5E Interview with Wolfgang Baur and Steve Winter about their 5E adventures.

mach1.9pants

Adventurer
Obviously going to be bigged by the authors but both Baur and Winter have given excellent adventures before so I can;t wait to see these. They look very interesting!

I just hope we can buy PDFs at the same time, otherwise I have to wait the slow trip from Amazon here to NZ :yawn:
 

DDNFan

Visitor
He's right

The surprising thing that Next made myself and many of my gaming buddies realize is that what we like about D&D is not a complex rules system, but rather the freedom that arises from it polar opposite, simplicity.

Or you could call it, rules terseness. If you can accomplish more with less rules, that's better. Less is more.

5th edition scrubbed off a lot of non-essential cruft out of the system. A lean, mean, fighting machine. I don't even think there will be much room for edition warring after a while, everyone including pathfinder players will eventually migrate over. Simple, streamlined rules with better melee / caster balance but not to the straight-jacket extent that 4th ed took it. 3rd and 4th were definitely going towards ever-increasing levels of complexity and that only benefits a minority of D&D players who are interested in system mastery, I agree with this article so much. I enjoy system mastery myself, but once you master it, you are left at the pinnacle where your teammates, and worse, your DM, cannot keep up. In a simpler system with fewer rules, and rules that both make more sense and have less exceptions and wonky interactions, you have more time to spend enjoying the game itself rather than the rules minutiae (or hating them). A vanilla human warrior, for example, is not something to be trifled with in this game.

Less rules means less rules to hate. If your DM is good, D&D 5th edition will allow players a lot more freedom. All kinds of things, like being able to move attack move, attack the same or different targets after you kill one and still have another attack left but the other target is ten feet away, are simply impossible in both 3rd ed and 4th. Even 2nd, if I recall correctly, had a lot of limitations on when you could benefit from those extra attacks. I've never seen a character in 3rd ed, for example, bother spending the feats to do spring attack. Now all characters (and monsters) have it for free, as they always should have had. The game is far more dynamic than it used to be.

It's like that quote from Lincoln, and the other by Mark Twain about how it's easier to write a long speech or letter than a short one ring true to me. It's easier to write a lot of rules that interact with one another, than to boil down complex behavior into simple rules that convey the same thing.

“I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” -Mark Twain.
 
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DEFCON 1

Legend
Less rules means less rules to hate. If your DM is good, D&D 5th edition will allow players a lot more freedom.
However, therein lies the biggest potential problem 5E is going to encounter... because as you say, "if the DM is good..."

Less rules means more freedom... but it also means more responsibility on the part of the DM to make smart, fair, and interesting decisions. And if you DON'T have a good one, the game is more likely to be less than you want it to be.

The advantage of "more rules" or "codification" is that a DM can be just a "rules arbiter" if that's all they're capable of... and the game can still turn out okay. Even a not-so-great DM can still run pretty okay games.

But in 5E, we're going to ask more of our DMs. And we have to hope that after all this time of playing two editions that allowed DMs more of a security blanket in how they performed... that they've absorbed enough to now move onto a role that requires more responsibility and that they can accomplish it.

Because if not... we're going to hear a lot of stories of bad games because of bad DMs.
 
I like that the duo seem to have a lot of good things to say about the ruleset itself. If they got paid a bunch of money to design for a ruleset they didn't particularly like, you'd expect the answers to be a little more dry or cut/paste.

I am glad that they're going to design for 13th Age, Pathfinder, and more for Next if given the chance. It'd be cool if they started releasing adventures with conversion guides for all three.
 

Cybit

Visitor
This is definitely on my pre-order list; I have very high hopes (and good reasons for that hope) about this adventure. Though the human warrior thing was pretty hilarious.

5E is putting the onus back on the DM, but unlike 3E, I don't feel like I have a thousand things to remember. Which makes it much easier to DM.
 

mach1.9pants

Adventurer
That's always been true. An edition can try to sugar-coat a bad DM, but a bad DM is a bad DM, regardless of the edition.
Yeah I agree with this, often more rules just makes a game with a bad DM now slow~paced and still with a bad DM, which is worse.
 

MerricB

Eternal Optimist
Less rules means more freedom... but it also means more responsibility on the part of the DM to make smart, fair, and interesting decisions. And if you DON'T have a good one, the game is more likely to be less than you want it to be.
I do think there is a very big difference between how 5E works and how AD&D works. And it isn't actually on the more/less rules axis.

We've tended to think "more rules" means "fewer chances for the DM to make a bad ruling", but that's not really the case. I believe, very strongly, that what a good RPG really needs is a good baseline from which rulings can be made. It's something that AD&D doesn't have; instead you have a plethora of subsystems for dealing with different situations. What happens if someone needs to climb a cliff face? In core AD&D, only the thief could do it, unless the DM made a ruling. Then, as more books came along, they began to fill up with rulings for these sorts of situations.

But, due to the way they were constructed, they all used different systems. There wasn't a real baseline to draw from. More modern systems unified the mechanics a lot more, and so it is a lot easier to make ruling on the fly as everything sort of works the same way.

One of my big problems with 3E is how obscure the system can be. There are a lot of DCs in the rules, sure enough, but the system is so erratic about giving bonuses to characters that they're not really comparable. Synergy bonuses were responsible for the Diplomacy skill working on a completely different scale than every other skill - it was quite possible for Diplomacy to be +6 above any other skill the character had. Then, when you added in the effects of feats, magic items and other bonuses, knowing what a "typical" bonus was meant to be was tremendously hard. The less said about how Challenge Ratings were constructed, the better, especially with regard to NPCs.

4E, in my opinion, had the right idea with a unified skill system that wasn't as erratic as 3E and with sample DCs. However, the construction of how it worked (1/2 level bonus in particular) still had a number of problems that I wasn't happy with.

I'm hoping that the bounded accuracy system in 5E will work, especially as it also unifies attack bonus and saving throws into the equation.

Cheers!
 
That's always been true. An edition can try to sugar-coat a bad DM, but a bad DM is a bad DM, regardless of the edition.
Bad-bad, sure, but unskilled or inexperienced or un-confident or in need of good simple guidance? 4E was tremendous for those DMs. Just not for ones who were outright obnoxious or the like. The price was that it tended make combats run long and combat setup be more complicated than 2E (but far less than 3.XE), which the authors are right to point out. Be interesting to see how well 5E really does - especially once NPC casters about level 7 or so get into the mix (both 2E and 3E's main "problem area").
 

Blackbrrd

Visitor
Bad-bad, sure, but unskilled or inexperienced or un-confident or in need of good simple guidance? 4E was tremendous for those DMs. Just not for ones who were outright obnoxious or the like. The price was that it tended make combats run long and combat setup be more complicated than 2E (but far less than 3.XE), which the authors are right to point out. Be interesting to see how well 5E really does - especially once NPC casters about level 7 or so get into the mix (both 2E and 3E's main "problem area").
You are quite right about 4e being much easier to DM (in a way). I have a friend who was terrible at 2e and 3e because it was so hard to create and run "balanced" encounters in those systems.

Now, I haven't looked at the rules for NPC creation in 5e, but I don't think the baseline is to create them the same way as PC's are. In other words, you don't have to make them complicated and difficult to run if you don't want to. Casters in 5e aren't as quadratic in power and complexity as they were in 3.x, so even if you want to run them with PC creation rules, it should be much easier. They would probably end up being about as complex as 4e Solo monsters with all their interrupts and special cases.

In another thread I was about to say that the difference in complexity between 3e and 5e wasn't so big, but then I started to remember all the fiddely bits of 3e. I think 5e will be much easier to run for a new DM than 3e, and if you just run a basic dungeon crawl, as easy as 4e. At higher levels, it will probably be a easier to run 5e than 4e, mainly because you don't have to track a baziillion conditions and effects that lasts 0-x rounds, all with different end-conditions, after-effects and so on.

I am really looking forward to test 5e after launch and see how it works out. From the discussions and rules I have read, it looks like it has taken the best aspect of each edition and distilled it, removing the excess. Reading the interviews of Wolfgang Baur, it does feel like the experience he has had is that designing adventures is easier in 5e, so my hopes are up atleast. ;)
 
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That's always been true. An edition can try to sugar-coat a bad DM, but a bad DM is a bad DM, regardless of the edition.
But some DMs just fit better with some games than others. Even a basically good DM who is fighting the system every step of the way will effectively be a bad DM in that system. And games can teach and guide DMs to be beteer.

There is, agreed, nothing you can do for the bottom 10% of DMs. These are people who won't listen, period, or lack any adaptability. But for everyone else tools they find comfortable and actually good guidance will both help.
 

Dalriada

Visitor
Bad-bad, sure, but unskilled or inexperienced or un-confident or in need of good simple guidance? 4E was tremendous for those DMs. Just not for ones who were outright obnoxious or the like.
I don't think 4E was so good for inexperienced DM. The main difficulty a DM faces is (for me) making the world alive, interesting, it's not deciding how many damages a gnome receives when he fumbles his Craft(fireworks) test. And rules like 4E can make it more difficult, with the RPG sliding into a boardgame like Descent.
Giving more freedom to express one's creativity can be good (well, inexperience DM will make mistakes, of course. That's how you learn). Because it allows to tell the story you want to tell and not the story dictated by the rules.

The problem would rather be with rule-lawyering players. But then it's a problem of player, not a problem of rules.
 
I don't think 4E was so good for inexperienced DM. The main difficulty a DM faces is (for me) making the world alive, interesting, it's not deciding how many damages a gnome receives when he fumbles his Craft(fireworks) test. And rules like 4E can make it more difficult, with the RPG sliding into a boardgame like Descent.
4E doesn't have rules like that. I'm not sure what game you're thinking of - Rolemaster, maybe? But that's exactly the kind of rules 4E avoids, so... :confused:

Do you mean 3E, perhaps? 4E does not even have a Craft (X) skill. 3E does.

Giving more freedom to express one's creativity can be good (well, inexperience DM will make mistakes, of course. That's how you learn). Because it allows to tell the story you want to tell and not the story dictated by the rules.
4E doesn't dictate the story by the rules. Nor does 3E. Or 2E. Or 1E. Or 5E. I have no idea what you're trying to say here.

The problem would rather be with rule-lawyering players. But then it's a problem of player, not a problem of rules.
What?

Further, 4E definitely IS reasonably good for newbie DMs, because I've seem two never-before DMs start with it - both of whom were too intimidated by 3.XE to try running that.
 
I don't think 4E was so good for inexperienced DM. The main difficulty a DM faces is (for me) making the world alive, interesting, it's not deciding how many damages a gnome receives when he fumbles his Craft(fireworks) test. And rules like 4E can make it more difficult, with the RPG sliding into a boardgame like Descent.
I couldn't disagree more.

For me the main problem as an inexperienced DM was how the hell you handle things when the PCs come up with an off the wall strategy that isn't covered by the rules - especially with respect to difficulty and pacing. And 4e Skill Challenges were for me an excellent answer to this, and one matched by few other RPGs. For making the world alive an improv course taught me more than I'd ever learned from any RPG rules (and certainly more than any version of D&D taught me).

(In case it's not clear, this is personal experience rather than pure theory I'm drawing on here)
 

Dalriada

Visitor
Do you mean 3E, perhaps? 4E does not even have a Craft (X) skill. 3E does.
I wasn't litteral. :)
I meant that the most challenging tasks of a beginning DM is not rules, it's making the story alive (in my opinion).
So the fact that a rules system has a rule for almost anything won't help a beginning player

4E doesn't dictate the story by the rules. Nor does 3E. Or 2E. Or 1E. Or 5E. I have no idea what you're trying to say here.
When I DM a fight, I want my player to tell what he wants to do, then to roll the dice to see if and how he succeds.
And with 4E, it's just to easy to say "I use this encounter power".
Now, a DM could make it work with 4E. A lot of DM do. But it's too constraining for me.

I don't criticize the 4E.
Some people love it and it's very good. I'm just explaining why a lighter system is favored by some DM and therefore why 5E seems attractive.
It's just a matter of tastes. :)

In lighter systems, like the 5E seems to be, the DM must make some decisions about how a challenge will be resolved. If a player contests saying that it should be resolved another way and doesn't accept the DM decision, it's gonna be a problem.
But then, the player is the problem, not the system.
 

jrowland

Visitor
However, therein lies the biggest potential problem 5E is going to encounter... because as you say, "if the DM is good..."

Less rules means more freedom... but it also means more responsibility on the part of the DM to make smart, fair, and interesting decisions. And if you DON'T have a good one, the game is more likely to be less than you want it to be.

The advantage of "more rules" or "codification" is that a DM can be just a "rules arbiter" if that's all they're capable of... and the game can still turn out okay. Even a not-so-great DM can still run pretty okay games.

But in 5E, we're going to ask more of our DMs. And we have to hope that after all this time of playing two editions that allowed DMs more of a security blanket in how they performed... that they've absorbed enough to now move onto a role that requires more responsibility and that they can accomplish it.

Because if not... we're going to hear a lot of stories of bad games because of bad DMs.
You're right, of course, but there is another angle here. More codified systems create a barrier to entry for DMing. Yes it helps, but its a lot to digest for new DMs. In addition, more codified systems can "hide" bad DMs from themselves and players. Its hard to improve if you don't know whats broken. With more immediate, personal, feedback, DM skills can improve quickly, even for novices.
 
When I DM a fight, I want my player to tell what he wants to do, then to roll the dice to see if and how he succeds.
And with 4E, it's just to easy to say "I use this encounter power".
Now, a DM could make it work with 4E. A lot of DM do. But it's too constraining for me.
And when I play a character I don't want to have to negotiate with the DM for anything I try to do that's not either a basic attack or a spell. If spells were held to the same standard you hold other approaches to I wouldn't mind this. But playing a non-caster in pre-4E D&D feels very disempowering to me.

I don't criticize the 4E.
Some people love it and it's very good. I'm just explaining why a lighter system is favored by some DM and therefore why 5E seems attractive.
It's just a matter of tastes. :)
To me 4e feels lighter than D&D Next. I can get the rules onto a double sided trifold, with everything else being either monster statblocks (with large ones being about the size of an index card) or on the character sheet.

In lighter systems, like the 5E seems to be, the DM must make some decisions about how a challenge will be resolved. If a player contests saying that it should be resolved another way and doesn't accept the DM decision, it's gonna be a problem.
But then, the player is the problem, not the system.
Again, this isn't about lightness of systems, it's about predictability. As a player I'm pretty damn sure how Fate challenges are going to be resolved, and that's lighter than any known version of D&D.
 

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