Keep Gaming Evil!!!

I dont know about the rest of you, but when I started gaming... it was a considered an evil and rebellous hobby. Banned by churches and put right up there with satanic heavy metal music as something no child should ever be allowed to enjoy.... and me and Jack Black loved em both and at the same time.

I think that greatly enhanced the attraction of D&D to new and young gamers... gaming was evil, the quick and attractive lure of the dark side worked very well for TSR and brought about what we now call the golden age of gaming (right durring the iron age of comic books for that matter)...

Now I know Hasbro isnt going to let us go all satanic etc, or start putting bare nippled slave girls on the covers of every book...

BUT..

I wonder how the system will handle more adult themed issues in the game.

lets be honest... the best TV shows on right now are "Game of Thrones" "Boardwalk Empire" "Dexter" "Sparticus" "true blood" "strike back" "Sons of Anarchy" and all the other shows which come on after 10:00 PM, mostly on cable due to serious adult content.

Just like these shows I want my game to include "some" sex (though generally I'm too embarassed to describe the details of this in a game), gory violence, brutal and depraved antagonists, serious moral delemas (what does the paladin do when the anti-paladin burns his daughter alive and screaming right in front of him and says if he dosent want his other daughter to die, he'll kill an innocent child and loose his soul etc.),

and all the standard evils common to great fantasy and horror books and novels...  human sacrifice, rotting corpses and necromancy, demonic rituals, vile and evil alien gods, etc. etc. 

you guys got any thoughts on this? will there be another "book of vile darkness" or have we seen the end of adult themed D&D books?    
"The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." Gygax
I have nothing against a more "mature" line of products, but I would rather they keep that stuff separate from the main product line.  

In general, if a story can be told without those elements, then including them will not enhance it in any way.
The metagame is not the game.
Your initial premise is as wrong as can be. Much of the so-called 'mature' tv out there if derivative hackwork which mistakes T&A and blood for character development. Don't get me started on what passes for 'mature' books.

On the contrary, in the wake of the Harry Potter phenomenon, and the breakout of Disney channel and Nickelodeon, this is the golden age of children's media and literature.

Turning D&D into one more gore and sex fest would be a disaster.
I don't think this is necissary. A DM could easily run that type of thing if he wanted to, but it doesn't need to require the R&D team's attention.

I am currently raising funds to run for President in 2016. Too many administrations have overlooked the international menace, that is Carmen Sandiego. I shall devote any and all necessary military resources to bring her to justice.

@ Professor- I guess the shoddy hackwork is the reason these shows sweep the emmys every year and win almost every major award for television exellence, sorry your arguement is not holding water.


@avric- then why is there a "song of fire and ice" RPG? clearly somebody saw the sales potential in making RPG rules specifically to cover the adult themes in those books.

I think this is very much a subject that should require the R&D team's attention. If its what people many people want (regardless of if they admit it publically or not), and it will sell more books, why wouldent WotC want to put out another "book of vile darkness" complete with the hack n slash crit charts, fun with corpses necromancy guide, etc. I'd buy it, so would most gamers I think...  

how high were the sales of BoVD in comparison with the other 3.0 titles anyway? I seem to remember it was one of the highest selling books in the line, and people were greatly dismayed when they refused later printings as hasbro didnt like it... If I remember right...   
"The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." Gygax
As a HUGE fan of low and dark fantasy like Game of Thrones and the works of R.E. Howard, I would LOVE to see a more mature line of D&D products.

But, I'm totally cool if it never happens, too — because I can keep making my own mature-themed campaigns (and I have for a long time).
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.

@avric- then why is there a "song of fire and ice" RPG? clearly somebody saw the sales potential in making RPG rules specifically to cover the adult themes in those books.

I think this is very much a subject that should require the R&D team's attention. If its what people many people want (regardless of if they admit it publically or not), and it will sell more books, why wouldent WotC want to put out another "book of vile darkness" complete with the hack n slash crit charts, fun with corpses necromancy guide, etc. I'd buy it, so would most gamers I think...  

how high were the sales of BoVD in comparison with the other 3.0 titles anyway? I seem to remember it was one of the highest selling books in the line, and people were greatly dismayed when they refused later printings as hasbro didnt like it... If I remember right...   

The Song of Fire and Ice RPG exists precisely for people who want that playstyle. If you sit down to play that RPG, you know what you're going into. D&D is not a Song of Fire and Ice.

As for selling more books, I'm dubious. It's a novelty, I'll admit, and it might get a boost from that, but I never bought it, since it seemed like a waste of money. As a DM, I have the ability to include that stuff in my game, if I want to, without buying that book. As a player, It doesn't do anything for my enjoyment of the game, so I'd be much more happy to save my money.

To me, it seems like the thing that takes away from the game more than it adds, because it tends to be used as "mature themes for the sake of mature themes." I have no problem with the stuff, like sex, drugs, gore, torture, and the like used when it contributes in a meaningful way to the story or to the atmosphere (see ASoFaI), but when it's used for it's own sake, it brings to mind the gaming equivalent of a 14 year old kid, who draws pentagrams and inverted crosses and circle-As everywhere, because it's "hardcore" and "extreme." And I think we've grown as a hobby from that state, or at least, I'd like to think we have.

I am currently raising funds to run for President in 2016. Too many administrations have overlooked the international menace, that is Carmen Sandiego. I shall devote any and all necessary military resources to bring her to justice.

D&D was never evil, but instead just an easy target until the next easy target (i think that might have been Nike shoes) came along.
@Baalbamoth

'Adult' subjects such as love, sex, ****, perversion, real moral dilemmas (as opposed to fantasy ones), slavery, suffering and deep psychological stuff have all been part of our D&D campaigns at points. It's up to each group to chose to play such a game.

Nothing is stopping anyone from playing a dark and gritty campaign with current rules.

While it would be interesting to see some materials in that vein I feel that it is quite remote from the 'standard setting'.

Books like 3.5E Vile Darkness just felt a bit silly in my opinon.. 

While putting rules on adult stuff (2ed carnal guide) makes for a very funny read, it is more comical than really 'adult' or dark or gritty. We did use some spells from the carnal guide just to give  some captured spellbooks a bit of flavour (Unseen Pervert and Power Word: Strip ftw) and once also the rules for damage to the child if the mother uses magic while pregnant although modded a bit.

Still, if I would really want to play an RPG going off the deep end.. then I would play Kult or something instead of D&D..

OD&D was for ages 12 and up.
AD&D 1E was for ages 10 and up. This was the edition that spawned the "angry parents" era.
AD&D 2E was for ages 10 and up, despite the removal of devils, demons, and all nudity.
4E was for ages 12 and up.

Looks like D&D has always been built with children in mind...even at the height of the satanism / occult / drug-induced idiot phase. It was seen as "evil" because idiots got high, killed each other, and mommies across the country found D&D a wonderful scapegoat under the leadership of paranoid conspiracy-theorist Patricia Pulling. In turn, churches condemned it, adding to the craze. I'll never forget that episode of 60 Minutes that had both Pulling and Gary Gygax on it.

She died of cancer in '97 (the same year WotC purchased TSR...hmm...), and shortly thereafter the devilish / suicidality buzz died off. By the time 3.5 came around, it was just a funny joke to the new players and a sore memory for those of us who went through it. It is a tradition as old as money...controversy creates cash. I have no doubt the media buzz about D&D stimulated sales during 1E. However, simply slapping boobs and devils all over the D&D books will do nothing positive for either WotC or Hasbro. That and, as most of us know, most things labeled "mature" are about as far from mature as something can be. It's more typically sophomoric attempts at sexuality and shock-value, none of which carry any value for the game.
While I did enjoy the 3.5 BoVD (far more then the 4E version) for the rules it had that i wouldn't have thought to introduce into my game otherwise I would never say the entire DnD line needs to go the direction your suggesting. Sure, let their be some books that offer "official" drugs of the DnD world, rules for sadism, masichism etc etc. Yes its easy enough to figure such things out for ourselves, its what i did for 4E when necessary. But If you have books like the 3.5 and 4E line it is alot easier to add in the "dark" and "mature" (i use that term loosely) into a game then it is to remove such prevalent themes as having demons eating babies and devils raping mortals on every cover.

Now i won't go so far as some to say that the elements that make Spartacus, Song of Fire and Ice, and other similiar shows popular wouldn't help in any way shape or form, but i agree that making such elements the focus of DnD would, in fact, hurt the brand. Everything in moderation.
I have nothing to add to this discussion other than to point out that it's a Song of Ice and Fire. Come on, people.


Tongue Out
"I guess the shoddy hackwork is the reason these shows sweep the emmys every year and win almost every major award for television exellence,sorry your arguement is not holding water."


No, they sweep the awards for the same reason the New York Times created a new subcategory of bestseller for children's works: because if they didn't exclude children's works, they might not be able to compete with them. The dominance of children's media, particularly in books, is unquestionable.

The hobby was never "evil." Some games and some gamers were, no doubt, but not D&D as a whole. And that's a good thing. If you want to play Fatal, it's elsewhere.
OK I lied. I will be serious for a second just to say this:

Writing a D&D book "for mature readers" is much like playing an evil character in a D&D campaign. When done well, it can be fantastic and add a lot to the game (see The Complete Book of Necromancers). Sadly, most often, it is done badly - as an excuse to be controversial for the sake of controversy.

In other words, write a good book first. Don't let the need for a "for mature readers" label stop it from being published. But don't print up your "for mature readers" label first and then write a book to stick it on.
actually found my own info on wiki under reception...

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Vile_Darkn...

Ken Gustafson of Silven Publishing authored a positive outlook. "Overall," Gustafson wrote in August 2003, "Book of Vile Darkness is quite possibly the best supplement that Wizards of the Coast has put out in recent memory."[11]


Much of the content and concepts of Book of Vile Darkness have since been reprinted or adapted in source books without the "Mature Audiences Only" label. Rules for drug use had in fact already been printed,[12] while later material included corrupt spells,[13] vile feats,[13] possession,[14] and detailed discussions of demon lords.


Hmmm... so it seems that books containing "adult" subject matter not only sell well... they can out sell everything else...


knock knock knock... hello dev's, are you hearing this? 


@professor, if you think the dora the explora rpg would be a great seller, go for it, but personally not a show I wanna watch, not a game I wanna play.     


           

"The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." Gygax
Nobody is suggesting that D&D has to be toned down to the toddler level. But making supplements which require black plastic covers and a driver's license is going to make it harder to market the game as a whole to the broad audience it needs to succeed.
Because a wikipedia article says it. it must be so! Nay, Because a quote from the critical reception section of a wikipedia article says it, it must be so!

Seriously, the Book of Vile Darkness is a novelty. It's not an important thing R&D should be focusing on. Especially as an early release. Anyone who wants to run a more "mature" game can, without that book's help (and I put mature in quotes, because if you think that adding gratuitous sex and gore and drug use, and all the other "goodies" that the Book of Vile Darkness provides, you probably don't have a firm grasp on what maturity really is). However there are plenty of things that the developers should be focusing on, and this is not one of them, in fact I can do a list of all the things that come before it in priority, and I'll still have probably left stuff out

Core rulebooks (Including not only the basic core rules, but the various different modules that they promised us from the get-go)
Advanced Rules Modules (because you know they're going to make books for these; you're deluding yourself if you think all the modules will be in the core rulebooks)
At least one Iconic campaign setting 
Several non-iconic campiagn settings
Advanced non-module books (complete X a la 3.x, X Power a la 4e, PHB II, ect)
More Monster Manuals
Prepublished Adventures
Campaign setting guides (Manual of the planes, cityscape, Book of the underdark, ect)
Equipment guide

That's a ton of things to get to before you get close to focusing on stuff like "The Book of Vile Darkness." 

I am currently raising funds to run for President in 2016. Too many administrations have overlooked the international menace, that is Carmen Sandiego. I shall devote any and all necessary military resources to bring her to justice.

I like my games dark and/or mature, and the most fun I've ever had in D&D was playing evil characters.  With that in mind, I'd love to see the evil option get quality support.  That's not to say that we need a whole lot of mechanically evil options, though there should be some.

There are a few things that a quality "evil option" book needs to focus on.
1) Evil alignments.  The book needs to clarify the difference between evil and omnicidal.
2) Evil groups.  How to assemble, maintain, and motivated groups of evil-aligned characters.  How to choose adversaries for evil groups.
3) Evil societies (or evil institutions, like slavery, in non-evil societies).  How do evil societies work?  What holds them together?  Why do non-evil societies tolerate evil institutions? etc.
4) Ritual sacrifice.  This is one of the rare mechanical elements.  Evil magic is about blood, and bone, offering human (often virgin) sacrifices.

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

 

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

 

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

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

Actually, the wikipedia article doesn't even say that. The review quoted by Baalbmoth ifs from a vanity press self publishing operation. It says not one word about sales. Apparently he's simply making that part up.

What it *does* mention, at length, is the ugly controversy which surrounded Vile Darkness' publishing, including the apology eventually issued by Paizo for printing excerpts.

This idea is just getting worse and worse, isn't it?
Nobody is suggesting that D&D has to be toned down to the toddler level. But making supplements which require black plastic covers and a driver's license is going to make it harder to market the game as a whole to the broad audience it needs to succeed.


As long it's it's supplements (and by that I mean a limited set of supplements) and not material in the required books, I don't really see the impact on the overall audience the game can target.

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

 

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

 

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

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

Black plastic covers? Whoa...whoa...whoa..."mature" does not mean "D&D Gone Wild!" or "Elves Do it in the Dark! Vol. 3"

It just means "mature" as in MATURE; That is, mature people can handle some nudity or adult themes here and there, they can handle some graphic violence, and they can certainly handle themes of drug use. In other words, something the ESRB, might consider.
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.

@Baalbamoth

'Adult' subjects such as love, sex, ****, perversion, real moral dilemmas (as opposed to fantasy ones), slavery, suffering and deep psychological stuff have all been part of our D&D campaigns at points. It's up to each group to chose to play such a game.

Nothing is stopping anyone from playing a dark and gritty campaign with current rules.

While it would be interesting to see some materials in that vein I feel that it is quite remote from the 'standard setting'.



I agree with this completely. This can be done in the current rules. Most of this thematic stuff is for the DMs and the players.

Do you need rules to do this?
No. The closest thing may be a morality system - but mostly it is up to the DM to give these situations rise.

Does the presented background include this?
No, not specifically, but you write the background for your own world.

Are there alien gods? Deities who like nothing more than killing/enslaving/torturing innocents?
Ummm. Yes... Heard of the creatures of the Far Realm?

So, should it be in the books, no - not when we can cater for those who don't want it in there. 
really finding myself agreeing with Mecha and bahel

@ professor: um actually no... the WIKI article says is...

Paizo president Johnny Wilson issued a statement defending the magazine material.[6] He drew comparisons between the growing Book of Vile Darkness controversy and that involving the video game Mortal Kombat. He also argued that "publishing a guide to the atrocities and perversions that put the VILE in EVIL" allows role-playing that is "truly heroic" in contrast, while citing real-world examples of horror and heroism, such as the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Vietnam War, and World War II. Nevertheless, he did offer a partial apology, remarking that the introductory content outside the sealed sections was "as offensive (or more so)" than what was within them.

so a 90% defense and 10% "partial" apology, only for what was written on the outside of the article. It seems the only thing getting worse here is your ability to fact check. Yell

@ avric: its clear to everyone that Gygax sold his soul to the devil so that he could create the most successful tabletop RPG of all time...

Over the years and after the intellectual rights have changed hands over and over, also seeing Pathfinder's sudden success, I think now is the time that the devs have to step up to the plate and re-commit themselves to honoring the original agreement with the dark one. 

All I'm asking for here is for Perkins and the other devs to find a crossroad, draw a circle in chalk, sign in blood a contract offering their souls for the guarenteed success of D&D Next, set it on fire, toss it into the center of the circle, then whip off their clothing and dance naked while yelling "come and get it! come and get it!" to the denezins of the netherworld.... and maybe killing a goat or something...

I mean really, these people already work for division of Hasbro, you seem to think that I'm asking for them to do something unusual for them, or trying to get more work out of them or something.  sheesh...


all kidding aside.. I think Mecha is dead on when she says there needs to be sections in the core books outlining both how to play and run for an evil party, as well as some suggestions as to how a DM can get the vile in their villians, and their antagonistic societies, after all, true diabolical evil is part of the "living world" these people are creating. 

Later we can hope for a BoVD (lol book of VD strikes me as funny) but seeing as how most players will be adults, I am hoping for more adult material right from the get-go and will only serve to increase sales.

btw.. pathfinder is rated as being 13 and up, but I am playing in rise of the runelords AP right now, and we are going through runeforge and each section of the dungeon is devoted to one of the 7 deadly sins.... what we found in "Lust" I'll just say... I dont think I'd repeat the book description to my 13 yr old nephue...  

just because something isnt labled or marketed "only" to adults, does not mean there cant be more adult content.



"The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." Gygax
I've never found any particular need for book support in order to make a game gritty/violent/ADULT SEX TIMES, even though puttin' sex times into the elf fighting game is basically the dictionary definition of a mature thing that mature people want to do, so obviously a mature mature individual like myself is all over that. There's approximately one useful bit of support they could give evil campaigns, and that's DM advice, because running evil campaigns has quite a few special challenges, both in terms of general party cohesion and in terms of managing discomfort. (Non-evil campaigns have discomfort management too, of course, but it rarely comes to a head the way it does in evil campaigns.) What rules do mature mature adult sex situations need, exactly, that aren't more generally covered by the system's very light interpersonal interaction mechanics? Ink drawings of succubus full frontal aren't a rule. They're a picture of boobs. A random roll table of synonyms for "viscera"? A list of fifty hardcore spooky things that could totally happen in a dungeon or something, and there's like chains and stuff, because chains are hardcore and mature?

D&D, I feel, has actually generally been fairly grim for a product marketed to people so young. (Age suggestions are typically a bit conservative, not permissive). This is especially true if your defintion of grimness involves a lot of reading between lines, rather than "the axe goes all the way into his skull and his brains GOOSH OUT THROUGH HIS EYES."

I've gamed... near, if not exactly with, enough fifteen-year-olds to know that people who want Game-of-Thrones-style sex 'n' violence generally tend to figure it out without needing grimness sugar-pasted onto every page. It's possible to put together an argument regarding appealing to a "mature" audience, but I'm guessing based on how the game's been put together recently that this is an Our Market Research Shows thing in the other direction.
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
@Lesp- well, I dont really know what rules or optional rules sex may need to have, maybe the chances of pregnancy/disease? Rules for what happens when some races breed with others? (dwaf gentics not creating half dwarves when mated with humans etc) I think a little of that could be necessary.  

As to what rules "evil" needs... I think the BOVD had some good stuff in there about torture, etc. some was a bit over the top but I'd rather have it than not have it. and if you've got evil devil/demon and evil god worshipers, it might be good to descibe what some of their rituals, goals, and activities may be, after all this is a pretty standard BBEG territory for most campaigns.

and seeing as D&D next is totally trying to appeal to old grogs like me... some of this would be part of their targeted marketing strategy.

after all, I remember at age 14 or so, just after looking at the Deities and Demigods nude and gory pictues... that it and all AD&D books were rated for ages "9 and above" lol.
"The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." Gygax
I'm sorry I am categorically against anything that makes D&D more like F.A.T.A.L so no thank you. 
let me put it this way...

you have two choices, your villian can be the ever cheezy skeletor or jack the ripper...

Skeletor may be fun for the PC's to fight, and eventually defeat if nothing more than the corny dialog, but it will always be kind of a meh victory, because Skeletor is kind of a meh villian. 

but Jack the ripper... more books have been written him than about jesus, he is iconic, he is the epitome of an evil psychotic rapist and killer of women. If you run this right, your players will come to HATE jack... not their characters... the players themselves, and when they finally bring the justice and end him. that emotion of victory and right being might will be much much more rewarding than if they faught just another hokey filled with ebil villian. This is why horror and revenge based movies have such a huge emotional draw, they are morality plays where you worry for the victems and cheer for the hero and they bring a sense of relief and rightness when jason or freddy meets their end. 

I dont want games with skeletor, he bores me.   


@mesterwart3 - had no idea what F.A.T.A.L was before I read it here, so looked it up and...

because I suggested I want my game more like a conan book, or because I want adult topics and themes like Game of Thrones, your suggesting that would make D&D more like an RPG where the only goal of the PC's is to **** or be raped? really?

you sir are ridiculous, and I forbid you from ever posting again. 



"The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." Gygax
Developping demonology with its specialists in a neutral way is enough for D&D.

Writing down what is obvious from the described profiles of evil D&D material is a waste of paper IMO. Because if some people do not find it obvious, it's useless to put their nose in it.

In short, D&D should just do what they do with half-humans. We all know what should be the life of most of them, but a lot of people prefer to think about half-races as perfect diplomats between their parents instead of outcast having to fight twice to have the same consideration.

I'm not saying that one way or the other is better, just that D&D should stay coherent and stop these poor "evil" supplements that are just guides to upgrade the violence level and bring more modern monotheism stereotypes than real exploration of ultimate evil.

Just an example of preconception, the Pandora's box myth.
Modern conception : Pandora obeying her curiosity made a terrible mistake, and all the evil that escaped the pithos is the worst thing that could happen to humanity.
Ancient conception : Pandora was the instrument of Zeus, and all the evil that escaped the pithos is the best thing that could happen to humanity, as adversity is what made the humanity able to evolve and gave it the potential to become better.

I think D&D should stop beeing ambitious on the philosophical side, being hindered with alignments as it is.
This entire discussion suffers from the idea that adding gore and porn somehow add depth to the game, or to anything for that matter.

Happily, the market has already spoken on this. I don't know how many products D&D publishers have actually had to publicly apologize for, but it's not many. There will be no torture porn rules for the new edition.

Dead topic.
The primary demographic that needs to be captured to make D&D financially successful is males 14 to 21. Go back and look at the history of the hobby.

Is this good, or politically correct, or fair, or moral? No. It's just accurate. You need that audience, and the best way to get them is to appeal to the fact that this demographic prides itself on rebelliousnes. Load the books with things that make anyone outside that demographic purse their lips disprovingly, and those inside will love it.

Would it be awesome if the game could appeal equally to all genders and ages? Absolutely! I would LOVE that. But that kind of soft universality runs the risk of of not appealing to the "engine" that will drive sales.

So the question is, do you gamble on trying to make everyone happy, or do you target a narrower market you think you can domiinate?

Whichever way it falls, there is only one unquestionable truth; the descion will be based on market analysis and financial projections and not morality.



Capitalism is awesome.
If you think the future of the hobby should be limited by those to whom it has appealed in the past, you're thinking too small. Women and girls, ages 10 & up, make up a much larger portion of the reading public, are much more likely to engage in social and imaginative play than males, and these days play more games than boys do to. WotC is not going to alienate them to appease a few goons who think guts and porn are "mature."
I respect that you have a differing viewpoint professordaddy. I don't think our discussion can really proceed meaningfully until one of us can provide RPG market research to support our anecdotal theories though.
again, why are people (like you professor,) so fixated on porn? sex happens, even in fantasy, but sex and violence are not the only two things that make content "mature." murders, are not necessarily "violent" but it is part of the adult content, so is blackmail, so are many crimes... but all you want to bring it back to is porn porn porn.

but no, of course sex cant be part of a fantasy story, I mean, the idea that a dragon may only want to have virgins sacrificed to feed its evil hunger has never been a part of a fantasy story right? 

come on man, and if the market has spoken as I showed very clearly earlyer... its shown that adult situations ARE what most gamers want.

how about this, Jamie lannister was just a so-so villian, up until he had sex with his sister the queen, and shoved a child out of a window for witnessing it. At that point, Jamie and the story got interesting.

Until then it was just another swords and knights fantasy. you think incest and the brutal crippling and/or murder of children is something your going to see on the next installment of the wizzards of waverly place? you think that isn't adult content?

adult and mature content has its place in D&D, all I'm asking for is

1) that they devote a few pages to running evil parties in the core books.
2) that in the future they devote "some" adventure paths to mature or adult content similar to whats seen on these award winning shows with the off the charts neilson ratings.
3) that they include a few more details about evil religions, cults, and monsters motivations, goals, tatics, and more nefarious abilities.  

why is that such a bad thing? why does that make me a pervert and some how turn D&D into F.A.T.A.L?
"The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." Gygax
I agree with Hocus smocus; the label "mature" usually just means gratuitous sex and violence, usually mashed up together in an unsettling way.  Actual maturity means dealing with difficult issues with multiple implications.  Instead of an antipaladin burning the paladin's daughter to death and coercing him to murder kids (pretty ham handed), what if the villain tempts or tricks the hero into commiting a seemingly small sin for what appears to be a greater good?  Then the hero learns of the greater implications of their actions; will they tell everyone what they have done and try to fix it? Will they pretend they don't notice? Will they try to cover it up and fix it themselves?  That could be an interesting and really mature story.  It could have all kinds of sex and violence in it, but also some actual tension.

I do think the core of the game should stay rated PG.  I play this game with my kid as well as with other adults.  I don't want to have to constantly screen out the wildly inappropriate stuff.
but Grey does that mean we cant have a few pages on running evil parties in the core books? or some supplements that do target more mature themes? cant we have a PG-13 game with some R rated optional rules or non-core encounters?
"The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." Gygax
As long as it's not another book that defines 'Evil" mechanics as "You must be this big of a **** to the other players to get this benefit." I'll be fine.
Again, the market has already spoken on this issue. The one time D&D ventured into this territory, they got protests from their own authors and ended up apologizing. Not going to happen again just to please a few who think torture and incest need to be covered by official imprimatur.

Dead issue.
and again professor, you dont read the links you claimed to examine...

Much of the content and concepts of Book of Vile Darkness have since been reprinted or adapted in source books without the "Mature Audiences Only" label. Rules for drug use had in fact already been printed,[12] while later material included corrupt spells,[13] vile feats,[13] possession,[14] and detailed discussions of demon lords

yes, again the market has spoken and what the market said was...

we want more!

the "mature" material was REPRINTED AND SOLD AGAIN! so IT DID HAPPEN AGAIN and WAS COVERED BY OFFICIAL IMPRIMATUR.

can you please try to find a way to keep being more wrong? its actually becomming entertaining now.

dead opinion.  
"The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." Gygax

1) that they devote a few pages to running evil parties in the core books.
2) that in the future they devote "some" adventure paths to mature or adult content similar to whats seen on these award winning shows with the off the charts neilson ratings.
3) that they include a few more details about evil religions, cults, and monsters motivations, goals, tatics, and more nefarious abilities.  

why is that such a bad thing? why does that make me a pervert and some how turn D&D into F.A.T.A.L?


I agree with you.
Evil and its methods belong in D&D and the DM in particular need to understand evil to make believable villains. This is not easy and material would help.
I also think the PHB shouldn't, as they have earlier, rule out the evil alignment for players. When one player is evil and makes the other players suffer for it (one way or another) that's ****ing annoying, but evil has its place. All evil parties can be great fun and are often more complicated. But evil is harder to do right, which is merit for officiel material on the subject.
The good alignment is really much simpler: you want to help people.
Neutral: prosper, survive.
Evil: What do they want? To see the world burn? To kill all living things?

I would like to know more about what drives evil creatures and people and how they reach their goals.

Sex in D&D, on the other hand, has no interest for me. I don't think it's inappropriate, it just doesn't bring me anything. I once tried to make a female NPC sexually interesting, but on her first meeting with the "heroes", my gamers immediately nicknamed her "Urtesækken" which means Herb Bitch, because they are lazy with their interaction and notation with the world.
The OP makes one pretty huge mistake in his argument:
I dont know about the rest of you, but when I started gaming... it was a considered an evil and rebellous hobby. 
...
I think that greatly enhanced the attraction of D&D to new and young gamers... gaming was evil, the quick and attractive lure of the dark side worked very well for TSR and brought about what we now call the golden age of gaming
...
lets be honest... the best TV shows on right now are "Game of Thrones" "Boardwalk Empire" "Dexter" "Sparticus" "true blood" "strike back" "Sons of Anarchy" and all the other shows which come on after 10:00 PM, mostly on cable due to serious adult content.
...
you guys got any thoughts on this? will there be another "book of vile darkness" or have we seen the end of adult themed D&D books?


You cannot make something adult just by making it inapropriate for children. Making D&D "evil" solely by adding sex and violence doesn't make D&D any more mature; in fact, it likely appeals to a more juveline audience.
The examples are adult for other reasons, and the sex and violence is there because it does not shy away from that content. But just sex & violece is empty, and shows with nothing else to offer vanish. It's just inflamitory. And needlessly so. 

In terms of shock value, D&D has lost its edge and cannot compete with the internet and video games. Period. Trying to compete with that content on its own level is foolish and will only risk losing what sets D&D apart and makes PnP RPGs special and interesting.  

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The super-adult stuff should only be added if it goes towards making the theme of what it's in better, or only if it fits/relates to the theme. It should not be added just for the sake of it being in there.