Friday 27 January 2012

New info on classes in D&D Next {D&D}

Today Monte Cook, Bruce Cordell and Robert Schwalb talked about classes in the latest D&D Next seminar held on the WoTC site.

Here, the guys talked about their experiences with designing each class, giving us an insight into what we can expect from our favourite classes. Here's a summary of what we found out about the next edition:

Vancian magic is here to stay
It seems that Monte Cook has a soft spot for this sometimes-maligned system. Monte said:  "I know it's a bit contreversial, but I think Vancian magic is a core element of D&D. Maybe it's not the only option for magic, but it's definitely an iconic and flavorful one that I would like to retain. It's also an interesting way to handle game balance. For example wizards have magical feats that are basically at will abilities. Balancing them with vancian magic which are essentially daily abilities is an interesting way to go, especially when comparing to the fighter and rogue who have more of an at-will style play. It offers a very different playstyle than those other classes, but those different playstyles are something we want to embrace." So it looks like we'll see a mixture of 4th edition "unlimited magic missile" type spells and more old-school vancian shiz. 

Classes will be categorised by rarity
This is a weird one that people will probably have mixed feelings about. There will be common, uncommon and rare classes (or categories of that nature), which basically show the player what the easiest and the more complex classes are to play. Monte said: "Going along those lines we seperated things along the lines of what's common or uncommon. So for example fighters, clerics, wizards and clerics might be commmon while warlocks fall into uncommon and something like the assassin might be rare. This helps DMs determine what options they want to run in there games as well."

Magic items will be separate from character advancement
4e introduced the notion of treasure parcels, whereas each character received a cool magic item every level. Because they were tied so close to character development, magic items became compulsory and almost mundane. D&D Next will bring back mysterious and quest-focused magic items. Monte said: "We're running with the idea that magic items are special and not bound to character progression, though things could change through playtesting. But we want it to be something that the DM plans, or something that a player/character wants to go on a quest to get that magic item they've heard of or need to accomplish there goals."

Power sources will (probably) no longer be keywords
The most recent edition contained a hell of a lot of keywords tied to powers, even if it didn't seem logical. The new edition will seek to get rid of the jargon and make iconic classes that are archetypes of their power sources. Rob said: "We're not going to be using the power sources as keywords or anything any more (probably). You'll still have psionic characters and primal characters for example, but we won't be using those words or jargon to separate things." 

There will be fewer status effects 
While it wasn't a big deal in low-level play, status effects tend to rule combat in Paragon and Epic, which if not managed properly can be a massive headache for the DM. Status effects will be re-thought in the next version in light of this annoyance. Rob said: "So talking about things like stun, daze, and immobilzed right? Currently we're in the area that the effect should be relevant to the spell or power. For example there might be a power word stun spell that explains what stun in and goes from there. But we're probably not going to have too many abilities or spells that would do something like that."

Classes can be as complex as you want them to be
This will go some way to getting rid of the power bloat that plagued 4th edition. While it's great to have an array of options, having 4 pages of powers can hold a game up and stop the flow of combat. The new edition will allow players to make their classes as complex as they like, swapping out default attack bonuses for cool moves. Monte said: "If your fighter goes up a level and would normally get some bonus damage or a bonus to hit, or something simple, then maybe instead you could choose to replace that with an option or options that allow you to do some cool moves that allow you to push people around, or protect your allies a bit more, or control the battlefield a little more." 
Rob added: "Even in the core you varying levels of complexity within each class. Even the wizard has a base starting point that is less complex than what you can get into if you opt into some of the options."

Balance will be important, but not crucial
It looks like classes will have a good degree of balance, but they will also come into their own elements. Bruce said: "We definitely want the classes to be balanced, though having things exactly mathematically balanced isn't always the goal. Different classes or different play styles will shine at different moments, though of course we want everyone to be able to contribute in the common situations like combat."

Rituals will be "awesome"
I really like the idea of rituals, but they seemed to be pretty underused in 4e. Monte Cook really wants to make rituals as cool as possible that probably won't do mundane stuff like create campsite of animal messenger. Rob said: "Monte started running with the ball and wanted to make rituals there for the really big spells that are super awesome, but might take a bit longer to cast. I ran with that and really wanted to make them all very interesting and complex, and really invest the player/character in what they're doing." Moreover, magic will be mysterious again, rather than being second nature to every person and their mothers. Monte said: "Magic is taking a broader turn than just spells. In the past we got to the point where everything you encountered in the game had some kind of spell attached to it or that replecated the effect. I really want to go back to the idea that magic is mysterious and wierd and not always entirely definable. I think it's good for the story of the game when the DM can use it to help to define and area or maybe a unique magic item. Things like rituals help us accomplish that - makes things more open ended and more interesting and also takes away some of the focus from the wizard and puts it on other things in the world."

These were the main points brought up in the discussion. Now you're full of information, how do you feel about the new edition now we're finding out a bit more about it?


  1. I like the way Bruce said exactly the same thing about magic items that Monte said about classes... ;)

  2. @Anon Thanks very much for pointing that out. Damn copy/paste :)

  3. Under "Classes will be Categorized by Rarity" I'm guessing the second mention of cleric should instead be "thief" or "rogue"? Also, it seems based on my reading that a healthy dose of 4th edition will be in edition Next. Does this seem that way to you?

  4. Magic items divorced from character progression, a return to vancian magic, character diversity through feats rather than class feature paths ... no, it doesn't seem like there's a preponderance of 4E in there. Some, yes, but no more than any other edition.

  5. I like it a lot, there were some thing I liked in4E but a lot of non sense. This seems like a good merger and addition of ideas. My concern will be the skill and background section. Will we roll stats again, or just appoint numbers given the new DC system.