D&D General You are given the reigns: what do you do?


4th Edition - Pretty much as is after Monster HP were adjusted and just slap as "Tactics!" sicker under the D&D logo.

I'm lazy.

Little Extra effort - also release the Heroes of Battle book (originally for 3.5 updated to 4E).

Even more effort - update the Birthright setting to 4E, I'd leave in all the cultural stereotypes, stat modes and stuff like that.
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I can tell you what I wouldn't do. I wouldn't resurrect the wacky math (THAC0, roll high or low just depends, on and on) and logic of pre 3E. I wouldn't bring back a version who's core concepts were not successful. Which is not to "shut down" anyone else but this is my list after all. ;)

So I'd take the most popular version, 5E, and do some minor cleanup of the rules for things I don't like that I've talked about elsewhere. Fix or just remove a handful of spells, make longbows finesse so strength based PCs have an option, ability score adjustment items add instead of replacing. Then I'd have a bunch of alternate rules like options for recovering spell slots, abilities and HP based on what kind of campaign you'd like to run. I'd give magic items a better price guideline and provide DMs with a general idea of what the baseline expectations are for wealth and magic items.

My books? Well you'd have the core 3 of course. I'd add a handful of scenarios and explanations from the perspective of the book's focus in all 3 books. So scenario from the player's perspective, the DMG from the DM's and for the MM? I'd talk about how the scenario would change if different monster categories were used. The DMG needs to be reorganized of course and have advice for starting games at a higher level along with other tweaks. The MM would have more high level monsters that are not the same old tired lich clone.

My other two books? I'd have two setting books, one that has a more (for D&D) grounded feel and the other would be high fantasy. These would be full setting books with world maps and a lot of core concepts for DMs to build on. So one could be old school Greyhawk before they tried to make it into an FR clone. The other? You could just continue with FR but I'd prefer a new clean slate. Each would have suggestions about how to lean into very different styles.

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
This is necessarily a contradiction in terms. Natural language is, unfortunately, the enemy of clarity in the long run. That's why no professional discipline has ever existed that didn't develop its own jargon. Even trade-skills have it. Jargon is the natural result of fighting back against how ambiguous (and, often, exploitable) "natural language" is.

Its problem, of course, is that you have to actually learn it before you can speak it. But that is an unavoidable dilemma: either you expect people to know the lingo so they can speak precisely, or you allow them to speak with whatever hodgepodge they already know, and accept that it will frequently be imprecise.
Or accept that it's a spectrum and not either/or, and that a rulebook can be precise enough to go on with without needing to read like an engineering technical manual.


Steeliest of the dragons
Hmmm...Alright....I lay claim to 1e. I update mechanics to more modern/streamlined mechanics (ascending AC, simple/ability-dependent saves, non-combat skills as part of character creation, skill-roll tracking for rangers, et al) and expanded things from the 1e Unearthed Arcana (adding cantrips for spellcasters, weapon specialization, etc...). And throw in a subsystem of ethos/reputation/infamy points (or somesuch) to make alignment a real, in game, serious thing.

The class list is somewhat expanded and modified to include the Barbarian, Acrobat, and Cavalier from 1e's UA, make Bard a base class that doesn't require separate fighter and thief and druid levels (i.e., you can just me a 1st level Bard at 1st level), and add a couple -whether subclasses or their own- to fill in multi-class options (esp. Ftr/MU, Thf/MU, and MU/Cle) that could be their own classes. So, the class list looks different. The player race/species list, on the other hand, involves a bit curtailing. No more 8 kinds of elves. No more "deep/underdark" species.

I would also go "high fantasy." I would go real "heroic" (be the good guys in a "good vs. evil" world) focus. New setting development. New, full, pantheon of setting deities (the choice of whom is built in to the "divine" class creation/development).

PRODUCT #1: The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Creative Compleat Starter Box Set: Player's Guide, DM's Primer, Monster/Lair Book, new setting starter adventure module (incl starter village and dungeon maps), Empty dungeon map sheets (3), Dice (6).
PRODUCT #2: The Netflix (or Prime or Hulu, I'm not picky) AD&DCC Animated Series featuring a cast of alluring and interesting diverse classes and species of characters (perhaps some rotation, episode to episode). Geared towards teens and adults as far as content. More Critical Role/Game of Thrones (characters do/can die! Romantic pairings/plots and sexual situations - across the spectrum - are possible. Language and mature themes, for sure). No Saturday Morning cartoon, this.
PRODUCT #3: (really a "2a," since these should release as close together as possible) Action Figure adventure line, featuring multple male and female characters of various species and classes. "Iconic" characters that will be used/appear in #2.
--3a: game-sized/scale mini's of same.
PRODUCT #4: The Monsters & Lairs Manual (a fully fleshed out monster book that includes some specific mini-adventure "lairs" that may also include/introduce a few new treasures/magic weapons/items)
PRODUCT #5: The Setting Set: full box of new setting material, incl. giant color world (or at least starter region) map. Maybe includes some new setting specific classes., species sub-cultures, and expanded treasures and magic items.

Done. Million dollars. Done.
[RE-EDIT cuz I forgot Ranger!] So the class list is looking like...
--Druid (nature magic guardian/champion)
--Paladin (heavy armor, divine magic guardian/champion)
--Theurge (light armor, multi-magic guardian/champion, Cle/MU multiclass option)
--Cavalier (non-magic knight)
Mage (nee Magic-User)
--Seer (Psionic/psychic powers "caster" class)
--Swordmage/whatever name (Ftr/MU multiclass class)
--Bard (Thf/MU - yes with illusion and druid spells too- multiclass class)
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3rd Edition.

  • Keep the chasis, (BaB, HD, R/F/W, etc)
  • Nerf the naughty word out of specific spells that make it difficult for DMs to create high level content. Basically, rein in the spells that are overpowered but leave the ones that allow for creative use/application so that spellcasters are thinky/problem solving classes again rather than blasty ones.
  • Move to the 3 action economy of PF2e
  • Hire mathematicians/statisticians/analysts whatever it took to make sure that CR is a reliable measure
  • Go back to the trade dress and presentation of 3.5 (I like my books to look and read like texts books and technical manuals)

Five Products:
Starter Set/Beginning Box/Etc - something that lets people just jump in. Ideally a re-imagined or improved adventure from the glory days.
A sandbox adventure


it took to make sure that CR is a reliable
[*]Go back to the trade dress and presentation of 3.5 (I like my books to look and read like texts books and technical manuals

I've got some nostalgia goggles for sure, but I really think the 3.5 trade dress was the best looking D&D has ever been.

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
For much of the internal stuff of the books, I'll give you that.

Many of the covers look like bad CGI today.
To you maybe. I'll take them over the artificial poses of 4e any day. Of course, my preference is for the action scenes of 1e. Adventurers should be doing something, not posing for a photo shoot.


Follower of the Way
To you maybe. I'll take them over the artificial poses of 4e any day. Of course, my preference is for the action scenes of 1e. Adventurers should be doing something, not posing for a photo shoot.
Not sure what, exactly, screams "action" about "really obviously fake grimoire cover." Because that's what the 3.0 and 3.5e core books had. No characters at all. Even when you get to stuff like PHBII, it's a grimoire with a little tiny picture aping the "steal the statue's gem eye" art from the 1st edition PHB.

I won't defend some of the 4e cover art, because yes, some if it is just sort of...flat. Notably the PHB and DMG (though I personally found the MM to be pretty good, if overwroght, as is typical of WAR's work.) Some of the other 4e cover art is quite good, though--and much of that comes from being framed within the action, rather than "posing" as you say.

Though people still seem to love that one picture of a guy holding up a small green dragon they've just killed, which is very much posing for the camera, not action.

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