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What Worked, What Didn’t
Mike Mearls

T his week, I wanted to talk about a few of the rules of D&D Next as they've come together over many months of playtesting. Sometimes a rule's value to the game is clear from the beginning. Sometimes it takes a while for a rule to come together. Sometimes rules that work fine at the concept stage are ultimately dropped from the game, and it can be interesting to look at the thinking behind these processes.

Advantage and Disadvantage

I'd like to say we were surprised when this rule performed so well in play and in the playtest polls, but the truth is that we knew we were onto something with advantage early on. When the design team first proposed this rule, there was an almost unanimous sense that it was a good idea. When we had follow-up conversations about advantage, it was great to have a mountain of playtest data to confirm exactly how much players liked it.

We didn't fully realize it at the time, but advantage and disadvantage did a great job of cutting down on clutter. All we knew was that people wanted a faster, more agile game, and the overwhelmingly positive reaction to advantage and disadvantage helped to guide the creation of the lean, mean RPG machine that D&D Next has become.

Weapon Powers

At one point, we considered treating weapons in a manner similar to spells, giving each weapon one or more special maneuvers it could execute. For instance, a flail might let you trip someone, make a disarming attack, or attack with reach. In theory, it sounded cool. In practice, it bloated the system and led to far more complexity than we wanted. Forcing every player to understand how all the weapons in the game worked was a headache. It assumed that everyone wanted to spend the same amount of time poring over the weapon list.

In the end, these sorts of abilities are better implemented through feats and class features. Though some players wanted this complexity, it wasn't for everyone, and that guiding principle steered a lot of our design.


I've noticed that many DMs miss this rule when running D&D Next. When you cast a concentration spell, any other concentration spell you've previously cast immediately ends. This rule prevents casters from overloading on buff spells or completely shutting down battles with multiple control spells. It encourages casters to be more strategic in how they operate.

Concentration is an odd rule, because though our overall goal is to reduce complexity, it specifically makes the game more complex. However, adding that small bit of complexity helps to lessen the complexity of the game overall, encouraging a play style that helps level the field between casters and noncasters, while also deemphasizing control and buff effects. Both of these effect types slow down the game and increase complexity across the table. Limiting them to one per caster helps regulate how many complex spells hit the table at once. It's a bit of focused complexity in one aspect of the game that makes the rest of the game move quicker and easier.

Auto Success

Several times, we took a stab at introducing hard and fast rules for allowing characters to automatically succeed at certain types of checks. These rules sounded great, and in the hands of some DMs, they played well at the table. Unfortunately, they didn't mesh with all play styles. On top of that, the rules tended to break down in any situation in which the party would have a single specialist deal with a check.

I think of our explorations in this area as similar to the effort car manufacturers put into concept cars. Many are exciting and show off what a car can do, but they aren't necessarily the best option for the kind of vehicle most people need. However, we learned a lot from these efforts, and the idea of automatic success lives on in our DC mechanics. Where prior editions gave guidelines for DCs less than 10, we're moving away from that. As a rule of thumb, if the average person can succeed at a task more than half the time, we're not going to bother giving it a DC. Things like climbing ladders don't require checks in D&D Next.

At the same time, if the playtest showed us anything, it's that players and DMs still love a bit of randomness, in the form of the threat of catastrophic failure or unlikely success. That feedback was a big part of the reason we avoided adding passive perception to the game until late in the process. Even then, the rules require traps and hidden creatures to make checks against passive perception, rather than relying on the automatic success or failure of comparing two static results.

If one thing links the examples I've talked about here, it's that the rules for a tabletop RPG can have implications for the game that go beyond their specific mechanics. I've talked before about how a big part of our goal for the playtest was digging down into the rhythm and flow of the rules—the feel that rules produce at the table. We saw consistent feedback in favor of quick resolution, speedier game play, and an emphasis on risks and rewards—all of which became our focus for the evolution of Dungeons & Dragons.

Mike Mearls
Mike Mearls is the senior manager for the D&D research and design team. He led the design for 5th Edition D&D. His other credits include the Castle Ravenloft board game, Monster Manual 3 for 4th Edition, and Player’s Handbook 2 for 3rd Edition.
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On the point of Auto-success:

I think it should be allowable to use autosuccess in cases where "take 10/20" would be used in prior editions. In cases such as these, it would make sense to require a die roll only when a critical success is needed. When degrees of success are important, there should be the option to roll dice in order to do more than just succeed. This would carry with it not only the possibility of failing a mundane task, but also critically failing at the given task. It becomes an issue of risk management at that point, where the concentration to do things phenominally well could cause catastrophic failure if things go wrong.
Posted By: sotp_seamus (3/4/2014 2:44:36 PM)


Kukri can trap another weapon

Net can entangle

Two handed sword improves reach and damage but slow to use

Flail is difficult to use but can disarm

Staff can do subdue damage (of course the flat of a sword can do the same but more difficult to execute)

Dagger is fast, can be used in very close quarters but has lower damage

Spear can be set against charging enemies

Polearm has long reach and high damage but slow to use

These are some of the examples on weapon types, advantages/disadvantages and speed.

If these are removed, may as well use:

Weapon type A - 1D4
Weapon type B - 1D6
Weapon type C - 1D8
Weapon type D - 1D10 (two handed)
Weapon type E - 1D6 (range)

So my warrior will carry weapon type C and E. No point giving all the different names and such. And of course, no one will want to carry weapon type A since it hits for the least damage.
(see all)
Posted By: mouselim (2/13/2014 10:43:05 PM)


Missing Edit is such a shame too on this forum :)

Edit latter to former.
Posted By: mouselim (2/13/2014 10:36:46 PM)


I totally agree with many posters here regarding fleshing more details to weapon choices and usage. Although it does add to the complexity of the game, it makes fighter class more than just a hack beast. Weapon types (piercing, slashing, bludgeoning), speeds and special abilities of some weapons (e.g. the net, whip, etc) are what spells are to a spellcaster. It makes it all the more interesting and fun so that the warrior can carry an assortment of weapons (spear, hammer, sword, etc) to handle different situations.

Weapons feats are good but focuses differently on the gameplay.

Take Chinese martial arts flick for instance (I'm a Chinese and grows up on these shows), there are skills (which can be equated to feats) to perform different moves and there are weapons (remember the flying suction cup that severs heads? Or the dual sticks?).

I believe most players/DM are fine if they are not incorporated into the core but leave it open for expansion options i... (see all)
Posted By: mouselim (2/13/2014 10:34:44 PM)


1 advantage would drop the lowest die, not the lowest 2 dice, but because I can't edit and can't even REPLY TO MYSELF... :P
Posted By: Fuzzypaws (2/11/2014 7:55:35 PM)


For some reason, I couldn't reply to your other post - which must have been the same problem you had.

Anyway, I wanted to make one comment about your idea of 2d10 instead of 1d20. The thing that would be lost is the critical failure, the roll of "1" on the die. As a DM, I'd be sad to see that go.
Posted By: Brom_Blackforge (2/14/2014 9:39:30 AM)


If only you weren't so wedded to straight d20 for everything! Advantage and disadvantage are great, but would be even better if the base roll was 2d10 instead of 1d20, because then they would have a natural way of stacking. It would also moderate their numerical impact on the final roll result.

* 1 Advantage: Roll 3d10, drop lowest two dice.
* 2 Advantage: Roll 4d10, drop lowest two dice.
* 1 Disadvantage: Roll 3d10, drop highest die.
* 1 Advantage, 2 Disadvantage: Net effect of 1 Disadvantage.

There's all the other advantages to the bell curve of 2d10 too, since it goes naturally with the "flatter numbers" you've been pushing for DCs etc.
Posted By: Fuzzypaws (2/11/2014 7:54:16 PM)


Just a couple of things I would love to see. These can be optional rules but they will appeal to many players who prefer a bit more complexity.
1)Each weapon should have pros and cons. Weapons are the "spells" of martial PCs. There should be mechanic advantages to choosing a particular weapon.
2)Please do not lump everything into advantage/disadvantage. Please provide an alternative for those of us who dislike this mechanic. At the very least, some stacking of Adv/Disadv is necessary.
3)Please create a list of maneuvers/stances/tactics etc. These should NOT smack of magic. Allow fighter start with 4 and to choose one at each level. Allow other martial chars to start with fewer and gain them more slowly. This, along with weapons choice, would provide differentiation between martial PCs. Perhaps Arcane/divine PCs could trade a spell slot for a maneuver.
Posted By: stormkhan (2/11/2014 7:30:43 PM)


Just thought of something interesting with regards to passive perception vs rolls to see if traps and monsters go undetected. In the OSR tradition, secret doors and other hidden things were found when the DM rolled a certain range on a D6. For example, if a player listened at a door the dm would roll a d6 and on a roll of say, 1-3, the character would hear something. What exactly needed to be rolled depended on circumstance modifiers and possible racial abilities and ability scores. This went away in 3.0, replaced with the player rolling a skill check vs a static DC number (and sometimes the DM rolling for the player to avoid meta gaming).

Now, we are turning back to the old style, albeit in a modified D20 form. The dm rolls a d20 instead of a d6 to see if players find anything. There are more mods, with players more likely to have an ability mod adjustment, and profecency bonus for skills and racial bonuses etc and, on the dm side of things, modifiers for how well an obje... (see all)
Posted By: moes1980 (2/11/2014 6:57:09 PM)


I feel compelled to add one thing to the list of things that don't work - the name "DnD Next."

The name reeks of corporate spin-doctoring. I get it, you're trying to paint this as something more than just a new edition of the game, as something else entirely: not just a new edition but a new evolution. But it's just so obvious that it's obnoxious. And consequently, it's counter-productive. You want the name to generate goodwill, not contempt.

And if you truly intend to use it as more than just a transitional name, if you truly intend to publish the books with "DnD Next" on the cover, then you will run into trouble when the time comes for the NEXT edition of DnD. Don't get me wrong - 5th edition isn't even here yet, and I'm in no hurry to see it end, but I don't think anyone truly believes that there will never be a 6th edition. Have you really not learned any lessons from the VW New Beetle (and its post-2011 successor, which is just called &quo... (see all)
Posted By: Brom_Blackforge (2/11/2014 5:25:58 PM)


What comes after DnD NeXt is DnD One.

Posted By: Khilkhameth (2/11/2014 6:00:23 PM)


I am not bothered by the name at all. Once it is out and my friends and I are playing it, we are just going to call it "DnD" just like with every past edition. We never referred to our DnD nights as "DnD three point five edition game night" or, "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons second edition game night. So, I don't really care if they call it DnD Next or DnD 5th edition or, "The One edition to rule them all! (until another edition is inevitable released).

I will say that, in a strange way, the name sounds fitting to me. For me, I first played DnD2nd, and my first experience running games was under DnD Basic. 3.0, 3.5, and 4th ed were all editions I played extensively, but they all seemed to break with the feel and style of previous editions. Not to say the old editions were perfect, but it is like 3.x and 4th ed were radical experiments to see what else could be done with the system. DnDN, however, seems to take the best from those experiments, a... (see all)
Posted By: moes1980 (2/11/2014 6:46:36 PM)


I can see where you're coming from, moes, to a certain extent. When I was in high school, the current edition was 2nd edition, and we just called it DnD. When 3rd edition came out, my gaming group switched over and didn't look back, so again, we just called it DnD.

Now I'm playing with a different group, and while we started with 3.5, we've also played 4E and Pathfinder and other (non-DnD) systems. If we were going to play a DnD game now, we'd have to specify which edition. There's at least one guy in the group who, I think, prefers 4E. Personally, I'd prefer 3.5, and I think there's another guy who'd prefer to stick with 1st or 2nd edition, if given the opportunity. So, for us at least, the days of just calling it DnD are gone.
Posted By: Brom_Blackforge (2/14/2014 9:33:54 AM)


Well-stated, moes.
Posted By: JayStripes (2/13/2014 9:02:57 PM)


IIRC, it was stated early on that WotC'd like the name on the product to be simply "DnD" (no edition number, no "Next"), but I wonder how they will differentiate it from previous editions, which are happily seeing rereleases. Graphic design? A superscript ("The new, easy-to-learn DnD")? Adding an emblem to compatible releases?
Posted By: Dreamstryder (2/11/2014 8:12:19 PM)


I keep trying to post and keep getting this error message: "The text in your comment does not pass validation. Ensure that all of the approved tags are properly closed." But I'm not using any tags - or at least I don't think I am. I'm not trying to. So what is happening?
Posted By: Brom_Blackforge (2/11/2014 5:22:14 PM)


I halfway expected that to not work, either. Here, let me try my original post again....
Posted By: Brom_Blackforge (2/11/2014 5:23:15 PM)


Wait - it must be the ampersand! The answer was right in front of me (thanks argokirby).

But how much sense does that make, considering the name of the game contains an ampersand?
Posted By: Brom_Blackforge (2/11/2014 5:24:41 PM)


Answer: very little sense. - John
Posted By: Seanchai (2/11/2014 9:05:24 PM)


On a side note, the comment system does no like ampersands.
Posted By: argokirby (2/11/2014 11:49:55 AM)



And you can't edit!
Posted By: argokirby (2/11/2014 11:51:04 AM)


Posted By: RadperT (2/12/2014 9:53:24 PM)


I think that weapons are two simplistic as they are portrayed currently in the game. The only real variable is damage, and as stated above, the damage options are not very wide.

I am playing with the old school ADnD weapon speed concept in my game. Adding weapon speed to weapons is a simple way to add more variety to the weapon selection with out adding too much complexity.

A maul would have a very high weapons speed, but it does a lot of damage. You are now looking at trading off high damage for any chance of going before your opponent. Maybe you might choose a battle axe instead so you have a better chance of going first, or maybe damage is most important to you.

Also, why is initiative tied to Dex, you could make a valid argument that it could be tied to any ability, so you might as well say use your highest ability, or just say don't use it at all to level the playing field.

Are we hoping to have rogues go first, they don't really need i... (see all)
Posted By: argokirby (2/11/2014 11:49:09 AM)


Better to have Initiative key off the LOWEST stat bonus, so a min-maxed character with a dump stat has a weakness, whereas someone who is more balanced is more adaptable and able to react to changing situations quicker.
Posted By: Khilkhameth (2/11/2014 6:02:17 PM)


I don't know that you could make the argument for initiative being tied to _any_ attribute. It's hard to see how being fit and hardy, well-muscled, or alluring and strong-willed will help you react more quickly than an opponent. You could make an argument for WIS (more observant) or INT (by way of 4e which made INT an option for reflex saves), but DEX is kind of the obvious one.

AC (including touch AC) is helped by DEX because DEX represents (to some extent) agility and nimbleness. A person with higher DEX dodges better. Reflex saves cover a lot of the same ground as touch AC. What's the difference between dodging the big, falling ball of fire that wasn't there until the wizard yelled for it, and dodging the big, falling boulder that wasn't there until the trap went "click"? Not much. DEX covers reaction as well as agility. Initiative is reacting to the fact that you just unexpected came face-to-face with a patrol of orcs.

(This isn't to say their aren't... (see all)
Posted By: longwinded (2/12/2014 2:26:05 PM)


Posted By: Kilsek_of_Sheverash (2/11/2014 10:10:35 AM)


Regarding the weapons, make weapon feats that give special advantages to those who take extra training in that weapon. That way you only have to worry about what that PC (or NPC) who has that feat (instead of everyone who can pick up a mace).

Make those feats ONLY available for fighters, gives that combat class something special they can use that's purely their own.

Those elements exist in the game, you just need to add "flourishes" that are weapon-specific.
Posted By: Barky (2/10/2014 10:13:05 PM)


Actually one take could be feats that allow specific abilities, that receive advantage when used with a weapon that fits better-

for example trip attacks can realistically be done with many weapons, but would definitely be more easily accomplished with others (let's say whips)

So Feat: Trip - you may use your action to make an attack to trip an enemy. If successful all attacks have advantage on the victim until it acts again. If you use a whip to perform this attack, you have advantage for the attack.

I wouldn't make it specific to fighters, the fighter already has their own perks. A 6th level fighter could do this then follow up with an attack, while other characters could use it to aid their allies.
Posted By: diversionArchitect (2/11/2014 2:36:15 AM)


This is an excellent idea.
Posted By: argokirby (2/11/2014 11:40:46 AM)


The de-emphasis on controller style wizards is one thing I dislike about DnD Next. Even in 3.5 I always preferred to play wizards that hit opponents with a heavy amount of control via spells like Slow, confusion, etc vs. being a blaster caster. It seems like DnD Next is heavily railroading wizards into the Blaster Caster model and I disagree with this paradigm for casters.
Posted By: Fallstorm (2/10/2014 9:55:40 PM)


Spell selection will dictate this and I for one love the control spells available...Sleep is highly effective when used at a higher spell slot (my party thought I was crazy when I yelled for them to spread out their attacks).

Cause Fear, Color Spray, Grease, Darkness, Web, Stinking Cloud (my personal favorite), etc.

My 8th level wizard's only blast spell is Ray of Frost, and even that has a nice control effect attached. If you're really looking for control, take polymorph at this level and turn into a basilisk, then push the 'I win' button.
Posted By: NinjaPlease (2/11/2014 3:22:25 PM)


The issue I had in 4E with weapons was other than their damage dice they weren't really that different. I could use most powers with a mace, dagger, sword or axe and have no difference in the outcome.
I love the return of monsters having resistance to the weapon types of slashing, bludgeoning and piercing. It makes weapon choice a bit more important.
I'd also like to see things like disarm, break and entangle as options for most weapons, which certain types get a bonus to. For example a whip will be great at entangling and disarm, but do less damage. A polearm can entangle the feet to trip easier. A sword breaker could disarm better and have a chance of destroying a sword in the process.
With magic items being rare, these types of options will be important. It will also make magic weapons more special if they can't be broken, or magic boots avoid a trip, or magic gauntlets prevent disarming.
Posted By: Rartemass (2/10/2014 5:18:00 PM)


I agree 100% with the damage type thing. 4e upset me with that...So I house ruled it out. Skeletons were resist 5 per tier to piercing and slashing, etc. And piercing, slashing, and bludgeoning became damage types (subcategories of 'weapon') much like fire or thunder or psychic. That's the only 4e house rules I ever made, actually. Yes it added complexity. No one who used weapons minded...It was a unanimous table decision as soon as my group got together and played 4e for the first time.

I could go either way on trip and sunder attempts. On one hand, having that done through powers makes sense. After all, it takes serious training and martial skill to pull off such things intentionally. On the other hand, yeah, some weapons are MADE for catching, tripping, and weapon breaking. If it had come up in my game, I'd have offered martial characters to swap out a class at-will power for a 'weapon at-will power' built right then at the table around whatever they wanted to be able to ... (see all)
Posted By: seti (2/10/2014 9:31:00 PM)


Anyone who thinks swords should be useless against skeletons because "realism" has never seen Jason and the Argonauts.
Posted By: Criswell (2/10/2014 11:37:03 PM)


I never said useless. I said DR 5 per tier.

Tell me with a straight face that a hammer won't do more destruction to dry bone than a razor sharp blade.
Posted By: seti (2/11/2014 1:04:50 AM)


Which is why in Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, Sinbad sees the skeleton, tosses his scimitar aside and grabs a table leg.

Oh, wait. No. Because that would be boring.
Posted By: Criswell (2/11/2014 6:14:26 PM)


LOL, or what a good arming sword can do to bones, flesh covered or not. They aren't as much about the 'blunt force' as a mace or hammer, but way more than a scimitar or katana, that's for **** sure!!
Posted By: LupusRegalis (2/11/2014 12:10:56 AM)


Now remove the auto success for the "Help" action. It's getting abused all the time out of combat.
Posted By: Cypher2009 (2/10/2014 12:26:48 PM)


While not techncial an auto-success: free advantage on every skill check the DM asks for is too powerfull. Player 1: "Do I know the history of the place?" Player 2: "I help you - auto advantage on your skill roll!"
Posted By: Cypher2009 (2/10/2014 12:29:29 PM)


"Help" is listed in the Actions in Combat section. Therefore I don't think it's applicable elsewhere.
Posted By: E-Tallitnics (2/10/2014 7:20:56 PM)


'Auto Success' is something great and I'd love to see it in DM supplements or dungeon articles as it does help bring climax to an end of a great adventure when the dangers are slightly less imposing on the characters and they just can see the tavern and when we're all a bit tired of our 4 hour gaming session. Its just nice.
Posted By: rezpatriot (2/10/2014 12:24:23 PM)


Advantage/Disadvantage was a great idea, and I plan to keep implementing it as a house rule in the the 4e games I will continue to run.
Posted By: JoeyLast (2/10/2014 12:03:55 PM)


I couldn't agree more about advantage/disadvantage. It's so obvious in hindsight, and can also be applied to older versions of the game with ease (I'm thinking 1st edition and its clones).

It honestly never occurred to me that one could have two spells that require concentration going at the same time. Guess it's the old-schooler in me.

I like the apparent direction of auto successes - ordinary stuff doesn't need a die check, and for harder stuff there's always a chance to fail or succeed. I think that works better than indulging the expectation that players must succeed at everything they try.
Posted By: greyhawk_grognard (2/10/2014 11:45:33 AM)


Advantage/Disadvantage is simple and easy for the DM to use. Kudos!

Weapon Powers left in the hands of Feats and Class Features fits the modular approach. Gives the players more meaningful choices as their character grows.

Concentration. Thank you. As a DM I want to tell a story with my players, not operate a spreadsheet, and this rule makes that easier while still being intuitive at the table.

Auto-Success is not needed with Bounded Accuracy in place, characters can still be optimized so that the pass Easy challenges automatically, and if a player builds that way they should get the rewards for that level of specialization. Again, good call on recognizing what did and did not need to be in the core game.
Posted By: strider13x (2/10/2014 8:34:11 AM)


I liked the Concentration rule a lot - I think it is a great idea - but ONE issue I still got with it (did others, too?) - it often "removes" the "weaker buff" from the game. For example there is NO WAY "Shield of Faith" will ever get cast. Unless you have ONLY melee enemies without DC spells, it is always the better idea to do Bless instead. And if you have only melees, "Righteous Shield" is a much better idea than "Shield of Faith". Or even an offensive buff like "Divine Favor" might be a better idea than that +1 AC. So basically the Concentration rule - while a good rule - removes "Shield of Faith" from the game (BTW: Divine Favor scales a bit "too good" on classes with many attacks).

Some of this might be taken care of by removing Concentration Spell Status from some spells (but then again we are back at the Buff Stacking problem) or changing (Strengthening/Weakening) some spells. Especially ... (see all)
Posted By: MagicSN (2/10/2014 7:46:48 AM)


The number of concentration spells a character can cast should be based on their stats. For example, a wisdom based caster would need WIS 14 to maintain a single spell. WIS 17 allows 2 and WIS 20 or more allows 3.
It is a way for higher stats to make a bit more impact to your class.
Posted By: Rartemass (2/10/2014 3:51:29 PM)


Aww man, weapon powers would be awesome. Can you guys release that as a module to be added to the game to help spice things up?
Posted By: DBrigner (2/10/2014 7:14:12 AM)


I guess I'm THAT one guym y'know, the party-pooper, but... has there been a change that allows advantages and disadvantages to stack? Because if not... it's such an oversimplified idea that I find it shocking that it's still there. I mean, pretty much every serious system has some sort of temporal numerical bonuses that allows you to combine tactics, in-game buffs and debuffs with various other sources, making it much more varied in terms of gameplay and requiring you to think much more in combat. The advantage idea sounds like a great OPTIONAL mechanic, like when I'm introducing someone to a system or playing a rules-light game, but I would never want to seriously play the game where someone lying on the ground, blind and deaf, in total darkness, with a curse on top of it, trying to slash someone behind cover has the same chance as someone who is just in a fog or something. Same thing with advantage.
Posted By: Shooter__Andy (2/10/2014 6:22:15 AM)


Mike , thank you, and keep up the good work DnDNext crew!

Thank you, thank you, Thank you, thank you, Thank you, thank you, Thank you, thank you, Thank you, thank you, Thank you, thank you, Thank you, thank you, Thank you, thank you, Thank you, thank you, Thank you, thank you, Thank you, thank you, Thank you, thank you, Thank you, thank you, Thank you, thank you, Thank you, thank you, Thank you, thank you, Thank you, thank you, Thank you, thank you, Thank you, thank you, Thank you, thank you, Thank you, thank you, Thank you, thank you, Thank you, thank you, VERY MUCH!!!!
(o,..and take your time to have it right, even if we'd have to wait for 2015, please don't rush the final lap!)

Posted By: sjap (2/10/2014 6:11:30 AM)


Advantage and Disadvantage is a great mechanic my group and i found.

Weapon Powers is something i like the idea and would have liked to see it more playtested. I was fond of the Halberd with property to knock prone.

Concentration is a mechanic i like and i'm glad to see being brought back.

Auto Success is something i'm not too fond of, i like a minimum of randomness. Even climbing a ladder can be failed, that's why we often have dumb accidents in the most mundane tasks we do.
Posted By: Plaguescarred (2/10/2014 5:49:32 AM)


Very good idea DM rolling the dice from Stalk vs. Passive Perception instead of doing a dice contest. This simplify a lot!
Posted By: Guarita (2/10/2014 5:40:02 AM)


Very helpful, Mike. I can't disagree with anything stated or explained. At some point you need to start talking about what rule modules will make it to the core rule book.
Posted By: Prom (2/10/2014 4:29:04 AM)


Mike briefly mentions how player feedback had caused the design team to avoid adding passive perception to the game until late in the process. He goes on to mention how the rules then required traps and hidden creatures to make checks against passive perception. Anyone else think this is a long way from optimal design?

Removing the rolls (and control) from the player side of things strikes me as boring... I mean, players want to feel like they're the active, central participants, right? As an alternative to passive checks, why not break adventures into sections and have players 'blind roll' a perception check for each section - just toss a die behind the DM screen or under a cup or something. Only the DM sees the result and then records it, using it for a dungeon level, or for a day of travel, or until the next short rest. However you want to break it up. That seems simple enough to avoid unnecessary complication, but more dynamic and interesting.
Posted By: BadMike (2/10/2014 3:35:24 AM)


OT1H, letting players roll everything keeps them engaged, OTOH, having them roll perception, specifically gives them meta-game knowledge (that there's something to be perceived), which is bad for more 'immersive' styles.

It's a very simple, intuitive, rule, and one that would be quite easy to add or ignore.
Posted By: Tony_Vargas (2/10/2014 3:50:19 AM)


Both good points. Personally, the main thing that I have against passive perception is that when a DM designs an adventure knowing the scores of all his players, he is essentially choosing what the players find and what they don't.

Of course, this is exactly what traps/hidden creatures rolling to make checks against passive perception is supposed to fix. But then we're back to control out of the players hands, which is why I prefer my option. Hmm... as I think about it, having players do hidden rolls every once in awhile would probably be a simpler option than having the DM roll for every trap, hidden creature, or secret treasure that the players come across...
Posted By: BadMike (2/10/2014 4:15:46 AM)


The big problem I see with rolling perception all the time is the players constantly saying "I perceive" and rolling when there's nothing there. Rolling every step of the way just makes things move along slowly. Active perception is something that I feel should only happen during combat or in a scene such as a chase in an urban environment.
Posted By: KoboldAvenger (2/10/2014 5:27:12 AM)


...and I'm just sitting here playing whatever edition the chaps at my uni feel like playing. I just care whether or not I can make my Warforged Fighter character, Clank. He's got a winning smile, a modicum of talent at the lute, and the intelligence of a brick. Nice guy. Good with animals.

It's fun not giving much of a toss about editions. More people should try it some time.
Posted By: sixtymya (2/10/2014 3:26:56 AM)


I dont mind the idea of weapons having properties getting tossed - it sounds a bit too clumsy. I just I hope there is a reason for players of martial types to buy the books. I always disliked spells taking up half of the PHB and fighters getting a few pages of rules and feats in some of the editions.
Posted By: SJS70 (2/10/2014 3:06:54 AM)


Advantage & Disadvantage have grown on me over the course of reading the rules. enough so that I would really like to see all situational modifiers be put into that mechanic rather than some having flat bonuses and others using advantage/disadvantage. An advanced version could allow for multiple levels of advantage rather than the current all or none. I may houserule something like:
* you can have up to 3 sources of advantage, and up to 3 disadvantages.
* do the math to figure out final total
* based on math you get the following:
1 advantage: +2 on roll
2 advantage: reroll & take higher (roughly +5)
3 advantage: reroll, take higher and also add +2.
and similar for disadvantage.
And then everything that affects the combat from flanking to spell effects, etc. becomes an advantage or a disadvantage.
Posted By: Noirsoft (2/10/2014 1:45:14 AM)


The sky is always falling with you two, Tony, and Lupus. It's exhausting.

Mike is only talking about not putting maneuvers into weapon descriptions themselves. Just because they are not putting maneuvers into weapon descriptions, does not mean they won't have combat options for weapon users. Mike said those options will live in class features and feats. Let's see how the Combat Superiority mechanic and maneuvers evolve, shall we?

And feats are a perfectly acceptable way to introduce other combat "maneuvers" to classes that want to opt into them. Each class is going to have class abilities and/or spells that give them options that define the class, and feats and multiclassing will allow them to dabble or focus on certain strengths.

Posted By: Wyckedemus (2/10/2014 1:10:43 AM)


Agreed. I get so tired with all of the knee-jerk complaints we see from the same people. Some people have a serious lack of imagination.
Posted By: Ramzour (2/10/2014 4:15:07 AM)


Knee-jerk praise is equally as annoying. - John
Posted By: Seanchai (2/10/2014 11:01:18 AM)


Another good article, don't listen to them, Mike. The default Core should be simple, coherent, free of contradictions, play quickly, be fun, and one can always add optional rules later on a lot easier than removing them.

I hope next week to finally hear about weapon attacks not having automatic success. And by that I mean, I hope you will take the time and read my list of 25 bugs with Great Weapon Fighter and damage on a miss (or, another way of saying it : "hitting on a miss", which is equally nonsensical and obtuse).

Automatic successes for weapon attacks are not the same as automatic successes for climbing ladders. I hope everybody (of sound mind), realizes this, and prepares themselves for the inevitability that one cannot make a game founded on simplicity when one cannot even narrate what happens when you kill a foe by missing it with your sword.
Posted By: MtlKnight (2/10/2014 12:52:32 AM)


Wow, with those weapon tricks, wouldn't it be awesome if there were some kind of idea about MODULAR options to let people pick their own level of complexity?

More and more, it's becoming clear that martial classes are getting shafted.
Posted By: obryn (2/10/2014 12:45:37 AM)


I agree...I'd like to see these 'weapon powers' as a module. No one I know and play DnD with likes how non-casters are nerfed. We've all been spoiled by 4e, and won't go back to 'I hit it with my sword' or 'I shoot it with an arrow' as the only options.

Even pathfinder/3.0/3.5 had trip attacks, grapples, and combat maneuvers...
Posted By: seti (2/10/2014 1:14:30 AM)


Let's not get too hasty, I don't think it's as bad you say. Still, I hope Martial characters get some cool things soon.
(As an aside, Monte Cook is largely believed responsible for the superiority of Magic-Users in D+D 3.5. His own game makes everyone a spell-caster. He LOVES spell-casters, and I doubt if he kept on the game would emphasize them less...of course this is only fan speculation. I have no idea who made all of the design decisions that led to spell-caster domination in 3rd edition...) (meant as a continuation of the reply I don't think the reply system works great...)
Posted By: Claymore65 (2/10/2014 12:44:46 AM)


This article, combined with quite a few since M. Mearls took charge, and most recently the 'Tiers of Play' article, reinforces that DnD is only concerned with ensuring Caster Dominance and the complexity of its Magic System. It doesn't care about Martial Combat except to simplify it to the very basic most representation of 'Attack, Attack some More'!

Forget 5E, it has yet to meet any of the Inclusiveness or Modularity that has been the goal since its outset. I've wasted more than 2 years time on this farce, and this is the last straw. At least be honest in that you weren't willing to actually playtest your 'Weapon Powers', because you might have found a majority of people preferred it.

Every time you presented good options for Martial Classes, you've either removed them or failed on the follow through. Can't believe the gall of you, claiming it was too bloating! No more so than the Spell system itself! Didn't even give us the chance to work it out among t... (see all)
Posted By: LupusRegalis (2/10/2014 12:26:02 AM)


Let's not get too hasty here. Weapon Powers might be a bad idea. Think about it. Many weapons might get ignored due to a poor power, or a slightly overpowered one might make all other weapons irrelevant. Requiring players to know the powers of every weapon would probably have ended up a hassle.
That's not to say I entirely disagree with you though. Martial classes do seem to have gotten the short end of the stick complexity wise. Last weeks article explained tiers of play with only the cool things spell casters get to do at higher levels. The rule of three only said that fighters get extra attacks and a little bit resistances at higher levels. That's a far cry from being able to 'open gates to the demon worlds' or 'fly to the heavens'. Fighters (and all martial classes), should become like Hercules at end-game. Able to laugh off blows that would slay lesser men, able to punch holes in concrete, wrestle massive beasts, or shoot the wings off of a fly. The descriptions right now jus... (see all)
Posted By: Claymore65 (2/10/2014 12:43:28 AM)


I find it revealing that opening up the possibility of a couple of 'powers' for each of the ~40 weapons in 5e would hopelessly bloat and complicate the game, when it already has a couple hundred spells, and will likely eventually have thousands if every other ed is any guide.
Posted By: Tony_Vargas (2/10/2014 12:20:56 AM)


Agreed, and from me, that's saying something.
Posted By: LupusRegalis (2/10/2014 12:37:46 AM)


Yeah, instead we get a half-ass maneuver system based on "roll a die, beat ability modifier." Simple? Yes. But compared to the *automatic* slides/knockdowns/etc of 4E that a fighter or other martial character could accomplish, it comes across as too little. The maneuver system of the early playtest packets was brilliant but apparently "too complex." Bull. I ran Encounters at my FLGS for a good chunk of the program, and had more new players brought in by 4E than I ever saw during the 3E era. How about instead of assuming new players are blithering idiots, give them a robust set of options to learn and enjoy instead?
Posted By: Clansmansix (2/10/2014 12:48:25 AM)


I need to agree with the ease of getting new players into 4E. Not since 1st edition and he early 80's have I been able to get new players into the game as I did with 4E. I have a number of new groups, including two 4E games right now, where most players are completely new. I think the problem was with the character builder, it was so good that the players didn't need to buy the books. Although most did. 3.x was by far the hardest to get new players into. I will keep playing 4E and hoping that WotC doesn't stop supporting old games. But if how poorly they treated older editions in the past is any indication (as they did when the dropped 3.x), I don't hold out much hope. I didn't like 3.x, so I was not hurt, but I think this is why Pathfinder got so much marketshare. We will see what happens to the 4E market that doesn't want to migrate.
Posted By: The_Roc (2/10/2014 2:02:14 PM)


Halfling fighters being able to autopush 5 ton dragons at-will without even so much as an opposed strength check was one of the most absurd and ludicrous things about 4e. Or tripping oozes. Or sliding ghosts. I mean, come on. If you love 4e so much, just keep playing it. DND Next is not the same game, it's a better one.

If only by virtue of now having automatic successes for such things as pushing opponents around, tripping them, or even hitting them. I mean, it's a sad day in DND's history when one even has to argue that a D20 should have a say in the outcome of a character attempting to hurt or kill a foe. No player should be able to say "I kill it", or "I hurt it", or "I slide it", and that simply happens no matter what.
Posted By: MtlKnight (2/10/2014 12:59:54 AM)


"If you like 4E so much, just keep playing it." Great reply. I will. I guess Next isn't the "edition for everyone" that it was touted to be, huh? As far as it being "better," well, proof is in the pudding. I guess you have a thing about "Disassociated Mechanics" or some bugaboo too, right? Get over yourself and your "One True Way"-ism. Or maybe just keep playing an earlier edition!
Posted By: Clansmansix (2/10/2014 1:12:21 AM)


No one could auto-push a 5 ton dragon. A forced movement of one square (especially for a larger creature) is a game-y representation of it stepping back a bit, maybe because you sliced its toe. Have an imagination. Oozes could not be tripped in 4e. As far as sliding ghosts, see the above comment on forced movement. And my request for you to have an imagination.

The same goes for fighters healing and damage on a miss. These things make sense if you let them. I don't think you should be telling people to go back to 4e, I think you should go back to 1e. The games published this century are clearly too much for you to wrap your mind around.
Posted By: seti (2/10/2014 1:24:40 AM)


Actually, you can indeed trip oozes in 4e. But you can do the same in 3e.
Posted By: Belphanior (2/10/2014 3:40:07 AM)


Hear, hear! Well said.
Posted By: Clansmansix (2/10/2014 1:39:59 AM)



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