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