What will ruin 5e? System Bloat.

Theres another thread asking what will alienate you towards 5e. But I wanted to get a bit more specific...

Mike and (the rest of the Dev team) has said that he expects that D&D next will be the system that will never require a 6e, that WOTC will put out "updates" for 5e, but will never again need a complete system reboot of a new edition...

Besides being a monster huge goal and an achievement that no other really successful RPG has ever succeded in, It makes me wonder... what is the largest cause of failure of long running successful RPG systems like 2.0,3.0, and yes now PF that many are calling for a new edition for that game. 

IE. System bloat.


1) Defining "System Bloat"
First, how do we define system bloat? Its a word a lot of people use when describing an older and successful rpg system that has become over burdened with rules, options, and eratta from a seemlingly endless sea of splat books. I looked for a fast and quick definition but couldent find one.
So, I'm working from the definition above. A system which has too many options, too many optional rules, too much source material to read, too many rules and erata to easily put in play without creating long lists of what is and isnt allowed in a home game, or house rules to deal with it.

2) How does system bloat happen and what does it look like.
For a perfect example of how an edition eventually gets infected with the potentially terminal system bloat disease I'd point to what Pathfinder is going through right now.

PF started out with the idea that if you make (or copy) a system that players want to play, it will be wildly successful, and they have been. First and formost they wanted to give there players a large amount of options, and since their inception, the system has grown and grown.

Every month an official pathfinder chronicle comes out that adds new feats, uses for skills, spells, magic items, prestige classes and archtypes. Not to mention books like the advanced race guide, advanced character guide, etc,. etc.. and setting books that all add scores to the above.

I couldent give you an exact number, but the number of feats is up over 250 maybe 300. each feat alters a rule in some way. Some feats are basically useless, while others are completely necessary to create a character that is effective, and still others make it easy to completely unbalence the game.

thats a lot of reading and study to be able to create a character, it also presents a near endless number of OP munchkin builds a player can choose from. Its also a tremendous amount of info for a DM to have to memorize, rule on, and implement. A lot of minor rule changes to be remembered for each character.

Its gotten to the point now where an encounter for a party above 16th level basically amounts to he who hits first, kills whatever it was, and those outcomes are mostly determined by who preped best before the combat happened.   

3) How does an RPG make money month after month and still avoid system bloat?
This is the biggest question I think WotC has to ask if they want to be succesfful with their goal of "no 6e" but honestly I dont know.

3a.) What did 2.0 do right?
2.0 seemed to do very well in this in my eyes. there were no archtypes, no prestige classes really, so there wasnt a lot to contribute to bloat. 

2.0 had "the complete" line of splat books which had "character kits" that while giving a lot of great background, fluff, and suggestions, most often didnt really alter much; for example the duelist. There was a solid two pages of fluff, but the only rule that changed was if wearing light armor, the duelist character got +2 ac. and that was it (far as I remember)

the 2.0 splat books also covered many genres of fantasy RPG. there were books on theives guilds, castles, books on greek myth campaigns, books on vikings, pretty much everything.

I guess 2.0 went down hill with the skills and powers line of books, though appreciated by DMs who knew how to say "no" (I for one loved the pick and choose building class and innate power rules) many suffered with the new rules and soon 3.0 was in the works, but all in all, a highly successful long running edition, and my personal favrote.

3b.) What can we learn from 2.0? 
Again an assumption here, but increase the amount of fluff and background while changing almost nothing about the core system. 

In my mind the core system should stand alone, if done right, there should not be any reason to release new feats, new prestige classes, new archtypes, new optional rules etc. Those are the things which people and players will be most interested in buying, but more than anything else they also contribute, and cause system bloat.

If DDN wants to avoid system bloat, and avoid having to come out with a 6e that wipes the surface and lets the new bloat begin... this is the only way that I can see the designers being successful.  

  

"The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." Gygax
System Bloat is not a problem at all when done without Power Creep.  How can having more options be a problem?  It only becomes a problem when Power Creep is factored in.  When newer options are more powerful, and therefore a better "buy," or more efficient than older options.  Then and only then does bloat become a problem.  This is largely due to the fact that players who are paying attention, or who like to find efficient power combos will have better characters than those who don't worry about this sort of thing.  From there the cohesiveness of the group starts to fray, and before long the game is ruined.  Can 5e continually produce new products without adding Power Creep?  That remains to be seen.  No RPG that I am aware of has been able to resist the temptation to introduce Power Creep over time.  That doesn't mean it cannot be done, but it may mean that eventually instead of churning out new power options, WotC must find other ways to add value to the 5e engine.  That could be things like more adventures, more miniatures, reward cards, or other peripheral products.  My guess is that the temptation to provide cool new spells, powers, magic items, etc. will prove too strong and Power Creep will add to the bloat.  Whether or not Hasbro allows another edition beyond 5e is another question.  I guess not.  Deveopment cycles are horrendously expensive, and the RPG model has largely been that profits between development cycles only exist to fund the next development cycle.  I suspect Hasbro doesn't like that at all, and told WotC, "one more time...that's it."

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

OSR Fan? Our Big Announcement™ is here!

Please join our forums!

Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

Mike and (the rest of the Dev team) has said that he expects that D&D next will be the system that will never require a 6e, that WOTC will put out "updates" for 5e, but will never again need a complete system reboot of a new edition...


Where did they say that?

System bloat can be avoided by:


  • Maintaining focus on flat progression (stats, bonuses, etc.).

  • Avoiding features or effects that require tracking (durations, casting times, etc.).

  • Disallowing stacked numbers (effects, advantages, etc.).

  • Severly limiting features or effects that break free of the clearly defined 'action' (immediate actions, reactions, etc.).

  • Designing with system-wide attention (generic spells, broadly applicable feats, etc.).

  • Nodding towards genericism (broad concepts, light fluff, etc.).  


Off the top of my head.

Danny

@wrecan- said it in the Gen Con pannel, I belive the 2hr pannel on 5e DMing... I watched it on youtube.

@Kalex... when your building your charcter, and you want the best feats to make you a really good halfling duelist... how many feats do you have to read? thats what I'm going through right now with PF. Had to make a new character, and I've got 300+ feats to look through. Yes, too many options is a bad thing, but how many is too many? that I dont know how to gage.

I agree with what you said about power creep, and the likely future of 5e, but thats why I'm sort of on the soapbox here... if the core system is done right, I think there should be a system for creating your own feats, classes, archtypes, etc. if they come out with a new archtype, it would really only be "how we used the core book to make this" but not an entirely new rule mod you havent seen before. thats one area where I feel point based games like Hero System and M&M are superior to static games like PF and the proposed DDN. I think thats what they were trying to do with skills and powers but they left too many loopholes.  

@mr.popstar- good post, can you give me some examples? maybe highly successful long running games with many splat books that did this and never suffered powercreep or system bloat? if not, I sort of suspect its not really possible.
"The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." Gygax
@Kalex... when your building your charcter, and you want the best feats to make you a really good halfling duelist... how many feats do you have to read? thats what I'm going through right now with PF. Had to make a new character, and I've got 300+ feats to look through. Yes, too many options is a bad thing, but how many is too many? that I dont know how to gage.

I agree with what you said about power creep, and the likely future of 5e, but thats why I'm sort of on the soapbox here... if the core system is done right, I think there should be a system for creating your own feats, classes, archtypes, etc. if they come out with a new archtype, it would really only be "how we used the core book to make this" but not an entirely new rule mod you havent seen before. thats one area where I feel point based games like Hero System and M&M are superior to static games like PF and the proposed DDN. I think thats what they were trying to do with skills and powers but they left too many loopholes.



I guess why I brought up Power Creep is that if everything is pretty much balanced, it really matters a lot less what Feat you take.  That and a really well put together online reference tool, and/or Character Builder should allow you to enter keywords and cut down on your choices.  For instance in 3e I liked to take new Feats based on things that happened in the recent past adventures, or things I had done between levels.  If I could enter a keyword, like "bullying" and get a reduced list of Feats...maybe 10-20...I don't see System Bloat being a problem.  When you have to sort through dozens of books and hundreds of Feats, yeah I can see that being a problem.  Pathfinder doesn't really have that kind of resource, though there are a few 3rd party products that may do this.  D&D players are lucky to have the online Compendium and Character Builder to help with the task of leveling.  If WotC knows what's good for them, the tools for 5e will be second to none.

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

OSR Fan? Our Big Announcement™ is here!

Please join our forums!

Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

My Brother is our usual DM and when i told him that WoTC had anounced 5th edition, he said that it might be a good thing as 4th edition was getting to bloated.

He tries to give players many option but has to fit them into his campaign worlds(multiverse) in a logical way.
But after a while there is so much coming out at such pace that it can be hard to adapt  so everything fits in somwhere.
this can lead to 2 things.

1) the DM does not fit it into his campaign but does alouw players to play anything they want, usualy this means compromising in roleplay opertunities as the class/ paragornpath is in no way conedted to the world around the player.

2) a DM must start limiting things saying only certain matirial can be used, making certain players feal they are hindered in their creativity when it comes to making a character.
 
Yes you can move to adding lots more fluff and less rules.
But there are people who love having lots and lots of options to look trough and build characters.


One of the intresting things said in one of the chat discusions was thet they where thinking of moving away from the classic splat book aproach.
and more to a aproach where player options are introduced as part of campaign settings and campaign recources.
maybe some of the truble can be mitigated 


 
IMO, there is are only 2 kinds of bloat.

1) Option A is better then option B.  (+2 to X, +3 to X, +4 to X)
2) Option A does the same thing as option B.  (dwarfs get +1 to X, elves get +1 to X, Clerics get +1 to X)

In both cases, there's an option that is not a really an option.



mrpopstar gave good ways to avoid this.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

@wrecan- said it in the Gen Con pannel, I belive the 2hr pannel on 5e DMing... I watched it on youtube.


I watched that panel.  I don't remember them saying they thought there would never be a 6e.  I remember them saying they thought if the game was solid, it could last a logn time, but I can't imagine anybody in the gaming industry saying there would be no need for a new edition at some point, and I certainly don't remember them saying that.
They'll probably need to switch editions when 3d paper and augmented intelligence becomes the norm.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

3) How does an RPG make money month after month and still avoid system bloat?



Mainly by putting out flavor and story products instead of pure mechanics. Look at 1E/2E, the majority of products were campaign settings, modules and general resource books. There wasn't an emphasis in just jamming new powers, new races and new feats down our throats in every accessory.

Compare the fighters handbook from 2E to its 3E or 4E equivalent. The 2E version had hardly any new mechanics, while the 3E and 4E versions were almost entirely new mechanical features. Even 3E/4E setting books all had new spells, new PrCs and so forth. The emphasis was just all on the rules.

I mean sure, you had books like Unearthed Arcana in 1E that were almost entirely mechanical, but those were few and far between, the majority of the books in 1E/2E weren't about adding more rules, but were about using the original rules creatively.
@wrecan- said it in the Gen Con pannel, I belive the 2hr pannel on 5e DMing... I watched it on youtube.


I watched that panel.  I don't remember them saying they thought there would never be a 6e.  I remember them saying they thought if the game was solid, it could last a logn time, but I can't imagine anybody in the gaming industry saying there would be no need for a new edition at some point, and I certainly don't remember them saying that.



Seconded. I watched the same video, and would certainly have remembered such a claim. That being said, if you give me a YouTube link and a video timestamp, I will of course watch and if appropriate, recant. (But I'm not going to watch the 2-hour video again just to listen for 1 line, I hope you understand.)

Anyway, so far it seems that the designers are doing well (in my opinion) of holding back system bloat. The stress in numerous places that certain rules are Optional. The default checks are always phrased as "X ability score, or such-and-such skill if anyone has that skill." Just one example, but I see them reminding us almost too much that beyond the Basic core, It's All Optional. Shoot, we don't even need to necessarily read it! In a sense, though, since so many things are Optional, much of the bloat we encounter is going to be self-inflicted.

I'm on the DM side of things. If my players want some option I don't know about, they have to read the book, they have to convince me to allow the option. Okay, it's not all on them, that would be unfair. I will do my best to see if it fits in with the world and the story without straining credibility too much. It can strain credibility a little - this is a fantasy roleplaying game.

What this means is that I don't have to read, for example, the Eberron books when I don't run Eberron. But if a player wants, say, a dragonmark, they read the book, show me the page with the text on the dragonmark they want, and we discuss it. If it's acceptable but super-complicated, I may photocopy the page for my notes. Again, bloat is self-inflicted. My players feel they don't have to read every book - just ones that catch their attention. I don't have to read everyhting they do - just the parts they want to bring to my our campaign. All bloat, then, or at least most of it, is self-inflicted. And D&DNext, so far as I can tell, encourages such an approach.
"Our idea of rules modules has a wide range of scope; sometimes, our rules modules might just be small tweaks and variant rules, while other times they could be large-scale changes and entirely new subsystems. We want people to make the game their own, and that means provided a whole array of possibilities based on what you, the players, tell us that you want." -D&DNext Q&A Blog, 8/29/12, Answer #3.
Subscriptions (DDI) are a good way of making money without increasing bloat.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

3) How does an RPG make money month after month and still avoid system bloat?

This is the biggest question I think WotC has to ask if they want to be succesfful with their goal of "no 6e" but honestly I dont know.


Easy; stick to making adventure and campaign modules and additional fluff content. Adding new rules and and system material in a gratuitous manner bloats the game quickly and makes it overwhelming for new players to get into the game. It's easier for new players to ignore adventure modules, but it makes it difficult to decide if the PHB vol. 5 or the DMG vol. 7 is needed to play the game. Rulebook expansions should be minimal, with modular system content being distributed in a downloadable singular fashion so as to emphasize the fact it's all optional. For some reason, when a hardbound book is released, players feel they need to add it to their campaign.
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.

3) How does an RPG make money month after month and still avoid system bloat?



Mainly by putting out flavor and story products instead of pure mechanics. Look at 1E/2E, the majority of products were campaign settings, modules and general resource books. There wasn't an emphasis in just jamming new powers, new races and new feats down our throats in every accessory.

Compare the fighters handbook from 2E to its 3E or 4E equivalent. The 2E version had hardly any new mechanics, while the 3E and 4E versions were almost entirely new mechanical features. Even 3E/4E setting books all had new spells, new PrCs and so forth. The emphasis was just all on the rules.

I mean sure, you had books like Unearthed Arcana in 1E that were almost entirely mechanical, but those were few and far between, the majority of the books in 1E/2E weren't about adding more rules, but were about using the original rules creatively.



I think this shows the biggest difference in viewpoints from someone who played in the pre-3X and the 3X-4E crowd. Now, I only played a tiny bit of AD&D (late 90's) and did most of my gaming in 3X and 4E. So from that perspective, I probably wouldn't buy a product with 75% or more of just flavor or fluff unless it was directly related to a setting or a specific genre (like 4E's Open Grave or Heroes of the Feywild or Neverwinter Campaign Setting). If I'm buying a Martial Handbook, I want options to expand on the basics for my Martial/Wepaon-based classes and characters. I don't want chapters on Castle Upkeep, Feeding an army, Training and Drilling troops, etc. Basically when I pay money for a game supplement I want options to incorporate into my game and that's going to be probably on a mechanical level, not a quasi-novel for generic Fantasy. 

Now, this is just the way I look at it and I'm sure there are lots of people who LOVE the exact opposite. Who doesn't want more crunch, more mechanics, more class/race/specialty options. Who just want more involved ideas and non-combative aspects. So, to help come to a compromise, I'd say that it needs to be close to 50/50 in terms of mechanics and flavor content. You can spruce up a character concept (like the Duelist Halfling) with 2 pages of flavor but give me some option besides 1 specific rule-change. How they obtain this 50/50 balance is quite beyond me, but that's why they get paid the "Big Bucks!!" .........j/k 
If they have to offer constant supplements with 50% crunch, this edition is going to get bloated in no time flat.  I mean, they probably want to offer six supplements a year?  Each supplement will have, what, 20 spells, 20 martial maneuvers (tricks, CS, etc.), maybe a new variant class, a new race, three new backgrounds and three new specialites?

In three years, you'll have 18 new variant classes, 18 new races, 54 new backgrounds, 54 new specialities, and almost 400 new spells and maneuvers.  And I have a feeling that rate of bloat will feel tepid while we're in it, too.

That's crazy and unsupportable. 

I imagine supplements will be either setting books, or genre books.  Like Sandstorm from 3e.  A book on deserts, a book on tundra, a book for Arabian Nights, a book for steampunk, a book for horror.  And these books will provide new optional rulesets.  So the horror book may include a Cthuluesque sanity system, and then provide Backgrounds, Specialialties, spells, and maneuvers that interact with this new subsystem.  If you don't use Sanity, you will ignore these new mechanics.

That can help keep bloat under control.

"Hey, let's play."
"Great, let's use Sanity, but not Frostburn or Steampunk rules."

And if your group is an "everything and the kitchen sink" kind of campaign, then you get to revel in the bloat!

The key, for many people, will be a digital tool that lets you dictate the supplements avaiable in a campaign.  Right now, the Compendium lets you search through either all the rules or only one rulebook at a time.  I'ld like to be able check which books I'm using and leave the others unchecked.

The risk then becomes "subsystem bloat" in which there are just too many rules options to keep track of.  But that's still, hopefully, better than the class, feat, and power bloat of 3e and 4e.
If they have to offer constant supplements with 50% crunch, this edition is going to get bloated in no time flat.  I mean, they probably want to offer six supplements a year?  Each supplement will have, what, 20 spells, 20 martial maneuvers (tricks, CS, etc.), maybe a new variant class, a new race, three new backgrounds and three new specialites?

In three years, you'll have 18 new variant classes, 18 new races, 54 new backgrounds, 54 new specialities, and almost 400 new spells and maneuvers.  And I have a feeling that rate of bloat will feel tepid while we're in it, too.

That's crazy and unsupportable. 

I imagine supplements will be either setting books, or genre books.  Like Sandstorm from 3e.  A book on deserts, a book on tundra, a book for Arabian Nights, a book for steampunk, a book for horror.  And these books will provide new optional rulesets.  So the horror book may include a Cthuluesque sanity system, and then provide Backgrounds, Specialialties, spells, and maneuvers that interact with this new subsystem.  If you don't use Sanity, you will ignore these new mechanics.

That can help keep bloat under control.

"Hey, let's play."
"Great, let's use Sanity, but not Frostburn or Steampunk rules."

And if your group is an "everything and the kitchen sink" kind of campaign, then you get to revel in the bloat!

The key, for many people, will be a digital tool that lets you dictate the supplements avaiable in a campaign.  Right now, the Compendium lets you search through either all the rules or only one rulebook at a time.  I'ld like to be able check which books I'm using and leave the others unchecked.

The risk then becomes "subsystem bloat" in which there are just too many rules options to keep track of.  But that's still, hopefully, better than the class, feat, and power bloat of 3e and 4e.



Well said wrecan!  I'm with you on this.  If you'll remember the offline Character Builder for 4e did the Campaign sources thing, as well as the old eTools from 3e.  I'm pretty hopeful that while we're unlikely to see this for the online Character Builder for 4e, I think it will be in the 5e Character Builder.  With the whole modular idea, there really isn't any other way.

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

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Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

Mainly by putting out flavor and story products instead of pure mechanics. Look at 1E/2E, the majority of products were campaign settings, modules and general resource books. There wasn't an emphasis in just jamming new powers, new races and new feats down our throats in every accessory.


I'm not saying that this wouldn't solve the system bloat problem, but do recall that TSR went out of business.  WotC has to be cautious about going back to that playbook.

If they have to offer constant supplements with 50% crunch, this edition is going to get bloated in no time flat.  I mean, they probably want to offer six supplements a year?  Each supplement will have, what, 20 spells, 20 martial maneuvers (tricks, CS, etc.), maybe a new variant class, a new race, three new backgrounds and three new specialites?

In three years, you'll have 18 new variant classes, 18 new races, 54 new backgrounds, 54 new specialities, and almost 400 new spells and maneuvers.  And I have a feeling that rate of bloat will feel tepid while we're in it, too.

That's crazy and unsupportable.


I wish I could recall where Mearls said this - my guess would be the "Future of D&D" PAX panel - but he's definitely acknowledged system bloat as a problem that WotC is consciously trying to avoid this time around.  He discussed how recent non-RPG products like the board games are showing them that they can monetize the D&D brand in more diverse ways, and they no longer need to get a sourcebook with new classes and feats out the door every month or two.

Does anyone else remember this discussion?  I kind of want to go back and hear exactly what he said, now.
If they have to offer constant supplements with 50% crunch, this edition is going to get bloated in no time flat.  I mean, they probably want to offer six supplements a year?  Each supplement will have, what, 20 spells, 20 martial maneuvers (tricks, CS, etc.), maybe a new variant class, a new race, three new backgrounds and three new specialites?

In three years, you'll have 18 new variant classes, 18 new races, 54 new backgrounds, 54 new specialities, and almost 400 new spells and maneuvers.  And I have a feeling that rate of bloat will feel tepid while we're in it, too.

That's crazy and unsupportable.


I wish I could recall where Mearls said this - my guess would be the "Future of D&D" PAX panel - but he's definitely acknowledged system bloat as a problem that WotC is consciously trying to avoid this time around.  He discussed how recent non-RPG products like the board games are showing them that they can monetize the D&D brand in more diverse ways, and they no longer need to get a sourcebook with new classes and feats out the door every month or two.

Does anyone else remember this discussion?  I kind of want to go back and hear exactly what he said, now.



i'm not sure where it was but i think he also mentioned that more of the crunch would be introduced trough campaign setting player guides instead of just splay books for each class.
3) How does an RPG make money month after month and still avoid system bloat?



Mainly by putting out flavor and story products instead of pure mechanics. Look at 1E/2E, the majority of products were campaign settings, modules and general resource books. There wasn't an emphasis in just jamming new powers, new races and new feats down our throats in every accessory.

Exactly! 
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.

Does anyone else remember this discussion?  I kind of want to go back and hear exactly what he said, now.


Found it:  The Future of D&D (16:49)

EDIT:  Wait, no, that's not what I was thinking of.
Does anyone else remember this discussion?  I kind of want to go back and hear exactly what he said, now.


Found it:  The Future of D&D (16:49)

Yes. +1

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.

3) How does an RPG make money month after month and still avoid system bloat?



Mainly by putting out flavor and story products instead of pure mechanics. Look at 1E/2E, the majority of products were campaign settings, modules and general resource books. There wasn't an emphasis in just jamming new powers, new races and new feats down our throats in every accessory.

Exactly! 




Yes, 3rd Ed/WotC/Magic: The Gathering, started the candy-thing, and 4th Ed carried the torch, hopefully they avoid that.
If they have to offer constant supplements with 50% crunch, this edition is going to get bloated in no time flat.  I mean, they probably want to offer six supplements a year?  Each supplement will have, what, 20 spells, 20 martial maneuvers (tricks, CS, etc.), maybe a new variant class, a new race, three new backgrounds and three new specialites?

In three years, you'll have 18 new variant classes, 18 new races, 54 new backgrounds, 54 new specialities, and almost 400 new spells and maneuvers.  And I have a feeling that rate of bloat will feel tepid while we're in it, too.

That's crazy and unsupportable. 

I imagine supplements will be either setting books, or genre books.  Like Sandstorm from 3e.  A book on deserts, a book on tundra, a book for Arabian Nights, a book for steampunk, a book for horror.  And these books will provide new optional rulesets.  So the horror book may include a Cthuluesque sanity system, and then provide Backgrounds, Specialialties, spells, and maneuvers that interact with this new subsystem.  If you don't use Sanity, you will ignore these new mechanics.

That can help keep bloat under control.

"Hey, let's play."
"Great, let's use Sanity, but not Frostburn or Steampunk rules."

And if your group is an "everything and the kitchen sink" kind of campaign, then you get to revel in the bloat!

The key, for many people, will be a digital tool that lets you dictate the supplements avaiable in a campaign.  Right now, the Compendium lets you search through either all the rules or only one rulebook at a time.  I'ld like to be able check which books I'm using and leave the others unchecked.

The risk then becomes "subsystem bloat" in which there are just too many rules options to keep track of.  But that's still, hopefully, better than the class, feat, and power bloat of 3e and 4e.

+1, setting specific crunch is the way to easily add, and yet control bloat.
Mainly by putting out flavor and story products instead of pure mechanics. Look at 1E/2E, the majority of products were campaign settings, modules and general resource books. There wasn't an emphasis in just jamming new powers, new races and new feats down our throats in every accessory.


I'm not saying that this wouldn't solve the system bloat problem, but do recall that TSR went out of business.  WotC has to be cautious about going back to that playbook.


Exactly.  They tried the fluff only (or mostly) approach and they went out of business.  If I remember correctly; you get a lot more sales out of core books, then splat books and then adventures. 

I don't know that fluff only can work, but maybe in comjunction with crunch heavy setting books, DDI, board games, etc. it can work.
There was a time in AD&D where if you asked me about any spell, I could tell you the duration, effect, school, casting time, and save. not any more, but one thing I really liked about AD&D was there really were no splat books. you had modules, which may add some new magic items, but there was nothing that changed the core.

I dont know if its wrong of me but honestly I dont like feats, prestige classes, archtypes, etc. I like to be able to memorize every facit of a game, or come as close as possible. I dont want to have to rely on a character builder to be able to make a character, or to examine if a player has built his correctly.

so far, I havent seen how added complexity or options has benifited the game or the amount of fun you can have with one. When we played AD&D if you wanted a skill or an ability that wasnt listed, you petitioned to the DM, he came up with something, typically you quested or trained and whammo your fighter just got a little more interesting. we didnt really need 10 new classes and specalities, skills and powers helped to do this even more. so though I know the time for that is pretty much over and everyone will want to run a hurling barbarian etc, I sort of wish this was another area where they decided to take a que from the past and not do something that seems to me inevitablly leads to a broken system.

the alternative though I understand is not making enough moolah. I really hope the money motivation IS taking a back seat to licensing the product in other ways so we can stop worrying so much about if D&D is making money and just concentrate on making a good game that will last.

ok, I'm not going to watch the 4hrs of pannels I already watched to find a 20 second comment by mearls... he said that they didnt plan to release further editions after this one, that they would plan on releasing "updates" though to fix or re-write some confusing or unpopular rules. when he said that I didnt really buy it... kind of like saying "well were going to come up with a new edition but were not going to call it an edition... were going to call it an "update" etc.
"The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." Gygax
...i have memorized most of the feats, powers, class features, paragon paths, items on 4e... they are easier to memorize and understand because how they are codified...just because you didn't spended 10 years playing just that system doesn't mean you can't memorize the system...

ok, I'm not going to watch the 4hrs of pannels I already watched to find a 20 second comment by mearls... he said that they didnt plan to release further editions after this one, that they would plan on releasing "updates" though to fix or re-write some confusing or unpopular rules. when he said that I didnt really buy it... kind of like saying "well were going to come up with a new edition but were not going to call it an edition... were going to call it an "update" etc.



Perfect; as I don't get all the hoopla, the "Core" is already there:

-AC
-HP
-Ability Scores
-Ability Checks
-Saving Throws
-Roll a d20 to do stuff

After that, whatever.

Don't use feats, fine.

We don't need no stinking skills!  Great, more power to ya.

Slap on an AEDU structure to a class, groovy.

What I am already doing with the chassis of 5th Ed, is experimenting with converting things from every other edition (which I have DMed consistently), and it is by far the most elegant edition for conversions (recently I converted some 4th Ed monsters: Solamith demon, Satyr Piper, Nighthag, I know it came before, but the 4th Ed one rocks; and working on Incarnum from 3rd Ed).


Whatever "They" do, we can all do our own thing with "It".
To those who argue that 2nd Edition kept bloat to a fair minimum, I would like to point out they had to publish a 3 volume softback set just to collate magic items from all of their splat books.  While they didn't have Feats yet, most of the Complete Book of X series contained 6 or so Kits, which in some cases were essentially completely new classes starting at first level (Ninjas comes to mind).  To say 2nd Edition didn't have much bloat (note we aren't even talking about the Player's Option series) is to look at that edition through rose colored glasses.
ok, I'm not going to watch the 4hrs of pannels I already watched to find a 20 second comment by mearls... he said that they didnt plan to release further editions after this one, that they would plan on releasing "updates" though to fix or re-write some confusing or unpopular rules. when he said that I didnt really buy it... kind of like saying "well were going to come up with a new edition but were not going to call it an edition... were going to call it an "update" etc.


Is this what you were thinking of?
And there was the Wizard's Spell Compendium that was 4 volumes softbound.

Kalex the Omen 
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Concerning Player Rules Bias
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Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

And there was the Wizard's Spell Compendium that was 4 volumes softbound.

Precisely.  2nd Edition was just as bloated as any other Edition that followed it.  People either simply don't seem to notice that or didn't mind the bloat back then.
2d edition was 13 years old when 3e came out.  That's as long as 3.0, 3.5, and 4e combined.  I'll take the 2e rate of bloat over 3e and 4e's rate of bloat any day.
To those who argue that 2nd Edition kept bloat to a fair minimum, I would like to point out they had to publish a 3 volume softback set just to collate magic items from all of their splat books.  While they didn't have Feats yet, most of the Complete Book of X series contained 6 or so Kits, which in some cases were essentially completely new classes starting at first level (Ninjas comes to mind).  To say 2nd Edition didn't have much bloat (note we aren't even talking about the Player's Option series) is to look at that edition through rose colored glasses.



2nd edition had bloat for spells and magic items (it was 4 volumes, btw) but what it didn't have was system bloat, which is what I think this thread is about. It didn't have tons of races and classes and optional mechanics. All the "bloat" that 2nd edition had never affected the core rules of the game.

Yes toward the very end of its life, the Player's Option books came out, introducing a lot of optional mechanics, but that's not bloat.
Yes toward the very end of its life, the Player's Option books came out, introducing a lot of optional mechanics, but that's not bloat.


Why not?

I'm not familiar with those books, and I don't have an opinion one way or the other.  I'm genuinely interested to hear what you see as the difference.
Yes toward the very end of its life, the Player's Option books came out, introducing a lot of optional mechanics, but that's not bloat.


Why not?

I'm not familiar with those books, and I don't have an opinion one way or the other.  I'm genuinely interested to hear what you see as the difference.



The difference is that we're talking about three books (four if you include the one for DM's running high level campaigns). I don't think of three/four books that came out within the same year as part of a series specifically defined as "the books where the optional mechanics live" as bloat.

3e and (more so) 3.5 bloat happened because virtually EVERY book had optional mechanics.

I don't know 4e, so I can't comment on its level of bloat.
To those who argue that 2nd Edition kept bloat to a fair minimum, I would like to point out they had to publish a 3 volume softback set just to collate magic items from all of their splat books.  While they didn't have Feats yet, most of the Complete Book of X series contained 6 or so Kits, which in some cases were essentially completely new classes starting at first level (Ninjas comes to mind).  To say 2nd Edition didn't have much bloat (note we aren't even talking about the Player's Option series) is to look at that edition through rose colored glasses.



2nd edition had bloat for spells and magic items (it was 4 volumes, btw) but what it didn't have was system bloat, which is what I think this thread is about. It didn't have tons of races and classes and optional mechanics. All the "bloat" that 2nd edition had never affected the core rules of the game.

Yes toward the very end of its life, the Player's Option books came out, introducing a lot of optional mechanics, but that's not bloat.

I'd urge you to reread the Complete Book of X series.  There are a lot of classes and kits added in them.  The Bladesinger and a Spellthief like kit from the Book of Elves come to mind.  There's also divine and arcane spellcasting Ninja class variants.  Those are just the ones off the top of my head from the two books I'm most familiar with.

If that's not bloat, we may not be agreeing on the definition of the term.
I would define bloat as unnecessary redundancy.  If you already have a perfectly adequate way of modeling, say, a swashbuckler then you don't need to go and make an entire class focused around that concept as well.  If you want to create a character, and you have that character well-defined in your head, but you cannot determine which set of mechanics best describe that character, then the system suffers from bloat.

The default example that I always remember was the 3.x feat, "Lightning Reflexes".  The purpose of the feat was to represent a character with exceptional reaction time, who was good at getting out of the way of stuff; it did this with a static bonus to Reflex saves.  Later, one of the books introduced a feat which allowed you to re-roll a Reflex save, so many times per day ... to represent a character with exception reaction time, who was good at getting out of the way of stuff.  Yet later still, another book introduced a feat that would let you re-roll a Reflex save whenever you felt like it, but using the feat caused you to fall prone.

If I wanted to make a character with exceptional reaction time, who was good at getting out of the way of stuff, then even if I had a summary list to help my narrow my options down I would still be uncertain of which feat to take.  That is the purest form of bloat, to me.
The metagame is not the game.
I personally agree with Mikes concept and I don't think its hard to achieve at all, in fact, the OPS statement that "no other RPG has ever done it" is completetly factually incorrect, its far more accurate to say that the large majority of RPG's have acomplished it, at least those around long enough to put out new editions.

The simple truth is that if a gaming system is not modular its destined for bloat.  You can't keep putting out "here are some additional rules" books without that happening.   What you can do is put out "here are some OPTIONAL" rules that you can use.  A distincition without a difference unless you core rules change every edition and you effectively try to re-invent the core system, which is at the heart of the problem for D&D.

Take GURPS as an example, 4 edition, 1st edition modules are as valid today as they where when 1st edition was around.  With "minor" and I mean MINOR in every sense of the word, adjustments, you can take a 1st edition book and apply it to a 4th edition game.    It has modules for different types of game worlds, different types of sub systems (be they narrative, simulationist or something in between) and there is no limit to how many books you can release without an inch of bloat as ONLY the core rules are rules, everything else are optional rules at the discretion of the GM and tastes of the players.

This is what Mike Mearls is tyring to acomplish and as long as the Core game is light and D&D flavored there should be no reason to ever release another game system... in fact with 3rd edition there wasn't any reason to release another game syste... all they needed to do was what Pathfinder did for them, updated it, correct some mistakes and move on.  Just like 3.5 was an updated to 3rd edition, 4th edition should have been an updated to 3.5... the only problem they had and the reason they are in the predicement they are today is because they chose to instead try to "re-invent" the wheel.


So yeah... Mike Mearls has it right and bloat will be a none issue since everything beyond the core books should be 100% optional and not part of the official base rules.   

The key to the whole thing is to ensure that 5th edition core is really the absolute most basic aspects of D&D on which other systems can be built, both player and official ones. 

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To those who argue that 2nd Edition kept bloat to a fair minimum, I would like to point out they had to publish a 3 volume softback set just to collate magic items from all of their splat books.  While they didn't have Feats yet, most of the Complete Book of X series contained 6 or so Kits, which in some cases were essentially completely new classes starting at first level (Ninjas comes to mind).  To say 2nd Edition didn't have much bloat (note we aren't even talking about the Player's Option series) is to look at that edition through rose colored glasses.



2nd edition had bloat for spells and magic items (it was 4 volumes, btw) but what it didn't have was system bloat, which is what I think this thread is about. It didn't have tons of races and classes and optional mechanics. All the "bloat" that 2nd edition had never affected the core rules of the game.

Yes toward the very end of its life, the Player's Option books came out, introducing a lot of optional mechanics, but that's not bloat.

I'd urge you to reread the Complete Book of X series.  There are a lot of classes and kits added in them.  The Bladesinger and a Spellthief like kit from the Book of Elves come to mind.  There's also divine and arcane spellcasting Ninja class variants.  Those are just the ones off the top of my head from the two books I'm most familiar with.

If that's not bloat, we may not be agreeing on the definition of the term.



You may be right about us not agreeing on the definition. To me, system bloat means that there are a lot of additional mechanical rules. Things that change or enhance the way the core rules generally work. A kit that gives you an additional ability granting a +1 to some saving throw or attack bonus, or an extra spell per day, etc, doesn't really constitute 'optional mechanics' to me and therefore I'm not including those concepts when I talk about system bloat.

I own the Complete handbook series. There are a lot of kits, but the vast majority of them don't add mechanics, just a bonus here and a penalty there. There are a handful of exceptions, but a handful of exceptions does not constitute bloat.

What I'm saying is that the concept of character kits might be optional mechanics, but a new kit is not a new mechanical option on it's own, unless its adding something significant to the rules.

I'm not saying that 2nd didn't have bloat when it comes to spells, magic items, and character kits. But I don't think it had bloat when it comes to systems. It had optional systems, yes, but not a bloat of them. I concede that this is, of course, my opinion only.