Legends & Lore - Mike Mearls' new column


First Post
You know, I love 4e. I GM several games and love playing PCs when I get the oppurtunity, but I rather WotC Developers to stop trying to do wacky things and go back to their Core worlds and rules and perfect them.

I think of what they are doing with trying to put out a fire with a leaky bucket. Yeah, they might be making progress but it would go alot faster if they plug the holes instead of ignoring all the wasted water. I HATE how they fix the rules by putting now new builds and feats instead of going back and just fixing things. It leaves the game spread all over place like the wasted water in my metaphor. We have races that are not updated and we have obsolete feats. We have class builds that are unusable. We have a treasure system that is only half updated. We have a new focus on the classic parts of DnD but with little support for that which came before.

Does this make me want to switch games or editions? No, I still think 4e is best at alot of things. It just annoys me that instead of seeing any work done for what affects my game, I see Fortune Cards, Board games, and Vampire Classes.

I do have an answer though. Do BOTH! Put someone in charge of updating what has come before, along with inventing of new crap that might attract more sales.

I'm not going to argue many points you made, but I think you're pointing out something you're not aware you're pointing out. The fact that a "do both" answer requires more manpower. Something everyone says WotC has been lacking for a while.

I think the designers, like Mearls and the others do the best the can with what they are ASSIGNED to do. And if it was to constantly look back on what they did, we'd be up to Player Handbook 1 Revision 34. No other books. No campaign settings or Power books. Just "perfecting" one thing.

Cards, Vampires and Boxed Sets. Those are what's popular in the gaming and non-gaming world right now. If that's what it takes to get "Such-and-Such Campaign Setting From 2nd Edition" or what have you so be it. Business is business.

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I don't think one could look at the intensely focused design goals of 4E (relaxed a little for Essentials, but only on the margins) and say that they're trying to make D&D "all things to all men". :)
It's not imminent, I agree ;) But several of the statements I hear from Mike Mearls lead me to thing that's the way he thinks - he wants to make D&D "the best RPG for everyone". While that is understandable on a commercial level, it flies in the face of what the 4E designers originally seemed to realise - that different RPGs can be good at different things, but trying to be good at everything is doomed to failure through dilution and conflicted aims.

It reinforces the impression that I've been getting that the folks at WotC, along with many gamers, are actively mournful of the divisive edition wars and the turning of favored games into factions that have infected the gaming culture. Beyond just D&D, pockets of gamers have been claiming one edition or one game as the only game worth acknowledging, with any variations or related products being abominations to be looked down on or actively fought against.
This, too, is a symptom of the idea that a "perfect RPG" is possible that will be best at everything, I think. Gamers as a whole have to get hold of the idea that roleplaying gaming includes several mutually exclusive 'root goals' or 'fun factors', and different people prefer different ones of these. There is nothing wrong with this - diversity is a good thing. Furthermore, expecting everyone to share your own preferences for "fun factor", and desiring every game to support it, is unreasonable. RPGs are not all seeking a single, unified "dimension of fun", so the differences between them do not amount to one game seeking it well and another seeking it badly. Many games pursue their own, chosen "factor of fun" very well, while being totally different from other good games (because their design aims are different). If we understand that, tolerance of "other games" becomes easy. Part of my unease with Mike Mearls et al is that (presumably for commercial reasons) they don't acknowledge this - they want to 'sell' their own brand as "the best one" - when there is no such thing.

I'd suggest instead just excluding some old material from your campaign, or being aggressive about fixing it yourself.
But why should I have to fix it myself? I agree with those who see this as poor overall product quality maintenance. I actually want errata and changes/additions to maintain the corpus of the game data at a high level of utility throughout, for both DMs and players. And I would be happy to pay for it, in fact.

Unfortunately, games like LFR are kinda inherently stuck by their stance of accepting everything, including everything old, and freely giving out any combination of magic items you want... it's a much higher bar of optimization than many other games, for good or ill.
I personally take this as a "feature" of D&D4E, not a bug. D&D has always been best suited to "challenge play" (i.e. DM sets up challenges and adjudicates the players trying to overcome them through their PCs) because of the experience point and character "improvement" (level) systems. Because of this, designing the rules to be operable without modification is entirely desirable. I am not suggesting that those who want to modify the rules should be hindered in doing so* - but it should be possible to run without modification and have no worries of "brokenness" in doing so, IMV.

* This is one objection I have to the Character Builder move to online, in fact - I think it does exactly this.


First Post
I would like to see Mike take care of the real problem of reduced content in Dragon by going by his own gaming roots that hail to many editions and plumbing the best.

Dragon's Bestiary: This one should be a no-brainer. With the thin air at the top of the Epic set of ten levels, there should be a lot of material to work with. This feature hasn't had a lot of support in a while. The last one I honestly can recall is the one on fell taints because they were different and maybe some kobolds becuase hey, you can always use kobolds. However, at D&D is in part about the monsters, this one should be such an easy hit for them.

Bizzare of the Baazar: I keep hearing how 'magic' needs to be brought back to magic items. Uh... okay. There used to be artcles that covered this very thing. Indeed, some had hoped that the cancelled magic item book might do that but...

Giants in the Earth: With Dragon being digital, page space, etc... shouldnt' be that much of an issue and it might give the WoTC staff some practice at making some more epic figures. If nothing else, we'd get stats for their weapons eh?

Pages from the Mages: Essentials removed Ritauls. Pages from the Mages could reintroduce them as well as various role playing elements like named spellbooks, etc...

Class Acts: these were always hit or miss for me, but you knew they'd be there every month and that it would provide some more monthly options. With Dragon not even being a magazine anymore, the frequence could be much higher and hit that crunch level that many enjoy about the game.


There's so much that could be done with Dragon and the fact that it isn't happening, in my opinion, just indicates less and less of a future for Dragon as something with real value as opposed to just another potential thing to update in the CB.


Always In School Gamer
Opportunity cost. When you have limited resources (and WotC has limited resources) you have to weigh the cost of doing one project vs. another all the time.

Its all well and fine to say, "just do more!" And I think WotC has finally realized that by doing just that in the first 2 years of 4e quality suffered.

So, they are retrenching.

Dragon and Dungeon Magazine content now go directly through R&D for a full on development pass before they see print. The choice was improve quality (and reduce errors needing errata later) at the sacrifice of speed. This is going to increase the lead time for magazine content.

As a consequence of R&D's increased work load, something had to give or the quality problem just gets shifted somewhere else. That give was reducing the number of books being put out this year.

They are not going to hire a bunch of people to gear up because D&D is not making Pokemon or Magic the Gathering money.

Personally, I would rather they slow down the schedule and put out some great products rather than keeping the fire hose wide open and pumping out crap.

My two coppers,

Yeah, my suspicion with the last couple months of 'magazine' content is that they've been revamping and getting into the whole new content generation scheme. Likewise with the online tools, it simply takes a lot of time and effort to make progress, especially when priorities have undoubtedly been shifting around.

Personally I think they mostly need to write some really high quality adventures. I mean really, having looked over a couple of the PF Adventure Paths this stuff isn't rocket science. It just requires some quality writing skills. The differences between the 4e adventures WotC has produced and the ones I see coming from Paizo are not really that large. In some ways WotC has an edge with 4e. What they really lack is better character development and a bit more fluidity in how situations are laid out. A little more emphasis on exploration and deeper plot hooks. It really shouldn't be that hard. They really need to build some longer adventures than what they've been willing to put up on DDI as well.


If people don't like errata they can just not use it. It's silly to not do errata if it needs to be done. I seriously doubt that the "We hate errata camp" is the majority.

Apparently the camp is big enough or loud enough that the podcast claims it is why they are moving to a longer development cycle. And I'm not sure that the errata content is the problem but instead the fact that the rule needed to be errata'd in the first place.

In other words, there is a significant group of people that want it correct right out of the box.


First Post
Apparently the camp is big enough or loud enough that the podcast claims it is why they are moving to a longer development cycle. And I'm not sure that the errata content is the problem but instead the fact that the rule needed to be errata'd in the first place.

In other words, there is a significant group of people that want it correct right out of the box.

Yeah, but it isnt correct out of the box! 4e PHB1 is almost a different game, and the red box is only 2 levels.

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