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Tuesday, 10th January, 2012, 10:23 PM #1
Guide (Lvl 11)
Knightfall's "D&D Next" Wish List!
D&D Next must feel like D&D. This was my main problem with 4E. It didn't evoke the feeling of what D&D should be: not for character design; not for game play; not for setting design.
The rulebooks for D&D Next should not read like dry textbooks. D&D is about having fun. While reading the core books, there should be an element of story to go along with the rules. Learning the game should be an enjoyable experience. It should not be a horrible chore that makes my head hurt.
One set of core rule books. In order to play D&D Next, I should only need the Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, and Monster Manual. The iconic core races and classes as defined by the History of the Game must be included in the PHB. Races: Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Half-Elf, Half-Orc*, Halfling, and Human. Classes: Assassin*, Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk*, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue (Thief), Sorcerer, and Wizard. *I could see these three options being detailed in a later book; the half-orc isn't a dealbreaker for me, but it should likely be included in the PHB, regardless.
If the designers feel they have to add another race (or two) to the core PHB, I suggest they look to the old school settings for that race instead of a newer race without a historical basis. Yes, I like the dragonborn, but it isn't an iconic race from the game's past. And any new core race should not be one of the "evil" races (i.e. drow). Here is my suggestion: rakasta. It is an iconic Mystaran race and adding it to the core would go a long way towards bringing old school gamers back into the fold (IMO).
KISS. The core game should be simple to learn, teach, and play. Optional rules, that haven`t existed since the game's early days, should not be in the core rulebooks. Save those layers of complexity for add-on sourcebooks. Levels 1 to 20 should be the baseline, but epic levels should be part of the core design. Tiers are good, but they should not be a straightjacket. 4E conditions were a good concept but overdone. Scale back everything. Feats. Skills. Powers. Gear. Make the various aspects of the game's design mean something to the players.
Miniatures should not define combat. Minis are cool; gamers love to collect and use them. However, D&D should not be a tactical war game. Imagination is the key to a D&D combat session. The design must allow for the game to be played without miniatures. Add it must NOT take hours to play out one combat session.
Monsters are monsters; races are races. One of the best things about 4E was creating a divide between defining creatures as monsters versus defining creatures as races. The stats for humanoids as they appear in the MM should be separate from their stats as PC races. I still want an appendix in the first MM that gives PC stats for the iconic D&D humanoids that don't appear in the PHB as PC races, however. And I want detailed guidelines in the DMG explaining how to create your own monsters and races. The DM must be able to convert homebrewed monsters and races right from the start. Monster and race designs should make sense just by looking at them; it all should be recognizable and logical.
Monsters should be iconic. D&D has a huge library of monsters to select from for the game. The first MM should take the most iconic D&D creatures in existence and put them all into one book. If this means the first MM is a little bit bigger, so be it. Monsters should not have silly sounding compound names that make no sense. I'm not saying that monsters with compound names are all bad, but the good ones are easy to spot. Owlbear is a good example, and it is iconic. Bearhound is also good even though it isn't as iconic. Many of the monster names in 4E made me cringe. Don't create dozens of variant monsters just so you can sell miniatures based on them.
Multiple monster books are a good thing, but the content/titles of the monster books must make sense. It's okay to have a Monster Manual II since there have been three different versions (1E, 3E, and 4E). And there should be a Fiend Folio at some point. It's an iconic monster book name. Instead of having Monster Manual III, IV, etc., consider reviving the idea of releasing a Monster Manual Annual. The books wouldn't have to be hardcovers. In fact, it would be a benefit for them not to be. A nice boxed set of monsters would be great, however. The first Monster Vault for 4E Essentials was one of the coolest products I've ever bought. Don't be afraid to release monster books that focus on individual campaign settings. The 4E monster book for Dark Sun is one of the best monster books ever released for D&D.
Great monster references make DMs laugh maniacally; bad monsters references sit on shelves collecting dust.
Balance is important, but fun is more important. The balance that exists in 4E goes way too far. Classes should play differently and allow for diverse character archetypes. 3E had a lot of balance issues, but it allowed for many options. (Maybe too many options, by the end.) What D&D Next needs to find a middle ground that allows for interesting, complex characters while keeping any one class from outshining every other class too much. It will be a tough thing to do, I admit. But, the designers must attempt to find that middle ground while keeping the game fun.
Magic should be magical. Arcane and divine characters must cast spells. Vancian magic must be in D&D Next; however, their should be an option for those that hate Vancian magic and want something else. Spell points come to mind. Magical items must evoke wonderment in play and giddiness in players when discovered. Magic must not be dull; magic defines the D&D experience. It doesn't matter if the player's character is a fighter or a wizard. Magic should enhance the play experience of D&D Next for all characters. And, magic must have an element of risk. It is powerful and dangerous.
Characters must be in peril. Adventuring is a dangerous lifestyle. Characters who delve into dungeons or face off against marauding orcs and ogres should be at risk. Death, in the game, should not casual. Healing magic should save a character's life, but it must be a struggle to live in a D&D Next world. Player's must be on the edge of their seats; the prayers their character's utter should be heartfelt. Life and death must matter!
Don't kill all the sacred cows. D&D has a lot of history. D&D Next must honor the traditions of the game while bringing the play style into the modern age. If the designers really want to unite the old school with the new world then they're going to have to find a way to resurrect some of those dead, divine bovines. People who like old school rules need a way to use those rules with D&D Next. (Some people [not me] want the numbers to scale down rather than up, for combat.) Alignment must exist in D&D Next, and it should take into account Chaos vs. Law and Good vs. Evil. Unaligned is a great way to define Neutrality.
Options! Options! Options! While the core game must be simple, D&D Next must allow for added layers of complexity. The game needs advanced rulebooks/sets, but don't overdo it. Each sourcebook should have its own focus, and it should be modular. Tome of Magic is an iconic book name. D&D Next should have such a book and it should take what is in the core and expand on it while offering new options. This is where arcane classes such as the Elementalist and Warlock should be detailed. Unearthed Arcana is another iconic sourcebook name as are Book of Marvelous Magic, Book of Wondrous Inventions, Creature Catalog, Deities and Demigods, Demonomicon, Draconomicon, Eldritch Wizardry, Epic-Level Handbook, Legends and Lore, Manual of the Planes, Oriental Adventures, Planar Handbook, Psionics Handbook, Rules Cyclopedia, Spell Compendium, and Wrath of the Immortals. Generic splats are okay, but they are rarely as good as unique sourcebooks with a strong focus.
Make Deities and Demigods the go to sourcebook for the iconic D&D pantheons: Dragonlance, Greyhawk, and Forgotten Realms. Make Legends and Lore the go to sourcebook for real world mythologies. But, have those books be for both the DM and the players. They are to the divine what Book of Marvelous Magic, Eldritch Wizardry, and Tome of Magic are to the arcane. The Epic-Level Handbook would be for expanding the options for 21 to 30 while Wrath of the Immortals would take D&D Next to even higher levels, as per the old Immortals rules.
There should be no such thing as a dead campaign setting. This is a big deal for me. Now, I'm not asking WotC to create new campaign setting books for all the D&D Worlds (although that would be awesome ); what I want is for D&D Next to allow me to run a campaign in any of the old settings without having to rewrite the bulk of rules to fit the campaign world. Yes, I will have to do some work, but if D&D Next is truly going to be modular then it better be modular across the vastness of the D&D multiverse. If I want to run a Mystara campaign, it better be possible. And, the settings you do create new campaign books better be supported beyond three books, or I'm going to be pissed!
You're starting with the Forgotten Realms. That's good. Consider making a boxed set for it. Have the set include two big books for the DM and a basic book for the players. Include maps. Great maps. Make buying it an event for FR fans. MAke them want to line up for it outside their FLGS like their lining up to see the next Star Wars/Star Trek film. Make it bold. Make it iconic. And support the setting with material beyond what is offered behind the DDI paywall.
D&D Insider must be optional. And it must be a lot better! D&D doesn't exist behind a paywall. It is not an MMO. I'm not saying get rid of it. That would be a bad business move. However, there should be more content on WotC's web site that is free. And the content that is behind the paywall needs to be a lot better for me to even consider subscribing. There has to be content for all editions. PDFs would be good, but it would be better if D&D Next allowed for new content to be converted to older editions (and vice versa) through the use of the online tools. Plus, there should be a POD option for DRAGON and DUNGEON content. We should be able to build our own books, pay a minimum fee to print them for our own use, an share our design concepts with the D&D Insider community. You do that, and I'll subscribe.
I'll have more to add to this wish list at a later date.
Robert P. Blezard, a.k.a. Knightfall
Last edited by Knightfall; Tuesday, 10th January, 2012 at 10:37 PM.Robert Blezard
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