log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D 5E Mike Mearls' AMA Summary

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
It's interesting to hear a designer talk about a dislike of cyclic initiative. I've never used it (I started playing and DMing in the 2e era, and didn't even realize 3e was supposed to have cyclic initiative until I'd been running it for years).

The comment about forums vs. surveys was also of interest. It's clear that a few of us here make a lot of noise about some "issues" in the game, and they tend to drown out any who disagree. I've seen similar phenomena in the GitP forums (the only 5e forum I visit even semi-regularly).

It's nice to see that maybe the forum-conventional wisdom isn't always as widespread as some would like to believe. I know my experiences with off-griped-about issues are often markedly different form the gripers', and I guess there may be more of me than there are of them.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

JeffB

Legend
Im with him on cyclic Initiative. Hated it since 3.0's pre-release.

Also agree with Fighter subclasses, proficiency die, and fiddly actions.

I'd like to hear some more detail about 4e and why they felt it closed off new and old players.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I'm incredibly troubled by his thoughts on the druid, and I am deathly worried that he won't listen to critics of his ideas but only to those who echo his sentiments (or even those who remain silent on the matter). The sort of changes he wants to make to the druid strike me as far too radical and detrimental to the history, aesthetic, and appeal of the class. In so doing what Mearls proposes, I fear that while he may attract some to the class, it also runs the serious risk of alienating others, myself included, from a class that I have long loved playing. And the result of such an endeavor may simply result in a repeat of 4E's problems with spreading the druid archetype across classes too thinly.
 

Waterbizkit

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

It sounds that way because it is that way. I'm still relatively new to these boards, but I've already been here long enough to see the same subjects tread and retread by the same people with the same stances on whatever the subject might be. And I don't say that to malign the board or the posters, simply what I've already come to observe.

Additionally, folks like myself aren't likely to step in to some of the faster moving and heated debates because we'll get drowned out by folks both more capable and motivated to post more often. It's easier for me to read those threads and keep to myself than to participate and far better to respond to surveys and polls that WotC offer up to get my feedback.

Again, this isn't to dump on ENWorld or other message boards, but it's often the nature of the beast.

Anyway, this AMA has certainly got me interested is what we might see down the road, both in UA articles as well as actual published material.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I dont get why people are affraid of his positions on druid/warlock/ranger. I mean, at worst we'll have Variant: Druid, Variant: Warlock and Variant: Ranger, I dont see them overwriting the classes already there, they are just a varia of the same theme, use it or dont, much like Variant Human. I guess that I could create difficulties with AL tables?

I like the idea of a 1/2 spellcaster druid with thematic shapeshifting as archetypes, it reminds me of the 4e Warden.
I like the design idea of having a variant warlock patrons with built in Blade pact (Hexblade), Chain (Raven Queen) and Tome (maybe we'll get a Witch?)
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
Thoughts:

Surprised that mearls doesn’t like designing feats/spells, I figured they would be higher on the list.
He mentioned that unexpected combinations are the biggest balance worry when it comes to designing new elements, that has to be a bigger concern for feats and spells than it is for new classes or subclasses, and might lower the enjoyment level.
 

AriochQ

Adventurer
I would echo that MM conception of a druid doesn't seem to match the historical (real life and D&D) conceptualization of that class. I would almost rather see a shapeshifter develop into a new class if he goes the direction he is leaning toward.

Good sign that he is a fan of Greyhawk. Keeping my fingers crossed that they open it up for DM's Guild at some point. I don't really want a new supplement, there is already enough stuff out there to run a deep campaign.

Hopefully the Fighter class will get some needed love. Most of the fighters I have seen are feat dependent (GWM, Polearm Master/Sentinal, etc). That isn't a bad thing per se, but probably means the class itself is very meh when you think about it.

Things he didn't mention as problems in 5th Ed:
Hiding/vision - The rules are clunky and very hard for many players/DM's to interpret
Lack of any real economy - Not much for characters to spend money on once they get to tier 2.
Magic item availability - No values provided as they are supposed to be rare, but following treasure/item creation/spellcasting guidelines they aren't really all that rare. Basically, the whole 'rare' concept is contradicted by every other aspect of the magic item economy.
 

Thanks for collating this! It's a fun read. I definitely got the sense of a designer who was really happy with the game, and liked the way that it plays, but who admits to a desire to change some stuff around the margins. I don't think that we should see anything here as indicative of a future change. Mike Mearls just doesn't like classes A, B, and C all that much; that doesn't mean that he is raring to rewrite them tomorrow. I can sympathise with that view; I kind of dislike some classes as well, but I wouldn't bother house ruling or banning them, I just wouldn't play them.

I did really like his thoughts on future things he'd like to do - I would absolutely love an underwater adventure! I keep thinking that it's a really fascinating and crazily gonzo direction to go, but one that is tough to do without either having too many custom rules, or making it feel like a normal adventure with a colour filter...
 


I would echo that MM conception of a druid doesn't seem to match the historical (real life and D&D) conceptualization of that class. I would almost rather see a shapeshifter develop into a new class if he goes the direction he is leaning toward.

It matches the pop-culture idea of it though. The historical one just isn't one people care about all that much, and, well, the 3E druid was a shapeshifter and I think even the 2E had some shapeshifting. But even without those, the pop culture druid shapeshifts, that's just how its been for years. More people think of a shapeshifter druid than they do the nature cleric role and, well, the nature clerics fulfill that role to a T

I mean, say what you will about Warcraft, it goes back beyond that. The Everquest druid shapeshifted. The Diablo 2 druid shapeshifted.

The idea of a druid not being a shapeshifter is going to be a dead thing in RPGs in a few years to come. The idea of druids being shapeshifters has stuck hard
 


Aldarc

Legend
I think that a Druid re-design would be good, but would be contentious. People like the "old school druid," but the cleric domain (nature) eats up the old "nature spellcaster" area. As much as I hate to say it, they really should concentrate the druid, as a separate class, on a different focus (like shapeshifting).
Shouldn't the obvious solution then be to get rid of the redundant nature cleric rather than killing the druid and stealing their stuff?

It matches the pop-culture idea of it though. The historical one just isn't one people care about all that much, and, well, the 3E druid was a shapeshifter and I think even the 2E had some shapeshifting. But even without those, the pop culture druid shapeshifts, that's just how its been for years. More people think of a shapeshifter druid than they do the nature cleric role and, well, the nature clerics fulfill that role to a T

I mean, say what you will about Warcraft, it goes back beyond that. The Everquest druid shapeshifted. The Diablo 2 druid shapeshifted.

The idea of a druid not being a shapeshifter is going to be a dead thing in RPGs in a few years to come. The idea of druids being shapeshifters has stuck hard
And yet the druids in Diablo and WoW are also essentially "full casters" with summons and nature spells. So it seems that the pop-culture idea of the druid still acknowledges them as powerful casters and not just shapeshifters with a smattering of spells. :erm:
 


Mercule

Adventurer
lol ok, other than your hatred of Paladins conceptually, do you have any objection to it?

Bc I rather think he means that the ranger would work mechanically more like a Paladin, which I don't really like, because Paladin subclasses are smaller than ranger Subclasses, and I want Ranger subclasses to make up about as much of the class as they currently do.
My gut reaction is to agree w/ lowkey13. I don't hate the Paladin, but I'm not sure what design elements Mike would want to bring over that aren't already there:
- 1/2 caster: check
- fighting style: check
- hp, skills, weapons: pretty comparable

Does he want oaths and codes of conduct? I guess I could see that, but it doesn't seem quite right.

Make one of these sentences true: Ranger is to Druid what Paladin is to Cleric. || Ranger is to Nature Cleric what Paladin is to Life Cleric. ? -- Please don't. That's probably the most ruinous thing I hear floated for the Ranger. The Ranger doesn't -- and shouldn't -- have any real tie to nature priests (of whatever class). They use nature, not worship it.

I just can't come up with any way rebuilding the Ranger modeled after the Paladin does anything meaningful without also harming it.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Why? From a design perspective?

Same with the druid as a "nature caster." Clerics of the nature domain handle that perfectly well. Let the Druid shine!
Maybe you have different experiences, but nature clerics and druids of the land play extraordinarily differently at my table. There is not much overlap in the spell lists between the cleric and the druid, and the nature domain only adds a small smattering of the druid's spell list while also leaving out many of the more iconic and flavorful spells. The same was also true back in 3E.

If you want the druid to shine, then why not rid ourselves of the redundant nature domain cleric? That inherently involves less cuts. It's the loss of a subclass verses the complete redesign of a class (and the redistribution of its powers across classes). Making the nature priest into the caster druid or "nature caster," as is, would require changing the scope and impact of cleric domains far greater than they presently are. Furthermore, reducing the spellcasting of the druid to emphasize its shapeshifting does not actually reduce any redundancy; it just shifts the redundancy around. How would the spell selection, for example, differ between the proposed Nature Cleric and the Mearls' Druid? And if you are giving the whole "scimitar and shield" aesthetic to the nature cleric, then that means that the druid is losing its "scimitar and shield" aesthetic that it once had. In terms of class-attached flavor and tradition, that sort of loss should not be underestimated.

I have explained elsewhere that I do not see the druid simply as a "nature priest," at least in the context of D&D, but as a primal spellcaster who represents a force of nature. Shapeshifting is a small sliver of that aspect, as it primarily involves animal ferocity, but the druid also encapsulates meteorological phenomenon, plants and fungi, and ecosystems. A nature cleric, IMHO, represents an aspect of nature via the lens of their deity's portfolio, whereas a druid represents nature in its raw totality.

May your campaigns be blessed with many rapier-wielding paladins.

Sincerely,

Aldarc
 
Last edited:


Aldarc

Legend
Or, put more simply, how many variants of the "nature spell casting" do you really need?
::looks at the number of variants on the arcane blaster spellcaster:: then ::looks at the available number of variants of the gish:: then ::looks at the number of variants of the spellcaster with necromantic powers:: then ::looks at the number of available variants of the illusionist/enchanter:: and so on... It seems as if the "nature spell casting" really only sits at one (i.e. the druid) with the cleric having its own cleric-specific spell selection plus that spare druid currency as leftover change that it still had from its "summer in Europe" trip.

You like the druid? Great! Make it more druid-y. There is nothing intrinsic about being a full caster for a druid. And, if you get rid of the full-caster status, you can add in even more cool abilities. IMO. Make the Druid shine. Make the Druid special. It doesn't have to be shapeshifting (or just shapeshifting). Give it a shapeshifter and a shaman. Or make it a "full caster" in the same way as the Warlock (with a different way to progress).
Please back that assertion up. And how can the druid be more druidy than it already is as a fullcaster with shapeshifting and iconic D&D druid abilities?

But, yeah, I am glad that you like Druids. I don't want to take your fun away. But IME, and based on surveys I have seen, druids aren't very popular, and the popularity they do have isn't based on their awesome spellcasting. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Then perhaps it would be more helpful to assess the reasons for that lack of popularity before making sweeping changes?
 

SkidAce

Hero
Supporter
It matches the pop-culture idea of it though. The historical one just isn't one people care about all that much, and, well, the 3E druid was a shapeshifter and I think even the 2E had some shapeshifting. But even without those, the pop culture druid shapeshifts, that's just how its been for years. More people think of a shapeshifter druid than they do the nature cleric role and, well, the nature clerics fulfill that role to a T

I mean, say what you will about Warcraft, it goes back beyond that. The Everquest druid shapeshifted. The Diablo 2 druid shapeshifted.

The idea of a druid not being a shapeshifter is going to be a dead thing in RPGs in a few years to come. The idea of druids being shapeshifters has stuck hard

/sobs
 

Mercule

Adventurer
Stuff about 5e that bugs me:
Cyclical initiative - too predictable
It used to, but I've totally bought into the balance benefits. I'm not married to it, but I'm skeptical of alternatives.

Fighter subclasses - so bland!
Yeah, but that's kinda the point -- kinda. It only seems so because the Fighter masters a mechanic available to everyone -- putting the pointy end in the other fellow. That's still a core aspect of the game and should be enjoyable and interesting in itself. I wouldn't mind a bit of spicing up, especially for the Battle Master. Don't get too fancy, though. The Fighter is about being good at combat w/o magic or Wuxia-type abilities, so no Bo9S.

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
Not sure what he's getting at, here. I will say that the pact boons seem to be almost ribbon abilities and could use a lot more pizzazz.

Ranger - I'd rebuild it using the paladin as more of a model
Covered elsewhere.

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
The truth is that the Nature Cleric really has stolen most of the original Druid's defining toys. The current Druid is left with stuff that were nifty, but not necessarily archetypal -- I always thought the shape shifting was more like the contest in Disney's Sword in the Stone. Both were accomplished casters, but the sort of casters they were also gave them shifting. Druids weren't quite Clerics. They were more theurges, with a natural bent. The distinction is a bit esoteric for an RPG, so it really is a bit redundant to have both Nature Clerics and Druids-as-priests.

It makes the most sense to have all the priestly goodies under the Cleric class, so kill the Druid in its current form. I just don't like calling it a Druid, since that has real-world, historical meaning. It's also too far removed from the origin of the class. Give it a new name, like Mystic did for psionics. Some suggestions: Warden (personal preference), Haruspex, Witch, Protean, Preserver.

I think focusing on shifting would be a bit narrow for a whole class. What do the subclasses look like? One focuses on natural critters, another focuses on transforming their stats? Mammals versus avians? Nope. It's a subclass of something else. Give pets back to Wardens, as a subclass. Maybe even take totems from Barbarians (a wart of a class) and make them yet another subclass.

James Wyatt wrote a cool sample adventure for the DMG that we couldn't include. Wish we had.
This sounds like an excellent UA article. Or, put it on DMs Guild.

A better treatment of actions - action typing is still too fuzzy for more tastes.
This scares me. I do not want a return to the specificity of 4E. I'll buy that things could be cleaned up a bit. Leave it flexible, though. You can't complete remove the need for GM adjudication and trying too hard breaks more than it fixes.

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.
I think bonus actions work pretty well and have no problem with the concept. Several of my players had a very hard time with it, though, so I'd be willing to look at a better way of presenting the ideas. Ultimately, though, there are only so many ways you can say, "You get to do one significant thing on your turn," while also allowing for moderately significant actions without letting the whole thing get messy.
 

OB1

Jedi Master
Are there any plans for non-Faerun settings like Dark Sun, Eberron, Spelljammer, or really any setting that isn't Faerun?

Yes, but nothing I can talk about. We think of D&D as a multiverse of worlds.

Please let this be Dust (AP with Setting guides for DMs) and Midway (Rules Expansion for PCs in the Multiverse)!

Also, I couldn't find the exact quote when I re-read this morning, but I thought it was great the way Mike described that even though he has personal preferences, they have a very robust system in place to determine what does and does not get in or get changed. For those who are worried about how he feels about the Druid, I'd point to that statement.
 

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top