5E Revisiting Mearls and Co

Savage Wombat

Adventurer
A comment in another thread sparked this question:

Of the many columns about D&DNext published in the last couple of years, which one(s) would you like Mearls (or other) to revisit? Did the final product actually include what he was working on? How did this vague allusion actually manifest in the book? Did the final art for this monster reflect the concept art we were shown?
 
I'd like to hear him revisit subclasses. They were an idea that grew in prominence during the playtest process, and frankly they do a few different things now, and differ depending on class. For example, the wizard and cleric subclasses seem to be almost entirely about customizing what your character does, whereas the fighter subclasses are almost entirely about how he does it. You can look at a cleric and tell what god he worships, and seeing a wizard in battle will give you strong clues what school he specializes in, but I don't know if there's an in-game way to tell a "weapon master" apart from a "champion."

If this was a necessary compromise to satisfy the various types of fighter players, that's fine. But that raises further questions: what about classes like barbarian and monk, which at least in the playtest were sort of in between - some subclasses were more mechanically involved than others, but they also had different flavor and did different stuff? And why isn't there a "simple wizard" or "simple sorcerer" subclass that gets rid of the neo-Vancian spellcasting that a lot of people despise? Did they get some kind of feedback that people actually didn't want alternate spellcasting mechanics by subclass, or did it prove too complex to cover the requisite mechanical differences AND flavor differences in those classes?

I'd love to hear developer opinions on this, both because 5e spell casters seem like a bit of a missed opportunity to me (so far), and because this is clearly an area where playtest feedback and development changes made for some pretty big shifts in the team's approach.
 

Thaumaturge

thaumaturging
I'd like to know what the developers' favorite mechanic that didn't pass muster in the playtest was.

Thaumaturge.
 

JC99

Visitor
I'd like to know what the developers' favorite mechanic that didn't pass muster in the playtest was.

Thaumaturge.
On one podcast with the Penny Arcade guys Mearls sounded really enthusiastic about fighters' expertise dice, but I'm not sure if those are gone or just moved to a subclass.
 

SigmaOne

Visitor
A comment in another thread sparked this question:

Of the many columns about D&DNext published in the last couple of years, which one(s) would you like Mearls (or other) to revisit? Did the final product actually include what he was working on? How did this vague allusion actually manifest in the book? Did the final art for this monster reflect the concept art we were shown?

I'm willfully misunderstanding your question, so I can answer a different one: In summer 2012, there was a podcast (video?) where Mike Mearls visited Mike Krahulik, Jerry Holkin (both of Penny Arcade) and Scott Kurtz (of PvP), and they spoke about the current state of D&D Next. I would love for them to revisit that interview now that D&D Next is coming out.
 

JC99

Visitor
I'm willfully misunderstanding your question, so I can answer a different one: In summer 2012, there was a podcast (video?) where Mike Mearls visited Mike Krahulik, Jerry Holkin (both of Penny Arcade) and Scott Kurtz (of PvP), and they spoke about the current state of D&D Next. I would love for them to revisit that interview now that D&D Next is coming out.
Was that the one where they were trying to convert the Acquisitions, Inc. characters using half-written playtest rules? I would love a sequel where they redo the same characters with the final PHB.
 

Capricia

Visitor
http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4ll/20120430

This right here. The Fighter design goals.

1. The Fighter Is the Best at . . . Fighting!

This might sound like an obvious point, but the fighter should be the best character in a fight. Other classes might have nifty tricks, powerful spells, and other abilities, but when it’s time to put down a monster without dying in the process, the fighter should be our best class. A magic sword might make you better in a fight, but a fighter of the same level is still strictly better. Perhaps a spell such as haste lets you attack more often, but the fighter is still either making more attacks or his or her attacks are more accurate or powerful.
From the basic rules, it looks as though the cleric is going to be a better fighter. With the leaked phb, the ranger and paladin can clearly outfight the fighter as long as they have spells. The barbarian can outfight him as long as he can rage. The wizard can simply end an encounter with the right spell. The Fighter's schtick is instead "Can outfight any class when they are absolutely deprived of their resources".

2. The Fighter Draws on Training and Experience, not Magic

Fighters master mundane tactics and weapon skills. They don’t need spells or some sort of external source of magical power to succeed. Fighters do stuff that is within the limits of mundane mortals. They don’t reverse gravity or shoot beams of energy.
Mission accomplished. This fighter is absolutely mundane in every way.

3. The Fighter Exists in a World of Myth, Fantasy, and Legend

Keeping in mind the point above, we also have to remember that while the fighter draws on mundane talent, we’re talking about mundane within the context of a mythical, fantasy setting. Beowulf slew Grendel by tearing his arm off. He later killed a dragon almost singlehandedly. Roland slew or gravely injured four hundred Saracens in a single battle. In the world of D&D, a skilled fighter is a one-person army. You can expect fighters to do fairly mundane things with weapons, but with such overwhelming skill that none can hope to stand against them.
There aren't any rules for tearing off arms, and an unarmed fighter is severely crippled since they'd be using such low damage dice and unaided by their fighting style. A level 8 fighter would be absolutely annihilated by the level 8 dragon in the starter set. A level 20 fighter would be easily taken out by a group of archers because of bounded accuracy. The skill, relying on multiple attacks that always do the same damage, aren't really overwhelming.

4. The Fighter Is Versatile

The fighter is skilled with all weapons. The best archer, jouster, and swordmaster in the realm are all fighters. A monk can match a fighter’s skill when it comes to unarmed combat, and rangers and paladins are near a fighter’s skill level, but the fighter is typically in a class by itself regardless of weapon.
Only...no. An extra attack at level 11 is really all the fighter has to set himself apart from the others. The others have 5th level spellcasting with a slew of swift action spells that have extremely powerful and versatile effects. The best archer is a ranger who casts Swift Quiver. The best Jouster is a Paladin who uses any of the wide number of Smite spells at the moment of impact. The best swordmaster might be a fighter...if it was an eldritch knight.

5. The Fighter Is the Toughest Character

The fighter gets the most hit points and is the most resilient character. A fighter’s skill extends to defense, allowing the class to wear the heaviest armor and use the best shields. The fighter’s many hit points and high AC renders many monsters’ attacks powerless.
The fighter has one good save and then strength. Indomitable is nigh worthless against effects targeting his weak save. The fighter can wear heavy armor but so can the Cleric. The fighter gets 1 extra hp per level compared to the vast majority of classes. That's not enough of a distinction to make "many monster's attacks powerless".

6. A High-Level Fighter and a High-Level Wizard Are Equal

Too often in D&D, the high-level fighter is the flunky to a high-level wizard. It’s all too easy for combinations of spells to make the wizard a far more potent enemy or character, especially if a wizard can unleash his or her spells in rapid succession. A wizard might annihilate a small army of orcs with a volley of fireballs and cones of cold. The fighter does the same sword blow by sword blow, taking down waves of orcs each round. Balancing the classes at high levels is perhaps the highest priority for the fighter, and attaining balance is something that we must do to make D&D fit in with fantasy, myth, and legend. Even if a wizard unleashes every spell at his or her disposal at a fighter, the fighter absorbs the punishment, throws off the effects, and keeps on fighting.
Waves of orcs. A high level fighter gets 3 attacks a round, 6 if he novas. Even at high level, each attack is going to do something like 2d6+5 damage, which is going to be enough to finish off an orc slightly more than half the time. Meanwhile, a level 5 wizard can reliably wipe them out with a fireball. Or any number of the other hundreds of spells they have access to.

The fighter does not have enough hp to absorb the wizard's punishment, Indomitable does not work at throwing off the effects, and many spells are going to simply take the fighter out of the fight with trivial ease. Quite simply, the fighter just stops getting class features at level 9 with Indomitable. The extra attacks don't keep up at all with the bloated hp of higher level monsters, meaning the fighter actually does less damage relative to encounters as they level up. Even a subclass like the Battle Master is going to get its 3 best maneuvers at level 3, and each new one they get access to are going to be the ones they really didn't want in the first place.

So yeah, I'd love to hear Mearls try to defend how Next lived up to these goals.
 

SigmaOne

Visitor
Was that the one where they were trying to convert the Acquisitions, Inc. characters using half-written playtest rules? I would love a sequel where they redo the same characters with the final PHB.
Yeah, that one. I love the quote when Mike Krahulik asked Mike Mearls (paraphrasing) "If I love 4e and am having a blast playing it, why should I switch to 5e?" And Mearls just said "You shouldn't. We don't want you to." I wish more people would absorb that exchange and get on with their lives.
 

JC99

Visitor
Yeah, that one. I love the quote when Mike Krahulik asked Mike Mearls (paraphrasing) "If I love 4e and am having a blast playing it, why should I switch to 5e?" And Mearls just said "You shouldn't. We don't want you to." I wish more people would absorb that exchange and get on with their lives.
I want to listen to that one again. Even though the mechanics they're discussing are outdated, a lot of the discussions are still relevant. Like you said, Mike Krahulik starts the podcast saying "I've never been through this 'new edition' thing. I don't understand why I need a new edition." and later on he seemed to come around.

Oddly enough I don't think I've seen a post about D&D on PA since the starter and Basic came out. I wonder if Mike and Jerry decided they'd rather stick to 4th? Either way I'd be interested in seeing what they think.

EDIT: Forgot how much this made me laugh. "Knowing WotC they'll release a book that's just the ampersand." "Really? This book just simply covers the idea of inclusion? That's not a value."
 
Last edited:

Nagol

Unimportant
I want to listen to that one again. Even though the mechanics they're discussing are outdated, a lot of the discussions are still relevant. Like you said, Mike Krahulik starts the podcast saying "I've never been through this 'new edition' thing. I don't understand why I need a new edition." and later on he seemed to come around.

Oddly enough I don't think I've seen a post about D&D on PA since the starter and Basic came out. I wonder if Mike and Jerry decided they'd rather stick to 4th? Either way I'd be interested in seeing what they think.
Didn't they eventually move on to other games systems? I haven't read Penny Arcade in ages but I seem to recall Warhammer or something like it and some form of card/RPG about kid scouts or something.
 

jadrax

Adventurer
Wow, what is that leak? I've not seen it before.
Someone leaked the Alpha version of the Player's Guide from February.

However, a better and more up to date guide to how 'expertise dice' will work is probably the NPC in the starter set who can Parry.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Mon

wedgeski

Visitor
Didn't they eventually move on to other games systems? I haven't read Penny Arcade in ages but I seem to recall Warhammer or something like it and some form of card/RPG about kid scouts or something.
They play a massive range of games, with D&D and roleplaying being only one small part of that. I follow PA and don't recall hearing whether they've switched their campaigns to 5E...although they certainly played it at PAX, of course.

The "card/RPG [game] about kid scouts or something" is "Thornwatch", a roleplaying/card game hybrid designed by Mike Krahulik based on some of their comics. It actually looks very interesting.
 

Advertisement

Top