One small bonus of coming to Buffalo each year is that I get to hang out with my buddy Lorne. Lorne is a master story teller, all around good guy, and loves all kinds of games. Last year he introduced me to Carcassonne which I was given as a birthday gift this year. Cindy and I have really enjoyed that game.
This year, Wizards of the Coast, who now owns the Dungeons and Dragons games, released version four of the rule system. I can remember running games during lunch break in Mr. Sandifer's (aka Roscoe) back at Airport High School. And that was probably the last time I played the game. What I do recall from that first version of the Advanced Rules is that it was very, very complicated. You had tables for just about every mechanic of the game - from attacks, to savings throws and health regeneration.
For me, the best part of the game was rolling up a character and coming up with a back story for the guy. Who was he? Where did he come from? Why was he here? Since each character started off at first level, I would almost always pick a fighter character because he seemed more likely to survive. He could wear armor, use bladed weapons and had 1d8 of hit points. However, a wizard started of with a measly 1d4, could wear no armor, not use a bladed weapon other than a dagger - but he had magic. Well, he had one spell. That he could use once a day. Not much fun.
The fourth edition changed alot of that. The emphasis is more on creating characters that have a chance to survive and level up at a steady rate. In the v1 of AD&D, once you got to a certain level (say level six), you might have to gain double the amount of experience points before as levels one through six just to get to seven.
So Lorne is running me through a small game this week. He has created a neat first level game where my elven magic user is seeking out a band of goblin raiders attacking merchants along a trade route. Yesterday, I sought out to find my party and am about to leave the protection of the city. Also, I am sure that I am about to experience the new mechanics of the combat system that no longer rely on tables.