D & D 4th Edition…The Changes

So my buddy Hober Short took my Gen Con Info and made it look pretty…So I am reposting here on my Blog page because I can…If Hober minds he can tell me.

  • 30 Levels; 1-10 will be “heroic play”: defending the town, saving the mayors daughter, fighting orcs/ogres etc, stopping a small invading horde. The lower level type stuff. Level 11-20 will be “paragon play”: saving the kingdom, defeating the Vampire Count. 21-30 will be “epic play”: big dragons, liches, and terrasques.
  • Advancement at every level; no “dead levels” where your character doesn’t gain any real abilities.
  • Fewer base classes in the Players Handbook: the Bard is currently not in the book. More defined class roles for each of the classes. The Ranger will gain some of the abilities of the scout, and a more distinctive fighting style. The Fighter will work similar to the rules for stances and maneuvers in Tome of Battle. The difference between Wizard and Sorceror will be more stark, and a Wizard should never have to pick up crossbow.
  • To that end, classes will have “at will” abilities, as well as per-encounter and per-day abilities, so that a caster will never run out of things to cast.
  • New races: Aasimar (”planetouched”) and Tieflings (evil-inclined Aasimar). They’ve been toned down from the their appearance in non-core materials in Third Edition, but the other races are meeting them halfway by being empowered to a degree.
  • Encounters are being redesigned with larger-scale encounters in mind, as well as streamlining combat. Making turns go quicker around the table, as well as eliminating the “I just finished my turn, I have five minutes to get a snack before I have to do anything” mentality.
  • Skills are going to be reworked and given a bigger role. No real details on that currently.
  • Players Handbook (288 pages) in May 2008, Monster Manual (288 pages) in June, and the first Dungeon Master’s Guide (256 pages) in July.
  • Characters will always have some kind of choice at each level: picking a feat, picking between this or that class ability.
  • A reduced reliance on magic items. Your character is what makes you effective not your gear.
  • Truncating the skill system. If you want to be a tailor, write “Tailor” on your character sheet, because “Profession (Tailor)” is gone. There’s a focus on active (i.e. combat?) skills. Also, combining certain skills: who buys Hide without Move Silently? Also, complex things like Diplomacy should be somewhat more complex than a single die roll.
  • Any kind of conversion guide from Third to Fourth will be anemic, if even extant. 1:1 conversions are so difficult, you’re better off re-rolling the character, attempting to recreate the spirit of the character within the new rule set. (Worked for Third, in my opinion.)
  • Prestige classes will still be around, but somewhat different. They want a greater level of integration between base classes and prestige: some kind of advancement in your base class as you take levels in your prestige class. Not many details on this.
  • Allowing for re-allocation of some feats. For example, Whirlwind has five pre-requisite feats: you shouldn’t have to start planning to get whirlwind so far ahead. There’s talk of re-training a la Players Handbook 2.
  • XP will be easier; no more comparing challenge rating to party level to find out how much they’re worth. CR is gone, melded into monster level. To build an encounter, you determine the XP value you want, and then pick out monsters that total that XP value. This should also make it easier to modify encounters.
  • For monsters, the focus is going to be on what the monster is likely to do. As they did from 3.0 to 3.5, they’ll cut out a lot of monster abilities because a monster with a life expectancy of 7 rounds doesn’t need 30 abilities.
  • Alignment is getting a re-work. Less concentration on it as a “mechanical element.” (Eberron shades-of-gray system, anyone?)
  • No more magic item creation costing experience points. Or monsters eating your levels.
  • Starker contrasts between races: real tactical differences.

Update from my last day at GenCon ’07. A lot more info to throw out

  • Attributes generation will be very close to what it is now. Random Rolls and Point Buy will both be supported. Expect to see very similar chart for stats that exists now.
  • Hit Points will be more “reliable” this stems from the poor fighter that rolls a 1 on his hit die for 4 levels is a thing of the past. It was also mentioned that 1st level PCs will be a tad more durable. No low level encounter should kill them in one hit, maybe two, but not one.
  • Races will grant abilities at levels other than first – most of the abilities will be gained in the first 10 levels, but there will be some gained at higher levels. Most racial traits come into play right out of the gate at 1st level—dwarven resilience, elven evasion, a half-elf’s inspiring presence just to name a few.
  • The final rules for item creation are far from done but here is the general idea on the direction they want to take. They want item creation to be part of the game experience but not to act as a detractor to the game. Such as it is the current very clunky and very unusable crafting skills (weaponsmith, armorsmith etc). They want players to be able to make items and not have it really impact the over all game play.
  • Through D & D Insider we might see an article that might give us more of a formula that will help us in coming up with player created spells. As they are taking a more measured approach to spells design, and looking to avoid the massive spell overlap that has built up over the years.
  • Monster Design has changed. A monster in the new Monster Manual is intended to be use it as a monster. If they build a feat, it’s meant as a feat, not a monsters special attack. When they want to make a monsterous race a playable character race, they will design a separate racial write up for it. Monsters won’t be shoehorned into a monster stat block into becoming a PC stat block.
  • In conjunction with what was said above the concept of a ECL is gone. As above monsterous races will have a seperate Monster Stat block and Racial write up.
  • Encounters with monsters are being tuned as well. It looks like there will be more monsters for PC’s to fight. “It’s more fun that way.” Andy Collins belted out in our conversation. There will be very few encounters that are built to be all the PC’s against one big powerful bad guy. There will be more mechanics built to leverage the monsters and THEIR fundamental roles. This is the “monster’s job on the battlefield” this is how he reacts. The fog of war is gonna be much more interesting because when you approach an orc, he isn’t a set of specific stats. He has a very specific role, and you won’t know what it is until he unleashes it on the battlefield.
  • Damage Reduction. Mike Mearls kinda quirked his mouth and said…”Well maybe its something that we won’t see in the new edition.” He went on to say DR is a puzzle, once you’ve figured it out…its no longer a puzzle and never will be agian for you. The example was given about Lycanthropes…will silver still do anything? Well it will have a negative impact on them…might be more damage…might be negatives…we just going to have to wait and see
  • Critical Hits and Sneak Attack like abilities. As it stands 5 monster types out of the current list are immune to these things. Seeing as how DR is getting the “axe” as it were. What about those things? Well a critical hit or sneak attack may not do more damage to certain Monsters they both will always have a beneficial effect. Rogues will not be useless against undead, plants, oozes, constructs, or elementals. Also confirming criticals might be a thing of the past.
  • Digital Versions of Rulebooks. Each paper product will include a code to unlock a digital version of the book on the site for a “nominal fee”. Currently looking to be about $0.99, less then a cup of coffee. Any and all errata will be updated into your digital version of the books. This is really their way of saying…”We don’t want a 4.5 in 3 years.”

Thats it for now…If I get any more good crunch bits I will drop em off!


~ by lyoncage on August 20, 2007.

6 Responses to “D & D 4th Edition…The Changes”

  1. “I love this plan! I’m excited to be a part of it! Lets do it!”

    Love the new blog BTW.

  2. Initially, upon the announcement, I was a little skeptical… Now? I’m intrigued. Thanks for the info. Sounds like it could actually answer a lot of the more esoteric problems our specific group has been having with the current system. Kudos.

  3. So spell casters will have per-battle spells and at will spells (or spell like abilities), that is interesting, it will certainly make them more versatile, I wonder if these spell-like abilities will be based on school of speciality (if there is such a thing in 4th Ed) or will it be a generic ability for all Sorcerers and Wizards?

  4. Hugh – As of now I have no idea if we are gonna see the old schools of magic in a form that looks familiar at all. So only time will tell.

  5. So what about Rogues? Why were gnomes and half-orcs left out? Why the hell are Rangers pumped up now?

  6. Rogues still kick ass…and honestly…why does everyone keep bitching about Gnomes for crying out loud…

    But just so you know they included in the Monster Manual a few additional races that you can play…Gnomes are one of them….

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