- 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.
Since I mentioned last week that I thought the RPG blogging community should do more reviews, I thought it might be a good idea to follow-up on that and see what's available this week. It turns out it's a good week for reviews, with a slew having been posted for the new D&D 4th Edition Forgotten Realms campaign book. There are also reviews of the new 4E DM screen, a Legend of the Five Rings source book, and the Battlestar Galactica RPG.
I also came across the blog post "Where To Get You Some RPG Reviews", which runs down the best places to find role-playing game reviews on the web.
We ran our last D&D 4E session on Friday, concluding the playtest campaign that ran all summer. Since this was our last hurrah (at least for a while) we decided to level our characters up from 2nd to 9th level to see how they played.
Here are a few random observations that popped up during the game.
Today is the last day of our D&D 4th Edition playtest campaign. After adventuring across two Alternative Material Planes and Sigil, City of Doors, we've decided to leave the game with a bang. We've advanced our heroes from 2nd to 9th level to try out some higher level play as they liberate the ancient ziggurat of Tal-Zek from the undead menace that's occupied it.
The end of the campaign also means the end of our experiment with 4th Edition as the group voted not to convert our regular campaign to 4E. There were many reasons for the collective no vote, but in the biggest one was simply that the group felt that the changes in 4E Edition are just far too sweeping to be compatible with the spirit and style of our long-running World of Greyhawk campaign.
It’s appropriate that the Pathfinder RPG Beta would be released while my gaming group’s taking a two-week break from our D&D 4th Edition playtest. During the hiatus we’re tying up some loose ends in our D&D 3.5 Dark City campaign, which is a role-playing intensive, urban campaign set in the World of Greyhawk.
This week's game sees us returning to our Dungeons and Dragons 3rd Edition roots after weeks of beating up 4th Edition in our Planetorn playtest campaign. The playtest's not over, just on hiatus because of real-world player obligations, and this pause is giving us a chance to go back and tie up some loose ends in our other campaigns.
After a brief respite in Sigil, where they were attacked by a cunning band of phase gnomes, last Friday's D&D 4E playtest campaign saw my gaming group venture back out into the wilds of the planescape. This time they traveled to the Dire Forest of Yalzerth, an alternative material plane in the midst of an ice age.
The session gave me the chance to work through a few points on the playtest "to do" list I outlined in my last Game Day column, namely rituals and newly revised skill challenges.
We're about halfway through our Planetorn play-test campaign, with the fourth session happening today, and perhaps another three or four to go before it runs its course. This milestone has me reflecting on where the campaign's been, where it's going, and what I hope to accomplish before it's all over.
D&D 4th Edition -- particularly the Player's Handbook -- taken a lot of criticism for being 99% crunch, and 1% fluff. It's also taken hits for the gutting of many of the role-playing aspects from earlier editions, including skills like craft, profession, and perform. All of this is true, but 4E's saving grace is the Dungeon Master's Guide which provides much of the framework for supporting role-playing that the PHB is lacking. Now it's a legitimate complaint that this is putting almost all of the role-playing heavy lifting on the DM's shoulders, but in truth, I suspect that's where it lies in a good many campaigns.
One of the DMG's better ideas is the Skill Challenge.