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D&D 5E Mike Mearls' AMA Summary


Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Other than that, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?

Fun fact - John Wilkes Booth? Paladin.

Nah, Lincoln was more of a Paladin. Booth was a rogue.

Actually, I'd love a UA full of revolutionary subclasses. There is a ton of inspriration for abilities in Star Wars Saqa Edtion that translate just fine to fantasy gaming, IIRC in the book Galaxy of Intrigue, and also in the Rebellion Era Campaign Guide.

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Interesting observations. I agree that fighters and rangers need some rethinking. I dont think Druids play badly.

But I have to say that while I really still love and play 4E, I really do not like minor actions and I think 5E bonus actions are a far, far better design which save so much time at the table.

Stuff about 5e that bugs me:
  • Cyclical initiative - too predictable
  • Fighter subclasses - so bland!
  • The divide in the warlock between the pact and the pact boon - boons should be options chosen from among stuff your specific pact can give
  • Ranger - I'd rebuild it using the paladin as more of a model
  • Druid - I'd make shapeshifting more central, maybe scale casting back to paladin or rogue level, use a nature domain for the guy with a scimitar and shield
  • James Wyatt wrote a cool sample adventure for the DMG that we couldn't include. Wish we had.
  • A better treatment of actions - action typing is still too fuzzy for more tastes.
  • Bonus action - they're pretty hacky; I'd get rid of them and just design smarter. Prior editions always poke through your thinking and distort it. We were so dependent on swift/minor actions that it took a lot of work to stop framing concepts in their terms.

He's not wrong.


Meh, I wouldn't mind them taking a very different tack with the Druid. Emphasising those features which truly differentiate it from other spell casters seems like a good idea, as to me they feel like nature themed wizards and just about always have. And if putting an emphasis on those unique qualities means scaling down to a half-caster... I'm perfectly fine with that.

Anyway, I'm not too bothered either way really. And the rest of it was a pleasant read. I'd certainly be interested in seeing what his alternative for the current initiative system is.


First Post
As someone who loves the 4e Fighter/Ranger/Rogue etc, it's interesting to see Mearls sort of imply he feels that the 5e incarnations missed the mark. His comments on the Fighter being too "nothing" is very interesting. While I overall like the general parts of 5e, I'm frustrated by how much it "locks" some various "cool" features of a class away behind resting. The Druid gets hit with this (can't always shapeshift) as do the Martials. Would be cool to see Mearls and Co maybe address that at some point.


Thanks for organizing and recording everything [MENTION=1]Morrus[/MENTION]!

I was really interesting by Mike's comments on making a newbie-friendly dungeon crawl balancing structure and flow-of-play. Definitely an area, like initiative, where there's lots of room for experimentation!

What is something you have tried putting in the game, but could never find the right mechanics to make it work?

I'd love to find a way to manage a dungeon crawl that's very newbie friendly, that provides enough structure to give new DMs the confidence to run the game, but that doesn't become a set of rules that devolves into playing the rules, rather than playing the game. Basically, a framework for the game that gives DMs a little more creative support without replacing the DM's creativity. It's a narrow path to walk. The rules for exploration in 5e are fine, but I think they're too much of a bother for experienced DMs and too mechanistic for newbies to really benefit from them.


First Post
I think we'd do a new edition only when the warts of the current one are bothersome enough that people want them excised.

Bring on 6e!

Build painless upgrades - if we ever did do a 6th edition, my ideal would be seamless backwards compatibility.

Not when you are still owned by Hasbro.


Victoria Rules
Really really really glad to see his comments regarding cyclic initiative, which has been a major bug since 3e.

Not so glad to see his ideas re Druids, who I'd prefer to see go more toward full-on Nature Cleric (and even be re-named as such).

In fact, thinking about that along with his comments re Rangers makes me wonder: if Rangers get moved away from the beastmaster/drizz't idea and back toward the Aragorn fighter-type model, and Druids get moved toward Nature Cleric, that might open up enough room for another wilderness class to fit between them. That could be this low-to-no-spells beastmaster type.

Lan-"did I ever mention that I don't like cyclic initiative?"-efan


James Wyatt wrote a cool sample adventure for the DMG that we couldn't include. Wish we had.

I want this.

Me, too! I think the DMG spent too many pages on the planes and not enough time on helping new (and old) DM's run great games. Solid starter adventures are worth their weight in gold.


First Post

Surprised that mearls doesn’t like designing feats/spells, I figured they would be higher on the list.

Druid comment seems reflective of the poll earlier, a nature themed paladin-type with shapeshifting instead of smites. I’d be down for that. Further comments seems to indicate that there is certainly some focus on shape-shifting in general, including scalability of forms. I hope they expand on this later or in the next edition, to avoid stuff like the moon druid early-game power spike.

Saddening to see the commentary on the fighter. I know I bang on that drum all the damn time but I feel like it’s one of the bigger and more important problems I have with an overall good system, and having the lead dev more or less echo those sentiments is aggravating. Maybe there was just a ridiculous amount of feedback pushing it in the direction of its current iteration during the playtest, but I hope that this is addressed down the line in some way.


First Post
Some stuff people get bent out of shape over seems to be too speculative to even offer a reaction for in my opinion. Still, interesting to see where a designer's head is at.

Of these things the thing that I am most curious about is Bonus Actions, simply becuase the current action economy in 5e feels very "clean" to me and that is hardest for me to see what he hates about it.

Initiative is static and kinda boring, but my players never complain. I'd be curious to see if there was a variant he prefers or if that is an egg he hasn't fully cracked yet.

The Druid stuff just feels like people bringing baggage into something so abstract that it can't really be discussed solely from a design standpoint. Personally a Nature Cleric and a shamanistic Druid is a nice dichotomy to me, but I know some people really have strong opinions about the labels we attach to these things...


As far as cyclic initiative goes, well, it's been a LONG time since we bothered changing that, so, it's gotten pretty ingrained into the game. I can't remember, did you reroll initiative in 1e? I know you did in 2e, but, IIRC, you didn't in 1e. But, it's been a very long time, so I could be off base there.

But, we've been what, just shy of 20 years of D&D with cyclic initiative? If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Of all the things to complain about in the edition, I'm thinking that that's one that's WAY down on the list.

It's nice to see that my frustration with fighters is getting echoed here. I want to like fighters in 5e, but, they're just so bland and boring. Hopefully we see some movement in that direction soonish.

The fact that he completely rejects the encounter building mechanics does bother me a bit. I mean, sure, eyeballing it works too and with experience in the system, that eyeballing gets easier. But, hey, if the system were better and clearer, maybe it wouldn't need so much eyeballing.

This comment:

The polls so far have been in step with final results - we usually see a much bigger difference in forum or online feedback. It's honestly kind of random - stuff will be super hated online, but the polls are fine with it.

really does kinda make forums sound like echo chambers. Small numbers of commenters making things seem like larger issues than they are. :/