In the grand scheme of things, this is what we ought to hope for.

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WotC, one of the core problems with D&D as a business and as a hobby (that oldtimers may not realize) is how ridiculously complex the rules are. This is because the rules framework is there to simulate pretty much every possible event conceivable by our suburban brains, and because they were built over decades, by dozens of authors, over hundreds of books. When I first got into D&D about five years ago, the PHB made absolutely no sense to me. I couldn't find out how to do anything. When I wanted to reference a rule, I had no idea where to find it. Turns out half of them are buried in the DMG in the most haphazard order, another quarter in the PHB, and the rest scattered in random splatbooks. Everything is made worse by the fact that rules that don't make sense or were poorly thought-out were rarely changed.

This is because the books are like $30 each, a significant expenditure for most people, and you can't just make them obsolete just because you want to change a few (albeit important) rules. So you upload some crappy errata, and rely on the fact that D&D is not played the same way in any two gaming groups. You rely on the fact that D&D is inherently a houserulable roleplaying game where the integrity of the rules are of passing importance.

But that has to end now. How many retarded arguments have there been on the CO board about the RAW or "Rules as Written" versus the RAI or "Rules as Intended"? How many thousands of people never ever understood the change from backstab (once per encounter) to sneak attack (anytime the conditions are met)? How many thousands of people still don't understand the difference between Caster Level and Spellcasting Progression Level (a term NEVER used, only implied through horrible, everchanging word choice)? This is fourth edition. We're in the age of teh intarwebz. Let's take advantage of this.

So make sure when someone buys a book, he also buys the PERMANENT access to future changes to that book's PDF form. Don't do errata. Errata are stupid. I don't want to hold open one PDF of the errata while cross referencing the original text. Just take the old PDF, and modify it completely. If you need to do this every week, so much the better. No more ten month-long waits between crappily-written rules and crappily-written errata.

Can you imagine if MTG had as unbalanced rules as D&D does? People would fricken quit the game because all the tournaments would be filled with questionable exploits and rules debates. Don't rely on the crutch that D&D is a fuzzy roleplaying game. D&D is a game where the rules DO matter, and if you want this BUSINESS to succeed, give the rules some attention, keep them up-to-date, keep them balanced, keep them sensible.

The minutiae of the rules are much less important if you build up the framework of updatable rules. If you do that, people will have faith that rules problems will be fixed, and they'll gladly pay for the books. If you don't do that, as soon as someone finds some piece of the rules that he hates, he's going to start making some tough decisions, and may not decide the way you want.


Can you imagine if MTG had as unbalanced rules as D&D does? People would fricken quit the game because all the tournaments would be filled with questionable exploits and rules debates.


How about the power 9, or endless loops that can start at turn 2?

That's why the DCI bans cards. Yes, you said 'rules' and I said 'cards'. In a card game, the cards supersede the rules, thus becoming the rules.

That's also why the DCI is there, to oversee possible exploits and rules debates. Much like the RPGA has official GMs and judges. All of this is so that the majority of the players will conform to one specific set of rules.


So you upload some crappy errata, and rely on the fact that D&D is not played the same way in any two gaming groups. You rely on the fact that D&D is inherently a houserulable roleplaying game where the integrity of the rules are of passing importance.

I think this proves that this specific reason is why they have errata. Can you imagine telling a DCI judge at a magic tourney that your play was legal because 'thats how you do it at home'?
As far as I can see, the OP has two points. First, he wants the rules to be consolidated, concise and very clear. Second, he wants the PDFs of the rulebooks to be made available online (to those who bought the books) and for them to be updated with the errata regularly.

The first is...well, we'll see.

The second...well, you're not likely to see PDFs online (kind of expensive in terms of bandwidth and paying people to typeset them and all that). You may see the SRD relatively up to date, which is almost as good.

The thing I'd mention to you, though, is that despite many, many rules, with the people I play, it often comes down to DM adjudication. The ability to rewrite your own rules on the fly is what separates this game from a game run on a soulless machine. (until they invent good AI). I know that's not what you want to hear, but in all honestly, I doubt WotC, or any finite group of human beings, can come up with every crazy thing a group can come up with, and then run statistical analysis on it to see if it's balanced.
The activation code on the book gives you it in PDF format. So we will have PDFs.
Can you imagine if MTG had as unbalanced rules as D&D does?

Are we talking about the same MTG? Cause in the MTG I play, about 70% of the cards in each set are barely worth playing while a small handfull of powerful cards tend to dominate each format. Terrible example.

I play D&D among a rotating group of about 12 people. Of them only 2, myself and one other, played before 3rd edition, and both of us noticed the change from Backstab to Sneak Attack.

I also don't understand why the fact that most players haven't heard of "Spellcasting Progression Level" is important, since as you mentioned, the term is never used in a rule book.

So you upload some crappy errata,

What's crappy about the errata? Are we just supposed to let the imbalances slide for 5 years until it's time to revise the system?

I don't want to hold open one PDF of the errata while cross referencing the original text. Just take the old PDF, and modify it completely. If you need to do this every week, so much the better. No more ten month-long waits between crappily-written rules and crappily-written errata.

I don't want to pay more for my books because you're too lazy to hold a book in one hand and a sheet or three of errata in the other.

You wouldn't believe it if I told you, but the vast majority of players play the game right out of the books as it is and don't even know about the errata anyway...
Points:
(Althought I will complain about editing please excuse any of my errors as I have recently become the father of twins and I am heavily sleep deprived!)
The rules are complex let's simplify them. Nice in theory but simple rarely covers the myriad of situations that you come across in a role playing game. Simple with some specific caveats could be possible.
What makes a lot of D & D frustrating from a rules perspective is the consistent pathetic editing job done by Wizards. It has become freaking laughable at the stuff that consistently slides by, ex. green bound summon was meant to be a +2 adjusted meta magic feat.
Good editing would solve a large number of the problems of RAW verses RAI.
Secondly play test, play test and play test again. My god power word pain, the spells from Frostburn that does dex damage, ray of stupidity etc. who the hell tested that out! Or clearly state that powerful spells, feats etc that have a balancing negative can't be overcome no matter what ie the whole celerity abuse.
It is very easy to minimize if not eliminate alomst all of the RAW, RAI arguments wilh good editing, explicite explanations in the original wirte up and quality play testing by people intent on finding every abusable angle out there.
You wouldn't believe it if I told you, but the vast majority of players play the game right out of the books as it is and don't even know about the errata anyway...

Truer words were never spoken.
Points:
(Althought I will complain about editing please excuse any of my errors as I have recently become the father of twins and I am heavily sleep deprived!)
The rules are complex let's simplify them. Nice in theory but simple rarely covers the myriad of situations that you come across in a role playing game. Simple with some specific caveats could be possible.
What makes a lot of D & D frustrating from a rules perspective is the consistent pathetic editing job done by Wizards. It has become freaking laughable at the stuff that consistently slides by, ex. green bound summon was meant to be a +2 adjusted meta magic feat.
Good editing would solve a large number of the problems of RAW verses RAI.
Secondly play test, play test and play test again. My god power word pain, the spells from Frostburn that does dex damage, ray of stupidity etc. who the hell tested that out! Or clearly state that powerful spells, feats etc that have a balancing negative can't be overcome no matter what ie the whole celerity abuse.
It is very easy to minimize if not eliminate alomst all of the RAW, RAI arguments wilh good editing, explicite explanations in the original wirte up and quality play testing by people intent on finding every abusable angle out there.

And eliminate the sound of thousands of little munchkins screaming with joy as they peruse the latest rules book for broken items to base entire character builds on? Perish the thought.
Are we talking about the same MTG? Cause in the MTG I play, about 70% of the cards in each set are barely worth playing while a small handfull of powerful cards tend to dominate each format. Terrible example.

No, that's a perfect example. People know what works and what doesn't work. There are synergies, and people expect them going into a tournament. There are no rules disputes. The fact that 70% of the cards are never used is a SEPARATE flaw MTG has in common with D&D, that a lot of the crunch is crap, but D&D also has the separate problem that the rules are often UNCLEAR, STUPID, and rely on INTERPRETATION. All of that can be fixed if the rules were kept up-to-date in a format everybody has access to: PDFs. You couldn't do this before because a lot of people didn't have access to the internet (today, 70% of the US uses the internet regularly), and so the only way you could get the rules out is by reprinting sourcebooks, and obviously you couldn't do that every three months.

I also don't understand why the fact that most players haven't heard of "Spellcasting Progression Level" is important, since as you mentioned, the term is never used in a rule book.

Because it's a distinct, and very important, concept. The fact that they never clarified the term is ANOTHER example of why we need to make the rules clear. An orange ioun stone gives you +1 caster level. Mystic Theurge gives you +1 caster PROGRESSION level each time you take a level in it. These are two distinct concepts.

Here's another related one: Why can't you take wizard, druid, and mystic theurge levels, and then take arcane heirophant levels and add the AH's +1 levels to mystic theurge, which splits each +1 level into a wizard and druid level, effectively allowing you to gain two wizard and two druid levels per AH level? We CO boarders will tell you its because the mystic theurge is not a "spellcasting class," the defining feature of which is that it has its own spell list and spellcasting progression, but newbies don't know this, BECAUSE IT'S NEVER MADE CLEAR IN THE RULES.

What's crappy about the errata? Are we just supposed to let the imbalances slide for 5 years until it's time to revise the system?

You don't even know what I'm saying, and yet you are trying to argue against it. Amazing. First of all, errata is worse than actually changing the PDF rulebooks. But more importantly, the way they've done errata up until now is REFUSING TO UPDATE IT for months, and sometimes YEARS after errors are found. Example? They still have not clarified the Rainbow Servant's table vs. text dispute. The still have not added any text into the PHB that explains that Wizards cannot learn Cleric spells from scrolls. Only in an "Ask the Sage" column was it clarified that Archivists can learn domain spells from scrolls. We've got at least four "official" sources for rules arbitration: errata, FAQ, Ask the Sage, Rules of the Game, etc. Often they are in disagreement. How does Hide actually work?

I don't want to pay more for my books because you're too lazy to hold a book in one hand and a sheet or three of errata in the other.

I don't want to retype what I said in my OP because you're too lazy to read what I said the first time.

You wouldn't believe it if I told you, but the vast majority of players play the game right out of the books as it is and don't even know about the errata anyway...

And that's the problem, buster.
I think the best thing for the rules would just be consolidation, accuracy, clarity, and ease of reference. That's what every set of rules for every game ought to have, but for some reason, 3E failed at it.
I think the best thing for the rules would just be consolidation, accuracy, clarity, and ease of reference. That's what every set of rules for every game ought to have, but for some reason, 3E failed at it.

I would add consistency to your list. I think the game developers should try and read a couple of technical specifications and get familiar with a bit of "engineer talk".
It's amazing how clearly and unambiguously rules can be defined using only a few well thought out words.
Points:
(Althought I will complain about editing please excuse any of my errors as I have recently become the father of twins and I am heavily sleep deprived!)
..stuff..

Congrats mate! :D
As a proud father of one, welcome to many years of worry, frustration and panic as well as happiness, fun and pride.
@ ancalimohtar:

It seems to me that your biggest gripe is not against the clarity of the rules, but against people who don't read them. All of your examples don't hold water to those of us who've read the rules in full. Wizards has always stated, for example, that "text trumps table." And if one reads the text descriptions of various PrC abilities, the difference between caster level and spell progression is perfectly clear.

My $0.02, TIOLI.
@ ancalimohtar:

It seems to me that your biggest gripe is not against the clarity of the rules, but against people who don't read them. All of your examples don't hold water to those of us who've read the rules in full. Wizards has always stated, for example, that "text trumps table." And if one reads the text descriptions of various PrC abilities, the difference between caster level and spell progression is perfectly clear.

My $0.02, TIOLI.

That is a small part of it, sure. Not everybody reads all the rules, and remembers them all. It is SUPER boring to read through three hundred pages of rules, but that's essentially what you're asking everybody to do.

But more than that, a lot of the rules are just never made explicit, and have to be inferred. I know this for sure, as there have been hundreds of threads on the CO board that devolved into arguments over the rules, and the only way to resolve most of them is by agreeing to play by RAI. Again, one of the best examples is the difference between caster level and caster progression level and the definition of "spellcasting class"--nowhere is it ever explicitly explained. We've just inferred based on the assumption "otherwise it would be broken."
I think the best thing for the rules would just be consolidation, accuracy, clarity, and ease of reference. That's what every set of rules for every game ought to have, but for some reason, 3E failed at it.

As did 1e and 2e. They actually failed worse. It gets better each time. So 4e should be a little closer to the ideal.
As did 1e and 2e. They actually failed worse. It gets better each time. So 4e should be a little closer to the ideal.

No doubt. I didn't mean to imply 3E was worse than its predecessors. I actually thought (and still do think) poorly of people who claimed 3E was worse than 2E and refused to make the change, and then of people who claimed 3.5E was worse than 3E and refused to make the change.

Overall, it gets better every time, but this time, with the internet, one of the singularly most astonishing innovations in modern history, the potential is greater.
Exactly. Changing the PDFs themselves is a good idea. Of course sending it through a little more editing in the first place(as well as knocking the release date back) is also a good thing, considering that it also deals with the people who think that this edition is too close. And maybe the rules can be laid out a little better in the first place.
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