Tuesday 29 May 2012

Mearls makes some old school suggestions for D&D Next

In his latest Legends & Lore column, Mike Mearls talks about some of the thoughts behind this version of the playtest and why certain aspects were designed that way. He also makes some suggestions for people who want a more old school game.

Those of us who are doing the playtest know about the whole removing themes and backgrounds on the character sheet, but Mearls has offered up a couple of other suggestions to make D&D Next a bit more like AD&D. Obviously this is purely to experiment with the game's modular mechanics, but it would be worth doing.

For example, he suggests getting rid of the cleric and wizard's minor spells and equipping the wizard with a brace of daggers. Back in the day, when the wizard was out of spells he'd spend the rest of the fight lobbing knives at the enemy, which in my eyes is kind of dull, but if you prefer that way of playing then go ahead.

Another thing he said was to remove Hit Dice as far as healing goes. A lot of people are unhappy that players can heal, although Mearls does point out that in the Friends and Family playtests many people were vocal about the lack of healing. So if you think that Hit Dice should be tossed aside, feel free to do so and see how it goes.

Although not a suggestion to make the character sheet simpler, Mearls does point out that they are thinking of giving fighters the ability to choose two themes instead of one, so he suggests taking the Guardian theme of the Cleric or Moradin and also giving it to the fighter to see how it plays.

I think that the modular format is a good one, although I can't see myself getting rid of themes and backgrounds, since feats and skills do give you a lot of good advantages and it would be a shame to lose them, but I understand if they're not everyone's cup of tea.


  1. But why is it always take this out or don't use this - why not have a base game attractive to old schoolers and then add to it. Wow, that sounds like...modularity.

    1. Modularity goes in both directions. If you want a game you only add stuff to, there's always FUDGE.

    2. Ask yourself who the product is meant to appeal to...

      Old-schoolers who have older editions of the game and are apparently happy with them (or else they would have graduated from the old school by now looking for something else)?

      Or a new generation of players whose tastes have not been focused by years of play?

      Everybody wants 5th ed. to be written just for them, I get it, but D&D's strength is as a gateway drug (thanks to its brand and market share). It HAS to be for new players (which may include those not hooked by 4e or whatever edition was out when they tried it).

    3. Thing is... it's modularity to have a base that has an Old School module that says "Make these changes" as well. As Siskoid says it goes both ways.

      Yes WotC would like OSR folk to come back to them, but given the general disdain (at least) that is foudn there it's probably safest for them to aim more in the middle and offer bridges to those interested.

    4. @kiltedyaksman- This is a playtest. They haven't yet nailed down the rules, let alone how they are going to be presented in the final form. We don't know if they are going to say, "Here's the core rules and here's the stuff we're going to add to it" or if they are going to say "Here's the core rules and here's the stuff we're going to subtract from it". Just focus on the part that applies to you and ignore the rest.