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.
Should the wizard heal faster than the fighter simply because the wizard has fewer hit points?
This question is clearly a reference to the healing rules that Mike has mentioned a couple of times in Legends & Lore, where the characters would heal a certain number of hit points per hour instead of using Hit Dice. First, let me say that the rules that Mike has mentioned are by no means polished nor implemented; our current playtests, both internal and public, continue to use Hit Dice. That said, we are exploring alternative healing options, and one of those explorations involves healing at a fixed rate. Another one dispenses with hourly healing entirely, but allows for characters to use healing kits to restore hit points in lieu of Hit Dice (with magical healing still an option).
Getting back to the question, realistically even if every character regains hit points at some fixed rate, the wizard isn’t “healing faster” than the fighter just because he or she has fewer hit points. Indeed, if they both start at the same number of hit points and rest for the same amount of time, they are both regaining hit points that allow them to suffer exactly the same amount of damage, taking the same number of hits before dropping. The difference is that the fighter has the ability to go above and beyond that, reaching hit point stores that make that character far more durable. Monster damage doesn’t care what percentage of your total hit points you’re at—it only affects how many hit points you have left. If the wizard is frail and the fighter is hearty, all that a fixed healing rate is saying is that, given a situation where they are both significantly reduced in hit points and both have the same rate of healing (though in truth most of our mechanics that we experiment with take Constitution into account), they both are restored to frail health at the same time, and the fighter has the option to rest longer and become hearty once more.
Of course, that’s mostly a discussion of the metaphor of hit points. From a game play perspective, in practical play it’s going to be rare that two characters have been reduced to the exact same hit point total (except in being reduced to 0 hit points), and the odds become increasingly unlikely as the characters gains levels. After an encounter where the fighter has taken 50 damage and the wizard has taken 5 damage, the wizard will be healed to full hit points well before the fighter (again, assuming fixed-rate healing). Does this mean that the wizard heals faster? What if the situation is reversed, and the fighter took 5 hit points and the wizard took 50. Does the fighter heal faster, because he or she reaches full capacity first? Practically speaking, player characters are going to have disparate hit point totals extremely frequently, and they will require different amounts of rest. In 4th Edition, where healing surges are a percentage of your total hit points, characters still need varying amounts of rest; I can’t count how many times one player would simply spend a single healing surge during a short rest to regain hit points, while others would want to spend multiple short rests allowing the warlord or cleric to refresh their healing mechanics to get the most out of their healing surges.
I don’t know if some kind of fixed-rate healing is the right way to go, or where the mechanics will end up. I do know that we have to focus on practical, in-play experiences over theoretical situations, and at a certain point we must weigh simplicity, verisimilitude, and player satisfaction all at the same time when evaluating any mechanics, including healing and resting.
How will NPCs be presented mechanically? With PC class levels? As 0-level characters? With NPC class levels (will there be NPC classes)?
We’re still working out a lot of the details about how nonplayer characters will be presented. This is an area where we want to have flexibility to use the right tool for the right situation. The blacksmith in town doesn’t need the same mechanics as the henchman you take into the dungeon, or the evil priest lurking in the temple, or the rival adventuring party. That blacksmith might not need any mechanics at all, or at a minimum something that looks like a very simplified monster stat block (just in case things go south in the course of play). Likewise, many of the NPCs that characters are likely to interact with frequently (sages, town guards, hirelings, and so on) with probably have a baseline, simple monster-esque stat block to serve as a baseline. From there, we want to offer advice on modifying those basic mechanics to fit the adventure’s needs, stealing mechanics from spells, feats, and so forth. For example, you might start with the “sage” stat block, then, to represent a more occult-leaning sage, you would outfit him or her with spells such as read magic and detect magic, along with a feat that allows the character to use magic items that they don’t normally qualify for.
For NPCs that behave like adventurers (such as, the aforementioned rival adventuring party) or monsters with adventurer-like traits, we also want to allow you to build a character using the normal player character rules, and then provide guidelines on how much XP that creature is worth. We’re also leaning toward providing information in many monster entries (especially the humanoid monsters) for how they would act like races do in the character creation process. For example, if you want to create an orc that behaves like a ranger, you could build the ranger NPC using the normal character creation rules, substituting an orc race in place of our standard races (where the orc race is likely drawn from the orc monster entry in the game).
Keep in mind that a lot of this is still a ways off, and it’s something we’re continuing to experiment with. To sum up, our goal is flexibility, allowing DMs to spend as little or as much time as they would like tinkering with their NPCs.
Will there be a retraining option, perhaps in the Advanced rules, to swap out feats or class features at higher levels?
You can already see some options for retraining feats in the current playtest packet—take a look at the introductory material to the Specialties and Feats section. Going forward, we want to provide advice for retraining (and even wholesale rebuilding) characters, but it’s more likely to come in the form of advice than rules. The concept of retraining and rebuilding is something that players and DMs have handled on their own for years without any advice, so we want anything we say about retraining in the game to be as flexible and unobtrusive as possible. For some, retraining and rebuilding is no big deal (“Who cares if I was trained in this skill yesterday and I’m not today? My character works better this way!&rdquo, but for others that kind of narrative break is undesirable. This is something that DMs and players should work out among themselves without feeling beholden to some rule in a book, but by the same token we want to make sure that DMs and players looking for advice or options for retraining have resources made available to them to make it easy to implement.
Where it’s more likely that you’ll see actual rules about retraining is in our Organized Play programs, where character consistency and progression is much more regulated to provide a consistent play experience from table to table.
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 email@example.com. 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!