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D&D Next Q&A: 01/24/2014
Rodney Thompson

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1 In the last playtest document, wizards and clerics got some defining class stuff at level 1 and 2 (cleric domains at level 1 and mage traditions at level 2). Is that going to remain the same, or are those shifting to level 3?

For some classes, we need some of the bigger choices to be made earlier in a class progression. For the cleric, for example, there are both story and mechanical reasons for you to select your domain at level 1. On the story side, the god you worship and the powers granted to you by that god are critical to the cleric’s identity, and it’s tough to justify the story of a cleric who isn’t dedicated to a particular god; where would he or she be getting those granted powers and spells from? Mechanically, we also vary up some armor proficiencies in the domains, which can have an impact on how you assign your ability scores. We don’t want to end up in a situation where clerics feel like they need to invest in Dexterity for a better AC for a few levels, only to have that negated by proficiencies suddenly gained at 3rd level.

There are a few other classes where we think the story demands making that choice at 1st level, like the sorcerer (who needs to define the source of his or her innate magic right away) and the warlock (who needs to determine who is at the other end of the pact he or she made to get magical power). For the most part, we’re trying to be very sparing about how often we do this, because while it is a goal to push complexity up the levels as much as possible, we occasionally run into conflicts where the story or mechanical needs require that to happen earlier.

2 So 3rd level is the defining moment from going from a beginner to a hero. Do we have any more points like that? Is there another stage where complexity or options ramp up again, and what does that look like?

Nothing quite so formalized, and (as indicated by the answer to the above question) we are going to introduce choices in classes where we need to without being inflexible about 3rd level as a complexity shift. We do have some other informal break points that guide our design in a general way; for example, we consider 5th level to be a break point for complexity (as you see a fighter’s second attack coming in, or a wizard getting some iconic and game-changing spells like fireball), as is 11th level (we are far more reserved about the number of spell slots we give out for spells of 6th level and above, which allows the spells to be more complex). These are just guideposts we use when gauging whether a particular mechanic is at the right level, and in many cases we break with those assumptions when necessary.

3 How is Action Surge supposed to interact with Extra Attack?

When you use Action Surge, you take another action, and you receive the benefits of Extra Attack on this action as well. So, if you normally make two attacks (thanks to Extra Attack), you can use Action Surge to make four attacks in a single round.

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Rodney Thompson
Rodney Thompson began freelancing in the RPG industry in 2001 before graduating from the University of Tennessee. In 2007 he joined the Wizards of the Coast staff as the lead designer and developer for the new Star Wars RPG product line. Rodney is the co-designer of Lords of Waterdeep and is currently a designer for Dungeons & Dragons.
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I think there is no problem with clerics having their domains moved to 3rd, while still having the flavor of their deity with the background system. A 1st level priest of Melora is either a vanilla cleric with the guide background or a ranger with the Priest background. That is their role in the world, but at 3rd level the Cleric breaks through his role as one of the many faith healers to be a powerful representative of Melora in the world, while the Ranger has left his priestly duties to others as he pursues mastery of the hunt. A Priest Cleric seems to be more like an urban acolyte who only later in his career is infused with the direct power of a particular god/philosophy.
Posted By: MacEochaid (1/27/2014 2:48:52 AM)


DEITY and DOMAIN are 2 different things, and they can have different narrative interpretation!

Deity of course is chosen at level 1, but doesn't even have to carry *mechanical* benefits. You are of course a Cleric of Lathander since 1st level.

Domain instead is just a specialization. Maybe my Cleric of Lathander chooses the Light domain, narrative explanation = I joined the ranks of those in my church who fight against the undead. While another Cleric of Lathander chooses the Healing domain, narrative explanation = he is one of the specialist healers in the same church.

There is really no *narrative* need for the domain to be given at 1st level (unless each deity has only one domain, and each domain only one deity). If there's a *mechanical* need, it is only because of your current mechanical design of domains...

OTOH, it does make much more narrative sense for Sorcerers and Warlocks to get their choice point at 1st level.
Posted By: Domenicaccio (1/25/2014 6:14:59 AM)


thanks for that!
Posted By: rezpatriot (1/26/2014 7:36:15 AM)


That makes a good argument for removing the mechanical constraints of the sorcerer and warlock's power sources and delaying it to something more "domain-like" so that mechanically your 1st, 2nd, 3rd level progression makes more sense.
Posted By: Nachofan (1/27/2014 6:20:31 PM)


I can see a sorcerer at 1st level having just burst a table into flames when angry. He then goes into personal training to hone the skills and improve upon them. By 3rd level he has figured out his source and can begin to tap into it.

The warlock has an inkling of what he wants to do with his life. He knows the kind of patron he wants for the tasks at hand. He begins to align his focus and actions to that of the patron to attract their attention. At third level they have succeeded and proved themselves worthy of a spark of power.
Posted By: Rartemass (1/27/2014 11:59:14 PM)


People, the question here is that, even if not all clerics worship actual gods, IF THEY DO their patron should be chosen from the very beginning, if only because of background (not Background) and character identity.

For the mechanical reasons given, I can see players choosing in advance which domains their characters will choose to plan ability scores, but even then the choice remains at character creation, and thus the complexity (the number of choices) is there from level 1.

Also, I'm pretty sure that philosophies and pantheons still grant domains and the mechanical reasoning for single-god worshipping clerics to choose domain at level 1 applies to them too.
Posted By: nirnel (1/25/2014 3:24:41 AM)


Are there still going to be the spellpoint system? how will this word with the new spells and defining moment?
Posted By: I_melt_faces (1/24/2014 8:44:18 PM)


@Seti, I'm secretly hoping the developers are holding out on adding CON (as well as CON bonus) to Hit Points. Right now they're sneaking more Hit Dice onto higher-level creatures to compensate for damage escalation, but giving all creatures a low-end bump in HP seems preferable to me. Having a truly optional level 0 would be a good way to do this, but we have fake optional levels 1 & 2 instead, just as backgrounds are a fake option. As Seanchai indicated in a reply under Mike Mearls' article upon which this article expands, the whole starting levels thing is nothing but an excuse to end-run frontloading, the practice by which powergamers take a level in this, and a level in that, to cherry-pick a set of useful and synergistic class features.

The game designers could harness the flexibility of the background trait to limit abuse of multiclassing. Just as you get 4 skills, at first level every character might get 2 packages, one from background and one from class. It ... (see all)
Posted By: RadperT (1/26/2014 10:03:15 PM)


Here's an idea: Make everyone start properly complex at level one with 1 (what you now call) 'hit dice' but double HP. ie: mages start at level 1 with a 1d6 hit die, and 6+1d6+CON mod. HP. Fighters start with a 1d10 hit die, and 10+1d10 +CON mod. HP. Etc. Make an optional level 0 that's easy and has less options. At this optional level zero, you have no 'hit dice' but either 6, 8, 10, or 12 HP. No con bonus until level 1. Then, you can make level 1 like how many want it. With MORE options. Like a starting feat.

This way, being level one isn't as lethal, newbie groups get an 'ease-into-it' single 'zero' level, and people can skip level zero if they want to easily. Also, for the DMs that want a lethal starting point, level zero PCs will have at MOST 12 HP. Zero level clerics, warlocks, and sorcerers won't need to pick a domain, pact patron, or power source yet either. They can all just use weak at-will cantrip-type spells, as can wizards.

IMO, this roughly typed out... (see all)
Posted By: seti (1/24/2014 4:25:03 PM)


You know, in almost all editions of DnD, clerics did not have to worship a particular god. In fact, if I recall correctly, "cleric" in 2e specifically meant a priest not dedicated to any particular god.

I'm not saying I dislike choosing a domain at 1st level, I just wonder why WotC is ignoring this massive part of the Cleric's identity.
Posted By: G_X (1/24/2014 3:12:42 PM)


Actually, I just checked. It's literally all editions. Clerics have NEVER been limited to only one god. Why the change? Did the designers just "forget" about the 40 years of material that this new edition is supposed to bring together?
Posted By: G_X (1/24/2014 3:51:13 PM)


Forgotten Realms
Posted By: lordsknight1585 (1/24/2014 4:02:21 PM)


Yeah. I dont understand why the designers keep FORCING Clerics to worship gods. (Is it IP protection or something?) But it is disgusting.

Most of my campaigns dont have objectively existing gods. The spells clearly dont come from them. Clerics who revere a philosophy (like Buddhism) or a set of cosmic principles (like Daoism) clearly dont have spells that come from gods.

Besides even in cosmologies that have objectively existing gods, some of them cant even cast Cleric spells. So it seems silly to insist that the spells come from these gods.

I dont know. If the designers keep forcing Clerics to worship gods, it will be a deal-breaker for me.
Posted By: Haldrik (1/24/2014 7:24:38 PM)


I assume this is a simplification of what we will get, because we've always gotten clerics who could follow a philosophy instead of a religion. They could have easily said "granted to you through strict philosophical adherence" and have had the same argument, but the image of a god cleric is so popular in FR and Greyhawk, it seems, that they went with that for the argument.
Posted By: Dreamstryder (1/25/2014 8:03:56 AM)


Be gentle when it comes to the topic of religion. Allow players lots of room for personal preference.
Posted By: Haldrik (1/25/2014 4:40:14 AM)


Please, allow each player wants to be a Cleric to choose their own religion, whatever they feel comfortable with.
Posted By: Haldrik (1/25/2014 3:51:54 AM)


Forcing other people to convert to a religion, is disgusting.

It is the same thing as rape.
Posted By: Haldrik (1/25/2014 3:49:05 AM)


What's disgusting is that you think "forcing" your DnD character to "convert" to a religion is in any way comparable to rape.
Posted By: Shroom-Mage (1/25/2014 7:21:20 AM)


@Haldrik: No one is forcing you to do anything. One of the first rules in every DMG is that the rules are meant to be broken. If you want to run a different style of religion that's fine, but the core rules have to have a default of something. Thematically it makes more sense for Clerics to worship gods. That's kind of the whole point.

Also, I agree with Shroom-Mage that your "rape" comparison is absolutely disgusting.
Posted By: Ramzour (1/25/2014 2:53:12 PM)


The whole point of a Cleric is being a healer. It is no problem if a player would rather pick a philosophy.
Posted By: Yaarel (1/25/2014 8:54:26 PM)


Rape? Seriously? Religion is simply an element of the game, nothing more. And there are no real world ramifications to any of it. The game assumes the existence of gods and people who serve them. Nobody is forcing anyone to convert to anything. If you're that bothered by something like that, why are you playing this game?
Posted By: TheGimper (1/26/2014 12:51:27 AM)


Are we really complaining that Clerics worship gods now? Next are we going to complain because Fighters are assumed to use weapons and armor? //rolls eyes
Posted By: Ramzour (1/25/2014 2:49:00 PM)


I am not getting out my old AD&D books for this argument, and I do not think G_X did either. Second Edition introduced "spheres," which made it convenient to design a mystical Eastern priest such as Haldrik describes. Even so, I don't remember anybody forgoing a deity until Third, when it was a min-maxing stratagem called "owning your faith." Not that people can't play reactionary athiest clerics, but it's hardly necessary if pissing off Christians is your point. Just blasphemously incorporating a mythology of devils & demons into your game, let alone making innumerable heathen cosmologies available to the players, is plenty even without D & D's numerous heretical rewrites of holy traditions from Lilith to the Transfiguration.
Posted By: RadperT (1/26/2014 9:09:59 PM)


Usually I don't feed the trolls. But I cannot resist this time.

Please, take your faith-based discrimination elsewhere. Like maybe bornagain(dot)org, foxnews(dot)com, or 700club(dot)com. They all love using the word 'heathen' unironically.

If you worship the stories of Jesus Christ, at least _try_ to follow his tenants of peace, love, and acceptance towards all humankind.
Posted By: seti (1/26/2014 9:30:18 PM)


While I agree with the sorcerer and warlock possibly needing to define things at first level. Clerics could easily worship a pantheon before picking a specific deity/domain. In history people worshiped and sacrificed to many if not all of the gods of given pantheon depending on their needs.
Posted By: Raddu76 (1/24/2014 12:24:36 PM)


Yes, but each of those gods in the pantheon had priests dedicated to them, through whom the individual worshiper interacted. The assumption is that, with a cleric, that person who worshipped all the gods, has already dedicated himself to the service of a particular god. That's why he's a cleric, and not a farmer or a blacksmith, etc.
Posted By: TheGimper (1/24/2014 12:42:11 PM)


The playtest says, some Clerics dont worship gods. Instead they revere a ‘philosophy’ or a ‘cosmic principle’. In these cases, the spells cant come from gods.
Posted By: Haldrik (1/24/2014 7:29:04 PM)


The assumption as that such clerics derive their power from the pooled grantings of gods sympathetic to that cause. If it's "justice" the cleric serves, several gods with a strong affinity for justice provide that cleric with a share of power for furthering one of their shared interests, though a full cleric of a god would be granted more from that for embracing that deity's principles more completely. If the "philosophy cleric" doesn't interact with gods at all, then why does he have to pray for his spells? Ultimately, if divine magic doesn't involve divine beings, then nothing sets it apart thematically from arcane magic.
Posted By: JesseMXGangl (1/25/2014 3:35:20 PM)



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