Sunday, January 29, 2012

D&D Next

After seeing transcripts of all of the seminars from this weekend, I am very excited about the direction 5E is taking. You can read all of the details at EN World (and keep track of future developments as well), but here are some of the highlights for me so far:

1. The game begins with a bare-bones, basic-level game as the default that will allow you to add more levels of complexity if you want them with expansion modules. For instance, if you play a fighter, you can choose to play a straight-line, out of the book fighter. As you gain levels, your new abilities can be set by the basic class. However, if you want customization options, you will be able to choose alternative abilities to customize your build.

2. Powers are gone. Every character following the same design model will be left behind in 4E. Vancian spell casting (i.e. memorized spells from 1E-3E) are back - HOWEVER, wizards and their ilk will be able to use feat slots to gain at-will abilities to keep them from resorting to throwing daggers, etc. Spells that offer non-combat options (charm person has been mentioned) will also be back in the game. For that matter, all classes will have abilities that are usable outside of combat.

3. The new game will seem to feature a 'flatter' bonus curve, eliminating the +18 to hit and monster AC's that routinely reach 30+. Again, taking the fighter as an example, they mentioned that a player might choose to take a special attack or extra feat instead of gaining a bonus to hit upon gaining a level, indicating that gathering up every plus you can stack will be unnecessary. Magic items will also not be figured into the math, removing the expectation that every character has magic weapons and armor.

4. The default stat generation will revert back to 'roll 4d6 and drop the lowest', with an option to use a point-buy system. The important part about this to me is that this removes the 4E expectation that every character has a maxed out primary stat. When we played 4E, every fighter had an 18 or 20 in Strength, every wizard had it in Intelligence, etc. Again, with the 'flatter' curve mentioned above, having maxed stats will be less important.

5. Creating a character will including picking a class, race, and theme. Besides race giving you a bonus stat, class will also provide a bonus - so a fighter gets a +1 Strength, a rogue a +1 Dexterity, etc. They have trained these abilities so it makes sense they have improved them. This suggests that minimum requirements for classes will not be used. All three of these elements will also determine the skills you gain. The theme is the new element that allows to to tailor your class - a theme might be noble or knight, or something more exotic like 'plane-touched' or characterful like 'pub-crawler' (yes, that was an example from the seminar).

6. Rather than a set list of skills, there will be a more open ended system, with skills simply being tied to abilities. The DM will have guidelines for resolving actions. You want to kick open a door? The DM has an idea of how tough the door is and checks your Strength. You've got a 17, so the DM says 'you kick the door down' and the game moves on. If you have a 13 Strength, the DM might call for a Strength roll, just like we did in AD&D. Finally, if you have an 8 Strength, the DM can just tell you 'no'.

7.  Monsters will not follow the same rules as PC's,allowing the DM to create variants on the fly (the body guard orc has +4AC and more hp, the gnoll shaman can cast fireball, etc. Once again, with the math curve being smaller, monsters will retain relevancy longer in the campaign without the need for the ridiculous escalation in hit points, AC's of 30, etc.

That's enough for now. As I said you can read through all of the details on EN World, but I am very pleased with what's trickled out so far...

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