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Rule-of-Three: 02/28/12
Rodney Thompson

Y ou've got questions—we've got answers! Here's how it works—each week, our Community Manager will be scouring all available sources to find whatever questions you're asking. We'll pick three of them for R&D to answer, whether about the about the making of the game, the technical workings of our DDI studio, or anything else you care to know about... with some caveats.

There are certain business and legal questions we can't answer (for business and legal reasons). And if you have a specific rules question, we'd rather point you to Customer Service, where representatives are ready and waiting to help guide you through the rules of the game. That said, our goal is provide you with as much information we can—in this and other venues.

1 The new Elemental Chaos book was supposed to include a new shugenja class build. Why was it cut?

The shugenja actually wasn’t cut, it just transformed. The shugenja was originally going to be a subclass of the monk, with a lot of unique mechanics to make it stand out from the Player’s Handbook 3 class. However, during the design process, the design team decided that the shugenja subclass wasn’t serving the expectations of either players of the monk class, or the fans of the shugenja. The decision was made to transform the design of the shugenja into the monk build that appears in Heroes of the Elemental Chaos. That way, players of the monk class would have more support in the form of powers they can choose from and builds to use. So, the Desert Wind and Eternal Tide builds for the monk are composed of the mechanics that were, at one point, the shugenja.

2 How do you plan to address the problem of 15-minute days (resting after each encounter)?

I’m going to assume this is a question about the next iteration of the game, not 4th Edition. For those not familiar with the phrase, the “15-minute day” (aka the “10-minute work day”) is a phrase used to describe a play pattern where the players rest for the night/take an extended rest (in 4E parlance) in order to regain their entire suite of capabilities after only a single encounter. One of the things we’ve been working toward in the early stages of the design is making sure that we are giving players enough resources so they feel capable, and making sure that those resources are being depleted at the correct rate. We can look at things that are already in the game in 4th Edition for a lot of ideas of how to make this possible, including giving players plenty of opportunity to heal themselves outside of combat, and finding ways to give players back some resources between fights. These gains still fall within the restriction that 4E puts on how frequently one can benefit from an extended rest within a 24-hour period.

All that having been said, while we can take steps to ensure that players feel both threatened and capable of moving on, much of this is also an adventure design issue. In an environment where the adventure is balanced between exploration, combat, and interaction (some folks took umbrage with it the last time I used “roleplaying” here instead of “interaction,” which is a fair complaint), the 15-minute day simply makes less sense. Even in a dungeon crawl environment, if there’s more to do than just fight things, there is a reason to keep pushing on even when one’s resources are relatively depleted, because you might find something around the next corner other than a fight. Furthermore, adventuring is about facing danger to reap rewards, and if the adventure makes it easy for the players to rest after each fight, that may mean that the danger isn’t sufficient, or that the rewards are not great enough.

If we try to solve something that is partially an adventure design issue with a wholly mechanical solution, we run the risk of going too far in the other direction, making it too easy to plow forward through the whole dungeon without ever needing to stop and rest. In Dungeons & Dragons, managing one’s resources should not be a purely tactical concern (that is, managing spells and hit points over the course of a single encounter), but a strategic one (managing expendable resources over the course of an entire adventuring day). Furthermore, if your players are keen on resting after only a single fight, even if their resources are only slightly depleted, then your players may be sending you a message about the play style that they prefer, and we should be putting the tools in the hands of the DM to create adventures that contain only a single, huge combat encounter to cover the entire day’s worth of adventuring and still provide a satisfying adventure experience.

3 In the next iteration of D&D, will there be encouragement and support of homemade rules modules?

Yes, absolutely. In fact, I would call this a central goal of the design of the next iteration of the game. I firmly believe that Dungeons & Dragons isn’t the game that we provide in books and magazine articles, it’s the game that you play at the table. To play that game, you need a DM and players that take those rules and transform them from words in a book into an exciting adventure. As such, we want to put as many tools as possible in the hands of DMs and their players so they can tailor the game to their preferences. Part of this process involves providing a number of what you’ve heard us refer to as “rules modules”—that is, packages of optional or alternative rules that we have designed, developed, and playtested that help create a certain game play experience, either for a single player or the entire game table.

The second half of that process is one that should also make it easier for homemade rules modules: creating a streamlined base to the game that rules modules can be added to easily. With a clean, lean, and dependable core to the game, we hope to be able to communicate to players and Dungeon Masters what the basics of the game are, and then provide advice for designing your own material to work with that. So, given a base game that is clear and concise, engaged players and DMs should be able to add on homebrewed rules or content (like classes, spells, etc.) without worrying about them cascading throughout the system with unexpected consequences. It’s not always going to be a perfect process, but we can make an effort to support customization.

How can I submit a question to the Rule-of-Three?

Instead of a single venue to submit questions, our Community Manager will be selecting questions from our message boards, Twitter feed, and Facebook account. You can also submit questions directly to So, if you'd like to have your question answered in the Rule-of-Three, just continue to participate in our online community—and we may select yours!

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