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What are your ideal design goals for D&D?

xechnao

First Post
Mine in no particular order.

-Newbie friendly.
-Manageable book keeping.
-Each player always having meaningful choices to make.
-Balance by default. Which means that some players are not destined to have to risk more than others regarding the point above.
-Believability. Verisimilitude.
-No metagaming.
-Dire straits tactical gameplay.
-Action can be sexy and at moments it will be -but not all the time. Player characters are strugglers, not ballet dancers. Being awesome is not supposed to be ever present.
-Players not having to wait more than a couple of minutes for their turn to come.
-Changing action environments. The game is designed in such a way where action does not result in grind, doing the same over and over again.
-Strategic gameplay. Fighting, exploring and what have you always reflect to each player's possibilities to make meaningful choices. Combat or anything else is not something apart from the rest of the game.
 
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Nagol

Unimportant
Again in no particular order:

  • High fantasy the default (literary definition for fully imagined world)
  • System promotes coming-of-age growth from weakess into poweras characters gain experience
  • Basic gameplayexpects proactive delving into lost locations for artefacts of power
  • Managable bookkeeping
  • Plausible consistent consequences
  • Risk level of choices understandable/predictable by players
  • Strategic gameplay including resource management more important than tactical positioning
  • Relatively fast, both real time and in-game, combats. Ideally, a combat will take between 5-15 minutes real time and no longer in-game. A basic combat should take 2-4 game rounds.
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Not that I 100% agree with the above lists, but they're certainly going in a fine direction...here's a couple more goals to lob in that may or may not be consistent with those already raised:

- Each character is defined by its in-game actions and role-played personality rather than its pre-game build
- Rules as guidelines, not laws
- System variants to account for one-off games, single-path games (1-2 year campaigns along a defined adventure path), and long multi-year multi-party games - this could be as simple as varying the advancement rate
- Fewer levels (keep it open-ended but acknowledge that after a certain point things might not work so well)
- Lower numbers including make the 3-18 bell curve matter again
- Streamline combat but not at cost of realism
- Allow for simultaneous actions in combat
- Allow for the fact that not every character is always going to be equally able to contribute in every situation (in other words, accept going in that some natural imbalance is preferable to artificially forced balance)
- Make two different but compatible versions - 'basic' and 'full' - basic is the newbie-friendly system and 'full' is the whole deal, but design it such that separate elements of 'full' can be incorporated into 'basic' as each DM desires without breaking the game.
- Make it clear going in that bad things e.g. level drain, equipment loss, death, etc. can and will happen to characters, then let 'em happen - no reward without risk.
- Design to accommodate larger parties such that if people want to play multiple characters, henches, cohorts, etc. the system can handle it

Lanefan
 

Stormonu

Legend
My game goals

- Combat is quick enough to be finished in 15-20 minutes. You can use a battle board or imagine in your head with equal ease.
- Character choices have mechanics to back up your choices. If you want to be a pirate, for example, the mechanics support your choices in helping present a different facade from a barbarian beyond "because I say I am"
- The most common actions are covered with simple, intuitive rules. Corner cases can easily be extrapolated from the common action rules.
- No one character type is worthless during the games progression - either starting out when highly experienced
- Non-combat choices carry as much weight as combat choices, and it is possible to resolve conflict other than by combat only. Likewise, a special combat subsystem is not required; the out-of-combat system and combat system use the same structure and flow
- Low to moderate magic, semi-gritty world; character can perform heroic actions at times, but are not superheroes. Magic is not bought and sold for gold.
 

C_M2008

First Post
< /=20 minute combat: some tactics is fine but a lot of "tactics" in 3e and 4e aren't really all that tactical and just prolong the rounds. Ideally 2-5 rounds is fine and I have no problem with a bit of swinginess.

Rules that are simple and intuitive but allow for considerable depth as well.

Low magic/Gritty default: Magic is rare enough that those that have it hoard it, even the weakest trinkets are not for sale; you can't walk around the corner and expect the local priest at the temple to raise your fallen party member either.

No Levels: I'd like a growth mechanic based loosely on what actions your character does frequently and their goals(which of course may change). Warhammer FRP 3e does this fairly well, I'd like to see a different but similar system.

Lower Growth curve: I'd like to see the power of a character grow by widening their capabilites and what they can do with their knowledge rather than inflating the numbers, a game where the hero can't take 15 axe swings and still be alive at the upper echelons of power.

Real Choices: Having to make meaningful choices; choosing between sureshot or twin strike isn't a choice for example, but if i have to choose between learning fire or ice magic and can never take the other while each had some upside that would be.
 
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CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
-Newbie friendly.
-Manageable book keeping.
-No metagaming.
-Action can be sexy and at moments it will be -but not all the time. Player characters are strugglers, not ballet dancers. Being awesome is not supposed to be ever present.
-Players not having to wait more than a couple of minutes for their turn to come.
-Strategic gameplay. Fighting, exploring and what have you always reflect to each player's possibilities to make meaningful choices. Combat or anything else is not something apart from the rest of the game.
  • Managable bookkeeping
  • Strategic gameplay including resource management more important than tactical positioning
  • Relatively fast, both real time and in-game, combats. Ideally, a combat will take between 5-15 minutes real time and no longer in-game. A basic combat should take 2-4 game rounds.
- Each character is defined by its in-game actions and role-played personality rather than its pre-game build
- Rules as guidelines, not laws
- Lower numbers including make the 3-18 bell curve matter again
- Streamline combat but not at cost of realism
- Allow for the fact that not every character is always going to be equally able to contribute in every situation (in other words, accept going in that some natural imbalance is preferable to artificially forced balance)
- Make it clear going in that bad things e.g. level drain, equipment loss, death, etc. can and will happen to characters, then let 'em happen - no reward without risk.
- Combat is quick enough to be finished in 15-20 minutes. You can use a battle board or imagine in your head with equal ease.
- Non-combat choices carry as much weight as combat choices, and it is possible to resolve conflict other than by combat only. Likewise, a special combat subsystem is not required; the out-of-combat system and combat system use the same structure and flow
- Low to moderate magic, semi-gritty world; character can perform heroic actions at times, but are not superheroes. Magic is not bought and sold for gold.
These.
 
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Remathilis

Legend
Rather than list off a bunch of things, I'll focus on what I'd want from each edition...

Basic: This would be my perfect foundation. Easy to learn, easy to tweak. Focus on lower-level, but with material to cover everything from here to Godhood.

AD&D 1e/2e: Race/Class separate. 9 Alignments. Additional Classes (ranger, illusionist, bard, druid, paladin). Weapon Specialization and Thief skill %s +/- based on race, armor, and dex. Additional monsters and spells. Random Harlot Table. Campaign Settings (Planescape, Ravenloft, Dragonlance esp).

D&D 3e/3.5: Basic Outline of a skill/feat system (though simplified). Upwards AC and Fort/Ref/Will Saves. Attempts at balancing classes (IE thieves being useful in combat, fighters doing thing out of combat, magic not over-ruling mundane skill use). Unified XP chart. Non-permanent energy drain.

D&D 4e: Simplified Status Effects (slowed, weakened). "Page 42". Survivability at low-levels increased. Some At-will magical effects. Removal of many save or die/one roll kills. Monster and Treasure levels to help create appropriate risks/reward ratios.

If someone could mix this up in a giant pot and create the One True(TM) game, I'd be happy as a clam.
 
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Wiseblood

Adventurer
I loke a lot of these. If only you guys were the R&D for WotC.

I would add.

The ability to win an encounter through clever play but not through "I win class abilities or builds"
 

WheresMyD20

First Post
1. Streamline & simplify - the game is way too bloated.

2. Put the focus back on dungeon crawling. Right now, the focus is too much on the combat aspect of the game. There should be a lot more focus on exploration/adventure.

3. Make grid and minis optional. I know this might eliminate a lucrative revenue stream, but the game worked better and played a lot faster when they weren't required.

4. Dial back the character building meta-game. Too many options means too little game balance. Once again, this might hurt the revenue stream, but it would make a much better game.

5. Creating a character feels too much like an accounting exercise. Simplify!
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
2. Put the focus back on dungeon crawling. Right now, the focus is too much on the combat aspect of the game. There should be a lot more focus on exploration/adventure.
Suggest broadening your focus idea further to simply "exploration" in various forms, be it in dungeons, in wilderness, across planes, where/whatever; realizing that "exploration" can also include exploring a game-world's history, languages, cultures (these are where the role-playing bit can come back in as well; a further benefit) - whatever the DM is willing to cook up.

So, instead of simply having combat focus with extras, we could shoot for 4 somewhat-overlapping relatively even focuses (focii?):

- exploration (of new areas, any scale from dungeons to planets)
- role-playing (within party and with the game world)
- learning (about history, politics, etc. in the game world)
- combat (inevitable while in pursuit of any of the above)

Lan-"setting impossible standards, then failing to meet them"-efan
 

steenan

Adventurer
- Focus on one consistent genre, with rules to support it. I'd go for either high fantasy (strong divide between good and evil, characters as heroes, epic conflict), action fantasy (focus on cinematic feel, stunts, fast and furious gameplay) or pulp (bizarre places and creatures, scifi elements in fantasy, exploration with a lot of surprises and twists), but definitely wouldn't mix them.
- Harder combat, low lethality. Rules shouldn't be biased in favor of players, but they should not include a possibility of a character being killed by dice rolls. Defeat should create complications, prevent characters from achieving some of their goals, force to seek another path and another means.
- Simple character creation. A few (no more than 8) classes, all representing strong genre archetypes. No multiclassing. No feats that give numeric bonuses. All stats useful for every character, in different ways (exact opposite of 4e "you may dump half of your stats without worry"). In general, "character optimization" should be minimized.
- Much weaker strategic element. No magic items that may be traded and represent a big fraction of characters' power. Treasure as means of fame, not efficiency. No strategic-scale spells (teleportation, most of divinations, long-term summons). No need for long-term planning, which does not fit any of the genres I listed.
- Fast combat, with less focus on tactics (no grid, flexible powers, less statuses and modifiers to track) and more on creativity (even more use of terrain than in 4e, rewarding genre-appropriate stunts is a part of mechanics). I'd gladly get rid of "to hit" rolls, putting all dodges and parries in abstract HP, with the added benefits of no "healing by shouting at someone" and big groups of weak monsters usable at all levels.
- Unified conflict resolution. Social and exploration conflicts using similar system to combat ones. I prefer resolution in which player states both intent and general means ("I want to get to the other side as fast as possible. I'll shoot down the lamp by the gate and run close to the wall - if guards pursue, the cart will be in their way.") and the roll decides how well it is done, taking what player said into account. This lets, in social conflicts, uncharismatic players play charismatic characters, as long as they think out arguments they use (because what is said by the player matters, but how well it is said does not and is decided by a roll).
- Character advancement that is more about development than about increasing numbers. During the campaign characters should gain new maneuvers/powers/spells, not get much better with the previous ones (and if so, rather in a "it used a standard action, now it is a minor one" way than in "it was d20+8, now it is d20+15").
- Focus on story arcs, adventures (including "dungeons") instead of "encounters". There should be no mechanical incentive for sleeping in a dungeon full of monsters (who would ever think about something like that?!) or moving to another subplot in the middle of investigation/negotiation/war in hope that it will wait for you to return.
 

- Simple character creation. A few (no more than 8) classes, all representing strong genre archetypes. No multiclassing. No feats that give numeric bonuses. All stats useful for every character, in different ways (exact opposite of 4e "you may dump half of your stats without worry"). In general, "character optimization" should be minimized.
- Much weaker strategic element. No magic items that may be traded and represent a big fraction of characters' power. Treasure as means of fame, not efficiency. No strategic-scale spells (teleportation, most of divinations, long-term summons). No need for long-term planning, which does not fit any of the genres I listed.
- Fast combat, with less focus on tactics (no grid, flexible powers, less statuses and modifiers to track) and more on creativity (even more use of terrain than in 4e, rewarding genre-appropriate stunts is a part of mechanics). I'd gladly get rid of "to hit" rolls, putting all dodges and parries in abstract HP, with the added benefits of no "healing by shouting at someone" and big groups of weak monsters usable at all levels.
- Unified conflict resolution. Social and exploration conflicts using similar system to combat ones. I prefer resolution in which player states both intent and general means ("I want to get to the other side as fast as possible. I'll shoot down the lamp by the gate and run close to the wall - if guards pursue, the cart will be in their way.") and the roll decides how well it is done, taking what player said into account. This lets, in social conflicts, uncharismatic players play charismatic characters, as long as they think out arguments they use (because what is said by the player matters, but how well it is said does not and is decided by a roll).
- Character advancement that is more about development than about increasing numbers. During the campaign characters should gain new maneuvers/powers/spells, not get much better with the previous ones (and if so, rather in a "it used a standard action, now it is a minor one" way than in "it was d20+8, now it is d20+15").
- Focus on story arcs, adventures (including "dungeons") instead of "encounters". There should be no mechanical incentive for sleeping in a dungeon full of monsters (who would ever think about something like that?!) or moving to another subplot in the middle of investigation/negotiation/war in hope that it will wait for you to return.
I'll start with these.

But I'll add:
* Pre-made official rules variants included to tweak the system to how individual groups/GMs like it. Even if it's impossible to account for all tastes at least a shot should be taken to acknowledge that not everyone plays the same way. This way we don't have to debate how much realism, grittiness, magic, growth, real choices, lethality, cinematicness, what kind of genre, etc. the game would have because they would all be in there subject to easy choice.
* Combat and other sorts of conflicts use the exact same system, not just similar ones. Especially no tracking of "combat time".
 

WheresMyD20

First Post
I think I'd start with one core rulebook and make it concise. Something very similar to the 1981 B/X edition. I'd make the following three changes, though: 3e-style attack rolls and ascending armor class; the old 5 saves condensed into fortitude, reflex, and will (but they would still be old-fashioned static numbers, not bonuses like 3e); race and class separate. This book would contain 4 races (human, elf, dwarf, halfling) and 4 classes (fighter, cleric, rogue, wizard). It would also contain all of the spells, monsters, and magic items needed for play. It would support play up to the maximum level (15 or 20 most likely). It would be a 128 page paperback book - the same size as the two old B/X books combined. This book would be the one and only core rulebook needed to play the game. Call it "Dungeons and Dragons Classic". It would be very newbie-friendly.

Then, I'd add supplemental books in a "Dungeons and Dragons Extended" line. They would include additional races, classes, spells, monsters, etc. There would be a book that would detail a tactical combat system for the grid-and-minis crowd. Extended would use the exact same core rulebook as Classic, but it would extend the game.

"Dungeons and Dragons Classic" would be aimed at the mass market, cost $19.95 and be available at Walmart. It would come in a box set with dice and an instructional DVD that teaches the game. It would also have a website with three or four full modules that new players could download and print out.

"Dungeons and Dragons Extended" would be aimed at hobby gamers.
 


WheresMyD20

First Post
I want to play a game that WotC doesn't want to sell. The game I want is simple and needs only a couple books, which is a bad business model.

There are a lot of classic boardgames like Risk, Monopoly, Scrabble, etc. that have done quite well for decades even though they only require the purchase of one relatively cheap set. I'd love to see Hasbro/WotC put out a simple, single-box version of D&D that would be available at big stores like Walmart, Target, Toys-R-Us, etc. If that business model works for other classic games, why not D&D?
 

Remathilis

Legend
I think I'd start with one core rulebook and make it concise. Something very similar to the 1981 B/X edition. I'd make the following three changes, though: 3e-style attack rolls and ascending armor class; the old 5 saves condensed into fortitude, reflex, and will (but they would still be old-fashioned static numbers, not bonuses like 3e); race and class separate. This book would contain 4 races (human, elf, dwarf, halfling) and 4 classes (fighter, cleric, rogue, wizard). It would also contain all of the spells, monsters, and magic items needed for play. It would support play up to the maximum level (15 or 20 most likely). It would be a 128 page paperback book - the same size as the two old B/X books combined. This book would be the one and only core rulebook needed to play the game. Call it "Dungeons and Dragons Classic". It would be very newbie-friendly.

Then, I'd add supplemental books in a "Dungeons and Dragons Extended" line. They would include additional races, classes, spells, monsters, etc. There would be a book that would detail a tactical combat system for the grid-and-minis crowd. Extended would use the exact same core rulebook as Classic, but it would extend the game.

YES!

I think that's what I wanted to get across in my post; a game that is a simple structure and could be built on without upsetting the core flow.

Honestly, something like basic fantasy (see sig) is a great jumping off point; 4 races, 4 classes, simple resolution mechanics, monsters and spells for $20 (plus Lulu's extortionate shipping) with the potential to add more classes, races, monsters, spells, even a skill system (though I'd want a basic skills set built into the the core resolution). All it would need is 3 saves and a d20-based method of thief-skill determination to match your idea.
 

There are a lot of classic boardgames like Risk, Monopoly, Scrabble, etc. that have done quite well for decades even though they only require the purchase of one relatively cheap set. I'd love to see Hasbro/WotC put out a simple, single-box version of D&D that would be available at big stores like Walmart, Target, Toys-R-Us, etc. If that business model works for other classic games, why not D&D?

Hm, good point. I never saw D&D in Toys R Us as a kid, but I saw HeroQuest and its various supplements. We totally should have a D&D boxed set, maybe with a folding mat and dry erase markers, a DM rulebook (w/monsters), a PC rulebook, and a few minis. Plus nicely illustrated cards for your magic items, and the ability to log your character online. Not just 'build' your character, but record it. Give players a sense of accomplishment. "We beat the Temple of Doom!" Really unify the play experience, encourage everyone to play the same adventures.

WotC could have boxed adventures every few months (with new minis). Subscribe to DDI and you can download more adventures that make use of existing minis.

Sure, it wouldn't appeal to all gamers, but you might be able to hook the younger crowd. What are magic items if not really cool 'achievements'?


Addendum, just mulling thoughts about how to tweak the rules. A lot of people seem to be railing against:

* Option bloat. It works in video games because it only takes a few minutes to try a new option, but it's kinda pointless in a tabletop RPG. You don't need 800 powers and 800 magic items; 40 of each should be plenty.

* Fiddliness. Choices should feel significant. Granting an ally a +1 bonus to a single attack isn't significant, even if it is mathematically useful. Granting an ally a free attack, or an auto-crit, or a +2 bonus for the whole combat is more fun. Yes, it's more powerful, but you can be powerful and still be balanced.

* Magic. It's hard to get people to agree on how much magic they want, but the general complaint I see is that in 3e, all the cool magic was magic items. The 4e designers said 'no longer will cool magic be the purview of magic items,' but then, instead of giving that cool magic to PCs as class abilities, they just got rid of it. Bilbo had a ring of invisibility.
 
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WheresMyD20

First Post
Hm, good point. I never saw D&D in Toys R Us as a kid

I got my D&D Expert Set (Mentzer edition) and my D&D Master Set from Toys R Us. (Basic and Companion from Consumer Distributors and Immortals from Kaybee Toys) The old BECMI box sets were readily available at major chain stores back in the mid 80's. If it wasn't for D&D showing up in the big stores, there's no way I would have been able to get into the hobby back then.

I'd bet that with Hasbro's pull, they could get a box set into today's stores.

Addendum, just mulling thoughts about how to tweak the rules. A lot of people seem to be railing against:

* Option bloat. It works in video games because it only takes a few minutes to try a new option, but it's kinda pointless in a tabletop RPG. You don't need 800 powers and 800 magic items; 40 of each should be plenty.

Agreed. Plus, there's the problem that with 800 options it's really easy to run into a bad build.

I'd prefer just to keep the main 4 classes without customization. If there needs to be customization, then I'd prefer to have "tweaks" to the big 4.

For example, there would be the plain fighter as the basis for all combat classes. A paladin would be defined as a fighter that had a code of honor, couldn't use missile weapons (violates code of honor), gets a charisma bonus to saving throws, and gets lay on hands once per day. Essentially, instead of being a completely separate class, it would be a couple of benefits and a couple of drawbacks added to one of the big 4 classes.

Another example could be the assassin. It would be a rogue (thief) with weaker thieving skills, but a better sneak attack (backstab). Not a whole new class, but just a couple of tweaks to an existing one to give some variety.

* Fiddliness. Choices should feel significant. Granting an ally a +1 bonus to a single attack isn't significant, even if it is mathematically useful. Granting an ally a free attack, or an auto-crit, or a +2 bonus for the whole combat is more fun. Yes, it's more powerful, but you can be powerful and still be balanced.

I think this is one of the reasons there were so few "buffing" spells back in the old editions - too much bookkeeping. Or maybe it was just a happy coincidence that there were so few. :)

* Magic. It's hard to get people to agree on how much magic they want, but the general complaint I see is that in 3e, all the cool magic was magic items. The 4e designers said 'no longer will cool magic be the purview of magic items,' but then, instead of giving that cool magic to PCs as class abilities, they just got rid of it. Bilbo had a ring of invisibility.

One of the side-effects of 3e spelling out exactly how to make magic items and giving each one a price tag was that it created a magic item economy.

In a D&D game, PCs will eventually acquire mountains of gold. In 3e, the default assumption is that they will buy magic items with it. I'm not sure if this is what the designers intended, but it is what happened in many games.

In older editions, making cool magic items was usually difficult and buying them was nearly impossible, so those mountains of gold couldn't be easily converted into a cool magic item. I'd like to see a return to that approach. Cool magic items exist, but it's difficult to get your hands on them.
 

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