Friday, September 10, 2010
Review: D&D 4th Ed. (NOT 4.5): Heroes of the Fallen Lands
I couldn't wait to pick up Heroes of the Fallen Lands (HotFL), the first in the two book serious of new players handbooks. So what did I think of it? Keep Reading to find out!
First off I was surprised by how well the book does to explain the rules for 4th Ed. It's got everything the original PHB has in it but updated with errata and in a different format that's easier to read. I particularly loved the inclusion of the At-Will attacks everyone could use (Basic Range Attack, Basic Melee Attack, Bull Rush, Grab, and Opportunity Attack) in the format of a power. It makes these powers much easier to understand (especially Grab!), and it's a nice example of how, a couple years later, Wizards has learned how to optimize the tools they've created.
There's been a lot of talk about the weird new builds for each of these classes. Here's a quick rundown: Cleric gets Warpriest, Fighter gets Knight and Slayer builds, Rogue gets Theif, and Wizard gets Mage. While it's true, Wizards did take the standard way classes advance and make them quite quirky, I like it a lot. One argument I could see that goes against the new system is the linear nature of the classes. There are levels where players won't have a lot of options for what they want to add. It's not the end of the world - and some would call simplifying the brain load requirement a positive change - but I could see where some could have a problem with it.
I like the skills section a lot and believe I'm going to be pulling a lot of motivation from it in future games. First things first - it's got the updated stealth rules in it, so I'm very thankful for that! Beyond this helpful inclusion every skills has a box with a couple of ideas on how to use the skill in a way not directly described by the skill entry. It's a smart inclusion and really works to expand the non-combat action of 4th Edition - something a lot of people believe isn't supported at all in the game.
Is it 4.5 Ed.? Well, I spoiled that in the heading - it most definitely is not. Your Knight build Fighter should have no problem fitting in with a party of Player's Handbook 1 characters. The mechanics are all there. It's the same game you've been playing for the last couple of years. It's just a new, cheaper entry point for the game that shows off just how far 4th Ed. has come and how robust a system it really is.