Legends & Lore: This Week in D&D (3/11/2013)

Legends & Lore:
This Week in D&D
(3/11/2013)
Mike Mearls



We've talked about managing dead levels, a level in which you gain nothing aside from hit points, versus the creeping complexity that comes with piling on character abilities. This topic is critical to managing the transition from a simple option to a complex one, based on what kind of character you like to play. Our current thinking is to do some renovation to the classes and create the opportunity to add a new ability or improve an existing one where we can. For instance, as a fighter you might have the option to take a new maneuver or improve one that you already have. A fighter's maneuver might increase accuracy, and then it can be improved to grant a larger bonus. This change is subtle, but it helps the system flex to match a user's needs. It also makes it much easier to manage nonplayer characters with character levels.


 


 


Talk about this article here.

Wizards, shave and a haircut

"Our current thinking is to do some renovation to the classes and create the opportunity to add a new ability or improve an existing one where we can. For instance, as a fighter you might have the option to take a new maneuver or improve one that you already have. A fighter's maneuver might increase accuracy, and then it can be improved to grant a larger bonus."



Well, that sounds promising. Certainly, the ability to modulate how broad or deep you want to go as a Fighter would add much-needed richness to the Maneuver system.

Of course, the key question is how granular the maneuver system is going to be - 5 manuevers across 20 levels doesn't give much room for breadth or experimentation. But if it's more like 5 maxed-out maneuvers or 10 standard maneuvers or something in between, that's a big improvement.
Race for the Iron Throne - political and historical analysis of A Song of Ice and Fire.
A three topic nothing article. Guess they needed a break from all the controversy.

All I can say is that 5E just keeps getting more 'meh' all the time. 
...whatever
A fighter's maneuver might increase accuracy, and then it can be improved to grant a larger bonus.

Of all things, why make an example referencing accuracy increases? :facepalm: 

Danny

A fighter's maneuver might increase accuracy, and then it can be improved to grant a larger bonus.

Of all things, why make an example referencing accuracy increases? :facepalm: 



Where's my 5E Come and Get It?
...whatever
Of all things, why make an example referencing accuracy increases? :facepalm: 

This was my immediate thought as well. Guess what option's going to be essentially mandatory for every Fighter ever.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
Of all things, why make an example referencing accuracy increases? :facepalm: 

This was my immediate thought as well. Guess what option's going to be essentially mandatory for every Fighter ever.



Yeah, we're going from the 4E Fighter with cool and flavorful powers combined with incredible battlefield control to boring accuracy increases.

I also thought the original MDD Fighter was dull. Nice to see they're thinking dull wasn't dull enough.
...whatever
As I read it:

* Spells will get slightly more realistic, but much less useful, meaning more experiences where you packed the wrong tool for the job, and have to resort to the wrong (or less useful) tool, or no tool at all if you don't have any that won't also hose your group.  More times that the wizard has to ask the party, "is it okay if I catch you in the blast radius?".  Thus, spells that have inherent drawbacks, such as the Fog Cloud spell, will never be memeorized in favor of spells like Blindness that have no drawbacks to the party.  So, expect to have to sort through every spell to find the ones that are actually worth taking instead of being able to make each one usable from the box with minimal drawback.  Certain spells one will never do without, and certain spells you will never take, or wills tay in your inventory for 10 levels in scroll form because it's not worth mem-ing in a slot.  Wasted time in dev, wasted time in char gen, and unfortunate results at the table for noob casters who haven't figured out the finer distinctions yet.  It seems vaguely alluded to that Cantrips can fix the "wrong spell" problem.  I disagree.  Prove me wrong on paper, WotC.

* Dead Levels was such a bad idea, they are now looking at the idea of a 'slot' feature where you can add a new ability or upgrade an old one. 

One step backwards, and one step stumbling towards the obvious. 

Undecided

Of course, the key question is how granular the maneuver system is going to be - 5 manuevers across 20 levels doesn't give much room for breadth or experimentation. But if it's more like 5 maxed-out maneuvers or 10 standard maneuvers or something in between, that's a big improvement.



This point also tags onto mine, aside from spell choices that are more or less mandatory, certain maneuvers risk becoming the only viable ones especially with only a few to choose from.  Table demand will make it so, somewhat like the "someone has to be the cleric" syndrome.
A big thumbs up for class renovations.  Not sure how filling up dead levels makes things more complicated.  Wizards get spells every level and that is not overly complex.

"The Apollo moon landing is off topic for this thread and this forum. Let's get back on topic." Crazy Monkey

"I've heard far too many stories about people trying to play tabletop D&D and giving up on it."
I've heard no such thing.  I just watched someone brand new to RPGs play D&D as a 4th Edition 11th level Rogue.  They had no problem whatsoever.  D&D is not that hard a game to start playing.  Making it even simpler is only going to result in fewer players as those who enjoyed the complexity move on to greener pastures and those using complexity as an excuse continue to do so.
As I read it:

* Spells will get slightly more realistic, but much less useful, meaning more experiences where you packed the wrong tool for the job, and have to resort to the wrong (or less useful) tool, or no tool at all if you don't have any that won't also hose your group.  More times that the wizard has to ask the party, "is it okay if I catch you in the blast radius?".  Thus, spells that have inherent drawbacks, such as the Fog Cloud spell, will never be memeorized in favor of spells like Blindness that have no drawbacks to the party.  So, expect to have to sort through every spell to find the ones that are actually worth taking instead of being able to make each one usable from the box with minimal drawback.  Certain spells one will never do without, and certain spells you will never take, or wills tay in your inventory for 10 levels in scroll form because it's not worth mem-ing in a slot.  Wasted time in dev, wasted time in char gen, and unfortunate results at the table for noob casters who haven't figured out the finer distinctions yet.  It seems vaguely alluded to that Cantrips can fix the "wrong spell" problem.  I disagree.  Prove me wrong on paper, WotC.

* Dead Levels was such a bad idea, they are now looking at the idea of a 'slot' feature where you can add a new ability or upgrade an old one. 

One step backwards, and one step stumbling towards the obvious. 


I don't understand your comment.

He wrote specifically, that wizards can switch out spells, and there is no such thing as preparing the "wrong spell" because you can change it whenver you want. 

Of course, the key question is how granular the maneuver system is going to be - 5 manuevers across 20 levels doesn't give much room for breadth or experimentation. But if it's more like 5 maxed-out maneuvers or 10 standard maneuvers or something in between, that's a big improvement.



This point also tags onto mine, aside from spell choices that are more or less mandatory, certain maneuvers risk becoming the only viable ones especially with only a few to choose from.  Table demand will make it so, somewhat like the "someone has to be the cleric" syndrome.



Yes. But given that this was already a problem with Deadly Strike/Protect, I'm hoping it will get better. It's tricky, though, given how certain things are mechanically desired more than others. Take the "increase accuracy" maneuver; it would be less problematic in the 11/13 packet, when a Fighter at level 1 could start with a +7 to hit pretty easily, but that accuracy is a lot more powerful as that gets toned down. 

What I'd like is if the improvements could be more modular, to take away some of that "must have." If, for example, I could add accuracy (or extra damage, etc.) to any particular maneuver I want to specialize in...
Race for the Iron Throne - political and historical analysis of A Song of Ice and Fire.
This point also tags onto mine, aside from spell choices that are more or less mandatory, certain maneuvers risk becoming the only viable ones especially with only a few to choose from.  Table demand will make it so, somewhat like the "someone has to be the cleric" syndrome.



I've never understood this mentality.  Whenever someone at my table tells me that I have to play a cirtain class/build/feat choice/etc I politely tell them to blow it out of thier pie hole.  I'll play what I want, if they don't like it, it's thier problem.  If they think that the party absolutely has to have X, they can play it.  And when I'm DM'ng I let my players play the classes they want.  If my group brought a party of fighters to the game I'd adjust the campaign accordingly.  Some things might be more difficult or even outright impossible, but there is always more than one solution.


Of course, the key question is how granular the maneuver system is going to be - 5 manuevers across 20 levels doesn't give much room for breadth or experimentation. But if it's more like 5 maxed-out maneuvers or 10 standard maneuvers or something in between, that's a big improvement.



This point also tags onto mine, aside from spell choices that are more or less mandatory, certain maneuvers risk becoming the only viable ones especially with only a few to choose from.  Table demand will make it so, somewhat like the "someone has to be the cleric" syndrome.



Yes. But given that this was already a problem with Deadly Strike/Protect, I'm hoping it will get better. It's tricky, though, given how certain things are mechanically desired more than others. Take the "increase accuracy" maneuver; it would be less problematic in the 11/13 packet, when a Fighter at level 1 could start with a +7 to hit pretty easily, but that accuracy is a lot more powerful as that gets toned down. 

What I'd like is if the improvements could be more modular, to take away some of that "must have." If, for example, I could add accuracy (or extra damage, etc.) to any particular maneuver I want to specialize in...

You can be more accurate without giving a +1 bonus.

Reroll on a 1
roll with advantage
partial damage on anything higher than a 10 even if you miss. etc. 
I actually really like the idea of maneuver specialization. One simple way to do it would be to just add one more line to each maneuver that describes the benefit you get for specializing in it. For example, a push maneuver maybe could be augmented to do damage if they hit a wall or something. (Maybe only some maneuvers would have specialization lines.) Then, whenever fighters could gain a maneuver, they could instead choose to gain a maneuver specialization, giving them at least the option to keep their total number of choices down while still getting meaningfully more awesome. You could also offer maneuver specialization as a feat, so there'd be another avenue to it. If you want to get extra-fancy, you could have multiple specializations for some maneuvers. I don't think it's too hard to get in the right ballpark in terms of extra potency with an existing maneuver vs. extra flexibility via taking a new maneuver being about equally attractive as options.
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
I'm not sure I like the idea of multi-level maneuvers, if his example is any indicator. If improving a maneuver makes it apply more broadly, or gives you more options, that's one thing. But if it's just a straight mechanical improvement at no additional resource or opportunity cost, you'd be dumb NOT to max out every maneuver you have.

Maybe buying a level 2 maneuver allows you to spend two expertise points with it - that'd be at least some kind of tradeoff.
I actually really like the idea of maneuver specialization. One simple way to do it would be to just add one more line to each maneuver that describes the benefit you get for specializing in it.... Then, whenever fighters could gain a maneuver, they could instead choose to gain a maneuver specialization, giving them at least the option to keep their total number of choices down while still getting meaningfully more awesome. ..If you want to get extra-fancy, you could have multiple specializations for some maneuvers. I don't think it's too hard to get in the right ballpark in terms of extra potency with an existing maneuver vs. extra flexibility via taking a new maneuver being about equally attractive as options.



I agree, but I think you want to keep it under control. You probably want to shoot for 10 regular maneuvers, 5 totally specced out maneuvers, or somewhere in the middle with some spec. 
Race for the Iron Throne - political and historical analysis of A Song of Ice and Fire.
After having experienced ally friendly vision blockers in 4e, i agree with mearls about spells that need to be more specific. It also makes the memorization more meaningful, and not every encounter will eventually see he same spell over and over again. Mearls is totaly right, that with more spcilized spells, encounters are much more intersting.
If improving a maneuver makes it apply more broadly, or gives you more options, that's one thing. But if it's just a straight mechanical improvement at no additional resource or opportunity cost, you'd be dumb NOT to max out every maneuver you have.

This is my fear. If we have a limited pool of maneuver points, and we can either learn more maneuvers or make the ones we have more effective, then it's very difficult to design that system in a way to encourage something other than putting all of your points into the same maneuvers. After all, an accuracy bonus to cleave multiplies any existing damage bonus to cleave.

The metagame is not the game.

"I've heard far too many stories about people trying to play tabletop D&D and giving up on it."
I've heard no such thing.  I just watched someone brand new to RPGs play D&D as a 4th Edition 11th level Rogue.  They had no problem whatsoever.  D&D is not that hard a game to start playing.  Making it even simpler is only going to result in fewer players as those who enjoyed the complexity move on to greener pastures and those using complexity as an excuse continue to do so.


Yet I have seen it happen, ergo it CAN happen.
My two copper.
A big thumbs up for class renovations.  Not sure how filling up dead levels makes things more complicated.  Wizards get spells every level and that is not overly complex.


To a certain extent, it might not make it too complicated, giving a class more options than it had previously makes it, technically, more complicated. The key is finding where it becomes "too" complicated.

Wizards do get one spell every level, which, to a seasoned veteran might not sound too bad. But at a playtest the other night I had a player have to read the spellcasting section three times through before she finally caught on. I made sure not to help explain it to her though, as to see how easy it was to understand without help. To a new player it can be pretty complicated indeed.
My two copper.
This point also tags onto mine, aside from spell choices that are more or less mandatory, certain maneuvers risk becoming the only viable ones especially with only a few to choose from.  Table demand will make it so, somewhat like the "someone has to be the cleric" syndrome.



I've never understood this mentality.  Whenever someone at my table tells me that I have to play a cirtain class/build/feat choice/etc I politely tell them to blow it out of thier pie hole.  I'll play what I want, if they don't like it, it's thier problem.  If they think that the party absolutely has to have X, they can play it.  And when I'm DM'ng I let my players play the classes they want.  If my group brought a party of fighters to the game I'd adjust the campaign accordingly.  Some things might be more difficult or even outright impossible, but there is always more than one solution.



There are some people who balk at playing a less than optimal character. 
My two copper.
I think you can balance additional maneuvers against boosting your existing ones, but the challenge is to do it in a way that doesn't make the "boosts" seriously unsexy. Like, if you make the boosts lame enough, then the additional flexibility of extra maneuvers is better, but if the boosts fee too lame, then the system isn't cool to begin with. In general, the more maneuvers somebody already knows, the more likely it is that boosting an existing one is more appealing than taking yet another new one. If you have seven maneuvers and no boosts, then you're choosing between the eighth-most-appealing maneuver and the most appealing boost, and that's likely no contest. I think that's fine; I think it's fine if the most appealing maneuver/boost spread for most fighters is like 6/4 or even 5/5 or something. (It's certainly better than if the most appealing thing is always 10/0, since that means that the "correct" way to build a fighter is a really complicated character to play.) I do think it's a problem if the most universally appealing thing to do is to always max out your maneuvers with boosts before taking any new ones, but I think that if the awesomeness of maneuvers as new options is high enough, then that won't be the case. This might be a non-starter, but I don't think it's definitionally one.
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
"I've heard far too many stories about people trying to play tabletop D&D and giving up on it."
I've heard no such thing.  I just watched someone brand new to RPGs play D&D as a 4th Edition 11th level Rogue.  They had no problem whatsoever.  D&D is not that hard a game to start playing.  Making it even simpler is only going to result in fewer players as those who enjoyed the complexity move on to greener pastures and those using complexity as an excuse continue to do so.

Yet I have seen it happen, ergo it CAN happen.

Did these people try and enjoy other RPGs?  I've seen people decide RPGs are not for them and say that the specific game was too difficult for them.  Upon further examination though, that was obviously not the case.
= I think that's fine; I think it's fine if the most appealing maneuver/boost spread for most fighters is like 6/4 or even 5/5 or something. (It's certainly better than if the most appealing thing is always 10/0, since that means that the "correct" way to build a fighter is a really complicated character to play.) I do think it's a problem if the most universally appealing thing to do is to always max out your maneuvers with boosts before taking any new ones, but I think that if the awesomeness of maneuvers as new options is high enough, then that won't be the case. This might be a non-starter, but I don't think it's definitionally one.



I think 5/5 is too restrictive. You might as well just only 5 really cool maneuvers then. Personally, I like something along the liens of 6/4 or 7/3 be the go-to, like Power Attack/Combat Expertise was for 3.X, but 5/5 or 10/0 was good for specific builds. 
Race for the Iron Throne - political and historical analysis of A Song of Ice and Fire.
After having experienced ally friendly vision blockers in 4e, i agree with mearls about spells that need to be more specific. It also makes the memorization more meaningful, and not every encounter will eventually see he same spell over and over again. Mearls is totaly right, that with more spcilized spells, encounters are much more intersting.



The intresting thing is that the curent system allouws both.
becouse you "memorise" independent of spell slot, you have 1+ caster level spels to use on a certain day.
But if you want you can use all your spell slots to cast upgraded magic missiles, if no situation arises where you can use one of the more situational spells you have prepared.
So if you made the wrong choice in situational spells you prepared this does not mean you can't do anything at all.

you also see that the more general damage dealing spells move to having a minimum level spell slot you need to cast them, instead of being a spell of a specific level.
and damage scaling depending on the spell slot you use.

 
"I've heard far too many stories about people trying to play tabletop D&D and giving up on it."
I've heard no such thing.  I just watched someone brand new to RPGs play D&D as a 4th Edition 11th level Rogue.  They had no problem whatsoever.  D&D is not that hard a game to start playing.  Making it even simpler is only going to result in fewer players as those who enjoyed the complexity move on to greener pastures and those using complexity as an excuse continue to do so.


Yet I have seen it happen, ergo it CAN happen.



I have heared about such things happening but mainly further in the past during the ADnD 2nd edition days.
This had nothing to do with the edition itselve but it where the days where internet was in it infancy.
So there could be situations where you tried to play the game and diden't understand how a certain thing in the game worked, and you diden't know anybody who also played that you could ask.
But now if you don't understand somthing you just jump on the net and there are plenty of gaming comunities that can help you out. 
Ive never seen anyone who tried dnd and stopped playing it because it was too complex. Ive seen many people try it and stop playing because its not their cup o tea.

These new forums are terrible.

I misspell words on purpose too draw out grammer nazis.

 The complex version of D&D also ate up the sales of the less complex one. That was in the 80's. TSR would also come up with the following years release schedule and give their designers options on the projects they wanted to work on and they would have to produce 32 pages a month. They had trouble getting their designers doing BECM stuff over AD&D stuff and often had to freelance it out or directly cajole people into designing BECM product for a market that wanted AD&D.

 Somehting less complex than 3rd and 4th ed sure but there is a limit.  

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 Fear is the Mind Killer  

A fighter's maneuver might increase accuracy, and then it can be improved to grant a larger bonus.

Of all things, why make an example referencing accuracy increases? :facepalm: 


Bounded accuracy, ladies and gentlemen.

I know, I know, bounded != fixed.  But nonetheless, it also doesn't = level-scaling bonuses to hit which you can always have turned on.

Oy.

On a separate note, it looks like my Easter weekend will be spent with g/f's parents, so I probably won't be able to do anythign for international tabletop day D:
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.

On a separate note, it looks like my Easter weekend will be spent with g/f's parents, so I probably won't be able to do anythign for international tabletop day D:



What, your girlfriend and her folks don't like rolling dice or have imaginations??! Tongue Out 
I like the small hint of DM help for creating NPCs. Making an nonadventurer cleric in town who only has Cure Moderate Wounds, Lesser Restoration, and Remove Curse but all maximized or enlarged as RAW is great.

Though Mearls is again focusing on the player side too much on the simplicity.

From what I've seen, it's the new DM who needs the most help. Players can throw their hands up and pick anything. The DM doesn't have a default or random without a well written module at hand.

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!

So, if complexity is a barrier to the experience of new D&D players why is the Basic game using the complex Wizard and Cleric classes?

Why don't you write SIMPLE Arcane and Divine classes for use in Basic?

And then keep the Wizard and the Cleric in Standard, for the people who are READY for a little more complexity? 
Great article!!  Yay for spells that don't have donut holes for the PCs and their allies!!

 

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.

man I can't wait to see the new fighter.  So much going on with it as far as they seem to be saying.  I'm just itching to see it.  
Why don't you write SIMPLE Arcane and Divine classes for use in Basic?

Like having a caster class that picks X at-wills and Y prepped spells that always cast at their highest caster level? Fewer overall "spell slots" to deal with, and spell level can be ditched entirely (it can use a simpler mechanic like MDD). The Vancian folks might balk at this, but I'm all for reducing the overall "system mastery" needed to play a caster effectively.

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man I can't wait to see the new fighter.  So much going on with it as far as they seem to be saying.  I'm just itching to see it.  



Meanwhile everything they say about it kills what little was left of my hope for the class.

...

We shall see. 
Great article!!  Yay for spells that don't have donut holes for the PCs and their allies!!

 




Unless the wizard is a evoker.


Carl   
Great article!!  Yay for spells that don't have donut holes for the PCs and their allies!!

 




Unless the wizard is a evoker.


Carl   



??

P.S. - What the heck is up with the Insert Icon function? 

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.

Great article!!  Yay for spells that don't have donut holes for the PCs and their allies!!

 




Unless the wizard is a evoker.


Carl   







the evocation tradition is specifically able to make those donut holes