Modularity and 5E: Hopes and Concerns

5E/DDN is being proclaimed as "modular" by those who feel like discussing it. Many see this as a completely good thing, opening up options never seen before in any one, single edition of this game. Some seem to think this modularity will be quite extensive, based on thier comments on these boards. Since the first playtest packet came out, the common catch-phrase of the forums has been, "They can include X as an option because 5E will be modular". This extends to alignment, the planes of existence, specific races, specific classes, character options, and so on. I think we might be taking it a bit too far or, at the very least, we might have exceedingly high expectations. I will explain.

Pretty much everything that has been introduced so far has received both positive and negative comments. This is perfectly fine, and to be expected. I would be worried if this was not the case.  This isn't the issue, though. The issue seems to be that:

1) X is introduced
2) Group A doesn't like it, and wants something different
3) Group B likes it, and wants it left alone
4) Both groups agree that, through modules, everyone can get what they want

I really think this getting into the "high hopes" arena of thinking. Do people really expect the devs to give us an LG paladin, an unaligned paladin, paladins of every alignment, and an option for alignment-free paladins? The recent alignment/paladin thread seemed to think so. Do people want tiny PC races to be able to wield normal-size weapons? Some do, and want an option that will allow them to do so. People want varying ways to use wizards (spell points, AEDU, point-buy). People want fluff-light and fluff-heavy books. People want the old Forgotten Realms back. People want the new Forgotten Realms left alone. People want options for seemingly every piece of the 5E puzzle we've seen so far, and justify it by saying, "It's okay. It's a modular system. They can just release a module with X options". There comes a point where logic, reason, and business sense have to intervene.

Do we really think that WotC could possibly afford to release every conceivable option people are asking for? Or that they would want to, even if they could afford to?  How much book-space would it take to go to the far edges of modularity that would be needed for this? How many PHBs would it take to give us modular options for just the few races and classes we have already? At what point does modularity give way to countless splat after splat? How do you possibly attempt to balance all of that? What options will be "core" and the rest "modules", potentially alienating certain groups who think X should be core instead of Y, and that Y should've been the "optional" method? How many modules of each rule do you think is a reasonable amount?

In short, just how modular can a modular game be and still be a powerful, successful game capable of reuniting the fans (as 5E is supposed to do)?     

I hope to see 5E unite the fans...at least as much as can be possibly expected. I hope to see oodles of options for oodles of topics. I am realistic enough, though, to realize that everything that folks are wanting included as modular options simply aren't going to be feasible to include. Maybe they can and I'll be proven wrong. This is one time I would LOVE to be proven wrong...but my gut says it ain't gonna happen.
DDn can be very modular.  It all rises and falls on how willing the devs are to stick to their creeds of "modularity" and "stay out of the way."  Some modularity will be harder than others.  For example, converting Wizards and Clerics from spell slots to spell points is cake.  They just have to do 5 minutes of basic math and construct a table showing the spell points per day of those classes from levels 1-20 (assuming 20 is the end point).  Converting back from points to spell slots is a little more time consuming but no more difficult.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

I think it is doable, but the developers have to step back and set aside their personal likes and dislikes and use the polls as a guide as well as the Ted Talks Spaghetti sauce video methodology that I posted in another thread.

If lightning strikes 3 times in the same spot they will do it...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Why don't they just give up then?
Why don't they just give up then?



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



Because their jobs are on the line...




Oh. Well, who put them in that sort of position? The fractured fanbase did. We edition warriors did. Hasbro may have played a part, but it was the unpleasable fanbase that was the problem.

It isn't fair to the developers. They are caught in a catch-22, "rock and a hard place", "damned if you do, damned if you don't" type of situation. 
They can't please everyone. But if they don't please most of the fanbase that they lost...D&D gets mothballed.

That simply isn't fair.
Why don't they just give up then?



Because their jobs are on the line...




Oh. Well, who put them in that sort of position? The fractured fanbase did. We edition warriors did. Hasbro may have played a part, but it was the unpleasable fanbase that was the problem.

It isn't fair to the developers. They are caught in a catch-22, "rock and a hard place", "damned if you do, damned if you don't" type of situation. 
They can't please everyone. But if they don't please most of the fanbase that they lost...D&D gets mothballed.

That simply isn't fair.



No one said it was fair, and it doesn't really matter how they got into that position now, what matters is they are in that position, and there is a way out...Smile
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Um has ther ebeen any mention of modularity in the past couple months? because it seems like they're not worrying about that so much anymore.
Um has ther ebeen any mention of modularity in the past couple months? because it seems like they're not worrying about that so much anymore.



That is because we are specifically testing the core - not the modules.

They have mentioned it from time to time - usually in the context of something like "we need a sold core before we can start working on the modules".

Carl
I think the designers kind of dug themselves in a hole with the modularity speak and left themselves with only a shovel to get out.  At first, they started off saying the game was going to evoke the feel of all the editions in some form, and modularity would fill in the gaps, allowing people to play a 1E or 3E style character alongside someone playing a 4E style character.  These remarks DID occur, the one that has been brought up with the 3E and 4E style characters was at DDXP, straight out of the mouth of Mike Mearls.

When the rules started hitting, and people started saying "Hey wait a minute, I can't really play my 4E style Wizard without AEDU" or "How can I play my 1E style Fighter when I have this Combat Superiority nonsense?", the designers seemed to walk back the modularity idea, implying that isn't what they meant by modularity.  They said something to the effect of modules not fundamentally changing the character, just how the game plays.  People then took this to mean modularity was pretty much nonexistent as they had initially implied, which they then tried to walk back from.

Now, they pretty much do this confused waltz around some pretty big questions the fandom has about where the game is headed, while modularity seems to have fallen by the wayside.  Thusfar, most "modular" things we have been told have been "scribble out this name and put this name, call it good" which is very disappointing, or "Wait for this module, it will cover what you need" like the tactical rules module, which has been backburnered and was supposed to target 4E players (they have said as much), but sounded suspiciously like 3E and not at all like 4E.

In short, I think they talked too big at the start and are trying unsuccessfully to cram the words back into the box.  I really can't blame them for that, since they were trying to pull people in, but now they are appearing less and less likely to meet those lofty goals they laid out eight months ago.  They have stated they hope for two years of playtesting, which was left quite vague, because the game has actually been in playtest since around this time last year, perhaps a little later.  If they mean two years of public playtesting (I hope this is the case), the project is probably two years away from hitting the streets.

To be quite blunt, I think modularity was only a buzz word.  Problem is, it is a buzz word that became the central aspect of what people thought this edition was, an edition for all that could be modulated to fit just about every playstyle and emulate just about every edition.  The goal of uniting the editions (which was actually the primary goal) has become less of a concern.  A lot of people have dug their heels in, stating if X from edition Y is in, I'M OUT, which is pretty damaging.  For an all inclusive edition, which 5E has apparently been moving away from with each piece of information we get about it, what people should have been saying, within reason, is "If X from edition Y is NOT in, I'M OUT.  I think, at the very least, those things should be the Races and Classes from each edition.  If someone wants to play a Dragonborn Paladin or a Half-Elf Warlord, people should be able to do so, from the start, WITHOUT modules.

I do feel bad for the designers, since they are in a very tough position.  I think if they tried, they could pull 5E off and have it actually meet their goals of uniting the editions and being modular so as to fit the playstyles of the editions.  However, I think they are in a position of their own making and they either need to work on their PR skills or even get a good PR firm.  Otherwise, they should be polishing their resumes, because I doubt Hasbro is going to be very forgiving if nearly three years of work ends in a dismal failure.
CORE MORE, NOT CORE BORE!
Modularity... Oh what will you actually do?

Will there be modules that alter core conceits of the game?
Class/Level based?
Attack vs AC or forced save vs static number?
Hp as measure of ability to continue acting?
Move, Action, Reaction, and WYTAA?

What are the Core conceits?
Spell Slot Wizard and Cleric?
Spell casting Ranger and Paladin?
Wart-locks?
Ubermensch Humans?
Skills?

I've got a lot of questions so far, and hope to see an answer or few soonish. 
I have an answer for you, it may even be the truth.
I think people confuse modules with full-fledged alternate ckasses. Alignmentless paladins are accomplished by making alignment easy tl remove without imbalance. You do not need a whole paladin class. Most of the modules will be nothing but a sidebar. As it should be.

In my current blog series (link in my sig), I am presenting a modular set of options for skills. The actual text that would appear in the rulebooks is in blue. It might add two pages to a rulebook but offers skill options reminiscent of all prior editions. Modules do not have to eat upspace.

But others are correct tostate that it is way too early for designers to be presenting modules. Patience.
Hocus-Smokus, raises a good point.  I think the community has been getting a little carried away with how "modularity" is going to fix everything... especially since we aren't operating off of a consistent definition of what it means.  No matter how you look at it, though, creating an effective Modular System is not easy... and it requires a solid foundation which, as CarlT said, they seem to be currently working on.  

In the end, even though we expect a "Modular" 5E to be great & versatile, it won't be as good as any other single edition has been... because the downside of making something that can work in a number of roles, is that it won't fill any of those roles as well as something specially designed for it.    The devs won't be able to make it as good as 4E... or AD&D... or 3.X... but if we really need it to be that good, then we still have 4E, 3.X and AD&D.  What the devs & playtesters need to focus on is if this is a new version of D&D that we can all be happy with. 

Personally, I like the look of the playtest materials... but I can't convince my group to "Beta  Test" the next edition of D&D, so my opinion is only based on reading and character creation.


I wouldn't be surprised if WOTC tried to back out of the whole modular idea.

What gets to me, is why re-release previous editions, if one modular rules system should allow you to approximate that edition. It could be that instead of going for a modular design they opted to do a best of every edition design philosophy. The re-release of older editions would support that, since they would still count as DnD, increasing overall sales of the franchise even if DnDN/5e sales are poor.  Beyond that I have no evidence that the designers aren't going for a modular rules system, so basically I don't have any idea what their planning. No use on commenting on it now, it's still too early, we have to wait and see what transpires, or doesn't as the case may be.
why re-release previous editions, if one modular rules system should allow you to approximate that edition.


Because there's a demand for it right now, it doesn't eat up their developers' time, and the next game won't be out for two more years at least.
why re-release previous editions, if one modular rules system should allow you to approximate that edition.


Because there's a demand for it right now, it doesn't eat up their developers' time, and the next game won't be out for two more years at least.



Yeah, I gotta agree there. Its so they can show the suits that they have a valid income combined with DDi and sales of any books they are releasing it might just look like a slight dip in sales as they ramp up to sell 5E...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
I think a lot of people seem to have a strange impression of the term modularity... 
also on who are supposed to make said module.

A modular game is one where the consituent parts are easy to add, remove and combine. 5E so far is already a lot more modular and adaptable than 3E or 4E. If anything we should applaud them, not whine or push them into a corner.

Different paladins were mentioned. Paladin is a class (or a speciality to fighter or cleric) and classes are by their very definition modular, they are modules.

A paladin class does not have to have a ton of customization really, all that is needed is another different paladin class that has this or that instead.

Dont like how skills are done in 5E? Replace the skills/backgrounds with -insert favorite system- .

Hate minotaurs that are cultists? Dont use them then, add another type of minotaur, monsters are also modules.

Now..   who is supposed to make all these 'modules'? WotC? No of course not.
They neither have the time or the knowledge (how could they know if some group wants pink minotaurs that ride on pegasus).

WE are supposed to add the missing modules! That's the point and strenght of a modular system.
Dont be a greedy and lazy comunity.
If we have to do all of the design work and everything is set in stone by default, it isn't modular at all. Houserules aren't modules.

That's like saying my modular power supply shouldn't come with the required extra cables. I should make them myself. 
I think a lot of people seem to have a strange impression of the term modularity... 
also on who are supposed to make said module.

A modular game is one where the consituent parts are easy to add, remove and combine. 5E so far is already a lot more modular and adaptable than 3E or 4E. If anything we should applaud them, not whine or push them into a corner.

Different paladins were mentioned. Paladin is a class (or a speciality to fighter or cleric) and classes are by their very definition modular, they are modules.

A paladin class does not have to have a ton of customization really, all that is needed is another different paladin class that has this or that instead.

Dont like how skills are done in 5E? Replace the skills/backgrounds with -insert favorite system- .

Hate minotaurs that are cultists? Dont use them then, add another type of minotaur, monsters are also modules.

Now..   who is supposed to make all these 'modules'? WotC? No of course not.
They neither have the time or the knowledge (how could they know if some group wants pink minotaurs that ride on pegasus).

WE are supposed to add the missing modules! That's the point and strenght of a modular system.
Dont be a greedy and lazy comunity.



If I have to add the stuff that I want, what am I paying them for?  I mean I don't go to Mcdonald's order a burger and a piece of meat that I have to make my own bun.
I think the OP is correct and I'll take it a step further.  Modularity should NOT be an answer for anything in Next.

I said it before and I'll say it again: The devs should create a new game.  A game with their vision.  Their mechanics.  Their world.  Then mix those together and sell it.

I can honestly say that I think no more amount of people will buy Next due to all this playtesting and feedback than would have bought Next in the first place.  And that goes for playing Next as well.  They could drum up more sales (and not go through this ridiculous process) simply by hiring good advertisers, making an online version that works, and marketing in areas that were once outside their realm. 
Great OP.

Personally, I'm in favor of zero modularity. In fact, I think 4e went way too modular when they didn't include all the core classes in the first players handbook. In my opinion, everything core to the game should be included in one book (okay, three if you must, for tradition). If anything isn't included in that core set, I may or may not buy it and add it to my game (just like the other million supplements they've put out over the years).

Okay, I also have nothing against modularity. Just like the opening post, I'd love to see all the awesome ideas included in modules for everyone. That'd be great. However, I'd probably still only buy the 'core' books and judge everything else on its merits.

What I'd really like to see is the return to the rules as guidelines over making the rules modular. Encouraging GMs to tailor the game to suit them would be awesome and potentially allow everyone to do what they wanted in the first place. This would also require a very open-ended and awesome 'core' set of rules to encourage and help that set of thinking and people on the road to making those changes.

PenandPaper2: While that might work, it relies a lot on the developers making a cool game and totally disregards any awesomeness D&D might have accumulated over the years. It's actually suprising how little has changed from what the original authors wrote. I remember seeing an example of play in 1e which was stolen word for word (except for the end) in 3e. I also noticed just about everything in the game was present in the original books (which really surprised me).

I do admit that 4e gave it a very fine go of 'being different' and 3rd edition had some awesome and revolutionary changes. However, there are far more things which are 'the same' in concept than there are that are different.

Also, a totally new game would be great, but we could call it something else. If they call it D&D I'll probably be expecting it to be as good as previous editions or better and have that D&D feel you get when they hardly change anything 'integral' from the original books.

It actually really surprised me. Dwarves, elves halfings. Fighters, Wizards, Bards. Xp, hp, Ac, alignment, spells, and all the rest were all there to begin with. Not to mention the whole dungeon concept and what not. In the grand scheme of things, very little has changed. Mechanically, the game is a lot different, but the core d20 roll and whatnot is all based on the original rules, etc.

At one point I actually thought 3e had created multi-classing, bards, paladins, and so forth. I had a good chuckle when I read just about everything there in 1e.

--David
David L. Dostaler Author, Challenger RPG (free)
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" favourite="" skill="" system="" contenteditable="true">Now..   who is supposed to make all these 'modules'? WotC? No of course not.
They neither have the time or the knowledge (how could they know if some group wants pink minotaurs that ride on pegasus).

WE are supposed to add the missing modules! That's the point and strenght of a modular system.
Dont be a greedy and lazy comunity.



If I have to add the stuff that I want, what am I paying them for?  I mean I don't go to Mcdonald's order a burger and a piece of meat that I have to make my own bun.


You're both correct.  WotC will have to make some modules just for the game to be able to function and feel like different editions.  Will they make modules beyond that?  Who can say?  If they want to live up to their claims, then they should.  Some fan-created modules will be made (no matter how many official ones we get).  Hopefully, the licensing for the new edition will protect WotC's IP without driving away 3PPs.  If so, we'll undoubtedly get some 3PP modules.

Also, Sesdun, Lugnut is correct that we pay the devs to do the designing.  If the game needs more than a couple significant modules (that I have to make myself) for me to enjoy it, then I probably won't be paying for the next edition.  If it's easier to fix 3e or 4e than to get an enjoyable version of the new edition, that's what people will do.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

I think the OP is correct and I'll take it a step further.  Modularity should NOT be an answer for anything in Next.

I said it before and I'll say it again: The devs should create a new game.  A game with their vision.  Their mechanics.  Their world.  Then mix those together and sell it.


They already did that, twice.  All that does is further stratify the fanbase into smaller niches.  That won't cut the mustard.  It also won't provide the revenues they want/need out of the brand.  Unification is not only a grad ideal, it's also good business sense.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

You mean they're planning to make module additions for each version of D&D so they can capture all fanbases at the same time? Wow, that's crazy. I totally wouldn't have expected that. That'd be pretty funny to see, actually.

--David
David L. Dostaler Author, Challenger RPG (free)
You mean they're planning to make module additions for each version of D&D so they can capture all fanbases at the same time? Wow, that's crazy. I totally wouldn't have expected that. That'd be pretty funny to see, actually.

--David


How were you not expecting that?  They flat out said it.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

If I have to add the stuff that I want, what am I paying them for?  I mean I don't go to Mcdonald's order a burger and a piece of meat that I have to make my own bun.




There are burger chains that let you choose which ingredients you want to add to your burger but do not ask you to make your own bun.

Maybe DnD Next will be more like that?

Member of the Axis of Awesome

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Homogenising: Making vanilla in 31 different colours
You mean they're planning to make module additions for each version of D&D so they can capture all fanbases at the same time? Wow, that's crazy. I totally wouldn't have expected that. That'd be pretty funny to see, actually.

--David


How were you not expecting that?  They flat out said it.


Maybe he didn't hear about it.  It's not like it was on the six o'clock news.
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
Knights of W.T.F.- Silver Spur Winner
4enclave, a place where 4e fans can talk 4e in peace.
The whole 'modular' thing is like 'duct tape', everyone just tells you "oh put some duct tape on that". It is a sort of universal snake oil. OTOH the devs have usually not sold it quite that hard. Unfortunately it doesn't really matter what the devs WANT, there are practical limitations. Only one form of the game can be the 'official rules' for public play. Ultimately only the most popular variations will make sense to support commercially either. If "Vancian wizards" module is the most popular then WotC isn't going to waste its expensive dev time on the 2nd, 3rd, etc most popular options. Options without support wither too.

The one place where modularity could really matter would be in terms of constructing the core rules according to system design principles of good partitioning. To a great extent 4e is designed that way, but 5e has tossed most of that approach, so even where we COULD approach the game in a modular fashion we can't easily do that. I don't know if they just don't understand these concepts very well, or it is just not really all that significant.

I'm sure there will BE 'modules', but I suspect they will be largely superficial optional rules sections. Some of them may provide some different play experience, but I don't think they will be more than just small unrelated optional bits and making really significant modules will basically mean rewriting a lot of core stuff, which basically means "you can home brew" which IMHO is not exactly news (or that exciting).

My overally reaction to the whole thing is a giant "Meh".
That is not dead which may eternal lie
I think the OP is correct and I'll take it a step further.  Modularity should NOT be an answer for anything in Next.

I said it before and I'll say it again: The devs should create a new game.  A game with their vision.  Their mechanics.  Their world.  Then mix those together and sell it.


They already did that, twice.  All that does is further stratify the fanbase into smaller niches.  That won't cut the mustard.  It also won't provide the revenues they want/need out of the brand.  Unification is not only a grad ideal, it's also good business sense.



And my premise is that the only way to unify the fanbase is to do it their way, not listening to a hundred screaming voices.  I am not saying start from total scratch, and I apologize if my use of "new game" implied that.  I simply think that with so many opinions, hands in the pot, and many chiefs, they are doomed to fail.  All a person has to do is read these forums and summarize them and you'll see the polarity that exists.  I just think that unity only comes from clear vision.

Either way, I will play and have many fun years doing so.  
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" favourite="" skill="" system="" contenteditable="true">Now..   who is supposed to make all these 'modules'? WotC? No of course not.
They neither have the time or the knowledge (how could they know if some group wants pink minotaurs that ride on pegasus).

WE are supposed to add the missing modules! That's the point and strenght of a modular system.
Dont be a greedy and lazy comunity.



If I have to add the stuff that I want, what am I paying them for?  I mean I don't go to Mcdonald's order a burger and a piece of meat that I have to make my own bun.


You're both correct.  WotC will have to make some modules just for the game to be able to function and feel like different editions.  Will they make modules beyond that?  Who can say?  If they want to live up to their claims, then they should.  Some fan-created modules will be made (no matter how many official ones we get).  Hopefully, the licensing for the new edition will protect WotC's IP without driving away 3PPs.  If so, we'll undoubtedly get some 3PP modules.

Also, Sesdun, Lugnut is correct that we pay the devs to do the designing.  If the game needs more than a couple significant modules (that I have to make myself) for me to enjoy it, then I probably won't be paying for the next edition.  If it's easier to fix 3e or 4e than to get an enjoyable version of the new edition, that's what people will do.



This last thing is my point. The modularity goal of 5E is that it should be easier to get what you want by going from 5E, select from the official options and then maybe replace some thing with a homebrew, than going from any other edition. That's it.
That is not the same thing as saying it will support a 'module' for every little detail.

Yes, WotC needs to supply the core, they need to supply some common modules (like the option on how to use skills etc).
They do not have to make all an any possible module.

And there is a difference between a ttrpg and a burger.

When I read the initial post and thought about it, I thought "modular" was going to mean "discrete, loosely related systems that can be assembled in an arbitrary fashion."


Seems as I've skimmed/read/skipped through the thread that "modular" means "releasing new material to address problems as they come."



I'm a lot more interested in the former, and my impression of the playtest materials thus far have suggested that many strands that make up a character have been pulled into discrete, loosely related systems. Stuff like background traits, which in the past have been assumptions based on what class you take.


Temple services is a good example of this. If you're a cleric or some other priest type character, you're assumed to have a relationship to a church and some kind of position within whatever heirarchy exists there. The added spice of "free heals" is a neat extension to what was all ready an assumption and it gives the players a perk for picking a clearly defined background. Cool beans, I say.


But because background traits form associations on their own, not related to class, the cleric could be a third son to a noble house (one for the throne, one for the army and one for the priesthood) and actually took holy vows because it's expected but hold no real station with a church. They might be devout in their way and deserving of their devine spells but without the social standing, they don't really pull enough weight to get any services from a temple. In that case, the assumption of temple services isn't there and perhaps noble or knight would be more appropriate.


There's a flexibility there that wasn't there before, and the systems can be arranged in an arbitrary fashion so they can be defined as modular. For me that's totally awesome as a homebrewer, player, and DM 'cause it means I can pick the bits I like and leave the rest.




As for the latter, "we'll release modules to solve problems as they crop up," approach...


Isn't that how things are published these days? D&D is a bit like theatre in that it's slow to adopt new things and could be seen as anachronistic, but modern delivery systems pretty much allow real time updates to content. The whole publishing industry is in trouble right now and while I expect some forms of book publishing will never go away, probably a lot of us will get our content online as it's produced. I find that handy 'cause my laptop takes a lot less space than my box of 2nd ed books.


However, I woudln't want all this business with errata happening every day, or even every month. The notion of content being pushed at me constantly just makes my brain hurt; I want the rules to be stable and errata reserved for serious issues to which there is no simple solution. For me, it's last resort after communications have broken down.


I agree with the folks who say that approach is just sweeping the problems under the carpet. "Oh we'll publish a module to fix that later" doesn't really solve my problems now, it just sorta puts me on hold until they can be bothered.
I do think that many people have a flawed understanding of what it means for the game to be modular.



As some have pointed out - what it means is that it has a sold core that allows optional game elements to be 'bolted on' or left off. 


Although they also indicated that they intended to make modules designed to allow for multiple game styles - whether or not those particular modules ever see the light of day doesn't affect whether or not the game itself is modular.  Only whether your favorite module ever gets published.

It also most likely means that there won't be a 4E module.  But there will be 4E classes because (as someone else noted) each class is a module unto itself.   Likewise, there won't be an AD&D module or a 3.x module.  But there will be classes designed to resemble 3.x classes.

In fact - they made a comment once about players with different styles of characters being able to sit down together and play.  And a few are accusing them of dropping that goal.  I disagree.  I think that it is already possible.  The Warlock is an AEDU caster.  It has 4E style mechanics.  The priest is a 3.x style caster.  It has 3.5 style mechanics (although not yet fully realized).  So right now you can have players with characters built in multiple styles sitting down at the same table.  They may not have completely reached this goal - but you can already see that it is coming. 

But all of this also doesn't mean that each and every little game feature you miss from edition X will be made into a module.   However, the solid and simple core should make it easier for you to add those features if you wish.  If you want some neglected feature and they didn't put it in - just do it yourself.  DIY was the foundation of the game.
  

But all of this doesn't mean that it is up to the players/DMs to make all of the modules.  It means that they are a business.  They probably have a list of modules that they might like to publish (Tactical Combat, Monster  Races, Expanded skills,  whatever).  They will decide which of those have a high enough demand to be worth publishing as part of the book, which are worth publshing as Dragon articles - and which are too niche to be worth bothering with.   And these will range from tiny sidebars ("If you want to add make your critical hits more deadly, do this" to complex chapters (tactical combat).    

But ultimately - it will still come down to the DM deciding how they want to play the game, picking the official modules which appeal to them - and then adding their own when those don't suit them.   Don't expect every little tweak you want to be provided for you in a module, expect to be able to add them yourself if they are important to you.


Carl  
I do think that many people have a flawed understanding of what it means for the game to be modular.




As some have pointed out - what it means is that it has a sold core that allows optional game elements to be 'bolted on' or left off...the solid and simple core should make it easier for you to add those features if you wish.  If you want some neglected feature and they didn't put it in - just do it yourself.  DIY was the foundation of the game.



That's a good way of putting what I've struggled to articulate when the flexibility of 3e vs 4e is brought up. I find the modular approach to character classes in 3e easier to write for and expand for myself. 4e can achieve the same kinds of things 3e can but I find it harder to write for because the system locks down stuff like multiclassing and preserves classes in a way 3e doesn't.


And that's OK. There are good reasons to make the classes more rigid and we've all seen the full extent of the weird 3e can produce, but as I've menitoned elsewhere I'd rather trim a system with a lot of options than try to force a system to flex in ways it doesn't want to.

5E/DDN is being proclaimed as "modular" by those who feel like discussing it. Many see this as a completely good thing, opening up options never seen before in any one, single edition of this game. Some seem to think this modularity will be quite extensive, based on thier comments on these boards. Since the first playtest packet came out, the common catch-phrase of the forums has been, "They can include X as an option because 5E will be modular". This extends to alignment, the planes of existence, specific races, specific classes, character options, and so on. I think we might be taking it a bit too far or, at the very least, we might have exceedingly high expectations. I will explain.

Pretty much everything that has been introduced so far has received both positive and negative comments. This is perfectly fine, and to be expected. I would be worried if this was not the case.  This isn't the issue, though. The issue seems to be that:

1) X is introduced
2) Group A doesn't like it, and wants something different
3) Group B likes it, and wants it left alone
4) Both groups agree that, through modules, everyone can get what they want

I really think this getting into the "high hopes" arena of thinking. Do people really expect the devs to give us an LG paladin, an unaligned paladin, paladins of every alignment, and an option for alignment-free paladins? The recent alignment/paladin thread seemed to think so. Do people want tiny PC races to be able to wield normal-size weapons? Some do, and want an option that will allow them to do so. People want varying ways to use wizards (spell points, AEDU, point-buy). People want fluff-light and fluff-heavy books. People want the old Forgotten Realms back. People want the new Forgotten Realms left alone. People want options for seemingly every piece of the 5E puzzle we've seen so far, and justify it by saying, "It's okay. It's a modular system. They can just release a module with X options". There comes a point where logic, reason, and business sense have to intervene.

Do we really think that WotC could possibly afford to release every conceivable option people are asking for? Or that they would want to, even if they could afford to?  How much book-space would it take to go to the far edges of modularity that would be needed for this? How many PHBs would it take to give us modular options for just the few races and classes we have already? At what point does modularity give way to countless splat after splat? How do you possibly attempt to balance all of that? What options will be "core" and the rest "modules", potentially alienating certain groups who think X should be core instead of Y, and that Y should've been the "optional" method? How many modules of each rule do you think is a reasonable amount?

In short, just how modular can a modular game be and still be a powerful, successful game capable of reuniting the fans (as 5E is supposed to do)?     

I hope to see 5E unite the fans...at least as much as can be possibly expected. I hope to see oodles of options for oodles of topics. I am realistic enough, though, to realize that everything that folks are wanting included as modular options simply aren't going to be feasible to include. Maybe they can and I'll be proven wrong. This is one time I would LOVE to be proven wrong...but my gut says it ain't gonna happen.

Until there is modularity there is room for hope... If we give up the hope of modularity than many of us will just give up on D&D Next...

So said, I must also remember: "Hope is the first step on the road of disappointment".
No more vancian. No "edition war" for me, thank'you.
I do think that many people have a flawed understanding of what it means for the game to be modular.




As some have pointed out - what it means is that it has a sold core that allows optional game elements to be 'bolted on' or left off...the solid and simple core should make it easier for you to add those features if you wish.  If you want some neglected feature and they didn't put it in - just do it yourself.  DIY was the foundation of the game.



That's a good way of putting what I've struggled to articulate when the flexibility of 3e vs 4e is brought up. I find the modular approach to character classes in 3e easier to write for and expand for myself. 4e can achieve the same kinds of things 3e can but I find it harder to write for because the system locks down stuff like multiclassing and preserves classes in a way 3e doesn't.


And that's OK. There are good reasons to make the classes more rigid and we've all seen the full extent of the weird 3e can produce, but as I've menitoned elsewhere I'd rather trim a system with a lot of options than try to force a system to flex in ways it doesn't want to.


The way I look at it though, from an overall system modularity perspective 4e has it hands down. It has a simple core where different concepts can be expressed by things like keywords, damage types, resistances, conditions, etc. and your basic structure of game elements, classes, items, powers, feats, etc. Then you have all the various elements that lie on top of that of each type. These different things heavily reuse each other too. Items for instance have powers, and classes also have powers (and even terrain can have powers, and traps, and basically anything can have a power). There are a wide variety of these different elements, and they each serve a particular overall purpose (each one depicts a sort of narrative world element, so items are magic items, creatures are characters and monsters, etc).

This kind of system is highly modular because it is highly self-referential and highly regular. A power can be used to damage an object because objects are the basic elements of the world and all objects have a common set of rules for defenses, hit points, saves, etc. The same rules work for damaging creatures because they're basic objects with WILL added on and generally they have speeds and whatever, and they have powers and actions. The cool part is MOST of the rules will apply broadly and consistently, so for example a power that pushes can be used to shove a box (the DM might or might not allow this from a narrative standpoint, but the rules for how it works are absolutely clear).

Likewise in terms of designing different rules modules it is quite straightforward. If I want to add a rules module for mass combat for instance I can easily define the differences between a unit of several creatures and a standard normal single creature and then simply use the existing combat rules. Everything slots together and only the minimum necessary things need to be changed by special casing a few rules. Even better examples though are things like MCing where the fact that each PC has the same basic structure makes it dirt simple to implement. You can implement monsters as PCs trivially too for instance, since monsters are creatures just like PCs are and have powers, etc. You're going to have to decide how to deal with specifics, but the framework is always there, a dragon's breath is a power, and it can clearly be added to any PC and work in a defined way. What level it is and how you get it, etc are things you'd design, but again the basic rules for power acquisition and use are standard rules and very clear.

It isn't that 3.x isn't a fairly structured system either, but it has 'irregularities' in how it works, like some defenses being saves instead of attack roles, and just the way there are large numbers of hair-splittingly differentiated things like different types of monster abilites (is it a spell, an SLA, a special ability, a supernatural ability, or hell I can't even sort out what all the possiblities are and they all have different rules).
That is not dead which may eternal lie
@AbdulAlhazred: you really like your codified rules!
The way I look at it though, from an overall system modularity perspective 4e has it hands down.



4E is modular, but it builds on some major premises that cannot easily be changed without altering the entire system.
Yes, powers are modular, so swapping around the powers is easy.
Classes are modular, swapping in or out classes is easy.
There the easy part ends.

Powers and classes are the base resolution of the modularity and a major part of the rules is contained in the classes themselves.

Change something in the core rules and a whole bunch of classes becomes incompatible or just ignores the change because every class redefines the core rules.

Because of this I found 4E to be extremely hard to houserule compared to other editions, and compared to other TTRPGs. Due to its rigidity making all new classes was the only way to get what I wanted and that was really too much work for the gain as it felt like building a completely new system from the ground up.

That combined with that every single class needed new powers all the way up to lvl 30... _-_

5E is already more flexible and modular.


The way I look at it though, from an overall system modularity perspective 4e has it hands down.



4E is modular, but it builds on some major premises that cannot easily be changed without altering the entire system.
Yes, powers are modular, so swapping around the powers is easy.
Classes are modular, swapping in or out classes is easy.
There the easy part ends.

Powers and classes are the base resolution of the modularity and a major part of the rules is contained in the classes themselves.

Change something in the core rules and a whole bunch of classes becomes incompatible or just ignores the change because every class redefines the core rules.

Because of this I found 4E to be extremely hard to houserule compared to other editions, and compared to other TTRPGs. Due to its rigidity making all new classes was the only way to get what I wanted and that was really too much work for the gain as it felt like building a completely new system from the ground up.

That combined with that every single class needed new powers all the way up to lvl 30... _-_

5E is already more flexible and modular.





You still need pretty much class progression all the way on cap on 5e, unless you decide that a class should only be, i get +x mod on A and +y mod on B as i level up...thought 3.X kinda do that with non-casters

@AbdulAlhazred: you really like your codified rules!


hehe, that may be true. I really like to do crazy stuff in my games. OTOH my opinion on the rules is give me the lowest overall complexity and most complete general rules possible, and then just let me go do my thing. I want to be thinking about what the controls are for the flying castle, not how climbing works or homebrewing a way for the fighter to get Thievery, or how to give the ogre magi some cantrips, etc.

The way I look at it though, from an overall system modularity perspective 4e has it hands down.



4E is modular, but it builds on some major premises that cannot easily be changed without altering the entire system.
Yes, powers are modular, so swapping around the powers is easy.
Classes are modular, swapping in or out classes is easy.
There the easy part ends.

Powers and classes are the base resolution of the modularity and a major part of the rules is contained in the classes themselves.


I'm looking back at my 1e and 2e PHBs and I don't really see where less of the rules in those editions was in the classes. In fact I'd say it was at least as much, and probably realistically more. I think 3e abstracted a lot of things out of class features, 4e just rewrote a lot of it in the form of powers. I think you'd be hard pressed to say that more of the rules is in 4e's powers than was in previous edition's spell lists. In any case...

Change something in the core rules and a whole bunch of classes becomes incompatible or just ignores the change because every class redefines the core rules.


Change something in the core rules and you make a global change. That's what you WANT. You want the ABILITY to change the whole game in a consistent way with one change, if that is what you intend. If OTOH you want to change something in one class, then you change that class. This is pretty much vanilla system design, and I could lift that sentence and drop it into an OO programming manual and it would be right at home. Specific narrows general.


Because of this I found 4E to be extremely hard to houserule compared to other editions, and compared to other TTRPGs. Due to its rigidity making all new classes was the only way to get what I wanted and that was really too much work for the gain as it felt like building a completely new system from the ground up.

That combined with that every single class needed new powers all the way up to lvl 30... _-_

5E is already more flexible and modular.




I have no idea what you mean. I think I'd need a specific example. I can give plenty of contrary examples. For instance it would be easy to make your own 'gish' class, just allow swapping in of wizard powers on a fighter chassis and create a class feature that says "you can use your weapon as an implement" or somesuch. This is in fact pretty close to what the Bladesinger class does. If that isn't easy and modular I don't know what is.

Now, to be clear, I think there are improvements that can be made to that scheme. I think a large fraction of powers could be moved into power source-wide lists for instance. That would more easily clarify what is core to the power source, unify classes in that source more, and facilitate even easier generation of new classes amongst other things. Class features can be relied on to create adequate differentiation, and each class can also have some signature powers. However, I don't consider that a modularity thing per-se. It is at most a question of redrawing certain module boundaries. Module boundaries can be one of the trickiest areas in system design. I could point out some other similar areas, like feats and items are two seperate areas that could oddly enough be merged into one, creating one generalized boon system where magical equipment is just one possible way characters can advance and you can fluff a character advancement as an item, training, divine favor, etc. In a less modularized system this kind of discussion couldn't even take place. You couldn't consider doing something like that in 1e for instance, the required commonality of elements simply doesn't exist. At best you could fluff some items as boons/training but you couldn't unify that into the character progression.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
They seem to be trying this or that and seeing what sticks in the surveys - if it gets 70-80% it gets left in not sure if that means they consider to achieve that if only 20-30% said it is horrible, the way these surveys are structured there is a lot left to interpretation.    They will only revisit something if the poll is 50/50% splits and polarized.   Whereas if things where modular to begin with the 20-30% that said it was horrible, would instead have said that is OK because I will not use that feature and instead swap in the alternate rule and they would have got 100% approval.

The problem with this approach is that they may decide based on the first playtest that everyone loves combat advantage, and move on.   Six months later people see the combat advantage has ups/downs and would likely change their opinion, but that is no longer being tested anymore as it is considered done. Then the devs slip in small bonuses leaving some players going what happened to combat advantage.    Then people see the fighter gets CS dice and say why does he get that advantage in combat when I do not.

You can't get consistent feedback in such a playtest environment, things interact, things take time to digest.   If they truly want to engage their player and DM base they should do it in heavily moderated forums because not everything can boil down to a percentage.  They may never ask the right questions on the survey.

I did notice that the art dept cut back on doing art to indicate their direction and now just use words or prior art, because it was evident to many (and themselves based on Gencon panel) that they where influencing the results by including napkin sketch concepts with fully rendered paintings.  People voted for the paintings because it looked better, it was more fully fleshed out - when they where supposed to be voting on character concepts.   The guy from the art dept said he WILL and HAS put garbage out that he has no intention of including just to see if the audience is in mass approval mode and not being critical since he went to all that work and was nice enough to show us something.

I think the same thing happened with the class updates, some people liked the flavour that was written for the classes, when what should be getting tested is how should they develop modular classes that will make DMs and players happy, and not getting into very specific details like warts that grow, or should it be a mole option?   Should they package it up as pregens that are made from legos, then tell you what the legos are?  Or should they keep the legos in their box and just give you pregens all finished and ready to go?
Powers and classes are the base resolution of the modularity and a major part of the rules is contained in the classes themselves.


I'm looking back at my 1e and 2e PHBs and I don't really see where less of the rules in those editions was in the classes. In fact I'd say it was at least as much, and probably realistically more. I think 3e abstracted a lot of things out of class features, 4e just rewrote a lot of it in the form of powers. I think you'd be hard pressed to say that more of the rules is in 4e's powers than was in previous edition's spell lists. In any case...



I didn't say anything about 1e and 2e. The core rules in 3e had a larger impact on the class mechanics at the beginning of the 3e era, but then came PrC's and new feats and messed it up somewhat. There was also a lot of problems with 3e but it was still less rigid than 4e.

5E, as it is now, is currently far ahead of 4e and 3e when it comes to modularity and ease of modification.



Change something in the core rules and a whole bunch of classes becomes incompatible or just ignores the change because every class redefines the core rules.


Change something in the core rules and you make a global change. That's what you WANT. You want the ABILITY to change the whole game in a consistent way with one change, if that is what you intend. If OTOH you want to change something in one class, then you change that class. This is pretty much vanilla system design, and I could lift that sentence and drop it into an OO programming manual and it would be right at home. Specific narrows general.



You must have misread what I wrote in the opposite way. I say that if you change something in the core rules it DOES NOT propagate through the classes.

Expressed in OO terms if you want. ---------

The core rules of 4E is a simple container of classes 'Class', containing only the minimum of implementation to allow these classes to interact in the game. Each subclass of Class contains a bloat of implementation that is not shared among classes (except in a few cases like the Blackguard that is a subclass of Paladin.. but the inheritance there is a bit unclear). Class in turn is a container of Power. Contrary to the bloated Class class, the Power class is well implemented using various shared keywords and systems.

Now, make a change in Core, and you will probably break all the Class implementations. You will need to go through them one by one and change them to be in compliance to the change. Very bad OO design.
You can add a new Class in order to make the implementation of the game more to your liking, but that change will only apply to that Class alone, so you will have to scrap all classes and make a ton of new ones if you want a 'global' change. At that point you will realise that scrapping them all and rebuilding Class to use various interfaces and implementation class buildingblocks would be a better idea than to make a new series of poorly implemented bloated subclasses. But at that point you are rebuilding the entire program.

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A good OO design of a system like this leaves classes as thin layers of special implementation and leaves the most of the mechanics in clearly discrete blocks in the core rules. That way a change to the core or its modular components will directly propagate through all classes that use those components.

Further, the requirement for Powers is a problem in itself. As 4E's classes are designed on the premise that they are containers of powers, any new class that follows a similar system will be forced to provide all that extra content. That is also poor design. The CS system for fighters in 5E is built in a way that will replicate an exponential amount of 4E powers by combining the CS abilities in different ways. This is a way better OO design than the Power system.
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Because of this I found 4E to be extremely hard to houserule compared to other editions, and compared to other TTRPGs. Due to its rigidity making all new classes was the only way to get what I wanted and that was really too much work for the gain as it felt like building a completely new system from the ground up.

That combined with that every single class needed new powers all the way up to lvl 30... _-_

5E is already more flexible and modular.




I have no idea what you mean. I think I'd need a specific example. I can give plenty of contrary examples. For instance it would be easy to make your own 'gish' class, just allow swapping in of wizard powers on a fighter chassis and create a class feature that says "you can use your weapon as an implement" or somesuch. This is in fact pretty close to what the Bladesinger class does. If that isn't easy and modular I don't know what is.



Sure, I can give an example. Instead of the At-Will, Encounter, Daily mechanism, I would want a system based around that you can use powerful abilities when you get certain types of advantage, such as when a mark is violated or you gain combat advantage, any amount of times per day. This is a core system change, but the implementation of the A-W, E, D mechanic is spread out on the individual classes in a way that makes a central change impossible.


Now, to be clear, I think there are improvements that can be made to that scheme. I think a large fraction of powers could be moved into power source-wide lists for instance. That would more easily clarify what is core to the power source, unify classes in that source more, and facilitate even easier generation of new classes amongst other things. Class features can be relied on to create adequate differentiation, and each class can also have some signature powers. However, I don't consider that a modularity thing per-se. It is at most a question of redrawing certain module boundaries. Module boundaries can be one of the trickiest areas in system design. I could point out some other similar areas, like feats and items are two seperate areas that could oddly enough be merged into one, creating one generalized boon system where magical equipment is just one possible way characters can advance and you can fluff a character advancement as an item, training, divine favor, etc. In a less modularized system this kind of discussion couldn't even take place. You couldn't consider doing something like that in 1e for instance, the required commonality of elements simply doesn't exist. At best you could fluff some items as boons/training but you couldn't unify that into the character progression.



Yes, power sources should have unified mechanics, they dont. Module boundaries are drawn by separating common implementation into reusable blocks as much as possible while balancing this against the structural overhead that allow that modularisation. Generally the more the system grows the more worthwhile a high modularity gets, but in the early stages a highly modular system is often less time effective (since reuse is low). Because of this lazy or stressed developers skip modularity for a simpler but worse design to get the early stuff out fast. 4E looks like an example of such rushed development, (while 3e is an example of a decent design that got messed up as new content was added faster than the system could adapt).

As for the items, boons and feat powers. Yea, they are 'subclasses' of Power...   thus I said that the resolution of 4E is only in Classes and Powers, and it is only modular on those resolutions.