Dragon 389 - Ampersand: Dungeons & Dragons Essentials Are Coming!

23 posts / 0 new
Last post



Dragon 389
Ampersand: Dungeons & Dragons Essentials Are Coming!

by Bill Slavicsek

Gencon, Dark Sun and Essentials! It's going to be an exciting, D&D-filled summer!

Talk about this Article here.

389_ampersand_1.jpg



AsmodeusLore D&D Insider News Guide Follow Me


D&D Home Page - What Class Are You? - Build A Character - D&D Compendium

(No, the lack of the Insider logo is not a mistake; it is a mistake on the calendar and the article itself, though.)

This month, Ampersand is free to EVERYONE from the get-go!  That's because Bill is discussing a hugely important topic for the direction of the Dungeons & Dragons game:  D&D Essentials!

In additions, it's Appreciate Your Dungeon Master month; Gen Con is coming up; and the Nentir Vale novels – set in the Core D&D Points of Light world in the 4e PHs and DMGs, debut starting next month!  Check them out here.

Also, Castle Ravenloft and Dark Sun come in next month, and Bill has interesting things to say about them too: in addition to showing off the Gladiator Theme! 

Finally, Bill will be returning to talk more about Essentials next week, Mike Mearls will talk about them as well, and Bill will show us some of the Heroes of Fallen Lands

Before posting, why not ask yourself, What Would Wrecan Say?

IMAGE(http://images.onesite.com/community.wizards.com/user/marandahir/thumb/9ac5d970f3a59330212c73baffe4c556.png?v=90000)

A great man once said "If WotC put out boxes full of free money there'd still be people complaining about how it's folded." – Boraxe

Most of the stuff looks neat. However, I am a little surprised in the Abyssal Plague idea. It seemed the concept of 4e worlds and the redo of the realms was to not have big RSE pushing the world story forward in novels.

As always it can be ignored (as I did with the Realms RSE's of old). Also maybe they will keep the authors in a less world shattering mind set for the novels (like the old Harper books).
The Abyssal Plague idea is intriguing. I like the idea of a game-wide event. I hope people use it. It goes into LFR, I guess?
Shaman: "Why doesn't the squirrel shoot the wizard?" DM: "Because the last squirrel who tried to shoot the wizard missed, then was pulled out of his tree and incinerated." Wizard: "He has a point."
I definitely like the idea of simpler powers.

When I look at what the Char Op people rate highly, I basically see powers that do five things:

1) Do more damage than other powers of the same level (which might be done by any of the other four things I am going to talk about)

2) Break action economy (allow multiattacks on a single target, immediate interrupts, immediate reactions, or minor actions to attack)

3) Do automatic damage for an encounter (zones, Flaming Sphere, and Rain of Steel come to mind)

4) Deprive monsters of actions (daze, stun, dominate, constant knocking prone, or significant encounter-long pulls, like Visions of Avarice)

5) Significantly increase the odds of hitting.

If these are all the good powers, do we really need powers more complicated than that?    
I'm confused.

First of all, the premise looks a lot like the Portals sets from M:tG.  Conditions?  Too complicated (though it then goes ahead and has Smite Undead immobilize).  There are also now "simple" classes--I'm guessing there won't be any classes more complicated than what's already out there.

Looks like the new races (or new versions of old races) will have the PHB3-esque choice of stats (which is odd, given the move toward simplicity).

Even more built-in "flavor" to the core setting.

So fighters can now be slayers or knights--does that mean that old fighters will be at a disadvantage compared with those that had the option of being a slayer or knight?  Or do they lose something (perhaps the complex mechanics of Combat Challenge and Combat Superiority/Agility)?

The claim is that you won't have to "buy new books and abandon your old ones."  But perhaps you'll just have to buy new ones and keep using your old ones, too?

The Warpriest is introduced as a new cleric "subtype"--but it's really different from existing clerics.  Heavy shield proficiency, +1 Fort, +1 Will instead of +2 Will, and new features as they gain levels.  I'd certainly like heavy shields for my cleric characters--though it seems they may lose Healer's Lore and Ritual Casting (though they can seemingly cast Raise Dead at 8th level anyway).  Smite Undead is also flatly worse than Turn Undead.

So, we'll see.  I'm still concerned, though.

"Edison didn't succeed the first time he invented Benjamin Franklin, either." Albert the Alligator, Walt Kelly's Pogo Sunday Book  
The Core Coliseum: test out your 4e builds and fight to the death.

But perhaps you'll just have to buy new ones and keep using your old ones, too?

I don't have to do anything. I've got 2 PHBs (I may eventually buy PHB3) worth of classes with 4 Power books to extend those options (I may eventually buy Martial Power 2), along with many monster books. If I didn't buy another D&D book for the rest of my life I could still tell 10 campaigns worth of adventures (yes, I've got enough ideas for 10 campaigns!). Wizards of the Coast has given me sufficient tools in order to roleplay in person with friends.

which is odd, given the move toward simplicity

Nothing about D&D Essentials looks simpler to me. The cleric actually looks much more complicated. Much more of a 3.5e class then a nice, simple 4th ed one. Given how much closer to 3rd ed these classes look, I'm calling this 4.5e. Until now I've allowed WotC to continue the illusion that D&D Essentials wasn't a reboot. But these more complicated classes are definitely a reboot.

And so I'm more than happy to either continue without further WotC support. I went to tell a die hard 3rd edition friend I know about 4.5e because I thought he might enjoy the move back towards 3rd edition. However he simply sarcastically remarked "so glad I invested so much in this edition" and left it at that. That's the difference between me and him. He cares about the future of D&D. I don't. I've always remarked "all I care is if I have enough people who like it to play with."

That said, I'm not hostile towards the changes. If it truly is compatible with 4th ed (I'll be extremely surprised if it is) then I get to experience the best of both worlds. I can continue making characters with the existing books, and my friends can use the newer books if they so desire (myself, I have yet to play a Cleric, Ranger, Rogue, Warlock, Warlord, Avenger, Bard, Invoker or a Sorcerer for any extended period of time, let alone the various builds for each of these classes, so I'm happy to keep on with the books I already own).

The only issue will be if its incompatible with 4th ed. Then we'll have to decide as a group how to continue. Either we play with a disparity in power between characters, or we keep with one edition. Given how 4.5e isn't building on PHB2 classes yet, I'd say until they do so we'll at the very least stick with our 4th ed characters. Our parties have too many options from PHB2 to be able to abandon it wholesale.

If they do eventually re-release all of the PHB2 classes and races then at most I'll buy whichever books have Shaman, Warden and Assassin as those are really the only longterm characters I have that would need to be edited for 4.5e. And this is assuming 4.5e and 4th ed aren't compatible.
From the article:

The player character classes presented in Heroes of the Fallen Lands and Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms were designed after reviewing two years of game play.



How can this be, when the game changes every month via updates?
Rule Zero: Save vs. Hivemind http://rulezeroblog.wordpress.com
Looks like I'll be speaking for a quiet minority today, considering all the hate I'm reading so far about this change.

I like the way they are updating things, and it looks as if they are putting enough dedication to keeping the old way the classes play in check.  I will say I'm curious to see what is lost in exchange for new abilities at 4, 8, etc....

If it is only ritual casting and healer's lore, it might be a bit much; but if there's something else you lose in exchange for playing a warpriest, then I could see choosing either that or the original cleric as presented in the PH. *EDIT* Duh, they lose daily powers in exchange for these things.  Okay, that's enough reason for me to consider playing either.

And yay, sounds like we're getting our optional 3rd stat afterall.  Until I see more, I will still believe them when they tell us it's not 4.5e.
[...]I will say I'm curious to see what is lost in exchange for new abilities at 4, 8, etc.... If it is only ritual casting and healer's lore, it might be a bit much; but if there's something else you lose in exchange for playing a warpriest, then I could see choosing either that or the original cleric as presented in the PH. *EDIT* Duh, they lose daily powers in exchange for these things.  Okay, that's enough reason for me to consider playing either.

No, 4th and 8th are "dead levels". You only get feats and attribute increases at these levels normally. Boring. Warpriests get a couple rituals. That's way more exciting than "-". It's stapled on... there doesn't appear to be any exchange.

(I bet the shield proficiencies are "errata" too. There is no reason for clerics to not have 'em.)
D&DNext: HTFU Edition
What it looks to me like is this:

You trade away some of your powers and class features to have more class features as you go.

If you want this, go with the Essentials class version.  If you want more powers and fewer class features, go with the Player's Handbook class version.  New classes after Essentials are probably going to have more class features as you go than more powers as you go.  That's the difference, it seems.

Before posting, why not ask yourself, What Would Wrecan Say?

IMAGE(http://images.onesite.com/community.wizards.com/user/marandahir/thumb/9ac5d970f3a59330212c73baffe4c556.png?v=90000)

A great man once said "If WotC put out boxes full of free money there'd still be people complaining about how it's folded." – Boraxe

How will this effect DDI?

I’ll explain a little better. I personally like DDI and all it entails. I don’t mind paying the fee for it, because ultimately I see it as a tool that brings all your release material into one convenient location and we all know that you will always release as much material as possible, but said material can become overwhelming as far as searching for data goes. DDI makes locating, and utilizing, all these various “choices” simple. What if “Essentials” makes a lot of changes to the already established core mechanic of 4e that I don’t like? Well, I as a consumer can simply use my already purchased pre-essentials 4e material and continue life as normal. Now utilize the same “what if”, and apply that to the electronic form of DDI. Will your “essentials” overwrite my desire to stay a 4e purist?

So, my question, “Is Wizards going to force “Essentials” on us in its electronic market or will it be a rule set (for better use of a word) that we can toggle on and off?” For example, in the character creator, we can toggle certain content on and off that we deem not useable in our worlds.
No… I think if you look up Cleric in the D&Di Compendium, it'll list next to Cleric and Hybrd Cleric the Warpriest Cleric or Essentials Cleric.  But their Power list will all be the same list. 

It won't be like the Cleric section of the D&Di Compendium will be overwritten with the Essentials Cleric.  Both will be there.

Before posting, why not ask yourself, What Would Wrecan Say?

IMAGE(http://images.onesite.com/community.wizards.com/user/marandahir/thumb/9ac5d970f3a59330212c73baffe4c556.png?v=90000)

A great man once said "If WotC put out boxes full of free money there'd still be people complaining about how it's folded." – Boraxe

Just wanted to point out that the Cleric article links to this thread when you click "Discuss" but actually this thread is about a different article.  The Cleric article now has its own thread in this forum, but it's not linked correctly.
Neither is the Seeker article.  They need to update the Discuss button AFTER the discussion is created, which is difficult because the article is made first, and then the discussion by someone like AsmodeusLore or myself.

Before posting, why not ask yourself, What Would Wrecan Say?

IMAGE(http://images.onesite.com/community.wizards.com/user/marandahir/thumb/9ac5d970f3a59330212c73baffe4c556.png?v=90000)

A great man once said "If WotC put out boxes full of free money there'd still be people complaining about how it's folded." – Boraxe

I can't believe I've been suckered by WotC into believing they'd never do a ".5" edition again. This is incredibly insulting.

It's becoming so that D&D has a much shorter lifespan than even video games. I'm sick and tired of this.
I can't believe I've been suckered by WotC into believing they'd never do a ".5" edition again. This is incredibly insulting.

It's becoming so that D&D has a much shorter lifespan than even video games. I'm sick and tired of this.

Hmm more negetive than positive.

SO far I am impressed with what little I see but I also am wary.


Will the Essential powers and such be compatable with my current 4th editon character's as claimed?

Will I be able to pick from both versions.

If this turns out just to be basically more options and not a 4.5 I will love it!

So far my group of players with thousands of dollars of books are really wary and a few are ticked off about it the changes they have seen. That player plays a cleric.   
Why is this a .5 change?

When 2nd edition came out with Skills & Powers, a completely different way to do things, (remember splitting up the 6 stats into 12), it was just an option of a way to play.
Even D&D became AD&D.
Things change. Deal with it.
But in reality this isn't a change, it's an addition. Something different. And something you don't have to get behind if you don't want to.
Viva La "what ever version of D&D you are playing right now!"

If this turns out just to be basically more options and not a 4.5 I will love it!



It is.  Essentials is more analogous to 3e's Unearthed Arcana and parts of the PH2; different builds and different progressions, but they don't invalidate anything in previous books.  You can use a PHB-base fighter alongside an Essentials-base fighter just fine.

Ignore the Chickens Little of the forums like Fishpro there.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Why is this a .5 change?

115 pages of errata.  The change from 3.0 to 3.5 was only roughly 65 pages.

And something you don't have to get behind if you don't want to.

By that logic, we should all still be playing out of the red box.  New products are necessary for the game to survive.

Rule Zero: Save vs. Hivemind http://rulezeroblog.wordpress.com
Why is this a .5 change?

115 pages of errata.  The change from 3.0 to 3.5 was only roughly 65 pages.



So, assuming you are referring to existing errata - you're aware that:

1) The current errata is formatted in a fashion that takes up a lot of space, due to both giving the specific errata, an explanation for it, and a complete reprinting of the item being changed, all in a relatively open fashion for readability;
2) A good chunk of the errata simply involves fixing typos or other minor errors in the text;
3) Most of the updates are to feats or powers, and overall affect a fraction of such items in the game, on the order of maybe 3-5% of such things, or more likely 2-3% on the assumption about half the changes are no more than fixing typos;
4) And of the major changes that have been made in the errata, Stealth is the only one standing out with any real significance, along with a handful of other rules that were mostly just adjusted to how people played them anyway. Perhaps Skill Challenge DCs and some guidelines on monster damage as well...

...but even those, when compared to the sweeping changes between 3.0 and 3.5, and the need to actually buy new books and stop using the old ones, certainly indicates to me that there is nothing to indicate the current situation is anything resembling a transition to "4.5".
By that logic, we should all still be playing out of the red box.  New products are necessary for the game to survive.



Sure. Which is why, once the 10 product line of Essentials is complete (a duration of a number of months), the following products will be ones designed based on elements out of the PHB, not based on Essentials. Essentials isn't aimed at existing players - if they like it, great! But it is aimed at new players, and there will be more products for the existing crowd once the Essentials line has gotten its moment in the spotlight.

Regarding the number of pages of errata ..


The bulk of it is because the designers ARE EXPLAINING WHY the errata is necessary.

I really really really appreciate these explanations!



Another reason for the bulk is, the errata often offers the entire sections of texts and tables where the erratum can be found, so it can be seen in context.

I really really really appreciate the extra clarity!



The errata itself constitutes only a portion of the number of pages.



Finally, most of the errata is to resolve obscure scenarios, and causes no meaningful changes for most players. Of the few errata that does finetune common scenarios, the majority of players support the update.



In sum, most of the errata clarifies the gaming system, and doesnt change the gaming system.