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D&D 5E Things That Worry Me About D&D Next (As Described)

Miyagi

First Post
1. Class Balance

There are two things that worry me here:

1. The ability to trade mechanical bonuses for flexibility.

I just don’t see how this can work. If one fighter can simply stack bonuses and damage for every level, and another fighter can trade these bonuses for different ways of doing lower damage, they can’t even play in the same game after a few levels of this. The balance for this, even if it is possible, would be very hard to figure.

2. Bleed of various parts of the game to others.

The idea that one character might choose (or be forced by class) to trade combat ability for the ability to talk real good or to find the way through a maze is really terrible. This has always been a problem, but to talk as though this is a feature of the game that is part of the design philosophy really bothers me. There should be no characters who cannot participate in each part (combat/roleplay/exploration) of the game, with the ability to contribute meaningfully in each part. The 3E fighter is exactly the wrong way to go here.

Solutions: Don’t let people trade mechanical bonuses for flexibility. Flexibility should be about the character’s complexity, not his power. People shouldn’t be able to trade abilities from one area to another, either. Make feats combat only; make skills unrelated to combat proficiency; make two (or three) kinds of spell, so that the combat and non-combat spells are entirely separate, and don’t even use the same resources.

2. Minimum Complexity

I worry that this will be set wrong. The comment by Mearls that it is easier to add than subtract complexity is problematic in this game. If I want to play a straightforward sword-and-board fighter, and I don’t want him to talk or look for traps, I should be able to play that character. But if I want to play him, it is easy for me to ignore my fighter’s leadership abilities or his direction sense; that is, I can easily ignore the parts of the game I don’t have an interest in, even if my class could participate in those areas by the rules as written. But if the bard is primarily a roleplay character for simplicity’s sake, then I simply can’t play a combative bard at all. And that’s terrible.

Solutions: Set a relatively high complexity as the standard, and have either classes that are simplified but equally powerful versions of the more complex classes, or builds within a class that simplify the complex elements.

3. Exploration and Roleplaying

I hope that they make this more interesting. I worry that they want skill challenges to “die in a fire.” The problem with skill challenges is the ruleset, not the concept. People like the idea of completing non-combat challenges. People also like rules for this, because, honestly, I can ignore the rules and play a made-up game of cops-and-robbers for roleplaying if I like, even if there are rules for roleplaying, but if there are no rules at all, then I need to be a character actor to play a wide range of interesting characters. And if I wanted to be an actor, there are other games that might work much better for me.

Solutions: I don’t have any, but the designers really need to have something here. It just isn’t good enough to go the 2E or 4E way and say “do what you want”! Because I can already do that, but I wouldn’t pay for rules that tell me to just pretend to talk to the king and decide for myself whether I accomplish my aims or not.

4. Multiclassing

This is a really specific mechanical issue, but it affects so much of the game that it needs to be carefully planned. I know that these guys played 3E – some even designed it – but did they forget the multiclassing problems? If this element will work like that game, how can people make multiclassed spellcasters at all? Will characters who take a level in another class get a level (character-level) appropriate ability, or will it still be a game of the fighter sacrificing his own abilities in order to cast sleep, when what he wants is a character who can sword and cast fireball? And if they adopt the solution I might like, which is to give the level-appropriate abilities, then how can they possibly avoid the kinds of complicated, game-breaking builds that will almost inevitably result?

Solutions: I almost think 4E was on the right track, here, but it had people trading important resources for versatility, which doesn’t work. It would be cool to have the idea of a minor class – that you multiclass in order to have a little of the other class, and you choose a few abilities (of each game type) that work in a level-appropriate way.

5. Modularity

I started D&D with 2E, and loved it to death. It had lots of problems. Late in the 2E cycle, I DM’d a really complicated game, with fully integrated Skills&Powers, including options, and really included everything I possibly could – weapon speeds, parts of rounds, optional classes, kits, - everything. Then I had a chance to play in a 2E game that I wasn’t running, and I played for exactly one session. Partly because I was forced to randomly generate almost everything about my character, and we played a simple game with the PHB and one or two other resources only.

I’m not denigrating other people’s styles at all – surely there were players who would love that DM’s game – but a modular system exacerbates the minimum levels of complexity problem. If I play in another game, I don’t want to have to read through a 10 page document outlining the rules variants AND house rules used in a particular game. And every late 2E game I played was like that.

Solutions: Electronic tools might help, here; if the DM could rig the character builder to include the rules she wanted, and not others, and include house rules, then the character creation part would be simpler. But I don’t see ways of avoiding this problem completely.
 

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FireLance

Legend
I just don’t see how this can work. If one fighter can simply stack bonuses and damage for every level, and another fighter can trade these bonuses for different ways of doing lower damage, they can’t even play in the same game after a few levels of this. The balance for this, even if it is possible, would be very hard to figure.
I think they have already done a pretty good job with the PH1 Weaponmaster fighter and the Essentials Slayer fighter. The trade-off probably isn't higher damage for lower damage - it's probably higher damage for having a variety of manevuers that could enhance mobility or durability, move enemies and allies around, help allies, or inflict some conditions.

The idea that one character might choose (or be forced by class) to trade combat ability for the ability to talk real good or to find the way through a maze is really terrible. This has always been a problem, but to talk as though this is a feature of the game that is part of the design philosophy really bothers me. There should be no characters who cannot participate in each part (combat/roleplay/exploration) of the game, with the ability to contribute meaningfully in each part. The 3E fighter is exactly the wrong way to go here.
IMO, this is something that every DM and gaming group will have to decide for themselves. Ideally, there should be easily identifiable silos so that those who want better inter-character balance would find it easy to pick one ability from Column A, another from Column B, etc.

Solutions: Don’t let people trade mechanical bonuses for flexibility. Flexibility should be about the character’s complexity, not his power. People shouldn’t be able to trade abilities from one area to another, either. Make feats combat only; make skills unrelated to combat proficiency; make two (or three) kinds of spell, so that the combat and non-combat spells are entirely separate, and don’t even use the same resources.
Frankly, I think it would be better to provide a blueprint for high levels of balance (which individual groups could follow if they wish to) than to enforce it by hard-wiring it into the game.

I worry that this will be set wrong. The comment by Mearls that it is easier to add than subtract complexity is problematic in this game. If I want to play a straightforward sword-and-board fighter, and I don’t want him to talk or look for traps, I should be able to play that character. But if I want to play him, it is easy for me to ignore my fighter’s leadership abilities or his direction sense; that is, I can easily ignore the parts of the game I don’t have an interest in, even if my class could participate in those areas by the rules as written. But if the bard is primarily a roleplay character for simplicity’s sake, then I simply can’t play a combative bard at all. And that’s terrible.
Pehaps you should play a warlord and re-fluff it as a bard? ;) I think it behooves us to graciously take the same advice we gave to people who wanted to play archer fighters in 4e.
 

Tony Vargas

Legend
Solutions: Don’t let people trade mechanical bonuses for flexibility. Flexibility should be about the character’s complexity, not his power. People shouldn’t be able to trade abilities from one area to another, either. Make feats combat only; make skills unrelated to combat proficiency; make two (or three) kinds of spell, so that the combat and non-combat spells are entirely separate, and don’t even use the same resources.
'Siloing' combat and non-combat and balancing them independently would be an elegant solution. But it's already clear from what's been said that characters will be trading between the two. So that's going to be a source of potentially severe imbalance, and an incentive to run campaigns to a prescribed script. Explore, negotiate, fight; explore, negotiate, fight...fight, negotiate, explore... fight fight TILT!

Solutions: I don’t have any, but the designers really need to have something here. It just isn’t good enough to go the 2E or 4E way and say “do what you want”! Because I can already do that, but I wouldn’t pay for rules that tell me to just pretend to talk to the king and decide for myself whether I accomplish my aims or not.
Yeah, the player-as-resolution-system aproach (just RP it, and how your DM judges your performance determines success) really constrains the types of roles players can choose, and makes gaming the DM prettymuch the whole game. Not wonderful. The obvious solution is to have a mechanic based on the character available - as one of those player-chosen modules. If you're playing a PC you're confident your the equal of in wits or diplomacy or whatnot (relative to your DM), you can not use it. If you feel you not up to simulating your hamadryad bard's singing voice, you can have a mechanic for it.

Of course, if you combine that with the ability to trade out combat and non-combat, you could very easily have players gifted with a forceful personality or bit of eloquence or flim-flammery, take 100% combat characters, and then 'just RP it' for interaction.
 

Keefe the Thief

Adventurer
Feats combat only.
Skills noncombat only.
Spells only either combat or noncombat.
I nominate this for the "worst idea i've heard since 3.0 gave us monkey grip" award. It's an overreaction based on the fear that exchanging flexibility, combat power and noncombat abilities with each other will wreck the game.

But seriously. I love 4e to death, but if you try to exclude the possibilty of a noncombat usage for an ability, it becomes pretty boring. That was a step back, not a step forward. Abilities, spells - these have to be written with both combat and noncombat usage in mind. Otherwise, that Mr. Verisisisismilitude people are talking about so mach lately is never getting any better.

And he should.

We need him.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Between this quote...
Solutions: Set a relatively high complexity as the standard, and have either classes that are simplified but equally powerful versions of the more complex classes, or builds within a class that simplify the complex elements.
... and this one ...
Miyagi said:
I started D&D with 2E, and loved it to death. It had lots of problems. Late in the 2E cycle, I DM’d a really complicated game, with fully integrated Skills&Powers, including options, and really included everything I possibly could – weapon speeds, parts of rounds, optional classes, kits, - everything. Then I had a chance to play in a 2E game that I wasn’t running, and I played for exactly one session. Partly because I was forced to randomly generate almost everything about my character, and we played a simple game with the PHB and one or two other resources only.
... it becomes obvious that you prefer a D&D system that has the complexity dial set somewhere near 11. Which is great, for you.

For the rest of us, however, it *is* easier to add complexity in than to take it out; thus starting with a very simple framework system onto which one can tack complexities of all sorts in a modular manner (and, I fervently hope, without interacting badly with other modules, or with the framework itself) is the way to go.

As for your concerns about not being able to build a decent multi-class caster, you might be asking the impossible and-or looking at the wrong system. D&D has never done this very well - and I'm OK with that. I'm not a fan of characters that can do it all themselves and thus have no real need for the party...

Lanefan
 

Miyagi

First Post
Pehaps you should play a warlord and re-fluff it as a bard? ;) I think it behooves us to graciously take the same advice we gave to people who wanted to play archer fighters in 4e.

I suppose we could do that if it really solved the problem. I actually like "reskinning" quite a lot, as a concept. My problem is having a character that simply is, by design, worse at, or better than, 1/3 or more of the game. Not unless the numbers of classes are such that this is not a problem. Again, I'm just casually concerned, thus far.
 

Miyagi

First Post
Feats combat only.
Skills noncombat only.
Spells only either combat or noncombat.
I nominate this for the "worst idea i've heard since 3.0 gave us monkey grip" award. It's an overreaction based on the fear that exchanging flexibility, combat power and noncombat abilities with each other will wreck the game.

But seriously. I love 4e to death, but if you try to exclude the possibilty of a noncombat usage for an ability, it becomes pretty boring. That was a step back, not a step forward. Abilities, spells - these have to be written with both combat and noncombat usage in mind. Otherwise, that Mr. Verisisisismilitude people are talking about so mach lately is never getting any better.

And he should.

We need him.

Worst idea? I suppose its good that I'm casually posting on a message forum, and not a paid game designer offering exhaustive and serious solutions.

I guess what I meant was that character resources shouldn't be able to be spent in ways that trade one area for another. So I would disagree with a feat that provides, say, a way to use a two-handed weapon one handed, costing the same in terms of resources as a feat that allows a character to learn two languages. One way of doing this is to divide up the kinds of resources characters spend on abilities.

I really like the idea that everything might have a combat and non-combat use - that would be ideal. The first feat could also give you a simian demeanor that grants a +2 to diplomatic relations with awakened apes, and the second could grant a +1 to attacks with sonic spells, or something. Again, not a designer.

In short, I don't want to rob abilities of their descriptive or qualitative aspects, but I also don't want people to sacrifice the ability to stab people in order to learn to read and write better, or vice-versa. But I am more worried about the problems of the second than the first, and I don't think that the second is acceptable, because it is unnecessary.
 

Miyagi

First Post
Between this quote...
... and this one ...
... it becomes obvious that you prefer a D&D system that has the complexity dial set somewhere near 11. Which is great, for you.

For the rest of us, however, it *is* easier to add complexity in than to take it out; thus starting with a very simple framework system onto which one can tack complexities of all sorts in a modular manner (and, I fervently hope, without interacting badly with other modules, or with the framework itself) is the way to go.

As for your concerns about not being able to build a decent multi-class caster, you might be asking the impossible and-or looking at the wrong system. D&D has never done this very well - and I'm OK with that. I'm not a fan of characters that can do it all themselves and thus have no real need for the party...

Lanefan

The rest of you? I didn't know I was a visible minority.

Fair enough, though - it has always seemed easier to me and mine to ignore elements we didn't like or use.

I suppose another way of doing this would be to have no "baseline" classes at all; instead, we could have several versions of the same class, mapped to complexity. It would be even better if there were good guidelines for DMs as to how to match up the various complexities.

I worry that if the complexity is set too low as a baseline, then it is, as you say, easiest in a single campaign to add what you like, but it is difficult to allow for different player tastes. If the simple classes ignore options related to a battlemap because they don't use battlemaps or miniatures at all, then there are bound to be whole character classes, or good options, that would be ignored.

And I am aware that people could always find another game, but that isn't always easy, and more importantly, I want to game with my friends. They have different tastes, and letting one run a high complexity wizards and another run a dead-simple barbarian is my ideal.

I might be looking at the wrong system for a multi-class caster, but D&D is usually the only game in town, and it is a popular and evocative fantasy type that deserves a rule treatment, even if it is not a full hybrid.
 

Tony Vargas

Legend
Feats combat only.
Skills noncombat only.
Spells only either combat or noncombat.
... It's an overreaction based on the fear that exchanging flexibility, combat power and noncombat abilities with each other will wreck the game.
It's not so much a fear. It's a reality that has consistently 'wrecked' the game from day 1. Even 4e suffers from it, a fair bit.

But seriously. I love 4e to death, but if you try to exclude the possibilty of a noncombat usage for an ability, it becomes pretty boring. That was a step back, not a step forward. Abilities, spells - these have to be written with both combat and noncombat usage in mind.
That would be another option. Rather than having 'non-combat' and 'combat' abilities, you could give every ability both a combat and non-combat use.

For instance, powers (even attack powers) could be expended out-of-combat for a bonus related to the power source (ideally but not necessarily with some relation to the power's fluff). For instance, if an argument is breaking out in a vital negotiation the fighter trying to diplomacize might expend Thicket of Steel - not to draw his sword and slaughter everyone at the table, but to gain a bonus by /getting their attention/. Or a wizard might expend a daily power to put overawing 'mystic import' behind his words, even if the power is fireball.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I suppose another way of doing this would be to have no "baseline" classes at all; instead, we could have several versions of the same class, mapped to complexity. It would be even better if there were good guidelines for DMs as to how to match up the various complexities.
I somewhat suspect that's what we're getting, only the various complexity levels will be pre-linked rather than on a map - see below...

... They have different tastes, and letting one run a high complexity wizards and another run a dead-simple barbarian is my ideal.
"Ideal" is the word, there, as I don't think that is possible unless all semblance of in-party balance goes completely out the window.

What will likely happen instead is the complexity levels for the whole game* will have to be decided by the DM and-or players before the campaign starts, and for that campaign it'll be the same for everyone. This alone is different from any other version of D&D we have yet seen, in that the different complexity levels will be right there as optional modules in the rules - assuming the designers can pull it off.

* - one bit at a time - you'll decide character complexity, combat complexity, skills and feats complexity, etc., etc. and in theory any combination of choices you make will work together; for example you could set the character complexity dial to 11 and they'll still work fine if the combat complexity is set to minimum. But you won't be able to fine-tune complexity much within a given area e.g. character design.

Lanefan
 

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