Return to Role Thinking

In my opinion, amongst the best features of 4th edition was the recognition of combat roles (defender, striker, leader, controller) which gave each class a distinctive focus while ensuring they almost always had something productive to contribute.  In combat situations, I am very happy with the play-test materials in that every class has a role (even if it is not delineated as in 4th edition, or even fitting the same system).  For example, fighters deal consistant damage while being able to stand up to the most severe threats.  Clerics healing, utility support, and depending on domain, efective ranged or melee capability.  Rogues have maneuverability, moderate damage potential, as well as occasional opportunity for massive damage.  Wizards deal mass damage and can control battle-field texture with spells like web and grease, and can always resort to rather minor damage cantrips.

Although work on other identified pillars of the game (exploration, role-playing) may not be as extensive at this point in the playtest, I think it is important to consider the "role" of each class in such commonly occuring situations as scouting, handling traps, investigation, NPC interaction, travel, camping security, etc. For example, regarding scouting, rogues traditionally have natural stealth for spying; clerics have divinations, speak with dead, and utilities like silence or a nice variety of detection spells; wizards, in past editions, have tended to step on rogues with spells like clairvoyance, knock, mage hand, and invisibility; while fighters have absolutely nothing.  In handling traps, rogues have skill mastery; wizards traditionally have considerable ability to bypass traps and barriers (e.g. dimension door), as well as dispell magic; clerics are much more limited; and again, fighters have nothing except perhaps the durability to intensionally trigger them.  Traditionally clerics can subtly contribute to interactions with spells like detect lies, comprehend languages, and know alignment; wizards are less subtle with spells like charm person, suggestion, mislead, or feeble mind; and fighters and rogues are reduced to picking noses with sharp blades.  So far, I see little in the playtest to suggest this will change.  I very much hope that as other pillars of play are developed, unique roles for every class can be developed, so every class is well and fully rounded.
I think defining those "roles" was one of the many reasons why 4e was considered too "video gamey."

These roles exist naturally, but by defining them by class it only serves to make the game feel claustrophobic and restricting. For example, let's say you have a party of one cleric and two rogues? Obviously, the cleric is going to have do more than just buff and heal...they will have to take the brunt of the melee attacks as well. 

Shoehorning characters into predefined roles is nice and tidy, but it's also very restricting. Some people like that level of structure and order...while others absolutely hate it. 

D&D Next - Basic and Expert Editions

I firmly believe that there should be two editions of the game; the core rules released as a "Basic" set and a more complicated expanded rules edition released as an "Expert" set. These two editions would provide separate entry points to the game; one for new players or players that want a more classic D&D game and another entry point for experienced gamers that want more options and all the other things they have come to expect from previous editions.

Also, they must release several rules modules covering the main elements of the game (i.e., classes, races, combat, magic, monsters, etc.) upon launch to further expand the game for those that still need more complexity in a particular element of the game.


Here's a mockup of the Basic Set I created.



(CLICK HERE TO VIEW LARGER IMAGE)
  

Basic Set

This boxed set contains a simple, "bare bones" edition of the game; the core rules. It's for those that want a rules-light edition of the game that is extremely modifiable or for new players that get intimidated easily by too many rules and/or options. The Basic Set contains everything needed to play with all the "classic" D&D races (i.e., Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling) and classes (i.e., Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard) all the way up to maximum level (i.e., 20th Level).

The Basic boxed set contains:

Quick Start Rules
A "choose your own way" adventure intended as an intro to RPGs and basic D&D terms.

Player's Handbook
(Softcover, 125 pages)
Features rules for playing the classic D&D races and classes all the way up to 20th level.

Dungeon Master's Guide

(Softcover, 125 pages)
Includes the basic rules for dungeon masters.

Monster Manual
(Softcover, 100 pages)
Includes all the classic iconic monsters from D&D. 

Introductory Adventure
(Keep on the Borderlands)
An introductory adventure for beginning players and DMs.

Also includes: 

Character Sheets
Reference Sheets
Set of Dice


Expert Set

A set of hardbound rules that contains the core rules plus expanded races and classes, more spells and a large selection of optional rules modules — that is, pretty much everything that experienced players have come to expect. Each expert edition manual may be purchased separately, or in a boxed set. The Expert set includes:

Expert PHB (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus 10 playable races, 10 character classes, expanded selection of spells and rules modules for players.)
Expert DMG (Hardcover, 250 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus expanded rules modules for DMs.)
Expert MM (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes an expanded list of monsters and creatures to challenge characters)


Expansions

These expansion rules modules can be used with both the Basic and Expert sets. Each expansion covers one specific aspect of the game, such as character creation, combat, spells, monsters, etc.) 

Hall of Heroes (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes a vast selection of playable character races and classes, new and old all in one book)
Combat and Tactics (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes dozens of new and old optional rules for combat all in one book)
Creature Compendium (Hardcover, 350 pages.$35 Includes hundreds of monsters, new and old all in one book)
The Grimoire (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes hundreds of new and old spells all in one book)





A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage

A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage and Hit Points

In my personal campaigns, I use the following system for damage and dying. It's a slight modification of the long-standing principles etsablished by the D&D game, only with a new definition of what 0 or less hit points means. I've been using it for years because it works really well. However, I've made some adjustments to take advantage of the D&D Next rules. I've decided to present the first part in a Q&A format for better clarity. So let's begin...

What are hit points?
The premise is very simple, but often misunderstood; hit points are an abstraction that represent the character's ability to avoid serious damage, not necessarily their ability to take serious damage. This is a very important distinction. They represent a combination of skillful maneuvering, toughness, stamina and luck. Some targets have more hit points because they are physically tougher and are harder to injure...others have more because they are experienced combatants and have learned how to turn near fatal blows into mere scratches by skillful maneuvering...and then others are just plain lucky. Once a character runs out of hit points they become vulnerable to serious life-threatening injuries.

So what exactly does it mean to "hit" with a successful attack roll, then?
It means that through your own skill and ability you may have wounded your target if the target lacks the hit points to avoid the full brunt of the attack. That's an important thing to keep in mind; a successful "hit" does not necessarily mean you physically damaged your target. It just means that your attack was well placed and forced the target to exert themselves in such a way as to leave them vulnerable to further attacks. For example, instead of severing the target's arm, the attack merely grazes them leaving a minor cut.

But the attack did 25 points of damage! Why did it only "graze" the target?
Because the target has more than 25 hit points. Your attack forced them to exert a lot of energy to avoid the attack, but because of their combat skill, toughness, stamina and luck, they managed to avoid being seriously injured. However, because of this attack, they may not have the reserves to avoid your next attack. Perhaps you knocked them off balance or the attack left them so fatigued they lack the stamina to evade another attack. It's the DM's call on how they want to narrate the exact reason the blow didn't kill or wound the target.

Yeah, but what about "touch" attacks that rely on physical contact?
Making physical contact with a target is a lot different than striking them, so these types of attacks are the exception. If a touch attack succeeds, the attacker manages to make contact with their target.

If hit points and weapon damage don't always represent actual damage to the target, then what does it represent?
Think of the damage from an attack as more like a "threat level" rather than actual physical damage that transfers directly to the target's body. That is, the more damage an attack does, the harder it is to avoid serious injury. For example, an attack that causes 14 points of damage is more likely to wound the target than 3 points of damage (depending on how many hit points the target has left). The higher the damage, the greater the chance is that the target will become seriously injured. So, an attack that does 34 points of damage could be thought of as a "threat level of 34." If the target doesn't have the hit points to negate that threat, they become seriously injured.

Ok, but shouldn't armor reduce the amount of damage delivered from an attack?
It does reduce damage; by making it harder for an attack to cause serious injury. A successful hit against an armored target suggests that the attack may have circumvented the target's armor by striking in a vulnerable area.

What about poison and other types of non-combat damage?
Hit point loss from non-physical forms of damage represents the character spitting the poison out just in time before it takes full strength or perhaps the poison just wasn't strong enough to affect them drastically, but still weakens them. Again, it's the DMs call on how to narrate the reasons why the character avoids serious harm from the damage.

If hit points don't don't represent actual damage then how does that make sense with spells like Cure Serious Wounds and other forms of healing like healer kits with bandages?
Hit points do represent some physical damage, just not serious physical damage. Healing magic and other forms of healing still affect these minor wounds just as well as more serious wounds. For example, bandaging up minor cuts and abrasions helps the character rejuvenate and relieve the pain and/or fatigue of hit point loss. The key thing to remember is that it's an abstraction that allows the DM freedom to interpret and narrate it as they see fit.

What if my attack reduces the target to 0 or less hit points?
If a player is reduced to 0 or less hit points they are wounded. If a monster or NPC is reduce to 0 or less hit points they are killed.

Why are monsters killed immediately and not players?
Because unless the monsters are crucial to the story, it makes combat resolution much faster. It is assumed that players immediately execute a coup de grace on wounded monsters as a finishing move.

What if a character is wounded by poison or other types of non-physical damage?
If a character becomes wounded from non-combat damage they still receive the effects of being wounded, regardless if they show any physical signs of injury (i.e., internal injuries are still considered injuries).

Ok. I get it...but what happens once a character is wounded?
See below.
 

Damage and Dying

Once a character is reduced to 0 or less hit points, they start taking real damage. In other words, their reserves have run out and they can no longer avoid taking serious damage.

  1. Characters are fully operational as long as they have 1 hit point or more. They may have minor cuts, bruises, and superficial wounds, but they are are not impaired significantly. 
  2. Once they reach 0 or less hit points, they become Wounded (see below).That is, they have sustained a wound that impairs their ability to perform actions.
  3. If they reach a negative amount of hit points equal or greater than their Constitution score, they are Incapacitated. This means they are in critical condition and could possibly die.
  4. Characters will die if their hit points reach a negative amount greater than their Constitution score, plus their current level.

Unharmed: 1 hp or more
Wounded: 0 hp or less
Incapacitated: -(Constitution) to -(Constitution+Level)
Dead: Less than -(Constitution +Level)

Wounded
When the character reaches 0 or less hit points they become wounded. Wounded characters receive disadvantage on all attacks and saving throws until they heal back up to 1 hit point or more. This allows for a transitory stage between healthy and dying, without having to mess around with impairment rules while the character still has hit points left.

Incapacitated
Characters begin dying when they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution score. At which point, they must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw on each of their following turns (the disadvantage from being wounded does not apply for these saving throws).

If successful, the character remains dying, but their condition does not worsen.

If the saving throw fails, another DC 10 Constitution saving throw must be made. If that one fails, the character succumbs to their wounds and dies. If successful, the character stabilizes and is no longer dying.

Finally, if a dying character receives first aid or healing at any point, they immediately stabilize.

Dead
Characters will die if they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution, plus their current level. Thus, if an 8th level character with a Constitution score of 12 is down to 4 hit points then takes 24 points of damage (reducing their hit points to -20) the attack kills them outright.

Yeah. If you wanted to be a damage oriented fighter, you could. But you were always part defender no matter what. That bothers a lot of people. But, Specialties and Class built in paths, options, origins etc, I think will take the place of this. It will allow a character to be a role, without forcing the whole class to be that role. In otherwords it's letting the player pick their role instead of the rules picking it. Tools not Rules as they say.
My two copper.
Reasons I hated the Roles mechanic:

1) it was far too World of Warcraft.

2) I would rather see the characters as people than weapons platforms. An adventuring party gets together for whatever reason, and that reason is not "We need a tank! Anyone who fits the bill will do...right, here is your role in the up and coming battle!". Characters may naturally fall into these roles, but the fact that they are pre-defined by their class makes them less like "people who happen to be able to do stuff" and more like "specially bred soldiers who are designed with that function in mind".

3) as previously mentioned, it lacks options for diversification. Fighter wants stealth? Tough! He can't have it. Rogue wants to learn about religion, have a revelation and become a cleric? Tough! He can't have it.
Everything expressed in this post is my opinion, and should be taken as such. I can not declare myself to be the supreme authority on all matters...even though I am right!
I'm with Bhaelfire, Jenks and Ranger-of-Cormyr, on this. The roles are one of those things that seem like a good idea on paper but once they went and put them out there, not quite so good.
Suggestions on roles that help to make a well rounded party is something that maybe a DMG might address along with player personality types. Defining classes by roles isn't a good idea and is completely unnecessary. Actually, I find the roles to be demeaning to players. They mean to me that the developers didn't think any players were smart enough to figure out what the class is supposed to be doing based on how the class' mechanics are written.  It's never good to flatly decide all players can't figure out the fighter is supposed to hit stuff and make the same stuff want to hit them instead of the cleric or wizard. All while the rogue is using the distraction of the fighter to sneak attack said stuff.  People that play these kinds of games are usually smart enough to figure out the roles of a class without having it spelled out in front of them. New players as well as longtime players alike.

Your Fighter may be a pretty decent healer, especially with the Healer Specialty as currently written, with healing techniques from a specialized group of healers or from a far off land with mysterious techniques. This completely breaks the role mechanics as they currently stand in 4e.
So, please, no. Don't define classes by roles anymore. 
I'm not sure why people who feel constrained by roles even accept class systems to begin with. I'd like to point out that WoW wasn't originally designed with the concepts of distinct roles. The 4e roles were based on player behavior and observations of the most efficient ways in which characters coordinated and survived. It's all great to say that players shouldn't define their characters by such abstract roles, but since survival and cooperation are important elements of the game then sometimes pointing out what a class is generally buildt to do is just a matter of honesty.

When designers create classes with unspecified abilities, they frequently introduce power curves dependent on game mastery that can upset game balance. In 3.X, the diversity of roles for each class allowed some classes to be good at anything and everything while other classes excelled at nothing. In short, a class that "Is what you make of it" often allows a great deal of divergence in power based on player decisions. Furthermore, there almost inevitably emerge a set of the most efficient and effective choices that make the adaptive or customizable qualities of the class rather pointless.

I'm not saying that I think every class has to be built with a specific role in mind, but that perhaps it's to the game's benefit that players are aware of the concepts that shape their efficacy and survival. To aid in that endeavor it's good to have a language of "roles" that many players are already quite aware of.
There is nothing inherently wrong with thinking in terms of roles.


The error was in pre-determining what the role of each class was. 


The corrected this in Essentials - but it was still a very limiting system.




Carl
I think communicating ideas about roles, provided the system remains flexible on how you fill those roles, is helpful, especially for new players who probably are too unfamiliar with the world to realize things which would be common sense to their characters. A Rogue and a Wizard getting together for a treasure hunting operation are going to know that there are a lot of monsters out there which like to run up and try to tear your throat out and that they aren't going to last long in those conditions, and so they'd know they need someone with good armor who can slow down and distract those monsters while they do their work. Likewise, anyone going into life or death situations on a regular basis knows that they need to consider how they can respond to and recover from injuries.

That said, while filling the roles should be very flexible, the designers do need to keep them in mind when designing classes to make sure each class brings something to the party. A class doesn't need to be assigned a specific role, but if it can't help you fill any role, then it probably needs some work. 
but that perhaps it's to the game's benefit that players are aware of the concepts that shape their efficacy and survival. To aid in that endeavor it's good to have a language of "roles" that many players are already quite aware of.

The class description already gives a pretty good idea of what its strengths and weaknesses are. There's absolutely no reason to tack on a pointless mechanic that further pressures players into playing their character a specific way, when players already know what their characters are best at doing (because the class description says so).

Using "roles" as not just part of the language, but also as a fundamental game mechanic only pigeonholes the characters and forces the players to play them in a very linear fashion; It's one-dimensional gaming. 

Also worth mentioning, the use of the word "role" as an actual game mechanic often confuses new players. They assume that's what it means to "role-play" or play a "role-playing game." Don't laugh...I've encountered it on many occasions (several times on this forum, actually).

When designers create classes with unspecified abilities, they frequently introduce power curves dependent on game mastery that can upset game balance. In 3.X, the diversity of roles for each class allowed some classes to be good at anything and everything while other classes excelled at nothing. In short, a class that "Is what you make of it" often allows a great deal of divergence in power based on player decisions. Furthermore, there almost inevitably emerge a set of the most efficient and effective choices that make the adaptive or customizable qualities of the class rather pointless.
 
What you are describing is more of an issue with game balance and has nothing really to do with the validity of making "roles" a fundamental (or mandatory) mechanic of the game.
D&D Next - Basic and Expert Editions

I firmly believe that there should be two editions of the game; the core rules released as a "Basic" set and a more complicated expanded rules edition released as an "Expert" set. These two editions would provide separate entry points to the game; one for new players or players that want a more classic D&D game and another entry point for experienced gamers that want more options and all the other things they have come to expect from previous editions.

Also, they must release several rules modules covering the main elements of the game (i.e., classes, races, combat, magic, monsters, etc.) upon launch to further expand the game for those that still need more complexity in a particular element of the game.


Here's a mockup of the Basic Set I created.



(CLICK HERE TO VIEW LARGER IMAGE)
  

Basic Set

This boxed set contains a simple, "bare bones" edition of the game; the core rules. It's for those that want a rules-light edition of the game that is extremely modifiable or for new players that get intimidated easily by too many rules and/or options. The Basic Set contains everything needed to play with all the "classic" D&D races (i.e., Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling) and classes (i.e., Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard) all the way up to maximum level (i.e., 20th Level).

The Basic boxed set contains:

Quick Start Rules
A "choose your own way" adventure intended as an intro to RPGs and basic D&D terms.

Player's Handbook
(Softcover, 125 pages)
Features rules for playing the classic D&D races and classes all the way up to 20th level.

Dungeon Master's Guide

(Softcover, 125 pages)
Includes the basic rules for dungeon masters.

Monster Manual
(Softcover, 100 pages)
Includes all the classic iconic monsters from D&D. 

Introductory Adventure
(Keep on the Borderlands)
An introductory adventure for beginning players and DMs.

Also includes: 

Character Sheets
Reference Sheets
Set of Dice


Expert Set

A set of hardbound rules that contains the core rules plus expanded races and classes, more spells and a large selection of optional rules modules — that is, pretty much everything that experienced players have come to expect. Each expert edition manual may be purchased separately, or in a boxed set. The Expert set includes:

Expert PHB (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus 10 playable races, 10 character classes, expanded selection of spells and rules modules for players.)
Expert DMG (Hardcover, 250 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus expanded rules modules for DMs.)
Expert MM (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes an expanded list of monsters and creatures to challenge characters)


Expansions

These expansion rules modules can be used with both the Basic and Expert sets. Each expansion covers one specific aspect of the game, such as character creation, combat, spells, monsters, etc.) 

Hall of Heroes (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes a vast selection of playable character races and classes, new and old all in one book)
Combat and Tactics (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes dozens of new and old optional rules for combat all in one book)
Creature Compendium (Hardcover, 350 pages.$35 Includes hundreds of monsters, new and old all in one book)
The Grimoire (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes hundreds of new and old spells all in one book)





A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage

A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage and Hit Points

In my personal campaigns, I use the following system for damage and dying. It's a slight modification of the long-standing principles etsablished by the D&D game, only with a new definition of what 0 or less hit points means. I've been using it for years because it works really well. However, I've made some adjustments to take advantage of the D&D Next rules. I've decided to present the first part in a Q&A format for better clarity. So let's begin...

What are hit points?
The premise is very simple, but often misunderstood; hit points are an abstraction that represent the character's ability to avoid serious damage, not necessarily their ability to take serious damage. This is a very important distinction. They represent a combination of skillful maneuvering, toughness, stamina and luck. Some targets have more hit points because they are physically tougher and are harder to injure...others have more because they are experienced combatants and have learned how to turn near fatal blows into mere scratches by skillful maneuvering...and then others are just plain lucky. Once a character runs out of hit points they become vulnerable to serious life-threatening injuries.

So what exactly does it mean to "hit" with a successful attack roll, then?
It means that through your own skill and ability you may have wounded your target if the target lacks the hit points to avoid the full brunt of the attack. That's an important thing to keep in mind; a successful "hit" does not necessarily mean you physically damaged your target. It just means that your attack was well placed and forced the target to exert themselves in such a way as to leave them vulnerable to further attacks. For example, instead of severing the target's arm, the attack merely grazes them leaving a minor cut.

But the attack did 25 points of damage! Why did it only "graze" the target?
Because the target has more than 25 hit points. Your attack forced them to exert a lot of energy to avoid the attack, but because of their combat skill, toughness, stamina and luck, they managed to avoid being seriously injured. However, because of this attack, they may not have the reserves to avoid your next attack. Perhaps you knocked them off balance or the attack left them so fatigued they lack the stamina to evade another attack. It's the DM's call on how they want to narrate the exact reason the blow didn't kill or wound the target.

Yeah, but what about "touch" attacks that rely on physical contact?
Making physical contact with a target is a lot different than striking them, so these types of attacks are the exception. If a touch attack succeeds, the attacker manages to make contact with their target.

If hit points and weapon damage don't always represent actual damage to the target, then what does it represent?
Think of the damage from an attack as more like a "threat level" rather than actual physical damage that transfers directly to the target's body. That is, the more damage an attack does, the harder it is to avoid serious injury. For example, an attack that causes 14 points of damage is more likely to wound the target than 3 points of damage (depending on how many hit points the target has left). The higher the damage, the greater the chance is that the target will become seriously injured. So, an attack that does 34 points of damage could be thought of as a "threat level of 34." If the target doesn't have the hit points to negate that threat, they become seriously injured.

Ok, but shouldn't armor reduce the amount of damage delivered from an attack?
It does reduce damage; by making it harder for an attack to cause serious injury. A successful hit against an armored target suggests that the attack may have circumvented the target's armor by striking in a vulnerable area.

What about poison and other types of non-combat damage?
Hit point loss from non-physical forms of damage represents the character spitting the poison out just in time before it takes full strength or perhaps the poison just wasn't strong enough to affect them drastically, but still weakens them. Again, it's the DMs call on how to narrate the reasons why the character avoids serious harm from the damage.

If hit points don't don't represent actual damage then how does that make sense with spells like Cure Serious Wounds and other forms of healing like healer kits with bandages?
Hit points do represent some physical damage, just not serious physical damage. Healing magic and other forms of healing still affect these minor wounds just as well as more serious wounds. For example, bandaging up minor cuts and abrasions helps the character rejuvenate and relieve the pain and/or fatigue of hit point loss. The key thing to remember is that it's an abstraction that allows the DM freedom to interpret and narrate it as they see fit.

What if my attack reduces the target to 0 or less hit points?
If a player is reduced to 0 or less hit points they are wounded. If a monster or NPC is reduce to 0 or less hit points they are killed.

Why are monsters killed immediately and not players?
Because unless the monsters are crucial to the story, it makes combat resolution much faster. It is assumed that players immediately execute a coup de grace on wounded monsters as a finishing move.

What if a character is wounded by poison or other types of non-physical damage?
If a character becomes wounded from non-combat damage they still receive the effects of being wounded, regardless if they show any physical signs of injury (i.e., internal injuries are still considered injuries).

Ok. I get it...but what happens once a character is wounded?
See below.
 

Damage and Dying

Once a character is reduced to 0 or less hit points, they start taking real damage. In other words, their reserves have run out and they can no longer avoid taking serious damage.

  1. Characters are fully operational as long as they have 1 hit point or more. They may have minor cuts, bruises, and superficial wounds, but they are are not impaired significantly. 
  2. Once they reach 0 or less hit points, they become Wounded (see below).That is, they have sustained a wound that impairs their ability to perform actions.
  3. If they reach a negative amount of hit points equal or greater than their Constitution score, they are Incapacitated. This means they are in critical condition and could possibly die.
  4. Characters will die if their hit points reach a negative amount greater than their Constitution score, plus their current level.

Unharmed: 1 hp or more
Wounded: 0 hp or less
Incapacitated: -(Constitution) to -(Constitution+Level)
Dead: Less than -(Constitution +Level)

Wounded
When the character reaches 0 or less hit points they become wounded. Wounded characters receive disadvantage on all attacks and saving throws until they heal back up to 1 hit point or more. This allows for a transitory stage between healthy and dying, without having to mess around with impairment rules while the character still has hit points left.

Incapacitated
Characters begin dying when they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution score. At which point, they must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw on each of their following turns (the disadvantage from being wounded does not apply for these saving throws).

If successful, the character remains dying, but their condition does not worsen.

If the saving throw fails, another DC 10 Constitution saving throw must be made. If that one fails, the character succumbs to their wounds and dies. If successful, the character stabilizes and is no longer dying.

Finally, if a dying character receives first aid or healing at any point, they immediately stabilize.

Dead
Characters will die if they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution, plus their current level. Thus, if an 8th level character with a Constitution score of 12 is down to 4 hit points then takes 24 points of damage (reducing their hit points to -20) the attack kills them outright.

The error was in pre-determining what the role of each class was. 

Exactly. Describing what a class excels at and what its weakness are will give any player a very good idea of how to play their character most effectively. There's no need to implement a rigid role system that obligates players to play their character that way.
D&D Next - Basic and Expert Editions

I firmly believe that there should be two editions of the game; the core rules released as a "Basic" set and a more complicated expanded rules edition released as an "Expert" set. These two editions would provide separate entry points to the game; one for new players or players that want a more classic D&D game and another entry point for experienced gamers that want more options and all the other things they have come to expect from previous editions.

Also, they must release several rules modules covering the main elements of the game (i.e., classes, races, combat, magic, monsters, etc.) upon launch to further expand the game for those that still need more complexity in a particular element of the game.


Here's a mockup of the Basic Set I created.



(CLICK HERE TO VIEW LARGER IMAGE)
  

Basic Set

This boxed set contains a simple, "bare bones" edition of the game; the core rules. It's for those that want a rules-light edition of the game that is extremely modifiable or for new players that get intimidated easily by too many rules and/or options. The Basic Set contains everything needed to play with all the "classic" D&D races (i.e., Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling) and classes (i.e., Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard) all the way up to maximum level (i.e., 20th Level).

The Basic boxed set contains:

Quick Start Rules
A "choose your own way" adventure intended as an intro to RPGs and basic D&D terms.

Player's Handbook
(Softcover, 125 pages)
Features rules for playing the classic D&D races and classes all the way up to 20th level.

Dungeon Master's Guide

(Softcover, 125 pages)
Includes the basic rules for dungeon masters.

Monster Manual
(Softcover, 100 pages)
Includes all the classic iconic monsters from D&D. 

Introductory Adventure
(Keep on the Borderlands)
An introductory adventure for beginning players and DMs.

Also includes: 

Character Sheets
Reference Sheets
Set of Dice


Expert Set

A set of hardbound rules that contains the core rules plus expanded races and classes, more spells and a large selection of optional rules modules — that is, pretty much everything that experienced players have come to expect. Each expert edition manual may be purchased separately, or in a boxed set. The Expert set includes:

Expert PHB (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus 10 playable races, 10 character classes, expanded selection of spells and rules modules for players.)
Expert DMG (Hardcover, 250 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus expanded rules modules for DMs.)
Expert MM (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes an expanded list of monsters and creatures to challenge characters)


Expansions

These expansion rules modules can be used with both the Basic and Expert sets. Each expansion covers one specific aspect of the game, such as character creation, combat, spells, monsters, etc.) 

Hall of Heroes (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes a vast selection of playable character races and classes, new and old all in one book)
Combat and Tactics (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes dozens of new and old optional rules for combat all in one book)
Creature Compendium (Hardcover, 350 pages.$35 Includes hundreds of monsters, new and old all in one book)
The Grimoire (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes hundreds of new and old spells all in one book)





A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage

A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage and Hit Points

In my personal campaigns, I use the following system for damage and dying. It's a slight modification of the long-standing principles etsablished by the D&D game, only with a new definition of what 0 or less hit points means. I've been using it for years because it works really well. However, I've made some adjustments to take advantage of the D&D Next rules. I've decided to present the first part in a Q&A format for better clarity. So let's begin...

What are hit points?
The premise is very simple, but often misunderstood; hit points are an abstraction that represent the character's ability to avoid serious damage, not necessarily their ability to take serious damage. This is a very important distinction. They represent a combination of skillful maneuvering, toughness, stamina and luck. Some targets have more hit points because they are physically tougher and are harder to injure...others have more because they are experienced combatants and have learned how to turn near fatal blows into mere scratches by skillful maneuvering...and then others are just plain lucky. Once a character runs out of hit points they become vulnerable to serious life-threatening injuries.

So what exactly does it mean to "hit" with a successful attack roll, then?
It means that through your own skill and ability you may have wounded your target if the target lacks the hit points to avoid the full brunt of the attack. That's an important thing to keep in mind; a successful "hit" does not necessarily mean you physically damaged your target. It just means that your attack was well placed and forced the target to exert themselves in such a way as to leave them vulnerable to further attacks. For example, instead of severing the target's arm, the attack merely grazes them leaving a minor cut.

But the attack did 25 points of damage! Why did it only "graze" the target?
Because the target has more than 25 hit points. Your attack forced them to exert a lot of energy to avoid the attack, but because of their combat skill, toughness, stamina and luck, they managed to avoid being seriously injured. However, because of this attack, they may not have the reserves to avoid your next attack. Perhaps you knocked them off balance or the attack left them so fatigued they lack the stamina to evade another attack. It's the DM's call on how they want to narrate the exact reason the blow didn't kill or wound the target.

Yeah, but what about "touch" attacks that rely on physical contact?
Making physical contact with a target is a lot different than striking them, so these types of attacks are the exception. If a touch attack succeeds, the attacker manages to make contact with their target.

If hit points and weapon damage don't always represent actual damage to the target, then what does it represent?
Think of the damage from an attack as more like a "threat level" rather than actual physical damage that transfers directly to the target's body. That is, the more damage an attack does, the harder it is to avoid serious injury. For example, an attack that causes 14 points of damage is more likely to wound the target than 3 points of damage (depending on how many hit points the target has left). The higher the damage, the greater the chance is that the target will become seriously injured. So, an attack that does 34 points of damage could be thought of as a "threat level of 34." If the target doesn't have the hit points to negate that threat, they become seriously injured.

Ok, but shouldn't armor reduce the amount of damage delivered from an attack?
It does reduce damage; by making it harder for an attack to cause serious injury. A successful hit against an armored target suggests that the attack may have circumvented the target's armor by striking in a vulnerable area.

What about poison and other types of non-combat damage?
Hit point loss from non-physical forms of damage represents the character spitting the poison out just in time before it takes full strength or perhaps the poison just wasn't strong enough to affect them drastically, but still weakens them. Again, it's the DMs call on how to narrate the reasons why the character avoids serious harm from the damage.

If hit points don't don't represent actual damage then how does that make sense with spells like Cure Serious Wounds and other forms of healing like healer kits with bandages?
Hit points do represent some physical damage, just not serious physical damage. Healing magic and other forms of healing still affect these minor wounds just as well as more serious wounds. For example, bandaging up minor cuts and abrasions helps the character rejuvenate and relieve the pain and/or fatigue of hit point loss. The key thing to remember is that it's an abstraction that allows the DM freedom to interpret and narrate it as they see fit.

What if my attack reduces the target to 0 or less hit points?
If a player is reduced to 0 or less hit points they are wounded. If a monster or NPC is reduce to 0 or less hit points they are killed.

Why are monsters killed immediately and not players?
Because unless the monsters are crucial to the story, it makes combat resolution much faster. It is assumed that players immediately execute a coup de grace on wounded monsters as a finishing move.

What if a character is wounded by poison or other types of non-physical damage?
If a character becomes wounded from non-combat damage they still receive the effects of being wounded, regardless if they show any physical signs of injury (i.e., internal injuries are still considered injuries).

Ok. I get it...but what happens once a character is wounded?
See below.
 

Damage and Dying

Once a character is reduced to 0 or less hit points, they start taking real damage. In other words, their reserves have run out and they can no longer avoid taking serious damage.

  1. Characters are fully operational as long as they have 1 hit point or more. They may have minor cuts, bruises, and superficial wounds, but they are are not impaired significantly. 
  2. Once they reach 0 or less hit points, they become Wounded (see below).That is, they have sustained a wound that impairs their ability to perform actions.
  3. If they reach a negative amount of hit points equal or greater than their Constitution score, they are Incapacitated. This means they are in critical condition and could possibly die.
  4. Characters will die if their hit points reach a negative amount greater than their Constitution score, plus their current level.

Unharmed: 1 hp or more
Wounded: 0 hp or less
Incapacitated: -(Constitution) to -(Constitution+Level)
Dead: Less than -(Constitution +Level)

Wounded
When the character reaches 0 or less hit points they become wounded. Wounded characters receive disadvantage on all attacks and saving throws until they heal back up to 1 hit point or more. This allows for a transitory stage between healthy and dying, without having to mess around with impairment rules while the character still has hit points left.

Incapacitated
Characters begin dying when they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution score. At which point, they must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw on each of their following turns (the disadvantage from being wounded does not apply for these saving throws).

If successful, the character remains dying, but their condition does not worsen.

If the saving throw fails, another DC 10 Constitution saving throw must be made. If that one fails, the character succumbs to their wounds and dies. If successful, the character stabilizes and is no longer dying.

Finally, if a dying character receives first aid or healing at any point, they immediately stabilize.

Dead
Characters will die if they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution, plus their current level. Thus, if an 8th level character with a Constitution score of 12 is down to 4 hit points then takes 24 points of damage (reducing their hit points to -20) the attack kills them outright.

@reinheart
I'd like to point out that WoW wasn't originally designed with the concepts of distinct roles.

bogus statment. I played WOW from pre launch beta up till two months ago.... it was always built with a dps, tank, or healer roll for each class. It was at first just the fighter that was good at tanking then they started min/ maxing the classes to make other classes just as good at filling the tank and healer roll.

4E did a much better job of implementing the roll for classes, but it seriously restricted creativity. You could not play a fighter as a damage dealer you were stuck as a tank. Even the supposed method of making a fighter striker started weak and became pathetic over the different releases.

In older editions like 2E a figher could be anything. You could make him a range damage dealer using speed and light armor or a tank with sword and board in heavy armor or a unarmored fencing master or any type of weapon using concept you could come up with. I have run in parties where the "tank" was a cleric the fighter did damage via bow and the thief was a line fighting master... you can't do that in a role structured game.

So I will politely disagree that nex should go back to a role based design. That limitation via design is a huge turn off to me and apparently others who have also said they do not like the role based design.     
I didn't find anything particularly wrong with roles, simply because they were so obvious once you understood them. Leaders are people who heal and buff the party, Clerics would obviously fall into a leader "role" and they have for most of DnD's history. One aspect of Roles and Power Sources that I did like was simple ease of classification. I had no idea what a Battlemind was, and I didn't want to take time to read the description since 4e ended up with so many classes, but if you told me it was a Psionic Defender I immediately knew the sort of abilites that class probably had, and knew it wasn't the sort of thing I enjoed playing. I didn't need to read through the class description and then figure out if I liked it, I could hear two words and get a sense of what the class would be designed to do. People may feel restricted by them, but the concept behind them is a staple of DnD.

Also, I'm not sure if this was a result of the Role system or not, but I liked the concept of Warlords and other healers that did not have to be divine. I also liked that there were magical classes that were not wimpy glass cannons (Swordmages and Bards) I doubt this way of thinking will make it into 5e, but I apprecited the fact that you could build a group of graduates from a magical academy, or a military unit with no divine or arcane abilities and not feel like you were lacking in some aspect of the "ideal group"

As for BhaelFire's comment "There's no need to implement a rigid role system that obligates players to play their character that way. ", he's right in that the names need not apply. But Clerics are going to be the go to guy for healing and buffs, wizards are going to be controlling the battlefield from the rear of the party, Fighter are going to take the brunt of the damage, and Rogues are going to dish out a lot of concentrated damage. These are how the classes are built right now, and whether you call them by a role or not, they still do the same things.
In reading some of these responses, I think many have mis-understood my main point.  I am not advocating for roles as a mechanic, or even for roles to be explicitly stated as that restricts character diversity and options without any real gameplay advantages that I see.  However, I think it IS useful to consider how every class could play meaningful (if not equally effective) roles in every situstion. 

For example, could a wizard tool to be a viable defender?  Before you write this off as a crazy notion, I claim the ability already exists in the limited playtest materials we have!  Simply use ready an action with web to prevent an opponent from reaching vulnerable characters.  Use grease on an enemy weapon (at present the spell does not limit its use to untended items).  Use mage hand to pull on enemy's arms to inhibit their fighting effectiveness.  I won't claim such a character to be as effective as a fighter or war priest with the protector specialty, but the character would not be useless.  It seems to me that D&D next already provides almost every class with options to fill most combat roles (with the exception of healer -- which I think needs to change, both for the sake of non-clerics and clerics).

On the other hand, let's take a non-combat situation: crossing a thirty foot wide, 200 foot deep mountain chasm in a race to warn a dwarven village of an impending invasion.  A fifth level warlock could almost teleport across (and could surely improvise some way to succeed).  A rogue might have a viable chance of climbing down -- as long as there is not a raging river at the bottom, and then back up (much, much harder), though that process might be too slow.  Any other class probably has too many risks of catestrophic failure to attempt this.  A wizard with the right spell might be able to improvise a web bridge, spreading tents, clothes, and other debris across the top to prevent it from entangling characters.  I also expect at some point to see wizards with transportation spells able to easily handle the situation.  But assuming there are no suitable trees handy to improvise a bridge what can a fighter (or cleric) usefully contribute?  Strength to lower a character down on a rope (or four ropes tied together)?  Good luck getting the character up the other side!  Bravado to jump?  Better hope you've got a wizard companion with feather fall! 

I love to be creative, but all characters need some tools for such situations or their player may as well be napping.  Thinking about non-combat roles can help developers insure all character classes viable options and opportunities to shine in a unique way.
You could not play a fighter as a damage dealer you were stuck as a tank.


Can't stop laughing.
 
The error was in pre-determining what the role of each class was. 


Not determining roles at the design level whether they name it or not is a sure fire call to crafting pointless incompetant classes because they "sound" interesting. 
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

I think what advocates of the role system fail to see is that the reason "roles" came into being is because of bad roleplaying. Roles are a one-dimensional and extremely linear way of thinking about the game. The terms meatshield and healbot, for example, were derogatory "pet" names used by players that had become bored with the game and reduced it to its base mechanical parts. Having these terms be part of the official rules is the same as having an experience/treasure award system called Monty Haul Loot Table or some such. 

The reason these terms are popular in video games is because you simply can not have the same level of rich, detailed roleplaying that you can with a pen and paper RPG. So it's forgivable and can be written off as just one of the many limitations of video gaming. There's absolutely no reason to force such an open-ended game like D&D into these absurd and restricting ideals.

 
D&D Next - Basic and Expert Editions

I firmly believe that there should be two editions of the game; the core rules released as a "Basic" set and a more complicated expanded rules edition released as an "Expert" set. These two editions would provide separate entry points to the game; one for new players or players that want a more classic D&D game and another entry point for experienced gamers that want more options and all the other things they have come to expect from previous editions.

Also, they must release several rules modules covering the main elements of the game (i.e., classes, races, combat, magic, monsters, etc.) upon launch to further expand the game for those that still need more complexity in a particular element of the game.


Here's a mockup of the Basic Set I created.



(CLICK HERE TO VIEW LARGER IMAGE)
  

Basic Set

This boxed set contains a simple, "bare bones" edition of the game; the core rules. It's for those that want a rules-light edition of the game that is extremely modifiable or for new players that get intimidated easily by too many rules and/or options. The Basic Set contains everything needed to play with all the "classic" D&D races (i.e., Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling) and classes (i.e., Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard) all the way up to maximum level (i.e., 20th Level).

The Basic boxed set contains:

Quick Start Rules
A "choose your own way" adventure intended as an intro to RPGs and basic D&D terms.

Player's Handbook
(Softcover, 125 pages)
Features rules for playing the classic D&D races and classes all the way up to 20th level.

Dungeon Master's Guide

(Softcover, 125 pages)
Includes the basic rules for dungeon masters.

Monster Manual
(Softcover, 100 pages)
Includes all the classic iconic monsters from D&D. 

Introductory Adventure
(Keep on the Borderlands)
An introductory adventure for beginning players and DMs.

Also includes: 

Character Sheets
Reference Sheets
Set of Dice


Expert Set

A set of hardbound rules that contains the core rules plus expanded races and classes, more spells and a large selection of optional rules modules — that is, pretty much everything that experienced players have come to expect. Each expert edition manual may be purchased separately, or in a boxed set. The Expert set includes:

Expert PHB (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus 10 playable races, 10 character classes, expanded selection of spells and rules modules for players.)
Expert DMG (Hardcover, 250 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus expanded rules modules for DMs.)
Expert MM (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes an expanded list of monsters and creatures to challenge characters)


Expansions

These expansion rules modules can be used with both the Basic and Expert sets. Each expansion covers one specific aspect of the game, such as character creation, combat, spells, monsters, etc.) 

Hall of Heroes (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes a vast selection of playable character races and classes, new and old all in one book)
Combat and Tactics (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes dozens of new and old optional rules for combat all in one book)
Creature Compendium (Hardcover, 350 pages.$35 Includes hundreds of monsters, new and old all in one book)
The Grimoire (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes hundreds of new and old spells all in one book)





A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage

A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage and Hit Points

In my personal campaigns, I use the following system for damage and dying. It's a slight modification of the long-standing principles etsablished by the D&D game, only with a new definition of what 0 or less hit points means. I've been using it for years because it works really well. However, I've made some adjustments to take advantage of the D&D Next rules. I've decided to present the first part in a Q&A format for better clarity. So let's begin...

What are hit points?
The premise is very simple, but often misunderstood; hit points are an abstraction that represent the character's ability to avoid serious damage, not necessarily their ability to take serious damage. This is a very important distinction. They represent a combination of skillful maneuvering, toughness, stamina and luck. Some targets have more hit points because they are physically tougher and are harder to injure...others have more because they are experienced combatants and have learned how to turn near fatal blows into mere scratches by skillful maneuvering...and then others are just plain lucky. Once a character runs out of hit points they become vulnerable to serious life-threatening injuries.

So what exactly does it mean to "hit" with a successful attack roll, then?
It means that through your own skill and ability you may have wounded your target if the target lacks the hit points to avoid the full brunt of the attack. That's an important thing to keep in mind; a successful "hit" does not necessarily mean you physically damaged your target. It just means that your attack was well placed and forced the target to exert themselves in such a way as to leave them vulnerable to further attacks. For example, instead of severing the target's arm, the attack merely grazes them leaving a minor cut.

But the attack did 25 points of damage! Why did it only "graze" the target?
Because the target has more than 25 hit points. Your attack forced them to exert a lot of energy to avoid the attack, but because of their combat skill, toughness, stamina and luck, they managed to avoid being seriously injured. However, because of this attack, they may not have the reserves to avoid your next attack. Perhaps you knocked them off balance or the attack left them so fatigued they lack the stamina to evade another attack. It's the DM's call on how they want to narrate the exact reason the blow didn't kill or wound the target.

Yeah, but what about "touch" attacks that rely on physical contact?
Making physical contact with a target is a lot different than striking them, so these types of attacks are the exception. If a touch attack succeeds, the attacker manages to make contact with their target.

If hit points and weapon damage don't always represent actual damage to the target, then what does it represent?
Think of the damage from an attack as more like a "threat level" rather than actual physical damage that transfers directly to the target's body. That is, the more damage an attack does, the harder it is to avoid serious injury. For example, an attack that causes 14 points of damage is more likely to wound the target than 3 points of damage (depending on how many hit points the target has left). The higher the damage, the greater the chance is that the target will become seriously injured. So, an attack that does 34 points of damage could be thought of as a "threat level of 34." If the target doesn't have the hit points to negate that threat, they become seriously injured.

Ok, but shouldn't armor reduce the amount of damage delivered from an attack?
It does reduce damage; by making it harder for an attack to cause serious injury. A successful hit against an armored target suggests that the attack may have circumvented the target's armor by striking in a vulnerable area.

What about poison and other types of non-combat damage?
Hit point loss from non-physical forms of damage represents the character spitting the poison out just in time before it takes full strength or perhaps the poison just wasn't strong enough to affect them drastically, but still weakens them. Again, it's the DMs call on how to narrate the reasons why the character avoids serious harm from the damage.

If hit points don't don't represent actual damage then how does that make sense with spells like Cure Serious Wounds and other forms of healing like healer kits with bandages?
Hit points do represent some physical damage, just not serious physical damage. Healing magic and other forms of healing still affect these minor wounds just as well as more serious wounds. For example, bandaging up minor cuts and abrasions helps the character rejuvenate and relieve the pain and/or fatigue of hit point loss. The key thing to remember is that it's an abstraction that allows the DM freedom to interpret and narrate it as they see fit.

What if my attack reduces the target to 0 or less hit points?
If a player is reduced to 0 or less hit points they are wounded. If a monster or NPC is reduce to 0 or less hit points they are killed.

Why are monsters killed immediately and not players?
Because unless the monsters are crucial to the story, it makes combat resolution much faster. It is assumed that players immediately execute a coup de grace on wounded monsters as a finishing move.

What if a character is wounded by poison or other types of non-physical damage?
If a character becomes wounded from non-combat damage they still receive the effects of being wounded, regardless if they show any physical signs of injury (i.e., internal injuries are still considered injuries).

Ok. I get it...but what happens once a character is wounded?
See below.
 

Damage and Dying

Once a character is reduced to 0 or less hit points, they start taking real damage. In other words, their reserves have run out and they can no longer avoid taking serious damage.

  1. Characters are fully operational as long as they have 1 hit point or more. They may have minor cuts, bruises, and superficial wounds, but they are are not impaired significantly. 
  2. Once they reach 0 or less hit points, they become Wounded (see below).That is, they have sustained a wound that impairs their ability to perform actions.
  3. If they reach a negative amount of hit points equal or greater than their Constitution score, they are Incapacitated. This means they are in critical condition and could possibly die.
  4. Characters will die if their hit points reach a negative amount greater than their Constitution score, plus their current level.

Unharmed: 1 hp or more
Wounded: 0 hp or less
Incapacitated: -(Constitution) to -(Constitution+Level)
Dead: Less than -(Constitution +Level)

Wounded
When the character reaches 0 or less hit points they become wounded. Wounded characters receive disadvantage on all attacks and saving throws until they heal back up to 1 hit point or more. This allows for a transitory stage between healthy and dying, without having to mess around with impairment rules while the character still has hit points left.

Incapacitated
Characters begin dying when they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution score. At which point, they must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw on each of their following turns (the disadvantage from being wounded does not apply for these saving throws).

If successful, the character remains dying, but their condition does not worsen.

If the saving throw fails, another DC 10 Constitution saving throw must be made. If that one fails, the character succumbs to their wounds and dies. If successful, the character stabilizes and is no longer dying.

Finally, if a dying character receives first aid or healing at any point, they immediately stabilize.

Dead
Characters will die if they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution, plus their current level. Thus, if an 8th level character with a Constitution score of 12 is down to 4 hit points then takes 24 points of damage (reducing their hit points to -20) the attack kills them outright.

 
The error was in pre-determining what the role of each class was. 


Not determining roles at the design level whether they name it or not is a sure fire call to crafting pointless incompetant classes because they "sound" interesting. 



Exhibit A: Monk (3rd, v3.5 edition)

Exhibit B: Hexblade (3rd, v3.5 edition)

Exhibit C: Samurai (3rd, v3.5 edition)

Exhibit D: Vampire (4E and that class had a supposed defining role)

Exhibit E: Bladesinger (4E and despite it being a "Controller" it really really really wanted to be a "Striker")

Exhibit F: Ranger (3rd, v3.5)

All of the classes I just mentioned were seemingly directionless in their design for helping the party or applying usefulness to any one particular group.

• The Monk varied so much that one half thinks they're SO OP, BROKEN!! while the other half just laughs and laughs at this absurd comment.

• The Hexblade might have had a bit better focus if well......his Hexing ability didn't suck and he got some decent spells into his spell list.

• The Samurai.........man I cannot say one good thing about it. Period.

• The Vampire is one of the laughing stocks of 4E classes. It's so bass-ackwards in it's design to be something it definitly isn't. I would say out of all the classes in 4E, this one really has no "Role" because......well just look at it :facepalm:.

• The Bladesinger, despite my love for the class and the fun it is to play one, is designed to be a controller but the class features disable it at every turn. It's a quasi-striler/controller which would've just been better build AS a "striker".

• The Ranger is one of those iconic classes that got "reinvented" in 3E but what......exactly does he do? He can track and do wilderness survival well. And............................................... that's about it. Sure, he's good at fighting a few specific creatures but unless you went into a campaign knowing that you'll be fighting X, Y, and Z then it's a crap-shoot and you get an ability that's used sparingly at the table.


These are prime examples of WHY roles were introduced and why they're important in class design. Perhaps 4E went too far with the naming of each and every one. Perhaps it should've felt less structured and I hope D&D:Next can fix that. But without SOME design goal for a class, we get features and abilities that are so niché that it's extreamly hard to take advantage of the features your given.
Roles have existed from the very beginning of D&D.  To claim otherwise is simple ignorance.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Roles have existed from the very beginning of D&D.  To claim otherwise is simple ignorance.




some people hate being labeled and pigeon holed into roles in an overt way.

these are the same people that don't see the real role limitations that exist in earlier editions, they have also probably not had their teenage existential crises yet either.
The reason roles bothered me, as presented by 4e.

I have played since 1e.  Never once had anyone told me I was the "defender" or "striker" or what not.  Granted, when I took a Cleric, I knew what my job was, but I was never called "support, healer, etc".

On the flip side, when I played a fighter, and charged into battle with the orge before us, no one ever yelled because I was suppose to be "defending" anything.  Surprisingly, when the Orge slipped past and went after the Cleric, I knew my job was to get it away from him. 

Now, I've also played EQ, WoW and a list of other games.  In WoW I picked a Paladin, and from level 10 on (once you picked your role) I had a single job.  If I did not do it, others complained. If I was not good at it, you got booted.  I hated this in WoW.

When 4e came out, I was DMing.  But I saw the same response by players (and no not because of WoW).  The tag "defender" automatically made everyone at the table assume how the character was to be played.  I had a kid that wanted to be a Warlord, but was clearly a front line "striker" personality.   Players complained.

So, I fully realize that every class really does have a "role" in the game.  Your wizard is likely never to be the front line attacker, but "role" is a players personality more than a characrer's job.

With 5e and the backgrounds and specialities, I have yet to see the "role" issue.  Our fighter knows what to do, she tries to keep the wizard and cleric alive when needed, but her personality, background and speciality are what define her now, not a tag that reads "defender".

I would be very dismayed to see them return.

"The turning of the tide always begins with one soldier's decision to head back into the fray"

I think what advocates of the role system fail to see is that the reason "roles" came into being is because of bad roleplaying. Roles are a one-dimensional and extremely linear way of thinking about the game. The terms meatshield and healbot, for example, were derogatory "pet" names used by players that had become bored with the game and reduced it to its base mechanical parts. Having these terms be part of the official rules is the same as having an experience/treasure award system called Monty Haul Loot Table or some such. 

The reason these terms are popular in video games is because you simply can not have the same level of rich, detailed roleplaying that you can with a pen and paper RPG. So it's forgivable and can be written off as just one of the many limitations of video gaming. There's absolutely no reason to force such an open-ended game like D&D into these absurd and restricting ideals.

 



So, if I understand your comment a fighter who stands in front of his allies and takes the brunt of the damage is doing it wrong? A cleric who makes sure to heal his allies and buffs them before big fights isn't using his class to it's fullest potential? I guess that means a wizard should be on the front line and rogues are our healers, right?

The problem with your assertion is that these terms fit with what a class is supposed to be doing. Clerics heal. They can and should do more, but a cleric will always be a healer, because that is the base assumption of the class.

Look at the classes right now, fighters have mechanics to prevent nearby allies from taking damage no other class has this right now, clerics have a daily healing ability that is baked into their class, and the ability to swap out spells for "cure" spells, no other class has in battle healing. Wizards get spells such as web and grease which can control the battlefield and give advantage to his allies, no other class can do that. The roles are out there, and there are some builds that are different for example the healer specialty allows for increased healing out of combat, but this only adds a flavor of leader to whatever class chooses this. The only difference we  have is that we aren't using the names from 4e
And frankly thats one of the things that is wrong with classes so far.  Entirely too much baked in purpose.

As already stated, I *LIKED* the 3e Fighter and its ability to be a ranged attacker, a melee monster, a heavy tank, or virtually anything else you could dream up to make it.  It was the ultimate blank slate you could draw anything you wanted on.

To use your gimmicky 4e terms (No, its not unfair to call 4e WoW like when it flat out starts defining the classes as Tank, Heals, and DPS under different names), you could be a defender, a striker, or a controller with just the PHB fighter.  Full plate and shield?  Congrats, you're a defender.  Greatsword?  Get on the front lines, you're a striker.  Bec de'corbin or anything else that lets you make ranged trips?  You're a controller thats going to keep the entire battlefield flat on their butts the whole time.

IMO, if you can look at a class and say "This is what this class is supposed to do" then it is a poorly designed class.  It should be giving you a toolbox, and how you use that toolbox should be completely up to you.  If I want to make a war domain cleric that never casts a single healing spell in his life, then that should be a perfectly viable option.  It was in 3e (cleric archers were some of the best in the game), it should be again.
One of the good things about the mechanical roles in 4e was that it forced the designers to actually come up with mechanics to support what role a character was supposed to be filling. Prior to 4e, if you wanted to be a "defender," your options were "hope the DM creates terrain that allows you to physically block access to the squishy party members" or "convince the DM the monsters should be attacking your character instead of the Rogue who is standing right next to you." 4e brought mechanics that allowed you to encourage monsters to attack you instead of your allies. They had their own problems, but they were a step in the right direction. Likewise, naming a "leader" role and then having to fill it with something besides "cleric" and "druid," really opened the door to non-divine healing. I like the way Next is improving upon those ideas while also keeping roles flexible.

@Edymnion Whether or not it's unfar to call 4e WoW, simply comparing it to WoW with no further explanation as to why that's a bad thing doesn't add anything to the discussion. I could call any edition of D&D WoW on the basis that they all have classes, dungeons, and parties, but that's irrelevant.

(And if you want to be able to make a War Cleric that never heals, we're going to need some better non-cleric healing in Next) 
So, if I understand your comment a fighter who stands in front of his allies and takes the brunt of the damage is doing it wrong? 

No, I don't think you undertsand my comment. Quite the contrary, there are no wrong ways of playing your class. That was my point. Having official rules for roles only places pressure on players to play their characters within strict, one-dimensional guidelines. It quells creativity within the game and rewards players for thinking inside the box...which is very bad for a game like D&D.

D&D Next - Basic and Expert Editions

I firmly believe that there should be two editions of the game; the core rules released as a "Basic" set and a more complicated expanded rules edition released as an "Expert" set. These two editions would provide separate entry points to the game; one for new players or players that want a more classic D&D game and another entry point for experienced gamers that want more options and all the other things they have come to expect from previous editions.

Also, they must release several rules modules covering the main elements of the game (i.e., classes, races, combat, magic, monsters, etc.) upon launch to further expand the game for those that still need more complexity in a particular element of the game.


Here's a mockup of the Basic Set I created.



(CLICK HERE TO VIEW LARGER IMAGE)
  

Basic Set

This boxed set contains a simple, "bare bones" edition of the game; the core rules. It's for those that want a rules-light edition of the game that is extremely modifiable or for new players that get intimidated easily by too many rules and/or options. The Basic Set contains everything needed to play with all the "classic" D&D races (i.e., Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling) and classes (i.e., Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard) all the way up to maximum level (i.e., 20th Level).

The Basic boxed set contains:

Quick Start Rules
A "choose your own way" adventure intended as an intro to RPGs and basic D&D terms.

Player's Handbook
(Softcover, 125 pages)
Features rules for playing the classic D&D races and classes all the way up to 20th level.

Dungeon Master's Guide

(Softcover, 125 pages)
Includes the basic rules for dungeon masters.

Monster Manual
(Softcover, 100 pages)
Includes all the classic iconic monsters from D&D. 

Introductory Adventure
(Keep on the Borderlands)
An introductory adventure for beginning players and DMs.

Also includes: 

Character Sheets
Reference Sheets
Set of Dice


Expert Set

A set of hardbound rules that contains the core rules plus expanded races and classes, more spells and a large selection of optional rules modules — that is, pretty much everything that experienced players have come to expect. Each expert edition manual may be purchased separately, or in a boxed set. The Expert set includes:

Expert PHB (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus 10 playable races, 10 character classes, expanded selection of spells and rules modules for players.)
Expert DMG (Hardcover, 250 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus expanded rules modules for DMs.)
Expert MM (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes an expanded list of monsters and creatures to challenge characters)


Expansions

These expansion rules modules can be used with both the Basic and Expert sets. Each expansion covers one specific aspect of the game, such as character creation, combat, spells, monsters, etc.) 

Hall of Heroes (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes a vast selection of playable character races and classes, new and old all in one book)
Combat and Tactics (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes dozens of new and old optional rules for combat all in one book)
Creature Compendium (Hardcover, 350 pages.$35 Includes hundreds of monsters, new and old all in one book)
The Grimoire (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes hundreds of new and old spells all in one book)





A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage

A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage and Hit Points

In my personal campaigns, I use the following system for damage and dying. It's a slight modification of the long-standing principles etsablished by the D&D game, only with a new definition of what 0 or less hit points means. I've been using it for years because it works really well. However, I've made some adjustments to take advantage of the D&D Next rules. I've decided to present the first part in a Q&A format for better clarity. So let's begin...

What are hit points?
The premise is very simple, but often misunderstood; hit points are an abstraction that represent the character's ability to avoid serious damage, not necessarily their ability to take serious damage. This is a very important distinction. They represent a combination of skillful maneuvering, toughness, stamina and luck. Some targets have more hit points because they are physically tougher and are harder to injure...others have more because they are experienced combatants and have learned how to turn near fatal blows into mere scratches by skillful maneuvering...and then others are just plain lucky. Once a character runs out of hit points they become vulnerable to serious life-threatening injuries.

So what exactly does it mean to "hit" with a successful attack roll, then?
It means that through your own skill and ability you may have wounded your target if the target lacks the hit points to avoid the full brunt of the attack. That's an important thing to keep in mind; a successful "hit" does not necessarily mean you physically damaged your target. It just means that your attack was well placed and forced the target to exert themselves in such a way as to leave them vulnerable to further attacks. For example, instead of severing the target's arm, the attack merely grazes them leaving a minor cut.

But the attack did 25 points of damage! Why did it only "graze" the target?
Because the target has more than 25 hit points. Your attack forced them to exert a lot of energy to avoid the attack, but because of their combat skill, toughness, stamina and luck, they managed to avoid being seriously injured. However, because of this attack, they may not have the reserves to avoid your next attack. Perhaps you knocked them off balance or the attack left them so fatigued they lack the stamina to evade another attack. It's the DM's call on how they want to narrate the exact reason the blow didn't kill or wound the target.

Yeah, but what about "touch" attacks that rely on physical contact?
Making physical contact with a target is a lot different than striking them, so these types of attacks are the exception. If a touch attack succeeds, the attacker manages to make contact with their target.

If hit points and weapon damage don't always represent actual damage to the target, then what does it represent?
Think of the damage from an attack as more like a "threat level" rather than actual physical damage that transfers directly to the target's body. That is, the more damage an attack does, the harder it is to avoid serious injury. For example, an attack that causes 14 points of damage is more likely to wound the target than 3 points of damage (depending on how many hit points the target has left). The higher the damage, the greater the chance is that the target will become seriously injured. So, an attack that does 34 points of damage could be thought of as a "threat level of 34." If the target doesn't have the hit points to negate that threat, they become seriously injured.

Ok, but shouldn't armor reduce the amount of damage delivered from an attack?
It does reduce damage; by making it harder for an attack to cause serious injury. A successful hit against an armored target suggests that the attack may have circumvented the target's armor by striking in a vulnerable area.

What about poison and other types of non-combat damage?
Hit point loss from non-physical forms of damage represents the character spitting the poison out just in time before it takes full strength or perhaps the poison just wasn't strong enough to affect them drastically, but still weakens them. Again, it's the DMs call on how to narrate the reasons why the character avoids serious harm from the damage.

If hit points don't don't represent actual damage then how does that make sense with spells like Cure Serious Wounds and other forms of healing like healer kits with bandages?
Hit points do represent some physical damage, just not serious physical damage. Healing magic and other forms of healing still affect these minor wounds just as well as more serious wounds. For example, bandaging up minor cuts and abrasions helps the character rejuvenate and relieve the pain and/or fatigue of hit point loss. The key thing to remember is that it's an abstraction that allows the DM freedom to interpret and narrate it as they see fit.

What if my attack reduces the target to 0 or less hit points?
If a player is reduced to 0 or less hit points they are wounded. If a monster or NPC is reduce to 0 or less hit points they are killed.

Why are monsters killed immediately and not players?
Because unless the monsters are crucial to the story, it makes combat resolution much faster. It is assumed that players immediately execute a coup de grace on wounded monsters as a finishing move.

What if a character is wounded by poison or other types of non-physical damage?
If a character becomes wounded from non-combat damage they still receive the effects of being wounded, regardless if they show any physical signs of injury (i.e., internal injuries are still considered injuries).

Ok. I get it...but what happens once a character is wounded?
See below.
 

Damage and Dying

Once a character is reduced to 0 or less hit points, they start taking real damage. In other words, their reserves have run out and they can no longer avoid taking serious damage.

  1. Characters are fully operational as long as they have 1 hit point or more. They may have minor cuts, bruises, and superficial wounds, but they are are not impaired significantly. 
  2. Once they reach 0 or less hit points, they become Wounded (see below).That is, they have sustained a wound that impairs their ability to perform actions.
  3. If they reach a negative amount of hit points equal or greater than their Constitution score, they are Incapacitated. This means they are in critical condition and could possibly die.
  4. Characters will die if their hit points reach a negative amount greater than their Constitution score, plus their current level.

Unharmed: 1 hp or more
Wounded: 0 hp or less
Incapacitated: -(Constitution) to -(Constitution+Level)
Dead: Less than -(Constitution +Level)

Wounded
When the character reaches 0 or less hit points they become wounded. Wounded characters receive disadvantage on all attacks and saving throws until they heal back up to 1 hit point or more. This allows for a transitory stage between healthy and dying, without having to mess around with impairment rules while the character still has hit points left.

Incapacitated
Characters begin dying when they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution score. At which point, they must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw on each of their following turns (the disadvantage from being wounded does not apply for these saving throws).

If successful, the character remains dying, but their condition does not worsen.

If the saving throw fails, another DC 10 Constitution saving throw must be made. If that one fails, the character succumbs to their wounds and dies. If successful, the character stabilizes and is no longer dying.

Finally, if a dying character receives first aid or healing at any point, they immediately stabilize.

Dead
Characters will die if they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution, plus their current level. Thus, if an 8th level character with a Constitution score of 12 is down to 4 hit points then takes 24 points of damage (reducing their hit points to -20) the attack kills them outright.

I think we're all forgetting that you can still play 4e Just because roles don't exist, at least to the extent they do in 4e, in Next doesnt mean you have to grin and bear it. If you really like roles that much, play 4e. It's specifically designed to support that system and there's no way Next is going to play as well as 4e would if you try and impliment that system. If something isn't broke, don't fix it
My two copper.

So, if I understand your comment a fighter who stands in front of his allies and takes the brunt of the damage is doing it wrong?



I think more the point is that, with the "roles" mechanic, a fighter who DOESN'T stand in front of his allies and take the brunt of the damage is doing it wrong. This is what we have a problem with.

Roles may have evolved naturally, but they were still abstract, meaning you did not have to conform to them if you felt that your character wasn't likely to. Having clearly defined roles forces you (or at least highly encourages you) to conform to them. "Dude! You're the Defender! You're not supposed to wear leather armour, stand at the back and shoot a longbow! That's what the striker's for, man!" is the mentality that comes out of clearly defined roles.
Everything expressed in this post is my opinion, and should be taken as such. I can not declare myself to be the supreme authority on all matters...even though I am right!

So, if I understand your comment a fighter who stands in front of his allies and takes the brunt of the damage is doing it wrong?



I think more the point is that, with the "roles" mechanic, a fighter who DOESN'T stand in front of his allies and take the brunt of the damage is doing it wrong. This is what we have a problem with.

Roles may have evolved naturally, but they were still abstract, meaning you did not have to conform to them if you felt that your character wasn't likely to. Having clearly defined roles forces you (or at least highly encourages you) to conform to them. "Dude! You're the Defender! You're not supposed to wear leather armour, stand at the back and shoot a longbow! That's what the striker's for, man!" is the mentality that comes out of clearly defined roles.



in that case the person picked the wrong class to play, a fighter is a heavy armored defender/striker. the ranger is the leather wearing striker.

class names are just that names, if you want to play a fighter uses a bow and uses leather armor then call yourself a fighter and play a ranger
Insulting someones grammar on a forum is like losing to someone in a drag race and saying they were cheating by having racing stripes. Not only do the two things not relate to each other (the logic behind the person's position, and their grammar) but you sound like an idiot for saying it (and you should, because its really stupid )
Roles may have evolved naturally, but they were still abstract, meaning you did not have to conform to them if you felt that your character wasn't likely to. Having clearly defined roles forces you (or at least highly encourages you) to conform to them. "Dude! You're the Defender! You're not supposed to wear leather armour, stand at the back and shoot a longbow! That's what the striker's for, man!" is the mentality that comes out of clearly defined roles.


So, I'd assume you have similar problems with someone who wants to play a fighter and wants to wear robes and a pointy hat, stand at the back and cast spells and is prevented from doing so?

I mean, the injustice of it all!
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
in that case the person picked the wrong class to play, a fighter is a heavy armored defender/striker. the ranger is the leather wearing striker.

class names are just that names, if you want to play a fighter uses a bow and uses leather armor then call yourself a fighter and play a ranger

This is something that d20 Modern got me used to, and Star Wars SAGA edition helped solidify. Treating classes as flexible bundles of flavor and mechanics instead of rigid archetypes makes it a lot easier to make the mechanics fit the image of the character in your head in just about any class-based system.



in that case the person picked the wrong class to play, a fighter is a heavy armored defender/striker. the ranger is the leather wearing striker



Exactly! You're saying that each class must have a specific place, and is totally inflexible in that regard. A fighter must ALWAYS wear heavy armour, because he must ALWAYS be a defender and nothing else. He can't just be an amazing marksman who doesn't care much for tracking, stealth etc. It's heavy armour or nothing for you! (besides, the fighter isn't the "striker" in 4th edition, he's purely and strictly the "defender")

o, I'd assume you have similar problems with someone who wants to play a fighter and wants to wear robes and a pointy hat, stand at the back and cast spells and is prevented from doing so?



That's different. A fighter cannot cast spells. He can just as easily use a bow. Of course, a fighter can wear robes and point things if he wants to, but no magic will be forthcoming.

Everything expressed in this post is my opinion, and should be taken as such. I can not declare myself to be the supreme authority on all matters...even though I am right!
My main point with the question "a fighter who stands in front of his allies and takes the brunt of the damage is doing it wrong?" was in response to the idea I saw in BhaelFire's that the term meatshield and the concept of roles had evolved from bad role-playing. I had underlined that in the quote, but I should have been more specific with why I was asking the question.

One thing I think that makes roles so much different from me than from other people is how I picture the classes in 4e got made. I don't think the designers said "Fighters wear heavy armor, they don't deal as much damage, they must be defenders"

I think the designers went back to the power sources and roles. People play divine classes, arcane classes, martial classes, and primal classes. Characters tend to either be on the front line taking hits for the party (Defender), dealing a lot of single target damage (Striker), healing and buffing (Leader), or manipulating the battlefield (Controller). Then they asked, what would a martial defender look like, built the class and called it a fighter. Then they built the martial striker and called it a ranger.

In the end though, I don't think 5e will have this sort of system and that is perfectly fine. However, the language of roles, the idea that some builds are more suited for one thing or the other is not a bad thing to keep. We already have this, and I would not mind seeing non-divine healers or martial "controllers" which is a by product from recognizing that class names and capabilites should not be joined at the hip. Being told this option makes you more of a "leader" while this option makes you more of a "defender" is just a way of classifying what we all know is there.


in that case the person picked the wrong class to play, a fighter is a heavy armored defender/striker. the ranger is the leather wearing striker



Exactly! You're saying that each class must have a specific place, and is totally inflexible in that regard. A fighter must ALWAYS wear heavy armour, because he must ALWAYS be a defender and nothing else. He can't just be an amazing marksman who doesn't care much for tracking, stealth etc. It's heavy armour or nothing for you! (besides, the fighter isn't the "striker" in 4th edition, he's purely and strictly the "defender")

o, I'd assume you have similar problems with someone who wants to play a fighter and wants to wear robes and a pointy hat, stand at the back and cast spells and is prevented from doing so?



That's different. A fighter cannot cast spells. He can just as easily use a bow. Of course, a fighter can wear robes and point things if he wants to, but no magic will be forthcoming.



So, your boundaries are arbitrary.  Why can a fighter not use spells, but can use a bow?  Why is that more valid than saying a fighter can't use spells or a bow effectively?
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition


in that case the person picked the wrong class to play, a fighter is a heavy armored defender/striker. the ranger is the leather wearing striker



Exactly! You're saying that each class must have a specific place, and is totally inflexible in that regard. A fighter must ALWAYS wear heavy armour, because he must ALWAYS be a defender and nothing else. He can't just be an amazing marksman who doesn't care much for tracking, stealth etc. It's heavy armour or nothing for you! (besides, the fighter isn't the "striker" in 4th edition, he's purely and strictly the "defender")

o, I'd assume you have similar problems with someone who wants to play a fighter and wants to wear robes and a pointy hat, stand at the back and cast spells and is prevented from doing so?



That's different. A fighter cannot cast spells. He can just as easily use a bow. Of course, a fighter can wear robes and point things if he wants to, but no magic will be forthcoming.



So, your boundaries are arbitrary.  Why can a fighter not use spells, but can use a bow?  Why is that more valid than saying a fighter can't use spells or a bow effectively?


I believe the point is the Fighter class doesn't have any spells. You could in fact take Arcane Dabbler stand in the back in your robes and pointy-hat and cast your one spell. If you want to.

My main point with the question "a fighter who stands in front of his allies and takes the brunt of the damage is doing it wrong?" was in response to the idea I saw in BhaelFire's that the term meatshield and the concept of roles had evolved from bad role-playing. I had underlined that in the quote, but I should have been more specific with why I was asking the question.

Those terms did indeed evolve from players that become bored and/or lazy with the game and reduced it to its base mechanics instead of playing the game inventively or creatively as it's intended to be played.

The terms were derogatory in nature and used to facetiously describe campaigns that promoted that kind of one-dimensional gaming. Much the same way the term "Monty Haul" described campaigns that were over-saturated with powerful magic items. So, yes, these terms were used to describe boring gameplay and bad roleplaying.

That's why I find it extremely odd that the designers decided to make these terms official by making them actual rules within the game. It makes sense in a video game because there are limitations that are hard to overcome in a video game environment and there's not much room (if any) for improv. However those restrictions do not need to apply in a game like D&D. That's what makes the game so unique; players are allowed to improv and do things outside of the rules if it makes sense within the context of the game.

So is a fighter doing it wrong if he protects and defends his comrades? Not at all! Fighters are good at that. However, if he is forced to do that all the time, then there is something wrong. Players should have the freedom to decide how they want to play their character and not feel like they are "breaking the rules" if they do something that their class isn't optimized for.


D&D Next - Basic and Expert Editions

I firmly believe that there should be two editions of the game; the core rules released as a "Basic" set and a more complicated expanded rules edition released as an "Expert" set. These two editions would provide separate entry points to the game; one for new players or players that want a more classic D&D game and another entry point for experienced gamers that want more options and all the other things they have come to expect from previous editions.

Also, they must release several rules modules covering the main elements of the game (i.e., classes, races, combat, magic, monsters, etc.) upon launch to further expand the game for those that still need more complexity in a particular element of the game.


Here's a mockup of the Basic Set I created.



(CLICK HERE TO VIEW LARGER IMAGE)
  

Basic Set

This boxed set contains a simple, "bare bones" edition of the game; the core rules. It's for those that want a rules-light edition of the game that is extremely modifiable or for new players that get intimidated easily by too many rules and/or options. The Basic Set contains everything needed to play with all the "classic" D&D races (i.e., Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling) and classes (i.e., Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard) all the way up to maximum level (i.e., 20th Level).

The Basic boxed set contains:

Quick Start Rules
A "choose your own way" adventure intended as an intro to RPGs and basic D&D terms.

Player's Handbook
(Softcover, 125 pages)
Features rules for playing the classic D&D races and classes all the way up to 20th level.

Dungeon Master's Guide

(Softcover, 125 pages)
Includes the basic rules for dungeon masters.

Monster Manual
(Softcover, 100 pages)
Includes all the classic iconic monsters from D&D. 

Introductory Adventure
(Keep on the Borderlands)
An introductory adventure for beginning players and DMs.

Also includes: 

Character Sheets
Reference Sheets
Set of Dice


Expert Set

A set of hardbound rules that contains the core rules plus expanded races and classes, more spells and a large selection of optional rules modules — that is, pretty much everything that experienced players have come to expect. Each expert edition manual may be purchased separately, or in a boxed set. The Expert set includes:

Expert PHB (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus 10 playable races, 10 character classes, expanded selection of spells and rules modules for players.)
Expert DMG (Hardcover, 250 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus expanded rules modules for DMs.)
Expert MM (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes an expanded list of monsters and creatures to challenge characters)


Expansions

These expansion rules modules can be used with both the Basic and Expert sets. Each expansion covers one specific aspect of the game, such as character creation, combat, spells, monsters, etc.) 

Hall of Heroes (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes a vast selection of playable character races and classes, new and old all in one book)
Combat and Tactics (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes dozens of new and old optional rules for combat all in one book)
Creature Compendium (Hardcover, 350 pages.$35 Includes hundreds of monsters, new and old all in one book)
The Grimoire (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes hundreds of new and old spells all in one book)





A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage

A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage and Hit Points

In my personal campaigns, I use the following system for damage and dying. It's a slight modification of the long-standing principles etsablished by the D&D game, only with a new definition of what 0 or less hit points means. I've been using it for years because it works really well. However, I've made some adjustments to take advantage of the D&D Next rules. I've decided to present the first part in a Q&A format for better clarity. So let's begin...

What are hit points?
The premise is very simple, but often misunderstood; hit points are an abstraction that represent the character's ability to avoid serious damage, not necessarily their ability to take serious damage. This is a very important distinction. They represent a combination of skillful maneuvering, toughness, stamina and luck. Some targets have more hit points because they are physically tougher and are harder to injure...others have more because they are experienced combatants and have learned how to turn near fatal blows into mere scratches by skillful maneuvering...and then others are just plain lucky. Once a character runs out of hit points they become vulnerable to serious life-threatening injuries.

So what exactly does it mean to "hit" with a successful attack roll, then?
It means that through your own skill and ability you may have wounded your target if the target lacks the hit points to avoid the full brunt of the attack. That's an important thing to keep in mind; a successful "hit" does not necessarily mean you physically damaged your target. It just means that your attack was well placed and forced the target to exert themselves in such a way as to leave them vulnerable to further attacks. For example, instead of severing the target's arm, the attack merely grazes them leaving a minor cut.

But the attack did 25 points of damage! Why did it only "graze" the target?
Because the target has more than 25 hit points. Your attack forced them to exert a lot of energy to avoid the attack, but because of their combat skill, toughness, stamina and luck, they managed to avoid being seriously injured. However, because of this attack, they may not have the reserves to avoid your next attack. Perhaps you knocked them off balance or the attack left them so fatigued they lack the stamina to evade another attack. It's the DM's call on how they want to narrate the exact reason the blow didn't kill or wound the target.

Yeah, but what about "touch" attacks that rely on physical contact?
Making physical contact with a target is a lot different than striking them, so these types of attacks are the exception. If a touch attack succeeds, the attacker manages to make contact with their target.

If hit points and weapon damage don't always represent actual damage to the target, then what does it represent?
Think of the damage from an attack as more like a "threat level" rather than actual physical damage that transfers directly to the target's body. That is, the more damage an attack does, the harder it is to avoid serious injury. For example, an attack that causes 14 points of damage is more likely to wound the target than 3 points of damage (depending on how many hit points the target has left). The higher the damage, the greater the chance is that the target will become seriously injured. So, an attack that does 34 points of damage could be thought of as a "threat level of 34." If the target doesn't have the hit points to negate that threat, they become seriously injured.

Ok, but shouldn't armor reduce the amount of damage delivered from an attack?
It does reduce damage; by making it harder for an attack to cause serious injury. A successful hit against an armored target suggests that the attack may have circumvented the target's armor by striking in a vulnerable area.

What about poison and other types of non-combat damage?
Hit point loss from non-physical forms of damage represents the character spitting the poison out just in time before it takes full strength or perhaps the poison just wasn't strong enough to affect them drastically, but still weakens them. Again, it's the DMs call on how to narrate the reasons why the character avoids serious harm from the damage.

If hit points don't don't represent actual damage then how does that make sense with spells like Cure Serious Wounds and other forms of healing like healer kits with bandages?
Hit points do represent some physical damage, just not serious physical damage. Healing magic and other forms of healing still affect these minor wounds just as well as more serious wounds. For example, bandaging up minor cuts and abrasions helps the character rejuvenate and relieve the pain and/or fatigue of hit point loss. The key thing to remember is that it's an abstraction that allows the DM freedom to interpret and narrate it as they see fit.

What if my attack reduces the target to 0 or less hit points?
If a player is reduced to 0 or less hit points they are wounded. If a monster or NPC is reduce to 0 or less hit points they are killed.

Why are monsters killed immediately and not players?
Because unless the monsters are crucial to the story, it makes combat resolution much faster. It is assumed that players immediately execute a coup de grace on wounded monsters as a finishing move.

What if a character is wounded by poison or other types of non-physical damage?
If a character becomes wounded from non-combat damage they still receive the effects of being wounded, regardless if they show any physical signs of injury (i.e., internal injuries are still considered injuries).

Ok. I get it...but what happens once a character is wounded?
See below.
 

Damage and Dying

Once a character is reduced to 0 or less hit points, they start taking real damage. In other words, their reserves have run out and they can no longer avoid taking serious damage.

  1. Characters are fully operational as long as they have 1 hit point or more. They may have minor cuts, bruises, and superficial wounds, but they are are not impaired significantly. 
  2. Once they reach 0 or less hit points, they become Wounded (see below).That is, they have sustained a wound that impairs their ability to perform actions.
  3. If they reach a negative amount of hit points equal or greater than their Constitution score, they are Incapacitated. This means they are in critical condition and could possibly die.
  4. Characters will die if their hit points reach a negative amount greater than their Constitution score, plus their current level.

Unharmed: 1 hp or more
Wounded: 0 hp or less
Incapacitated: -(Constitution) to -(Constitution+Level)
Dead: Less than -(Constitution +Level)

Wounded
When the character reaches 0 or less hit points they become wounded. Wounded characters receive disadvantage on all attacks and saving throws until they heal back up to 1 hit point or more. This allows for a transitory stage between healthy and dying, without having to mess around with impairment rules while the character still has hit points left.

Incapacitated
Characters begin dying when they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution score. At which point, they must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw on each of their following turns (the disadvantage from being wounded does not apply for these saving throws).

If successful, the character remains dying, but their condition does not worsen.

If the saving throw fails, another DC 10 Constitution saving throw must be made. If that one fails, the character succumbs to their wounds and dies. If successful, the character stabilizes and is no longer dying.

Finally, if a dying character receives first aid or healing at any point, they immediately stabilize.

Dead
Characters will die if they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution, plus their current level. Thus, if an 8th level character with a Constitution score of 12 is down to 4 hit points then takes 24 points of damage (reducing their hit points to -20) the attack kills them outright.

i'm confused as to why people are using the fighter to complain about class roles in 5th ed.

currently the fighter can be a tank, or a heavy armoured str based damage dealer, or a lightly armoured dex based nimble fighter, or a ranged combatant.

i have seen all these styles played and they are all effective.

the fighter stands as a paragon of class building perfection, he perfomes many "roles" while at the same time capturing the essence of what a fighter means to many people.
i'm confused as to why people are using the fighter to complain about class roles in 5th ed.

currently the fighter can be a tank, or a heavy armoured str based damage dealer, or a lightly armoured dex based nimble fighter, or a ranged combatant.

i have seen all these styles played and they are all effective.

the fighter stands as a paragon of class building perfection, he perfomes many "roles" while at the same time capturing the essence of what a fighter means to many people.


No, they're using Fighter to highlight what was WRONG with 4e, using the 5e fighter as the positive frame of reference.
My two copper.
i'm confused as to why people are using the fighter to complain about class roles in 5th ed.

I'm mainly addressing a concern that they might try to re-introduce hard-coded roles into 5e. I think it's a very bad idea for all the reasons mentioned in my previous posts on the topic. So far, I'm very pleased that it hasn't really surfaced in 5e.
D&D Next - Basic and Expert Editions

I firmly believe that there should be two editions of the game; the core rules released as a "Basic" set and a more complicated expanded rules edition released as an "Expert" set. These two editions would provide separate entry points to the game; one for new players or players that want a more classic D&D game and another entry point for experienced gamers that want more options and all the other things they have come to expect from previous editions.

Also, they must release several rules modules covering the main elements of the game (i.e., classes, races, combat, magic, monsters, etc.) upon launch to further expand the game for those that still need more complexity in a particular element of the game.


Here's a mockup of the Basic Set I created.



(CLICK HERE TO VIEW LARGER IMAGE)
  

Basic Set

This boxed set contains a simple, "bare bones" edition of the game; the core rules. It's for those that want a rules-light edition of the game that is extremely modifiable or for new players that get intimidated easily by too many rules and/or options. The Basic Set contains everything needed to play with all the "classic" D&D races (i.e., Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling) and classes (i.e., Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard) all the way up to maximum level (i.e., 20th Level).

The Basic boxed set contains:

Quick Start Rules
A "choose your own way" adventure intended as an intro to RPGs and basic D&D terms.

Player's Handbook
(Softcover, 125 pages)
Features rules for playing the classic D&D races and classes all the way up to 20th level.

Dungeon Master's Guide

(Softcover, 125 pages)
Includes the basic rules for dungeon masters.

Monster Manual
(Softcover, 100 pages)
Includes all the classic iconic monsters from D&D. 

Introductory Adventure
(Keep on the Borderlands)
An introductory adventure for beginning players and DMs.

Also includes: 

Character Sheets
Reference Sheets
Set of Dice


Expert Set

A set of hardbound rules that contains the core rules plus expanded races and classes, more spells and a large selection of optional rules modules — that is, pretty much everything that experienced players have come to expect. Each expert edition manual may be purchased separately, or in a boxed set. The Expert set includes:

Expert PHB (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus 10 playable races, 10 character classes, expanded selection of spells and rules modules for players.)
Expert DMG (Hardcover, 250 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus expanded rules modules for DMs.)
Expert MM (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes an expanded list of monsters and creatures to challenge characters)


Expansions

These expansion rules modules can be used with both the Basic and Expert sets. Each expansion covers one specific aspect of the game, such as character creation, combat, spells, monsters, etc.) 

Hall of Heroes (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes a vast selection of playable character races and classes, new and old all in one book)
Combat and Tactics (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes dozens of new and old optional rules for combat all in one book)
Creature Compendium (Hardcover, 350 pages.$35 Includes hundreds of monsters, new and old all in one book)
The Grimoire (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes hundreds of new and old spells all in one book)





A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage

A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage and Hit Points

In my personal campaigns, I use the following system for damage and dying. It's a slight modification of the long-standing principles etsablished by the D&D game, only with a new definition of what 0 or less hit points means. I've been using it for years because it works really well. However, I've made some adjustments to take advantage of the D&D Next rules. I've decided to present the first part in a Q&A format for better clarity. So let's begin...

What are hit points?
The premise is very simple, but often misunderstood; hit points are an abstraction that represent the character's ability to avoid serious damage, not necessarily their ability to take serious damage. This is a very important distinction. They represent a combination of skillful maneuvering, toughness, stamina and luck. Some targets have more hit points because they are physically tougher and are harder to injure...others have more because they are experienced combatants and have learned how to turn near fatal blows into mere scratches by skillful maneuvering...and then others are just plain lucky. Once a character runs out of hit points they become vulnerable to serious life-threatening injuries.

So what exactly does it mean to "hit" with a successful attack roll, then?
It means that through your own skill and ability you may have wounded your target if the target lacks the hit points to avoid the full brunt of the attack. That's an important thing to keep in mind; a successful "hit" does not necessarily mean you physically damaged your target. It just means that your attack was well placed and forced the target to exert themselves in such a way as to leave them vulnerable to further attacks. For example, instead of severing the target's arm, the attack merely grazes them leaving a minor cut.

But the attack did 25 points of damage! Why did it only "graze" the target?
Because the target has more than 25 hit points. Your attack forced them to exert a lot of energy to avoid the attack, but because of their combat skill, toughness, stamina and luck, they managed to avoid being seriously injured. However, because of this attack, they may not have the reserves to avoid your next attack. Perhaps you knocked them off balance or the attack left them so fatigued they lack the stamina to evade another attack. It's the DM's call on how they want to narrate the exact reason the blow didn't kill or wound the target.

Yeah, but what about "touch" attacks that rely on physical contact?
Making physical contact with a target is a lot different than striking them, so these types of attacks are the exception. If a touch attack succeeds, the attacker manages to make contact with their target.

If hit points and weapon damage don't always represent actual damage to the target, then what does it represent?
Think of the damage from an attack as more like a "threat level" rather than actual physical damage that transfers directly to the target's body. That is, the more damage an attack does, the harder it is to avoid serious injury. For example, an attack that causes 14 points of damage is more likely to wound the target than 3 points of damage (depending on how many hit points the target has left). The higher the damage, the greater the chance is that the target will become seriously injured. So, an attack that does 34 points of damage could be thought of as a "threat level of 34." If the target doesn't have the hit points to negate that threat, they become seriously injured.

Ok, but shouldn't armor reduce the amount of damage delivered from an attack?
It does reduce damage; by making it harder for an attack to cause serious injury. A successful hit against an armored target suggests that the attack may have circumvented the target's armor by striking in a vulnerable area.

What about poison and other types of non-combat damage?
Hit point loss from non-physical forms of damage represents the character spitting the poison out just in time before it takes full strength or perhaps the poison just wasn't strong enough to affect them drastically, but still weakens them. Again, it's the DMs call on how to narrate the reasons why the character avoids serious harm from the damage.

If hit points don't don't represent actual damage then how does that make sense with spells like Cure Serious Wounds and other forms of healing like healer kits with bandages?
Hit points do represent some physical damage, just not serious physical damage. Healing magic and other forms of healing still affect these minor wounds just as well as more serious wounds. For example, bandaging up minor cuts and abrasions helps the character rejuvenate and relieve the pain and/or fatigue of hit point loss. The key thing to remember is that it's an abstraction that allows the DM freedom to interpret and narrate it as they see fit.

What if my attack reduces the target to 0 or less hit points?
If a player is reduced to 0 or less hit points they are wounded. If a monster or NPC is reduce to 0 or less hit points they are killed.

Why are monsters killed immediately and not players?
Because unless the monsters are crucial to the story, it makes combat resolution much faster. It is assumed that players immediately execute a coup de grace on wounded monsters as a finishing move.

What if a character is wounded by poison or other types of non-physical damage?
If a character becomes wounded from non-combat damage they still receive the effects of being wounded, regardless if they show any physical signs of injury (i.e., internal injuries are still considered injuries).

Ok. I get it...but what happens once a character is wounded?
See below.
 

Damage and Dying

Once a character is reduced to 0 or less hit points, they start taking real damage. In other words, their reserves have run out and they can no longer avoid taking serious damage.

  1. Characters are fully operational as long as they have 1 hit point or more. They may have minor cuts, bruises, and superficial wounds, but they are are not impaired significantly. 
  2. Once they reach 0 or less hit points, they become Wounded (see below).That is, they have sustained a wound that impairs their ability to perform actions.
  3. If they reach a negative amount of hit points equal or greater than their Constitution score, they are Incapacitated. This means they are in critical condition and could possibly die.
  4. Characters will die if their hit points reach a negative amount greater than their Constitution score, plus their current level.

Unharmed: 1 hp or more
Wounded: 0 hp or less
Incapacitated: -(Constitution) to -(Constitution+Level)
Dead: Less than -(Constitution +Level)

Wounded
When the character reaches 0 or less hit points they become wounded. Wounded characters receive disadvantage on all attacks and saving throws until they heal back up to 1 hit point or more. This allows for a transitory stage between healthy and dying, without having to mess around with impairment rules while the character still has hit points left.

Incapacitated
Characters begin dying when they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution score. At which point, they must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw on each of their following turns (the disadvantage from being wounded does not apply for these saving throws).

If successful, the character remains dying, but their condition does not worsen.

If the saving throw fails, another DC 10 Constitution saving throw must be made. If that one fails, the character succumbs to their wounds and dies. If successful, the character stabilizes and is no longer dying.

Finally, if a dying character receives first aid or healing at any point, they immediately stabilize.

Dead
Characters will die if they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution, plus their current level. Thus, if an 8th level character with a Constitution score of 12 is down to 4 hit points then takes 24 points of damage (reducing their hit points to -20) the attack kills them outright.

I believe the point is the Fighter class doesn't have any spells. You could in fact take Arcane Dabbler stand in the back in your robes and pointy-hat and cast your one spell. If you want to.



That exactly.

The fighter is not, by nature of his class, trained in spells. If he can get spell training from somewhere, then there is no reason why he can't put on a robe and stand at the back casting spells.

Look, people can call them what they want in their games. I don't even care if a bit of fluff exists saying "fighters usually stand at the front getting hit by everything". I just don't want these things forming part of the game mechanics, or being presented in such a way that players expect them to always behave in this manner.
Everything expressed in this post is my opinion, and should be taken as such. I can not declare myself to be the supreme authority on all matters...even though I am right!
Building a class around a role is going to happen. It usually helps the class stand on its own after that foundation of what the Developer wants the class to do. Nothing wrong with this. If your going to design a class you need to have this kind of foundation.

What is wrong is when it is hardcoded into a class through fluff and through mechanics. Using the Fighter, they had a "Come at me, bro!!" feature and all of the possible builds worked around this. Therefore, they were Defenders. Who all were defined by a form of "Come at me, bro!!" ability. Now if I didn't want to play a "Come at me, bro!!" Fighter, I had to play a different class.  That is where I see the problem with the roles mechanic.  Its not a bad mechanic and it has its place in a system built around it. Which is fine and all.
Some classes should excel at certain roles. That goes with out question or arguement. Fighter is the biggest beatstick or meatshield on the field. The Cleric is the one that puts the meatshield and everybody else back together after the big dragon fight. The rogue does stupid levels of damage and makes all the skills look easy. The Wizard rearranges things on the enemy then blows them to kingdom come and back again.
Where 5th seems to be going, IMO, is into greater flexiblity of what classes can do and what roles they can fill.  They may not be the ideal or best but they should be able seem competent at it.  Continuing the Fighter example; the Fighter can wear the biggest tin can, carry the larges garbage can lid and hit you with the biggest sticks, all while stopping the enemy from breaking the glass cannon and healer with parry and protect. Alternatively, he could systematically mow through the orc and goblin hoardes like a John Deer riding mower, or cut them apart with surgical precision.  Interestingly, it is possible for the biggest damage dealer, or walking steel wall, to be a competent healer with the Healer Specialty. Cleric is ideally better, but you could have a competent Fighter healer. I would like to see a controller-type option with a bare-knuckle brawler type that uses CS dice for grapple maneuvers to knock over multiple opponents by throwing their buddies into them or something like that. We've all seen bar brawls in movies, some may have in real life even, where guys come running at someone who throws their buddy, or someone else, into them.
I would like to see a way that an Abjuration Specialist Wizard could be a viable protector type. Something creative with shield spells or wall spells or things like that. That would be something great. The Developers have even mentioned having some sort of divine healing sorcerous origin for Sorcerers.
Encourage creative gameplay and character building. Please, don't pidgeon-hole the classes. 
"Come at me, bro!!" ability.

+1


I don't think I'll ever be able to look at the "Get Over Here!" power the same again. Thanks.
D&D Next - Basic and Expert Editions

I firmly believe that there should be two editions of the game; the core rules released as a "Basic" set and a more complicated expanded rules edition released as an "Expert" set. These two editions would provide separate entry points to the game; one for new players or players that want a more classic D&D game and another entry point for experienced gamers that want more options and all the other things they have come to expect from previous editions.

Also, they must release several rules modules covering the main elements of the game (i.e., classes, races, combat, magic, monsters, etc.) upon launch to further expand the game for those that still need more complexity in a particular element of the game.


Here's a mockup of the Basic Set I created.



(CLICK HERE TO VIEW LARGER IMAGE)
  

Basic Set

This boxed set contains a simple, "bare bones" edition of the game; the core rules. It's for those that want a rules-light edition of the game that is extremely modifiable or for new players that get intimidated easily by too many rules and/or options. The Basic Set contains everything needed to play with all the "classic" D&D races (i.e., Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling) and classes (i.e., Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard) all the way up to maximum level (i.e., 20th Level).

The Basic boxed set contains:

Quick Start Rules
A "choose your own way" adventure intended as an intro to RPGs and basic D&D terms.

Player's Handbook
(Softcover, 125 pages)
Features rules for playing the classic D&D races and classes all the way up to 20th level.

Dungeon Master's Guide

(Softcover, 125 pages)
Includes the basic rules for dungeon masters.

Monster Manual
(Softcover, 100 pages)
Includes all the classic iconic monsters from D&D. 

Introductory Adventure
(Keep on the Borderlands)
An introductory adventure for beginning players and DMs.

Also includes: 

Character Sheets
Reference Sheets
Set of Dice


Expert Set

A set of hardbound rules that contains the core rules plus expanded races and classes, more spells and a large selection of optional rules modules — that is, pretty much everything that experienced players have come to expect. Each expert edition manual may be purchased separately, or in a boxed set. The Expert set includes:

Expert PHB (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus 10 playable races, 10 character classes, expanded selection of spells and rules modules for players.)
Expert DMG (Hardcover, 250 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus expanded rules modules for DMs.)
Expert MM (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes an expanded list of monsters and creatures to challenge characters)


Expansions

These expansion rules modules can be used with both the Basic and Expert sets. Each expansion covers one specific aspect of the game, such as character creation, combat, spells, monsters, etc.) 

Hall of Heroes (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes a vast selection of playable character races and classes, new and old all in one book)
Combat and Tactics (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes dozens of new and old optional rules for combat all in one book)
Creature Compendium (Hardcover, 350 pages.$35 Includes hundreds of monsters, new and old all in one book)
The Grimoire (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes hundreds of new and old spells all in one book)





A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage

A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage and Hit Points

In my personal campaigns, I use the following system for damage and dying. It's a slight modification of the long-standing principles etsablished by the D&D game, only with a new definition of what 0 or less hit points means. I've been using it for years because it works really well. However, I've made some adjustments to take advantage of the D&D Next rules. I've decided to present the first part in a Q&A format for better clarity. So let's begin...

What are hit points?
The premise is very simple, but often misunderstood; hit points are an abstraction that represent the character's ability to avoid serious damage, not necessarily their ability to take serious damage. This is a very important distinction. They represent a combination of skillful maneuvering, toughness, stamina and luck. Some targets have more hit points because they are physically tougher and are harder to injure...others have more because they are experienced combatants and have learned how to turn near fatal blows into mere scratches by skillful maneuvering...and then others are just plain lucky. Once a character runs out of hit points they become vulnerable to serious life-threatening injuries.

So what exactly does it mean to "hit" with a successful attack roll, then?
It means that through your own skill and ability you may have wounded your target if the target lacks the hit points to avoid the full brunt of the attack. That's an important thing to keep in mind; a successful "hit" does not necessarily mean you physically damaged your target. It just means that your attack was well placed and forced the target to exert themselves in such a way as to leave them vulnerable to further attacks. For example, instead of severing the target's arm, the attack merely grazes them leaving a minor cut.

But the attack did 25 points of damage! Why did it only "graze" the target?
Because the target has more than 25 hit points. Your attack forced them to exert a lot of energy to avoid the attack, but because of their combat skill, toughness, stamina and luck, they managed to avoid being seriously injured. However, because of this attack, they may not have the reserves to avoid your next attack. Perhaps you knocked them off balance or the attack left them so fatigued they lack the stamina to evade another attack. It's the DM's call on how they want to narrate the exact reason the blow didn't kill or wound the target.

Yeah, but what about "touch" attacks that rely on physical contact?
Making physical contact with a target is a lot different than striking them, so these types of attacks are the exception. If a touch attack succeeds, the attacker manages to make contact with their target.

If hit points and weapon damage don't always represent actual damage to the target, then what does it represent?
Think of the damage from an attack as more like a "threat level" rather than actual physical damage that transfers directly to the target's body. That is, the more damage an attack does, the harder it is to avoid serious injury. For example, an attack that causes 14 points of damage is more likely to wound the target than 3 points of damage (depending on how many hit points the target has left). The higher the damage, the greater the chance is that the target will become seriously injured. So, an attack that does 34 points of damage could be thought of as a "threat level of 34." If the target doesn't have the hit points to negate that threat, they become seriously injured.

Ok, but shouldn't armor reduce the amount of damage delivered from an attack?
It does reduce damage; by making it harder for an attack to cause serious injury. A successful hit against an armored target suggests that the attack may have circumvented the target's armor by striking in a vulnerable area.

What about poison and other types of non-combat damage?
Hit point loss from non-physical forms of damage represents the character spitting the poison out just in time before it takes full strength or perhaps the poison just wasn't strong enough to affect them drastically, but still weakens them. Again, it's the DMs call on how to narrate the reasons why the character avoids serious harm from the damage.

If hit points don't don't represent actual damage then how does that make sense with spells like Cure Serious Wounds and other forms of healing like healer kits with bandages?
Hit points do represent some physical damage, just not serious physical damage. Healing magic and other forms of healing still affect these minor wounds just as well as more serious wounds. For example, bandaging up minor cuts and abrasions helps the character rejuvenate and relieve the pain and/or fatigue of hit point loss. The key thing to remember is that it's an abstraction that allows the DM freedom to interpret and narrate it as they see fit.

What if my attack reduces the target to 0 or less hit points?
If a player is reduced to 0 or less hit points they are wounded. If a monster or NPC is reduce to 0 or less hit points they are killed.

Why are monsters killed immediately and not players?
Because unless the monsters are crucial to the story, it makes combat resolution much faster. It is assumed that players immediately execute a coup de grace on wounded monsters as a finishing move.

What if a character is wounded by poison or other types of non-physical damage?
If a character becomes wounded from non-combat damage they still receive the effects of being wounded, regardless if they show any physical signs of injury (i.e., internal injuries are still considered injuries).

Ok. I get it...but what happens once a character is wounded?
See below.
 

Damage and Dying

Once a character is reduced to 0 or less hit points, they start taking real damage. In other words, their reserves have run out and they can no longer avoid taking serious damage.

  1. Characters are fully operational as long as they have 1 hit point or more. They may have minor cuts, bruises, and superficial wounds, but they are are not impaired significantly. 
  2. Once they reach 0 or less hit points, they become Wounded (see below).That is, they have sustained a wound that impairs their ability to perform actions.
  3. If they reach a negative amount of hit points equal or greater than their Constitution score, they are Incapacitated. This means they are in critical condition and could possibly die.
  4. Characters will die if their hit points reach a negative amount greater than their Constitution score, plus their current level.

Unharmed: 1 hp or more
Wounded: 0 hp or less
Incapacitated: -(Constitution) to -(Constitution+Level)
Dead: Less than -(Constitution +Level)

Wounded
When the character reaches 0 or less hit points they become wounded. Wounded characters receive disadvantage on all attacks and saving throws until they heal back up to 1 hit point or more. This allows for a transitory stage between healthy and dying, without having to mess around with impairment rules while the character still has hit points left.

Incapacitated
Characters begin dying when they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution score. At which point, they must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw on each of their following turns (the disadvantage from being wounded does not apply for these saving throws).

If successful, the character remains dying, but their condition does not worsen.

If the saving throw fails, another DC 10 Constitution saving throw must be made. If that one fails, the character succumbs to their wounds and dies. If successful, the character stabilizes and is no longer dying.

Finally, if a dying character receives first aid or healing at any point, they immediately stabilize.

Dead
Characters will die if they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution, plus their current level. Thus, if an 8th level character with a Constitution score of 12 is down to 4 hit points then takes 24 points of damage (reducing their hit points to -20) the attack kills them outright.

In my opinion, amongst the best features of 4th edition was the recognition of combat roles (defender, striker, leader, controller) which gave each class a distinctive focus while ensuring they almost always had something productive to contribute.  In combat situations, I am very happy with the play-test materials in that every class has a role (even if it is not delineated as in 4th edition, or even fitting the same system).  For example, fighters deal consistant damage while being able to stand up to the most severe threats.  Clerics healing, utility support, and depending on domain, efective ranged or melee capability.  Rogues have maneuverability, moderate damage potential, as well as occasional opportunity for massive damage.  Wizards deal mass damage and can control battle-field texture with spells like web and grease, and can always resort to rather minor damage cantrips.

Although work on other identified pillars of the game (exploration, role-playing) may not be as extensive at this point in the playtest, I think it is important to consider the "role" of each class in such commonly occuring situations as scouting, handling traps, investigation, NPC interaction, travel, camping security, etc. For example, regarding scouting, rogues traditionally have natural stealth for spying; clerics have divinations, speak with dead, and utilities like silence or a nice variety of detection spells; wizards, in past editions, have tended to step on rogues with spells like clairvoyance, knock, mage hand, and invisibility; while fighters have absolutely nothing.  In handling traps, rogues have skill mastery; wizards traditionally have considerable ability to bypass traps and barriers (e.g. dimension door), as well as dispell magic; clerics are much more limited; and again, fighters have nothing except perhaps the durability to intensionally trigger them.  Traditionally clerics can subtly contribute to interactions with spells like detect lies, comprehend languages, and know alignment; wizards are less subtle with spells like charm person, suggestion, mislead, or feeble mind; and fighters and rogues are reduced to picking noses with sharp blades.  So far, I see little in the playtest to suggest this will change.  I very much hope that as other pillars of play are developed, unique roles for every class can be developed, so every class is well and fully rounded.



Bad, bad, bad. I hate established roles.

First it breaks what I love most about pen and paper rpg: freedom. It feels to me like having an handcuff.  Second it gives me a too combat centric feeling. Take a cleric as an exemple. If yoi give him a healer role it makes me feel he was designed like the guy who must heal, not like the pius priest who follow the commands of his deity and so is able to channel some granted power. No, he is just the one who heals. Awfull.

Than what if you love the blaster spellcaster and I hate wasteing my spells on fighing stuff and use all of my resourcing on plot and exploration spells? Let's go 3.5 for a moment. If I am the sorcerer with fireball, magic missile and sorching ray I'm the blaster. But if I'm the sorcerer with charm person, silent immage and detect thoughts, what am I? And if I want to play something similar with a cleric?

In short, I feel designing classes with a single role in mind is a terrible, horrible game design. After the class is complete you can surely say "this class is better in this, but you have option for everything"