this be the edition that finally sees the new "Escape Parents Basement" spell?
    • I'd really like to see a better spell system, which allows much more flexibility, within certain rules.

      I mean, the current magic system in most table-top RPGs is basically a set of pre-set actions: "lightning ball, 30' radius", "light candle without taking match from pocket". Might as well have a DM's story telling system that has options like "tell your players they've entered a "big room'" "tell your player to stop bitchslapping the orc".

      What we really need is a system more like "you have 30 mana points"
      • by mr_mischief ( 456295 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @05:55PM (#21947150) Journal
        It's been done. It's just not in the games you're familiar with, apparently.

        A magic system for Fudge which works much the way you describe [panix.com]
        the system in Ars Magica [wikipedia.org] is quite similar

        Here are some discussions about magic systems:

        a discussion of different systems [darkshire.net]
        another discussion, led off by Ron Edwards of the Sorcerer RPG [sorcerer-rpg.com]

        Speaking of Sorcerer [sorcerer-rpg.com], its magic is something else entirely. It's a largely outcome-based game rather than specifically action-based, and the magic system in it is quite a neat play on that.

        GURPS, Rifts, and D&D pretty much follow the mystical grimoire approach. Ars Magica, White Wolf's Storyteller Series (Vampire, Mage, Werewolf, Wraith, Changeling, Hunters, etc), and some others take the combined skills approach. Still others have wholly different approaches. Here's a pretty good explanation of the theory of magic in Earthdawn [wakemen.com] which explains different ways magic can be used in that game, complete with disadvantages of some of them.

        The Forge [indie-rpgs.com] is very interesting reading material for anyone who's considered writing their own RPG. There's some advanced RPG jargon there so I'd suggest starting with the site glossary. It's not a site for arguing the merits or faults of different systems you've played although those might be used as support in discussing the design of new games.

        Personally, I've played games with set spells, spell research to make new spells (as some versions of D&D let you do with the right GM). I've played ones that require a combination of skills (from two to five (five!) skills for every casting. Some require each spell being taken as a character advantage in an advantage/disadvantage slot balanced game. I've played on in which the game world has special words that are foreign to the players/characters that must be learned throughout the campaign which represent factors of a spell (speaking "large" + "fire" + "ball" + "at" + character's secret magic name results in that) and learning the words as an outsider is how to become a better mage. It becomes the whole point of some adventures.

        I've even play tested one unpublished game in which the only magic was a link between two symbols dawn during a ritual trance. However, the link was so strong that whatever you did to one would happen to the other. You could talk into one, and someone in possession of the other could carry on a conversation with you. You could throw one safely in your fireplace while the other is inside an enemy's barrel of oil. You could lay one on the ground and step on it, and be transported to the other. However, if anyone unfriendly took over your other symbol, they could use it in reverse until one of the two was destroyed. If I ever give this game a name and publish a book, I hope you'll rush out to buy it. ;-)

        So yes, there can be quite different magic systems in games. Many of them could be used in D&D, or you could try the other games.
      • by An ominous Cow art ( 320322 ) * on Monday January 07, 2008 @06:27PM (#21947508) Journal
        Here is an ancient Usenet post I saved. It details a magic system as a programming language of sorts. I posted it to my journal, since it's pretty lengthy.

        http://slashdot.org/~An+ominous+Cow+art/journal/192430 [slashdot.org]
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Skevin ( 16048 ) *
      Alas, as someone who's seen peers caught up in this stereotype...

      Cantrip (level 0)
      Escape Parents' Basement
      Range: Touch
      Duration: Permanent
      Material Component: Your own place to live
      This ritual, when cast simultaneously by one or more wizards with a combined credit score of at least 700 and their own place to live, causes the subject to come live with them. The subject will now permanently live in the new residence until one of the three criteria is met: Divine Inte
  • by krog ( 25663 )
    Will your next version support DirectX?
  • Online PDFs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 07, 2008 @01:26PM (#21943604)
    Will I need to have a paid subscription in order to download the PDFs of the 4th edition books that I buy?
  • by dsginter ( 104154 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @01:26PM (#21943606)
    Are there any girls there? [youtube.com]

    Sorry - this just hits too close to home (self-proclaimed geek).
  • Critical Failure (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pwnies ( 1034518 ) * <j@jjcm.org> on Monday January 07, 2008 @01:26PM (#21943608) Homepage Journal
    I know at the moment there is only house rules for critical failures (i.e. rolling a 1 on a d20). Will there be set rules for this in 4.0?
    • by krog ( 25663 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @01:29PM (#21943662) Homepage
      A well-played D&D campaign is just one house rule after another.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by techpawn ( 969834 )
        First rule of D&D in the DMG is that these are only a ground work for you to make up whatever rules you see fit
        The second rule is don't talk about fight club for some reason... I think it just slows down play when we all deny being Tyler Durdin.
  • Compatability (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Will the 4.0 version of D&D be compatible with the 25 or so 3.5 edition books I currently own? I would hate to think hate eberron would be out of date already.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      A better question is, how easily will the transition between 3/3.5 to 4 be handled for an average DM? I remember looking at the conversion guide produced when 2nd to 3rd was going on, and it was largely an incomprehensible mess (relative to straight 2nd or 3rd, that is). Will it be a matter of transcribing stats with some fudge factor from one sheet to another, or will it be excessively involved with complicated formulas and lookup tables?
    • In a related vein, I'm still not sure who the target audience may be.

      I'm haven't been a regular D&D player for a few decades but I am involved in a RPG community [gelatinousdudes.com] which is largely centered around 3.5 and DDM. The response there has been almost unilaterally one of revulsion.

      After much discussion, most reasonable theory that we have come up with is that the current target market is new players - the ever-popular WoW crowd - for whom the purchase of new books is an addition, rather than a replacement with t
  • Why 4th Edition? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DrMrLordX ( 559371 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @01:27PM (#21943628)
    3.5E had so many non-core sourcebooks that you could have easily respun and/or rebalanced the material into a new set of books if you had any need to sell more material (which you presumably do, as would anyone else in the same business). Based on what has been released and what I've read, 4E will be a radical departure of standards set back in 3E which were, in turn, meant to improve the game drastically.

    Don't you think more work could have, and should have, been done to improve 3.5E? It seems like you're throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Lord Apathy ( 584315 )

      So you mean they are going to fuck the game up even more? How about this, you scrap 3.0/5 and go back to 1st edtion? Then you work from there.

      My friends and I had been playing AD&D for over 20 years. We started with chainmail. Went through basic, not the red and blue books, 1st editon and into 2nd. Frist edition was a mess. Inconsistan rules, typos, and shitty book construction but we had a fucking ball with it. 2nd edition was better, less rule problems and some needed rule changes.

      3rd editi

      • by CrashPoint ( 564165 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @02:15PM (#21944200)

        Come on, magic using dwarves, evil rangers, and wizards carrying swords. That goes against the very core of the game.
        Nonsense. The core of D&D is not, and never has been, "only play characters that fit pre-approved fantasy archetypes".
      • This sort of question / rant comes up from time to time on enworld and every other D&D site. There are a few simple responses to your statements.

        1) New edition does not mean you are any more obligated to buy it and play it than you are obligated to trade in WinXP for WinVista, (or your System 5 Unix for Linux).

        2) Most rule changes are generally applied to elements of the game that nearly no one pays attention to anyway. Demi-human level limits were dropped because no one used them.

        3) Nitpicking ab
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by shinma ( 106792 )
        Gandalf carried a sword.
      • My history with D&D only goes back to the Gary Gygax days, and though there are parts of his system that needed improvement, I agree that the spirit of the game should not have been messed with. It's the spirit that was so awesome about AD&D. What made me want to vomit on 3E books was the obvious goal to appeal to 12-year-old munchkins who can't stand to be told "no, you can't do that."

        Luckily, WotC were nice enough to license 1E rules to Kenzerco, who amped up that 1E spirit in their outstanding

  • Miniatures (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pryoplasm ( 809342 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @01:27PM (#21943630)
    Will 4th edition use the same or similar systems for miniatures? Will a medium creature still fit in a 5' x 5' square? A friend of mine has a large collection of minatures and a decent sized third party map, and I am just hoping we do not have to move onto something else in order to satisfy the new rules...

  • A question of rules. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Kaffien ( 635219 )
    Will d&d 4th, require a person to confirm critical hits, or will a mace
    in the face be a mace in the face? (that is will a 20 be a critical hit)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bieeanda ( 961632 )
      Already published on the site: a 20 is a 20 is a critical hit.

      A critical hit automatically does maximum dice-plus-bonuses damage, plus additional dice apparently based on weapon type and enchantments. No crit ranges, no thresholds, no checks.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 07, 2008 @01:30PM (#21943664)
    1. Cannot base characters off the Ash from the Evil Dead movies.
    2. A one man band is not an appropriate bard instrument.
    3. There is no Dwarven god of heavy artillery.
    4. My 7th Sea character Boudreaux is not the 'Southern' Montaigne.
    5. Not allowed to blow all my skill points on 1pt professional skills.
    6. Synchronized panicking is not a proper battle plan.
    7. Nor is "Kill them all and let God sort them out"
    8. Not allowed to use psychic powers to do the dishes.
    9. How to serve Dragons is not a cookbook.
    10. My monk's lips must be in sync.
    11. Just because my character and I can speak German, doesn't mean the GM can.
    13. Not allowed to berserk for the hell of it, especially during royal masquerades.
    13. Must learn at least one offensive or defensive spell if I'm the sorcerer.
    14. Must not murder canon NPCs in their sleep, no matter how cliche they are.
    15. Ogres are not kosher.
    16. Plan B is not automatically twice as much explosives as Plan A.
    17. I will not beat Tomb of Horrors in less than 10 minutes from memory.
    18. Collateral Damage Man is not an appropriate name for a super hero.
    19. When surrendering I am to hand the sword over HILT first.
    20. Drow are not good eating.
    21. Polka is not appropriate marching music.
    22. No longer allowed to recreate the Death Star Trench Run out of genre.
    23. There is no such thing as a Gnomish Pygmy War Rhino.
    24. Any character who has a sensitivity training center named after him will be taken away.
    25. Even if the rules allow it, I am not allowed to summon 50,000 Blue Whales.
    26. The green elf does not need food badly.
    27. Valley speak has no place in a fantasy setting. Especially if you're the paladin.
    28. I am not to shoot every corpse in the head to make sure they aren't a zombie in Twilight 2000.
    29. The Goddess' of Marriage chosen weapon is not the whip.
    30. I cannot have any gun that requires me to continue the damage code on back.
    31. I am not to kill off all the vampires in the LARP, even if they are terminally stupid.
    32. The backup trap handler is not whoever has the most HP at the time.
    33. I cannot buy any animal in groups of 100 or over.
    34. There is no such skill as 'improvised cooking'
    35. I am not allowed to base any Droid off any character played by Joe Pesci.
    36. I am not allowed to convince the entire party to play R2 units.
    37. I am not allowed to convince the entire party to sit on the same side of the table.
    38. They do not make black market illegal cyberweapons for rodents.
    39. When investigating evil cultists not allowed to just torch the decrepit mansion from the outside.
    40. Dwarves do not have the racial ability 'can lick their eyebrows'
    41. Dwarves do not have the racial ability to hold their breath for 10 minutes.
    42. Dwarves do not have the racial ability 'impromptu kickstand'
    43. Having a big nose adds nothing to my seduction check.
    44. No longer allowed to set nazi propaganda music to a snappy disco beat.
    45. Not allowed to spend all 100 character points on 100 1pt skills.
    46. My character names are not allowed to be double entendres.
    47. Sliver rhymes with silver because the computer frelling says so.
    48. They do not make Nair in wookie sizes.
    49. The elf is restricted to decaf for the rest of the adventure.
    50. Not allowed to blow up the Death Star before that snotty farm kid gets his shot.
    51. Not allowed to use thermodynamic science to asphyxiate the orcs' cave instead of exploring it first.
    52. No longer allowed to use the time machine for booty calls.
    53. My bard does not know how to play Inna Godda Davida on marachas.
    54. Not allowed to start a drow character weighing more than a quarter ton.
    55. Cannot pimp out other party members.
    56. Before facing the dragon, not allowed to glaze the elf.
    57. No matter how well I roll, a squirrel cannot carry a horse and rider at full sprint.
    58. In the middle of a black op I cannot ask a guard to validate parking.
    59. Expended ammun
  • Thank you, now stop (Score:5, Interesting)

    by techpawn ( 969834 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @01:30PM (#21943668) Journal
    First off, thank you for no more Gnomes as a basic race (or so is the rumor)

    What exactly is happening to the wizard class? It sounds like it's becoming more like the Warlock and gaining spell casting like the CHA based casters or spell like abilities based on memorized spells? Are you able to expand on this or give us more information yet?
  • D&D and WOW (Score:5, Interesting)

    by halivar ( 535827 ) <bfelger AT gmail DOT com> on Monday January 07, 2008 @01:31PM (#21943682)
    It appears (to me, at least), that many of the new rules-changes mirror popular MMO's like WOW. How much influence do the designers derive from video games; and, to the extent that D&D 4th resembles WOW, is this a conscious effort to reach the MMO-generation of gamers with table-top role-play?
  • To a certain extent, it sounds as if D&D4e is mimicking a lot of the standards that World of Warcraft and other MMOs have laid down. To whit: The foursome of the Tank, DPS, Healer and Blaster as roles within a party, Feat Trees, etc. Are you consciously and intentionally making D&D4e more like online MMOs to try and recapture some of that lost audience?
    • by Abreu ( 173023 )

      The foursome of the Tank, DPS, Healer and Blaster as roles within a party
      As opposed to the foursome of Warrior, Rogue, Cleric and Wizard thats been standard since the seventies?

      Feat Trees
      I think that "Feat Trees", "Talent Trees", etc. are an example of a good game mechanic that, regardless of where it originated, contributes to having a better game.
      • by doug ( 926 )

        The foursome of the Tank, DPS, Healer and Blaster as roles within a party
        As opposed to the foursome of Warrior, Rogue, Cleric and Wizard thats been standard since the seventies?
        Actually, for us old farts that would be "fighter", "thief", "cleric" and "magic-user".
      • by Aeonite ( 263338 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @01:59PM (#21943992) Homepage

        The foursome of the Tank, DPS, Healer and Blaster as roles within a party

        As opposed to the foursome of Warrior, Rogue, Cleric and Wizard thats been standard since the seventies?
        Yes, as opposed to. Warrior, Rogue, Cleric and Wizard obviously inspired Tank, DPS, Healer and Blaster, but MMOs have twisted the roles away from the original classes. To whit: Rogues are now the de Facto DPS class. In olden days, Rogues had backstab, sure, but they were never the primary damage dealers. They were stealthy pickpocketing thieves.

        4e? Rogues are now the primary DPS class.

        Wizards Presents: Races and Classes (a 4e preview), makes it explicit.

        http://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/13/13546.phtml [rpg.net]

        To quote the author of that review:

        "These are new specific "jobs" in an adventuring party that they designed for. They are defender, striker, controller, and leader. The defender is a typical MMORPG tank, with high defenses and abilities to cause foes to focus on him. The striker is a one-on-one damage dealer. The controller is oddly named - this covers damaging or affecting multiple targets (like with a Fireball). The leader heals, aids, and buffs."

        If 4e was returning to roots, they'd have four classes and that's it. Instead, they're giving us four roles that are MMO-inspired and layering lots more than four classes atop those roles. That's not anything like D&D used to be.
  • by Mongoose Disciple ( 722373 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @01:33PM (#21943700)
    How do you feel you've struck a balance between a desire to simplify/streamline rules to speed play and make the game more accessible, and a desire to preserve the strategy and general goodness of the game as it exists today? Details about proposed changes that were a tough call either way would be interesting.
  • by Steeltalon ( 734391 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @01:34PM (#21943714)
    Why is there a need for a 4th edition? 3.5 wasn't released all that long ago (and the books were just as expensive as the 3.0 versions), so why do we need a 4.0? Is there a compelling reason or is this just a symptom of Hasbro casting "Animate Dead" on TSR's corpse?
    • This is the one question that came leaping to mind at GenCon this past year which really hasn't been answered to my personal satisfaction. I really want to move away from the cynical thoughts and hope that this more than just a video-game like (multi-)year cycle but the fact that they are selling preview modules (selling me an advertisement?) for the next edition does not leave me much hope.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I'm feeling pretty cynical about their reasons for doing this, too. The things I read about the new rules, up until I finally stopped reading in disgust, all seemed like a dumbening of the rules to appeal to attention span-challenged video gamers.
    • by halivar ( 535827 )
      After 8 years in the wild, I think WotC has a good idea of what in 3rd Ed simply isn't fun. Save or die is not fun. Critical confirmations are not fun. Gnomes and half-orcs are not fun. OTOH, there are tons of requests for things that are fun that aren't in the rules. I think WotC is chucking things nobody ever liked, anyway.

      I, for one, welcome the change. I think the new rules are a vast improvement. Note that I say this as a convert; last year I swore I would not purchase 4th because I thought it was a cr
  • by flaming-opus ( 8186 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @01:34PM (#21943716)
    It seems to me that the fun of table-top Role Playing Games is the storytelling. It's the plots, and the character development, and the mythical settings that make RPGs so exciting. Do we really need to further refine the game rules, or is this a simple cash grab for the publisher, when all the gamers out there update to the new rules?
  • by andphi ( 899406 ) <phillipsamNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday January 07, 2008 @01:35PM (#21943728) Journal
    I know that some of the old settings (Ravenloft, Spelljammers, Dark Sun, Planescape) have been transitioned to other companies or have been quietly kept alive by their fans with knowledge bases and efforts at rules translations between old rulesets and 3.5. Will any of these old, orphaned settings being making a comeback in 4.0? (Planescape. Please, Planescape!) If not, are the 4.0 rules being written to make these on-going translation efforts easier?

  • Negative Press (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday January 07, 2008 @01:35PM (#21943734) Journal
    Short intro, I read a lot of fantasy and sci-fi. Play a lot of computer games. Enjoy reading up on lore and the like.

    But I never got into D&D. I had friends that played it but I was never into it. I tried playing it a few times and had some fun experiences. But there's always been a sort of negative stigma associated with it among ... well, the general populace. What are you doing to break free of this? Or do you embrace it? What are your thoughts & opinions on this strange negative publicity that popular movies push onto D&D players? Do you ever try to break free of that?
  • This might also be a good question for fellow readers here.
    Having never played D&D, What is the appeal of this game?
    It sort of looks like it's mostly about mathematics, not trying to be flamebait here, I'm genuinely curious.

    If I should start playing, where to start and with which version of the rules?
    • by Cytlid ( 95255 )
      It was nothing short of interactive story telling. I had friends who were geeks and artists, and it was really fun for a while. I had a character whom I role played his entire family. If I had taken some serious notes, I really could have written a book!

      Mind you, I quit playing after 2nd edition. And my playing time was a good 15-20 years ago. (Man, am I getting that old?).

      People who dwell on the rules, or have little bickering fights wanting to annoy someone who they didn't like (not all the
    • If I should start playing, where to start and with which version of the rules?

      If you want to start playing you really have two options, hang out at the game shop and talk to people there to find out if anyone needs a player or talk to your friends. That's how I got into the campaign I'm in: My girlfriends, friends, husband is in a campaign and told me they needed a good mage. It's taken me a few sessions to get back into the swing of the game but if you get in with an experienced group you'll learn a lot q

  • by poet ( 8021 )
    Have you fixed Evasion so that a character must have a place to evade too? It is odd that a character can Evade Fireball in a 10 foot wide tunnel. Further I would suggest that rules be put forth about movement availability in that scenario. If I just ran (4x move) on my turn, I find it unlikely I could then evade 40 yards.
    • Evade while odd always makes me think of the bullet dodging scene from the matrix... He evaded the bullets without moving an inch. That's why evade buffs your AC, even in leather your AC is damn good because you are just so hard to hit.
  • by Mongoose Disciple ( 722373 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @01:39PM (#21943778)
    It sounds like, in an effort to balance classes better, they've all become a lot more alike. That is, a wizard and a warrior will have a very different list of abilities, but they'll all have X abilities to use at will, X abilities to use once an encounter, and so on. Do you feel this is a fair assessment? If so, is there any concern that in making the classes more alike you'll have essentially created one well-balanced class that no one wants to play? In 3E, a lot of the classes require very different kinds of strategy and in my experience all players have different favorites for reasons that seem to be going away.
  • If a player makes a 4th edition fighter will it automatically be able to fill the role of defender and no other role, or will that depend on the feats and talent choices made for that particular fighter?
  • by Erwos ( 553607 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @01:40PM (#21943790)
    It upset quite a few folks when D&D 3.0E transitioned to 3.5E relatively soon after release, and made some people's investments in D&D become basically worthless overnight. While I appreciate that it's sometimes time to spawn a new edition that's incompatible with the old, it felt like 3.5E should have been an errata to 3.0E, rather than a totally new set of books.

    I understand that WotC can't commit itself to any firm "we will not release another edition for X years" guarantee, but it would be nice to hear some sort of assurance that we won't see a repeat of the 3.0E->3.5E debacle. What's the plan? What lessons have you learned?
    • by halivar ( 535827 )
      I wouldn't call it a "debacle," given that there was no economic backlash for WotC whatsoever. People grumbled, but they bought the books. The game still flourished. Everyone who swore they wouldn't buy 3.5E (people like me) ended up getting it eventually, anyway.

      The only "lesson" to be learned is that, when given the chance to vote with their wallets, gamers will vote for WotC.
  • Open Gaming License (Score:5, Interesting)

    by egg_green ( 727755 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @01:43PM (#21943826)
    With D&D 3rd Edition, we were introduced to the D20 System and the Open Gaming License, which allowed third party publishers to produce supplements for the game. Will there be something akin to this for 4th Edition? What form will it take, and will it be more or less restrictive?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by halivar ( 535827 )
      There will be both a new OGL license and and SRD (system reference document [aka "D&D For Free"]). The new OGL may incorporate language to allow you to advertise 4th Edition compatibility, something that was previously only obtainable as part of the onerous d20 STL (which may be going away according to Scott Rouse).
    • by jandrese ( 485 )
      From what I've heard, the OGL is not sticking around for the 4.0 release. This has independent producers scrambling to find alternatives to the D20 system or just rolling their own. While the D20 system has it's flaws and clunky bits, it's usually better than homebrew systems.
  • by Mechagodzilla ( 94503 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @01:46PM (#21943854)
    Has there been any thoughts or discussions on reducing the amount of books needed to play? Donating a bookshelf to every new edition is getting a little ridiculous for the casual gamer. I have 40+ books from first and second edition. I bought the Player's Handbook from the third edition, read the first thirty pages and went "bleh".

    To reference another gaming system, I can generate a character in GURPS (Steve Jackson Games) in under an hour, have a little better feel for advantages and disadvantages, arm and clothe the character, and do it all from one book. Now there are other books available, but not necessary. Also, their magic system seems a lot more reasonable than memorizing spells. I always thought of spells more like skills than chunks of memory.

    I know it goes against the business model, but can you actually make a game that can be played with less than four books?
    • by halivar ( 535827 )

      Also, their magic system seems a lot more reasonable than memorizing spells. I always thought of spells more like skills than chunks of memory.

      I believe 4th Ed addresses this. The quote I heard went something like this: "After a wizard uses all his spells for the day, he is still at 80% combat effectiveness." I think this means you can designate certain spells as "per round" usage using the new "magical implements" rules.
    • by east coast ( 590680 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @02:15PM (#21944198)
      What? You didn't find The Complete Potato Farmer v 3.504.321a to be worth the 30 USD?

      Sadly, and I know that someone will probably bitch at me, the WotC business model is based on people consuming what they normally don't need at an alarming rate. They gained wide popularity in the business of CCGs. Anyone who's ever spent any serious time playing CCGs knows that it's a scam; a monetary blackhole where rules are made up to make perfectly good cards obsolete and create an atmosphere where players (normally teens) beleive that their cards are going to be worth big money and are, in fact, an investment instead of a gaming supply. Come on folks, enough already.

      I felt that this would be the case with D&D when Wizards got their hooks into it and the speed with which 3.5 was announced only confirmed my thoughts. And this isn't even to mention the meager software offerings that went toes-up before the bittorrent could even be completed.

      While I still maintain and interest in the game and still play with the same small group I have for the better part of the last decade, I still clutch onto my 3.0 core rules and a copy of Tomes and Blood. I will not spend 30+ USD on more books for a game that does not justify it. I'm still running just fine with my Call of Cthulhu 5.0 rulebook. I've had it just as long or longer than most people have had their AD&D 2.0 books. And it's the only book needed for the game!
    • I think you hit it on the head...

      I played back in the early 80's, then stopped when I left high school. Picked it up for a short while in college. Then the drought where I didn't play for years. A year ago I met some folks who were interested in getting together for some low-pressure games. So I tried. But MAN, so many rules and bits of nonsense that it compeletely killed the imagination that made it so interesting in the first place. The DM had some laptop based tools, but really, if you need a computer to
    • by Minwee ( 522556 )

      Also, their magic system seems a lot more reasonable than memorizing spells. I always thought of spells more like skills than chunks of memory.

      If that still bothers you, maybe you need to read a little more Jack Vance.

      And then ask yourself why Gygax named one of the most powerful wizards in his original D&D setting 'Vecna'.

  • I haven't gone through the changes to 4e yet but I found that in 3.5 we were spending a lot of time searching for modifiers for our rolls. Is there a shift from this to where the role playing will start making a more concrete difference in survival and the adventures or is it still up to the DM to make sure this happens? My last 2 DMs were excellent in this aspect but with more definitive rules and information about this it would make ALL the players role play more.
  • does vin diesel role play as half-drow or half-orc?
  • 4th edition?!?!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Obliterous ( 466068 ) <shawn.somers@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Monday January 07, 2008 @02:01PM (#21944020) Homepage Journal
    this is the `we're not making enough money' edition, right?

    Seriously. 3rd, and then 3.5, and now 4th edition, all within what, six years?? and how long did 2nd last?

    there's nothing wrong with the game as it plays, now, that a couple of house rules cant fix.

    another `lets make everything from the last version completely obsolete' version is NOT going to sit well with a lot of players.

    I paid all that money for 2nd edition books, and actually got my moneys worth. I had them for more than 10 years.

    I held off on buying 3rd edition, because I was still happy with 2nd, and by the time I was ready to buy, 3.5 had been released, so that's what I bought.

    considering how much I paid for all of these books, and how many 3.5 books I've purchased, I wont consider myself to have gotten my moneys worth from them until at LEAST 2012. So as far as I can tell, 4th edition is at LEAST 4 years too early. so I doubt that I'll be buying or playing 4th edition for a while.

    So, really, My question is: Did you actually come up with something so completely new that it makes a new edition essential, or is this just a move by WOC to squeeze as much money out of the AD&D franchise as possible?
  • No pussyfooting around the question: ugly nerd kids these days would rather get their Warcrack online, where they can grind to risk-free heroism while pretending to be hot girls to get attention. What's the incentive to stare at a bunch of greasy acne ridden faces and listen to squeaky voices arguing over rules for hours on end while the DM acts out his god complex by killing their character investments in a fit of displaced revenge because Chuck McRibsteak stuffed him in a locker again?
    • Storyline for one.

      But I do agree with you, if it weren't for having a steady group of friends that I've been playing the games with for such a long time I'd probably just rather play a MMORPG too. When my current group breaks up I doubt I'll ever roll another d20 again.

      And I do see it in the younger generation; my nephew (16) lost his pen and paper group about 8 months back and doesn't seem too motivated in getting together another one but his XFire stats I can see he plays over 20 hours of WoW a week. No
  • by DeafDumbBlind ( 264205 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @02:21PM (#21944270)
    Currently, at higher levels, a fight between the party and a group of enemies can easily last a couple of hours.
    How has combat been streamlined?
  • ...with the First Edition?
  • by Blackeagle_Falcon ( 784253 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @02:23PM (#21944308)
    One of the things I dislike about 3rd edition is that at medium and high levels magic items are such a big part of a character's power. A PC has to be decorated like a Christmas tree with various magical doodads in order to be effective. Running a campaign in a world where magic items are rare or nonexistant required a lot of house rules and adjustment on the part of the DM. Will it be easier to run a low or no magic item campaign in 4e?
  • by HikingStick ( 878216 ) <z01riemer@@@hotmail...com> on Monday January 07, 2008 @02:29PM (#21944386)
    Pardom me if this mini-rant-around-a-question goes long. I started playing D&D (the basic boxed set) and AD&D ages ago--first on 1st Ed. rules and eventually ponying up for 2nd Ed. My friends and I liked the game because it was easy and simple (regarding game mechanics) in the first edition, and we did enjoy some of the changes going into 2nd E. (though we did opt to keep the original Ranger class, as our gaming world was very Norse and giant-heavy). For those of us who wanted games with more realistic (if you can use that term for a Fantasy RPG) combat mechanics, different skill allocation methods, and other detailed tables, we had RuneQuest, Palladium, and dozens of other options. The game was well-established, and players could be found anywhere.

    With the arrival of the 3rd Ed. rules, you lost me as a regular player, along with many of my peers (we may be a bit older now, but we are the ones with regular salaries and a desire to continue the delusion of ongoing youth by purchasing simple amusements like games). I had no desire to relearn a gaming system that, for the most part, had its rules embedded in my head. The 3.5 Ed.? Didn't even pay attention. Fourth edition? Sorry, but not interested.

    My own sons are old enough to play now. I've been shopping around for some of the early 1st and 2nd Ed. books so my kids and I may try out the game together, but until that happens, we bide our time playing Guild Wars (online) and Magic: The Gathering (offline).

    My question is this: who are you trying to please? Do you have a core group of early gamers who will buy anything AD&D just because you print it? Are you attracting any younger gamers to the fold? If not, what's the point in publishing release after release after release? It's as bad as auto makers manufacturing '08 vehicles that are effectively the same as the '07s (Oh!, but the door for the gas cap is now square!).

    The question I'm asking beneath the surface is, "Why should I care at all?" Unless the rules are relatively simple--something that won't require me to buy an entire library of books--you won't win me back. Once upon a time, only three books were needed for hours (months, and years) of fun: the DM handbook, the Player's handbook, and a Monster Manual (and the creative DM could get by without the MM). In all honesty, it looks like you are using the glorious history of (perhaps) the most storied RPG franchise of our time and using only as a perpetual money maker for your company. The more I hear about subsequent editions, the more I get the impression that you don't give a crap about the players out there (the people who made the game great in the first place), and that you simply wonder how much more you can squeeze the golden goose before it dies.
  • Non-combat design (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mchevallier ( 1214520 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @02:42PM (#21944556)
    I am slightly concerned by the rendering of monsters into simply combat stats. Please take this opportunity to allay my fears, as much of what I hear, I approve of. Will there be more to monsters than combat? Obviously, that's their most important role, but an understanding of their capabilities outside of combat (rituals they can cast, things they know - stuff that they WON'T use in a fight against PCs) is important to give a monster an ecology, purpose, traction - to use a popular word. Please explain to me how 4e takes account of this, or if it doesn't, explain why you have designed it thusly. (Oh, and thanks for your time and effort. It can't be easy redesigning D&D, what with the internet and all.)
  • by coppro ( 1143801 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @02:53PM (#21944734)
    We know that you are providing a tool for editing character sheets on your computer, although you have not specified anything else. An editable PDF sheet seems likely. However, there have been many popular tools (e.g. PCGen) that can update many aspects of data automatically based on game events, rather than numbers. Example: You are the target of eagle's grace (assuming it still exists and has the same function). You have a +2 cloak of Charisma (once again making assumptions). You simply enter the fact that you are affected by that spell and tool automatically increases your Charisma score by 2, and also makes all relevant modifications elsewhere (save DCs, skill modifiers, etc.) Will the suite of digital tools released with 4th Edition include a tool that can maintain a character sheet that can be updated based on effects and modifications, rather than simple numeric input? If so, will it be extensible with published supplements/user-provided data?
  • by Rydia ( 556444 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @02:54PM (#21944748)
    In 3.5 and even basic 3d ed, Priests were far and away more useful than wizards and sorcers. They had damage spells, could use better weapons out of the box and had a serious of buffs, combined with their armor, that made them powerful and extremely difficult to kill. At very high levels, a powerful wizard can deal great damage with delayed blast fireball and whatnot, but at that point a good cleric can throw down greater aspect of the diety, divine power and a load of other spells and turn themselves into a combat machine, plus the ability to heal and a few good damage spells.

    How are you going to balance the two main spellcasting types in 4th ed? Or are you going to leave things generally as they are?
  • by fudgefactor7 ( 581449 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @03:03PM (#21944888)
    One of the things that always seemed out of place for me was the use of Hit Points. As any humanoid became higher level (i.e.: gained power) somehow they received a commensurate increase in physical ability to withstand a blow from something like a longsword. This issue was resolved in Green Ronin's Mutants & Masterminds where the whole idea of HP was replaced with a saving throw against damage. Did the D&D4 designers consider this as an option to replace the age-old (and some say broken) mechanic that is HP? And if so, why did they choose to remain with HP over the M&M mechanic?
  • by Entropius ( 188861 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @03:27PM (#21945232)
    My first module as a player, and then as a DM, was Monte Cook's excellent Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil. The thing is huge and complicated, with an enormous volcanic crater mapped out and populated by lots of NPC's who are -- sort of -- cooperating. Rather than giving detailed descriptions of what these NPC's will do, whether out of combat or in, the module simply gives their statistics and explains their personalities, and lets the DM figure out what they do. There were very few notes about combat tactics other than those that relate to personality ("Imix enjoys whacking things with his greatsword and makes little use of his spell-like abilities"), since it's assumed that the DM is smart enough to come up with tactics on his own.

    While NPC's are given locations, there's a note: "The placement of NPC's in, and the description of, the mines is just a snapshot at one point in time. They move around, do stuff, raid each other, etc., as time passes, and it's important to keep the place dynamic." The module encourages a huge amount of flexibility.

    This was wonderful to DM, and the players enjoyed the feeling of being in such an active environment.

    Now, look at a more recent module, Expedition to Castle Ravenloft. The setting is wonderful, the maps are wonderful, but all the encounters are ... almost pre-scripted. There's a separate section of the book for encounters, in which separate maps are given just of the "encounter area", with all the NPC's placed on it and combat tactics given for them. So you get "Encounter K42: Wight ambush", with a separate map with a bunch of wights on it. I've not run this module, but it seems like DM'ing it is more of an exercise in executing a pre-written script rather than being creative. There's not much room in there for flexibility, either -- it'd require a bunch of rewriting just to get the NPC information in a format conducive to being flexible with it.

    In short: Wonderful setting (not written anew, swiped from 1e), uninspired writing. Writing is targeted to the lowest common denominator of DM's who can't figure out how to run NPC's/set up encounters on their own.

    I hear Expedition to the Demonweb Pits is supposed to be pretty good, but haven't heard anything good about any of the other modern writing.

    My question is this: Are the modules written for 4e, and the overall design generally, going to lean more on the side of accessibility to less creative players/DM's or the side of giving more experienced players/DM's more flexibility?
  • by PrimalChrome ( 186162 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @03:29PM (#21945268)
    Can you publish an edition that likens back to 1st Edition AD&D where four books and a module pretty much could sum up a session? How about putting more energy into fleshing out a world instead of bloating the ruleset or creating more classes? Well designed modules/worldbooks will still generate the revenue that you are trying to force out of your clients with more core books.

    The magic of AD&D (whether it be high, dark, monty haul, hack-n-slash, dungeoncrawling, or comic) is in the minds of the players....the world they mold around their characters. Then again....most gaming companies today don't really care about this. WotC, Whizkids, Games Workshop....they're all about the $$ and number of units sold.
  • by destine ( 109885 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @03:38PM (#21945396)
    I always wanted to play games that were heroic. We've always had a standing rule in our campaigns of no evil characters. So I have to wonder, what's with all of the devil and demon based races and power sources and where are all of the good angelic based power sources? It seems as if the 4th edition rules have been swallowed by the "Evil is Cool" paradigm, which I have to say is incredibly sad to me(this was a big pet peeve of mine in Unearthed Arcana where there was a Tiefling but no Aasimar paragon class). In 3.5 all of the base classes and races were relatively neutral with a bit of a flavor for good. Why suddenly move to the "Evil is Cool" route in a game that historically and for the most part has been about epic struggles of good and neutral against an encompassing evil?
  • ne of the key issues I have had with previous editions of D&D is that even with all the customizing options, all the magic using characters are still very defined by the list of spells in the player's handbook. Since magic is such a defining part of a world, that means that the PHB spellbook is often a very intrusive influence on the character of the world.

    Will 4th edition have a good system for customizing magic to the DM's world, or will DMs still essentially have to adapt their world to the magic system?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Yosho ( 135835 )
      all the magic using characters are still very defined by the list of spells in the player's handbook

      Out of curiosity, could you clarify what you mean by that? There are many more sources of spells than the PHB -- the Spell Compendium is an obvious resource that contains many new spells, and almost all of the splatbooks devote a chapter to new spells. If you want a spell to do something, it's probably out there, somewhere. If none of those spells do exactly what you want, there are general rules for resea
  • by xant ( 99438 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @03:55PM (#21945642) Homepage
    During the 3.x timeframe, you introduced OGL, the Open Gaming License, a reasonably good share-alike compromise for the game system.

    Alongside that, you published the System Reference Document (SRD) which contained most of the monsters and equipment from the core books and almost all of the rules. It made an excellent standard for spinning off games and creating publishable material based on a canon.

    And yet, at the same that Creative Commons license gaining ground, and YouTube and other crowd-publishing sites (like Gleemax?) are looming massively over the entertainment playground, I hear the rumour that OGL and the SRD are going away!

    What is Wizards really going to do to promote community publishing? Those of us creating content for the game, content that promotes the game, are waiting to hear that we'll have a green light, that we can publish our material freely for all to use without fear of The Lawyers, and that we can incorporate Wizards' canon material in those publications in a non-competitive way. Will we be given that license? Or will there be, as the rumor told it, licensing fees to keep out content creators?
  • by CmdrSam ( 136754 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @05:40PM (#21946960)
    Whenever I hear anything about the upcoming 4th edition, the only comparisons I ever hear are comparisons to previous editions of Dungeons and Dragons.

    There are a lot of other roleplaying games in the market these days: the availability of print-on-demand has given rise to a new generation of "indy" games like Spirit of the Century, Reign, Primetime Adventures, and so forth. Even ignoring these, there are all kinds of other competitors in the marketplace: Exalted, World of Darkness, GURPS, etc.

    For someone who moved away from D&D to other game systems, I can't help but feel that discussion and marketing of 4th edition is curiously blind to the existence and advances made by all these other systems.

    Why should I choose to play D&D 4th edition instead of one of the other games? What, in short, are your relative competitive advantages when I am deciding what system to use for a new campaign?
  • Playtesting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SirGarlon ( 845873 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @05:45PM (#21947008)

    I followed the development of D&D 3.0 and there was a very extensive playtest process that involved many groups all over the country (perhaps the world) over a period of many months. The list of playtester credits in the back of the 3.0 Players' Handbook is huge (and I have friends whose names appear there).

    Is the playtesting for 4E being done on a comparable scale and if not, how can we as players be confident the new edition will have the same or better quality?

  • Mass combat (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Hierarch ( 466609 ) <[CaptainNeeda] [at] [gmail.com]> on Monday January 07, 2008 @06:08PM (#21947300) Homepage
    Will 4th Ed finally have an integral mass combat system for wars? If so, could you tell us a little bit about it?
  • DRM? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MykeBNY ( 303290 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @06:10PM (#21947310)
    Many people are acting as if a new edition will not only obsolete their old books, it will actually prevent them from accessing the ruleset at all. Level-headed people of course regard that as silly, nobody's going to sneak into your house and burn your old books!

    However, with more and more importance being placed on digital content (not specifically Wizards of the Coast, but in general), if the wrong decision is made regarding DRM, that nightmare scenario may actually take place if WotC stops supporting this edition.

    Will WotC spend a lot of time and money in vain in adding restrictions that will only serve to frustrate legitimate customers, restrictions that pirates will figure out how to bypass within a week of release, if not sooner?

    Is the issue of whether to DRM or not, and why and how being treated very seriously within the company?
  • by Jekler ( 626699 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @06:41PM (#21947674)
    Will the digital tools be available for Linux / Mac users?

    My biggest concern is the availability of the digital tools in non-Windows environments. That's about the only thing that could sour the whole deal for me. I'm hoping they're web-based or Java-based so they can run on any operating system.
  • by Spyder ( 15137 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @08:48PM (#21948786)
    Has there been any discussion about moving from the D20 system and the inherent flat probability distribution of rolls to a multi die system? This aspect of the D20 system has led me to avoid playing D&D after having played in systems (White wolf, ShadowRun, EarthDawn and GURPS) where character capabilities are somewhat more predictable; and bonuses are more effective at the margin than for unlikely rolls.

FORTRAN is the language of Powerful Computers. -- Steven Feiner