Legends & Lore: Chaotic Magical

Legends & Lore
Chaotic Magical

By Mike Mearls

Alignment and spells are the two subjects that Mike addresses this week. How is alignment treated in the overall rules system, and how are spells being balanced when compared to the abilities of those who don’t use magic? Find out.

Talk about this column here.

This Week in D&D
Looks like alignment restricitons are gone. Prefer Paladins as LG but w/e. Detect Ecil.Protection form evil sound like good compromises.
 One work around to save or dies. Have them but just nerf them.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

Looks like his take on alignment is in correspondence with what most people want. I hope paladins will still adhere to a codex, consequences for breaking said codex being harsh, but interesting.

Until the last paragraph, it was going so well...
I like how alignment-driven abilities focus on more concrete elements rather than hinging on the descriptor. I am glad to see alignment restriction as an optional tool as well, everyone win here.  

I am less glad to see that getting the damage spells back to a position of prominence in the game is a key goal for spellcasting in D&D Next as i fear it will bring back arcane dominance on the battlefield, especially for spells that can damage multiple targets, they should deal less damage than single target spells.
Scaling damage spells were not broken in 3.5 so it should not be to hard ot have them convert over to D&DN. IDK if things like invasion fomr 3.5 will amke it through though.

 The changes to con fomr 2nd ed to 3.0 also gave everyone more hit points. Direct damage scaling spells do not concern me as long as they are capped at a reaosnbaly level.Was in 1st ed or BECMI that had 20d6 fireballs and a level 19 spellcaster would get 10 magic missiles and one of those edioitns IIRC had 1d6+1 magic missiles.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

The Alignment talk made me happy, as it's not infused with the mechanics (*phew*) and even talk of them being brought in as per the DM makes me a bit more happy.

And while I'm not keen on magical spells dealing more damage, I hope they mitigate these to a 1/day usage or perhaps use a "lesser" version more often throughout the day. Also, I like that the Wizard doesn't have "I Win" buttons but rather has "I Win in 3 rounds" buttons. Something thats taken from 4E is the multiple-turn/save spell that slowly kills a target over multipul rounds and it's a direction I agree with.  
This L&L had me outright dancing for joy, right up 'till the end.

If I don't like "save or die" effects I can just run my campaign without them?

So no options at all?

That will suck.

Is it REALLY so hard to include optional non-SoD boxes on the page for these creatures? 
Ok for alignments not being mandatory as prerequisites. Then it's up to the DM if he wants to enforce them or not. Sounds sensible.

I don't understand how Detect Evil is supposed to work now. Does it mean it now acts as a detect undead / fiend? What if you have a non-evil undead? What if you have an evil vampire in disguise - will the spell detect it?

I'm not convinced by the approach to spells balancing where melee classes are there to buy time for casters loading their big guns. It makes the former feel ancillary and is prone to exploits in the hands of optimisers. I'd rather they keep the power level under check across the board, avoiding big spikes like this.
   

  
While I liked the SoSoD concept from 4e, in practice I felt it fell rather flat.  There was only a 20% chance it would ever reach the final stage even if you didn't get an extra save/eat the wizard, and that kind of sucked all the danger out of it.  Now I guess saving against a wizard's spells is a lot harder than it was in 4e (unless the 4e wizard optimized for save penalties, but that's a whole nother can of worms), so it's slightly less of an issue, but then I'd really kind of like them to take those down a bit because the DCs were just much too hard.  I've said this before, but a dragon has a 45% chance of making a strength save against a wizard.  He has a STR of 23.  If casters are going to get the option to target your worst save, then they shouldn't be outpacing your best save with level.  But getting back on topic, if you fix that, SoSoD becomes a waste of time against all but the weakest saves.  What about a delayed reaction without multiple saves?  Fail your save and you'll turn to stone in three rounds, but you don't get extra attempts to not turn to stone (other than attempting to eat the wizard, or using some kind of counter-magic)?
So wizard "Save or Die" become "Save or Kill the wizard in 3 rounds or Die" nice.

As for paladin and alignment ... the seperation of magic, classes, and alignment is great.

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

I don't mind alignment being DM optional. We've never had any problem with alignment and I will just "opt in" for the alignment rules in my games.

As for SoD effects; I've never had a problem with them and like the suspense they create. I don't like the "three saves to fail" method at all; the chances of three straight failures is so much smaller that it minimalizes the threat. Plus, regarding the last paragraph, most of the complaints I've read, about SoD effects, have been when they are against the PCs; so, I don't understand the nerfing of PC SoD effects and not nerfing the monster SoD effects.
How about 2 saves like 3.5's phantasmal killer and maybe tweak spell DCs so they are easier to make said save?

 IN 2nd ed SoDs at higher levels only had a 5-15% chance of working so they were rarely used. Ye olde fireball was a classic. Spell DCs do not scale very well in D&DN and may actually be worse than 3.5.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

Awesome article!!  It's been a while since I could say that Mike nailed topics perfectly in a D&D Next column, but I agree with everything in this article 100%!

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.

Fail your save and you'll turn to stone in three rounds, but you don't get extra attempts to not turn to stone (other than attempting to eat the wizard, or using some kind of counter-magic)?


Or alternatively, if you pass a save the spell isn't over instantly - the wizard can keep concentrating on you for next round.  You turn to stone of you accumulate three failures over any number of rounds (possibly limited by the spell, or possibly broken by three successes).

You might get a debuff for having failures on you as you get more "stoney".  In 3E, I'd just say you take Dex damage and turn to stone when your Dex reaches 0; in DDN, maybe -1 to attacks and AC per failed save.
I like how alignment-driven abilities focus on more concrete elements rather than hinging on the descriptor. I am glad to see alignment restriction as an optional tool as well, everyone win here.  

I am less glad to see that getting the damage spells back to a position of prominence in the game is a key goal for spellcasting in D&D Next as i fear it will bring back arcane dominance on the battlefield, especially for spells that can damage multiple targets, they should deal less damage than single target spells.



Back in a position of prominence doesn't mean back to being broken.  They just want to break the strangle hold of SoD, which making damage spells a tiny bit better will do.

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.

I don't understand how Detect Evil is supposed to work now. Does it mean it now acts as a detect undead / fiend? What if you have a non-evil undead? What if you have an evil vampire in disguise - will the spell detect it?



The talk on the boards a while back on this topic was to make it detect only things that are evil incarnate.  Undead, fiends and certain other celestial/infernal creatures would fit the bill.  What it stops from happening is characters detecting evil on the advisor to the duke who is plotting to kill him and seize control of the duchy.

I'm not convinced by the approach to spells balancing where melee classes are there to buy time for casters loading their big guns. It makes the former feel ancillary and is prone to exploits in the hands of optimisers. I'd rather they keep the power level under check across the board, avoiding big spikes like this.



I think this is an overly simplistic read of what Mike said.  That can be one of the roles of the melee to caster relationship.  Also keep in mind, that it is very improbable that a creature as powerful as a dragon will fail 3 or more saves in a row and be turned to stone, and even for less powerful creatures is pretty unlikely.  It is far more likely that these spells will "slow down" the creature and allow the melee types to finish it off.  It just isn't ever likely to be a "big spike."

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.

While I liked the SoSoD concept from 4e, in practice I felt it fell rather flat.  There was only a 20% chance it would ever reach the final stage even if you didn't get an extra save/eat the wizard, and that kind of sucked all the danger out of it.  Now I guess saving against a wizard's spells is a lot harder than it was in 4e (unless the 4e wizard optimized for save penalties, but that's a whole nother can of worms), so it's slightly less of an issue, but then I'd really kind of like them to take those down a bit because the DCs were just much too hard.  I've said this before, but a dragon has a 45% chance of making a strength save against a wizard.  He has a STR of 23.  If casters are going to get the option to target your worst save, then they shouldn't be outpacing your best save with level.  But getting back on topic, if you fix that, SoSoD becomes a waste of time against all but the weakest saves.  What about a delayed reaction without multiple saves?  Fail your save and you'll turn to stone in three rounds, but you don't get extra attempts to not turn to stone (other than attempting to eat the wizard, or using some kind of counter-magic)?



This is about as anti-climactic an option as I can imagine.  Everyone just goes full defense/flees the battlefield until the dragon turns to stone.  How unheroic!

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.

The Drow poison is a good model for Flesh to Stone. The wizard casts the spell and concentrates. Each round of concentration forces a Con saving. First failure is a speed loss of 10ft and disadvantage of Dex checks for an hour. Second fail is another 10ft loss and disadvantage on Str Checks BUT resistance to all damage for an hour. Then third failure is petrification.

So alone, the wizard is still in danger of being dragon chow. But with the fighter, monk, or cleric, knocking the dragon back, the dragon must hope to get close enough to one shot the wizard with a thrown object or breath weapon.

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



I think this is an overly simplistic read of what Mike said.  That can be one of the roles of the melee to caster relationship.  Also keep in mind, that it is very improbable that a creature as powerful as a dragon will fail 3 or more saves in a row and be turned to stone, and even for less powerful creatures is pretty unlikely.  It is far more likely that these spells will "slow down" the creature and allow the melee types to finish it off.  It just isn't ever likely to be a "big spike."



Maybe it is. The concern I have is with the caster going from irrelevant across few rounds (while channeling the spell) to IWIN in the last one. Hopefully it won't end up like that. Time will tell.
Second, I want to take a quick detour to talk about magic and spellcasters. We are 100 percent dedicated to balancing the classes to a reasonable degree (perfect balance is impossible, since so much of the game is driven by the DM and the specifics of the campaign). One of the big drivers of imbalance is the ability of casters to take down an opponent in one shot with a single save or die spell, or with a combination of spells that effectively shuts down an opponent.



No, the game can't be balanced because you have classes with different resource recovery systems. DMs can imbalance anything, but when you build imbalance into the game in the form of different resource recovery systems you are going to run into problems. Mearls really needs to open his eyes and see the game from other perspectives.

Right here he loses all credibility:

In AD&D, spells like fireball were really, really good. They could clear entire rooms of weak monsters, and at higher levels they could turn ogre and trolls into ash. A group of hill giants hit by a 10th-level magic-user's fireball suffered about 35 damage on a failed save, 17 on a successful one. Given that hill giants had about 40 hit points, you can see that the spell could quickly turn a battle into a rout.



Yeah, you need to go back and look at those save or die spells and how fireball works with expansion anything blocking it and compression. Maybe play the game RAW instead of with your 30 pages of house rules...

Getting the damage spells back to a position of prominence in the game is a key goal for spellcasting in D&D Next.



Wait so now Fighters can't even get to be DPR kings? Wow, that's going to go off well with Fighter fans...

While shut-down spells will still exist, we'll make sure that they are no longer "I Win" buttons but instead options that can get you to "I Win" through good planning and skill. For instance, 4E's use of a series of a saving throws before reaching an instant kill for a spell like flesh to stone is a good place to start. If anything, if we assume that such spells are the best weapon against a single, powerful foe—which makes perfect sense in the world of D&D—we can make sure that they are balanced correctly. Imagine the wizard, spending actions on multiple rounds to slowly turn a dragon to stone, while the fighter, cleric, and rogue hack away at the creature and try to slow it down long enough for the spell to take hold. If the dragon can get to the wizard, an attack might break the spell before it can take its full effect. The dragon is injured from its partial transformation, but powerful foes don't fall in a single round with one missed save.



I like this. Maybe everything has an alternate set of hit points that count up from 0 and when they reach the monsters current hit points through rounds of concentration they take effect and cause the save or die effect. Something like:

Flesh to Stone
5th Level Transmutation
You transmute the targets body into stone.
Effect: Choose a single target within 20 feet. Each round that you concentrate for up to 5 rounds causes the target to make a Constitution saving throw. If they fail a saving throw they become slowed. They also take 2d6 of stone points. These points are counted up from 0. When the stone points become equal to or greater than the targets current hit points they are petrified.

Obviously there is a lot of design work that needs to go into these spells, but we want to make sure that bypassing a creature's hit points is not clearly the best option. It can be an option, but it should not be the option in every case.



Yeah, see above. I just solved it for you...

As an aside, it's worth noting that monster special abilities don't have to obey that rule. The medusa can still turn you to stone on a single failed save. DMs can simply choose to mix and match monsters as they wish, avoiding instant kill critters if that's not what the group wants. For spells and other player options, we feel it's best to give the DM confidence that players can build characters from the available resources without things becoming wildly unbalanced.



Ok, so the monsters are super deadly with save or die attacks, but the players' characters can't save or die a monster. I see this going over well...

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


Why not put save or die spells into a module and then put save or save or save or die spells into another module. Do the same for the two different types of monsters. There problem solved. Took me all of 5 minutes. What's your excuse?Smile



He has a sore throat!
Sorry couldn't resist Tongue Out

But actually giving instant SoD powers to monsters, but not to PCs doesn't make sense. If anything it should be the other way around.
Save or Die can also be damaging channeled spells lasting as long as the caster wants or can.

You save, you take half damage and shake off the harmful condition influence for this round, you fail your save, you take full damage and an option for the cemetary as customer or as decoration.

If you think my english is bad, just wait until you see my spanish and my italian. Defiling languages is an art.

I like how alignment-driven abilities focus on more concrete elements rather than hinging on the descriptor. I am glad to see alignment restriction as an optional tool as well, everyone win here.  

I am less glad to see that getting the damage spells back to a position of prominence in the game is a key goal for spellcasting in D&D Next as i fear it will bring back arcane dominance on the battlefield, especially for spells that can damage multiple targets, they should deal less damage than single target spells.



Back in a position of prominence doesn't mean back to being broken.  They just want to break the strangle hold of SoD, which making damage spells a tiny bit better will do.



Ok so a Fireball doing 7d6 (average 24.5) instead of 5d6 (average 17.5) is going to better than a spell that can kill a 100+ hit point Ogre umm... something wrong with your premise...Smile
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.


Why not put save or die spells into a module and then put save or save or save or die spells into another module. Do the same for the two different types of monsters. There problem solved. Took me all of 5 minutes. What's your excuse?Smile



He has a sore throat!
Sorry couldn't resist Tongue Out

But actually giving instant SoD powers to monsters, but not to PCs doesn't make sense. If anything it should be the other way around.

It's a question of level of power (medusa was a goddess), or evolution (one trick poney).

If you think my english is bad, just wait until you see my spanish and my italian. Defiling languages is an art.

But actually giving instant SoD powers to monsters, but not to PCs doesn't make sense. If anything it should be the other way around.



I think the mindset is that PCs have many different options to remove the "die" effect.  Monsters don't.  That said I think using the same system across the board is the most logical way of doing this, and I am partial to the multi-save/progressive effect method.

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.

Difference:

PC´s should usually know when they are facing Medusas. Such monsters should never appear randomly.
This way, PC´s can prepare against being turned to stone. Monsters usually don´t have that knowledge.

On the other hand, I feel that there should be options included in the statblock for people who really hate SoD. (I am sitting on the fence right now)

Redgarding damage spells:

Yes, Fireball in ADnD was much more potent and sometimes outright dangerous to use (in confined spaces). In 3.5, those spells usually were a lot weaker.

Now we have the Situation, that a fireball pales against the damage numbers a fighter can do. So yes, a fireball needs to be slightly buffed. But not so much, that the fighter is left behind.
But actually giving instant SoD powers to monsters, but not to PCs doesn't make sense. If anything it should be the other way around.



I think the mindset is that PCs have many different options to remove the "die" effect.  Monsters don't.  That said I think using the same system across the board is the most logical way of doing this, and I am partial to the multi-save/progressive effect method.



I like the multi-save/progressive method as well. I'd stick to that for both sides.
What I would like to avoid is instant SoD vs PCs, with no way/time to counter them, as sooner or later that "1" is going to show up on the dice at the wrong time. And losing a character because of a bad roll is hardly going to be fun for anyone (let alone feel heroic).
I'd probably just apply the same SoD restrictions that PCs use and keep everything the same. But I do agree that dangerous things like Medusa need to be more prominent than a random monster.
What I would like to avoid is instant SoD vs PCs, with no way/time to counter them, as sooner or later that "1" is going to show up on the dice at the wrong time. And losing a character because of a bad roll is hardly going to be fun for anyone (let alone feel heroic).


And on the other side of the die, seeing a monster make a save and your spell do nothing isn't fun either.  Maybe a variant on 4E's "reliable" keyword is in order for single-target save-or-something-happens spells:  if the target makes its save you can concentrate to try again the next round.  You don't lose the spell slot until you break that concentration.  Or possibly the spell still has an effect for one round on a successful save.
Another option I hope MM considers is giving DMs the option of using the multi-round SoD instead of the insta-SoD for NPCs. I like the option of using a timer for getting the "I Win" instead of it getting resolved immediately. Also, it may be that a single save is used, not a save every round. The article is unclear on the exact mechanics, so I'd caution getting too worked up until we see the rules.

Another way to look at the multi-round SoD spells are as mini-rituals. You won't want to use them for every combat, but the option is there. I'd prefer that NPCs use the same mechanics as PCs, since I think it's rather sucky when one bad die roll means your character is out of the fight for the next 20+ minutes, even if you are at full health.

IMO, the medusa is a classic example for using the multi-round effects. IMO, it's much more dramatic if you are slowly turning to stone, giving you or your party a chance to reverse the process, rather than creating a granite topiary in a single 6 seconds. Killing the medusa won't cease the effects, but perhaps multiple saves will make the effects wear off instead of being permanent.

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What I would like to avoid is instant SoD vs PCs, with no way/time to counter them, as sooner or later that "1" is going to show up on the dice at the wrong time. And losing a character because of a bad roll is hardly going to be fun for anyone (let alone feel heroic).


And on the other side of the die, seeing a monster make a save and your spell do nothing isn't fun either.



Not sure I follow here. Missing (failing) in general is not fun per se, but it's part of that bit of frustration which makes it feel good when things go your way.
On the other hand being out of the game because of a single unlucky roll is sad.
To be clear, in general I'd rather avoid binary mechanics where the outcomes swings from 'Jackpot' to nothing happened.
I'm fine with save or die spells being a multiple round gamble but the spells need some kind of lingering minor effect if the first or second saving throws are failed. Slay Living could deal damage each round for up to 3 rounds then kill for instance. Sleep could slow down your opponents then they fall asleep.

Contain save or die spells but don't nerf them to the point where they become non options.   
Exactly. Even if all SoD take a minumum of two rounds to take effect, I'd be fine with each round being automatic (and progressive) until the last round which requires a save. I don't think multiple saves is necessary, but multiple rounds definately are.

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Something else that needs to be considered if you're going to give SoD a timer: most Next combats are currently lasting 3 rounds or less.  Now I know that might well change with the next packet, but it's something to keep in mind.  If the fight's only going to last 2 rounds, then a SoD effect that kicks in on the third round is pretty much a waste of time.

Btw, as to the "cast it and run away" idea, 1) I intended it to still require concentration, so running away is no more an option than under the other ideas afloat here, I just wanted to maintain some chance of it succeeding before the combat was over; and 2) dragons are faster than PCs.

Not a big fan of the idea of stone points counting up to its current HP idea though.  Feels rather dissociative to me.  Why would a dragon get easier to turn into stone after you poke him with a stick a few times?  Also, it basically just turns petrify into a damage spell with the flavor rider than instead of "dying" it turns to stone.  The whole point is to have something different to that's strategically good to use on extremely high HP targets and that results in a very different kind of fight, instead of a fight that's mechanically identical to one in which the wizard spams a low-level beam spell.  
I'd like to see the SoD spells work with a countdown and additional status effects that ramp.

Example-

Medusa's Gaze- DC 14 Dex/Wis (or whatever would be appropriate...I'm just throwing out numbers here)

If the target fails the save, it will be turned to stone in 3 rounds. In addition, the target suffers additonal effects.

Round 1- Slowed

Round 2- Dazed

Round 3- Petrified             

On a successful save, the target suffers Disadvantage on it's next attack roll.  
I want to take the time to thank Mearls for listening to our comments about alignment.  This was a huge row a few weeks ago when the monk was released and people wre screaming that the sky was falling and they were rage-quitting.  Now Mearls states that, based on the feedback, likely alignment will be entirely downplayed, just as people were asking and there's nary a peep of acknowledgment.  It's just right on to the next thing to rage about, and to pretend that whatever Mearls says is written in stone, even though this article is clear and unmistaekable evidence that nothing is written in stone.

I also think people should take a look at the clarifications about save-or-die casting that Mearls posted to Twitter.  The idea is not that the wizard gets the "I win" button, but that all classes have a way to take down the bad guys.  The key is to make sure the wizard cannot do it immediately and by himself.  So the casters are slowly wearing the BBEG with progressively worsening conditions, and the melee-ists are hammering away with massive damage.  While that does raise issues of the players following two tracks to victory, if the intermediate spell-conditions help the melee-ists better reduce hp, and if the reduction of hp helps make the spells more effective (ala hp thresholds or the like) then it can work.  We have to see how the system plays out and we should offer suggestions on how hp-reduction and condition imposition can have some interplay.

As for the "unfortunate" last paragraph, I do hope the Monster Manual will include optional rules for turning save-or-die creatures into save-or-save-or-save-or-die creatures (and vice versa).  I don't want to have to avoid medusas just because I don't want save-or-die.  I'd like to be able to tweak the medusa so it can be included.  I still think that is likely to happen, and I'm not going to take the 23-word sentence, "DMs can simply choose to mix and match monsters as they wish, avoiding instant kill critters if that's not what the group wants," as the last word on the topic.  In fact, the phrase "DMs can ... choose to mix... monsters" to avoid "instant kill" indicates to me that it will be posible to take, say a save-or-save-or-save-or-die power from another creature, say, a cockatrice, and give it to a medusa to make it less insta-deadly.
Yeah, you need to go back and look at those save or die spells and how fireball works with expansion anything blocking it and compression. Maybe play the game RAW instead of with your 30 pages of house rules...

In all fairness, he was talking about the damaging aspect of the spells and NOT the other parts and he is quite correct in that regards. In old editions the wizard used fireball regularly and it remained effective. In 3e the only time fireball got used effectively was when buffed through metamagic feats and more often then not only by NPC sorcerer opponents. Hard control effects were much more effective in 3e. In 4E I have never seen a wizard use fireball ;)
What I would like to avoid is instant SoD vs PCs, with no way/time to counter them, as sooner or later that "1" is going to show up on the dice at the wrong time. And losing a character because of a bad roll is hardly going to be fun for anyone (let alone feel heroic).


And on the other side of the die, seeing a monster make a save and your spell do nothing isn't fun either.  Maybe a variant on 4E's "reliable" keyword is in order for single-target save-or-something-happens spells:  if the target makes its save you can concentrate to try again the next round.  You don't lose the spell slot until you break that concentration.  Or possibly the spell still has an effect for one round on a successful save.



We're not saying "do nothing."  4e had progressive effect powers, and that is what we are advocating.

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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.

* About save or die powers...

When I thought about the idea of D&D firearms I had clear there were too powerful.

My possible solution was enemies with (dead by only a shot) weapons should have got higher XPs reward, like a added template.

Example:

Goblin: 10 XPs

Goblin with steampunk rifle: 10 + 10 XPs.

Goblin with steampunk bazooka: 10 + 30 XPs.


And the reward by monster killed by firearms or "save or die" power should be lower, like if it were minions.

For example:

Killing a bugbear for hand-to-hand combat: 140 XPs

Killing a bubgear by means of a ultimate magic crossbow of....: 14 XPs


I know it would need a lot of playtesting but it should be tried.


A explosive mine or a magic trap with fireball rune.... a goblin with steampunk hand grenades or a thakithi ( = witch doctor) goblin with a staff of fireball..what is the difference? 

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About aligment and spells I rembember a cartoon from "Order of Stick"...


www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0011.html


I suggest adding allegiances, and spells can afftect to enemies with same aligment allegiance (for example orcs who adore Gruumsh againt Lloths priestess or the classic dwarf vs elves war). (Being Neutral aligment wouldn´t avoid be affected by powers with aligment + allegiance keys). 

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I suggest a optional block to advice about homebreed alternative aligment systems. For example CG only would be closer Nature that Civilitation, or characters who are hostile to a group (like CE behavior) but totally loyal (like LG) to other. 

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"Save or die" powers should be modular, optional, they should can be replaced/changed easily adding or deducting the corresponding XPs value, as if it was a monster template.

"Say me what you're showing off for, and I'll say you what you lack!" (Spanish saying)

 

Book 13 Anaclet 23 Confucius said: "The Superior Man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony"

 

"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of." - Confucius 

I would rather SoD effects produced by monsters follow the same general rules and styles of SoD effects produced by PCs. That said, the deadliness of the Medusa could easily come from the fact that she doesn't have to concentrate to turn you into stone ;)
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