Recently Chris Youngs at Wizards of the Coast wrote an editorial pointing out that people can role-play in D&D 4th Edition just fine without any rules actually governing said role-playing:
Fourth edition doesn't include some of the mundane mechanical elements of character building that 3rd Edition did. For example, certain skills (I'm looking at you Craft and Profession) enabled a player to feel like his character had some sort of grounding in the "real world" of the campaign. Odds were good that you never made a Craft or Profession check in your game, but having ranks in that skill made you feel connected to your character's background. In 4th Edition, those skills are gone. Why? Because we feel like a character's statistics don't represent the absolute truth of a character's story. That's right -- one of the reasons those skills (and other such elements from other editions) are gone is that we felt they hindered roleplaying.
This elicited some "Hear! Hear!"-style posts from gaming blogs:
A D&D 4th-edition powered version of Metamorphosis Alpha -- the first-ever SF role-playing game -- is being released by Signal Fire Studio. The original game took place aboard the generational starship Warden in the centuries after the vessel was badly damaged, killing much of its crew and mutating the survivors.
Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition is seeing a nice publicity bump from its second round of major book releases as PHB 2, Arcane Power, Monster Manual 2, Eberron Campaign Setting and DMG 2 all hit the stands over the next few months.
Arcane Power resurrects the illusionist, brings back summoning spells and familiars, and introduces a host of new arcane options for Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition. Among these new options are new class features offering bards the gift of foresight, sorcerers the chance to wield cosmic magic, warlocks the opportunity to commune with the vestiges of ancient powers, and much more. Read my full review at GameCryer.com.
Goodman Games, creator of the Dungeon Crawl Classics and Xcrawl, has announced Level Up, a new magazine dedicated to Dungeons & Dragons 4E:
Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition and Star Wars: Saga Edition were the big topics of conversation on my third guest appearance on The Secret Lair podcast. Hosts Kris Johnson and Chris Miller and I spent about a half hour talking about the latest iteration of the venerable fantasy RPG before launching into why my gaming group decided to ditch it in favor of Star Wars.
One area where Star Wars: Saga Edition could use some help are its creatures. There are certainly a number of them out there, particularly the iconic ones from the movies, but the system tends to come up a little short with more mundane critters.
- Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition
- Published by: Wizards of the Coast
- Player's Handbook
- Dungeon Master's Guide
- Monster Manual
- Listen to the audio version of this review in Radio Active #72.
- Buy it from Amazon.com
There's an old Star Trek acronym called "IDIC", which stands for "Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations". Dungeons & Dragons Third Edition was all about IDIC, with infinite combinations of characters played out across thousands of campaigns and dozens of different game systems.
Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition is about FDFC -- Finite Diversity in Finite Combinations. It's about focusing the game on a certain style of play, making it faster, easier and more streamlined, but at the cost of limiting player options.
The 30-level Sweet Spot
The goals of 4th Edition have been articulated many times by its designers.
They wanted to expand D&D's sweet spot -- the happy place where rules complexity balanced perfectly against ease to play from the 5th-12th level of 3E to 1st to 30th in 4E.