Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition
|Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition|
|RPG published by
Wizards of the Coast
|Essential Books||Dungeon Master's Guide
Player's Handbook 2
Player's Handbook 3
Monster Manual 2
Monster Manual 3
Dungeon Master's Guide 2
Heroes of the Fallen Lands
Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms
Heroes of the Feywild
Heroes of the Elemental Chaos
Nearly every roll consists of making a single d20 roll, plus a modifier, against a target number. Saving throws have been replaced with Defenses that work like AC; the term 'Saving Throw' now refers to a 55% (DC 10) roll every turn to recover from a persistent effect.
Gameplay is divided into encounters. The GM selects monsters and traps up to a total experience value as recommended for the size of the party, and the encounter plays out as a tactical miniatures game. Non-combat encounters consist of "skill challenges", where skill checks (sometimes of multiple types) are made in sequence. XP is awarded for non-combat challenges and quests, as well as for combat encounters.
Each character can take one standard action (such as an attack), one move action, one minor action, and any number of free actions per turn. Each character also gets one immediate interrupt or immediate reaction per round, which may be used outside of the regular turn order. Generally each character will use their standard action to make use of an attack power. Characters are highly specialized as noted above, and fit into combat roles of controller (status effect and mass-attack focused), defender (durability and counter-attack focused), leader (buffing and healing focused), and striker (single target damage focused).
Characters level up from level 1 to 30; with the scope of the game changing every ten levels. At level 30 characters are expected to undergo some form of apotheosis, but the game is totally broken at this level anyway. Hey, at least this is one thing it has in common with D&D!
All-in-all, 4e has been compared to vidya like World of Warcraft and all that shit, which shouldn't necessarily be a bad thing if it wasn't oddly stiffing in a mild way. Order of the Stick summed this up perfectly in their limited edition Dragon Magazine book; the 4e team relies on spacing and managing cooldowns and per-battle abilities, while the 3.5 team just blows all their gold and spell slots on as many game-breaking potions and spells as they want before standing atop a hill and whoring the fuck out of arrows and magic traps.
4e vs. WoW
Although comparing 4e to World of Warcraft was the most common thing to do back in the day, in actuality, most of its "WoWish" aspects were derived from unspoken assumptions and core mechanical aspects of D&D going back throughout its history. The sourcebook "Wizards Presents: Races & Classes", a teaser book that covers a lot of the design process leading up to 4e, talks quite extensively about the process - for example, roles have always been part of D&D, ever since we had the Fighting Man, Magic User and Thief, it's just that actually thinking about what makes their combat role work and using that to avoid the tiers system of past editions was new to 4e.
The setting of 4e is highly generic and designed to give the DM a relatively blank canvas to paint on. This default setting consists of a wild medieval landscape in which isolated human and demihuman communities (Points of Light) struggle to survive after the fall of a greater empire. This provides an explanation for the large areas of wilderness and many ruins for monsters to hide in, and the need for adventurers as opposed to more regulated militias. The "ground" setting of 4e has become known as the Nentir Vale, after the particular region of the World used for most official non-planar adventure modules.
The Great Wheel cosmology, present in 2e and 3e since popularized by Planescape, has been replaced by a new metaphysical cosmology, known as the World Axis. This multiverse follows a more organic, mythology-based approach to the planes, dividing existence up into the World (what used to be the Prime Material), the Feywild (Land of Faerie), the Shadowfell (Land of the Dead), the Astral Sea (Realm of Gods, World of Spirit), the Elemental Chaos (Font of Creation), and Far Realm. Advice is given on how to reset the cosmology back to the Great Wheel in the Manual of Planes.
The DMG contains an extensive section explaining the tropes of the setting and how they might be used, and also suggesting ways in which the DM can deviate from them to make the setting his own.
Chargen is simplified compared to 3rd Edition (although still time consuming). Skills are all-or-nothing, you either have training in them or you don't. Each character gains a selection of Powers which can be used at will, once per encounter, or once per day, in ascending order of power. These abilities often consist of an attack plus some special effect, such as knocking someone prone, setting them on fire, or moving yourself or your opponent. There are also five possible alignments, none of which have much effect on gameplay any more: Lawful Good, Good, Unaligned, Evil and Chaotic Evil.
The character races in the PHB are:
In addition to the races in the PHB, the following player races are in the MM and other sourcebooks: (all of them are "LA +0", to put things in 3.5 parlance):
- Bladeling (Manual of the Planes)
- Bullywug (MM 2)
- Duergar (MM 2)
- Genasi (comes in 13 varieties: Causticsoul, Cindersoul, Earthsoul,Embersoul, Firesoul, Magmasoul, Plaguesoul, Sandsoul, Stormsoul, Sunsoul Voidsoul, Watersoul, and Windsoul)
- Gnolls (updated and in this article of Dragon Magazine #367)
- Hengeyokai (Dragon 404) (Animal Forms include: Badger, Carp, Cat, Crab, Crane, Dog, Fox, Hare, Monkey, Raccoon Dog, Rat, Sparrow)
- Kenku (MM 2)
- Shadar-Kai (updated and in an article of Dragon Magazine #372)
- Shifter, Longtooth
- Shifter, Razorclaw
- Warforged (updated and in this article of Dragon Magazine #364)
Character races in the PHB 2 are:
Character races in the PHB 3 are:
Character races in the Eberron Player's Guide are:
Character races in the Forgotten Realms Player's Guide are:
Character races in Heroes of Shadow are:
Character races in Heroes of the Feywild are:
Character races in the Dark Sun Campaign Setting are:
Character classes in the first PHB consist of:
| 4e Classes table
- Cleric (Role: Leader, Power Source: Divine)
- Fighter (Role: Defender, Power Source: Martial)
- Paladin (Role: Defender, Power Source: Divine)
- Ranger (Role: Striker, Power Source: Martial)
- Rogue (Role: Striker, Power Source: Martial)
- Warlock (Role: Striker, Power Source: Arcane)
- Warlord (Role: Leader, Power Source: Martial)
- Wizard (Role: Controller, Power Source: Arcane)
Classes from the second PHB are:
- Avenger (Role: Striker, Power Source: Divine)
- Barbarian (Role: Striker, Power Source: Primal)
- Bard (Role: Leader, Power Source: Arcane)
- Druid (Role: Controller, Power Source: Primal)
- Invoker (Role: Controller, Power Source: Divine)
- Shaman (Role: Leader, Power Source: Primal)
- Sorcerer (Role: Striker, Power Source: Arcane)
- Warden (Role: Defender, Power Source: Primal)
Classes added in the third PHB are:
- Ardent (Role: Leader, ower Source: Psionic)
- Battlemind (Role: Defender, Power Source: Psionic)
- Monk (Role: Striker, Power Source: Psionic)
- Psion (Role: Controller, Power Source: Psionic)
- Runepriest (Role: Leader, Power Source: Divine)
- Seeker (Role: Controller, Power Source: Primal)
Classes in other books include:
- Artificer (Role: Leader, Power Source: Arcane) from the Eberron Campaign Guide
- Assassin (Role: Striker, Power Source: Shadow) from Dragon Magazine 379
- Bladesinger (Role: Controller, Power Source: Arcane) from the Neverwinter Campaign Setting
- Swordmage (Role: Defender, Power Source: Arcane) from the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide
- Vampire (Role: Striker, Power Source: Shadow) from Heroes of Shadow
- Warlock (Binder) (Role: Controller, Power Source: Shadow) from Heroes of Shadow
- Paladin (Blackguard) (Role: Striker, Power Source: Divine) from Heroes of Shadow
- Assassin (Executioner) (Role: Striker, Power Source: Martial) from Heroes of Shadow
- Wizard (Shi'ar) (Role: Controller, Power Source: Arcane) from Heroes of Elemental Chaos
- Sorcerer (Elementalist) (Role: Striker, Power Source: Arcane) from Heroes of Elemental Chaos
- Wizard (Mage) (Role: Controller, Power Source: Arcane) from Heroes of the Fallen Lands
- Fighter (Knight) (Role: Defender, Power Source: Martial) from Heroes of the Fallen Lands
- Cleric (Warpriest) (Role: Leader, Power Source: Divine) from Heroes of the Fallen Lands
- Rogue (Thief) (Role: Striker, Power Source: Martial) from Heroes of the Fallen Lands
- Fighter (Slayer) (Role: Striker, Power Source: Martial) from Heroes of the Fallen Lands
- Wizard (Witch) (Role: Controller, Power Source: Arcane) from Heroes of the Feywild
- Druid (Protector) (Role: Controller, Power Source: Primal) from Heroes of the Feywild
- Barbarian (Berserker) (Role: Defender and Striker, Power Source: Martial) from Heroes of the Feywild
- Bard (Skald) (Role: Leader, Power Source: Arcane) from Heroes of the Feywild
- Ranger (Hunter) (Role: Controller, Power Source: Martial) from Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms
- Paladin (Cavalier) (Role: Defender, Power Source: Divine) from Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms
- Druid (Sentinel) (Role: Leader, Power Source: Prime) from Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms
- Warlock (Hexblade) (Role: Striker, Power Source: Arcane) from Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms
- Ranger (Scout) (Role: Striker, Power Source: Martial) from Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms
D&D Essentials was an attempt to appeal to players more comfortable with older editions of D&D. It featured classes more similar in structure D&D 3.5, in particular simplifying martials, but still using the structure of character powers to attempt to maintain the modular nature of D&D 4e. This added even more skub to an edition already full of skub; those who weren't fans of 4e in the first place were rarely interested in it, whilst those who were fans found it annoying and derided it as "dumbing down". These fans tend to regard Essentials as being ultimately responsible for the death of 4e and its replacement with 5e.
D&D 4e on /tg/
Since its announcement 4e has been a source of controversy and trolling on /tg/. Its supporters consider it to have made D&D simple and fun. Its critics have numerous objections to the system and setting, often referring to it as 'shit twinkie' (with the implication that they had been expecting a certain type of D&D goodness and sorely disappointed by what was actually delivered). More cogent arguments against 4th Edition by people tend to decry 4th over some of its perceived issues (character homogenization, signed-in-blood role reinforcement, et al).
This is not surprising, given that the Dungeons & Dragons fandom on /tg/ is about as fractious as the Transformers fandom on /co/ and /toy/. This was the exact same thing that had happened when 2e switched over to 3e, it's just that A: the internet gave us a much wider sounding-board than the scattered messaging boards and mail column of Dragon Magazine did, and B: /tg/ is /tg/ and hates on everything, though not nearly to the extent of say, /v/.
However, since the release of 5th edition, /tg/'s actually gone and mellowed out a lot about 4e. The most common statement on the matter is that the calculated "nostalgia-appeal" motif of 5e makes it honestly feel a little bland compared to 4e, whilst others feel free to admit to actually enjoying 4e's mechanics now that hating on it is no longer the hip thing to do.
Though /tg/ frequently jokes that they don't actually exist, 4th has some legit fans. As hugely popular as Pathfinder was and remains, 4e actually had huge sales throughout its lifespan, only starting to slow late in its lifespan. Since the release of 5th edition, the "4erries" have become both more common and more mellow, focusing mostly on just quietly talking about what they loved and occasionally needling 5e on what they see as negative choices in development - the loss of the Warlord and reworking Gnolls into basically fuzzy demon-bred zombies first and foremost.
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- Official Site
- March 2010 Errata, 88 pages, for the 15 official rulebooks and setting books so far.
- Latest Errata, May 2010, 36 pages.
- The Book of Broken (archive link because Wizards hates things you aren't buying right this instant), 4e character optimization, exploits and haxx like "Flensing Weapon + Intimidate = instant win"