• Welcome to this new upgrade of the site. We are now on a totally different software platform. Many things will be different, and bugs are expected. Certain areas (like downloads and reviews) will take longer to import. As always, please use the Meta Forum for site queries or bug reports. Note that we (the mods and admins) are also learning the new software.
  • The RSS feed for the news page has changed. Use this link. The old one displays the forums, not the news.

Mike Mearls on how D&D 4E could have looked

OK on this "I would’ve much preferred the ability to adopt any role within the core 4 by giving players a big choice at level 1, an option that placed an overlay on every power you used or that gave you a new way to use them."
Basically have Source Specific Powers and less class powers. But I think combining that with having BIG differing stances to dynamically switch role might be a better idea so that your hero can adjust role to circumstance. I have to defend this NPC right now vs I have to take down the big bad right now vs I have to do minion cleaning right now, I am inspiring allies in my interesting way, who need it right now.

and the obligatory
Argghhhh on this. " I wanted classes to have different power acquisition schedules"

And thematic differences seemed to have been carried fine.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Comments

Jester David

Villager
I am disappointed in Mike. I do not see the virtue in continuing to re-spark the flames of the edition war every 3-6 months like this. What's the end game here?
Edition wars are an old message board thing. And one localized to the small communities with people who played 4e and still have strong feelings about it.

Remember that the audience engaging in D&D is 4x larger than it was during 4e, and many of those are new players. They can’t Edition war as they know nothing of 4e.

Mearls was asked a question and answered.
 

Jester David

Villager
When a DM starts talking about chin ups and things they can personally do when you are talking about figuring out what Heroic and Paragon level or Epic Demigod Heros can accomplish ... you can guarantee mages will make your warriors feel like utter chumps
The difference bewteeen a Heroic martial character and an Epic martial character is the difference between Year One Batman and the Morrison JLA Batman. They’re still Batman and defined by their mortality and human limits. They still cannot and should not be able to do anything superhuman.
Giving a fighter (or warlord or rogue) magical powers and abilities that seem beyond mortal is like giving Batman superhuman strength. It misses the point. The base fighter shouldn’t have class features that give them spells.

Epic destinies are different. They’re seperate and added overtop. The demigod fighter is still a demigod.
 

Manbearcat

Adventurer
The difference bewteeen a Heroic martial character and an Epic martial character is the difference between Year One Batman and the Morrison JLA Batman. They’re still Batman and defined by their mortality and human limits. They still cannot and should not be able to do anything superhuman.
Giving a fighter (or warlord or rogue) magical powers and abilities that seem beyond mortal is like giving Batman superhuman strength. It misses the point. The base fighter shouldn’t have class features that give them spells.

Epic destinies are different. They’re seperate and added overtop. The demigod fighter is still a demigod.
And they have the luxury of both author contrivance and plot immunity.

Players playing the Batman equivalent in D&D have no such fallbacks to achieve parity with Superman/Wonder Woman/Doctor Strange (Marvel...I know), unless (a) those metagame tools that the author depends upon are systemitized (as plenty of RPG systems do the equivalent to keep their players of Hobbits and Rangers on roughly equal footing) or (b) we shrug our shoulders on D&D physics (as we often do in order to play at all) and what defines supernatural in that world (and on the “mundane” components of spellcasting/harnessing otherworldly power). We don’t have to be preoccupied with mapping vertical leaps and chin-up output to our perception (often flawed) of own worldly limits. That is a personal aesthetic priority that comes with both play and extra-play consequences.

Absent that, the endgame experience of playing a Batman analogue in an RPG is going to fail to contribute to the fiction in any way that is remotely comparable to his god-like power-harnessing counterparts.
 

Jester David

Villager
And they have the luxury of both author contrivance and plot immunity.

Players playing the Batman equivalent in D&D have no such fallbacks to achieve parity with Superman/Wonder Woman/Doctor Strange (Marvel...I know), unless (a) those metagame tools that the author depends upon are systemitized (as plenty of RPG systems do the equivalent to keep their players of Hobbits and Rangers on roughly equal footing) or (b) we shrug our shoulders on D&D physics (as we often do in order to play at all) and what defines supernatural in that world (and on the “mundane” components of spellcasting/harnessing otherworldly power). We don’t have to be preoccupied with mapping vertical leaps and chin-up output to our perception (often flawed) of own worldly limits. That is a personal aesthetic priority that comes with both play and extra-play consequences.

Absent that, the endgame experience of playing a Batman analogue in an RPG is going to fail to contribute to the fiction in any way that is remotely comparable to his god-like power-harnessing counterparts.
And there's lots of ways to do that without lots of overt magic powers and symmetry with wizards in terms of gaining abilities.

Look, once 4e was mentioned, everyone jumped right back into that mindset and trotted out the old, tired arguments. We began the old dance we've danced so many times before.
But it isn't 2008 anymore. There are numerous RPGs out now—including 5e—that show that YES you can have a fighter that is not a wizard caddy and is super useful to the party and doesn't necessarily rely on magical skills. This is a solved problem.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Absent that, the endgame experience of playing a Batman analogue in an RPG is going to fail to contribute to the fiction in any way that is remotely comparable to his god-like power-harnessing counterparts.
One of the practices I created is explicitly a batman one called Trained Preparedness - a friend suggested i call it "schrodinger's supplies". He always seems to have exactly the tools/equipment he needs and develops special ones to address situations nobody but he imagined might occur. It might actually be harder to limit it than make it powerful in a skill challenge ... its also a Loki style power.
 
D

DQDesign

Guest
"I’m a little angry at myself for not looting more of the at-will powers [for 5E]. Eyebite is such a fun toy, no idea why we did not pick that one and others up for 5e more often and for more classes."

No idea?!? After years of 5E development, dozens of surveys, playtest sessions so long that leave dnd5 without psionics and artificers as of 2018 there are still things that the main designer does not know about 5e core rules dnd game design choices??
I'm starting thinking about that some 'modern' wotc approaches (slow publishing pace, no care for canon, etc.) are not deliberate choices rather than randomly happened things.
 

MwaO

Explorer
But it isn't 2008 anymore. There are numerous RPGs out now—including 5e—that show that YES you can have a fighter that is not a wizard caddy and is super useful to the party and doesn't necessarily rely on magical skills. This is a solved problem.
A Fighter in 4e can be a non-magical batman in the exact same way that a Fighter in 5e does. Pick options that involve lots of attacks and easily explained effects. So a Str/Dex Tempest Fighter with Rain of Blows, Trip Up, Bash & Pummel who goes Shock Trooper as a Paragon Path is an incredibly dangerous PC who doesn't have any 'magical effects' — and that Fighter can easily be overpowered for a lot of campaigns. 4e just doesn't require the player to be by default having to explain why any or all of their options work in a non-magical way.

But 5e does not have a solved problem for Fighter vs Wizard unless one of about 3 things are happening — excessive magic items ala Adventurer's League, being below 11th level, or having an inept player of a Wizard playing one. Which to be fair, given how insanely complex casters are in 5e is more likely than not.
 

Parmandur

Adventurer
A Fighter in 4e can be a non-magical batman in the exact same way that a Fighter in 5e does. Pick options that involve lots of attacks and easily explained effects. So a Str/Dex Tempest Fighter with Rain of Blows, Trip Up, Bash & Pummel who goes Shock Trooper as a Paragon Path is an incredibly dangerous PC who doesn't have any 'magical effects' — and that Fighter can easily be overpowered for a lot of campaigns. 4e just doesn't require the player to be by default having to explain why any or all of their options work in a non-magical way.

But 5e does not have a solved problem for Fighter vs Wizard unless one of about 3 things are happening — excessive magic items ala Adventurer's League, being below 11th level, or having an inept player of a Wizard playing one. Which to be fair, given how insanely complex casters are in 5e is more likely than not.
I've literally never been able to get the concept of LF,QW across to anybody outside of these forums: I don't know anybody in real life who thinks there is an imbalance between Fighters and Wizards, or sees it as an issue if discussed. It's a forumite concern, not so much at tables, in my experience and according to WotC data.
 

Jester David

Villager
A Fighter in 4e can be a non-magical batman in the exact same way that a Fighter in 5e does. Pick options that involve lots of attacks and easily explained effects. So a Str/Dex Tempest Fighter with Rain of Blows, Trip Up, Bash & Pummel who goes Shock Trooper as a Paragon Path is an incredibly dangerous PC who doesn't have any 'magical effects' — and that Fighter can easily be overpowered for a lot of campaigns. 4e just doesn't require the player to be by default having to explain why any or all of their options work in a non-magical way.
I have literally zero interest in actually discussing the actual 4e fighters. Been there. Done that. Never caused anything but stress and Edition Warring.
My 4e books are all boxed up and stored, and I have no intentions of pulling them out to discuss features or individual powers/ builds.

I’m discussing a theoretical 4e fighter that could have been, and how the design might have worked.

But 5e does not have a solved problem for Fighter vs Wizard unless one of about 3 things are happening — excessive magic items ala Adventurer's League, being below 11th level, or having an inept player of a Wizard playing one. Which to be fair, given how insanely complex casters are in 5e is more likely than not.
Disagree. On so many levels.
The 5e wizard is not quadratic, being solved by not letting their spells automatically increase in power. It’s a much, much more linear curve. Meanwhile, fighters gain power and efficacy nicely.

Simmilarly, AL play is not the norm or even the majority. It has no place in general play discussion.

Also... bring below level 11 is literally half the levels. And three-quarters of campaigns... if not more, given the acceleration of levelling after L10. So if it’s solves at levels <11, then it pretty much is solved.
 

MwaO

Explorer
I've literally never been able to get the concept of LF,QW across to anybody outside of these forums: I don't know anybody in real life who thinks there is an imbalance between Fighters and Wizards, or sees it as an issue if discussed. It's a forumite concern, not so much at tables, in my experience and according to WotC data.
I take it you've never seen a Variant Human 5e Bard with the Alert feat+16 Dex+Jack of All Trades(so +8 or 9 initiative) with a Bardic Instrument throw down Hypnotic Pattern in every combat and watched every encounter basically auto-fail their saving throws? Because I've sat down at a table where that happened. Or a 9th level caster using Command or Hold Person to make an entire combat unable to act for a round?

At 5th level, that can't happen consistently enough. At 10th level, it starts to do that all the time unless the DM throws in specialized encounters designed to stop it. And the presence of the Fighter doesn't really change. They really just do damage and the DM doesn't have to structure the combats around what they might do. But another problem that shows up here is that the most efficient way to stop casters from blowing up enemies is to spread them out. And that then makes things really difficult for the melee Fighter unable to reach targets.

Why doesn't WotC data show this? Because the majority of games in every edition of D&D stop right around 10th. That's not a coincidence...
 

Manbearcat

Adventurer
Premise: Epic level play in D&D has a Martial/Spellcaster imbalance, PARTICULARLY in non-combatant resolution (overcoming obstacles and resolving conflicts that don’t involve HP ablation).

Response: Not true because the overwhelming bulk of table play doesn’t reach Epic level and the data about that non-Epic play supports there not being a problem at Epic level.

What?
 

Parmandur

Adventurer
I take it you've never seen a Variant Human 5e Bard with the Alert feat+16 Dex+Jack of All Trades(so +8 or 9 initiative) with a Bardic Instrument throw down Hypnotic Pattern in every combat and watched every encounter basically auto-fail their saving throws? Because I've sat down at a table where that happened. Or a 9th level caster using Command or Hold Person to make an entire combat unable to act for a round?

At 5th level, that can't happen consistently enough. At 10th level, it starts to do that all the time unless the DM throws in specialized encounters designed to stop it. And the presence of the Fighter doesn't really change. They really just do damage and the DM doesn't have to structure the combats around what they might do. But another problem that shows up here is that the most efficient way to stop casters from blowing up enemies is to spread them out. And that then makes things really difficult for the melee Fighter unable to reach targets.

Why doesn't WotC data show this? Because the majority of games in every edition of D&D stop right around 10th. That's not a coincidence...
I'm not saying it isn't a theoretical issue; I've just never seen anybody take it seriously IRL when I explained the online controversy, nor have I seen any cheese mostly like you describe. My personal experience in play is that spell-casters comically fall on their faces constantly, while Champions and Monks are unstoppable death machines.
 

Parmandur

Adventurer
Premise: Epic level play in D&D has a Martial/Spellcaster imbalance, PARTICULARLY in non-combatant resolution (overcoming obstacles and resolving conflicts that don’t involve HP ablation).

Response: Not true because the overwhelming bulk of table play doesn’t reach Epic level and the data about that non-Epic play supports there not being a problem at Epic level.

What?
Premise: Epic level play in D&D has a theoretically unfun martial/spellcaster imbalance

Practical Experience: Everyone I know who plays martial characters doesn't feel that they are playing imbalanced or unfun characters.

What the WOtC designers have spoken of is *narrative balance* between Classes. In 5E, in actual play, everyone has their time to shine. The Wizard will always be flashier, because he is a Wizard. Doesn't stop the whirrling Cusinart of murder that is the Champion having fun.

For practical purposes, refer to Grog Strongjaw, entirely non-magical and nigh-mythic force of death.
 

MwaO

Explorer
I have literally zero interest in actually discussing the actual 4e fighters. Been there. Done that. Never caused anything but stress and Edition Warring.
My 4e books are all boxed up and stored, and I have no intentions of pulling them out to discuss features or individual powers/ builds.

I’m discussing a theoretical 4e fighter that could have been, and how the design might have worked.
Your theoretical 4e fighter isn't theoretical.

The 5e wizard is not quadratic, being solved by not letting their spells automatically increase in power.
Spells increase either in power and/or targets. That's quadratic. Making mass targets helpless or lose actions is much more powerful than against single targets. And there are a number of single target damage spells that can do crazy damage — Animate Object on 10 daggers as an example.

Also... bring below level 11 is literally half the levels. And three-quarters of campaigns... if not more, given the acceleration of levelling after L10. So if it’s solves at levels <11, then it pretty much is solved.
Games don't end because people are still having fun. They end because they stopped being fun. When most games end <11th, ought to tell you that something broke before 11th...
 

Parmandur

Adventurer
Your theoretical 4e fighter isn't theoretical.



Spells increase either in power and/or targets. That's quadratic. Making mass targets helpless or lose actions is much more powerful than against single targets. And there are a number of single target damage spells that can do crazy damage — Animate Object on 10 daggers as an example.



Games don't end because people are still having fun. They end because they stopped being fun. When most games end <11th, ought to tell you that something broke before 11th...
What WotC found was that campaigns aren't ended for in-game reasons, but real life rhythms: everyone leaves the campus for the Summer, and only 4 out of 6 people want to keep going in the new school year and the DM had an idea for a new campaign anyways, or half the group moves for work reasons and a new game needs to get organized. It's not that the game isn't fun as it goes on, it's that most people can't sustain a campaign that long.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Morrus said:
Mearls answered this question on Twitter, describing at length how the D&D 4th edition he wanted to make differed from the one which was actually published back in 2008.
Morrus, can you update this link to the actual thread? Right now it just goes to Mike's Twitter page, and I can't find the quoted passages there.
 

Jester David

Villager
I've literally never been able to get the concept of LF,QW across to anybody outside of these forums: I don't know anybody in real life who thinks there is an imbalance between Fighters and Wizards, or sees it as an issue if discussed. It's a forumite concern, not so much at tables, in my experience and according to WotC data.
I love 3e. I adored that edition so much I bought it three times. ;)
But LF;QW were an issue after mid levels. Even after level 9 or 10 the casters began to pull away from martials, being almost twice as powerful.

The issue was partly the additive number of spells, as low level spells increased dramatically. Which was aggravated by magical items that could boost ability scores, granting even more low level spells, and cheap magic items like pearls of power that could do the same.
Adding to this was that low level spells increased in power. Each level, the fireball spell gained an extra d6 in damage.
So while regardless of level, a caster could cast their most powerful spell a couple times a day (a linear power curve) their existing powers also got better, and the difference in power level between spells also increased (making it a quadratic power curve).
 

Jester David

Villager
Your theoretical 4e fighter isn't theoretical.
o_O
Can you point to the book where either my or Mike Mearl's fighter is published. I think I'd remember writing that book.

Spells increase either in power and/or targets. That's quadratic.
No… that's linear. That's why it's a linear *growth*.

See my above post for why wizards were quadratic.

Games don't end because people are still having fun. They end because they stopped being fun. When most games end <11th, ought to tell you that something broke before 11th...
As Parmandur points out, that's just inaccurate.
Campaigns end because the story ends, the players want to try something new, the group falls apart, the published adventure ends, the party TPKs, or life gets in the way.

Even in 4e, which was ostensibly more balanced, few people ran level 1 to 30 campaigns. There was a reason WotC never did an epic DMG or MM. They had pretty good ideas of the level ranges of games (due to the builder) and even in 2010 and 2011 they were focusing on the Heroic Tier.
 

Parmandur

Adventurer
I love 3e. I adored that edition so much I bought it three times. ;)
But LF;QW were an issue after mid levels. Even after level 9 or 10 the casters began to pull away from martials, being almost twice as powerful.

The issue was partly the additive number of spells, as low level spells increased dramatically. Which was aggravated by magical items that could boost ability scores, granting even more low level spells, and cheap magic items like pearls of power that could do the same.
Adding to this was that low level spells increased in power. Each level, the fireball spell gained an extra d6 in damage.
So while regardless of level, a caster could cast their most powerful spell a couple times a day (a linear power curve) their existing powers also got better, and the difference in power level between spells also increased (making it a quadratic power curve).
I should qualify that most of the people I know who play, started with 5E. My 3E/4E experience makes me a crunchy Grognard now?

None of my 3E experience got to that point, because we would leave campus every Summer and essentially start a new game each academic year...
 

Advertisement

Advertisement

Top