So I had the experience of creating a PC for a D&D 4e campaign recently. Our Night's Dawn Trilogy based World of Darkness game ended, somewhat abruptly, and we are on to the next game and system. I've poked through the books a few times for fourth edition, but I haven't really looked at it. After rolling up a character, I gotta say;
This book is a piece of crap.
Now don't take that as a slam against fourth edition in general. I haven't played it much. Sure, they made a lot of changes, and some of them seem to be just for the sake of making changes, but I'll reserve judgement until I've run a character to 30. You don't really know a system well enough to judge it until you've played it through and through. What I meant by the above statement is that the layout and design are awful. Simple things, like "How many powers do I start with?" are mentioned in sections that have nothing to do with powers and little to do with character creation. Information on character creation in general is spread all over the book, in nonsequential order, jumping from chapter to chapter. Nothing is fully explained in any one place, and doing the simplest of things requires looking on a half dozen pages.
God forbid you want to use the default character sheet to actually describe a character and his/her gear. There's no location on the sheet to write up mundane weapons, especially if you want something trivial like "Information about what it does" rather than just a name. There's a full column on the back of the sheet for magic items, but that doesn't help much for a first level character. Even so, it's worthless in the future because the most you can squeeze in is the item name and a page number. You expect to have space to write down what it does? Ha.
Now, with all that said, I do want to add a couple positives. The book has a lot of decent info for new players, rather than just rules. I've heard a lot of buzz about fourth edition being a miniatures game rather than a roleplaying game proper. Of course, I'll admit that most of the diplomacy is presented as rolling dice instead of talking. Bluffing, etc, the same way. Fine. However, unlike 3.x, this PHB has a large section (ten pages?) dedicated to fleshing out your character as more than an alignment and class/race combo. The book encourages you to pick a few personality traits, as well as some common mannerisms. It suggests you think about how your PC reacts to dangerous situations, and how decisive he/she is in such. That's a good thing to see, and helps new players realize that maybe it's not just WoW repackaged without a computer.
Anyway, just a shortish sort of rant/review on it. I don't care for lots of flamewars over edition changes. Play what you want to play. However, in the future, WotC should really put more effort into organization.
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