PHB 4e Thoughts, Chapters 1 – 3

Going to kind of document what I think about the book and explain what
I’m learning from the chapters to give a kind of overview…

Chapter 1: Introduction

in this chapter is a decent but not really inspiring recap of the game,
what it is to play, how you play, what is needed (huge plugs for their
other products here… kind of annoying) and what not. Based on this
chapter I was not that terribly excited, but, then again, it wasn’t too

Chapter 2: Character Creation

In this chapter
they started to get into a little bit more detail about the game. They
explained how most everything comes down to checks and that these are
broken into attack rolls, skill checks and ability checks. It is
somewhat interesting in that now you make an attack roll for all things
from spells to swords. Also, it appears that you add half your level to

It is now customary to use an array for your abilities, or, barring that a new standard for point buy.  However, they do list 4d6 drop lowest as an option but caution against using it.

Your defense is now broken into AC, Reflex,
Fortitude and Will… However, now things are such that you take the
higher of two ability scores for each of your "saves" and now your
enemy rolls to hit your reflex defense instead of your rolling a saving

Once again, there are multiple actions you can take. I
may not remember them all, but it is something to the effect of
standard, move, minor and free. You also have powers that you gain (and
replace) throughout your career such as at will, per encounter and per
day. You have feats and skills. The skill system is completly reworked
from what I can see, it looks like you are either proficient or not…
no more deciding where your skill points go per level… if you gain a
skill "point" you just gain a skill, which gives you +5 to your rolls
and you can make checks regardless of whether or not you actually have
that skill (once again, I’ll be able to tell for certain when I read
the skill chapter).

It appears that there is a built in system
for "retraining" in that you can trade out one skill, feat, power each
level as long as it is not a prerequisite for another skill, feat or
power that you already have. It also looks like you don’t really gain
new at will powers so much as gain access to higher level powers you
would trade out for, although you do gain per encounter and per day
powers (which can also be traded out). I’m sure all of this power stuff
will be more fully explained in the class chapter which is the bulk of
the book.

There is a small discussion on alignments and what
they mean. NOTE: They took out a bunch of them. Now you can (but don’t
have to pick) be LG, Good, Unaligned, Evil or CE. They give a
description of what it means to be each. This is followed by a list of
gods, a breif overview of each and a list of 3 things that they expect
from their followers.

There is also a section going over the character sheet and what goes where on the sheet.

Chapter 3: Races

race has a two page spread, the first of which has a half a page
illustration depecting both male and female versions of that race.
Those present here include dragonkind, dwarf, eladrin (high elf), elf,
halfling, half-elf, human, tiefling {Maybe one more? I can’t remember
for sure}.

It is interesting that they have decided to make
being part of a race completely positive (no -2 to con for elves thank
you very much) and it is hard to tell if the extra abilities and skill
will be worth the tradeoff of only receiving one +2 to be a human,
especially with the racial powers you receive for the others
(Particularly the Eladrin… Teleportation in combat seems pretty darn
cool, as do the reroll effects for halflings and elves). Third edition,
humans were where it was at… 4th it looks like maybe that won’t be
the case.

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