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4th Ed Preview - Ed's journal
4th Ed Preview
So, we were off today to play a preview game of D&D 4th Ed.

I have to say, I'm very pleasantly suprised.

It seems to have decided that it's actually a 'minatures and combat' style of RPG, and focussed on making that good. It seems to have mostly managed.

There's been a significant cut in bureacracy - no more '4 1st level spells, 2 second, 1 4rd' style of thing, combined with feats, combined with skills to make a bit of a mishmash.

Now, you have a standard attack, which you'll probably rarely use. And you have 'powers', that are either at will, per encounter, or per day usages.

So a mage gets a bunch of 'at will' cantrips, a smaller list of 'at will' combat spells (e.g. magic missile). A few 'per encounter' spells, and a few 'per day' spells. Escalating in power order.

Wands and staves and stuff don't do anything, apart from act as 'spell funk' - a wand for example, might give you a bonus to hit x times per encounter.

Other characters powers are broadly similar mechanically. Their power source and 'options' are different, but in a general sense, that doesn't actually change much.

They've also dug up a 'skill encounter' mechanic, that allows for a slightly more free form 'guards chase you' kind of sequence, that isn't quite on combat time. It's a challenge/free form skill use kind of thing, which I think works quite nicely. E.g. 'I use my rather impressive stealth to dodge into that shadowy doorway without them noticing'. I climb over that fence and make a run for it (using athletics skill) etc.

Looks like a lot of stuff has been simplified, and made more straight forward. They've binned a lot of the 'wtf' mechanics, and ... stats have been somewhat straightened out, so you're not needing 6 good stats to be a Paladin, and one and a half to be a fighter.

Things like the mage having 'spell hit rolls and ac' based off int (still can't wear armour) for example, I really like. The fact that he doesn't run out of spells at all, also means that the fight is more interesting.

The general grouping of character class types, in to Striker, Tank, Controller and Leader also work quite well - a party of one of each is the 'traditional' Fighter/Cleric/Wizard/Rogue, but when you bring on a warlock, (A striker) you know he will be able to sub in for the Rogue in a standard combat sense.

Fights are also a bit more ... less on the 'overpowered or crap' style of fighting, and more ... well rogues for example, get to 'mark' a target, to hack to pieces, and get a whole bunch of stuff keyed up to fighting one thing.

Fighters on the other hand, get a whole bunch of 'and I slap down 40 kobolds at once' styles of fighting, that seems to work in a rather complementary fashion, to make a fight interesting.

I'll be buying this set of books when they come out. (I was probably going to anyway, but rather than curiousity, I'll be buying it because I think it looks like a good game).

They've focussed on what D&D was good at, and made it better at that. There's other choices if you want free form, roleplay heavy stuff.
6 comments or Leave a comment
xarra From: xarra Date: May 31st, 2008 03:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmmm, sounds interesting - if you decide to run it me & Ian wouldn't mind trying it out. :)
iamnotramphus From: iamnotramphus Date: June 1st, 2008 11:41 am (UTC) (Link)
I think it's very good. There seems to be a degree of criticism towards it, but I think it works. I never think D&D worked well at high levels, but now it seems to flow nicely.

I also like how monsters are handled, with unique abilities listed on the stat block rather than having to flip through the PHB every minute to work out what they can do.
jorune From: jorune Date: June 1st, 2008 08:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
I expect that there will be several waves of understanding/misunderstading before we see the full effects of the game. I'm thinking about monsters, spell effects and the differing levels of hero, epic and beyond.
ehrine From: ehrine Date: June 1st, 2008 09:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, the preview session was good enough to convince me to pre-order the 3 core book giftset :)
jorune From: jorune Date: June 2nd, 2008 01:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Where did you order that from?
ehrine From: ehrine Date: June 2nd, 2008 02:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
I ordered it from Amazon for £39.59
6 comments or Leave a comment