Wired has an exclusive preview of the Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition character sheet. This is perhaps the biggest piece of information we’ve had on the new edition to date. Let’s go over some of the details revealed:
Ability scores: Largely unchanged, there’s a new column for “ability modifier plus half level”. This is the new bonus for ability checks; initiative is essentially a Dexterity check.
Skills: The skill list has been consolidated to seventeen skills: Acrobatics, Arcana, Athletics, Bluff, Diplomacy, Dungeoneering, Endurance, Heal, History, Insight, Intimidate, Nature, Perception, Religion, Stealth, Streetwise and Thievery. As in Star Wars Saga Edition, skill bonus is half your level plus ability score modifier, with +5 if you’re ‘trained’. All Strength, Dexterity and Constitution based skills suffer armour check penalties.
Combat: Gone are multiple iterative attacks and huge damage bonuses, with the sample 15th level character dealing a reasonable 1d8+8. The sample character at 15th level has a base attack bonus of +15, calculated as half level + Strength modifier + a “proficiency” modifier of +3. Movement is now officially measured in ‘squares’, and armour check penalty (luckily these are lower than in third edition) applies directly to movement rate.
Armour class and saving throws: Saving throws and AC are both calculated as 10 + half level + ability score; remember that in Fourth, the enemies roll against your saving throw value much like third edition’s spell resistance. Interestingly the character sheet suggests that saves now use the higher of two ability score modifiers; for example, either Strength or Constitution can apply to your Fortitude save. Class seems to apply less to saving throws, with our sample 15th level paladin applying only +1 to all saves from class.
Getting beaten up: As seen in previous suggestions, a character becomes ‘bloodied’ at half hit points, a status effect which we’ll see defined when more details are available. Players can also activate a “healing surge” to restore one-quarter of their hit points a certain number of times per day, presumably as a kind of “brief rest to regain stamina”. Other effects listed are a “second wind” ability useable once per encounter, and what seems to be a “three strikes and you’re out” rule for Bodak-style death effects – it’s not detailed if this is per-day, per-level or per-character.
Alignment: As previously announced, Fourth edition says goodbye to the magic square of nine alignments (ten, if we count the spoof alignment ‘Batman’). We now have a five-alignment track of Lawful Good, Good, Unaligned, Evil and Chaotic Evil. Interestingly, in another break from AD&D tradition, the sample paladin is listed simply as Good, not Lawful Good – in fact, her deity is the traditionally Chaotic Good deity Kord.
New features: Prestige classes are replaced with “paragon paths”, and epic prestige classes with “epic destinies”. There’s a very cool sounding “Astral Weapon” paragon path that paladins can take. Action points are core rules now. “Passive senses” give a flat “10 + modifier” number to Insight and Perception, presumably for when someone sneaks up on the character.