D&D Next Chat Transcript (Mike Mearls & Jeremy Crawford)

Kobold Boots

Banned
Banned
It was a good chat, but what I'd like to know is what questions were moderated out of the chat, posed by those forum members who did have a moment to attend. (I know I saw Kamikaze Midget got one in, but I'm willing to bet there's something to glean by knowing what was filtered out.)

Mine was: "Can you provide even a vague example of how you're intending to make the game modular to suit the needs of fans of all editions?"

Just curious.
 

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mudbunny

Community Supporter
What they are looking to get from this phase of the testing is a baseline of how things work.

% of parties that complete the encounter in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 turns...
% of parties that get TPKed in round 1, 2, 3, 4, 5...

How often each spell/ability/feat/foozle gets used.
How many encounters can the party get through before needing to rest.

Once they have a large enough number of people that respond to those, the statistical anomalies will jump out of the data and they will have a baseline set of values that they can compare things to. From there, as they add things, it is easy to see what type of effect it has on the results.
 

am181d

Adventurer
My contention is that all parts of the process are relevant (character creation and other prep, roleplaying at a session, and reflection/reaction afterwards) and it makes sense to go through them in order.

No. Character creation is an *optional* add-on to the game (that can be bypassed by playing pre-gens). Assuming that it takes 4 hours to make a character and you play the character for 20 4 hour sessions, that's less than 5% of your total time in play. Character creation has its own set of rules (nowhere else in the game, for example, do you roll 4d6 and drop the lowest die) that are unrelated to the core game.

The argument to include character creation is that character creation gives playtesters the opportunity to find broken rules combinations that wouldn't appear in a pre-gen. But there's no point in doing this UNLESS THE CORE MECHANICS OF THE GAME ARE FIRST DECIDED. After all, if the core mechanics are off, *every* combination will be broken.
 

ColonelHardisson

What? Me Worry?
Still not really buying this line of thinking. The character you created is what you use day in and day out. Conflicts are resolved based on the choices you made in character creation.

By analogy, this would be like saying that your favorite TV show is primarily about shooting in front of a camera. In truth, development, writing, casting, set design, and other forms of preparation define what can happen in front of that camera, and editing, sound design, and other forms of post production create what you see in the end.

My contention is that all parts of the process are relevant (character creation and other prep, roleplaying at a session, and reflection/reaction afterwards) and it makes sense to go through them in order.

Skills and powers aren't part of character creation? Never mind other common sources of discontent, like multiclassing, race choices, class restrictions, experience, or magic equipment (which arguably shouldn't be a part of character creation but is)? Seems like character creation is pretty important to me.

Important, but not anywhere near the foundation or the most fun of the game. Playing the character is the foundation, subjecting it to the stresses of the world, seeing what needs to be improved and changed or replaced - much like playtesting a game system. D&D characters start out fairly weak and unformed, especially in older editions like I started with 30+ years ago. Through play, you see where the character is weak, where it is strong, and what new directions to take it in that didn't occur to you when it was being created.

If anything, the minigame character creation became in D&D (and which it is in many other games) is a weakness, not a strength in D&D - in my opinion. This comes from someone who loved classic Traveller and its character creation which was really a game in itself. Same for Pendragon. The kind of game the Next design team seems to be working toward is one in which that minigame is not the default, and the character is truly created mostly by game play, as it was in the past, and which seems well-suited for games that use levels and incremental advancement.
 

WotC_Trevor

First Post
It was a good chat, but what I'd like to know is what questions were moderated out of the chat, posed by those forum members who did have a moment to attend. (I know I saw Kamikaze Midget got one in, but I'm willing to bet there's something to glean by knowing what was filtered out.)

Mine was: "Can you provide even a vague example of how you're intending to make the game modular to suit the needs of fans of all editions?"

Just curious.
I didn't really moderate out any questions - I had almost 900 questions and comments in there and I tried to find the ones that were asked by a few different people and ones that seemed interesting. There were questions about future products and exact release dates that I avoided because we just don't have that info yet.

If I didn't get to a question, it's most likely just because we didn't have time to get to them all.
 
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Ahnehnois

First Post
No. Character creation is an *optional* add-on to the game (that can be bypassed by playing pre-gens). Assuming that it takes 4 hours to make a character and you play the character for 20 4 hour sessions, that's less than 5% of your total time in play.
Character creation is not optional. Pregens are occasionally used for special purposes, but the first experience of most D&D players is sitting down and creating a character.

Moreover, character creation and character advancement as you level probably expends a lot more than 5% of the time spent playing D&D. People like leveling up, which is why we still have a somewhat hackneyed system of classes and levels.

Character creation is essential to the D&D experience. It's when you take ownership of the game and make it yours. I understand the playtest isn't a complete game, but it'll be hard to render any judgments without being able to go through the whole process of playing the game.

The argument to include character creation is that character creation gives playtesters the opportunity to find broken rules combinations that wouldn't appear in a pre-gen. But there's no point in doing this UNLESS THE CORE MECHANICS OF THE GAME ARE FIRST DECIDED. After all, if the core mechanics are off, *every* combination will be broken
That's a straw man argument. It's not about finding broken combos, it isn't even about balance. It's about actually giving the game a fair shake. Without character creation options, people are simply going to improvise their own, which won't be reflective of what's in the actual rules. Of course the core mechanics of the game are what's at issue, but how one decides ability scores or chooses skill is about as core as it gets.
 

Kobold Boots

Banned
Banned
Fair enough Trevor. Sorry to portray that question in a less than wonderful way.

Considering the strength with which that question of mine was discussed at length here; I didn't think it possible that it wouldn't be asked a bunch of times.. so I assumed.

Thanks for the reply.
 

GSHamster

Adventurer
My contention is that all parts of the process are relevant (character creation and other prep, roleplaying at a session, and reflection/reaction afterwards) and it makes sense to go through them in order.

There are multiple types of testing. To use a software analogy, you have two extremes of tests. One type is called "end-to-end" or integrated testing. This is where you test the entire system from start to end, and make sure that all the components work well with each other.

The other extreme is unit or component testing. This is where you take a single component and test it in isolation. Give defined inputs to the component, and get outputs.

Both types of testing are necessary. But in general, you want to start with the unit tests, with testing the individual components before stringing them together.

Let's say you only did integrated testing, and a problem popped up. You can't really be sure if it's a problem inside a component, or if the problem happens because two components aren't talking to each other correctly.

WotC is starting with a more specific test. Their "inputs", the characters and the encounters, will always be identical. If there are issues in this playtest, like a majority reports that the rogue is not fun, they don't have to worry that the rogue creation rules are unclear or bad. Instead they know that there is something wrong with the default rogue mechanics.

Integrated testing will happen eventually. But component testing with defined inputs needs to come first. If anything, this setup says to me that WotC is taking the public playtest seriously, and it's not just a publicity stunt.
 

kimble

First Post
I don´t know. For everything that I like (conditions, at-will magic,etc.) there are at least one that I don´t (you need to take a specific theme to hold your enemies, unbalanced options are fine, thinking that the only problem with magic is damage, etc.).

I´ll still try the playtest, but this is the first D&D edition that doesn´t make me feel eager to play. Hope that changes until the final version.
 

WotC_Trevor

First Post
Fair enough Trevor. Sorry to portray that question in a less than wonderful way.

Considering the strength with which that question of mine was discussed at length here; I didn't think it possible that it wouldn't be asked a bunch of times.. so I assumed.

Thanks for the reply.
Nah, blame me for not asking it - that's totally fine :)

The question does come up and they've tried to answer it at panels and such, but I don't think we have enough specifics to really get into the meat of it. It is something I know we'll be seeing in the playtest though, and something we'll continue to try to answer.
 

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