Making the case for the classes

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One of the more frequent discussions that comes up on this forum is what classes should be classes, and what should specialties or backgrounds.  Some people have made the argument of the core 4 being all we need and fill in the blanks with Specialties and Backgrounds.  First, I want to discuss what possible class combinations and specialties could yield the non-core four classes, and then I want to discuss major problems with this thought process.

So, if WotC sticks to their word of covering any class that appeared in PHB 1, that would yield Assassin, Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, Warlock, Warlord, Wizard.  Subtracting out the core four, we are left with ten classes that need to be covered.  Since, apparently, they already have done the Sorcerer and Warlock (though both need significant amounts of work according to WotC), that leaves eight.

Here is how I would do those seven classes using Specialties and Backgrounds.
Assassin - Rogue Scheme, Assassin Background
Barbarian - Berserker Specialty (grants Rage), Barbarian Background
Bard - Fighter/Wizard, Bard Specialty (grants bardic song and bardic knowledge), Thief Background
Druid - Cleric/Wizard, Druid Specialty (grants animal companion and wild shape), Nature Domain
Paladin - Fighter/Cleric, Paladin Specialty (grants smite and paladin mount)
Monk - Fighter (movement based uses of combat superiority), Monk Specialty (grants increased damage with monk weapons and unarmed strikes)
Ranger - Fighter, Ranger Specialty (grants favored enemy and minor cleric [Nature domain] spells)
Warlord - Fighter (some new types of Combat Superiority that grant bonuses to Allies and can be traded to grant Allies attacks), Warlord Specialty (grants battlefield healing that is non-magical)

So, with that out of the way, there are some major problems with doing things this way.

First and foremost, if you don't play with Backgrounds or Specialties, it severely limits the ability for the player to fully realize a character concept.  If the game is to be designed to have those things removed, a method for creating characters of these typical classes needs to be in place.  Additionally, a lot of these classes essentially need multiclassing to accomplish.  If you don't play with multiclassing, then again, you get severely limited in how you can play your character.

Secondly, resources get chewed up really fast with this method.  A lot of these classes would require multiclassing, specialties, AND backgrounds.  This again, severely limits what you can do with your character.  Say you want to play your Paladin as an ordained warrior-assassin of the church, can you do that all with your specialty chewed up, sure, but it becomes very hard to do so.

Additionally, doing classes as Specialties and Backgrounds does create a great deal of bloat in terms of specialties.  While the alternative is class bloat, one of the biggest complaints against 3E and 4E is feat bloat.

Ultimately, this boils down to tradition and playstyle.  If someone wants to play a game without all the fuss of Specialties and Backgrounds, they would be limiting what their players can play AND how they play them.  With these classes remaining classes, they would only be limiting how they play them.  Also, some of these classes have been classes for several editions, and it kinda stomps on the whole idea of this edition evoking all the other ones.

Ultimately, in my opinion, the best way for them to please the most people is for them to stick to their word with having the classes remain classes.
CORE MORE, NOT CORE BORE!
Most of those I would rather just see as specialties. Some being Specialties that can be taken by more than one class or have a different version for each class. Heck I would rather see Sorcerer and Warlock as just specialties.

I could see Bard having it's own class if you were wanting a more iconic jack of all trades "Bard" type bard, the class you want to take if you want to do everything the Rogue, Fighter and Wizard does. But also I could see it as a specialty that can be taken by any class, I think I would rather see it as a specialty.

In fact the only one I would want to see as it's own class is Druid; I like Primal magic, I like that in 4E they made it something different from Divine and Arcane, It would make a good 5th class when you think of these base classes as jumping off points for other classes.

Thinking of the classes as generic platforms, sort of the boiled down version of any character



  • The Rogue is for character who want to focus on skills and trickery

  • The Fighter is for characters who want to be any kind of warrior

  • Wizard/Cleric/Druid are your three flavors of spellcaster

A specialty, class, and background for each "class".

I don't want the paladin player grumbling too much in my no specialties game.

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

First and foremost, if you don't play with Backgrounds or Specialties, it severely limits the ability for the player to fully realize a character concept.  If the game is to be designed to have those things removed, a method for creating characters of these typical classes needs to be in place.  Additionally, a lot of these classes essentially need multiclassing to accomplish.  If you don't play with multiclassing, then again, you get severely limited in how you can play your character.

Secondly, resources get chewed up really fast with this method.  A lot of these classes would require multiclassing, specialties, AND backgrounds.  This again, severely limits what you can do with your character.  Say you want to play your Paladin as an ordained warrior-assassin of the church, can you do that all with your specialty chewed up, sure, but it becomes very hard to do so.

Additionally, doing classes as Specialties and Backgrounds does create a great deal of bloat in terms of specialties.  While the alternative is class bloat, one of the biggest complaints against 3E and 4E is feat bloat.


To your first and foremost, the whole argument is a non-issue, if you're playing without Backgrounds and specialties, you're playing old-school and you probably don't want more than the core 4 anyway.  It may be an issue to someone if you only use one of backgrounds and/or specialties, but that's an active choice you have to make, so if you make that choice to not use specialties (for example) and then complain that you can't take a specialty - well... you need to get something checked...

As to your secondly, you're not limiting anything, you're simply taking the choices that you need to play your character concept.  If that concept is a traveling musician/poet spellcaster and that requires multi-classing, specialties and backgrounds to make, then that's what it takes.  Either pick those options are don't, it's your choice.

And finally, as to bloat - c'mon, this is D&D we're talking about here.  You can't have D&D without bloat and if you think you can, or more accurately will, you're seriously fooling yourself.
A specialty, class, and background for each "class". I don't want the paladin player grumbling too much in my no specialties game.



In all honesty, we actually have the start of this already with things like the Magic-User and Acolyte.  We could certainly take care of a lot of things like the Swordmage using the Wizard and a Fighter-esque theme.  I dunno, I am not opposed to having many different ways to make the same thing.  Options Options OPTIONS!
CORE MORE, NOT CORE BORE!
I seriously hope they don't start limiting Backgrounds or Specialties to specific Classes, that would really ruin DnDNext IMO.

Instead I'd like to see them run the other way with Backgrounds and Specialties.  Right now they're little more than skill and feat delivery systems.  Which is okay, but they could be a lot more.  They could instead also deliver traits or abilities that really allow for customization of the base class.

Fewer classes, more Backgrounds and Specialties, expanded so they true meet character building requirements. 
I seriously hope they don't start limiting Backgrounds or Specialties to specific Classes, that would really ruin DnDNext IMO.

Instead I'd like to see them run the other way with Backgrounds and Specialties.  Right now they're little more than skill and feat delivery systems.  Which is okay, but they could be a lot more.  They could instead also deliver traits or abilities that really allow for customization of the base class.

Fewer classes, more Backgrounds and Specialties, expanded so they true meet character building requirements. 


I wasn't making the argument for Specialties/Backgrounds being limited to specific classes, what I was arguing was that Specialties/Backgrounds could work in tandem with classes to evoke a concept.  If someone wanted to play a Cleric/Rogue with the Paladin specialty, that should be allowed.  What I would not mind seeing is what Orzel is arguing for, a Class-like Specialty or Background being available alongside a Class, in much the way that the Wizard-like Specialty is the Magic-User and the Cleric-like Specialty is the Acolyte.  So there would be stuff like a Berserker Specialty that would allow a Wizard to evoke a Barbarian, but there would also be a Barbarian class.
CORE MORE, NOT CORE BORE!
I think we're all on the same page here for the most part. We want something simple that offers us a lot of options.

Options can lead to bloat though, and yes I'm sure there will be bloat, and if we must have bloat I would rather there only be one thing that gets bloated; like specialties. In 4E you had Class bloat and even worst Feat bloat, Power bloat, Item bloat. Specialties and Backrounds are chosen upon character creation so they would never be as bad as feats and powers got. So I think we should concentrate all the bloat there.

IMO some classes could very well just not be needed. Take Paladin for example; if I can take any core class and turn it into a Paladin using specialties and backrounds then I have a very wide selection of Paladin type characters to choose from, not only can I make a iconic Paladin but I can make out of the box Paladin types. so at that point what would a core Paladin class bring to my table?
One thing to remember: If there's an ability that increases things like attack or damage above what is possible in a game without feats, it should NOT be a specialty or background. Rage and smite usually do this, if they were specialties then you would have to choose between optimization or flavor. Even though they aren't as clear as the horrendous "+1 to attack rolls," it's still crossing into an area I don't want to see D&DN go back to. If they are made subtle enough that they won't create this optimization vs flavor gap, then they are in no way a suitable replacement for those classes.

Increased damage with Monk weapons would be fine. Kind of like how TWF has a feat that increases AC, if someone had a shield they would also have that +1. The feat doesn't increase the possible AC cap, it just lets you play your character how you want. The Monk weapons thing would do the same. You're not raising the DPS cap, just closing the gap between unarmed and great axe. Although, I think there's way more to Monk than just an unarmed fighter, so I am in no way saying Monk can be mushed into a specialty.


I would rather see a little class bloat than feel like a subpar fighter because I wanted a familiar instead of a rage ability. If I wanted to be punished for playing unique characters I'd just play 3.5 or 4e.


Edit: Totally didn't read the whole first post, whoopsy. Oh wait, I didn't direct my post to anyone.


Added: Related to what I'm saying: "...we want to provide you with more options, not things to make you more powerful. Feats, for example, usually open up new actions and allow you to make new choices, though there are some exceptions to that (like the Survivor’s feats) that we are working on."
Building a class around the ability to get really angry and smash things doesn't seem reasonable to Me.  Making Paladin a class just so they can have Smite and No Fear doesn't seem reasonable to me.  The rest of the abilities in those classes?  Pure filler, just put there because they couldn't think of anything else.  Don't get me started on the Monk class, which is only a Wu Shu archetype.

The ability to Berserk should be, in my opinion, a speciality with graduating levels of abilities which is reminiscent of but not the same as previous editions Rage ability.

Smite could just as easily be argued as a Cleric ability, and I see no reason why it couldn't be a choice (Like Traditions or Heritages or Pacts) of that class. 

Theoretically, what would you make a berserk specialty do? How can you both NOT make it the optimal choice for a fighter AND a suitable option for the people who want to play a Barbarian?

Random idea: "+1 to attack and damage rolls and prevent you from doing things that take thinking."

That right there makes it the optimal choice for a fighter. If you want to be the best fighter, you need this specialty just like how you needed the boring +1 to attack feats in 3.5/4e. And at the same time, this is not enough, IMO, to make me feel like my character is a Barbarian. Theoretically, you need to make this feat weaker AND stronger in order to satisfy both criteria.


As for the Cleric having smite, that I'd be cool with. That's making it a class ability, not a specialty, so it's not THE choice I need to pick to be an optimal fighter.


I don't care about Bar/Pal unique classes, I care about keeping direct power increasing abilities out of specialties. (I would rather have Bar/Pal as unique classes, but that's a different topic than this specialty one.)

Right off the bat, I think that's one of the problems right there.  People think Barbarians or the Berserk ability needs to be straight bonuses to attack or damage.  I don't.  Looking at specialties and other examples in DnDNext we can come up with something different.



  • An increase in Hit Points while raging (1st level)

  • Immunity to Fear and Mind Controlling effects while raging (3rd level)

  • Damage Reduction of appropriate value while raging (5th level)


All of this with an appropriate consequence once the Berserk ability ends.  It's not overpowered, and this is just off the top of my head.  The game designers should be able to do even better.  Whats more, it isn't the 'Optimal' choice for a Fighter or anyone else, it's a Flavor choice.
Right off the bat, I think that's one of the problems right there.  People think Barbarians or the Berserk ability needs to be straight bonuses to attack or damage.  I don't.  Looking at specialties and other examples in DnDNext we can come up with something different.



  • An increase in Hit Points while raging (1st level)

  • Immunity to Fear and Mind Controlling effects while raging (3rd level)

  • Damage Reduction of appropriate value while raging (5th level)


All of this with an appropriate consequence once the Berserk ability ends.  It's not overpowered, and this is just off the top of my head.  The game designers should be able to do even better.  Whats more, it isn't the 'Optimal' choice for a Fighter or anyone else, it's a Flavor choice.


There's also a huge variety of rages in the 4e Barbarian that are worthy sources for inspiration.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
I'll take your word for that Mand, I don't have access to them.  I stopped paying for Insider years ago.  However, if they provide good inspiration for designing a Specialty based off Rage/Berserk, bring them on.

I find it very hard to buy the designers claim that they felt the Rage/Berserk ability to be too powerful, and deserving of an entire class built around that feature.  If I can come up with something off hand like this, I'm sure the very competant posters on this site can do even better.  And if they can, the Designers ought to be able to, or else somethings wrong.
community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...

Check the Daily powers for summaries of Rages.  The handbooks assume you have access to the print material (and an understanding of 4e tactics for that matter), but they're still nice general summaries of what the rages do (at least for the good ones - the awful ones are often described as just being awful, and who would want to include those?)
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
I would like the Monk to make an appearance, did i hear they have already designed it, and that it is one of the easiest classes they've designed?
There's also a huge variety of rages in the 4e Barbarian that are worthy sources for inspiration.




Why does someone from a "primitive" culture have to rage?
To me the barbarian is just the untrained warrior with an incredible physique.

And how do untrained people fight? They get mad and swing all over the place like madmen.

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

There's also a huge variety of rages in the 4e Barbarian that are worthy sources for inspiration.




Why does someone from a "primitive" culture have to rage?


Certainly if the Rogue is going to have options other than Sneak Attack, a Barbarian class could have options other than Rage.


RE: Actual Thread Topic
Honestly, I think they can make all of these things into their own classes - I just don't think I want all of these things as their own classes (not in the initial "core" books, at least).  Where a concept is doable within the framework of an already available class, I would at least like to see the option to use that already available class to fulfill the concept.

For example, I'm perfectly happy with Assassin being a Rogue scheme and background.  If they want to make a class in addition to that?  Go right ahead.
Feedback Disclaimer
Yes, I am expressing my opinions (even complaints - le gasp!) about the current iteration of the play-test that we actually have in front of us. No, I'm not going to wait for you to tell me when it's okay to start expressing my concerns (unless you are WotC). (And no, my comments on this forum are not of the same tone or quality as my actual survey feedback.)
A Psion for Next (Playable Draft) A Barbarian for Next (Brainstorming Still)
Moreover, perhaps the largest single factor of pre-3rd feel and experience is 'the class is the class'. If this isn't offered (at least as an option) then they've lost most of the pre-3rd market and the system fails.




Absolutely, the 1st Ed PHB is the benchmark (all the ideas and "math" are there), just clean it up.
First and foremost, if you don't play with Backgrounds or Specialties, it severely limits the ability for the player to fully realize a character concept.  If the game is to be designed to have those things removed, a method for creating characters of these typical classes needs to be in place.  Additionally, a lot of these classes essentially need multiclassing to accomplish.  If you don't play with multiclassing, then again, you get severely limited in how you can play your character.

Secondly, resources get chewed up really fast with this method.  A lot of these classes would require multiclassing, specialties, AND backgrounds.  This again, severely limits what you can do with your character.  Say you want to play your Paladin as an ordained warrior-assassin of the church, can you do that all with your specialty chewed up, sure, but it becomes very hard to do so.

Additionally, doing classes as Specialties and Backgrounds does create a great deal of bloat in terms of specialties.  While the alternative is class bloat, one of the biggest complaints against 3E and 4E is feat bloat.


To your first and foremost, the whole argument is a non-issue, if you're playing without Backgrounds and specialties, you're playing old-school and you probably don't want more than the core 4 anyway.  It may be an issue to someone if you only use one of backgrounds and/or specialties, but that's an active choice you have to make, so if you make that choice to not use specialties (for example) and then complain that you can't take a specialty - well... you need to get something checked...

As to your secondly, you're not limiting anything, you're simply taking the choices that you need to play your character concept.  If that concept is a traveling musician/poet spellcaster and that requires multi-classing, specialties and backgrounds to make, then that's what it takes.  Either pick those options are don't, it's your choice.

+1 Thanks. You saved me the trouble of addressing these two issues. 

As for class bloat vs specialty/background bloat, I'd rather have the extra creative freedom and customization that comes with having specialties and background than a bunch of classes taking up space that are basically nothing more than derivatives of the core four that could have been built using specialties/backgrounds anyway.
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.

That's too narrow of a perspective. Our groups won't touch anything involving skills or feats, nor boilerplate fluff, so no backgrounds, specialties, etc for us. Therefore for us to have a Paladin requires one to exist, fully formed, as a class. Moreover, perhaps the largest single factor of pre-3rd feel and experience is 'the class is the class'. If this isn't offered (at least as an option) then they've lost most of the pre-3rd market and the system fails.



I guess this is just something that I, as a DnD player, don't really understand. A player wanting more options but at the same time less choices? I understand wanting something to be simple, pick a race and a class and get started sort of thing; but when a player wants to be a paladin or whatever theyre saying they want to be something a little different arnt they? So where do you draw the line? at what point do we do we stop adding classes into the game for people who want options but dont want to make more than two choices?

It sounds to me like your players are wanting more class options but not wanting specialties that allow you to make whatever class you want, IMO that seems wishy washy. That to me seems like a recipe for bloat, because now you have people wanting more specialties to make unique classes and people wanting more classes because they want things simple but at the same time want more options.

What I would suggest for your group is perhaps pre-generated classes. basically have the specialty alread combined with the class to make the most iconic version and then when you have all the classes you want your ready to go and your player only have one less choice to make 
1) This enforces gimick based design wich is not interesting to a lot of players.

2) A lot of the classes you turn into specialties/backgrounds and hybrids don't fit with the classes that you assign them to for fluff or mechanical reasons.  You are jamming square pegs into round holes.

3) Classes are inherently modular so there is no need to get rid of the classes that you think are messy.  You can rule them out at your own table and have your "pure and true" D&D the way you like it. 
I'll take your word for that Mand, I don't have access to them.  I stopped paying for Insider years ago.  However, if they provide good inspiration for designing a Specialty based off Rage/Berserk, bring them on.

I find it very hard to buy the designers claim that they felt the Rage/Berserk ability to be too powerful, and deserving of an entire class built around that feature.  If I can come up with something off hand like this, I'm sure the very competant posters on this site can do even better.  And if they can, the Designers ought to be able to, or else somethings wrong.



And it isn't blindingly obvious to you that increased hit points and damage reduction i(your 'something') is too powerful to be a specialty?


Ok (remember - you can't use Survivor Toughness or Healer (Healer's Touch) as examples as both break the mold for what should be possible).

Make that temporary hit points and a decrease in AC and you might have a case.

Carl
1) You are jamming square pegs into round holes.



I like to think of it more as combining the two to make a *squand* hole/peg.

3) Classes are inherently modular so there is no need to get rid of the classes that you think are messy.  You can rule them out at your own table and have your "pure and true" D&D the way you like it. 



It is true and a valid point, you are the one who chooses what rules are in your game. But unfortunatly we are not the ones who choose what rules are in the books that they expect us to buy. Unless the chapters of the books are somehow modular too, then I guess I wouldnt have a problem. Let's agree that if we couldve swapped out the Runepriest chapter for more skill powers we would all have been more happy. But  I agree that It's not really that big of a deal.
I don't know where exactly you stop adding classes.

Three.
Violence Guy
Magic Guy
Magic Violence Guy

Thank you for clarifying, that makes a lot more sense to me now that you put it that way.

 As you say, if they create a chapter of sample characters which includes the stuff otherwise placed in backgrounds and such as core class components, that's fine. As long as it's nothing more or less than it was for the first 20+ years of the game.



Problem solved.
I don't know where exactly you stop adding classes.

Three.
Violence Guy
Magic Guy
Magic Violence Guy




To damn complicated.  I vote

one
Guy

then just let people pick what they want him to do.
To damn complicated.  I vote

one
Guy

then just let people pick what they want him to do.


[insert condescending GURPS retort here]


As you say, if they create a chapter of sample characters which includes the stuff otherwise placed in backgrounds and such as core class components, that's fine. As long as it's nothing more or less than it was for the first 20+ years of the game.

Doesn't Playest 2 do that right now?
To damn complicated.  I vote

one
Guy

then just let people pick what they want him to do.


[insert condescending GURPS retort here]



[elitist indie gaming comeback while I sip my late and adjust my thick rimmed non-perscription glasses]
To damn complicated.  I vote

one
Guy

then just let people pick what they want him to do.


[insert condescending GURPS retort here]



[elitist indie gaming comeback while I sip my late and adjust my thick rimmed non-perscription glasses]

[absurd strawman]

To damn complicated.  I vote

one
Guy

then just let people pick what they want him to do.


[insert condescending GURPS retort here]



[elitist indie gaming comeback while I sip my late and adjust my thick rimmed non-perscription glasses]

[absurd strawman]




[condecending insult to your intelegence and questioning of your paternal heratige via your mothers lax moral code.]
To damn complicated.  I vote

one
Guy

then just let people pick what they want him to do.


[insert condescending GURPS retort here]



[elitist indie gaming comeback while I sip my late and adjust my thick rimmed non-perscription glasses]

[absurd strawman]




[condecending insult to your intelegence and questioning of your paternal heratige via your mothers lax moral code.]



[horrible grammar, interleaved with misspellings and filtered profanity, all in CAPSLOCK]
To damn complicated.  I vote

one
Guy

then just let people pick what they want him to do.


[insert condescending GURPS retort here]



[elitist indie gaming comeback while I sip my late and adjust my thick rimmed non-perscription glasses]

[absurd strawman]




[condecending insult to your intelegence and questioning of your paternal heratige via your mothers lax moral code.]



[craptons of mispellings and filtered profanity, with CAPSLOCK!]



[angry, pretentious but ultimately nonsensical rant about how people like you must be intentionaly trying to destroy the hobby in order to prove some point]

Thank you for clarifying, that makes a lot more sense to me now that you put it that way.

 As you say, if they create a chapter of sample characters which includes the stuff otherwise placed in backgrounds and such as core class components, that's fine. As long as it's nothing more or less than it was for the first 20+ years of the game.



Problem solved.



The most important part of doing it this way is that no other parts of the game assume anything else. No modules with mix and match backgrounds, specialties, etc. No monster encounters based on it, no dm design theories based on it, etc. The game must INHERENTLY accept this style of play, with no more (or less) work than it prepares for backgrounds and so on.


That... doesn't sound like an "option" anymore - that sounds like "It must be my way, first and foremost, or I'm taking my toys and going home."
Feedback Disclaimer
Yes, I am expressing my opinions (even complaints - le gasp!) about the current iteration of the play-test that we actually have in front of us. No, I'm not going to wait for you to tell me when it's okay to start expressing my concerns (unless you are WotC). (And no, my comments on this forum are not of the same tone or quality as my actual survey feedback.)
A Psion for Next (Playable Draft) A Barbarian for Next (Brainstorming Still)
That... doesn't sound like an "option" anymore - that sounds like "It must be my way, first and foremost, or I'm taking my toys and going home."

That's the whole point.   Some of the D&Ders out there really really really want the classes to enforce madatory tropes, for some reason.

One of the more frequent discussions that comes up on this forum is what classes should be classes, and what should specialties or backgrounds.  Some people have made the argument of the core 4 being all we need and fill in the blanks with Specialties and Backgrounds.

I'd make a case for the Core THREE, from 0D&D Men & Magic.  Fighting Man, Cleric, and Magic-User.  The Theif never worked that well, anyway, it was far too weak in combat, and could only contribute out of combat in quasi-suicidal low-% trapfinding and scouting. 

Those three classes, though, could be grandfathers of every other class.  Cleric, any 'class' with divine magic; Magic-user any with arcane magic, Fighter any without magic. 

Indeed, the Fighter and Theif could simply be /combined/.  Clerics were good in combat (almost as tough as the fighter, with turning, healing and combat spells), Fighters were good in combat (good hps, good weapons), Wizards were good in combat (combat spells), Clerics were good out of combat (utility spells), Wizards were good out of combat (utility spells) and Theives were good out of combat (% 'special abilities' - ie skills).   The problem is obvious:  the Fighter and Theif weren't complete classes.  Combine them into a class with the Fighter's prowess and the Theif's skill, and you have a class that's somewhat less inferior (in versatility) to casters.

First and foremost, if you don't play with Backgrounds or Specialties, it severely limits the ability for the player to fully realize a character concept.  If the game is to be designed to have those things removed, a method for creating characters of these typical classes needs to be in place.  Additionally, a lot of these classes essentially need multiclassing to accomplish.  If you don't play with multiclassing, then again, you get severely limited in how you can play your character.

True, but if you don't want multiclassing, backgrounds or specialities, you probably don't want a lot of choices, either - including a lot of classes.

Secondly, resources get chewed up really fast with this method.  A lot of these classes would require multiclassing, specialties, AND backgrounds.  This again, severely limits what you can do with your character. Say you want to play your Paladin as an ordained warrior-assassin of the church, can you do that all with your specialty chewed up, sure, but it becomes very hard to do so.

Good point.  If you /do/ play with backgrounds, specialities, and multi-classing, you want lots of mix-and-match options, if choosing to be a Paladin consumes those options, you can't have an 'interesting' Paladin multi-classed with Bard or with an odd-ball  Background.

Additionally, doing classes as Specialties and Backgrounds does create a great deal of bloat in terms of specialties.  While the alternative is class bloat, one of the biggest complaints against 3E and 4E is feat bloat.

'Bloat' is a complaint that should certainly be avoided /in Core/.  It's inevitable that each edition that lives long enough will become 'bloated,' but no edition should start out that way! 

Rather than using optional customization elements to create core-PH1 classes, perhaps they could be sub-classes?

So:

Fighter
- Fighter
- Rogue
- Ranger (if the ranger is non-spellcasting)
- Warlord
- Barbarian
- Monk (if a martial-artist)

Wizard
- Wizard
- Illusionist
- Sorcerer
- Warlock
- Bard

Cleric
- Cleric
- Druid
- Paladin
- Ranger (if the ranger is a spellcaster)
- Monk (if a religious-order sort of monk)


Ultimately, in my opinion, the best way for them to please the most people is for them to stick to their word with having the classes remain classes.

Agreed.

Want to see the best of 4e included in 5e?  Join the Old Guard of 4e.

5e really needs something like Wrecan's SARN-FU to support "Theatre of the Mind."

"You want The Tooth?  You can't handle The Tooth!"  - Dahlver-Nar.

"If magic is unrestrained in the campaign, D&D quickly degenerates into a weird wizard show where players get bored quickly"  - E. Gary Gygax

 

 

Oops, looks like this request tried to create an infinite loop. We do not allow such things here. We are a professional website!

I don't know where exactly you stop adding classes.

Three.
Violence Guy
Magic Guy
Magic Violence Guy

Where's sneaky guy? You must have sneaky guy too. Or in other words...

Fighter
Wizard
Cleric
Rogue


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.

Core 4 is basic or earlier, but 1st and 2nd had a dozen classes. Telling us we're crazy because we want what the game has been for MOST of its existence is not just ignorant, it's offensive in the extreme.

The term "core four" is referring to the four main classes that appear in every edition of D&D, from Basic/Classic D&D to 4th Edition. They represent the fundamental "core" of the D&D game for this reason. No offense is intended by use of this term; it's merely meant to summarize the essential D&D experience from one end of the spectrum to the other. These four classes are one of many of the anchor points that tie all the editions together.

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 Theif never worked that well, anyway, it was far too weak in combat, and could only contribute out of combat in quasi-suicidal low-% trapfinding and scouting.

Oh hell no. I've run entire thief-centric campaigns and had tremendous amounts of fun. Thieves are primarily a finesse/stealth class...not a combat class. It requires a style of play that appeals to people that would rather solve puzzles, sneak around, use detective skills and roleplay instead of hacking up monsters in one room, moving into another room then hacking up those monsters, ad infinitum
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.

Ok, but in only one edition of the game have there been that few classes, and it wasn't in wide distribution and really only gained popularity through modern copying and distribution.

Not true. The BECM Mentzer boxed sets had those four classes and it was in distribution throughout the 80's and into the 90's (as the Rules Cyclopedia). It was HUGELY popular.

The point is, those four classes exist in every popular edition of the D&D game from the 70's to present day. It is what people come to expect to see when they open up the player's handbook. Ergo...they are "core" classes; That is all that the term means in this case.




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.