Podcasts Archive | 1/11/2008
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You May Already Be Playing 4th Edition!
Dave Noonan & Mike Mearls

Click on the link to listen to the file in your browser, or right-click Save As to download to your computer. (31.8 Mbs, 38:47 minutes)

Don't just read about D&D's latest news and announcements -- listen to them as well! And where better to find inside information than from the very halls of Wizards of the Coast? Presenting Episode 18: You May Already Be Playing 4th Edition!

In this episode, we look at how certain elements of 3.5 rulebooks functioned as precursors to 4th Edition mechanics.

In other words, interested in playtesting 4th Edition? Then you might try incorporating the following elements into your current 3.5 campaigns. We even go a step further, explaining—if you’re so inclined—how you can make these elements even more 4E-like, to get an even better grasp of 4th Edition mechanics.

This week, three members of R&D braved our podcast studio: Rich Baker, Chris Perkins and Andy Collins. First up, Rich Baker, one of the designers of Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords.

00:40: Book of Nine Swords, with Rich Baker

What elements of Book of Nine Swords are most 4E-like?
Definitely the per-encounter powers. And as Rich further explains, the swordsage as a model is closer than the warblade, insofar as the path that per-encounter powers took toward 4th Edition.

How would Bo9S be made even more 4E-like?
By removing some of the recharge elements. Random card draws, etc., and especially recharge mechanics that vary by class (crusader, we’re looking at you) should be simplified, and recharges more universally applied. Add to that clearer role protection, so that each class is given an even more distinct assignment; for example, making sure they strongly fit the striker, defender, or other party role they’re assigned.

Bottom line…
Get used to the Bo9S per-encounters as a resource, but don’t get attached to the specific recharge mechanics.

13:00: Star Wars Saga, with Chris Perkins

What elements of the Star Wars Saga Edition are most 4E-like?
When Star Wars Saga released, there was much speculation that the mechanics would feature strongly in 4th Edition. Indeed several do, as Chris explains, such as:

  • Adding in minor actions in addition to move and standard actions; the idea that move actions are strictly for movement; and other combat elements, such as how initiative, surprise and multiple attacks should be handled.

  • The Star Wars Saga skill system derived from a draft of the 4E skill system. Add to that, a similar consideration of changing feats into powers.

  • To take a third example, the concept of four defenses: Armor Class, Reflex, Fortitude and Will.

How would Star Wars Saga be made even more 4E-like?
Although the two systems both do what they’re intended, at a stretch there’s still design space within feats, powers and character builds in 4E that might be well explored in future Star Wars Saga material.

23:50: Complete Mage and Magic Item Compendium, with Andy Collins

What elements of Complete Mage are most 4E-like?
Definitely the reserve feats—powers that a wizard or sorcerer can use all day long, and keep up with the rest of his adventuring friends without forcing them to stop.

How would Complete Mage be made even more 4E-like?
The reserve feats, basic in their function, should be made a bit more exciting—but not necessarily more complex since, as a design philosophy, things you do constantly need to be simpler than things you do less often.

Bottom line...
Get used to the pacing that reserve feats provide spellcasters.

What elements of Magic Item Compendium are most 4E-like (or unlike)?
Many of MIC’s magic items looked to create compellingly priced items; essentially, more of them should compete for your interest with the game’s top items. However, MIC offers items that provide many short-term benefits, while 4E looks to present some basic, straightforward items, as well as old favorites (this last being a limitation MIC especially did not need to meet). What items were avoided? Those that outright modify ability scores; calculations handled in the middle of gameplay just don’t represent the fun aspects of the game.


As mentioned at the end of the podcast, if you have questions about any of the Design & Development articles you’ve read so far, be sure to send them in to dndfeedback@wizards.com. We’ll be addressing them in a future podcast!

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What is Podcasting?

Podcasting is delivering audio and video content on demand so that it can be enjoyed at the user's convenience. The main benefit of podcasting is that listeners can sync content to their media player and take it with them to listen whenever they want to. But they're not just for iPods...the files are ready to watch or listen to on just about any computer.

About the Hosts

Mike Mearls is the dark hope of chaotic evil: young, handsome, well endowed in abilities and aptitudes, thoroughly wicked, depraved, and capricious. Whomever harms Mearls had better not brag of it in the presence of one who will inform the Demoness Lolth!

Evil to the core, Mearls is cunning, and if the situation appears in doubt, he will use bribery and honeyed words to sway the balance in his favor. He is not at all adverse to gaining new recruits of any sort, and will gladly accept adventurers into the ranks, but he will test and try them continually. Those who arouse suspicion will be quietly murdered in their sleep; those with too much promise will be likewise dealt with, for Mearls wants no potential usurpers or threats to his domination.

David Noonan is a designer/developer for Wizards of the Coast. His credits include co-designing Dungeon Master's Guide II, Heroes of Battle, and numerous products for the Eberron campaign setting. He lives in Washington state with his wife, son, and daughter.

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