Four and a Half Torches (Out of Five)
Books and movies are one thing, but for someone who wants a truly immersive fantasy experience, there is nothing like Dungeons and Dragons.
The original creators of this classic role-playing game, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, were inspired by war simulation games. They came up with a complex system, since revised many times, that uses a combination of rules and random dice-throws to determine the outcome of almost any action.
Lots and lots of rules.
On June 6, 2008, Dungeons and Dragons, now owned and published by Wizards of the Coast, released its “4th Edition” rules.
Ironically, stiff competition from the many movies and computer games Dungeons and Dragons has forced the game to streamline its rules for the casual player. Gone are the realistic but arguably cumbersome war simulation-like rules, endless cross-referencing, and encyclopedic charts.
The new rules, many of which are carry-overs from the 3rd Edition and its revolutionary “d20 system,” are simplicity itself: roll a twenty-sided die, add a few pre-defined numbers, compare them to the same pre-defined numbers of the opponent, object, or task in question, and voila! You have your result.
Even better, every “class” now has combat and non-combat relevant abilities called “powers.” No player ever has to sit on the sidelines because he or she can’t contribute to whatever situation the characters might find themselves in. Wizards no longer run out of magic, and fighters can now offer skills and knowledge out of combat.
Wizards of the Coast’s “4th Edition” Rules
In short, the game has become more interactive, encourages teamwork, and requires a lot less bookkeeping, which is very attractive the current post-Gen X computer gaming kids. The game is now easy to grasp even by casual players. And — this is worth emphasizing again — no one is left out.
As a Dungeon Master in a home-brewed gaming group, I’ve found the new system plays well after 6 months of experimentation. It’s been designed to be fully “plug and play”: I only need to come up with a plot. The monsters and obstacles can be cherry-picked from a variety of sources. Unlike other games, there’s very little need to play test-combats to ensure playability. The books are well laid out, have high productions values, and are easy to read.
The designers took on the monumental task of updating the game to suit today’s instant gaming environment and come up with a very fun product to give even CGI computer games a run for their money.
After 34 years, Dungeons and Dragons is still the premier role-playing experience — and a testiment to the power of the fantasy genre.
- Wizards of the Coast to Let You “Ask the Dungeon Master”
- The Magic of Gaming: A New D&D Box Set, a New DEUS EX Trailer, and a New LEGENDS OF THE GUARDIANS Game
- DUNGEONS & DRAGONS ONLINE is Near-Perfect Online Role-Playing Experience
- From the Palantir! No Origin for MAGNETO, Emma Watson Beats Angelina, and FANTASY is Free
- Everything I Know I Learned From Dungeons & Dragons