I’m still not sold on Fourth Edition; after comparing it to Pathfinder, I chose Pathfinder, and have continued to run mostly 3.5 and Exalted games until everyone’s caught up on Pathfinder rules. (They have Sean K Reynolds, JD Wiker, Keith Baker, Wolfgang Baur, plus Monte Cook looking over Erik Mona’s shoulder, for pete’s sake. I’m waiting for them to sign Ed Greenwood.) Still, after looking through the books, I have to say that the 4e DMG does a better job explaining how to run and manage a game than any previous DMG has.
So, first off, the first publisher who signed to 4th Edition, Necromancer Games, has stalled. Yes, the “First Edition Feel, Fourth Edition Rules” company got bogged down by the GSL, and without enough tangible support for 3.5 they’ve just stopped altogether. The publisher had a long post on their forums, but the most interesting part would be this:
Now we have the GSL. Right now, in my view, the GSL needs some major reworking or clarification to be usable. The bottom line, in my view, is that the GSL is a total unmitigated failure. And that is a shame. I have been one of the biggest vocal proponents of Wizards and I love Scott and Linae. I still do, big time. I am hopeful that we can find a way to change or clarify some of the issues with the license so that we can use it and create 4E products. You know that philsophically [sic] I believe in supporting the current version of D&D.
So, it looks like Necromancer’s partnerships with Paizo and Judges Guild have hampered their ability to produce, through the GSL. Necromancer is still in negotiations with Wizards, and is still on very good terms with them, but at this point they’re just sitting on a number of projects–including some Judges Guild ones–that can’t go either way because of the GSL. (Not that this is surprising; I’ve heard a lot of negative flack about the GSL over the old OGL, and a quick glance shows that most of the publishers using the GSL are small, third-party e-publishers.)
Which leads us to the next bit of info. The main publishers thus far have been Kenzer & Company, with another Kingdoms of Kalamar setting, and Mongoose. I’ve never been a huge fan of either, finding the 3e Kalamar too cliche, likewise most of Mongoose’s 3.x work (Slayer’s Guide to Arcane Encyclopedias, et al). However, both can produce a range of quality products–Kenzer, after all, made the massive Aces & Eights, while Mongoose revamped Conan and Starship Troopers to 3.5 d20. Hence my interest with Mongoose’s newest launch series, this time for 4e:
A new setting designed specifically for the 4th edition rules, Wraith Recon sees players taking on the roles of special forces in a world of high fantasy, sent on perilous missions to secure the safety of the Kingdom of Dardarrick. As members of the elite Wraith Recon teams, they are equipped with the finest enchanted items, including the mysterious SpellCom omnilens, a powerful item that enhances the senses and links the team together as they battle the enemies of Dardarrick.
Pretty nifty, eh? I hope it does more than military sim meets overpowered munchkin, but that’s just my standard gripe–the setting will probably rock, given how cool it sounds. Squad-based fantasy recon teams, going through all sorts of dangerous missions in an epic quest to save the world (or cover their employer’s asses). My gut feeling is that it’s going to take a lot of modern-style stuff and make fantasy versions of them (the SpellComs? Please! I’ve used party comm devices since 2nd Ed that have been far less cliche), and that it’ll be mired down because of this (my fear: Crysis for the tabletop), but if it overcomes this hurdle it’ll probably be damn fine.