D&D 5E D&D Q&A: 09/27/2013

Plaguescarred

D&D Playtester for WoTC since 2012
D&D Q&A
09/27/2013

By Rodney Thompson

You've got questions—we've got answers! Here's how it works—each week, our Community Manager will be scouring all available sources to find whatever questions you're asking. We'll pick three of them for R&D to answer.

What do you think?


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Li Shenron

Legend
The answer about the Human race being as it is because they want to provide an "easy" race is a bit of a bummer.

It's the same mistake as in previous editions thinking that the Fighter should be the "easy class". This was bummer because players should not be forced to think "I am a beginner, I should play a Fighter" or "I am an expert, I should not play a Fighter". People should play a Fighter if they want to play a Fighter, obviously! Then the best RPG will let them choose between an easy Fighter and a complex Fighter. It's ok if some classes like Mage are impossible to make simpler than a certain basis, it's not-ok if the designers start with the assumption that some classes should be simple and others should be complex.

So how about races then? Well it's less of a bummer, but still a bummer. It's ok to think that trying to roleplay an Elf who easily lives hundreds of years or a Dwarf who lived underground until yesterday is going to be more difficult than roleplaying a human. It's not-ok to make a race purposefully low-complexity, when players normally choose race for roleplay/concept reason (ok, many choose it for exploiting mechanical benefits and min-maxing, but it's not related to complexity).

So how about this... How about, instead of having a "simple" race which forces every Human character to be simple, instead having a Human race that is just as complex as the others, but then having an option for everyone no matter the race, to have +1 to all stats instead of all the racial benefits package?

Beginners could play a human, dwarf, elf, halfling or whatever just because of the image/concept, and instead of dealing with all those little bonuses, they just get to increase all scores by +1. This way, there is a simple, easy, low-complexity option for race, without forcing the character concept to be "human", and without forcing non-beginners who want to play a human PC to get the easy package.
 


Blackbrrd

First Post
Why do you want all races to have a +1 to all stats? It makes them uniform and devalues the bonuses.

He wants it as an option, so the difference between an elf and a human can be purely how you roleplay the character, with no mechanical difference. It kinda follows the logic of feats: you can either take a feat or an ability increase.
 

I think this:

From this point on, playtesting needs to be much more focused, and the material being playtested needs to be better matched up to the needs of playtesters to make sure the material is adequately serving its intended audience.

Is a little bit short sighted. Only letting those who are most enthusiastic about the content playtest it is a little bit like having an author edit his/her own work. Its harder to be detached and critical about material that you are gushing with love for. We all have preferences and tend to focus on the best parts of whatever we like. When the purpose of testing material is to find errors and fix them, only showing the material to excited fans might not be the best way to get the most honest feedback.

Say you only test the tactical module content with a die hard tactial fanatic group. They are more likely to mentally fill in any gaps in the material with their own knowledge and experience. All I'm saying is that after getting feedback from that focus group, give the same material to the storygaming group. Not being fixated on loving tactics the SG group will be more critical and less prone to mentally fill in holes in the material.

Mix in some torture testing. It can't hurt.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
Is a little bit short sighted. Only letting those who are most enthusiastic about the content playtest it is a little bit like having an author edit his/her own work. Its harder to be detached and critical about material that you are gushing with love for. We all have preferences and tend to focus on the best parts of whatever we like. When the purpose of testing material is to find errors and fix them, only showing the material to excited fans might not be the best way to get the most honest feedback.

He doesn't mean that they will pick enthusiasts of 5e for playtesting 5e.

He means that they will pick e.g. enthusiasts of tactical combat (any edition, any RPG) for playtesting 5e tactical combat rules.

Because if they let everyone playtest them, chances are that the majority of people don't care or don't like tactical combat rules in general, and the valuable feedback of those who are into tactical combat in general would be buried under the mass of (prejudicedly negative or frivolously positive) feedback of those who can't judge/test those rules properly or aren't really interested but still feel compelled to feedback about it.

You know, similar to what happens when you start a thread for discussing a topic e.g. are current feats properly designed and balance, and you get all sorts of people chiming in to explain why feats suck anyway...
 

He doesn't mean that they will pick enthusiasts of 5e for playtesting 5e.

He means that they will pick e.g. enthusiasts of tactical combat (any edition, any RPG) for playtesting 5e tactical combat rules.

Thats exactly what I'm talking about.


Because if they let everyone playtest them, chances are that the majority of people don't care or don't like tactical combat rules in general, and the valuable feedback of those who are into tactical combat in general would be buried under the mass of (prejudicedly negative or frivolously positive) feedback of those who can't judge/test those rules properly or aren't really interested but still feel compelled to feedback about it.

You know, similar to what happens when you start a thread for discussing a topic e.g. are current feats properly designed and balance, and you get all sorts of people chiming in to explain why feats suck anyway...

I wasn't suggesting public open playtest. I was referring to other alpha playtest groups. It is to be hoped that all alpha playtest groups could deliver honest feedback on any given module without taking a dump on the concept for it.
 

tuxgeo

Adventurer
I wasn't suggesting public open playtest. I was referring to other alpha playtest groups. It is to be hoped that all alpha playtest groups could deliver honest feedback on any given module without taking a dump on the concept for it.

Agreed. And an Alpha-style playtest is better for that because WotC can select people who will behave that way: test the modules they are interested in and give constructive feedback without dumping on modules that don't interest them. This gives WotC some control over the quality of the feedback they get.

The public playtest is not like that because it's self-selecting: anyone who wants to opt in can get in, even including people who will dump on things they don't like.
 

Iosue

Legend
I think this:
Is a little bit short sighted. Only letting those who are most enthusiastic about the content playtest it is a little bit like having an author edit his/her own work. Its harder to be detached and critical about material that you are gushing with love for. We all have preferences and tend to focus on the best parts of whatever we like. When the purpose of testing material is to find errors and fix them, only showing the material to excited fans might not be the best way to get the most honest feedback.
Take a casual look at fandom. Those who (profess to) love something are more often than not the most critical folks out there. People who love tactical combat will play the crap out of the tactical combat module, but that doesn't mean they'll automatically love it.

Say you only test the tactical module content with a die hard tactial fanatic group. They are more likely to mentally fill in any gaps in the material with their own knowledge and experience. All I'm saying is that after getting feedback from that focus group, give the same material to the storygaming group. Not being fixated on loving tactics the SG group will be more critical and less prone to mentally fill in holes in the material.

Mix in some torture testing. It can't hurt.
I really can't see the criticisms of a storygaming group being more constructively critical than a tactical combat gaming group, as far as making a tactical combat module that appeals to the latter. If we were talking about a core tactical module that everybody was expected to use, absolutely, they should do what you say. But for making a tactical combat module for hard core lovers of tactical combat? Let them fill in the blanks. Let them advocate for exactly the kind of game they want. And the same for the storygaming folks.
 
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