Tuesday, May 29, 2012

D&D Next Playtest Package Q&A! (Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford)

D&D Next Playtest Package Questions Answered! (Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford)

Today (May 29th), another live D&D Next chat took place with Mike Mearls and Jeremy Crawford. The transcript of that chat is below. This chat, like the previous one, deals primarily with the D&D Next public playtest - more specifically the playtest package which was released last week. This chat covers a lot of the questions being repeatedly asked on the forums.

Trevor: Welcome to this week's D&D Next Playtest Q&A. Mike and Jeremy will be joining us shortly. This is a moderated chat, which means we will see your questions and comments, but the room won't see them until we push them live so Mike and Jeremy can give you an answer.

Mearls: Hello everyone.

Jeremy Crawford: Hi, everyone!

Trevor: And the stars have arrived! Let's get a brief introduction from the two of you and then jump into some questions!

Mearls: Hey everyone. My name is Mike Mearls and I am the senior manager for the D&D team.

Jeremy Crawford: I'm Jeremy Crawford, head of development and editing for D&D. Bring on the questions!

Mike Looney: I've noticed that to hit doesn't seem to go up with levels or with monster's hit points. Is this in fact correct or is it an artifact of the play test material being for 1-3rd level only?

Mearls: You don't see those number rise at levels 1 to 3, but we are overall toning down numerical advancement. The classes generally get more stuff to do, rather than bigger numbers. With a flatter curve, we can make monsters and characters scale much better. For instance, a 10th-level party can still take on orcs as a viable threat, they'll just fight a ton of them.

Jeremy Crawford: Yeah, we want to see less number inflation throughout the system. Except for the number of monsters, that is.

Brian: Can you explain where the extra +2 damage for the fighter comes from (beyond Weapon Focus)? Will we get an explanation of the racial benefits to damage and hit dice soon so we can understand what to do as characters change equipment?

Jeremy Crawford: The fighter's bonus comes from the class's advancement table. It's a class feature. As for the racial benefits, there will more explanation when we release the information on building your own character.

mepstein73: Hello! Just wondering why the wizard's cantrips are so strong. Ray of Frost can end combat pretty quickly, and Magic Missile is very powerful if it's unlimited/day.

Mearls: I think that for at-will abilities, we might have made them a little overpowered a bit in terms of math and feel. For instance, does it feel OK that magic missile does auto damage every round? The speed thing on ray of frost is tricky, because it can vary from being very powerful to being useless. I think getting the minor spells right will take a few iterations.

Jeremy Crawford: When we playtest things, we prefer to start powerful and tone things down, rather than starting weak and beefing things up, hence the spells' potency.

lucinian: Thanks for taking the time to do these chats. They're very informative, and help let us know you really care what we think. My question: There seems to be, overall, very little from 4E that's made it into the core rules for D&D Next. What can 4E fans expect going forward?

Jeremy Crawford: Things we love about 4th Edition continue to work their way into the design. The at-will spells are a great example of such a thing.

Mearls: There are quite a few core 4e changes that are in the game - at will magic, the hit die mechanic, the clarity of the combat rules. These are all trend lines that started with 4e and have moved forward. In terms of powers, we're working on a combat maneuver system right now and will show that off as part the ongoing playtest. Also, I did some work over the weekend on the tactical rules options. In many ways, the depth of 4e's approach to combat and options will sit atop the system you've seen so far as rules modules.

Jeremy Crawford: Our current work on monsters is also being informed by some of the advances that 4E brought to the presentation of monsters' abilities.

Mearls: That's right - monsters haven't seen much work yet, so you'll see a 4e influence there, too.

Guest: One of my questions is this... in the weapons descriptions the sling is listed as a 1d6 weapon. However, with the rogue character it is a 1d8. Why is that?

Mearls: Races that have a cultural affinity for weapons get a die bump in damage. So, halflings are good with slings and therefore use a bigger damage die.

Jeremy Crawford: Also, one of our developers is currently doing a review of every weapon. Expect some of the dice to change.

NumberOneTheLarch: Hello and thank you for answering our questions. I wanted to ask about skills themselves. In the playtest, your skill bonuses are derived from your Background. In your plans for DnD Next, is this the only source for skill bonuses, or will there be an option or implementation to select individual skill bonuses through other means? Thank you again!

Mearls: You can gain more skills through your class and through your theme. The samples we showed off don't happen to offer that. But as an example - the rogue class receives a few bonus skill, and you can expect the same for the ranger.

Jeremy Crawford: We will also provide an option for you to build your own background, which effectively means you can choose skills a la carte.

Rheim: I have a question about Armor balance. From the playtesting guide, it seems that there isn't a good balance between Light/Medium and Heavy Armors. Are there revised rules coming out on this? Right now there seems little advantage to wearing say, Heavy Armor versus Medium Armor.

Jeremy Crawford: Armor--that's going through the same review with weapons, so I expect changes there too.

Mearls: Yes, armor will go back to the drawing board. We included it in the document as a reference, but it hasn't received a lot of attention. I'd like to see if we even need medium armor in the game. Starting gear might also change - you might start lower on the totem pole and buy your way up to better armor over the first few levels.

Roll 3d6: I like where this edition is going. Thank you! Had a question regarding the Guardian Talent for the Cleric. We saw that there is currently no limit for how often the Cleric can shield someone. Should this be 1x/round?

Jeremy Crawford: That ability requires the cleric to use it as a reaction, and a character can take a reaction only once per round.

The rogue: Why did you decide to remove the different types of actions? (Standard/Move/Minor/Free)

Mearls: Two reasons. First, we wanted to speed up play. We found that some players felt that they had to use each of those actions, and would slow the game down trying to find things to do. Second, we decided to start with simple rules and see what people felt they needed added to the core, as opposed to a rules module, through the test. Sometimes, having the action buckets led to design that existed only to fill those buckets, rather than design that made the game more fun or more interesting.

Jeremy Crawford: We have played with several versions of the action system. The one you're using now is the simplest. We want to see how far we can go with it.

Guest: About hiding. When I try to hide it is an action. If no-one see me (no LoS) I guess it's no roll and no action, right?

Jeremy Crawford: The thing to keep in mind is that hiding involves being both out of sight and silent. If you're out of sight, you aren't necessarily hidden. You could be making a bunch of noise. Hiding is something you do consciously and carefully, hence it requiring an action.

Pentadrone: How will low wisdom rogues be able to scout effectively? Feats? Will you be adding skills back into the mix so characters can overcome stat deficiencies?

Mearls: Obviously, the pregen isn't the best scout. We had talked about giving the rogue class an extra bonus to finding traps, so that's something we'll look at. The key with the rogue will be in making sure that the class does the things people expect. The error might simply be in treating Wis as the dump stat for the pregen. We've also thought about letting rogues use a different stat to find traps, such as Intelligence.

Darklight: When are we going to be given the chance to provide some actual feedback, and when do you estimate the next phase of the playtest will take place?

Mearls: I believe that the first survey launches later this week, plus we're watching forums and blogs for reactions. Posting a playtest recap in a forum or blog is great, because we get to read it and it helps get people talking about issues.

The next phase will depend on what the feedback looks like. I'd like to start pushing out some more fighter options and perhaps show off the tactical rules module.

As far as an actual schedule, we're aiming at a big update about every 5 to 6 weeks.

Scipio202: Right now there are no rules that give a downside for moving in combat. Opportunity attacks can get complicated quickly, but are you considering a simple version for the core rules? (e.g. the mover is only subject to OAs from enemies that made a melee attack at them within the last round)

Mearls: A rule for breaking away from melee is something we've seen come up a bit. It's a tricky thing to navigate. It might come in as a rules module. The hard part has been finding a rule that works that also doesn't feel too restrictive. For instance, for a while the rule was that your movement stopped if you entered a hostile creature's reach. However, that feels a little artificial.

Jeremy Crawford: We have experimented with a number of opportunity attack alternatives. Ultimately, we don't want everyone in the core system to make such attacks, but we expect certain characters and monsters to be able to do so as a special ability.

Mearls: Another one we talked about - leaving a creature's reach is an action. If you don't use that action, it gets a free hack at you. So, you can't attack and move away without a return attack. This is an area where after playing without such a mechanic, I'd like to put it out there as an option and see if people want it as an option or in the core.

Jon: Can you talk about the motivation behind the advantage/disadvantage?

Mearls: This was a contentious issue on the design team. Basically, we wanted to do two things -

1. Make modifiers much more important, rather than relying on lots of little ones that don't have a big effect but require a lot of bookkeeping.

2. Introduce a benefit or disadvantage that you can apply after you rolled and forgot about it. I like that if you forget advantage or disad, you can just throw another die and resolve it. I've found in my games that sometimes people roll, announce a result, pick up their dice, and forget what they had when someone points out a missing mod 5 seconds later.

The rogue: Can distance be measured in squares instead of feet? As a european/non-american it's hard to convert from feet all the time. In squares it's rather universal.

Jeremy Crawford: Sure! The rule of thumb is that 5 feet equal a square. When we break out miniatures and a grid, we find ourselves saying "squares" instead of "feet." It's been easy, thankfully, to switch back and forth.

Mearls: We tried to keep things at a 5 feet minimum because we felt that both with and without minis, that's the easiest distance to imagine in your head. Personally, I actually like meters because if you draw a map with one meter per square, the dimensions of rooms are more realistic. Alas, we're based in the US and people like their non-metric measures here. It might be something we'll look at for translations and such in the future.

Lyrant: As my group and I were going over our character sheets for the playtest we noticed a few numbers that were higher than anything on the page said they had a right to be. For instance, the Cleric of Moradin had a +2 to AC that couldn't be found anywhere, and some other characters had similar bits with their damage, whassup with that?

Jeremy Crawford: The bonuses are coming from a variety of sources, especially class and race.

Mearls: I think I know where that comes from. Dwarves get +1 AC in medium and heavy armor. Also, I think that the armor chart in the test is 1 point off from the armor as given to the characters. When in doubt, use the character sheet number. That's what we based the monsters off of.

This stuff will all make sense when we move to letting people make characters for the test.

Guest: What makes a good theme or background? What do you look for?

Jeremy Crawford: A good background says something evocative about a character's place in the world, especially the character's place before the campaign started. The background should have skills, a trait, and starting equipment that all say something flavorful about a character.

Mearls: A good theme should be evocative and really speak to how your class operates. The themes we have right now are mostly mechanical in nature, but as we flesh them out you'll see more evocative ones.

For instance, I like the idea of a necromancer theme that alters all of your spells in some minor way. For instance, when you damage a creature with a spell you get some small healing. Or, if you kill a creature with a spell it pops back up as a skeleton or zombie.

If a class says what you can do, a theme says how you can do it. So, the paladin, fighter, or ranger who is a two-weapon duelist looks much different than the character who took the guardian theme and is an expert with his or her shield.

What it boils down to is that the theme does something interesting or fun that rests outside character class. Think of it as the sum expression of your feats.

Jeremy Crawford: In many ways, backgrounds can be a guide to roleplaying. The commoner fighter and the noble fighter, for instance, are likely to have very different motivations.

Mearls: Since the core math advancements rests only in class, we can afford for themes to be much more flavorful and specialized.

Jeremy Crawford: One more thing about backgrounds and themes: A background, ultimately, describes who you were before you started adventuring, whereas a theme flavors how you adventure.

August: In the 'How to Play' section (page 7), it notes that if you attack a creature from whom you are hidden, you gain advantage. That makes sense. But doesn't it make the Thief's 'Ambusher' power completely irrelevant?

Mearls: There's a subtle point to Ambusher that make make it fairly lame in practice.

When you're hidden, you are no longer hidden the moment that you are no longer obscured from view. So, if you hide and then step out into bright light to stab an orc, the orc sees you as you attack and you lose advantage.

Ambusher negates that - you keep advantage until your turn ends, so you can step out into the light and then attack with it. I think the rule might be a little too fiddly, though. There's a good chance that Ambusher will be revised or replaced based on feedback.

SlyFlourish: Is the plan to give each PC something exciting each level and how do you plan to put that burden across race, class, theme, and background?

Mearls: We're definitely aiming for something at each level, and you can expect that to be spread across class and theme. Race does not automatically give you something, but we've talked about race-based themes (dwarven defender) that speak to your race abilities.

So, you could imagine that at each level you get either a class thing, a theme thing, or an improvement to an existing ability. I do believe that your skill bonuses increase at a couple, specific levels, so backgrounds do improve.

Guest: Will characters only have one theme or background over their character life or will they be able to add more later? What about changing them out as the character changes over the story?

Jeremy Crawford: We expect certain characters to have more than one theme, and we are exploring the concept of advanced themes at higher levels.

Mearls: Background is a level 1 choice that represents what you did before becoming an adventurer, so it doesn't change. However, you can gain access to more skills and traits at higher levels through class and theme.

For themes, you can pick one and advance in it, mix a couple, or build your own by selecting feats a la carte. I also hope that DMs see them as a tool to create custom themes for their campaigns.

Jeremy Crawford: We have even talked about fighters getting two themes at 1st level.

Mearls: As far as changing stuff, that is an option we'll include. The first step will likely be, "Talk to your DM", but it makes sense to give people the option to do-over choices.

ExtendedRest: Is there a plan to deal with long term wounds? Right now having all health and everything reset after a long rest seems a little too easy. Especially with as little healing options as a Next party have access to on their own right now.

Jeremy Crawford: We're not likely to make long-term wounds a part of the core, but we have discussed providing a wound option for DMs to incorporate into their campaigns.

Mearls: We erred on the side of letting long rests heal everything, primarily because we were fairly split on how to treat it. Personally, I'd like to see a rule where you get back a certain amount of hit dice each extended rest. It might be based on Con and/or class. I have to admit that the current rule picks at my sense of realism.

To follow-up what Jeremy said, I've toyed with a wound system where you get some effect each time you drop below 0 hp, to represent a bad injury, For instance, broken bones, strained joints, concussions, etc. But that would be a rules module.

Jeremy Crawford: This is another example (the long rest) of us leading with the powerful version of something with the expectation that we might end up dialing it back, based on playtest feedback.

Duskreign: How exactly does the cone from Burning Hands look? We had a few issues with how it is supposed to look on the grid.

Jeremy Crawford: We will eventually show you how we expect things like cones to look on the grid.

Mearls: Yeah, we'll figure out if its a template or if we draw it to fit the grid.

Jeremy Crawford: As we've mentioned before, the rules do not assume the use of miniatures, but we will provide support for the use of miniatures. Almost everyone in the office likes to use minis at some point during an adventure.

Jon McCarty: Given the feedback about Save or Die mechanics, I sort of expected we might see something a little different in the bestiary. From what I've seen, it appears that only the Medusa really has such a mechanic, and it appears to be the old sort without anything like an HP threshold. Do we have anything more forgiving coming up? Are Stirges supposed to be a less direct save or die monster?

Mearls: Monsters are still a work in progress. With the medusa, we tried a mechanic where a character can choose to take a risk or avert his eyes and suffer a drawback. The stirge also shows something of a 4e approach, with a condition that gets worse and can scale up. It does have an issue with stacking, though, so the final form might be a save or check each round, rather than a situation where three stirges pounce on and kill a character.

Stephen: What was the thought process behind brining electrum back into D&D?

Jeremy Crawford: Bringing electrum pieces back is a nod to the game's history. The coins also have a nice story now; they're remnants of lost kingdoms and fallen empires. In other words, we don't expect electrum pieces to be part of a kingdom's normal economy. They're exotic.

Guest: Are critical hits always only maximum damage, i.e. is there every anything additional? Criticals seem noticeably weaker and more boring than in past editions.

Jeremy Crawford: We've playtested more critical hit systems than I can count.

Mearls: This is another area where we kept it simple and will see what kind of feedback we get.

Trevor: Alright, one last question then we'll let these guys get back to work.

Felix T. Katt: What has the quality of the playtest feedback been so far? Are there things you would like the community to sound off more or less about?

Mearls: The feedback so far has been good. The big thing is to write about the conditions of the game - did you play it like a regular session, was it just a test of the combat rules, and so on. It also helps to get a sense of what you want and where the game failed to deliver it.

Really, everything is useful. It can range from doing some math and finding something that looks to good to coming across an unclear rule in play. For instance, the questions about the Ambusher ability show us that it isn't clear and might be too fiddly.

The feel is very important, too. Does this feel like D&D? Are you missing rules? Did rules get in the way?

The big thing is to avoid snark and an overly antagonistic attitude. We're human, and it's easy to tune out someone who comes across as a crank.

So, basically play the game, read over the rules, ask questions, and post your thoughts. This is a big undertaking - the biggest tabletop gaming play test ever - and we're committed to making it work.

Jeremy Crawford: We also like it when people make a distinction in their feedback between their reading of a rule and their play of it. The two experiences are often quite different from each other.

Mearls: Thanks for the questions, everyone! It's great to see what issues are coming up and how the game is playing.

Jeremy Crawford: Yeah, thanks, everyone! We hope you're enjoying digging into the game. We look forward to your feedback now and in the months ahead.

Trevor: That wraps our this Q&A. Thanks much to everyone for being a part of this and the D&D Next playtest! We'll keep you updated on the upcoming chats and other communications!
Morrus is online now Report Post

Dogs, booze and bling: Northern Ireland's medieval shopping mall | Medieval News

Dogs, booze and bling: Northern Ireland's medieval shopping mall | Medieval News

A new way for looking at markets for your rpgs using real life setting as a backdrop. Also history of the island itself could spawn several adventure seeds.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Friday, May 25, 2012

D&D Next material recieved

I like the other seventy million bloggers have received the e-mail about being in the next set of play testing.  Numbers have not been released but the number of download requests caused the main servers to crash for several hours today . Figuring it would take a greater length of time I opted to wait until 9pm est to start my attempts to download material. It still took two hours. But now
i am ready to start the play testing.  Those locally will get a time table via Face book concerning when and where to come give it a try.

What I am looking for is a return of the DM running the adventure and not just facilitating the adventures between the parties five minute workday. Is this edition easy to teach to the players and will it capture their imagination to grow their PC's and their own enjoyment of the game. 

Here hoping that I get the old feelings that make me want to create with this new edition as I felt in past editions.
More to follow.        

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

D&D live chat May 16th

D&D Next Chat Transcript (Mike Mearls & Jeremy Crawford)

This is the transcript of the D&D Next (5E) live chat held today. Mike Mearls and Jeremy Crawford were on hand to answer questions about the upcoming public playtests of D&D Next.

Mearls: Hello world.

Trevor: There's Mike Mearls, one of the stars of the show!

Mearls: Jeremy Crawford will be a little late. We just finished up a meeting on the playtest packet.

Trevor: You want to regale us with any playtest tidbits while we wait for him, Mike?

Mearls: Hmmm... let's see. I've been DMing mostly, and the rules have changed a lot over the past few days. Probably the funniest thing was guest starring as a librarian in a playtest game at DDXP. Also, I got to test the DR rules when the players had to cut open a dead wererat's stomach to find a gem it had swallowed. That was not how I expected to test those rules.

Trevor, you can go ahead with questions. Jeremy will be here shortly, and I can defer to him as needed.

Trevor: Alright, lets get the intro blurb in there and get started then.
Welcome everyone to the Q&A for the next iteration of D&D and the upcoming playtest! I'm Trevor Kidd, Community Manager for Wizards and D&D and I'll be facilitating the chat. Mike Mearls and Jeremy Crawford from the D&D design and development teams will be fielding Your questions.

Jeremy Crawford: Hello, everyone!

Trevor: This is a moderated chat, which means every comment or question you make is seen on our end of things, but you won't see it until we publish it to the room for Mike and/or Jeremy to talk about. With all that said, let me get out of the way and let Mike and Jeremy introduce themselves and say a few words. After that, we'll start fielding your questions!

And there we have Jeremy!

Alright - I'll leave the floor to you two. When you're done with introductions let me know and I'll get on to the questions.
Mearls: I'm Mike Mearls and I'm the senior manager for the D&D team. My job is to oversee the development of the game and make sure all the teams work together.

Jeremy Crawford: And I'm Jeremy Crawford, head of editing and development for D&D products.

Mearls: I also pitch in as needed to get work done. For instance, my other open window has the rules text for rituals, though those won't be in the initial playtest.

Jeremy Crawford: I do enjoy trying to get Mike to work as a writer still.
Mearls: I think we're ready for questions.

Trevor: To cover a lot of very basic questions out there, can you remind us when the playtest starts and give us a little information about what people can expect from this first playtest packet?

Mearls: The playtests starts on the 24th. That's next Thursday. Which is much sooner than it seems. Much, much sooner.

Jeremy Crawford: Here's what to expect in the packet . . .

Five pregenerated characters

The Caves of Chaos adventure

A bestiary to accompany the adventure

And rules of play, both for players and DMs

Mearls: We're doing two clerics to test the range of the domain/deity system.

Jeremy Crawford: One of the clerics is more of an armor-and-mace fellow, and the other is more of a mystic

The five characters will feature the background and theme system that we've alluded to in the past few months.

Trevor: Another very popular set of questions from many in the room: Who can play in the playtest, and how are we going to distribute the playtest information to people?

Jeremy Crawford: We hope everyone will play!

Mearls: The playtest is open to anyone who signs up, and the information will be available digitally. As part of signing up, there will be an online playtest agreement similar to the one we used for Dungeon Command last year.

monstermanual: What level of complexity will we see in the first wave playtest PCs, and what options will we have to adjust them to our taste?

Jeremy Crawford: There will be a range of complexity, from a relatively straightforward fighter to a class wizard.

By "class" I mean "classic".

Mearls: Character customization will come in a bit later. To start with, we're focusing on the core system.

Jeremy Crawford: We will roll out adjustment options in the next few months. For now, we'd like people to play with the pregens.

OngoingDamage: How different will the 5/24 playtest materials be from what we saw at PAX East? Did any of the PAX East playtest feedback get incorporated into the current version?

Jeremy Crawford: There will be many differences, both in the core mechanics and in the characters.

Mearls: Yes, we incorporated that feedback. The playtest will look fairly different in terms of characters. Mostly, things will look a little simpler for DMs. The classes, themes, and backgrounds are a little better organized, and we've done some work in figuring out what parts of a character sit where.

shamsael: How much can we expect the rules to change from the start of public playtesting to final release? To put it differently, how much of the system at this point is set in stone and how much is free to be tweaked or rewritten at this point?

Mearls: Probably the biggest change is in the mechanic for advantage and disadvantage. We've also have done a lot to the cleric, fleshing out domains and making those a bigger part of the class that changes a lot of stuff.

Jeremy Crawford: An example change: Spellcasters all have at-will spell options now.

Mearls: Nothing is set in stone. Since we're starting simple, we can make huge changes without massively reworking tons of text. We're taking it slowly precisely because we expect to release rules, incorporate feedback, than use that to drive the next wave of material.

John Sussenberger: Will we be able to run play tests in public locations, such as a game store or convention?

Jeremy Crawford: Addressing the previous question: The only things we won't budge on are the things set in D&D's stone, such as using the d20 or that the game contains wizards.

Mearls: I believe we're working on that option now. Right now, for the playtest each person taking part should sign up. We're working on something right now that will alow cons and stores to run stuff.

Gerardo: Hi, thanks for making this live chat. I've been following the character class design post and I'm intrigued to know how you measure balance. How do you know a class is balanced or not? Some number or value attached to powers that you add up and say OK it's good, or is it more a gut feeling based on the designers experience and playtest feedback?

Jeremy Crawford: It's a mix of math, playtest feedback, and a dash of intuition.

Mearls: It's a combination of the two. D&D covers so much ground, that we can balance stuff based on combat without actually balancing anything for a specific campaign. We're looking at each area of the game - combat, exploration, interaction - and making sure that characters can contribute in each area. It's maybe 50/50 art and science.

Mearls: Feedback will be the biggest, important factor for us.

The Mormegil: Can you tell us more about movement and positioning in D&D Next? What will it look like?What about attacks of opportunity? What are your thoughts about interrupts and other out-of-turn actions?

Jeremy Crawford: That's a Russian nesting doll of questions! Mike and I are conferring . . .

Our desks are next to each other, so we're chatting at the same time. The simple stuff first: Attacks of opportunity are not in this playtest, but the system does have rules that point to the peril of making ranged attacks in melee, for instance.

Mearls: Ha! Jeremy will love this question. I'm really not a fan of giving people extra turns in addition to their own turn. I think it really slows the game down. For movement and positioning, the goal is to focus more on terrain and interesting things to move to and around, rather than flanking and such.

There are off-turn actions in the game, but the philosophy now is to have them eat into your turn or have something you have to set up. For instance, instead of everyone automatically getting opportunity attacks, a character might need to take a feat or choose an ability that basically says, "If you make a melee attack on your turn, you get one opportunity attack for the next round."

A rogue might have this - you can move away from an enemy that moves next to you, but you lose your move on your next turn.

Arbanax: Can I ask how Monsters will be handled in terms of stat blocks and information, the off table help and fluff and the at table crunch?

Jeremy Crawford: In this playtest, you'll see shortened stat blocks in the adventure, and then full stat blocks in the bestiary.

The bestiary includes both mechanical information and lore.

What you'll see is just a starting point. We expect the stat block format and the lore information to evolve quite a bit in response to playtesting.

Jools: I'd love to know what your thoughts are on conditions in 5e. Something spoilery would be nice!

Jeremy Crawford: We've been discussing conditions quite a bit lately. They're certainly in the game. I'll be revising them this afternoon, in fact.
We're fans of conditions that make sense both as game mechanics and as something in the world. Prone, for example, is a useful game concept, and it matches what's going in the story. You're knocked on your butt!

Mearls: We're trying to keep the list of conditions slim and make it apply to things that are obvious changes in the world. For instance, right now invisible and ethereal are on the list of conditions. We also added intoxicated. Basically, what are things that when they happen to you have a clear effect on how you interact with the world?

Here's another thing - with stuff like paralyzed, we're dealing more in describing what happens rather than trying to make everything mechanical. So paralyzed says that you can' t move your limbs. Spellcasting specifies that you need to move your arms to cast a spell. Thus, a paralyzed creature can't cast spells.

The idea is that we give the DM clear mechanics, but also make it clear what's happening in the world so the DM can make any judgment calls as needed.

Jeremy Crawford: My favorite new condition is intoxicated.

Mike: How are we going to provide feedback on the open playtest?

Mearls: We'll have a series of surveys we're sending out. I also think that we might have a dedicated forum on the site for discussion, but I think Trevor might now more about that. The idea is to make it as easy as possible for us to capture feedback, while also reaching as wide an audience as possible.

Mearls: BTW, the surveys are being put together by the folks at WotC who do that for a living.

The Mormegil: I know your top one priority is making the game feel like D&D, but those of us who do not notice any distinctive feel in D&D and would like to help too may need a direction for their efforts. What are you looking for in this playtest? What do you expect from it?

Jeremy Crawford: We also want to know whether the game is enjoyable for you, whether the rules make sense, and whether is evokes a swords-and-sorcery feel.

Mearls: There are two ways to look at it.

If you're a long-time D&D fan, the playtest should feel like you're coming home again. We want the rules to be easy to use, rulings simple to make, and the game to move at a good pace. All while feeling like D&D at its heart.

If you don't have a particular attachment to D&D or its specific feel, then the game should be fun to play, interesting to run, and an overall good fantasy RPG.

Our biggest goal is making sure that the core rules are easy to understand, easy to use, and fully functional.

Tara: What were some of the major changes from the last few days?

Jeremy Crawford: Haha!

Mearls: Hmmm... is there anything we haven't changed in the past few days?

Jeremy Crawford: One of my favorite changes from this week is adding more flavorful effects to some of the cantrips.

Mearls: I did a review of our weapon table, and I think the spear was the one weapon I didn't comment on. Probably the biggest things are rogue schemes and cleric domains.

Jeremy Crawford: Yeah, the rogue has really come into focus this week.

Mearls: Yes, cantrips that you use to attack are basically utility cantrips that have a way you can use them against creatures. The ignite cantrip lets you start fires, whether its lighting a torch or a goblin's butt.

Kamikaze Midget: Can you tell us about anything you guys have discovered in focusing the game on the entire adventure, rather than on the individual encounter?

Jeremy Crawford: The poor goblin and his butt.

Mearls: The biggest thing is making it OK for one character to own a particularly encounter. If the wizard casts sleep and KOs a group of six kobolds, that's OK. In the next encounter, the rogue might sneak up on the kobold shaman and gank him, or the fighter blocks a doorway and takes down a wave of attackers. Same goes for characters with good social abilities, and so on.

It also means for a much faster game - characters contribute in each encounter, but we can let someone shine without feeling that everyone must have at least 4 or 5 turns to do their thing.

Jeremy Crawford: There is a tremendous amount of world texture that we can include when there isn't pressure to make everything count in every single combat encounter. We can include character options that speak to social situations, exploration, traveling on the high seas, hopping into other planes of existence, and so on, without segregating those options into little buckets.

Mearls: It also means that "unbalanced" options are more viable. For instance, in one adventure the characters fought a gang of hobgoblins. One of the hobgobs was a beast master who used a whip and a prod to drive a pair of giant scorpions forward. The rogue sniped the beast master, so the scorpions turned around and had their revenge on the tribe.

It ended the fight pretty quickly, but it made for a fun adventure. The characters ended up luring the scorpions into a room with a window, locking them in there while the rogue climbed out.

Brian: How do you plan on handling the discrepancy between the 4e-style spells for wizards/sorcerors (Powers) vs the older-style spells (A lot of very unique and varied spells)? Would both styles of play get along nicely in a game?

Jeremy Crawford: Yes, they get along together very nicely.

Mearls: We have some potentially interesting ideas for the warlock vs. sorcerer vs. the wizard. I can't say much, but when you have two or three classes using arcane magic, you have room to maneuver. In 3e the warlock was sort of 4e-like, as was the binder. I think we can make room for both in a way that makes those classes unique and fun.

The great thing about classes is that you can have a spell slot system, a spell point system, and a power system all in the same game.

Somnambulant gamer: Everyone's incredibly excited about this initial offering, do we know what kind of timeframe we're looking at for materials to generate new characters and a chance to see more of the core classes that will be released?

Jeremy Crawford: Even in the playtest spells, you will see elements from classic spells and elements from powers.

Mearls: Let me check our schedule. It's on a white board on the other side of my desk...

Jeremy Crawford: We plan to roll out character-customization options this summer.

Mearls: OK, if things go smoothly you'll have that stuff before the end of the summer. Keep in mind that feedback is a part of this, and it's all contingent on how much we need to change based on round 1.
Jeremy Crawford: And we'll roll out other classes bit by bit. Since our focus is on collecting feedback, we are not going to release too much at once. We want to make sure each part of the game gets the love it deserves.

Andrew: Can you comment on adventure pacing versus the wonder of magic? In 3e, PCs were often required to rest after the cleric/wizard were out of spells, regardless of the state of the rest of the party. In 4e, everyone can keep going until out of surges, but there was less "magical pizazz" across the classes -- a sword being a magic missile being a druid's claw.

Jeremy Crawford: We have been striving to connect pacing to concrete things in the game world: magical resources, such as spells; hit points; and various options that might rely on a character expending some of his or her vitality.

Mearls: That's a great question. We want magical to feel magical yet rooted in the world. The cantrip thing ties into this. Cantrips aren't specifically made to blast people, but a cantrip you use to create a small amount of acid as part of an alchemy experiment can also be a useful weapon. Spells should feel magical and maybe even mysterious in some way.

For instance, going back to cantrips, we specifically didn't want to just make a spell that was the same as a crossbow but it did fire damage. That sells magic short, IMO.

Somnambulant gamer: You mentioned all casters have at-will spell "options" now. Are these class features, or tied into the themes or backgrounds?

Jeremy Crawford: Both! The cleric and the wizard get them, and some backgrounds and themes offer them.

Mearls: Yes, both. At-will spells come with classes. Rogues and fighters can opt into that if they want. I'd also like to at some point offer an option for a non-at-will magic game, but we received overwhelming feedback in favor of at-will magic. That feedback was largely edition independent.

Jeremy Crawford: Yeah, when playing a spellcaster, many people like to feel like a spellcaster all the time and not have to resort to a crossbow--or a dart!

Preston: What races will be in the play test? Do you see race or culture as being a driving force behind a characters mechanics?

Jeremy Crawford: The classic four will be in the playtest: dwarf, elf, halfling, and human.

Mearls: Halfling, human, dwarf, and elf. We're actually doing a mix of race and culture with our approach. A high elf and a wood elf share some innately elf things, but also get some things distinct to their specific culture.

Jeremy Crawford: Right out of the gate, you'll see the high elf, for instance.

HustontheTodd: What I love about 4e is the ease with which I can throw an encounter together. What can I expect from dndnext to make adventure building fun?

Jeremy Crawford: While Mike answers that, I'll say something else about race. A thing I love about our current approach is that you don't just pick your race, such as dwarf. You also pick what kind of dwarf you are.

Mearls: 4e provides the standard we're using for DM tools and adventure building. My goal is to do a mix of basic D&D - which was fairly step-by-step - combined with 4e's approach, though focusing more on the adventure as a whole rather than encounters. We also know that DM experience plays a big role in how people approach adventure and campaign design, so we want to offer a lot of options including "roll lots of dice and randomly determine everything" to "do whatever you want."

RupertDnD: Are Fighters getting cool stuff too, like powers or maneuvers?
Jeremy Crawford: The fighter gets to carry my wizard's tea!

Mearls: Right now, we're keeping the fighter fairly basic but giving you those options in feats. However, the fighter does get a couple unique mechanics to make him different. This is definitely an area where we're looking at feedback, but so far people seemed more concerned with getting at-will magic that in making manuevers something all fighters automatically get.

And to be clear, right now if you spend a feat for maneuvers you're getting a whole suite of options to use, not just one thing. Also, I don't think the first pregen fighter has maneuvers to start with.

Jeremy Crawford: We're committed to giving fighter players interesting tactical options, but we also want to make it possible to play the simple basher. Feedback is usually split on wanting both types of fighter.

Jozh: Prestige Classes/Paragon Paths? In or out?

Mearls: We're not sure yet. One of our next big tasks is to look at high level play and how things might evolve beyond class. If we do paths or prestige classes, we want to make sure that they fit into the overall Next system in an organic way, We don't want to just bolt them in.
OK, one more question then I have a lunch meeting.

Jeremy Crawford: Our initial high-level playtests were a hoot and included elements similar to paragon paths / prestige classes, but we're still exploring options.

EdofDoom: Are there any obvious tanking mechanics in the new edition? Something that guarantees a wizard in the back doesn't get ganged up on by people running past the fighter?

Jeremy Crawford: There are definitely ways for one character to protect another. We have a whole theme dedicated to the concept, in fact, but you won't see a tank per se in the first batch of five characters.

Mearls: There are two things. First, creatures grant cover. So, cowering behind people is a good idea. That said, the basic option for that rests in a theme right now. My feeling on tanks is that it's best if a player wants to do that, rather than saying an entire swatch of characters are assigned that when a player might want to be a fighter to be good in combat.

I'd rather it be clear that a player has taken a theme to do that and is getting into it because that's what the player enjoys doing in D&D.
Thanks for the questions, everyone. This was a lot of fun. I've asked Trevor to capture the questions we couldn't get to so we can cover them before the playtest launches.

Jeremy Crawford: Yes, thank you, everyone!

Trevor: Alright, that wraps things up for the Q&A! Thanks everyone for all the great questions. We weren't able to get to them all, but as Mike mentioned, we will be trying to answer as many as we can in future articles and conversations.

Thans toMorrus for transcribing.

Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game Official Home Page - Article (Back to the Dungeon)

interesting artical by Matt James.

Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game Official Home Page - Article (Back to the Dungeon)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

2012 Gen Con Indy Event Catalog Posted

The Gen Con Indy 2012 Event Catalog is live!

Please take the next two weeks to review and begin planning your 2012 event schedule. You will be able to register for events beginning on Sunday, May 20 at noon eastern time, provided you have purchased your 2012 Gen Con Badge.

You can find event listings at registration.gencon.com. To view the listings, you will need to log into your Gen Con account, and click the “Find Events” link in the left navigation pane. From there, you can browse events by type, day, group, and more.

Additionally, you may review the schedule online at www.gencon.com at a link that will appear under the “Attend” menu. From “Attend,” you can mouse to “Events,” then click on “Event Catalog.”

Finally to download the spreadsheet version of the catalog, you can to the Community downloads page.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Final marketing fellowship winners announced for GENCON

Final Four Marketing Fellowship Winners Announced
The final four companies have been awarded the remaining Gen Con Indy 2012 Marketing Fellowships, joining Dead General’s Society LLC and Floodgate games which were previously announced. Marketing Fellowship recipients receive increased exposure, expanded booth space, and featured on-site marketing placements.

Companies selected include:

The Very Us Artists

The Very Us Artists are thrilled to make their debut at Gen Con Indy this year. They hope to bring something new and different to the Gen Con exhibit experience, namely a cyberpunk-fuelled multimedia anthology of original music and fiction called Foreshadows: The Ghosts of Zero.

To learn more about the Very Us Artists, check out http://foreshadows.net and visit them in Entrepreneurs’ Avenue at booth #1749.

Rather Dashing Games

Rather Dashing Games also will make their Gen Con Indy debut in 2012. Veteran game designer Mike Richie and intrepid artist Grant Wilson (of Ghost Hunters fame) have pooled their talents to launch an all-new game company. Their Gen Con launch product, Four Taverns will have players competing to manage the greatest tavern in the land, where thirsty adventurers gather at the close of their epic quests.

To find out more about Rather Dashing Games, go to www.ratherdashinggames.comor check out their booth (#1849) in Entrepreneurs’ Avenue.

Wargames Factory LLC

Wargames Factory LLC specializes in hard plastic, wargaming miniatures in 28mm scale. They also recently have branched into 15mm scale with their new WWII line. Currently their kits cover Sci Fi, Historical, Fantasy and Modern genres with many new figures in the works. Their team prides themselves on achieving the highest detail obtainable in plastic miniatures and providing their kits at excellent prices.

Find Wargames Factory LLC in Entrepreneurs' Avenue at booth #1649 or learn more about their products at www.wargamesfactory.com

Scallywags International, LLC
Scallywags International, LLC, the mad partnership between the massive master of mustaches, Darren J. Gendron, and the tiny tattooed terror, Obsidian Abnormal, is showing off two new games at Gen Con Indy 2012.The Scallywags’ first board game release, Scurvy Dogs: Pirates and Privateers, was the result of a successful Kickstarter launch. As part of that promotion, the secret limited edition cards of the Mermaid, Melusine, Siren and Manatee will be available over Gen Con weekend.

Also, the Scallywags will be demoing a project known only as C3G. There are rumors of ninjas, weretigers, zombies, gnomes, erasers, Santa, and geeks involved.

Visit Scallywags International, LLC in Entrepreneurs' Avenue at booth #1949 and view their games at www.dernworks.com

Wonderful article from Morris concerning 5th edition.

Prose, Terminology, Fluff, & Presentation: Spreadsheets or Haiku?

One subject which seems to be raging like wildfire across various threads here on the forums right now is not about the rules of D&D Next, but merely about the way those rules are presented.

It turns out that this is a highly contentious topic. The opinions people hold are widespread and diametric, and very, very strongly held. Unfortunately, while a modular rules system can possibly appeal to different tastes in terms of mechanical complexity, the books themselves can only have one approach to presentation. That makes this a particularly difficult subject for WotC - there is no way they will able to not annoy a whole bunch of people, whatever they choose to do (unless they literally produce three different versions of each book!)

Here are just some of the threads which address this topic: I've given my own opinion a number of times; some people agree with me, but it's clear that an equal number do not. This really appears to be a divisive issue.

So, what is the issue? Well, to try and break it down into its simplest terms, it's about the language and layout used when presenting rules material. If I were to engage hyperbolic mode and create a witty and hilarious (no, really!) "scale" depicting the range of opinion, it might look something like this. Or it might not. Maybe a little. Anyway:

Now, obviously that's me being a little silly. But I hope it gives you a sense of what I mean when I talk of varied opinions as to how the rules text should be presented.

For the record, I am personally firmly positioned about 3/4 of the way between 1E (Gygax) and 3E/Pathfinder.

On a very basic level, those who trend towards the "spreadsheet" end of the scale tend to do so in support of clarity; while those who trend towards the haiku end of the scale tend to do so in support of flavour and immersion. Generally speaking, the former support "fluff" text, but want it kept away from the mechanics with an iron wall, and the latter - with some exceptions - don't generally want a return to Gygax's specific personal writing style, but to a style which is more prose-inclined than table-delineated. I don't think anybody is advocating either of the extremes on my scale.

Let's look at some examples. I'm grabbing these from the above linked threads, so thanks to those who originally posted them.
Sleep (3rd Edition)
Level: Brd 1, Sor/Wiz 1
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 round
Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Area: One or more living creatures within a 10-ft.-radius burst
Duration: 1 min./level
Saving Throw: Will negates
Spell Resistance: Yes

A sleep spell causes a magical slumber to come upon 4 Hit Dice of creatures. Creatures with the fewest HD are affected first. Among creatures with equal HD, those who are closest to the spell’s point of origin are affected first. Hit Dice that are not sufficient to affect a creature are wasted.

Sleeping creatures are helpless. Slapping or wounding awakens an affected creature, but normal noise does not. Awakening a creature is a standard action (an application of the aid another action).

Sleep does not target unconscious creatures, constructs, or undead creatures.

Material Component: A pinch of fine sand, rose petals, or a live cricket.

Sleep (4th Edition)
You exert your will against your foes, seeking to overwhelm them
with a tide of magical weariness.
Daily ✦ Arcane, Implement, Sleep
Standard Action Area burst 2 within 20 squares
Target: Each creature in burst
Attack: Intelligence vs. Will
Hit: The target is slowed (save ends). If the target fails its
first saving throw against this power, the target becomes
unconscious (save ends).
Miss: The target is slowed (save ends).
The difference in styles is, I hope, fairly clear. Both are presenting similar information, but in very different ways. To me, they feel very different; neither is filled with paragraphs of torrid fiction or fluff text, but the former - to me - is more evocative than the latter. One interests and engages me, the other does not. One makes me want to cast a sleep spell, the other just lists the mechanical advantages of doing so. One feels to me like fantasy, the other just feels like information. It actually saddens me that our hobby, the hobby I grew up with, has reached the point where people consider a paragraph a turgid barrier of insurmountable difficulty. What happened?

That's probably not even close to the best example of what I mean. The difference is even more pronounced when it comes to magic items (and if anyone wants to whip up some examples, I'd love to include them here).

So, other than briefly mentioning my own preference above, I've avoided arguing my opinion so far in this article in favour of simply summarizing the discussion. To put my opinion shortly: I personally believe that greater gameworld immersion is achieved when the flavour is intermixed and thus harder to ignore (I find that 4E's powers in-game have a tendency to manifest as a non-descript attack roll and effect, though I'm sure your own mileage may well vary), whereas when playing a 3E wizard I "feel" more wizardly as I read the spell description. I recognise that some of you will feel that it's my own fault if I find it harder to immerse with one than the other, and that it's all to do with the player not the game, but you'll remember that I've already argued that game syntax and rules structure are as influential as the people themselves when it comes to how a game manifests itself at the game table, and that the same exact people will play differently when given different RPGs to play. So the presentation does have something to do with it.

So that's one half of the debate. The other half deals with the concept of readability. Is a D&D rulebook designed to be read, or simply referenced? Again, as you'd expect, opinions are divided.

When I was younger, I used to spend hours reading and re-reading my DMG and PHB and other books - both 1E and 2E materials. They engaged me; and they still do - I frequently pull them off the shelf and read a few pages. That consequently excited my imagination.

I did that less with 3E, and I don't do it at all with 4E. With 4E, I just look stuff up, like I'm using a dictionary.

Now you might argue that's not a problem. The books are rulebooks; their function is the same as the instruction manual for a VCR, not a novel. You use them to access information, but you don't buy them to read. That may well be true for many, but it isn't for me - reading those 1E and 2E books was an integral and pleasant - I'd argue vital - part of my D&D experience growing up; a memory I cherish, and one I'd love to experience again. But I can understand the position of those who simply want clarity of information and ease of reference: I don't share their desire, but I understand it.

When I say I don't share their desire for clarity, I guess I should be clear myself - I'm certainly not advocating an opaque, incomprehensible wall of text. I'm advocating clearly written, engaging, well-indexed rules. I like clarity as much as the next guy; just not at the expense of readability.

I'd also like to add that I'm not talking about pages of "story fluff" or filling the books with sidebars of torrid fiction. Hints at a default setting are fine, but I don't want to be swamped with one; fiction I get from good fiction novelists, and settings I get from setting books or my own imagination. I want the text to prod my imagination so that I come up with my own stufff, not tell me a story. I'm talking about the presentation of the rules, not fluff text.

As I said, it's a contentious issue, and there really does not seem to be a consensus on it. In fact, it seems to get people quite angry in places!

As a final note before I sign off - I'd just like to mention that if I open the 5E PHB and see a sentence along the lines of:

Play a dragonborn if:
  • You want to be scaly.
... then Lisa Stevens, Erik Mona, and Jason Bulmahn will have won me as a customer for life without ever having to lift a finger! I understand the desire to appeal to all demographics, but I feel that 4E was pitched a little too young for me.

Thoughts are welcome. I know this one is gonna be divisive, so please make sure you stay civil to each other.

A Hobbyist's Blog: Fading Suns 3 Stillborn

APossible tentative tale to help my freelancer friends.

A Hobbyist's Blog: Fading Suns 3 Stillborn: Fading Suns 3rd edition has been a long road for me. I have spent 4 years of my spare time labouring on it, and it has been a labour of l...