This new edition will stick with the d20 system, but the designers see many elements that can be improved. One big emphasis has been on streamlining turns to help the game get around the table a bit quicker; they know there’s nothing the rules can do to keep a party’s mage and barbarian from wasting 15 minutes screaming over tactics at the start of every combat, but at least they can get you out of grappling details a bit faster. And the mage and barbarian might get along a little better thanks to revamped spell recovery rules that won’t do away with the need to rest to replenish spells, but will give players more options to recover spells and in-game incentives to do something other than call nappy-time every two encounters.
In essence, what you’re going to see mechanically is the d20 system evolved: rebuilding the clunky parts, greasing the wheels and polishing the chrome until you can see your character in it. Part of that polishing includes ramping up the coolness factor on some of the less-popular character classes to make sure that every class has a unique and essential role in a well-balanced party; you might see some of the traditional classes fall out of the base book in favor of sexier roles. The same thing will happen to the races covered in the core books, where the half-demon tieflings will claim a place at the expense of an undisclosed race—we’re guessing a half-elf, gnome and halfling were shut up in a dark cave with some paring knives, and no questions were asked of whoever came out…heck, there might even be three new races in the new edition! Not to worry; Slavicsek promises that any beloved races cut from the core books will appear in early Fourth Edition expansions.
Not all of Fourth Edition’s changes will add to the game by subtraction; many rules tweaks they’ve experimented with in books all over Wizards’ RPGs will show up as well. For example, Slavicsek tells us that “The Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords book, which gave fighter-type characters the same types of options spellcasters do by basically giving them spells for fighters,” was received very well. “That idea has been extremely popular, and we’re adopting something similar for Fourth Edition.”