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The Game That Started It All: A Look at Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition and Dungeons & Dragons Interactive

Updated Wed, Apr 23, 2008 by Garrett Fuller

By Garrett Fuller, Industry Relations

On Friday at the NY Comicon we were lucky enough to sit down and get an overview of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition and Dungeons & Dragons Interactive. There is definitely an interesting story here for gamers who have grown up with D&D and made the leap into computer games. It seems like the latest version of Dungeons & Dragons is changing with the tide to give players a more fluid approach to game play and allow for some online interaction with their old game groups that have been broken up over the years. Fear not, with D&D Interactive, you’ll be able to play together again.

An image of a Dragonborn character.

Chris Perkins was nice enough to give us a walk through of 4th Edition D&D at the show and really took time to describe the game make up and how the game play works. Happily, D&D 4th  is not just a attack, roll initiative, attack again, cast a spell, roll initiative, attack again etc. We played an encounter as first level characters and there was a lot of action in one round which was great. Spells and actions have been broken up into categories so you can do more than just take one swing in a round. As a cleric I was able to vocally heal my party, swing my mace, and move a few squares all with only one initiative roll. It was great to have so much freedom. Also the goblins we faced at first level were much tougher. No more of this 1d6 hit point stuff, these guys could fight, had armor, and also were throwing javelins. We survived, but it was not easy.

One of the highlights that showed up in the play session was the stat called Bloodied. If you lose half your hit points then you fall into the Bloodied category. There are some players and monsters who can take great advantage of this stat both on the bad and good side of the fight. Also many of the skills from the paladin and cleric not only damaged monsters, they also healed players at the same time. This type of hybrid system really made the decisions on what to do fun. The game has become very skill based and deciding when to use those skills is a critical factor for players and DMs alike.

The cover of the D&D Player's Handbook.

The other addition for players is the use of Action Points. These are moves or attacks that you can spend on your character to get an extra boost in a round. Maybe take an extra attack, or an extra few steps in movement, all these things come from spending an Action Point. You always start the day with one, but that number can change as you go. Depending on your race, class, and situation you may get more or less action points to spend. They do stack throughout the day, but if you do not use them by the time you rest for the night you lose them all outright. Fear not, the next morning you start with one again.

Many of the fans we spoke to at NY Comicon started off with doubts about 4th Edition. After the game play run through with Chris, fans were coming away with a great sense of game play and were very happy with the new features added. D&D has come a long way and the fans seem to be very excited about the upgrades to this classic system.

An Angel Warrior

We were also lucky enough to get a sneak peak at Dungeons & Dragons Interactive while at NY Comicon. The D&D Insider gives players a lot of interactive tools to help run their game and make life easier. The days of the never ending notebook are over. Now many of these resources can be found online. D&D Insider hosts digital version of Dragon Magazine and Dungeon Magazine as well as helping with organized play, community efforts, and utilities.

The cover of the Dungeon Master's Guide

The character visualizer allows you to make a very customized 3D version of your character to use in the online Game Table program. There are loads of armor, skins, weapons, and styles to make your character look unique. This model is similar to an MMO character creation screen, however it allows for tons of options. The D&D game table gives players a place to move their virtual miniatures on the game board. The game table is designed by the DM in advance with some very easy to use tools. The interface we saw was an early version, but looked to give DMs plenty of options on their dungeons. Also the ease of the tool was really great no one should be intimidated by it. The DMS have one view, the players get another. They will only see what the DM wants them to on the screen. The entire system is connected through voice chat so games can take place online seamlessly for groups. With this tool it is definitely the time to call your old D&D group up and start something together again online.

It was great to see Dungeons & Dragons catching up to the MMO game market with some new ideas and editions. The best part is they still keep the classic D&D feel that we all have experienced. We’d like to thank the team at Wizards of the Coast for taking time to show us the new edition of the game and all the interactive tools we’ll have in the future to play. 
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