Player’s Handbook (4e) – Sean’s Pick, 102315

No matter where you served during the Great Edition Wars, this is a fairly important PDF you may want to have on your virtual bookshelves. Though many felt it was much too far a departure from what they wanted for their D&D experience, there’s no denying its efficacy as a game. As well, it was part of the greater well of “Good Ideas” that the designers of 5e drew from.

The Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game has defined the medieval fantasy genre and the tabletop RPG industry for more than 30 years. In the D&D game, players create characters that band together to explore dungeons, slay monsters, and find treasure. The 4th Edition D&D rules offer the best possible play experience by presenting exciting character options, an elegant and robust rules system, and handy storytelling tools for the Dungeon Master.

The Player’s Handbook presents the official Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game rules as well as everything a player needs to create D&D characters worthy of song and legend: new character races, base classes, paragon paths, epic destinies, powers, more magic items, weapons, armor, and much more.

Moving Toward D&D 4e. The path to D&D 4e began in early 2005 when D&D’s managers began looking for a team to write the new edition of D&D that would follow D&D 3e (2000) and D&D 3.5e (2003). They quickly decided on Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, and James Wyatt, who held their first design workshop in May 2005. These core designers led a few different teams that worked on the game through September 2006. They then began finalizing what would go into the new Player’s Handbook and Monster Manual. Writing followed in April and May of 2007.

Meanwhile, the 4e design team was trying out some of their ideas in live products. Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords (2006) tested the idea of fighters having active powers, while the Star Wars Saga Edition (2007) also contained many design ideas which were at the time a part of D&D 4e. (Not all of them made the cut.)

The general public had been speculating about a new fourth edition since at least 2006; they finally got their confirmation at Gen Con Indy 2007. A countdown on the Wizards of the Coast web site revealed forthcoming “A4venture” (or perhaps “Adventure”) just as the D&D team announced the new edition at the convention.

In the year between the “Big Announcement” and the release of the new game, D&D publication was very light. Eberron was one of the few lines that filled the gap, while many publications were editionless — including The Grand History of the Realms (2007), Dungeon Survival Guide (2007), and An Adventurers Guide to Eberron (2008).

Wizards also spent that year previewing the upcoming game. Wizards Present: Races and Classes (2007) and Wizards Presents: Worlds and Monsters (2008) laid out some of the philosophy of the new game and hinted at the massive changes to D&D fluff. Players then got to try out the new edition at D&D eXPerience 2008, from February 28 to March 2, 2008.

Publication for the fourth edition finally began in May 2008 … with an quickstart adventure, H1: “The Keep on the Shadowfell” (2008). Then on June 6, 2008, all three core books hit, the bringing Dungeons & Dragons game into a new era… (For more info, hit the link and read the entire product history section).

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