The new direction of D&D 4th Ed

Author: Andrew /

Hey all!

I know I haven't posted in a while but I wanted to throw this out there. I know in the past, we've had discussions about 4th ed; lots of them good, some of them bad (as in what's wrong with the system). There were things like the lack of important, powerful feeling feats, classes that felt too similar, languages were a bit funky, ect.

Well, I just recently picked up the new Red Box which is heralding the release of the D&D Essentials line. This is a the beginning of a new direction in 4th edition's design. Now, that's not to say that the old 4th ed books are worthless, they're not. They'll be fully compatible, and usable in any 4th ed game you play, so all that hard-earned cash you (and I) spent on building up a big fat 4th ed library was not in vain.

That being said, 4th ed is now being taken over by Mike Mearls, who is overseeing the bulk of design on D&D and I, for one, am glad he is. He holds a reverence for 1st edition D&D and what D&D actually "IS". What it "is" is a bit of an odd concept, at times, but bear with me.

To me, I think D&D is an experience that evokes a certain feeling. Sometimes when you play an MMO, your character feels like a stack of numbers meant to do a job and there's nothing organic or lifelike about it. It doesn't pull you in, it doesn't engage you and it doesn't make you sit up and pay attention, hanging on the edge of your seat. I know there's been the talk that D&D 4th ed is trying to be an MMO (on paper) and I still disagree, but I do see the things that are similar and why people gripe about it. Some of the things in there, while balanced FANTASTICALLY, do seem to play very closely to one another and you don't feel like your character is really their own person. It more tends to feel like "Uh... I'm a fighter and I do a d8 worth of damage with my sword... My buddy is a wizard and does a d8 with one of his 'spells'." It felt ridiculous in that regard.

Essentials is bring about new things and I will put links so you can all go check out the neat things involved. One example is the fighter in "Heroes of the Fallen Lands." HotFL is the first class book to be published in the Essentials line. It will cover the fighter, the cleric, the rogue, and the wizard (all the iconic classes). They offer new builds with new options.

The fighter, for example, gets stances. These can be used instead of dailies. This is a quoted part off the website explaining stances:

"Level 1: Fighter Stances

Fighters learn a number of stances, special powers that combine positioning, footwork, and combat tactics to maximum effect. A stance allows you to customize your approach for fighting different enemies. Against a massive ogre, battle wrath allows a knight to overcome that creature’s impressive hit points more quickly. Against monsters that gain advantage from flanking you, measured cut lets you stay in motion to keep them out of position."

There are more things too but that's one of them.

I, for one, am very excited and can't wait to see the rest. I have the Red Box and for $20, it's a dang good deal and the perfect thing for introducing someone new to the wonderful game we all know and love. Here are some links (Check out the one at The Escapist for sure, it's an interview with Mike Mearls and answers a lot of questions about the design choices in the past and the direction going forward).

Escapist Article

Fighter 1

Fighter 2

Cleric

Wizard

Rogue

Hope this was interesting for you guys!

~Andrew


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