I don’t know precisely what D&D 4th edition will look like…

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…but the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of it looking like the Tome of Battle: Book of Nine Swords in terms of structure.

Ignore the wuxia feel of the book for a moment. What’s the structure of the classes in it?

Well, there are different schools of martial maneuvers maneuvers (let’s genericize these a bit and call them categories of “class abilities”). Each class has access to a few such categories. Some categories are unique to a class. Some overlap. Each class has potentially different rules for how often they can use these class abilities.

Each category has several different types of abilities at different levels. Higher level abilities typically require lower level abilities in the category (unspecified as to which ones) as prerequisites.

I’ve already written about how I think the spell system would be better off in this format… but what about doing all class abilities like this?

A rogue could have access to categories like sneak attack, stealthy movement, trap mastery, etc.

Multiclassing would be taken care of by feats or something that would give you access to a category from another class (including, potentially, a category of spells).

I wouldn’t be shocked if 4e looked something like this. The ‘categories’ here aren’t much different than Star Wars Saga Edition’s (or d20 Modern’s) talent trees, though they are larger.



4 Responses

  1. I would be very excited by a system that lets me choose my own class features, building my character from the raw building blocks so to speak. “I’ll take Fist Fighting, and gimme some Stealthy with that, aaaaaaaaaaand…. yeah, some Spellcasting on the side.”

  2. Yeah. I’m hopeful that even if 4e doesn’t look like this it will either:

    (1) be better


    (2) be relatively easily converted into something like this

  3. I’m on the fence about tome of nine swords. I think it’s better game design (offers more options and reasons to strategize often equals more fun), but I also think 4e on the whole is sounding more complex to implement.

    Fighters have often been a default class for new gamers at my table. I don’t see that happening with a 9 swords kind of class structure. So what’s the easy way to get into the game?

  4. Lawrence,

    I don’t think it will be a horrible deal as long as the talents/abilities are well balanced. Many of them – in particular fighter ones – will probably be pretty straightforward.

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