Why D&D Next Would be Great Modular System

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After my first session with my D&D group, I found the rules bare enough to leave breathing room and flexibility for interpretation. It didn't make the game feel templated and allowed it to be geared more towards imaginative play which is the very point of D&D opposed to most video games and their "Button Mash" mentality. This is where 4E fumbled IMHO. Now, even though the rules are still being modified as we speak and things were a bit more streamlined, it provided rules that had a lot of fundamental thinking built into them. No longer did my players have to become huge number crunching machines, they now just did what they did and allowed the few simple core flexible rules to take over. You can cover a LOT of ground with the advantage/disadvantage system. You cut out a lot of specificity that a lot of the later games seemed to creep into their books. Why do I need a rule for a set number of situations when a simple rule can cover an infinite number of situations?

The point here is by streamlining the rules into a few simple, abstract, and broad reaching sets, we accomplish very base ideas in the game while leaving mental room for the DM to add his own twists to the game. It isn't "check your sneak, add the points, half your level, blah blah blah" but simply do a check with your stat and add some bonuses. This takes away the very specific layout of skills and leaves it abstract so as to open more possibilities. What if this was a world where magical hacking was possible? or a number of other things.

I think the point I am getting at with these new rules are they provide a nice broad base that doesn't try to attach themselves to any set of ideals in the gaming world, keep the players from rule tunnel vision, and leaves room for DM additions to the game.  

I think it would be great for players/DM's to be able to contribute modular rules on top of the base rules. Sort of a pluggable system. Need a system for how to deal with forging elemental weapons? look to a section in the community for that or build it yourself. Need a system for dealing with managing a town? Again, look to the community or contribute yourself. 

I hope I am articulating myself properly. If not, I will try my best to elaborate. 
I totally agree.
I have read some complaints on this forum about things (combat especially for fighters being to simple ) but the thing is that this is only the foundation. This is the bare skeleton with which a body can be built on top of.
Yes its very lean. But thats great because it stil works and that means plugging "modules" on top of it will not break that very elegant skeleton. 

At this point in the play test we're only testing this skeleton and there are far too many people whining about stuff that isn't even being addressed yet!

 
Exactly. This is a problem with the gaming community as is what is currently creating a schism among players with regards to editions. The problem arises when the rule sets become too specific in their base. The current skeleton that D&D Next has so far is simple and elegant IMHO. It provides a lot of flexibility and adaptability to further add group specific rules on top of them by a community of players/DM's or the players/DM's within the group itself.

By doing it this way, you provide "enough" of a base to allow extendability of rules by the consumers of the game themselves and the base itself so far seems to cover a lot of ground and is abstract enough and maleable enough to meet the needs of almost any D&D situation.

This is how most elegant systems work. You provide an abstract system with tools that the rule set provides, and then extend upon that system with specifics to tailor said groups needs. This happens even in software development. A great base with good tools allows a system that can have many uses and be compatible with many other systems. 
Would love to hear many of the thread viewers opinions on this
You're surely very optimistic, I hope you're right... and fear you're wrong...

For know I can see only a skeleton and not a pretty one...
No more vancian. No "edition war" for me, thank'you.


You're surely very optimistic, I hope you're right... and fear you're wrong...

For know I can see only a skeleton and not a pretty one...




TBH, if I find that the final draft of 5E doesn't work for me, ill stick with playtest rules. My group seems to love it so far and I will definitely post any core rule issues when I find them.

The thing you have to ask yourself is... if a core rule doesn't fit your need, can it be extended or built upon? If so, this really isn't a rule problem but a game specific problem. If it can't be extended/built upon easily or it just feels clunky then it probably is a core rule problem. So far, haven't run into many problems.
This most definately is just the beginning of a "layering on" process.  At the very least, they will add on more tactical options for groups that want to run the game with miniatures and battlemats or tiles.  That will do a lot to satisfy the 4e fans, and it will give each DM more options so that if the group wants to do some combats on mat, some in the mind, it can be done.

They have admitted that they are still futzing with hitpoints and I'm sure monsters and character building has really just begun.  

What I like so far is that so many playtest groups already feel that there are a number of very positive aspects in this simple core.  Universally people seem to like the speed of play and the fluidity.  Yes, some players and groups want more direction with improvised actions or a list of possible actions that may help newer players (in combat and non-combat situations), but that can be developed quite easily.

I am very optimistic, and happy to be part of this process.   I have played all versions of D&D from basic to 4e (I started in 70s as a teen), and I am liking how this version is trying to make it feel like D&D, but also include what people like from all of the versions.  

 

A Brave Knight of WTF

I'm firmly with you on this one. These are just the bare bones and I like what I see so far. The simpler skill system and checks makes sense to me. There is a point when using 3.5, 4e, and other d20 systems when the high DCs and skill bonuses become ridiculous. 
DM:"Your DC to swing over the ravine only holding on by your toes then do a double back flip and land on the Orc's shoulders is 30."
Player: "Ok, my Acrobatics bonus is a total +18..."

 
I'm firmly with you on this one. These are just the bare bones and I like what I see so far. The simpler skill system and checks makes sense to me. There is a point when using 3.5, 4e, and other d20 systems when the high DCs and skill bonuses become ridiculous. 
DM:"Your DC to swing over the ravine only holding on by your toes then do a double back flip and land on the Orc's shoulders is 30."
Player: "Ok, my Acrobatics bonus is a total +18..."

 



Yes. This is what they attempted to fix in 4E but did it poorly. They tried to fix the speed and complexity issue by templating abilities and having hard set skills/powers/etc. This took a lot of the power out of D&D and made it more of a miniature war game with light role playing elements. Now that they are (hopefully) keeping a slim backbone of rules that players/DM's can build upon, they can avoid arbitrary sets of data that would otherwise require an even bigger nesting of rules to explain. The motto is KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). If we keep the tools and rules for the game slim but powerful, we provide the scaffolding for the DM/Players/and the community to build great optional supplement rules and content for the game. 
I totally agree.
I have read some complaints on this forum about things (combat especially for fighters being to simple ) but the thing is that this is only the foundation. This is the bare skeleton with which a body can be built on top of.
Yes its very lean. But thats great because it stil works and that means plugging "modules" on top of it will not break that very elegant skeleton. 

At this point in the play test we're only testing this skeleton and there are far too many people whining about stuff that isn't even being addressed yet!

 

If this is only the bare bones, and fighters are too simple, then mages and clerics and rogues, should also be too simple.

If however, the mages and clerics and rogues are not going to be simplified, then the fighters need to be made less simple as well. 
Some of the current rules can (and probably should) be stripped out, and instead presented as a handfull of "plug-in" options for that rule that any given group can pick and plug in.


  • The current "long rest" could be stripped out, and then presented as one of several Long-Rest systems.

  • There is an obvious "system hook" where AoOs should be, so give us several options to stick there.

  • It's already been suggesed that Vancian will only be one option among many for spellcasters.


The appropriate model for soing so has existed since the 1980s.  Just look at all of the stat-gen options in the 2E books: "Here's several ways to do this.  Your table needs to agree on one."
 If we keep the tools and rules for the game slim but powerful, we provide the scaffolding for the DM/Players/and the community to build great optional supplement rules and content for the game. 



This was one of my problems with 2ed.  There were so many suppliments, and many of them were not balanced with the rest of the game. (see The Complete Book of Humanoids )  It also made situations arise where you had to buy specific books for your race or class,  which meant that players would often come to the table with books the DM never saw before.  It made it quite a mess and a bit unfun.

Modular is nice, but fragmented, uncoordinated published materials are not.  This problem gets amplified on the internet.
 If we keep the tools and rules for the game slim but powerful, we provide the scaffolding for the DM/Players/and the community to build great optional supplement rules and content for the game. 



This was one of my problems with 2ed.  There were so many suppliments, and many of them were not balanced with the rest of the game. (see The Complete Book of Humanoids )  It also made situations arise where you had to buy specific books for your race or class,  which meant that players would often come to the table with books the DM never saw before.  It made it quite a mess and a bit unfun.

Modular is nice, but fragmented, uncoordinated published materials are not.  This problem gets amplified on the internet.



Sure, but every DM has to have a bit of common sense when applying these to their own games. We can't be lazy DM's and overlook how we are building our games. We choose the role of DM because we love building worlds, adding fun to the game, etc. We have full control over the flow of the game for better or for worse. If we think a supplement, official or homebrew, is off by a bit, we modify it to suit what we believe to be how it fits in our game/world.
Ideally there is control. In reality there is social pressures, player needs, dm needs, expectations when you purchase new books, online play, convention play etc.
They have to build the underlying framework of the game first. This is the bare bones game to establish the core mechanics.

And to me, the core mechanics look pretty sound. All the detail will come later. Bear in mind the purpose of the playtest.
I'd like to hear a DM say "Hey I'm running D&D this weekend, want to join?" Without him handing me a 15 page document explaining which modules he is/isn't using, and which houserules he's adding etc.. I'd like to play D&D, not a build your own system cookbook. It works for longstanding gamers, because they will have their rules, and know each others style. But D&D this way is going to be as definitive (or less so) than d20 system.
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So you want all D&D campaigns to be exactly the same, and follow exactly the same rules? OK, that's fine, but lots of people don't. They want the rules to follow the assumptions of the campaign world. Dragonlance, Birthright, Dark Sun, even the Forgotten Realms to some extent all follow house rules.

And I notice in your signature you have a link to "Our House Rules" which somewhat blows your comment out of the water.
So you want all D&D campaigns to be exactly the same, and follow exactly the same rules? OK, that's fine, but lots of people don't. They want the rules to follow the assumptions of the campaign world. Dragonlance, Birthright, Dark Sun, even the Forgotten Realms to some extent all follow house rules.

And I notice in your signature you have a link to "Our House Rules" which somewhat blows your comment out of the water.

Why does it have to be all or nothing?  Can't you be happy with  modules which are part of the main rules?

Modular is nice, but fragmented, uncoordinated published materials are not.  This problem gets amplified on the internet.



Honestly every edition of DnD has had this problem.  They need to develop a strong baseline and keep everything published well coordinated.

I don't mind a ton of different options.  What I do mind is the power creep that every edition gets into.  They have said they plan to prevent this and I'm optimistic that if they are planning it pre-release, they'll actually do it.
Please collect and update the DND Next Community Wiki Page with your ideas and suggestions!
Take a look at my clarified ability scores And also my Houserules relevent to DNDNext
The option to purchase new modules in .pdf format might be a nice, convenient way to keep player's up to date. Being based in China means I can't just go to my local hobby store and pick up the books, and the cost of shipping on top of the already steep cost of manuals means it becomes impossible to get every new title as it comes out.

I realise this makes it 'easier' for people to upload pdf's to the web, but given I could go to any torrent engine right now and download every D&D title ever printed - I don't think it's something any publisher of a mass market game really should factor in. 
I never said that it had to be all or nothing but they can provide a streamlined version of the rules and build "Options" on top of them for those that are a bit more in need of prebuild rules/content. This will please both crowds. Not only the group that loves the slim feel and the room to abstract what he wants from a base rule backbone but those that want tons of rules for many different situations by having the "options" to look at. This, IMHO, is the only way we will see both parties happy. Provide a base, provide options for that base, and then release supplements/allow the community to build homebrew options on top of them.

You WON'T find a system that has either or that will fit either side of the fences needs. 2E was too bare for most 4E players and 4E was too heavy/templated for most 2E players. We need a system that adds bare-ness and extendability without mucking it up with already attached rules piled on top to appease the rule-mongers. We need optional rules added to the bare ruleset. This way you can stack the rules optionally for those who need them. Also, bare bones rules would allow the rules to fit alongside other adventures from other roleplaying games.

Visually... you would have

[Optional rules built from bare bones rules] (Most 4E/3.5E)
                                      ^
[Bare-Bones Rules to build from] (Most old school and 2E)
Shameless Bump
I completely agree with the OP. This will be an amazing sytem as long as they keep thier promises by this I mean the following.....



player 1) Plays basic Fighter with Slayer theme straight out of the playtest

Player 2) Plays Fighter with guardian them that gave up one of his fighters action upgrades for some powers ala 4e (Which like or not or going to have to be dailys to keep the game balanced)


Player 3) Plays a Cleric built from the ground up, she made her own Background (so she chose 3 skills to master and the DM gave her Background benefit of sorts) She made her own theme and chose a feat that goes with that theme. She chose what god to worship, and she chose her spells.

Player 4) Plays a Rogue with the Caster theme so he can pew pew magic missles, but kept the Thief schema so he can mage hand those locks.



And every single one of them is just as effective IN WHAT THEY CHOOSE TO BE EFFECTIVE AT. Not neccissarily combat or skills or exploration or whatever. But whatever it is they want to be good at they can achieve it. Everyone has thier playstyle and everyone is happy.


This is what 5e is to me. THis is the what the devs have said they hope to achieve. And this is the game I will shell out the big $$$$ for and love until I die.
Always excuse the spelling, and personal opinions are just that personal and opinions. Getting Down with the playtesting of 5th http://community.wizards.com/dndnext/go/thread/view/75882/29139253/Complilation_of_Playtest_Feedback Compilation of Feedback post /bump please
 I love it and will want to incorperate it into my current ruleset as houserules. But honestly, the way I play it now and with these Next ideas is such a hybrid of all editions, I might as well be creating a D&D 6th edition. 
 The risk of fracturing the fan base even further is a big gamble here.
 I love it and will want to incorperate it into my current ruleset as houserules. But honestly, the way I play it now and with these Next ideas is such a hybrid of all editions, I might as well be creating a D&D 6th edition. 
 The risk of fracturing the fan base even further is a big gamble here.



So making a hybrid set of rules that fits a variety of play/DM styles and has options fitting for people use to multiple editions of D&D...bringing all that together into ONE system...will further fracture the fan base?  I respect your opinion, but I'm a little confused with the logic behind this.
Also, I agree with the majority on this discussion.  5e is looking great thus far (albeit with a few quirks, but hey - it is a playtest afterall!) =)  I'm eagerly awaiting future releases and refinements of the system with the utmost anticipation!
What? A positive thread about D&DN on these boards. What is this madness?!

In all seriousness, I agree with the op 100%. Current base is solid, but also flexible. I like calling it "The Common Sense Edition", because pretty much all checks and actions are based on, well, common sense (instead of some abstraction completely divorced from reality). There has been some talk that D&DN empowers the DM too much (I find the whole notion completely absurd), when in fact this empowers the players as well, because the DM and the players can actually negotiate about DCs on rather equal footing.

DM: "Ok John, your turn"
John: "I'm going to pick up that barrel and try to throw it on that orc"
DM: "Right, well that is mostly strength based and moderate difficulty, so roll str against dc 14"
John: "I don't think it's that difficult, since it's just 15 ft. and my character has experience in barrel throwing, you remember? So how about 12 for DC?"
DM: "Ok, that sounds reasonable. Roll away!"

Or

DM: "Mike, you're up"
Mike: "Alright, I'm going to try and trip that goblin"
DM: "Right, well let's roll a dex vs. dex contest"
Mike: "Wouldn't it be more logical to roll strength vs. the goblin's dex score as DC, since that would sort of better represent his passive balance and stuff?"
DM: "Then again, the goblin is probably going to try to actively stay standing so an active roll on his part would be appropriate"
Mike: "Ok, how about str vs. dex contest?"
DM: "Yeah, sounds good. Let's just do that." 

And bear in mind that the vast majority of the time, the DM would probably be able to pick the suitable rolls and DCs right away, so that such negotiations won't even really be necessary. But it's nice to be given the freedom to do so. Obviously the exchange might not be as agreeable, but you could always vote on it or just let random dice decide it. That is to say, such a free-form system is not entirely without problems either, but I still by far prefer such a flexible and reason based system over some abstract mathematical formulae of past editions.



 I'm not saying that really. What I mean is that every edition has added to the game and subtracted from the game. Tactically, they've succeded in 4th, but in role playing they were better in 2nd. Third fixed that THACO thing and made the numbers run better.
 If you go back to any game exclusively prior to 4th, Many may stay with Pathfinder, as they've already collected all the books.
 Personally, I like much of the 4th, but have so many house rules to flesh them out as living real characters in a player's mind, I like to call it AD&D 4th ed...
 3rd ed was a great game, but I always craved the powers of a hero as in 4th, A hero that farms as a youth and sells firewood on the side.  
 I think the game should bring balance and the DM and Players bring the chaos. 
So making a hybrid set of rules that fits a variety of play/DM styles and has options fitting for people use to multiple editions of D&D...bringing all that together into ONE system...will further fracture the fan base?  I respect your opinion, but I'm a little confused with the logic behind this.



Of course it will. You will have to learn different modules, use different modules on different tables. some might be a minor tweak (like fixed HP instead of rolling), others might influence the whole game.
(c.f. the 4e powers modules, single monster ini,tactical grid combat vs. use core only, group initiative, totm)

IF they did it right, it will basically be like playing a totally different d20 variant with just the same core mechanics. Which also means, it is not the same game anymore.

IF they did it not right (or not in the way they promised to), and fail to get the important 3e/4e flavors over to next, then they'd have failed anyway. Either way, player base will still be fractured.
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56767308 wrote:
Sadly, I don't think this has anything to do with wanting Next to be a great game. It has to do with wanting Next to determine who won the Edition War. [...] For those of us who just want D&D Next to be a good game, this is getting to be a real drag.
57870548 wrote:
I think I figured it out. This program is a character builder, not a character builder. It teaches patience, empathy, and tolerance. All most excellent character traits.
Yes, I found people crying out for increased complexity for level 1-3 characters were probably missing the point of the first playtest, however there might be some good advice in amongst all the moaning so it's worth paying attention even if taking it all with a pinch of salt.

Personally, I think the basic rules would benefit from an action point mechanic once per encounter where the character gets an extra action to do something other than attacking with a weapon or spell targeting an enemy.  This keeps it free-form, adds to the complexity and would let a fighter move, trip, attack or move throw dirt in eye, attack etc; it would let a level 1 rogue stealth and attack in the same round; it would let the cleric cast cure light wounds and still attack etc.  I'd probably let fighters have 2 per encounter actually.

The other thing that is dodgy is the healing.  I like the return to rolling the old hit dice as an option and I approve of front loading the Con score.  Adding Con to healing is also a nice way of allowing Con to affect HP without the silly snowball effect in 3e caused by removing name level restrictions.  However, I don't want to see clerics hamstrung by the need for healing their party during a fight.  I think rolling healing word into an option for the channel divinty feature would add to the tactical options for clerics and keep the general 4e leader mechanic alive and well and  available for the warlord later on.  If both turn undead and healing word are also available as spells, it opens up more tactical choices for the cleric who may know he's headed into an undead lair etc.

Once more tactical moduels come along you can just remove the action point mechanic and repalce it with fine-tuned powers.

Of course it will. You will have to learn different modules, use different modules on different tables. some might be a minor tweak (like fixed HP instead of rolling), others might influence the whole game.
(c.f. the 4e powers modules, single monster ini,tactical grid combat vs. use core only, group initiative, totm)



I've seen this argument quite a few times, which basically boils down to lack of portability between tables. Honest question because I don't know - is this really what the majority of D&D players are doing? Traveling from table to table with their character? I've never done that, so I really don't know, and don't really see it as a huge problem. So that's why I'm asking.

For those confused on how DDN's modular rules might work, this may provide some insight: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/11/the-world-of-darkness-shines-when-it-abandons-canon

@mikemearls: Uhhh... do you really not see all the 3e/4e that's basically the entire core system?

 

It is entirely unnecessary to denigrate someone else's approach to gaming in order to validate your own.

Some of the current rules can (and probably should) be stripped out, and instead presented as a handfull of "plug-in" options for that rule that any given group can pick and plug in.


  • The current "long rest" could be stripped out, and then presented as one of several Long-Rest systems.

  • There is an obvious "system hook" where AoOs should be, so give us several options to stick there.

  • It's already been suggesed that Vancian will only be one option among many for spellcasters.


The appropriate model for soing so has existed since the 1980s.  Just look at all of the stat-gen options in the 2E books: "Here's several ways to do this.  Your table needs to agree on one."



This is an excellent, non-controversial idea that very few people can get angry about. So, of course it will receive little attention.
Some of the current rules can (and probably should) be stripped out, and instead presented as a handfull of "plug-in" options for that rule that any given group can pick and plug in.


  • The current "long rest" could be stripped out, and then presented as one of several Long-Rest systems.

  • There is an obvious "system hook" where AoOs should be, so give us several options to stick there.

  • It's already been suggesed that Vancian will only be one option among many for spellcasters.


The appropriate model for soing so has existed since the 1980s.  Just look at all of the stat-gen options in the 2E books: "Here's several ways to do this.  Your table needs to agree on one."



This is an excellent, non-controversial idea that very few people can get angry about. So, of course it will receive little attention.



True - folks do love to argue on the internet. :-)

That said, to me, while it's a great suggestion, it's how I've always envisioned the modularity working in the game. A bare-bones rules skeleton, with layers of rules on top of that which are all optional, and provide a number of different choices for any given item (much like the old options for generating Ability scores - although really, there's nothing stopping folks from choosing any of those options now).

For those confused on how DDN's modular rules might work, this may provide some insight: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/11/the-world-of-darkness-shines-when-it-abandons-canon

@mikemearls: Uhhh... do you really not see all the 3e/4e that's basically the entire core system?

 

It is entirely unnecessary to denigrate someone else's approach to gaming in order to validate your own.

This whole thread needs to be looked at by Wizards. Everything here deserves some contemplations by the design team :D
This is exactly what my group and I were virtually dancing about after our second playtest: flexibility and modularity! 
I don't care so much about the rules as long as I can have a call shot to the nuts. -2 penalty for call shot, -2 penalty for having testicals the size of raisens or only 1 testical. Drop prone, "Take that home to yo muthu, Monster!"-2 to any continuing moster attacks from said monster due to humiliation, chance he'll run home.
I have said this elsewhere in these forums, I will say it again here: If they printed the play test rules and sold them, I would by them now. I am not a fan of WotC in general, but I like the fluid and flexible rules. I am sure they will add classes / races, etc, but even if they didnt, I would buy the ruleset, make a few house rules and write all the classes and races I wanted too.
I don't care so much about the rules as long as I can have a call shot to the nuts. -2 penalty for call shot, -2 penalty for having testicals the size of raisens or only 1 testical. Drop prone, "Take that home to yo muthu, Monster!"-2 to any continuing moster attacks from said monster due to humiliation, chance he'll run home.

btw, i've got the 2nd edition options books. Works great for my 4th ed system just fine.
To all who have posted on this thread..

Thankyou!
  
It's full of well reasoned, adult converstaions looking to the positive, but understanding the negative aspects of the 'first' of 'many' playtests.

It's been a pleasure to read, and one I feel comfortable adding to - my 2c worth - I have enjoyed the playtest rules as provided

I agree with many posters that elements of...

a. movement and control of space in combat,
b. number and power of spells/cantrips/orisons to maintain balance at low levels,
c. short-term and long-term healing,

need to be addressed by the designers, to improve on what we have been given so far.

Nothwithstanding the above, my party (consisting my partner and four children aged 9-13) could happily play with this ruleset for many years quite happily.

I think the paring back of the game to everything being based on the 6 abilities is genius.

Many of the complaints I have seen are combat related - which I think is great, because (while we love combat), my family can roam around a town or wander a trap and puzzle filled catacomb quite happily without ever drawing a blade in anger.

We have to believe that WotC are taking the objective feedback very seriously, and that we will see improvement / refinement in upcoming packets.

Cheers