I had a chance to talk to some folks from Wizards of the Coast about Dungeons & Dragons 4.0 a few weeks ago and intend to pay more attention to it in the future, but Kieron Gillen from Rock, Paper, Shotgun does a good job explaining why the next version of the pen-and-paper role playing classic may actually bring many lapsed players back into the fold. Part of D&D4 will be the addition of computer-based tools to facilitate remote play of table-top games, with real 3D miniatures and VOIP.
What it is, is a way for people who’ve been defeated by the most persistent, unrelenting nemesis in the D&D Monster Manual to start playing again. Amidst a lot of people missing the point, Baylor over at the Gleemax forums has a critical hit: “I think the real target of this are people who can’t play D&D anymore. Like myself. I have two kids and I don’t have time to get together with friends anymore. I only have a few hours after they go to bed. I will finally be able to shelve MMOs and play the game I love again.” What defeats most heroes, simply, is time and its little henchman lack-of-access. If I were to get on the GM hat again, the most likely group of people I’d like to do it for are Jim (Upstairs), Hobbes (5 minutes walk away), my brother (London) and Kid-with-Knife (Vancouver). Pushing D&D in this way is both an admission of the problems of modern (adult) living while using modernity to circumvent it.
A presentation at GenCon, embedded above, explains more.