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Official logo of 4th Edition

The 4th edition of the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game comprises an intercompatible set of rulebooks and other products published by Wizards of the Coast from 2007 through 2013.

Publication history[]

Wizards of the Coast acquired the license for Dungeons & Dragons since 1997 during its 2nd edition, and they had previously published the 3rd edition of the game, and the 3.5 edition overhaul updated to third edition based on flaws with initial design. Wizards of the Coast launched 5th edition, the successor to 4th edition, in August 2014. Even so, 4th edition is an edition of the game that served to aid the path to its later editions.


4th edition preview materials became available in 2007, followed by the release of the core rulebooks in June 2008.

A line of later 4th edition rulebooks containing simplified rules was called Essentials. Earlier 4th edition products were made compatible with Essentials via the Essentials update and Essentials update 2 documents offered as free downloads.

Licensed products[]

Licensed Dungeons & Dragons branded products based on 4th edition rules have included a number of computer games, including Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale, Heroes of Neverwinter, and the Neverwinter massive multiplayer online (MMO) platform.


4th edition Dungeons & Dragons timeline [edit]
Dungeon Magazine AnnualDragon Magazine AnnualDungeonDragon (magazine)Heroes of the Elemental ChaosHeroes of the FeywildHeroes of ShadowPsionic PowerMartial Power 2Primal PowerDemonomiconDungeon Survival HandbookBook of Vile DarknessMordenkainen's Magnificent EmporiumRed BoxDivine PowerDraconomicon: Metallic DragonsThe Plane AboveThe Plane BelowAdventurer's Vault 2Starter SetArcane PowerDraconomicon: Chromatic DragonsOpen GraveManual of the PlanesAdventurer's VaultPlayer's Handbook Races: TieflingsPlayer's Handbook Races: DragonbornMartial PowerNeverwinter Campaign SettingDark Sun Creature CatalogDark Sun Campaign SettingEberron Campaign GuideEberron Player's GuideForgotten Realms Campaign GuideForgotten Realms Player's GuideMonster VaultHeroes of the Forgotten KingdomsDungeon Master's KitHeroes of the Fallen LandsRules CompendiumMonster Manual 3Player's Handbook 3Monster Manual 2Dungeon Master's Guide 2Player's Handbook 2Monster ManualDungeon Master's GuidePlayer's HandbookMonster ManualDungeon Master's GuidePlayer's HandbookRules supplementCampaign settingEssentialsCore rulebook

Edition wars[]

The 4th edition license for third party publishers originally contained a clause which required 4th edition compatible product lines to stop using 3rd edition's open license. Mike Lescault, community manager for Wizards of the Coast, denied that the clause was a "poison pill", and characterized it as a "conversion clause".[1]

Nevertheless, in 2008, Paizo Publishing declined to extend their open source 3.5-compatible Pathfinder product line to be compatible with 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons rules, citing 4th edition's restrictive licensing. A number of other third party publishers followed suit.[2]

In 2009, Paizo released a complete Pathfinder roleplaying game, based on version 3.5 of D&D, to compete with D&D's 4th edition. The two competing product lines being actively developed and published at the same time was sometimes described as fueling years-long edition wars between those preferring 4th edition D&D, and those preferring the 3.5 based Pathfinder. A 2012 third-party card game entitled Edition Wars satirized this competition.[3]


Sales of the June 2008 set of core rulebooks exceeded Wizards of the Coast's expectations, requiring them to order additional books to be printed even before the books' release date.[4] By third quarter 2010, however, sales of 4th edition products were tied with those of Paizo Publishing's Pathfinder, based on supplier interviews.[5]

Critical reception[]

MMORPG designer Michael Zenke, guest blogging for Wired, gave a positive review of 4th edition, mentioning the lack of complicated mechanics such as 3rd edition's grappling rules, and the martial powers available to fighters being as interesting as magic has always been for spellcasters.[6]

Although, fans of the game were not as nice. In all honestly, the changes made in this edition of Dungeons & Dragons were major in the attempt make it unique. Theses changes were to clarify the mechanics of the game, yet fans seemed to have issues with how much focus was on mechanics over lore expansion. Regardless, the real concern was streamlining the character creation process in ways that had fans questioning the design. Even so, this streamlined design paved the path for the streamlined content of 5th edition, which proved to become the most popular edition of the game yet.


  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. Hamilton, Mary. "Dungeons and Dragons: could the Next version end the edition wars?". The Guardian. May 28, 2012.
  4. "D&D 4E Back to Press". May 30, 2008.
  5. "Top 5 RPGs--Q3 2010". October 7, 2010.
  6. Zenke, Michael. "New D&D Rolls a 20 for Playability". Wired. June 6, 2008.

External links[]

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition products edit
Core rulebooks
  1. Player's Handbook (2
  2. 3)
  3. Dungeon Master's Guide (2)
  4. Monster Manual (2
  5. 3)
Rules supplements
  1. Adventurer's Vault (2)
  2. Arcane Power
  3. Book of Vile Darkness
  4. Demonomicon
  5. Divine Power
  6. Draconomicon: Chromatic Dragons
  7. Draconomicon: Metallic Dragons
  8. Dragon Magazine Annual
  9. Dungeon Delve
  10. Dungeon Survival Handbook
  11. Hammerfast
  12. Heroes of the Elemental Chaos
  13. Heroes of the Feywild
  14. Heroes of Shadow
  15. Manual of the Planes
  16. Martial Power (2)
  17. Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium
  18. Open Grave
  19. The Plane Above
  20. The Plane Below
  21. Player's Handbook Races: Dragonborn
  22. Player's Handbook Races: Tieflings
  23. Primal Power
  24. Psionic Power
  25. The Shadowfell: Gloomwrought and Beyond
  26. Starter Set
  27. Underdark
  28. Vor Rukoth
  1. Heroes of the Fallen Lands
  2. Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms
  3. Monster Vault
  4. Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale
  5. Dungeon Master's Kit
  6. Rules Compendium
  7. Starter Set
Campaign settings
  1. Dark Sun Campaign Setting
  2. Dark Sun Creature Catalog
  3. Eberron Campaign Guide
  4. Eberron Player's Guide
  5. Forgotten Realms Player's Guide
  6. Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide
  7. Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue
  8. Neverwinter Campaign Setting
  1. Assault on Nightwyrm Fortress
  2. Bloodsand Arena
  3. Death's Reach
  4. Demon Queen's Enclave
  5. Halls of Undermountain
  6. Keep on the Shadowfell
  7. King of the Trollhaunt Warrens
  8. Kingdom of the Ghouls
  9. Madness at Gardmore Abbey
  10. Marauders of the Dune Sea
  11. Orcs of Stonefang Pass
  12. Prince of Undeath
  13. Pyramid of Shadows
  14. Revenge of the Giants
  15. Seekers of the Ashen Crown
  16. The Slaying Stone
  17. Thunderspire Labyrinth
  18. Tomb of Horrors
Other publications
  1. Dragon
  2. Dungeon
  3. Player's Handbook Heroes
  4. Player's Strategy Guide
  5. Updates
  6. Dungeon Tiles
Board and miniatures games
  1. Castle Ravenloft
  2. Dungeon!
  3. Dungeon Command
  4. The Legend of Drizzt
  5. Wrath of Ashardalon
Computer games
  1. Daggerdale
  2. Heroes of Neverwinter
  3. Neverwinter
Related games
  1. Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures Game
  2. Gamma World