I remember my first forays into the world of table-top gaming many years ago, and I still remember them as some of the best Sundays of my life. Back then, we played Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition (playfully known as AD&D2e), and I still remember happy days of calculating THAC0 (To Hit Armor Class Zero), casting ice storm in enclosed spaces (and getting thumped by my fellow party members), and arguing about terminal velocity while wearing armor. I picked up D&D 3e about 8 years ago, and although it took me a while to adjust to the new rules, it made the gaming experience a little easier. My group disbanded before we got to 3.5e, sadly, and I never got the chance to introduce the wonders of D&D to the other writers of Utter Insanity before they buggered off for other lands.
Many internet geeks spent a good amount of time playing D&D, and a heck of a lot of inside jokes depend on knowing the basics of D&D (see the Order of the Stick for an excellent example). In fact, if you’ve played such games as Neverwinter Nights (which relies on the 3rd edition rules), you have a pretty good idea of what D&D is about.
So what has changed from 3.5e to 4e? I managed to get my hands on a preview of the Players Handbook and the Dungeon Master’s Guide (DMG), and they’ve made a vast overhaul of the gaming system, added some new default races, abilities, and skills, and reworked the way magic happens. In all, there are a lot of improvements, and of course, any overhaul this large brings its own problems. For more details about the changes, check the Design and Development page.
[Link: Wizards of the Coast]