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ZER0
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PostSubject: For those that can't access the site   Fri Aug 17, 2007 2:18 pm

Here's a few of the articles covered in case you can't get into the site like I couldn't. It sounds promising. Fighters being variable based on what kind of weapon you use without it being overburdening rules (fingers crossed on that one Very Happy). Like, you mean, a spear working different from a rapier? But they're both piercing! Very Happy Anyways, here you go.
CLASSES:
Here’s a highly probable conversation lifted from the future, one year from today, as two players who’ve just met at a convention discuss their PC choices for their upcoming D&D game.
“I’m playing a 3rd-level human fighter named Graelar.”
“Cool. Is he weapon and shield or two-hander?”
“He’s sword and board, man.”
“Longsword?”
“Yeah. I thought about going high Con and using a hammer, but I wanted to start with the chance to make a couple of attacks, so I’m using rain of blows as my good weapon attack, and I went with high Wis so that I can switch to the better oppy powers later.”
“My elf fighter uses a spear. I like the speed and the option to go past AC. But you’ve got the fighter covered. I’ll play a halfling rogue.”
The names and destinations of the powers mentioned above might have changed by the time the game is in your hands. What won’t change is that fighters care about which weapons they use much more than other characters. Other character classes have specific weapons and weapon types that they tend to rely on while still maintaining access to a larger chunk of the weapon chart. The fighter is the only current 4th Edition class with capabilities that depend on the weapon they have chosen to train the most with. Even at 1st level, a fighter who uses an axe has a different power selection than a fighter who relies on a flail or a rapier or a pick. In the long run, fighters can diversify and master powers related to a few different weapons, but most will opt to focus on the weapon that suits their personal style, helps their interactions with the rest of the PCs in the group, and carries all the magical oomph they’ve managed to acquire.
Many fighters will opt for swords. Swords have the most flexible assortment of powers. In a fighter’s hands, the longsword is the queen of the battlefield and the greatsword is the queen’s executioner. But each of the other significant melee weapons offers the fighter unique advantages and opportunities. For the first time, you’ll be able to say “I’m an axe fighter” or “I’m a flail fighter” and that will mean something cool.
RACES:
Even at that point, we knew 4th Edition was coming, though official work on it wouldn’t start for another year. At the time, the design team used to meet regularly in what we jokingly called the “Design Cabal.” And one day, in May ’04, we started kicking around the question of how many slices of pie a D&D character should consist of, and how big each piece should be.
In 3rd Edition, class and magic items were two big pieces of the PC pie. Race was important at 1st level, but by the time you hit 20th, there was rarely much to distinguish a dwarf fighter from a half-orc fighter. The difference between a +2 here and a +2 over there was drowned out by the huge bonuses from magic items and character level—it didn’t matter any more.
We wanted race to matter all the way up through a character’s career. We wanted there to be some difference between two characters of different races, all other things being equal. We had tried out mechanics like the racial paragons in Unearthed Arcana and the racial substitution levels in the Races of . . . series of books, and we liked the results.
In May of 2004, we started kicking around ideas like “the 20-level race.” In a 20-level race, at each level you gained, you’d get not only new class features, but also new racial qualities. Your race might predetermine which ability scores you increased at some levels, so a dwarf’s Constitution would always have an edge over characters of other races. It would grant you new special abilities as you advanced in level, always appropriate to your level, of course.
One key advantage we saw to this system was that it made it much easier to find room for new races without resorting to the kludgy and awkward mechanic of level adjustments. If we spread the tasty magical abilities of drow out through their levels, they could start at 1st level on a par with other character races. Races like the githyanki already anticipated some of that idea by granting new spell-like abilities at higher levels.
Well, over the next few years, things changed, as things are wont to do. We blew the game out to thirty levels, but put your most significant racial choices in the first ten. Above that, other choices started to crowd out room for special abilities coming from your race.
In the final version of 4th Edition, most of your racial traits come into play right out of the gate at 1st level—dwarven resilience, elven evasion, a half-elf’s inspiring presence, and so on. As you go up levels, you can take racial feats to make those abilities even more exciting and gain new capabilities tied to your race. You can also take race-specific powers built into your class, which accomplish a lot of what racial substitution levels used to do: a dwarf fighter with the friend of earth power can do something that other 10th-level fighters just can’t do.
The rules have changed a lot since that first idea of the 20-level race, but they still serve the same purpose: to make sure that your race stays not just relevant but actually important all the way up through thirty levels of adventure.
About the Author
James Wyatt is the Lead Story Designer for D&D and one of the lead designers of D&D 4th Edition. In over seven years at Wizards of the Coast, he has authored or co-authored award-winning adventures and settings including the Eberron Campaign Setting, City of the Spider Queen, and Oriental Adventures. His more recent works include Expedition to Castle Ravenloft, Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave, and The Forge of War. His second Eberron novel, Storm Dragon, releases this month.

AMPERSAND:

I always thought we should have a magazine called “&”. After all, it worked so well for Dungeon and Dragon that it just seemed to me that we were losing an opportunity to make use of the bit that brings it all together. So, until we figure out what to actually do with that recognizable little ampersand, I’m going to use it as the identifier for my regular feature here at D&D Insider.
I’m Bill Slavicsek. I’ve been the R&D Director for the Dungeons & Dragons game since Wizards of the Coast acquired the company. Before that, I was a Creative Director and Game Designer with TSR, Inc. And way back when, I ran the creative portions of West End Games. Over the years, I’ve worked on roleplaying games, board games, computer games, miniatures games, novels, and nonfiction books of all kinds, and you can see my work on everything from Star Wars to d20 Modern to D&D. I’m going to use this space to regularly talk to you about things related to D&D from the unique perspective of my Director’s chair here at WotC. Let’s start out by talking about 4th Edition D&D and D&D Insider.
At Gen Con this week, we announced that the 4th Edition of the Dungeons & Dragons game will debut in May 2008. We also announced that for the first time, the D&D game would consist of four integral and integrated parts. In addition to the physical products—the core rulebooks, supplements, adventures, miniatures, and accessories—the D&D experience would be enhanced by robust Community features (powered by Gleemax.com), a fully integrated Organized Play program that will offer benefits to convention and home play alike, and the digital initiative we’re calling D&D Insider.
Why 4th Edition and why now? Because the time was right. My R&D team has been watching the play environment since the release of the 3.5 rules, listening to what you, the players, have been telling us. Two years ago, I assembled a team of designers, led by Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, and James Wyatt, to review all the data we’ve been collecting and see if we could make the d20 Game System (the engine that powers the D&D game) better, more intuitive, and more fun. When I saw the first expressions of that effort, I knew we could make D&D better, stronger, faster, more fun. We could rebuild it. We could take the d20 Game System we all know and love and rocket it to the next level.
At the same time, we also began imagining a robust and exciting suite of digital features that could enhance and complement the roleplaying game. It became clear to me that we had two winning directions that would be even more powerful when we combined them, and that’s when we made the decision to move forward with D&D 4th Edition.
The future (only nine months away!) contains the same D&D we all play on a regular basis. It’s still going to be a tabletop roleplaying game. It’s still set in a medieval fantasy world of magic and monsters. It’s still the d20 Game System. But the rulebooks appear more vibrant, more visually stunning, and much easier to use. The game mechanics have been amped up to eliminate the game-stoppers, accentuate the fun factors, and make play faster and more exciting. In the future (now only eight months, 29 days, 23 hours, and 50 minutes from now!) D&D Insider provides its members with immediate access to Dragon Magazine and Dungeon Magazine, to enhanced and expanded content tied to the newest physical book products, to an amazing suite of digital tools to make Dungeon Master preparation and campaign management easier to handle, to a Character Creator that provides not only an interactive character sheet but a visualizer that lets you determine the exact look of the characters you create—and, D&D Insider provides a digital D&D Game Table that turns the Internet into your kitchen table. This amazing application, which we’ll talk more about as the weeks go on, allows you to supplement your face-to-face gaming 24/7, helps you find a group to game with if you don’t happen to have a face-to-face group, or lets you hook up with gaming buddies who long ago scattered to the four winds. Take a look at the prototype movie we showed at Gen Con to get a first taste of the D&D Game Table.
Wow. There’s a lot more that I want to share with you, but I’ve already exceeded my allotted word count for this first column. We’ll pick this up next time, when I describe a typical day in (and reveal a few secrets about) the life of an R&D Director—specifically, this R&D Director
Keep playing!
--Bill Slavicsek

PLAYTEST REPORT:
June 28th, Thursday Night, Wizards Conference Room (Wayne Manor).
Campaign Arc: Castle Smoulderthorn
DM: Dave Noonan
Players: Bruce Cordell (yours truly), Richard Baker, Logan Bonner, and Toby Latin
Before we begin play, another player is giving Rich grief about one of Rich’s character’s abilities that grants the rest of us a blanket +2 to saves; it just ain’t sexy. Rich says something like, “I don’t know, I doubt I’ll use it that much, but who knows, maybe everyone in the party will get entangled.”
Sure enough, not 10 minutes later this fire-crazed flame priest has entangled half the party with fire snakes! Rich throws up his +2 to saves and, voila, at least two of us get free immediately. I guess that power isn’t so corner case after all.
In my case, I’ve thrown together a “psion.” It’s because prior to the shift to the new playtest rules, I was playing a psion elan named Infandous. You wonder, why the scare quotes? Well, just between you and me, updated-Infandous-the-psion is actually a wizard with the serial numbers filed off.
Anyhow, I missed the last few sessions, so I’m slightly confused when the session begins—apparently the group is still breathing hard from their last session, not even rested or healed, when we hear a shuffle of footsteps from behind a set of double doors. The doors aren’t completely closed, so I “mentally” whip them open from across the room.
Coming down the hallway is a troop of azer, some sort of burning serpent, and the flame priest I mentioned earlier. And it was a fight! And . . . we won. Without really breaking a sweat, either, truth be told.
Emboldened, we advanced down that hallway now littered with azer remains and ash, took a right, and pretty quickly found a dusty lintel inscribed with the words: Tomb of the Black Host.
“Sounds like someplace loot is stored,” said Infandous, eager to expand his repertoire of cool equipment. A little more discussion, and we pushed on the door. It opened . . .
And Dave spent nearly 10 minutes constructing (using Dungeon Tiles!) an ominous, crypt-lined ruin complete with three golden sarcophagi that emanated magic. Dave did a good job laying out the floor plan of the room. Such a good job that we lingered in the door looking into the shadow-lined mausoleum for a minute, then, another . . . then decided as a group that, loot or no loot, perhaps it would be better to let whatever lay in the deathly quite of the tomb alone. So, we closed the door and continued down the main hallway.
Sorry, Dave.

Woot.
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Sir Bozak The Damned
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PostSubject: Re: For those that can't access the site   Fri Aug 17, 2007 9:27 pm

This Is The Beginning Of The END....What a Birthday Present Sad

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Pinky Narfanek
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PostSubject: Re: For those that can't access the site   Fri Aug 17, 2007 9:31 pm

Y'know what all this reminds me of?

Diablo II's skill sets that every character had. It's like the whole game is based off of the interaction of your powers.

It doesn't remind me of D&D (maybe just a bit of AD&D before most folks put much thought into many of their characters and over half of what you were was a pile of numbers), even though some of the ideas are neat.

Ultimately, I think I'd rather see 4.0 converted to 3.5 rather than the other way around.

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PostSubject: Re: For those that can't access the site   Sun Aug 26, 2007 11:25 am

Pinky Narfanek wrote:
Y'know what all this reminds me of?

Diablo II's skill sets that every character had. It's like the whole game is based off of the interaction of your powers.

It doesn't remind me of D&D (maybe just a bit of AD&D before most folks put much thought into many of their characters and over half of what you were was a pile of numbers), even though some of the ideas are neat.

Ultimately, I think I'd rather see 4.0 converted to 3.5 rather than the other way around.

Shows you what I get for not being around for a bit and having a kid and all....I was reading the "Conversation" at the beginning of the first article and thinking how it sounded like people I'd talk to playing Diablo II. Alas, beaten to the punch. Razz
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PostSubject: Re: For those that can't access the site   Sun Aug 26, 2007 2:22 pm

My kids are older...I have more time to pursue my own activities. Wink

And I'd like to say that I enjoy playing Diablo II and D&D. But I like the two distinct flavors they bring. I don't want to eat pizza all the time, I like my Philly Cheese-steaks too.

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PostSubject: Re: For those that can't access the site   Sun Aug 26, 2007 10:21 pm

Hmmm not much for this change to be honest.
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