February 15, 2008

D&D 4th Edition Wizards Presents Worlds and Monsters

DD4thEditionWizardsPresents.jpgWe're mid February now which means we're only 3 months away from the release of D&D 4th Edition. Honestly, we can't wait. Wizards of the Coast has openly stated that they've focused on the roles and personalities of monsters, and their gameplay mechanics, so that you're not just fighting an AC/ToHit stat war against the spreadsheet monster X. Instead we should be looking forward to combat mechanics that bring forth each monster type's personality and attacking styles. This sort of background on races, classes, and monsters should carry on into the non combat gameplay as well, creating a much more rich gaming experience from day one.

Now June is still many torturous months away, so Wizards of the Coast has thrown a bone to ravenous gamers with Wizards Presents: D&D 4th Edition [Amazon], a 100 page book detailing the decisions that were made to focus on the overhaul of the D&D franchise, and what to expect in the results of their work. They've also posted an interview with designer Jennifer Clarke Wilkes who describes the book and offers a glimpse at some of the design decisions covered.

Here's one that we found to be pretty darn interesting:

"Q: Wizards of the Coast: As we move a bit more from the worlds to the monsters, what could be a more iconic monster to the game than the dragons--what insights might the book have to offer on these legendary creatures? For instance, I hear that metallics aren't quite the same dragons anymore?

A:... Metallic dragons have traditionally been good-aligned. While flavorful and important to the "ecology" of dragons, the practical effect was to remove half of the available dragons in the Monster Manual as opponents. How often do PCs go up against good creatures? In 4th Edition dragons are more, well, dragonish. They are all ferocious and greedy creatures, with chromatic and metallic dragons distinguished more by personality than alignment. While chromatics tend to be destructive and cruel, metallics focus more on control and power. These differences are reinforced by the dragon's special powers. The varieties of metallic dragon have undergone a revision as well, with some less well-defined kinds giving way to new ones with distinctive natures.

We always enjoyed the good dragon versus evil dragon fight, but in the end dragons ended up being rather generic, and Jennifer Clarke Wilkes is right - their stats really weren't used very often. The change of making dragons more "ferocious and greedy" exemplifies the types of things that are being done to bring personality to the races and monsters of D&D, and we're seriously all for that.

We'll see how it officially pans-out in June of 2008, when the 4th edition Players Handbook launches and brings D&D 4th Edition to the world.

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Posted by Critical Gamers Staff at February 15, 2008 1:44 PM

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