In the Year of Our Lord, 1066, Uther Pendragon, Duke of Normandy, sailed his army across the English Channel and defeated King Vortigern at the Battle of Hastings. He moved quickly to consolidate his rule over the island, which lasted from A.D. 1066 until his death in A.D. 1215. In that year, the boy Arthur, foster son of Sir Ector of the Castle of the Forest Sauvage, was revealed to be Uther’s son and heir by pulling the sword Excalibur from the stone. Although he had the backing of Merlin, and the miracle to substantiate his claim to the throne, Arthur was immediately beset by rebellion, led by King Lot of Orkney. With war brought the usual scavengers of civilization; monsters who seized the opportunity to pillage and wreak havoc on a defenseless people. Arthur, guided by Merlin, re-established the national Adventurers’ Guild that his father had previously abolished. A royal stipend was given to the Guild to train up new heroes to fight the darkness which had spread over the land.
Here’s what I said:
D&D was originally a game about exploration and resource management with combat elements (sort of a Tolkienian Oregon Trail game). It quickly developed elements of heroic narrative, due to the nature of the setting. Based on my understanding of the rules, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and now 5th Edition all attempt to maintain this tension between the “how many arrows the PC can recover post-battle” part of play versus the “hitting the Dragon in the heart with the PC’s last arrow” part, but the 4th Edition rules seemed to have abandoned (or made irrelevant) the resource management part of the game. The rules have sections on equipment, the effect of weight,on movement, and such, but the allowances are so large that they have little effect, RAW, in how the characters interact with the game world. This accounts, I think, for the complaint that 4e “didn’t feel like D&D”.
In other words, I don’t think it’s a “grittiness” factor, in itself, that is the source of the complaint. One can,pump up the danger of a 4e game quite easily. It is, rather, the idea that the characters can effectively ignore mundane matters like “do we want fried rat or fungus sandwiches for dinner?” and “Drat it all! We didn’t bring enough sacks, again. Get all the gold coins and as many of the silver ones as we can. Leave the copper coins. Do you have the map? Good, let’s get out of here.”
4e is still my favored edition.
Another 5 man band (Dwarf Knight, Eladrin Slayer, Elf Warpriest, Halfling Thief, Human Mage):
Here is a 4e Essentials Character sheet that I made form fillable (needs PDF software to use properly).
Another “4 Man” party. Dwarf fighter, Halfling rogue, Human cleric, Eladrin (“High Elf”) Wizard (Wizardess?).
The 4th edition Red Box Starter set did,not provide the option to play as an Eladrin. To build a “Red Box” Eladrin hero, add +2 to INT, and +2 to either DEX or CHA. Also, gain one extra skill of the player’s choice, and add +1 to Will. The Eladrin racial ability is a short range teleport.