Okay, this is the last one, I promise. 50 questions seemed to call for five separate days.
Can the Warlord PLEASE be a theme as opposed to a separate class? My players really want to be able to build this type of character through other classes, such as Fighter, Rogue, Ranger, etc., and we all feel that making the Warlord a separate class is simply too limiting, especially when the idea of a base class is that it should be broad.
It’ll really come down to how it feels in play. I wouldn’t be surprised if we tried designing it both as a class and as a theme to see how it plays out.
- This comment saddens me. I didn’t think testing it as both was such a big deal.
What about Warlords? I know the grognards hate those guys but they were my favorite addition to 4E. Will Warlords, as a non magical support character be in 5E?
How would this strike you – would you be cool with a maneuver system that also included tactical plans, and if fighters are the best at using maneuvers, a fighter with a warlord theme feels a lot like that class in play?
The hard thing with the warlord was that its powers in 4e are very dependent on the grid or on giving out extra attacks, and both of those pose some challenges to us. The 3e marshal class does pose another model we could follow, but I’m not sure people found that class satisfying.
- I don’t think that the Warlord relies on a grid any more than any other 4e class. That’s in the nature of 4e rather than something essential to the Warlord.
- I suspect that what they fear about the Warlord granting extra attacks is the “killer combos” of Wizards that they mentioned as a design concern, though I don’t know what you could do with Wizard + Warlord that wouldn’t be easier with Wizard x2.
- I think that Mearls does a disservice to the design space that the Warlord could occupy. People seem to like healing and boosts that come from someone other than the Cleric.
First of all, thanks for all the work you’re doing, also on communication. I always felt I was “in tune” with the design principles behind Next, and now I have the proofs (Also, I played every edition, and loved them all, with a special mention to late 3.5 and 4e). I will provide a lot of feedback soon I hope, and it will include some tinkering like new feats, new backgrounds and even modified spells and completely new races. Premature, but I think it’s gonna be feedback nonetheless, and being different could even be of help (I hope). QUESTION: We know that the Fighter is a problematic class that sparked 90% of the questions and all. Don’t you think that the approach summarized by the “Fighters should be the best at fighting” motto is the root of the evil, here? I mean, isn’t it clear that the name of the class (although unchangeable) generates a lot of its problems? And ultimately, don’t you think that tying Fighter as a class more to “war” would make it more focused and avoid the too broad scope that generates problems? My opinion and that of many is that many classes fight and have the right to fight as well as the fighter. My solution to this would be to make classes more situational in their math bonuses, and where fighters would have the most “easily occurring situations”, they’d also have consistent, but not flashy bonuses to balance. I wrote a short blog about this here: http://community.wizards.com/lordarchaon/blog/2012/06/15/a_solution_to_balance_vs_tradition_in_next_classes As a clarification to it and my question, I know the fighter also has the metagame purpose of being the “starter’s class”, but are you considering the other fighting classes when you develop the Fighter? And are you considering making them all potentially equally (in different ways) good at fighting – provided their favorite situation come up or is set up? Thanks and sorry for the wordy thing.
I think you really hit on the key issue with the fighter – the class has a definition that has ranged from the hyper focused to the overly broad.
I thought a bit about it overnight, sparked by questions here and discussions elsewhere, and it might make a lot of sense to think about the fighter as good at something a little broader.
For instance, wizards cast spells, but they also know a lot of lore, they’re smart, they can translate runes, and so on. You have a clear body of traits for the class. The fighter needs something similar that speaks to its core definition.
- It might be better to think of the Fighter as something other than a lunk with a sword? **boggle** I honestly believe that this mindset is a leftover from Monte Cook’s participation in Next development. Cook genuinely believes – despite the fact that agency/LFQW come up as concerns all the frakking time – that the community lusts for simple melee combatants that just swing swords and other classes that “play smart,” never mind that a fair number of people continue to express a desire for clever, tactical play for the Fighter.
- If you’re looking for what the Fighter has that sets him apart, I point back to my version of the Fighter core concepts, which included, “Every Fighter has a reputation and a story.”
- I don’t want anyone in my group to feel obligated to play a Cleric. I don’t even want them to feel that they have the option to play a Bard, Alchemist, Warlord, etc, but should play a Cleric because it’s best.
- Hell, I don’t want anyone to feel obligated to play a “Leader” period – if we can ignore healing or survive on just a Theme or two, that’d be awesome.
I hope you’re already aiming for 1, but how about 2?
Do you feel like Dexterity is an uber-stat? Do you have any plans for making Dexterity be the sole determinant for fewer things on your character sheet?
That said, we’re having a devil of a time making that work, but we’re focusing on it.
Dexterity is a tricky stat. We have tried to remove it from AC for heavy armor characters and give medium armor characters a reason to ignore it (we’re revising armor for the next draft). The trick is that in trying to de-emphasize it, we often end up with more fiddly rules in the game. There’s tension there, but I think there are some release points for that.
- I want you to imagine a world without healing. We fight some monsters and get hurt, so we spend some Hit Dice, but they don’t really do all that much so we take a long rest. Either that long rest recovers most, if not all, of the party’s expended resources, in which case people complain about combat not feeling gritty or dangerous enough, or it doesn’t recover much at all, in which case we’re back to the 15-minute workday. It’s a pickle.
- If being the healer is a theme and having healing is necessary (which it almost certainly will be), then the theme becomes as much of a non-choice as the class. All you’ve done is change the name.
Are you doing anything to increase the open, sandboxy aspect of D&D?
I’ve done several premade adventures in my time, and while I think they’re pretty great, most of them are pretty linear. Sure, you can explore that necromancer’s tower in whatever order you want, but at the end of the day you’re running in one of the entrances and beating everything inside to death to see if loot or plot points come out. Even the ones that have more roleplaying in them seem to be linear. There’s a clear course of conversations and Diplomacy rolls you have to make on certain NPCs before they tell the secret mcguffin, or slap you in the face with a red herring.
I find it’s hard to motivate my players to think outside the box. They always seem to look for the conversation path of least resistance, so they can go to a dungeon and roll dice at their enemy. Then they complain about the boring, repetitive gameplay. I’m aware that as the DM, it’s my job to make the game interesting, but there seems to be little motivating my PCs to do more interesting things.
So my question is: Are there any new features to this next edition of D&D that will promote open-mindedness? My players look through the rulebooks for ideas on what they can do, but there’s so many more possibilities out there. I think the core rulebooks need more generic physics rules. How fast does a wagon move after three wizards cast Fly on it? How many HP does the Dragon loose if we cut off it’s tail in that portcullis/guillotine we made? How much damage do you take if you jump of a building and land in a haystack? Does that damage decrease if you have levels in Assassin? Are there any alchemical items that can force an Elf to lactate, and on an unrelated note, what is the going rate for a bottle of Elf Milk these days?
The open ended nature of RPGs is what makes them unique and has kept them around for so long, so I definitely want to see that emphasized. The trick lies in giving DMs some clear rules and guidelines for how things might work.
The tough part is figuring out where the divide between vague, easy, and complex lie. It’s frustrating if the rules don’t give enough info for a decision, but it’s just as bad if they give too much and the game becomes bloated and too complex.
Elf lactation is a serious issue that we haven’t even begun to tackle yet. The mind boggles at the intricacies, complexities, and comedy of the entire thing.
- Of course, the answer that Mearls can’t give is that this guy’s players are bored because he hasn’t engaged them with the story. Unless the players are invested, they won’t respond to a sandboxy environment because they lack the motivation to think of things to do.
- Putting aside the creepiness of forced lactation, even if the question is asked in jest, I can’t help but notice that the questioner is asking the developers to do his work for him. If he thinks that the presence of “Elf milk” is good story, then he should be encouraged to come up with his own rules for it. This is called tailoring your campaign world to your needs and it’s a vital skill for a would-be GM to have.
I started playing with 3e, so my experience is with 3, 3.5, 4, and 4.5; I don’t know much about 2e and below except from the classic video games like Baldur’s Gate.
It seems like in every edition, there will be disparities: some people / groups will be, agaisnt the same challenges, far more effective or competent at overcoming them than other groups. And for the most part, it’s felt like the official attitude towards the mechanics is that the devs are either not “good” at the game part of it that has rules, or are either dismissive or disparaging towards people who are, for whatever reason or purpose, good at building effective characters.
As such, it’s also felt like while these are fully legitimate players who enjoy the game, the game doesn’t work well for them. You can have a group of strong wizards or highly competent warblades, and they will do nasty things to what they’re “supposed” to be facing – and it’s never felt, officially, or with the dominant community, that that’s okay. It feels like we’re being told we’re playing it wrong, or that we care about something we shouldn’t care about.
I guess what this whole little editorial question is building towards is this: looking at 4e, but especially at 3e, I’ve wished that the DMG, or some other official book, would address very real disparities in character effectiveness from a standpoint from a standpoint less of presenting a set level of challenge and more like “here are some things powerful groups can do, these are ways you challenge them” – because it doesn’t matter, to me, as a player, if I can routinely trash encounters that “should” challenge people five levels above me: all that matters is that I, and my group, are actually challenged. The level of the challenge matters less than the on-the-ground concerns of level … and I’ve also wished deep in my heart that we’d see some sort of official, printed-in-the-rulebook statement that it’s okay to make “good” choices. It’s not the only way to play but it’s a valid and fine way to play, as long as you’re not disrupting the rest of the group.
Will we ever see anything along those lines in Dungeons and Dragons?
tl;dr, sort of: Can you please get permission from him and print the Stormwind Fallacy somewhere in the DMG or PHB for DnD Next?
(sorry for my rambling)
I think this is actually a really important issue, because it speaks to a core thing we need to deal with – it’s OK to do different things with D&D.
One of the things I really want to do with Next is build in different group and DM styles, and make it clear that those are just ways to play the game. Like, if you’re group likes to make optimized characters the DM runs the game in Nightmare mode and that’s fun, or the group that hates combat uses story-based XP and never fights anything.
- I’m certain that Mearls was very happy to see this question because it comes from a person with the philosophy that he thinks personifies Next.
- My problem with this mindset isn’t the house rules, which I think generally make things hard on the community but not as much on your gaming group, it’s the notion that groups are somehow magically going to consist of players that have uniform desires about complexity, character management and agency. My experience with 3.5 was that the presence of a single power gamer meant that everyone had to become one, at least to a certain degree. This is also true of 4e, but to a lesser extent. Mearls wants us to imagine a magical fairyland where this doesn’t happen in Next.
- I think that you encourage different play styles by creating a robust narrative system over a balanced combat system. The problem with 4e was that it never endorsed or supported narrative play.
I’ve only played 4th and 3.x, but even in a well-balanced game like 4th edition it’s become clear by the end of its life-cycle that some choices were clearly better than others. In a game with a larger power disparity like 3.x, some choices were not only better but often the only functional build. How do you plan to combat/prevent power creep in supplementary material?
Branching off of that, how do you plan to keep the support for new classes balanced with new character options for old classes? When you look at the dozen of functional builds for 4th edition Wizards, the dearth of comparable variety in classes like the Seeker and Runepriest doesn’t seem very fair.
Will all the math be baked into the system? Playing 4th edition, I always hated having to choose “math-fixing” feats over ones that gave me special maneuvers or powers because if I didn’t choose the “fixers” I wouldn’t be able to hit with the powers and special abilities I currently had.
Finally, your design team has mentioned that fighters are often a “beginner” class, but as an experienced player I like to have melee classes with dynamic and interesting combat choices, just like a spellcaster. My first class was a 3.x Wizard because at the time all I really wanted to do was throw spells around.
Do you plan on having class options for beginners who are only interested casting spells?
Do you plan on having options for advanced players who like some variety in their melee class?
If not (to either question above), why?
If so, how do you plan on making beginner choices balanced against advanced choices, especially without one option being too dull to engage new players or too complex for even advanced players to consider accessible?
First, I think it’s important that we learn from the past and guard against those mistakes. So, we’ve seen the sort of mechanics that cause issues in 3e and 4e.
Second, we’ve made a big effort this time to define what exists within each piece of a character – race, class, feat, spell, magic item, and so on. Before, there were a lot of grey areas. For instance, in 4e powers were fairly well defined, but feats were all over the place.
So, the key lies in establishing the limits in each area and then, most importantly, throttling way back on the flood of mechanics. We have to consider each spell, theme, or whatever with the same attention that the Magic team regards a new card.
By keeping the core options under control and expanding slowly, we can keep a handle on the worst excesses.
This ties back into class support, where we want to release overall less stuff, and the stuff we do release make as usable across classes as possible. So, we’re more likely to introduce new themes that any class can take rather than spells for one specific class.
The math will be baked into the class and race. Since those are the only things that are 100% required for the game, between the two of them they contain all the math that we assume.
We 100% will support sliding complexity within classes, though with some limits (wizards and clerics are inherently a little more complex than non-casters).
Balancing the simple vs. the complex is tricky. The important thing is to keep the math level and make the simple character feel effective, even if the experienced played who takes a few maneuvers and applies them intelligently comes out ahead. We have to allow for skill and experience -otherwise the game gets stale – but I think we can mitigate that if the beginner feels like he has an effective characters and has some obvious, clearly useful things he can do.
For instance – the pregen fighter’s damage on a miss. A beginner player always feels like he or she is contributing in a fight.
- Mearls continues to mention the mechanical problems in 3.5 and 4e without seeming to acknowledge that there were just as many – if not more – mechanical problems with AD&D. It was just that the system was so rudimentary and dysfunctional that there was a subconscious understanding that house rules were required. Next seems to be built on the notion that house rules are a good thing.
- They think that 3.5 and 4e had “too much stuff.” Next will have less stuff by design.
- Mechanical advancement will come from a limited number of sources so that you’re not having to assemble many features to get what you want. Outside of class and race, almost everything will be fluff (it will not address defenses, to-hit or damage).
- Some classes will be more complex than others. Mearls continues to push the notion that people are desperate not only for simple classes, but specific simple classes, especially the fighter. Given that the generations of gamers most likely to be buying into this game (15-30) are more game savvy than us old-timers, I don’t know how well this will resonate with them.
- The design team thinks that things like always doing damage make people feel like they’re contributing… despite the fact that they are very bland. This seems like very strange market research.
With the return of Vancian casting are you planning on giving non-magical characters some sort of “pull out the stops” type of abilties?
I know the fighter has twice per day do 2 actions, but that’s not… you know, exciting, per se. The magic stuff allows casters to perform new and different abilities, even at a limited level.
Second Question: Is there any intention to add a Attacks of Opportunity system or somesuch to give players a more effective way to control the battlefield?
Yes, we’re looking at a set of maneuvers that characters can dip into to gain more concrete options in fights, along with options that you can use to push yourself beyond your limits for an action or two per encounter.
We’re strongly considering adding a free attack if someone breaks away from a melee. The playtest feedback has been a little soured on letting people move around without consequence. However, the rule would be much simpler than attacks of opportunity – likely it’ll be that if you start your turn in someone’s reach, they get an attack on you if you try to leave their reach using an action to withdraw.
- You’re going to be hearing “We’re working on something cool for the fighter” a lot, not just in this Reddit. I’m trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, but the longer they keep saying this without actually showing us anything, the more I worry. There seems to be tremendous pressure to keep certain classes as plug-stupid as possible.
- “A little soured” is probably a huge understatement, as this was the second most common complaint among people I spoke to. In fact, if there has been any more sparkle in the actions available to the characters, I would bed good money that this would have been #1 with a bullet. Not only does it completely eliminate the positional aspect of play, it opens the door to any number of asshat moves, such as all the monsters just walking away to beat the Wizard to death. Not having any interaction leaves the combat feeling like something out of a Final Fantasy game… except with far fewer options.
I hated attacks of opportunity. I often dropped them in my own house rules. Unnecessary complication IMHO.
Keep in mind that our goal for adding a mechanic like this would be to keep it very, very simple. We are 100% NOT going to give you a long list of things that provoke. It would be moving away from an enemy and nothing else.
- Translation: “We’re not adding anything more complicated because we don’t trust GMs who dislike the mechanic to be able to do what this guy did and just not use the rule. If you’re expecting optional modules to genuinely reflect all of the editions, you’re going to be disappointed.” Though, to be fair, their “damage math” doesn’t seem to be able to account for the additional DPR of opportunity attacks. With the increased frailty of characters, you run the risk of creating situations where the character can’t do anything without dying.
I know there’s a million (okay, 500) questions in here, so I’ll keep it short and sweet:
Can you tell us more about the modular aspect of Next?
If the core rules are designed as a jumping off point where nothing that offends people is in, how will modular aspects work so we can add complexity we want back in, and how granular will these components be? Will these rules modules be in the core rulebooks, or have a separate distribution scheme?
You can expect the modules we see as the most popular or commonly used ones to come out with the core of the game, likely in the DMG.
The easiest way to think of modules and the core is this – the core is the generic RPG engine that powers the game. It’s fairly vanilla in design and is unfocused. Rules modules have a lot more focus. Their design starts first with asking, “Who is the target audience for this?” and designing from there. Since we 100% expect people to ignore them, we can go all out in speaking to the specific part of the audience a module addresses.
- When he says, “It’s fairly vanilla in design and is unfocused”, he’s not kidding. My concern is that, without the modules Next will be bland as hell (our experience with the playtest packet), but that deciding which modules to use is going to be a mess. There was a lot of pressure on GMs in 3.5 to include everything from Wizards, even if it didn’t make sense for the campaign setting and the most common rationale used was “It’s a game, shouldn’t I get to play it the way I want to?” I feel that they’re pouring all this effort into a very simple base game that’s hardly ever going to get used.
- I love the phrase “nothing that offends people” with regard to Next, because that feels like the design philosophy, at least with regard to people who didn’t transition to 4e.
- Notice how he avoids the question of modules being a separate product. This is a bad sign.
- I think the use of the word “modules” is odd, given that it traditionally means something else entirely.
Whew… that was a lot of work. I feel like I’m supposed to summarize this and wrap it all up in a neat little thought package, but I’m not seeing anything that coalesces for me. I’m very grateful to Mearls for opening himself up like this. It takes a great deal of courage to open yourself up to so many armchair quarterbacks, myself included, this early in the design cycle.
I guess one thing that occurs to me is that they might have started talking about Next this early in large part to avoid the SURPISE! moment that tainted the launch of 4e. Another is that I’m becoming more convinced that they really believe that they can give us AD&D with a 3.5/4e shell. Maybe I just wasn’t ready to see that before now.
In any event, thank you for sticking with me as I slogged through this. I hope it was helpful and informative.