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This lavishly illustrated book gives roleplaying game fans a unique,
behind-the-curtain glimpse into the making of the 4th Edition
rules of the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
®
Roleplaying Game.
Through words and images, it previews some of the iconic races
and classes of the new edition. This book also features essays and
insights from the game’s designers, developers, and editors.
TM
Visit our website at
www.wizards.com/dnd
Compiled and Edited by Michele Carter
EAN
ISBN: 978-0-7869-4801-7
Sug. Retail: U.S. $19.95 CAN $24.95
Printed in the U.S.A. 216487400
610_21648740_001_PB.indd 1 10/8/07 1:15:39 PM
Compiled and Edited by Michele Carter
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CREDITS
Compiler and Editor
Michele Carter (Editing Team Lead, Senior Editor)
Contributors
Richard Baker (Senior Game Designer)
Logan Bonner (Game Designer)
Bruce R. Cordell (Advanced Game Designer)
Rob Heinsoo (Mechanical Design Team Lead, Senior Game Designer)
Gwendolyn Kestrel (Freelance Coordinator)
Mike Mearls (Mechanical Development Team Lead, Advanced Game Developer)
David Noonan (Game Designer)
Stephen Radney-MacFarland (Associate Game Developer)
Stephen Schubert (Game Developer)
Chris Sims (Game Designer)
Matthew Sernett (Game Designer)
Rodney Thompson (Associate Game Designer)
James Wyatt (Story Design Team Lead, Advanced Game Designer)
Andy Collins (System Design and Development Manager, Senior Game Developer)
Christopher Perkins (Story Design and Development Manager, Senior Game Designer)
and
Bill Slavicsek (R&D Director, Roleplaying Games, Miniatures, Book Publishing)
This Wiznnrs or )nr Cons)
®
game product contains no Open Game Content. No portion of this work may be reproduced in any form without
written permission. To learn more about the Open Gaming License and the d20 System

License, please visit www.wizards.com/d20.
Visit our website at www.wizards.com/dnd
Dc×cro×s x Dnnco×s, D&D, d20, d20 System, Wiznnrs or )nr Cons), Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, Monster
Manual, Wizards Presents, all other Wizards of the Coast product names, and their respective logos are trademarks of
Wizards of the Coast, Inc., in the U.S.A. and other countries.
This material is protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America. Any reproduction or unauthorized
use of the material or artwork contained herein is prohibited without the express written permission of Wizards of the
Coast, Inc.
This product is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual people, organizations, places, or events is purely coincidental.
Printed in the U.S.A. ©2007 Wizards of the Coast, Inc.
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First Printing: December 2007
with
Stacy Longstreet (Senior Art Director)
William O’Connor (Cover Illustrator, Concept Artist)
David Griffith (Concept Artist)
Todd Lockwood (Concept Artist)
Lee Moyer (Concept Artist)
Arnie Swekel (Concept Artist)
Eric Deschamps (Interior Artist)
Wayne England (Interior Artist)
Ralph Horsley (Interior Artist)
Howard Lyon (Interior Artist)
Steve Prescott (Interior Artist)
Daniel Reeve (Alphabet Design)
Emi Tanji (Graphic Designer)
Erin Dorries (Graphic Production Specialist)
Sven Bolen (Image Technician)
Shari Overbay, Cynda Callaway (Production Managers)
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5
CONTENTS
D&D and the Birth of a New Edition . . . 6
4th Edition D&D . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Born of Fire, Born of Ice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
4th Edition Design Timeline . . . . . . . . 8
The Process of Re-Creation . . . . . . . . 10
Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Glimpses of Personnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Leveling Up . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Design Guideposts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Re-imaging the Look of D&D . . . . . . . . . . 11
Creating a New Logo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Artist’s Commentary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Heroes in the World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Expanding the Sweet Spot . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Power Sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Longswords and Lightsabers . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Choosing the Iconic Races . . . . . . . . . 16
Humans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Dragonborn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
Dwarves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Eladrins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Elves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
Half lings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
Tief lings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
Other Races . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
Celestials . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
Drow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
The Trouble with Gnomes . . . . . . . . . . . 50
Warforged . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
Fixing Level Adjustment . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
Classes Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
Identifying Class Roles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
One Progression Instead of Four . . . . . 52
Every Class Gets Powers . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
Clerics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
Fighters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
Rogues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64
Warlocks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
Wizards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
Other Classes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
Barbarians . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
Bards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
Druids. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
Monks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
Paladins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84
Rangers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84
Sorcerers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
Swordmages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
Warlords . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
Tiers of Adventure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
Heroic Levels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
Paragon Levels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90
Epic Levels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90
Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies . . . . 91
The Next Word: DDI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92
& (Ampersand) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92
Art Gallery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .94
Dragonborn fighter
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6
D&D and the Birth of a New Edition
—Bill Slavicsek
New editions of games come at the most unexpected times.
Sure, people have been predicting the arrival of the 4th Edition
of the Dc×cro×s x Dnnco×s game, incorrectly, for years now.
The reality is that my R&D team didn’t start seriously discuss-
ing the notion of the next edition of D&D until sometime in
early 2005. That’s when we began to examine different sce-
narios for how we might approach the process.
We came up with all kinds of possibilities, from minor
tweaks to complete make-overs using a totally different game
system. For the most part, these were simply thought experi-
ments, the kind of exploratory design that we undertake in
R&D all the time. The true impetus for change was you, the
D&D players, who provided all kinds of invaluable feedback
through message boards, community forums, surveys, and
personal interaction at events, whether during seminars,
tournament play, or impromptu discussions that broke out
wherever we traveled. The 3rd Edition game mechanics—what
we call the d20 Game System—is perhaps the most robust and
fun roleplaying game system ever designed. But it’s not perfect,
and as we move deeper into the edition, its f laws and fun-
ending complexities become more pronounced, more obvious
to players and Dungeon Masters alike.
We knew we could improve the game. We could make the
game faster, more intuitive. We could greatly reduce and per-
haps even eliminate completely the parts of the game that get
in the way of the fun. So, starting in May 2005, that’s what we
began to do.
Along the way, we also came up with the idea for Dc×cro×s
x Dnnco×s I×sirrn. This exciting suite of digital tools for play-
ers and Dungeon Masters was just too powerful a concept to try
to shoehorn the existing d20 Game System around it. Instead,
we knew we had to rebuild the game to take full advantage of
this amazing new initiative. When the two concepts merged—a
new edition and a new digital initiative—we knew it was time to
start planning the 4th Edition of D&D.
4TH EDITION D&D
Yes, the 4th Edition of D&D is coming. It debuts in May 2008
with the release of the new Player’s Handbook and the premiere
of DxD I×sirrn. This book is a preview of the new edition of
the game, as well as a look behind the scenes so that you can get
a sense of what went into the making of the new edition. This
volume covers classes and races and other things of interest to
all players of the game. Its companion volume (Wizards Presents:
Worlds and Monsters) deals with creatures, story and background,
world dynamics, and things of interest to Dungeon Masters and
players who like to know how the world of D&D works.
Bear in mind that as I write this, 4th Edition is still a work
in progress. We’re still hip-deep in playtesting and fine tuning,
and many of the specifics are still in f lux. So, take this book as
what it is—a snapshot of the 4th Edition design and develop-
ment process at this point in time (August 2007). We still have
months of work before we send the core rules to the printers,
and things will change between now and then.
Also, we’re not going out of our way to explain everything in
these two volumes. We’re showing some of the cool stuff. We’re
discussing some of our thought processes and design goals.
And we’re revealing a number of secrets behind the newest
parts of 4th Edition. But we’re not showing you everything, and
we’re not spoiling all of the wonder and surprises waiting for
you in the new Player’s Handbook.
Instead, we’re inviting you into the Wizards of the Coast R&D
department for a sneak preview of the classes, races, and other
player-related elements of the 4th Edition of D&D. We’re very
excited about how the new edition is shaping up, and we’re having
a terrific time playtesting the new rules. We can’t imagine ever
playing D&D in any other way, and once you see the full scope of
the new edition of the game, we believe you’re going to feel that
way, too. In the meantime, flip through this preview book, read the
“making of ” essays written by my staff, and look at the amazing
artwork. Every time I gaze at the new concept art, I start thinking
about the first campaign I plan to run using the new rules.
And that makes me smile.
BORN OF FIRE, BORN OF ICE
No, not really. We had no mandate or specific timeline for
4th Edition. What we did have was the commitment of the
company to allow us to explore options and make a recommen-
dation. We had the design tenets document that I prepared to
guide us in our explorations. And we had the tenacity to see if
we could make the game and play experience better than it
is under 3rd Edition. If we could honestly come to the table
with a better game, then I was going to recommend placing
4th Edition on the schedule.
You helped us plan the new design. You showed us what
was working and what wasn’t. You (the collective D&D fan)
were the honorary extra member of the design team, and you
helped us make D&D better, faster, and stronger.
Thanks for your help. Enjoy this preview of 4th Edition.
Check out www.dndinsider.com for more information and
up-to-the-minute details on 4E.
And keep playing D&D!
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7
Dwarf warlock,
concept art and final
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8
4th Edition Design Timeline
—Rob Heinsoo
I got to level up as the Lead Designer on the 4th Edition of the
Dc×cro×s x Dnnco×s roleplaying game. Here’s the timeline of
events as I experienced it.
Pre-Design: Early 2005
Bill Slavicsek (Director of R&D for D&D), Chris Perkins
(Design Manager), and Jesse Decker (Development Manager)
interview R&D staff to form a 4th Edition design team possess-
ing complementary strengths and a high probability of working
together in harmony. They settle on Andy Collins as the bassist,
James Wyatt on vocals, and me on lead guitar.
Design Workshop: May 2005
I didn’t want to tackle serious design work until Andy, James,
and I understood each other. We spiraled through conversations
about games we loved, game mechanics that worked or flopped,
and the pivot points of D&D. I stoked our brainstorms by refer-
ring to all good ideas as “D&D the way they play it on some
alternate world.” We weren’t looking for the one true path from
the start—we took the time to imagine D&D games that took a
different slant than any of us would have expected.
Good stuff from this phase included the importance of each
player character’s role in the party, the potential for three tiers
of play taking us up to level 30, and a shared conviction that we
wanted to create a system that provided powers for all classes.
Design Work, Orcus I:
June through September 2005
Team: James Wyatt, Andy Collins, and Rob Heinsoo.
Mission: Our instructions were to push the mechanics
down interesting avenues, not to stick too close to the safe
home base of D&D v.3.5. As an R&D department, we under-
stood 3.5; our mission was to experiment with something new.
Outcome: We delivered a document that included eight
classes we thought might appear in the first Player’s Handbook
or other early supplements, powers for all the classes, monsters,
and rules.
First Development Team:
October 2005 through February 2006
Team: Robert Gutschera (lead), Mike Donais, Rich Baker,
Mike Mearls, and Rob Heinsoo.
Mission: Determine whether the Orcus I design (as we
named it) was headed in the right direction. Make recommen-
dations for the next step.
Outcome: The first development team tore everything
down and then rebuilt it. In the end, it recommended that we
continue in the new direction Orcus I had established.
This recommendation accompanied a rather difficult stunt
accomplished in the middle of the development process: Baker,
Donais, and Mearls translated current versions of the Orcus I
mechanics into a last-minute revision of Tome of Battle: Book of
Nine Swords. It was a natural fit, since Rich Baker had already
been treating the Book of Nine Swords as a “powers for fighters”
project. The effort required to splice the mechanics into 3rd
Edition were a bit extreme, but the experiment was worth it.
Second Orcus (Orcus II) Design Phase:
February to March 2006
Team: Rob Heinsoo (lead), Bruce Cordell, James Wyatt.
Mission: Finish monsters and other areas that were weak
in the first draft. Follow some new design directions suggested
by the development team.
Tief ling rogue
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9
Outcome: After the design phase ended, several weeks of
playtesting left most of us unconvinced with where we were
going. The system wasn’t working the way we wanted it to work.
One Development Week: Mid-April 2006
Team: Robert Gutschera, Mike Donais, Rich Baker, Mike
Mearls, and Rob Heinsoo.
Mission: Recommend a way forward.
Outcome: In what I’d judge as the most productive week
of the process to date, not that anyone would have guessed
that beforehand, Mearls and Baker figured out what was
going wrong with the design. We’d concentrated too much on
the new approach without properly accounting for what 3.5
handled well. We’d provided player characters with constantly
renewing powers, but hadn’t successfully parsed the necessary
distinctions between powers that were always available and
powers that had limited uses.
Flywheel Team: May 2006 to September 2006
Team: Rob Heinsoo (lead), Andy Collins, Mike Mearls,
David Noonan, and Jesse Decker.
Mission: Move closer to 3.5 by dealing properly with
powers and resources that could be used at-will, once per
encounter, or once per day.
Outcome: A playable draft that went over to the teams that
would actually write the Player’s Handbook and the Monster Manual.
Scramjet Team; Same Timing as Flywheel
Team: Rich Baker (lead), James Wyatt, Matt Sernett, Ed
Stark, Michele Carter, Stacy Longstreet, and Chris Perkins.
Mission: Draft a new vision for the world and the story
behind the D&D game.
Outcome: A first draft of the story bible, notable for its new
understanding of civilized portions of the D&D world as points
of light threatened by enveloping darkness filled with monsters
and other threats.
Player’s Handbook Creation:
October 2006 to April 2007
Designers: Rich Baker (lead), Logan Bonner, and David
Noonan.
Developers: Andy Collins (lead), Mike Mearls, Steve
Schubert, and Jesse Decker.
Mission: Achieve design and development consensus on
the direction each role and class should take; make good on
the goals with playable mechanics.
Outcome: Oodles of powers. Semisolid rules set.
Monster Manual Creation:
Same Timing as Above
Designers: James Wyatt (lead), Matt Sernett, and Bruce
Cordell.
Developers: Mike Mearls (lead), Steve Schubert, and
Stephen Radney-McFarland.
Mission: Design all monsters.
Happy New Things: Understandings of monster roles,
elite monsters, and solo monsters.
Writing Phase: April 2 to May 11, 2007
Story Team: James Wyatt (lead), Rich Baker, Bruce
Cordell, and Chris Sims (with advice and general nosiness
from Bill Slavicsek).
Mission: Write prose manuscripts in the style we want to
use for the finished products.
Outcome: The team turned over a 600-plus-page working
rules set on deadline and to specifications.
Magic Item Revision: May 2007
Mechanics Design: Rob Heinsoo, Mike Mearls, David
Noonan, and Matt Sernett.
Mission: Re-create the vision for what magic items accom-
plish in the new design, carve separate space for each type of
item, and design them all.
Outcome: More magic items than our initial publications
can use!
Full-On Playtesting: June 2007
Mission: With Dave Noonan handling the reins, all
designers and developers and many other WotC employees do
nothing but playtest D&D 4E for three solid weeks. This led
to ongoing playtesting using in-house groups and the personal
game groups of most of the R&D staff that continues to the end
of the year.
Human wizard
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10
The Process of Re-Creation
—Rob Heinsoo
Flywheel was the code name for the mechanical design
team phase that followed Orcus II. Flywheel operated at the
same time as Rich Baker’s world-story team, which Rich
dubbed “Scramjet” after hearing me toss around the Fly-
wheel moniker.
OVERVIEW
The one-week ORCUS development team realized that Orcus
II, as well as earlier drafts, had failed to properly account for
attrition powers. Earlier designs had been working too hard
on our newfangled renewable powers and hadn’t properly
addressed D&D’s legacy of attrition-style powers, powers that
went away after you used them once or twice.
So the Flywheel team’s main job was to nudge the eight
player character classes away from the f lamboyant precipices
they’d occupied in Orcus II toward expressions that would look
more familiar to players of 3rd Edition D&D.
I say “eight classes,” but they weren’t always the same eight
classes. Discussions during Flywheel design eventually led
us to put the swashbuckler aside, gifting his cool moves to the
ranger and the rogue. We drafted the warlock in his place, a
decision we all soon realized was very much for the best, espe-
cially when the Player’s Handbook team later sunk their teeth
into making the warlock cool.
Flywheel’s end product was a skeletal version of the
rules, classes, and monsters that we handed over to the teams
that were actually designing the Player’s Handbook and the
Monster Manual.
GLIMPSES OF PERSONNEL
Flywheel was a five-person team: Andy Collins, Jesse Decker,
Rob Heinsoo, Mike Mearls, and Dave Noonan.
Dave Noonan tackled many of the strategic vision
questions, such as the debate concerning the number of com-
peting powers a player character could choose from at the
table. Months later, after we had veered away from the guide-
lines Dave had helped establish, playtesting indicated we
should have stuck with the Flywheel consensus, which Dave
rather gleefully produced from his notebook as we made
the fateful call. I tell this story as shorthand for a number
of other such instances—the fact is that the Flywheel design
aimed at a simplicity that we lost sight of for awhile later on.
But when I say “aimed at,” I also confess that Flywheel didn’t
always phrase its attempt at simplicity in ways that were easy
to follow.
But Mike Mearls sure tried to get us there. Mike was
fresh from adapting Orcus II ideas for Tome of Battle: The
Book of Nine Swords. He contributed many innovative class
concepts and designs during this stage. Mike probably shook
things up the most when he designed a few classes that
will be appearing in the 4th Edition Player’s Handbook II. I
looked at Mike’s designs of the barbarian and the druid and
thought, “Oh, geez, this is the cool we need to be getting from
all our classes.”
At moments like that, Jesse Decker usually said some-
thing like, “You’re right. Think smarter.” He could afford to
say things like that because his day job was leading the D&D
development team while he was slumming in our designer
world. That unfortunately explained why Jesse ended up too
busy helping run the department to contribute a lot of design
work outside meetings. Inside meetings, he had a knack for
keeping us loose while criticizing ideas we thought were okay.
Then we realized we could do better.
Jesse’s other big contribution was mentoring Andy Collins,
who functioned in a lead-developer-style role during much
of the Flywheel phase. When I did new design work systems
like death and dying and healing, Andy worked with me to
get it right. Andy worked tirelessly to either get everything
right or understand all the angles on each problem. Andy was
consciously setting himself up to run development during the
game’s final phases.
LEVELING UP
Here’s an odd thing about the team. I ran Flywheel. But as I
write this, a bit more than a year later, both Mike and Andy
have emerged as leaders. It’s strange to remember that during
the Flywheel phase, I was organizing the work process. At the
moment, mid-2007, Mike and Andy both arguably organize
workf lows smoother than I do. Thinking back to Flywheel days
is a bit like remembering the early days of a long-running cam-
paign, back when Mike couldn’t cast fireball and Andy’s healing
spells only worked at short range.
We’ve gained a few levels during the 4th Edition process.
It’s going to help us in the years of D&D to come.
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11
DESIGN GUIDEPOSTS
—Rob Heinsoo
Here are a couple of examples of how the philosophies of
encouraging player choice and providing more information
have shaped the 4th Edition design.
Guidepost 1: Encourage Player Choice
Between Sessions: Every time a character advances in
level, the player should have an interesting choice to make
about how the character gets better.
During Play, Round by Round: Every round of combat,
each character should have an interesting choice to make con-
cerning their actions.
During Play, Encounter by Encounter: Each encoun-
ter, every character should have an interesting choice about
how much of their resources they’ d like to spend, assuming
harsher decisions aren’t forced on them by the monsters or
the situation.
Guidepost 2: Provide Information to Help
Players and Dungeon Masters Choose
Between Compelling Alternatives
Examples Between Sessions: Provide every player char-
acter class with a set of powers that helps them fill at least one
valuable role in an adventuring party. Tell players what those
roles are so that the composition of adventuring party is a
conscious choice. Likewise, structure the Monster Manual and
Dungeon Master’s Guide to help DMs exercise their creativity
instead of their math skills.
Example During Play: Rather than forcing players to
guess how well they are doing in a combat encounter, 4th
Edition instructs the DM to let players know when a monster
is “bloodied” (below half its starting hit points). Many PC
and monster abilities key off of whether an enemy or ally is
bloodied, so players need to understand their options.
RE-IMAGING THE LOOK
OF D&D
—Stacy Longstreet
When I joined Wizards of the Coast four years ago, I had no
idea that I would wind up with this amazing task. On the
surface, the idea of being responsible for the look of the new
edition of D&D was very exciting and yet very daunting. But
once you begin to give it some real thought, it is quite complex
and there are so many things that needed to be considered.
I consider it to be an honor, a challenge, and a great respon-
sibility to be heading up the art for 4th Edition. It should
be noted that I alone am not responsible for the end result.
I work closely with a group of very talented creative people
who helped me to create what would become the look of the
next edition.
I started by looking at what I thought to be the strongest
and best art of 3rd Edition. Art Director Dawn Murin deserves
tremendous credit for all that she accomplished when she set
up the look of 3rd Edition. She left some pretty big shoes to fill.
I paged through all of the books, I combed the web for discus-
sions and postings from our fans regarding art, and I looked at
what our competitors were producing.
Art is a remarkable thing. Unlike the mechanics of the
game where something either works or it doesn’t, art is sub-
jective. What one person likes may not be the same as what
someone else likes. Everyone has different tastes. So the idea
is to present a broad enough range of art to appeal to our audi-
ence, and still have a consistent enough look to the art that it
feels cohesive as an intellectual property.
So much has changed in the world of art, too. In the begin-
ning, the art of D&D was black and white illustrations—hand
drawn by a relatively small population of artists. Now there
is a vast pool of fantasy artists all over the world. Addition-
ally, technological advances have taken art to new heights.
Computer generated art has opened the door to a new world
of possibilities.
One of the many challenges I was faced with was thinking
about our audience. What do you want to see? If we want to
grow our audience and keep D&D going for another 30 years,
what do the 13-year-olds of today want to see in a game? It’s
my job to try to create a look that will appeal to current gamers
as well as to new gamers we hope to acquire. That means that
there may be some art that you really like and some that you
may not be as crazy about.
In the end, it is my hope that the look of D&D will not
be that drastically different from what we all have come to
know and love. By continuing to work with some of the best
artists in the fantasy genre, by adding more f lavor and intro-
ducing new artists from around the world, we hope to make it
even better.
Not only are you wrong, but I even created an Excel
spreadsheet to show how wrong you are.
—James Wyatt, May 2006
An email exchange about the Flywheel
name:
Jonathan Tweet: A heavy thing that spins in circles and slows
the engine down?
Rob Heinsoo: In your case, a little mechanical knowledge
is a dangerous thing.
Bruce Cordell: Not wanting to be left behind, I’ve decided
that MY new codename is Moonbeam.
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12
Creating a New Logo
—Stacy Longstreet
The creation of a new edition includes deciding what changes
and what remains the same. The logo seemed like a good place
to start. At the time that the art process began (summer 2006)
we did not yet have a clear picture of what the new game would
be. There were many discussions about whether this new edi-
tion was going to be a completely new game, or just a cohesive
update to the 3rd Edition, or something in between.
Based on this, the thoughts about the logo were quite simi-
lar. Should we create a brand-new logo or just a refresh of the
current logo? Since we had the time and no real answers, we
explored the possibilities and came up with both a logo that was
similar to the current one as well as completely new designs.
It was a fun and interesting experiment and one that managed
to answer some questions and make us ask some new ones.
We began to call one of the logo designs an “evolution” and the
other a “revolution.” The more we worked on it, the more we
found ourselves liking both executions for different reasons.
And we began to debate the pros and cons for producing
either one.
The things we considered were: What does this logo say
about the game? If the game is only an updated version of
3rd Edition, then shouldn’t the logo also be? It would be odd
to have a logo that was completely new if the game was not
as radically different as the logo change. And vice versa. We
discussed the value of a logo that was recognizable and the
identity of D&D for the last 8 years. Do we just throw that
away? We considered everything.
And on a completely different note, in the case of either
logo we addressed some of the problems that the current logo
had created. The design of the current logo caused certain
production problems. It did not size down very well. And it did
not fit well in spaces that need a narrow horizontal logo con-
figuration. The background plate also creates some production
issues. So we went forward trying to create a more functional
logo design, one that would have more versatility for a broader
range of uses.
What you see now is the result of a team of great creative
people working together to produce what we wound up calling
the “evolution” of the D&D logo.
We hope you like it!
ARTIST’S COMMENTARY
—William O’Connor
When I was asked to work on the 4th Edition of the Dc×cro×s
x Dnnco×s game, my initial reaction was shock. I had grown
up with the work of Elmore and Parkinson and was inspired
by the work of Lockwood in 3rd Edition. To be asked to add
my impressions and ideas to this august history was daunting.
Working with Stacy and the whole design team put me at ease
because I continually received encouragement that my work
was what they were looking for, as well as constructive critiques
when I had gone off course.
My first impression of the assignment was to use what had
come before and build upon the established aesthetic of the
world of D&D. That was very important to everyone, “The World
of D&D.” We all know what it looks like, we’ve all grown up with
it, and I merely wanted to reinforce it. I wanted to establish the
idea of each race in broad strokes while giving each of them a
distinctive look, without straying from the classic archetype.
All in all, the experience of being a part of the 4th Edition of
D&D is a dream come true. It is very hard to believe that the
12-year-old boy that spent hours drawing characters would
grow up to actually work designing the game that inspired
him. I feel very lucky to be a part of such a great team, and
to be able to work every day with some of the most talented
people in the world.
NOTEBOOK ANECDOTE
Andy Collins, 5/5/2005
Things That Would Make Me Happy
All classes effective at all levels. Game is fun and playable at
all levels. Dungeon excursions last through many encounters.
Game rewards tactical play; smart decisions are “right” (and
vice versa). Defeat is meaningful but (usually) not final. Game’s
expectations are clearer to players and DMs. Character classes
provide compelling archetypes. PC team is a collection of inter-
changeable parts. All characters can participate meaningfully
in all encounters.
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13
EMAIL
James Wyatt, 1/3/2006
Subject: Why we need a new edition
When the game gets to the point where we know the holes and
pitfalls in the rules well enough that we constrain our design in
order to avoid them, it’s time for a new set of rules.
EMAIL
Bill Slavicsek, 5/2/2005
Subject: Private and Personal: Orcus Design Tenets
EXTREMELY CONFIDENTIAL AND PROPRIETARY!
Orcus Design Tenets
1. It must be Medieval, Fantasy Roleplaying.
This is still Dc×cro×s x Dnnco×s, and we need to stay true
to our roots.
2. Dungeon Master as Storyteller.
We’ve discussed pitting the DM as an opponent, but we
believe that the DM as storyteller is stronger and better suits
our intellectual property.
3. Cooperative Play Experience.
Likewise, we want to maintain the cooperative, team
aspects of adventuring parties.
4. Base Mechanics.
Keep the d20, high rolls are good, classes, levels, and fan-
tasy races. Keep it a unified and mechanically sound game
system, and follow that through in all areas.
5. Three-dimensional Tactics.
We want to continue using miniatures in 5-foot squares. We
want to design minis game (skirmish) to work with the RPG.
More discussion on how this occurs to follow.
6. Options, Not Restrictions.
We want to maintain this philosophy into the new edition,
though we can see places in the game where we might want to
have some restrictions in place for play balance.
7. Improve the Game.
To best present a new edition, we need to create a better,
faster, more robust game. Improvements might include some-
thing cool at every level, more design space/currency for
character options (but watch the complexity), better mix of
crunch (mechanics) and f luff (story/roleplaying elements).
Remove problematic rules, spells, subsystems.
8. Make the Game Easy to Design For, Develop, and Edit.
3.0/3.5 is a monster to design for, from stat blocks to
encounter balance. Let’s fix that this time out and make it
easier for us to create products in the future. If we can spend
less time on the details and more time on the cool factor for
future designs, we’ ll all be better off.
EMAIL
Andy Collins, 4/20/2006
Subject: What Is and What Could Be
It strikes me that the most important question to ask regarding
this rules set vis-a-vis the future of the game is not “Does this
work?” but rather “Could this work?”
It’s pretty easy to see parts of the Orcus version that don’t
quite work as they’re intended, but in my opinion, those obser-
vations—while useful in the long run—are really of secondary
importance right now.
We must force ourselves, instead, to evaluate what the rules
set aims to achieve with its various new elements and deter-
mine if we believe that a) its goals are appropriate, and b) it’s
headed in the right direction to achieve those goals.
For example, whether Class A is better or worse than Class
B, or whether the attrition mechanics hit the right balance, is
largely immaterial at this stage of design.
What’s much more significant (using the latter example)
is whether we think that the idea of reworking D&D’s tradi-
tional attrition mechanic to encourage longer-term adventures
is a) a good goal that b) we can achieve by developing the
concepts presented in the rules set. (That’s one example of a
goal/concept from the rules set, mind you, but certainly not the
only one.)
I’m optimistic about our ability to turn great goals and
concepts into a great game, because I believe that never in
history has any company put together a department with
greater ability and drive to design, develop, and edit a truly
great new RPG.
And that’s exactly why we need to determine whether this
rules set has the right goals and concepts. If they’re the wrong
ones, we’ll likely publish a good game, but not a great one.
But if they’re the right ones, the game we publish will truly
be great.
And that, my friends, will be a sight to behold.
EMAIL
Andy Collins, 10/24/2006
Subject: Terse replies from Dev team
If you get a terse reply from a developer (whether verbally
or via email), please don’t read any animosity or annoyance
into it.
We’re just really pressed for time (particularly right now),
so our communications may be briefer than normal.
If email isn’t getting you the reply you want or need, try
face-to-face, but please be patient and understanding if we can’t
spend as much time on something as you might like.
620_21648 1-17.indd 13 10/1/07 3:22:28 PM
14
—Rob Heinsoo
4th Edition player characters are unabashedly the heroes of the
tale. In a world of magical powers and terrifying threats, player
characters are people who possess the potential for greatness.
Even at the start of their careers, in the hardscrabble world
of the beginning adventurer, player characters have abilities
that set them apart from other mortals. They won’t necessarily
survive, but if they do, they’re destined to tap into powers and
abilities that are simply not available to the vast majority of
other beings populating the world of D&D.
EXPANDING THE
SWEET SPOT
3rd Edition had a sweet spot. Somewhere around 4th or 5th
level, characters hit their stride, possessing fun abilities and a
number of hit points that allow the player characters to stick
around long enough to use them. Somewhere around 13th
or 15th level, the sweet spot gets a bit sour for many classes.
Skilled players frequently disagree with that assessment, but
the truth is that many D&D campaigns more-or-less rise out of
existence. As PCs pursue the most fun reward in the game—
leveling up—they get closer and closer to the levels where the
abilities of the strongest characters eclipse those of the weakest
characters, where hard math and a multiplicity of choices push
DMs into increasingly hard work to keep their games going.
4th Edition aims to expand the sweet spot. We want PCs who
start their careers as hardscrabble rangers and beginning
wizards to cap their careers at 30th level as demigods and
archmages. Our goal is to make games in the high-20s play
almost as quickly, and just as smoothly, as games in the low
single digits. Since the bulk of this preview book concerns f lavor
and style rather than game mechanics, you’re not likely to hear
a lot more about this underlying motive. But it’s there.
One of 3rd Edition’s advances was to model monsters using
the same tools used to model player characters. 3rd Edition
player characters and monsters calculate ability scores, hit
points, saves, attack bonuses, and skill ranks using the same
mechanical structure. 4th Edition recognizes the value of using
the same tools for PCs and monsters, but opts to turn the tools
to a new purpose.
The parameters and basic game mechanics for 4th Edition
player characters are not identical to the rules and powers used
by the world’s monsters and nonplayer characters. The PCs
are going to be on center stage for the life of the campaign and
deserve all the power options and customization features that
the system can bear. Monsters and most NPCs are lucky to
appear more than once, particularly if they’re encountered in
combat situations.
So we’ve made 4th Edition simpler to run and play by
simplifying monsters and NPCs. The new system is not overly
concerned with simulating interactions between monsters
and nonplayer characters when the PCs are not on stage. 4th
Edition orients monster design (and, to some extent, NPC
design) around what’s fun for player characters to encounter as
challenges. Intricate lists of abilities and multiple significant
exceptions-based powers are reserved for the PCs rather than
handed out to every monster.
POWER SOURCES
—Mike Mearls
Power sources have always been in D&D, but no one ever
bothered to pay attention to them. From the earliest days of the
game, it was clear that wizards (then called magic-users) tapped
into a different source of magic than clerics. Later on, classes
like the druid and illusionist seemed to tie into similar sources,
but it was never completely clear. As the game expanded, psion-
ics clearly staked out a completely different source of power.
4th Edition makes the move to create more vivid differences
between the sources of magical power. It also creates a source of
power for characters who don’t use magic, such as fighters and
rogues. While these characters don’t cast spells, at epic levels they
eventually gain the ability to perform superhuman feats. After
all, some of the greatest heroes of myth and legend toppled
buildings with their bare hands, wrestled gods, diverted
rivers, and so on. The martial power source allows us to draw
a clear line between a mighty hero and the average person in
the world of D&D.
Power sources express their inf luence over the game
through design strictures and the general feel of the classes
that employ them. We all know that divine magic heals and
arcane magic does more damage. That sort of divide provides a
foundational building block that we used as the model for fur-
ther traits to differentiate the sources.
Heroes in the World
3rd Edition: Tools, Not Rules
4th Edition: Tools that Rule
620_21648 1-17.indd 14 10/1/07 3:22:28 PM
15
Going forward, power sources are a useful tool for concept-
ing and creating new character classes. When we release the
psionic classes, you can expect that we will do more to make psi
powers different from arcane ones, rather than simply steal the
same mechanics. By the same token, when designing the Player’s
Handbook we took care to leave space open for the power sources
we knew were around the corner. For instance, we expect that
psi characters will have more powerful methods for controlling
their enemies’ minds. Thus, we toned down some of the mind
control and charm effects available to arcane characters.
The exciting thing about power sources lies in the design
options they open up. Divine and arcane magic are built to
serve as independent magic systems, rather than as the core
definitions of how magic works in D&D. This decision has a
subtle but important impact on design. As noted above, it lets
us avoid a kitchen sink approach to spell design. We no longer
have to put every single imaginable spell effect into divine and
arcane magic, relegating other forms of spellcasting to merely
copying existing spells. We are also free to create bigger dif-
ferences between classes without worrying about straining
credibility. A class like the wu jen or the hexblade might use
a completely new and different type of magic, allowing us
to reinvent the ground rules rather than use what has come
before. Since those classes clearly use magic in a different
manner when compared to a wizard, we shelve them under a
new power source, build a system of magic that works for their
needs, and create spells tuned to them rather than simply use
the 3E wizard/sorcerer spell list.
LONGSWORDS
AND LIGHTSABERS
—Rodney Thompson
Though you might think that Luke Skywalker and Darth
Vader don’t have much to do with the evolution of Dc×cro×s
x Dnnco×s, you might be surprised at how closely the two are
intertwined. The Star Wars Roleplaying Game: Saga Edition core
rulebook served not only as a platform from which adventures
in a galaxy far, far away could be launched, it was also an early
testing ground for many of the concepts that eventually made
their way into the 4th Edition of D&D. Though the Star Wars
game has a f lavor and mechanics all its own, conceptually
many design conceits come from the early design and develop-
ment for 4th Edition.
The S)nn Wnns system had the benefit of being designed
at a time when new concepts had just been introduced into
D&D (via books like Tome of Battle: Book of Nine Swords) and
when the game’s designers were starting work on 4th Edition.
During the early days of the design process for Saga Edition,
ideas and concepts were filtering down from RPG R&D and
into the Star Wars game. Ideas like, “give players options when
designing their characters,” and “keep the combat round quick
and easy to understand,” fit Star Wars as well as D&D and were
simple to implement. Others seemed radical at first; the shock
of learning that we were giving out more ability score increases
or of the demise of skill points were some of the most startling
moments of the entire design process.
The changes being handed down from R&D were often
shocking but always fired up the designers’ imaginations.
Replacing saving throws with static defense scores or elimi-
nating ability damage were minor changes compared to the
wholesale removal of iterative attacks. Chris Perkins, at the
time the only in-house designer working on the Star Wars
book, would come to the rest of the design and development
team with ideas and concepts that had thus far not been seen
in a d20 game. Those ideas had been part of core design phi-
losophies for the earliest versions of 4th Edition. Since Saga
Edition came out first, it became the perfect test for seeing if the
mechanics could work together and form a playable system.
Once the core philosophies were in place and game
mechanics were developed, the process then turned to making
the system into something that ref lected the type of gameplay
that a S)nn Wnns game should have. In many ways, this was
the first test of 4th Edition: to see how many of its core concepts
could be adapted to roleplaying games of different stripes. By
the same token, the development process for Star Wars revealed
a number of ways that the original mechanics could evolve
into something more exciting and playable. As a result, the
mechanics that will eventually be in 4th Edition are partially
inf luenced by the development of the Star Wars rulebook.
Half ling
fighter
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16
Choosing the Iconic Races
—Richard Baker
One of the long-unchallenged assumptions of the Dc×cro×s
x Dnnco×s game is that the world is populated by a variety of
different fantastic races—elves, dwarves, half lings, and so on.
Naturally, one of the first things we examined for the new edi-
tion of the game was the purpose and mechanics of character
race. What were character races doing for the game? Were we
creating compelling stories with our races? What more could
we do to make our vision for some of the more familiar fantasy
races uniquely our own? And finally, which races should we
include in the game?
We decided very early in the process that we wanted
character race to play a more important part in describing
your character. In earlier editions, your character’s race was
something that you chose at a single decision point during
character creation. Your race pick bestowed a whole collec-
tion of static, unchanging benefits at 1st level (many of which
were useless clutter on your character sheet), and never really
“grew” with your character. A 20th-level dwarf had the exact
same amount of racial characteristics as a 1st-level dwarf—and
during the nineteen intervening levels, the overall importance
of that long-ago race selection had diminished to a tiny portion
of the character concept.
That led directly to the first philosophical shift in the way
we look at races: Rather than consider a race a simple package
of ability modifiers and special abilities you choose at 1st level,
we decided to include higher-level feats that you can choose for
your character at the appropriate time. For example, dwarves
are extraordinarily resilient, so they gain the ability to use their
second wind [a healing ability] one more time per encounter
than other characters can. Eladrins gain the ability to step
through the Feywild to make a short-range teleport. You might
remember that races such as githyanki or drow gained access
to unique powers when they reached certain levels; this is an
extension of the same principle.
One idea we borrowed from the Fonco))r× Rrnixs and
Enrnno× Campaign Settings was racial feats—a collection of
special tactics, resistances, or edges keyed to each race. So,
not only can a dwarf choose from all the general feats in the
game, he or she can also choose dwarf-only feats. These remain
available throughout a character’s career, so they help race to
remain relevant even for high-level characters.
A small problem that handcuffed our design in 3rd Edition
was the lack of “space” for ability bonuses and special benefits.
Because the races in the Player’s Handbook were all balanced
against each other, we couldn’t add new races in later products
that had significantly better ability modifiers or benefits,
because they’d obsolete the core races of the game. The patch
we used in 3rd Edition was the notion of level adjustment
(more on that later), but with the new game we have a new
opportunity to address this problem. Character races now offer
a “net positive” on ability score modifiers, so there’s more room
for new character races to stand.
Which brings me to the fun part of this discussion: The
process of choosing the races that would be iconic to the new
edition of the game. Early on in the Scramjet process I sat
down with our 3rd Edition game products and conducted a
quick head count of player character races that had appeared
in core D&D, Fonco))r× Rrnixs, and Enrnno× game prod-
ucts. Just how many PC races were out there? To my surprise
I came up with 135 PC races, ranging from the aarakocra to
the yuan-ti tainted one—and that was not even counting every
monster that we provided with a level adjustment, or the races
presented in Savage Species or Dnnco× Magazine. Heck, we
had eleven races of elves.
Some of these races were clearly core concepts of the
game. You couldn’t imagine a D&D game without elves,
dwarves, humans, or half lings. Another half-dozen or so
races seemed to merit a close look based on legacy value if
nothing else—for example, gnomes, half-elves, or half-orcs.
After that, we had a couple dozen character races from a
wide variety of 3rd Edition sources that were particularly
interesting, evocative, or creative. Given that immense
wealth of races to pick from, and the ability to create as many
new ones as we wanted to, just how many races did the D&D
game really need? Which ones from the big list deserved to
be at the front of the line? And which ones did we want to
quietly disappear?
To begin sorting out the list of races, I noted for each one its
source, “traction” (my assessment of which races were actually
getting played based on what we could find in online chatter
and office games), and “hook,” a one-sentence reminder of
what a race was. For example, my hook for dromite was “little
psionic insect guy.” Then the whole Scramjet team sat down
and plowed through the list one entry at a time. We prioritized
the list into character races that had to appear right away in
4th Edition, character races that should eventually appear,
character races that we might bring into the new edition given
the right product, and character races we would deliberately
never print again.
Once we had this list, we asked ourselves the question,
“What’s missing?” Could we think of any iconic fantasy races
or cultures that hadn’t been represented in 3rd Edition and
620_21648 1-17.indd 16 10/1/07 3:22:30 PM
17
needed to come forward? We brief ly kicked around the idea
of the “talking animal” race; after all, the Narnia movie was
pretty good, and talking animals show up all over the place in
fantasy literature. But we suspected that the mechanical design
of such a race (or collection of races, really) would be very diffi-
cult, and we were afraid that most folks in our audience would
see talking animals as some kind of bad joke. While that bit
of brainstorming didn’t work, some additional brainstorming
did: We realized that we had several varieties of “dragon man”
rattling around in the system, and that we might combine them
into a single character race with its own unique culture, society,
and mechanical niche.
With our big list of character races pared down to a more
manageable collection, we took a look at our planned product
schedule and began to pencil in specific races for specific prod-
ucts. We decided that the first Player’s Handbook needed the
tief ling—one of our most popular and evocative “second string-
ers” throughout 2nd and 3rd Edition, and a natural choice
for players interested in creating warlock characters—and the
dragonborn, a “new” character race. Even though dragonborn
didn’t have any kind of history with the audience, we felt that
it was important to grow the D&D world by allowing the mix
of characters to evolve in the new edition. Fantasy literature,
gaming, movies, and television have all become much more
cosmopolitan and less tied to traditional European mythology
over the last 10 or 15 years, so it seemed like it was time for the
D&D game to do the same right at the very foundation of the
game system and game world.
Finally, we took on the most serious and controversial part
of the work: We decided to take each character race back to
the drawing board and re-concept its story, its role, and its look
from scratch. For example, half lings were simply too small in
3rd Edition. You could create a half ling who weighed as little
as 30 pounds. That’s like a human toddler, not a heroic adven-
turer. Half lings also lacked a real place of their own in the
world; elves had forests, dwarves had mountains, but half lings
didn’t really live anywhere. We think you’ll find many of these
changes to your liking, and others you might wonder about—
but the whole idea is to give you a new set of expectations for
some of the oldest components of the game world.
Dragonborn
paladin
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18
—Bruce Cordell
Stories, myths, and legends: People build their identities
upon narratives that describe their past. Is it any wonder that
humans, with their vague, ambiguous, and often demonstrably
false origin myths, are the most changeable race of any who
stride the world?
When the dwarves speak of being chiseled from the bones
of the earth, and the elves sing of their leafy birth in the
untamed Feywild, humans can only wonder. From what mold
did humans spring? What god or primordial fashioned them,
then abandoned them to the world without guidance or super-
vision? Or did they arise, as some learned sages claim, from the
clay of the world itself, over millennia of slow variation from
lesser beasts?
With no true knowledge of their beginning, lacking any
familiarity with a creator, and absent a defined higher purpose
a parent deity might provide, humanity claimed for itself the
right to determine its own direction.
Thus since humans first burst upon the world, they have
been a f lexible, unpredictable, adaptable, and strangely
malleable race. The tribes and societies humans create for
themselves are as varied as all the leaves in the forest. Some
cultures are enlightened, some are cruel. Some prize art above
all, others the valor of military conquest. Those that persist
long enough grow larger and larger, eventually emerging as
grand empires.
Humans claim many past empires. Each empire exalted
its own unique set of virtues. Some were realms governed
by a caste of fearless warriors, some were rigid theocracies,
some were sorcerous tyrannies, and some were far-f lung
mercantile empires tethered together by silk, steel, and gold.
In truth, the story of humankind is the tale of the successive
rise of great empires.
And each rise preceded a subsequent, seemingly inevitable
fall.
Accordingly, humanity’s proud claims of its myriad rises
to imperial glory are besmirched by the fact that every one of
its empires now lies long toppled. Many are remembered only
in relics, ruins, and myth. Even Nerath, which persisted until
a mere century ago, was finally overthrown by hordes of orcs,
goblins, demons, and—some say—a secret curse.
Now Nerath’s ruins, too, litter the murky world; only
adventurers are brave enough to pierce the shadows that
lie between what isolated outposts remain. Human civiliza-
tion exists as widely separated points of light in a world of
untamed, mysterious darkness. Many are happy to remain all
their lives within the perceived safety of their farming hamlet,
village, and even the occasional city large enough to claim
itself a state. Still, tales of great riches that lie unclaimed in the
ruins of fallen kingdoms lure explorers into the wilds, where
frontier justice is the rule.
Humans know their destiny is yet undecided. Though
they’ve fallen often, they also know that their ancestors perse-
vered in the face of terrible odds to build societies that lasted
centuries. Thus the race possesses a stubborn confidence
others sometimes find peculiar. A human’s “can-do” attitude
seems out-of-place for the average village farmer, yet the son
or daughter of that farmer could well rise from obscurity
to become the next hero of the age, forging the first link in
an empire yet unborn. Such is the spark that burns in every
human heart. Humans are ambitious, driven, pragmatic, bold,
creative, and resourceful; they are a race from which heroes
often spring, but also villains.
Human heroes (and villains) are decisive and sometimes
rash. They are eager for new vistas and new experiences, and
as a result are drawn to explore the darkest reaches of the
world in search of knowledge and power. They hurl them-
selves into danger more readily than other races, dealing
with consequences as they arise. They are inclined to act first
and ponder later, trusting to their native resourcefulness,
faith, and will to prevail to see them through perilous situ-
ations. More than a few humans perish when they push too
hard and far, but enough succeed that the race always man-
ages to step back from whatever brink their hubris pushes
them to.
At an early age, most humans learn to handle at least one
weapon, even if just a dagger or a farm implement. Since
Nerath’s fall, even the common folk find it handy to have
some knowledge with the crossbow, sling, or other ranged
weapon to hunt game and to defend their homes from
creatures that roam the encroaching wilderness. Humans
appreciate that conf lict is never far from their homes and
stand ready to drive off a marauding bandit band or wander-
ing monster.
While many humans are content with learning a
weapon or two and developing their own martial talents, a
few find that the alien and sometimes fickle art of arcane
magic is worth looking into, especially among the upper
class and nobility. The requirements of the craft, at least as
commonly practiced by wizards, put arcane magic beyond
the means of commoners unless they are lucky enough to
apprentice to an already established practitioner. In larger
communities, human wizards gather together in small
guilds or colleges.
At the same time, humans are drawn to divine magic.
Humans are often culturally pious and easily take to the
worship of gods. Some worship the entire pantheon as appro-
priate to a given situation, while others commit themselves
to the service of a single higher power, such as Pelor or Ioun.
More than one past kingdom derived its law from religious
texts and exalted clerics over kings.
Humans
620_21648 18-39.indd 18 10/1/07 3:25:15 PM
19
Human on horseback,
concept art and final
620_21648 18-39.indd 19 10/1/07 3:25:16 PM
20
—Continued
Regardless of the god or gods humans choose to revere, they
always look to the horizon, seeking to expand their influence and
their territory. They chase power and want to change the world,
for good or for ill. Their settlements are among the brightest
points of light in a very dark and untamed world, and humans
constantly seek to explore new lands and settle new frontiers.
The last great empire was ruled by humans, and it con-
tained a place for all the common races. Even though it has
fallen into ruin, the remains of the empire still serve as home
to humans, dragonborn, tief lings, elves, dwarves, and others.
The human desire to push past boundaries finds expression
beyond physical exploration and settlement of new lands, which
in truth most humans will never get a chance to experience.
Artistic works allow any human with imagination to create
new realms without the worry of being assaulted on the road
by bandits or having a new settlement attacked in the night
by loathsome monsters. Whole new worlds of wonder can be
found merely in color, sound, form, narration, and surprising
combinations of these. Indeed, human art extends across all
forms: painting, sculpture, music, poetry, storytelling, and more.
While other races have their own preferred art forms, humans
have no specialty and can excel in any medium.
Because only two or at most three human generations are
alive simultaneously (elves commonly coexist alongside great-
great-great grandparents, in comparison), human societies
may seem more turbulent than those of longer-lived races.
Without the weight of generations to hold a particular society
to a particular path, new generations usher in new modes of
thought, commerce, art, and innovation. This aspect of human
civilization is the driving force behind humans’ adaptability
and success, but it also often leads also to turmoil and revolu-
tion. Thus the race’s greatest strength touches individuals with
calamity and war.
Other races conveniently view humans as a wild and unruly
people. However, if forced to admit it, even the race’s stern-
est critics recognize that if humans have a single positive trait
shared by all, it is their ability to never give up. If they fail in
a task, they try again and again until they eventually succeed.
If the task can’t be completed by this generation, perhaps the
next generation can pull it off. If an empire tumbles, well, in
a century or two, another one will rise up, twice as grand and
glorious as the previous one. No goal seems out of reach to a
determined human, and no ambition too grand.
HUMAN FRAILTY
—Matthew Sernett
The 3rd Edition Player’s Handbook describes humans as “the most
adaptable, f lexible, and ambitious people among the common
races” and human adventurers as “the most daring and ambitious
members of an audacious, daring, and ambitious race.” When
considering their role in 4th Edition, that seemed great. It’s the
same way that humans are portrayed in other works of science
fiction and fantasy from Star Trek to Lord of the Rings, and people
have a tendency to think of humanity that way in the real world.
Yet an aspect of that description bugged us: It’s all positive.
Dwarves are described as suspicious, greedy, and venge-
ful. Elves are known to be aloof, disdainful, and slow to make
friends. Gnomes are reckless pranksters. Half-orcs have
short tempers. Each race in the 3rd Edition Player’s Handbook
brings with it classic f laws—except humans. Maybe that was
because we know human f laws so well, or maybe humans were
described in such glowing terms as a means of explaining why
we presented them as the dominant race in all of D&D’s pub-
lished settings. Whatever the reason, it seemed like something
that needed to change for 4th Edition.
Humanity needed a weakness—a trait common to all
humans that could counteract their adaptability and ambition.
It couldn’t be a simple personality trait, such as bad temper,
because the infinite variety of personality traits all stem from
humanity in the first place. It also couldn’t be something that
might come off as odd when highlighted in humanity. If we say
that “being fractious” is a big feature of humanity, it makes sense. Human rogue
Humans
620_21648 18-39.indd 20 10/1/07 3:25:19 PM
21
We fight a lot of wars. Yet highlighting that feature of human-
ity implies that other races are less fractious, and we want elves
fighting elves to be just as likely as humans fighting humans.
So what negative trait typifies humanity and works to coun-
teract their potential? What keeps humanity for holding onto
the great things it achieves?
In a word: corruptibility.
It’s not that humans are all corrupt. Humans just have a
greater tendency to stumble off the righteous path. They jour-
ney down many roads paved with good intentions, and even the
best and brightest among humanity sometimes tarnish their
images with bad choices. The great empires of mankind fall
prey to invasion and calamity like those of other races, but more
often than not, they collapse due to the rot within. Humanity is
both its own staunchest ally and most dangerous enemy.
On the instant we hit upon this idea, the picture of humans
in 4th Edition came into focus. Humanity is ambitious, but
that ambition can take the form of a hunger for power and a
grasping nature. Humans are daring, but corrupted by desire,
with a bravery that can make people rash and irresponsible.
Even humanity’s adaptability takes on a darker meaning when
humans adapt their morality to suit their goals or the needs of
survival. With that long-missing piece in place, humans were
ready for 4th Edition D&D.
Human weapons
ARTIST’S COMMENTARY
—William O’Connor
Human were by far the most fun to design. I asked
myself, “What makes humans different?” I concluded
that their relatively short life span was their unique
quality. “The candle that burns twice as bright, only
burns half as long.” Elves and dwarves live so long that
they become serious, even tentative in comparison,
but humans live every day like it’s their last—because
in D&D it probably is! “Carpe Diem” became their
battle cry. This led me to the reckless, scavenged, and
asymmetrical aesthetic first developed in 3rd Edi-
tion. Humans don’t care if their boots match their
gloves—hell, they don’t care if their boots match each
other. Piecemeal suits of armor, military haircuts, and
unshaven faces became ubiquitous. Humans don’t have
ten years to spend crafting a single sword, or fifty years
to hone an art, so they become Jacks-of-All-Trades. I
thought that humans, being so young, would be the
only race that would use representational art: tat-
toos, heraldry, crests, standards, and so on. The other
races were more sophisticated and had “matured” into
abstract art.
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22
—Continued
As with the other races I was asked to re-concept, I thought
about where the humans came from, hoping to design around
their environment. Since elves were of the forest, dwarves of
the mountains, and half lings of the water, I came to the con-
clusion that humans evolved in the plains, so horses became
important to their culture and their wanderlust became a sig-
nature attribute. A human and his horse became like a biker
and his motorcycle, leading to most human costume design
to have heeled boots, spurs, and split front armor for riding.
The cultural history of the western and lone rider became the
archetypal human for me. The humans always look like they’re
just coming from or just going to a bar fight. Scars, missing
fingers and eyes, torn clothes, and dented armor speak of the
human life of adventure on the edge.
LEGENDARY LINKS
—Matt Sernett
When the Scramjet team hit upon the idea that humans are
corruptible, we latched onto the concept with gusto and put
humans at the root of many iconic monsters. In early drafts,
yuan-ti were humans transformed into snake-people through
a ritual to Zehir. Mind f layers, having been a transformative
and parasitic race since at least 2nd Edition, would transform
only humans to into illithids (no half ling-sized squid-faces).
Some varieties of lycanthropes would only have human-looking
humanoid forms.
This made a lot of sense to us at the time because we
wanted to contrast humans with how we were treating the
other major PC races. Elves, half lings, and dwarves each have
a patron deity (or more than one, in the case of half lings), and
each also has a creation story that involves its patron deity. We
didn’t want that for humans. It would seem incongruous with
how humans have been treated throughout the history of the
game, and we envisioned humans being zealots in their devo-
tion to various gods. At the same time, it seemed odd to us that
humans had no creation story that unified them.
To weave all these threads together, we decided that
humans once had a patron deity, the creator of the human race.
This mysterious figure died in the prehistory of the world, and
his or her name was lost to history due to the machinations of
Zehir, god of night (or, as we knew him then, Set).
Zehir had a problem: He couldn’t make a race like the
other gods. Whenever he tried, they turned out monstrous and
wrong. Since he could not create a race of his own, Zehir deter-
mined to steal one. He appealed to Avandra, goddess of change,
charming her into teaching him how to alter the creations
of others. Although dazzled by Zehir’s romantic overtures,
Avandra managed to attach a condition to Zehir’s power of
change—he could only change a creature with its creator’s per-
mission. Shackled by the condition, Zehir was unsatisfied. He
could see only one way to have his will: The dead do not deny
permission. After the war with the primordials ended, when
all the other gods had exhausted much of their strength, Zehir
murdered the creator of the humans and laid claim to them as
his own. But the other gods could not let this aggression stand,
and they defeated Zehir and wrested control of humanity from
him. The contest for control of humans continues to this day,
and thus humans are both the most corruptible of the races
and the most devout.
We were pretty happy with that origin story. It tied up loose
ends and explained some choices we made about monsters.
Then Bill Slavicsek pointed out that we had tied too much to
humans and actually counteracted our other efforts to make
humans share the spotlight with other races.
Back to the drawing board . . .
So now humans have fewer direct links to specific crea-
tures, and they have many stories of what happened to their
creator deity and who he or she was. The followers of Zehir
have their story, and those of Bahamut have another. Although
Human
fighter
Humans
620_21648 18-39.indd 22 10/1/07 3:25:21 PM
23
we liked the cool ideas we developed, this more obscured ver-
sion of the human legend gives DMs both more freedom and
inspiration for cool human factions and adventures. And that’s
what it’s all about.
MORE HUMAN THAN HUMAN
—Logan Bonner
Designing mechanical benefits for humans is no minor task.
The other races are simpler because they’re all based on slices
of human personality and biology. Dwarves are shorter and
tougher gruff humans, tief lings are charming humans with
horns and tails, and so on. These races are easy to under-
stand and roleplay because they represent specific aspects of
human nature (and you don’t see us doing a lot of PC races
that don’t behave or think at all like humans). Humans as a
race, though, have to be able to represent the full range of
real-world humans.
3rd Edition D&D represented humans as the most diverse,
most adaptable race. This is a reasonable niche for humans,
and the mechanics back it up pretty well. Much of the 3E feel
for humans is still there in 4E, though there’s an extra little
treat to increase your adaptability through feat selections.
The problem is that when you have a race that’s pretty good
at everything but best at nothing, it doesn’t point you toward a
specific class or role. One of our goals with races was that each
would have an advantage for some classes and a disadvantage
for others. We expected tief lings to be good warlocks and
eladrins to be good wizards, but humans didn’t have a mechan-
ical or thematic precedent to follow. So how did this turn out
for humans? Well, they’re still good at everything. Humans
stick with their adaptable shtick and their racial abilities are
useful for any class.
Humans are our most resilient race. Though they don’t have
more hit points or higher defenses, they recover from damage
and conditions more quickly than other races can. Humans are
all about dramatic action and dramatic recovery. Many of these
benefits come from racial feats.
Using the racial feats to emphasize humans’ advantages
gives the race an interesting dynamic. Even though they have
more potential for some classes, it’s never stupid to play a
human of any class. Most classes’ racial abilities intentionally
make them lean toward some classes, but humans really can
take on any task.
Human
warlord
Human
warlord
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24
—Richard Baker
Of all mortal creatures in the world, dragons are the most
awesome and powerful. In the beginning of days, the ancient
deity Io created dragons by fusing brilliant astral spirits into
the unchecked fury of the raw elements. The greater spir-
its became the dragons, creatures so powerful, proud, and
strong-willed that they were lords of the newborn world,
masters of all they surveyed. The lesser spirits became the
dragonborn. Although smaller in stature than their mighty
lords, they are no less draconic in nature. Dragons arose as
the kings and princes over the dragonborn, who gladly fol-
lowed their nobler and more powerful kin and in turn served
as leaders and champions to lesser mortal races. In this dark
and diminished age, dragons no longer rule over dragonborn
realms, and dragonborn must struggle to make their way in
the world as all mortals do—but in every dragonborn a hidden
furnace of draconic blood burns with the same fury and pride
all dragons know.
For centuries uncounted dragonborn have been among
the fiercest and strongest warriors in the world. When Io
perished, Bahamut and Tiamat fought furiously for domin-
ion over dragon kind, and their mortal servants—dragon
and dragonborn both—also battled. The dragonborn who
followed Bahamut triumphed and went on to forge the
powerful empire of Arkhosia in the arid lands of the south,
but to this day some evil dragonborn clans still venerate
Tiamat in secret. Ruled by royal lines of mighty dragons, the
proud warriors of Arkhosia subjugated vast territories across
the world. But many centuries ago, the city-states of Ark-
hosia came into conf lict with the growing shadow of Bael
Turath, the infernal empire of the tief lings. Dragonborn
and tief lings fought several terrible wars, and ultimately
both empires fell into ruin. The cities of Arkhosia became
devil-haunted ruins, and the few surviving dragonborn were
scattered to the four winds.
Today, dragonborn are a race of wandering mercenar-
ies, soldiers, sellswords, and adventurers. Their empire once
contended for dominion over the world, but only a few root-
less clans of these honorable warriors remain. Dragonborn
have no homeland to call their own, and so they live scattered
among the other common peoples of the world. Most use their
strength and martial skill to carve out a place for themselves,
and therefore wander to places where they can find opportuni-
ties to fight for a living—frontier kingdoms who post bounties
on bandits and monsters, decadent cities whose rich lords and
merchants pay well for mercenaries, or war-torn kingdoms
where honorable service and a strong sword-arm can win great
wealth and renown. Dragonborn rarely linger in lands with
little need for adventurers or sellswords.
In physical form, dragonborn resemble humanoid dragons.
Their bodies are covered in fine scales of gold and bronze.
They are tall and strongly built, often standing close to 6-1/2
feet and weighing 250 pounds or more. Their heads feature a
blunt snout, a strong brow, and distinctive frills at the cheek
and ear. Their hands and feet are strong, talonlike claws.
Dragonborn are oviparous (egg-laying), and youngsters
are generally referred to as hatchlings for the first few months
of life. However, young dragonborn grow much faster than
human children do. They walk hours after hatching and
master the rudiments of speech within three months. By the
time a dragonborn child is 3 years old, he or she has reached
the size and mental and emotional development of a 10-
year-old human child. By 12 years of age dragonborn attain
their adult stature, and by 15 they reach maturity and are
accounted adults by other dragonborn. They live about as long
as humans do, although dragonborn much prefer an honor-
able death in battle to a long senescence and will seek out such
an end when the infirmities of age begin to appear. Few live to
see their 70th year.
Like their larger kin, dragonborn possess an internal well-
spring of elemental power. As they mature and grow strong,
they learn to call upon this power in the form of a natural
breath weapon. A few dragonborn who harbor an excep-
tionally strong draconic heritage might eventually manifest
majestic, leathery wings.
Dragonborn make their own way in the world, and most
spend little time in the company of their own kind. Dragon-
born claim kinship to the clan of the parent who raises them,
and from time to time members of the same clan may travel
together or live in the same spot. For example, some dragon-
born clans form small mercenary companies of elite warriors,
or swear to serve as guards or champions to a strong and
honorable monarch of another race. A typical dragonborn
clan numbers anywhere from twenty to fifty relatives, mostly
cousins or second cousins to each other. Usually the oldest and
most accomplished dragonborn is considered the Clanmaster.
In routine matters, dragonborn clans reach most decisions
through debate and consensus, but in times of danger the Clan-
master’s word is law to be instantly obeyed.
Dragonborn marriages are dictated by old alliances
between clans. Males and females don’t remain together long,
and go their separate ways when their offspring reaches three
years of age. One parent then assumes responsibility for the
child and raises him or her from that time forward. Dragon-
born families are therefore small: one parent and one child
who travel, work, and play together while the parent teaches
the youngster what it means to be a dragonborn.
Dragonborn
620_21648 18-39.indd 24 10/1/07 3:25:23 PM
25
Dragonborn warlock,
concept art and final
620_21648 18-39.indd 25 10/1/07 3:25:24 PM
26
—Continued
Dragonborn leave their parent around fourteen to fifteen years of
age. Although parent and child retain great affection for each other,
the dragonborn are solitary and make their way through life alone.
While dragonborn don’t have a civic society as such, they
possess rich cultural traditions dating back to the days of their
long-lost empire. A dragonborn parent is honor-bound to teach his
offspring the ancient ways of the dragonborn people, the names of
her ancestors, and the meaning of honor. Dragonborn know hun-
dreds of myths and parables, each passed down for generations.
Dragonborn are fond of couching arguments and illustrating
points through reference to these old stories. These stories grow
with every new dragonborn hero who accomplishes some great
deed. It is a sign of great esteem when a dragonborn decides to
share one of these tales with a comrade of another race, since it
means that the dragonborn deems the person so instructed to
have sufficient honor and wisdom to recognize the essential truth
of the story and to be capable of learning something from it.
Dragonborn are widely regarded as arrogant and easily
offended by other races, but everyone knows that they’re people
of their word; a dragonborn’s honor is more important than life
itself. They value skill and excellence in all endeavors. Dragon-
born hate to fail and drive themselves to incredible efforts
before they give up on anything. Likewise, they greatly admire
honor, skill, and determination in others—even enemies.
Dragonborn seek out adventure for the chance to prove their
worth, win renown, and perhaps become champions about
whom stories will be told for generations. To win everlasting
glory through mighty deeds, daring exploits, and supreme skill
at a chosen calling—that is the dragonborn dream.
LEGEND OF THE DRAGONBORN
—James Wyatt
Dragons are such an iconic monster of fantasy that we named
the game after them. Until now, though, playing a dragon
meant either using a lot of variant rules (as in the 2nd Edition
Council of Wyrms campaign setting) or taking on a hefty level
adjustment to play either a dragon or a half-dragon.
Not any more.
Dragonborn are a humanoid race of draconic origin. One
dragonborn legend claims that when the gods warred with
the primordials, one of the mighty primordials cleaved Io, the
progenitor dragon god, in two. The two halves of the dead god’s
corpse rose up to become Bahamut and Tiamat, but where the
god’s blood fell, the dragonborn were made.
The legend more commonly told among other races is that
Io created the dragonborn to serve and defend the dragons. In
any event, the dragonborn are a martial race that forged a great
empire of united city-states when the world was young. Their
empire of Arkhosia fell after several terrible wars against Bael
Turath, the infernal empire of the tief lings.
If you want to play a proud, battle-bred warrior, if you want
to sprout wings and breathe fire as you go up levels, or if you
just want to touch the coolness that is dragons, you’ll want to
play a dragonborn.
DRAGONBORN CULTURE
—Chris Sims
Though they are a people dispersed by the ravages of time, history
lives and breathes in the dragonborn. They issue from an ancient
martial tradition founded on service, honor, and loyalty. Strength
and pride are paramount, and excellence is the only path. Every
dragonborn expresses these central racial traits in some way.
The dragonborn had a stable society in the empire of Arkho-
sia, where they revered their ancestors and the dragons. Although
their empire crumbled, the dragonborn carried their reverence,
their soldierly ways, and their honor with them. They adapted
to survive as they integrated into other cultures, but their tradi-
tions live on in their behavior and their time-honored crafts.
Dragonborn respect their clan ties, which run deeper than
familial connections. A single dragonborn parent raises a
dragon born child to know his clan and his heritage. An instilled
desire to ref lect positively on both helps to color a dragonborn’s
personal behavior. Those from the same clan more readily form
cohesive groups, but most dragonborn simply behave in a fash-
ion that garners them, and thereby their clan, respect.
Such admiration is most readily earned through direct
action according to a solid creed. Direct action means decisive-
ness and courage, and a solid creed is usually a devotion to the
ideals of a draconic god. In a dangerous world, and driven by
military customs, dragonborn take up arms to make their way.
The armaments such a dragonborn carries into battle are
often draconic in style. Sometimes a dragonborn even carries
weapons originally created by the dragonborn of lost Arkhosia.
These include the bastard sword (katana), the punch dagger
(katar), and the claw gauntlet.
Regardless of appearances and the misfortunes of the
past, dragonborn know their place in the world. The worst
among them are greedy and vengeful warriors who still know
the value of honor. Guided by their noble forebears, the best
among the dragonborn have been and will be among the
greatest heroes the world has ever known.
DESIGNING THE VISUAL LOOK
—Stacy Longstreet
Design a new PC race based on dragons. Go!
What began as a very exciting challenge turned into a very
difficult task.
Dragonborn
620_21648 18-39.indd 26 10/1/07 3:25:26 PM
27
Everyone agreed that this should be a really cool race that
everyone would want to play. Yet everyone had different ideas
about what it should look like: How much should it resemble a
dragon versus how much should it resemble a human? There
were lots of discussions and we started with trying to make
the head unique by creating a blending of human and dragon.
It became very apparent that this had been tried before. We
quickly determined that we needed to go in the other direction
and work with a more draconic head on a humanoid body.
Designing the male of the race was easier than the female.
Like the earlier versions of the dwarves, we did not want the
females to look so similar to the males. We wanted them to be
more feminine and recognizable as female dragonborn. We gave
them the curvy figure of a female and while they are more slender
then the males, they are still stronger and bulkier than a human.
WHY DRAGONBORN?
—Gwendolyn Kestrel
Short Answer: Because they’re cool!
Medium Answer: Because the game needs an interesting,
playable dragonlike humanoid.
Long Answer: There’s something intrinsically attractive
about playing a dragonlike person. Players want as an option
a race that captures the power and majesty of dragons. For the
first time in the game, we fulfill this need right from the begin-
ning of the edition.
Dragonborn wizard
INTRODUCING THE DRAGONBORN
—Gwendolyn Kestrel
When I started DM’ing a 4th Edition playtest group, I
noticed that different aspects of the races appealed to dif-
ferent players. A few people came to the table pretty sure
of what they wanted to play. Some folks went immediately
to survey the stat boosts. Others started in on the descrip-
tive text. One small bit of the dragonborn f lavor text really
caught one player’s attention and enthusiasm.
Erin: “Oooh! I hatched!”
Susan: “Do you still have pieces of your shell?”
Erin: “Oh! I totally want some!”
It wasn’t the race’s dragon breath or dragon wings or its
natural strengths as a warlord or fighter that appealed to
her. She didn’t look at the attractive stat boosts. The flavor
text was what sold her.
620_21648 18-39.indd 27 10/1/07 3:25:27 PM
28
—Matt Sernett
Long ago, when the world lay hot upon the anvil of the gods
and primordials, Moradin the All-Father chiseled dwarves
from the bones of the earth and forged for them souls of iron.
In each, he placed a diamond heart to beat the bright and
burning blood of life, and having finished his craft, he plunged
his works into ambrosia to cool them. These were the Firstborn,
those dwarves given life by Moradin’s divine skill and touched
by his holy hands, and they aided the Soul Forger in his work.
The primordials, those ancient beings of creation and
destruction that now gnash their teeth upon the world’s foun-
dations, had brought the world up out of chaos and populated it
with their spawn. Yet when the primordials beheld Moradin’s
bright children and their many clever works, they grew envi-
ous and demanded dwarves of their own. Pleased that the
primordials seemed to appreciate his creations, Moradin gave
generously and then turned back to his work. He was to learn
a lesson all dwarves now take to heart: that no gift should be
given lightly.
The jealous primordials made the dwarves serve their hate-
ful creations, the giants, and thus began the Age of Chains. In
the long darkness of this ancient time, dwarves were slaves to
the giants, building grand cities for them, crafting exquisite
items for them, and offering them the treasures they found by
breaking the bones of the world. Of course, the dwarves cried
out to their creator, but Moradin had begun his next great
work. He could not hear their lamentations through the furor
of his labor. Indeed, he worked on his next creation ceaselessly,
and only when the war horns of the gods sounded did he set
down his tools.
When Moradin looked about the world, he was filled with
fury. His creations—his children—were dying beneath the
whips and boots of the foul giants. Some, like the azers and
galeb-dur, had called out to him for so long that they lost the
voice for it and became slaves to the giants in body and soul.
Moradin thus learned another lesson now held close to the
hearts of dwarves: that sometimes one must cease hammering
to hear the truth.
Moradin set aside his work and turned his anger against the
primordials, aiding the gods in their struggle for control of the
world. Armed with weapons and armor forged by Moradin, the
gods defeated the primordials, and Moradin opened his port-
folio to the freed dwarves and to all who craft in metal or stone
or who love the mountains.
Dwarves endured slavery for countless years, until after the
primordials were laid low and the empires of the giants fell
into obscurity and ruin. In the centuries since winning their
freedom, dwarves have not lost their enmity for the giants.
Dwarves forget little and forgive even less. Nor have they lost
their crafter’s skill at the forge, mine, and quarry. Dwarves are
much as they were, fierce and resolute creatures who believe in
hard work and who value fine craftsmanship almost as much
as they esteem loyalty and honor.
Now one of the most populous races of the world, dwarves
live in mountain fortress-cities and among the other races
in their settlements in forests and on the plains. Like all the
major races, dwarves saw their great empires rise and fall, and
they warred on other peoples and warred among themselves.
Throughout their many long generations, dwarves achieved
great advances and suffered grievous losses, and today dwarves
exist in an age of uncertainty.
True, the ancestors’ great empires are gone, and many
dwarven clanhomes lie in the hands of enemies. And yes, the
great dwarven nations of the world are little more than city-
states, each with its own fears and foes. Yet dwarves know
that the future cannot be written in stone, only the past, and
looking out from their mountains, they see a landscape of
danger and opportunity. With bravery, ingenuity, and endur-
ance, dwarves might once again carve kingdoms of light from
a dark world.
A dwarf finds solace in stone, and thus many a dwarven
city gazes sternly down from a high mountain or hunkers
deep in a protective vale. Few dwarven settlements remain
purely on the surface for long, for dwarves feel the drive to
carve and tunnel as much as half lings sense the irresist-
ible pull of wanderlust. Some truly titanic dwarven cities
cut clear through a mountain to emerge on the other side.
Such underhalls, the largest and most ancient dwarven
settlements, typically originated in the Age of Chains, and
they exist still due to the work of countless generations of
dwarves. Often, vast swathes of such structures remain dis-
used by the underhall’s citizens, who choose to live in the
chambers close enough to the surface to benefit from natu-
ral light. Such abandoned areas become frightful catacombs,
haunted by specters of the past and echoing with the cries of
monstrous inhabitants.
When dwarves build, their works are grand. Perhaps due
to their ancestors literally working in giant scale, dwarves
construct and carve to awe the ages. They are justly proud of
their monumental structures and famed the world over for
their skills.
Within their great stone cities, dwarves live long lives
steeped in traditions and dedicated to duty. Families linked
by heritage share a clan name, and each clan performs the
functions of specific professions within a settlement. Being
practical by nature, dwarves tend to group professions by
direct applications. Thus, a clan of farmers also serves as
the city’s brewers, bakers, and quartermasters in times of
war. A clan of miners typically works as a settlement’s smiths
and minters.
Dwarves
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Dwarf cleric,
concept art and final
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30
—Continued
Dwarves excel at many crafts, most particularly great feats of
architecture and the crafting of armor and weapons. Few would
mistake dwarven items or buildings for those of any other race.
Dwarves favor strong geometric shapes and sharp, straight lines
that make their work distinctive. They use few adornments
besides patterns of shapes, but when they do depict people or
creatures, dwarves place such representations based on practi-
cal associations. The harness for a thundertusk boar would bear
illustrations of boar heads. The saddle horn on the saddle for a
griffon mount might look like the head or claw of a griffon. A
comb for beards might be shaped like a bearded dwarf face.
Members of a clan apprentice to their future work from a
young age, and therefore marriages between clans are regu-
larly arranged in childhood and even before the birth of the
betrothed. Having worked with the other clan in its profession
for years, often shoulder-to-shoulder with the settled-upon
mate, most dwarves find such alliances suit themselves as
much as they aid their families.
Of course, no dwarf worthy of the race knows only his own
job. Most dwarves make hobbies of other clans’ work. A brewer
might leave the city on sunny afternoons to pan for gold in a
valley stream, a miner might share home-brewed ale with her
friends after a day’s hard work, or a tailor might in the evenings
cut gems and craft jewelry that best compliments his clothing.
Dwarves might give the products of such hobby work as gifts,
but most sell them to the clan responsible for that kind of work
in the community, and that clan can then either use the work
in question or sell it for a small profit.
In the mixed communities that remain from the days of
the last human empire, dwarven neighborhoods are common.
Few humans ever visit a dwarven clanhome, but almost every
human has lived, worked, and even befriended a dwarf who
lives and works in their village, town, or city.
Dwarves train with weapons from youth, and their play
and exercise often take the form of mock battles. Dwarves
favor hafted weapons such as hammers, axes, and picks. These
weapons closely resemble the tools they use in daily work, and
most dwarves keep such a weapon handy wherever they might
be. Unlike other races, dwarves have little fear of violence.
Death and injury remain terrible specters that loom over con-
f lict, but despite this, dwarves often seem joyful in combat.
Even the most dour and taciturn old greybeard cracks a grim
smile at the thought of hefting a hammer and bringing it to
bear on foes.
This martial culture provides a deep and productive mine
for brave adventurers. Dwarven legends are replete with great
clerics, paladins, fighters, barbarians, rangers, and other
individuals of martial skill. Less common but equally famed
are the powerful dwarf wizards and elementalists. The hero’s
path can be long and lonely. Dwarves who walk it must often
break the bonds of tradition, family, and even clan. Yet as the
dwarven proverb says: “Deeds speak truth, and great deeds
shout it from the mountaintops.”
DWARVES AND DARKVISION
—Matt Sernett
When we designed the 4th Edition of the D&D game, we knew
we needed to improve how the game handled special kinds
of vision. Out of the three 3rd Edition core rulebooks, only
humans, half lings, and lizardfolk need a light to see normally
at night. Every other creature possesses some special sight that
allows it to see in dim light or even in darkness. That seemed
a little crazy, and when we thought about it, the inequality of
special vision also complicated the game. To play appropriately,
the DM has to describe the big dark room one way for the drow
Dwarves
Dwarven designs
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31
(who has darkvision 120 feet), one way for the dwarf (who has
darkvision 60 feet), another way for the elf (who has low-light
vision), and still another for the human holding the torch. And
there’s one more problem with many creatures having dark-
vision: The PCs don’t get to see the scenery in caves or large
dungeon rooms.
To eliminate those problems we took darkvision away from
most creatures, including dwarves. Now dwarves illuminate
the homes they build into mountains. They possess low-light
vision so they don’t use as much light as a human might, but
when the PCs enter the dwarven city, it’s likely everyone can
see its splendor.
ORC FOES
—Chris Sims
Since orcs and dwarves inhabit mountainous regions,
the two races might have come into conf lict simply over
resources. However, the two peoples’ diametrically opposed
world views ensure ongoing clashes if not outright war. Both
cultures share a martial spirit and a grasp of smithing weapons
and armor, but there the similarities end. Where dwarves
gather and build, orcs scavenge and destroy, and where
dwarves are dutiful and industrious, orcs are treacherous
and lazy.
Orcs see dwarf holds as ready-made shelter, as well as a
source of food, wealth, and slaves. Why should orcs bother to
build, farm, and mine when foolish dwarves have done so for
them? After all, only the deserving end up with the spoils.
Dwarves see orcs as murderous, craven thieves. Through
generations, dwarves have suffered the unrelenting brutality of
orcs, and no dwarf forgets a grievance. Now, the only way orcs
can repay their debt is with blood.
WITHOUT A CLAN
—Chris Sims
Most dwarves toil their life through, enjoying the comfort of
life in a clan—a close-knit group of friends and kin. They never
contemplate foreswearing such social support, and they never
bother to imagine the horror of being ripped from their clan.
But the clanless abound.
Many a clanless dwarf is the sole survivor of the destruction
of a dwarf hold. Orcs and giants target dwarf settlements, as
do avaricious dragons and other monsters. Another clan might
adopt a clanless dwarf, but no dwarf can forget or forgive the
loss of his clan. If possible, such a loss must be avenged.
Dwarf adventurers often build a second clan around their
adventuring companions, and such ties can be as strong—or
stronger—than the ties of blood and tradition.
Dwarven armor
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—Continued
DESIGNING THE DWARVEN ALPHABET
—Daniel Reeve
The Dwarven characters had to be suitable for carving into
stone, so I created very simple shapes. At first this included
curves, but these were discarded in favour of creating letters
with only straight lines. Ascenders and descenders were also
discarded, following the logic that superf luous f lourishes were
a waste of good carving space: preparing a good rock surface
would be time-consuming work, so in the end, the letters
should be compact, and use space very efficiently.
But this led to a character set that resembled the runes of
ancient England and Scandinavia too closely.
The ancient northern European runes share a characteris-
tic main vertical stem in many of their characters. So I created
many new characters with strong angular marks—and often
with no verticals at all. This gave an alphabet with quite a dif-
ferent, and distinctive, look. As well as the strong angular motif,
the Dwarven characters are also broader than runic ones.
Creating numerals was a simple extension of these ideas,
and most of them (0,1,2,3,5,7,8) bear some kind of resem-
blance to their Latin or Roman counterparts, or to the physical
quantity they represent.
SURE AND STEADY
—Chris Sims
In the evolution of the D&D game, dwarves have changed
little. They’ve always had a clear place and role. In the new edi-
tion, the dwarf is a model for how races can be f lavorful and
still have clear mechanics.
From the early days of the game, dwarves have been tough
and soldierly. Only with the advent of racial ability adjustments
in the Arvn×crr Dc×cro×s x Dnnco×s Player’s Handbook
did they gain a penalty to Charisma and a cap on Dexterity.
Dwarves have been apt at stonework and able to see in the
dark since the D&D Basic Rules. In 3E, dwarves still made
great fighters, but they became worse clerics than ever due to
turning’s reliance on Charisma.
The new edition’s dwarf gives a nod to all its ancestors, while
acknowledging the needs of the new edition. Dwarves make
great fighters and paladins, and they can excel in leader roles as
well, especially as clerics, since they have no Charisma penalty.
Flavorful abilities round out the package, reinforcing the dwarf
as a defender and as a creature that likes to live underground.
Only darkvision, a troublesome game element, went away in
favor of low-light vision.
Dwarves still play into the expectations of veteran players,
and they live up to the conceptions of myth and fantasy litera-
ture. But now, they might fit their intended place in the D&D
world better than ever.
SURFACE-DWELLING DWARVES
—Chris Sims
One way in which the new edition’s dwarves deviate from
old stereotypes is that these dwarves build surface cities with
underground sections. Many factors necessitated this move,
from the look of the D&D world to minor thematic elements in
the dwarf race.
In designing the look of the D&D world, we wanted player
characters to be able to see dwarf cities as grand edifices
among the peaks and canyons, not just as a door in a mountain-
side. Sure, plenty of dwarves live in subterranean chambers.
But since dwarves can’t see in the dark, those magnificent halls
are lit with streaming sunlight from windows to the outside
and ventilated with fresh surface air. The dwarves might dig
deep in the earth for precious materials, but even their mines
are aglow with lantern light. As such, even dwarf delves are
accessible to all characters.
With surface settlements, dwarves can grow their own
crops and raise their own livestock. They don’t need to rely
on lowland sources for grain (and beer!), nor do they need to
rely on contrived underground animals for all that meat they
love to feast on. Dwarf towns are places characters can visit
and even sneak into (try that with a small gate in a mountain-
side). Dwarves seem more a part of the world when they’re not
sequestered in underground halls.
Dwarves
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When the dwarves were fighting for freedom from the
giants, they lived underground for defense. But there’s no doubt
that the new edition’s dwarves are surface-dwelling creatures
whose love of the earth shows through in their culture.
IN PRAISE OF DWARF WOMEN
—Rob Heinsoo
Back in the early days, back before D&D first became
Advanced . . .
. . . back when D&D players had three pamphlets in a
brown or white box . . .
. . . back when Tactical Systems Rules (TSR!) published
wargame rules in the same pamphlet format on topics such as
modern micro-armor tank battles . . .
. . . back then when D&D was new, there were two topics
that resurfaced endlessly in gaming magazines.
First, people argued about the best way to handle lightning
bolt and fireball spells. The eventual publication of AD&D pro-
vided concrete rules, though that only intensified the Great
Fireball Debate.
Second, people argued over whether dwarf women had
beards. Yes, it’s true—”Hirsute Dwarven Women” wasn’t
a bad-hair band, it was a debate that f lared through half-
a-decade of fandom. Remarks by early D&D creators,
particularly in reference to Gnrvnnvx, sparked fanbase sus-
picions concerning the apparent absence of female dwarves
in Tolkien, despite the fact that they were said to be on the
scene. Did female dwarves grow beards and move unre-
marked among dwarf males? Did female dwarves have to
shave? Et Tedious Cetera.
So thank Moradin we’re eight years into the Zeds and
Bill O’Connor has gifted us with a magnificent new look for
dwarf women. Strong, sensual, earthy and feminine, with an
exotic beauty that no one would think to splash a beard on.
Questions of dwarven female beauty have been buried once
for and all.
We’ll have to make do with the Great Fireball Debate.
ARTIST’S COMMENTARY
—William O’Connor
We all know dwarves are stocky, have beards, and live in
caves in the mountains. Snow White, Arthur Rackham,
Tolkien, Wagner, Nordic mythology: all have established
this archetype. I began by developing the race of dwarves
by looking at where they lived. The mountainous terrain
and mining lead to the beards, broad hands, shoulders
and low center of gravity. The culture of mining and rock
inspired a faceted aesthetic that I felt would pervade
the art of the dwarves and give them a distinctive look.
Dwarves are a hard people, with a hard-edged style.
The design team told me that dwarves should look like
tanks. The beards became a fun experiment. Since
no one ever sees a dwarf without a beard, it must hold
a strong social, possibly even religious significance. I
decided that the beards would be a key to individual-
izing characters denoting family, personal history and
clan affiliation. Once the beards were designed, I found
that the only facial feature that could be seen through
all the hair was the nose, so I thought it would be very
striking if it were prominent, since throughout art his-
tory dwarves have large noses, and small-nosed dwarves
tend to look like Santa.
The female dwarves were a much greater challenge.
The design team felt that they had been ignored in
earlier versions because they are always depicted as
so unattractive and masculine. I was directed to make
them beautiful, even sexy. Short, stocky and large nosed
is not exactly a schema for the classic female beauty. I
had no inclination to depict them with beards or soft
cherubic faces. Broadening the face and balancing the
design with piles of hair and slightly bigger eyes was
my solution.
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—Richard Baker
Serene, graceful, and just a little inscrutable, eladrins are the
people of the Feywild—the faerie world of twilight and magic
that exists alongside the human world. They are the most
highly cultured and learned of the elven races, and are often
called “high elves” or “gray elves” by those who don’t know
any better. They are graceful swordmasters, skillful artisans,
and wizards of great cunning and power. Their shining cities
lie hidden from the eyes of common mortals within the dark
and wondrous Feywild, but are close enough to the world of
humankind for travelers to sometimes catch glimpses of their
turrets and spires.
Of all the races, eladrins are the most likely to take magic
for granted. They grow up in an environment suffused with
magic, even if not every eladrin is a wizard (as some ignorant
humans believe). For eladrins, magic is a fundamental force
of the universe, and it’s never mastered as much as temporar-
ily tapped, redirected, and shaped. Sagacious master wizards
instruct their eladrin apprentices to think of magic as a river
f lowing through the universe. Casting a spell or creating a
magic item is like dipping a bucket into that river—or at most,
diverting part of the river into a new channel. The f low of
magic continues unabated despite the diversion, say the sages,
and efforts to dam up the river completely are doomed to
eventual failure. Even if an eladrin never casts a spell in his
life, he sees evidence of the invisible river of magic f lowing
through all things.
Corellon, the god of magic, was the first immortal to
discover the Feywild. Enamored with the beauty of this
enchanted place, he created the elves to people the Feywild
and the wild places of the world. From the beginnings of their
race, some elves were fascinated by arcane magic and the
skillful working of stone and metal, while others were enam-
ored of the natural world and the shaping of wood and water.
Those who were inclined to work in stone and magic built
graceful, spire-topped cities in the Feywild, while those who
loved living things more found the vast forests of the natural
world more to their liking.
In time, the rise of the drow—the dark elves—precipitated a
terrible time of war and ruin within the Feywild, and eventu-
ally divided the elven race into three distinct kindreds. Many
elves abandoned the Feywild forever and took up a simpler
existence in the great forests of the natural world. These are
known as “wood elves,” or simply “elves.” Those who remained
in the Feywild and rebuilt the ruined kingdoms became
known as eladrins—a name given to them by Corellon in the
language of the immortals. They are sometimes known as
“high elves” after the tall towers of their cities and their desire
to remain above the concerns of the world. But to this day
many eladrins and elves—especially the adventurers and sages
of both races—pass easily between the Feywild and the world
and back again with nary a thought.
Eladrins are at home in both the Feywild and the mortal
realm. Academic-minded eladrins contemplate the deepest
mysteries of magic within the arcane towers of elven cities such
as Shinaelestra, Jenn-Tourach, and Avaellor. Others explore
the ruins of long-gone high elven civilizations like the Anauli
Empire, the Realm of the Twin Queens, and Cendriane, or seek
delight in the sublime wonders of the Feywild, riding among
its vast silver plains with unicorns or sailing its starlit seas. And
eladrin knights and swordmages guard their beautiful castles
and cities against the darker denizens of the Feywild, such as
savage werebeasts, cruel and bloodthirsty forest spirits, and the
dreaded fomorians.
The grand realms of the eladrins are largely a thing of the
past, although powerful city-states remain. Most eladrin com-
munities exist close to the ever-shifting border between the
Feywild and the world. The city of Shinaelestra, for example,
shifts onto the world at each midnight, replacing a glade deep
within the Howling Forest for a few hours before returning to
the Feywild with the first light of dawn. Jenn-Tourach crosses
over onto a mountaintop only for a single day at midsummer.
The towers of Avaellor, on the other hand, remain on the hill-
sides of a fair green island all spring and summer, fading into
the Feywild with the coming of winter.
WHY FEY AND THE FEYWILD?
—James Wyatt
Fey have always been a part of D&D that has both proponents
and detractors. The detractors have some good points, in my
estimation—cute pixies and leprechauns aren’t fun opponents,
and good-aligned creatures are hard to use in combat-heavy
adventures. Yes, people recognize pixies from fairy tales. But
D&D is emphatically not the game of fairy-tale fantasy. D&D
is a game about slaying horrible monsters, not a game about
traipsing off through fairy rings and interacting with the
little people.
On the positive side, though, there is something very
appealing about the legends of a faerie land, a world that’s
an imperfect—or a more perfect—mirror of our own. There’s
something genuinely frightening about the idea that a traveler
in dark woods at night might disappear from the world entirely
and end up in a place where the fundamental rules have
changed. Magic is more real there, beauty is more beautiful
and ugliness more ugly, and even time f lows differently in the
fey realm. Books like Susannah Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and
Mr. Norrell depict that world in vivid language.
The 3rd Edition Manual of the Planes introduced the idea
of Faerie as a plane of existence that lay outside the standard
cosmology. It was a parallel plane like the Plane of Shadow,
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touching the world in many places, similar to it in general
form and landscape, but hauntingly beautiful and inhabited
by fey. That’s the plane we adopted into the cosmology as
the Feywild.
What, then, to do with the cute sprites and good-hearted
nymphs? Well, we put the wild back into the Feywild. One
aspect of legendary and literary Faerie is that the fey are curi-
ously amoral. They don’t think of Good and Evil in the same
way that mortals do, and they can be cruel or murderous
almost on a whim. Those are the fey we wanted in the Fey-
wild. The Feywild is home to unearthly eladrins who might
call up the Wild Hunt and rampage through the mortal world
to avenge some real or imagined wrong, or just because the
moon is in a certain phase. Its dryads walk into battle along-
side their treant allies, slashing about with branchlike arms.
Its nymphs can kill with a glance or enchant mortals to act as
their slaves.
Like the world of humankind, the Feywild is a place of
darkness interrupted by tiny, f lickering points of light—but in
the Feywild those are more like points of twilight. Even the
beautiful palaces of the eladrins can be welcoming in daylight
but places of terror when the sun fades from view.
ELADRIN SOCIETY
—Dave Noonan
Whether an eladrin calls the Feywild cities or a white tower
amid a human city home, he or she grows up in an extended
family group known as a house. Most eladrins use their house
name as a surname: Jauri Risingstar and Eledria Risingstar are
both scions of House Risingstar, for example, even if they’re
only distantly related by blood. Each house has its own heraldic
crest that’s embroidered into a robe or tabard and used on pen-
nants and other decorations.
Houses tend to be quite large, often numbering hundreds
of eladrins due to their three-century life span. The long life
span also explains why eladrin communities have simpler
political structures than other races. A lord or lady may govern
an eladrin domain for two centuries or more—a continuity of
leadership that the short-lived races can’t match. Conf licts over
succession are more rare, and an eladrin ruler can draw on
a vast reserve of experience when responding to a crisis. For
exactly the same reasons, however, an eladrin lord is likely to
be a conservative ruler. If you tell him of an invading army of
orcs, it’s likely that Lord Tynal of Shinaelestra will handle it
same way he did five decades ago. Human diplomats find it
hard to negotiate with the high elf realms because they’re often
told, “If we’re at an impasse, that’s fine. We’ ll bring the matter
up with your grandchildren.”
Eladrin wizard
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—Dave Noonan
Quick to laughter and quick to anger, the impulsive elves
temper their wild hearts with compassion and courage. They
are a physically gifted race: slender, handsome or beautiful,
and astonishingly agile and swift of foot. They are brave war-
riors, superb archers, and masters of the secret magic of nature
that surrounds all living things. Elves make their homes in
wild places of great beauty, building shelters and settlements
amid the woodlands that are virtually invisible to travelers who
lack their woodcraft and keen senses.
Ages ago, elves and eladrins were a single race, the people
of the Feywild—the twilight world of faerie that exists along-
side the world of humankind. The eladrins were fascinated by
magic and the high lore of making, becoming skilled builders,
artisans, and wizards. The elves loved the simple beauty of the
natural world far more than the works of their own hands and
minds, and they drifted apart from their more settled kinfolk.
They became a race of wanderers and hunters, rarely building
permanent homes or even living in the same place for more
than a few months at a time. Other folk sometimes refer to the
eladrins as “high elves” and the forest-dwellers of the world as
“wood elves.”
Elves long ago spurned the cities and havens of the eladrins
for the natural wonders of the wilderness—usually the deep
forests of the world. There they dwell, stalking owlbears in the
Howling Forest, leaping among the cascading waterfalls of the
Durkellwood, and dancing within the hidden glades of Dagger-
moor. Their tribes wander the vast wilds of the world, crossing
over into the Feywild or exploring the borderlands of the
settled races when their curiosity leads them there. No matter
how far their travels take them, they always seem to find their
way back to familiar forests from time to time.
A typical elf community is a semi-nomadic tribe, building a
treehouse village of living wood in a particular stretch of forest,
then savoring the natural splendors of that place for a few sea-
sons or years before their collective wanderlust takes the tribe
elsewhere, searching for a new place where they can set down
roots for a time.
And because elves are as long-lived as their eladrin cous-
ins, those wanderings can go far indeed. An individual elf
could spend a decade in the jungles of the Haruani Archi-
pelago, then spend another year climbing Mount Keannor,
a season living among the humans in one of their cities, and
another decade tracing the overgrown paths through the
Feywild that connected the cities in the ruined realm of Cen-
driane. She might not see tribe or family for two decades, but
it’s likely that most of them will still be alive when she returns.
Even if her great-grandfather is a century old, that elf could
wander for 200 years and find him still alive when she came
back to the tribe.
A chieftain, chosen by consensus during a collective
trance-ritual, leads each elf tribe. Tribes are generally named
after a geographic feature or a plant: the Whitepeak Tribe,
the Oakroot tribe, or the People of the Shadow-Glade, for
example. Within a tribe, each family unit takes an animal as a
totem or mascot: the Falcons, the Wolves, the Owls, and so on.
Elves don’t usually use surnames, but when necessary they’re
equally likely to adopt their tribe name or their family mascot
as a surname.
Unlike eladrins, who are often reserved and scholarly, elves
love simple pleasures. They are plainspoken, quick to jest and
laugh, and disinclined to tie themselves down to dull or unpleas-
ant tasks. An elf tribe is far more egalitarian than an eladrin
haven, a dwarven clan, or a human barony. Any member has the
right to speak his mind to the chieftain (or anyone else, for that
matter). Elves are blunt, but they’re keen enough observers to
avoid being rude—most of the time, anyway.
If anything is capable of souring an elf ’s compassionate and
lighthearted nature, it’s the presence of the drow: midnight-
skinned creatures who dare to call themselves elves, yet long
ago betrayed their entire race after being seduced by the lies
of Lolth, Demon Queen of Spiders. From their sinister cities
beneath the earth—where elves and eladrins banished them
after a long war that left many eladrin cities in ruin and great
forests burned to ash—they hatch evil plots full of malice and
revenge toward elf and eladrin alike.
Beyond the drow, other enemies abound. Goblins (and hob-
goblins and bugbears, of course) have fought many wars against
elves. Goblins build their fortress-cities wherever they can, but
they favor dark forests whose gloomy shadows shelter them
from the sun. They are eager to despoil and poison the woods
they occupy, shaping these forests to their own tastes. Elves
detest the wanton ruin and cruel excesses of goblinkind and
will not hesitate to wage a long, merciless war to drive out any
goblin band that claims part of a forest where the elves roam.
For their own part, goblins have learned to fear and hate elven
arrows, and deliberately pollute and burn the woodlands to
drive the elves away.
The elves aren’t without friends. Elves can call upon ancient
fey allies, such as centaurs or dryads, to aid them. And elves are
generally friendly toward humans, dwarves, and half lings—
even if humans are maddeningly inconsistent, dwarves are
dour killjoys, and half lings too sly for their own good.
Due to the unifications that occurred during the last
human empire, most human settlements include at least a
few elves.
Elves
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37
Elf ranger,
concept art and final
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38
—Continued
RECONCEPTING THE ELVEN LOOK
—Richard Baker
If you take a look at the height and weight suggested for elf
characters in previous editions, you’ll discover that elves used
to be exceptionally small and slight. It wasn’t unusual for elf
characters to stand only about 5 feet tall and weigh less than
90 pounds—about the size of a typical 12-year-old. It’s hard
to make a character of that stature look slender and graceful
without making him or her extremely small, at least as com-
pared to the humans, dwarves, or half-orcs in the party. So we
decided to revisit elf stature for the new edition.
Core to the elves is the notion of elven grace—and if you’re
going to designate a race as particularly graceful, then they
should have a physique that looks graceful. A male elf, no
matter how strong, will never look like a linebacker. At most,
that elf will have the chiseled but still lean physique of a light-
weight boxer. That aspect of the elven “look” is key for reasons
of identification. Elves now stand about as tall as humans do,
or even a little taller. And they’re athletic, not emaciated. They
have the long legs and light builds of born runners.
Elves retain several of their distinguishing characteristics
from earlier editions, most notably the pointed ears and the
slight tilt to the eyes. And elf males don’t have facial hair. They’re
not effeminate; they’re lean, athletic, and clean-shaven. That’s
not to say that elves never look feminine—female elves sure do!
DESIGNING THE ELVEN ALPHABET
—Daniel Reeve
Elven had to be graceful and f lowing, so a curved script
immediately suggested itself. Initial attempts had a f lamelike
appearance, with ascenders and descenders lending a motif
from the limbs of a recurve bow, but the overall effect was not
quite convincing. Many of the characters seemed “forced.”
To create 26 unique characters, plus 10 more for numerals,
one must arrive at a sufficient level of complexity of curves and
lines while adhering to a style. A glance at some Malayalam script
reminded me that it is perfectly acceptable to divide a character’s
“cell” space vertically (as with Latin “M,” or “W”), as well a hor-
izontally (like Latin “E,” or “B”), and that the strokes forming a
character are allowed to cross over themselves, forming more
complex shapes than just simple open or closed curves.
Bearing this in mind, I created a fresh script in a single cre-
ative burst with the calligraphy pen, allowing loops and curves
to f low freely from the nib. The resulting characters have a con-
sistent style, and the italic slant lends a nice f low to the writing.
Calligraphic f lourishes suggest themselves easily when writing
this script by hand.
Elves
Elven runes
Elf head study
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39
The new alphabet also improved on the first draft by using
finer lines, with less difference between thick and thin strokes.
This adds to the elegance and gracefulness of the script.
The numerals came in a second burst, the only restriction
being that they should each occupy a similar amount of vertical
and horizontal space.
ALL YESTERDAY’S SUBRACES
—Richard Baker
Somewhere around twenty years ago, the D&D game started
to suggest differences between varieties of dwarves and elves.
Dwarves were either hill dwarves or mountain dwarves; elves
were high elves, wood elves, or gray elves. Of course there
were drow too, so that suggested the dwarves might have an
evil variety, and thus the duergar were born. Different cam-
paign worlds came up with unique and f lavorful names for
these varieties, and different abilities too, making even more
subraces. So before we knew it, we had a game with a dozen
varieties of elves and just as many dwarves—and most had dif-
ferent mechanical characteristics from the basic elf, turning
one character race into a dozen.
For 4th Edition, we decided to take a big step back from that.
We decided that most of the differences between different
types of elves (drow excluded) were cultural, not physical. We
could retain the notion of two elven races. The D&D game
has always boasted two very strong iconic themes for elf char-
acters: the woodland ranger and the highly cultured wizard.
Therefore we narrowed the field of elf subraces down to two
entries that matter: high elf and wood elf. Gray elves, sun elves,
moon elves—they’re all high elves. Wild elves, wood elves, green
elves—they’re all just elves.
Given the story we’ d settled on for the high elves (a race
of fey lords who live in castles in Faerie), it seemed that it
would actually be counterproductive to also bring forward
the eladrin into the new edition (a race of fey lords who live
in Arborea, a plane that looks a lot like Faerie). In a sense,
eladrin and high elves were competing for the same concep-
tual space, so we chose to combine them into a single race
of fey lords and made the Feywild their home. The name
“eladrin” became available to use as the name of the “high
elf ” player character race. Now there are three races—not
subraces—of elvenkind, and each is equally distinct from the
others: Drow, Eladrin, Elf.
By comparison, at the close of 3rd Edition, the elven
subraces that had appeared in various D&D sourcebooks
included elves, Aerenal elves, aquatic elves, avariel, drow,
moon elves, painted elves, snow elves, star elves, sun elves,
Valenar elves, wild elves, and wood elves. And we probably
missed a couple.
Elf, Eladrin, and Drow
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40
—Bruce Cordell
When the sun-hot strife between gods and primordials was
barely cooled, the goddess of the moon, Sehanine, and the god
of the wilderness, Obad-Hai, were drawn to each other. A tem-
pestuous affair ensued, and before the two separated forever, a
love gift was fashioned from the moon’s dreams and the undis-
ciplined glens and rivers of the world: the half ling race. The
goddess of luck looked upon the fruit of Sehanine and Obad-
Hai’s abandoned effort and was delighted. Within the newborn
half ling race stirred a spirit of adventure that could never be
sated, and a devil-may-care attitude that surrendered their
hopes and desires to luck as much as any knowledge or artifice.
Curious and active, open but secretive about their internal
dealings, half lings are quick and resourceful wanderers, small
in stature but great in courage. They are an athletic race known
for their ingenuity, quick wits, and steady nerves. Despite their
lesser size, half lings have stout hearts and the ability to stand
up to punishment that few could scarce credit.
Half lings benefit from a nomadic, world-spanning cul-
ture that has survived thousands of years, including the rise
and fall of several empires. When other races saw their great
empires topple, found their deals with extra-mortal entities go
bad, or were enslaved by terrible monsters, half lings survived
unchanged. Their oral histories contain a vast amount of lore
about people and places long past, especially remnants still
found in the world of today.
Bound by traditions and customs that have served them
well for thousands of years, half lings place great importance on
being friendly to other peaceful societies and on sharing both
the burdens and rewards of fortune. Among their own kind,
half lings settle easily into their customary interactions, which
are characterized by a more serious and practical mien.
Half lings don’t collect themselves in kingdoms or realms,
and they don’t recognize any sort of royalty or nobility. Instead,
half lings organize themselves by clans, groups tied together by
family relationships. Thus, the head of a clan is also the head of
a family. Clan elders are expected to look after their own folk.
Families many miles distant from each other keep in touch by
means of avian couriers and messengers, so most half lings in
any given area are quite well informed about what’s going on
all around them. Clans move around with the seasons to avoid
trouble, to find better fishing and hunting, to visit a distant
family group, to relocate their water caravan to a new center
of trade, or simply to live someplace different. In their travels,
clans pass knowledge on to others they meet, exchange mem-
bers via marriage, and reestablish relationships with clans with
whom they have been out of touch.
The fine points of clan law varies from one family clan to
another, but in most cases a half ling is technically a member
of both the mother’s and father’s clan at birth. Upon reaching
maturity, a half ling must formally declare between the two
clans and adopt the family name of the chosen clan. However,
ties between both clans remain close.
Clan elders are chosen by acclaim every so many years,
depending on a particular river caravan’s luck and happiness—
the less happy, the more often new clan elders are chosen. The
title elder is more ceremonial than accurate—any half ling can
be an elder as long as he or she is at least twenty-four years
old. Clan elders hand down family law, mediate in disputes
between members, and provide general direction to the clan’s
activities. No set number of clan elders exists—more elders
are elected whenever it seems too much work has fallen upon
the shoulders of too few. Sometimes clan elders from dispa-
rate clans meet to pass on important warnings; however, such
information is normally trusted to standard means of dispers-
ing information.
Always roaming, half lings are at home in any land but call
no land their own. Through their constant travels, usually via
waterways and marshlands, few peoples have learned more
of the world and what goes on upon its face than half lings.
Where most other races find their peace in a domicile lived in
by generations of parents and grandparents, or in sturdy-built
homes deep in the earth that hardly change at all over the
centuries, half lings find peace in the act of traveling. Instead of
being wearied by days of paddling canoes, pushing rafts, riding
rapids, and pulling barges, half lings are rejuvenated by such
activity. Half lings are not much for riding or traveling by hard,
dusty roads; river trips are their preferred means of touring.
Halflings
Half ling
rogue
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41
The river offers routes to places near and far. Half ling water-
caravans can be found traveling up or down a river or tributary
subsisting on trade, entertainment, and sometimes graft.
When a half ling water caravan ties up its many craft to the
piers of an established community, half ling merchants, day
laborers, tricksters, and entertainers jump from their boats,
eager for the day. At the same time, those remaining with the
boats begin songs of labor as they get to work patching holes,
mending sails, and preforming other repair work, already
anticipating the next leg down or up the river.
Some of the half lings who disembark from a river caravan
hire themselves onto nearly any enterprise, including masonry,
farming, guard duty, or even as companions on perilous, one-
off quests into the wilderness. Others who have salable skills of
their own seek the local marketplace to offer their services, be
it brewing, weaving, cobbling, or leatherworking. A few who’ve
bought lots of merchandise from somewhere farther up or
down the river try to sell or trade their wares, sometimes even
setting up temporary stalls from which to do business.
Halflings are also powerfully drawn to games of chance and
luck, and in such games tend to do so well that others sometimes
suspect them of being a race of cheaters. While its true that
half lings are not above a trick or two, their natural luck is more
than enough to put them over the top in many a game. Even
when halfling proclivities for winning and tricks is known, there
always seems to be those of other races eager to “match wits”
with half ling dice masters, and card sharks who believe their
own luck and the stories their sycophants feed them. Some even
win a hand or two, but usually half lings come out on top.
When half lings deal with the population of a community
they’re visiting, they present a plucky, affable face to outsiders.
They possess an easy-going, friendly, optimistic, and curious
demeanor. This behavior isn’t a false front, but instead is their
natural inclination outside the bounds of their traditional culture.
Halflings are also known for the favors and great deals they some-
times accord their buyers. Such favors can take the form of aid to
those in need, discounts on services for those who have little to
spend, and small gifts to people who have treated them especially
kindly—or unkindly. While it is probably true that such halfling
good will is merely part and parcel of a halfling personality, such
actions go a long way toward maintaining the feelings of good will
most other races feel toward this diminutive people. If half lings
were known to be a race of liars and swindlers, no community
would allow an itinerant water caravan to set up camp.
Half ling riverboat
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—Continued
Of course, it should be noted that half lings’ happy-go-lucky
view of the world sometimes comes across in a less than posi-
tive light to other, more conservative peoples. Owning only
a minimal amount of property themselves, half lings look at
others’ possessions in a “different” light. To some half lings,
the fact that another creature “owns” a particular object is less
relevant than how soon the half ling in question might “find”
that same object himself. Thus, half lings have also acquired
something of a reputation for being prone to theft—but from
a half ling’s point of view, such action is a result of a powerful
curiosity, not outright dishonesty. When half lings do sell the
proceeds of illicitly gotten gains, they do so with the belief that
they’ve merely redistributed resources to where they were able
to do the most good to those most in need.
Then again, not all half lings are motivated by curiosity and
an honest spirit of fun to do tricks. There exists the rare half-
ling who fully understands the ethics of larceny, deception, and
the profits crime can accumulate if such activities are never
discovered. Such a half ling is motivated more by greed than
curiosity. When such half lings are discovered operating within
the confines of a half ling water caravan, they are exiled and
can never return to the river-born life. Messages bearing the
description of the offender are sent to all other nearby half ling
caravans, lest the offender attempt to take up with them. These
half lings may seek another caravan, though most decide to live
permanently within the bounds of a human city so they can
continue to pursue their questionable ways.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE HALFLING
—Dave Noonan
In the beginning (which we’ll call 1974), half lings were hob-
bits straight out of Tolkien. The D&D game—at that point three
booklets and some reference sheets costing $10—even called
them hobbits. But then D&D made the transition from an over-
grown hobby to a full-f ledged product line, and by 1977 all the
hobbits became half lings.
Throughout the 1970s and the early 1980s, the D&D
half lings still looked and acted like something right out of the
Shire—they were often a little plump and they walked around
with their fuzzy feet bare. Most of them were thieves, a class
that’s conceptually similar to what we’d call a rogue today.
In the mid-1980s, half lings started to move away from the
Tolkien vision—spurred on by tens of thousands of D&D play-
ers. Bilbo Baggins might have been a reluctant thief, but D&D
tables everywhere were full of mischievous, wisecracking, and
enthusiastic half ling thieves. The players drove D&D half lings
into new territory, and the little fellows became a key reposi-
tory for much of the game’s humor.
The look of half lings started to change, too. Subraces
emerged: the traditional hairfeet, the somewhat dwarf like
stouts, and the tallfellows, who were associated with the elves
and were only tall when compared to hairfeet and stouts.
Then came the Dnnco×in×cr version of the halflings: kender,
a diminutive, vaguely elfin race. Talk about a race designed for a
mischievous player—kender are impossibly curious, utterly fear-
less, and they have an instinctive desire to “borrow” things from
the pockets and backpacks of whomever is standing nearby. Some
players embraced the kender, while others found them a little
too far in the “comic relief ” territory. Whether the antics of the
kender PC at your D&D table were hilarious or annoying tended
to determine how you felt about the kender as a whole.
With the onset of 3rd Edition D&D in 2000, a consensus
quickly emerged: retain the half ling’s natural enthusiasm,
but shade them a little darker than the kender so they could
be more than comic foils. Get them out of their comfortable
homes, and for heaven’s sake let them wear boots like everyone
else. Half lings became nomadic and had a measure of whimsi-
cal trickery—but whimsy that could turn sinister at a moment’s
notice. Their visual identity changed, too. Half lings got the
lithe physique of gymnasts rather than the portly physique of
rustic gentleman farmers.
As we began our work on 4th Edition, we decided that we
still liked the 3rd Edition look and feel of half lings—but we
needed to continue to evolve the half ling role and appearance
in the game.
Halflings
Half ling head study
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43
WHERE DO THEY LIVE?
—Richard Baker
Elves and dwarves have always been tied to specific terrain
types in D&D. Forests with elven tree-cities and mountains
with dwarven fortresses are a staple of the game setting.
Of the major nonhuman heroic races, half lings have always
lacked a native terrain. It leaves them oddly f lavorless compared
to the others.
In thinking about possible terrains half lings might like,
we quickly discarded forests and mountains (that’s where
the other races live), hills (too much like mountains), and
plains (not very distinctive, really). So, what’s left? Marshes
and swamps.
At first blush, it might seem that looking at half lings as
marsh-dwellers is not very interesting. We tend to see people
who live in swamps as backwater rubes. But when you think
about it, half lings have good reasons to live in swamps. First of
all, marshes and swamps are waterways that provide access to
coasts and rivers—and rivers are the best roads in the world in
a nonindustrialized society. Second, marshes and swamps offer
excellent defensive terrain. They present hiding places and
impede the movement of most attackers. Finally, marshes and
swamps are filled with life and offer lots of opportunities for
hunting, gathering, and fishing.
LIFESTYLE AND SOCIETY
—Richard Baker
Half lings are waterfolk, skilled boatbuilders and fishers. Half-
lings don’t live in caravan wagons; they live in large clans aboard
keelboats, barges, and rafts. They are the far-ranging traders who
control the best roads in the world, and they have a knack for
providing their trading partners with whatever commodity or
expertise their friends lack. Half lings provide foodstuffs to the
dwarven stronghold, metalworking skills for the elven village,
and hand-worked leather and pelts for the nearby human town.
Half lings are still an affable and easygoing people, but they
know how to stand up for themselves when they need to. To
master the difficult environment they have chosen to live in, they
have gained a great respect for and understanding of the natural
world around them. They frequently domesticate animals and
birds to serve as scouts, messengers, guards, and workers.
While other races build permanent cities and try to raise
up great empires, the world’s half lings form a sort of “invisible
empire” from sea to sea. All clan leaders are more or less equal,
and all the clans in a particular region or kingdom confer with
each other when any one of them is faced with a decision that
might affect all half lings.
Because half lings haven’t raised many empires, they haven’t
suffered any great racial reversals like bigger folk. Half ling cul-
ture and tradition is quite old, stretching back for thousands of
years. Their legends and tales recall people, places, and events
that other races no longer remember.
Half ling
fighter
HOW SMALL IS SMALL?
—Richard Baker
One thing we got wrong in 3rd Edition was half ling
size. As it turns out, someone who is barely three feet
tall is really, really small. A half ling who is three feet
tall and thirty-five pounds is only about as big as a typi-
cal three-year-old. I have two kids, and I remember
when they were that small. I pointed out to my team-
mates on several occasions that I could not imagine
how many preschoolers it would take to beat me (or
any good-sized adult) in a tug-of-war. You can assume
that adult half lings are two or three times stronger
than human children of the same size, and it’s still hard
to believe that a half ling warrior would really stand
a chance against a monstrous savage marauder like a
gnoll or orc.
So we decided that we would let half lings get closer
to the size of 9- or 10-year-old kids. That means about
four feet tall and roughly 65 pounds. That’s still not very
big, but certainly less of a stretch than before.
Besides, it means that we can make our Small-sized
half ling miniatures about two-thirds the height of our
human miniatures and give them proportional athletic
builds. They’ll just look better at that size. We’ve been
quietly filling out and growing our half ling miniatures
for a while now anyway.
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44
—Bruce Cordell
Sundered from humanity by their ancestors’ overweening ego,
tief lings are a race whose bloodline stems from an infernal
bargain made nearly a millennia ago.
Lacking any knowledge of their creator and without a
purpose instilled by a caring maker, humanity determined
its own purposes, but often only by accident. Unpredictable
and adaptable, this strangely malleable race claims many an
ancient and long vanished empire. One such empire birthed
the tief ling race.
Do you recall the whispered stories of Bael Turath? The
empire of Bael Turath’s reach exceeded its grasp, but the
empire’s ruling nobility were addicted to their own power and
glory. They vowed they would retain their rule, no matter the
consequences, no matter the cost, no matter what they had to
give up. Even their own humanity.
Bael Turath’s brash promises were heard in a distant, burn-
ing realm amid the silvery Astral Sea . . . a realm called the
Nine Hells.
Whispered secrets slithered into the dreams of those
who thirsted most for the continued dominion of Bael
Turath, and upon waking, the red-eyed dreamers repeated
their visions in the day’s wan light. Those visions were
instructions for how the nobility could achieve its ends. A
grisly month-long ritual would be required, one that every
living ruling house of the empire needed to participate in
if the desired effect was to be achieved. The ritual included
unsavory and terrible deeds that had to be enacted by each
of its participants.
A few houses, even in decadent Bael Turath, refused.
These houses were exterminated, and the remaining houses
conducted their ritual without naysayers to question their
grim certainty.
The ritual began in darkness and blood, and deep into
the small hours of the second night, the first devil appeared
from Hell’s iron doors. The first was followed by others, each
more terrible than the last, and to each pacts were sworn
by the power-mad leaders of Bael Turath. Infernal bargains
were avowed with names such as the Scarlet Claw of Hunger,
the Iron Crown of Madness, Night’s Loving Void, and the
Million Pains of Eternal Torment. Though hardly remarked
upon at the time of their swearing, the pacts bound not only
the nobility present in the hideous ritual, but also promised
to mark the descendents of every one present, even unto their
last generation, so that no one would ever forget what Bael
Turath had agreed to.
And so was born the tief ling race.
Flush in the power of its new-made pacts, fully com-
prehending the power granted by those pacts that later
generations would mostly forget, Bael Turath recklessly
expanded its lands. The nobles ruled their empire in the name
of various infernal masters and patrons. They called down
hellfire, curses, and eldritch power to scour those who resisted
them, those who angered them, and in the end, those who
seemed likely to make amusing victims.
Thus, Bael Turath became an evil blot on the past, and
many annals of human history conveniently forget to recall
that the empire’s infernal reign began in human hands and
that human ego alone bred the Hell-Chained Empire. Instead,
histories merely speak of the sudden appearance of tief lings
and leave all mention of human involvement out of the picture,
though learned sages know the truth.
Bael Turath’s expansion eventually led it into direct contact
with the dragonborn empire of Arkhosia. Arkhosia’s power and
history was no less grand and storied than that claimed by the
shadow of Bael Turath. Neither empire would yield anything
to the other. Border skirmishes grew with each passing year,
sometimes breaking into full-scale wars, including the War of
Teeth, the War of Wings, and the War of Ruin.
Some of the most appalling battles in history were fought
between Bael Turath and Arkhosia during their wars. Legends
recall the terrible Battle for Razortear in the final War of Ruin.
Razortear was a fortified Arkhosian garrison, one of three
strategically defensible locations on Arkhosia’s border. Bael
Turath decided to attack Razortear. The tief ling generals knew
they would not be able to storm past the garrison and into the
Arkhosian heartland, but they felt that in defending Razortear,
the dragonborn would stretch their resources to the breaking
point. And so when winter’s winds blew coldest, Bael Turath
darkened the ground with half a million warrior-slaves—each
company led by a sub-prince of Hell itself—against Razortear,
which was defended only by a tenth that number of dragon-
born soldiers.
The resultant siege lasted ten full years. The battle finally
concluded when the tief ling general Achazriel completed
the tunnel she’d started digging when the siege was initi-
ated, one large enough to move a hundred thousand troops
through quickly. With Achazriel in the lead, Bael Turath finally
secured Razortear, but at a cost so devastatingly brutal in lives,
resources, and even will, that history marks this conf lict as the
beginning of the end for both imperial nations.
Ultimately, both empires fell into ruin. No stone was left
standing atop another in Bael Turath’s grand capital. Even
the buried Athenaeum of Bael Turath, where the texts of each
original pact were inscribed in burning fire on guarded iron
shrines so they could never be forgotten and their full power
lost, was destroyed. Bael Turath’s few surviving noble houses
scattered, weeping and cursing, their power lost and their
dreams turned to ash.
Tieflings
620_21648 40-57.indd 44 10/1/07 3:30:21 PM
45
Tief ling warlock,
concept art and final
620_21648 40-57.indd 45 10/1/07 3:30:22 PM
46
—Continued
Over the centuries, even the name of Bael Turath was mostly
forgotten by all but a few lore keepers and racial zealots—the
bulk of the tief ling race is shorn of all but the broad outlines of
its past. Most tief lings know they are the heirs of a lost empire.
Those who want to portray tief lings in the worst possible light
say the tief ling bloodline is tainted by the ill-considered deal-
ings and diabolical connections of their ancestors.
This taint, or mark as others prefer to call it, visibly mani-
fests and passes like a curse to each new generation. In many
ways, tief lings are human—they can bear children with
humans, though the result of such pairings is always a tief ling.
The infernal bloodline gets passed on, though the culture of
Bael Turath is completely stamped out, except in a few hidden-
away places as mumbled prophecies and unlikely dreams.
Today, tief lings have no realms of their own but instead live
within human kingdoms and cities.
When tief lings are spied in a city thronging with other
peoples, they appear human at a distance. Tief ling hair and
specific body shape and configuration share the same wide
range of variation that humans possess, though a closer look
reveals obvious discrepancies. Their small horns on their
brow, their thin tails, their pointed teeth, and eyes the color of
burning coals “accent” their human appearance, while their
infernal legacy lends them an unearthly air that others either
Tieflings
Tief ling weapons
CULTURAL APPEARANCE OF ITEMS
—Chris Perkins
The attire and weaponry of the tief lings is inf luenced
by their diabolic heritage as well as human culture.
While tief lings adopt human attire and use human
weapons as a means of blending in with their surround-
ings, a few of them gain access to “infernal-wear” and
weapons that humans find mildly to profoundly dis-
turbing. Given that tief lings don’t have their own cities,
such distinctive attire and accoutrements are rare . . .
but any tief ling with enough gold to spend and an eye
for fashion can wear and wield just about anything he
or she fancies.
When we sat down to define some of the “unique”
items of tief ling culture, we focused mainly on weap-
onry. Tief lings may live among humans, but they aren’t
afraid to let their natural predilection for sharp pointy
things manifest in creative ways. Tief ling weaponry
is exotic and cruel. The elegant curves of tief ling hell-
steel blades can’t hide the nasty serrations and f langes
designed to inf lict terrible pain going in and coming
out. What a human might mistake for a twisted shard of
metal could easily be a tief ling dagger.
High-level tief lings have much less to fear from angry
mobs. Far from bashful, they often shed their common
human wardrobe and don specially tailored outfits and
armor more ref lective of their infernal ancestry, favor-
ing revealing garments and formfitting armor. After all,
what’s the point of having horns and a tail if you can’t
show them off ?
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47
find confident and commanding, or scary and arrogant. Their
preferred dress also makes them stand apart from the masses;
many tief lings favor dark colors and reds, leathers and glossy
furs, and small spikes and buckles. Tief ling-crafted arms and
armor have a curiously archaic style to them, perhaps harken-
ing back to the glory of their long-vanished empire.
The centuries since the collapse of Bael Turath have forged
tief lings into a self-reliant and proud people who are some-
times willing to live up to the expectations of others. As people
without a homeland, tief lings know they have to make their
own way in the world, and they know they have to be strong to
survive. When they do form bonds, the connections are solid
and uncompromising.
Though some folk are deeply suspicious of tief lings and
generally assume that they grovel before devils in secret, noth-
ing could be further from the truth. Most tief lings give little
thought to gods or patrons of any kind, preferring to look out for
themselves. Finding little in life to inspire faith, and possibly
unconsciously rebelling against the decisions of their ancestors
to throw their lot in with supernatural beings, tief lings often
lack piety. Therefore, tief lings seldom follow the path of the
divine—tief ling clerics or paladins are exceedingly rare.
Tief lings are not very common, and usually live in the
shadows of human society. Tief lings are natural bargainers,
arrangers, and traders, and they gravitate toward mercantile
pursuits, both legitimate and otherwise. Those who are not
adventurers often do very well as merchants.
In more rustic environments, folks sometimes get nervous
and suspicious at the sight of two or more tief lings in the
same place, so most tief lings are loners, scattered to the four
winds. In rare cases, an extended family or small clan of tief-
lings descended from one of the old dynasties of Bael Turath
settles in some out-of-the-way manor or estate where wealth
can purchase safety and comfort. Such families keep to them-
selves and rarely interact with others of their kind. Of these
hidden enclaves, a few keep the legend of Bael Turath alive.
They say the Vault of Pacts wasn’t truly destroyed when Ark-
hosia got its final posthumous revenge. Instead, it was pulled
into the deep earth, there (as mostly discredited prophecies
foresee) to lie in darkness until the day the New Emperor
arises, a tief ling whose destiny it is to forge Bael Turath anew.
Whether the New Emperor will stand for good or ill, not even
the prophecies know.
Tief ling fighter
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48
—Continued
PROMOTION
—Chris Perkins
Tieflings trace their origins back to the 2nd Edition Pin×rscnvr
®
Campaign Setting. With their horns, tails, and wicked tongues,
tief lings quickly became the exotic “bad boys” and “bad girls”
of the Outer Planes. Sly, sexy, and a little sinister, they afforded
D&D players a chance to f lirt with the dark side without actu-
ally crossing the line into full-blown evil. Why play Drizzt
when you could play the great-grandson of a pit fiend?
Tief lings reappeared in the 3rd Edition Monster Manual
as one of the “plane-touched,” inexorably bound to their do-
gooder cousins, the aasimar. Forgive my bias, but I’ll take horns
and brimstone over sunshine and perfection any day. Some-
times it just doesn’t pay to be the super good guy.
In 4th Edition, tief lings finally claim their rightful place
among the core races. Including them in the 4th Edition
Player’s Handbook was an easy, early decision. Their infernal
heritage gives them plenty of angst and an excuse to “get
medieval” whenever the mood suits them. However, unlike
their Machiavellian rivals for coolness, the Underdark-dwelling
drow, tief lings are neither confined to the darkness nor afraid
to mingle with the surface dwellers. They also carry less evil
baggage and enjoy far more autonomy.
In fact, they can pretty much go anywhere they want and do
as they please. Players can take the race to either extreme, por-
traying tief lings that embrace their inner devilspawn as well as
tief lings who strive to transcend their twisted heritage and lead
honest to semi-honest lives. Or they can play tief lings who walk
the line between Good or Evil without fully embracing either.
That kind of versatility makes for a great core race and places
tief lings on a footing comparable to humans.
Thanks to Bill O’Connor’s amazing powers of illustration,
it’s easy to imagine tief lings kicking ass and looking hot in any
role. Along with the 4th Edition promotion, we’ve given the race
a slight horn-lift and removed the cloven hooves to make boots
part of the tief ling wardrobe. Given their diabolical appearance,
we’ve also tied the race more closely to devils than demons.
Finally, we’ve tweaked the race’s abilities so that tief lings have
more to offer than a darkness spell once per day. Check out the
new Player’s Handbook to learn about their newfound, uh, assets.
TIEFLING SHARED HERITAGE
—Chris Sims
All tief lings issue from the wicked root that was Bael Turath.
They’re creatures descended from the devil-tainted rulers
of that fallen empire, doomed to carry and pass on fiendish
blood. In deciding on this single origin for tief lings in the
world, we aimed to make them as easy to use as any other
mainstream race.
A common origin meant we could give tief lings a unified
appearance, and that look could be edgy instead of ugly. This
cohesive origin allows players to imagine what their individual
tief ling is like, as they would with a human, without worrying
about a list of possible devilish traits. Further, knowing that
every tief ling shares a similar body shape makes it easier to
write new material for tief lings.
Also of primary importance is allowing a race so obviously
touched by evil to get by and even be heroic in the world. Tief-
lings are obviously fiendish, but to the world at large the evil of
Bael Turath is long gone and mostly forgotten. Each tief ling can
now be judged on the merits of his or her behavior, rather than
the reputation of an evil empire. While a town full of bigots
who want to lynch every tief ling might be an interesting part
Tieflings
Tief ling
body study
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49
of a single adventure, a world full of such hatred would make it
unfairly hard on a tief ling’s player.
The D&D game has always had the niche of the bizarre and
dark race to fill, and the need to do so without burdening the DM or
the player. The tiefling, with its shared heritage, does that job well.
IT’S GOOD TO BE BAD
—James Wyatt
Ah, tieflings. Clad in leather jackets, riding noisy motorcycles, full
of attitude and confidence—that’s how I imagine tief lings in the
modern world (or, say, the 1950s of the modern world). They’re
the bad boys and girls of D&D, and that’s a part of their appeal.
Tief lings appeal to the rebel in us all—the part that doesn’t
want to conform to social norms. Like rebellious teenagers, they
express their nonconformity in blatant ways, from their hairstyles
to their wardrobes. Even more blatantly, their bodies reflect their
fiendish heritage. When you look at a tiefling, you see some trace,
at least, of an incarnation of evil. What could be more rebellious?
Playing a tief ling (or a warlock, or a drow or half-orc, or any
other “bad boy” of D&D) is different from playing an evil char-
acter. Part of the appeal of playing a tief ling is that being a hero
is both more challenging and more dramatic when you’re over-
coming the weight of heritage and stereotype to do it. If Han
Solo had burst into the room to save Luke from the Emperor at
the end of Return of the Jedi, it would have felt contrived. But the
fact that Darth Vader, the great villain of the trilogy, sacrificed
himself to save his son—that was powerful. Drizzt Do’Urden
is a compelling hero because of the evil society he grew up in,
the fear and prejudice he faces on the surface world, and the
hatred the other drow of Menzoberranzan still hold for him.
It’s fun to f lirt with danger—to walk the edge of the dark
side without crossing over. There’s an appeal to playing a char-
acter who might not be Evil, but who might be described as
“Evil-curious.” It’s a chance to give expression to our dark sides,
the parts of our own personalities that we suppress for the sake
of getting along in society. Tief lings almost literally embody
that dark side, our shadow selves.
DESIGNING THE TIEFLING
—Bruce R. Cordell
The player character races for the new edition have gone through
many iterations. The three largest iterations include the Orcus
first draft, the Orcus second draft, and finally the races as they
appear currently in the third draft. Of course, even within the
third draft of the Orcus rules set, playtesting and development
can radically change a race from its initial conception.
For instance, I put together the tief ling racial ability pro-
gression (and several other races) during an early phase of the
writing of the third draft of Orcus. That particular progression
doesn’t even have any meaning with the way races now work,
months later, but here is how I designed tief lings.
In my conception, each tief ling character would choose one
strange ability they would accrue from a list as their character
advanced through various levels. Depending on the particular
strange physical trait they chose at a particular level, the tief-
ling would gain some minor ability. Plus, each physical trait
chosen opened up a small suite of feats that only a tief ling with
that trait could gain.
But after several refinements by at least three other writers,
the tief ling of the current draft recalls only echoes of my origi-
nal, overly complicated planetouched humanoid. For which I’m
grateful—the latest version is far superior.
ARTIST’S COMMENTARY
—William O’Connor
My first reaction to tief lings was mixed since I had no cul-
tural experience with them as with dwarves and elves, so
I asked Chris Perkins to tell me who they were. He said,
“They are the forsaken people.” That one sentence summed
it up, and they became the easiest for me to develop. I
wanted them to be dark and mysterious. Cloaked, secretive,
and sexy; catlike. The entire aesthetic of the tiefling should
undulate. Their association with devils inspired their weap-
onry. I conceived the idea that if you took normal weapons
and melted them in hellfire, what would they look like?
Twisted, contorted, almost liquid shapes.
Tief ling
wizard
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50
Here are some brief looks at other races we’re working on for
4th Edition D&D. Most of these won’t appear right out the gate,
but will eventually show up in the game.
CELESTIALS
—Rob Heinsoo
If you’re a long-time D&D fan, odds are that you’ve already
noticed that the tief lings’ promotion to first-rank player char-
acter race has left another race behind: the race that was
the tief lings’ light-side counterpart, a race of golden humans
descended from angels—the aasimar.
Even now I struggle to type that word without spelling it
like buttocks.
I’m one of the designers who argued that we should stop
using the word “aasimar.” In the aasimar’s place, you’ll meet
a race of celestials who have plunged through the same trans-
forming fires as the tief lings.
I won’t lie: making Good-associated creatures as excit-
ing as their Evil-curious counterparts is a challenge. I call
the challenge the “Ave Maria” problem, a reference to Walt
Disney’s original Fantasia, a wonderful animated film that
ended with musical meditations on Evil and Good. Evil
got Night on Bald Mountain, accompanied by an evil-storm
orchestrated by a whip-wielding demon. Good followed up
with barely animated candle-bearing keepers of the faith
proceeding across the screen singing Ave Maria. It’s a sweet
piece of music, and it certainly speaks to the possibilities of
Good, but the animation just didn’t hold a candle to light-
ning storms on Bald Mountain.
So now you know our mission: celestials who sizzle bright
enough to hold their own against Bald Mountain lightning
storms. We’re working on it!
DROW
—Chris Sims
Elves. Lolth. Spiders. Underdark. Drow are iconic in the
D&D game, and we didn’t fix what wasn’t broken. Drow
have changed only to fit into the world of the new edition,
evolving in ways that make them more accessible as charac-
ters and villains.
Drow are cruel and matriarchal, focused on the dogma
of Lolth, their mad spider goddess who was once the deceit-
ful eladrin goddess of shadows and the moon. Lolth took the
spider as her symbol, so drow revere all things that share
this form.
Another significant change is that drow are fey, but in type
only. Drow don’t live in the Feywild, and they don’t work with
other fey. They live in the Underdark beneath the world, from
where they surface regularly to raid and take prisoners.
The most exciting change is that drow will be available as a
player character race without any level adjustment. The aver-
age drow isn’t much more dangerous than a human peasant,
because drow gain significant abilities as they gain levels.
Drow who travel are to be feared. They hunt other creatures
to serve as sacrifices and slaves within drow communities.
When a drow abroad isn’t after captives, her agenda can only
be darker.
THE TROUBLE WITH GNOMES
—Matt Sernett
Gnomes lack a strong position in D&D. If you ask someone
to name the important races in the world of D&D, gnomes
Other Races
FIXING LEVEL ADJUSTMENT
—Richard Baker
One mechanical element of 3rd Edition that we weren’t
happy with was the concept of level adjustment. While
the system seemed simple, it was actually very difficult
for inexperienced players to understand. Worse yet, the
level adjustment system proved to be absolute poison
to low-level characters and any kind of spellcaster. It
wasn’t unreasonable to choose between being a 14th-
level human fighter and a 13th-level genasi fighter, but
taking a one-level hit on spell progression was just so
bad for spellcasters that players quickly learned to not
create genasi wizards and sorcerers. Level adjustment
was one of our top fix-it priorities for character race in
the new edition.
The solution we adopted has two distinct aspects.
First, we decided that race should be more important to
your character. Since even basic character races offered
more to your character, it was pretty easy for better
races to receive the interesting advantages and powers
they need to measure up to the source material. In
essence, if every PC race is as good as a level adjustment
+1 or +2 race, then drow aren’t all that much better
than humans.
Second, we decided to move some of our powerful
races’ iconic abilities into feat choices that would not
become available until certain levels. For example,
everyone knows that drow can levitate and cast dark-
ness. But they don’t have to automatically be able to do
it at 1st level, do they? Now you decide if you’re playing
a drow whether or not those abilities are worth a feat
pick (and presumably many or most NPC drow make
exactly that choice).
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51
always seem to come in last. They’re elf-dwarf-half lings—a
strange mixture of the three with little to call their own
besides being pranksters. Dnnco×in×cr presented an iconic
image of the gnome, but the concept of tinker gnomes and
their crazy machines has now been thoroughly used by
games such as World of Warcraft, and many D&D players
dislike the technological element that version of the gnome
brings to the game.
So, what to do with the gnome? How can gnomes be repo-
sitioned or reinvented so that the race has a unique position in
the world?
Early on, we entertained the idea of replacing gnomes with
one of the gnome subraces, deep or forest gnomes. Yet each has
the same problem as the gnome, only more exaggerated.
Next we considered making gnomes like the whisper
gnomes of Races of Stone and positioning them more fully
with elves. The gnomes would be advisors and spies for the
elves, living in concert with them. Yet after some thought,
it seemed like this didn’t really give the gnomes a place as
much as it just threw them in with a more iconic race, and
it diminished the elves’ coolness to have servants that were
also advisors.
We took that idea and placed a dark spin on it. Rather
than being associated with elves, gnomes were once the ser-
vants of evil fey on the Feywild, having escaped only recently.
Most other races would be wary of these dark and dangerous
escapees, and with good reason. But we discarded that concept
since it took gnomes too far from their roots.
So what are 4th Edition gnomes going to be like? At the
time of writing this essay, we’ve yet to decide.
WARFORGED
—James Wyatt
Warforged are sort of a metaphor for the state of the world of
Enrnno× in the wake of the Last War, but that post-war condi-
tion is hardly unique to that world. In a core D&D game, the
warforged might be an ancient race, perhaps even predating
humans—maybe even a prototype for humans! But they were
built for war, and in the absence of war they’re somewhat at a
loss for what to do.
People are often inclined to play warforged as unfeeling
robots, but that’s not how I see them at all. They’re living crea-
tures, and part of living is emotion, attachment, grief, and love.
They might have trouble expressing their emotions because of
their blank, almost featureless faces, but to my mind, at least,
they feel them just as strongly as humans do.
Constructs in 4th Edition don’t have the long list of immu-
nities that they do in 3rd Edition, which made it a lot easier to
make warforged playable as 1st-level characters. (Other races
also got beefed up a bit, so the 1st-level bar is set a little higher.)
You can’t poison a warforged, but you can paralyze him or sap
his strength. They’re good at resisting some effects that can
hamper other characters, but if you prick them, they bleed—
those cords and fibers in their construct bodies carry f luids
just as vital to life as blood is to humanoids.
They no longer carry a list of immunities, but warforged are
still an attractive option for fighters, paladins, and warlords
who can benefit from the stamina and endurance that come
with this race.
Warforged
fighter
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52
Classes Overview
—Richard Baker
Character classes are the heart of the D&D game. Fighters
wear armor and mix it up with monsters in melee. Wizards are
fragile but use potent spells to swing entire encounters. Clerics
heal and rogues sneak. All those things have been true for 30
years, and they’re going to remain true in 4th Edition.
We started our work on character class by identifying the
important party roles each class should occupy and identifying
the source of power each class is based on. Once we figured
out those important distinctions, we examined the mechani-
cal chassis of the character class. What sort of rules did classes
need to live up to their roles? How could we improve the basic
skeleton of the game?
IDENTIFYING CLASS ROLES
One of the first things we decided to tackle in redesigning
D&D’s character classes was identifying appropriate class roles.
In other words, every class should have all the tools it needs to
fill a specific job in the adventuring party. Clerics must heal,
fighters must lock up monsters in melee to protect weaker
characters, and wizards must deal damage to multiple enemies
at range. If you want to exchange characters in the party—for
example, replacing a cleric with a druid, or a fighter with a
paladin—you should still maintain a mix of high-defense char-
acters, healers, and damage dealers. If you drop in a character
who can’t fill the role of the class he’s replacing, you’re weaken-
ing the adventuring party and damaging the table’s fun.
We debated long and hard about which roles actually
existed, and which classes corresponded to them. Ultimately,
we came up with four important roles.
Defender: A character with high defenses and high hit
points. This is the character you want getting in front of the
monsters and absorbing their attacks. Fighters have been
doing this job in D&D for 30 years. Ideally, a defender ought
to have some abilities that make him “sticky”—in other words,
a defender should be difficult to move past or ignore so that he
can do his job.
Striker: A character who deals very high damage to one
target at a time, either in melee or at range. This is the job we
want to move the rogue toward—when she positions herself for
a sneak attack and uses her best attack powers, she deals some
of the highest damage in the game. Strikers need mobility to
execute their lethal attacks and get away from enemies trying to
lock them down.
Controller: A character who specializes in locking down mul-
tiple foes at once, usually at range. This involves inflicting damage
or hindering conditions on multiple targets. The wizard is a shin-
ing example of this role, of course. Controllers sacrifice defense
for offense; they want to concentrate on taking down the enemy
as quickly as possible while staying at a safe distance from them.
Leader: A character who heals, aids, or “buffs” other char-
acters. Obviously we thought about just calling this role “healer,”
but we want leaders to do more than simply spend their actions
healing other characters. The leader is sturdier than the control-
ler, but doesn’t have anywhere near as much offense. The cleric
is the classic example. All leaders must have significant healing
abilities to live up to their role, as well as other things they can do
in a battle.
ONE PROGRESSION INSTEAD OF FOUR
In 3rd Edition D&D, each character class began with a skeleton
consisting of four distinct progressions: Attack Bonus, Fortitude
Save, Ref lex Save, and Will Save. In 4th Edition, these have
been combined into a single level-based check modifier that
applies to all of your character’s attacks, defenses, and skill
Human warlock
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53
checks. All 10th-level characters have a +5 bonus to AC, all
three defenses, attacks, and so on. Naturally, your ability scores,
class abilities, and feat selection impact this single progression,
so you can expect that a paladin’s Fortitude defense will be
significantly better than his Ref lex defense, and likewise better
than the rogue’s Fortitude defense. In fact, every class features
important attack or defense boosts at 1st level that distinguish
their best traits from their ordinary ones.
We think this significantly simplifies character creation and
advancement and improves the interaction of characters and
monsters. In earlier editions, it was far too easy to accidentally
create a monster who could hit the party’s fighter at a reasonable
success rate but then would never miss the party’s wizard—or
one who hit the wizard at a reasonable rate, but then could never
actually land a hit on the fighter. Characters still have significant
and important variations in their attacks and defenses, but it’s
driven from one simple progression now instead of four.
EVERY CLASS GETS POWERS
Perhaps the single biggest change in 4th Edition D&D is this:
Every character class has “spells.” In other words, every class has
a broad array of maneuvers, stunts, commands, strikes, heroic
exploits, or what-have-you to choose from, just like clerics and
wizards in previous editions had a wide assortment of spells.
Ultimately, a spell, curse, weapon trick, or command is at heart a
“power”—a special ability that a character can trigger in a fight.
There are a couple of reasons we decided to do this. First,
all previous editions of the game simply placed far too much
of the adventuring party’s total power in the spell selections
of the cleric and the wizard. These classes were simply better
than other classes by any objective standard. Characters such
as fighters and rogues accompanied the adventuring party
to protect the spellcasters while the spellcasters defeated the
encounters. We decided to shift to a model in which all char-
acters were equally vital to the party’s success. That required
offering powers for the fighter and rogue to choose from, just
like the cleric and wizard.
Second, choosing and using powers is fun. Fighters in 3rd
Edition D&D had many more options than fighters in previous
editions thanks to feats such as Power Attack, Spring Attack,
and Combat Expertise, but for the most part, fighters still spent
90% of their rounds doing the exact same thing time after time—
taking a basic melee attack. A selection of powers to choose from
means that fighters now have real choices available to them in
combat. From round to round, they decide whether to employ
one of their once per encounter abilities, expend a precious
once-per-day power, or conserve resources and execute one of
the simple at-will attacks they know. Every round is different for
the fighter in 4th Edition D&D, and that’s lots more fun.
We’ve also given characters something to add to their
power mix at every level, so that a character always gets mean-
ingfully better every time he or she advances a level. There’s
always a choice, and always something cool to look forward to
every time you level up your character—and that just adds to
the fun of the D&D game.
Human cleric
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—Chris Sims
Faith has given rise to nations, and it has brought just as
many low. As a cleric, you’re foremost in anyone’s mind when
the subject of the divine comes up. You represent your deity
as a worldly ambassador, and if you’re doing your job cor-
rectly, you’re an exemplar of your convictions and the duties
your patron places upon you. Everything you do ref lects upon
your sanctified station, so it falls to you to lead the strong
along the proper path and to treat the weak and helpless
as your religion dictates. Whether you lead from the front,
weapon in hand, or direct from the rear, bringing down
divine judgment on non believers as those who support you
hold the battle line, you’re the heart of any group organized
around you.
That’s where you belong. A cleric’s place is leading others
to fitting action, meting out succor or retribution according
to your beliefs. With authority granted from on high, clerics
easily form one sort of central authority for the people of the
world. Those who desire the gifts of the gods respect—or at least
fear—those the gods have invested with power.
Strong religion is more conventional among some races than
others. Dwarves come to divine service naturally, in venera-
tion of the forge god Moradin for their ancient rescue from
slavery to the giants. The dragonborn, deeply traditional as
they are, hold their heads high whether in service to Bahamut,
the draconic god of honor, or to Tiamat, the draconic deity
of vengeance. Eladrins and elves are rarely deeply religious,
but eladrins adore magic and so love Corellon, much as the
elven love of nature leads elves to revere Obad-Hai. Half lings
still remember Avandra’s mercy, but much like that goddess,
they rely on boldness and luck more than prayers. As might
be guessed by their infernal heritage, tief lings are the most at
odds with established religious practices, though more than
one tief ling has been thrown down as the head of a cult to
Asmodeus. Among all the races, the humans’ lack of a clear
creator make them the most varied in their spirituality.
As a cleric, your place in the world is clear. Common folk of
all races defer to priests. Every town, no matter how small, has
a shrine or a temple dedicated to the gods. Larger settlements
might support a number of grand houses of worship, some
devoted to one particular deity or another. In the shadows, the
cults of more sinister divinities thrive. People look to the ser-
vants of gentler religions to protect them from the depredations
of the wicked. They rely on clerics to teach them and to keep
time-honored ways strong.
Your own theology determines how you act in the world.
Most clerics are devotees of one deity or another, garner-
ing their mystic power from their god’s specific creed. If you
adhere to Pelor’s code of belief, you alleviate suffering, live as
a model of kindness, and protect the innocent from evil. As
a shrouded follower of the Raven Queen, you instead revere
the natural cycle of life and death, revel in winter, and work
as the hand of fate in the world. Devotion to Vecna requires
you to keep secrets, corrupt others, and oppose all other
gods—without revealing where your loyalty truly lies. Should
you choose to worship Erathis, you seek to build and maintain
strong communities, to work with others, to uphold laws, and
to expand the dominion of civilization.
Unlike a common village minister, though, a cleric’s life
isn’t one of hearth and home, of performing marriages and
funerary rites. Clerics are people of action. Going out into
the world to bring the color of your devotion, dark or light,
into new places is only part of your duty. Your patron will lay
other tasks upon you as befits your worthiness. That merit
depends on how you live up to your ideals and complete the
undertakings your morals require. Yours is a life of seeking
and obedience, as well as the life of someone others look to
for guidance. Determining what to do in a given situation is as
easy as looking to your core philosophy, but what those stan-
dards require of someone that possesses your divine might is
rarely easy.
Despite the fact that your ethics drive you, they don’t
entirely define you. Ioun might admonish her clerics to seek
lost knowledge and perfection of the mind, but how you follow
these teachings can be unique. Certainly a cleric of Kord is
brave and strong, but many ways exist to show courage and
wisdom. Perhaps you’re a purist who follows the ancient ways
of a well-established church, but you’re still jovial and open to
new ways. It could be that you’ve had a personal visitation or
a vision, but you still have doubts as to the truth of your own
experience. Maybe the zeal of a true believer runs hot in your
veins, fresh from the halls of a newly established cult that has a
novel perspective on a customarily dogmatic faith. Even in the
same religion, clerics can be as different as any two individuals
who share similar beliefs might be.
As one who leads, you have to respect this sort of diversity
even if you’d prefer to be among those of like mind. It takes
vast array of skills to get some jobs done, and no one person
has all it takes when the work is complicated. Few tasks are as
thorny as delving into the unknown, protecting the innocent
from malevolence, or secretly advancing a higher agenda. As a
cleric, you might be called on to do all three and more. You’ll
need help.
Clerics
He doesn’t necessarily hit you with his sword arm.
He hits you with his faith.
—Andy Collins, March 2006
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55
That aid comes in the form of other capable persons who
are willing to work with you, even if they’re doing so for their
own reasons. In recompense for their helping you, you’ ll no
doubt facilitate their aims, as long as those ends aren’t counter
to your beliefs. A soldierly type is essential for defense, and a
good offense is always vital, so you’ ll need someone for that
too. Oh, and don’t forget an expert at controlling and clearing
wider areas. Your comrades shore up one each other’s weak
spots. You’ ll provide plenty of support yourself, using your
god-granted talents to heal, protect, and guide your allies. At
the same time, you’ ll be dishing out punishment to those who
dare oppose you and your righteous path—righteous, at least,
in your eyes.
You’re a leader with a cause, your religious devotion dif-
ferentiating you from secular leaders such as the warlord. And
you are a leader, not a true soldier of faith such as the paladin.
Although the warlord leads through tactical acumen and moti-
vational force, you do so by keeping your companions alive and
fortified through divine aid. A paladin wields godly energy
like a hammer, directly pounding foes and shielding his allies
through force of personality and direct conf lict. You’re subtler,
using your abilities with craft to ensure success through careful
manipulation of the situation with the guidance of your intuition
and insight.
Choices you make won’t necessarily lock you into a specific
niche. They’ll just define your style. As you grow in power, your
methods can change with you. If you use a weapon, you can
emphasize powers that augment your up-in-front approach.
You can choose protection over inf licting divine wrath, or vice
versa, if your emphasis is more on prayers than battle. Mixing
and matching is always possible. Any of these paths will be
viable in your life of bold action.
Such daring will be required of you. Exploration and
accomplishment won’t only develop your expertise and your
dedication, but it’ ll also increase your wealth and the quality of
the tools you wield. Magic arms and items add to your arsenal.
As you ascend, even your holy symbol, the central instrument
of your faith-based powers, can be a magic implement that
focuses and expands your abilities, improving their accuracy
and adding to your options.
You can be certain, though, that your ascension will attract
the attention of your deity . . . and your god’s enemies. This
might place you and your comrades at the forefront of a divine
crusade. You could find more and more that your patron defines
your aims, or that the foes of your faith instead lead you onward.
You’ ll never lack a cause. And if your friends find they’re in
need of some direction, well, you’ve got just the thing.
Those who take up the cleric’s role do so to show the way—to
become a leader by knowing how to follow something greater
than themselves. Take up the mantle only if you want to lead by
example, helping those bold enough to aid you. If fortifying and
healing your allies is your way, and you’re eager to rain holy
wrath on your foes, the cleric’s life might be for you. Choose
this existence if you prefer devotion and a clear belief structure
to mere martial shrewdness and personal ambition.
That’s not to say that you must be without aspirations.
Yours is the power to change the world by your deeds and
your inf luence over those with whom you align yourself.
Perhaps you and yours will climb to the pinnacles of legend,
defying death itself. Or maybe you’ ll merely f lout the mys-
tery of death, continuing on as a saintly servant to your god
after death takes you. Could you even join the divine ranks?
Regardless of your path, remember: Mighty heroes of faith are
among the most revered.
Half ling
cleric
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—Continued
CLASS ROLE
—Logan Bonner
The cleric is the archetypal leader. Divine magic grants
the cleric numerous ways to increase his allies’ combat
effectiveness and pull them back from the brink of death.
Clerics are known for their devotion, both to their deities
and their allies.
The defining aspect of a cleric is a connection to a deity.
As the gods’ most devout worshipers, clerics are granted holy
magic to go forth and follow a path in keeping with their dei-
ties’ moral guidance. Each deity gives a cleric some specific
benefits, such as a favored weapon or a defense bonus.
Clerics are capable melee combatants with divinely empow-
ered physical attacks. They can single out enemies as targets by
lowering their defenses or damaging them round after round,
and they can increase an ally’s offensive and defensive prowess.
An individual cleric might choose to emphasize any one of
these specialties.
Battle prayers and spells are a cleric’s main combat powers.
They include both magical attacks and boosts that increase
allies’ attacks or defenses. These are the effects that clerics will
activate most often. Effects might include calling down holy
light and f lame, commanding a foe to f lee, or protecting an ally
from all attacks.
All 4th Edition characters have some ability to heal them-
selves and all leaders can increase that healing. A cleric grants
all allies near him an increase to their self-healing, and he can
also cure their wounds by using healing words. A cleric doesn’t
spend any of his other spells to use them, nor will he need to
spend the lion’s share of his actions healing others.
Rituals allow a cleric to heal persistent conditions, create
wards, and even bring people back from the dead. Many 3E
spells have become rituals instead, allowing the cleric to fill
his spell and battle prayer lists with proactive attacks and
enhancements.
Clerics
Dwarf cleric,
front and back view
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57
3E CLERICS RULE! 4E CLERICS ARE BETTER
—Logan Bonner
It’s no secret that 3rd Edition clerics are really good. 4th Edition
clerics are no longer better than other classes, but are more fun
to play.
The huge difference between the two versions is that clerics
no longer spend all their time healing and buffing. Moving a
modest amount of self-healing into every class has really loos-
ened up the reins on the cleric, as has putting healing in its own
bin so it doesn’t overshadow offensive magic. We expect that,
in an average encounter, a cleric will use one standard action to
heal and will be using the rest of his actions for offense.
The 3E cleric spell list was chopped down, and we removed
everything that belonged in rituals and healing prayers (these
made up a huge portion of the old cleric’s list, including resto-
ration, raise dead, cure spells, and all wards). Since alignment
no longer has a major mechanical effect, this was another big
chunk of the list gone. We also removed summoning from the
current list (though it will likely appear in future supplements).
So what does this mean? It means we wrote a ton of new
cleric powers! We wanted persistent magical effects that the
cleric could maintain over many rounds (such as spiritual
weapon), big magical attacks (like f lame strike), and short-term
buffs. Most persistent effects sit in the battle prayers, so a cleric
drops one in every fight, usually to keep an enemy under con-
trol. Big attacks can be found in battle prayers and in spells.
They include big explody things like f lame strike, supernatural
weather (inspired by storm of vengeance), and spells that utterly
crush a single opponent. Short-term buffs are much improved
because we did away with the duration-tracking that was such
a big part of cleric life in 3E. Most short-term buffs lasts until
the end of the encounter. That’s it. It’s simple, it’s clear, and the
effects are more powerful since the duration’s shorter.
So you might miss the 3E cleric if you just have to be a bit
overpowered or were such an altruistic soul that you liked
healing somebody every round, but we think most players will
prefer the new cleric over the old.
WHY WE CHANGED THE GODS
—Matt Sernett
The gods presented in the 3rd Edition Player’s Handbook
originated in the Gnrvnnvx Campaign Setting. It might
seem odd to tell you that if you’ve been playing D&D for 10
or more years, but if you started playing during 3rd Edition
you could easily have missed the Gnrvnnvx setting or not
know much about it. Gnrvnnvx was the original setting
used by Gary Gygax for his home games. I mention that
because it shows how long ago those gods were designed.
We didn’t move forward in 4th Edition with that pan-
theon because its deities weren’t designed for the improved
experience of D&D we were forming. Also, its ties to Grey-
hawk and its uses in 3E wouldn’t sync up with the new
cosmology and mythology we’ve designed to be better for
play. We struggled with what deities to put in the game for a
long time, and many factors influenced our final decisions:
• We don’t want deities to be thought of as
omniscient and all-powerful. Omniscience and omnip-
otence makes it difficult to use gods in adventure plots
or have them interact with characters.
• We want epic characters to be capable of challeng-
ing gods and even of becoming gods.
• We wanted deities to be designed for play in the
D&D world. Sure, it’s realistic in a sociological sense
to have a deity of doorways or of agriculture, but it’s
hard to figure out how a cleric who worships such a
deity honors his god by going on adventures.
• We wanted fewer, better deities. In your campaign,
you can have as many deities as you want, but in order to
design classes, a cosmology, and products that work well
together, we wanted a good set of deities that cover most
players’ needs without that pantheon being too complex
and cumbersome.
• We wanted deities to represent the new game and
new vision for the D&D world.
For a long time we wanted to design a pantheon that
was wholly new, but the harder we pushed it in that
direction, the more it seemed like some of the deities of
the 3E pantheon were a good fit for the game’s needs.
Thus, the pantheon is a blending of old and new.
Human cleric
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58
—Richard Baker
Master of a hundred weapons, you are a fighter—an adventurer
who relies on strength, speed, skill, and steel to overcome your
adversaries. You might be a noble champion, a calculating
mercenary, or a rapacious marauder, but first and foremost
you fight. You pit your guts, your heart, and your skill at arms
against the most terrifying monstrosities imaginable, and more
often than not, you’re the last one standing.
In some ways you are the most ordinary of adventur-
ers, because your trade is a common one in the Dc×cro×s x
Dnnco×s world. Every lord or chieftain—human, dwarf, elf, orc,
or otherwise—commands the loyalty of tough, well-armored
guards who enforce his will with cold steel. You wear steel much
as any professional warrior would, and you can easily pass your-
self off as such if you wish. However, you are no mere soldier or
dull-witted thug. You are a highly skilled champion, a true master
of your chosen weapons, and you owe no lord your unquestioning
obedience. You are a hero, and you are called to a higher destiny.
Fighters are commonplace among all the common races. All
peoples in the world give rise to martial champions and honor
those heroes who confront evil with a strong arm and a coura-
geous heart. Dwarf fighters are renowned for their tenacity and
battle-zeal; elf fighters are known for their quickness and skill;
and human fighters—audacious, reckless, indomitable—are the
backbone of many adventuring parties.
Strength is important in your chosen trade, yes, but you value
agility and endurance too. More important, you fight with your
head and your heart. You train yourself to a truly uncanny level
of vigilance in battle, learning to use all of your senses and react
without conscious thought to the subtlest of threats—or the tini-
est of openings. And when your arm grows weary and your skill
is not sufficient, you can dig down and call forth truly extraordi-
nary efforts from your deepest reserves of will and endurance.
When you and your companions encounter fearsome
monsters or waves of evil minions, your job is simple: Put
yourself and your superior fighting skill between your enemies
and your comrades. You excel in melee combat, and you are
the toughest and most resilient of heroes. The spot where
you decide to make your stand defines the “front line” of the
combat. Enemies who choose to ignore you in order to attack
your friends soon learn that they do so at their peril—you can
exact a deadly toll from enemies who don’t give you their full
attention. All characters threaten foes around them and take
opportunity attacks when foes try to move past, but fight-
ers have several potent abilities that make their opportunity
attacks extremely deadly. You therefore exert tremendous con-
trol over your enemies’ ability to move around the fight.
You may not have the rogue’s knack for a single devastating
attack or the wizard’s ability to routinely demolish a number
of foes at the same time, but you are quite dangerous at close
range. You can wear down the toughest opponents with deter-
mined attack, and you know a handful of weapon tricks and
stunts—attacks to knock your foes down, disarm them, or shove
them out of your way—that can turn the tide of a battle in the
blink of an eye.
Fighters pay more attention to questions of personal arma-
ment than other characters. Your first decision is whether
you will use a weapon and shield, or instead wield a bigger,
two-handed weapon. A shield offers outstanding defense, and
a shielded fighter is a difficult foe to bring down. On the other
hand, choosing a large, powerful weapon such as a greataxe
or a greatsword allows you to deal superior damage in melee.
Sometimes the best way to prevent damage is to quickly kill the
creature that poses the threat; as they say, the best defense is a
good offense.
Fighters
If you don’t choose a defender, the monsters will
choose one for you.
—Richard Baker, November 2005
Tief ling fighter
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59
Once you have decided on your chosen fighting style (shield
or two-handed), you should study feats and powers that compli-
ment your style. The distinctive combination of tricks, stunts,
maneuvers, feats, or exploits you acquire during your career
mark you as different from every other fighter out there. Most
fighters fall into one of three schools of thought: assault, defense,
or control. Assault is best for you if you prefer a big, two-handed
weapon. You learn powers and select feats that emphasize
offense and dealing damage. Defense is best if you are agile and
make use of a shield; powers and feats that improve your Armor
Class can make you almost impossible to overwhelm with
physical attack. Finally, control is a subtle but powerful strategy;
you study powers and choose feats that improve your ability to
hinder and constrain your enemies’ movement.
Weapons are the tools of your trade, and like any good
craftsman, you should be careful to use the right one for the
right job. Most of your weapon stunts require you to use a
specific weapon. For example, hammers and maces are good
for stunts that will stun your foes or knock them back, but big,
heavy blades such as the greatsword or greataxe are excellent
for big, sweeping blows that threaten all enemies nearby. Other
characters are content to wear a single preferred blade at their
side, but you’re a walking arsenal more often than not. Keep a
variety of weapons on or about your person, just in case.
Just like any other character, fighters work best as part of
a team. You may be tough and capable in melee, but you have
few ways to attack multiple enemies at the same time or to
attack enemies at range. You are most effective when you work
to protect the party’s wizard and allow him to put his magic
to work on distant foes, or serve as the anvil against which the
party’s rogue or ranger can f lank foes. Finally, you need a good
leader in the party to support you. Even with your excellent
defenses, you will take more damage than any other character
in the adventuring party; it’s the job of the cleric or warlord to
keep you at full fighting strength and help you withstand dead-
lier attacks than you could survive on your own.
Fighters naturally look to deities of battle, strength, and
conf lict for strength and inspiration. Good fighters often
choose to follow Bahamut, the Platinum Dragon, god of justice
and protection, or Kord, the god of strength and storms. Other
fighters turn to Bane, the god of war, a grim and demanding
deity. However, fighters can be found among the followers of
most other deities in the pantheon, too.
No matter which deity you favor, ultimately you place your
trust in your skill, your determination, and a good piece of steel.
Other characters might wield powerful magic, but you have
mastered an art that is every bit as difficult and deadly—the
mastery of close combat with almost any weapon imaginable.
A fighter at each tier:
heroic, paragon, and epic
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60
—Continued
CLASS ROLE
—Richard Baker
Fighters are the classic defenders. They get in front of the
monsters and keep the monsters from attacking less resilient
members of the party.
First and foremost, a defender needs the ability to absorb
damage in melee, so fighters have excellent hit point totals and
can wear some of the best armor in the game. In fact, fighters can
get more out of their armor than other characters; the certain
feats allow a high-Dexterity fighter to add some of his Dexterity
bonus to his AC even when he wears heavy armor, which no other
character can do. In addition, during the course of the adventure
fighters can call upon their healing reserves more times than
most other characters. Of all the other character classes, only
the paladin approaches the pure toughness of the fighter.
The second quality a defender requires is an ability to
keep the monsters focused on him. We called this “stickiness”
around the office—once you get next to a fighter, it’s really hard
to move away in order to go pound on the party wizard or cleric.
Fighters are “sticky” because they gain serious bonuses on
opportunity attacks, have the ability to follow enemies who shift
away from them, and guard allies nearby through an ability
called battlefield control. Once the fighter gets toe-to-toe with
the monsters, it becomes very dangerous for the monsters to do
anything other than battle the fighter . . . which is, of course,
what the fighter excels at. Enemies ignore fighters at their peril!
FIGHTERS HAVE POWER!
—Richard Baker
In previous editions of the Dc×cro×s x Dnnco×s game, the
fighter has always been the character who didn’t have any spells
or special class powers. Generally speaking, a player running
a fighter character did the same thing every round: He took
a swing at the bad guys. In 3rd Edition D&D more options
became available through the use of various feat trees, but it
was still true that the fighter offered none of the resource man-
agement or battle strategy of a spellcasting character. Tome of
Battle: The Book of Nine Swords introduced a new twist on the 30-
year-old mechanics of the fighter class by describing fighterlike
classes who used a variety of spectacular martial maneuvers.
Using Tome of Battle you could play a fighter (well, a warblade)
with the tactical challenge of choosing when and how to use
dramatic maneuvers. The new Dc×cro×s x Dnnco×s 4th
Edition game improves and expands this concept even more.
As with all 4th Edition character classes, fighters have three
categories of powers: at-will, per-encounter, and per-day. At-
will powers are relatively simple attacks that the fighter simply
knows how to do. For example, one defensive strike is a simple
attack that deals normal damage, but if you hit, you get a bonus
to your Armor Class against the foe you hit. Your attack leaves
you in a good defensive stance against your foe, and he’ll have a
hard time striking back at you.
Per-encounter powers are special weapon tricks, surprise
attacks, or advanced tactics that can only be used one time
per fight. The fighter doesn’t “forget” a power once he uses
it, nor does a power deplete any innate reserve of magical
energy. He can’t use it again because it simply isn’t effective
more than once per battle. If an enemy has already seen your
dance of steel maneuver, he won’t be taken in by it a second
time. Because you can use one of these powers once per
battle, the challenge is to find the exact right moment to use
each one for maximum effect.
The fighter’s per-day powers represent a single act of incred-
ible strength, endurance, and heroism; the fighter digs down
deep and finds what he needs to make the ultimate effort. For
example, the great surge power allows you to make a devastating
melee attack and also call on your reserves of healing. When
the battle looks grim, the fighter finds a little more strength to
shrug off his injuries and strike a crippling blow. Because you
Fighters
Dwarf
fighters
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61
can only use each of these powers once per day, the trick is to
decide which combat during your adventure deserves the use
of such a precious resource—and then exactly when during that
battle your exploit will have the greatest effect.
SUPPORTING DIFFERENT BUILDS
—Stephen Schubert
The fighter has always been one of the four iconic pillars of the
D&D game (along with the cleric, wizard, and thief/rogue).
As the game progressed, the fighter grew into an extremely
customizable class, especially in 3rd Edition D&D, where
a fighter’s feat choices could change the way he looked: was
he a lightly armored, Spring Attacking, glaive wielder? A
Power-Attacking, greatsword-swinging, damage dealer? An
impregnable, Combat Expertise-using, sword and board AC
junkie? Or maybe just a spiked chain trip monkey?
The new fighter still allows for such customizations within
the role defined for the class. The class “builds” are supported
through feats, class features, gear, and power selection, with each
aspect of character creation adding its own f lavor to the mix.
Much of the focus on the fighter’s choices revolve around
creating a distinction between a fighter that carries a shield
for extra protection and the fighter that eschews protection for
the greater damage output of a big two-handed weapon. But
more than just creating a distinct visual look for the character,
we want the way each character acts to be different based on
which choices he makes.
The sword-and-board fighter, with a one-handed weapon
and a shield, can specialize his build by choosing feats or
powers that improve his AC and defensive capabilities, defend-
ing his allies by simply getting in the way. When designing
powers, though we didn’t want to limit them to defensive
boosts, and so we’ve included options for intercepting enemies
that might try to avoid him in order to attack his allies, such as
giving him greater mobility during an attack, or allowing him
to follow creatures that try to shift away.
On the other end of the spectrum, the greatsword-wielding
fighter gets more damage from his attack powers, threaten-
ing enemies with massive damage if his allies are attacked. In
addition to Power Attack-like abilities that give the two-hander
the option of dealing more damage with a less accurate swing,
this type of fighter might choose those abilities that give him
more opportunities to attack. While any fighter benefits from
such abilities, the advantage is greater to the two-hander, since
his larger weapon will do more damage per swing.
Of course, the system allows for more than just a couple of
builds for the fighter class. It would be possible to include sup-
port for the dancing fencer or the two-weapon fighter. Even when
powers are designed to support certain builds, a player still has
the ability to choose any fighter power, regardless of build.
ARMOR
—Andy Collins
Armor comes in many shapes, sizes, and materials, from
bloodweave robes to crysteel plate armor. A character’s
choice of armor says a lot about his approach to battle,
his tactics in a fight, and his ability to foresee the threats
before him.
The simplest category of armor includes woven
robes, padded vests, and similar items of heavy clothing.
Wizards wear these armors, relying on their magic (and
their allies) to protect them rather than layers of steel. At
higher levels, these armors are crafted from feyweave,
spidersilk, and other wondrous fabrics that imbue the
armor with magical properties.
Rogues, on the other hand, like to be a little more pro-
tective of their own skins than the average spellslinger,
and as such prefer armors crafted from durable leather.
Stout yet flexible, this category of armor provides an
added measure of safety without restricting the wearer’s
movements. The elves also create leatherlike armors
from the leaves of certain trees native to the Feywild and
regions of the natural world close to the arcane realm.
Slightly more durable still are hide armors, crafted
from the heavy skins of fearsome creatures. Rangers,
druids, and barbarians favor such armor, particularly
those that imbue their wearers with aspects of the origi-
nal beast, from the stalking panther or raging cave bear
to the many-headed hydra.
Human fighters
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62
—Continued
Those adventurers who require a bit more staying power in
a fight turn to chain armor. Clerics and warlords, as well as the
occasional elf or half ling fighter, prefer the feel of a sturdy suit
of chain mail. They trust in its ability to turn aside otherwise
lethal strikes, which lets them stay in the fray supporting their
allies as long as possible. Many races craft their own special
versions of chain armor, from the lightweight elven chain to
the dwarf link chain forged beneath mountains. The chain
armors created by the eladrins combine quality and beauty in a
manner unmatched by any worldly armorsmiths.
The truly dedicated warriors, however, know that the
heavier your armor the more likely you are to survive combat.
That’s why most fighters don a suit of scale armor before
heading into the dungeon. With its superior fit, it provides
more protection than chain armor without hindering the
fighter’s agility. Of course, they’ ll never admit that it’s not
just function that attracts them to scale armors—what fighter
doesn’t look good in a suit of blue dragonscale armor or
obsidian razorscale?
The king of armors, however, is plate armor. Though it gives
up the f lexibility of scale armor, plate armor makes up for this
by providing the best protection gold can buy. It’s rare to see
a paladin out of his plate armor, and many fighters eventually
turn to it as well. The dwarves are the most famous crafters of
plate armor, and dwarf-crafted plate is perhaps the most highly
sought-after armor in the land.
No discussion of armor is complete without mentioning
the humble shield. Capable of turning away spear-thrust,
arrow-shaft, and fireball alike, this slab of oak or steel has saved
the lives of more fighters, paladins, and warlords than all the
potions of healing in the world. Not surprisingly, a wide range of
magic shields have been created over the years, all dedicated to
protecting their owners from dangerous foes. For those adven-
turers untrained in the use of shields, enchanted bracers and
vambraces provide similar benefits.
Fighters
INFLUENCE OF BOOK OF NINE SWORDS
—Richard Baker
If you think you’ve seen the idea of per-encounter powers
for fighters before, you’re right. Tome of Battle: Book of Nine
Swords built a system of maneuvers for martial characters
that presaged many of the nonspellcaster powers coming
up in 4th Edition D&D.
At one point in our power design, we examined the
idea of whether or not character powers could be con-
structed more or less like a card-game model. In other
words, all the power choices available to you would
be your “hand,” and when you used a power in a fight,
you’d “discard” it. In fact, you might even have impor-
tant “draw” or “refresh” mechanics to return discarded
powers to your hand. One of the most aggressive ideas of
this sort was the notion of a character who drew his hand
randomly as the fight progressed. So, to test the accept-
ability of these changes to our audience, we adopted the
classes in Book of Nine Swords to use an execute, discard,
and refresh system for their maneuvers.
While the Nine Swords classes actually work fine
with the system (even the crusader!), we eventually
moved away from the idea of maneuvers refreshing in
an encounter. We decided that we didn’t want to make
the players play a game of managing their “hands” at
the same time they were playing a game of defeating the
monsters. But we learned a tremendous amount from
watching D&D fans play with the rules in Book of Nine
Swords. And heck, they were fun enough that most of our
D&D games around the office saw plenty of Nine Swords
characters enter the dungeon.
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WELCOME TO THE WEAPON SHOP
—Andy Collins
Every successful adventurer, of course, is defined by his choice
of weapon. (Well, perhaps not exactly every one of them, but
I don’t see any wizards here so we’ ll just ignore them for the
moment.) Keen-edged longsword or mighty warhammer? Twin
scimitars cutting a swath of destruction or massive greataxe
cleaving enemies in half ? Hidden hand crossbow or deadly
war pick? The selection isn’t just about your look, although we
certainly can’t deny the importance of that, can we? No, the
weapon you carry speaks to the style of warrior you want to be.
Over here we have our maces and spears: the simplest
weapons available to the adventurer. (No, I don’t sell clubs—
may I suggest a visit to the lumberyard for that?) Those with
only limited weapon training, such as clerics, rely on these
weapons for melee combat. Maces and morningstars are good
for cracking skulls, while spears (particularly longspears) prove
useful in keeping enemies at bay.
If you mastered simple weapons during basic training,
you’re probably looking for something with a bit more punch.
Fighters seeking to deal extreme damage to the enemy gravitate
toward the warhammer or maul, though these weapons can
be a little unwieldy. The warlord who wants to trade some of
that devastating power for good accuracy picks up a longsword,
greatsword, or perhaps even a katana. Sitting between the two
categories are the trusty axes, favored by dwarves across the
land for their ability to cut taller opponents down to size.
But maybe you’re a ranger or rogue fancying something
with a little more finesse. In that case, may I suggest a short
sword, scimitar, or rapier? Any of these fine weapons will allow
you to display your dazzling dexterity without skimping on the
death-dealing.
Now, not every weapon is designed to be used close up
and personal. In some situations, the best option is to kill the
monster before it’s close enough to kill you, and for that we
turn to our ranged weapons. Daggers, spears, hand axes, and
throwing hammers all give you a good short-distance option
without giving up the ability to defend yourself should the
monsters appear a bit closer than you’d hoped. If you’re willing
to go all-out, I’d recommend a good crossbow; you can’t beat
that first-strike capability. Rangers (and elves) should instead
look to the bow: faster than a crossbow and each shot almost as
deadly, these are good for the archer on the move.
Of course, these aren’t the only options available for your
perusal. From the f lail to the glaive, or the humble sling to the
elaborate spiked f lail, the array of death-dealing tools at your
character’s disposal should daunt any hobgoblin warchief or
marauding dragon.
Now if you don’t mind, I’ll leave you to your decision—I see a
half ling admiring my collection of shurikens a little too much,
if you know what I mean.
Tief ling fighter
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—Logan Bonner
The tale of any famous rogue is built on a bad reputation.
No matter how self less you are and no matter how many
little villages you’ve saved from certain destruction, some-
body is chasing after you just because you lifted a few coin
purses here and there, or cheated at Three-Dragon Ante, or
escaped from jail in some backwater town, or broke the
mayor’s son’s nose in a bar fight, or . . . well, really, it could
be just about anything. The point is, you’re unjustly perse-
cuted for being quicker, more charming, and more cunning
than everybody else.
Even though the average person has a bad preconception of
rogues, he or she doesn’t know you’re a rogue the first moment
you enter the room, right? A rogue’s sharpest weapon is the ele-
ment of surprise, both in battle and in society. Even if a mark is
suspicious, he or she won’t think you could possibly be as fan-
tastically tricky as you actually are. The old phrase, “I’ll never
trust a rogue again,” isn’t worth the dusty old book it’s written
in—nobody’s a rogue when first you meet.
The life of a rogue is one spent largely in the shadows—
sneaking into well-guarded castles, taking out adversaries
with surprise attacks, or listening in on secret meetings.
When out adventuring, you’re usually out front. Rogues
aren’t as selfish as they’re made out to be, so you’ ll make sure
your comrades don’t walk right into every trap along the way
(especially that thickheaded paladin). If you see danger, you
should run back and warn everybody. Unless the enemy is
really big. Then you should hide and let your companions
take a few lumps to see how hard the thing hits before you
enter the fray.
The relationship between you and your adventuring com-
panions is based on mutual respect. Unilateral respect is also
okay, as long as that respect is f lowing in your direction. And
sure, occasionally the relationship is based on you getting caught
doing something illegal by the rest of the party and being
forced to help them, but this isn’t as typical as some people
would have you think.
The usefulness of having a rogue in the party is summed up
by a simple aphorism: “It’s better for a rogue to have your back
than stab you in it.” The point of your dagger is deadly, as many
a drool-fanged monster has discovered the hard way. Despite a
strong independent streak, you play well with others. A fighter
and a rogue working together can shut down an enemy and
quickly defeat it—and the best rogues can do it all without
getting a drop of blood on their stylish clothing. (Even great
fighters walk away with red all over them, like they’re proud of
it. It’s really quite garish.)
Though all rogues have a talent for discreetly slashing
their foes, other areas within your bailiwick allow for extra
specialization. Stealthy rogues can stay hidden and deliver
devastating attacks from the shadows. Mobile rogues jump and
climb across the battlefield, laughing at their enemies’ pathetic
attempts to hit them. Tricky rogues use their words as weapons,
getting what they want through sheer bravado (and maybe
just a little deceit). Regardless of your expertise, your abilities
all focus on avoiding dangerous situations and getting your
enemies into them.
Be sure to travel light. Since you rely on mobility, stay
away from heavy armor and the big, unwieldy hunks of
metal some people call weapons. With a dark cloak,
leather armor, and some sharp steel, you can get by pretty
well. Stock your backpack with climbing gear and thiev-
ing kits, potions, some well-concealed chocolate for
when you spend too long away from civilization, and
maybe a unique magic item for when things get
really hairy.
Given the choice, you probably prefer
the comfort of the city more than the
majestic wonder of sleeping on rocks and
picking mosquitoes out of your teeth and
not bathing for weeks out in the wilder-
ness or deep underground. Where
there are people, there are people
with money. A good rogue can feel
a tug in his gut when he’s within
a mile of a gambling hall, and his
mouth gets dry the instant the scent
of ale wafts over from the tavern.
Rogues
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Ask a rogue where his home is, and chances are he’ ll name a
bar. Taverns are a little bit restaurant, a little bit clubhouse,
a little bit den of vice, and every bit full of ale and sexy wait
staff. After a night in a tavern, you’ ll know what’s going on
around town, what needs stealing, where the town guard
keeps the keys, who in the party has the highest tolerance
for alcohol, and—for good or ill—the color of the barkeep’s
underwear. While the wizard’s poring over musty books at
the library and the fighter’s knocking on a practice dummy
at the training grounds, you’re getting important work done
at the alehouse.
A rogue settles wherever fortune and charm take him,
whether it’s in a grimy back alley or an alabaster mansion. In
fact, it’s not uncommon for a rogue to go from one to the other
and back again in a matter of days. A timely compliment, big
treasure hoard, or purloined key can be the ticket to an opulent
lifestyle. On the other hand, a high-stakes card game, a really
expensive garment, or even an up-and-coming rival rogue
can send you right back to the bottom. Many rogues dream of
fortune, and some get it. Wealthy rogues are split between two
categories: those who f launt it and those who stick to a pattern
of secrecy. For every rogue hitting the town in fancy clothes,
there’s another with platinum coins and magic daggers stashed
under a ratty straw mattress.
When you meet another rogue, be wary. You can be
relatively sure she’s not your enemy if you’re members of the
same thieves’ guild, but otherwise one rogue can never know
what to make of another. Rogues know better than anyone
that appearances can be deceiving, and that’s why it’s so dif-
ficult to win a rogue’s trust. If two rogues become enemies,
they are prone to clandestine attacks against the other’s
fortune and character—or outright assassination. Tracing a
trail back to the culprit is notoriously difficult, and many a
constable has tried in vain to capture a crime kingpin with
a long list of dead enemies, but no evidence of guilt. A truly
evil rogue makes a powerful adversary, even for a whole
party of adventurers.
Among the different races, half lings are the most adept
rogues. With their small size and lithe physiques, they’re
stealthy and mobile. Elves’ and half-elves’ inborn talents make
them suited to the class, and humans thrive in such an adapt-
able role. Tief lings gravitate toward becoming rogues because
they’re charismatic and have an inborn tendency for trickery
and deception.
If you choose to take up the life of a rogue, keep your dagger
sharp, your coins hidden, your cloak concealing, and your eyes
open. Danger lurks around every corner in the world, and if
you play your cards right, you can be that danger.
CLASS ROLE
—Logan Bonner
The rogue is the prime example of a striker. Capable of
delivering more damage to a single target than many other
characters, a rogue has to spend some effort setting up such
a boost. By skillful maneuvering, the help of allies, and the
occasional dirty trick, a rogue sets up devastating attacks. In
exchange for high damage, a striker ends up frail compared to
a defender.
Darting between shadows, jumping over enemies, and
deftly scaling walls are simple for rogues, who can use their
skills more effectively than other classes and can move in
ways utterly impossible for other characters. The capability to
fearlessly traverse the battlefield gives rogues the potential to
surprise and quickly overwhelm their foes.
Rogues excel at hitting unprepared enemies to cause the
most harm. One of the ways a rogue gets high damage is an
old favorite: sneak attack. In fact, sneak attack is now easier
to pull off and works with a new, simple system that defines
when creatures are particularly vulnerable to attack. Not only
will the fighter be giving the rogue a f lanking bonus, but more
spells and attack powers will set up sneak attacks.
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—Continued
Another source of extra damage comes from a rogue’s
follow-up attacks, which can be tacked on to successful attacks.
These allow a rogue to turn a normal attack into a truly vicious
one, dealing huge amounts of damage and dishing out major
penalties to the target.
At the highest end of the rogue’s power list come dif-
ficult maneuvers that incorporate multiple attacks and
tactical movement. These f lashy assaults make short work
of powerful monsters and—more importantly—impress the
rest of the party.
SNEAK ATTACK
—Mike Mearls
In the beginning thieves had the backstab ability, and it was
good. A +4 bonus on attacks and double damage were great
back in the day, but they came with a catch. It was really, really
hard to actually complete a backstab. The rules were vague
about how they worked, and most DMs shied away from allow-
ing thieves to use this ability on a routine basis.
When D&D 3E arrived on the scene, gamers who loved
rogues had reason to celebrate. Sneak attack, while perhaps
not as swingy as backstab, was clearly implemented and easy
to use. Those extra d6s of damage were great. At least, they
were great when the rogue got to use them. Entire categories of
creatures, most notably undead and constructs, were immune
to sneak attack. Without the offensive boost provided by this
ability, rogues were severely crippled.
For D&D 4E, we’ve made sneak attack more f lexible while
retaining its basic mechanic. You can now use sneak attack
whenever you have combat advantage, a combat modifier
gained whenever an opponent’s defenses have been com-
promised. Flanking a foe gives you combat advantage, as do
some special abilities. More important, immunity to sneak
attack has been scaled back to almost nothing. Almost every
creature a rogue now faces has the requisite vulnerable spots
needed for a sneak attack to take place. While a construct
might lack internal organs, you can still smash its knee or
find a weak point in its construction to deal a fistful of extra
d6s in damage.
This change ref lects one of the important philosophies
behind D&D 4E. Some abilities are so key to a character’s
class that they should rarely, if ever, face a blanket immunity.
Monsters that shut down one character are more likely to
make the game dull for a few characters, or force the spotlight
on to a sole player character, rather than create interesting
situations for the entire party. The rogue relies on sneak attack
for his or her offensive abilities, so we’re much better off
making it a reliable tool.
As a rule, immunities are almost completely gone from
D&D 4E. In their place we have damage thresholds to ref lect
resistances and invulnerability. A fire elemental might ignore
a wizard’s fireball, but an elder red dragon can still blast it into
oblivion with its breath weapon.
In the design of D&D 4E, the team sought to create a game
where a reasonable Dungeon Master could create a reasonable
challenge for everyone at the table. A DM must make a con-
scious decision to shut down a PC or close off a set of options.
For this reason, sneak attack now functions against a wide
variety of monsters.
Rogues
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WHAT’S NEW WITH THE ROGUE
—Mike Mearls
The rogue character class retains the core of what it has
always been, a class that focuses on light armor, light weapons,
skills, and dishing out extra damage to unprepared oppo-
nents. In D&D 4E, we’ve taken some aspects of the rogue
and strengthened them to match what many players want to
do with a rogue. For example, a rogue with a good Charisma
score now has a variety of special maneuvers to choose from
that highlight his abilities as a trickster and deceiver. A rogue
with a high Intelligence score gains a f lat bonus to all trained
skill checks. Finally, the addition of maneuvers to the rogue’s
bundle of abilities allows him or her to fight in melee and
dodge attacks much better than before.
The D&D 4E design team saw the rogue as more than
just a skill expert, but a warrior who bears some similarities
to a swashbuckler. In melee, a rogue is just as dangerous as a
fighter. While his leather armor makes him less durable, he
can dish out a lot of damage in a brief amount of time. Making
the rogue a little more of a swashbuckler helped give him a
clearer role in a fight.
This design decision highlights one of the principles
of D&D 4E design. In prior versions of the game, design-
ers would sometimes use out-of-combat abilities to balance
combat deficiencies. A rogue might have low AC and low hit
points, but a lot of skills were supposed to balance that. True,
the rogue had sneak attack, but moving into a f lank also left
him vulnerable to being f lanked himself. Since D&D 4E
moves from a model of “the party versus one monster” to “the
party versus an equal number of monsters,” this problem
became even worse.
To better balance the classes, the design team set aside
noncombat functions and looked solely at what each class
does in a fight. We then balanced their abilities across the
board, while following a similar process for noncombat abili-
ties. By cutting off any bleed in balance between those areas,
we created characters that are on equal footing across every
part of an adventure, rather than creating a situation where
player characters are balanced only if you look at all the
encounters as a whole.
Along with a clearer fighting archetype, D&D 4E
strengthens the rogue’s core competencies both inside and
outside of combat. Rogues are now the best skill users in the
game. Not only do they get more skills than other classes,
but they also have more options and abilities relating to
those skills.
SKILLS
—Logan Bonner
Dc×cro× x Dnnco×s 3rd Edition’s skills are based on a
good premise, but they suffer from a number of problems we
wanted to rectify as we went about building the 4th Edition of
the game.
The first problem is that skills are high-maintenance and
full of little complexities. Whenever you level up, you need
to look at your skills and determine where you want to spend
your points. You have a list of class and cross-class skills that
changes depending on what class you’re leveling up in. Skill
synergies are just obnoxiously frivolous. These problems
wouldn’t be too egregious if the reward for keeping track of it
all were bigger, but it’s rarely worth the effort, and most players
would rather be spending character generation and leveling
time elsewhere.
The second problem is that the skill system is built with
two different skill strategies in mind, but only one is really
valid. You can dump max ranks in a few skills to keep them
high, or you can dabble by spending a few ranks in vari-
ous places. Now, the first of these works out pretty well, but
the second is usually worthless. To be sure, there are a few
skills it might be worth getting 1 rank in just so you can be
trained, but they are the minority. The system scales in such
a way that when you gain levels and don’t spend ranks in a
skill, you quickly fall behind the required DCs needed to
accomplish a task.
Human
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—Continued
The third problem is the skill list, which is full of skills that
are either too similar to others or just plain useless. Part of this
is because the system is meant to work for player characters,
nonplayer characters, and monsters. But when’s the last time
you saw a PC make a Profession check that had a useful effect
on the game? (Hint: If it was recently, your game is probably
not as much fun as D&D should be. Sorry.) And can’t Appraise,
Decipher Script, Forgery, Open Lock, Sleight of Hand, Use
Rope, and a bunch of other narrow skills just be folded into
other skills? Then there are functions that should be combined
because there’s no character who wants one but wouldn’t want
both. Who wants Listen but not Spot? Who wants Hide but not
Move Silently? Not many people.
We greatly simplified the skill system to fix these prob-
lems. We stripped the list down and combined skills that
were pointing in the same direction (Open Lock and Sleight of
Hand appeal to the same character, so they’re now functions
of a single skill). Knowledge (arcana), Spellcraft, and Read
Magic have all been combined into a single Arcana skill. As
of this writing, we have cut the number of skills in half (while
maintaining most of the functions). The Star Wars Roleplaying
Game Saga Edition includes some of our experiments with skill
simplification, most notably in the way it removes the need for
constantly increasing skills.
Of all the classes, rogues are the most skill-focused (fol-
lowed closely by rangers). Many classes have a few skills that
are crucial to their functionality, but rogues get the widest
swath of options.
Another major change to skills was the removal of several
skill functions that we no longer believe should be default parts
of skills. The prime example is using Tumble to avoid attacks
of opportunity. To have a check (one that can even be made
untrained) be able to bypass such a fundamental risk of the
game is just too easy and ultimately not all that much fun. Now,
skill functions like this are either unlocked by taking a feat or
are incorporated into specific powers.
Another idea that’s been bandied about lately is convert-
ing some skills to passive “defense” values. Spot and Listen
are good examples. Telling the players to roll Spot checks,
first of all, tells them that something is up. Also, if you have
everybody roll every time there’s something to see, there’s
a high probability at least one party member will see it just
due to a lucky roll. Skills like this might work better as pas-
sive values: Every player character could have a value equal
to 10 + skill bonus. Then, when there’s something to see,
Rogues
Sample power writeup from the D&D 4E Player’s
Handbook (current draft), with placeholder
names (that will be changed before the book goes
to press):
I’m Batman
You send a ranged attack against your foe to get
its attention and lure it in your direction. Then, you
spring from the shadows and deliver a devastating
follow-up attack.
The Rabble Yammer in Terror
You deliver a stinging blow to an enemy who besets
you. His allies shrink back from you, each unwilling
to draw your ire next.
Go Ahead and Hit Me
Your daunting glare gives you an edge over foes
who dare attack you.
Dragonborn
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the Dungeon Master can compare the DC to notice it to the
player characters’ “take 10” numbers. So far in playtests,
no one has batted an eye and it’s easier on the Dungeon
Master—and on your d20.
ROGUE WEAPONS AND ARMOR
—Mike Mearls
A D&D 4E rogue is likely to wear armor and carry weapons
similar to his brethren from earlier versions of the game. Their
options include leather armor, rapiers, short swords, hand
crossbows, slings, and similar items. We knew that rogues still
want to use small, light weapons that favor Dexterity over brute
Strength. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it (is what R&D Director Bill
Slavicsek is always telling us).
The rogue’s weapons and armor don’t exist in a vacuum.
For each class, we looked at their expected gear and then
sought to create abilities that fit well with those abilities.
The rogue who carries a hand crossbow should feel happy
about that weapon. Leather armor must, at later levels,
present options for new materials and magical effects that
rogues want to use. When working on a magical item, it’s
important to think about who wants to use it and why. Creat-
ing a set of weapons and armor for the rogue helped clear up
this design process.
So, you can rest easy with the knowledge that the rogue
miniatures that you already have in your collection are just
as usable in D&D 4E. Like generations of gamers that came
before, you can live by the wisdom that the guy (of gal) in
leather armor who claims he (or she) is a fighter might be a
rogue trying to pull a fast one on you.
TRAPS AND ROGUES
—Mike Mearls
Traps have always been a part of the D&D experience, but
they’ve never really had a stable place in the game. D&D 4E
changes that on a two levels.
Most traps challenge the entire party. While the poison
needle on a treasure chest or the pit trap dug into a hallway
still exist, the rules now support more elaborate death traps.
Dungeons play host to spiked walls that close in to impale and
crush adventurers. A trapped room opens up f loodgates and
fills with water, while secret doors open to unleash skeletons
into the room. D&D has always had these traps, but D&D 4E
makes them the norm rather than the exception. The random
pit or the trapped chest is the exception, not the expected
norm. If it is broke, fix it (is what R&D Director Bill Slavicsek is
always telling us).
Now that traps threaten the entire party at once, they also
give options for any character to defeat them. A fighter or
wizard can damage a trap mechanism to shut it off or delay its
effects. A cleric can heal the party as the trap slowly damages
the characters. A rogue can still disarm the trap, but that is just
one option among many. Furthermore, Trapfinding is now a
feat. Rogues receive it for free, but anyone can become skilled
in disabling traps.
This decision points to a larger trend in the game—
challenge the party, not a single character. We don’t want
one character handling everything in an encounter, and our
new trap rules ref lect this. After all, D&D is about an adven-
turing party, not a single character. Not even a cool one, such as
the rogue.
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—Dave Noonan
As a warlock, you are f luent in the universal language: Power.
All creatures, no matter their species, alignment, or place in the
world, speak the language of power. Or at least . . . they under-
stand it when you speak the language of power to them. When
you curse their every effort, summon a pit fiend to thwart their
feeble attacks against you, then finally excise them from existence
with an eldritch blast, they understand your power firsthand.
Power has its price. It must be bargained with. And you’ve
done so, repeatedly and enthusiastically. As a result, you exude
power from every fiber of your being. Everyone from the street
urchin to the village priest to the grand duke senses the arcane
power you carry with you.
And it makes them afraid.
The presence of a warlock makes almost everyone uneasy,
and you’ve seen countless people make clumsy attempts to
hide their obvious fear of you behind a façade of bravado,
unctuousness, or disinterest. Why does a warlock make people
uneasy? Because you hold up a mirror that reveals their cow-
ardice. You are willing to pay the price to acquire power, and
most people quail at the price. When they see you, they’re
subtly reminded that they were too weak to gather similar
power for themselves.
But let’s lay all the cards on the table. It’s not just a question
of fear. Your magic has an unsavory, sinister aspect. Are war-
locks by nature evil?
Not necessarily. While many of the mysterious forces that
warlocks tap for their powers are irredeemably evil—the infer-
nals and certain ancient demons, for example—other forces are
simply amoral or completely inscrutable. Some warlocks make
pacts with the stars themselves, for example, and it’s clear that
the stars shine on good and evil alike. Summon a pit fiend to
raze the lord’s castle or curse his sheriff, and many will be
quick to call you evil. But saying it doesn’t make it so. Ambi-
tious? Certainly. A little on the ruthless side? Probably. But
ambition and ruthlessness can serve the noblest efforts as well
as they can serve the most diabolical.
Warlocks don’t do much in the way of public relations
efforts, however. People take one look at your black cloak with
the glowing runes, see the strange tattoos on your arms, and
catch a whiff of brimstone in your wake—and then they jump
to conclusions. Conclusions that might be inconvenient for
you, whether or not they are wholly, partially, or no where
near true.
Just remember that they fear you because you were will-
ing to seek power while they f led from the difficult path
that power demands. Then, one way or another, give them a
demonstration of what that power looks like when you loose it
upon the world.
Leave the wizards their colleges, and the clerics their
cloisters. Your training was one-on-one—a master/apprentice
relationship. Because most communities don’t understand
warlock magic, your training happened out of sight, either
in a hidden part of the city or a safe place in the wilderness.
Secrecy was paramount. You attended clandestine meetings
where darker mysteries were revealed to you. Some called you
and your fellow apprentices a cult or a secret society. You didn’t
even know all the details yourself. But you excelled, proving
yourself more driven and more talented than your fellows. That
led to greater mysteries being revealed to you. And with each
new secret door that opened, you knew you wanted more. So
much more!
If a wizard’s training is educational, a warlock’s training is
transactional. Spellcasters learn new power by understanding
their powers’ theoretical underpinnings, then practicing deli-
cate acts of their art. That’s for lesser, more fearful minds. You
learn new powers by compelling the dark forces of the world to
reveal their secrets to you—or at the very least, striking a deal to
let you tap into that dark force for yourself.
One of the most important bargains you strike is your pact.
Early in your career, you forge a connection to fey earth-spirits,
Warlocks
Tief ling warlock
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scheming devils, long-dead demon gods, or the stars and the
darkness between them. Regardless of the patron you chose,
making that pact is a defining moment in your life. That’s
when you separated yourself from others and say, “I want more
power, no matter the cost!”
As your power grows, the pact becomes more and more
important, granting you powers and perceptions beyond the
reach of other mortals. The very best warlocks can establish
two pacts, playing the two forces against one another and
drawing strength from both.
As a warlock, you largely disdain mere swordplay and
archery. A longbow is a quaint, rustic tool of the hunter—to
make your enemies kneel before you, nothing beats an eldritch
blast. You can focus your power at will in a beam that f lays the
f lesh from those with the temerity to stand against you. As you
wrest more warlock techniques from your master, you learn to
set your eldritch blast afire, hit more than one enemy with it, or
turn it into a force of crawling darkness from which there is no
escape. Try doing that with an arrow.
You wear leather armor that reeks of eldritch power and
carry a simple weapon, such as a spear or dagger, for use
against foes too weak to waste your arcane power against. You
also have a soul ruin attack that wounds the very spirit of some-
one who threatens you in hand-to-hand combat. Given the
choice between slicing someone with your dagger or tearing off
a chunk of their immortal spirit with soul ruin, you’ll opt for soul
ruin every time.
You are also able to transpose yourself, f lashing from place
in the blink of an eye. Eventually, you learn to transpose others
as well, banishing them or drawing them closer to the danger
that you represent.
You learn invocations, similar to wizard spells. Some pro-
tect you, others summon otherworldly aid in a time of need,
and some just consume your enemies in a roiling cloud of
hungry darkness.
Finally, you can deliver curses to your rivals and enemies. A
curse diminishes your enemy in some way, sometimes wound-
ing and sometimes magically thwarting that enemy’s efforts.
You can lock a foe in a cage of blood, encircle your foe in emer-
ald coils, or turn the foe’s very blood into black acid, then force
it to burn its way out of the body.
Your eldritch blast, soul ruin, transpositions, invocations, and
curses each have their place in your personal arsenal of power.
But the wellspring remains the pact that you establish on the
first day you can truly call yourself a warlock.
You can bargain with ancient fey spirits, primal forces from
when the world was young. Though the world has forgotten
the names of these now-buried fey, you haven’t—and you sense
their feral, primitive hunger as keenly as your own feelings.
Immortality is not a guarantee of eternity, as forgotten
demigods and ancient demons learned to their chagrin.
Though these godlings are no longer worshiped, they retain a
vestige of their deific might, and that’s power they’ll trade as
part of their own long-term plans.
Elf warlock performs a ritual
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—Continued
Some say there is a cold malice that lives and watches us all
from the darkness between the stars, and by tracking the prog-
ress of the stars across the sky, we can attain a glimpse of this
mystery presence. You’ve learned the secret names of the stars
and can tap into whatever’s up there . . . waiting.
Scheming devils from the dawn of time created one of the
most seductive paths to power; in fact, this pact may be the
foundation of the warlock’s art. Asmodeus may have expunged
these devils from the Infernal Rolls, but he didn’t bury their
perilous secrets deeply enough. You may be among those who
have unearthed the dark lore of these infernals and entered
into a power-bargain with their shades.
FAMOUS WARLOCKS
—Dave Noonan
Many warlocks work from the shadows, grasping power from
darkness and then disappearing to apply that power elsewhere.
But some warlocks have attained a degree of fame—or notoriety,
at the very least.
Jibaal of the Mountain: A hired killer, Jibaal became a
warlock as part of an effort to expunge his guilt from an assas-
sination gone tragically wrong. He retained the knack for
stealth from his previous occupation, augmenting it with the
ability to surround himself in an undulating cloak of shadows
or tear a hole in reality itself, then step through the breach. He
now teaches worthy students from the ruins of a great moun-
taintop castle . . . but why he’s teaching them is unknown.
Corvax Croweye: Known for the crow feather he leaves
wherever he goes, Corvax is a perpetual thorn in the side of
High Lord Demetrius and the City-State of Landarna. He
organizes revolutionary cells throughout the city state, escorts
fugitives beyond the reach of Demetrius’ “justice,” and system-
atically curses and destroys everyone in the High Lord’s family.
After losing a third son to Crovax’s “brilliant icy destruction”
curse, Demetrius has placed a vast price on Crovax’s head.
The Jade Hand: This mysterious eladrin lives alone in the
Feywild atop a tower made from desiccated tree branches. His
left hand is made entirely from shards of jade, and it is said that
the touch of his soul ruin is death itself. Every year he accepts
one new apprentice from the dozens who seek his tutelage, pit-
ting them against each other in a series of ruthless tests.
CLASS ROLE
—Richard Baker
Warlocks are arcane characters. They learn their powers from
magical entities they commune with through ancient rites. These
may be dark, primal fey spirits, old as the earth itself; the restless
shades of ancient warlocks and demipowers long dead; strange,
magical intelligences associated with prominent stars; or infernal
beings bound by ancient laws the warlock knows how to exploit.
Warlocks of different traditions favor different types of
patrons, but any warlock has the ability to wield some amount of
power from any of these sources. Regardless of the true nature
of the warlock’s patrons, some of these spirits offer knowledge
freely, some exact terrible bargains for their wisdom, and some
must be compelled to speak through long and arduous rites.
In battle, warlocks are strikers. They are highly mobile
and elusive adversaries who scour their enemies with potent
blasts of eldritch power and harry them with a variety of potent
curses. They deal high damage to one or two enemies at a time.
Warlocks have few powers that attack multiple foes at once, but
they excel in dealing with small groups of enemies.
Warlocks are not very durable, but they are quite good at
avoiding attack by magically evading their enemies. They pos-
sess highly accurate and highly damaging short-range attacks
and shift easily from ranged to melee combat.
In 4th Edition D&D, the warlock gains two important new
magical tools: pacts and curses.
The warlock’s pact describes what type of bargain he made
to gain his power: Fey, Infernal, Star, or Vestige. Each pact type
offers subtly different benefits and favors different types of warlock
powers. For example, the Infernal pact gives the warlock exceptional
ability to exercise control over his enemies by reinforcing curses that
create phantasmal objects to trap, hinder, or attack foes, while the
Vestige pact is best for dealing damage through soul blast attacks.
Each pact is associated with a number of curses. These
are the warlock’s per-encounter “spells,” and they deal high
damage to foes along with crippling restrictions on movement
and actions. The warlock gains a significant damage boost
for his eldritch blast and soul blast attacks when he targets a
creature he’s already cursed. Finally, each curse includes a
potent death effect: When the cursed creature is reduced to 0
hit points, the warlock often gains a powerful follow-up attack
against other nearby foes. Warlocks excel at weakening, immo-
bilizing, and hindering foes with their curses.
WARLOCKS HAVE CHANGED. WHY?
—Logan Bonner
The reason warlocks changed is simple: Their cool, unique
thing isn’t unique anymore.
Warlocks
I think you should only be able to get soul blast if
you take the Pact of James Brown.
—Logan Bonner, March 2007
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73
Since their resources don’t deplete over the course of the
day, warlocks hold a special place in D&D 3E. In 4th Edition,
any spellcaster can use a power every round without worrying
about running out, so warlocks need something new to differ-
entiate them.
The early changes from the 3E warlock to the 4E ver-
sion included access to powerful sustainable curses that gave
penalties to their enemies and picked up the binder’s vestiges
as “hellpacts.” All this pointed them toward the same sort of
maybe-this-guy-is-a-little-too-nasty-to-hang-out-with-our-party
vibe that the 3E version has, but gave him some new tricks so
he’s not playing in the wizard’s sandbox quite as much (dupli-
cating spell effects and the like). It also brought forward some
elements from other interesting, but less popular, 3E classes. Of
course, the warlock kept eldritch blast, along with abilities that
modify the blast.
These were good ideas, but they weren’t quite clicking
in playtests. The pacts, like binder vestiges, didn’t have ben-
efits that all pointed to a single theme or play style. Since we
wanted to emphasize certain builds, these got narrowed and
focused so when you take a pact, you really know what type of
character you’re playing. They also aren’t just “hellpacts” any-
more. You can make pacts with various powers, each of which
has its own build focus and a strong hook for your back-
story. Curses were, initially, imparting penalties and giving
advantages to the warlock if he voluntarily ended the curse.
Unfortunately, this usually meant that a warlock spent his
turn invoking a curse, then watching the target die before he
had a chance to do anything else. This was an easy problem
to fix: We cranked the curses up. Now the curses themselves
could put down a ton of damage and impose huge penalties
on the target’s actions.
Throughout all this, it was clear how important it was that
we keep the warlock’s dangerous, one-toe-in-the-pool-of-evil
feel intact. The warlock might not be evil, but he sure is mean.
The curses evoke this theme. You might have your foe crying
burning tears of blood or shove him into a conjured iron
maiden. Sure, the paladin might look askance at you, but you’re
all on the same side, right?
So has the warlock changed? His rules have, sure, but he’s
still going to be the class of choice for people who want to play
a darker character. In fact, we’re making it easier to develop a
theme to your warlock powers, so you can have an intriguing back
story that’s supported by what you’re actually using in combat.
WHY THE WARLOCK?
—Chris Sims
Supporting the arcane power source, the warlock appears in
the D&D 4E Player’s Handbook along with the wizard. For those
with notions derived from D&D 3E, this might seem weird.
Let’s look at the real reasons why the warlock made the muster.
Important to understanding the warlock’s proper place is in
the game from the outset is power source. All the other power
sources in the Player’s Handbook have at least two representative
classes. Without the warlock, arcane has only have a single
representative—the wizard.
Role is also significant. Wizards are controllers. Warlocks
are instead strikers, focused on dealing a lot of damage to one
foe at a time. They appeal to players who want to dish out pun-
ishment with magic. Even though the Player’s Handbook has a
ranged striker and a melee striker, additional strikers are good
for party success. The warlock seemed like a natural choice.
Warlock is also an expected option for the tief ling. Tief lings
are the darkest player race in the initial release of the game.
The warlock class gives them that much more for someone who
wants to play a sinister hero.
Although all of the above is true, we also couldn’t ignore the
fact that the warlock had a lot of traction in D&D 3E. In fact, it
might be the most popular class released between 3E’s Player’s
Handbook and Tome of Battle. We couldn’t leave a class that
appealed to such a wide section of our audience out of the new
edition’s first showing.
Half ling
warlock
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74
—Continued
WARLOCK EVOLUTION
—Stephen Schubert
The new warlock class is an evolution of the class first intro-
duced in Complete Arcane. Even as the D&D 3E warlock was an
experiment in a new way of looking at an arcane class, we con-
tinued to explore other venues for both mechanics and theme.
Some of those ideas have been incorporated into the latest
iteration of the warlock class.
For example, we also tried new magic systems with Tome of
Magic and Magic of Incarnum, and each effort pushed the enve-
lope in a different direction. In Incarnum, each class was given
a larger suite of powers that could be activated frequently, and
a bit of customization so that a shaper might have a completely
different arsenal each day, much like a D&D 3rd Edition
wizard might choose her spells.
In Tome of Magic, we tried different levels of acquisition
of power. The binder could choose a “silo” of power, gaining
a suite of thematically related abilities, some of which were
always active boons while others were limited to a few uses
each day. The shadowcaster could build his powers broadly,
choosing many of the simplest of mysteries, or could build deep
into two chosen trees. The truenamer had an ever-growing rep-
ertoire of abilities, all of which could be used at-will, but with
a progressively more difficult chance of success each time an
utterance was used.
In addition to exploring different themes of D&D magic,
these classes helped us see new class mechanics in action.
From these experiments, we incorporated such concepts as the
themes of the binder’s pacts, so each warlock can choose from
a small selection of thematically linked class abilities. While
we didn’t include aspects from every class from Tome of Magic,
we have the f lexibility to mine those themes for future addi-
tions to the warlock class, or bring those concepts into other
places of the new game.
ALIGNMENT
—Logan Bonner
Alignment is one of those systems that’s been in f lux for a
while because everybody has a strong opinion about it. When
one person’s saying “kill it entirely” and another is saying
“keep it as it is,” you know there will be a lot of time and dis-
cussion about the topic. R&D is really just like a big gaming
group: We all have our opinions about what alignment
should be.
To tackle this issue, an elite team of special agents (Michele
Carter, Bruce Cordell, Steve Schubert, and Bill Slavicsek) con-
vened to figure out why people do and don’t like alignment as
it has appeared in previous versions of the game. We wanted to
keep the recognizable names of alignment, but we also had to
recognize the failings the old systems had.
A major change to the system is the concept of unaligned
characters. Most people just never choose sides, and never
dedicate themselves to an ideal—they just do what they can
to get by. Alignment is now a system you don’t have to play in
if you don’t want to. Only characters with strong ideals will
take up the cause of Good or Evil. This allows players more
latitude. They can play a character who isn’t all that nice, but
can still be in the same party as the bright and shining pala-
din and not have much difficulty. An “Evil-curious” character
might be underhanded or bloodthirsty without crossing the
line into evil.
We also wanted to emphasize the difference between
personality and alignment. For a long time, people have
used alignment as a guide to roleplaying, but that ends up
being too restrictive and predictable. While alignment
should inf luence your actions, it shouldn’t define your entire
personality. A Good-aligned person can be surly, or even
do something that’s not exactly “good” once in a while. This
doesn’t mean the person isn’t trying to uphold the virtues of
Warlocks
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a good alignment—and the dedication to keep trying is what’s
important about alignment.
Perhaps more important than any other change is the de-
emphasis of alignment. Instead of the overarching system of
previous editions, alignment is now a much smaller part of
the experience. Only a minority of people (and monsters) is
aligned at all, and most spells and abilities that key off of align-
ment have been eliminated. For a player, choosing a Good
alignment won’t make your character more susceptible to evil
attacks. Dungeon Masters get the freedom to create storylines
with intrigue and deception that can’t be derailed by a detect
evil spell. Shades of gray can make a campaign deeper and
ultimately more rewarding. PCs should decide for themselves
whether they think someone is evil, not rely on spells to make
their decisions for them.
CUBE CHATTER
—Logan Bonner
I worked on the Player’s Handbook with Rich Baker and Dave
Noonan (this was in the third stage of the process). We all sat
within two cubes of one another, close enough to shout out
whatever weird thing one of us had just come up with. Even
though people in nearby cubes were working on different
projects, they would occasionally hear one of these snippets
about the Player’s Handbook. Usually, this was some oddball
placeholder name Rich had written for a warlord power, but
warlock powers were a common topic, too. I think our neigh-
bors might have known more about the warlock than any
other class, actually.
I wrote up the basic structure of the warlock and estab-
lished the over-the-top descriptions and effect names the class
would use (stuff like the curse of the bloodfang beast and iron
chains of misery). The power-writing stage came after that, and
Rich was in charge of taking the few powers already written
and f leshing out the list (while incorporating changes the
development team had made to the overall class structure).
Whenever Rich would write up a crazy power (and the war-
lock is master of crazy, mean powers), he would relay it across
the cube walls to Dave and I, and thereby give everybody else
nearby a dose of warlock joy.
Once or twice a day, Rich would say something like,
“Okay, here’s a new one: hurl through hell. You banish a foe
to the depths of the Nine Hells. During his journey he takes
a bunch of damage. He returns prone in his former square,
suffering from fear.” Everybody in earshot would have an evil
chuckle (Dave’s is the most evil, by the way) and think about
the reaction the hapless monster will have when that happens
during a game.
Rich (and maybe all of us) really wrote his most entertain-
ing stuff when he was getting punchy at the end of the day.
The warlock is a great class to work on when you just need to
cut loose and write the most insane powers possible, and he’ ll
likewise be more fun to play the more exhausting your day
has been.
I can’t wait until people first get their hands on this class
and say, “I can do what?” And the reactions of the other people
at the table will be even better. You just might hear your party’s
cleric saying, “I know I said we should punish these evildoers,
but ouch!”
Sometimes these warlock powers get written up so
horrifically that they sound like they should be
freaking your allies out as well as your enemies.
—Rob Heinsoo, May 2007
Tief ling warlock
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—Mike Mearls
As a wizard, your path is a study in contradiction. You can
conjure a wave of acid that turns a battalion of soldiers into a
pile of bones. With a wave of your hand, you send forth a bolt
of fire detonates with enough force to level a building. Yet for
all your power, a slack-jawed orc with a scimitar can end your
life with a single blow. While the fighter absorbs blow after
blow, you have to keep to the back of the group and avoid the
monsters. In part, you know that only a fool lets a monster
swing a 10-pound hunk of sharpened steel at him. On the
other hand, for all your power you are simply more vulner-
able than other adventurers. Fighters, clerics, and rogues can
afford to let monsters use their heads as punching bags. What
little brains they have aren’t needed, as long as you are around
to figure things out.
In battle, you play a dangerous game. You must destroy your
enemies with arcane power before they come close enough to
pose a threat. In theory, the rest of the group is there to pro-
tect you. Unfortunately, the clerics and fighters of the world
are rarely known for their intellectual and tactical genius.
Sooner or later, one of your companions will make a mistake
that might cost you your life. A wizard survives only as long as
he keeps an escape plan, so keep a path of retreat open at all
times. You’ll never regret it.
A rested wizard is a deadly foe. Even after several battles,
a wizard has a number of incantations he can call on again
and again, provided he has a chance for a brief rest. When it
comes time to set up camp, you need as much sleep and relax-
ation as possible. Keeping watch is not the same at resting, but
provides another instance where you must rely on lesser intel-
lects to protect you. You need your rest. Insist on sleeping in
the middle of the group. If an attack comes, let the monsters
fall upon your allies first. When you awake, the few seconds
this tactic buys you might be the difference between victory
and defeat.
The mightiest of wizard spells, those capable of turning
a phalanx of warriors into smoldering bones, are too power-
ful for any mortal to use more than once without extensive
rest. In contrast, the simplest wizard spells, those that you
can call on again and again without limit, are weaker than
a fighter’s sword stroke. You must play a careful balancing
game, one that requires you to bide your power over the
course of an expedition. A wizard who is too rash to save his
spells, or one so cautious that he never casts them, places
himself and his entire adventuring group in danger. Use your
spells judiciously and always reserve something to save your
own bacon.
Luckily, you have access to power words. Power words are
spells that drain energy energy from you, but not so much that
you need a long period of rest to recover. With a minute to
catch your breath, you can concentrate and summon forth the
energies needed to use your power words. Power words are
your most trustworthy tool, spells you use again and again in a
variety of situations. A smart wizard relies on his power words
to defeat his enemies, with his more powerful spells a potent
weapon against tough foes and his weakest spells a reliable tool
for simple situations or weakened enemies.
Between these three types of magic, you are well equipped
to handle adventures. Compared to other classes, your once
per day abilities are the most powerful and your more fre-
quently used abilities are slightly weaker. During an adventure,
Wizards
Human
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you are best served in finding the perfect situation to use your
most powerful spells. The right spell at the right moment turns
certain defeat into an easy victory.
A simple crossbow is a simpleton’s tool not worthy of sully-
ing a wizard’s hands. After all, you can generate bolts of arcane
power to smite your foes. Why rely on something as cruel and
inelegant as a crossbow? For melee weapons, you might wield a
staff as a melee weapon in emergencies, but most wizards need
little more than a simple dagger.
Around town, simple robes, a hat, amulet or other item
that signifies your membership in an arcane order broadcast
your power to others and indicate that you should be treated
with respect. On an adventure, you need more practical garb.
Heavier armor is useful only to those too dense to use magic
to protect themselves. Instead, opt for light, cloth armors that
protect you from attacks without weighing you down.
Finding or creating a magical implement to match your spe-
cialty is your highest priority. Such a magical item grants power
to your spells while offering unique abilities in its own right.
Most wizards carry a few such items, to increase their versatil-
ity and to ensure that they carry the right tool for the right job.
Hoard them whenever possible. You’ll never regret keeping
your options open.
Wizards fear wraiths, ghosts, and similar monsters above
other foes, as the party’s fighter cannot easily hold such
insubstantial foes at bay. Agile, fast foes, from fearsome
blackspawn raiders to sneaky goblin skirmishers, force a
wizard to keep an eye on the shadows for a sudden attack. A
surprise attack might the last attack you face. Smart, sneaky
enemies have the greatest chance to outwit your comrades.
Keep an eye out for enemies who are capable of presenting
an intelligent challenge.
Elf wizard casts a spell
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78
—Continued
In the end, you are the most powerful adventurer in the
group but only when you work with their allies as a team.
A lone wizard faces death at the end of foe’s weapon, yet a
wizard alone can call down powers that overshadow any other
adventurer’s attacks. While some wizards sequester themselves
in isolated towers, far from other folk, the mightiest wizards
achieved their great deeds with the help of equally legendary
warriors, clerics, and rogues. Sure, they might not provide the
most intellectually stimulating campfire conversation, but they
do have their uses.
WIZARDS MAKE THINGS GO BOOM
—Stephen Radney-MacFarland
It’s really just that simple. The wizard is, and always has
been, the quintessential battlefield controller. Fireball, light-
ning bolt, meteor swarm, even magic missile—they’re all iconic
wizard spells that deal damage to multiple opponents at a
distance. They are fun, evocative, and the new wizard gets
them in spades.
But the wizard is more than a simple arcane howitzer. The
wizard has always had a huge bag of tricks, and the new wizard
is no different. In previous editions, those trick’s natures were
expressed by way of the schools of magic, and while many of
those tricks endure, the new wizard identifies them by imple-
ments of her art—the orb, staff, or wand.
Wizards who wield an orb f lavor their blasts with terrain
control and manipulation and focus on retributive and percep-
tion effects. If you see a wizard with a staff, you can count on
her magical might smiting you with lines and cones, and you
can expect to go f lying across the battlefield as a consequence
of the spell’s effect. A wand wizard is the truly long-distance
controller who sits behind layers of magic protection—he’s a
hard nut to crack.
But don’t get comfortable thinking that you’ve got a wizard’s
number after you’ve spied his arcane implement. The wizard’s
specialization doesn’t preclude any of the other powers; it
just improves the power and versatility of spells thanks to the
focused implements.
FEATS
—Stephen Radney-MacFarland
Lots of things in D&D are changing, but don’t fret too much:
You’ll still get feats.
Some of the feats will look familiar, but many are just brand
new. And, if you’re playing a wizard, the first thing you’ ll notice
is that there are two types of feats that have gone the way of the
dinosaur—metamagic and item creation feats.
Don’t distress, there’s a method to our madness.
In general, we wanted to stray away from feats that were
conditional on a specific effect. For instance, metamagic feats
applied a condition to an individual spell at a cost (or, for the
nonmagical reading this, Power Attack might change your
numbers round by round). Instead, we went with feats that
apply a benefit once. The things that the feat adjust might
change from level to level in the standard leveling way, but the
benefit the feat grants won’t change, nor will you have to pick
what the feat does round-by-round or even day-by-day. Feats
enhance your character build, while per-round, per-encounter,
and per-day choices sit firmly in the powers section of your
character sheet.
As for item creation, we stuck them in a new area we’re
calling rituals. Wizards get some rituals for free, but you’re
not spending precious feat slots (or experience points) to craft
magic items anymore.
Tief ling wizard
Wizards
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With these two iconic wizard feat types living in other
places, at first blush you may think the wizard has few options.
Not so!
The intent was not to limit choice, but rather to create new
and interesting ones for the wizard (and the other classes).
Feats can increase the potency of arcane powers. Many of
these choices will seem self-evident for the role of the tradi-
tional wizard—feats that increase defenses, feats that limit
the penalties for using powers in melee, feats that increase
speed—but others, called skill feats, add breadth to skills.
Cherry-picking skill feats can enhance the know-it-all nature
wizards exude.
Oh, and here’s something for martial-minded wizard
players (fans of the warmage and the duskblade, listen
up): arcane strikes, power words, and spells of the wizard
don’t have anything like the arcane spell failure of past edi-
tions. And while the wizard starts with very few armor and
weapon proficiencies, feats can expand those choices. While
you’ ll never reach the melee might of the fighter and paladin,
it’s easier to play the controller with the sharp pointy bits
and the tough outer shell that hurls lethal arcane energy
across the battlefield!
But all of this feat goodness isn’t for the wizard alone.
While feats sometimes require a specific race, training in a
skill, or a minimum level, they never require a class. Feats
enhance your character build, whatever it is. You can pick feats
that compliment your build, you can pick feats to play against
type, and you can find feats that create interesting synergies in
the rules. And no feats accomplish the last two choices better
than class training feats.
Each class has a corresponding set of feats that allows other
characters to pick up select class abilities, skill training, and
even powers from another class. Have that idea for the martial
wizard? Take the Fighter Training feats. Maybe you want one
of those archetypal rogues who dabbles in magic. Take either
the Warlock or Wizard Training feats. These feats allow you to
f lavor your character with elements of another class without
diluting your original class’s power and role.
BALANCING THE WIZARD
—Stephen Schubert
When we set out to determine the right power level for each
class, we first had to establish a baseline, independent of any
particular class. Once that was in place, we could discuss the
aspects of each class in relation to that baseline, comparing the
components of a class’s offense, defense, and utility.
The wizard has always been high on the offensive scale
and on the lower end defensively, and much of that f lavor
has been maintained. We set out to preserve the idea that
the wizard is very powerful, with abilities that affect mul-
tiple opponents at once, but he doesn’t last long if the enemy
brutes start wailing on him. Thus, the wizard’s powers
follow our higher curve of output, using spells and abilities
that hit lots of enemies in quick bursts (as opposed to other
high-damage classes like rogues or warlocks that do lots of
damage to a single opponent, or spread their damage out
over a few rounds).
With potent spells and powers, the wizard can clear away
weak minions with fireballs, and he can also control the
actions of multiple opponents through directly targeted control
powers or indirectly by changing the battlefield with walls and
clouds. But where the D&D 3E wizard had many “save or die”
spells in his repertoire, to cast over and over until the opponent
finally failed a save, the new wizard has fewer powers that can
eliminate a worthy foe with a single shot (critical hits not with-
standing). Many of the wizard’s direct control powers affect
targets for a much shorter duration.
Defensively, the wizard is still less sturdy than most of
the other classes. While the new system allows all first level
characters to survive at least one solid hit, the wizard might
not last past the second hit. More so than in 3rd Edition D&D,
the wizard will find it hazardous to cast spells when next to
enemies, which will make him rely a bit more on his allies or
shifting around out of reach.
Dwarf wizard
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80
—Continued
Ultimately, the wizard could end up being the class with
the highest offensive output in the game, but getting to that
level is going to require careful positioning or good tactics
on the part of the player, both to maximize his output and to
insure that he doesn’t get his wizard killed in the process.
ARE SCHOOLS OF MAGIC DEAD?
—Logan Bonner
With 4th Edition Dc×cro×s x Dnnco×s, spells are catego-
rized based on their effects more than their thematic links.
For instance, in D&D 3E Melf ’s acid arrow and scorching ray
both fire rays that deal energy damage, but they come from
different schools because one creates a real object. If you look
at them in terms of their effects, these schools don’t always
mean much as a way to differentiate types of magic. The D&D
4E wizard instead uses different arcane foci that tie to specific
types of effects.
The introduction of foci also led to changes in spells. All
the effects that were useful only outside of combat went over
to rituals, a move that actually made those effects better. More
casters will be using these effects because they can pick up a
ritual and spend a bit of gold to get the effect instead of having
to spend spell slots on spells that aren’t useful in combat.
So where are the schools now?
Abjuration’s long-term wards and restorative effects like
remove disease moved to rituals. There are still plenty of mid-
combat protective spells, especially in the cleric list.
Conjuration’s long-distance teleportation moved to
rituals.
Divination spells have moved almost entirely to rituals.
Enchantment is still around, but expect future classes
to emphasize it more than the classes in the first Player’s
Handbook.
Evocation is all about blowing things up and, since the
wizard fills the controller role, we need more options for blow-
ing things up.
Illusions are common in the wizard’s list. Still, much more
are coming.
Necromancy is the most diminished set of effects, but this
was an intentional change for the good of the game. Save-or-die
effects were too unpredictable, and high-level play was a night-
mare because of them. Negative levels also make the game less
fun, and penalties are now more focused and generally don’t
last longer than the combat encounter.
Transmutation is a school I can’t really understand. What
the heck binds these spells together? Anyway, since this school
is a bit of a grab bag, expect some things to show up and others
to not. You can bet that polymorph won’t be making an appear-
ance (at least, not as a single spell).
So schools have obviously disappeared, but does this really
mean they’re dead? Well, all the coolest spells are still there. A
school is really only dead as its spells. All we did was remove
“school” as a mechanical division. If you want to play an
“abjurer,” you can grab all the defensive spells you want—and
if wall of force seems like abjuration to you, go for it! Removing
the word “school” from our spell vocabulary doesn’t mean the
effects and themes have gone anywhere. Some future classes
will even be based more heavily on past schools. Don’t be
surprised if you see illusionist or conjurer appear as classes or
paragon paths at some point.
EXPERIMENTS IN 3RD EDITION
—Stephen Schubert
Design of the new wizard really started as we began looking at
new ways to express magic in D&D 3rd Edition. Many of those
directions helped us learn what would work best for wizards.
Complete Arcane’s warlock class showed the viability of a
class that could have an always-available at-will magic strike.
While the warlock continued to evolve into its own new class,
the lesson had been learned: Every class should be able to do
something interesting each round, even at the lowest of levels.
The wizard needed to have a power, or better yet a selection
of powers, that he could use every encounter or even every
round. Of course, this thinking was part of the core of the new
system, where every class would be a different mix of at-will,
encounter-based, or daily resources.
We were also looking at the role a class might fill, creating
stronger definition for each class by identifying each one with
a primary role. Complete Mage introduced and discussed the
blaster role, which is the core of the new wizard class. That
same book also further expands on the concept of wizards
with an always-on or at-will ability, through the mechanic of
the Reserve feat, which grant a wizard a minor at-will power
as long as that wizard has an appropriate spell prepared. The
new wizard evolves this concept to give the class an array of
From the Player’s Handbook design draft, notes in
files passed between Andy Collins and Rob Heinsoo:
Hold Person 2 (Hold People) (TD)
AC: I won’t be held responsible for what hap-
pens if we publish a spell called “Hold People.”
RH: People. People Who Hold People. Are the
Luckiest People.
AC: Don’t make me come over there, Heinsoo.
Wizards
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at-will strikes that the wizard can use every round, without the
restriction of requiring a saved spell slot.
These trends speak to the greater issue of extending the
amount of fun players can have, by extending every class’s
resources over many more encounters. While wizards still
have the opportunity to cast (and run out of ) spells, they’ ll
have a few other powers to use much more frequently,
allowing them to continue to contribute even once their
spells run out.
WIZARD ARCANA
—Bruce R. Cordell
While working on the Orcus II team with Rob and James, I
was concerned about wizards losing the f lavor associated with
schools of specialization. I also wanted a way to figure out what
types of rites a wizard could learn. On a treadmill down in the
gym here at the Wizards of the Coast offices, the idea burst
upon me that perhaps wizards should care more about their
implements than their schools, because the implement they
had in hand would determine the spells they could cast. Thus,
instead of spells being divided up by abjuration, transmutation,
and so on, they’d be divided up by the implements required for
their casting.
I returned to the meeting room where Rob, James, and I
were scheduled to meet and dashed off the core concept on
the white board. James arrived first. I couldn’t wait for Rob to
show up, so I gave James a jumbled run down. I explained the
idea of wand, staff, mask, and tome being implements a wizard
would build his spells around. He didn’t shoot me down. Then
Rob arrived, and I gave the same explanation. Rob’s a cautious
guy, and he didn’t grin the maniac grin I had when the idea
came to me on the treadmill, but neither did he dismiss it. We
all talked about the concept for a couple of hours, going over
various permutations. In that meeting, we evolved additional
potential wizard implements, including dagger and familiar.
By the end of the meeting, I was still halfway sure the concept
was dead. Actually, it turned out Rob was coming down with
some sort of horrible, life-sapping virus (it wasn’t an allergy to
milk in his coffee, as he’d hoped), and his enthusiasm was at a
low ebb.
The concept has mutated from what we originally worked
out in that small meeting room that day, and even from what
the Orcus II team delivered to the larger R&D team, but
today I’m gratified to see the wizard using wand, staff, and
orb arcana. I don’t doubt that in some future book additional
arcana will be introduced, including mask, familiar, and even
dagger (Rob’s favorite).
CLASS ROLE
—Stephen Schubert
The wizard is the “controller,” the player character who hits
multiple enemies for lots of damage. He isn’t as good against
a lone target as, say, the rogue or the ranger, but if he gets all
the opponents in a fireball or similar area-effect spell, then his
damage output is unmatched.
There are two key components to every role: offense and
defense. Offensively, a controller’s job is to affect multiple targets,
preferably at range. The classic fireball spell is an iconic example
of the wizard’s role-fulfilling powers, but those powers don’t
have to be directly damaging. Controlling effects like Evard’s
black tentacles or the various wall spells are also ways that the
wizard can affect multiple targets and control the course of a
battle, even when they don’t deal damage.
Defensively, the controller is a bit more vulnerable. In the
wizard’s case, this is expressed by low hit points and little in
the way of armor. As a result, the battlefield position of the
wizard is typically in the back rank, lobbing his strikes and
spells at range. He can also overcome some of his defensive
weaknesses by making himself harder to hit through spells
like displacement or invisibility, or move out of range with
short-range teleports and the like. Of course, choosing these
defensive powers is made at the cost of fewer offensive powers,
a dilemma that’s always been true for the wizard class.
Dwarf
wizard
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Now let’s take a look a some of the other classes we’ve been
experimenting with for Dc×cro×s x Dnnco×s 4th Edition . . .
BARBARIANS
—Mike Mearls
I love barbarians. One of my earliest 3E moments in good die
rolling involved a barbarian rolling a crit with a greatsword,
dropping a foe, and critting on his Cleave attack to drop a
second foe. The words “I rage” are a great part of D&D. At the
time of this writing, barbarians are in draft form, but here’s
what we have so far.
Rage is the heart of every barbarian, and that’s still true in
4E. With the increased customization in the game, barbarians
now have several varieties of rage to choose from. We’ve also
tied barbarians and druids closer together, creating a relation-
ship between them similar to the link between paladins and
clerics. If a paladin is the sword of the faith, the barbarian is
nature’s fury given physical form.
We wanted the barbarian to be more than a fighter who
rages, and to that end we firmly pushed weapon tricks and
mastery into the fighter’s realm. Barbarians still heft axes and
mauls with the best of them, but they now have access to feral,
totemic abilities that make them unique.
On a historical note, my playtest barbarian character used
a rage ability called lightning panther strike to move across a
dungeon chamber and chop down five skeletons in one round.
He also had an unhealthy tendency to follow up strikes from
his axe with a quick bite attack. Barbarians are more feral and,
well, angrier, than ever. All that stuff might not make it into the
final draft, but that’s the direction we’re headed.
BARDS
—Logan Bonner
A master of artistry and social grace, a bard is a leader who
wields magic both dramatic and subtle. Harnessing a natural
talent for creativity (be it song, painting, dance, or oratory), a
bard draws magic from otherworldly patrons that admire the
bard’s work. This is fundamentally different from the relation-
ship other spellcasters have with their power sources. A bard
is not a subservient worshiper like a cleric, nor does he bend
forces to his will like a wizard. The relationship between a bard
and his patrons is one of mutual respect, and the magical gifts
given cannot be taken away.
Though many bards hone their skills through intense study
and practice at bardic colleges, others are free-spirited wander-
ers with inborn creative genius that, though rough around the
edges, is truly marvelous to behold. To most bards, understand-
ing history and lore is essential. Because they are respected as
artists, performers, and sages, bards are accepted in most soci-
eties and can enter doors that are closed to others (especially to
other adventurers).
A bard can be truly inspiring to the rest of his adventuring
party and immensely aggravating to his enemies. With the skill
to fool enemies with illusory magic and to inf luence them with
mental trickery, a bard can make his foes work against them-
selves. The bard makes his enemies distrust their eyes, their
ears, and even their allies. And that is why he’s truly dangerous.
Though many bards are fond of treasure, a bard is a story-
teller at heart. Every expedition is a new tale to spin—and the
show must go on.
DRUIDS
—Mike Mearls
The druid presents an interesting problem for D&D 4E design,
in that the class in 3E covers so much ground. Is the druid the
guy who summons monsters? Is he the guy who transforms
into monsters? Is he a spellcasting healer like a cleric? Many
Other Classes
Human
barbarian
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83
gaming groups consider the D&D 3E druid one of the most
powerful classes in the game, and for good reason. The druid
does a lot of things well, though it takes an experienced player
to see and fully utilize the possibilities inherent in the class.
Moving forward, design identified a few things that made
the druid unique. We expect other classes to cast spells, and
we expect other classes to summon monsters. We don’t expect
many classes to have the ability to turn into raging dire bears
and elementals, so that talent became the foundation on which
the druid is built. The current design for druids allows them
to use wild shape a lot more often, though at a price. Druids
select shapes they can assume in much the same way that other
classes pick spells and maneuvers.
To carry this analogy forward, we designed a variety of
forms to fit different needs. A druid might turn into a hawk to
f ly over an orc camp and spy on the monsters below. He then
turns into a mouse to sneak into the orc king’s tent, then shifts
into bear form to tear the king in half. The druid’s forms are
the primary tools he uses on an adventure. To give the druid
an incentive to walk around in humanoid form, he gains a
selection of nature-themed spells that give him some ranged
firepower and utility abilities.
MONKS
—Logan Bonner
Through dedication and practice, monks become supreme
martial artists, capable of great feats of speed and strength.
What others accomplish with magic and steel, monks can
do with only their bodies and minds. Monks live an ascetic
lifestyle and carry minimal gear (at least compared to other
adventurers). Most are taciturn and disciplined, so they some-
times find it difficult to socialize with their party members.
This might be a liability in society, but it translates to a single-
minded, unf lagging focus in battle.
The typical monk lives in a monastery or as a hermit in
the wilderness. Those who begin adventuring usually do so
to continue the perfection of their bodies and technique.
Some have altruistic ideals and adventure to protect the
weak. A few monks are simply obsessed with being the most
powerful fighters and wander the land seeking out strong
adversaries to defeat.
In battle, no one is faster or more agile than the monk.
After darting across the battlefield, a monk can execute rapid
maneuvers that send his opponent f lying, knock it to the
ground, or stun it into submission. A monk’s defenses are also
strong—an awareness of his own body and his surroundings
lets a monk avoid attacks, and he can channel his ki to heal his
own wounds.
The monk class is still on the horizon, but we know it will
work great in the game’s new structure. Since the monk relies
on mobility, the class will likely be a striker, putting down high
damage with unarmed attacks.
Half ling
druid
Half ling
monk
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84
—Continued
PALADINS
—James Wyatt
In every stage of 4th Edition design, the paladin has been one
of my particular interests. Conceptually, it’s my favorite class.
I love the idea of a noble, virtuous warrior. I want to play Sir
Lancelot (pre-Guinevere), to live the highest ideals of the good
alignment, to strive for the truly exalted cause.
In practice, I hate playing paladins. They live somewhere
between the fighter and the cleric, but they get none of the bonus
feats of the fighter and none of the cool spells of the cleric.
Smite evil, the paladin’s best attack, is limited to a few times
per day and it’s useless against a non-Evil foe. Not only that, it
has a terrible tendency to not work at all when you use it!
A paladin can summon a warhorse that’s pretty much use-
less in a normal dungeon environment, and he or she can use
remove disease a couple of times a week.
Whoop. De. Do.
Early on, I set out to make paladins as cool as I possibly
could. The designs have changed a lot since I started and
gone through hands other than mine, but the result is a
class that will truly stand at the front line of the adventuring
party as a shield wall protecting allies from harm. Paladins
fill much the same role as the fighter, but they do it with
divine power instead of martial skill. They still smite evil,
but they do it with a broad variety of smites that are available
in every encounter.
Paladins have a long and mostly distinguished history in
D&D. With 4th Edition, we’re putting them back on top and
returning them to the glory they deserve.
And I have two more words to whet your appetite: Evil.
Paladins.
RANGERS
—Chris Sims
Precision with bow and blade, sharpness of eye and ear,
communion with nature and its signs—the ranger embodies
all these. Where the rogue keeps to the shadows, you keep
to the backwoods and other dangerous wilds. There, you
guide your friends safely to their destination and run your
enemies down.
Guerilla tactics are your food and drink. You strike hard
and move quickly to evade your foes, all the while setting
them up for another deadly blow. Arrows f ly from your bow as
quickly as your blades f lash, and although you might be better
at one sort of combat over the other, your deadliness with
either mustn’t be underestimated.
Intuition and keen senses can’t be undervalued either.
You feel when danger is about to strike, sometimes turning an
enemy’s seeming advantage into a liability. The surroundings
can tell you where your foes have gone, and your training keeps
you in rapid pursuit. That same agility and speed allows you to
rove the battlefield, slaying at will and avoiding return strikes
with apparent ease.
Reliance on mobility means you need a stout friend to
engage your enemies long enough for you to find the right
angle from which to land a telling blow. Although you’re
doubtless fit and able, your body isn’t as resilient as soldierly
types, nor is it encased in steel armor, so you need healing or
motivation to push forward despite injury and adversity. Your
talents are wasted on rabble, so an ally able to clear the field
of nuisances might be more valuable than any other form of
target designation.
Like attracts like, and as part of an elite team, you shine. In
the dark places of the world, you are the finely honed instrument
that gets the job done.
You are the ranger, and you live for action and adventure.
Other Classes
Half-elf
paladin
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SORCERERS
—Mike Mearls
The sorcerer presents an interesting design challenge in
that the class stands so close to the wizard. In 3E, both classes
use the same spell lists. They differ in how they access those
lists. The magic system in 4E makes that differentiation hard
to carry forward. The design team also wanted to create
clearer, vivid differences between the two classes. Not only do
sorcerers in 4E use different spells, but they utilize a different
method of spellcasting.
The design team posited a class that has a more rudimen-
tary, simplistic style of magic. Sorcerers use inborn talents,
giving them a leg up on wizards when it comes to learning
spells. The magic they use is more art than science, driven
more by a feel for the ebb and f low of energy than by hours of
study and practice.
To capture this f lavor, the design team built mechanics
that ref lect a caster who barely controls the power he wields. A
wizard creates magical effects by carefully reciting a magical
formula. The sorcerer reaches into the magical energies that
burn within him and lets them loose on the world with little
real control.
The power wielded by a sorcerer is powerful enough that
even after a spell is done, ambient energy swirls around him.
A sorcerer who blasts you with a cold spell is protected by a
small, swirling cloud of snow and ice for a short time. One who
unleashes a fireball bursts into f lames that scorch enemies who
try to attack. The sorcerer is one with his magic, and he (in
some cases quite literally) wears it like a second skin.
SWORDMAGES
—Richard Baker
The intersections of character roles and power sources natu-
rally suggest a number of interesting character classes that
have never really been seen in the Dc×cro×s x Dnnco×s game
before. The swordmage is one of these—an arcane character
who fills the role of defender. Like the fighter or the paladin,
he seeks to stand toe-to-toe with the monsters and draw their
attacks to his own superior defenses, protecting the more
vulnerable members of the adventuring party.
Magic is the armor of the swordmage. He relies on innate
magical wards and spell-shields instead of heavy armor. He
might be an elf bladesinger, graceful and deadly; a dwarf runic
warrior who infuses his axe with words of ancient power; a
sly tief ling dervish who whirls through the thick of battle,
guarded by wards of infernal fire; a wandering seeker after
knowledge who leads an ascetic life; or a noble-born eldritch
knight of a magical empire, raised in an exotic tradition of
arcane chivalry.
Dragonborn
sorcerer
Elf ranger
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86
—Continued
Where the fighter learns powerful weapon stunts and the
paladin uses divinely inspired smites to deal damage, the
swordmage uses a set of arcane power words to perform his
astounding feats of arms. With his magic a swordmage can
make his blade burst into f lames or crackle with lightning;
he can infuse his limbs with a sudden burst of fearsome,
sorcerous strength; or he can even summon ghostly blades
around his weapons that mirror his movements and strike
together as one.
The swordmage is no wizard; very few of his powers allow
him to attack at range. He must meet his enemies in melee,
blade to blade, but there no other character matches his perfect
blend of skill at arms and skill at magic.
WARLORDS
—Richard Baker
The warlord is a distant descendant of the marshal, a class
introduced in Miniatures Handbook, but the warlord is a
much broader and more complete character concept with a
wide array of powerful abilities at his command. The war-
lord does not rely on magic; he is a martial character. The
leadership qualities of a warlord vary, but they’re all from
his own personal power.
Above all, the warlord is a skilled battle leader. He
might be a bloodthirsty barbarian warchief; a pious knight-
commander in a militant order; an ambitious nobleman
seeking fame and fortune; a graceful elf firstblade; a calculat-
ing mercenary captain; a half ling marchwarden charged with
the defense of the clan’s holdings; or a courageous marshal of
the borderlands who fights to stem the tide of monsters ravag-
ing the frontier. Regardless of his race or background, he is
a skillful warrior with an uncanny gift for leadership. Even
young and untried warlords have greatness in them and are
born leaders.
Warlords are resilient, front-line leaders who signifi-
cantly increase the party’s damage output by using powers
that help other characters to fight better. In addition, they
help others to recover from damage and shield them from
harm almost as well as clerics do. But their distinguishing
characteristic is an unprecedented control of battlefield
positioning. Warlords are tactical masters who can reshape
the lines of battle in a way that no other D&D character has
ever been able to.
Other Classes
Tief ling warlord
FEATHER ME YON OAF!
—Richard Baker
I often use placeholder names in feat and power design
until I figure out exactly what I want to call something.
For example, in Book of Nine Swords I came up with a
Tiger Claw power I simply called Tear His Damn Head Off.
But the single most egregious example from the Orcus
design process was the warlord rally I called Feather Me
Yon Oaf. Basically, the warlord uses the power, and every-
one in the party gets an immediate opportunity to yank
out a missile weapon and shoot the target creature the
warlord designates—in other words, “shoot that guy for
me” or “Feather me yon oaf!”
620_21648 78-96.indd 86 10/1/07 3:36:22 PM
87
As someone who tried out a warlord in playtests,
I can attest that I chose this power purely for the
opportunity to shout “Feather me yon oaf!” at
least once per session. I have no idea if the name
will persist into the final edition, but it cracked me
up every single time.
—Michele Carter
Human warlord
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88
Tiers of Adventure
—Mike Mearls
Tiers are one of those things that existed in D&D 3E without
any official acknowledgement. Anyone who played the game
from 1st level on up to double digits likely noticed a subtle,
continuous shift in the game. Monster damage grew high
enough that low hit point characters could take only a hit or
two before going down. Saving throws became more impor-
tant, as more monsters had save or die effects. Once teleport
came into the game, the PCs could go anywhere they wanted,
helping to make traditional dungeons more difficult to run.
Wands became affordable, allowing a smart party access
to unlimited healing, f light, and invisibility. In short, D&D
changes across the levels that it covers. The tier system seeks
to quantify those changes and define the roles of adventurers
across the levels.
HEROIC LEVELS
—Mike Mearls
The Heroic tier covers that first portion of play, where adven-
turers are still gaining the basic abilities offered by their
classes. The adventurers are only beginning to put some seri-
ous space between themselves and the average person.
The Heroic tier is firmly entrenched in the classic tropes of
low-level D&D. The experience is aimed at the “real” world of
D&D, in the sense of locations that are analogous to areas in
the real world. Human cities, dwarven strongholds, dungeons
found beneath ruined castles, and so on are all typical vistas
for Heroic tier. In essence, if you took the real world, added
magic, and sprinkled dungeons beneath the earth, you’d have
the basic set up for the Heroic tier. While you still face strange
monsters and enter bizarre dungeons, you return home to a
house in the midst of a city or town between adventures. Your
travels rarely take you to other worlds or places where magic
has utterly warped reality.
At this point in your adventuring career, the Underdark is
a scary place that you might hear rumors about, but you’ll go
there only as you approach 10th level. You might fight troglo-
dytes or grimlocks who emerge from the depths, but a single
drow warrior or wizard poses a significant threat. You might
take part in a short expedition to the uppermost fringes of the
Underdark, but its deepest recesses and places such as the
Vault of the Drow are likely beyond your reach.
You can count on facing pit traps, skeletons and zombies,
orc hordes, squads of well-drilled hobgoblin soldiers, and end-
less hordes of kobolds. The classic humanoids of D&D, from
goblins to gnolls, stand as your primary enemies. The design
team has attempted to create more f lavorful and mechanical
differences between these creatures, creating a different feel
for an adventure that pits you against a gnoll tribe or a goblin
horde. Some humanoids, most notably gnolls and troglodytes,
received a significant increase in power. Just as goblins and
kobolds are ideal adversaries for beginning adventurers, near
the end of the Heroic tier troglodytes and gnolls are good
off-the-shelf choices for villains. Gnolls, with their link to the
demon prince Yeenoghu, have a number of Abyssal allies who
make them tough opponents. Troglodytes inhabit the outer-
most reaches of the Underdark and are likely the first foes you
face if you enter that realm. Orcs and hobgoblins are balanced
at the middle of the tier, giving them the f lexibility to fight
against adventurers from 1st to 10th level and even beyond.
The dragons you face at this tier are the youngest speci-
mens of their kind. They’ve only just begun to master their
Human fighter,
heroic tier
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special abilities. A well-equipped party that takes the right
precautions can probably deal with one as long as they are not
completely outclassed in terms of level. Don’t get used to this
situation. Once you hit Paragon tier, a dragon has so many
advantages that even a well-prepared party is in for the fight
of its life.
You face the lowliest of demons and devils in Heroic tier,
creatures such as imps who are clearly subordinate to the evil
humanoids and villains you face. A lone bearded devil might
serve as the ringleader of the diabolic cult that you’re fighting
against. Don’t expect an easy fight. If you see a vrock or a simi-
lar mid-tier demon, run for your life.
Heroic tier is the stuff of classic dungeon crawls, a party
of adventurers gathering in the Inn of the Welcome Wench
before setting off for an expedition to the ruined moathouse
outside of Hommlett. The Caves of Chaos, the dungeons of
the slavelords, and the upper levels of the Temple of Ele-
mental Evil are all iconic Heroic tier locations. These places
were either once great shrines to evil that have fallen and
now seek to restore their status, or they are new outposts of
evil that have only recently taken root. In any case, many of
the quests you go on during the Heroic tier focus on taking
out minions of evil who pose a direct threat to a limited
area of the world, such as a single town. You might catch
hints of greater, cosmic evils or world-spanning conspira-
cies, but at this tier you don’t yet have the power needed to
confront them.
The classic dungeon crawl, with the party slowly making its
way down labyrinthine dungeon passages, stands as the iconic
example of an Heroic tier session. Pack your torches, keep a 10-
foot pole handy, and stock up on iron spikes and rations. You’ll
need them whether you delve into the depths of a dungeon or
venture into the wilds outside of town.
When it comes to urban adventuring, you are likely to face
off against wererats and doppelgangers. Criminal conspiracies,
hidden cults, and other threats to the city serve as typical vil-
lains, with some of these groups tying into planar enemies and
creatures from beyond the world.
At this tier, you can count on finding +1 longswords, +1
suits of armor and shields, and potions of healing in treasure
hoards. In a larger town or city, a skilled smith is capable of
forging such goods if you have enough money to afford them.
For mightier goods, you must venture into the largest cities in
the world.
Dwarf paladin,
paragon tier
Half ling warlord,
epic tier
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Tiers of Adventure
—Continued
PARAGON LEVELS
—Andy Collins
When a character reaches 11th level, he crosses a significant
threshold. No longer a mere adventurer, he is now known as a
paragon hero.
Paragon-level adventurers see the bigger picture. It’s not
enough for a paragon just to protect a town from evil cultists,
or to root out the band of ogres preying on travelers. Paragon
adventurers are the type of folks you call on to save the king-
dom from an army of giants massing in the mountains, or to
uncover the fiendish plot to overthrow the empress and replace
her with a pawn of Asmodeus. They’re also the adventurers
brave enough to enter the trap-filled tomb of a deadly lich, or
to take out that red dragon that’s been demanding sacrifices for
the last five generations.
Paragon adventurers battle many of the D&D game’s might-
iest classic monsters—giants, demons and devils, beholders,
mind f layers, rakshasas, yuan-ti, and, of course, dragons—along
with a few new or updated foes, such as rune carved eidolons,
elemental archons of fire and ice, and the fomorians, the
dreaded tyrants of the darkest caverns of the Feywild. They
venture ever farther from familiar locales, exploring the
gloomy reaches of the Shadowfell and delving deep into the
Abyss to battle their enemies.
During these levels, characters further specialize their
talents, differentiating themselves from others of the same
class. The paths followed by two paragon-level fighters in the
same party might be as different as night and day. Every path
provides a wealth of abilities and powers; some fine-tune
your existing strengths, while others open up entirely new
options in combat. Overall, however, these new talents have
a very simple aim: to make you even better at doing what you
do best.
From this specialization comes a certain level of fame and
notoriety. Locals might recognize Jarvis the fighter from that
time he helped the townsfolk of Great Rock with their stirge
infestation, but mention Jarvis the Vigilant Defender in any
tavern in the Western Province and tongues start wagging.
“Wasn’t he one of those folks who stopped the goblin siege
of Blackmere City?”
“Yup. I hear he staked that vampire who’d turned Spirodon
into a town of zombies, too.”
“Don’t forget that gigantic, slimy demon that burrowed
up in the middle of the city. He killed that thing right quick,
he did.”
From the arcane archer to the veiled assassin, the paragon-
level character aims to make a name for himself (or herself )
by showing everyone that he’s the best there is at what he does.
These levels, then, represent a testing ground, a crucible that
lies between the life of the average dungeon delver and that
of the immortal epic hero. If your battle captain or mystic
theurge has what it takes to survive this ordeal and prove his
worth, even the grandest secrets of reality will soon be within
your grasp.
EPIC LEVELS
—Bruce Cordell
D&D has always contained the seeds for high-level play. Did
you, like my friends and I, choose gods from 1st Edition’s
Deities & Demigods book to fight each other? Those were some
epic battles indeed.
The thing is, all previous editions of the game have added
Epic level support only after the core rules were out the door.
No matter how great these efforts, support for high-level
play in products not specifically designed as such was nil to
patchy. Therefore, only a fraction of the players ever routinely
advanced a character beyond 13th level.
With the new edition, we bring Epic level play into the core
experience. Every player can run a character from 1st to 30th
level, and during the final ten levels of play, they shake the pil-
lars of heaven and hell to achieve their epic destiny.
Your character’s epic destiny describes the mythic arche-
type you aspire to achieve, perhaps from the moment you began
adventuring. Whether you’re a wizard who dreams of assum-
ing the mantle of an archmage or a fighter finally realizing
your previous lives as an eternal hero, your epic destiny is what
you were born to become.
Only adventuring heroes have epic destinies; average folks
are just not fated for such cosmic prominence. On the other
You can choose your friends. And you can choose
your destiny. But you can’t choose your friends’
epic destinies.
—James Wyatt, March 2006
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91
hand, player characters, by definition, can and should expect
wonderful, majestic events to populate their future, if they can
survive long enough to grasp greatness.
Each epic destiny defines your lasting impact on the world
or even the universe; how people forever afterward remember
and talk about you.
Your epic destiny ensures your name and exploits will live
on forever.
Compared to a class or a paragon path, an epic destiny
grants few benefits: the abilities gained at these levels are
extraordinary. Certain laws of the universe work differently for
you . . . or perhaps don’t apply to you at all.
Perhaps most important, your epic destiny describes your
character’s exit from the world (and from the campaign),
which occurs after you’ve completed your final quest. Each
epic destiny provides a clear and meaningful reason why,
after so many adventures, you finally take your leave of the
mortal realm . . . and where you go when you leave. Will you
found an arcane academy, join a pantheon, or become rein-
carnated anew?
PARAGON PATHS AND EPIC DESTINIES
—Logan Bonner
The prestige class is dead. Long live the paragon path!
We have new ways to expand on your character at higher
levels. You’ ll pick up a paragon path at 11th level and it will
carry you through 20th. At 21st, your epic destiny kicks in
and you’ ll become a legend. In some ways they’re similar to
prestige classes (and a few prestige classes have made the
jump to paragon paths), but they’re much cooler because
you don’t give up anything. As you’re leveling up in your
main class, you’re also gaining abilities from your paragon
path or epic destiny. At the same time the requirements are
much simpler; they’re easier to understand and won’t make
you jump through hoops.
The first Player’s Handbook design team consisted of Rich
Baker, Dave Noonan, and myself. The concepts of paragon
paths and epic destinies were out there, but it was up to us to
determine the way they would work. We came up with a set
progression for each with the idea that everybody would be
getting, say, a per-encounter power at the same time. That way,
they’d be easier to design and DMs could mix, match, and
tweak to get paragon paths that fit their campaigns. We also
determined to loosen up the restrictions prestige classes had.
If we want you to be a wizard for a certain path, we’re going to
tell you so.
The next step was coming up with a list of ones we wanted
in the Player’s Handbook. We planned to include twelve para-
gon paths, so we saw that if we had each path based on two
classes, each class would lead to three paths. (This was really
just the basis. Most paths are quite broad, but we made sure
each one appealed strongly to at least two classes.) Quite a few
old favorites came along (though they might look pretty differ-
ent), but new ones like the weapon master, prince of knaves,
and cavalier look really great and will let you play the char-
acter you’ve really wanted to be all this time. You want to be
Robin Hood? No problem.
We divided the paths up to get four each. I picked up the
cleric/paladin, paladin/fighter, fighter/ranger, and wizard/
ranger paths. Dave grabbed all the, as he would say, “evil-
curious” paragon paths. I’m not saying Dave is evil . . . but he
does cackle maniacally on a regular basis.
Epic destinies are a smaller group, but each one gives you
some huge benefits. Only a few are planned for the Player’s
Handbook, but when you have the option to serve as the
right-hand man to a god, become an undying warrior, or call
dragons with a wave of your hand, more than a few choices
will make your head explode in a burst of awesome. By the
time you finish your epic destiny, you’ ll be stomping down
all challengers, breaking rules of science, and odds are you’ ll
be immortal.
Human warlord,
epic tier
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92
The Next Word: DDI
—Bill Slavicsek
As we come to the end of this first look at the making of the
4th Edition of the Dc×cro×s x Dnnco×s game, I thought I’d
take a moment to say a few words about the companion to
our physical products—the digital Dungeons & Dragons Insider.
Instead of saying the same thing all over again, I’ve decided
to reprint what appeared on D&D Insider when it went live on
August 16, 2007 . . .
& (AMPERSAND)
I always thought we should have a magazine called “&”. After
all, it worked so well for “Dungeon” and “Dragon” that it just
seemed to me that we were losing an opportunity to make use
of the bit that brings it all together. So, until we figure out what
to actually do with that recognizable little ampersand, I’m
going to use it as the identifier for my regular feature here at
D&D Insider.
I’m Bill Slavicsek. I’ve been the R&D Director for the
Dc×cro×s x Dnnco×s game since Wizards of the Coast
acquired the company. Before that, I was a Creative Director
and Game Designer with TSR, Inc. And way back when, I ran
the creative portions of West End Games. Over the years, I’ve
worked on roleplaying games, board games, computer games,
miniatures games, novels, and nonfiction books of all kinds,
and you can see my work on everything from Star Wars to rzo
Morrn× to D&D. I’m going to use this space to regularly talk
to you about things related to D&D from the unique perspec-
tive of my Director’s chair here at WotC. Let’s start out by
talking about 4th Edition D&D and D&D Insider.
At GenCon this week, we announced that the 4th Edition
of the Dc×cro×s x Dnnco×s game will debut in May 2008.
We also announced that for the first time, the D&D game
would consist of four integral and integrated parts. In addition
to the physical products—the core rulebooks, supplements,
adventures, miniatures, and accessories—the D&D experience
would be enhanced by robust Community features (powered
by Gleemax.com), a fully integrated Organized Play program
that will offer benefits to convention and home play alike, and
the digital initiative we’re calling D&D Insider.
Why 4th Edition and why now? Because the time was right.
My R&D team has been watching the play environment since
the release of the 3.5 rules, listening to what you, the play-
ers, have been telling us. Two years ago, I assembled a team of
designers, led by Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, and James Wyatt,
to review all the data we’ve been collecting and see if we could
make the d20 Game System (the engine that powers the D&D
game) better, more intuitive, and more fun. When I saw the
first expressions of that effort, I knew we could make D&D
better, stronger, faster, more fun. We could rebuild it. We could
take the d20 Game System we all know and love and rocket it
to the next level.
At the same time, we also began imagining a robust and
exciting suite of digital features that could enhance and com-
plement the roleplaying game. It became clear to me that we
had two winning directions that would be even more powerful
when we combined them, and that’s when we made the deci-
sion to move forward with D&D 4th Edition.
The future (only nine months away!) contains the same
D&D we all play on a regular basis. It’s still going to be a table-
top roleplaying game. It’s still set in a medieval fantasy world
of magic and monsters. It’s still the d20 Game System. But the
rulebooks appear more vibrant, more visually stunning, and
much easier to use. The game mechanics have been amped up
to eliminate the game-stoppers, accentuate the fun factors, and
make play faster and more exciting. In the future (now only
eight months, 29 days, 23 hours, and 50 minutes from now!)
D&D Insider provides its members with immediate access
to Dragon Magazine and Dungeon Magazine, to enhanced and
expanded content tied to the newest physical book products,
to an amazing suite of digital tools to make Dungeon Master
preparation and campaign management easier to handle, to a
Character Creator that provides not only an interactive char-
acter sheet but a visualizer that lets you determine the exact
look of the characters you create. And, D&D Insider provides
a digital D&D Game Table that turns the Internet into your
kitchen table. This amazing application, which we’ll talk more
about as the weeks go on, allows you to supplement your face-
to-face gaming 24/7, helps you find a group to game with if you
don’t happen to have a face-to-face group, or lets you hook up
with gaming buddies who long ago scattered to the four winds.
Take a look at the prototype movie we showed at GenCon to get
a first taste of the D&D Game Table.
Wow. There’s a lot more that I want to share with you, but
I’ve already exceeded my allotted word count for this first
column.
Keep playing!
Bill Slavicsek is the R&D Director for Roleplaying Games, Minia-
tures, and Book Publishing at Wizards of the Coast. All of the game
designers, developers, editors, book editors, and D&D Insider content
managers working on Dungeons & Dragons, Star Wars, and the
WotC Publishing Group report into Bill’s R&D team.
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Dwarf concept art
Elf ranger
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94
Art Gallery
Human wizard
Elf primal blaster
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95
Elven weapons
Shifter ranger
Dwarf rogue
620_21648 78-96.indd 95 10/1/07 3:36:33 PM
Look For More
4th Edition Secrets and Previews in...
All trademarks are property of Wizards of the Coast, Inc. © 2007 Wizards.
TM
wizards.com/dnd
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Compiled and Edited by Michele Carter

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Monster Manual. Box 707 Renton WA 98057-0707 +1-800-324-6496 EUROPEAN HEADQUARTERS Hasbro UK Ltd Caswell Way Newport. Senior Game Developer) Christopher Perkins (Story Design and Development Manager. & LATIN AMERICA Wizards of the Coast. Concept Artist) David Griffith (Concept Artist) Todd Lockwood (Concept Artist) Lee Moyer (Concept Artist) Arnie Swekel (Concept Artist) Eric Deschamps (Interior Artist) Wayne England (Interior Artist) Ralph Horsley (Interior Artist) Howard Lyon (Interior Artist) Steve Prescott (Interior Artist) ® This W C game product contains no Open Game Content. Miniatures. in the U. D&D. Inc. BELGIUM ’t Hofveld 6D 1702 Groot-Bijgaarden Belgium +32 2 467 3360 620-21648740-001-EN ISBN: 978-0-7869-4801-7 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 First Printing: December 2007 D D . PACIFIC.A. d20 System. CANADA. Senior Game Designer) Gwendolyn Kestrel (Freelance Coordinator) Mike Mearls (Mechanical Development Team Lead. P. Dungeon Master’s Guide. organizations. Senior Game Designer) and Bill Slavicsek (R&D Director. Inc.S.. Advanced Game Designer) Andy Collins (System Design and Development Manager.com/d20.S. Visit our website at www.com/dnd .A. No portion of this work may be reproduced in any form without written permission. Any similarity to actual people.S. Senior Editor) Contributors Richard Baker (Senior Game Designer) Logan Bonner (Game Designer) Bruce R. places.wizards. all other Wizards of the Coast product names. Printed in the U. Cynda Callaway (Production Managers) U. Gwent NP9 0YH GREAT BRITAIN Please keep this address for your records WIZARDS OF THE COAST. Cordell (Advanced Game Designer) Rob Heinsoo (Mechanical Design Team Lead. or events is purely coincidental. d20. ASIA..O. Inc. and their respective logos are trademarks of Wizards of the Coast. Any reproduction or unauthorized use of the material or artwork contained herein is prohibited without the express written permission of Wizards of the Coast. Player’s Handbook. Wizards Presents. This product is a work of fiction.wizards. ©2007 Wizards of the Coast. Roleplaying Games. Daniel Reeve (Alphabet Design) Emi Tanji (Graphic Designer) Erin Dorries (Graphic Production Specialist) Sven Bolen (Image Technician) Shari Overbay. Inc. To learn more about the Open Gaming License and the d20 System™ License. This material is protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America. Advanced Game Developer) David Noonan (Game Designer) Stephen Radney-MacFarland (Associate Game Developer) Stephen Schubert (Game Developer) Chris Sims (Game Designer) Matthew Sernett (Game Designer) Rodney Thompson (Associate Game Designer) James Wyatt (Story Design Team Lead. Book Publishing) with Stacy Longstreet (Senior Art Director) William O’Connor (Cover Illustrator.CREDITS Compiler and Editor Michele Carter (Editing Team Lead. and other countries. W C . please visit www.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Expanding the Sweet Spot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 Rogues. . . . . . 12 Artist’s Commentary . . . . . . . . 50 Celestials . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Leveling Up . . . . . . .34 Elves. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 Drow . . . . . . . . 50 Warforged . .90 Epic Levels. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44 Other Races . . . . . . 10 Overview . .28 Eladrins . 82 Barbarians . . . . . . . . . . . . .40 Tieflings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .84 Rangers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .94 Dragonborn fighter 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Creating a New Logo . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 Warlords . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Clerics . . . . . . . . Born of Ice . . . . . . . . . . . 52 One Progression Instead of Four . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Born of Fire. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Every Class Gets Powers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .CONTENTS D&D and the Birth of a New Edition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Longswords and Lightsabers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Heroes in the World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82 Bards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .86 Tiers of Adventure . 14 Power Sources . . . . 82 Druids. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Re-imaging the Look of D&D . . . . . . . . . 50 The Trouble with Gnomes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Dragonborn . . . . . . . . . . . 6 4th Edition D&D. . . . . . .64 Warlocks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Identifying Class Roles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 Swordmages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83 Monks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .88 Heroic Levels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83 Paladins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .92 & (Ampersand) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Choosing the Iconic Races . . . . .24 Dwarves . . . . . . . . . . 51 Fixing Level Adjustment . . . . . . . . . . 10 Glimpses of Personnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Classes Overview . . . . . . . . . 92 Art Gallery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .54 Fighters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 4th Edition Design Timeline . . . . . . . .84 Sorcerers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Design Guideposts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .90 Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies . .88 Paragon Levels . . . . 8 The Process of Re-Creation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Humans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Wizards . 76 Other Classes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36 Halflings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91 The Next Word: DDI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

And we’re revealing a number of secrets behind the newest parts of 4th Edition. So. But it’s not perfect. Bear in mind that as I write this. Its companion volume (Wizards Presents: Worlds and Monsters) deals with creatures. I start thinking about the first campaign I plan to run using the new rules. We had the design tenets document that I prepared to guide us in our explorations. these were simply thought experiments. The true impetus for change was you. and once you see the full scope of the new edition of the game. and things will change between now and then. What we did have was the commitment of the company to allow us to explore options and make a recommendation. too. Along the way. Sure. we also came up with the idea for D D I . We came up with all kinds of possibilities. world dynamics. This exciting suite of digital tools for players and Dungeon Masters was just too powerful a concept to try to shoehorn the existing d20 Game System around it. You helped us plan the new design. And we had the tenacity to see if we could make the game and play experience better than it is under 3rd Edition. who provided all kinds of invaluable feedback through message boards. then I was going to recommend placing 4th Edition on the schedule. Also. Every time I gaze at the new concept art.dndinsider. But we’re not showing you everything. Enjoy this preview of 4th Edition. If we could honestly come to the table with a better game. and look at the amazing artwork. Thanks for your help. Check out www. We’re showing some of the cool stuff.D&D and the Birth of a New Edition —Bill Slavicsek New editions of games come at the most unexpected times. We could greatly reduce and perhaps even eliminate completely the parts of the game that get in the way of the fun. as well as a look behind the scenes so that you can get a sense of what went into the making of the new edition. more intuitive. flip through this preview book. We still have months of work before we send the core rules to the printers. Instead. surveys. We could make the game faster. 4th Edition is still a work in progress. and we’re not spoiling all of the wonder and surprises waiting for you in the new Player’s Handbook. and other player-related elements of the 4th Edition of D&D. for years now. You (the collective D&D fan) were the honorary extra member of the design team.com for more information and up-to-the-minute details on 4E. We’re very excited about how the new edition is shaping up. The 3rd Edition game mechanics—what we call the d20 Game System—is perhaps the most robust and fun roleplaying game system ever designed. And keep playing D&D! 6 . and things of interest to Dungeon Masters and players who like to know how the world of D&D works. This volume covers classes and races and other things of interest to all players of the game. We’re still hip-deep in playtesting and fine tuning. BORN OF ICE Yes. read the “making of ” essays written by my staff. and stronger. When the two concepts merged—a new edition and a new digital initiative—we knew it was time to start planning the 4th Edition of D&D. For the most part. people have been predicting the arrival of the 4th Edition of the D D game. We’re discussing some of our thought processes and design goals. we’re not going out of our way to explain everything in these two volumes. and we’re having a terrific time playtesting the new rules. We had no mandate or specific timeline for 4th Edition. In the meantime. we believe you’re going to feel that way. we knew we had to rebuild the game to take full advantage of this amazing new initiative. Instead. or impromptu discussions that broke out wherever we traveled. and you helped us make D&D better. the D&D players. You showed us what was working and what wasn’t. take this book as what it is—a snapshot of the 4th Edition design and development process at this point in time (August 2007). that’s what we began to do. whether during seminars. 4TH EDITION D&D No. That’s when we began to examine different scenarios for how we might approach the process. starting in May 2005. we’re inviting you into the Wizards of the Coast R&D department for a sneak preview of the classes. from minor tweaks to complete make-overs using a totally different game system. races. This book is a preview of the new edition of the game. tournament play. and as we move deeper into the edition. more obvious to players and Dungeon Masters alike. and many of the specifics are still in flux. not really. It debuts in May 2008 with the release of the new Player’s Handbook and the premiere of D D I . incorrectly. We can’t imagine ever playing D&D in any other way. and personal interaction at events. faster. the 4th Edition of D&D is coming. The reality is that my R&D team didn’t start seriously discussing the notion of the next edition of D&D until sometime in early 2005. BORN OF FIRE. community forums. the kind of exploratory design that we undertake in R&D all the time. And that makes me smile. So. story and background. its flaws and funending complexities become more pronounced. We knew we could improve the game.

Dwarf warlock. concept art and final 7 .

since Rich Baker had already been treating the Book of Nine Swords as a “powers for fighters” project. They settle on Andy Collins as the bassist. and rules. our mission was to experiment with something new.5. but the experiment was worth it. and Jesse Decker (Development Manager) interview R&D staff to form a 4th Edition design team possessing complementary strengths and a high probability of working together in harmony. Follow some new design directions suggested by the development team. 8 . Design Workshop: May 2005 I didn’t want to tackle serious design work until Andy.5. Mike Mearls. Mission: Determine whether the Orcus I design (as we named it) was headed in the right direction. Mike Donais. Mission: Our instructions were to push the mechanics down interesting avenues. Bruce Cordell. Good stuff from this phase included the importance of each player character’s role in the party. we understood 3. and Rob Heinsoo.4th Edition Design Timeline —Rob Heinsoo I got to level up as the Lead Designer on the 4th Edition of the D D roleplaying game.” We weren’t looking for the one true path from the start—we took the time to imagine D&D games that took a different slant than any of us would have expected. It was a natural fit. James Wyatt. the potential for three tiers of play taking us up to level 30. Chris Perkins (Design Manager).3. powers for all the classes. Orcus I: June through September 2005 Team: James Wyatt. We spiraled through conversations about games we loved. In the end. This recommendation accompanied a rather difficult stunt accomplished in the middle of the development process: Baker. and I understood each other. Outcome: We delivered a document that included eight classes we thought might appear in the first Player’s Handbook or other early supplements. The effort required to splice the mechanics into 3rd Edition were a bit extreme. I stoked our brainstorms by referring to all good ideas as “D&D the way they play it on some alternate world. Second Orcus (Orcus II) Design Phase: February to March 2006 Tief ling rogue Team: Rob Heinsoo (lead). not to stick too close to the safe home base of D&D v. and Mearls translated current versions of the Orcus I mechanics into a last-minute revision of Tome of Battle: Book of Nine Swords. Outcome: The first development team tore everything down and then rebuilt it. Donais. Mission: Finish monsters and other areas that were weak in the first draft. monsters. Andy Collins. Make recommendations for the next step. As an R&D department. Pre-Design: Early 2005 Bill Slavicsek (Director of R&D for D&D). Rich Baker. and the pivot points of D&D. Design Work. it recommended that we continue in the new direction Orcus I had established. game mechanics that worked or flopped. and a shared conviction that we wanted to create a system that provided powers for all classes. and me on lead guitar. and Rob Heinsoo. First Development Team: October 2005 through February 2006 Team: Robert Gutschera (lead). Here’s the timeline of events as I experienced it. James. James Wyatt on vocals.

and Bruce Cordell. and Matt Sernett. several weeks of playtesting left most of us unconvinced with where we were going.Outcome: After the design phase ended. Stacy Longstreet. Andy Collins. Writing Phase: April 2 to May 11. The system wasn’t working the way we wanted it to work. Steve Schubert. carve separate space for each type of item. not that anyone would have guessed that beforehand. Rich Baker. Developers: Andy Collins (lead). Mearls and Baker figured out what was going wrong with the design. Steve Schubert.5 by dealing properly with powers and resources that could be used at-will. Developers: Mike Mearls (lead). Semisolid rules set. Rich Baker. Mission: Draft a new vision for the world and the story behind the D&D game. and Jesse Decker. Outcome: Oodles of powers. elite monsters. Flywheel Team: May 2006 to September 2006 Team: Rob Heinsoo (lead). Mission: Move closer to 3. This led to ongoing playtesting using in-house groups and the personal game groups of most of the R&D staff that continues to the end of the year. notable for its new understanding of civilized portions of the D&D world as points of light threatened by enveloping darkness filled with monsters and other threats. Outcome: The team turned over a 600-plus-page working rules set on deadline and to specifications. or once per day. but hadn’t successfully parsed the necessary distinctions between powers that were always available and powers that had limited uses. Outcome: A first draft of the story bible.5 handled well. Outcome: A playable draft that went over to the teams that would actually write the Player’s Handbook and the Monster Manual. and Stephen Radney-McFarland. Same Timing as Flywheel Team: Rich Baker (lead). 9 . Mike Mearls. Outcome: More magic items than our initial publications can use! Monster Manual Creation: Same Timing as Above Designers: James Wyatt (lead). We’d concentrated too much on the new approach without properly accounting for what 3. Mission: Recommend a way forward. We’d provided player characters with constantly renewing powers. Matt Sernett. Full-On Playtesting: June 2007 Mission: With Dave Noonan handling the reins. and Rob Heinsoo. Matt Sernett. James Wyatt. One Development Week: Mid-April 2006 Team: Robert Gutschera. Scramjet Team. and Jesse Decker. make good on the goals with playable mechanics. Player’s Handbook Creation: October 2006 to April 2007 Designers: Rich Baker (lead). Mission: Write prose manuscripts in the style we want to use for the finished products. 2007 Story Team: James Wyatt (lead). Outcome: In what I’d judge as the most productive week of the process to date. Mission: Achieve design and development consensus on the direction each role and class should take. and Chris Sims (with advice and general nosiness from Bill Slavicsek). Mission: Design all monsters. and solo monsters. Human wizard Happy New Things: Understandings of monster roles. David Noonan. Ed Stark. Mission: Re-create the vision for what magic items accomplish in the new design. Mike Donais. Michele Carter. once per encounter. Mike Mearls. all designers and developers and many other WotC employees do nothing but playtest D&D 4E for three solid weeks. Magic Item Revision: May 2007 Mechanics Design: Rob Heinsoo. Logan Bonner. Mike Mearls. and David Noonan. Mike Mearls. and Chris Perkins. Bruce Cordell. and design them all. David Noonan.

” I also confess that Flywheel didn’t always phrase its attempt at simplicity in ways that were easy to follow. We’ve gained a few levels during the 4th Edition process. Months later. It’s going to help us in the years of D&D to come. When I did new design work systems like death and dying and healing. Think smarter. OVERVIEW The one-week ORCUS development team realized that Orcus II.The Process of Re-Creation —Rob Heinsoo Flywheel was the code name for the mechanical design team phase that followed Orcus II. I looked at Mike’s designs of the barbarian and the druid and thought. We drafted the warlock in his place. classes. Jesse Decker usually said something like. Dave Noonan tackled many of the strategic vision questions. Andy worked tirelessly to either get everything right or understand all the angles on each problem. Thinking back to Flywheel days is a bit like remembering the early days of a long-running campaign. Mike Mearls. and monsters that we handed over to the teams that were actually designing the Player’s Handbook and the Monster Manual. he had a knack for keeping us loose while criticizing ideas we thought were okay. as well as earlier drafts.” He could afford to say things like that because his day job was leading the D&D development team while he was slumming in our designer world. “Oh. Discussions during Flywheel design eventually led us to put the swashbuckler aside. Inside meetings. Rob Heinsoo. especially when the Player’s Handbook team later sunk their teeth into making the warlock cool. such as the debate concerning the number of competing powers a player character could choose from at the table. Earlier designs had been working too hard on our newfangled renewable powers and hadn’t properly addressed D&D’s legacy of attrition-style powers. this is the cool we need to be getting from all our classes. LEVELING UP GLIMPSES OF PERSONNEL Flywheel was a five-person team: Andy Collins. I ran Flywheel. Then we realized we could do better. a decision we all soon realized was very much for the best. Flywheel operated at the same time as Rich Baker’s world-story team. a bit more than a year later. after we had veered away from the guidelines Dave had helped establish. Here’s an odd thing about the team. Jesse’s other big contribution was mentoring Andy Collins. But when I say “aimed at. So the Flywheel team’s main job was to nudge the eight player character classes away from the flamboyant precipices they’d occupied in Orcus II toward expressions that would look more familiar to players of 3rd Edition D&D. Jesse Decker.” At moments like that. Andy was consciously setting himself up to run development during the game’s final phases. I say “eight classes. 10 . He contributed many innovative class concepts and designs during this stage. I was organizing the work process. playtesting indicated we should have stuck with the Flywheel consensus. and Dave Noonan. Mike probably shook things up the most when he designed a few classes that will be appearing in the 4th Edition Player’s Handbook II. But Mike Mearls sure tried to get us there. “You’re right. who functioned in a lead-developer-style role during much of the Flywheel phase. That unfortunately explained why Jesse ended up too busy helping run the department to contribute a lot of design work outside meetings. gifting his cool moves to the ranger and the rogue.” but they weren’t always the same eight classes. back when Mike couldn’t cast fireball and Andy’s healing spells only worked at short range. geez. But as I write this. had failed to properly account for attrition powers. both Mike and Andy have emerged as leaders. It’s strange to remember that during the Flywheel phase. Andy worked with me to get it right. mid-2007. powers that went away after you used them once or twice. Mike and Andy both arguably organize workflows smoother than I do. I tell this story as shorthand for a number of other such instances—the fact is that the Flywheel design aimed at a simplicity that we lost sight of for awhile later on. Mike was fresh from adapting Orcus II ideas for Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords. Flywheel’s end product was a skeletal version of the rules. which Rich dubbed “Scramjet” after hearing me toss around the Flywheel moniker. At the moment. which Dave rather gleefully produced from his notebook as we made the fateful call.

Now there is a vast pool of fantasy artists all over the world. the idea of being responsible for the look of the new edition of D&D was very exciting and yet very daunting. So much has changed in the world of art. On the surface. Likewise. a challenge. and still have a consistent enough look to the art that it feels cohesive as an intellectual property. Computer generated art has opened the door to a new world of possibilities. Bruce Cordell: Not wanting to be left behind. it is my hope that the look of D&D will not be that drastically different from what we all have come to know and love. Unlike the mechanics of the game where something either works or it doesn’t. Art Director Dawn Murin deserves tremendous credit for all that she accomplished when she set up the look of 3rd Edition. May 2006 11 . we hope to make it even better. every character should have an interesting choice about how much of their resources they’d like to spend. each character should have an interesting choice to make concerning their actions. One of the many challenges I was faced with was thinking about our audience. too. 4th Edition instructs the DM to let players know when a monster is “bloodied” (below half its starting hit points). art is subjective. and a great responsibility to be heading up the art for 4th Edition. It should be noted that I alone am not responsible for the end result. RE-IMAGING THE LOOK OF D&D —Stacy Longstreet When I joined Wizards of the Coast four years ago. I consider it to be an honor. assuming harsher decisions aren’t forced on them by the monsters or the situation. I’ve decided that MY new codename is Moonbeam. by adding more f lavor and introducing new artists from around the world. In the beginning. DESIGN GUIDEPOSTS —Rob Heinsoo Here are a couple of examples of how the philosophies of encouraging player choice and providing more information have shaped the 4th Edition design. Art is a remarkable thing. Guidepost 2: Provide Information to Help Players and Dungeon Masters Choose Between Compelling Alternatives Examples Between Sessions: Provide every player character class with a set of powers that helps them fill at least one valuable role in an adventuring party. Guidepost 1: Encourage Player Choice Between Sessions: Every time a character advances in level. the player should have an interesting choice to make about how the character gets better. technological advances have taken art to new heights. In the end. so players need to understand their options. I work closely with a group of very talented creative people who helped me to create what would become the look of the next edition. Round by Round: Every round of combat. I started by looking at what I thought to be the strongest and best art of 3rd Edition. Tell players what those roles are so that the composition of adventuring party is a conscious choice. She left some pretty big shoes to fill. Everyone has different tastes. So the idea is to present a broad enough range of art to appeal to our audience. What one person likes may not be the same as what someone else likes. Example During Play: Rather than forcing players to guess how well they are doing in a combat encounter.An email exchange about the Flywheel name: Jonathan Tweet: A heavy thing that spins in circles and slows the engine down? Rob Heinsoo: In your case. but I even created an Excel spreadsheet to show how wrong you are. Encounter by Encounter: Each encounter. and monster abilities key off of whether an enemy or ally is bloodied. But once you begin to give it some real thought. —James Wyatt. What do you want to see? If we want to grow our audience and keep D&D going for another 30 years. I had no idea that I would wind up with this amazing task. During Play. During Play. it is quite complex and there are so many things that needed to be considered. Additionally. Many PC Not only are you wrong. I paged through all of the books. By continuing to work with some of the best artists in the fantasy genre. what do the 13-year-olds of today want to see in a game? It’s my job to try to create a look that will appeal to current gamers as well as to new gamers we hope to acquire. structure the Monster Manual and Dungeon Master’s Guide to help DMs exercise their creativity instead of their math skills. the art of D&D was black and white illustrations—hand drawn by a relatively small population of artists. I combed the web for discussions and postings from our fans regarding art. a little mechanical knowledge is a dangerous thing. and I looked at what our competitors were producing. That means that there may be some art that you really like and some that you may not be as crazy about.

The background plate also creates some production issues. or something in between. Defeat is meaningful but (usually) not final. The design of the current logo caused certain production problems. we explored the possibilities and came up with both a logo that was similar to the current one as well as completely new designs. Character classes provide compelling archetypes.” We all know what it looks like. my initial reaction was shock. Based on this. It is very hard to believe that the 12-year-old boy that spent hours drawing characters would grow up to actually work designing the game that inspired him. What you see now is the result of a team of great creative people working together to produce what we wound up calling the “evolution” of the D&D logo. Game is fun and playable at all levels. the experience of being a part of the 4th Edition of D&D is a dream come true. we’ve all grown up with it. the thoughts about the logo were quite similar. as well as constructive critiques when I had gone off course. At the time that the art process began (summer 2006) we did not yet have a clear picture of what the new game would be. Game’s expectations are clearer to players and DMs. I had grown up with the work of Elmore and Parkinson and was inspired by the work of Lockwood in 3rd Edition. “The World of D&D. It did not size down very well. then shouldn’t the logo also be? It would be odd to have a logo that was completely new if the game was not as radically different as the logo change. 5/5/2005 Things That Would Make Me Happy All classes effective at all levels. And vice versa. Should we create a brand-new logo or just a refresh of the current logo? Since we had the time and no real answers. and I merely wanted to reinforce it. The logo seemed like a good place to start. in the case of either logo we addressed some of the problems that the current logo had created. We hope you like it! ARTIST’S COMMENTARY —William O’Connor When I was asked to work on the 4th Edition of the D D game. And we began to debate the pros and cons for producing either one. We discussed the value of a logo that was recognizable and the identity of D&D for the last 8 years. and to be able to work every day with some of the most talented people in the world. I feel very lucky to be a part of such a great team. one that would have more versatility for a broader range of uses. All in all. NOTEBOOK ANECDOTE Andy Collins. or just a cohesive update to the 3rd Edition. Do we just throw that away? We considered everything.Creating a New Logo —Stacy Longstreet The creation of a new edition includes deciding what changes and what remains the same. To be asked to add my impressions and ideas to this august history was daunting. the more we found ourselves liking both executions for different reasons. So we went forward trying to create a more functional logo design. Working with Stacy and the whole design team put me at ease because I continually received encouragement that my work was what they were looking for. Dungeon excursions last through many encounters. I wanted to establish the idea of each race in broad strokes while giving each of them a distinctive look. We began to call one of the logo designs an “evolution” and the other a “revolution. PC team is a collection of interchangeable parts. My first impression of the assignment was to use what had come before and build upon the established aesthetic of the world of D&D. without straying from the classic archetype. And it did not fit well in spaces that need a narrow horizontal logo configuration.” The more we worked on it. It was a fun and interesting experiment and one that managed to answer some questions and make us ask some new ones. smart decisions are “right” (and vice versa). All characters can participate meaningfully in all encounters. Game rewards tactical play. 12 . There were many discussions about whether this new edition was going to be a completely new game. And on a completely different note. The things we considered were: What does this logo say about the game? If the game is only an updated version of 3rd Edition. That was very important to everyone.

5 is a monster to design for. but in my opinion. If email isn’t getting you the reply you want or need. EMAIL Andy Collins. and follow that through in all areas. those observations—while useful in the long run—are really of secondary importance right now. 3. (That’s one example of a goal/concept from the rules set. Keep it a unified and mechanically sound game system. Dungeon Master as Storyteller. 2.EMAIL James Wyatt. develop. better mix of crunch (mechanics) and fluff (story/roleplaying elements). 5/2/2005 Subject: Private and Personal: Orcus Design Tenets EXTREMELY CONFIDENTIAL AND PROPRIETARY! Orcus Design Tenets 1. 8. Let’s fix that this time out and make it easier for us to create products in the future. EMAIL Bill Slavicsek. we need to create a better. levels. 7. We want to maintain this philosophy into the new edition. more design space/currency for character options (but watch the complexity). and Edit. though we can see places in the game where we might want to have some restrictions in place for play balance. Improvements might include something cool at every level. spells. If they’re the wrong ones. We’re just really pressed for time (particularly right now). so our communications may be briefer than normal. If we can spend EMAIL Andy Collins. Three-dimensional Tactics. To best present a new edition. please don’t read any animosity or annoyance into it. classes. 3. 4/20/2006 Subject: What Is and What Could Be It strikes me that the most important question to ask regarding this rules set vis-a-vis the future of the game is not “Does this work?” but rather “Could this work?” It’s pretty easy to see parts of the Orcus version that don’t quite work as they’re intended. Remove problematic rules. It must be Medieval. We want to design minis game (skirmish) to work with the RPG. 5. 10/24/2006 Subject: Terse replies from Dev team If you get a terse reply from a developer (whether verbally or via email). Make the Game Easy to Design For. and fantasy races. but not a great one. Develop. from stat blocks to encounter balance. faster. mind you. instead. team aspects of adventuring parties. More discussion on how this occurs to follow. For example. Not Restrictions. to evaluate what the rules set aims to achieve with its various new elements and determine if we believe that a) its goals are appropriate. and edit a truly great new RPG. or whether the attrition mechanics hit the right balance. We must force ourselves.0/3. Fantasy Roleplaying. less time on the details and more time on the cool factor for future designs. the game we publish will truly be great. Keep the d20. is largely immaterial at this stage of design. Base Mechanics. and we need to stay true to our roots. Options. try face-to-face. whether Class A is better or worse than Class B. Likewise. What’s much more significant (using the latter example) is whether we think that the idea of reworking D&D’s traditional attrition mechanic to encourage longer-term adventures is a) a good goal that b) we can achieve by developing the concepts presented in the rules set. and b) it’s headed in the right direction to achieve those goals. we want to maintain the cooperative. more robust game. because I believe that never in history has any company put together a department with greater ability and drive to design. but please be patient and understanding if we can’t spend as much time on something as you might like. 4. we’ll all be better off. Improve the Game. 1/3/2006 Subject: Why we need a new edition When the game gets to the point where we know the holes and pitfalls in the rules well enough that we constrain our design in order to avoid them. but we believe that the DM as storyteller is stronger and better suits our intellectual property. We’ve discussed pitting the DM as an opponent. my friends. but certainly not the only one. Cooperative Play Experience. This is still D D . And that. And that’s exactly why we need to determine whether this rules set has the right goals and concepts. 6. But if they’re the right ones. 13 .) I’m optimistic about our ability to turn great goals and concepts into a great game. it’s time for a new set of rules. will be a sight to behold. subsystems. we’ll likely publish a good game. We want to continue using miniatures in 5-foot squares. high rolls are good.

hit points. such as fighters and rogues. characters hit their stride. but opts to turn the tools to a new purpose. As the game expanded. but if they do. to some extent. as games in the low single digits. and so on. Not Rules 4th Edition: Tools that Rule 4th Edition aims to expand the sweet spot. So we’ve made 4th Edition simpler to run and play by simplifying monsters and NPCs. We want PCs who start their careers as hardscrabble rangers and beginning wizards to cap their careers at 30th level as demigods and archmages. Later on. That sort of divide provides a foundational building block that we used as the model for further traits to differentiate the sources. EXPANDING THE SWEET SPOT 3rd Edition had a sweet spot. in the hardscrabble world of the beginning adventurer. POWER SOURCES —Mike Mearls Power sources have always been in D&D. attack bonuses. it was clear that wizards (then called magic-users) tapped into a different source of magic than clerics. 4th Edition makes the move to create more vivid differences between the sources of magical power. It also creates a source of power for characters who don’t use magic. Our goal is to make games in the high-20s play almost as quickly. at epic levels they eventually gain the ability to perform superhuman feats. 3rd Edition: Tools. and just as smoothly. but no one ever bothered to pay attention to them. possessing fun abilities and a number of hit points that allow the player characters to stick around long enough to use them. One of 3rd Edition’s advances was to model monsters using the same tools used to model player characters.Heroes in the World —Rob Heinsoo 4th Edition player characters are unabashedly the heroes of the tale. NPC design) around what’s fun for player characters to encounter as challenges. Somewhere around 13th or 15th level. The new system is not overly concerned with simulating interactions between monsters and nonplayer characters when the PCs are not on stage. The parameters and basic game mechanics for 4th Edition player characters are not identical to the rules and powers used by the world’s monsters and nonplayer characters. The martial power source allows us to draw a clear line between a mighty hero and the average person in the world of D&D. where hard math and a multiplicity of choices push DMs into increasingly hard work to keep their games going. player characters have abilities that set them apart from other mortals. 4th Edition recognizes the value of using 14 . you’re not likely to hear a lot more about this underlying motive. In a world of magical powers and terrifying threats. After all. From the earliest days of the game. We all know that divine magic heals and arcane magic does more damage. psionics clearly staked out a completely different source of power. Even at the start of their careers. They won’t necessarily survive. saves. 4th Edition orients monster design (and. But it’s there. some of the greatest heroes of myth and legend toppled buildings with their bare hands. Monsters and most NPCs are lucky to appear more than once. but it was never completely clear. they’re destined to tap into powers and abilities that are simply not available to the vast majority of other beings populating the world of D&D. but the truth is that many D&D campaigns more-or-less rise out of existence. player characters are people who possess the potential for greatness. wrestled gods. Skilled players frequently disagree with that assessment. Power sources express their influence over the game through design strictures and the general feel of the classes that employ them. As PCs pursue the most fun reward in the game— leveling up—they get closer and closer to the levels where the abilities of the strongest characters eclipse those of the weakest characters. the sweet spot gets a bit sour for many classes. the same tools for PCs and monsters. particularly if they’re encountered in combat situations. The PCs are going to be on center stage for the life of the campaign and deserve all the power options and customization features that the system can bear. and skill ranks using the same mechanical structure. 3rd Edition player characters and monsters calculate ability scores. Intricate lists of abilities and multiple significant exceptions-based powers are reserved for the PCs rather than handed out to every monster. While these characters don’t cast spells. classes like the druid and illusionist seemed to tie into similar sources. Somewhere around 4th or 5th level. diverted rivers. Since the bulk of this preview book concerns flavor and style rather than game mechanics.

Others seemed radical at first. when designing the Player’s Handbook we took care to leave space open for the power sources we knew were around the corner. By the same token. you can expect that we will do more to make psi powers different from arcane ones. The Star Wars Roleplaying Game: Saga Edition core rulebook served not only as a platform from which adventures in a galaxy far. 15 . Replacing saving throws with static defense scores or eliminating ability damage were minor changes compared to the wholesale removal of iterative attacks. Divine and arcane magic are built to serve as independent magic systems. The S W system had the benefit of being designed at a time when new concepts had just been introduced into D&D (via books like Tome of Battle: Book of Nine Swords) and when the game’s designers were starting work on 4th Edition. Since those classes clearly use magic in a different manner when compared to a wizard. In many ways. The exciting thing about power sources lies in the design options they open up. A class like the wu jen or the hexblade might use a completely new and different type of magic. would come to the rest of the design and development team with ideas and concepts that had thus far not been seen in a d20 game. As noted above. “give players options when designing their characters. For instance. Though the Star Wars game has a flavor and mechanics all its own. Since Saga Edition came out first. the shock of learning that we were giving out more ability score increases or of the demise of skill points were some of the most startling moments of the entire design process.” and “keep the combat round quick and easy to understand. We no longer have to put every single imaginable spell effect into divine and arcane magic. Ideas like. build a system of magic that works for their needs. As a result. We are also free to create bigger differences between classes without worrying about straining credibility. Thus. the process then turned to making the system into something that reflected the type of gameplay that a S W game should have. During the early days of the design process for Saga Edition. relegating other forms of spellcasting to merely copying existing spells. it became the perfect test for seeing if the mechanics could work together and form a playable system. Once the core philosophies were in place and game mechanics were developed. Chris Perkins. rather than simply steal the same mechanics. ideas and concepts were filtering down from RPG R&D and into the Star Wars game. When we release the psionic classes. we shelve them under a new power source. rather than as the core definitions of how magic works in D&D. we toned down some of the mind control and charm effects available to arcane characters. the development process for Star Wars revealed a number of ways that the original mechanics could evolve into something more exciting and playable. and create spells tuned to them rather than simply use the 3E wizard/sorcerer spell list. we expect that psi characters will have more powerful methods for controlling their enemies’ minds. Half ling fighter LONGSWORDS AND LIGHTSABERS —Rodney Thompson Though you might think that Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader don’t have much to do with the evolution of D D . This decision has a subtle but important impact on design. this was the first test of 4th Edition: to see how many of its core concepts could be adapted to roleplaying games of different stripes. at the time the only in-house designer working on the Star Wars book. power sources are a useful tool for concepting and creating new character classes. allowing us to reinvent the ground rules rather than use what has come before. conceptually many design conceits come from the early design and development for 4th Edition. The changes being handed down from R&D were often shocking but always fired up the designers’ imaginations. Those ideas had been part of core design philosophies for the earliest versions of 4th Edition. you might be surprised at how closely the two are intertwined. the mechanics that will eventually be in 4th Edition are partially influenced by the development of the Star Wars rulebook. By the same token. it lets us avoid a kitchen sink approach to spell design. it was also an early testing ground for many of the concepts that eventually made their way into the 4th Edition of D&D.Going forward. far away could be launched.” fit Star Wars as well as D&D and were simple to implement.

That led directly to the first philosophical shift in the way we look at races: Rather than consider a race a simple package of ability modifiers and special abilities you choose at 1st level. In earlier editions. gnomes. For example. Naturally. Just how many PC races were out there? To my surprise I came up with 135 PC races. I noted for each one its source. The patch we used in 3rd Edition was the notion of level adjustment (more on that later). You might remember that races such as githyanki or drow gained access to unique powers when they reached certain levels. he or she can also choose dwarf-only feats. Which brings me to the fun part of this discussion: The process of choosing the races that would be iconic to the new edition of the game. or edges keyed to each race. which races should we include in the game? We decided very early in the process that we wanted character race to play a more important part in describing your character. dwarves are extraordinarily resilient. and so on. or creative. this is an extension of the same principle. ranging from the aarakocra to the yuan-ti tainted one—and that was not even counting every monster that we provided with a level adjustment. Some of these races were clearly core concepts of the game. Eladrins gain the ability to step through the Feywild to make a short-range teleport. resistances. your character’s race was something that you chose at a single decision point during character creation. F R . After that. or half lings. Character races now offer a “net positive” on ability score modifiers. we couldn’t add new races in later products that had significantly better ability modifiers or benefits. so they gain the ability to use their second wind [a healing ability] one more time per encounter than other characters can. So. half-elves. character races that should eventually appear. unchanging benefits at 1st level (many of which were useless clutter on your character sheet).” a one-sentence reminder of what a race was. These remain available throughout a character’s career. You couldn’t imagine a D&D game without elves. dwarves. Once we had this list. and never really “grew” with your character. my hook for dromite was “little psionic insect guy. not only can a dwarf choose from all the general feats in the game. For example. A small problem that handcuffed our design in 3rd Edition was the lack of “space” for ability bonuses and special benefits. Because the races in the Player’s Handbook were all balanced against each other. because they’d obsolete the core races of the game. but with the new game we have a new opportunity to address this problem. and the ability to create as many new ones as we wanted to. or the races presented in Savage Species or D Magazine. Early on in the Scramjet process I sat down with our 3rd Edition game products and conducted a quick head count of player character races that had appeared in core D&D. We prioritized the list into character races that had to appear right away in 4th Edition. and character races we would deliberately never print again. we asked ourselves the question. character races that we might bring into the new edition given the right product. so they help race to remain relevant even for high-level characters. or half-orcs. just how many races did the D&D game really need? Which ones from the big list deserved to be at the front of the line? And which ones did we want to quietly disappear? To begin sorting out the list of races. “traction” (my assessment of which races were actually getting played based on what we could find in online chatter and office games). we had a couple dozen character races from a wide variety of 3rd Edition sources that were particularly interesting. we decided to include higher-level feats that you can choose for your character at the appropriate time. One idea we borrowed from the F R and E Campaign Settings was racial feats—a collection of special tactics. evocative. and “hook. humans. dwarves.” Then the whole Scramjet team sat down and plowed through the list one entry at a time. “What’s missing?” Could we think of any iconic fantasy races or cultures that hadn’t been represented in 3rd Edition and 16 . we had eleven races of elves.Choosing the Iconic Races —Richard Baker One of the long-unchallenged assumptions of the D D game is that the world is populated by a variety of different fantastic races—elves. Given that immense wealth of races to pick from. A 20th-level dwarf had the exact same amount of racial characteristics as a 1st-level dwarf—and during the nineteen intervening levels. and E game products. one of the first things we examined for the new edition of the game was the purpose and mechanics of character race. Heck. the overall importance of that long-ago race selection had diminished to a tiny portion of the character concept. halflings. so there’s more room for new character races to stand. Another half-dozen or so races seemed to merit a close look based on legacy value if nothing else—for example. What were character races doing for the game? Were we creating compelling stories with our races? What more could we do to make our vision for some of the more familiar fantasy races uniquely our own? And finally. Your race pick bestowed a whole collection of static.

While that bit of brainstorming didn’t work. movies. the Narnia movie was pretty good. Halflings also lacked a real place of their own in the world. Finally. we felt that it was important to grow the D&D world by allowing the mix of characters to evolve in the new edition. and talking animals show up all over the place in fantasy literature. gaming. really) would be very difficult. and television have all become much more cosmopolitan and less tied to traditional European mythology over the last 10 or 15 years. We think you’ll find many of these changes to your liking. and others you might wonder about— but the whole idea is to give you a new set of expectations for some of the oldest components of the game world. not a heroic adventurer. after all. dwarves had mountains. we took on the most serious and controversial part of the work: We decided to take each character race back to the drawing board and re-concept its story. We decided that the first Player’s Handbook needed the tiefling—one of our most popular and evocative “second stringers” throughout 2nd and 3rd Edition. 17 . we took a look at our planned product schedule and began to pencil in specific races for specific products. but halflings didn’t really live anywhere.Dragonborn paladin needed to come forward? We briefly kicked around the idea of the “talking animal” race. a “new” character race. and that we might combine them into a single character race with its own unique culture. But we suspected that the mechanical design of such a race (or collection of races. and its look from scratch. With our big list of character races pared down to a more manageable collection. and we were afraid that most folks in our audience would see talking animals as some kind of bad joke. elves had forests. and mechanical niche. Even though dragonborn didn’t have any kind of history with the audience. its role. That’s like a human toddler. some additional brainstorming did: We realized that we had several varieties of “dragon man” rattling around in the system. Fantasy literature. and a natural choice for players interested in creating warlock characters—and the dragonborn. society. halflings were simply too small in 3rd Edition. You could create a halfling who weighed as little as 30 pounds. so it seemed like it was time for the D&D game to do the same right at the very foundation of the game system and game world. For example.

and some were far-f lung mercantile empires tethered together by silk. At the same time. even if just a dagger or a farm implement. Thus the race possesses a stubborn confidence others sometimes find peculiar. The requirements of the craft. They are eager for new vistas and new experiences. creative. And each rise preceded a subsequent. some were sorcerous tyrannies. pragmatic. goblins. Humans appreciate that conf lict is never far from their homes and stand ready to drive off a marauding bandit band or wandering monster. lacking any familiarity with a creator. At an early age. they also know that their ancestors persevered in the face of terrible odds to build societies that lasted centuries. dealing with consequences as they arise. as some learned sages claim. trusting to their native resourcefulness. Accordingly. They are inclined to act first and ponder later. faith. forging the first link in an empire yet unborn. are the most changeable race of any who stride the world? When the dwarves speak of being chiseled from the bones of the earth. and gold. a few find that the alien and sometimes fickle art of arcane magic is worth looking into. and strangely malleable race. Human civilization exists as widely separated points of light in a world of untamed.Humans —Bruce Cordell Stories. some were rigid theocracies. they are a race from which heroes often spring. and the elves sing of their leafy birth in the untamed Feywild. Some prize art above all. The tribes and societies humans create for themselves are as varied as all the leaves in the forest. from the clay of the world itself. A human’s “can-do” attitude seems out-of-place for the average village farmer. Humans know their destiny is yet undecided. while others commit themselves to the service of a single higher power. they have been a f lexible. and even the occasional city large enough to claim itself a state. Some cultures are enlightened. human wizards gather together in small guilds or colleges. and as a result are drawn to explore the darkest reaches of the world in search of knowledge and power. driven. mysterious darkness. village. humans can only wonder. the story of humankind is the tale of the successive rise of great empires. Is it any wonder that humans. Many are happy to remain all their lives within the perceived safety of their farming hamlet. Even Nerath. where frontier justice is the rule. but enough succeed that the race always manages to step back from whatever brink their hubris pushes them to. and often demonstrably false origin myths. and absent a defined higher purpose a parent deity might provide. and myth. ambiguous. Still. litter the murky world. which persisted until a mere century ago. especially among the upper class and nobility. Humans are often culturally pious and easily take to the worship of gods. over millennia of slow variation from lesser beasts? With no true knowledge of their beginning. Humans are ambitious. myths. demons. sling. humanity claimed for itself the right to determine its own direction. and resourceful. Thus since humans first burst upon the world. most humans learn to handle at least one weapon. others the valor of military conquest. humans are drawn to divine magic. or other ranged weapon to hunt game and to defend their homes from creatures that roam the encroaching wilderness. More than a few humans perish when they push too hard and far. too. seemingly inevitable fall. steel. Many are remembered only in relics. Some were realms governed by a caste of fearless warriors. While many humans are content with learning a weapon or two and developing their own martial talents. More than one past kingdom derived its law from religious texts and exalted clerics over kings. and—some say—a secret curse. some are cruel. humanity’s proud claims of its myriad rises to imperial glory are besmirched by the fact that every one of its empires now lies long toppled. Now Nerath’s ruins. tales of great riches that lie unclaimed in the ruins of fallen kingdoms lure explorers into the wilds. yet the son or daughter of that farmer could well rise from obscurity to become the next hero of the age. In truth. In larger communities. They hurl themselves into danger more readily than other races. and will to prevail to see them through perilous situations. but also villains. 18 . bold. and legends: People build their identities upon narratives that describe their past. such as Pelor or Ioun. Humans claim many past empires. then abandoned them to the world without guidance or supervision? Or did they arise. Each empire exalted its own unique set of virtues. eventually emerging as grand empires. ruins. Such is the spark that burns in every human heart. Some worship the entire pantheon as appropriate to a given situation. adaptable. with their vague. unpredictable. was finally overthrown by hordes of orcs. at least as commonly practiced by wizards. only adventurers are brave enough to pierce the shadows that lie between what isolated outposts remain. Though they’ve fallen often. Those that persist long enough grow larger and larger. put arcane magic beyond the means of commoners unless they are lucky enough to apprentice to an already established practitioner. Since Nerath’s fall. From what mold did humans spring? What god or primordial fashioned them. Human heroes (and villains) are decisive and sometimes rash. even the common folk find it handy to have some knowledge with the crossbow.

concept art and final 19 .Human on horseback.

If the task can’t be completed by this generation. If an empire tumbles. It’s the same way that humans are portrayed in other works of science fiction and fantasy from Star Trek to Lord of the Rings. No goal seems out of reach to a determined human. poetry. and humans constantly seek to explore new lands and settle new frontiers.” When considering their role in 4th Edition. in comparison). sound. Dwarves are described as suspicious. Yet an aspect of that description bugged us: It’s all positive. Elves are known to be aloof. new generations usher in new modes of thought.Humans —Continued Regardless of the god or gods humans choose to revere. it seemed like something that needed to change for 4th Edition. Gnomes are reckless pranksters. and surprising combinations of these. If they fail in a task. but it also often leads also to turmoil and revolution. perhaps the next generation can pull it off. music. and ambitious race. and ambitious people among the common races” and human adventurers as “the most daring and ambitious members of an audacious. and more. Indeed. Whole new worlds of wonder can be found merely in color. the remains of the empire still serve as home to humans. Their settlements are among the brightest points of light in a very dark and untamed world. However. narration. which in truth most humans will never get a chance to experience. it is their ability to never give up. and vengeful. It also couldn’t be something that might come off as odd when highlighted in humanity. and slow to make friends. dragonborn. Other races conveniently view humans as a wild and unruly people. elves. because the infinite variety of personality traits all stem from humanity in the first place. disdainful. even the race’s sternest critics recognize that if humans have a single positive trait shared by all. human art extends across all forms: painting. Because only two or at most three human generations are alive simultaneously (elves commonly coexist alongside greatgreat-great grandparents. storytelling. human societies may seem more turbulent than those of longer-lived races. It couldn’t be a simple personality trait. daring. and people have a tendency to think of humanity that way in the real world. humans have no specialty and can excel in any medium. they always look to the horizon. HUMAN FRAILTY —Matthew Sernett The 3rd Edition Player’s Handbook describes humans as “the most adaptable. This aspect of human civilization is the driving force behind humans’ adaptability and success. and no ambition too grand. it makes sense. The last great empire was ruled by humans. While other races have their own preferred art forms. commerce. sculpture. and innovation. Whatever the reason. tieflings. If we say that “being fractious” is a big feature of humanity. Without the weight of generations to hold a particular society to a particular path. seeking to expand their influence and their territory. if forced to admit it. or maybe humans were described in such glowing terms as a means of explaining why we presented them as the dominant race in all of D&D’s published settings. that seemed great. for good or for ill. Humanity needed a weakness—a trait common to all humans that could counteract their adaptability and ambition. such as bad temper. art. form. Thus the race’s greatest strength touches individuals with calamity and war. they try again and again until they eventually succeed. another one will rise up. They chase power and want to change the world. Artistic works allow any human with imagination to create new realms without the worry of being assaulted on the road by bandits or having a new settlement attacked in the night by loathsome monsters. The human desire to push past boundaries finds expression beyond physical exploration and settlement of new lands. Half-orcs have short tempers. and others. well. flexible. and it contained a place for all the common races. Even though it has fallen into ruin. twice as grand and glorious as the previous one. greedy. Human rogue 20 . Maybe that was because we know human flaws so well. in a century or two. Each race in the 3rd Edition Player’s Handbook brings with it classic flaws—except humans. dwarves.

scavenged. military haircuts. So what negative trait typifies humanity and works to counteract their potential? What keeps humanity for holding onto the great things it achieves? In a word: corruptibility. they don’t care if their boots match each other. and we want elves fighting elves to be just as likely as humans fighting humans. and even the best and brightest among humanity sometimes tarnish their images with bad choices. “What makes humans different?” I concluded that their relatively short life span was their unique quality. with a bravery that can make people rash and irresponsible. Humans just have a greater tendency to stumble off the righteous path. they collapse due to the rot within. Even humanity’s adaptability takes on a darker meaning when humans adapt their morality to suit their goals or the needs of survival. only burns half as long. but corrupted by desire. Humanity is both its own staunchest ally and most dangerous enemy.We fight a lot of wars. Humanity is ambitious. Human weapons 21 . Humans don’t care if their boots match their gloves—hell. Humans don’t have ten years to spend crafting a single sword. On the instant we hit upon this idea. crests. I asked myself. Piecemeal suits of armor. humans were ready for 4th Edition D&D. I thought that humans. but that ambition can take the form of a hunger for power and a grasping nature. but more often than not. This led me to the reckless. would be the only race that would use representational art: tattoos. the picture of humans in 4th Edition came into focus. and unshaven faces became ubiquitous. so they become Jacks-of-All-Trades. even tentative in comparison. and so on.” Elves and dwarves live so long that they become serious. ARTIST’S COMMENTARY —William O’Connor Human were by far the most fun to design. and asymmetrical aesthetic first developed in 3rd Edition. The great empires of mankind fall prey to invasion and calamity like those of other races. They journey down many roads paved with good intentions. standards. It’s not that humans are all corrupt. With that long-missing piece in place. or fifty years to hone an art. heraldry. but humans live every day like it’s their last—because in D&D it probably is! “Carpe Diem” became their battle cry. Yet highlighting that feature of humanity implies that other races are less fractious. being so young. “The candle that burns twice as bright. Humans are daring. The other races were more sophisticated and had “matured” into abstract art.

Zehir determined to steal one. After the war with the primordials ended. and they have many stories of what happened to their creator deity and who he or she was. Scars. At the same time. A human and his horse became like a biker and his motorcycle. we decided that humans once had a patron deity. in the case of halflings). and each also has a creation story that involves its patron deity. Some varieties of lycanthropes would only have human-looking humanoid forms. Mind flayers. . god of night (or. halflings. He appealed to Avandra. Then Bill Slavicsek pointed out that we had tied too much to humans and actually counteracted our other efforts to make humans share the spotlight with other races. Zehir murdered the creator of the humans and laid claim to them as his own. when all the other gods had exhausted much of their strength. He could see only one way to have his will: The dead do not deny permission. they turned out monstrous and wrong. This made a lot of sense to us at the time because we wanted to contrast humans with how we were treating the other major PC races. The cultural history of the western and lone rider became the archetypal human for me. Elves. Although dazzled by Zehir’s romantic overtures. and thus humans are both the most corruptible of the races and the most devout. would transform only humans to into illithids (no halfling-sized squid-faces). Although 22 . torn clothes. It would seem incongruous with how humans have been treated throughout the history of the game. yuan-ti were humans transformed into snake-people through a ritual to Zehir. I thought about where the humans came from. But the other gods could not let this aggression stand. and dwarves each have a patron deity (or more than one. Whenever he tried. Avandra managed to attach a condition to Zehir’s power of change—he could only change a creature with its creator’s permission. hoping to design around their environment. Since he could not create a race of his own. goddess of change. leading to most human costume design to have heeled boots. having been a transformative and parasitic race since at least 2nd Edition. spurs. missing fingers and eyes. Shackled by the condition. We didn’t want that for humans. We were pretty happy with that origin story. so horses became important to their culture and their wanderlust became a signature attribute. we latched onto the concept with gusto and put humans at the root of many iconic monsters. the creator of the human race. and they defeated Zehir and wrested control of humanity from him. as we knew him then. and his or her name was lost to history due to the machinations of Zehir. I came to the conclusion that humans evolved in the plains. It tied up loose ends and explained some choices we made about monsters. . Back to the drawing board . This mysterious figure died in the prehistory of the world. Since elves were of the forest. and split front armor for riding. To weave all these threads together. dwarves of the mountains. and dented armor speak of the human life of adventure on the edge. So now humans have fewer direct links to specific creatures. and those of Bahamut have another. —Matt Sernett Human fighter When the Scramjet team hit upon the idea that humans are corruptible. it seemed odd to us that humans had no creation story that unified them. and halflings of the water.LEGENDARY LINKS Humans —Continued As with the other races I was asked to re-concept. and we envisioned humans being zealots in their devotion to various gods. Set). Zehir was unsatisfied. The contest for control of humans continues to this day. In early drafts. The humans always look like they’re just coming from or just going to a bar fight. Zehir had a problem: He couldn’t make a race like the other gods. charming her into teaching him how to alter the creations of others. The followers of Zehir have their story.

but humans really can take on any task. and the mechanics back it up pretty well. though. tief lings are charming humans with horns and tails. Human warlord 23 . it doesn’t point you toward a specific class or role. Though they don’t have more hit points or higher defenses. Using the racial feats to emphasize humans’ advantages gives the race an interesting dynamic. Humans as a race. but humans didn’t have a mechanical or thematic precedent to follow. Humans stick with their adaptable shtick and their racial abilities are useful for any class. most adaptable race. Most classes’ racial abilities intentionally make them lean toward some classes. they recover from damage and conditions more quickly than other races can. though there’s an extra little treat to increase your adaptability through feat selections. Even though they have more potential for some classes. we liked the cool ideas we developed. this more obscured version of the human legend gives DMs both more freedom and inspiration for cool human factions and adventures. This is a reasonable niche for humans. Many of these benefits come from racial feats. have to be able to represent the full range of real-world humans. Humans are our most resilient race. Humans are all about dramatic action and dramatic recovery. it’s never stupid to play a human of any class. Dwarves are shorter and tougher gruff humans. So how did this turn out for humans? Well. These races are easy to understand and roleplay because they represent specific aspects of human nature (and you don’t see us doing a lot of PC races that don’t behave or think at all like humans). MORE HUMAN THAN HUMAN —Logan Bonner Designing mechanical benefits for humans is no minor task. they’re still good at everything. And that’s what it’s all about. We expected tieflings to be good warlocks and eladrins to be good wizards. 3rd Edition D&D represented humans as the most diverse. Much of the 3E feel for humans is still there in 4E.Human warlord The problem is that when you have a race that’s pretty good at everything but best at nothing. One of our goals with races was that each would have an advantage for some classes and a disadvantage for others. and so on. The other races are simpler because they’re all based on slices of human personality and biology.

dragons no longer rule over dragonborn realms. Although smaller in stature than their mighty lords. dragonborn resemble humanoid dragons. dragons are the most awesome and powerful. They live about as long as humans do. and ultimately both empires fell into ruin. Few live to see their 70th year. he or she has reached the size and mental and emotional development of a 10year-old human child. The dragonborn who followed Bahamut triumphed and went on to forge the powerful empire of Arkhosia in the arid lands of the south. Ruled by royal lines of mighty dragons. who gladly followed their nobler and more powerful kin and in turn served as leaders and champions to lesser mortal races. they are no less draconic in nature. As they mature and grow strong. Like their larger kin. decadent cities whose rich lords and merchants pay well for mercenaries. and their mortal servants—dragon and dragonborn both—also battled. some dragonborn clans form small mercenary companies of elite warriors. Dragonborn families are therefore small: one parent and one child who travel. leathery wings. or war-torn kingdoms where honorable service and a strong sword-arm can win great wealth and renown. and adventurers. dragonborn possess an internal wellspring of elemental power. When Io perished. the infernal empire of the tief lings. Dragons arose as the kings and princes over the dragonborn. By the time a dragonborn child is 3 years old. In routine matters. and therefore wander to places where they can find opportunities to fight for a living—frontier kingdoms who post bounties on bandits and monsters. the proud warriors of Arkhosia subjugated vast territories across the world. dragonborn are a race of wandering mercenaries. and strong-willed that they were lords of the newborn world. talonlike claws. Dragonborn have no homeland to call their own. The lesser spirits became the dragonborn. often standing close to 6-1/2 feet and weighing 250 pounds or more.Dragonborn —Richard Baker Of all mortal creatures in the world. Dragonborn and tief lings fought several terrible wars. A typical dragonborn clan numbers anywhere from twenty to fifty relatives. Their heads feature a blunt snout. Their empire once contended for dominion over the world. Dragonborn rarely linger in lands with little need for adventurers or sellswords. They are tall and strongly built. they learn to call upon this power in the form of a natural breath weapon. One parent then assumes responsibility for the child and raises him or her from that time forward. A few dragonborn who harbor an exceptionally strong draconic heritage might eventually manifest majestic. although dragonborn much prefer an honorable death in battle to a long senescence and will seek out such an end when the infirmities of age begin to appear. but to this day some evil dragonborn clans still venerate Tiamat in secret. but only a few rootless clans of these honorable warriors remain. dragonborn clans reach most decisions through debate and consensus. mostly cousins or second cousins to each other. 24 . and distinctive frills at the cheek and ear. sellswords. But many centuries ago. young dragonborn grow much faster than human children do. the ancient deity Io created dragons by fusing brilliant astral spirits into the unchecked fury of the raw elements. and by 15 they reach maturity and are accounted adults by other dragonborn. creatures so powerful. Males and females don’t remain together long. Dragonborn claim kinship to the clan of the parent who raises them. However. and play together while the parent teaches the youngster what it means to be a dragonborn. the city-states of Arkhosia came into conf lict with the growing shadow of Bael Turath. For example. but in times of danger the Clanmaster’s word is law to be instantly obeyed. proud. and dragonborn must struggle to make their way in the world as all mortals do—but in every dragonborn a hidden furnace of draconic blood burns with the same fury and pride all dragons know. For centuries uncounted dragonborn have been among the fiercest and strongest warriors in the world. Dragonborn are oviparous (egg-laying). In this dark and diminished age. and youngsters are generally referred to as hatchlings for the first few months of life. By 12 years of age dragonborn attain their adult stature. and from time to time members of the same clan may travel together or live in the same spot. They walk hours after hatching and master the rudiments of speech within three months. soldiers. Bahamut and Tiamat fought furiously for dominion over dragon kind. and most spend little time in the company of their own kind. In the beginning of days. Usually the oldest and most accomplished dragonborn is considered the Clanmaster. and the few surviving dragonborn were scattered to the four winds. and go their separate ways when their offspring reaches three years of age. The greater spirits became the dragons. Today. Dragonborn make their own way in the world. and so they live scattered among the other common peoples of the world. Their bodies are covered in fine scales of gold and bronze. a strong brow. The cities of Arkhosia became devil-haunted ruins. Most use their strength and martial skill to carve out a place for themselves. Their hands and feet are strong. Dragonborn marriages are dictated by old alliances between clans. In physical form. masters of all they surveyed. work. or swear to serve as guards or champions to a strong and honorable monarch of another race.

concept art and final 25 .Dragonborn warlock.

A single dragonborn parent raises a dragonborn child to know his clan and his heritage. Dragonborn seek out adventure for the chance to prove their worth. and thereby their clan.Dragonborn —Continued Dragonborn leave their parent around fourteen to fifteen years of age. Direct action means decisiveness and courage. Guided by their noble forebears. the names of her ancestors. since it means that the dragonborn deems the person so instructed to have sufficient honor and wisdom to recognize the essential truth of the story and to be capable of learning something from it. An instilled desire to reflect positively on both helps to color a dragonborn’s personal behavior. the dragonborn are a martial race that forged a great empire of united city-states when the world was young. Dragonborn are widely regarded as arrogant and easily offended by other races. win renown. Dragonborn hate to fail and drive themselves to incredible efforts before they give up on anything. if you want to sprout wings and breathe fire as you go up levels. which run deeper than familial connections. The dragonborn had a stable society in the empire of Arkhosia. Although parent and child retain great affection for each other. Those from the same clan more readily form cohesive groups. the punch dagger (katar). DESIGNING THE VISUAL LOOK —Stacy Longstreet Design a new PC race based on dragons. and driven by military customs. Until now. Such admiration is most readily earned through direct action according to a solid creed. Likewise. A dragonborn parent is honor-bound to teach his offspring the ancient ways of the dragonborn people. It is a sign of great esteem when a dragonborn decides to share one of these tales with a comrade of another race. In any event. and the claw gauntlet. respect. the infernal empire of the tieflings. If you want to play a proud. Every dragonborn expresses these central racial traits in some way. Go! What began as a very exciting challenge turned into a very difficult task. daring exploits. Sometimes a dragonborn even carries weapons originally created by the dragonborn of lost Arkhosia. and the meaning of honor. LEGEND OF THE DRAGONBORN —James Wyatt Dragons are such an iconic monster of fantasy that we named the game after them. Although their empire crumbled. and perhaps become champions about whom stories will be told for generations. history lives and breathes in the dragonborn. honor. In a dangerous world. One dragonborn legend claims that when the gods warred with the primordials. and a solid creed is usually a devotion to the ideals of a draconic god. and their honor with them. The two halves of the dead god’s corpse rose up to become Bahamut and Tiamat. and loyalty. battle-bred warrior. These stories grow with every new dragonborn hero who accomplishes some great deed. While dragonborn don’t have a civic society as such. Dragonborn respect their clan ties. Strength and pride are paramount. Regardless of appearances and the misfortunes of the past. and determination in others—even enemies. though. Their empire of Arkhosia fell after several terrible wars against Bael Turath. you’ll want to play a dragonborn. These include the bastard sword (katana). Not any more. the dragonborn carried their reverence. They issue from an ancient martial tradition founded on service. DRAGONBORN CULTURE —Chris Sims Though they are a people dispersed by the ravages of time. To win everlasting glory through mighty deeds. Dragonborn know hundreds of myths and parables. but everyone knows that they’re people of their word. a dragonborn’s honor is more important than life itself. They adapted to survive as they integrated into other cultures. where they revered their ancestors and the dragons. they greatly admire honor. the dragonborn are solitary and make their way through life alone. and supreme skill at a chosen calling—that is the dragonborn dream. Dragonborn are a humanoid race of draconic origin. The armaments such a dragonborn carries into battle are often draconic in style. their soldierly ways. the dragonborn were made. dragonborn take up arms to make their way. each passed down for generations. but where the god’s blood fell. and excellence is the only path. dragonborn know their place in the world. but their traditions live on in their behavior and their time-honored crafts. but most dragonborn simply behave in a fashion that garners them. The legend more commonly told among other races is that Io created the dragonborn to serve and defend the dragons. The worst among them are greedy and vengeful warriors who still know the value of honor. Dragonborn are fond of couching arguments and illustrating points through reference to these old stories. in two. They value skill and excellence in all endeavors. skill. or if you just want to touch the coolness that is dragons. the best among the dragonborn have been and will be among the greatest heroes the world has ever known. they possess rich cultural traditions dating back to the days of their long-lost empire. playing a dragon meant either using a lot of variant rules (as in the 2nd Edition Council of Wyrms campaign setting) or taking on a hefty level adjustment to play either a dragon or a half-dragon. the progenitor dragon god. 26 . one of the mighty primordials cleaved Io.

A few people came to the table pretty sure of what they wanted to play. It became very apparent that this had been tried before. INTRODUCING THE DRAGONBORN —Gwendolyn Kestrel When I started DM’ing a 4th Edition playtest group. playable dragonlike humanoid. Dragonborn wizard 27 . Some folks went immediately to survey the stat boosts. She didn’t look at the attractive stat boosts. WHY DRAGONBORN? —Gwendolyn Kestrel Short Answer: Because they’re cool! Medium Answer: Because the game needs an interesting.Everyone agreed that this should be a really cool race that everyone would want to play. We wanted them to be more feminine and recognizable as female dragonborn. Like the earlier versions of the dwarves. We quickly determined that we needed to go in the other direction and work with a more draconic head on a humanoid body. Designing the male of the race was easier than the female. Erin: “Oooh! I hatched!” Susan: “Do you still have pieces of your shell?” Erin: “Oh! I totally want some!” It wasn’t the race’s dragon breath or dragon wings or its natural strengths as a warlord or fighter that appealed to her. The flavor text was what sold her. Yet everyone had different ideas about what it should look like: How much should it resemble a dragon versus how much should it resemble a human? There were lots of discussions and we started with trying to make the head unique by creating a blending of human and dragon. we fulfill this need right from the beginning of the edition. they are still stronger and bulkier than a human. Others started in on the descriptive text. we did not want the females to look so similar to the males. For the first time in the game. Long Answer: There’s something intrinsically attractive about playing a dragonlike person. Players want as an option a race that captures the power and majesty of dragons. We gave them the curvy figure of a female and while they are more slender then the males. I noticed that different aspects of the races appealed to different players. One small bit of the dragonborn flavor text really caught one player’s attention and enthusiasm.

each with its own fears and foes. who choose to live in the chambers close enough to the surface to benefit from natural light. Yet dwarves know that the future cannot be written in stone. The primordials. ingenuity. In each. Now one of the most populous races of the world. dwarves live in mountain fortress-cities and among the other races in their settlements in forests and on the plains. A dwarf finds solace in stone. like the azers and galeb-dur. had brought the world up out of chaos and populated it with their spawn. Moradin gave generously and then turned back to his work. Families linked by heritage share a clan name. the largest and most ancient dwarven settlements. when the world lay hot upon the anvil of the gods and primordials. and Moradin opened his portfolio to the freed dwarves and to all who craft in metal or stone or who love the mountains. In the centuries since winning their freedom. Moradin thus learned another lesson now held close to the hearts of dwarves: that sometimes one must cease hammering to hear the truth. Some truly titanic dwarven cities cut clear through a mountain to emerge on the other side. Dwarves are much as they were. and they warred on other peoples and warred among themselves. Within their great stone cities. Dwarves endured slavery for countless years. and they aided the Soul Forger in his work. and they exist still due to the work of countless generations of dwarves. they see a landscape of danger and opportunity. he was filled with fury. aiding the gods in their struggle for control of the world. he placed a diamond heart to beat the bright and burning blood of life. and only when the war horns of the gods sounded did he set down his tools. and each clan performs the functions of specific professions within a settlement. Such underhalls. In the long darkness of this ancient time. True. crafting exquisite items for them. With bravery. Often. Pleased that the primordials seemed to appreciate his creations. and thus began the Age of Chains. dwarves construct and carve to awe the ages. and thus many a dwarven city gazes sternly down from a high mountain or hunkers deep in a protective vale. those dwarves given life by Moradin’s divine skill and touched by his holy hands. only the past. They are justly proud of their monumental structures and famed the world over for their skills. the giants. until after the primordials were laid low and the empires of the giants fell into obscurity and ruin.Dwarves —Matt Sernett Long ago. Nor have they lost their crafter’s skill at the forge. typically originated in the Age of Chains. These were the Firstborn. bakers. dwarves tend to group professions by direct applications. His creations—his children—were dying beneath the whips and boots of the foul giants. Armed with weapons and armor forged by Moradin. haunted by specters of the past and echoing with the cries of monstrous inhabitants. And yes. had called out to him for so long that they lost the voice for it and became slaves to the giants in body and soul. their works are grand. the ancestors’ great empires are gone. for dwarves feel the drive to carve and tunnel as much as half lings sense the irresistible pull of wanderlust. Like all the major races. dwarves live long lives steeped in traditions and dedicated to duty. Moradin set aside his work and turned his anger against the primordials. and many dwarven clanhomes lie in the hands of enemies. dwarves have not lost their enmity for the giants. Indeed. Moradin the All-Father chiseled dwarves from the bones of the earth and forged for them souls of iron. He could not hear their lamentations through the furor of his labor. Thus. Yet when the primordials beheld Moradin’s bright children and their many clever works. and quartermasters in times of war. dwarves achieved great advances and suffered grievous losses. and today dwarves exist in an age of uncertainty. the dwarves cried out to their creator. Perhaps due to their ancestors literally working in giant scale. and offering them the treasures they found by breaking the bones of the world. he worked on his next creation ceaselessly. those ancient beings of creation and destruction that now gnash their teeth upon the world’s foundations. Throughout their many long generations. Some. The jealous primordials made the dwarves serve their hateful creations. but Moradin had begun his next great work. he plunged his works into ambrosia to cool them. Being practical by nature. When Moradin looked about the world. Dwarves forget little and forgive even less. dwarves might once again carve kingdoms of light from a dark world. He was to learn a lesson all dwarves now take to heart: that no gift should be given lightly. and having finished his craft. a clan of farmers also serves as the city’s brewers. mine. When dwarves build. Few dwarven settlements remain purely on the surface for long. vast swathes of such structures remain disused by the underhall’s citizens. and looking out from their mountains. and quarry. A clan of miners typically works as a settlement’s smiths and minters. and endurance. they grew envious and demanded dwarves of their own. the great dwarven nations of the world are little more than citystates. dwarves were slaves to the giants. Such abandoned areas become frightful catacombs. building grand cities for them. 28 . fierce and resolute creatures who believe in hard work and who value fine craftsmanship almost as much as they esteem loyalty and honor. dwarves saw their great empires rise and fall. Of course. the gods defeated the primordials.

concept art and final 29 .Dwarf cleric.

Every other creature possesses some special sight that allows it to see in dim light or even in darkness. a miner might share home-brewed ale with her friends after a day’s hard work. most particularly great feats of architecture and the crafting of armor and weapons. Few would mistake dwarven items or buildings for those of any other race. only humans. To play appropriately. and other individuals of martial skill. paladins. This martial culture provides a deep and productive mine for brave adventurers. and therefore marriages between clans are regularly arranged in childhood and even before the birth of the betrothed. Members of a clan apprentice to their future work from a young age. The hero’s path can be long and lonely. Having worked with the other clan in its profession for years. dwarves have little fear of violence. fighters. Dwarven legends are replete with great clerics. Even the most dour and taciturn old greybeard cracks a grim smile at the thought of hefting a hammer and bringing it to bear on foes. Out of the three 3rd Edition core rulebooks. rangers. worked. but most sell them to the clan responsible for that kind of work in the community. Most dwarves make hobbies of other clans’ work. Unlike other races. but almost every human has lived. and their play and exercise often take the form of mock battles. That seemed a little crazy. Yet as the dwarven proverb says: “Deeds speak truth. Dwarves favor strong geometric shapes and sharp. The harness for a thundertusk boar would bear illustrations of boar heads. but when they do depict people or creatures. we knew we needed to improve how the game handled special kinds of vision. These weapons closely resemble the tools they use in daily work.” DWARVES AND DARKVISION —Matt Sernett When we designed the 4th Edition of the D&D game. and when we thought about it. most dwarves find such alliances suit themselves as much as they aid their families. A brewer might leave the city on sunny afternoons to pan for gold in a valley stream. Dwarves favor hafted weapons such as hammers. Dwarves train with weapons from youth. the DM has to describe the big dark room one way for the drow Dwarven designs 30 . The saddle horn on the saddle for a griffon mount might look like the head or claw of a griffon. and that clan can then either use the work in question or sell it for a small profit. Of course. and most dwarves keep such a weapon handy wherever they might be. and even clan. or city. They use few adornments besides patterns of shapes. town. no dwarf worthy of the race knows only his own job. and great deeds shout it from the mountaintops. Less common but equally famed are the powerful dwarf wizards and elementalists. Few humans ever visit a dwarven clanhome. barbarians. Death and injury remain terrible specters that loom over conf lict. axes. In the mixed communities that remain from the days of the last human empire. dwarven neighborhoods are common. and even befriended a dwarf who lives and works in their village. or a tailor might in the evenings cut gems and craft jewelry that best compliments his clothing. straight lines that make their work distinctive. Dwarves who walk it must often break the bonds of tradition. dwarves place such representations based on practical associations. family. and picks. and lizardfolk need a light to see normally at night. often shoulder-to-shoulder with the settled-upon mate. A comb for beards might be shaped like a bearded dwarf face. the inequality of special vision also complicated the game.Dwarves —Continued Dwarves excel at many crafts. but despite this. halflings. dwarves often seem joyful in combat. Dwarves might give the products of such hobby work as gifts.

and no dwarf forgets a grievance. the two peoples’ diametrically opposed world views ensure ongoing clashes if not outright war. and still another for the human holding the torch. Orcs and giants target dwarf settlements. Dwarf adventurers often build a second clan around their adventuring companions. and slaves. Orcs see dwarf holds as ready-made shelter. as well as a source of food. such a loss must be avenged. one way for the dwarf (who has darkvision 60 feet). But the clanless abound. Both cultures share a martial spirit and a grasp of smithing weapons and armor. They never contemplate foreswearing such social support. and they never bother to imagine the horror of being ripped from their clan. and mine when foolish dwarves have done so for them? After all. Where dwarves gather and build. Through generations. farm. enjoying the comfort of life in a clan—a close-knit group of friends and kin. To eliminate those problems we took darkvision away from most creatures. the two races might have come into conf lict simply over resources. Now. WITHOUT A CLAN —Chris Sims Most dwarves toil their life through. And there’s one more problem with many creatures having darkvision: The PCs don’t get to see the scenery in caves or large dungeon rooms. and such ties can be as strong—or stronger—than the ties of blood and tradition. including dwarves. ORC FOES —Chris Sims Since orcs and dwarves inhabit mountainous regions. craven thieves. If possible. but when the PCs enter the dwarven city. it’s likely everyone can see its splendor. only the deserving end up with the spoils. the only way orcs can repay their debt is with blood. Many a clanless dwarf is the sole survivor of the destruction of a dwarf hold. but no dwarf can forget or forgive the loss of his clan.Dwarven armor (who has darkvision 120 feet). 31 . and where dwarves are dutiful and industrious. orcs are treacherous and lazy. as do avaricious dragons and other monsters. another way for the elf (who has low-light vision). However. Now dwarves illuminate the homes they build into mountains. They possess low-light vision so they don’t use as much light as a human might. but there the similarities end. wealth. Why should orcs bother to build. orcs scavenge and destroy. Another clan might adopt a clanless dwarf. dwarves have suffered the unrelenting brutality of orcs. Dwarves see orcs as murderous.

the dwarf is a model for how races can be flavorful and still have clear mechanics. The dwarves might dig deep in the earth for precious materials. As such. Dwarves still play into the expectations of veteran players. dwarves can grow their own crops and raise their own livestock. The new edition’s dwarf gives a nod to all its ancestors. even dwarf delves are accessible to all characters. From the early days of the game. As well as the strong angular motif. while acknowledging the needs of the new edition. the Dwarven characters are also broader than runic ones. did they gain a penalty to Charisma and a cap on Dexterity. and distinctive. and most of them (0.7. Ascenders and descenders were also discarded. dwarves still made great fighters. from the look of the D&D world to minor thematic elements in the dwarf race. Flavorful abilities round out the package. plenty of dwarves live in subterranean chambers. SURFACE-DWELLING DWARVES —Chris Sims One way in which the new edition’s dwarves deviate from old stereotypes is that these dwarves build surface cities with underground sections. dwarves have been tough and soldierly. dwarves have changed little. not just as a door in a mountainside.3. reinforcing the dwarf as a defender and as a creature that likes to live underground. so I created very simple shapes. following the logic that superfluous flourishes were a waste of good carving space: preparing a good rock surface would be time-consuming work. With surface settlements. look. They’ve always had a clear place and role. Only with the advent of racial ability adjustments in the A D D Player’s Handbook Dwarven runes 32 . Only darkvision.1. went away in favor of low-light vision. Dwarves have been apt at stonework and able to see in the dark since the D&D Basic Rules. but even their mines are aglow with lantern light. nor do they need to rely on contrived underground animals for all that meat they love to feast on. but these were discarded in favour of creating letters with only straight lines. In designing the look of the D&D world. and they live up to the conceptions of myth and fantasy literature. So I created many new characters with strong angular marks—and often with no verticals at all. The ancient northern European runes share a characteristic main vertical stem in many of their characters. At first this included curves. In 3E. and use space very efficiently. the letters should be compact. but they became worse clerics than ever due to turning’s reliance on Charisma. they might fit their intended place in the D&D world better than ever. since they have no Charisma penalty. Dwarves seem more a part of the world when they’re not sequestered in underground halls. those magnificent halls are lit with streaming sunlight from windows to the outside and ventilated with fresh surface air. Sure. especially as clerics. so in the end. But since dwarves can’t see in the dark. and they can excel in leader roles as well. This gave an alphabet with quite a different.8) bear some kind of resemblance to their Latin or Roman counterparts. SURE AND STEADY —Chris Sims In the evolution of the D&D game. But this led to a character set that resembled the runes of ancient England and Scandinavia too closely. They don’t need to rely on lowland sources for grain (and beer!). Dwarves make great fighters and paladins. Creating numerals was a simple extension of these ideas. In the new edition. a troublesome game element. Many factors necessitated this move.2. or to the physical quantity they represent. Dwarf towns are places characters can visit and even sneak into (try that with a small gate in a mountainside). But now. we wanted player characters to be able to see dwarf cities as grand edifices among the peaks and canyons.Dwarves —Continued DESIGNING THE DWARVEN ALPHABET —Daniel Reeve The Dwarven characters had to be suitable for carving into stone.5.

ARTIST’S COMMENTARY —William O’Connor We all know dwarves are stocky. I had no inclination to depict them with beards or soft cherubic faces. though that only intensified the Great Fireball Debate. even sexy. But there’s no doubt that the new edition’s dwarves are surface-dwelling creatures whose love of the earth shows through in their culture. Yes. I decided that the beards would be a key to individualizing characters denoting family. it must hold a strong social. people argued over whether dwarf women had beards. sparked fanbase suspicions concerning the apparent absence of female dwarves in Tolkien. back then when D&D was new. Second. broad hands. Wagner. The design team felt that they had been ignored in earlier versions because they are always depicted as so unattractive and masculine. with a hard-edged style. particularly in reference to G . possibly even religious significance. I was directed to make them beautiful. stocky and large nosed is not exactly a schema for the classic female beauty. . and live in caves in the mountains. I found that the only facial feature that could be seen through all the hair was the nose. The beards became a fun experiment. Strong. . since throughout art history dwarves have large noses. . Nordic mythology: all have established this archetype. Questions of dwarven female beauty have been buried once for and all. . The female dwarves were a much greater challenge. Snow White. Dwarves are a hard people. there were two topics that resurfaced endlessly in gaming magazines. shoulders and low center of gravity. and small-nosed dwarves tend to look like Santa. it was a debate that f lared through halfa-decade of fandom. have beards. . The mountainous terrain and mining lead to the beards. Broadening the face and balancing the design with piles of hair and slightly bigger eyes was my solution. they lived underground for defense. Short. First. . back when Tactical Systems Rules (TSR!) published wargame rules in the same pamphlet format on topics such as modern micro-armor tank battles . The culture of mining and rock inspired a faceted aesthetic that I felt would pervade the art of the dwarves and give them a distinctive look. Remarks by early D&D creators. . Tolkien. . personal history and clan affiliation. The design team told me that dwarves should look like tanks. IN PRAISE OF DWARF WOMEN —Rob Heinsoo Back in the early days. with an exotic beauty that no one would think to splash a beard on. . We’ll have to make do with the Great Fireball Debate. earthy and feminine. Since no one ever sees a dwarf without a beard. people argued about the best way to handle lightning bolt and fireball spells. Once the beards were designed. . Dwarf rogue When the dwarves were fighting for freedom from the giants. Did female dwarves grow beards and move unremarked among dwarf males? Did female dwarves have to shave? Et Tedious Cetera. Arthur Rackham. . sensual. . despite the fact that they were said to be on the scene. it’s true—”Hirsute Dwarven Women” wasn’t a bad-hair band. . I began by developing the race of dwarves by looking at where they lived. so I thought it would be very striking if it were prominent. back when D&D players had three pamphlets in a brown or white box . back before D&D first became Advanced . . . 33 . The eventual publication of AD&D provided concrete rules. So thank Moradin we’re eight years into the Zeds and Bill O’Connor has gifted us with a magnificent new look for dwarf women.

although powerful city-states remain. on the other hand.” or simply “elves. From the beginnings of their race. Most eladrin communities exist close to the ever-shifting border between the Feywild and the world.Eladrins —Richard Baker Serene. and efforts to dam up the river completely are doomed to eventual failure.” Those who remained in the Feywild and rebuilt the ruined kingdoms became known as eladrins—a name given to them by Corellon in the language of the immortals. and even time flows differently in the fey realm. In time. for example. 34 . redirected. Academic-minded eladrins contemplate the deepest mysteries of magic within the arcane towers of elven cities such as Shinaelestra. while those who loved living things more found the vast forests of the natural world more to their liking. remain on the hillsides of a fair green island all spring and summer. But D&D is emphatically not the game of fairy-tale fantasy. They grow up in an environment suffused with magic. and Avaellor. The towers of Avaellor. diverting part of the river into a new channel. Books like Susannah Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. beauty is more beautiful and ugliness more ugly. They are sometimes known as “high elves” after the tall towers of their cities and their desire to remain above the concerns of the world. and the dreaded fomorians. and Cendriane. and are often called “high elves” or “gray elves” by those who don’t know any better. such as savage werebeasts. eladrins are the people of the Feywild—the faerie world of twilight and magic that exists alongside the human world. some elves were fascinated by arcane magic and the skillful working of stone and metal. cruel and bloodthirsty forest spirits. There’s something genuinely frightening about the idea that a traveler in dark woods at night might disappear from the world entirely and end up in a place where the fundamental rules have changed. Yes. there is something very appealing about the legends of a faerie land. On the positive side. But to this day many eladrins and elves—especially the adventurers and sages of both races—pass easily between the Feywild and the world and back again with nary a thought. Of all the races. The 3rd Edition Manual of the Planes introduced the idea of Faerie as a plane of existence that lay outside the standard cosmology. Their shining cities lie hidden from the eyes of common mortals within the dark and wondrous Feywild. he sees evidence of the invisible river of magic f lowing through all things. Jenn-Tourach crosses over onto a mountaintop only for a single day at midsummer. The city of Shinaelestra. the god of magic. even if not every eladrin is a wizard (as some ignorant humans believe). Sagacious master wizards instruct their eladrin apprentices to think of magic as a river f lowing through the universe. Casting a spell or creating a magic item is like dipping a bucket into that river—or at most. They are graceful swordmasters. Corellon. Eladrins are at home in both the Feywild and the mortal realm. Even if an eladrin never casts a spell in his life. a world that’s an imperfect—or a more perfect—mirror of our own. The detractors have some good points. people recognize pixies from fairy tales. Jenn-Tourach. magic is a fundamental force of the universe. skillful artisans. the rise of the drow—the dark elves—precipitated a terrible time of war and ruin within the Feywild. and it’s never mastered as much as temporarily tapped. And eladrin knights and swordmages guard their beautiful castles and cities against the darker denizens of the Feywild. replacing a glade deep within the Howling Forest for a few hours before returning to the Feywild with the first light of dawn. though. They are the most highly cultured and learned of the elven races. graceful. WHY FEY AND THE FEYWILD? —James Wyatt Fey have always been a part of D&D that has both proponents and detractors. eladrins are the most likely to take magic for granted. he created the elves to people the Feywild and the wild places of the world. and shaped. D&D is a game about slaying horrible monsters. The grand realms of the eladrins are largely a thing of the past. but are close enough to the world of humankind for travelers to sometimes catch glimpses of their turrets and spires. was the first immortal to discover the Feywild. while others were enamored of the natural world and the shaping of wood and water. say the sages. and good-aligned creatures are hard to use in combat-heavy adventures. and wizards of great cunning and power. Others explore the ruins of long-gone high elven civilizations like the Anauli Empire. and just a little inscrutable. Many elves abandoned the Feywild forever and took up a simpler existence in the great forests of the natural world. Norrell depict that world in vivid language. These are known as “wood elves. For eladrins. Magic is more real there. spire-topped cities in the Feywild. not a game about traipsing off through fairy rings and interacting with the little people. the Realm of the Twin Queens. riding among its vast silver plains with unicorns or sailing its starlit seas. in my estimation—cute pixies and leprechauns aren’t fun opponents. and eventually divided the elven race into three distinct kindreds. It was a parallel plane like the Plane of Shadow. or seek delight in the sublime wonders of the Feywild. Those who were inclined to work in stone and magic built graceful. The f low of magic continues unabated despite the diversion. shifts onto the world at each midnight. fading into the Feywild with the coming of winter. Enamored with the beauty of this enchanted place.

Its nymphs can kill with a glance or enchant mortals to act as their slaves. They don’t think of Good and Evil in the same way that mortals do.touching the world in many places. or just because the moon is in a certain phase. for example. ELADRIN SOCIETY —Dave Noonan Whether an eladrin calls the Feywild cities or a white tower amid a human city home. he or she grows up in an extended family group known as a house. Like the world of humankind. One aspect of legendary and literary Faerie is that the fey are curiously amoral. we put the wild back into the Feywild. What. Those are the fey we wanted in the Feywild. the Feywild is a place of darkness interrupted by tiny. slashing about with branchlike arms. similar to it in general form and landscape. an eladrin lord is likely to be a conservative ruler. it’s likely that Lord Tynal of Shinaelestra will handle it same way he did five decades ago.” Eladrin wizard 35 . Its dryads walk into battle alongside their treant allies. For exactly the same reasons. Conflicts over succession are more rare. The Feywild is home to unearthly eladrins who might call up the Wild Hunt and rampage through the mortal world to avenge some real or imagined wrong. If you tell him of an invading army of orcs. to do with the cute sprites and good-hearted nymphs? Well. and an eladrin ruler can draw on a vast reserve of experience when responding to a crisis. and they can be cruel or murderous almost on a whim. Even the beautiful palaces of the eladrins can be welcoming in daylight but places of terror when the sun fades from view. The long life span also explains why eladrin communities have simpler political structures than other races. then. “If we’re at an impasse. Most eladrins use their house name as a surname: Jauri Risingstar and Eledria Risingstar are both scions of House Risingstar. however. Each house has its own heraldic crest that’s embroidered into a robe or tabard and used on pennants and other decorations. but hauntingly beautiful and inhabited by fey. That’s the plane we adopted into the cosmology as the Feywild. A lord or lady may govern an eladrin domain for two centuries or more—a continuity of leadership that the short-lived races can’t match. We’ll bring the matter up with your grandchildren. Human diplomats find it hard to negotiate with the high elf realms because they’re often told. even if they’re only distantly related by blood. Houses tend to be quite large. that’s fine. flickering points of light—but in the Feywild those are more like points of twilight. often numbering hundreds of eladrins due to their three-century life span.

or the People of the Shadow-Glade. Elves make their homes in wild places of great beauty. Due to the unifications that occurred during the last human empire. Ages ago. the impulsive elves temper their wild hearts with compassion and courage. elves and eladrins were a single race. Unlike eladrins. They are eager to despoil and poison the woods they occupy. Elves detest the wanton ruin and cruel excesses of goblinkind and will not hesitate to wage a long. who are often reserved and scholarly. and halflings too sly for their own good. they always seem to find their way back to familiar forests from time to time. quick to jest and laugh. becoming skilled builders. Other folk sometimes refer to the eladrins as “high elves” and the forest-dwellers of the world as “wood elves.” Elves long ago spurned the cities and havens of the eladrins for the natural wonders of the wilderness—usually the deep forests of the world. and dancing within the hidden glades of Daggermoor. The eladrins were fascinated by magic and the high lore of making. There they dwell. stalking owlbears in the Howling Forest. merciless war to drive out any goblin band that claims part of a forest where the elves roam. the people of the Feywild—the twilight world of faerie that exists alongside the world of humankind. rarely building permanent homes or even living in the same place for more than a few months at a time. An elf tribe is far more egalitarian than an eladrin haven. then spend another year climbing Mount Keannor. crossing over into the Feywild or exploring the borderlands of the settled races when their curiosity leads them there. The elves aren’t without friends. such as centaurs or dryads. A chieftain. They are brave warriors.Elves —Dave Noonan Quick to laughter and quick to anger. but they’re keen enough observers to avoid being rude—most of the time. and astonishingly agile and swift of foot. Elves don’t usually use surnames. They became a race of wanderers and hunters. If anything is capable of souring an elf ’s compassionate and lighthearted nature. the Oakroot tribe. building a treehouse village of living wood in a particular stretch of forest. building shelters and settlements amid the woodlands that are virtually invisible to travelers who lack their woodcraft and keen senses. No matter how far their travels take them. for that matter). A typical elf community is a semi-nomadic tribe. shaping these forests to their own tastes. and another decade tracing the overgrown paths through the Feywild that connected the cities in the ruined realm of Cendriane. each family unit takes an animal as a totem or mascot: the Falcons. of course) have fought many wars against elves. and so on. anyway. Beyond the drow. Within a tribe. Goblins (and hobgoblins and bugbears. handsome or beautiful. artisans. and masters of the secret magic of nature that surrounds all living things. Elves are blunt. And elves are generally friendly toward humans. They are plainspoken. goblins have learned to fear and hate elven arrows. it’s the presence of the drow: midnightskinned creatures who dare to call themselves elves. and halflings— even if humans are maddeningly inconsistent. but it’s likely that most of them will still be alive when she returns. the Wolves. Even if her great-grandfather is a century old. leads each elf tribe. Elves can call upon ancient fey allies. The elves loved the simple beauty of the natural world far more than the works of their own hands and minds. Any member has the right to speak his mind to the chieftain (or anyone else. to aid them. or a human barony. those wanderings can go far indeed. yet long ago betrayed their entire race after being seduced by the lies of Lolth. And because elves are as long-lived as their eladrin cousins. but they favor dark forests whose gloomy shadows shelter them from the sun. For their own part. 36 . Demon Queen of Spiders. and they drifted apart from their more settled kinfolk. elves love simple pleasures. leaping among the cascading waterfalls of the Durkellwood. They are a physically gifted race: slender. a dwarven clan. dwarves. other enemies abound. Tribes are generally named after a geographic feature or a plant: the Whitepeak Tribe. then savoring the natural splendors of that place for a few seasons or years before their collective wanderlust takes the tribe elsewhere. She might not see tribe or family for two decades. and deliberately pollute and burn the woodlands to drive the elves away. chosen by consensus during a collective trance-ritual. and disinclined to tie themselves down to dull or unpleasant tasks. searching for a new place where they can set down roots for a time. for example. An individual elf could spend a decade in the jungles of the Haruani Archipelago. superb archers. that elf could wander for 200 years and find him still alive when she came back to the tribe. dwarves are dour killjoys. but when necessary they’re equally likely to adopt their tribe name or their family mascot as a surname. and wizards. Their tribes wander the vast wilds of the world. most human settlements include at least a few elves. a season living among the humans in one of their cities. the Owls. From their sinister cities beneath the earth—where elves and eladrins banished them after a long war that left many eladrin cities in ruin and great forests burned to ash—they hatch evil plots full of malice and revenge toward elf and eladrin alike. Goblins build their fortress-cities wherever they can.

concept art and final 37 .Elf ranger.

Elves
—Continued

RECONCEPTING THE ELVEN LOOK
—Richard Baker If you take a look at the height and weight suggested for elf characters in previous editions, you’ll discover that elves used to be exceptionally small and slight. It wasn’t unusual for elf characters to stand only about 5 feet tall and weigh less than 90 pounds—about the size of a typical 12-year-old. It’s hard to make a character of that stature look slender and graceful without making him or her extremely small, at least as compared to the humans, dwarves, or half-orcs in the party. So we decided to revisit elf stature for the new edition. Core to the elves is the notion of elven grace—and if you’re going to designate a race as particularly graceful, then they should have a physique that looks graceful. A male elf, no matter how strong, will never look like a linebacker. At most, that elf will have the chiseled but still lean physique of a lightweight boxer. That aspect of the elven “look” is key for reasons of identification. Elves now stand about as tall as humans do, or even a little taller. And they’re athletic, not emaciated. They have the long legs and light builds of born runners. Elves retain several of their distinguishing characteristics from earlier editions, most notably the pointed ears and the slight tilt to the eyes. And elf males don’t have facial hair. They’re not effeminate; they’re lean, athletic, and clean-shaven. That’s not to say that elves never look feminine—female elves sure do!

Elf head study

DESIGNING THE ELVEN ALPHABET
—Daniel Reeve Elven had to be graceful and flowing, so a curved script immediately suggested itself. Initial attempts had a flamelike

appearance, with ascenders and descenders lending a motif from the limbs of a recurve bow, but the overall effect was not quite convincing. Many of the characters seemed “forced.” To create 26 unique characters, plus 10 more for numerals, one must arrive at a sufficient level of complexity of curves and lines while adhering to a style. A glance at some Malayalam script reminded me that it is perfectly acceptable to divide a character’s “cell” space vertically (as with Latin “M,” or “W”), as well a horizontally (like Latin “E,” or “B”), and that the strokes forming a character are allowed to cross over themselves, forming more complex shapes than just simple open or closed curves. Bearing this in mind, I created a fresh script in a single creative burst with the calligraphy pen, allowing loops and curves to flow freely from the nib. The resulting characters have a consistent style, and the italic slant lends a nice flow to the writing. Calligraphic flourishes suggest themselves easily when writing this script by hand.

Elven runes

38

The new alphabet also improved on the first draft by using finer lines, with less difference between thick and thin strokes. This adds to the elegance and gracefulness of the script. The numerals came in a second burst, the only restriction being that they should each occupy a similar amount of vertical and horizontal space.

ALL YESTERDAY’S SUBRACES
—Richard Baker Somewhere around twenty years ago, the D&D game started to suggest differences between varieties of dwarves and elves. Dwarves were either hill dwarves or mountain dwarves; elves were high elves, wood elves, or gray elves. Of course there were drow too, so that suggested the dwarves might have an evil variety, and thus the duergar were born. Different campaign worlds came up with unique and flavorful names for these varieties, and different abilities too, making even more subraces. So before we knew it, we had a game with a dozen varieties of elves and just as many dwarves—and most had different mechanical characteristics from the basic elf, turning one character race into a dozen. For 4th Edition, we decided to take a big step back from that. We decided that most of the differences between different types of elves (drow excluded) were cultural, not physical. We

could retain the notion of two elven races. The D&D game has always boasted two very strong iconic themes for elf characters: the woodland ranger and the highly cultured wizard. Therefore we narrowed the field of elf subraces down to two entries that matter: high elf and wood elf. Gray elves, sun elves, moon elves—they’re all high elves. Wild elves, wood elves, green elves—they’re all just elves. Given the story we’d settled on for the high elves (a race of fey lords who live in castles in Faerie), it seemed that it would actually be counterproductive to also bring forward the eladrin into the new edition (a race of fey lords who live in Arborea, a plane that looks a lot like Faerie). In a sense, eladrin and high elves were competing for the same conceptual space, so we chose to combine them into a single race of fey lords and made the Feywild their home. The name “eladrin” became available to use as the name of the “high elf ” player character race. Now there are three races—not subraces—of elvenkind, and each is equally distinct from the others: Drow, Eladrin, Elf. By comparison, at the close of 3rd Edition, the elven subraces that had appeared in various D&D sourcebooks included elves, Aerenal elves, aquatic elves, avariel, drow, moon elves, painted elves, snow elves, star elves, sun elves, Valenar elves, wild elves, and wood elves. And we probably missed a couple.

Elf, Eladrin, and Drow

39

Halflings
—Bruce Cordell When the sun-hot strife between gods and primordials was barely cooled, the goddess of the moon, Sehanine, and the god of the wilderness, Obad-Hai, were drawn to each other. A tempestuous affair ensued, and before the two separated forever, a love gift was fashioned from the moon’s dreams and the undisciplined glens and rivers of the world: the halfling race. The goddess of luck looked upon the fruit of Sehanine and ObadHai’s abandoned effort and was delighted. Within the newborn halfling race stirred a spirit of adventure that could never be sated, and a devil-may-care attitude that surrendered their hopes and desires to luck as much as any knowledge or artifice. Curious and active, open but secretive about their internal dealings, halflings are quick and resourceful wanderers, small in stature but great in courage. They are an athletic race known for their ingenuity, quick wits, and steady nerves. Despite their lesser size, halflings have stout hearts and the ability to stand up to punishment that few could scarce credit. Halflings benefit from a nomadic, world-spanning culture that has survived thousands of years, including the rise and fall of several empires. When other races saw their great empires topple, found their deals with extra-mortal entities go bad, or were enslaved by terrible monsters, halflings survived

Half ling rogue

unchanged. Their oral histories contain a vast amount of lore about people and places long past, especially remnants still found in the world of today. Bound by traditions and customs that have served them well for thousands of years, halflings place great importance on being friendly to other peaceful societies and on sharing both the burdens and rewards of fortune. Among their own kind, half lings settle easily into their customary interactions, which are characterized by a more serious and practical mien. Halflings don’t collect themselves in kingdoms or realms, and they don’t recognize any sort of royalty or nobility. Instead, halflings organize themselves by clans, groups tied together by family relationships. Thus, the head of a clan is also the head of a family. Clan elders are expected to look after their own folk. Families many miles distant from each other keep in touch by means of avian couriers and messengers, so most halflings in any given area are quite well informed about what’s going on all around them. Clans move around with the seasons to avoid trouble, to find better fishing and hunting, to visit a distant family group, to relocate their water caravan to a new center of trade, or simply to live someplace different. In their travels, clans pass knowledge on to others they meet, exchange members via marriage, and reestablish relationships with clans with whom they have been out of touch. The fine points of clan law varies from one family clan to another, but in most cases a halfling is technically a member of both the mother’s and father’s clan at birth. Upon reaching maturity, a halfling must formally declare between the two clans and adopt the family name of the chosen clan. However, ties between both clans remain close. Clan elders are chosen by acclaim every so many years, depending on a particular river caravan’s luck and happiness— the less happy, the more often new clan elders are chosen. The title elder is more ceremonial than accurate—any half ling can be an elder as long as he or she is at least twenty-four years old. Clan elders hand down family law, mediate in disputes between members, and provide general direction to the clan’s activities. No set number of clan elders exists—more elders are elected whenever it seems too much work has fallen upon the shoulders of too few. Sometimes clan elders from disparate clans meet to pass on important warnings; however, such information is normally trusted to standard means of dispersing information. Always roaming, halflings are at home in any land but call no land their own. Through their constant travels, usually via waterways and marshlands, few peoples have learned more of the world and what goes on upon its face than halflings. Where most other races find their peace in a domicile lived in by generations of parents and grandparents, or in sturdy-built homes deep in the earth that hardly change at all over the centuries, halflings find peace in the act of traveling. Instead of being wearied by days of paddling canoes, pushing rafts, riding rapids, and pulling barges, halflings are rejuvenated by such activity. Halflings are not much for riding or traveling by hard, dusty roads; river trips are their preferred means of touring.

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and preforming other repair work. including masonry. guard duty. sometimes even setting up temporary stalls from which to do business. A few who’ve bought lots of merchandise from somewhere farther up or down the river try to sell or trade their wares. Some of the halflings who disembark from a river caravan hire themselves onto nearly any enterprise. Some even win a hand or two. Such favors can take the form of aid to those in need. Others who have salable skills of their own seek the local marketplace to offer their services. mending sails. Halfling watercaravans can be found traveling up or down a river or tributary subsisting on trade. be it brewing. Even when halfling proclivities for winning and tricks is known. and curious demeanor. oneoff quests into the wilderness. They possess an easy-going. those remaining with the boats begin songs of labor as they get to work patching holes. entertainment. This behavior isn’t a false front. When a halfling water caravan ties up its many craft to the piers of an established community. affable face to outsiders. cobbling. discounts on services for those who have little to spend. If halflings were known to be a race of liars and swindlers. weaving. At the same time. Halflings are also powerfully drawn to games of chance and luck. and small gifts to people who have treated them especially kindly—or unkindly. and sometimes graft. but instead is their natural inclination outside the bounds of their traditional culture. When halflings deal with the population of a community they’re visiting. their natural luck is more than enough to put them over the top in many a game. there always seems to be those of other races eager to “match wits” with halfling dice masters. but usually halflings come out on top. no community would allow an itinerant water caravan to set up camp. or leatherworking. and in such games tend to do so well that others sometimes suspect them of being a race of cheaters. such actions go a long way toward maintaining the feelings of good will most other races feel toward this diminutive people. farming. While it is probably true that such halfling good will is merely part and parcel of a halfling personality. or even as companions on perilous. halfling merchants. optimistic. eager for the day. and entertainers jump from their boats. and card sharks who believe their own luck and the stories their sycophants feed them. tricksters. friendly.Half ling riverboat The river offers routes to places near and far. they present a plucky. Halflings are also known for the favors and great deals they sometimes accord their buyers. 41 . already anticipating the next leg down or up the river. While its true that halflings are not above a trick or two. day laborers.

and by 1977 all the hobbits became halflings. The look of halflings started to change. a diminutive. and the profits crime can accumulate if such activities are never discovered. deception. the D&D halflings still looked and acted like something right out of the Shire—they were often a little plump and they walked around with their fuzzy feet bare. and they have an instinctive desire to “borrow” things from the pockets and backpacks of whomever is standing nearby. we decided that we still liked the 3rd Edition look and feel of halflings—but we needed to continue to evolve the halfling role and appearance in the game. Then came the D version of the halflings: kender. and the tallfellows. though most decide to live permanently within the bounds of a human city so they can continue to pursue their questionable ways. more conservative peoples. Half ling head study 42 . it should be noted that halflings’ happy-go-lucky view of the world sometimes comes across in a less than positive light to other. and the little fellows became a key repository for much of the game’s humor. vaguely elfin race. too. halflings look at others’ possessions in a “different” light. With the onset of 3rd Edition D&D in 2000. too. When such halflings are discovered operating within the confines of a halfling water caravan. Get them out of their comfortable homes. and for heaven’s sake let them wear boots like everyone else. But then D&D made the transition from an overgrown hobby to a full-fledged product line. Halflings became nomadic and had a measure of whimsical trickery—but whimsy that could turn sinister at a moment’s notice. not all halflings are motivated by curiosity and an honest spirit of fun to do tricks. a class that’s conceptually similar to what we’d call a rogue today. Most of them were thieves. Thus. Throughout the 1970s and the early 1980s. they are exiled and can never return to the river-born life. THE EVOLUTION OF THE HALFLING —Dave Noonan In the beginning (which we’ll call 1974). Whether the antics of the kender PC at your D&D table were hilarious or annoying tended to determine how you felt about the kender as a whole. the somewhat dwarflike stouts. not outright dishonesty. The players drove D&D halflings into new territory. but D&D tables everywhere were full of mischievous. Owning only a minimal amount of property themselves. In the mid-1980s. halflings started to move away from the Tolkien vision—spurred on by tens of thousands of D&D players. Talk about a race designed for a mischievous player—kender are impossibly curious. such action is a result of a powerful curiosity. Then again. Subraces emerged: the traditional hairfeet. Such a halfling is motivated more by greed than curiosity. halflings were hobbits straight out of Tolkien. but shade them a little darker than the kender so they could be more than comic foils. The D&D game—at that point three booklets and some reference sheets costing $10—even called them hobbits. who were associated with the elves and were only tall when compared to hairfeet and stouts. There exists the rare halfling who fully understands the ethics of larceny. When halflings do sell the proceeds of illicitly gotten gains. and enthusiastic halfling thieves. the fact that another creature “owns” a particular object is less relevant than how soon the halfling in question might “find” that same object himself. Messages bearing the description of the offender are sent to all other nearby halfling caravans. Their visual identity changed. These halflings may seek another caravan. To some halflings. halflings have also acquired something of a reputation for being prone to theft—but from a halfling’s point of view. Halflings got the lithe physique of gymnasts rather than the portly physique of rustic gentleman farmers.Halflings —Continued Of course. utterly fearless. lest the offender attempt to take up with them. a consensus quickly emerged: retain the halfling’s natural enthusiasm. while others found them a little too far in the “comic relief ” territory. As we began our work on 4th Edition. Bilbo Baggins might have been a reluctant thief. they do so with the belief that they’ve merely redistributed resources to where they were able to do the most good to those most in need. Some players embraced the kender. wisecracking.

Finally. Of the major nonhuman heroic races. and all the clans in a particular region or kingdom confer with each other when any one of them is faced with a decision that might affect all halflings. They are the far-ranging traders who control the best roads in the world. First of all. but they know how to stand up for themselves when they need to. places. All clan leaders are more or less equal. we quickly discarded forests and mountains (that’s where the other races live). they live in large clans aboard keelboats. Second. We tend to see people who live in swamps as backwater rubes. and plains (not very distinctive. and fishing. That’s still not very big. That means about four feet tall and roughly 65 pounds. So we decided that we would let halflings get closer to the size of 9. messengers. it means that we can make our Small-sized halfling miniatures about two-thirds the height of our human miniatures and give them proportional athletic builds. Their legends and tales recall people. 43 . They frequently domesticate animals and birds to serve as scouts. At first blush. and I remember when they were that small. and they have a knack for providing their trading partners with whatever commodity or expertise their friends lack. it might seem that looking at halflings as marsh-dwellers is not very interesting. They present hiding places and impede the movement of most attackers. It leaves them oddly flavorless compared to the others. halflings have good reasons to live in swamps. marshes and swamps offer excellent defensive terrain. gathering. guards. I pointed out to my teammates on several occasions that I could not imagine how many preschoolers it would take to beat me (or any good-sized adult) in a tug-of-war. what’s left? Marshes and swamps. To master the difficult environment they have chosen to live in. Halflings are still an affable and easygoing people. and it’s still hard to believe that a half ling warrior would really stand a chance against a monstrous savage marauder like a gnoll or orc. A half ling who is three feet tall and thirty-five pounds is only about as big as a typical three-year-old. But when you think about it. they have gained a great respect for and understanding of the natural world around them. metalworking skills for the elven village. So. stretching back for thousands of years. They’ll just look better at that size. In thinking about possible terrains half lings might like. As it turns out. Because halflings haven’t raised many empires. but certainly less of a stretch than before. Forests with elven tree-cities and mountains with dwarven fortresses are a staple of the game setting. You can assume that adult half lings are two or three times stronger than human children of the same size. marshes and swamps are filled with life and offer lots of opportunities for hunting. the world’s halflings form a sort of “invisible empire” from sea to sea. We’ve been quietly filling out and growing our halfling miniatures for a while now anyway. Halfling culture and tradition is quite old. really small. and rafts.HOW SMALL IS SMALL? —Richard Baker One thing we got wrong in 3rd Edition was half ling size. Besides. and workers. half lings have always lacked a native terrain. Half ling fighter LIFESTYLE AND SOCIETY —Richard Baker Half lings are waterfolk. barges. WHERE DO THEY LIVE? —Richard Baker Elves and dwarves have always been tied to specific terrain types in D&D. marshes and swamps are waterways that provide access to coasts and rivers—and rivers are the best roads in the world in a nonindustrialized society. While other races build permanent cities and try to raise up great empires. they haven’t suffered any great racial reversals like bigger folk. really). I have two kids.or 10-year-old kids. Halflings don’t live in caravan wagons. someone who is barely three feet tall is really. and events that other races no longer remember. Halflings provide foodstuffs to the dwarven stronghold. and hand-worked leather and pelts for the nearby human town. hills (too much like mountains). skilled boatbuilders and fishers.

The battle finally concluded when the tiefling general Achazriel completed the tunnel she’d started digging when the siege was initiated. sometimes breaking into full-scale wars. where the texts of each original pact were inscribed in burning fire on guarded iron shrines so they could never be forgotten and their full power lost. which was defended only by a tenth that number of dragonborn soldiers. Instead. Infernal bargains were avowed with names such as the Scarlet Claw of Hunger. 44 . Some of the most appalling battles in history were fought between Bael Turath and Arkhosia during their wars. and in the end. one of three strategically defensible locations on Arkhosia’s border. Even their own humanity. resources. Bael Turath’s expansion eventually led it into direct contact with the dragonborn empire of Arkhosia. and the War of Ruin. They called down hellfire. that history marks this conflict as the beginning of the end for both imperial nations. The first was followed by others. No stone was left standing atop another in Bael Turath’s grand capital. Bael Turath became an evil blot on the past. histories merely speak of the sudden appearance of tieflings and leave all mention of human involvement out of the picture. Flush in the power of its new-made pacts. and eldritch power to scour those who resisted them. Bael Turath decided to attack Razortear. but often only by accident. Even the buried Athenaeum of Bael Turath. burning realm amid the silvery Astral Sea . The nobles ruled their empire in the name of various infernal masters and patrons. even unto their last generation. each more terrible than the last. Those visions were instructions for how the nobility could achieve its ends. but they felt that in defending Razortear. And so when winter’s winds blew coldest. and to each pacts were sworn by the power-mad leaders of Bael Turath. Ultimately. the dragonborn would stretch their resources to the breaking point. A grisly month-long ritual would be required. and even will. no matter the cost. Thus. but at a cost so devastatingly brutal in lives. fully comprehending the power granted by those pacts that later generations would mostly forget. The tiefling generals knew they would not be able to storm past the garrison and into the Arkhosian heartland. Razortear was a fortified Arkhosian garrison. no matter the consequences. . a realm called the Nine Hells. refused. One such empire birthed the tief ling race. though learned sages know the truth. Border skirmishes grew with each passing year. and deep into the small hours of the second night. Arkhosia’s power and history was no less grand and storied than that claimed by the shadow of Bael Turath. but also promised to mark the descendents of every one present. Do you recall the whispered stories of Bael Turath? The empire of Bael Turath’s reach exceeded its grasp. They vowed they would retain their rule. Bael Turath darkened the ground with half a million warrior-slaves—each company led by a sub-prince of Hell itself—against Razortear. The ritual began in darkness and blood. The ritual included unsavory and terrible deeds that had to be enacted by each of its participants. And so was born the tiefling race. tief lings are a race whose bloodline stems from an infernal bargain made nearly a millennia ago. Unpredictable and adaptable. weeping and cursing. Whispered secrets slithered into the dreams of those who thirsted most for the continued dominion of Bael Turath. those who angered them. With Achazriel in the lead. the red-eyed dreamers repeated their visions in the day’s wan light. A few houses.Tieflings —Bruce Cordell Sundered from humanity by their ancestors’ overweening ego. and many annals of human history conveniently forget to recall that the empire’s infernal reign began in human hands and that human ego alone bred the Hell-Chained Empire. one that every living ruling house of the empire needed to participate in if the desired effect was to be achieved. the Iron Crown of Madness. Lacking any knowledge of their creator and without a purpose instilled by a caring maker. both empires fell into ruin. curses. Bael Turath’s brash promises were heard in a distant. . this strangely malleable race claims many an ancient and long vanished empire. the War of Wings. The resultant siege lasted ten full years. and upon waking. including the War of Teeth. the pacts bound not only the nobility present in the hideous ritual. and the Million Pains of Eternal Torment. was destroyed. so that no one would ever forget what Bael Turath had agreed to. those who seemed likely to make amusing victims. These houses were exterminated. Legends recall the terrible Battle for Razortear in the final War of Ruin. the first devil appeared from Hell’s iron doors. Night’s Loving Void. but the empire’s ruling nobility were addicted to their own power and glory. Bael Turath recklessly expanded its lands. Neither empire would yield anything to the other. and the remaining houses conducted their ritual without naysayers to question their grim certainty. no matter what they had to give up. Bael Turath’s few surviving noble houses scattered. Though hardly remarked upon at the time of their swearing. Bael Turath finally secured Razortear. one large enough to move a hundred thousand troops through quickly. humanity determined its own purposes. their power lost and their dreams turned to ash. even in decadent Bael Turath.

Tief ling warlock. concept art and final 45 .

Tieflings —Continued Over the centuries. except in a few hiddenaway places as mumbled prophecies and unlikely dreams. and eyes the color of burning coals “accent” their human appearance. though a closer look reveals obvious discrepancies. we focused mainly on weaponry. such distinctive attire and accoutrements are rare . a few of them gain access to “infernal-wear” and weapons that humans find mildly to profoundly disturbing. Those who want to portray tieflings in the worst possible light say the tiefling bloodline is tainted by the ill-considered dealings and diabolical connections of their ancestors. though the culture of Bael Turath is completely stamped out. Tief ling hair and specific body shape and configuration share the same wide range of variation that humans possess. Given that tief lings don’t have their own cities. Far from bashful. Tieflings may live among humans. even the name of Bael Turath was mostly forgotten by all but a few lore keepers and racial zealots—the bulk of the tiefling race is shorn of all but the broad outlines of its past. When we sat down to define some of the “unique” items of tiefling culture. but any tief ling with enough gold to spend and an eye for fashion can wear and wield just about anything he or she fancies. The infernal bloodline gets passed on. but they aren’t afraid to let their natural predilection for sharp pointy things manifest in creative ways. Most tieflings know they are the heirs of a lost empire. What a human might mistake for a twisted shard of metal could easily be a tiefling dagger. while their infernal legacy lends them an unearthly air that others either CULTURAL APPEARANCE OF ITEMS —Chris Perkins The attire and weaponry of the tief lings is inf luenced by their diabolic heritage as well as human culture. though the result of such pairings is always a tiefling. they often shed their common human wardrobe and don specially tailored outfits and armor more reflective of their infernal ancestry. Their small horns on their brow. This taint. Tiefling weaponry is exotic and cruel. their thin tails. When tief lings are spied in a city thronging with other peoples. or mark as others prefer to call it. After all. they appear human at a distance. While tief lings adopt human attire and use human weapons as a means of blending in with their surroundings. their pointed teeth. In many ways. The elegant curves of tiefling hellsteel blades can’t hide the nasty serrations and flanges designed to inflict terrible pain going in and coming out. tieflings have no realms of their own but instead live within human kingdoms and cities. Today. favoring revealing garments and formfitting armor. . visibly manifests and passes like a curse to each new generation. High-level tieflings have much less to fear from angry mobs. what’s the point of having horns and a tail if you can’t show them off? Tief ling weapons 46 . tieflings are human—they can bear children with humans. .

many tieflings favor dark colors and reds. In rare cases. tieflings know they have to make their own way in the world. The centuries since the collapse of Bael Turath have forged tieflings into a self-reliant and proud people who are sometimes willing to live up to the expectations of others. Whether the New Emperor will stand for good or ill.Tief ling fighter find confident and commanding. Therefore. and they know they have to be strong to survive. and small spikes and buckles. Such families keep to themselves and rarely interact with others of their kind. Tiefling-crafted arms and armor have a curiously archaic style to them. Tieflings are not very common. In more rustic environments. it was pulled into the deep earth. or scary and arrogant. and they gravitate toward mercantile pursuits. folks sometimes get nervous and suspicious at the sight of two or more tief lings in the same place. and possibly unconsciously rebelling against the decisions of their ancestors to throw their lot in with supernatural beings. Instead. both legitimate and otherwise. Most tief lings give little thought to gods or patrons of any kind. scattered to the four winds. an extended family or small clan of tieflings descended from one of the old dynasties of Bael Turath settles in some out-of-the-way manor or estate where wealth can purchase safety and comfort. the connections are solid and uncompromising. Those who are not adventurers often do very well as merchants. there (as mostly discredited prophecies foresee) to lie in darkness until the day the New Emperor arises. a tief ling whose destiny it is to forge Bael Turath anew. Their preferred dress also makes them stand apart from the masses. Tieflings are natural bargainers. They say the Vault of Pacts wasn’t truly destroyed when Arkhosia got its final posthumous revenge. preferring to look out for themselves. tief lings seldom follow the path of the divine—tief ling clerics or paladins are exceedingly rare. 47 . Though some folk are deeply suspicious of tief lings and generally assume that they grovel before devils in secret. arrangers. When they do form bonds. leathers and glossy furs. and usually live in the shadows of human society. tief lings often lack piety. nothing could be further from the truth. so most tief lings are loners. perhaps harkening back to the glory of their long-vanished empire. Of these hidden enclaves. and traders. not even the prophecies know. a few keep the legend of Bael Turath alive. Finding little in life to inspire faith. As people without a homeland.

they afforded D&D players a chance to flirt with the dark side without actually crossing the line into full-blown evil. Or they can play tieflings who walk the line between Good or Evil without fully embracing either. and that look could be edgy instead of ugly. Thanks to Bill O’Connor’s amazing powers of illustration. Also of primary importance is allowing a race so obviously touched by evil to get by and even be heroic in the world. the aasimar. we aimed to make them as easy to use as any other mainstream race. Why play Drizzt when you could play the great-grandson of a pit fiend? Tieflings reappeared in the 3rd Edition Monster Manual as one of the “plane-touched. and wicked tongues. In 4th Edition. This cohesive origin allows players to imagine what their individual tiefling is like. Sly. Sometimes it just doesn’t pay to be the super good guy. rather than the reputation of an evil empire. tieflings finally claim their rightful place among the core races. Finally. TIEFLING SHARED HERITAGE —Chris Sims All tieflings issue from the wicked root that was Bael Turath. Further. early decision. Forgive my bias.” inexorably bound to their dogooder cousins. the Underdark-dwelling drow. assets. we’ve also tied the race more closely to devils than demons. Along with the 4th Edition promotion. Their infernal heritage gives them plenty of angst and an excuse to “get medieval” whenever the mood suits them.Tieflings —Continued PROMOTION —Chris Perkins ® Tieflings trace their origins back to the 2nd Edition P Campaign Setting. we’ve tweaked the race’s abilities so that tieflings have more to offer than a darkness spell once per day. However. tieflings quickly became the exotic “bad boys” and “bad girls” of the Outer Planes. Check out the new Player’s Handbook to learn about their newfound. tieflings are neither confined to the darkness nor afraid to mingle with the surface dwellers. A common origin meant we could give tieflings a unified appearance. Each tiefling can now be judged on the merits of his or her behavior. uh. it’s easy to imagine tieflings kicking ass and looking hot in any role. They’re creatures descended from the devil-tainted rulers of that fallen empire. Players can take the race to either extreme. That kind of versatility makes for a great core race and places tieflings on a footing comparable to humans. as they would with a human. With their horns. In deciding on this single origin for tieflings in the world. knowing that every tiefling shares a similar body shape makes it easier to write new material for tieflings. unlike their Machiavellian rivals for coolness. they can pretty much go anywhere they want and do as they please. and a little sinister. tails. portraying tieflings that embrace their inner devilspawn as well as tieflings who strive to transcend their twisted heritage and lead honest to semi-honest lives. sexy. Tieflings are obviously fiendish. Given their diabolical appearance. They also carry less evil baggage and enjoy far more autonomy. Including them in the 4th Edition Player’s Handbook was an easy. without worrying about a list of possible devilish traits. In fact. but I’ll take horns and brimstone over sunshine and perfection any day. we’ve given the race a slight horn-lift and removed the cloven hooves to make boots part of the tiefling wardrobe. doomed to carry and pass on fiendish blood. While a town full of bigots who want to lynch every tiefling might be an interesting part Tief ling body study 48 . but to the world at large the evil of Bael Turath is long gone and mostly forgotten.

I put together the tiefling racial ability progression (and several other races) during an early phase of the writing of the third draft of Orcus. the tiefling of the current draft recalls only echoes of my original. “They are the forsaken people. their bodies reflect their fiendish heritage. the 1950s of the modern world). what would they look like? Twisted. What could be more rebellious? Playing a tiefling (or a warlock. almost liquid shapes. tieflings. riding noisy motorcycles. playtesting and development can radically change a race from its initial conception. they express their nonconformity in blatant ways. full of attitude and confidence—that’s how I imagine tieflings in the modern world (or. of an incarnation of evil. at least. from their hairstyles to their wardrobes. a world full of such hatred would make it unfairly hard on a tiefling’s player. and the need to do so without burdening the DM or the player. does that job well. Depending on the particular strange physical trait they chose at a particular level. Clad in leather jackets. The three largest iterations include the Orcus first draft. There’s an appeal to playing a character who might not be Evil. In my conception. Tief ling wizard DESIGNING THE TIEFLING —Bruce R. Part of the appeal of playing a tiefling is that being a hero is both more challenging and more dramatic when you’re overcoming the weight of heritage and stereotype to do it. but here is how I designed tieflings. our shadow selves. it would have felt contrived. you see some trace. That particular progression doesn’t even have any meaning with the way races now work. When you look at a tiefling.” It’s a chance to give expression to our dark sides. each physical trait chosen opened up a small suite of feats that only a tiefling with that trait could gain. Their association with devils inspired their weaponry. the fear and prejudice he faces on the surface world. Cordell The player character races for the new edition have gone through many iterations. contorted. and finally the races as they appear currently in the third draft. Drizzt Do’Urden is a compelling hero because of the evil society he grew up in. The D&D game has always had the niche of the bizarre and dark race to fill. months later. the great villain of the trilogy. Like rebellious teenagers. and the hatred the other drow of Menzoberranzan still hold for him. Cloaked. or a drow or half-orc. but who might be described as “Evil-curious. Of course. 49 .” That one sentence summed it up. say. or any other “bad boy” of D&D) is different from playing an evil character. catlike. The entire aesthetic of the tiefling should undulate. the Orcus second draft. They’re the bad boys and girls of D&D. Plus. For instance. so I asked Chris Perkins to tell me who they were. and sexy. But the fact that Darth Vader.of a single adventure. Even more blatantly. But after several refinements by at least three other writers. and they became the easiest for me to develop. sacrificed himself to save his son—that was powerful. It’s fun to flirt with danger—to walk the edge of the dark side without crossing over. For which I’m grateful—the latest version is far superior. Tieflings appeal to the rebel in us all—the part that doesn’t want to conform to social norms. secretive. overly complicated planetouched humanoid. the parts of our own personalities that we suppress for the sake of getting along in society. even within the third draft of the Orcus rules set. Tieflings almost literally embody that dark side. the tiefling would gain some minor ability. The tiefling. I conceived the idea that if you took normal weapons and melted them in hellfire. If Han Solo had burst into the room to save Luke from the Emperor at the end of Return of the Jedi. IT’S GOOD TO BE BAD —James Wyatt Ah. I wanted them to be dark and mysterious. ARTIST’S COMMENTARY —William O’Connor My first reaction to tieflings was mixed since I had no cultural experience with them as with dwarves and elves. each tiefling character would choose one strange ability they would accrue from a list as their character advanced through various levels. He said. and that’s a part of their appeal. with its shared heritage.

The average drow isn’t much more dangerous than a human peasant. and we didn’t fix what wasn’t broken. it was pretty easy for better races to receive the interesting advantages and powers they need to measure up to the source material. gnomes 50 .Other Races Here are some brief looks at other races we’re working on for 4th Edition D&D. accompanied by an evil-storm orchestrated by a whip-wielding demon. Lolth. CELESTIALS —Rob Heinsoo If you’re a long-time D&D fan. odds are that you’ve already noticed that the tieflings’ promotion to first-rank player character race has left another race behind: the race that was the tieflings’ light-side counterpart. Spiders. Since even basic character races offered more to your character. For example. Good followed up with barely animated candle-bearing keepers of the faith proceeding across the screen singing Ave Maria. the level adjustment system proved to be absolute poison to low-level characters and any kind of spellcaster. We’re working on it! DROW —Chris Sims Elves. Drow are cruel and matriarchal. and they don’t work with other fey. Drow have changed only to fit into the world of the new edition. a wonderful animated film that ended with musical meditations on Evil and Good. we decided that race should be more important to your character. THE TROUBLE WITH GNOMES —Matt Sernett Gnomes lack a strong position in D&D. do they? Now you decide if you’re playing a drow whether or not those abilities are worth a feat pick (and presumably many or most NPC drow make exactly that choice). I call the challenge the “Ave Maria” problem. but the animation just didn’t hold a candle to lightning storms on Bald Mountain. When a drow abroad isn’t after captives. but taking a one-level hit on spell progression was just so bad for spellcasters that players quickly learned to not create genasi wizards and sorcerers. The solution we adopted has two distinct aspects. it was actually very difficult for inexperienced players to understand. Drow are iconic in the D&D game. everyone knows that drow can levitate and cast darkness.” In the aasimar’s place. I’m one of the designers who argued that we should stop using the word “aasimar. It’s a sweet piece of music. so drow revere all things that share this form. because drow gain significant abilities as they gain levels. but will eventually show up in the game. Most of these won’t appear right out the gate. Lolth took the spider as her symbol. First. So now you know our mission: celestials who sizzle bright enough to hold their own against Bald Mountain lightning storms. I won’t lie: making Good-associated creatures as exciting as their Evil-curious counterparts is a challenge. then drow aren’t all that much better than humans. Drow don’t live in the Feywild. If you ask someone to name the important races in the world of D&D. They hunt other creatures to serve as sacrifices and slaves within drow communities. evolving in ways that make them more accessible as characters and villains. Level adjustment was one of our top fix-it priorities for character race in the new edition. a race of golden humans descended from angels—the aasimar. Drow who travel are to be feared. if every PC race is as good as a level adjustment +1 or +2 race. The most exciting change is that drow will be available as a player character race without any level adjustment. Another significant change is that drow are fey. a reference to Walt Disney’s original Fantasia. Worse yet. While the system seemed simple. her agenda can only be darker. It wasn’t unreasonable to choose between being a 14thlevel human fighter and a 13th-level genasi fighter. Even now I struggle to type that word without spelling it like buttocks. and it certainly speaks to the possibilities of Good. FIXING LEVEL ADJUSTMENT —Richard Baker One mechanical element of 3rd Edition that we weren’t happy with was the concept of level adjustment. Underdark. Second. But they don’t have to automatically be able to do it at 1st level. In essence. focused on the dogma of Lolth. their mad spider goddess who was once the deceitful eladrin goddess of shadows and the moon. Evil got Night on Bald Mountain. but in type only. from where they surface regularly to raid and take prisoners. They live in the Underdark beneath the world. we decided to move some of our powerful races’ iconic abilities into feat choices that would not become available until certain levels. you’ll meet a race of celestials who have plunged through the same transforming fires as the tieflings.

but that’s not how I see them at all. and it diminished the elves’ coolness to have servants that were also advisors. and love. grief. In a core D&D game. paladins. and many D&D players dislike the technological element that version of the gnome brings to the game. what to do with the gnome? How can gnomes be repositioned or reinvented so that the race has a unique position in the world? Early on. So. it seemed like this didn’t really give the gnomes a place as much as it just threw them in with a more iconic race. D presented an iconic image of the gnome. So what are 4th Edition gnomes going to be like? At the time of writing this essay. They no longer carry a list of immunities. The gnomes would be advisors and spies for the elves. but the concept of tinker gnomes and their crazy machines has now been thoroughly used by games such as World of Warcraft. They’re elf-dwarf-half lings—a strange mixture of the three with little to call their own besides being pranksters. Rather than being associated with elves. They might have trouble expressing their emotions because of their blank. We took that idea and placed a dark spin on it. at least. People are often inclined to play warforged as unfeeling robots. Warforged fighter 51 . gnomes were once the servants of evil fey on the Feywild. they bleed— those cords and fibers in their construct bodies carry fluids just as vital to life as blood is to humanoids. but warforged are still an attractive option for fighters.always seem to come in last. Yet each has the same problem as the gnome. Most other races would be wary of these dark and dangerous escapees. attachment. living in concert with them. almost featureless faces. Yet after some thought. but if you prick them. but to my mind. But we discarded that concept since it took gnomes too far from their roots. they feel them just as strongly as humans do. but that post-war condition is hardly unique to that world. perhaps even predating humans—maybe even a prototype for humans! But they were built for war. (Other races also got beefed up a bit. we’ve yet to decide. and warlords who can benefit from the stamina and endurance that come with this race. They’re living creatures. and with good reason. Next we considered making gnomes like the whisper gnomes of Races of Stone and positioning them more fully with elves. having escaped only recently. which made it a lot easier to make warforged playable as 1st-level characters.) You can’t poison a warforged. WARFORGED —James Wyatt Warforged are sort of a metaphor for the state of the world of E in the wake of the Last War. only more exaggerated. but you can paralyze him or sap his strength. deep or forest gnomes. so the 1st-level bar is set a little higher. They’re good at resisting some effects that can hamper other characters. we entertained the idea of replacing gnomes with one of the gnome subraces. and in the absence of war they’re somewhat at a loss for what to do. Constructs in 4th Edition don’t have the long list of immunities that they do in 3rd Edition. the warforged might be an ancient race. and part of living is emotion.

either in melee or at range. This is the character you want getting in front of the monsters and absorbing their attacks. we came up with four important roles. Defender: A character with high defenses and high hit points. but doesn’t have anywhere near as much offense. We debated long and hard about which roles actually existed. Clerics must heal. The wizard is a shining example of this role. every class should have all the tools it needs to ONE PROGRESSION INSTEAD OF FOUR Human warlock In 3rd Edition D&D. defenses. IDENTIFYING CLASS ROLES One of the first things we decided to tackle in redesigning D&D’s character classes was identifying appropriate class roles. and skill 52 . or “buffs” other characters. This involves inflicting damage or hindering conditions on multiple targets. Fortitude Save. If you drop in a character who can’t fill the role of the class he’s replacing. Controller: A character who specializes in locking down multiple foes at once. replacing a cleric with a druid. and wizards must deal damage to multiple enemies at range. This is the job we want to move the rogue toward—when she positions herself for a sneak attack and uses her best attack powers. What sort of rules did classes need to live up to their roles? How could we improve the basic skeleton of the game? fill a specific job in the adventuring party. Ideally. and damage dealers. each character class began with a skeleton consisting of four distinct progressions: Attack Bonus. she deals some of the highest damage in the game. and which classes corresponded to them. you’re weakening the adventuring party and damaging the table’s fun. a defender should be difficult to move past or ignore so that he can do his job.” but we want leaders to do more than simply spend their actions healing other characters. Ultimately. usually at range. they want to concentrate on taking down the enemy as quickly as possible while staying at a safe distance from them. we examined the mechanical chassis of the character class. Fighters have been doing this job in D&D for 30 years. Leader: A character who heals. of course. and Will Save. We started our work on character class by identifying the important party roles each class should occupy and identifying the source of power each class is based on. these have been combined into a single level-based check modifier that applies to all of your character’s attacks. In 4th Edition. In other words. All those things have been true for 30 years. aids. All leaders must have significant healing abilities to live up to their role. healers. fighters must lock up monsters in melee to protect weaker characters. Controllers sacrifice defense for offense. Striker: A character who deals very high damage to one target at a time. a defender ought to have some abilities that make him “sticky”—in other words. or a fighter with a paladin—you should still maintain a mix of high-defense characters. Clerics heal and rogues sneak. Once we figured out those important distinctions.Classes Overview —Richard Baker Character classes are the heart of the D&D game. The leader is sturdier than the controller. The cleric is the classic example. Reflex Save. as well as other things they can do in a battle. and they’re going to remain true in 4th Edition. Fighters wear armor and mix it up with monsters in melee. Obviously we thought about just calling this role “healer. If you want to exchange characters in the party—for example. Strikers need mobility to execute their lethal attacks and get away from enemies trying to lock them down. Wizards are fragile but use potent spells to swing entire encounters.

These classes were simply better than other classes by any objective standard. all previous editions of the game simply placed far too much of the adventuring party’s total power in the spell selections of the cleric and the wizard.checks. but for the most part. We’ve also given characters something to add to their power mix at every level. commands. class abilities. a spell. so that a character always gets meaningfully better every time he or she advances a level. There’s always a choice. In earlier editions. every class has a broad array of maneuvers. Every round is different for the fighter in 4th Edition D&D. and likewise better than the rogue’s Fortitude defense. and Combat Expertise. all three defenses. just like clerics and wizards in previous editions had a wide assortment of spells. From round to round. There are a couple of reasons we decided to do this. Fighters in 3rd Edition D&D had many more options than fighters in previous editions thanks to feats such as Power Attack. In fact. heroic exploits. so you can expect that a paladin’s Fortitude defense will be significantly better than his Reflex defense. Ultimately. just like the cleric and wizard. and that’s lots more fun. but then could never actually land a hit on the fighter. Spring Attack. stunts. Naturally. weapon trick. Human cleric 53 . attacks. That required offering powers for the fighter and rogue to choose from. Characters still have significant and important variations in their attacks and defenses. choosing and using powers is fun. EVERY CLASS GETS POWERS Perhaps the single biggest change in 4th Edition D&D is this: Every character class has “spells. and feat selection impact this single progression. A selection of powers to choose from means that fighters now have real choices available to them in combat. We think this significantly simplifies character creation and advancement and improves the interaction of characters and monsters. expend a precious once-per-day power.” In other words. your ability scores. fighters still spent 90% of their rounds doing the exact same thing time after time— taking a basic melee attack. curse. and always something cool to look forward to every time you level up your character—and that just adds to the fun of the D&D game. All 10th-level characters have a +5 bonus to AC. Characters such as fighters and rogues accompanied the adventuring party to protect the spellcasters while the spellcasters defeated the encounters. they decide whether to employ one of their once per encounter abilities. or what-have-you to choose from. Second. and so on. We decided to shift to a model in which all characters were equally vital to the party’s success. or command is at heart a “power”—a special ability that a character can trigger in a fight. or conserve resources and execute one of the simple at-will attacks they know. every class features important attack or defense boosts at 1st level that distinguish their best traits from their ordinary ones. strikes. it was far too easy to accidentally create a monster who could hit the party’s fighter at a reasonable success rate but then would never miss the party’s wizard—or one who hit the wizard at a reasonable rate. First. but it’s driven from one simple progression now instead of four.

Everything you do ref lects upon your sanctified station. bringing down divine judgment on nonbelievers as those who support you hold the battle line. You represent your deity as a worldly ambassador. You’ll need help. but eladrins adore magic and so love Corellon. It takes vast array of skills to get some jobs done. as well as the life of someone others look to for guidance. People look to the servants of gentler religions to protect them from the depredations of the wicked. As a cleric. though more than one tiefling has been thrown down as the head of a cult to Asmodeus. and no one person has all it takes when the work is complicated. they don’t entirely define you. As a cleric. you have to respect this sort of diversity even if you’d prefer to be among those of like mind. the humans’ lack of a clear creator make them the most varied in their spirituality. Every town. Ioun might admonish her clerics to seek lost knowledge and perfection of the mind. dark or light. weapon in hand. live as a model of kindness. —Andy Collins. but many ways exist to show courage and wisdom. Unlike a common village minister. you’re foremost in anyone’s mind when the subject of the divine comes up. you might be called on to do all three and more. Common folk of all races defer to priests. Should you choose to worship Erathis. but much like that goddess. or secretly advancing a higher agenda. Most clerics are devotees of one deity or another. 54 . The dragonborn. Clerics are people of action. your place in the world is clear. With authority granted from on high. you alleviate suffering. As one who leads. Going out into the world to bring the color of your devotion. and it has brought just as many low. Devotion to Vecna requires you to keep secrets. Among all the races. hold their heads high whether in service to Bahamut. Certainly a cleric of Kord is brave and strong. If you adhere to Pelor’s code of belief. Dwarves come to divine service naturally. He hits you with his faith. the draconic deity of vengeance. clerics easily form one sort of central authority for the people of the world. Perhaps you’re a purist who follows the ancient ways of a well-established church. Those who desire the gifts of the gods respect—or at least fear—those the gods have invested with power. Even in the same religion. garnering their mystic power from their god’s specific creed. no matter how small. to uphold laws. Whether you lead from the front. has a shrine or a temple dedicated to the gods. Your own theology determines how you act in the world. Your patron will lay other tasks upon you as befits your worthiness. corrupt others. you instead revere the natural cycle of life and death. tieflings are the most at odds with established religious practices. He doesn’t necessarily hit you with his sword arm. They rely on clerics to teach them and to keep time-honored ways strong. As a shrouded follower of the Raven Queen. the draconic god of honor. but how you follow these teachings can be unique.Clerics —Chris Sims Faith has given rise to nations. Larger settlements might support a number of grand houses of worship. or direct from the rear. As a cleric. you’re the heart of any group organized around you. and work as the hand of fate in the world. protecting the innocent from malevolence. but you’re still jovial and open to new ways. so it falls to you to lead the strong along the proper path and to treat the weak and helpless as your religion dictates. A cleric’s place is leading others to fitting action. Halflings still remember Avandra’s mercy. into new places is only part of your duty. you seek to build and maintain strong communities. Yours is a life of seeking and obedience. and oppose all other gods—without revealing where your loyalty truly lies. Despite the fact that your ethics drive you. but what those standards require of someone that possesses your divine might is rarely easy. In the shadows. of performing marriages and funerary rites. to work with others. revel in winter. Maybe the zeal of a true believer runs hot in your veins. meting out succor or retribution according to your beliefs. the cults of more sinister divinities thrive. you’re an exemplar of your convictions and the duties your patron places upon you. Few tasks are as thorny as delving into the unknown. a cleric’s life isn’t one of hearth and home. As might be guessed by their infernal heritage. much as the elven love of nature leads elves to revere Obad-Hai. but you still have doubts as to the truth of your own experience. That’s where you belong. Eladrins and elves are rarely deeply religious. It could be that you’ve had a personal visitation or a vision. That merit depends on how you live up to your ideals and complete the undertakings your morals require. and to expand the dominion of civilization. deeply traditional as they are. Determining what to do in a given situation is as easy as looking to your core philosophy. clerics can be as different as any two individuals who share similar beliefs might be. fresh from the halls of a newly established cult that has a novel perspective on a customarily dogmatic faith. some devoted to one particular deity or another. and protect the innocent from evil. and if you’re doing your job correctly. they rely on boldness and luck more than prayers. or to Tiamat. in veneration of the forge god Moradin for their ancient rescue from slavery to the giants. though. March 2006 Strong religion is more conventional among some races than others.

or vice versa. or that the foes of your faith instead lead you onward. You’re subtler. Mixing and matching is always possible. the cleric’s life might be for you. even if they’re doing so for their own reasons. They’ll just define your style. directly pounding foes and shielding his allies through force of personality and direct conflict. Those who take up the cleric’s role do so to show the way—to become a leader by knowing how to follow something greater than themselves. protect. using your abilities with craft to ensure success through careful manipulation of the situation with the guidance of your intuition and insight. in your eyes. You could find more and more that your patron defines your aims. . A soldierly type is essential for defense. As you ascend. You’ll provide plenty of support yourself. well. you’ll no doubt facilitate their aims. Your comrades shore up one each other’s weak spots. Any of these paths will be viable in your life of bold action. your religious devotion differentiating you from secular leaders such as the warlord. Could you even join the divine ranks? Regardless of your path. helping those bold enough to aid you. Oh. the central instrument of your faith-based powers. and your god’s enemies. as long as those ends aren’t counter to your beliefs. that your ascension will attract the attention of your deity . continuing on as a saintly servant to your god after death takes you. You can choose protection over inflicting divine wrath. remember: Mighty heroes of faith are among the most revered. Half ling cleric That’s not to say that you must be without aspirations. you can emphasize powers that augment your up-in-front approach. A paladin wields godly energy like a hammer. Yours is the power to change the world by your deeds and your inf luence over those with whom you align yourself. even your holy symbol. if your emphasis is more on prayers than battle. Such daring will be required of you. you’ve got just the thing. and you’re eager to rain holy wrath on your foes. Or maybe you’ll merely f lout the mystery of death. You can be certain. In recompense for their helping you. you do so by keeping your companions alive and fortified through divine aid. so you’ll need someone for that too. Take up the mantle only if you want to lead by example. defying death itself. Perhaps you and yours will climb to the pinnacles of legend.That aid comes in the form of other capable persons who are willing to work with you. Exploration and accomplishment won’t only develop your expertise and your dedication. and guide your allies. Magic arms and items add to your arsenal. If you use a weapon. Choices you make won’t necessarily lock you into a specific niche. at least. Choose this existence if you prefer devotion and a clear belief structure to mere martial shrewdness and personal ambition. though. but it’ll also increase your wealth and the quality of the tools you wield. And if your friends find they’re in need of some direction. This might place you and your comrades at the forefront of a divine crusade. improving their accuracy and adding to your options. your methods can change with you. And you are a leader. you’ll be dishing out punishment to those who dare oppose you and your righteous path—righteous. 55 . . using your god-granted talents to heal. and don’t forget an expert at controlling and clearing wider areas. and a good offense is always vital. If fortifying and healing your allies is your way. As you grow in power. At the same time. not a true soldier of faith such as the paladin. can be a magic implement that focuses and expands your abilities. You’re a leader with a cause. You’ll never lack a cause. Although the warlord leads through tactical acumen and motivational force.

Each deity gives a cleric some specific benefits. allowing the cleric to fill his spell and battle prayer lists with proactive attacks and enhancements. commanding a foe to flee. Divine magic grants the cleric numerous ways to increase his allies’ combat effectiveness and pull them back from the brink of death. both to their deities and their allies. Dwarf cleric. They include both magical attacks and boosts that increase allies’ attacks or defenses.Clerics —Continued CLASS ROLE —Logan Bonner The cleric is the archetypal leader. An individual cleric might choose to emphasize any one of these specialties. create wards. They can single out enemies as targets by lowering their defenses or damaging them round after round. nor will he need to spend the lion’s share of his actions healing others. such as a favored weapon or a defense bonus. Effects might include calling down holy light and flame. All 4th Edition characters have some ability to heal themselves and all leaders can increase that healing. These are the effects that clerics will activate most often. Many 3E spells have become rituals instead. Battle prayers and spells are a cleric’s main combat powers. Clerics are capable melee combatants with divinely empowered physical attacks. A cleric grants all allies near him an increase to their self-healing. A cleric doesn’t spend any of his other spells to use them. and he can also cure their wounds by using healing words. Rituals allow a cleric to heal persistent conditions. and even bring people back from the dead. front and back view 56 . Clerics are known for their devotion. and they can increase an ally’s offensive and defensive prowess. clerics are granted holy magic to go forth and follow a path in keeping with their deities’ moral guidance. or protecting an ally from all attacks. The defining aspect of a cleric is a connection to a deity. As the gods’ most devout worshipers.

the more it seemed like some of the deities of the 3E pantheon were a good fit for the game’s needs. as has putting healing in its own bin so it doesn’t overshadow offensive magic. and all wards). and the effects are more powerful since the duration’s shorter. So what does this mean? It means we wrote a ton of new cleric powers! We wanted persistent magical effects that the cleric could maintain over many rounds (such as spiritual weapon). We expect that. G was the original setting used by Gary Gygax for his home games. • We wanted deities to represent the new game and new vision for the D&D world. We also removed summoning from the current list (though it will likely appear in future supplements). the pantheon is a blending of old and new. this was another big chunk of the list gone. including restoration. raise dead. Thus. so a cleric drops one in every fight. Short-term buffs are much improved because we did away with the duration-tracking that was such a big part of cleric life in 3E. • We want epic characters to be capable of challenging gods and even of becoming gods. 57 . we wanted a good set of deities that cover most players’ needs without that pantheon being too complex and cumbersome. better deities. I mention that because it shows how long ago those gods were designed. That’s it. We struggled with what deities to put in the game for a long time. Big attacks can be found in battle prayers and in spells. Moving a modest amount of self-healing into every class has really loosened up the reins on the cleric. but it’s hard to figure out how a cleric who worships such a deity honors his god by going on adventures. and spells that utterly crush a single opponent. and we removed everything that belonged in rituals and healing prayers (these made up a huge portion of the old cleric’s list. cure spells. its ties to Greyhawk and its uses in 3E wouldn’t sync up with the new cosmology and mythology we’ve designed to be better for play. Sure. Human cleric 3E CLERICS RULE! 4E CLERICS ARE BETTER —Logan Bonner It’s no secret that 3rd Edition clerics are really good. it’s realistic in a sociological sense to have a deity of doorways or of agriculture. Most persistent effects sit in the battle prayers. The huge difference between the two versions is that clerics no longer spend all their time healing and buffing. Most short-term buffs lasts until the end of the encounter. big magical attacks (like f lame strike). The 3E cleric spell list was chopped down. but if you started playing during 3rd Edition you could easily have missed the G setting or not know much about it. 4th Edition clerics are no longer better than other classes. and short-term buffs. For a long time we wanted to design a pantheon that was wholly new. In your campaign. Omniscience and omnipotence makes it difficult to use gods in adventure plots or have them interact with characters. It’s simple. Since alignment no longer has a major mechanical effect.WHY WE CHANGED THE GODS —Matt Sernett The gods presented in the 3rd Edition Player’s Handbook originated in the G Campaign Setting. usually to keep an enemy under control. Also. supernatural weather (inspired by storm of vengeance). a cosmology. in an average encounter. It might seem odd to tell you that if you’ve been playing D&D for 10 or more years. • We wanted fewer. a cleric will use one standard action to heal and will be using the rest of his actions for offense. but in order to design classes. So you might miss the 3E cleric if you just have to be a bit overpowered or were such an altruistic soul that you liked healing somebody every round. • We wanted deities to be designed for play in the D&D world. and products that work well together. They include big explody things like f lame strike. but we think most players will prefer the new cleric over the old. but the harder we pushed it in that direction. it’s clear. and many factors influenced our final decisions: • We don’t want deities to be thought of as omniscient and all-powerful. you can have as many deities as you want. We didn’t move forward in 4th Edition with that pantheon because its deities weren’t designed for the improved experience of D&D we were forming. but are more fun to play.

More important. learning to use all of your senses and react without conscious thought to the subtlest of threats—or the tiniest of openings. and you know a handful of weapon tricks and stunts—attacks to knock your foes down. and more often than not. well-armored guards who enforce his will with cold steel. However. All peoples in the world give rise to martial champions and honor those heroes who confront evil with a strong arm and a courageous heart. you are a fighter—an adventurer who relies on strength. Fighters pay more attention to questions of personal armament than other characters. You are a highly skilled champion. powerful weapon such as a greataxe or a greatsword allows you to deal superior damage in melee. You therefore exert tremendous control over your enemies’ ability to move around the fight. and you owe no lord your unquestioning obedience. In some ways you are the most ordinary of adventurers. your heart. Enemies who choose to ignore you in order to attack your friends soon learn that they do so at their peril—you can exact a deadly toll from enemies who don’t give you their full attention. as they say. indomitable—are the backbone of many adventuring parties. your job is simple: Put yourself and your superior fighting skill between your enemies and your comrades. and you are the toughest and most resilient of heroes. or otherwise—commands the loyalty of tough. You are a hero. orc. or a rapacious marauder. but you are quite dangerous at close range. but first and foremost you fight. or instead wield a bigger. and human fighters—audacious. And when your arm grows weary and your skill is not sufficient. You pit your guts. November 2005 Tief ling fighter When you and your companions encounter fearsome monsters or waves of evil minions. You wear steel much as any professional warrior would. and your skill at arms against the most terrifying monstrosities imaginable. and a shielded fighter is a difficult foe to bring down. You might be a noble champion. the monsters will choose one for you. but you value agility and endurance too.Fighters —Richard Baker Master of a hundred weapons. reckless. speed. a true master of your chosen weapons. 58 . All characters threaten foes around them and take opportunity attacks when foes try to move past. a calculating mercenary. you fight with your head and your heart. Fighters are commonplace among all the common races. skill. you are no mere soldier or dull-witted thug. elf. You may not have the rogue’s knack for a single devastating attack or the wizard’s ability to routinely demolish a number of foes at the same time. Your first decision is whether you will use a weapon and shield. you’re the last one standing. disarm them. but fighters have several potent abilities that make their opportunity attacks extremely deadly. dwarf. yes. elf fighters are known for their quickness and skill. You train yourself to a truly uncanny level of vigilance in battle. You can wear down the toughest opponents with determined attack. Sometimes the best way to prevent damage is to quickly kill the creature that poses the threat. and steel to overcome your adversaries. two-handed weapon. and you can easily pass yourself off as such if you wish. A shield offers outstanding defense. you can dig down and call forth truly extraordinary efforts from your deepest reserves of will and endurance. If you don’t choose a defender. —Richard Baker. and you are called to a higher destiny. Strength is important in your chosen trade. Every lord or chieftain—human. choosing a large. or shove them out of your way—that can turn the tide of a battle in the blink of an eye. On the other hand. the best defense is a good offense. You excel in melee combat. The spot where you decide to make your stand defines the “front line” of the combat. Dwarf fighters are renowned for their tenacity and battle-zeal. because your trade is a common one in the D D world.

your determination. Weapons are the tools of your trade. Good fighters often choose to follow Bahamut. a grim and demanding deity. fighters can be found among the followers of most other deities in the pantheon. You are most effective when you work to protect the party’s wizard and allow him to put his magic to work on distant foes. you should be careful to use the right one for the right job. but you have few ways to attack multiple enemies at the same time or to attack enemies at range. sweeping blows that threaten all enemies nearby. Finally. feats. defense. maneuvers. powers and feats that improve your Armor Class can make you almost impossible to overwhelm with physical attack. too. Other characters might wield powerful magic. heavy blades such as the greatsword or greataxe are excellent for big. paragon. you need a good leader in the party to support you. Just like any other character. However. it’s the job of the cleric or warlord to keep you at full fighting strength and help you withstand deadlier attacks than you could survive on your own. but big. fighters work best as part of a team.Once you have decided on your chosen fighting style (shield or two-handed). god of justice and protection. You may be tough and capable in melee. you will take more damage than any other character in the adventuring party. and conflict for strength and inspiration. and like any good craftsman. and a good piece of steel. Most of your weapon stunts require you to use a specific weapon. you study powers and choose feats that improve your ability to hinder and constrain your enemies’ movement. Assault is best for you if you prefer a big. or serve as the anvil against which the party’s rogue or ranger can flank foes. You learn powers and select feats that emphasize offense and dealing damage. ultimately you place your trust in your skill. Fighters naturally look to deities of battle. or control. Most fighters fall into one of three schools of thought: assault. but you have mastered an art that is every bit as difficult and deadly—the mastery of close combat with almost any weapon imaginable. you should study feats and powers that compliment your style. but you’re a walking arsenal more often than not. and epic 59 . The distinctive combination of tricks. strength. stunts. the Platinum Dragon. the god of war. A fighter at each tier: heroic. control is a subtle but powerful strategy. Even with your excellent defenses. just in case. Finally. Other characters are content to wear a single preferred blade at their side. two-handed weapon. hammers and maces are good for stunts that will stun your foes or knock them back. For example. Defense is best if you are agile and make use of a shield. Keep a variety of weapons on or about your person. or exploits you acquire during your career mark you as different from every other fighter out there. Other fighters turn to Bane. the god of strength and storms. or Kord. No matter which deity you favor.

Of all the other character classes. and he’ll have a hard time striking back at you. If an enemy has already seen your dance of steel maneuver. Fighters are “sticky” because they gain serious bonuses on opportunity attacks. Using Tome of Battle you could play a fighter (well. In fact. only the paladin approaches the pure toughness of the fighter. fighters have three categories of powers: at-will. which is. The new D D 4th Edition game improves and expands this concept even more. per-encounter. Your attack leaves you in a good defensive stance against your foe. Enemies ignore fighters at their peril! FIGHTERS HAVE POWER! —Richard Baker In previous editions of the D D game. The fighter doesn’t “forget” a power once he uses it. For example. . a warblade) with the tactical challenge of choosing when and how to use dramatic maneuvers. so fighters have excellent hit point totals and can wear some of the best armor in the game. the challenge is to find the exact right moment to use each one for maximum effect. Once the fighter gets toe-to-toe with the monsters. First and foremost. but if you hit. The fighter’s per-day powers represent a single act of incredible strength. a defender needs the ability to absorb damage in melee. of course. or advanced tactics that can only be used one time per fight. The second quality a defender requires is an ability to keep the monsters focused on him. which no other character can do. When the battle looks grim. you get a bonus to your Armor Class against the foe you hit. In addition. the fighter digs down deep and finds what he needs to make the ultimate effort. Because you Dwarf fighters 60 . We called this “stickiness” around the office—once you get next to a fighter. Per-encounter powers are special weapon tricks. In 3rd Edition D&D more options became available through the use of various feat trees. Atwill powers are relatively simple attacks that the fighter simply knows how to do. surprise attacks. a player running a fighter character did the same thing every round: He took a swing at the bad guys. during the course of the adventure fighters can call upon their healing reserves more times than most other characters. endurance. have the ability to follow enemies who shift away from them. Because you can use one of these powers once per battle. They get in front of the monsters and keep the monsters from attacking less resilient members of the party. He can’t use it again because it simply isn’t effective more than once per battle. the fighter has always been the character who didn’t have any spells or special class powers. nor does a power deplete any innate reserve of magical energy. Generally speaking. Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords introduced a new twist on the 30year-old mechanics of the fighter class by describing fighterlike classes who used a variety of spectacular martial maneuvers. he won’t be taken in by it a second time. As with all 4th Edition character classes. what the fighter excels at. fighters can get more out of their armor than other characters. the certain feats allow a high-Dexterity fighter to add some of his Dexterity bonus to his AC even when he wears heavy armor. For example. it’s really hard to move away in order to go pound on the party wizard or cleric. and per-day. . the great surge power allows you to make a devastating melee attack and also call on your reserves of healing. but it was still true that the fighter offered none of the resource management or battle strategy of a spellcasting character.Fighters —Continued CLASS ROLE —Richard Baker Fighters are the classic defenders. and heroism. the fighter finds a little more strength to shrug off his injuries and strike a crippling blow. one defensive strike is a simple attack that deals normal damage. it becomes very dangerous for the monsters to do anything other than battle the fighter . and guard allies nearby through an ability called battlefield control.

A character’s choice of armor says a lot about his approach to battle. since his larger weapon will do more damage per swing. sword and board AC junkie? Or maybe just a spiked chain trip monkey? The new fighter still allows for such customizations within the role defined for the class. Much of the focus on the fighter’s choices revolve around creating a distinction between a fighter that carries a shield ARMOR Human fighters —Andy Collins Armor comes in many shapes. Of course.can only use each of these powers once per day. SUPPORTING DIFFERENT BUILDS —Stephen Schubert The fighter has always been one of the four iconic pillars of the D&D game (along with the cleric. On the other end of the spectrum. the greatsword-wielding fighter gets more damage from his attack powers. Rogues. where a fighter’s feat choices could change the way he looked: was he a lightly armored. relying on their magic (and their allies) to protect them rather than layers of steel. the advantage is greater to the two-hander. gear. the fighter grew into an extremely customizable class. with a one-handed weapon and a shield. such as giving him greater mobility during an attack. sizes. class features. a player still has the ability to choose any fighter power. Wizards wear these armors. 61 . and barbarians favor such armor. wizard. like to be a little more protective of their own skins than the average spellslinger. defending his allies by simply getting in the way. The sword-and-board fighter. this type of fighter might choose those abilities that give him more opportunities to attack. and other wondrous fabrics that imbue the armor with magical properties. and as such prefer armors crafted from durable leather. At higher levels. spidersilk. and thief/rogue). regardless of build. Spring Attacking. The class “builds” are supported through feats. on the other hand. Rangers. threatening enemies with massive damage if his allies are attacked. and power selection. druids. the trick is to decide which combat during your adventure deserves the use of such a precious resource—and then exactly when during that battle your exploit will have the greatest effect. these armors are crafted from feyweave. for extra protection and the fighter that eschews protection for the greater damage output of a big two-handed weapon. greatsword-swinging. As the game progressed. The elves also create leatherlike armors from the leaves of certain trees native to the Feywild and regions of the natural world close to the arcane realm. crafted from the heavy skins of fearsome creatures. and similar items of heavy clothing. especially in 3rd Edition D&D. or allowing him to follow creatures that try to shift away. While any fighter benefits from such abilities. glaive wielder? A Power-Attacking. his tactics in a fight. particularly those that imbue their wearers with aspects of the original beast. In addition to Power Attack-like abilities that give the two-hander the option of dealing more damage with a less accurate swing. and so we’ve included options for intercepting enemies that might try to avoid him in order to attack his allies. can specialize his build by choosing feats or powers that improve his AC and defensive capabilities. damage dealer? An impregnable. the system allows for more than just a couple of builds for the fighter class. though we didn’t want to limit them to defensive boosts. Even when powers are designed to support certain builds. padded vests. Slightly more durable still are hide armors. But more than just creating a distinct visual look for the character. and materials. from bloodweave robes to crysteel plate armor. It would be possible to include support for the dancing fencer or the two-weapon fighter. we want the way each character acts to be different based on which choices he makes. The simplest category of armor includes woven robes. Stout yet flexible. from the stalking panther or raging cave bear to the many-headed hydra. When designing powers. and his ability to foresee the threats before him. with each aspect of character creation adding its own flavor to the mix. this category of armor provides an added measure of safety without restricting the wearer’s movements. Combat Expertise-using.

and warlords than all the potions of healing in the world. At one point in our power design. They trust in its ability to turn aside otherwise lethal strikes. they were fun enough that most of our D&D games around the office saw plenty of Nine Swords characters enter the dungeon. The truly dedicated warriors. we eventually moved away from the idea of maneuvers refreshing in an encounter. Though it gives up the flexibility of scale armor. With its superior fit. That’s why most fighters don a suit of scale armor before heading into the dungeon. enchanted bracers and vambraces provide similar benefits. In fact. Not surprisingly.Fighters —Continued Those adventurers who require a bit more staying power in a fight turn to chain armor. they’ll never admit that it’s not just function that attracts them to scale armors—what fighter doesn’t look good in a suit of blue dragonscale armor or obsidian razorscale? The king of armors. to test the acceptability of these changes to our audience.” and when you used a power in a fight. you’re right. paladins. So. we examined the idea of whether or not character powers could be constructed more or less like a card-game model. Many races craft their own special versions of chain armor. We decided that we didn’t want to make the players play a game of managing their “hands” at the same time they were playing a game of defeating the monsters. and refresh system for their maneuvers. know that the heavier your armor the more likely you are to survive combat. arrow-shaft. is plate armor. INFLUENCE OF BOOK OF NINE SWORDS —Richard Baker If you think you’ve seen the idea of per-encounter powers for fighters before. which lets them stay in the fray supporting their allies as long as possible. we adopted the classes in Book of Nine Swords to use an execute. Tome of Battle: Book of Nine Swords built a system of maneuvers for martial characters that presaged many of the nonspellcaster powers coming up in 4th Edition D&D. Elf fighter 62 . Capable of turning away spear-thrust. you might even have important “draw” or “refresh” mechanics to return discarded powers to your hand. and fireball alike. It’s rare to see a paladin out of his plate armor. discard. and many fighters eventually turn to it as well. it provides more protection than chain armor without hindering the fighter’s agility. all the power choices available to you would be your “hand. plate armor makes up for this by providing the best protection gold can buy. While the Nine Swords classes actually work fine with the system (even the crusader!). The chain armors created by the eladrins combine quality and beauty in a manner unmatched by any worldly armorsmiths. One of the most aggressive ideas of this sort was the notion of a character who drew his hand randomly as the fight progressed. And heck. In other words. all dedicated to protecting their owners from dangerous foes. as well as the occasional elf or halfling fighter. you’d “discard” it. this slab of oak or steel has saved the lives of more fighters. however. For those adventurers untrained in the use of shields. No discussion of armor is complete without mentioning the humble shield. Clerics and warlords. But we learned a tremendous amount from watching D&D fans play with the rules in Book of Nine Swords. a wide range of magic shields have been created over the years. Of course. The dwarves are the most famous crafters of plate armor. however. prefer the feel of a sturdy suit of chain mail. and dwarf-crafted plate is perhaps the most highly sought-after armor in the land. from the lightweight elven chain to the dwarflink chain forged beneath mountains.

though these weapons can be a little unwieldy. Now if you don’t mind. From the flail to the glaive. Maces and morningstars are good for cracking skulls. I’ll leave you to your decision—I see a halfling admiring my collection of shurikens a little too much. not every weapon is designed to be used close up and personal. perhaps not exactly every one of them. I’d recommend a good crossbow. and for that we turn to our ranged weapons. or the humble sling to the elaborate spiked flail. Now. The warlord who wants to trade some of that devastating power for good accuracy picks up a longsword. (Well. In some situations. the array of death-dealing tools at your character’s disposal should daunt any hobgoblin warchief or marauding dragon. you can’t beat that first-strike capability. scimitar. In that case. such as clerics. Of course. the best option is to kill the monster before it’s close enough to kill you. rely on these weapons for melee combat. is defined by his choice of weapon.Tief ling fighter WELCOME TO THE WEAPON SHOP —Andy Collins Every successful adventurer. Rangers (and elves) should instead look to the bow: faster than a crossbow and each shot almost as deadly. hand axes. and throwing hammers all give you a good short-distance option without giving up the ability to defend yourself should the monsters appear a bit closer than you’d hoped. Daggers. (No. but I don’t see any wizards here so we’ll just ignore them for the moment. 63 . greatsword. these are good for the archer on the move. if you know what I mean. If you mastered simple weapons during basic training. or rapier? Any of these fine weapons will allow you to display your dazzling dexterity without skimping on the death-dealing. while spears (particularly longspears) prove useful in keeping enemies at bay. may I suggest a short sword. or perhaps even a katana. the weapon you carry speaks to the style of warrior you want to be. But maybe you’re a ranger or rogue fancying something with a little more finesse. If you’re willing to go all-out. favored by dwarves across the land for their ability to cut taller opponents down to size. these aren’t the only options available for your perusal.) Keen-edged longsword or mighty warhammer? Twin scimitars cutting a swath of destruction or massive greataxe cleaving enemies in half? Hidden hand crossbow or deadly war pick? The selection isn’t just about your look. of course. although we certainly can’t deny the importance of that. spears. you’re probably looking for something with a bit more punch. can we? No. Fighters seeking to deal extreme damage to the enemy gravitate toward the warhammer or maul. Over here we have our maces and spears: the simplest weapons available to the adventurer. Sitting between the two categories are the trusty axes. I don’t sell clubs— may I suggest a visit to the lumberyard for that?) Those with only limited weapon training.

Even if a mark is suspicious. other areas within your bailiwick allow for extra specialization. With a dark cloak. Unless the enemy is really big. The usefulness of having a rogue in the party is summed up by a simple aphorism: “It’s better for a rogue to have your back than stab you in it. Unilateral respect is also okay. as long as that respect is flowing in your direction. there are people with money. The life of a rogue is one spent largely in the shadows— sneaking into well-guarded castles. getting what they want through sheer bravado (and maybe just a little deceit). but this isn’t as typical as some people would have you think. Where there are people. Mobile rogues jump and climb across the battlefield. unwieldy hunks of metal some people call weapons. If you see danger.Rogues —Logan Bonner The tale of any famous rogue is built on a bad reputation. And sure. Rogues Elf rogue aren’t as selfish as they’re made out to be.) Though all rogues have a talent for discreetly slashing their foes. and his mouth gets dry the instant the scent of ale wafts over from the tavern. and some sharp steel. Despite a strong independent streak. A fighter and a rogue working together can shut down an enemy and quickly defeat it—and the best rogues can do it all without getting a drop of blood on their stylish clothing. more charming. or . stay away from heavy armor and the big. Given the choice. it could be just about anything. Stealthy rogues can stay hidden and deliver devastating attacks from the shadows. your abilities all focus on avoiding dangerous situations and getting your enemies into them. Be sure to travel light.” The point of your dagger is deadly. (Even great fighters walk away with red all over them. It’s really quite garish. 64 . The point is. you should run back and warn everybody. When out adventuring. both in battle and in society. you’re usually out front. you’re unjustly persecuted for being quicker. as many a drool-fanged monster has discovered the hard way. Regardless of your expertise. No matter how self less you are and no matter how many little villages you’ve saved from certain destruction. you probably prefer the comfort of the city more than the majestic wonder of sleeping on rocks and picking mosquitoes out of your teeth and not bathing for weeks out in the wilderness or deep underground. really. Stock your backpack with climbing gear and thieving kits. potions. you can get by pretty well. The old phrase. Tricky rogues use their words as weapons. right? A rogue’s sharpest weapon is the element of surprise. like they’re proud of it. well. so you’ll make sure your comrades don’t walk right into every trap along the way (especially that thickheaded paladin). leather armor. . . he or she won’t think you could possibly be as fantastically tricky as you actually are. somebody is chasing after you just because you lifted a few coin purses here and there. and maybe a unique magic item for when things get really hairy. “I’ll never trust a rogue again. or escaped from jail in some backwater town. occasionally the relationship is based on you getting caught doing something illegal by the rest of the party and being forced to help them. The relationship between you and your adventuring companions is based on mutual respect. or broke the mayor’s son’s nose in a bar fight.” isn’t worth the dusty old book it’s written in—nobody’s a rogue when first you meet. laughing at their enemies’ pathetic attempts to hit them. A good rogue can feel a tug in his gut when he’s within a mile of a gambling hall. Since you rely on mobility. Even though the average person has a bad preconception of rogues. he or she doesn’t know you’re a rogue the first moment you enter the room. taking out adversaries with surprise attacks. or cheated at Three-Dragon Ante. and more cunning than everybody else. or listening in on secret meetings. Then you should hide and let your companions take a few lumps to see how hard the thing hits before you enter the fray. some well-concealed chocolate for when you spend too long away from civilization. you play well with others.

you’re getting important work done at the alehouse. A timely compliment. there’s another with platinum coins and magic daggers stashed under a ratty straw mattress. be wary. If you choose to take up the life of a rogue. where the town guard keeps the keys. While the wizard’s poring over musty books at the library and the fighter’s knocking on a practice dummy at the training grounds. and the occasional dirty trick. you’ll know what’s going on around town. even for a whole party of adventurers. a high-stakes card game. the help of allies. your coins hidden. sneak attack is now easier to pull off and works with a new. In exchange for high damage. they are prone to clandestine attacks against the other’s fortune and character—or outright assassination. You can be relatively sure she’s not your enemy if you’re members of the same thieves’ guild. what needs stealing. Rogues excel at hitting unprepared enemies to cause the most harm. and many a constable has tried in vain to capture a crime kingpin with a long list of dead enemies. a little bit den of vice. and—for good or ill—the color of the barkeep’s underwear. When you meet another rogue. whether it’s in a grimy back alley or an alabaster mansion. Human rogue a boost. Wealthy rogues are split between two categories: those who flaunt it and those who stick to a pattern of secrecy. If two rogues become enemies. but no evidence of guilt. simple system that defines when creatures are particularly vulnerable to attack. Tracing a trail back to the culprit is notoriously difficult. With their small size and lithe physiques. Rogues know better than anyone that appearances can be deceiving. a rogue has to spend some effort setting up such 65 . The capability to fearlessly traverse the battlefield gives rogues the potential to surprise and quickly overwhelm their foes. Among the different races. and humans thrive in such an adaptable role. a rogue sets up devastating attacks. a little bit clubhouse. but otherwise one rogue can never know what to make of another. and chances are he’ll name a bar. and every bit full of ale and sexy wait staff. After a night in a tavern. and your eyes open. Capable of delivering more damage to a single target than many other characters.Ask a rogue where his home is. Danger lurks around every corner in the world. In fact. On the other hand. Elves’ and half-elves’ inborn talents make them suited to the class. jumping over enemies. Taverns are a little bit restaurant. keep your dagger sharp. Not only will the fighter be giving the rogue a flanking bonus. and if you play your cards right. or purloined key can be the ticket to an opulent lifestyle. and that’s why it’s so difficult to win a rogue’s trust. By skillful maneuvering. or even an up-and-coming rival rogue can send you right back to the bottom. and some get it. A truly evil rogue makes a powerful adversary. but more spells and attack powers will set up sneak attacks. it’s not uncommon for a rogue to go from one to the other and back again in a matter of days. halflings are the most adept rogues. Many rogues dream of fortune. a striker ends up frail compared to a defender. and deftly scaling walls are simple for rogues. you can be that danger. they’re stealthy and mobile. Darting between shadows. Tieflings gravitate toward becoming rogues because they’re charismatic and have an inborn tendency for trickery and deception. who in the party has the highest tolerance for alcohol. For every rogue hitting the town in fancy clothes. One of the ways a rogue gets high damage is an old favorite: sneak attack. In fact. big treasure hoard. CLASS ROLE —Logan Bonner The rogue is the prime example of a striker. your cloak concealing. a really expensive garment. A rogue settles wherever fortune and charm take him. who can use their skills more effectively than other classes and can move in ways utterly impossible for other characters.

was clearly implemented and easy to use. These allow a rogue to turn a normal attack into a truly vicious one. and most DMs shied away from allowing thieves to use this ability on a routine basis. Sneak attack. rogues were severely crippled. most notably undead and constructs. Some abilities are so key to a character’s class that they should rarely. immunity to sneak attack has been scaled back to almost nothing. The rogue relies on sneak attack for his or her offensive abilities. Entire categories of creatures. while perhaps not as swingy as backstab. gamers who loved rogues had reason to celebrate. as do some special abilities. —Mike Mearls In the beginning thieves had the backstab ability. which can be tacked on to successful attacks. immunities are almost completely gone from D&D 4E. but they came with a catch. face a blanket immunity. The rules were vague about how they worked. More important. At the highest end of the rogue’s power list come difficult maneuvers that incorporate multiple attacks and tactical movement. and it was good. Without the offensive boost provided by this ability.SNEAK ATTACK Rogues —Continued Another source of extra damage comes from a rogue’s follow-up attacks. These f lashy assaults make short work of powerful monsters and—more importantly—impress the rest of the party. you can still smash its knee or find a weak point in its construction to deal a fistful of extra d6s in damage. Flanking a foe gives you combat advantage. but an elder red dragon can still blast it into oblivion with its breath weapon. In their place we have damage thresholds to reflect resistances and invulnerability. a combat modifier gained whenever an opponent’s defenses have been compromised. were immune to sneak attack. dealing huge amounts of damage and dishing out major penalties to the target. Tief ling rogue 66 . they were great when the rogue got to use them. Those extra d6s of damage were great. the team sought to create a game where a reasonable Dungeon Master could create a reasonable challenge for everyone at the table. You can now use sneak attack whenever you have combat advantage. if ever. rather than create interesting situations for the entire party. or force the spotlight on to a sole player character. For this reason. A DM must make a conscious decision to shut down a PC or close off a set of options. At least. Monsters that shut down one character are more likely to make the game dull for a few characters. For D&D 4E. A fire elemental might ignore a wizard’s fireball. A +4 bonus on attacks and double damage were great back in the day. Almost every creature a rogue now faces has the requisite vulnerable spots needed for a sneak attack to take place. It was really. really hard to actually complete a backstab. When D&D 3E arrived on the scene. This change ref lects one of the important philosophies behind D&D 4E. While a construct might lack internal organs. so we’re much better off making it a reliable tool. As a rule. we’ve made sneak attack more f lexible while retaining its basic mechanic. In the design of D&D 4E. sneak attack now functions against a wide variety of monsters.

Skill synergies are just obnoxiously frivolous. This design decision highlights one of the principles of D&D 4E design. skills. the first of these works out pretty well. a rogue is just as dangerous as a fighter. but they are the minority. The system scales in such a way that when you gain levels and don’t spend ranks in a skill. you quickly fall behind the required DCs needed to accomplish a task. The first problem is that skills are high-maintenance and full of little complexities. Finally. You have a list of class and cross-class skills that changes depending on what class you’re leveling up in. While his leather armor makes him less durable. Rogues are now the best skill users in the game. True.WHAT’S NEW WITH THE ROGUE —Mike Mearls The rogue character class retains the core of what it has always been. These problems wouldn’t be too egregious if the reward for keeping track of it all were bigger.” this problem became even worse. but only one is really valid. To be sure. but the second is usually worthless. the design team set aside noncombat functions and looked solely at what each class does in a fight. In melee. Now. A rogue might have low AC and low hit points. By cutting off any bleed in balance between those areas. the rogue had sneak attack. the addition of maneuvers to the rogue’s bundle of abilities allows him or her to fight in melee and dodge attacks much better than before. Whenever you level up. Since D&D 4E moves from a model of “the party versus one monster” to “the party versus an equal number of monsters. The second problem is that the skill system is built with two different skill strategies in mind. Along with a clearer fighting archetype. we’ve taken some aspects of the rogue and strengthened them to match what many players want to do with a rogue. The D&D 4E design team saw the rogue as more than just a skill expert. We then balanced their abilities across the board. but a lot of skills were supposed to balance that. rather than creating a situation where player characters are balanced only if you look at all the encounters as a whole. he can dish out a lot of damage in a brief amount of time. while following a similar process for noncombat abilities. we created characters that are on equal footing across every part of an adventure. You can dump max ranks in a few skills to keep them high. designers would sometimes use out-of-combat abilities to balance combat deficiencies. 67 . and dishing out extra damage to unprepared opponents. but moving into a f lank also left him vulnerable to being f lanked himself. Making the rogue a little more of a swashbuckler helped give him a clearer role in a fight. To better balance the classes. light weapons. In D&D 4E. and most players would rather be spending character generation and leveling time elsewhere. you need to look at your skills and determine where you want to spend your points. a class that focuses on light armor. A rogue with a high Intelligence score gains a flat bonus to all trained skill checks. Human rogues SKILLS —Logan Bonner D D 3rd Edition’s skills are based on a good premise. a rogue with a good Charisma score now has a variety of special maneuvers to choose from that highlight his abilities as a trickster and deceiver. but they also have more options and abilities relating to those skills. Not only do they get more skills than other classes. D&D 4E strengthens the rogue’s core competencies both inside and outside of combat. or you can dabble by spending a few ranks in various places. but it’s rarely worth the effort. but a warrior who bears some similarities to a swashbuckler. For example. but they suffer from a number of problems we wanted to rectify as we went about building the 4th Edition of the game. In prior versions of the game. there are a few skills it might be worth getting 1 rank in just so you can be trained.

Another major change to skills was the removal of several skill functions that we no longer believe should be default parts of skills. each unwilling to draw your ire next. Spellcraft. Sleight of Hand.) And can’t Appraise. Forgery. there’s a high probability at least one party member will see it just due to a lucky roll. and monsters. Knowledge (arcana). Open Lock. As of this writing. The Star Wars Roleplaying Game Saga Edition includes some of our experiments with skill simplification. nonplayer characters. we have cut the number of skills in half (while maintaining most of the functions). Another idea that’s been bandied about lately is converting some skills to passive “defense” values. tells them that something is up. first of all. Also. with placeholder names (that will be changed before the book goes to press): I’m Batman Dragonborn rogue You send a ranged attack against your foe to get its attention and lure it in your direction. The Rabble Yammer in Terror You deliver a stinging blow to an enemy who besets you. but rogues get the widest swath of options. Who wants Listen but not Spot? Who wants Hide but not Move Silently? Not many people. Telling the players to roll Spot checks. so they’re now functions of a single skill). your game is probably not as much fun as D&D should be. We greatly simplified the skill system to fix these problems. 68 . Decipher Script.Rogues —Continued The third problem is the skill list. Spot and Listen are good examples. Sample power writeup from the D&D 4E Player’s Handbook (current draft). Sorry. Skills like this might work better as passive values: Every player character could have a value equal to 10 + skill bonus. We stripped the list down and combined skills that were pointing in the same direction (Open Lock and Sleight of Hand appeal to the same character. Of all the classes. Part of this is because the system is meant to work for player characters. Then. Then. and a bunch of other narrow skills just be folded into other skills? Then there are functions that should be combined because there’s no character who wants one but wouldn’t want both. rogues are the most skill-focused (followed closely by rangers). which is full of skills that are either too similar to others or just plain useless. Now. Use Rope. Go Ahead and Hit Me Your daunting glare gives you an edge over foes who dare attack you. and Read Magic have all been combined into a single Arcana skill. when there’s something to see. skill functions like this are either unlocked by taking a feat or are incorporated into specific powers. The prime example is using Tumble to avoid attacks of opportunity. if you have everybody roll every time there’s something to see. most notably in the way it removes the need for constantly increasing skills. you spring from the shadows and deliver a devastating follow-up attack. To have a check (one that can even be made untrained) be able to bypass such a fundamental risk of the game is just too easy and ultimately not all that much fun. But when’s the last time you saw a PC make a Profession check that had a useful effect on the game? (Hint: If it was recently. His allies shrink back from you. Many classes have a few skills that are crucial to their functionality.

it’s important to think about who wants to use it and why. Now that traps threaten the entire party at once. don’t fix it (is what R&D Director Bill Slavicsek is always telling us). while secret doors open to unleash skeletons into the room. A fighter or wizard can damage a trap mechanism to shut it off or delay its effects. Dungeons play host to spiked walls that close in to impale and crush adventurers. Rogues receive it for free. While the poison needle on a treasure chest or the pit trap dug into a hallway still exist. light weapons that favor Dexterity over brute Strength. We don’t want one character handling everything in an encounter. but D&D 4E makes them the norm rather than the exception. not a single character. Most traps challenge the entire party. the rules now support more elaborate death traps. Not even a cool one. and similar items. present options for new materials and magical effects that rogues want to use. TRAPS AND ROGUES —Mike Mearls Traps have always been a part of the D&D experience. 69 . and our new trap rules reflect this. If it isn’t broke. A trapped room opens up floodgates and fills with water. After all. We knew that rogues still want to use small. When working on a magical item. at later levels. not the expected norm. The random pit or the trapped chest is the exception. no one has batted an eye and it’s easier on the Dungeon Master—and on your d20. This decision points to a larger trend in the game— challenge the party. you can rest easy with the knowledge that the rogue miniatures that you already have in your collection are just as usable in D&D 4E. For each class. slings. fix it (is what R&D Director Bill Slavicsek is always telling us). So. short swords. A rogue can still disarm the trap. but that is just one option among many. Furthermore. D&D has always had these traps. but they’ve never really had a stable place in the game. So far in playtests. rapiers. not a single character. If it is broke. Like generations of gamers that came before. they also give options for any character to defeat them. Trapfinding is now a Drow rogue feat. D&D 4E changes that on a two levels. hand crossbows. ROGUE WEAPONS AND ARMOR —Mike Mearls A D&D 4E rogue is likely to wear armor and carry weapons similar to his brethren from earlier versions of the game. D&D is about an adventuring party. Creating a set of weapons and armor for the rogue helped clear up this design process. Their options include leather armor. The rogue’s weapons and armor don’t exist in a vacuum.the Dungeon Master can compare the DC to notice it to the player characters’ “take 10” numbers. A cleric can heal the party as the trap slowly damages the characters. you can live by the wisdom that the guy (of gal) in leather armor who claims he (or she) is a fighter might be a rogue trying to pull a fast one on you. The rogue who carries a hand crossbow should feel happy about that weapon. such as the rogue. we looked at their expected gear and then sought to create abilities that fit well with those abilities. but anyone can become skilled in disabling traps. Leather armor must.

give them a demonstration of what that power looks like when you loose it upon the world. sinister aspect. . Why does a warlock make people uneasy? Because you hold up a mirror that reveals their cowardice. or place in the world. But saying it doesn’t make it so. however. But ambition and ruthlessness can serve the noblest efforts as well as they can serve the most diabolical. Your magic has an unsavory. Early in your career. Power has its price. People take one look at your black cloak with the glowing runes. no matter their species. you forge a connection to fey earth-spirits. You attended clandestine meetings where darker mysteries were revealed to you. a warlock’s training is transactional. Some called you and your fellow apprentices a cult or a secret society. Then. Just remember that they fear you because you were willing to seek power while they f led from the difficult path that power demands. for example. It must be bargained with. your training happened out of sight. they understand it when you speak the language of power to them. whether or not they are wholly. Ambitious? Certainly. more fearful minds. One of the most important bargains you strike is your pact. Or at least . and it’s clear that the stars shine on good and evil alike. you knew you wanted more. But you excelled. proving yourself more driven and more talented than your fellows. and the clerics their cloisters. You learn new powers by compelling the dark forces of the world to reveal their secrets to you—or at the very least. Spellcasters learn new power by understanding their powers’ theoretical underpinnings. When they see you. Summon a pit fiend to raze the lord’s castle or curse his sheriff. Conclusions that might be inconvenient for you. or no where near true. striking a deal to let you tap into that dark force for yourself. speak the language of power. Leave the wizards their colleges. Because most communities don’t understand warlock magic. The presence of a warlock makes almost everyone uneasy. And it makes them afraid. and many will be quick to call you evil. they’re subtly reminded that they were too weak to gather similar power for themselves. Secrecy was paramount. and catch a whiff of brimstone in your wake—and then they jump to conclusions. When you curse their every effort. they understand your power firsthand. All creatures. and you’ve seen countless people make clumsy attempts to Tief ling warlock hide their obvious fear of you behind a façade of bravado. That led to greater mysteries being revealed to you. You are willing to pay the price to acquire power. then finally excise them from existence with an eldritch blast. And you’ve done so. It’s not just a question of fear. see the strange tattoos on your arms. You didn’t even know all the details yourself. you exude power from every fiber of your being.Warlocks —Dave Noonan As a warlock. Your training was one-on-one—a master/apprentice relationship. But let’s lay all the cards on the table. So much more! If a wizard’s training is educational. . And with each new secret door that opened. Everyone from the street urchin to the village priest to the grand duke senses the arcane power you carry with you. Are warlocks by nature evil? Not necessarily. While many of the mysterious forces that warlocks tap for their powers are irredeemably evil—the infernals and certain ancient demons. Some warlocks make pacts with the stars themselves. you are fluent in the universal language: Power. alignment. for example—other forces are simply amoral or completely inscrutable. 70 . partially. and most people quail at the price. one way or another. or disinterest. unctuousness. As a result. repeatedly and enthusiastically. then practicing delicate acts of their art. Warlocks don’t do much in the way of public relations efforts. either in a hidden part of the city or a safe place in the wilderness. summon a pit fiend to thwart their feeble attacks against you. A little on the ruthless side? Probably. That’s for lesser.

and that’s power they’ll trade as part of their own long-term plans. you largely disdain mere swordplay and archery. similar to wizard spells. or the stars and the darkness between them. You can bargain with ancient fey spirits. playing the two forces against one another and drawing strength from both. You are also able to transpose yourself. As you wrest more warlock techniques from your master. Regardless of the patron you chose. You can focus your power at will in a beam that flays the flesh from those with the temerity to stand against you. That’s when you separated yourself from others and say. and some just consume your enemies in a roiling cloud of hungry darkness. Given the choice between slicing someone with your dagger or tearing off a chunk of their immortal spirit with soul ruin. Elf warlock performs a ritual 71 . hit more than one enemy with it. You wear leather armor that reeks of eldritch power and carry a simple weapon. and curses each have their place in your personal arsenal of power. making that pact is a defining moment in your life. soul ruin. “I want more power. such as a spear or dagger. Though the world has forgotten the names of these now-buried fey. sometimes wounding and sometimes magically thwarting that enemy’s efforts. they retain a vestige of their deific might. A curse diminishes your enemy in some way. you haven’t—and you sense their feral. But the wellspring remains the pact that you establish on the first day you can truly call yourself a warlock. you can deliver curses to your rivals and enemies. Though these godlings are no longer worshiped. no matter the cost!” As your power grows. long-dead demon gods. Finally. primitive hunger as keenly as your own feelings. You also have a soul ruin attack that wounds the very spirit of someone who threatens you in hand-to-hand combat. as forgotten demigods and ancient demons learned to their chagrin. for use against foes too weak to waste your arcane power against. As a warlock. Immortality is not a guarantee of eternity. or turn the foe’s very blood into black acid. others summon otherworldly aid in a time of need. invocations. you learn to set your eldritch blast afire. banishing them or drawing them closer to the danger that you represent. flashing from place in the blink of an eye. the pact becomes more and more important. Eventually. transpositions. The very best warlocks can establish two pacts. then force it to burn its way out of the body. Your eldritch blast. rustic tool of the hunter—to make your enemies kneel before you. encircle your foe in emerald coils. you’ll opt for soul ruin every time. A longbow is a quaint.scheming devils. you learn to transpose others as well. nothing beats an eldritch blast. or turn it into a force of crawling darkness from which there is no escape. You can lock a foe in a cage of blood. granting you powers and perceptions beyond the reach of other mortals. You learn invocations. primal forces from when the world was young. Some protect you. Try doing that with an arrow.

and some must be compelled to speak through long and arduous rites. After losing a third son to Crovax’s “brilliant icy destruction” curse. while the Vestige pact is best for dealing damage through soul blast attacks. 72 . or infernal beings bound by ancient laws the warlock knows how to exploit. Jibaal of the Mountain: A hired killer. Warlocks excel at weakening. I think you should only be able to get soul blast if you take the Pact of James Brown. These are the warlock’s per-encounter “spells. They deal high damage to one or two enemies at a time. Regardless of the true nature of the warlock’s patrons. and by tracking the progress of the stars across the sky. In battle. each curse includes a potent death effect: When the cursed creature is reduced to 0 hit points. and it is said that the touch of his soul ruin is death itself. His WARLOCKS HAVE CHANGED. Warlocks have few powers that attack multiple foes at once. or Vestige. magical intelligences associated with prominent stars. left hand is made entirely from shards of jade. some of these spirits offer knowledge freely. WHY? —Logan Bonner The reason warlocks changed is simple: Their cool. the restless shades of ancient warlocks and demipowers long dead. but why he’s teaching them is unknown. You’ve learned the secret names of the stars and can tap into whatever’s up there . Scheming devils from the dawn of time created one of the most seductive paths to power. augmenting it with the ability to surround himself in an undulating cloak of shadows or tear a hole in reality itself. Every year he accepts one new apprentice from the dozens who seek his tutelage. this pact may be the foundation of the warlock’s art. . the warlock gains two important new magical tools: pacts and curses. But some warlocks have attained a degree of fame—or notoriety. The warlock’s pact describes what type of bargain he made to gain his power: Fey. Asmodeus may have expunged these devils from the Infernal Rolls. in fact. grasping power from darkness and then disappearing to apply that power elsewhere. or attack foes. waiting. but they are quite good at avoiding attack by magically evading their enemies. the Infernal pact gives the warlock exceptional ability to exercise control over his enemies by reinforcing curses that create phantasmal objects to trap. Finally. but they excel in dealing with small groups of enemies. Star. . unique thing isn’t unique anymore. These may be dark. hinder. He retained the knack for stealth from his previous occupation. The Jade Hand: This mysterious eladrin lives alone in the Feywild atop a tower made from desiccated tree branches. escorts fugitives beyond the reach of Demetrius’ “ justice.Warlocks —Continued Some say there is a cold malice that lives and watches us all from the darkness between the stars. They are highly mobile and elusive adversaries who scour their enemies with potent blasts of eldritch power and harry them with a variety of potent curses. Each pact is associated with a number of curses. CLASS ROLE —Richard Baker Warlocks are arcane characters. They possess highly accurate and highly damaging short-range attacks and shift easily from ranged to melee combat. . . —Logan Bonner. You may be among those who have unearthed the dark lore of these infernals and entered into a power-bargain with their shades. The warlock gains a significant damage boost for his eldritch blast and soul blast attacks when he targets a creature he’s already cursed. Warlocks of different traditions favor different types of patrons. They learn their powers from magical entities they commune with through ancient rites. Demetrius has placed a vast price on Crovax’s head. at the very least. warlocks are strikers. March 2007 FAMOUS WARLOCKS —Dave Noonan Many warlocks work from the shadows.” and they deal high damage to foes along with crippling restrictions on movement and actions. He organizes revolutionary cells throughout the city state. and hindering foes with their curses. primal fey spirits. immobilizing. Each pact type offers subtly different benefits and favors different types of warlock powers. Corvax is a perpetual thorn in the side of High Lord Demetrius and the City-State of Landarna. strange. Infernal. He now teaches worthy students from the ruins of a great mountaintop castle .” and systematically curses and destroys everyone in the High Lord’s family. some exact terrible bargains for their wisdom. we can attain a glimpse of this mystery presence. Corvax Croweye: Known for the crow feather he leaves wherever he goes. For example. but he didn’t bury their perilous secrets deeply enough. the warlock often gains a powerful follow-up attack against other nearby foes. Jibaal became a warlock as part of an effort to expunge his guilt from an assassination gone tragically wrong. then step through the breach. old as the earth itself. pitting them against each other in a series of ruthless tests. Warlocks are not very durable. but any warlock has the ability to wield some amount of power from any of these sources. In 4th Edition D&D.

The warlock might not be evil. All the other power sources in the Player’s Handbook have at least two representative classes. The curses evoke this theme. focused on dealing a lot of damage to one foe at a time. the warlock appears in the D&D 4E Player’s Handbook along with the wizard. warlocks hold a special place in D&D 3E. Sure. Unfortunately. these got narrowed and focused so when you take a pact. then watching the target die before he had a chance to do anything else. Tieflings are the darkest player race in the initial release of the game. The warlock class gives them that much more for someone who wants to play a sinister hero. one-toe-in-the-pool-of-evil feel intact. Warlocks are instead strikers. Of course. but gave him some new tricks so he’s not playing in the wizard’s sandbox quite as much (duplicating spell effects and the like). Throughout all this. we also couldn’t ignore the fact that the warlock had a lot of traction in D&D 3E. Since we wanted to emphasize certain builds. like binder vestiges. but you’re all on the same side. 3E classes. In fact. this might seem weird. Warlock is also an expected option for the tiefling. imparting penalties and giving advantages to the warlock if he voluntarily ended the curse. it was clear how important it was that we keep the warlock’s dangerous. the paladin might look askance at you. arcane has only have a single representative—the wizard. but less popular. They also aren’t just “hellpacts” anymore. you really know what type of character you’re playing. Role is also significant. but they weren’t quite clicking in playtests. the warlock kept eldritch blast. additional strikers are good for party success. The pacts. Wizards are controllers. Important to understanding the warlock’s proper place is in the game from the outset is power source. The warlock seemed like a natural choice. any spellcaster can use a power every round without worrying about running out. but he’s still going to be the class of choice for people who want to play a darker character. didn’t have benefits that all pointed to a single theme or play style. Even though the Player’s Handbook has a ranged striker and a melee striker.” All this pointed them toward the same sort of maybe-this-guy-is-a-little-too-nasty-to-hang-out-with-our-party vibe that the 3E version has. this usually meant that a warlock spent his turn invoking a curse. They appeal to players who want to dish out punishment with magic. so warlocks need something new to differentiate them. You might have your foe crying burning tears of blood or shove him into a conjured iron maiden. each of which has its own build focus and a strong hook for your backstory. It also brought forward some elements from other interesting. Curses were. right? So has the warlock changed? His rules have. initially. along with abilities that modify the blast. For those with notions derived from D&D 3E. This was an easy problem to fix: We cranked the curses up. so you can have an intriguing back story that’s supported by what you’re actually using in combat. Half ling warlock WHY THE WARLOCK? —Chris Sims Supporting the arcane power source.Since their resources don’t deplete over the course of the day. In 4th Edition. The early changes from the 3E warlock to the 4E version included access to powerful sustainable curses that gave penalties to their enemies and picked up the binder’s vestiges as “hellpacts. sure. it might be the most popular class released between 3E’s Player’s Handbook and Tome of Battle. 73 . but he sure is mean. We couldn’t leave a class that appealed to such a wide section of our audience out of the new edition’s first showing. Now the curses themselves could put down a ton of damage and impose huge penalties on the target’s actions. Without the warlock. In fact. Let’s look at the real reasons why the warlock made the muster. we’re making it easier to develop a theme to your warlock powers. You can make pacts with various powers. These were good ideas. Although all of the above is true.

Only characters with strong ideals will take up the cause of Good or Evil. we also tried new magic systems with Tome of Magic and Magic of Incarnum. and each effort pushed the envelope in a different direction. ALIGNMENT —Logan Bonner Alignment is one of those systems that’s been in f lux for a while because everybody has a strong opinion about it. or even do something that’s not exactly “good” once in a while. In Incarnum. In Tome of Magic.Warlocks —Continued WARLOCK EVOLUTION —Stephen Schubert The new warlock class is an evolution of the class first introduced in Complete Arcane. While alignment should inf luence your actions. it shouldn’t define your entire personality. people have used alignment as a guide to roleplaying. we tried different levels of acquisition of power. R&D is really just like a big gaming group: We all have our opinions about what alignment should be. For example. An “Evil-curious” character might be underhanded or bloodthirsty without crossing the line into evil.” you know there will be a lot of time and discussion about the topic. Alignment is now a system you don’t have to play in if you don’t want to. Steve Schubert. From these experiments. Some of those ideas have been incorporated into the latest iteration of the warlock class. The shadowcaster could build his powers broadly. or could build deep into two chosen trees. or bring those concepts into other places of the new game. each class was given a larger suite of powers that could be activated frequently. we incorporated such concepts as the themes of the binder’s pacts. and Bill Slavicsek) convened to figure out why people do and don’t like alignment as it has appeared in previous versions of the game. some of which were always active boons while others were limited to a few uses each day. much like a D&D 3rd Edition wizard might choose her spells. This allows players more latitude. A Good-aligned person can be surly. We wanted to keep the recognizable names of alignment. but can still be in the same party as the bright and shining paladin and not have much difficulty. gaining a suite of thematically related abilities. but that ends up being too restrictive and predictable. so each warlock can choose from a small selection of thematically linked class abilities. choosing many of the simplest of mysteries. The binder could choose a “silo” of power. but with a progressively more difficult chance of success each time an utterance was used. we continued to explore other venues for both mechanics and theme. and a bit of customization so that a shaper might have a completely different arsenal each day. Even as the D&D 3E warlock was an experiment in a new way of looking at an arcane class. and never dedicate themselves to an ideal—they just do what they can to get by. When one person’s saying “kill it entirely” and another is saying “keep it as it is. The truenamer had an ever-growing repertoire of abilities. For a long time. but we also had to recognize the failings the old systems had. we have the flexibility to mine those themes for future additions to the warlock class. This doesn’t mean the person isn’t trying to uphold the virtues of Dwarf warlock 74 . We also wanted to emphasize the difference between personality and alignment. They can play a character who isn’t all that nice. Most people just never choose sides. all of which could be used at-will. A major change to the system is the concept of unaligned characters. Bruce Cordell. these classes helped us see new class mechanics in action. While we didn’t include aspects from every class from Tome of Magic. an elite team of special agents (Michele Carter. To tackle this issue. In addition to exploring different themes of D&D magic.

Only a minority of people (and monsters) is aligned at all. I can’t wait until people first get their hands on this class and say. Dungeon Masters get the freedom to create storylines with intrigue and deception that can’t be derailed by a detect evil spell. Instead of the overarching system of previous editions. You banish a foe to the depths of the Nine Hells. We all sat within two cubes of one another. choosing a Good alignment won’t make your character more susceptible to evil attacks. they would occasionally hear one of these snippets about the Player’s Handbook. close enough to shout out whatever weird thing one of us had just come up with. PCs should decide for themselves whether they think someone is evil. suffering from fear. and thereby give everybody else nearby a dose of warlock joy. and he’ll likewise be more fun to play the more exhausting your day has been. The power-writing stage came after that. Even though people in nearby cubes were working on different projects. Once or twice a day. Perhaps more important than any other change is the deemphasis of alignment. “I can do what?” And the reactions of the other people at the table will be even better. this was some oddball placeholder name Rich had written for a warlord power. and Rich was in charge of taking the few powers already written and fleshing out the list (while incorporating changes the development team had made to the overall class structure). Rich would say something like. I wrote up the basic structure of the warlock and established the over-the-top descriptions and effect names the class would use (stuff like the curse of the bloodfang beast and iron chains of misery). but warlock powers were a common topic. I think our neighbors might have known more about the warlock than any other class. too. here’s a new one: hurl through hell. not rely on spells to make their decisions for them. “I know I said we should punish these evildoers. alignment is now a much smaller part of the experience. but ouch!” 75 . actually. During his journey he takes a bunch of damage. —Rob Heinsoo. mean powers). “Okay. The warlock is a great class to work on when you just need to cut loose and write the most insane powers possible. and most spells and abilities that key off of alignment have been eliminated. He returns prone in his former square. Usually. For a player. Rich (and maybe all of us) really wrote his most entertaining stuff when he was getting punchy at the end of the day. Whenever Rich would write up a crazy power (and the warlock is master of crazy.” Everybody in earshot would have an evil chuckle (Dave’s is the most evil. Sometimes these warlock powers get written up so horrifically that they sound like they should be freaking your allies out as well as your enemies. by the way) and think about Tief ling warlock the reaction the hapless monster will have when that happens during a game. You just might hear your party’s cleric saying.a good alignment—and the dedication to keep trying is what’s important about alignment. Shades of gray can make a campaign deeper and ultimately more rewarding. May 2007 CUBE CHATTER —Logan Bonner I worked on the Player’s Handbook with Rich Baker and Dave Noonan (this was in the third stage of the process). he would relay it across the cube walls to Dave and I.

your path is a study in contradiction. as long as you are around to figure things out. A rested wizard is a deadly foe. places himself and his entire adventuring group in danger. you can concentrate and summon forth the energies needed to use your power words. You can conjure a wave of acid that turns a battalion of soldiers into a pile of bones. you send forth a bolt of fire detonates with enough force to level a building.Wizards —Mike Mearls As a wizard. Insist on sleeping in the middle of the group. The mightiest of wizard spells. clerics. a slack-jawed orc with a scimitar can end your Human wizard life with a single blow. Luckily. In theory. are weaker than a fighter’s sword stroke. those capable of turning a phalanx of warriors into smoldering bones. those that you can call on again and again without limit. While the fighter absorbs blow after blow. With a wave of your hand. or one so cautious that he never casts them. You’ll never regret it. the rest of the group is there to protect you. When it comes time to set up camp. let the monsters fall upon your allies first. the few seconds this tactic buys you might be the difference between victory and defeat. the clerics and fighters of the world are rarely known for their intellectual and tactical genius. A smart wizard relies on his power words to defeat his enemies. With a minute to catch your breath. but not so much that you need a long period of rest to recover. provided he has a chance for a brief rest. 76 . You must play a careful balancing game. A wizard who is too rash to save his spells. In battle. Power words are your most trustworthy tool. so keep a path of retreat open at all times. you have access to power words. you are well equipped to handle adventures. your once per day abilities are the most powerful and your more frequently used abilities are slightly weaker. are too powerful for any mortal to use more than once without extensive rest. and rogues can afford to let monsters use their heads as punching bags. one that requires you to bide your power over the course of an expedition. A wizard survives only as long as he keeps an escape plan. Compared to other classes. Even after several battles. you know that only a fool lets a monster swing a 10-pound hunk of sharpened steel at him. Sooner or later. On the other hand. a wizard has a number of incantations he can call on again and again. Keeping watch is not the same at resting. In contrast. When you awake. you need as much sleep and relaxation as possible. Use your spells judiciously and always reserve something to save your own bacon. Between these three types of magic. the simplest wizard spells. Unfortunately. In part. Power words are spells that drain energy energy from you. you play a dangerous game. for all your power you are simply more vulnerable than other adventurers. If an attack comes. spells you use again and again in a variety of situations. Yet for all your power. Fighters. You must destroy your enemies with arcane power before they come close enough to pose a threat. one of your companions will make a mistake that might cost you your life. What little brains they have aren’t needed. you have to keep to the back of the group and avoid the monsters. but provides another instance where you must rely on lesser intellects to protect you. You need your rest. with his more powerful spells a potent weapon against tough foes and his weakest spells a reliable tool for simple situations or weakened enemies. During an adventure.

Elf wizard casts a spell you are best served in finding the perfect situation to use your most powerful spells. A surprise attack might the last attack you face. Keep an eye out for enemies who are capable of presenting an intelligent challenge. Hoard them whenever possible. to increase their versatility and to ensure that they carry the right tool for the right job. a hat. After all. Heavier armor is useful only to those too dense to use magic to protect themselves. cloth armors that protect you from attacks without weighing you down. sneaky enemies have the greatest chance to outwit your comrades. Instead. The right spell at the right moment turns certain defeat into an easy victory. opt for light. 77 . but most wizards need little more than a simple dagger. as the party’s fighter cannot easily hold such insubstantial foes at bay. from fearsome blackspawn raiders to sneaky goblin skirmishers. On an adventure. simple robes. A simple crossbow is a simpleton’s tool not worthy of sullying a wizard’s hands. amulet or other item that signifies your membership in an arcane order broadcast your power to others and indicate that you should be treated with respect. Most wizards carry a few such items. Why rely on something as cruel and inelegant as a crossbow? For melee weapons. Around town. Wizards fear wraiths. you might wield a staff as a melee weapon in emergencies. you need more practical garb. You’ll never regret keeping your options open. Agile. you can generate bolts of arcane power to smite your foes. force a wizard to keep an eye on the shadows for a sudden attack. fast foes. Such a magical item grants power to your spells while offering unique abilities in its own right. ghosts. Finding or creating a magical implement to match your specialty is your highest priority. and similar monsters above other foes. Smart.

but the benefit the feat grants won’t change. you are the most powerful adventurer in the group but only when you work with their allies as a team. they might not provide the most intellectually stimulating campfire conversation. And. far from other folk. For instance. the mightiest wizards achieved their great deeds with the help of equally legendary warriors. Feats enhance your character build. and the new wizard gets them in spades. evocative. staff. Sure. Instead. But don’t get comfortable thinking that you’ve got a wizard’s number after you’ve spied his arcane implement. Don’t distress. and while many of those tricks endure. it just improves the power and versatility of spells thanks to the focused implements. or wand. those trick’s natures were expressed by way of the schools of magic. we went with feats that apply a benefit once. A wand wizard is the truly long-distance controller who sits behind layers of magic protection—he’s a hard nut to crack. if you’re playing a wizard. Power Attack might change your numbers round by round). If you see a wizard with a staff. lightning bolt. and rogues. there’s a method to our madness. FEATS —Stephen Radney-MacFarland Lots of things in D&D are changing. While some wizards sequester themselves in isolated towers. and you can expect to go flying across the battlefield as a consequence of the spell’s effect. and per-day choices sit firmly in the powers section of your character sheet. nor will you have to pick what the feat does round-by-round or even day-by-day. In general. They are fun. Wizards who wield an orb flavor their blasts with terrain control and manipulation and focus on retributive and perception effects. for the nonmagical reading this. but don’t fret too much: You’ll still get feats. yet a wizard alone can call down powers that overshadow any other adventurer’s attacks. meteor swarm. but many are just brand new. Some of the feats will look familiar. the new wizard identifies them by implements of her art—the orb. The wizard has always had a huge bag of tricks. you can count on her magical might smiting you with lines and cones. per-encounter. The things that the feat adjust might change from level to level in the standard leveling way. but they do have their uses. even magic missile—they’re all iconic wizard spells that deal damage to multiple opponents at a distance.WIZARDS MAKE THINGS GO BOOM Wizards —Continued In the end. we wanted to stray away from feats that were conditional on a specific effect. The wizard is. Fireball. clerics. But the wizard is more than a simple arcane howitzer. As for item creation. A lone wizard faces death at the end of foe’s weapon. we stuck them in a new area we’re calling rituals. and the new wizard is no different. —Stephen Radney-MacFarland Tief ling wizard It’s really just that simple. The wizard’s specialization doesn’t preclude any of the other powers. In previous editions. the first thing you’ll notice is that there are two types of feats that have gone the way of the dinosaur—metamagic and item creation feats. Wizards get some rituals for free. metamagic feats applied a condition to an individual spell at a cost (or. 78 . while per-round. and always has been. the quintessential battlefield controller. but you’re not spending precious feat slots (or experience points) to craft magic items anymore.

which will make him rely a bit more on his allies or shifting around out of reach. Thus. they never require a class. and he can also control the actions of multiple opponents through directly targeted control powers or indirectly by changing the battlefield with walls and clouds. Once that was in place. feats that increase speed—but others. the wizard can clear away weak minions with fireballs. Not so! The intent was not to limit choice. the wizard is still less sturdy than most of the other classes. and utility. but he doesn’t last long if the enemy brutes start wailing on him. With potent spells and powers. and spells of the wizard don’t have anything like the arcane spell failure of past editions. whatever it is. we first had to establish a baseline. We set out to preserve the idea that the wizard is very powerful. While feats sometimes require a specific race. Defensively. training in a skill. power words. and here’s something for martial-minded wizard players (fans of the warmage and the duskblade. we could discuss the aspects of each class in relation to that baseline. independent of any particular class. add breadth to skills. feats that limit the penalties for using powers in melee. Oh. to cast over and over until the opponent finally failed a save. Each class has a corresponding set of feats that allows other characters to pick up select class abilities. And no feats accomplish the last two choices better than class training feats. And while the wizard starts with very few armor and weapon proficiencies. BALANCING THE WIZARD —Stephen Schubert When we set out to determine the right power level for each class. Take either the Warlock or Wizard Training feats. at first blush you may think the wizard has few options. More so than in 3rd Edition D&D. The wizard has always been high on the offensive scale and on the lower end defensively. the wizard’s powers follow our higher curve of output. you can pick feats to play against type. it’s easier to play the controller with the sharp pointy bits and the tough outer shell that hurls lethal arcane energy across the battlefield! But all of this feat goodness isn’t for the wizard alone. Have that idea for the martial wizard? Take the Fighter Training feats. While you’ll never reach the melee might of the fighter and paladin. or spread their damage out over a few rounds). called skill feats. You can pick feats that compliment your build. Many of these choices will seem self-evident for the role of the traditional wizard—feats that increase defenses. Maybe you want one of those archetypal rogues who dabbles in magic. defense.With these two iconic wizard feat types living in other places. using spells and abilities that hit lots of enemies in quick bursts (as opposed to other 79 . the wizard might not last past the second hit. listen up): arcane strikes. comparing the components of a class’s offense. the new wizard has fewer powers that can eliminate a worthy foe with a single shot (critical hits not withstanding). skill training. and even powers from another class. Feats can increase the potency of arcane powers. Many of the wizard’s direct control powers affect targets for a much shorter duration. or a minimum level. Dwarf wizard high-damage classes like rogues or warlocks that do lots of damage to a single opponent. But where the D&D 3E wizard had many “save or die” spells in his repertoire. the wizard will find it hazardous to cast spells when next to enemies. Feats enhance your character build. but rather to create new and interesting ones for the wizard (and the other classes). Cherry-picking skill feats can enhance the know-it-all nature wizards exude. While the new system allows all first level characters to survive at least one solid hit. These feats allow you to flavor your character with elements of another class without diluting your original class’s power and role. feats can expand those choices. and you can find feats that create interesting synergies in the rules. with abilities that affect multiple opponents at once. and much of that f lavor has been maintained.

So where are the schools now? Abjuration’s long-term wards and restorative effects like remove disease moved to rituals. Some future classes will even be based more heavily on past schools. much more are coming. expect some things to show up and others to not. both to maximize his output and to insure that he doesn’t get his wizard killed in the process. All we did was remove “school” as a mechanical division. You can bet that polymorph won’t be making an appearance (at least.” RH: People. So schools have obviously disappeared. a move that actually made those effects better. Negative levels also make the game less fun. What the heck binds these spells together? Anyway. the lesson had been learned: Every class should be able to do something interesting each round.” you can grab all the defensive spells you want—and if wall of force seems like abjuration to you. Necromancy is the most diminished set of effects. People Who Hold People. but they come from different schools because one creates a real object. Illusions are common in the wizard’s list. For instance. spells are categorized based on their effects more than their thematic links. since the wizard fills the controller role. Enchantment is still around. but expect future classes 80 . Don’t be surprised if you see illusionist or conjurer appear as classes or paragon paths at some point. these schools don’t always mean much as a way to differentiate types of magic. Of course. and penalties are now more focused and generally don’t last longer than the combat encounter. and high-level play was a nightmare because of them. Complete Arcane’s warlock class showed the viability of a class that could have an always-available at-will magic strike. through the mechanic of the Reserve feat. all the coolest spells are still there. we need more options for blowing things up. A school is really only dead as its spells. even at the lowest of levels. If you want to play an “abjurer. Are the Luckiest People. or daily resources. Save-or-die effects were too unpredictable. EXPERIMENTS IN 3RD EDITION —Stephen Schubert Design of the new wizard really started as we began looking at new ways to express magic in D&D 3rd Edition. Still. or better yet a selection of powers. The new wizard evolves this concept to give the class an array of From the Player’s Handbook design draft. especially in the cleric list. There are still plenty of midcombat protective spells. AC: Don’t make me come over there. in D&D 3E Melf ’s acid arrow and scorching ray both fire rays that deal energy damage. More casters will be using these effects because they can pick up a ritual and spend a bit of gold to get the effect instead of having to spend spell slots on spells that aren’t useful in combat. notes in files passed between Andy Collins and Rob Heinsoo: Hold Person 2 (Hold People) (TD) AC: I won’t be held responsible for what happens if we publish a spell called “Hold People. We were also looking at the role a class might fill. this thinking was part of the core of the new system. Heinsoo. Many of those directions helped us learn what would work best for wizards. The D&D 4E wizard instead uses different arcane foci that tie to specific types of effects. to emphasize it more than the classes in the first Player’s Handbook. not as a single spell). go for it! Removing the word “school” from our spell vocabulary doesn’t mean the effects and themes have gone anywhere. The introduction of foci also led to changes in spells. Transmutation is a school I can’t really understand. creating stronger definition for each class by identifying each one with a primary role. Complete Mage introduced and discussed the blaster role. The wizard needed to have a power. Evocation is all about blowing things up and.Wizards —Continued Ultimately. ARE SCHOOLS OF MAGIC DEAD? —Logan Bonner With 4th Edition D D . the wizard could end up being the class with the highest offensive output in the game. That same book also further expands on the concept of wizards with an always-on or at-will ability. but does this really mean they’re dead? Well. Conjuration’s long-distance teleportation moved to rituals. that he could use every encounter or even every round. but this was an intentional change for the good of the game. If you look at them in terms of their effects. which is the core of the new wizard class. since this school is a bit of a grab bag. which grant a wizard a minor at-will power as long as that wizard has an appropriate spell prepared. but getting to that level is going to require careful positioning or good tactics on the part of the player. encounter-based. where every class would be a different mix of at-will. All the effects that were useful only outside of combat went over to rituals. While the warlock continued to evolve into its own new class. Divination spells have moved almost entirely to rituals.

Dwarf wizard CLASS ROLE —Stephen Schubert The wizard is the “controller. going over various permutations. As a result. We all talked about the concept for a couple of hours. the idea burst upon me that perhaps wizards should care more about their implements than their schools. I explained the idea of wand. lobbing his strikes and spells at range.at-will strikes that the wizard can use every round. mask. In the wizard’s case. life-sapping virus (it wasn’t an allergy to milk in his coffee. a controller’s job is to affect multiple targets. they’ll have a few other powers to use much more frequently. instead of spells being divided up by abjuration. These trends speak to the greater issue of extending the amount of fun players can have. I don’t doubt that in some future book additional arcana will be introduced. I also wanted a way to figure out what types of rites a wizard could learn. choosing these defensive powers is made at the cost of fewer offensive powers. even when they don’t deal damage. While wizards still have the opportunity to cast (and run out of ) spells. so I gave James a jumbled run down. I was still halfway sure the concept was dead. a dilemma that’s always been true for the wizard class. and so on. Controlling effects like Evard’s black tentacles or the various wall spells are also ways that the wizard can affect multiple targets and control the course of a battle. the controller is a bit more vulnerable. James arrived first. say. 81 . because the implement they had in hand would determine the spells they could cast. In that meeting. but neither did he dismiss it. or move out of range with short-range teleports and the like. Actually. WIZARD ARCANA —Bruce R. I couldn’t wait for Rob to show up. allowing them to continue to contribute even once their spells run out. and his enthusiasm was at a low ebb. The concept has mutated from what we originally worked out in that small meeting room that day. transmutation. including dagger and familiar. but those powers don’t have to be directly damaging. He isn’t as good against a lone target as. it turned out Rob was coming down with some sort of horrible. we evolved additional potential wizard implements. and even dagger (Rob’s favorite). the rogue or the ranger. Rob’s a cautious guy. then his damage output is unmatched. and he didn’t grin the maniac grin I had when the idea came to me on the treadmill. Offensively. He didn’t shoot me down. I was concerned about wizards losing the flavor associated with schools of specialization. and I were scheduled to meet and dashed off the core concept on the white board. but if he gets all the opponents in a fireball or similar area-effect spell. familiar. James. and I gave the same explanation. staff. by extending every class’s resources over many more encounters. He can also overcome some of his defensive weaknesses by making himself harder to hit through spells like displacement or invisibility. Cordell While working on the Orcus II team with Rob and James. staff. including mask. Thus. the battlefield position of the wizard is typically in the back rank. On a treadmill down in the gym here at the Wizards of the Coast offices. The classic fireball spell is an iconic example of the wizard’s role-fulfilling powers. Of course. preferably at range. without the restriction of requiring a saved spell slot. this is expressed by low hit points and little in the way of armor. and even from what the Orcus II team delivered to the larger R&D team. but today I’m gratified to see the wizard using wand. they’d be divided up by the implements required for their casting. Defensively.” the player character who hits multiple enemies for lots of damage. I returned to the meeting room where Rob. By the end of the meeting. and orb arcana. There are two key components to every role: offense and defense. Then Rob arrived. and tome being implements a wizard would build his spells around. as he’d hoped).

but they now have access to feral. creating a relationship between them similar to the link between paladins and clerics. A bard is not a subservient worshiper like a cleric. To most bards. Barbarians are more feral and. Is the druid the guy who summons monsters? Is he the guy who transforms into monsters? Is he a spellcasting healer like a cleric? Many 82 . If a paladin is the sword of the faith. . a bard can make his foes work against themselves. a bard draws magic from otherworldly patrons that admire the bard’s work. barbarians now have several varieties of rage to choose from. The words “I rage” are a great part of D&D. dropping a foe. totemic abilities that make them unique. Though many bards hone their skills through intense study and practice at bardic colleges. but that’s the direction we’re headed. their ears. The bard makes his enemies distrust their eyes. Barbarians still heft axes and mauls with the best of them. He also had an unhealthy tendency to follow up strikes from his axe with a quick bite attack. All that stuff might not make it into the final draft. well. and critting on his Cleave attack to drop a second foe. On a historical note. understanding history and lore is essential. than ever. Though many bards are fond of treasure. but here’s what we have so far. nor does he bend forces to his will like a wizard. and to that end we firmly pushed weapon tricks and mastery into the fighter’s realm. A bard can be truly inspiring to the rest of his adventuring party and immensely aggravating to his enemies. bards are accepted in most societies and can enter doors that are closed to others (especially to other adventurers). . and sages. We’ve also tied barbarians and druids closer together. With the increased customization in the game. in that the class in 3E covers so much ground. One of my earliest 3E moments in good die rolling involved a barbarian rolling a crit with a greatsword. angrier. a bard is a storyteller at heart. others are free-spirited wanderers with inborn creative genius that. barbarians are in draft form. BARBARIANS —Mike Mearls I love barbarians.Other Classes Now let’s take a look a some of the other classes we’ve been experimenting with for D D 4th Edition . We wanted the barbarian to be more than a fighter who rages. BARDS —Logan Bonner A master of artistry and social grace. performers. and that’s still true in 4E. Rage is the heart of every barbarian. my playtest barbarian character used a rage ability called lightning panther strike to move across a dungeon chamber and chop down five skeletons in one round. dance. With the skill to fool enemies with illusory magic and to influence them with mental trickery. though rough around the edges. and even their allies. is truly marvelous to behold. and the magical gifts given cannot be taken away. Every expedition is a new tale to spin—and the show must go on. This is fundamentally different from the relationship other spellcasters have with their power sources. or oratory). The relationship between a bard and his patrons is one of mutual respect. And that is why he’s truly dangerous. the barbarian is nature’s fury given physical form. Human barbarian DRUIDS —Mike Mearls The druid presents an interesting problem for D&D 4E design. Harnessing a natural talent for creativity (be it song. painting. a bard is a leader who wields magic both dramatic and subtle. Because they are respected as artists. At the time of this writing.

This might be a liability in society. A druid might turn into a hawk to fly over an orc camp and spy on the monsters below. A few monks are simply obsessed with being the most powerful fighters and wander the land seeking out strong adversaries to defeat. knock it to the ground. Most are taciturn and disciplined. unflagging focus in battle. We don’t expect many classes to have the ability to turn into raging dire bears and elementals.Half ling druid What others accomplish with magic and steel. though it takes an experienced player to see and fully utilize the possibilities inherent in the class. Those who begin adventuring usually do so to continue the perfection of their bodies and technique. The typical monk lives in a monastery or as a hermit in the wilderness. capable of great feats of speed and strength. monks become supreme martial artists. he gains a selection of nature-themed spells that give him some ranged firepower and utility abilities. and we expect other classes to summon monsters. After darting across the battlefield. but we know it will work great in the game’s new structure. The current design for druids allows them to use wild shape a lot more often. the class will likely be a striker. and for good reason. then shifts into bear form to tear the king in half. Monks live an ascetic lifestyle and carry minimal gear (at least compared to other adventurers). We expect other classes to cast spells. so they sometimes find it difficult to socialize with their party members. we designed a variety of forms to fit different needs. or stun it into submission. The druid’s forms are the primary tools he uses on an adventure. To carry this analogy forward. Druids select shapes they can assume in much the same way that other classes pick spells and maneuvers. so that talent became the foundation on which the druid is built. monks can do with only their bodies and minds. a monk can execute rapid maneuvers that send his opponent flying. A monk’s defenses are also strong—an awareness of his own body and his surroundings lets a monk avoid attacks. but it translates to a singleminded. The druid does a lot of things well. To give the druid an incentive to walk around in humanoid form. The monk class is still on the horizon. In battle. and he can channel his ki to heal his own wounds. MONKS —Logan Bonner Through dedication and practice. no one is faster or more agile than the monk. Half ling monk 83 . Some have altruistic ideals and adventure to protect the weak. He then turns into a mouse to sneak into the orc king’s tent. Moving forward. putting down high damage with unarmed attacks. though at a price. design identified a few things that made the druid unique. Since the monk relies on mobility. gaming groups consider the D&D 3E druid one of the most powerful classes in the game.

And I have two more words to whet your appetite: Evil. Early on. Reliance on mobility means you need a stout friend to engage your enemies long enough for you to find the right angle from which to land a telling blow. Paladins have a long and mostly distinguished history in D&D. Like attracts like. and you live for action and adventure. virtuous warrior. The surroundings can tell you where your foes have gone. I hate playing paladins. Paladins. Guerilla tactics are your food and drink. Half-elf paladin 84 . You are the ranger. The designs have changed a lot since I started and gone through hands other than mine. but the result is a class that will truly stand at the front line of the adventuring party as a shield wall protecting allies from harm. so an ally able to clear the field of nuisances might be more valuable than any other form of target designation. You strike hard and move quickly to evade your foes. Smite evil. and although you might be better at one sort of combat over the other. Whoop. but they do it with divine power instead of martial skill. Arrows fly from your bow as quickly as your blades flash. your body isn’t as resilient as soldierly types. Conceptually. so you need healing or motivation to push forward despite injury and adversity. Where the rogue keeps to the shadows. and your training keeps you in rapid pursuit. the paladin has been one of my particular interests. I love the idea of a noble. you keep to the backwoods and other dangerous wilds. Although you’re doubtless fit and able. Intuition and keen senses can’t be undervalued either. In practice. With 4th Edition. I set out to make paladins as cool as I possibly could. to strive for the truly exalted cause. your deadliness with either mustn’t be underestimated. is limited to a few times per day and it’s useless against a non-Evil foe. and as part of an elite team. That same agility and speed allows you to rove the battlefield. Do. De. They still smite evil. Your talents are wasted on rabble. it’s my favorite class. communion with nature and its signs—the ranger embodies all these. the paladin’s best attack. I want to play Sir Lancelot (pre-Guinevere). we’re putting them back on top and returning them to the glory they deserve. nor is it encased in steel armor. There. In the dark places of the world. but they do it with a broad variety of smites that are available in every encounter. They live somewhere between the fighter and the cleric. but they get none of the bonus feats of the fighter and none of the cool spells of the cleric. all the while setting them up for another deadly blow. Not only that.Other Classes —Continued PALADINS —James Wyatt In every stage of 4th Edition design. sometimes turning an enemy’s seeming advantage into a liability. you guide your friends safely to their destination and run your enemies down. sharpness of eye and ear. RANGERS —Chris Sims Precision with bow and blade. you are the finely honed instrument that gets the job done. Paladins fill much the same role as the fighter. to live the highest ideals of the good alignment. it has a terrible tendency to not work at all when you use it! A paladin can summon a warhorse that’s pretty much useless in a normal dungeon environment. you shine. You feel when danger is about to strike. slaying at will and avoiding return strikes with apparent ease. and he or she can use remove disease a couple of times a week.

He relies on innate magical wards and spell-shields instead of heavy armor. The magic they use is more art than science. They differ in how they access those lists. The swordmage is one of these—an arcane character who fills the role of defender. The power wielded by a sorcerer is powerful enough that even after a spell is done. Dragonborn sorcerer 85 . Magic is the armor of the swordmage. ambient energy swirls around him. raised in an exotic tradition of arcane chivalry. a sly tief ling dervish who whirls through the thick of battle. giving them a leg up on wizards when it comes to learning spells. a wandering seeker after knowledge who leads an ascetic life. The design team posited a class that has a more rudimentary. A wizard creates magical effects by carefully reciting a magical formula. The magic system in 4E makes that differentiation hard to carry forward. Like the fighter or the paladin. a dwarf runic warrior who infuses his axe with words of ancient power. Elf ranger SWORDMAGES —Richard Baker The intersections of character roles and power sources naturally suggest a number of interesting character classes that have never really been seen in the D D game before. The design team also wanted to create clearer. but they utilize a different method of spellcasting. Sorcerers use inborn talents. guarded by wards of infernal fire.SORCERERS —Mike Mearls The sorcerer presents an interesting design challenge in that the class stands so close to the wizard. protecting the more vulnerable members of the adventuring party. he seeks to stand toe-to-toe with the monsters and draw their attacks to his own superior defenses. He might be an elf bladesinger. Not only do sorcerers in 4E use different spells. The sorcerer is one with his magic. In 3E. To capture this flavor. driven more by a feel for the ebb and flow of energy than by hours of study and practice. or a noble-born eldritch knight of a magical empire. both classes use the same spell lists. the design team built mechanics that reflect a caster who barely controls the power he wields. A sorcerer who blasts you with a cold spell is protected by a small. swirling cloud of snow and ice for a short time. vivid differences between the two classes. graceful and deadly. The sorcerer reaches into the magical energies that burn within him and lets them loose on the world with little real control. One who unleashes a fireball bursts into flames that scorch enemies who try to attack. simplistic style of magic. and he (in some cases quite literally) wears it like a second skin.

FEATHER ME YON OAF! —Richard Baker I often use placeholder names in feat and power design until I figure out exactly what I want to call something. The swordmage is no wizard. he is a skillful warrior with an uncanny gift for leadership. Above all. Warlords are tactical masters who can reshape the lines of battle in a way that no other D&D character has ever been able to. But their distinguishing characteristic is an unprecedented control of battlefield positioning. For example. the swordmage uses a set of arcane power words to perform his astounding feats of arms. a calculating mercenary captain. He might be a bloodthirsty barbarian warchief. In addition.WARLORDS Other Classes —Continued Where the fighter learns powerful weapon stunts and the paladin uses divinely inspired smites to deal damage. but there no other character matches his perfect blend of skill at arms and skill at magic. a half ling marchwarden charged with the defense of the clan’s holdings. The warlord does not rely on magic. a pious knightcommander in a militant order. an ambitious nobleman seeking fame and fortune. a class introduced in Miniatures Handbook. Even young and untried warlords have greatness in them and are born leaders. he is a martial character. Warlords are resilient. or he can even summon ghostly blades around his weapons that mirror his movements and strike together as one. or a courageous marshal of the borderlands who fights to stem the tide of monsters ravaging the frontier. but they’re all from his own personal power. Basically. but the warlord is a much broader and more complete character concept with a wide array of powerful abilities at his command. blade to blade. With his magic a swordmage can make his blade burst into f lames or crackle with lightning. and everyone in the party gets an immediate opportunity to yank out a missile weapon and shoot the target creature the warlord designates—in other words. the warlord is a skilled battle leader. he can infuse his limbs with a sudden burst of fearsome. very few of his powers allow him to attack at range. The leadership qualities of a warlord vary. Regardless of his race or background. —Richard Baker The warlord is a distant descendant of the marshal. a graceful elf firstblade. the warlord uses the power. they help others to recover from damage and shield them from harm almost as well as clerics do. But the single most egregious example from the Orcus design process was the warlord rally I called Feather Me Yon Oaf. “shoot that guy for me” or “Feather me yon oaf!” Tief ling warlord 86 . front-line leaders who significantly increase the party’s damage output by using powers that help other characters to fight better. He must meet his enemies in melee. sorcerous strength. in Book of Nine Swords I came up with a Tiger Claw power I simply called Tear His Damn Head Off.

—Michele Carter 87 . I have no idea if the name will persist into the final edition. I can attest that I chose this power purely for the opportunity to shout “Feather me yon oaf!” at least once per session. but it cracked me up every single time.Human warlord As someone who tried out a warlord in playtests.

You might fight troglodytes or grimlocks who emerge from the depths. Troglodytes inhabit the outermost reaches of the Underdark and are likely the first foes you face if you enter that realm. received a significant increase in power. you return home to a house in the midst of a city or town between adventures. They’ve only just begun to master their Human fighter. The adventurers are only beginning to put some serious space between themselves and the average person. The experience is aimed at the “real” world of D&D. creating a different feel for an adventure that pits you against a gnoll tribe or a goblin horde. Human cities. Wands became affordable. Gnolls. but its deepest recesses and places such as the Vault of the Drow are likely beyond your reach. Monster damage grew high enough that low hit point characters could take only a hit or two before going down. most notably gnolls and troglodytes. and sprinkled dungeons beneath the earth. continuous shift in the game. At this point in your adventuring career. Anyone who played the game from 1st level on up to double digits likely noticed a subtle. You can count on facing pit traps. have a number of Abyssal allies who make them tough opponents. heroic tier 88 . You might take part in a short expedition to the uppermost fringes of the Underdark. Once teleport came into the game. Some humanoids. HEROIC LEVELS —Mike Mearls The Heroic tier covers that first portion of play. as more monsters had save or die effects. f light. in the sense of locations that are analogous to areas in the real world. Your travels rarely take you to other worlds or places where magic has utterly warped reality. dungeons found beneath ruined castles. the Underdark is a scary place that you might hear rumors about. allowing a smart party access to unlimited healing. if you took the real world. with their link to the demon prince Yeenoghu. The classic humanoids of D&D. giving them the flexibility to fight against adventurers from 1st to 10th level and even beyond.Tiers of Adventure —Mike Mearls Tiers are one of those things that existed in D&D 3E without any official acknowledgement. helping to make traditional dungeons more difficult to run. and endless hordes of kobolds. near the end of the Heroic tier troglodytes and gnolls are good off-the-shelf choices for villains. from goblins to gnolls. added magic. but you’ll go there only as you approach 10th level. In essence. the PCs could go anywhere they wanted. The tier system seeks to quantify those changes and define the roles of adventurers across the levels. The Heroic tier is firmly entrenched in the classic tropes of low-level D&D. and so on are all typical vistas for Heroic tier. Saving throws became more important. While you still face strange monsters and enter bizarre dungeons. dwarven strongholds. orc hordes. In short. Orcs and hobgoblins are balanced at the middle of the tier. stand as your primary enemies. you’d have the basic set up for the Heroic tier. where adventurers are still gaining the basic abilities offered by their classes. squads of well-drilled hobgoblin soldiers. and invisibility. D&D changes across the levels that it covers. The design team has attempted to create more flavorful and mechanical differences between these creatures. The dragons you face at this tier are the youngest specimens of their kind. but a single drow warrior or wizard poses a significant threat. skeletons and zombies. Just as goblins and kobolds are ideal adversaries for beginning adventurers.

Pack your torches. In a larger town or city. The Caves of Chaos. a skilled smith is capable of forging such goods if you have enough money to afford them. run for your life. keep a 10foot pole handy. with some of these groups tying into planar enemies and creatures from beyond the world. Heroic tier is the stuff of classic dungeon crawls. and potions of healing in treasure hoards. and the upper levels of the Temple of Elemental Evil are all iconic Heroic tier locations. but at this tier you don’t yet have the power needed to confront them.special abilities. +1 suits of armor and shields. a party of adventurers gathering in the Inn of the Welcome Wench before setting off for an expedition to the ruined moathouse outside of Hommlett. These places were either once great shrines to evil that have fallen and now seek to restore their status. 89 . Don’t get used to this situation. paragon tier hints of greater. In any case. A lone bearded devil might serve as the ringleader of the diabolic cult that you’re fighting against. and other threats to the city serve as typical villains. For mightier goods. and stock up on iron spikes and rations. Don’t expect an easy fight. hidden cults. Once you hit Paragon tier. You face the lowliest of demons and devils in Heroic tier. A well-equipped party that takes the right precautions can probably deal with one as long as they are not completely outclassed in terms of level. such as a single town. You might catch Half ling warlord. creatures such as imps who are clearly subordinate to the evil humanoids and villains you face. or they are new outposts of evil that have only recently taken root. stands as the iconic example of an Heroic tier session. At this tier. the dungeons of the slavelords. If you see a vrock or a similar mid-tier demon. you can count on finding +1 longswords. you are likely to face off against wererats and doppelgangers. cosmic evils or world-spanning conspiracies. When it comes to urban adventuring. Criminal conspiracies. many of the quests you go on during the Heroic tier focus on taking out minions of evil who pose a direct threat to a limited area of the world. The classic dungeon crawl. You’ll need them whether you delve into the depths of a dungeon or venture into the wilds outside of town. you must venture into the largest cities in the world. with the party slowly making its way down labyrinthine dungeon passages. a dragon has so many advantages that even a well-prepared party is in for the fight of its life. epic tier Dwarf paladin.

only a fraction of the players ever routinely advanced a character beyond 13th level. Every path provides a wealth of abilities and powers. and the fomorians. represent a testing ground. And you can choose your destiny.” “Don’t forget that gigantic. we bring Epic level play into the core experience. They’re also the adventurers brave enough to enter the trap-filled tomb of a deadly lich. support for high-level play in products not specifically designed as such was nil to patchy. March 2006 During these levels. he is now known as a paragon hero. slimy demon that burrowed up in the middle of the city. EPIC LEVELS —Bruce Cordell D&D has always contained the seeds for high-level play. or to take out that red dragon that’s been demanding sacrifices for the last five generations. or to root out the band of ogres preying on travelers. he crosses a significant threshold. he did. these new talents have a very simple aim: to make you even better at doing what you do best. On the other You can choose your friends. the dreaded tyrants of the darkest caverns of the Feywild. all previous editions of the game have added Epic level support only after the core rules were out the door. beholders. even the grandest secrets of reality will soon be within your grasp. yuan-ti. perhaps from the moment you began adventuring. Paragon-level adventurers see the bigger picture. a crucible that lies between the life of the average dungeon delver and that of the immortal epic hero. Your character’s epic destiny describes the mythic archetype you aspire to achieve. of course. average folks are just not fated for such cosmic prominence. such as runecarved eidolons. Only adventuring heroes have epic destinies. demons and devils. and. No matter how great these efforts. however. Paragon adventurers are the type of folks you call on to save the kingdom from an army of giants massing in the mountains. like my friends and I. He killed that thing right quick. No longer a mere adventurer. If your battle captain or mystic theurge has what it takes to survive this ordeal and prove his worth. From this specialization comes a certain level of fame and notoriety. the paragonlevel character aims to make a name for himself (or herself ) by showing everyone that he’s the best there is at what he does. These levels. I hear he staked that vampire who’d turned Spirodon into a town of zombies. or to uncover the fiendish plot to overthrow the empress and replace her with a pawn of Asmodeus. your epic destiny is what you were born to become. Therefore. Locals might recognize Jarvis the fighter from that 90 . With the new edition. The thing is. then. time he helped the townsfolk of Great Rock with their stirge infestation. while others open up entirely new options in combat. but mention Jarvis the Vigilant Defender in any tavern in the Western Province and tongues start wagging. differentiating themselves from others of the same class. mind flayers. rakshasas. “Wasn’t he one of those folks who stopped the goblin siege of Blackmere City?” “Yup. Every player can run a character from 1st to 30th level. But you can’t choose your friends’ epic destinies.” From the arcane archer to the veiled assassin. too. and during the final ten levels of play. —James Wyatt. exploring the gloomy reaches of the Shadowfell and delving deep into the Abyss to battle their enemies. choose gods from 1st Edition’s Deities & Demigods book to fight each other? Those were some epic battles indeed. It’s not enough for a paragon just to protect a town from evil cultists. The paths followed by two paragon-level fighters in the same party might be as different as night and day. they shake the pillars of heaven and hell to achieve their epic destiny. Whether you’re a wizard who dreams of assuming the mantle of an archmage or a fighter finally realizing your previous lives as an eternal hero. Did you. some fine-tune your existing strengths.Tiers of Adventure —Continued PARAGON LEVELS —Andy Collins When a character reaches 11th level. Paragon adventurers battle many of the D&D game’s mightiest classic monsters—giants. dragons—along with a few new or updated foes. They venture ever farther from familiar locales. characters further specialize their talents. Overall. elemental archons of fire and ice.

but it was up to us to determine the way they would work. we’re going to tell you so. .hand. . paladin/fighter. but new ones like the weapon master. or call dragons with a wave of your hand. majestic events to populate their future. The concepts of paragon paths and epic destinies were out there. At 21st. I picked up the cleric/paladin. We came up with a set progression for each with the idea that everybody would be getting. you’ll be stomping down all challengers. breaking rules of science. Certain laws of the universe work differently for you . Will you found an arcane academy. they’d be easier to design and DMs could mix. fighter/ranger. if they can survive long enough to grasp greatness. . become an undying warrior. and wizard/ ranger paths. they’re easier to understand and won’t make you jump through hoops. Dave grabbed all the. The first Player’s Handbook design team consisted of Rich Baker. prince of knaves. and tweak to get paragon paths that fit their campaigns. PARAGON PATHS AND EPIC DESTINIES —Logan Bonner The prestige class is dead. or become reincarnated anew? and cavalier look really great and will let you play the character you’ve really wanted to be all this time. Human warlord. . Long live the paragon path! We have new ways to expand on your character at higher levels. can and should expect wonderful. after so many adventures. Each epic destiny defines your lasting impact on the world or even the universe. as he would say. but they’re much cooler because you don’t give up anything. I’m not saying Dave is evil . more than a few choices will make your head explode in a burst of awesome.) Quite a few old favorites came along (though they might look pretty different). If we want you to be a wizard for a certain path. You want to be Robin Hood? No problem. Your epic destiny ensures your name and exploits will live on forever. your epic destiny kicks in and you’ll become a legend. We planned to include twelve paragon paths. You’ll pick up a paragon path at 11th level and it will carry you through 20th. We also determined to loosen up the restrictions prestige classes had. but each one gives you some huge benefits. As you’re leveling up in your main class. you’re also gaining abilities from your paragon path or epic destiny. match. how people forever afterward remember and talk about you. you finally take your leave of the mortal realm . and odds are you’ll be immortal. The next step was coming up with a list of ones we wanted in the Player’s Handbook. join a pantheon. each class would lead to three paths. say. an epic destiny grants few benefits: the abilities gained at these levels are extraordinary. a per-encounter power at the same time. and where you go when you leave. but he does cackle maniacally on a regular basis. By the time you finish your epic destiny. Perhaps most important. Each epic destiny provides a clear and meaningful reason why. That way. Dave Noonan. so we saw that if we had each path based on two classes. At the same time the requirements are much simpler. . which occurs after you’ve completed your final quest. Compared to a class or a paragon path. but when you have the option to serve as the right-hand man to a god. your epic destiny describes your character’s exit from the world (and from the campaign). and myself. Epic destinies are a smaller group. by definition. (This was really just the basis. Most paths are quite broad. player characters. We divided the paths up to get four each. . “evilcurious” paragon paths. but we made sure each one appealed strongly to at least two classes. Only a few are planned for the Player’s Handbook. epic tier 91 . or perhaps don’t apply to you at all. In some ways they’re similar to prestige classes (and a few prestige classes have made the jump to paragon paths).

more fun. to enhanced and expanded content tied to the newest physical book products. In addition to the physical products—the core rulebooks. We could rebuild it. This amazing application. and much easier to use.5 rules. My R&D team has been watching the play environment since the release of the 3. and that’s when we made the decision to move forward with D&D 4th Edition. novels. Two years ago. allows you to supplement your faceto-face gaming 24/7. until we figure out what to actually do with that recognizable little ampersand. Why 4th Edition and why now? Because the time was right. I ran the creative portions of West End Games. the players. There’s a lot more that I want to share with you. more intuitive. Instead of saying the same thing all over again. At the same time. Keep playing! Bill Slavicsek is the R&D Director for Roleplaying Games. I was a Creative Director and Game Designer with TSR. & (AMPERSAND) I always thought we should have a magazine called “&”. We could take the d20 Game System we all know and love and rocket it to the next level. It became clear to me that we had two winning directions that would be even more powerful when we combined them. I’m Bill Slavicsek. Over the years. Miniatures. 29 days. and you can see my work on everything from Star Wars to M to D&D. and James Wyatt. I’m going to use this space to regularly talk to you about things related to D&D from the unique perspective of my Director’s chair here at WotC. faster. In the future (now only eight months. It’s still going to be a tabletop roleplaying game. 23 hours. It’s still the d20 Game System. to a Character Creator that provides not only an interactive character sheet but a visualizer that lets you determine the exact look of the characters you create. helps you find a group to game with if you don’t happen to have a face-to-face group. All of the game designers. D&D Insider provides a digital D&D Game Table that turns the Internet into your kitchen table. I assembled a team of designers. to review all the data we’ve been collecting and see if we could 92 . stronger. to an amazing suite of digital tools to make Dungeon Master preparation and campaign management easier to handle. I knew we could make D&D better. led by Rob Heinsoo. . The future (only nine months away!) contains the same D&D we all play on a regular basis. I’ve decided to reprint what appeared on D&D Insider when it went live on August 16. 2007 . supplements. I thought I’d take a moment to say a few words about the companion to our physical products—the digital Dungeons & Dragons Insider. We also announced that for the first time. a fully integrated Organized Play program that will offer benefits to convention and home play alike. make the d20 Game System (the engine that powers the D&D game) better. Let’s start out by talking about 4th Edition D&D and D&D Insider. After all. And. Before that. board games. and the digital initiative we’re calling D&D Insider. I’ve been the R&D Director for the D D game since Wizards of the Coast acquired the company. more visually stunning. and the WotC Publishing Group report into Bill’s R&D team. and Book Publishing at Wizards of the Coast. but I’ve already exceeded my allotted word count for this first column. miniatures games. we also began imagining a robust and exciting suite of digital features that could enhance and complement the roleplaying game. and D&D Insider content managers working on Dungeons & Dragons.com). At GenCon this week. and 50 minutes from now!) D&D Insider provides its members with immediate access to Dragon Magazine and Dungeon Magazine. have been telling us. computer games. I’m going to use it as the identifier for my regular feature here at D&D Insider. and accessories—the D&D experience would be enhanced by robust Community features (powered by Gleemax. developers. editors. we announced that the 4th Edition of the D D game will debut in May 2008. and more fun. So. I’ve worked on roleplaying games.The Next Word: DDI —Bill Slavicsek As we come to the end of this first look at the making of the 4th Edition of the D D game. The game mechanics have been amped up to eliminate the game-stoppers. which we’ll talk more about as the weeks go on. And way back when. accentuate the fun factors. Andy Collins. miniatures. Inc. and make play faster and more exciting. Wow. . It’s still set in a medieval fantasy world of magic and monsters. Take a look at the prototype movie we showed at GenCon to get a first taste of the D&D Game Table. But the rulebooks appear more vibrant. When I saw the first expressions of that effort. it worked so well for “Dungeon” and “Dragon” that it just seemed to me that we were losing an opportunity to make use of the bit that brings it all together. and nonfiction books of all kinds. book editors. Star Wars. listening to what you. or lets you hook up with gaming buddies who long ago scattered to the four winds. adventures. the D&D game would consist of four integral and integrated parts.

Dwarf concept art

Elf ranger

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Elf primal blaster

Human wizard

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Elven weapons

Dwarf rogue

Shifter ranger

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. TM wizards.com/dnd All trademarks are property of Wizards of the Coast. Inc. © 2007 Wizards..Look For More 4th Edition Secrets and Previews in. .

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