Well, certainly 4e doesn't fall into the "back in '81" time frame, but let's be real. It's D&D, and D&D in any form, any edition - good, bad, or ugly - makes me bethink the good ol' days. So even though 4e is a modern thing, I'll babble a little about it here. If anything, it can be used to compare the new with the old. I like to compare them, but I also like to freakin' *play* them, so I don't bash any edition too much.
I actually got my first taste of 4e play from the series of podcasts (8 in all, so far), starting with this one of the guys from Penny Arcade, PvP, etc being DM'd by a WotC dev/DM/dude (actually 2 different DMs across the whole thing). Personally I think these are freakin hilarious, and I learned quite a bit about the new 4e system/mechanic/etc just from listening to them. If you haven't yet seen...err listened to them, you really should. There are some more upcoming podcasts from these guys, along with Wil Wheaton joining the fun with them.
Ok so I decided to try it out, and met up with a few dudes locally who had some 4e sessions going weekly. This first 4e play for me was actually about a month ago now, but I'm very late catching up with things recently, so I may pile a few 4e experiences in a row here, just to catch up.
It was a fairly new party/group but a couple of them had played 1-2 sessions together before, as this party. They were only level 1-2 though, so it was cool for me to jump right in, along with another new member to the group that night. The DM had played 4e before, but I think he told me he had never DM'd it, so it was new to him in that manner too....cool.
My first character was/is a Dwarven Fighter (defender - hammer&board) wielding a new weapon from the "Adventurer's Vault") called a Craghammer: 1d10 1-hander that qualifies for some bonuses to my "Dwarveness" and a feat I took named Dwarven Weapon Training. Oh and the darn thing (Craghammer) let's you reroll any damage that you roll that is 2 or less (it's called "brutal 2", IIRC). So if I roll a 1 or a 2 on my d10 for base damage, I get to reroll that die...nice!
Too bad, I missed almost every freakin time....jeesh!
It appears that 4e is all about the "to hit"...they (devs) have kinda made it tough to do that in this edition. Damage is easier to pile up, but you gotta hit first, which can be tough from my experience and from some advice from vets that I played with.
Anyway, we only really had one major encounter (full on fight), and it was pretty big: about 5 or 6 ogres or varying toughness at the gate to the city they were traveling to from the last session. The Rogue in the group actually made a mess outta them pretty quick. Rogues can be very, very badass in melee in 4e, with some very cool backstabbing. Anyway, I missed a ton, so I won't go all into it...ha! Oh, I was just some dork along with the other new member (Elf Ranger) at the gates of the city who met the party by joining in and (trying) to help them fight these brutes at the gate. Anyway the day was saved and so access to the city was granted, as well as membership to this adventuring gang.
So, the rest of the night's session was spent dorking around in the city. The Dragonborn Pally and the Eladrin Wizard sold some crap and got a couple weapons (like a +1 longsword and a thundering dagger or something for the pally and the rogue). The rogue got into tons of trouble in one of the taverns, including gambling, arm wrestling (not really, he dumped the table on the guy), stealing...concluding with waking up the next morning tied to the bedposts in a room upstairs in the inn, with some weird glowing runes burned into his forearms...he met a lady friend the night before who just happened to have horns and a tail...go figure! This guy was really good at role-playing and making a typical night at the tavern into a pretty adventurous night for us, especially him...ha!
Anyway, we messed around in the town and just started to get mixed up on some errands for the royalty of the town (in their castle/downstairs...oooooo, creeeepy....) and then it was pretty late, so we called it quits.
They have probably met a couple times since then, but I had to bail, due to the holidays and such. Maybe I can join up with them again soon....dunno. Bummer part is that it was really not *that* local after all. I had to drive over an hour to get there....ugh. Hopefully a closer option will surface.
* BTW, these sa-weet images above are by Mike Krahulik, who is "Gabe"...err...John(athan) Gabriel in the Penny Arcade webcomic. If you are not hip to them yet...you surely are not laughing enough in your life. Go check out their stuff, and Scott Kurtz of PvP. They are awwwsummm!