Mike Mearls Details Cut D&D Next Features

Mike Mearls Details Cut D&D Next Features

Mike Mearls discusses mechanics that were cut from D&D Next, including Weapon Powers and automatic success.

In his latest Legends & Lore column, Mike Mearls, senior manager of the Dungeons & Dragons research and design team, has provided some insight into a number of rules that did and did not end up making the cut for the upcoming D&D Next.

Mearls reports that the Advantage and Disadvantage rule was a resounding success, both internally and in playtest polls. For those unfamiliar with the playtest package, this is a mechanic whereby players get to roll two d20s and use the higher result when they have an edge in a situation, or the lower of the two when they're at a disadvantage. It's a system that replaces the traditional +2 bonus or -2 penalty mechanic to cut down on math - which can get complex when there are multiple bonuses to factor in - and swaps it out with the much more appealing dice rolling.

A mechanic that didn't make the cut was Weapon Powers, which Mearls describes as "similar to spells, giving each weapon one or more special maneuvers it could execute." While the concept of giving a flail a trip attack "sounded cool" in theory, the rules became bloated with a degree of complexity the dev team opted to avoid. Another dropped mechanic was automatic success on certain checks, which "didn't mesh with all play styles."

Mearls goes on to explain how the Concentration rule - which allows spellcasters to only have one concentration spell in effect at a time - adds a little bit of complexity in order to reduce a greater amount of complexity. Sure, players have to track which concentration spells are in effect, but the result is fewer buffs and control effects to keep track of.

Source: Wizards of the Coast

Permalink

I'm not sure how to feel about streamlined rules. 4E streamlined a lot of function right out.

Zachary Amaranth:
I'm not sure how to feel about streamlined rules. 4E streamlined a lot of function right out.

One day it'll end up like my old joke d8 system...

The GM rolls 1d8 to determine how well they did GMing and the players each roll 1d8 to determine how much they enjoyed the game session.

Zachary Amaranth:
I'm not sure how to feel about streamlined rules. 4E streamlined a lot of function right out.

In a sad little bit of irony 4E was also the best designed and best balanced version of DnD to date, and literally the only one where being an Arcane Caster didn't automatically make you top-tier.

Honestly I'm waiting for when Next finally comes out before I draw a conclusion. I'm rather concerned that in their quest to make a version to appeals to fans of every other version they'll create a version that appeals to no-one.

RhombusHatesYou:

One day it'll end up like my old joke d8 system...

The GM rolls 1d8 to determine how well they did GMing and the players each roll 1d8 to determine how much they enjoyed the game session.

And then it'll get streamlined into a coin flip.

Omnicrom:

In a sad little bit of irony 4E was also the best designed and best balanced version of DnD to date, and literally the only one where being an Arcane Caster didn't automatically make you top-tier.

Well, until they revised it.

Honestly I'm waiting for when Next finally comes out before I draw a conclusion. I'm rather concerned that in their quest to make a version to appeals to fans of every other version they'll create a version that appeals to no-one.

I'll certainly give it a shot. It's just, I like the idea behind streamlining, but Wizards is one of those companies that has made me apprehensive about the process. There seems to be a very all-or-nothing approach. Either a system is horribly broken and bloated or it is too minimalist to cover things. Honestly, I'd rather see middle ground, but Wizards seems to want to fit everything on a playing card.

When I first played 4E, I thought the accusations of it being too video gamey were just sour grapes, but then I started to realise that it very much is like a video game and it limits the ways you can interact with the world or with a threat. I'd be very happy if they could open it up some more and maintain balance.

Zachary Amaranth:

RhombusHatesYou:

One day it'll end up like my old joke d8 system...

The GM rolls 1d8 to determine how well they did GMing and the players each roll 1d8 to determine how much they enjoyed the game session.

And then it'll get streamlined into a coin flip.

Omnicrom:

In a sad little bit of irony 4E was also the best designed and best balanced version of DnD to date, and literally the only one where being an Arcane Caster didn't automatically make you top-tier.

Well, until they revised it.

Honestly I'm waiting for when Next finally comes out before I draw a conclusion. I'm rather concerned that in their quest to make a version to appeals to fans of every other version they'll create a version that appeals to no-one.

I'll certainly give it a shot. It's just, I like the idea behind streamlining, but Wizards is one of those companies that has made me apprehensive about the process. There seems to be a very all-or-nothing approach. Either a system is horribly broken and bloated or it is too minimalist to cover things. Honestly, I'd rather see middle ground, but Wizards seems to want to fit everything on a playing card.

When I first played 4E, I thought the accusations of it being too video gamey were just sour grapes, but then I started to realise that it very much is like a video game and it limits the ways you can interact with the world or with a threat. I'd be very happy if they could open it up some more and maintain balance.

Well the way they are streamlining next is to make what rules they do have nonrestrictive. Like the advantage disadvantage example they gave its a simple easy to remember things mechanically, but one that can be applied flexibly to many types of game situations. Where as the mentioned weapon powers made is so that was the thing those weapons did, its adding complexity but in some ways costing possibility. With them you have this attack you do with preset rules and results, without them in a more open system you go I want to try a trip attack and the dm can go "sure fails are good at that but it does less damage" or some such thing.

I'm going to have to stick to our 3.5/pathfinder hybrid for now, as it gives us all of what we want out of the game. But, I am pleased to hear that Next is coming along with some interesting rules, and will try to keep abreast of it's state.

Wait, you mean to tell me that spellcasters can only cast a SINGLE buff/summon/whatever at any given time?

Because that kinda fucks a bunch of playstyles in the ass.

I mean, I suppose it could be an attempt to remedy the problem in 3.5 where playing a buffing/utility wizard VASTLY outclassed most other options, especially blasting which was practically a noobie trap.

But I think that removing the ability to play a buffing caster entirely is a bit much.

I've finally reached the point where I no longer hate 4ed with a burning passion, I just recognize it as a great tactical minis game. I'm fine with retooling DnD from the ground up; I've played 3.5/pathfinder long enough to know that it has some pretty fundamental issues. Next sounds like it might be doing things different, but in a way that still feels like a damn RPG. Melee classes keep the pace of magic users (mostly), each class has branching progression (a concession so players don't make as many broken builds), and combat's more interesting when it's not your turn.

There was also an early idea of tying skills into a characters backstory which I utterly loved. Is that still in the current iteration of Next?

After I moved onto Numenera, which is a lot more rules light. I don't think I can ever go back to the bloated mess of systems like Pathfinder and D&D.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here