You've got questions—we've got answers! Here's how it works—each week, our Community Manager will be scouring all available sources to find whatever D&D Next questions you're asking.
There are certain business and legal questions we can't answer (for business and legal reasons). And if you have a specific rules question, we'd rather point you to Customer Service, where representatives are ready and waiting to help guide you through the rules of the game. That said, our goal is provide you with as much information we can—in this and other venues.
Will alternative casting styles (talked about in last week's Legends & Lore) take into account campaign setting specific details like Dark Sun's defilers and preservers or Dragonlance's moon-based magic?
That is, in fact, one of the things that led us down this route in the first place. We have always intended to make it so that the base classes have enough modular elements to be able to support the setting-specific material, and spellcasting is the most obvious example. However, this also applies to the other classes, where we want to try and find places to let the class be flexible enough that we can introduce a setting-specific option easily.
What do 1st-level characters represent in the game world? Fresh-faced apprentices? Experienced veterans pursuing a new path? Big Damn Action Heroes?
I think it’s something of a mistake to try and paint all 1st-level characters with the brush of a single label like that. In general, the mechanics of the game state that being 1st level means you can fight off a certain level of threat. At 1st level, you are capable of handling kobolds, goblins, hobgoblins, the occasional orc or gnoll, and (in rare occasions) standing with your allies against an ogre. What that means for the game world is going to vary from campaign to campaign, and world to world. If you could expect town guards and soldiers to be able to fight off a horde of goblins and hobgoblins, that probably means you are about as tough as your standard town guard, which aren’t always the best-trained or most experienced. If, on the other hand, in your world a town might be overrun by goblins and hobgoblins, that means a 1st-level hero is a cut above the local militia, and is probably somewhat more experienced and world-weary. What this really boils down to is how you stat out your town militia; do you build them out of 1st-level fighters, or do you build them with unique stats that make them weaker than fighters?
For the player, I think one of the things that our backgrounds system does for us is that it allows us to establish unique stories and histories for the characters, showing what they were exceptional at doing before they became adventurers. Being 1st-level simply means that you have just taken your first steps on the path to becoming a hero (or villain, or influential individual with flexible scruples), someone whose deeds will change the world. A character with the soldier background could be a grizzled veteran, but that means that he or she excelled in the field of soldiery—which is not the same as being a veteran adventurer.
To put it another way, your background tells the story of what you were really good at before something came along and changed your life, pushing you into the career of being an adventurer. You might be a fresh-faced wizard’s apprentice with an uncanny knack for scholarship (a prodigy of an apprentice), or you might be a graying elder with years of your life spent stooped over musty tomes, giving you a collected wealth of knowledge unrivaled by many of your peers. Those both would describe the sage background, but they are very different stories.
Your class then tells you what you can do that makes you the protagonist of the story. For the first sage, being an academic prodigy paints a picture of a gifted student who may be naïve in the ways of the world, yet has shown a distinct affinity for knowledge that dovetails nicely with the use of arcane magic. For the second sage, years spent poring over dusty tomes may have revealed the basics of arcana and spellcraft, yet there is no substitute for real-world experience in advancing spellcasting ability, so the sage decides to leave the library and see what the world of adventuring has to offer. Again, these are both 1st-level wizards. Trying to proscribe a label or story to what 1st-level represents isn’t the job of the game, it’s what the players and DM do at their respective tables.
The play experience at low levels has always been quite different from higher-level play in most editions of D&D; in what ways will D&D Next tackle and/or embrace this dichotomy?
High-level play has a lot of different masters. On the one hand, high-level play should continue to help tell the kinds of stories that the game told at lower levels—going out on adventures, fighting villains, exploring dungeons, and so forth. However, the way in which you go about doing those things should be very different; if I’m just doing the same thing at 18th level that I was doing at 4th level, what is the point? Plus, traditionally, high-level D&D characters have a lot of influence on the game world, whether through casting powerful spells, leading armies, or performing amazing feats that less-experienced characters (and the majority of the world’s inhabitants) would never attempt.
So, the goal is to make the day-to-day adventuring at higher levels as easy and smooth as at low levels, and then find places to introduce more impactful abilities in a way that doesn’t disrupt the adventures. We have a lot of ideas about this—for example, we might look at having higher-level spells require more specific circumstances to cast, or require the spellcaster to burn more expensive or unique spell components, so that you can really do something amazing from time to time. We’re also implementing some lower-level mechanics that help keep us from stacking too many effects on top of each other, which will have a big impact at higher levels.
On top of all that, there are a lot of activities that we expect high-level characters to be participating in that don’t directly relate to adventuring. For example, our world lore tells us that high-level wizards like Tenser and Bigby researched and crafted their own spells; shouldn’t PCs be able to do that? Shouldn’t high-level fighters have the option to lead armies, build fortresses, train lieutenants, or develop and then teach their own fighting styles? Shouldn’t high-level rogues be able to run a thieves’ guild, or steal artifacts from locked vaults, or become pirate-kings sailing the high seas with a fleet at their command? Shouldn’t clerics be able to erect their own temples, or even become the avatars of their gods, the pinnacle of their faith? These don’t directly relate to the adventure, but we need to find a place for them in the game somewhere.
How can I submit a question to the D&D Next Q&A?
Instead of a single venue to submit questions, our Community Manager will be selecting questions from our message boards, Twitter feed, and Facebook account. You can also submit questions directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. So, if you’d like to have your question answered in the D&D Next Q&A, just continue to participate in our online community—and we may select yours!