Two questions: *First, I am a huge D&D 4E fan- it seems for the first time, D&D had a coherent design with a clear goal (provide exciting tactical combats and focus on the game-play challenge). I understand this was a turnoff for some people. My group found the playtest interesting but rather bland- very few combat choices. What support will there be for players craving the die-hard tactical crunch of 4th edition? *Early in the design process, a modular approach was mentioned that could provide practically any experience. Will there be modules with actual rules that guide roleplaying (I’m talking about games like Fiasco, Dogs in the Vineyard, Prime Time Adventures, and the Mountain Witch- things like narration rights, explicit preroll stakes setting, conflict rather than task resolution, and player-driven scene setting.) Since many people take their D&D games out of the dungeon and into the the town court, something like Dogs in the Vineyard’s “you come into a community and everyone tells you their problems” does not seem out of place.
I agree that 4e had very clear goals, and that was a strength if those goals matched what you wanted. What we’ve learned is that people play D&D for a staggering variety of reasons.
Think of the core system as like the basic OS of the game. It does the basic stuff that needs to get done, and for many people that’s all they need. An indie design would probably say that the core was incoherent or unfocused.
Now, imagine the rules modules as designed with a clear focus and creative agenda. That’s key, because you want people to use them for the specific reason that it does what they want D&D to do.
So, when you pick a module, then the game starts to pop into a sharper focus.
In any case, you can expect a tactical combat module and likely one that introduces indie-style gaming.
- The more I read comments like this, the more I wonder if the success of Essentials provided the spark that burned down 4e. They looked at the reception to the product line and said, “You know what? People seem to like this simpler stuff. I bet we could sell a lot of books if the next edition had tiered difficulty.” This ignores the fact that the order and manner in which concepts are presented to people can have a huge impact on their response.
- I’m also curious about whether or not the various modules are going to play nice with each other. Most RPGs pick either tactical play or “non-combat combat” (think Mind’s Eye Theater’s status system or Fate’s composure mechanics) and run with it. In a way, this is the same stress that has existed between Vancian players, who tend to shortcut or bypass tactical combat, and players who like the smashy bits.
What is the purpose of hit dices in 5e? What kind of gameplay are they supposed to achieve?
In the closed playtest we ran before the open one started, we had a lot of feedback that healing was too limited. With hit dice, we tried to introduce a more robust mechanic for natural healing to give characters more healing overall.
They are supposed to change the game so that the characters aren’t as reliant on the cleric, but so far the rules don’t seem to work well enough. We will be revising them for the next round of testing.
- It really seems that Mearls feels stuck. If they create rules that endorse having more than a couple of encounters in a day – which mostly comes about because the characters are tougher – then the people who are fixated on lethality and risk will cry foul. On the other hand, a 1 or 2-combat workday is a natural consequence of that more dangerous style. It seems as though they’re choosing vulnerability because it triggers more AD&D nostalgia.
- It would be interesting if a short rest brought you back up to your bloodied value (or for an amount equal to your bloodied value) and other healing was required for the rest. They’ve already established that bloodied is the threshold between hit points as morale and endurance vs. hit points as actual physical injury.
It seems that the “advantage” and “disadvantage” mechanic is a pretty popular one. I personally am a big fan of the simplicity of the idea even if it gets a bit cumbersome for a DM that wants to roll multiple attacks simultaneously.
That said, with the flattening of the “power curve”, the effective 3.17 point bonus such a mechanic adds is pretty huge. Is there a plan to allow for a more minor advantage/disadvantage mechanic for situations that are less seriously impacted?
No plans yet, but playtest feedback can change that. Right now, our feeling is that if we are asking you to do something at the table (math, fiddle with dice) it should have a big effect on play. The tiny little bonuses littered in D&D really slow down game play, and it’s not clear that they are worth it.
- This mindset is one of the things I really like about Next. I would like for them to go whole-hog on the concept and have advantage/disadvantage be the only modifier that isn’t baked into the character sheet. This would go a long way toward speeding up combat.
- The questioner does misstate the likely value of advantage/disadvantage, however. At the target numbers that will be common, it’s actually somewhere between ±4 and ±5. It’s huge. My worry is that characters who might be at a disadvantage will simply do nothing, making disadvantage a de facto stun. On the flip side, advantage is so good that I expect degenerate builds designed around achieving it.
1.) How loosely should we be playing with the given playtest materials? The adventure is pretty sandboxey itself, but I’m seeing a lot of people online ripping themes from one character and swapping them with another, or preparing spells from the spell list that aren’t part of the character’s sheet (for instance, it’s way more interesting for the cleric of Pelor to be using Healing Word than Cure Light Wounds.) Is that sort of experimentation valuable data or should people stick to the materials exactly as written for the purpose of giving feedback? Or is the fact that people are veering away from the material valuable feedback in itself?
2.) The presented playtest characters have a few invisible values baked into their bonuses, such as attack bonuses. These bonuses are most likely weapon proficiency bonuses or the like. If players switch weapons during the playtest for some reason though, we have to kind of guess at whether the bonuses are still accurate. For instance, if the Fighter decides to use a sword instead of his axe, is he forfeiting some proficiency bonus?
3.) Do you guys plan on making the weapons a bit more varied in the future as part of the core game, or will that be a modular change? As it stands, the weapons are a table of possible damage expressions, with a few properties here and there. Since weapons are essentially the fighter’s analog to spell selection, it would be nice if that system was a bit more robust than longsword = 1d8 slashing, battleaxe = 1d8 slashing (1d10 for dwarves).
- 100% the fact that people are already hacking the game is good feedback. Good as in useful, and good as in it makes me happy.
- You can assume that a character’s bonus with weapon X is the same as weapon Y, unless you are going from melee to ranged. In that case, swap out Str mod for Dex mod (or vice versa).
- For the core, weapons will remain fairly simple. We’ll use rules modules or themes/feats to let people opt into more complexity. “Exotic” weapons are a question mark at this point, but they might be a way to give more texture.
- I think that people modding what they have is only a good thing for development if they’re actively tracking what people are doing.
- It’s looking more and more like the enhancement bonus is going to be the portion of accuracy that the players can have some control over, outside of maneuvers that trade damage for accuracy (which I’m not convinced is all that exciting). I think that this is a bad thing, as it detracts from the stated goal of having magic items have flavor. Enhancement bonus is the absolute worst kind of flavor.
1) How much will coins weigh in the next edition? Or will the weight of coins be ignored, like sheets of paper?
2) If they will have weight, will the different varieties of coins have different weights, or will they have the same weight?
3) Will Platinum coins go back to a worth of 10 gold coins like in 3.5, or will they remain equal to 100 gold coins like in 4.0?
- Coin weight will likely be X coins/pound.
- Likely they will all be the same.
- I believe they are at 10 gold per platinum right now. You can expect a flatter wealth level for characters in 5e.
- I’m kind of curious why a “flatter wealth level” is a good thing. Shouldn’t starting wealth be determined by the setting and the story? Why aren’t there going to be wealth and economics modules? If you think I’m being sarcastic about this, I’m not. It’s very possible to have trade routes and goods be a central part of a setting. It’s also very possible to have a wealth system that doesn’t require bookkeeping.
What were some of the most frequent complaints about 4E and which ones will be addressed on 5E?
Biggest issues we saw –
- Play time and speed of combat. A lot of complaints that fights take too long.
- Hit point bloat and grind – the second half of many fights doesn’t feel threatening enough.
- Class diversity – people felt that the power scheme made the classes feel samey.
We’re addressing all of them in Next.
- It’s worth noting that every combat system that uses a grid takes longer than games that use more abstraction. I’ve run some HERO System encounters that took an entire full session. The question is whether or not the more abstract systems satisfy the players. My experience is that the more you handwave, the less the players feel like they accomplished something. It’s most common in RPGA events, but you can hear the phrase “killed by box text” pretty much anywhere. I’m worried that Next will contain too much “win by box text.”
- I’ve been spending a lot of time with the Fate system lately (we’re considering doing an Indiana Jones/Dresden Files/Gernsbeck Continuum mashup) and it would be fair to ask why I’m comfortable with the level of “win by narration” there and not in Next. The answer is that big, encounter-ending or encounter-bypassing effects don’t exist in Fate the same way they do in Next. There isn’t the Vancian dichotomy of one character being mundane and another being able to warp the laws of physics. A sleep spell in Fate would still have to Take Out all the goblins (or at least, that’s how I would rule it), but it’s an everyday spell in Next.
- Is there any other way to handle humans than the apparent +1 to all stats? It seems rather OP considering the new focus on abilities.
- Will martial maneuvers be open to all, or limited to fighters? I ask because making subsystems for one or a handful of classes seems like a waste when the fighter can be given a simple bonus to these maneuvers rather than a unique subsystem. Similar to how classes shared spells in prior editions.
- Have you considered making modifiers = score – 10? This streamlines the maths and allows characters to use stats as DCs. It makes a lot of sense to go this route, why hasn’t / why wouldn’t you use this mechanic?
- My preference is the speed of combat of AD&D with the encounter resources of 4E. Will this be possible to do in 5E?
- The long rest mechanic is great. Please don’t fiddle with it. The short rest mechanic / hit dice is terrible. Please fix it. At least put in an early option / module for the more gamist side of things (i.e. something like 4E healing); gritty realism and fireball flinging wizards don’t mix well for me or my group.
- Classes also give ability bonuses, so the ideas is that a human is more balanced than other races and that the other races are a little more focused vs. the generalist human.
- Anyone can take maneuvers.
- We talked a lot about this, and the big key fell in two places – it inflates AC unless you take Dex out of that equation, and it creates big gaps in accuracy unless you take Str/Dex out of attack rolls.
- That’s the plan, though you’ll need to seek out character options for that.
- Healing is definitely going to get a number of dials to let DMs tweak it to fit their games. You can imagine a range that starts with “Festering wounds and missing limbs” on one end and has “Sleep cures all ills” on the other.
- Mark my words, when we finally get our hands on the character generation rules, one of the first broken things will be a Human.
- I find answer #5 amusing because I’ve never seen an in-depth discussion of the story implications of injury or disease come from WotC. Maybe I just never looked in the right place, but teaching GMs about the consequences of lasting injury is something I really wish they had done.
Are we going to see any new innovations to make the DM’s job of adventure creation easier?
We’re using the 4e rules as a starting point, XP budgets for adventures that scale with the number of players and character level, along with all-in-one stat blocks and a fairly simply math system for creating monsters/NPCs.
- Except, of course, that all-in-one stat blocks aren’t in the playtest. To be fair, however, Mearls did say today that they’re looking to revamp the way they present monster information.
- There’s a part of me that hopes that Mearls did not use the word “adventures” when he really meant “encounters.” I think that encouraging GMs to consider plot arcs as a whole, rather than just set pieces, would be a very good thing.
- I think that this is another area where the design team is caught in a catch 22. If they endorse too much balance in encounters, then the old-schoolers renew their objection to “combat as sport.” Conversely, if they don’t give GMs balance tools, then you’re going to see a spike in badly designed encounters.
It’s been said that 5E seeks to unite the best parts of each D&D edition under one system. What do you see as some of the best aspects of each of the previous editions?
0e – The core concept of an RPG, a game without limits or rails that is adjudicated by another person.
1e – Character options, creating a sense of the world of D&D rather than just a dungeon.
2e – Crazy cool settings like Planescape and Spelljammer, kits and stuff that tied characters to the setting.
3e – An easy core mechanic, clear rules for combat, a game that can be modified.
4e – Core math to build stuff, much easier DM tools, tactical challenges.
- I don’t have much to say about this because he kind of has to blow sunshine up our butts in finding something nice to say about each edition.
The lack of tactical support in the D&D Next packet suggests that “battlegrid” support was being considered as a non-core and available as a supplement.
Is some of that (such as lack of “obstruction” mechanics like OoA’s) being reconsidered for the core rules?
Also, is there an expectation that supplementary rule-sets may have to “over-write” core rules in situations where design decisions are re-thought or is the expectation that changes be handled only through errata or the “specific > general” philosophy?
Yes, we’re looking at adding a free attack against you if you try to leave melee.
You can expect that some modules will overwrite or replace core stuff, but we’ll have to be careful to make sure that we don’t accidentally break anything when we do that.
If a core rule doesn’t work, we’ll just issue errata rather than try to fix it with a module.
- You’re going to be hearing a lot of “we’re doing something about mushy combat” after that first round of playtest.