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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG D&D 4th Edition Reviewed

by Ken Newquist / June 28, 2008

My review of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition is up on I gave it a B.

Without a doubt, this was one of the hardest reviews I've ever written for SCIFI. It's hard to remain objective about a game that I've been playing, in one form or another for 20+ years, all the more so when the latest edition of said game doesn't fit with my current campaign or style of play. Although it may be difficult for longtime players to accept, 4th Edition does have its merits and advantages over 3rd Edition. I worked hard to balance those advantages against what I felt were the very real shortcomings of the new system, both as a game on to itself, and as the inheritor of the Dungeons & Dragons name.

It was made all the more challenging by writing it on the road; the rough draft of the lede and first few paragraphs were written at a hotel in New Hampshire the night before my nephew's baptism, the rest was banged out on my brother-in-law's Windows Vista laptop using Word 2007, also in New Hampshire.

Yes, Word 2007. Truly I'm willing to suffer greatly to get you, my noble reader, the best damn review possible.

I wish I'd had more space to get deeper into the game and the three core rule books, but as a review I think it stands well on its own. Plus, I can always go far mre in-depth on Nuketown (and will over the next week or two).


I have been following your posts on 4e. I believe that, for my money and DnD loving sanity, I shall wait until postings reflecting a more complete experiance with the new rules are available. Maybe, in a few months, it will be possible for me to tell if this new system works for me or if I shall remain a 3.x'er.

With the 1st to 2nd edition transition, the 2nd to 3rd and even the fuzzy 3.0 to 3.x the rules changed, options were added the game remained. Today, I'm not so sure.

I shall be interested to see how your campaign works over the summer. PLAY ON!!!

I'm glad you're enjoying the playtest reports. :) I expect it to run until the end of August, maybe mid-September depending on things work out with vacation, MusicFest, etc. By the time the subcampaign winds down the characters will probably be about mid-heroic tier, and I think we'll have had enough experience with the system to make a call on converting.

As far as wait-and-seeing, that's certainly a possibility for our group. 4E as it stands now is missing some of the basic classes we'd need to convert, like bard, barbarian and druid, as well as PC versions of the gnome and half-orc races. That's the bare minimum we need to upgrade, and I don't think we get those until PHB2 in 2009.

What we've talked about doing (and I'm excited about actually) is running an extended Star Wars: Saga Edition for six months to a year as the 4E source books are released, and things shake out. We're also anticipating running a Pathfinder playtest campaign to see if we want to go with it instead, but that won't happen until there's a printed Pathfinder book that includes all the rules we need to run a game. We don't want to have to refer to the Pathfinder rulebook for updates, and the 3.5 Player's Handbook for everything else (e.g. feats, skills, spells, etc.)

There's a print beta of Pathfinder coming out at GenCon, and if it's comprehensive, then we may well start that playtest as early as this fall.

And, of course, it's possible that we won't upgrade at all, and we'll stick with 3.5. Personally, I think if we did that we might backport some stuff from 4E and Pathfinder (artifacts from 4E, turning and grapple rules from Pathfinder) but we'll see how it goes. Nothing's written in stone yet, and we're definitely not rushing into any decisions.