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D&D 5E So 5th edition is coming soon


Just wrote this on the WotC forum.

I've been thinking on it for some time, and the 5th edition troll-joke thread compelled me to write what I thought.

So here it is:

Hi all. First, this is not a anti-4e thread, and I dont want it to become. To start with, I'm a 4e fan and supporter.

However, I've seen a trend in the past months. First, the 4th Edition streamlining with Essentials. Second, the retiring of several products in 2011. Third, the shiny new "legends and lore" articles from Mike Mearls, which do look like (despise his denial) a lot like a market ressearch ("what do you like more, grid or no grid?"). Plus several concerns from Mike Mearls about the 4e status, voiced by him (who is the Lead Designer, no less...), about things he doesn't like from current status of the game (like increasing complexity) or does not use (like grid-related ways to resolve cover).

It seems obvious to me that a company like WotC has to preview things. Just like Apple starts to build iPad 2 even before they sell iPad 1, WotC HAD, for sure, a plan about 4e lifespan. Whatever that plan is, it is subject to change, sure. If they thought "4e will last 6 years", that might become 4, or 8 (or 2 or 16) depending on things like, you know, sells.

However, the retiring of several products from this year release schedule sounds like a change. It might be becouse of they are losing steam in the shops, or becouse of a change in the plans (whatever that change might be). What they are not, for sure, is the result of a random roll in some senior armani-suited executive table.

So, in my opinion, we are in 4e last year. Maybe in q4 of 2011, or maybe in 2012, we'll see DD 5e (or Advanced D&D 4th, or "skills and options 2" or whatever it's called)

So the question is: what would you *think* it would looks like, and what do you *want* it would looks like?

In my own opinion, while 4e has several (most) things done right, it also has several mistakes, or things that would be streamlined.

1) too much powers. There is too much space wasted to explain "deft strike" and "nimble strike" or "footwork lure" and "Luring strike". Those powers are bassically the same. They dont really need to build diferent flavors of every power: a barbarian attack that hit 2 monsters and a fighter attack that hit two monsters could be the same "cleave". Similarly, a wizard fire attack that hit an area and a warlock fire attack that hit an area could be "fireball". Some powers might (and should) be "class exclusive", but a bunch core of it *should* be... core.

2) Padded sumo. The increase in player staying power (more hp at lvl 1, healing surges) was mostly wellcomed. However, the increase in monsters hp was not so massively acclaimed. Fights are too long, monsters have too much hp. WotC themselves have recognized this in some ways, as new monsters (specially solos) have fewer hp, but stronger damage.

3) conditions. There are too much of them, and the durations are too complex. Marks, curses, quarrys, divine challenges, plus stuns, dazed, inmobilized, bleeding, blind, bloodied... And every single of them last for a different duration: End of next turn, begining of your turn, until save, even some of them until someone else attacks the monster. Too much bookkeeping.

4) every power source feels too similar. Yes, there is fluff diference, and class diferences as well. A rogue does not looks like a wizard. But that's not power-source based, but class based. A rogue does not look like a warlord either. Essentials is a step in that way (so was psionics). Martials characters in essentials dont have daily powers, while psionics dont have encounter powers. Class balance is fundamental. However, class balance does not means "class being exactly the same". WotC has shown that, with proper design, classes can be balanced while being mechanically different (ie: hunter vs pyromancer vs psion as controller)

5) too much options. There is a bloat amount of feats, paragon paths and epic destinies and whatnot. This starts to look like 3.5 with prestige classes and what not. There is an "infoxication" (information intoxication). Plus an excess of options mean harder to balance design: you can make a balanced fey charge feat, thinking of fighters. But that will lead to umbalanced "feycharger" builds for swordmages, wizards, warlocks and whatnot.

So... what are your suggestions? What whould you like to see? What would you like NOT to see?

I'm currently in the process to design my own homebased stuff for local play. Based strongly on 4e Essentials, but also with Mutant and Masterminds or Legends of Anglerra stuff incorporated. My own design premises are:

Combat has to last half an hour or less. This leads to either more roleplaying, or more combats per session, depending on your playstile. In any case, lengthy combats dont help anybody.

New (or cassual) players should not receive a "shock" of information just to build up a lvl 1 character

All classes should be balanced, but different both in fluff and in mechanics (hardest part, probably)

No power should be "fire and forget". Therefore, no Daily, no encounter powers. All powers will be "at wills" that can be boosted with encounter-based "powerpoints" (name them mana, adrenaline, conviction)
No hit points. This is a sacred cow that will hurt to kill, but IMO, hit points make for slow combats. I'm not talking about being able to soak too much damage (that could be the same with any other sistem, like wound levels). The problem is the *damage roll*. Once you start to add up modifiers, it bogs down the game flow. It's not that easy to start adding up each little piece of damage bonus from feats, paragon path features, powers, abilities, magic items, conditions, class adventages and what not. Plus something that 3.0 edition showed about initiative: the less rolls you make, the faster the game goes. So either the damage roll is added to the to hit roll, or the damage is not rolled (but static).

This also allows for AC revamp

Conditions are simpler. 4e went a good way in this. Being "stun by nausea" and being "stun by fear" are different conditions in 3.0, but the same in 4e. It can be streamlined even more (like restrained, inmobilized, grab, etc) Conditions should add up, too (2 dazed should mean stun)

BOARDLESS PLAY SHOULD BE SUPPORTED. Minis, and grids, are very nice. But not *every* fight should *need* them, specially if you plan your longest fight be 45m, the shortest ones be 15m, with the average being half an hour. Board preparation (drawing the room, or taking tiles, getting the right minis, placing them, etc )takes time. In a 1 hour long battle, 5 min preparation is nothing. In a 15m short skirmish, 5 min preparation makes for 33% more time wasted This means pushing, pulling and sliding need an optional built-in method to play, and terrain should have non-grid rules too.

No class ability bonus. Elven dexterity, or dwarven toughness, should be feats/adventages/"paths". This is for two reasons: not to piggeon hole classes and races (so you can see an elven fighter or dwarven rogue back in the table), and not to "force" people to build unnatural or weird combinations (such as dwarvem infernal lock. Sure, there should be nothing that *stops* you to play an infernal lock. But there shouldnt be anything that *forces you* (or "incentive" you) to build it.

I would make 4 classes, warrior, rogue, mage and cleric. Everything else is a "template" or "path" or "specialization" of those. Paladins, rangers, warlocks and monks can be "kinds" of warriors, rogues, mages and clerics, respectively. So would be "eldritch knights", "bards", "mentalists" and "shamans", if you need them too. This will also cleanse one of 4e flaws (in my tastes), which is the "need" to fill every role-powersource gap, even with classes that really do not mean nothing for standard fantasy trope (like the warden, ardent, or battlemind)

Skill "stunts" are nice. Should replace most feats (think on them as current utility skill powers)

"bonus to hit" feats are bland, and boring. Every one ends taking them anyways. Just get rid of them, and/or roll them into the regular maths (ie: fighter and rogues weapon talents, if you feel they should have better attack bonus than, say, a cleric). Conditional feats might be better (such as "extra +1 to hit when attacking prone enemy"), but anyways, you should not be forced to choose between non-combat, roleplaying feats (like, say, +2 to diplomacy) and combat, tactic feats (like, say, +1 to hit with swords, or extra movement). Just for the same reason utility powers and attack powers are separated in 4e, or most non-combat spells went into rituals.

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Eh, if they do a 5th edition I would think that it would be very simular to 4th edition enough where all the work they have put into their online stuff will not be forsaken. In fact, I don't think we will see a 5th edition printed anywhere. They will just keep breeding out the rules they don't like.


I disagree completely.

They would need to ramp up their staffing considerably to do a 5e, and there's no evidence they have. Also, all of the stuff you're mentioning makes sense in the context of a reorganization, too - which we know happened, with the division that works on games, books, etc.

Basically, I don't think there's any reason to think 5e is around the corner. It will happen eventually, but I would not expect to see it for 3 years, at least.



First Post
As much as I or anyone else likes to speculate about the design of a new edition of D&D, it is largely an exercise in futility if we cannot get the "ear of Mike Mearls" (or whoever is appointed to be lead designer of 5E).


I disagree completely.

They would need to ramp up their staffing considerably to do a 5e, and there's no evidence they have. Also, all of the stuff you're mentioning makes sense in the context of a reorganization, too - which we know happened, with the division that works on games, books, etc.

Basically, I don't think there's any reason to think 5e is around the corner. It will happen eventually, but I would not expect to see it for 3 years, at least.


The only thing I have to say about that is that with the drastic reduction in content and the fact that we did not hear about any lay offs. Those people are probably not sitting around twiddling thumbs. While I hope they are working on GM aids and adventures for 4th edition, they could be working working on the beginnings of a major project like a new edition.

Eh, I think the whole idea with 4e was to make a system that would have solid enough core mechanics that it wouldn't require incompatible edition roll-over, at least until and unless there is a fairly large shift in the whole industry and a new type of game is required.

So, I don't think we'll see a 5th edition. I think we'll just see some rearranging of the way the various 4e concepts are used, much like Essentials has done. The next wave of material could easily restructure the game, changing the concept of power source, role, etc. Admittedly compatibility puts some limit on how far that can go, but incremental change can work. At some point material from older parts of the game may become effectively incompatible. There could be a range of things that will work well together, so Essentials works well with core 4e and it might work well with 'Advanced 4e' but core and Advanced might simply diverge enough in the way they are organized that most core stuff doesn't really work well with it.


First Post
Basically, I don't think there's any reason to think 5e is around the corner. It will happen eventually, but I would not expect to see it for 3 years, at least.

According to "[ame="http://www.amazon.com/Wizards-Presents-Classes-Dungeons-Dragons/dp/0786948019"]Wizard's Present: Races and Classes[/ame]", 4E took around three years to create from conception to release date (mid-2005 -> June 2008).

According to the July 21, 2010 WotC D&D podcast, 4E Essentials took around one year from conception to release date (September 2009 -> September 2010).

What went wrong with 4e design (IMHO and bla bla):

- WotC trying to fix things that were not broken and OTOH not fixing things that were broken (expertise feats of PHB 2 vs. paragon mutliclassing)

- WotC listening too much to voicy complainers (beta skill challenges where the challenged may decide on his own how difficult the check should be was a brilliant idea)

- A math flaw that really exists: skills were written to scale with half level. I don´t have anything to back it up, but it seems to me as if attack and especially defenses once scaled at 1/2 per level, too, or both at 1/level. (Some skills work against a defense, that scales faster than your sill progression.)

- A design flaw, which makes classes that should be really good at certain skills worse than people that happen to have the right main stat.

-> No increase in attributes per default
-> unified bonus increase
-> class and races both get hardcoded bonuses to skills. Training in some skills could be optional at level 1 or at later levels (Maybe every 4 levels or so... remember ADnD?)

(thief gets +2 to thievery by default, the skill he is automatically trained now). Everyone can train thievery at level 1, and maybe later levels for incremental bonuses to thievery) My preference would be +3 at level 1, and +3 at level 11 and +3 at level 21.)

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