Third Edition of Dungeons & Dragons Unveiled

The new edition of D&D, used in the upcoming games Pool of Radiance II and Neverwinter Nights, was unveiled today at Gen Con.

Today, at the Gen Con game fair in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, Wizards of the Coast finally unveiled the full version of the new rules for Dungeons & Dragons. The first major revamp of the classic D&D rules in over a decade, the new 3rd Edition streamlines the tabletop role-playing game, as it creates more options for players while lessening previous restrictions. The new rules are also more suitable for computer adaptations.

The game consistently uses a 20-sided die for resolution of a lot of the game's rolls, such as combat, skill checks, ability checks, saving throws against special attacks, and more. Veteran role-players will likely appreciate the more consistent use of the 20-sided die, but the system will also make the game easier to learn and understand for new players, who Wizards hopes to attract with the new 3rd Edition rules.

There are also a lot of options for customization now in 3rd Edition D&D, thanks to the inclusion of skills and feats. Among other things, these options should let computer adaptations of the new D&D offer players a satisfying variety of ways to customize their characters, as players have since become accustomed to games like Diablo II that allow for custom-tailored character classes. 3rd Edition skills, such as hiding, moving silently, bluffing, intimidation, healing, using magic device, and more, can be acquired at each level and improved with skill points, which are gained in abundance at each level advancement. Feats, gained every three levels, are special abilities that can further customize your character and give you increased offensive abilities - for example, some feats let you cut down multiple targets with a great cleave, or bolster a spell to do maximize damage. And every four levels, you'll be able to gain an extra ability point, thus letting you improve your core attributes over time. In effect, the Wizards of the Coast designers have given each stage of character advancement new benefits in addition to some extra hit points and a choice of new spells. The rules now let all character classes gain better and more diverse abilities as they advance.

Even the level advancement itself is more straightforward than before, and the rewards for advancement are more plentiful and tangible. All these changes should make Dungeons & Dragons more attractive for players when it gets ported to computer games.

We'll soon see the first computer-conversion of the new 3rd Edition rules in the upcoming Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor role-playing game from SSI, which is due late this year. Neverwinter Nights, BioWare's multiplayer online role-playing game, will also use the 3rd Edition rules. Furthermore, Baldur's Gate II, due for release in September, will include the new 3rd Edition classes and race, even though it's still a second-edition rules game. It will let you play the sorcerer, monk, and barbarian classes, and the half-orc race.

Until then, you can always play the actual tabletop 3rd Edition D&D. The new player's handbook and adventure game boxed set went on sale today across the nation at hobby stores for US$19.99 and $9.95 respectively. You can also order the games from Wizards of the Coast at www.wizards.com. But be forewarned: Although your characters are now more powerful, so are the monsters. GameSpot has tested out the new D&D internally, and from our experiences with the new rules, the game is definitely a lot of fun and worth checking out.

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