On the way back from dropping off Anne and Little G up at the cabin, I took the long way back through Mosby's Confederacy (aka, the Horse Country of Northern Va)-- Middleburg, Upperville, Aldie, etc. Simply gorgeous and sunny, I was in no great hurry to be anywhere. When I'm in no great hurry to be someplace, and in Chantilly, I drop in the Game Parlor, and Saturday was no exception. I was was pleased to run in to my friends Ed, Nigel, Jeffrey and Brett, who were there for Worldwide D&D Game Day. I have only a nodding acquaintance with the new 4th Edition of Dungeon and Dragons, which is a game very much removed from the days of my youth. I figured what the heck and sat in on an adventure after well all went out for Peruvian chicken and Yucca.
Say what you like about Wizards of the Coast (and why not? I often do), they have the logistics on this event nailed. WotC recruited a small army of volunteer GMs to run a series of canned adventures, provided them with the maps, the figures and the modules to run the event with. These were short adventures, designed to be run through end to end in four hours or less. We did our in 3 hours and change.
Journey Through the Silver Caves – A kobold wyrm priest has stolen an ancient book of prophecy from the people of Albura, a fortress on the borderlands. The kobold has a dark plan for the book – and only you can stop him in time! An adventure for 5 pregenerated 5th-level characters.
First thing I noticed: there's a ton more player character races in this version of D&D. We had an Eldarin wizard, a Dragonborn sneaky guy, a Tiefling warlord, and a Dwarf paladin as well as me, a giant stony-skinned grey guy named Uthal, who was a "Goliath Barbarian".
The second thing I noticed is the game is much more skirmish-like than the old days. Most adventures are focused on a group going to a nasty place to fight it out with bad guys. The nasty guys are a lot nastier than they used to be. To an old guy like me who was used to wading through (literally) mountains of make believe low level critters back in his heyday, to face Orcs and Kobolds that not only put up a heck of a fight, but can stand and deliver for several turns, inflicting deadly force every time, well, that's a surprise.
Characters have more race and class specialty actions than in the old days. Skills are critical for combat now, and all classes have specific actions they can take to modify a combat.
The new D&D is faster, more complex with a lot of "Bottom" that we used to have to create ourselves. I like it!