10 ups for 4E

10.2007 at 12:34 pm 3 comments

Here’s a list of new upgrades 4E will provide for D&D. All are subject to changes by the time of the release.

1. No worrying about calculating touch and flatfooted AC. If the creature needs to touch you, it rolls against your Reflex.

2. Spells can critical hit or miss.

3. No more life-and-death, hit-or-miss saving throws:

The standard defenses remain (AC, Fortitude, Reflex, and Will) but now they all work more like AC. When a dragon breathes fire on you, it attacks your Reflex and deals half damage if it misses. The DM rolls a d20, adds the dragon’s modifiers, and asks you what your Reflex score is. The dragon might roll a 1 and automatically miss no matter how much tougher it is than you, but there’s also the frightening possibility that it will roll a 20 and deal double damage.

4. The Cosmoslogy is reduced to Feywild, The Shadowfell, The Elemental Chaos, The Astral Sea. Hell is in the Astral Sea, and demons and devils are redesigned to be very different. The humanoid races will be simply and broadly designed. It’s my impression they are looking for a strongly-medieval-Earth feel and layout. This is the concept of the 4E D&D world, which I like because it allows for danger and excitement around every corner: “Civilized folk live in small, isolated points of light scattered across a big, dark, dangerous world.”

5. There will be progression tables to measure a monster’s power – eliminating CR. Monsters are designed to have roles, to use it’s abilities to the fullest, also increasing the capability of pairing and grouping monsters. If the 4E Monster Manual is anything like the MMV, then the spell-like abilities will be described in the combat description, as opposed to saying “This ability is like fireball; go look it up.”

6. The Orb, Staff, and Wand take a great precedence for a Wizard. These Wizard “implements” increase the effectiveness of spells. Different wizarding schools-of-thought tend to favor one of the implements over others.

7. Do you remember how bards do nothing but sing and use diplomacy, Chet Chase? With the Character Roles system, everyone is a crucial part of the team. The roles are: Leader, Defender, Striker, and Controller. I don’t know what they specifically are, but I do know that they are not essential if you want to deviate.

8. This quote from D&D Insider describes some of the battle process, and seems to make good sense:

* On the dragon’s turn, the first thing it does is burst out in an inferno of flame, searing every PC within 25 feet—a free action. Then, with a standard action, it slashes out at the fighter and the cleric with its two front claws (even though they’re both 20 feet away). As another free action, it uses its tail to slap the rogue, who was trying to sneak up behind it, and pushes her back 10 feet. It’s getting angry at the wizard, so it uses a special ability to take another standard action: it spits a ball of fire at the wizard, setting him on fire. It has a move action left, which it uses to fly into a better position for its breath weapon. That ends the dragon’s turn.

* It’s the fighter’s turn. He charges the dragon and manages to land a solid blow, dropping the dragon down below half its hit points. Oh—that gives the dragon the opportunity use its breath weapon as an immediate action. A huge cone of fire bursts from the dragon’s mouth, engulfing all four PCs. But at least the dragon is below 500 hit points!

* Now the rogue moves around to flank with the fighter. Ordinarily, that would let the dragon use its tail slap again as an immediate action, but the dragon has used its immediate action already. That’s lucky for the rogue, who actually gets to make an attack this round! Unfortunately, she fails to hit the dragon’s AC of 49.

* The wizard fails to put out the fire, so he takes more damage. Worse yet, the dragon’s breath scoured away the wizard’s fire resistance, so he takes the full amount. He blasts the dragon with a ray of freezing cold, but this isn’t 3rd Edition. The dragon takes normal damage, but it’s not enough to slow it down.

* Finally, the cleric is up. Calling on the power of her god, she swings her halberd at the dragon—a critical hit! The damage isn’t bad, but even better, the wizard gets a nice surge of healing power. He’s going to need it—it’s the dragon’s turn again.

9. Characters can gain racial abilities, powers, and feats as they increase in level, making race more important to a character.

10. “Power Sources” are an important part of 4E. Arcane and Divine, yes, but also Martial (There may be others not yet mentioned.). Martial power is not like the Nine Swords powers, crazy! A warrior’s fighting form allows super athletics, abilities, and skills. Martial characters draw strength from within. Wait for it…fighters will care more about what weapons they use! Capabilities can depend on the weapon a fighter trains with.

A skilled halberdier can hack a foe with his weapon’s blade and spin around to smash a second foe with the haft. A fighter with a longsword disarms her foe with a flick of her wrist, while a battle hungry axeman cleaves through shields, armor, and bone. The design for fighter maneuvers came down to looking at weapons, figuring out how a fighter could use one, and deciding on special effects that felt cool for the weapon and proved useful for the class.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m excited for 4E to come out.


Entry filed under: Scouring of the Shire: d&d evolution.

Lamentations of the Loss of Innocence Engaged

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. truth9  |  10.2007 at 12:58 am

    That is all pretty cool, except for the Cosmology thing, ’cause I’m an oldschool Planescaper.

    I think the role-playing elements will get beefed up more in 4e as well. My evidence? Something James Wyatt said about all the books since 2003 having been influenced by where they were on 4e.

    Well, if you look at the PHB2 (mid 2006), the four new classes introduced in that book all have about 2 pages describing character creation and abilities, but they also have another two pages each related to how the class is generally played, how that class interacts with other classes, and that class’s general role in the world. The book of Nine Swords does much the same thing with its new classes. Unfortunately, I have no books newer than that to confirm whether this trend continued past last year.

    Still, if they do do that in the new books, it’s two pages more rp info than they provided with 3e/3.5e.

  • 2. riphoudouso  |  10.2007 at 1:05 pm

    They were also using the same techniques as the Monster Manual V, which describes special abilities in more detail, how they fight, and their fighting roles.

    Planescape is a good cosmology – fun too. All the old planes will still exist, but I believe they’ve reduced it to a few dimensions. For instance, Hell is pretty much the same in design save that it is a many-layered continent floating in the Astral Sea. There are Celestial continents in the Astral Sea as well.

  • 3. truth9  |  10.2007 at 2:52 am

    I suppose it doesn’t technically matter what they’ve done with the Planes, since there’s no actual need to follow any canon regarding the uni-/multi-verse.

    And if they’re still doing it with MMV (which I haven’t yet seen (I only have up to MMIV)), then it’s probably a good indication of what we can look forward to in 4e.



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