4th Edition tagged posts

D&D 5e: What Do We Know So Far?

Now that we’ve all succeeded on our save vs. shocking news, let’s examine today’s Big Announcement and study what we know. We’ll learn a lot more in the coming days and weeks, but let’s make a first stop of many and roll Perception to see if there’s any hints at what to expect. Until the playtest phase rolls around (and we’ve been assured it will), we’ll have to make do with gossip and terrible, wonderful speculation.

The future of D&D?

First off, we don’t even know what it’s going to be called. The Internet has erupted in 5th Edition fever, but if you look at the WotC press releases, they carefully call it the next iteration of D&D, or the future of the game, or the new rules. The closest you might find to an “official” name so far is “D&D Next.” Press who visited WotC in December learned the code name used by WotC R&D for the rules document, but have been asked not to reveal it. (It begins with an “I,” though. 4th Edition was codenamed Orcus during development, so maybe Iggwilv? Ioun? Imix? Io? My money’s on Iuz.)

In fact, Mike Mearls pretty much put it down when he said “Most people will think of this as the fifth edition of D&D. In many ways, though, we want this to be a version of the game that embraces the entirety of D&D’s history, one that all D&D fans can turn to and use. I think that the actual naming of the game will come down to how the play-tests go and how people react to it. I’d love to just call it Dungeons & Dragons and leave the edition numbering behind” (CNN).

A sigh of relief can be followed by a *huh?* of confusion at the news that Mearls hopes “to create a system that allows players to use much of their existing content, regardless of the edition” (The Escapist). Whatever that means, he seems to be saying that the game will accommodate content from throughout D&D history, at least in part. But how? What does it mean? A magic formula for turning 2e monsters into 5e statblocks? Unlikely. An extremely stripped-down ruleset that doesn’t use most of the rules trappings that each edition of D&D has employed? Undesirable. A pipe dream that cannot be followed through upon? Unknowable.

Read More

At-Will Says Farewell

At-Will: Inspired 4e Design

A few days ago Quinn over at At-Will made a sad farewell post informing his vast readership that the blog would be shutting down, and explaining his reasons. I’ve been a regular follower of At-Will since the beginning, and if you aren’t familiar with the excellent work that this blog has done on D&D design, I’ll let you know that this is a huge loss to the D&D blogging community. Quinn Murphy (aka gamefiend) was one of the first big bloggers of 4th Edition, and since he started At-Will back in 2008, he has consistently written insightful and creative pieces on more effective DMing, more interesting characters, smarter combat strategies, and overall better gaming.

Even more sad is the news that At-Will’s demise is largely due to the pressures of combatting the quarrelsome and fractious nature of the D&D community. A little bit of nerdrage is to be expected whenever gamers gather to discuss the finer arts of polyhedron-throwing, but it’s a tragic day when the community is so vicious that they drive a great gaming resource like At-Will into self-imposed exile.

Read More

One-Hour Review: Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Emporium

Wow, it’s been months since Castles & Cooks has done an official One-Hour Review of a D&D product. In fact, it’s been a slow summer for new D&D books in general. It feels good to delve into a new tome of geekery again, but there’s not a moment to spare on savoring the Christmas morning effect. Time to start reviewing my first impressions of D&D’s newest book of magic items: Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Emporium!

What took WotC so long to update the potion of gaseous form to 4th Edition?

The first thing to admire is the cover art by William O’Connor. It shows a table surface covered in magical trinkets. Rings are sorted into a box, and your eyes wander over an assortment of talismans, scepters, wands, coins, and potions, with labels tantalizingly illegible. You can even spy some even more intriguing mysteries: is that a figurine of wondrous power? And a flying carpet (along with a magic lamp)? Some kind of magic snow globe? And a pile of cards that must be the fabled Deck of Many Things. That is, unless Mordenkainen is into the secondhand Yu-Gi-Oh market (uncharacteristically foolish of Mortie, as that investment isn’t worth much these days).

The book opens with an introduction by Mordenkainen himself, and the first-person descriptions continue at the start of each chapter and in snide commentary sprinkled throughout the pages. I enjoy these “found footage” style touches in an RPG product. Some of the greatest RPG books have done the same: The Factol’s Manifesto, The Book of Vile Darkness, The Demonomicon of Iggwilv, and plenty of White Wolf books. I don’t have time to read the whole thing just yet if I want to get through this review, so for now let’s dive in.

The book’s magic item descriptions open with a promise that this book will “make magic items more magical” by focusing first on their story elements (history, appearance, folklore), and then deriving its rules from there. I loved Paizo’s “Classic X Revisited” books (including “Classic Treasures Revisited”) so this is welcome in my opinion. In MME, this is mostly accomplished through footnotes by Mordenkainen describing his own brushes with these items, as well as a paragraph or two of descriptive text before each stat block.

Read More

Skill the Messenger

Monte CookMonte Cook is back on Team D&D! As an RPG designer with untouchable design credentials (Planescape, Ptolus, Iron Heroes, Arcana Unearthed, co-designing D&D 3rd Edition, and launching the career of Mike Mearls), he has been brought onboard to experiment with new approaches to D&D topics. His first target is skills, but there has been a mixed reaction. Who knew 4th Edition’s skill system had such loyal defenders? I certainly didn’t. You can debate the merits of his specific proposals, but I’m overall baffled by the gamers who say Monte Cook shouldn’t try to fix the skills system because there’s nothing to fix. I’m waiting to see what comes of Cook’s tinkering, but I was hoping for a little more substance right out of the gate. Regardless I’m definitely itching for something better than 4th Edition’s core skills system.

Read More