Reports from the Origins Future of D&D Seminar

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I wasn't at the seminar but my DM was present.

Here are some impressions he gave me...
1.  They are being very smart about how they build each component.  They want plug and play like functionality.  This reminded him of object oriented design (he's a programmer).   So each component is far more independent of the rest of the system than it used to be.  Thus adding or removing something causes less disruption.

2.  The session left him thinking that every edition's fans are getting their concerns addressed.  No one is being ignored.  It is though an issue of order of events as far as the playtest goes.
 
3.  Mike Mearls said they plan on revealing the math, so everything is fully exposed.  This will make building your own races, classes, themes, backgrounds and monsters a lot easier. 

4.  All damage expectations are represented in the class.  Thus playing with or without themes you still have a viable character.  The simple fighter for example.  

5.  People who want more rules clarity will get modules that flesh out the details of things.  Those who want less can stick with core or choose a different module.

Anyway.  I really got the impression from him that he was pretty encouraged by the philosophy espoused by Mike and Rob.   He attended the session with Mike as well and that was part of what gave him the good impression.  My impression from him was that the 4e people present were pretty happy too.

1. They are being very smart about how they build each component. They want plug and play like functionality. This reminded him of object oriented design (he's a programmer). So each component is far more independent of the rest of the system than it used to be. Thus adding or removing something causes less disruption.

This I really like to hear. (also programmer) So say there's 5 different modules for (dis)advantage. Every single spell, power, scheme, rule, whatever still reads and works perfectly fine with any of them, only difference begin the definition of (dis)advantage?

It seems like an obvious way of doing things, but you need it down to an art with object oriented programming. (Computers can't houserule, they just crash.) If they can do it that clean then using different modules should be a pretty smooth experience.

3. Mike Mearls said they plan on revealing the math, so everything is fully exposed. This will make building your own races, classes, themes, backgrounds and monsters a lot easier.

Ohhh, do want. Although I kind of hope there's an easier way of making monsters than looking at the hard math. For classes, I want to make charts and calculate exactly how my class compares to others, but monsters don't need that kind of love. (It's nice, but I'd also like a quick way.)

Everything else sounds good. I would like to see some rules for myself though.


Edit: Fixed those boxes, I missed a "/" in a end quote tag. Ironic I do that after mentioning computers not houseruling. Mornings. >.>... 
...any word on class balance?

(I still think that 5e is salvagable if they dump the 3-pillars=balance idea and write clearer rules)
(I still think that 5e is salvagable if they dump the 3-pillars=balance idea and write clearer rules)


Y'know, I think that's a bit of a simplication, but as I read it I totally agree.
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Yes, I am expressing my opinions (even complaints - le gasp!) about the current iteration of the play-test that we actually have in front of us. No, I'm not going to wait for you to tell me when it's okay to start expressing my concerns (unless you are WotC). (And no, my comments on this forum are not of the same tone or quality as my actual survey feedback.)
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Considering how much of a reaver fighter's damage in the playtest comes from its theme, I have a hard time believing both that the full damage expectations will be provided by the class and that removing themes won't be a serious change in overall power level requiring the DM to significantly reconfigure encounters and the like.
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...any word on class balance?

(I still think that 5e is salvagable if they dump the 3-pillars=balance idea and write clearer rules)

Well I have concerns about balance too, but I cant think of any way of wrighting clearer rules! Playstest so far has one of the most clear and straightforward rules systems I have seen in a lot of PnP RPGs! But I can see this beeing a matter of taste also so I understand your point...
...any word on class balance?

(I still think that 5e is salvagable if they dump the 3-pillars=balance idea and write clearer rules)

Well I have concerns about balance too, but I cant think of any way of wrighting clearer rules! Playstest so far has one of the most clear and straightforward rules systems I have seen in a lot of PnP RPGs! But I can see this beeing a matter of taste also so I understand your point...


Just a quick example: the rules for Healing Word.  You can "bestow your blessings on a creature within 50 feet of you that can hear you".

What defines "can hear you"?  Does the din of battle drown out your voice?  Do you have to be capable of speech?  What about a cleric who, flavor-wise, has taken a Vow of Silence?  What if the target is deaf?

Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.
Yeah...5e rules may be simple but are by no means clear.
Does the din of battle drown out your voice?


No, because that would be a jerk move on the DM's part.

Do you have to be capable of speech?


Yes.

What about a cleric who, flavor-wise, has taken a Vow of Silence?


He'd have to break it to cast the spell.  (Or any spell, since the rules say they all have verbal components by default.)

What if the target is deaf?


Then he can't hear you.

Of all of these questions, only the first one has an ambiguous answer that I have to appeal to competent DMing practice to decide.  All the others follow clearly and naturally from the requirement.  What is unclear about incapacity or vow meaning you are unable to be heard?  What is unclear about deafness meaning the target can't hear?

What about a cleric who, flavor-wise, has taken a Vow of Silence?


He'd have to break it to cast the spell.  (Or any spell, since the rules say they all have verbal components by default.)



Unless they add silent spell metagamic like they have in the past. Saw a cleric who cast everything with silent spell for this reason.


Unless they add silent spell metagamic like they have in the past. Saw a cleric who cast everything with silent spell for this reason.


Well, sure.  My point was that the implications of the rules are unambiguous, not that there couldn't be character options to alter them.  (I would make it a generic feat/ability like Eschew Materials, though, since the effect really isn't worth the metamagic spell level bump.)
Well, sure.  My point was that the implications of the rules are unambiguous, not that there couldn't be character options to alter them.  (I would make it a generic feat/ability like Eschew Materials, though, since the effect really isn't worth the metamagic spell level bump.)



I gotchya. The material is quite clear and unconfusing.

I also think that kind of character concept should carry some kind of mechanical sacrfice, btu that it is that kind of thing that gives you character character. Just saying the rules don't have to inhibit that kind of character from existing.

I wasn't at the seminar but my DM was present.
3.  Mike Mearls said they plan on revealing the math, so everything is fully exposed.  This will make building your own races, classes, themes, backgrounds and monsters a lot easier. 



This is what makes me excited. As a writer, world building is a lot of fun for me. The ability to easily homebrew my own content for my own setting will be a huge amount of fun for me.

Plus, it allows for some crazy stuff.

For example, despite being a huge manga fan myself, I'd like to see heavy anime influence kept out of my core D&D. But sometimes, I might want to play a heavily anime inspired campaign. Now, I can homebrew some themes and backgrounds, maybe a class or two, to give my campaign that shounen flair without it mucking up my usual D&D fantasy fun.
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I wasn't at the seminar but my DM was present.
3.  Mike Mearls said they plan on revealing the math, so everything is fully exposed.  This will make building your own races, classes, themes, backgrounds and monsters a lot easier. 


This is what makes me excited.


Ditto.  I'm starting to feel cautiously optimistic about 5e.  I hope we get to see some of the character advancement maths soon, as a lot of my reservations are in that area.
Well, sure.  My point was that the implications of the rules are unambiguous, not that there couldn't be character options to alter them.  (I would make it a generic feat/ability like Eschew Materials, though, since the effect really isn't worth the metamagic spell level bump.)



I gotchya. The material is quite clear and unconfusing.

I also think that kind of character concept should carry some kind of mechanical sacrfice, btu that it is that kind of thing that gives you character character. Just saying the rules don't have to inhibit that kind of character from existing.




It seems to me that in D&DN the DM is given enough leeway to accommodate a PC that makes creative yet potentially disadvantageous builds like the vow of silence cleric.  Perhaps one possible DM adjustment would be to replace verbal components of spells with a sign language of sorts (even though I know many spells have somatic components).  Hopefully such an house ruleing could make such a character playable without being overpowered/broken.


In the case of Healing Word I would require the recipient to be able to see the spell being cast.


This would bring just as many complications as hearing the spell, like can such a spell be cast in a zone of silence, can a recipient get healed if their engaged in melee or with creatures/objects between the caster and recipient.


The main point is that in D&DN the DM and players can work together on corner case PCs that go way off the beaten path, so to speak.  Even if my potential solution isn’t the paragon of game design ;P.



It seems to me that in D&DN the DM is given enough leeway to accommodate a PC that makes creative yet potentially disadvantageous builds like the vow of silence cleric.  Perhaps one possible DM adjustment would be to replace verbal components of spells with a sign language of sorts (even though I know many spells have somatic components).  Hopefully such an house ruleing could make such a character playable without being overpowered/broken.


In the case of Healing Word I would require the recipient to be able to see the spell being cast.


This would bring just as many complications as hearing the spell, like can such a spell be cast in a zone of silence, can a recipient get healed if their engaged in melee or with creatures/objects between the caster and recipient.


The main point is that in D&DN the DM and players can work together on corner case PCs that go way off the beaten path, so to speak.  Even if my potential solution isn’t the paragon of game design ;P.




It does make silence a bit more brutal (I suspect that that is why they made the 'has to be able to hear it' bit though I hadn't though of that before).

p.s. The idea of spellcasting in sign language sound hilarious and painfully difficult. That said when they releast the math on background I think a vow of silence priest background would be great ya.

It does make silence a bit more brutal (I suspect that that is why they made the 'has to be able to hear it' bit though I hadn't though of that before).


That's just what silence did in older editions.  D&D is the reason that the "silenced" status in most video games simply means "no spellcasting".

p.s. The idea of spellcasting in sign language sound hilarious and painfully difficult. That said when they releast the math on background I think a vow of silence priest background would be great ya.


My understanding - with the caveat that it may very well be totally wrong, with so little information available so early in the process - is that backgrounds are supposed to give out-of-combat benefits that support the "interaction" pillar.  Ignoring verbal components may be more the province of a feat.
I wasn't at the seminar but my DM was present.

Here are some impressions he gave me...
1.  They are being very smart about how they build each component.  They want plug and play like functionality.  This reminded him of object oriented design (he's a programmer).   So each component is far more independent of the rest of the system than it used to be.  Thus adding or removing something causes less disruption.



I'm excited for 5e and a supporter, but have they addressed how deciding not to plug some things will work? For example, if a table decides they don't want to plug backgrounds or themes, how are those characters not just less powerful? 
I wasn't at the seminar but my DM was present.

Here are some impressions he gave me...
1.  They are being very smart about how they build each component.  They want plug and play like functionality.  This reminded him of object oriented design (he's a programmer).   So each component is far more independent of the rest of the system than it used to be.  Thus adding or removing something causes less disruption.



I'm excited for 5e and a supporter, but have they addressed how deciding not to plug some things will work? For example, if a table decides they don't want to plug backgrounds or themes, how are those characters not just less powerful? 


Just a wild guess here, but I suspect it's as simple as letting them be more powerful, but having a different chart of what XP worth of monsters is appropriate for what level for both class only and class and theme. And perhaps just some guidelines on lowering DCs on checks if you play without backgrounds. Maybe by just one or two since backgrounds tend to only add a small amount to very specific areas of interest?
...any word on class balance?

(I still think that 5e is salvagable if they dump the 3-pillars=balance idea and write clearer rules)

Well I have concerns about balance too, but I cant think of any way of wrighting clearer rules! Playstest so far has one of the most clear and straightforward rules systems I have seen in a lot of PnP RPGs! But I can see this beeing a matter of taste also so I understand your point...


Just a quick example: the rules for Healing Word.  You can "bestow your blessings on a creature within 50 feet of you that can hear you".

What defines "can hear you"?  Does the din of battle drown out your voice?  Do you have to be capable of speech?  What about a cleric who, flavor-wise, has taken a Vow of Silence?  What if the target is deaf?


Well I am sure it is clear! If you are deaf, you dont take the heal, if the DM says that you cant hear, the same. So its clear! I dont know were you guys find out that these rules are not clear...
Just a wild guess here, but I suspect it's as simple as letting them be more powerful, but having a different chart of what XP worth of monsters is appropriate for what level for both class only and class and theme. And perhaps just some guidelines on lowering DCs on checks if you play without backgrounds. Maybe by just one or two since backgrounds tend to only add a small amount to very specific areas of interest?


This would be unsatisfactory, because it would go against the "plug-and-play" ideal they're going for:  all those other rules you mention have to change to take into account the loss of this module.

That said, I believe backgrounds are going to be really easy to cut, because it doesn't seem like they're designed to affect raw power directly in the first place; they're there to give PCs social perks.

Themes are a lot harder to do.  I don't have any good speculation on what the designers intend here.
It does make silence a bit more brutal (I suspect that that is why they made the 'has to be able to hear it' bit though I hadn't though of that before).


That's just what silence did in older editions.  D&D is the reason that the "silenced" status in most video games simply means "no spellcasting".

p.s. The idea of spellcasting in sign language sound hilarious and painfully difficult. That said when they releast the math on background I think a vow of silence priest background would be great ya.


My understanding - with the caveat that it may very well be totally wrong, with so little information available so early in the process - is that backgrounds are supposed to give out-of-combat benefits that support the "interaction" pillar.  Ignoring verbal components may be more the province of a feat.



This is my opinion on the subject, in table top RPGs there are going to be character concepts that are simply not supported by the rules as written.  This is because the potential numbers of character concepts that players can come up with for their PCs is limited by only the player’s imagination.  It is unreasonable, impossible even, IMO for the game designers to create written rules that cover all character concepts.


Space in the Player’s Handbook is limited, so that the themes, backgrounds and feats included will need to be the ones that large numbers of players would be likely to choose to create their characters.  As a theme or background I find it unlikely that “Vow of Silence” would appeal to a large enough % of the fan base to justify its inclusion in the book.  This is not to say that Silverque wanting to play such a character is bad, it’s just that I find it unlikely that such a character concept would be supported directly out of the box, so to speak.  In cases like this I think it would be best for DM and player to work together to make such character concepts playable.


In the example of the vow of silence cleric having a feat that allows for spells to be cast without verbal components is certainly a valid option, especially if the spell does not increase the spell level of the spell as the metamagic feat Silent Spell did in 3.5.  The character would be playable, although it would be less powerful than a cleric that did not have a vow of silence.  In this case the player is forced to make a sacrifice for their player concept, feats are a limited resource and I’m not sure that the ability to cast spells without verbal components justifies a feat.  It would let the cleric cast in zones of Silence, but then again, how often does that usually come up?  I suppose the answer is as often as the DM thinks is appropriate, but generally I would imagine that in most cases it’s not that often.  In 3.5 it did require an increase in the spell level used, and I’m sure that some very intelligent game designers came to the conclusion that it should, I just don’t see the case myself.


If the feat Silent Spell worked as in 3.5:  I suppose that in such an  instance I imagine that orisons the cleric’s “at will” would be cast as their level 1 spells, meaning they would no longer have access to “at will” spell casting and of course their access to higher level magic would also be delayed.  This could lead the player wanting to create such a vow of silenced cleric to abandon their vision in favor of a cleric with clear mechanical superiority.


Then again it’s hard to say how “Vow of Silence” could be balanced.  That depends on many things such as what are the benefits of the VoS and what are the penalties for breaking the Vow.  In addition the VoS character has disadvantages besides the problems with spellcasting, namely not being able to speak, which could have many potential drawbacks and advantages. 

I wasn't at the seminar but my DM was present.

Here are some impressions he gave me...
1.  They are being very smart about how they build each component.  They want plug and play like functionality.  This reminded him of object oriented design (he's a programmer).   So each component is far more independent of the rest of the system than it used to be.  Thus adding or removing something causes less disruption.



I'm excited for 5e and a supporter, but have they addressed how deciding not to plug some things will work? For example, if a table decides they don't want to plug backgrounds or themes, how are those characters not just less powerful? 



As long as everyone at the table does it, then balance isn't affected. Remember that they've already said that the intent is not going to be to balance encounter difficulty against the players. That is made abundantly clear in the playtest documents where clever characters could get their level 1 party dead quite quickly by not being careful.

So, the important factor is keeping the players in balance relative to each other and giving them a means to anticipate the difficulty of the tasks they are taking on. The rest is up to the table to adjudicate.

This lines up with what I hope will be another of their goals: make it so that the majority of DMs run fun games. This is different from, and at times in opposition to the notion that the majority of the DMs have the same rulings, or every situation being well covered by the rules.

Damn, missed your DM by a day. Today's talk renewed my confidence in the designers and the game as a whole. It was a really personal experience; our DM was the author of Flames Last Flicker and Halls of the Undermountain, and I had some one-on-one time with Mearls, who showcased his confidence in being able to accommodate 4e players and stated that he openly wants people to stay with their fave edition; when asked about clones, he stated that he encouraged them.
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Stuff I Heard Mike Say (subject to change): Multiclassing will be different than in 3.5! That's important. There is no level cap; classes advance ala 3.5 epic levels after a set level. Mundane (AKA fighter and co) encounter and daily powers will probably not be in the PHB (for the lack of space), but nor will they be in some obscure book released halfway through the edition.
You can't please everyone, but you can please me. I DO NOT WANT A FREAKING 4E REPEAT. I DO NOT WANT A MODULE THAT MIMICS MY FAVORITE EDITION. I WANT MODULES THAT MIMIC A PLAYSTYLE AND CAN BE INTERCHANGED TO COMPLETELY CHANGE THE FEEL, BUT NOT THE THEME, OF D&D. A perfect example would be an espionage module, or desert survival. A BAD EXAMPLE IS HEALING SURGES. WE HAVE 4E FOR THOSE! A good example is a way to combine a mundane and self healing module, a high-survival-rate module, and a separate pool of healing resource module.
Does the din of battle drown out your voice?


No, because that would be a jerk move on the DM's part.

What about a cleric who, flavor-wise, has taken a Vow of Silence?


He'd have to break it to cast the spell.  (Or any spell, since the rules say they all have verbal components by default.)



I would answer the second question with your answer to the first one.

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This is my opinion on the subject, in table top RPGs there are going to be character concepts that are simply not supported by the rules as written.  This is because the potential numbers of character concepts that players can come up with for their PCs is limited by only the player’s imagination.  It is unreasonable, impossible even, IMO for the game designers to create written rules that cover all character concepts.



It's really simple to do if you write the game to accommodate player defined traits. With a class-based design, it does become much closer to the near-impossibility you are supposing. HeroQuest does it every game, as does Marvel Heroic, Over the Edge / Warp, and quite a few others. D&D? Not so much. 
"And why the simple mechanics? Two reasons: First, complex mechanics invariably channel and limit the imagination; second, my neurons have better things to do than calculate numbers and refer to charts all evening." -Over the Edge
I dont know were you guys find out that these rules are not clear...

The rules are quite clear, they just don't like the answer.

I have issues with vow of silence and deafness as it means you can't interact with the majority of NPCs. I don't see how that's fun at the table in a roleplaying game. That said, your vow should have penalties which means certain spells can't be cast (such as healing word). The benefit would be you don't require verbal components (meaning you can still cast spells in a silence field or when stealthing which comes up a not insignificant portion of the time).
Does the din of battle drown out your voice?


No, because that would be a jerk move on the DM's part.

So yeah, that part is definitely up for DM abuse, but yeah, that should be rare.

Do you have to be capable of speech?


Yes.


Except the spell doesn't say you have to speak, capable or not.  It is certainly implicated, yes, but it is not defined as such.  That's the issue I have.  If it is supposed to have a verbal component, give it the Verbal keyword, or something to that effect.  I want the rules to be explicitly clear, and not tuck the actual mechanics away via implications in fluffy rules text.  That's why rules-lawyering happens: the player and DM could potentially have different interpretations/understanding of the rules, and while the DM will likely always win the argument (being the final arbiter has its privileges...), that won't stop disagreements from happening.

If the rules are explicitly clear (keywords are good for this, as is keeping fluff and mechanics separate), then rules-lawyering is minimized, because there is little to discuss or question.  The rules are clear, and everyone is on the same page.

Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.
I wasn't at the seminar but my DM was present.

Here are some impressions he gave me...
1.  They are being very smart about how they build each component.  They want plug and play like functionality.  This reminded him of object oriented design (he's a programmer).   So each component is far more independent of the rest of the system than it used to be.  Thus adding or removing something causes less disruption.



I'm excited for 5e and a supporter, but have they addressed how deciding not to plug some things will work? For example, if a table decides they don't want to plug backgrounds or themes, how are those characters not just less powerful? 



Your to hit, damage, etc... are all controlled by the class.  Your theme will modify how you deliver that damage at times but it won't vastly affect things.   If you played the playtest without any themes the group would not be all that affected.  I think this is another design concept they are really adhering to.  The class drives your overall power.  Themes flavor and vary what you do but not the power so much.  I won't say 0% but only in very minor ways.

The above is my paraphrase of what my DM said he got from listening to the talks at Origins. 
Does the din of battle drown out your voice?


No, because that would be a jerk move on the DM's part.

So yeah, that part is definitely up for DM abuse, but yeah, that should be rare.

Do you have to be capable of speech?


Yes.


Except the spell doesn't say you have to speak, capable or not.  It is certainly implicated, yes, but it is not defined as such. 



So having it stated right there in the general rules that all spells have a verbal componant isn't definition enough.
Gotcha. 
You're one of those who has the answer but just doesn't like it....
I would answer the second question with your answer to the first one.


Taking a vow of silence is a player's decision that has foreseeable consequences in the rules as written.  The DM can point to the rules and non-arbitrarily say, "This decision means you won't be able to cast spells.  Are you sure you want to do this?"  If you're saying that a good DM should work with the player to help him get his character concept to function in spite of the rules, then I fully and wholeheartedly agree with you.  But that's outside the scope of this discussion of rule ambiguity.  There is nothing ambiguous about the situation here.

Do you have to be capable of speech?


Yes.


Except the spell doesn't say you have to speak, capable or not.  It is certainly implicated, yes, but it is not defined as such.  That's the issue I have.  If it is supposed to have a verbal component, give it the Verbal keyword, or something to that effect.  I want the rules to be explicitly clear, and not tuck the actual mechanics away via implications in fluffy rules text.  That's why rules-lawyering happens: the player and DM could potentially have different interpretations/understanding of the rules, and while the DM will likely always win the argument (being the final arbiter has its privileges...), that won't stop disagreements from happening.


First things first:  in this iteration of the rules, at least, all spells have verbal components by default.  It's in the general rules for spellcasting (page 23, under "Spell Components").  So on this particular point not even the most litigious rules lawyer has a case.

More generally, though... are you one of those guys who thought the "dead" condition needed to be clearly defined in 3e?  Because if you are, I'm not sure we're ever going to see eye to eye on these sorts of issues.  My position is that you write the rules to cover the obvious, but that there's no way you can anticipate everything, and it's better to encourage common sense interpretation than a "the rules don't say you can't" attitude (or a "the rules don't say you can" attitude, for that matter).
Does the din of battle drown out your voice?


No, because that would be a jerk move on the DM's part.

What about a cleric who, flavor-wise, has taken a Vow of Silence?


He'd have to break it to cast the spell.  (Or any spell, since the rules say they all have verbal components by default.)



I would answer the second question with your answer to the first one.




Isnt that like the player who wants to play a one armed fighter that still uses a two-handed sword?

Reminds me of the one-legged fighter in the arse kicking contest actually.

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So yeah, that part is definitely up for DM abuse, but yeah, that should be rare.

I don't play with DMs who would abuse a mechanic like that. So I see no reason at all to make it rare.
Isnt that like the player who wants to play a one armed fighter that still uses a two-handed sword?


I did that actually, but only because the DM put me in a situation where I had to cut off my own arm. We argued about it a bit, but I already put feats into using two-handed weapons and I wasn't going to gimp myself just because he never thinks things through.

And I'd like to see keywords, because it really helps keep everything neat and organized and easy to understand.
Does the din of battle drown out your voice?


No, because that would be a jerk move on the DM's part.

So yeah, that part is definitely up for DM abuse, but yeah, that should be rare.

Do you have to be capable of speech?


Yes.


Except the spell doesn't say you have to speak, capable or not.  It is certainly implicated, yes, but it is not defined as such. 



So having it stated right there in the general rules that all spells have a verbal componant isn't definition enough.
Gotcha. 
You're one of those who has the answer but just doesn't like it....



It seems to me that your reply is being intentionally obtuse, and you're not actually taking everything he said into context. He was pointing out that the rule is buried in fluff text that rules have no business being in. The rules need to be very obvious and state din a clear fashion, not in some wordy Gygaxian prose.

There's another system that is bad about this - White Wolf (though I love their games). There are odd little rules spread throughout the core book that unless you read it cover to cover, word for word, memorizing every turn of phrase that you will miss, and guarenteed, you will miss some of them the first time through (Mage especially is horrible about this). Most of the time the missed rules were a big deal (like diminishing defense when dealing with multiple attackers) and heavily impacted gameplay.

The same could end up happening in 5e, and with D&D you need to have clear and well-defined rules. Flowery prose is not clear and well-defined. If something is implicated as Fox pointed out, that is not clear, and can be argued ad nauseum until the moon falls out of the sky with the cows riding it home.
I'll only chime in to say that I really like the voice and approach of how these rules are written. I hope that Wizards does not make them read more like a section of the zoning code or a computer program. I get it that those types of expressions exist to formulate clear definitions and resolve dispute. But this isn't a game of players versus DM, it is a game of players and DM working together to make a cool story. Rather than expecting the rules to somehow resolve dysfunctional group dynamics I hope they just give plenty of examples of how to resolve typical rules disputes effectively.

Maybe the footer of each page of the rule book should say:
"Players: Remember the DM is the final rules authority and may modify these rules to suit the story.
DMs: Remember that your job is to help the players have fun telling cool stories about their characters."
I'll only chime in to say that I really like the voice and approach of how these rules are written. I hope that Wizards does not make them read more like a section of the zoning code or a computer program. I get it that those types of expressions exist to formulate clear definitions and resolve dispute. But this isn't a game of players versus DM, it is a game of players and DM working together to make a cool story. Rather than expecting the rules to somehow resolve dysfunctional group dynamics I hope they just give plenty of examples of how to resolve typical rules disputes effectively.

Maybe the footer of each page of the rule book should say:
"Players: Remember the DM is the final rules authority and may modify these rules to suit the story.
DMs: Remember that your job is to help the players have fun telling cool stories about their characters."




I AGREE!!!
 
I wasn't at the seminar but my DM was present.

Here are some impressions he gave me...
1.  They are being very smart about how they build each component.  They want plug and play like functionality.  This reminded him of object oriented design (he's a programmer).   So each component is far more independent of the rest of the system than it used to be.  Thus adding or removing something causes less disruption.



I'm excited for 5e and a supporter, but have they addressed how deciding not to plug some things will work? For example, if a table decides they don't want to plug backgrounds or themes, how are those characters not just less powerful? 



Maybe are they are less powerful. It really doesn't matter as long as everyone at the table is playing by the same rules.

The real truth behind D&D is that the DM always decides the difficulty of the game, not the build of the PC's. The DM looks at the composition of the party, determines the level of challenge he/she wants and builds an encounter accordingly. Scaling difficulty can be as simple as adding or dropping a monster here or there, or to use 4e terminology, increase or decrease the encounter level.

You could have a 5e party at level 3 playing with themes and backgrounds and the DM has to throw high difficulty encounters at them to challenge them. Play without themes and backgrounds and you throw low difficulty encounters at them to challenge them. At the end of the day, both parties will be challenged.

I'm not the least bit worried about this issue as long as everyone at the table is playing by the same rules. (ie- you can't have one player using themes and another one not using them)
But this isn't a game of players versus DM, it is a game of players and DM working together to make a cool story. Rather than expecting the rules to somehow resolve dysfunctional group dynamics I hope they just give plenty of examples of how to resolve typical rules disputes effectively.



I agree completely. I've been reading a lot of negativity towards the 5e playtest because of it's rules lite approach compared to 3e and 4e. A lot of people are saying that less rules mean more chance that the DM can be a jerk. I have to disagree on this. DM's can always be a jerk by simply putting the PC's into a situation where the rules will kill them.

Take climbing for example. I've been reading pages of rage over the fact that the climbing rules having been simplified in 5e compared to 4e. People are saying it gives too much power to the DM to decide if a player falls to their death or not and that the 4e rules put the power into the hands of the player. I think this is nonsense. A 4e DM still has the power to design a ridiculously difficult situation where all the climbing rules in the world aren't going to help you.

Jerk DM's will always find a way to abuse the players. Having complex rule sets is no defense, it only masks their nastiness with a veneer of explanation.

Rules don't eliminate dysfunctional groups. That can only be achieved through common sense, good dialogue between players and DM, and a group desire to ensure that everyone has fun.

This is why I think the 5e DMG and PHB both need to contain a lengthy section on this topic.
I'll only chime in to say that I really like the voice and approach of how these rules are written. I hope that Wizards does not make them read more like a section of the zoning code or a computer program. I get it that those types of expressions exist to formulate clear definitions and resolve dispute. But this isn't a game of players versus DM, it is a game of players and DM working together to make a cool story. Rather than expecting the rules to somehow resolve dysfunctional group dynamics I hope they just give plenty of examples of how to resolve typical rules disputes effectively.

Maybe the footer of each page of the rule book should say:
"Players: Remember the DM is the final rules authority and may modify these rules to suit the story.
DMs: Remember that your job is to help the players have fun telling cool stories about their characters."


I agree that rules can't solve dsyfuntional group dynamics, they are out of game problems in most cases.  On the other hand, while I agree with your view of RPGs being players and DM telling cool stories about the PCs, this is not the only way for RPGs to be played.  

I have played with quite a few who enjoyed DM VS PC games, as a contest of wits of sorts.  I really didn't get their enjoyment of it, but it was for them the "true way to role play".  Some people also like  PC VS PC tension to diffenrent digrees.  Some enjoy intense PC VS PC betrayal.  Some are comfortable with only much less conflict to add more depth to the overall story, such as disagreements over NPC interrogation that end in a non violent agreement.

The main point I'm trying to make is that conflict does not always equal dsyfuntional group dynamics, some groups just like different types of conflict and in different degrees.

Taking a vow of silence is a player's decision that has foreseeable consequences in the rules as written.  The DM can point to the rules and non-arbitrarily say, "This decision means you won't be able to cast spells.  Are you sure you want to do this?"  If you're saying that a good DM should work with the player to help him get his character concept to function in spite of the rules, then I fully and wholeheartedly agree with you.  But that's outside the scope of this discussion of rule ambiguity.  There is nothing ambiguous about the situation here.


You are right on both count : my post had nothing to do with the ambiguity of the rules, I was out of topic - my apologies to the other posters. You are also right about the cooperation between DM and player part - my post was a reaction to reading too many posts explaining that fighters are not badly designed, because they can improvize with DM's help, and seeing a "rule say no" answer to player creativity. But it has nothing to do with the topic, or you own opinions on that matter, more an angry reaction to the dozens of posts I had been reading. Sorry, again. OOT end.

This said, and more on topic, spells with AD&D like stat block, with "v,s,m" keys, help players and DM adjucate the problem with just a glance.

Remember Tunnel Seventeen !