Wizards of the Coast has just launched a brand new hub of information for D&D Next, the “next” iteration of the game, at http://www.wizards.com/DnD/DnDNext.aspx. The new page features all the latest and greatest on D&D Next including articles from Wizards, discussions about the future of the game, and seminar transcripts from the recent D&D Experience event. It will also soon house features like Live Chats, a calendar of upcoming events and, once playtesting begins, materials will be available for download through this page. (Please note that this new site does not signify the start of playtesting – we will, of course, let you know once that begins!)
Also, as you may have noticed, the D&D site has been redesigned with a spiffy new look which went live this week at http://www.wizards.com/dnd.
Check out the new pages and, as always, let me know if you have any questions. In the meantime, check out the site and sign-up for the playtest if you haven’t already done so!
The first time I held the original D&D Red Box in my hands I was 8 years old. My friend Khidr had received the Dungeons & Dragons Red Box as a gift from his Aunt and Uncle. It came with the Players Handbook and Dungeon Masters Guide. Those rule books seemed intimidating at the time, but now I think back and laugh at how simple they were compared to most.
We also received what truly got us involved in role-playing games, a set of polyhedron dice. Completely alien to us, these dice were like little treasures that required diligent safekeeping. Strange shapes in a myriad of colors, this was what caused us to pull up chairs to what would become our gaming table and dig through these newfound books.
As soon as I found out there was a “Dungeon Master” who controlled the monsters and wrote the story line I knew that’s what I wanted to be. I have always loved creation. I get excited about writing songs, building model scenery, and building websites. These things give my life purpose and get my gears turning.
Fast forward 25 years and at Christmas we happened to find our old gaming group in the same room again. Despite thousands of miles of separation, our parents living in the same city had reunited us yet again over the holidays. As we leaned on the kitchen counter chatting over the eating bar and drinking coffee our eyes wandered to the Christmas tree. My son had just received the Dungeons & Dragons Red Box for 4th edition as a Christmas present. The very same box that we had used to learn D&D as children. Wow, 25 years ago… had it really been that long?
We told my son to call up his friends and get his dice. We were going to sit down and play D&D with them. We would teach them a thing or two, or so we thought!
Apparently D&D has changed drastically over the years. This version of the game came with character sheets, a flip-mat, miniature tokens that represent heroes and monsters, playing cards, and two small books.
Dashiell decided to take the role of party leader showing everyone how to roll up their characters. While Khidr assisted in drinking all the coffee. I sharpened pencils and prepared the miniature tokens. Rolling up characters proved a difficult task as the initial character stats were already determined for you. Perhaps this was to assist new players and GMs in getting started. Hopefully this would speed things up and we would be playing within the half hour!
Almost two hours later we still weren’t playing. The statistics for each character were hidden deep within a detailed story meant to help new players. If anything it complicated things and was very frustrating digging through all this fluff just to begin playing. We felt cheated out of creating our own characters. One of my absolute favorite parts of playing a RPG is rolling up and creating my own unique character! At least the Pathfinder Beginner Box provided your stats and gear already printed on the ready to play character sheets. If you’re going to start me out with a pre-rolled character at least get it ready to go so we can get started and learn the game.
So, like I said… 2 hours later and we only had a bit of time left, luckily we had finished our characters. We initiated the trial combat contained within the small Dungeon Master’s Guide!
I played DM and set up the mini tokens and flip-mat. Everyone rolled initiative and battle began.
As combat progressed I noticed many changes in regards to combat in 4th edition:
Combat has a faster pace than most RPGs
Players and Monsters hit 90% of the time
Damage caused is almost 4 times what we experienced in older editions
Players have a smattering of cards which can be used strategically
All players can use a special ability called a “Healing Surge” to regain lost hit points
Introducing cards into the game seems like a good idea and I’ll need some more time to see how I really feel about this. I do enjoy a faster paced combat, but it sure seems like the constant barrage of wounds is more akin to a video game than a tabletop RPG. When flipping through the books I did notice that a focus on combat encounters overshadowed the exploration or role-playing factor. The latter two aspects of role-playing games are what puts the “role” as opposed to the “roll” into the game for me.
Surely we need more time with the game than just a practice encounter, but I fear that Wizards is on a path which leads away from the dreams of the late great Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.
My son and his friends enjoyed the encounter and were ready for more. During combat one of the kids came up with a creative use for the Mage Hand spell and moved a small boulder over the head of an enemy and dropped it causing extra damage. He wanted to keep going after his turn was over so he could cast spell after spell. I told him if he got to do whatever he wanted, so did I and would loose an army of enemies upon the group. He said “go ahead, I have a ton of spells I want to use!” Wisdom 3, Enthusiasm & Courage: 18!
When all was said and done I realized that this version of D&D, although different from previous editions was original in and of itself. It is a NEW game and thus is an interpretation of the great D&D game, played for generations. Surely it has a place among my other gaming books and boxes.
It is my son’s turn to start a collection and forge his own memories and experiences in the world of Dungeons & Dragons. Perhaps in 25 years he will be teaching his son how to play.
Take a short pause in your day to reflect on your D&D legacy, the RPG games that you used to play with friends when there were no limits on time and anything was possible. Take a moment and share those memories with us today in the comments section below, and if you have the time read this article where I lament over the death of my youth and subsequent loss of free time.
When I was a teenager in school, without a job, and spending summers with my friends we used to game like there was no tomorrow. Our game of choice was AD&D 2nd edition and we played in all the campaign settings. Our favorites were Forgotten Realms, Dark Sun, and Dragonlance but we loved it all. We had sessions that sometimes lasted from when we awoke on a Saturday morning late into that night and then continued the following day until the weekend was gone. Those sessions are the stuff of legends, I remember them so fondly and recall how we used to game without a care in the world. No appointments, jobs, husbands or wives, or children- just good old Dungeons and Dragons!
In the good old days we didn’t dig through the Players Handbook looking for rules violations or making sure we knew exactly how this or that spell worked. We just enjoyed the fantasy and let it flow naturally, most of the time I didn’t write any adventure aside form some notes scrawled on a sheet of notebook paper behind the DM screen. We would take time out to draw maps, talk about NPCs and the future of the characters involved. Speaking of involved, my god- everyone was SO involved in each game. It wasn’t just a game, it was our world! The tales we told and the incredible journeys the Players made will be remembered forever. Once I put it this way to my best friend- “The characters and ideas we have crafted take physical manifestation in the form of cells in our mind so in a way- they are real.” Somewhere Taku Okamiya really exists, as does Derris Strongsword, Darsell Rathar, Iendelle Greenbottle, Laura Drandella, Gin, Phidel Cruze, and Alin Durqua.
The tales we spun were our own and we tended to stay away from the pre-made modules as they just felt forced. We preferred to keep it real and enjoy our own game and use the rules and campaign settings as a guide to help us along when we had need of their services.
I miss those days and now that I am older we only get together with our gaming group about once per month and 12 games a year just doesn’t feel right. Although there’s no way I can squeeze in one more thing due to my 5 jobs and playing in a band I sorely miss those days and hope they will come again soon. Perhaps you will support me so fully with NERD TREK that you and I will have a chance to game sometime for days at a time!
I would like to share some of the most memorable characters and a very brief description of each. I was always the DM yet even I enjoyed all of these unique and memorable characters.
Taku Okamiya (1998-2006) – Forgotten Realms – Hailing from the far east in Kara-Tur, Taku Okamiya ended his career with the following title: Lord Taku Okamiya, Ruler of Nesme, Guardian of the Confederation of Luruar, High Priest of Helm.
Derris Strongsword (mid-90’s) – Forgotten Realms & Planescape – Derris Strongsword was a gruff warrior who although distrusted magic eventually came to embrace it and carried all manner of magical devices which eventually led him into the planes and great quests through lava lakes and demon hordes.
Darsell Rathar (mid 90’s) – Dark Sun – Darsell Rathar was a brutal Mul (Human/Dwarf) with bulging muscles and a hot temper. Wielding two impalers and with a taste for exotic mind altering herbs found in the High Forest, Darsell slayed more NPCs and enemies than every character combined in any campaign DMed to date. He did whatever he wanted and killed whoever he wanted and his skills at wilderness survival and evading pursuing enemies and then killing them were the only reason he lived for so long.
Iendelle Greenbottle (2009-current) – Forgoten Realms – A carefree halfling rogue from Luiren, Iendelle recently discovered that she is actually a Doppleganger. When she was a child she so wished to exit the forest and join the carefree halfling she saw daily picking flowers and dancing in the fields. One day despite her mother’s pleas she spoke to the girl who was at first afraid. Over many years the two girls became friends and always met in the field near the forest. One day while walking the breathtaking cliffs near Beluir, Iendelle the halfling slipped and fell- the Doppleganger in her natural form caught her but could not hold on. She slipped from her grasp and plummeted to the rock below, but not before the Doppleganger absorbed all of her thoughts. Iendelle (who now believed she was one and the same) returned to her halfling home and unknowingly lived out the rest of her childhood there. It wasn’t until recently that the halfling found out her true past while on a mission to save the realms from Vaprak the Destroyer.
Laura Drandella (early 90’s) – Forgotten Realms – A sexy female half-elf bard who was one of the first players to discover and explore Myth-Drannor- and live to tell about it! She was a fiery broad and although many men were turned on by her, many more lost their coin purse and woke up without even a loin cloth to their name.
Gin (2008-2009) – Forgotten Realms – An elf raised by a human dictator and trained as a thief and assassin. When the truth emerged that the dictator was in league with demons and the murderer of Gin’s parents, Gin’s life was turned upside down. Now Gin lives with a life long enemy and many dangerous adversaries that pursue him to the edges of the world.
Phidel Cruze – (late 80’s/early 90’s) – Goldenhorn (custom world) – A dragon rider who was the only PC ever to own a ring of wishing, this game was wildly unbalanced, full of powerful magical items, and fun as hell!
Alin Durqua – (late 80’s/early 90’s) – Forgotten Realms – Alin Durqua discovered a magical stone in an ancient cave which was later revealed to have belonged to a now dead god. This stone offered great power with a price. You were able to open portals anywhere in the realms but one must drain the life from a soul in order to use this power. Over the course of Alin Durqua’s life he saw much of the realms, soul trapped many poor souls, changed history and thus the future of the realms, was decapitated by an overzealous necklace of strangulation, and finally resurrected as a beastman who went insane and formed a cult worshiping the new evil god Cyric at which point the player turned over his character sheet to the DM (me). He was one of the most unique characters and when originally rolled up I watched the player roll his stats STRAIGHT DOWN the line: 18, 18, 18, 17, 17, 17 and this was with regular dice- I checked them after he rolled. Insane.
There you have it, I have shared some of our favorite characters and stories. Although I gave you the incredibly brief version, I would like to hear yours now! Please share your RPG stories below, whether you are a player or DM let us enjoy our memories of the “good old days” together!