11 comments on “Precisely Backwards: Why I’m not happy with Next development

  1. What I see in this design philosophy is a complete lack of any reason why a fighter or rogue would be necessary. Minds eye takes away the tactical aspect. LFQW takes away the damage aspect. There’s no point of rolling to hit if your damage is low and constant. Rogues still have their technical skills, but there are Vancian spells for that. The poor fighter is left to be little more than a pack mule in the story. Where is the ‘fight’? I don’t want to be the player who job is just to hold a bad guy until the wizard gets around to killing him. I also don’t want to be the guy who only get’s a chance to shine after everyone else is tired of a long and drawn out fight.

    Why is it so hard to release a Vancian and a Linear theme for each class? You could call one regular and the other “Essentials”. Why are we trying to take the control over who is cool and when and put it in the hands of the GM, instead of empowering our players to make their cool happen?

    I can’t wait to see the first all rogue/fighter party slog through an encounter. Is the Gm supposed to dumb everything down so that they don’t get wrecked?

    Then the version will come along with a single wizard. That obnoxious ass will look like the hero every time until the GM just gives in to temptation and kills him first every fight. “Your targeting me”, “Uh, yeah, your the only real threat…”

    The single warrior party will be a game of one person always crying.

    I think it’s inevitable that every player looks over the rules and says “well, I’ll be the wizard, because I want to be cool”. At that point a party of all wizards could simply spend X amount of spells per fight and win. This could allow a party to simply roll for who’s fight this is, then have that player cross off the spells on their list and announce that the players win.

    I ramble, but what I’m getting at is that under this philosophy, there can be no functional combat without someone accepting the roll of “useless”. The reverse could even be said that if someone decides they want to be useless, then combat must be rolled out, else combat could be waved.

    • I feel like I need to respond to your hyperbole. I am OK with people having other opinions, but your response seems very reactionary. You do understand they’re solving the LFQW problem with changing Spell Scaling and ensuring that non-magical abilities can compete with magical ones. The example they’ve used is a Rogues ability to sneak/hide with an Invisibility spell. In terms of other abilities, Theme and background seem to add a lot. The “Knight’s Station” ability comes to mind for something that can be very useful. Rogues have Knack, Hiding, Skill Mastery…all within the first three levels. We know there is a manuver system coming, that it will launch with the game, and that it will allow you to have a more 4E style balance between classes. Is that what you want? It sounds like Wizards is already planning to make you happy. What you’re getting at is not consistent with what they’ve said they are planning, or what the playtest looks like.

  2. You have a right to your opinions but until we see the system done, finished and on our tables we cannot be sure how it will work. Your concerns are valid but I think I could provide a different viewpoint for your reading pleasure.

    I personally don’t think it’s possible to avoid offending every large group of people. There will be people who like and dislike certain segments of the core rules. The people who dislike them can use the modules presented to make it the game they want to play. It’s easy and if I understand WOTC right, it seems that many modules will be released in few volumes. We won’t have to pay individually for every module. They cannot satisfy all people but they can give you the tools to satisfy yourself.

    It’s very clear that you dislike the Vancian spell-casting method, many people don’t like it. However, you did not make clear what you would like instead in the core. Am I to assume you would like the AEDU style or something completely different?

    I don’t know what you mean when you say the “GM has to artificially extend the time between rests so that certain characters can shine.” If I am understanding WOTC correctly it seems like the number of rounds a party should be able to last will be semi-constant, it will be baked into the math of the game and the GM won’t have to delve into much artifice. This idea of swords shining when spells run out seems a little folly to me. It assumes that spell-casters will consume their resources right away. With the addition of useful at-wills it seems to me there is much less pressure on resource using spell-casters to dip into their power pool. To me, melee classes have always been able to deal medium-high damage constantly where as spell-casters do low-medium damage sometimes and high-very high damage sometimes. It’s a balance of sorts.

    I agree that the melee classes should not be defined by the lack of powerful spells and I personally do not feel that they are. They feel plenty powerful (in the play-test at least) to me. If anything, the wizard deals the least damage in the party (in the play-test).

    In your “It’s a bug, not a feature” section, you quote the line “adding rounds to combat”. I was just wondering from where you quoted that line as it does not appear in any of the text you provided from the Legends and Lore article. I bring this up because I believe you are misunderstanding what Mike Mearls is saying. He say, and I quote, “If the group spends less time in fights, casters grow stronger. If the characters spend more rounds fighting, the fighter and rogue grow stronger.” To me that means that if the characters spend a lot of time fighting multiple encounters between rests then they will be glad they brought a fighter and a rogue because of their staying power. Basically it means spell-casters dominate short fights but melee classes win you the long drawn out brawls. I mean, it makes sense. A wizard can blast a guy a few times a day with a fireball but then all he has are his at-wills. A fighter can… well… fight, really darn well. What I took from Mearl’s statement was that in a game with lots of fights you will be glad you have a fighter and a rogue.

    I think one of the main paradigm shifts people are going to have to make from 4e to 5e is the concept of the main units of D&D. In 4e the individual encounters made up an adventure, but I get the sense that in 5e they are looking to broaden their outlook so that a whole dungeon complex is a single unit. Notice Mearls says “fights”. Spell casters grow weaker the more fights they are in, ie, how much combat is in any given dungeon/adventure, while melee classes will be able to thrive in more combat.

    As an additional viewpoint on your last section, I feel is it not the place of the character class to give you things like de facto men-at-arms and guild connections. Not every fighter needs/wants men-at-arms. Such things should be given out by the GM or be rolled into the new background system (which I like very much).

    Sorry for the long and rambling reply, but I felt like I had to say something. To me, it looked like you weren’t considering other possibilities. Sure you may not like a given rule or set of rules in the core game but that’s exactly what the modular nature of the edition seeks to correct. You will not be playing my version of D&D and you will not be playing Mike Mearls’ version of D&D. You will be playing your version, your game, the game you want to play. If you dislike Vancian magic, there will be options for you (or so we have been told).

    Anyway, happy gaming!

    • I’m not going to be able to respond to all of that in one bite, so my apologies in advance for answering them out of order.

      “Sorry for the long and rambling reply, but I felt like I had to say something. To me, it looked like you weren’t considering other possibilities. Sure you may not like a given rule or set of rules in the core game but that’s exactly what the modular nature of the edition seeks to correct. You will not be playing my version of D&D and you will not be playing Mike Mearls’ version of D&D. You will be playing your version, your game, the game you want to play. If you dislike Vancian magic, there will be options for you (or so we have been told).”

      I’m very comfortable “making my own game.” Prior to returning to D&D, I was running mostly GURPS and HERO System, both of which have been modular for a very long time. We heavily modded AD&D back when I was in high school, as well. The thing I want people to understand is that, while you *always* have the authority to make the game work for you, the better designed game is the one that requires less effort. Wizards seems to prioritize traditional elements over things that require less work.

      I also want to point out that removing a game element is always a more difficult process than choosing not to include it. There’s more pressure on the GM.

      “I personally don’t think it’s possible to avoid offending every large group of people. There will be people who like and dislike certain segments of the core rules. The people who dislike them can use the modules presented to make it the game they want to play. It’s easy and if I understand WOTC right, it seems that many modules will be released in few volumes. We won’t have to pay individually for every module. They cannot satisfy all people but they can give you the tools to satisfy yourself.”

      If the concepts are going to appear in one of two places, I would prefer that the large things that sizable groups have a problem with are put in modules. There’s a difference between Vancian magic and, say, how attributes are determined. Another good example is the rule for intoxication. Removing or changing that isn’t a big deal. Telling someone that they can’t play a *core* class is a huge deal.

      “It’s very clear that you dislike the Vancian spell-casting method, many people don’t like it. However, you did not make clear what you would like instead in the core. Am I to assume you would like the AEDU style or something completely different?”

      I would like to see a system where characters have a limited pool of at-will powers, say 6-8. Then I would like to have a way to boost those powers to two higher tiers. Some classes would have more access to the resource that limits boosting. Some classes would have the ability to change the abilities in their pool. I just got done reading the Dragon Age RPG and I really liked many of the tricks they used to make characters cool without falling prey to power creep. I’ve been theorycrafting my own system where you would “buy” effects with the die results.

      And I do want to make it perfectly clear that I don’t want them to remove Vancian casting. I just thing that, if they can accommodate the no-map crowd, they should be able to do the same for people like me.

  3. I can understand what you are saying. Having delved into GURPS and HERO, those games seek to answer as many situations with as many guidelines/rules as possible. Those systems are very modular and have been that way for quite some time. If there were ever examples of where system mastery were needed it would be these two.

    I just have a hard time with the speculation that you propose due to the fact that we have not seen very much of the system and therefore can not tie anything down to hard results. At this stage of the game I and my group have still not encountered anything that we can not work with in the current form of the system.

    As to the “work day question” well…..there is plenty of stuff to do, even in a game world. The problems I ran into on the forums was the every balance torte I gave was boiled down to resource management.

    Lets start at the top WISH, every body wants to cast it. Sure it is a game ender or can be. Its main management leverage for the DM is the XP cost. Sorry, but the wish spell never cost less than 5,000 xp. In fact I remember never slotting this cost less than 10,000 xp. “But you are punishing me for getting this spell!” you say. NO, I am not. I disagree with the “RAW” that the book dictates the cost of the spell. I dictate the cost of the spell as the DM and the more earthshaking of a wish you make the more it costs.

    The list of ways I managed the resources of spells for casters goes on. There is a reason spells had components to them. They were a way that not only the DM put the LFQW question in check but, so did the game itself. A class that can manipulate the forces of the universe should not be without its cost. Few people used it because they just wanted to do stuff all the time.

    But, people HATE managing resources. So this solution gets thrown out. It would be the same for a 4E class that focuses on being able to NOVA with a bow. The player want to be able to do what he can over and over without recourse or limitation of resources. Gods forbid this character step out of his one trick act to do something else.

    As for the grid vs. TotM style of play. we do both depending on the situation so core or no core it does not matter and never really did until 4E.

    Adding rounds? I have never added rounds to combat. Players on the other hand who dive into a “KILL”EM ALL” blood lust do. Let’s not keep someone alive to question, maybe get some RP in, just gut’em and take their stuff.

    While I do agree on the idea of adding in the items in the non-combat category for advancement. Even in the older editions these were side charts and modular features. What do you propose the casters get in these areas? You are only providing one solution, in theory. Which is no better than making suppositions about how the game will be fully fleshed out.

    Mind you, I am not a Pathfinder advocate, really I am not. What they did do with the system was to provide as many solutions they could to a system that a large group plays. In as many ways as the OGL would allow them to. All while not killing off ALL of the content that they had purchased prior to Pathfinders release. All in all not a bad solution. Though there are still some areas that could not be touched due to the OGL without gutting volumes of books that I still have to spackle over.

    Unfortunately the larger community wants the new shiny, sorry 4E. While at first I loved the style of play, after one year the shine wore off. The books went up for sale and I went back to 3X systems. There are few things from that system I would like to see ported over. So as a grognard I can say that I gave 4E its chance, one year devoted to the system, whole heartedly.

    In the end I reserve any harsh critique of the “Next” system until I have more of it in my hands. Hopefully we will get the CC rules soon, the end of July is coming up.

    • “In the end I reserve any harsh critique of the “Next” system until I have more of it in my hands.”

      I must, by my very nature, disagree with this principle. When one of the designers says something that I disagree with, I’m going to say so. It’s like the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are aliens!” plan for the reboot of the movies. I think that’s a really dumb idea and I don’t feel bad saying that that movie should never get made.

      • I do provide feed back to the designers on the experiences our groups have had with the game. At this point the material we HAVE in our hands is barely a system. So commenting on theory or potential directions IS supposition. Until I have MORE, meaning character creation, there is not much to really go on. With out new material to test the current document has already been beaten to death. Time for new material to give what we have killed a new direction and better framework.

        That is what we have always done as a play test group and I would say that our group would agree 100% with your example. Though some would say they should never have started. Somethings are better left untouched by Hollywood.

        So speculate on theory all you want. Some of it may be right and some will be wrong. The best thing about what is happening is that this test will be going on for a long time. So that leaves plenty of time for those people who either are pissed off about the gutting of 4E to vent. Those who want to constantly expound how the designers are doing it wrong to say why. For those who just want D&D as a brand to succeed to keep HELPING.

        For the 24 to 30 of us who meet on a regular basis, we meet and discuss the game based on what is on hand, not what we have not seen. That Mr Michel Lee is what was meant by “UNTIL WE HAVE MORE” so keep things in context. After going through this crap of re-booting the D&D system 6 times I am use to what is happening. So no matter what they decide If I do not like it I have 4 other versions that plenty of people still play.

        There are a lot of people who love this game and it is hard to see it warp, change and possibly turn into something we do not recognize. No matter what, even if the game goes all the way to print, there will still be people who will say, “See, I told you it was crap.” Just because you think they are not listening to you, taking into consideration how much you love the game. Does not mean they are not trying to find a way to make a system that works.

        It just wont work the way you want it to. After all there are always other systems.

      • “That Mr Michel Lee is what was meant by “UNTIL WE HAVE MORE” so keep things in context. After going through this crap of re-booting the D&D system 6 times I am use to what is happening.”

        I don’t know if you are frustrated with me. This line suggests to me that you are. For what it’s worth, I’m not upset at you and I hear what you are saying.

        I think to a certain degree, we’re talking past each other. You’re trying to tell me that this is just the first step in a long process and that I should reserve my serious criticism for when we see something more complete. You also want me to consider that part of my distaste for Next might be rooted in a fear of change and my passion for 4e.

        Okay, fair enough.

        What I’m trying to say to you is that my concern, at least for the purposes of this post, isn’t with Next itself. It’s with what I perceive Mearls to be publicly expressing as his theories of game design. I can disagree with them independently of my feelings about Next. I’m more than aware that Next is in its infancy. In this case, however, I think Mearls’ approach to solving the LFQW problem is especially suspect. I can’t rememberever hearing a designer say the things that he said in that article. Perhaps I phrased my objections too harshly (that’s something I’ll consider), but I don’t think it was inappropriate to have the discussion.

  4. Not at all, the discussion is not inappropriate. The general reason I have some disdain for comments on the designers note on many blogs is that very ofter the critique provides very little in the way of alternatives. Though I never truly play any system “raw” I can understand quite a lot from the “intent” of the rules design process.

    You see a lot of innovation in the indie sector. This can not be disputed. However as they too go OGL which some already have, they can be integrated into a system that answers many concerns that players and DMs alike have. From GUMSHOE to Fate, new uses of older methods have given rise to new mechanics. But alas, soon we will run the course in the indie arena. There are only so many ways to develop combinations to provide ways to give workable mechanics to much of what you propose.

    Lets take for example your quandary that you open with…..the 5 minute work day.

    When taken at first this stems back to how D&D was developed and the origin in war games. That in essence is the 5 minute workday. Each side expends itself until defeat or victory is achieved. During combat which is the focus of many 5 minute workday debates, players forget everything else about why D&D was developed. Our original developers wanted to play the individuals on the field. In other words characters in the story.

    If a groups game focuses on combat as the main form of entertainment then sure. Players are going to feel they are out shined for the vary reasons you gave. Because the only reason to play is to fight monsters and take their stuff. As far as inflating the time between encounters…is that not the part where the main focus of role-playing is?

    For some of the DMs in our group we have taken to letting the party split up. Is it more dangerous, only sometimes. Even during this time, in a 5-6 player group, I can split my attention to allow up to 4 player to pursue their own endeavors. All while running combats in 3 out of 4 of those PCs efforts. Faster combat and allowing the players who are not present to act as “cheerleaders” for the character trying to advance the story of her/his character. This is all done by properly managing the time the DM spends with each character at the table. All the players have to agree that playing this way, short 5-8 min. segments is OK.

    If all you as a group are doing is fighting you do not need a new edition, nor do you need feats, skills or anything else. Strip out all of that and you are almost all the way back to a first edition character sheet.

    As to not offending any given segment of the fan base. That will happen no matter what. Those that are nay saying the game now for any number of reasons will probably be part of that crowd. In addition and this is not directed directly at you, those that shout the loudest now about the process will have a hard time convincing the rest of us that they are converts. The reason for this is because of your online presence. Either here or on any number of other sites. The past record of what people have said by the time the game comes out will stand as a base from where the rest of the fan base views “you”. I am reminded of all the posts I have seen on WotC “Next” forums where people declare that they “are out”, “this sucks”,” its trash” and my favorite “I can do better”.

    If that being the case and those people can design a game to, not only out do WotC and include Piazo, then by all means do so. Then you to will begin to understand how truly complicated this problem is.

    The best example it 13th AGE, if I got that name right. Even here though one of the developers was on the 4E team. Frankly I do not agree with how they have tied the character into the game world.

    Having other players turn to the wizard and give him grief about spell memorization is fun, sorry. Not every character should be on the same level. Sure, maybe they should have some way of leveling out the field of play but, if they do what I think they are going to do in the end, it will be the 4E players that get the short end of the stick. As I had stated before, unless your group plays the resource game with spell components, how else do you balance the character that could end your life in one blast of a death ray?

    BTW,
    Thanks for the civil discussion

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