If you’re one of the two hundred people who will read this blog before tomorrow, you’ll have noticed that the Wizards of the Coast D&D page has been replaced with a one-day countdown titled “4DVENTURE”. Discussion already abounds but I’m going to stick my neck out here and announce that Wizards is announcing Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition at Gencon 2007 on Thursday, 16th August.
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Even if you didn’t put much stock in Eric Noah’s August 2006 rumours, you still have to ask why Wizards branded their “3.5″ update as halfway to a fourth edition, revoked several d20 licenses, rebranded Winter Fantasy convention to The D&D Experience, set Mike Mearls remaking monsters for no apparent reason, and released a new edition of the Star Wars RPG. You had to have known they were up to something.
Industry insiders have had advance warning of more than a year. Third edition author Monte Cook predicted 4th edition as far back as May 2006: “At some point, Wizards will decide to do a 4th Edition, which is a good thing. … I know the kinds of products that you release before a new edition, and the kinds of things you post to the Internet and say at conventions when you’re working on a new edition. And so based on all that, my wild guess is 2008, with an announcement in 2007.”
Should we worry? No, I don’t think so. Wizards can’t retract the OGL on existing material, meaning that 4e is going to be pretty good if it’s going to draw players away from old editions. If, as I conjecture, Mike Mearls is working hard on it, it will be something special. Trust me, there is a lot of room for improvement in third edition, and if my expectations are correct, you will not want to return to third edition when you see what fourth brings.
Edit: Looks like I was right: they’ve just put the forum up.