(The Wait for) 4th Edition is the Best Thing to Happen to Gamers in a Long While

Posted in EpicTable Blog on April 25, 2008 at 12:18 am

 Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition was announced last GenCon, and since then, both game vendors and purchasers have been reluctant to put money into a to-be-obsolete game system. The roleplaying game industry has come to a standstill…. Or has it?

Maybe at first, and certainly there are still some companies in a holding pattern, waiting for details about Wizards of the Coast’s licensing of 4th Edition. But not everyone is waiting. Some companies, like Paizo and Green Ronin, have created their own systems. For others, d20 was never relevant, except in its mindshare dominance. So-called “story games”, which focus on the narrative aspects of roleplaying, have never been tied to Wizards of the Coast and d20, but neither are they very widely known.

Don’t Wait—Explore

Over the last few months, I’ve seen something unexpected and exciting taking place. More and more companies—and more and more gamers—are looking elsewhere rather than waiting on Wizards. This is a Good Thing.

I don’t have anything against WotC, but it’s past time that innovation migrate into more varied hands and minds. “The Wait” has forced many companies to go their own way and has rewarded others by raising the awareness of non-d20 games. Gamers are benefitting as well, as new game systems—and players for them—are springing up seemingly every day. In some cases, the games are new. In other cases, they’re just receiving well-earned attention during this period of “downtime” between the announcement of 4th Edition and its release.

My advice: Check out 4th Edition when it comes out. It promises to be a real improvement over 3.5. Many of the weaknesses cited for the creation of non d20 games have been the target of the designers of 4th Edition. But don’t just wait. Take this opportunity to look around and see what’s out there. There’s a lot more to gaming than d20.

Widening Your Horizons

For those of you you coming here from the FUM (Four Ugly Monsters) forum, none of this is news, but for those looking to expand their notion of roleplaying, here are a few links to get you started. This is just a starting point. The web is full of outstanding roleplaying resources—you just have to be willing to look beyond Wizards of the Coast.

Four Ugly Monsters community
This is an active and friendly community of roleplaying gamers. There’s a wide variety of games discussed on this forum, and it’s a regular gathering place for virtual tabletop gamers. Campaigns are forming all the time, and in many different timezones, making this a great place to try a new game.
Pinnacle Entertainment Group
Makers of the Savage Worlds, Deadlands, and other games based on the premise that d20 is too slow. These games are familiar to d20 players, but attempt to streamline the rules to support more dramatic, cinematic gaming. Their products are extremely professional and polished.
Pixels and Polyhedrons
A social network of gamers focused on story games and virtual tabletop gaming.
Story Games codex
An introduction to story games.
The FATE roleplaying system
A free RPG system focused on storytelling.
The Forge
A site dedicated to independent roleplaying games.
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