D&D 5E D&D Next Blog - Wizards Like to Roll Dice Too


Yeah, I really wish the polls were better written. I suspect they're just meant to be used internally to bolster whatever point Monte or someone else is trying to make, and thus waving around numbers like "47% of the players neither disagree with nor agree with this idea!" is just rhetorical cover for whatever they want it to say.

I doubt that...I'm pretty sure they're not meant to be taken too seriously and are geared more to generating a discussion.

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First Post
OK. me? For SKILLS, I used taking 10 or taking 20 against inanimate objects or unintelligent animals. But if it's against any semi-intelligent creature I would find a way to make it opposed.

But these situations get weird from table to table because of the whole Social vs. non-Social skills argument. (A 30-part, multi-year 2001-2012 argument.)

And that is good. It means D&D can be different from one table to the next.

For COMBAT, I like the attack against a fixed DC. it is universal, understood and doesn't take people out of character. It's been around forever.

So whether magic or martial, a To-Hit is a To-Hit.

GM Dave

First Post
Just a few thoughts on spells;

1> Damage spells: I feel these already have a 'save' mechanic built into them with the rolling of the damage dice. A 5d6 fireball can do anywhere from 5 to 30 damage. A bad roll and the damage is poor and evidently the spell didn't do much in the world. There is no need to apply an additional 'save' on top of the damage roll. If 5d6 is considered too much damage to take in one 'blow' then change it to either less damage or increase the level that the spell is acquired to make 5d6 appropriate to the fight. It is faster ans simpler to handle in game play.

2> Save or Die/Petrify/FUBAR spells: Many of these spells have already have had the effects changed to be more a series of effects with multiple saves before the final effect is imposed. Sleep starts with slow and goes to unconscious. Petrify starts with slow, goes to immobilize, and ends with petrify. The multiple chances for recovery and rounds taken before final implementation allows the player and team to react with saving magics or techniques. I would suggest that 'solo' monsters only have portions of their bodies affected by these spells rather then their whole game value being decided on a couple of saves. Polymorph spells would render an area non-functional until 'healed' on a solo and require a Polymorph to be applied to every major area of the creature for a full transformation (dragons are hard to turn into sheep as a result while an ogre would be easy as it is only a single application).

3> Penalty Spells ~ Debuffs: They work on targets but only the biggest penalty of all types of effects applied is used for calculation. This means, Rash of Irritation for -1 to attack and Chains of Rapture for -3 to attack (Spell names made up) result in a total of -3 penalty to attack and not -4. Again, when dealing with solo opponents I would have the penalty only being applied to one set of attacks on the creature (players would have choice of wings, head, tail, and claws on a dragon as the different areas to apply modifiers). Group affecting modifiers would hit two areas on a solo but otherwise affect the normal limit for the spell on a regular group.

4> Other Spells (not damage, save or die, not penalty): These just work though they have obvious signs of magical nature unless specifically detailed in the spell (invisibility would be an example). This means that most spells have some way of being 'detected' if someone is looking for the effect (illusions spells might have a higher level of difficulty then a summoning spell to determine magic was being used).


First Post
I like the idea of the traditional saving throw because it makes affecting someone with magic mechanically different from attacking someone with a weapon. I think that makes each of those activities, and consequently the classes involved with those activities, feel more distinctive from one another in play. This is important to me because I believe part of the choice of which class to play is a choice of what kind of gameplay experience the player wants, and the more distinct those options are the more distinct and meaningful the player's choice will be.


Except for the fact that they aren't just a duration mechanic. If an attack is going to force you into a bad situation, such as off a cliff, guess what you roll? Or, you hit zero hit points, you are now dying, guess what you roll to stop dying?

And they are still present in the game regardless, which is counter to what Monte is saying.

Could it be that Monte is referring to saves as seen up until 4e - which is pretty much gone. Sure, there is still something called a saving throw, but let's be honest, we might as well toss a coin, if it were not for a few modifiers at time.

Look, Monte has never been my favorite designer. I shipped 3.0 and 3.5 is still my least favorite edition of DND. But give the man a break and some respect. Stop assuming the worst every time something is posted. Just because it's possible to twist and misunderstand something he writes about 4e doesn't mean it should be.

I for one like the idea of magic having a somewhat different mechanic from combat. It *should* feel different.

What's more, the swingier opposed roll just 'feels' right somehow for magic. It's less predictable.

That said, having minions take 10 is quite reasonable and will speed play. I wouldn't do this for non-minions, myself, but of course others may disagree.


First Post
I had a hard time choosing how to answer.
Not because I'm undecided, I know that I prefer attack rolls against a static defense for both normal attacks and magic (like in 4E), but because the polls are badly constructed.
And it really makes me wonder if, as someone before me speculated, they are really polls to get our feedback or only to support what they already think.
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What's more, the swingier opposed roll just 'feels' right somehow for magic. It's less predictable.

Opposed rolls are less swingy.

If you mean (A+ d20) vs (B + d20).

This comes down to +d20-d20 vs B-A (rather than d20 vs (B+10)-A ??)

The shape of a the probability distribution of d20-d20 is the same as d20+d20, if that helps see the shape.#

For d20-d20 there are 20/400 ways to get a result of 0. There is one way to get a result of +19 and 1 way to get -19.

[# Equally the result of d6-d6 is equivalent to 2d6-7 - and not the same as d11-6.]


Can't we have it all?

Conjurations (Acid Arrow), Transmutations (Polymorph), and Illusions (Color Spray) are Attacks vs DCs

These would be Str or Dex based as they are aimed attacks. Int is just used for more spells and learning requirements.

Evocations (Fireball), Necromancy (Scare), and Enchantments (Hold Person) are DC vs Saving throws.

The target saves against the wizard's Int score.

Everyone wins!


First Post
Can't we have it all?

Conjurations (Acid Arrow), Transmutations (Polymorph), and Illusions (Color Spray) are Attacks vs DCs

These would be Str or Dex based as they are aimed attacks. Int is just used for more spells and learning requirements.

Evocations (Fireball), Necromancy (Scare), and Enchantments (Hold Person) are DC vs Saving throws.

The target saves against the wizard's Int score.

Everyone wins!
Well, everyone except the ones like me that would like a unified mechanic. ;)


First Post
My preference: one target - wizard rolls attack; multiple targets - wizard rolls effect, targets roll save.

Basically attack rolls for ray and touch spells, saves for area spells.

It's fine if some powerful spells include both an attack and a save against some part of the effect. Disintegrate, for example. However, I don't want either the attack roll or the save to become an automatic fail/success, like often happened with (ranged) touch attacks in 3e.


As long as the math is right, I don't see much reason to get worked up over this. Easy to adjust who does how much rolling without throwing off the game at your own table.

I do like static defenses, especially because of the rock-paper-scissors aspect of 4e. If anything I felt they didn't go far enough in that direction; it would be nice to have to adapt one's tactics more rather than less to a given monster. I dislike the "everything is effective against everyone" approach.

Despite my preference for static defenses, two things went wrong with 4e's base system. One is that duration is unrelated to the underlying defense. So, e.g., once a strong-willed character is hit with a charm spell they don't get free any faster than a weak-willed character.

The second is that save ends effects were generally awful. You had to hit them first, and then they lasted on average 1.5 rounds. Yipee.

So what I'd like to see is:

1) Caster rolls for instant durations.

2) Target rolls for everything with a duration on their turn. So at least give one round of effect before they break free for daily powers. (You can have it get worse after they fail a save, like 4e Sleep, but round 1 should be an Effect.)

3) Saves apply ability bonuses and are against appropriate modifiers, so that high-Con characters shrug poison effects more quickly, etc.

Any of those could be opposed rolls, e.g., a continuing battle of wills between a caster and someone he's mentally dominated. As I said, that's easy to change at any given table if the math is right.

You know, he's probably never even read the books. I bet he can't even read.
And he punched kittens.


I heard he punched Bill Cavalier in the face at Gen Con. He may look meek, but Monte is a pugilistic badass :)

Seriously though, i dont understand folks who accuse him of not having read 4E. I am quite certain reading and playing 4E was something of a requirement for everyone involved.

It doesn't really matter who rolls, mathematically, so long as there's only one roll, and the DC is set propperly.

For instance, if my DC to hit a monster is 18, and I have a +7, I hit him 50% of the time. If you wanted to have the monster 'save,' instead, you'd just reverse those numbers.

Opposed rolls change the math, though. So that would be yet another thing to take into account...

Mechanical resolution is ultimately abstract and gamist, not something that matters 'within the story.' You'd never talk IC about any mechanical difference between saving throws and attack rolls, for instance, so having differences for the sake of difference is pointless.


First Post
I think it's another psychological element. Some players don't like being told "you get hit with fear and run away" without being at least able to try to resist. Even if the resistance was their Will Defense. The roll is more powerful for them.

Back in 2e I had a character who got turned by a high-level cleric, and I remember being vaguely upset that I couldn't roll something to resist the effect.

This. It's more annoying to get hit with something nasty with no chance to roll against it than it is to cast a spell and have your opponent save.

Opposed rolls slow down the game. They also add randomness, which usually favors the PCs adversaries.

Also, saving throws worked much better when they were static numbers that rarely were influenced by the power of the attack. It made high-level play more viable. Spellcasters didn't become all-powerful at high levels since most adversaries rarely failed their saving throws. Also, it kept save-or-die effects from killing off PCs except in those rare instances when they failed a saving throw.


First Post
Ok, I confess, I like 4E's magic system... is very easy and intuitive... whatever Wotc decide to do, please, make it simple and elegant...

And I would love if some conditions stay... ongoing damage is nice, very nice.


Lots of great insights in this thread.

Could the older "fighter rolls against a defense, magic-user casts while giving the target a save" dichotomy be at all reflective of the Swords & Sorcery sensibility, wherein magic was mysterious and mainly evil, so the swordsmen were the good guys (PCs) and the spellcasters were the bad guys (NPCs)?

If that were the case, then the older dichotomy could have been a roundabout way to let the PCs do more of the dice-rolling: to attack with their swords on their turn, and to save against the BB Evil Sorcerer's subversive and detrimental machinations on the DM's turn.

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