D&D 5E Legends and Lore 6/23: System vs. Content in D&D Next

Sage Genesis

First Post
And this is where we all need to have a little patience. Slowly but surely, all these things are being rolled out in the playtest. Everything will eventually get tested... just not as fast or in the order that some people might want. Which mean unfortunately, we have to put up with the people who can't see the forest through the trees and jam up every D&DN thread with complaints about how WotC are morons and can't design games... simply because they aren't getting what they think needs to be tested right here and now.

I think people have shown quite a bit of patience already. The fact of the matter is that this playtest is going slow. Very slow. Here's Bruce Baugh's opinion, for example. I can also tell you that I have personally co-written and lead the playtest of a fairly crunchy RPG (Legends of the Wulin, by Eos Press) and that went way quicker. I have spoken to other, long-established professionals in the field as well and every single one has said that the Next playtest is slow.

Now, they have a lot of feedback to sift through of course. But given that the mechanical core (d20 + bonus vs DC, classes-and-levels, etc.) was already in place and that WotC is a giant in our hobby with a ton of talent and resources behind them... yes, this playtest is going slooooooow.

Obviously it does little constructive good to complain about this, but I also think it's not unreasonable to acknowledge the reality of the situation. I would also caution against making statements like "everything will eventually get tested". We've already heard that 4e was scrapped in mid-process and started anew, which caused it to be released just a little too undercooked. (Weaker monster math in MM1, questionable execution of the Skill Challenge rules, and many more issues stem from this.) With Hasbro breathing corporate deadlines down their necks and the sudden departure of Monte Cook I'd say that "everything will be tested" remains to be seen.
 

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MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
Well, many things worry me so far. While I coneede we need to test the fundations appropriately, we also need to test the other things in concert, more so because we have already been told the current package is way behind the intended new direction. For example

Are we still going to be stuck with the skill die? The L&L wording is ambiguous at best
How different will be the score increase progressions between classes?
What meassures will be taken to ensure Wizards aren't strictly better than the more limited sorcerers?
Speaking of wizards, will they tone down the Academy wizard?
How much will Warlords be supported by the standard game?
How different will be the overhauled versions of the classes from the current ones?
How are they going to prevent the system from being cluthered by advantage being granted everywhere.
 

Iosue

Legend
I think people have shown quite a bit of patience already. The fact of the matter is that this playtest is going slow. Very slow. Here's Bruce Baugh's opinion, for example. I can also tell you that I have personally co-written and lead the playtest of a fairly crunchy RPG (Legends of the Wulin, by Eos Press) and that went way quicker. I have spoken to other, long-established professionals in the field as well and every single one has said that the Next playtest is slow.
I don't doubt that playtests typically go faster. They use a smaller pool of playtesters, and have much more focused design goals.

Take the Fighter in 4e. They had an idea of how crunchy the game would be, thought of certain design goals for the fighter, and then designed to that point. By the time it went to wide playtest, the Fighter might be tweaked, but it wasn't going to be radically redesigned.

The 5e Fighter, OTOH, has to adjustable to non-complex for folks who like B/X style D&D, but also highly complex for those who like 3e/4e. Then both fighters have to be playable at the same table. That's not an easy design goal, which is borne out by the numerous overhauls of the class. And this applies to the game as a whole. I suspect it's much easier to design something for a few particular playstyles than to design something that can be modified to the myriad of playstyles that D&D has encompassed over the years. Healing is simple if you can say, "This will be a gritty, lethal game," and design to that. Just find the target math. If you're trying to come up with healing rules that can be used in gritty, lethal games, as well as high heroic fantasy and various points in between, it's going to take longer.

When the goals for 5e were first announced, it was almost unanimously thought that what they were trying would be very, very hard, if not impossible. So I'm not surprised it's going slow.
 

Iosue

Legend
Are we still going to be stuck with the skill die? The L&L wording is ambiguous at best
Hrm? The 4/22 L&L says pretty unambiguously:

"We can also allow skills to give you a steadily improving, static bonus."

That doesn't mean the skill die won't be an option for those who want it, but it pretty clearly says that you won't be "stuck with the skill die".
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
Hrm? The 4/22 L&L says pretty unambiguously:

"We can also allow skills to give you a steadily improving, static bonus."

That doesn't mean the skill die won't be an option for those who want it, but it pretty clearly says that you won't be "stuck with the skill die".

Ok, let me reprhase that, will the skill dice still be present in the basic game anyway? Mearls just metioned the skill dice just didn't cut the bill, so they were making skills optional, he never addressed if the skill dice itself was being removed or not.
 

Iosue

Legend
Ok, let me reprhase that, will the skill dice still be present in the basic game anyway? Mearls just metioned the skill dice just didn't cut the bill, so they were making skills optional, he never addressed if the skill dice itself was being removed or not.
If the skill system is completely optional, and DCs need to be adjusted if it is used (or PCs get a higher chance of success), and the optional skill system will use static bonuses, then I think it's pretty clear that skill dice will not be in the Basic game, which is meant to be as simple as possible, with all options turned off or pre-set.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
If the skill system is completely optional, and DCs need to be adjusted if it is used (or PCs get a higher chance of success), and the optional skill system will use static bonuses, then I think it's pretty clear that skill dice will not be in the Basic game, which is meant to be as simple as possible, with all options turned off or pre-set.

Then what about rogues? the actual reason the skill dice was invented in the first place?.

Also Mearls never actually says "skill dice fail to do either and that is because we are ditiching it", he just said "skill dice don't satisfy all the sides involved" and on a different paragraph "so we are making skills optional". His psot was very ambiguous and while it is easy to assume it is the case, he never ever direclty addresses it's removal.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
I'm surprised they're not taking a more concentrated approach to adventure design. It's superb to have a game system that is flexible and adroit, but adventures need not be. You can have some adventures that are a constant cinematic drive forward, and some adventures that are a more cautious strategic crawl. Adventures can come with their own modules or their own rules for how they should be used. Some adventures are high on intrigue, some adventures are high on mystery...adventures have different needs and different styles. Some adventures may benefit from a relationship map, others from a chase module, others from more cinematic HP rules.

The only baselie you need to assume is "basic, plus whatever you need specifically for this adventure." Slot in some conversion notes in the intro, and then relax.

Or, to put it another way, an adventure like The Tomb of Horrors is a classic meat grinder dungeon crawl. It doesn't need to be made into a different kind of adventure -- it just needs to embrace the kind of adventure that it is, and telegraph that: your characters will go into here, and probably die, so here's some rules to help that feel, and here's some notes about what removing those rules will entail.

An adventure like Zietgiest would not make a great dungeon crawl, though. Rather, you include things like relationship maps and detailed rules for uncovering mysteries, and use those.

Each adventure becomes something of a module package (which, as a bang-on effect, increases the potential customer base for them, and allows for substantial iteration on popular modules). Then the challenge just becomes to publish a diversity of adventure types, and to keep less-popular styles in the mix, like how console videogames have big AAA titles, and also have a thriving indie arcade (HINT: an OGL-friendly marketplace that WotC owns that allows for some self-publication without signing rights over would be boffo!). That keeps you hitting the high notes that the mass market loves the best, while being able to juggle some more interesting, more divisive material in there.

The system can be big. Adventures, I think, benefit from being narrower. Don't publish one big bland adventure that's all "Do what you want!" Publish two or three smaller, more focused adventures, and tell me specifically what you've got in mind for this little event.
 
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Nymrohd

First Post
I am curious, if the game is designed to be modular, what will happen to adventure modules. What would be a challenge for one group would be a walk in the park for another. Making the adventures themselves modular would make writing one up a nightmare.
 

Nymrohd

First Post
I'm surprised they're not taking a more concentrated approach to adventure design. It's superb to have a game system that is flexible and adroit, but adventures need not be. You can have some adventures that are a constant cinematic drive forward, and some adventures that are a more cautious strategic crawl. Adventures can come with their own modules or their own rules for how they should be used. Some adventures are high on intrigue, some adventures are high on mystery...adventures have different needs and different styles. Some adventures may benefit from a relationship map, others from a chase module, others from more cinematic HP rules.

The only baselie you need to assume is "basic, plus whatever you need specifically for this adventure." Slot in some conversion notes in the intro, and then relax.

Or, to put it another way, an adventure like The Tomb of Horror is a classic meat grinder dungeon crawl. It doesn't need to be made into a different kind of adventure -- it just needs to embrace the kind of adventure that it is, and telegraph that: your characters will go into here, and probably die, so here's some rules to help that feel, and here's some notes about what removing those rules will entail.

An adventure like Zietgiest would not make a great dungeon crawl, though. Rather, you include things like relationship maps and detailed rules for uncovering mysteries, and use those.

Each adventure becomes something of a module package (which, as a bang-on effect, increases the potential customer base for them, and allows for substantial iteration on popular modules). Then the challenge just becomes to publish a diversity of adventure types, and to keep less-popular styles in the mix, like how console videogames have big AAA titles, and also have a thriving indie arcade (HINT: an OGL-friendly marketplace that WotC owns that allows for some self-publication without signing rights over would be boffo!). That keeps you hitting the high notes that the mass market loves the best, while being able to juggle some more interesting, more divisive material in there.

The system can be big. Adventures, I think, benefit from being narrower. Don't publish one big bland adventure that's all "Do what you want!" Publish two or three smaller, more focused adventures, and tell me specifically what you've got in mind for this little event.

If there is one lesson any company should learn from Paizo and Pathfinder it should be this; strong adventures make a system (and make you cash as well).
 

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