D&D 4th Edition Announced

WotC has announced a new 4th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Information can be found here and here.

I hope they don’t blow it. I’m a big fan of 3rd edition and have been playing (mostly on the computer now) since the original 1974 white box edition.

D&D “We need more money Edition n+1”

I hear you on that one – I own at least four editions (including the 1974 white box, 2nd edition, 3rd edition, 3.5 edition, and I think I have the red and blue 1980’s boxes somewhere at my parent’s house). In fairness 3rd edition was a radical shift from previous editions and IMO was a considerable improvement. Not only was it much more straightforward (e.g., bigger numbers were always better), but the whole feats system added a lot to the game – particularly for fighters. 3.5 on the other hand added relatively little (although I did like most of the changes made).

D&D “foogla will start playing D&D again” edition

oh well: NEXT!

Yeah, 3rd edition was a huge improvement over 2nd edition. It does seem like 3e has really just got started though, at least compared between the times of 1e to 2e and 2e to 3e.

If they make a lot of improvements I will not mind, but it seems that the source for 3e is a little thin to be moving onto 4e. The mechanics in 3e are pretty sound, about the only big mechanic change I would like would be the improve the armor system to separate ‘not being hit’ from ‘not being damaged’.

In the hero system they have something called a combat value which simply determines if you are hit. Once you are hit, then all your defenses are accounted for to see if you actually take any damage. A lot of attacks do not make sense in the current system.

For example, lets say a tangle-foot bag. The idea is that you throw this bag at someone, which explodes and puts this quick-drying goo all over. A rogue or some other agile character sensible might be able to avoid this with his 20ac. However, a warrior in full-plate + shield? I am sorry, but if 10pts of your ac come from heavy metal armor, it should offer zero protection.

Similarly touch attack spells should only take into account a few kinds of AC. Certainly flat armor AC makes no sense and neither does natural AC. Dodge, Dex and Deflection might though.

Also get rid of that stupid natural 1 / natural 20 rule. That is such a bogus unrealistic idea. That means even a god is the most supreme armor, that might have an AC of like 500 will still get hit 1 in 20 times by a crowd of angry peasant or a level 1 mage casting grease can cause such a god to slip and fall 1 out of 20 times. Heck, just get a bunch of wands of grease and hand them out to everyone. Nothing in the universe will stand up after 20 applications of the spell in one spot. Its just stupid.

See, it seems to me that the optimal solution to that is not a rewrite of the game’s underlying system, but a simple change to the item description that reads “ignores armor bonuses.”

3e came out in 2000, so seven years ago. 2e came out in '89, so lasted for eleven years.

As long as the games keep getting better and better I don’t mind paying.

Soon, it will be just like a Madden game. Super.

That could work, but it becomes a bit clunky. Its not that it just ignores armor bonuses, but it ignores W and X, but not Y and Z. Each and every spell / item would have to have this description.

Now imagine this, you are at a table with 5 players:

DM: The giant slug pukes goo on you. Ok everyone, what is your AC when you add dex, but subtract your actual armor. Rings count (deflection), shields don’t (shield AC), but dodge does. Oh, natural armor doesn’t matter either. Now everyone figure that out and …

Most players can’t even compute that real attack bonus for each attack. Talk about grinding to a halt. Oh wait, the next thing that happens means you need to recompute your AC all over again…

Instead you could refine the system and make it more sensible. For example, armor never affects your chance to be hit. Armor reduces damage when you are hit. Shields reduce damage only if you block. Natural armor is damage reduction that is built in. Dex is not being hit. Dodge is not being hit. Deflection is not being hit.

So now the question of asking, did the slugs goo hit you is much simpler. You can conceptually partition things into attacks that just need to hit vs damage. A pit of lava doesn’t need to hit. If you are in it, you take damage. Magic armor vs fire may help with that, but all the dex in the world doesn’t.

It will also make the whole damage thing sensible. Why does a guy encased in steel take the same damage from an orc’s axe as a mage in a robe? If the orc rolls a natural 20, then everyone, regardless of their armor ( ignoring magical dr items / spells ) takes the same damage. I am sorry, but that is just wrong. The warrior should take far less damage then the mage.

D&D has always been a pretty lame system, in all editions, but before the 3d edition, it at least had the charm of being unbalanced. By that I mean that there were quirky special cases in the rules, spells that were a little or a lot out of whack, and a generally inexplicable and arbitrary flavor that I think is actually consistent with fantasy settings and with the idea of “magic” as a supernatural non-scientific art. The whimsical magic system that Jack Vance originally invented in his books, for example, was a good fit for original D&D.

However, in the 3d edition they flattened out all the numbers, and eliminated many irregularities in the rules. This sounds great, but somehow it seems the rationalization process made the system rather dull and boring like GURPS. So honestly I think that the title hit its acme around the “greyhawk” or “blackmoor” fawn-colored booklet supplements and went downhill from there, with a sharper downturn at 3 than at “advanced”.

Needless to say the quality of any RPG is based about 60% on the skill of the GM, and about 35% on the players, but you can always spend a happy few hours whining about the remaining 5% that is associated with the game system.

People have been complaining about that trend since the 1st edition of AD&D, though, when new hardcover supplements (all of which you must have, of course!) came out constantly.

Well, running down a list like that is one way to make it sound more complicated than it is. Alternately, you could just say “add your armor/shield bonus to your current AC.” That’s the only modifier that’s nullified–no need to list all the ones that aren’t.

I think it’s far less clunky to just say that certain attacks ignore armor than it is to rewrite the game’s basic rules to reflect exactly the same thing, but in a way that adds more complexity even to the (vast majority) of attacks that don’t ignore armor.

What do you think about the Orc’s axe scenerio?

Well, I think that armor as damage reduction makes sense, but it is a little more complicated (which is arguably something that D&D doesn’t need), and it still involves a very major revision of the rules, which is sort of inherently clunky for people that play the game. Then again, if they are already rewriting the rules anyway…

So did everyone miss this part?

WotC is incorporating online components into the game through a new Website, DnDInsider.com. Each paper product will include codes to unlock digital versions on the site for a “nominal” activation fee. Players will also be able to use DnDInsider tools and access regular new content similar to the material that was previously released in Dragon and Dungeon magazines (see “Interview with Liz Schuh“) for a monthly fee (as yet undetermined) greater than the old subscription price, but less than a MMORPG subscription.


So now I have to pay for the books and if I want the rest of the content, I have to a pay monthly fee to access that material!?!?

That pretty much seals the deal on 4th edition being a system I won’t be playing.

Edit: to add on to that statement above, 3.5 is already a suckers bet. They have released FAR too many books and diluted the entire brand and made a game that no one person can own all of the material unless they have a lot of disposable income. They released a lot schlock, just to have more books. Now, they’ll do it all over again, with additional online fees. Hasbro has managed to convince me I shouldn’t be play D20 anymore.

Don’t these kind of situations typically use different saving throws instead of AC?

However that said, I’d vastly prefer if the D&D system differentiated between actual armor and evasion in combat.

In that scenario the orc was able to hit a weak spot in the armor or even an unarmored spot. I think you’re trying to interpret 3rd edition AC too literally.

I posted some of my thoughs in the NWN2 thread, but rather than copy and paste it, I’ll just say that many of the changes seem to be moving the game away from its PnP roots. Them making another edition was inevitable, but I felt a new edition each decade works out pretty well. Plus, many of the changes seem like they are being made just to make sure you can’t use old content with the new system.

And seriously? How many new Forgotten Realms campaign books do we need? Heh. How many times can they rewrite the same thing.