Did you miss the biggest change of all?

The biggest change of all is not in a single class, spell, or rule. To detect the largest, most game effecting change, you will need to read the playtest packet in it's entirety. The most profound thing that D&D Next is offering us is giving power back to the DM.

There are multiple references to the fact that the rules presented are just guidelines to be used by the DM to run an effective and fun game. Finally, DM's have been given our power back to run a fun game without the rules getting in the way. This is the first edition of D&D that I have read since AD&D 2nd edition that has done this. While I read the playtest packet, I could see many opportunities for the rules to support and lend a hand in running the game, as opposed to some editions that seemed to really limit the choices available during play.

One of the complaints I have been reading in the forums is the fear that fighters are going to be boring now--that they have been relegated to swing and hit, swing and hit round after round. As opposed to 3rd edition and 4th edition where the fighter had more options outlined in the rules to perform specific combat actions. I disagree, and it's not just about the fighter, but what I think is a fundamental difference to how people approach rules and what the role of the game rules are and should be.

If you see the game and its rules as what gives you permission to perform an action in a game, then a rules light approach with the power in the DM's hands might seem boring and very limited. "What do you mean, all my fighter can do is swing his sword every round?"

However, if you feel as though you can do anything you want in the game, and are only limited by what the rules/dice/DM tell you are not possible, then all of a sudden the simplified core rules, are really opening the door to new possibilities.

Personally, I feel that the era of 1st and 2nd editions produced some of the best DM's that I've played with. Not because of the flexibility of the system (race and level limits anyone?) or it's ease of place (THAC0 wha?), but because of the fact that the rules didn't adjudicate every possible action, nor were they expected to. Often the DM had to figure it out, even if it meant just having the player roll a simple attribute check.

I'm excited that we can get the return of this core game philosophy back in D&D while also bringing in the more refined mechanics of 3rd - 4th edition. And if the game continues to develop in the fashion that the designers have publicly expressed is their intent, we should see some more layers of complexity that can optionally be added in for those that like such things. Even this concept of customizing the complexity of the game, again, gives so much power back to the DM.

I feel like a liberated colonist declaring sovereignty and forming our own system of government. And it's not a liberation from this edition or that. But a liberation from the idea that we need a rule to tell us what characters can and can't do withing the game world. No Waterdeep, we will not drink your tea!
Bend Bars Lift Gates Podcast: bblgcast.com The only podcast with 18/00 Strength
That kind of behaviour has been encouraged in every edition, even 4th. I can provide page numbers in multiple rule books and even premade adventures if you like. However, it is clear that there must have been something wrong with the way such advice was presented in 3e and 4e, because such a large portion of the players didn't percieve it as being there, despite its actual presence. Thus far, 5e seems to rectify that problem, probably by striping the rules system down so that the same amount of advice saying "these are guidelines, feel free to alter them as you see fit" is a much larger percentage of the presented material.
Page 42 of the 4e DMG (Of special note on Towel Day).

I used this all the time. We had rogues launching themselves off people to leap over walls of ice and do crazy things like catch missiles from the air with mageh and.

The only problem was people who couldn't see past all the powers. And sadly it got easier to just see 4e as a constraint ladened game where it really wasn't.

I think in some way the Role Players failed 4e, not the other way around.
 
That kind of behaviour has been encouraged in every edition, even 4th. I can provide page numbers in multiple rule books and even premade adventures if you like. However, it is clear that there must have been something wrong with the way such advice was presented in 3e and 4e, because such a large portion of the players didn't percieve it as being there, despite its actual presence. Thus far, 5e seems to rectify that problem, probably by striping the rules system down so that the same amount of advice saying "these are guidelines, feel free to alter them as you see fit" is a much larger percentage of the presented material.




I think you pretty much nail it here. I was never under the impression that the DM was strictly limited to the rules. My players all know that they can try or attempt almost anything they can imagine without regard for rules, because I will easily work a way for it to work in the game world (or what would need to be done or rolled). The books have always served as guidelines for how the game works. It's the DM's job to run the game, not the books or their rules.
That kind of behaviour has been encouraged in every edition, even 4th.


Absolutely. However, I think that the way a game reads and how the rules are presented definitely has an effect on how they are played by most groups. The presentation of the playtest material we've seen, and from designers comments thus far, seems to promote this behaviour more than other editions did in the past. In theory, that could all change based on our feed back and actual play.

Bend Bars Lift Gates Podcast: bblgcast.com The only podcast with 18/00 Strength
While I generally agree with waterfairy21's sentiment, I feel compelled to comment on the much maligned THAC0.  I recall THAC0 (To hit armor class 0) as a godsend.  It was a vast improvement over looking up your attacks on an attack table (ala 1e).  If a 14 hit AC 0, then a 10 hit AC 4, simple as pie.  It really was a simplification of the 1e attack table.  One number replaced the attack table!

Granted, 3e did that one better by turning AC into the target needed to hit and making a higher armor class be a better AC, but that is what we call progress...
Page 42 of the 4e DMG (Of special note on Towel Day).

I used this all the time. We had rogues launching themselves off people to leap over walls of ice and do crazy things like catch missiles from the air with mageh and.

The only problem was people who couldn't see past all the powers. And sadly it got easier to just see 4e as a constraint ladened game where it really wasn't.

I think in some way the Role Players failed 4e, not the other way around.
 


Agreed. Though I think this attitude shift started with 3e. Some rules interacted in some really wonky ways if you combined them just right, and it gave birth to a new breed of gamer: the rules lawyer. People became consumed with finding loopholes and ambiguities in the rules to exploit and make their characters more powerful, instead of actually roleplaying. I think that's where 4e's obsession with game balance came from as well, people started getting fed up with watching other players gain godlike power through sheer force of technicality and demanded a system that the rules lawyers couldn't abuse. I'm glad to see that we're finally starting to come back to an attitude of roleplaying being at least as important as gaming. 
I just wanted to point out that "guidelines" suck in RPGs.

Nobody takes them seriously.

What the GM needs isn't guidelines, but full-on "you will void the warranty if you remove this sticker" rules.  Sure, the GM can choose to disregard these rules, but it should then be clear that he can't blame the game for the result.

Now, by rules, I don't mean, "The GM can only place 5 monsters in this encounter".  That's dumb.  I mean stuff like, "Be upfront with the players", "Don't roll the dice if you aren't going to abide by the result", "Be a fan of the PCs".

Basically, yes, "guidelines", but without any of that wishy-washy "you can do whatever you want as the DM" nonsense.  Because you can't.  The DM can't do whatever he wants.  He's got a role and responsibilities, and he needs to address them to make the game work.

That's why nobody ever reads the DMG anymore.  It doesn't commit.
That kind of behaviour has been encouraged in every edition, even 4th.


Absolutely. However, I think that the way a game reads and how the rules are presented definitely has an effect on how they are played by most groups. The presentation of the playtest material we've seen, and from designers comments thus far, seems to promote this behaviour more than other editions did in the past. In theory, that could all change based on our feed back and actual play.


My sentiments exactly. Here's hoping the trend continues throughout the playtest process and makes it all the way to print.

I jsut generally don't care for the phrase "power to the DM" because while I know it's not the intention, it's very easy to misenterpret as "power away from the players" which of course isn't what we really want. I think a more accurate way to phrase it is "trust in the DM." When I play D&D, I fully expect the DM to bend the rules, sometimes in my favor, and sometimes to my dismay, but I trust that he/she does so in the interest of what's best for the game. And I expect the same from my players when I DM.
And some of the worst DMs I've ever gamed with came out of the A&D 1E/2E era. Games boiled down to playing "Mother-may-I" with the DM. You know, unless you were a spell-caster, because that gave you a work-around. "No, the spell says I can do this." Later editions  (3E and specifically 4E) gave the players the same ability, regardless of class. Nowhere did the rules say, "You can't do anything apart from what your feats/spells/powers say." Quite the opposite (I'm looking at you, pg.42 of the 4E DMG!) in fact. 

And you know what? The game was still playable. The biggest trap was, people starting relying on what their power cards said they could do, and stopped using their imagination to improvise. The fact that they didn't have to doesn't negate the fact that they could. What the game has to make clear is that you can, and should, do that crazy, improvised, imaginitve and cool stuff! 

Just don't make it the only way you can do cool things!
And some of the worst DMs I've ever gamed with came out of the A&D 1E/2E era. Games boiled down to playing "Mother-may-I" with the DM. You know, unless you were a spell-caster, because that gave you a work-around. "No, the spell says I can do this." Later editions  (3E and specifically 4E) gave the players the same ability, regardless of class. Nowhere did the rules say, "You can't do anything apart from what your feats/spells/powers say." Quite the opposite (I'm looking at you, pg.42 of the 4E DMG!) in fact. 

And you know what? The game was still playable. The biggest trap was, people starting relying on what their power cards said they could do, and stopped using their imagination to improvise. The fact that they didn't have to doesn't negate the fact that they could. What the game has to make clear is that you can, and should, do that crazy, improvised, imaginitve and cool stuff! 

Just don't make it the only way you can do cool things!


Undoubtedly. Though I find that a skilled DM brings the creativity out in players. Regardless of what the rules do or don't allow you to do, a game is made or broken by the DM. Which is precicely why it's so important that 5e continues to focus on giving DMs solid advice, while still leaving them feeling like it's ok to improvise, try new things, and bend, break, or completely disregard the published rules if it better serves the game. Similarly, players should be advised to trust that sometimes the DM has to make a call, and even if you don't agree with their judgment, remember that there's a lot about the adventure/campagin that the DM knows and you don't, and they probably have a good reason for making the call they did, even if it bends the rules.
In my mind any traditional pen and paper Role Playing Game is about a cooperative effort among all the participants. I think too often people worry about the "power" of the player, or the "power" of the DM. If this is an issue in any Role Playing Game, then someone is simply not getting into the spirit of the game.

As already pointed out both Players and DMs have roles to fill. The DM arbitrates how conflicts between player actions and the game world are resolved. This can be by using strict "rules as written" or by fickle DM fiat. Neither way is wrong as long as all of the participants are enjoying how the game is proceeding. If one way or another causes conflict among the game participants at the cost of their enjoyment of the experience, then something needs to be changed. Sometimes this is accomplished by adjusting the group expectations or dynamic, sometimes this is accomplished by "house rules", and sometimes a group simply has to break up and move on to a different environment suitable to their prefered play styles.

As a player who has played every edition of D&D since I started in 1978 I have found one simple truth, playing with people who want to create a fun experience for everyone is what is most important for a successful game. People who want to have their fun at everyone elses expense break up groups and games. It really does come down to this simple equation, and no amount of "RAW" vs. homebrew or DM vs. Player power balancing can fix that dilema.   

It really isn't about the rules, but about the people using them.


I hope this helps.
You can't just say that te past two editions were only restrictive because the dm let it be so. That's the Oberoni Fallacy.

When it gets to the point where the players are using the rules to stun lock my boss even if he saves, and getting mad enough to leave the game if I try and rectify it, there is a problem. The plethora of rules has created a sense of rules armor with some players. When a dm decides that something is too powerful or disrupts the game, and ends up being bound by the book. There's a problem.

It's not that this version is taking away rules, but the calls are more left to the dm rather than each instance being carefully explained and detailed. Hopefully this will let Dms tell the player no sometimes and not get a crapstorm of rules jammed up his nose.
My two copper.
The biggest change of all is not in a single class, spell, or rule. To detect the largest, most game effecting change, you will need to read the playtest packet in it's entirety. The most profound thing that D&D Next is offering us is giving power back to the DM.

There are multiple references to the fact that the rules presented are just guidelines to be used by the DM to run an effective and fun game. Finally, DM's have been given our power back to run a fun game without the rules getting in the way. This is the first edition of D&D that I have read since AD&D 2nd edition that has done this. While I read the playtest packet, I could see many opportunities for the rules to support and lend a hand in running the game, as opposed to some editions that seemed to really limit the choices available during play.

One of the complaints I have been reading in the forums is the fear that fighters are going to be boring now--that they have been relegated to swing and hit, swing and hit round after round. As opposed to 3rd edition and 4th edition where the fighter had more options outlined in the rules to perform specific combat actions. I disagree, and it's not just about the fighter, but what I think is a fundamental difference to how people approach rules and what the role of the game rules are and should be.

If you see the game and its rules as what gives you permission to perform an action in a game, then a rules light approach with the power in the DM's hands might seem boring and very limited. "What do you mean, all my fighter can do is swing his sword every round?"

However, if you feel as though you can do anything you want in the game, and are only limited by what the rules/dice/DM tell you are not possible, then all of a sudden the simplified core rules, are really opening the door to new possibilities.

Personally, I feel that the era of 1st and 2nd editions produced some of the best DM's that I've played with. Not because of the flexibility of the system (race and level limits anyone?) or it's ease of place (THAC0 wha?), but because of the fact that the rules didn't adjudicate every possible action, nor were they expected to. Often the DM had to figure it out, even if it meant just having the player roll a simple attribute check.

I'm excited that we can get the return of this core game philosophy back in D&D while also bringing in the more refined mechanics of 3rd - 4th edition. And if the game continues to develop in the fashion that the designers have publicly expressed is their intent, we should see some more layers of complexity that can optionally be added in for those that like such things. Even this concept of customizing the complexity of the game, again, gives so much power back to the DM.

I feel like a liberated colonist declaring sovereignty and forming our own system of government. And it's not a liberation from this edition or that. But a liberation from the idea that we need a rule to tell us what characters can and can't do withing the game world. No Waterdeep, we will not drink your tea!



a big +1

I never moved beyond 2e because I always felt the rules lawyers had finally become in charge of the game. 
So they gutted a whole bunch of rules from the system to get back to the place they were before they gutted them?  DM Power never left.  Rule Zero and Page 42 were present in 4E just like they always have been.  It is so mindbogglingly naive to think they ever went anywhere that I can't even come up with an analogy.


It isn't that they gave power to the DM, it is that they took away all of the power of the players.  And they still haven't given the DM power, they have chained them with the responsibility of adjudicating things that used to have systems in place so they didn't have to (but still could if they WANTED to).  Yay Progress!...
So they gutted a whole bunch of rules from the system to get back to the place they were before they gutted them?  DM Power never left.  Rule Zero and Page 42 were present in 4E just like they always have been.  It is so mindbogglingly naive to think they ever went anywhere that I can't even come up with an analogy.


It isn't that they gave power to the DM, it is that they took away all of the power of the players.  And they still haven't given the DM power, they have chained them with the responsibility of adjudicating things that used to have systems in place so they didn't have to (but still could if they WANTED to).  Yay Progress!...


It's really not a matter of one party or the other having power. Its a matter of explicitly asking everyone involved to come into the game with the expectation that there are rules there if you want them, but if all they're getting in your way and making your game less fun, just throw them out the window. To me, that means that as a player I trust the DM to make the right call, even if I don't agree with him/her, and as a DM I do my best to accommodate the players desires and gaming styles, and to accept the responsibility of being the final say on rules calls. It may mean something very different to someone else, but as long as everyone can agree that any rule that causes more argumetns than enjoyment is no rule worth using.

Anyway, the only reason this looks like we're right back where we started is because its the foundation that the rest of the rules modules will be based on, just like OD&D was the foundation that all of the subsequent editions were built on. We have to make sure the foundation is solid before we start working on the attic. 
Page 42 of the 4e DMG (Of special note on Towel Day).

I used this all the time. We had rogues launching themselves off people to leap over walls of ice and do crazy things like catch missiles from the air with mageh and.

The only problem was people who couldn't see past all the powers. And sadly it got easier to just see 4e as a constraint ladened game where it really wasn't.

I think in some way the Role Players failed 4e, not the other way around.
 



4e was always a heavily constrained game. I can't go through my old 4e books, because I gave'em away after a year of trying to like the game—but it was always explicit that a power did what it said it did, and nothing more. The nature of the power also tailored the sytem toward restriction. Would you just let any character knock someone down with an attack? Well then you just punished the fighter who used one of his options to take whatever power did that. Also, if one character had an encounter power that let you do some sort of maneuver—perhaps disarming an opponent—would it have been fair to let another character do that with a check?

The role players didn't fail 4e, they just moved on to greener pastures.

I, for one, am glad to see such DM empowerment in the playtest packet. It allows good DMs to shine. I understand some DMs will have trouble with this sort of game. Many of those DMs will getter better with experiance, and the others will play something else. 
The biggest change of all is not in a single class, spell, or rule. To detect the largest, most game effecting change, you will need to read the playtest packet in it's entirety. The most profound thing that D&D Next is offering us is giving power back to the DM.

There are multiple references to the fact that the rules presented are just guidelines to be used by the DM to run an effective and fun game. Finally, DM's have been given our power back to run a fun game without the rules getting in the way. This is the first edition of D&D that I have read since AD&D 2nd edition that has done this. While I read the playtest packet, I could see many opportunities for the rules to support and lend a hand in running the game, as opposed to some editions that seemed to really limit the choices available during play.

One of the complaints I have been reading in the forums is the fear that fighters are going to be boring now--that they have been relegated to swing and hit, swing and hit round after round. As opposed to 3rd edition and 4th edition where the fighter had more options outlined in the rules to perform specific combat actions. I disagree, and it's not just about the fighter, but what I think is a fundamental difference to how people approach rules and what the role of the game rules are and should be.

If you see the game and its rules as what gives you permission to perform an action in a game, then a rules light approach with the power in the DM's hands might seem boring and very limited. "What do you mean, all my fighter can do is swing his sword every round?"

However, if you feel as though you can do anything you want in the game, and are only limited by what the rules/dice/DM tell you are not possible, then all of a sudden the simplified core rules, are really opening the door to new possibilities.

Personally, I feel that the era of 1st and 2nd editions produced some of the best DM's that I've played with. Not because of the flexibility of the system (race and level limits anyone?) or it's ease of place (THAC0 wha?), but because of the fact that the rules didn't adjudicate every possible action, nor were they expected to. Often the DM had to figure it out, even if it meant just having the player roll a simple attribute check.

I'm excited that we can get the return of this core game philosophy back in D&D while also bringing in the more refined mechanics of 3rd - 4th edition. And if the game continues to develop in the fashion that the designers have publicly expressed is their intent, we should see some more layers of complexity that can optionally be added in for those that like such things. Even this concept of customizing the complexity of the game, again, gives so much power back to the DM.

I feel like a liberated colonist declaring sovereignty and forming our own system of government. And it's not a liberation from this edition or that. But a liberation from the idea that we need a rule to tell us what characters can and can't do withing the game world. No Waterdeep, we will not drink your tea!



Woo Hoo go **** DMs that will kill their player's characters for uttering the wrong line at the wrong time. Yay for nice DMs that will let their player's win every thing they attempt. Boo to the DMs that like a neutral adjudication system that took pressure off of them and put it on the dice and rules mechanics...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
I like the power given back to the DMs.

There is just one issue I always had.

ADVICE AND GUIDELINES

1) Uniformity.

Some DMs do this. Others do that. In order for the character to be made according to the player's vision, he must ask his DM a host of questions. If not, there can be many issuses. And even with question asked, issues can appear.

Suppose I want to make my fighter trip the orc.

DM1: Str attack vs AC. Success means orc falls prone but takes no damage.
DM2: Dex attack vs AC. Success means orc falls prone and takes 1d6 falling damage.
DM3: Int vs Dex contest. Success means orc falls prone but takes no damage. Failure mean, my fighter falls.
DM4: Dex vs Str contest. Fighter get disadvantage. Success means orc falls prone and takes 1d6 falling damage.
DM5: Dex attack vs AC. Fighter gets disadvantage. Success means orc falls prone and takes 1d6 falling damage.
DM6: Orc make a Str save versus my fighters Str score. Failur for the orc means orc falls prone and takes 1d6 falling damage.
DM7: Dex attack vs AC. Success means orc makes a Str save vs the figther's Str score. Failure of the orc means falls prone and takes 1d6 falling damage.
DM8: Dex attack vs AC. Success means orc falls prone and takes 1d6 falling damage. Once per day.

Rules at least know what I am most likely in for. A DM can change it obviously but most wont as long as the rule doesn't stink.

2) Situationalism

You can't swing from chandeliers outdoors. You can't chuck barrels in a fight that breaks out at the ball.

Heavy reliance on DM Fiat forces DMs to place the tools for it everywhere. Every fight needs dificult terrian, random objects to kick or throw, hazards and pit to shove people in (What's the rules for shoving again? Oh yeah, gotta make one up), vines and ropes to swing over, tables to hop on or over etc etc etc.

You can't just have a fight in a field. The fighter and rogue need a rock to stunt off of.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!


4e was always a heavily constrained game. I can't go through my old 4e books, because I gave'em away after a year of trying to like the game—but it was always explicit that a power did what it said it did, and nothing more. 


I am all for DM empowerment, but this is factually inaccurate and therefore needs to be corrected. Powers had a set of specific mechanical effects, exactly like spells have always had. They also had short one or two sentence descriptions that were meant to be examples of what the power could look like in game, but ultimately it was up to the player to decide the specific details of his or her own action, just like actions have always worked. There was also absolutely no reason that the DM couldn't make fiat calls on powers. As an example, in my first 4e campaign, I was playing a warlock, and my buddy was playing a dragonborn paladin. Dragonborns have an encounter power that allows them to breathe fire. I had a warlock spell (I think it was encounter as well) that allowed me to create an area of difficult terrain due to it being covered in ice. Rather than just using the powers as described verbatim, we decided to get creative. I used my spell to freeze a bridge. He then used his firebreathing power to cause the bridge to shatter due to stress from the rapid and extreme temperature shift. Just because the powers weren't described in lengthy prose with language open to widely varying interpretation didn't mean the laws of physics ceased to function.

Powers did reward lazy players by giving them something to say "I use this." and let it happen instead of crafting the action entirely on their own, but to say that they explicitly did what they said they did and nothing more is untrue.
Sign In to post comments