Thursday 26 January 2012

What we learnt from the first D&D Next seminar {D&D}

Today Mike Mearls, Monte Cook and Jeremy Crawford shed a little more light on what we can expect from the new edition of D&D in a live chat on the WotC site. 

The theme of today's seminar was character advancement and how levelling will work in D&D Next. We gleaned some great information that got people in the room excited. The three WotC giants fielded questions and gave us some insight into what to expect.

Iconic monsters will remain threats at higher levels
This is something that has always bugged me about the game and it looks like it's finally being rectified. Iconic D&D monsters like goblins and orcs will be just as capable of challenging a party at 1st level as they will be at 8th level. Monte Cook said: "I think it offers a better play experience that the orc/ogre can remain in the campaign, and people can know how the monster would work from a previous experience, but they remain a challenge for longer." Instead of having a level 1, level 5, and level 8 orc, there will just be the quintessential 'orc' creature that easily scales. 

Levelling won't be all about big bonuses
To keep low-level monsters relevant as above, bonuses will be handled differently. Instead of a fighter gaining a constant stream of attack bonuses, he will gain a "modest" amount spread throughout the level spectrum. Instead of bonuses, characters will receive more options "to do stuff". This should allow for more roleplay-oriented gameplay.

Flexibility will be key to gameplay
It's clear that the designers want to make the game as flexible as possible to suit every play style. Jeremy said: "I would want to have the flexibility to swing back and forth between mass battles and normal sized encounters, and for the rules to cover those kinds of things." Customising combat to suit personal preferences is a great idea and allows for epic 4th edition battles along with smaller 1e skirmishes. 

More advice will be given to DM's on how to run games
One major complaint about 4e is that initially there was no real advice given to DM's about how to run a game in the new edition. This resulting in them going in with the same mindset as 3.5 and then realising that they're not having as much fun as they should be. In D&D Next, there will be a big focus on aiding the DM with tools and tips. Monte said: "We're going to give the DM a lot of tools to address players actions as well as rules discussions. We want to keep play moving quickly. The same goes for the player with too many options - we're planning on DM and player help to address as much of that as possible."

Old-school randomness will make a comeback
For those of you who mourned over a severe lack of random tables in the most recent rule-sets then prepare to rejoice. There will be random tables for DM's who prefer that kind of playstyle. Mike said: "I think D&D needs to have elements of chaos in it. Sometimes that can be funny, or weird or off the wall. I think that's one of the places where the randomness fo the d20 can come into play. I think that some of the recent history of the game has the designer buttoning down and eliminating some of that chaos, and we want to get away from that. It's the interactions between the DM, the players and the game that make it was it is, so we shouldn't stifle that."

Characters will feel like individuals
D&D Next will get rid of the 'copy and paste' model of 4e, where some powers were often mechanically the same but used by different classes. They're definitely trying to let players have it their own way, choosing what kind of wizard or fighter they want to be and having full reign over how they play it. Players will be able to make their characters as complex or simple as they like and this will (hopefully) work in group situations. Monte said: "Running a few playtests, I had at one long term table a guy who hadn't played since 1st editon, a guy who was more 3rd edtion and a guy who was recently in to 4th. The guy who hadn't played in 1st edition didn't want a lot of options. This solidified in my mind, along with the other evidence we've seen, that there are a lot of players who want to have very few options on their character sheet. As a game goes on, that guy might see some of the cool things that other classes are doing and might want to add some of those modular abilities. This is something that is easy to do and change as the character progresses - he can pick up some of those more modular options if he wants after that point."

The art will be harken back to the good old days
This is a great change and something that I can really get behind. While the recent art has been really good, it just hasn't really captured the gritty dungeon-delving lifestyle of heroes. Jeremy said: "In our recent art we've added a more diverse, modular approach - you've got people that look vastly different. You'll have the halfling who's a bit overweight with some food stains on his clothes along side the more heroic look dashing sort."

So it was a fantastic session where we learnt quite a bit about the new edition. Playtesting will begin in Spring, so look out for that special email in your inbox.


  1. Man you are fast. :)

  2. I've been leveling up orcs, kobolds, and goblins for 20+ years - I don't need a rulebook to tell me that a goblin does not always have to be a 1HD monster as it is depicted in an officially licensed book...

    1. That what 4E did, I think the new plan is to make 1HD monster dangerous for more than a few levels.

    2. Sure, 2HD goblin chieftain. 3HD orc chieftain. Want monsters more challenging at high levels? Raise quantity (more orcs) or quality (replace orcs with ogres).

  3. This... could be interesting.

    I mean, I''ll be holding my breath - I *liked* 4e, but always felt it was a little bit, I dunno, too rigid, maybe?

    There wasn't a lot of room to run anything but the kind of game it delivered - heroic fantasy. Mind you, it did a bloody good job of heroic fantasy - but I like the idea of it being a bit more flexible...

  4. @jerrytel

    You might not, and thats fine. But the 14 year old kid who just got given the book might not. And he can use the advice. It is the height of asshole behavior for someone to think just because their individual experiences are one way that everyone else has to have the same world view - or worse - evolution should be stifled to fit their prejudices.

    In summation, don't be a dick.

  5. Did not realize I was being dick, but at least I am a dick that signs his name to what he writes...

  6. Monsters being a thread for longer?
    It was already there in the 3.5 MM. It gave all the info that you needed for increasing/decreasing CR.

    As for the random tables, I'm damm glad to hear that. Nothing so far beats the old DMG for it's tables (although I love the MERP crits)

  7. But I am so happy that you know me so well as to be able categorize me as both an asshole and a dick...but hey, if it makes you feel better about yourself, go for it. You are a paragon of truth and justice in the RPG world - sorry Delver for making such a obviously controversial comment.

  8. Good summary. I'm especially looking forward to a return to classic D&D art. *crosses fingers*

  9. @anon

    Sure, the 3.5 told you how to do it. But the rules were too complex and confusing for a lot of people to bother with, particularly folks like me who aren't the best at juggling numbers for that kinda thing. Not to mention for a fair number of people that's a lot of unwanted prep time. Having monsters be threats longer without having to manually pump them up really works for everyone.

  10. @jerrytel Don't know why you're apologising to me - everyone's gonna have an opinion and they're damn well entitled to it :)

  11. @jerrrytel
    Your reactions to being called a dick only serve to reinforce everyone's belief in it as fact. But seriously, your initial comment precludes the possibility that there is someone out there who is not you. And that is dickery of the highest order.

  12. Sorry calling someone a "dick" is by far the most dickish thing said here in my opinion. Perhaps you are happy little troll now? The internet really should have a flag this for your mom to read" option.

  13. I hope the reduce the HUGE amount of hit points that they added in 4E. Combats took FOREVER! Only 3-4 battles a night. SLOW! In older editions it was not uncommon to wipe out 10-20 rooms!