Legends & Lore: This Week in D&D (4/1/2013)

Legends & Lore
This Week in D&D

By Mike Mearls

So, let’s get this out of the way right now. Yes, it’s April Fool’s Day, but Mike is dead-on serious in today’s Legends & Lore, in which he introduces the Mines of Madness and then discusses the concept of tiers.

Talk about this column here.

This Week in D&D

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

Apprentice tier nicely answers a problem I'd been having in fledgling campaigns.

I like the "expected advancement" (of course subject to circumstances at your table).

I want to see more of Legacy before I comment.

Looks like a good outline overall.
This is a joke right? It's gotta be. They wouldn't do something this dumb. And it is April First....

Stop the H4TE

It's April Fool's isn't it? 

What Mike describe as Apprentice Tier is pretty much level 0 adventuring to me, not level 1-3

Adventuring Tier should run from level 1-10

And Legacy Tier 11-20, as discussed in a previous column.

I like the idea of kicking a campaign from level 1-20 in a little over 40 session though!
 

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

I hope it's a joke. I have no desire to play through 2 levels of tutorial in order to finish character creation so I can play MY character. The alternative suggestion to start at level 3 feels like I'm being cheated out of 2 levels of a potential campaign.

Assuming it's a joke, the designers should know better. The internet is serious business...
"Utinam barbari spatium proprium tuum invadant!"
The characters already don't have any (interesting) tools to play with at 1st level, and now they want to take even those away? Not a huge fan of that.
It may just be me but I like the concept. it simplifies a number of things like allowing 3e style multiclassing and letting you have npcs with pc levels without needing npc classes, afterall did it really ever make sense to have a high leveled warrior npc? Presumably thre will be rules for post-20 campaigns so I don't think its necessecary that anyone loses possible levels out of a campaign if they start at level 3. (I will note that most of the campaigns I've done have started post level 1 anyways so I can't really say how this would affect actually playing first level pcs, assuming this isn't all a joke of course)
I like the idea of the tiers, but the numbering makes no sense.  Level 0 is the Apprentice Tier.  Level 1 means you're an adventurer now.  I don't like having the "real" game for experienced players starting at level 3.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
I think we've just found out how they're going to make the multiclassing work. Three levels to get to the stage that  the classes are currently at at level 1. 

Not sure how I feel about this 'Apprentice Tier' taking shifting all the other levels two up. Maybe a Level A and B would have been more appropriate.

 I guess we'll see whether this turns out to be true or not.

Sometimes I desire to start a campaign with level 0 adventurers, who are only commoners that somehow become heroic. I had done this, as a DM, a couple of times in the past with house rules. While it is great to have these rules from the start, I think they should be optional rules outside of the normal character progression.


We can grasp from this article, that we are going to be able to start at “level 3” without a problem, but I fear some players would feel that something is missing from their characters.


In regarding to the legacy system, I am hoping that we can have rules to manage kingdoms, form nations, start businesses, and run guilds. These situations arise commonly in my games. But they should not be tied to a specific level. While I can understand the concept that at level 15, the adventurers are so powerful that they control things and left a mark in the world, this kind of situations can occur at any given level. Why a level 5 prince won’t be able to manage his kingdom after his father died, because he is not level 16 yet? Why a level 7 clever rogue, with enough connections and money, won’t be able to start a Thief’s Guild because he is not level 16 yet?


I would approve the mention in the Player’s Handbook that a 16 level character should be thinking on how to leave his mark on the world. But the rules mentioned as example of the legacy system, should be flexible enough to be used at any given level.


Miers also mentioned random tables to set the story of what happened to the characters during levels 1 and 2. I have to say that I loved the background random tables found in the book Heroes of the Feywild for 4th Edition. Those tables were customized for the locations in the Feywild, but I managed to change the names in the tables and take general ideas from them to create my own background generator for a homebrew campaign. While I loved to see a similar system in the Player’s Handbook, it would be needed to be attached to the current background system and grant skills and a trait.

While you guys trying to figue out this Tiers and if this is an Apirl Fool Joke or not,
I am reading this Table Titans comic I recently discover.

It's a win-win for me.
I actually really like the idea of them working in a couple of levels of apprentice tier.  It helps deal with front-loading of character abilities, which complicates multi-classing, introducing new players, and probably some other issues that haven't come to mind yet.  At the same time the game will acknowledge that players are likely to elect to start at 3rd level.  This also makes multi-class concepts at the "start" level doable.
Sooooo.... legacy tier is 16-20?  

Damn.. I really thought there was going to be some option for actual character advancement or cutomization from 11-20.
You are really stuck with no more feats and far fewer and less interesting class features to work with past 10.  I know that the challenges can be different, but the classes past level 10 are really quite boring.







Okay so they are boring for the first 10 levels as well, but there was some hope that the last 10 could be salvaged.  Then I could maybe just run a 10-20 game in the sort of topsy turvy reverse of what many did in 3e (not something I ever needed to do... I just houseruled magic back into the land of reason).

Level 16 seems.... weak.

Joke?  I hope so. 
Tangent - Scott Kurtz has had some good PvP comic strips about D&D that are also worth a look, I think he referenced some of them in an update on either Table Titans or PvP about the time Table Titans started up.


Back to the point - If this week's L&L article isn't a joke, I think I've finally encountered the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back, at least as far as I'm concerned.
"Utinam barbari spatium proprium tuum invadant!"
So let me get this straight? Table Titians is about groups of D&D players competing to be
the best D&D group? Am I reading this right? 
I like this article, except for the weird breakdown 1-3, 4-15, 16-20. Realistically, you do need to cut out the regular adventuring before wish is on the table, but I would have preferred that to be kicked off past 20. As a description of how 3E felt, the breakdown works. I just wish they could break it down into five-level chunks, or something more symmetrical.

I like that "you should start at level 3" becomes an explicit option. That should solve the problem of those who want fragile level 1, and those who want to start with three times the HP.

I think it's weird that they have an explicit number of adventures per level, but that is something which should be easy to change.

The metagame is not the game.

Maybe this means they'll add some more "adventuring" power to class levels 11-16?

Also, multiclassing should be way easier to balance now, as others have said - but I still don't see how multiclassing won't screw up spellcasters as much as it did in 3e.
i know the knee-jerk reaction is to not like this, but i think it's really just a re-labeling. you could just as easily use the old level-labeling system and get allong just fine. the only problem is the missing two levels at the back end, but i'm sure those could be added in with the 20+ rules that will surely be written.

i'm mostly excited to hear that they plan to speed up progression a little bit while also filling out the dead levels with some more features.
Afterall, Dark Sun did have you starting at level 3 did it ?!?  ;)

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

Some interesting things to note -

The phrase "this tier structure is the sort of thing that we've saved for last" could just be a quirk of phrasing, but suggests that they may be at something of a turning point internally, in terms of phases of development.

It's nice that they acknowledge the existence of the sweet spot, since it hopefully means that they're at least cognizant of it.

I actually don't mind compressing what's in the game down a few levels. It makes sparser classes more dense and interesting. Legacy tier, as its described in the article, sounds like something I wouldn't enjoy in the slightest, but I'm fine with all the game's interesting stuff being packed into 13 levels.

What I really read this as is "Level zero is now core, and the normal game starts at level 3", which I'm basically fine with. A hard phase shift between how things work before and after level 3 is pretty much how level zero rules have classically worked.

Legacy tier sounds boring and awful and basically nothing like what I'm looking for in a TTRPG whatsoever, but I recognize that it's something that a lot of people seem interested in, so it might as well be there.
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.
Afterall, Dark Sun did have you starting at level 3 did it ?!?  ;)



Dark sun also gave you 5d4 for ability rolls instead of 3d6... Darksun (original.. you know... real darksun) was brutal and full of death.  You needed inflated stats to even have a chance.
Sooooo.... legacy tier is 16-20?  

Damn.. I really thought there was going to be some option for actual character advancement or cutomization from 11-20.
You are really stuck with no more feats and far fewer and less interesting class features to work with past 10.  I know that the challenges can be different, but the classes past level 10 are really quite boring.







Okay so they are boring for the first 10 levels as well, but there was some hope that the last 10 could be salvaged.  Then I could maybe just run a 10-20 game in the sort of topsy turvy reverse of what many did in 3e (not something I ever needed to do... I just houseruled magic back into the land of reason).

Level 16 seems.... weak.

Joke?  I hope so. 


well, keep in mind, when this tier system is implemented, what is called "level 1" in the current packet will actually be level 3. Which means what's currently called "level 10" will actually be level 12. If Legacy tier starts at 16, then a 16th level character under that system would actually look like a level 14 character from the current packet. Still strange, and I wander if that means the current levels 19 and 20 just get chopped off, or if they get merged into another level, or become the beginnings of epic levels, but yeah. Got to keep in mind that adding two levels before what's been called level 1 shifts everything after them up by 2.
And it is April First....


Speaking of April's Fools, check out wrecan's article Queen of the Interwebz Pits its pretty funny Wink

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter


well, keep in mind, when this tier system is implemented, what is called "level 1" in the current packet will actually be level 3. Which means what's currently called "level 10" will actually be level 12.

I don't think the article was that specific. At the very least, I highly doubt that a level 3 character in the Next packet will only have the HP of a level 1 character from the current packet. Yet, they are stating that you don't start off with level 1 spells right at level 1, so there's an inconsistency there.

They'll need to shuffle a lot of abilities around in order to make this scheme work. That's fine, though, because playtests are highly mutable.

The metagame is not the game.

Actually this could explain why there are still dead levels in every class in every packet despite the fact that no one likes dead levels. Could be they were artificially padding the progression to hide the fact that they were planning to shift everything up two levels when they were ready to playtest the tier system. Still wish the breakdown was less awkward though.
I think the idea is pretty solid. It's only real downside is it slightly delegitimizes the style of play where everyone starts off competent, because you'll have some players who think you have to start at level 1 because it's called level 1. This is really a minor issue though, and the help it gives to the "start from commoner" playstyle is worth it, with easier multiclass rules as icing on the cake.
"So shall it be! Dear-bought those songs shall be be accounted, and yet shall be well-bought. For the price could be no other. Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Eä, and evil yet be good to have been." - Manwë, High King of the Valar
When my NE character becomes lv 16, I will single handly take down kingdoms and make 
them become part of a bigger empire.

I guess these Tiers can be used as guidelines to gauge how powerful and how much influence
the character can be in a campaign? 
I also sort of wonder if there's going to be any sort of teeth - not in a "you must do this" enforcement sense, but just in any kind of mechanical sense at all behind what allegedly transpires during different tiers. Apprentice characters don't go on dungeon excursions? Why? What stops them? I mean, they'd probably go on dungeon excursions to dungeons full of smaller numbers of weaker creatures, but that's true of low-level characters in any edition. Do they have some kind of magical dungeon inhibitor? What happens around level 16 that you fairly rapidly transform from being a paragon of martial ability whose best use is going on the most dangerous of dungeon crawls to being some kind of pawn-pusher? Do you just sort of lose the ability to be an epic warrior badass that you had before? I almost can't take seriously the notion that a high-level fighter or whatever else doesn't, when it comes down to it, mostly just fight and have adventures and stuff. How rapidly do you have to pile "Skill Focus (Administration)" abilities onto awesome adventuring badasses to convince them that the new field of adventure lies in raising an army rather than being an adventuring badass?
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.
God this is a really stupid idea. Would it not have been a better idea to just create level 0 characters with skeleton concepts of Martial, Primal, Arcane, Divine, etc that give you base properties to establish where your character is going? This also allows DM to use this feature if they want AND allow everyone else to progress as usual from 1st thru 20th without any loss in concept. And what about HP? I mean, 14 HP @ 3rd level.......really?
How is this "apprenticeship" period supposed to work in a session/campaign if it represents the pre-adventurer period of a character's life? Have I known every possible party member from childhood? Did I get lost during Wizard School orientation only to somehow end up at an orphanage that trains young Rogues (and then repeat this process for each additional party member)? I have no desire to play through "Dungeons & Dragons: The Junior High Years", just in order to get to the "Adventure Proper".
"Utinam barbari spatium proprium tuum invadant!"
Once again Mearls shows hes on a different page than most D&D players(no matter what edition).

These new forums are terrible.

I misspell words on purpose too draw out grammer nazis.

I totally agree with everything in the article and what every poster said in response. You guys are totally right! Wink
"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.
I don't like this "apprentice tier" thing at all. If they really want to support "apprentice" characters, they should have optional rules for playing 0th level characters.
Another thing, I thought that a character's background was supposed to represent his time before becoming an adventurer. Wasn't that the "apprentice" period in the character's life? How do you explain your character being a knight if he's just an apprentice?

I'll wait until I see the rules before making a judgment on them. But it seems really strange to make the core assumption that every PC should start as an apprentice. Am I really going to want to keep playing those apprentice levels over and over? If the default is going to end up being starting at level 3, wouldn't it be better to make those apprentice levels the module? I already feel like PC power level feels pretty constrained in 20 levels, I don't think moving it to 17 levels helps the issue. Sure it might be a nod to multiclassing, but I might find it even more frustrating if I have to wade through those levels when they cost even more XP.


It get backs to my first complaint about bounded accuracy. The bounds they have make for great heroic tier style adventuring. Which is a good thing. And as a system built only to model the heroic tier, next and it's bounded accuracy works pretty well. An apprentice tier kind of makes sense if you're trying to keep almost all play in the heroic tier. But the bounds they have right now make some pretty tight constraints about what sort of PCs and monsters you can have.


Which leads to this. I'm not so sure the best way to solve the problems present in high level play of earlier editions is to just not have it. The apprentice tier just makes it seem like they're looking for more ways to stretch out that heroic tier to make up for the fact that they don't really have adequate answers for anything past it.

Another thing, I thought that a character's background was supposed to represent his time before becoming an adventurer. Wasn't that the "apprentice" period in the character's life? How do you explain your character being a knight if he's just an apprentice?




I guess 3rd level is where you become a knight.

So, 1st level features will be spread over the 1st - 3rd levels, I do wonder how this all relates to multi-classing.  
How is this "apprenticeship" period supposed to work in a session/campaign if it represents the pre-adventurer period of a character's life? Have I known every possible party member from childhood?

If your wizard school only lets people out once they've passed the level-one-spell exam, then congratulations because you're a level 3 character (or level 4, I guess? I'd have to see an example). You only play the first few levels if your starting characters are undeveloped, and not yet competent to go on a reasonable dungeon crawl.

Note how many people had previously expressed that they felt someone with 6 HP was unsuited toward basic adventuring, because this answers that directly.

It's almost eerie. Just when I think back to how horrible are the basic concepts of dis/advantage and Bounded Accuracy, they release an article like this that fills me with hope. With luck, they'll come up with modules away from dis/advantage and BA, and then I'll be set!

The metagame is not the game.

Any system in which I can't play 1-20 (in this case) without having to play through a "prologue" is unacceptable to me, personally. You're missing the point, (which is I don't want to start at 3rd-4th level). If this system appeals to you, more power to you. However, when combined with other issues I have with the system, the result is a deal-breaker for me.
"Utinam barbari spatium proprium tuum invadant!"
Any system in which I can't play 1-20 (in this case) without having to play through a "prologue" is unacceptable to me, personally. You're missing the point, (which is I don't want to start at 3rd-4th level).

Is there any particular reason, other than elegance of design, why you care about starting at level 1? Or why you have to play level 17, if you know that wish changes things beyond your comfort level (as it does with me)?

Do you not wish to start a cut above the common person? Because that's all this is doing. It's saying that even a newbie adventurer is steps above the common person. How much above the common person? About three levels worth.

The metagame is not the game.

Characters in Next already had fewer options and a less heroic feel than I would like, so taking away some of the options and heroic status of the first few levels is definitely not the direction I wanted things to head.

Turning epic levels into "administrative" levels is also, hopefully, a joke.
Love the Apprentice Tier and tiers in general!  I think leveling is way too fast, but as long as there are options for slowing it down I'm okay with that.  I much prefer a 1e/2e rate of advancement.

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