At a special press conference the first night of GenCon 2007, Wizards of the Coast unveiled their plans for
the 4th Edition of Dungeons and Dragons. The first of the core rulebooks for 4th Edition, the new Player's
Handbook will be released in May of 2008, followed by the Monster Manual in June and the Dungeon
Master's Guide in July. Releasing in December of 2007 and January of 2008, Wizard's Presents: Classes and
Races and Wizard's Presents: Worlds and Monsters will provide a preview of the 4th Edition rules and
the first live demos of 4th Edition will occur at the D&D Experience convention in Washington, D.C. during the
month of February.
4th Edition rules will place a greater emphasis on faster game play, reducing prep time, and online, 24/7
game play. To accomplish this, new character options are being incorporated, designed to give each class
something to look forward to at each level, and new resource management options for spellcasters to eliminate
the need for camping every few encounters to replinish spells. Also being unveiled is the all new D&D
Insider (www.dndinsider.com). This online component
will contain character builders, where you can create a 3D miniature of your character, dungeon- and
adventure-building tools that utilize the Dungeon Tiles, online magazine content (digital versions of
Dungeon and Dragon magazines) and a digital game table so players can play anytime they want.
The new books will feature cover art by Wayne Reynolds and are described as being more "magazine like" in
their content. Gone are the "bookish" books of the old Dungeons and Dragons, replaced by a fresh new design
that makes finding the important content much easier and making the content more accessible to a wider audience.
Each book in 4th Edition (and select 3.5 Edition books released this fall) will contain codes that unlock
additional content online. This additional content will cost a "nominal" fee, described by Wizards of the
Coast as a "anti-piracy" method. Also changed in the 4th Edition, the Player's Handbook will now
take players from level 1 to level 30, officially incorporating epic level play. As Bill explained it,
"I want to expand the sweet spot of Dungeons and Dragons from levels 7-14 to levels 1-30." Its unclear at this
time whether that will mean making level ups faster, or just designing monsters and encounters to be a little
less lethal during those beginning levels, as several game mechanics are still being play-tested.
One of changes being made for 4th Edition is a focus on designing characters for a "role" more than a
"class". Attempts are being made to design every class to potentially fill a role, although obviously some are
better suited for some roles than others. The example given was a player wishing to play a "leader" type
character could either play a melee class with healing capabilities, or a spellcaster who "shapes" the
battlefield to make it more advantageous for his team. Another change, and one that potentially is the most
game changing is the fact that encounters and monsters will be designed to create a more even playing field.
Instead of four or five PCs taking on a single strong monster, monsters will be given specific roles so that
numbers on each side of the battle will be more even.
Wizards of the Coast has confirmed that pricing for the 4th Edition books will be the same as the 3.5 Edition
books, and will not be sealed (prompting the need for the anti-piracy, nominal fee measure to unlock the digital
content). Subscriptions to D&D Insider is described as "more than the cost of the print magazines, but less
than the cost of an MMORPG." Monthly and Annual subscription rates will be offered, and content for the digital
versions of Dungeon and Dragon magazines will be made available on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week,
and at the end of the month via a compiled digital download that is included with the
subscription or can be purchased seperate. D&D Insider will offer both free and premium content.
Purchased content will be stored in your "digital bookshelf" and will be available 24/7.
Wizards of the Coast has also confirmed that the Open Gaming License will exist in 4th Edition,
although what changes that will be made have not yet been finalized.
Additional announced 4th Edition Products:
- Sacred Temples: Dungeon Tiles March 2008
- D&D Miniatures Game April 2008
- Dungeons of Dread Booster (D&D Miniatures) April 2008
- Adventure H1: Keep on the Shadowfell April 2008
- Character Record Sheets May 2008