4E “Classic”?

Clark Peterson of Necromancer Games has announced that they are working on a 4E Classic rules set: “a set of alternate content for 4E to replicate the old school way of playing D&D. It will work in conjunction with the 4E PHB.” Personally, I have my doubts that they can pull this off, but I expect the process will be interesting as they are creating it in an open manner somewhat like Paizo did with Pathfinder.

Here’s more from Clark’s post in the new 4E "Classic" board at the Necromancer Games message board:

Here is my plan: I am going to create “Classic 4E”: a set of alternate content for 4E to replicate the old school way of playing D&D. It will work in conjunction with the 4E PHB.

It will contain the classic races–elf, dwarf, half-elf, halfling, human, gnome, etc. No dragonborn, no warforged. Now, that said, if you and your DM want to use that content from the PHB you can.

It will contain the classic classes–fighter, ranger, paladin, rogue, cleric, druid, wizard, monk, as well as some 3E favorites such as the barbarian and bard.

It will have some rules changes:

–things will not be tied to the grid, they will be done in feet.
–there will be no more hopping around the grid teleporting, but movement in combat will still be stressed
–the old powers that have to do with things other than combat will make their return
–spell memorization will return in a fun new way
–powers will be more limited for the classes, but more useful. Not every class is a wizard
–alignment returns (optionally)
–buffing is not forbidden anymore. 4E took away buffing spells. I dont mind putting them back.

I want to do this the way Paizo is doing Pathfinder. I want to develop it as a community. I will soon be opening a “4E Classic” forum with a thread for each class and race etc. We can post incremental updates of our rules compiled as a pdf as alpha and beta. The final version will be available as a pdf and perhaps in print as well since people love their printed game books.

While I’m not a 4E fan, I’m going to follow this discussion for a while as I always find it interesting to see what people see as the “old school” way of D&D.

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5 Responses

  1. I’m not really sure I see the point in this exercise. I know Clark instinctively wants to support the latest edition of D&D, but if he has to rewrite the rules to make them palatable enough to support, wouldn’t the simplest thing be to give 4e a pass and support another system he does like?

    More power to the guy if that’s what he wants to do, but it seems like a Quixotic undertaking in my opinion.

  2. Randall says:


    I can’t imagine trying to rewrite 4E to make it remotely “old school” in feel and have the result be anything like 4E, so the whole idea seems odd to me. Worse for Necromancer Games, I can’t see much of a market for it. However, from reading the 4E Classic board, I think it will be an interesting spectator sport. I have popcorn ready.

  3. I’ll be interested to watch it unfold.

    I feel bad for Clark. He was an enthusiastic early supporter of 4e, waited forever for some manner of GSL, found out the GSL was a grade-A turd, and on from there. I do think he wants to support 4e, but I just don’t see 4e fitting in with the style he’s promoted in prior products. I’m guessing—guessing—4e Classic is his way of dealing with that.

    It isn’t something I’m in the market for right now, but I’d like to see where it goes. I do think he’s smart to run it in the manner of Paizo and Pathfinder.

  4. Wyatt says:

    I must agree with James. I don't see the point of this exercise. I think that it would be better for him to support 3e or to move to Pathfinder if he wants to remain with a modern system while doing something else. I play 4e, and love the style. I don't think I'd play it with those changes. I'm not sure many people really want 4e to be that way, when they still have 3e, and they have Pathfinder, retroclones, and de-facto old-school editions of D&D they can use.

    We'll see where it goes, but I don't think I'd pick up a copy.

  5. Rob says:

    Unlike most of the posters here I enjoy 4E, but nevertheless I am curious to see what they come up with. Even if I didn’t go whole hog for the rules, I am sure they will come up with some things that might be interesting to house rule into a campaign.

    My only question is if this is feasible under the GSL? I was reading it today, and they really seem to be picky about redefining game elements. Heck, in the example they gave you couldn’t even change the average height of an eladrin unless you noted it was a “sub-race”.