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4e PHB Readthrough – Chapter 8: Adventuring

After the awfulness that was the magic item section, we resume our readthrough of the new Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition Player’s Handbook.

The first section is “Quests.” These are the new way they’re factoring adventures, into multiple “quests,” where a quest has a goal and a reward. It refers to the DMG for more, but I don’t really like the MMORPGey feel – a player can propose a quest for the DM to vet to get a “stake in the campaigns’ unfolding story.” Maybe it’s grumpy grognard-itis, but I don’t recall my characters needing specific rewards offered to “find my mother’s remains in the Fortress of the Iron Ring.” I’ll withhold judgment till DMG readthrough time.

Next, they discuss encounters, artificially separating them into combat and noncombat types. This seems like an odd artificial distinction to me, but is apparently because the DMG has separate rules for “skill challenges”.

Experience points. They cap out at 1 million (30th level). Same deal as in all previous editions otherwise. Except that when you level you go “ding”, glow with yellow light, and immediately go to max hit points. (No, not really.)

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4e PHB Readthrough – Chapter 7: Equipment

In this installment of our read through of the Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition Player’s Handbook, we take a look at equipment. Every class starts with 100 gold to equip themselves, a welcome reduction in complexity from the class-based random roll that still persisted in 3e.

Armor has the first big changes. It’s divided into light or heavy. With light armor, you add your Int or Dex modifier, whichever’s higher, to your AC. With heavy armor, you don’t.

Even mages are proficient with cloth armor, which though it doesn’t give an armor bonus, can be made of special materials or gain enchantments that do. That’s pretty elegant.

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4e PHB Readthrough – Chapter 6: Feats

Another day, another twenty pages of the D&D Fourth Edition Players Handbook, read and broken down for your deviant pleasures. This time, it’s Chapter 5: Feats.

Feats were the “big addition” in the Third Edition rules. Other games had done them, but this was the first time D&D had done anything like it.

As expected, you get many more feats in 4e. One at every other level, and one at 11th and 21st to boot. They break feats down into Class, Divinity, Multiclass, and Racial. There are also general feats, but that’s not officially a category. They are also broken up into Heroic, Paragon, and Epic levelled feats – you can’t take feats from a higher tier.

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4e PHB Readthrough – Chapter 5: Skills

Welcome to the latest installment in my blow-by-blow readthrough of the new Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition Player’s Handbook. Or as those of us “in the know” (read: geeks) call it, the D&D 4e PHB.

Chapters 1-3 started out promising enough, until the classes section in Chapter 4 took a far left turn for World of Warcraft territory. Let’s see how skills work now in 4e.

For those of you who are “utes,” back in the day D&D didn’t have anything like skills. They were introduced in rudimentary fashion in Second Edition and became a full-fledged system in Third Edition.

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4e PHB Readthrough – Chapter 4: Classes

Welcome to the second installment in my read-through of the new Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition Player’s Handbook. This time, we’ll go through Chapter 4: Character Classes.

“Just one chapter!?!” you cry? Well, this one chapter is 125 pages long; the first three chapters combined were only 49 pages. It’s more than a third of the total book, and by far the meatiest. So buckle up, buttercup!

The classes in 4e are: cleric, fighter, paladin, ranger, rogue, warlock, warlord, and wizard. The venerable barbarian, druid, monk, and bard have been jettisoned and the warlock and warlord (was: marshal) have been imported from the 3e splatbooks. The sorcerer is gone too – or really, as we’ll see later, the new wizard is a sorcerer and the old wizard is dead.

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4e PHB Readthrough – Chapters 1-3

As I read through the 4e PHB, I bring to you a play by play commentary. I’m trying to wipe what I already think I know and just take the book as it comes.

First Impressions. The layout is decent, though unexceptional – you’d think the RPG with the most money thrown at it would look the best. I am not sure I like the art style – it’s too “busy” for me, and all the characters look stiff or stilted, not natural. But for the record I didn’t really groove on the 3e “spiky partial pencil sketch” model either. So that’s a wash.

Chapter 1 – How to Play. Part of this chapter is the usual intro to roleplaying for newbies complete with the de rigeur “children’s game of make-believe” comparison. The couple interesting bits are “A Fantastic World,” where they set the stage for their “points of light” setting. I don’t really think D&D needed a default setting more hardcoded into its pages, but I reckon it’s not too hard to ignore it and swap it out. The other interesting part is in the description of the DM, where they’re careful not to say that the DM sets the rules. He builds the adventures, plays the monsters, and “referees” how to apply the rules when it’s unclear. That concerns me a little, the “DM is at the mercy of the rules” thing was previously limited to the pages of Knights of the Dinner Table.

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