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4th Edition?

Edit: The scoop.
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Trying to think of another feasible explanation, and drawing a blank. tentatively looking forward to this...

After the amount of effort they put into dissuading 4th Edition rumors at Winter Fantasy/D&D Experience, I'll be extremely turned off if it is indeed 4e. It may be the official launch of the new Star Wars game, which is getting its own RPGA supported campaign. The new system is supposedly a preview of what 4e will become.

Today, Wizards of the Coast confirms that the new edition will launch in May 2008 with the release of the D&D Player's Handbook.

The 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons game includes elements familiar to current D&D players, including illustrated rulebooks and pre-painted plastic miniatures. Also releasing next year will be new web-based tools and online community forums through the brand-new Dungeons & Dragons Insider (D&D Insider) digital offering. D&D Insider lowers the barriers of entry for new players while simultaneously offering the depth of play that appeal to veteran players.

The 4th Edition rules emphasize faster game play, offer exciting new character options, and reduce the amount of "prep time" needed to run the game. D&D Insider includes a character creator that lets players design and equip their D&D characters, dungeon- and adventure-building tools for Dungeon Masters, online magazine content, and a digital game table that lets you play 24/7 on the internet — the perfect option for anyone who can't find time to get together.

"We've been gathering player feedback for eight years," said Bill Slavicsek, R&D Director of Roleplaying and Miniatures Games at Wizards of the Coast. "Fourth Edition streamlines parts of the D&D game that are too complex, while enhancing the overall play experience. At its heart, it's still a tabletop game experience. However, D&D Insider makes it easier for players to create characters, run their games, and interact with the rest of the D&D community."

Wizards of the Coast will release two 4th Edition preview books in December and January — Wizards Presents: Classes and Races and Wizards Presents: Worlds and Monsters. The full scope of 4th Edition books, miniatures, and adventures will be available in the spring and summer of 2008.


So there we go. :)

This seems to be following the general trend of dumbing everything down...

3rd Edition was a lot simpler than 2nd (I missed out on 1st, I was still playing basic D&D then...), but a lot of the changes did make sense. I still like the old "Skills and Powers" character creation better, but this wasn't bad. If it gets streamlined much more, it's going to be like thumbing through one of those old "Choose Your Own Adventure" books.

White Wolf certainly seemed to have gone the same way with their new stuff. I haven't tried 4th Edition Shadowrun yet, but they seem to have done it too.

Oh well, I've got enough of the old books to keep me busy for years.

I'd call it simplifying, not dumbing down.

Now, if only they'd realise that 1975 was a BAD YEAR to be making their core design decisions, and dump classes and levels and the flat d20 roll....

Now, if only they'd realise that 1975 was a BAD YEAR to be making their core design decisions, and dump classes and levels and the flat d20 roll....

...but Pinnacle has already published Savage Worlds.

There are more games than SW that lack classes, levels, and flat large dice.

But yes.

Ever tried to DM a high-level 3e game? I did and I found it hellishly complex.

I have as well, and while people claim that it is more complex (and more broken) than the other major systems, I found that WoD and Savage World suffer a similar collapse of game balance at higher levels.

Define "higher levels" for me, will you?

GMing for demigods is always hard. I've just found it much harder to *build* a demigod in those other systems, and easier to challenge one, than it is in D&D.

(Of course, once you get past about level 13 in D&D challenging them isn't actually *all* that hard. AFter all, most encounters as CR15ish will have at least one save-or-die effect, which has at least a 5% chance of working automatically.)

Savage Worlds breaks down at Heroic, much less Legendary. World of Darkness, having no class-like descriptions like SW has it's own breakdown of power at certain xp levels, although the new WoD addressed this to a degree with its new purchase dynamic for advancement. There is, in all games, a fundamental point where the power that can be achieved breaks from the reality of the setting, where those that remain challenging could otherwise be ruling the world when the PCs are low level, but for some reason only appear when they reach the requisite level.

Such a topic is frequently discussed and analyzed and D&D is not the only purveyor of this outcome.

where those that remain challenging could otherwise be ruling the world when the PCs are low level, but for some reason only appear when they reach the requisite level.

If this is the definition of "broken" you're using, I'm not actually all that worried about it. One solution is to *have* those people actually ruling the world from the earliest stages, after all.

By "broken" and "difficult to run" I tend to mean "impossible to challenge the PCs without completely overwhelming them or making all the things they have bought with their XP useless" - and I really don't find Savage Worlds that way up to heroic, and it doesn't look like Legendary will be much more of a problem.

In reference to Savage Worlds, could you clarify what you mean by it "Breaking down,"? I mean, does it become more difficult to challenge the PC's or do the power levels just become too high?

Breaking down means that challenge level becomes skewed. Skill-based accomplishments become rudimentary (this is far more apparent in d20 with skill-focused characters, but exists in Savage settings like Necessary Evil where super skills break the bank). Combat challenges require levels of difficulty that hasn't been experienced before. And true adversaries must be at a level where most elements of the world would not inhibit them from being truly evil.

The Weasel King has listed perhaps the only realistic means of keeping such villains within the dynamic of the campaign, and that's to have them as part of the world's aristocracy, the ruler of an evil nation or the world itself. You can only get away with the hidden society or power-mad hermit so many times before it becomes a joke. So in those situations where you don't want the bad guy to rule the world, there's very little that could honestly oppose your hero without the "where the hell did that come from?" alarm going off. Politics are generally the best solution, but even then, a savvy group at high levels is destined to rule the world. Regardless of the setting.

Of the three major settings, Savage Worlds does the best because of the difficulty of wounds soaking and the limited number of wounds available. But at high levels, specialized PCs can run amok in SW just like they can in any other rules system.

Thanks a lot for the explanation. It's something to consider for my own system.

But I don't think there's really any way a SYSTEM can plan for that. It's up to the GM.

For me it's much simpler. The amount of time required to create and run balanced encounters increases quite rapidly as characters go up in level. After about 12th level it the required time investment is more than I can easily manage given the demands of my life.

This occurs:

1. Because there are an increasing number of options
2. Because players get an increasingly good grasp of how to optimize their abilities, while DMs have to learn new tricks for every encounter
3. Because there are an increasing number of variables in every encounter to track

well, if you want complex, White Wolf's Exalted has it in spades. There are a lot of powers to juggle and especially in 2nd ed combat is something of a dance when exalts fight, given who has what techniques and what counters what is part of the build of the game. Scion is on a similar vein but less complicated technique. Both are high power though, which can be a turn off, or avoided for being white wolf (which never made sense to me)

I dont play new world of darkness, but my understanding is the streamlined combat because it was not intended to be a major facet of gameplay. what I have seen from my friends books does not seem to be overly simplified.


I'm glad I didn't dump a load of money into 3.5...well except for the miniature. :)

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<lovingly looks at his Savage Worlds Explorer's Edition, hard-copy of Necropolis, and various genre toolkits>
Sorry, what's going on? I wasn't listening:)

Yes, I believe so. And a recent leak (now deleted or hidden) on the official forums more or less confirms it.

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