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Rule-of-Three: 03/20/2012
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 Another awesome 4E innovation—minions. How are these one hit wonders influencing monster design for the next iteration of D&D?

One of the things we're exploring in the game is what we refer to as a bounded accuracy system. Effectively, we're looking into whether or not we can strip out the assumption of accuracy and defense scaling by level, and let progression rest largely within the scaling damage, hit points, and capabilities of both characters and monsters.

When you have this, any monster whose hit points are less than the damage you deal is, effectively, a minion. Thus, we might not need a specific minion rule, because we would simply design monsters with hit points that rest below average damage for certain levels and let that take care of it (in other words, we do want monsters in the game that do what minions do for us). At the same time, since as the player characters gain levels their damage numbers are going up, monsters that previously were not "minions" become "minions" by virtue of player damage outstripping their hit points. Since AC and attack bonuses aren't automatically scaling up, the orc that you fight at 1st level that took three hits to kill may only take 1 hit to kill at 6th level, making it a "minion" for heroes of that level.

2 One of the earlier conversations touched on alignment. Will Alignment be in D&D Next? If so, will it be the classic nine alignments? And will it have a mechanical impact for characters? For monsters?

The classic nine alignments are planned to be the default alignment assumptions (though personally I also have a soft spot for "Unaligned" as well). As for mechanical impact, I think that there's an assumption in the history, world, and cosmology of Dungeons & Dragons that there are tangible, elemental forces of good, evil, law, and chaos, etc. Some of D&D's best stories are built on it; see the war between Law and Chaos that led to the creation of the Rod of Seven Parts. Having mechanics that interact with a fundamental force of existence makes sense, much in the same way that having mechanics that interact with fire, lightning, etc. make sense. However, we want alignment to be a tool, not a straightjacket, so the execution of those mechanics should serve that goal, and really only apply when dealing with the powerful, elemental forces of alignments, not someone who just behaves a certain way. Additionally, I believe we'll also want it to be easy for a DM to strip those mechanics out of his or her campaign, if the DM so chooses.

3 How important is it to the team that different classes have different mechanics? What kind of ideas would you like to explore to give different classes a different feel?

The important thing about class mechanics is not simply that they be different, but that the mechanics of a class produce the best and most iconic experience of playing that class. It's OK to re-use mechanics between classes; for example, our current vision for both the fighter and the rogue includes access to a system of combat maneuvers. Clerics and paladins both should have access to divine spells. That's something the classes need to have because they are different; it's not a choice made simply so that they would be different.

As for how to give different classes different feels, that's all going to come down to how the systems work. For example, if you substitute maneuvers in for individual attacks, the fighter class plays more like a mix-and-match system combining maneuvers and multiple attacks; on my turn, I charge the orc, then use my next attack to disarm him, and my final attack to push him back away from the weapon he dropped. Spells, on the other hand, are likely to be focused more on big effects, so that the cleric is more likely to cast a single flame strike spell that consumes much of what she does for that round.



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 dndinsider@wizards.com. 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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