The D&D Legacy

D&D has always been more than a set of mechanics. The edition wars are really over what set of those mechanics on likes. So why does the legacy of even matter? As a general rule I tend to think of something iconic in D&D as where it was first introduced to the game. Drow for example to me should have something like 50%+2% magic resistance and be able to levitate, use faerie fire and have weapons and armor that disintegrate in the sun. This applies to things like 4th ed as well. Dragonborn for example should probably have a bonus to strength or charisma, breath some sort of elemental weapon and look like a Dragon man. A little change is ok though so I would not be surprised to see the bloodied condition go. A little change is also something like the Ranger no longer required to be good aligned in 3rd ed.


The further one moves from something being iconic the less the IP means to the consumer who liked it in the first place. Sometimes things are just plain ol bad. Original Star Wars movies compared to The Phantom Menace. To many changes and if something is to different you just give up on the IP regardless of how good or bad it is. Now I'm not going to throw my toys over a Drow being a little different than what they were in the past but the most iconic Drow to me are more or less the ones from 1st edition AD&D adventures and the Fiend Folio. Note I never ran AD&D 1st ed and I only got to play it briefly in the 90's with some grognards. I do not care if someone reskins Drow on a specific setting of course so something like Eberron Drow are fine or the Driders of Golarion. If something is done well I actually prefer it over the original. Halflings for a example a little boring and out right Tolkien rip offs. I prefer Darksun and Eberron halfling over the default halfling but if I was designing D&D I would use the default halflings and if I did consider a change to them I would put up a poll requiring an absolute majority (75%+ and probably more like 90%). Or I might even use several polls.
1. Are halflings boring y/n. If enough people say yes.
2. Do you want them replaced y/n. If enough people say yes
3. What do you think of the following options a, b,c.


That is for major changes. I do not expect the designers to design the ranger like it was in 1977 for example but it should at least resemble the concept- wilderness warrior, casts spells (level 1,4,8 whatever), and it has some form of favored enemy ability. I would not bother polling something like that as that is part of the designers job. You will not please everyone all of the time. A major change where you would want polling would be something like "Should D&D go classless". Major change like that can really blow up in your face. You would not want to design everything democratically though s some hard decision will need to be made. "Hey guys do you want free candy" except the candy is not free- someone pays for it.


So what if you hate tradition and the classic D&Disms that some of us do care about? That is up to you but words have power and by that I do not mean the Clerical words of power or the power word series of spells. Gygax, Elmore, Mentzer, Monte Cook, Heinsoo and Tweet if you are referring to 13th age. These names mean something and it doesn't matter if you like them or not. Names can also have negative connotations as well even in D&D. Lorraine Williams is a good example of that as you will not find that many fans of her anywhere despite she probably did save D&D for a few more years before WoTC picked it up. Then again some will argue that what was saved was not worth saving so it can go both ways.


Legacy matters, mechanics not so much. They change every edition. 

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

The problem with legacy is when some people believe a legacy is still being upheld, despite changes, and others feel the changes have completely invalidated the legacy.
For some people, the sacred cow is in the horns, for others it is in the pelt. Some appraise the leather over the meat, ect...
I have an answer for you, it may even be the truth.

A lot of the "too much too fast" comment about 4e stems from the radical shifts in setting, I think.

This applies to things like 4th ed as well. Dragonborn for example should probably have a bonus to strength or charisma, breath some sort of elemental weapon and look like a Dragon man.

Common mistake, but the Dragonborn was actually introduced in 3.5's "Races of the Dragon" book, where they had a Constitution bonus and could select between a breath weapon, wings, or some immunities and improved senses. I think that this points to a bit of a hole in the "first introduced in the game" argument, because although Dragonborn were born in 3.5, there are still very few people who would say that their most iconic incarnation was that one rather than their 4E one.

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Were they actually labeled as Dragonborn though? 1st and 2nd ed had Dragonmen. I'm not to familar with the last few books in 3rd eds run. I also missed the lead up to 4th and bought the books knowing virtually nothing about the game in 2008.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

Yeah, Dragon born, spell scales, and kobolds, those are the guys in races of dragon for 3.5
 Ok thanks I did not know that as I have never read that book. I kind of look at the concept of a race and class rather than the mechanics. Elves are dextrous and are good with bows etc so I think 1st-4th ed pulled off an iconic elf in their own ways. Not sure what an iconic Dragonborn would be. 

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

Well that's the thing about trying something new you have to define the iconic version yourself and then be prepared for people to ignore it and prop up a different iconic version.

Right now the Dragon born is kind of up in the air.

Of course since 4e didn't straight jacket races into specific class and gear choices there's not a lot of reason to have iconic versions of a race.

 
 Well there kind of is. Look at popular movies liike the LoTR, The Hobbit etc. Would you use a Elf/Eladrin in your marketing material or a Darksun Elf? Star Wars and Vader. One can tweak the races so they fit more classes and 4th ed did heavily reward races for certain classes as a quick trip to the 4th ed char op boards can attest to. 

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

Oh yes the feat rewards for some match ups were insane, and the stat matching was rampant, but I consider that kind of a good thing. IF the ability score mods are the only hting pushing a class race combo then that means you've succeeded and your features are at least moderately useful to every class.

The feats got a little out of hand though. I Once strung together a couple of feats for a dwarven fighter build that had wis mod applying to damage on opportunity attacks twice.

As for what I'd use in my marketing material, if I had to use an elf or elf type being of some sort I think I'd go with either A nordic Aelf or Svartalf, or maybe one of the big bruiser elves from Tephra, I'd like to include a line about what happens to people who ask them to prance among the dewdrops, but I wouldn't be able to because no one's ever found the bodies.

Or maybe those horned elves from MtG's shadowmoore those were bad-ass.

The tolkein stuff is familiar yes, and that has a certain appeal. 

However it also breeds contempt.
 

yeah dragonborn was brought in as part of the Races of the Dragon sourcebook, along with the spellscale. the spellscale was notible as one of the few +cha races in 3e but wasn't used very much. It didn't make the cut.


Honestly, I really intensely disliked dragonborn in 3e. The 4e version has crappy art but it's at least its own thing instead of this weird not-template cardboard cutout of a race.

Rampant I'm kind of over feats being honest. A few years ago I would not have even considered this and now I am after playing AD&D and some retroclones. Feats need to evolve IMHO towards character concept enablers than powergaming building blocks. I prefer things like finding out odd race and class combos that are surprising. Like Dwarves being one of the best wizard races in the 3rd ed PHB. I have this twisted little dream that one day they will design a version of D&D here the fighter can use vorpal strikes at higher level and a level 18 wizard can cast a light spell and on a good day cast a ritual to conjure up a bathtub of hot water in terms of power.

  I have also been looking at the highs and lows of D&Ds popularity. 1982 and sometime during 3rd eds reign would be it. Not sure the 1982 income figure has been adjusted for inflation or not (20 million vs 30 million for 3rd ed). D&D has almost died twice (1985 and mid 90's).

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

Well the problem with feats is that there's such a vast divide in power level between them despite their similar costs, not to mention this false idea that you can justify a more powerful feat by making it's requirements more specific. So it becomes an exercise in tracking down the most powerful feats.

It's not a concept problem so much as an execution issue, but either way there needs to be long hard look taken at how feats are written and deployed.

Legend d20 addresses this by making all the feats pretty potent and handing out less of them.
I'm not sure how well this works in practice.

The 4th edition L5R (not to be confused with 4e dnd), has feat-like abilities built right into the skill progressions.
We're playing a Myth and Magic which is a AD&D, 3rd ed hybris. It has talents which are similar to feats and you get one at level 1,3,6,9 etc which sounds familiar.

 The difference is though they are all labeled optional and even if allowed it point blank says that the DM can restrict what ones are available and even if they are available more than once as some can be taken multiple times. THe DM can also pick in some cases where the bonus goes to.

 3rd and 4th ed both bloated the feats and now I more or less regard them as a munchkins paradise.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

Yeah going back to 2e for most of my games has totally turned me off feats.


There has got to be a better way to give some customisation.

 Have you had a look at Myth and Magic kadim? We're playing that at the moment and I like it a lot. Really twings at the heart strings and it is d20 as well. They got the math a little bit wrong though. It is almost the perfect amount of option for a core sytem IMHO. 

 You can't kill off optimisation entirely and I do not mnid it up to a point.  Less is more is how I am feeling right now, just not to the extent of BA and where D&DN was.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

The thing with legacy and D&D, the fanbase came in at different times, different people and different tables..

I started with 2E but had a strict "His way!" DM that turned me off. So I was happy when 3e gave me mechanical customization. But I quickly hated how feats were set up and I grouped feats into combat and noncombat and created a progression to better match settings and preserve balance. I was sad to see "Feats are combat only" go in 5e.

At my tables I rarely saw gnomes so they are not iconic to me. But Goblin and Kobold PCs and cohorts were normal. Holy snap, the Deekin fans.

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!

The thing with legacy and D&D, the fanbase came in at different times, different people and different tables..

I started with 2E but had a strict "His way!" DM that turned me off. So I was happy when 3e gave me mechanical customization. But I quickly hated how feats were set up and I grouped feats into combat and noncombat and created a progression to better match settings and preserve balance. I was sad to see "Feats are combat only" go in 5e.

At my tables I rarely saw gnomes so they are not iconic to me. But Goblin and Kobold PCs and cohorts were normal. Holy snap, the Deekin fans.

Yeah, it's hard to nail down something that's so totally dependent on individual experience. I think probably the best thing any game writer for D&D can hope for is to go with what they see "most" folks think, tweak it to make it their own and call it a day.

 Have you had a look at Myth and Magic kadim? We're playing that at the moment and I like it a lot. Really twings at the heart strings and it is d20 as well. They got the math a little bit wrong though. It is almost the perfect amount of option for a core sytem IMHO. 

 You can't kill off optimisation entirely and I do not mnid it up to a point.  Less is more is how I am feeling right now, just not to the extent of BA and where D&DN was.

I don't mind optimisation. I'll have to have a look at Myth and Magic; I haven't seen it.

I don't have any strong attachment to d20 either, to be honest. The thing I like most about the playtest is there's a much more focused effort to provide a framework that can give us something besides pass/fail.


There has got to be a better way to give some customisation.



There aren't that  many ways to give character customization options. The right amount of customization is different from one person to another. Unfortunately, there isn't a perfect system either; they all have their drawbacks.

I personally can't make up my mind on which one I like the most. I love the simple pick a race, class and kit and off you go of AD&D but I also really enjoy being able to build the archetype I want using a point-buy system like in GURPS.
What if we built them into the skill progressions? At every x levels of skill mastery you can learn one 'feat' based on that skill.
The problem with legacy is when some people believe a legacy is still being upheld, despite changes, and others feel the changes have completely invalidated the legacy.
For some people, the sacred cow is in the horns, for others it is in the pelt. Some appraise the leather over the meat, ect...

Exactly. I personnally absolutely don't care about any name in the credits of any edition. I consider all of them as a teamwork, even if a few people decides the general direction.

The example of drows is good, as it's a race I hate since the start. Ok, the fact it's another elf subrace doesn't help, but it's one of the races that make no sense with their big well organized underground cities full of anarchist psychopaths. I consider them as a huge flaw when a lot of people consider them as iconic.

D&D for some people is not where it is for some others.

I love the simple pick a race, class and kit and off you go of AD&D.



And this seems to be what they're trying to get back to in Next, at least the basic version, with Backgrounds and Specialties.  In a way, it's like having two kits.  However, I have a few problems with the implementation so far:  I don't much like the feat groupings in the Specialties; though feats are supposed to be optional, the "fewer feats, more impact" paradigm causes them to significantly increase the power level of a PC; and the prerequisites of some feats remove some of their customization potential.
Oh drow. I cannot play with iconic chaotic evil drow and their chronic backstabbing nonsense or DMs who enforce it.

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!

Oh drow. I cannot play with iconic chaotic evil drow and their chronic backstabbing nonsense or DMs who enforce it.

Well the truth is you never were meant to anyway. They were basically "bad guys" that grew into something bigger, and their initial design is given about the same consideration as your average kobold.

Actually, their design history isn't all that different from the kobold's.

I detest PC drow!

Kalex the Omen 
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Concerning Player Rules Bias
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Drow PCs have the excuse of being exceptions.

Honestly, I find that most of the time when a player wants to do something like that it's for two reasons: 1) they're just fixated on the idea or 2) it's attention seeking of the worst kind.


If they're fixated on it and want to give it an honest go, fine. If they're seeking attenion then they can expect to get it in spades, but probably not the sort they're after.


EDIT: I suppose there's 3) blatant optimisation. The reaction to that depends on the game of the moment.


Honestly, I find that most of the time when a player wants to do something like that it's for two reasons: 1) they're just fixated on the idea or 2) it's attention seeking of the worst kind.


If they're fixated on it and want to give it an honest go, fine. If they're seeking attenion then they can expect to get it in spades, but probably not the sort they're after.


EDIT: I suppose there's 3) blatant optimisation. The reaction to that depends on the game of the moment.


Of course there's the less cynical version of option #3:  They just happen to like what the Drow race has to offer.

@mikemearls The office is basically empty this week, which opens up all sorts of possibilities for low shenanigans

@mikemearls In essence, all those arguments I lost are being unlost. Won, if you will. We're doing it MY way, baby.

@biotech66 aren't you the boss anyway? isn't "DO IT OR I FIRE YOU!" still an option?

@mikemearls I think Perkins would throat punch me if I ever tried that. And I'd give him a glowing quarterly review for it.

Exactly. I personnally absolutely don't care about any name in the credits of any edition. I consider all of them as a teamwork, even if a few people decides the general direction.

The example of drows is good, as it's a race I hate since the start. Ok, the fact it's another elf subrace doesn't help, but it's one of the races that make no sense with their big well organized underground cities full of anarchist psychopaths. I consider them as a huge flaw when a lot of people consider them as iconic.

D&D for some people is not where it is for some others.



Oh Drow, how you continue to exist makes almost no sense.
~deleted text wall about how advancement through murder theocracies don't last for centuries~

However, you have the heart of it, not everyone is worshipping the same sacred cow. 
I have an answer for you, it may even be the truth.
I detest PC drow!



 I enerally do not like PC Drow/Warforged/Dragonborn/Aasimar/Genasi unless it is a campaign setting or point of the game like underdark
 

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

 I generally do not like PC Drow/Warforged/Dragonborn/Aasimar/Genasi unless it is a campaign setting or point of the game like underdark
 


Do you dilsike them as default pc races for the same reasons or does each race have a different reason for being off your list?
I have an answer for you, it may even be the truth.
More or less the same reason. I actually like the races just not in the PHB at all. The other thing is I hate how they keep watering the races down to make them balanced. Play a high powered game with full powered Drow, or used the nerfed ones that lose their powers if they go up top and they can spend feats or whatever to get them back.

 I've ran Drow/Eberron/FR/Nerath games so the races themselves do not bother me at all.  If you want a kewl powerz AD&D Drow with SR and all the rest of it I can run a high powered game or underdark game and I have done so before. I'll used the X2 xp rule from 2nd ed, the LA rules from 3.5 or just throw them out and everyone can be one. I just don't like monstrous races in the PHB. 

 After less bloat and less silly after 3rd and 4th ed but in a way that is still interesting so BECMI and 1st ed are a bit to basic. SOmehitng similar to AD&D 2nd ed in terms of options with the fighters handbook included and some love for the martial types and humans would be the ideal. Doesn't have to 2nd ed mechanics at all. 

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

The problem is, you may hate it when they "water down races for balance", but if they made them balanced, people would never be allowed to play them because they'd be seen as just something for min/maxers to make broken characters with. Making them balanced is the lesser of two evils here.
 As I said run a higher powered game and let everyone have the "broken" races. I have run Drow games in both 2nd and 3rd ed including letting them have access to all the drow powers and the AD&D Drow equipment. The watered down "exiles" like Drizzt lose their special abilites which makes them balanced. 

 That tends to sepearate the mon/maxers from the role players.  A stripped down AD&D Drow has slightly better scores, loses spells, magic reistance, and items, and sucks up a bright light penalty to compensate the +1 cha or whatever it was they got over the +1/-1 dex/con.

 Stuff like that belongs in modules though.
  

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

More or less the same reason. I actually like the races just not in the PHB at all. The other thing is I hate how they keep watering the races down to make them balanced. Play a high powered game with full powered Drow, or used the nerfed ones that lose their powers if they go up top and they can spend feats or whatever to get them back.

 I've ran Drow/Eberron/FR/Nerath games so the races themselves do not bother me at all.  If you want a kewl powerz AD&D Drow with SR and all the rest of it I can run a high powered game or underdark game and I have done so before. I'll used the X2 xp rule from 2nd ed, the LA rules from 3.5 or just throw them out and everyone can be one. I just don't like monstrous races in the PHB. 

 After less bloat and less silly after 3rd and 4th ed but in a way that is still interesting so BECMI and 1st ed are a bit to basic. SOmehitng similar to AD&D 2nd ed in terms of options with the fighters handbook included and some love for the martial types and humans would be the ideal. Doesn't have to 2nd ed mechanics at all. 


So, this is mostly from a perspective of a race having (by default) certain powers, and those are either too powerful for pcs or removing them and offering them later feels wrong?

Do you have a similar dislike for races like Bugbears, Hobgoblins and Orcs as PCs?

Alternatively, to you, what constitutes a "monstrous race"?

I have an answer for you, it may even be the truth.
 Same opinon of orcs, bugbears, etc. Monstrous race= anything not a demi human. I don't mid if people want them and I own books like Drow of the Underdark or Complete Book of Humanoids. They are splats though and I do not care what they put in splats. 

 Also note they have not included any races beyond the basic 4. They may put the other races in the advanced section of the book or they make a basic $20 version of the game and you have to buy the other races modules or out them in the advanced part of the PHB or whatever they chose to do. 

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

I'm a huge Anti-Drow PC proponent myself.

Mainly, because there are too many attempting to clone Drizzt D'Orden out there. Drizzt is a WONDERFUL character...well written, great to read about, BECAUSE HE IS AN EXCEPTION TO THE RULE. I feel the same about other Monstrous races in general...if you want to play a Bugbear or a Goblin or a Yuan-Ti PC, you better give me a dang good backstory for why you want to do it! I don't mind exotic races being included in the PHB and playing with them as mainstream...especially if they are built into the campaign setting that way, but especially an inherantly EVIL race, NO, no thank you.

I have no problem with Dragonborn or Tiefling or Shifters or even Shardminds as PCs...they aren't defaulting to EVIL (although Tieflings have in the past). I have no problem with Thri-Kreen PCs in Dark Sun, because in that setting, they are a playable race that comes in all outlooks. They are considered a 'civilized' race (as much as any in Dark Sun, anyway, and more civil than their cannibalistic halflings originally were)

I don't like Alignments for PCs, never have, even in the beginning, find it constricting and limiting to roleplay...I want you to make a concept and play it, not bow down to an alignment restriction. Alignments are mostly tools for the DM to get an idea about Monsters and NPCs, not PCs...so I'm okay with stereotyping Races by their Alignment in the Monster Manuals, just as I'm okay with a Campaign setting moving a Monstrous Race over to a PC race, IN THAT WORLD!

Now, the only thing I dislike more than Drow PCs is WarForged, period...I don't need no Mechs/Golems in My game...keep your Steam Punk out of My Medieval Fantasy! If I want to play Steampunk, I'd rather play the original game, called Steam Punk. Overall though, for 5e, I'm a big proponent of Core-4 in both Races and Classes...put everything else in optional modules! 
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 I'm crunching out a high dex weapon finessed dual wielding NPC Drow. The rules I'm using mechanically dual wielding weapon finessed scimitars are his best bet. He is evil so I may as well Drizzt him up and throw in Bracers of the Blinding Strike.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

All I am ever interested in playing are humans.

But I certainly hope they have a good 10 or more race choices in the PHB.  I would feel a bit bad for my friends who do like playing things like dragonborn or warforged if they weren't available. 
All I'm asking is at least 2 "out there" races in the PHB1. I'm fine with the rest coming in later. Dragonborn and Tieflings are relatively tame and shouldn't be too hard to implement.