I thought since I didn’t get the new Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition books yet that there should be some reviews up here anyhow. I have to admit the reactions surprised me a lot. It actually makes me leary to buy the books and attempt to play with the new rules. So here is what I have found.
there are things i like and things i dislike about 4e. i think that if they were going for a simplification they missed the mark, and they could have put the books together better. although that may be my own fault. as a veteran gamer i have a tendency to skip whole chapters (i don’t think i need to read about what a roleplaying game is AGAIN) so when i missed something and had to go hunting for it that was probably why. i really dislike what they’ve done with armor. i can’t say i’m a fan of what they’ve done with equipment in general. when all the old school gamer fanboys cried foul and said wizards was turning their beloved game into world of warcraft i brushed it off as the same sort of hysteria that happened when 3.0 came out. but in looking at the new books, i have to say, it’s almost worse than WOW, they’ve turned the game into legend of zelda. on the other hand, i like a lot of what they did.
i don’t have a problem with the class and race redesign and i think the breakdown of powers into at will/encounter/daily is cool. i think the solution to what to do about halfling weapons makes more sense than either of the two things i’ve seen so far (a large longsword is a medium greatsword, a small shortsword is a medium dagger, a medium shortsword is a… fine greatsword? remember how much fun that was?). i kind of like the changes to magic. i think the split between character powers and ritual magic is interesting. i miss multiclassing but i like the new sort of roll-your-own way of multiclassing. i particularly like the fact that with proper skill (and feat) selection anyone can cast ritual magic.
I still really like 3.5 and this is very different. I expect my game group will use both sets of rules for quite a while.
The gift set: I opted for the slipcased giftset. I love slipcases, it’ll be handy for transport and it didn’t cost any extra. I’m glad this was an option at launch.
Quality: Physically, these are great books. Nicely bound, good pages and I love the matte/shiny effect on the covers.
Layout: The layout makes me think of a programming guide — I felt like I was reading a book about learning HTML or PHP. That’s not a bad thing! It’s a bit dry, but it’s easy to find stuff, boxed text is handled nicely and — best of all — the type is larger and white space is used better than in the 3.5e books. These are easy books to read, and they look like they’ll be equally easy to reference.
Artwork: WotC has a history of using great artists, and the core books continue that trend. At first, I thought the books felt light on art, but flipping back through my 3.5e core books, it’s about the same — but 4e uses its artwork better, focusing on full-color splash pages and dramatic pieces. The neatest thing for me is that all the art depicts stuff that looks like fun and feels like what you do in a D&D game; it’s well-matched and evocative. And that splash page in the PHB? Man, does that make me want to play D&D.
This is actually only a small bit of his thoughts. He goes into detail about each of the three new books. You can read more about it here: http://www.gnomestew.com/specific-rpgs/a-gms-first-impressions-of-dnd-4e-looks-like-fun
I like it a lot! It’s an entirely new action role playing game based on common elements of prior editions. I love how fluid and fast the action can get, how easy it is to adjudicate actions not directly covered by the rules. All calls felt natural and players agreed to my proposed calls without debate.
I adopted 4e once and for all sometime during the afternoon of my 2nd game… Here I was with complete strangers (most of which had no intention to switch to 4e), killing their PCs and still seeing excitement, trepidation and fun on all their faces.
Well except one, but he kept complaining of being screwed by the dice and more or less doubting that I could play so many 20s without cheating.