So I went over to my friend’s place last night to introduce him to D&D 4E. I came prepared with a complete set of core rulebooks for him. (A belated birthday present). I also had a bunch of small scenarios ready to go to jump into the combat with him, but he took it in an interesting direction.

He has played a lot of D&D, all the way from AD&D up to 3.5, and is fairly familiar with the rules.

The rumors and bits that he had heard about 4E worried him, and he wanted a quick overview of the rules. So we went through the PHB from cover to cover, section by section. Once he started seeing how all of the individual pieces that he saw that had worried him all fit together, he started getting a lot more excited about playing in 4E.

One of the things that worried him was the whole “roles” idea in 4E. Once he figured out that character creation in 4E required a bit of a shift in thinking, it clicked in his mind. In 3.5, a large part of what your character can do is decided by what class you pick. In 4E, they take this concept and abstract it a bit farther. First you decide what you want to do. That is your role. Then, once you have decided your role, you look at the various classes that are in that role and decide how you want to perform that role.

He also seemed very cautious about the skill challenges. After giving him a couple of examples, including the ones in the DMG (questioning a corpse, navigating a forest) and explaining that failure was not the end of the adventure, it just added some difficulty, he got really excited. More so when I said that the skills that were to be used were at the discretion of the players. If they came up with a good use of a skill, then I as the DM would allow them to try it, that the list wasn’t a hard limit, the list was just suggestions.

He also liked, once it was explained, the multiclassing method. He saw that it didn’t allow quite as much freedom for choice as it did in 3.5, but he saw how the limits in the choices were all much more viable as the multiclassing is much more tightly controlled. He also saw how it would allow a lot more customization of your character to make one fighter/cleric a lot more different from another fighter/cleric. Combine that with the retraining aspect of 4E, and he was very happy.

All in all, despite no combat it went quite well, and I look forward to starting a once-a month campaign in the fall for a bunch of people. I plan on starting first an introductory session or two with the pre-generated characters from WotC and some basic gladitorial combat (“You have been brought together by a mysterious power to fight for the amusement of a crowd. Fight or die!!”) to get them used to the combat mechanics. I imagine one or two frinday nights of that, then get into the actual gaming.

I haven’t yet decided on whether I will pick out one of the WotC modules, or work on one myself. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. We will see.