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The Next Phase
Mike Mearls

L ast Thursday, we rolled out the final public playtest packet for D&D Next. It’s been a long journey to today from the first days of this project. It hasn’t been easy, but nothing worth doing ever is.

For the next few months, our work in R&D falls into two categories.

The editors and a team of designers will finalize work on the core game. This work consists of squashing bugs, simplifying things, and incorporating the final round of public feedback. The game’s foundation will be set in stone, as will the core options for the classes.

Meanwhile, a second design team will tackle a number of outstanding topics. These include the following elements.

  • The underlying math of the game. We’ll run stress tests on the numbers, monster abilities, and so on to make sure that everything shakes out as we expect. This work is important to making adventure and encounter design fast and easy. It also ensures that the classes play fair.

  • An optional tactical combat system, with rules for using miniatures, rules for combat that operate like 3rd Edition or 4th Edition in that they remove DM adjudication of things like cover, and expanded, basic combat options to allow for forced movement, tanking, and so forth, as options any character can attempt. This optional system will look a bit like AD&D’s Player’s Option: Combat and Tactics book with key lessons learned from 4th Edition. Its goal is to present combat as a challenging puzzle that pits the players against the DM, capturing the best parts of 4th Edition.

  • An optional dramatic system that emphasizes D&D as a storytelling activity. This system treads ground that D&D hasn’t formally embraced in the past. It casts a gaming group as collaborative storytellers, with the DM managing the action and everyone contributing events, plots twists, and sudden, dramatic turns.

  • An optional system that cranks up character customization by allowing players to build their own subclasses. This system is really more of a set of guidelines that let you mix and match abilities pulled from subclasses within a class. You can approach it as a DM tool (“In my setting, the wizards of the Burning Isle combine illusion and necromancy”) or as a way for players to have more choice in building characters. We’re making this system optional because we know that some players want a lot of ways to customize their characters, but more customization invariably leads to broken combos. We can manage combinations and fairness at the subclass and feat level, but slicing things much finer than that goes beyond what we can reasonably expect to playtest.

  • A campaign system that extends the action beyond the day-to-day adventures, focusing on what we’ve called downtime. This includes managing a domain, running a business, playing politics on a grand scale, and so on. Things like mass combat would naturally slot into this system.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, these systems are aimed at specific subsets of players. Testing them in public would just result in a lot of people that the system isn’t aimed at giving us negative feedback. Thus, we’re showing these systems to groups that we know are in the target audience.

That’s where we stand today. With the last public packet out the door, there’s not much more to talk about today that you can’t see for yourself in the latest rules. Download, enjoy, and give us your feedback.

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.
I am disappointed that we have been tasked to assess a front-loaded version of the fighter, when what Mike Mearls promised several months ago was basic multiclassing. I thought the idea of staggering class abilities was to limit cherrypicking, yet this creates the opportunity to bulwark a character's defenses, or create a gestalt of attack and defense capability, in a way which many min-maxers would consider worth a level of spellcasting.

I should have flamed my discontent about not getting to evaluate the multiclassing, but there are other things I thought we were getting which haven't been mentioned lately. The current and two previous Classes playtest documents promised Knowledge and Nature cleric domains. There is no sign of them, and any concept of a generalist Mage is completely lacking from the game at present.
Posted By: RadperT (9/27/2013 7:09:09 PM)


Correction: Multiclassing is a separate file in the new playtest packet. Oops, I thought it would be under Character Creation or Classes. I was wondering what happened to the fighter's +2, maybe a flat attack bonus will calm down the people who say the game's not enough like 4E. It certainly helps casters who are out of spells!
Posted By: RadperT (9/27/2013 9:47:13 PM)


The final playtest packet has made it so that we can't use strength to intimidate people anymore.

What a terrible note to end the playtest on.
Posted By: manaknight69@hotmail (9/26/2013 8:04:50 PM)


Word of God says that you can (from mearls' twitter): "Skills can be used with any attribute. Personally, I'd like to make that a core rule."
Posted By: Avric_Tholomyes (9/26/2013 10:15:46 PM)


Where did you read this? I totally missed it. My understanding was that while there a "recommended" attributes for certain things, they are not hardwired. In fact, quite the opposite. That's why they wrote the skill checks the way they did. They'd have no reason to call a check a Strength (Initimidate) check if it couldn't be any other combination. They'd just call it an intimidate.
Posted By: mbeacom (9/27/2013 10:44:19 AM)


Mr. Mearls and the rest of the team seems fear that if the optional modules will be offer for free playtests, casual trolling may be ruin the feedback necessary for a fine work.
I understand, but mr. Mearls consider that even the perspective of the fan of a sub-genre play can complicate and deboard things.
After the tests but before approval give us the details for a general discussion.
And before all, tell us how can do to partecipate at the specific playtests.
Posted By: Eilistraecomeback (9/25/2013 7:53:57 PM)


Well, it's good that all that stuff is in the plan, but I disagree that not including it in the public playtest was for the better. The playtest was all about figuring out what the "core" of DnD is. For me, and for a number of gamers I know, a tactical combat system IS part of the core experience. I'm sure there are other groups that feel likewise about these other subsystems.

I don't think Mearls sees the playtest as a marketing exercise, but it is serving that function, and it's failed to sell me on the game explicitly because it didn't include many of the things I consider to be "core" DnD. In fact, I'd say it's done just the opposite; the playtest has made me predisposed to dislike the game, meaning the final product is going to have to be absolutely breathtaking in order to get me to buy in.

"Something for everyone!" is the rallying cry of this entire exercise, but the asterisk says "'everyone' does not include people who ... (see all)
Posted By: Kalranya (9/25/2013 2:57:44 AM)


I am very curious about the dramatic module and the mechanics it will rely on to share narrative control. Will it be heavily FATE-influenced? Will it draw from other models? Will it unveil something entirely new? Please, please, Mr. M, drop us a hint or three!
Posted By: RadioKen (9/24/2013 11:27:46 PM)


All classes well versed in weapons, magical barbarians, heavy armor mage and "out of spells" high level caster, are bugs because those ruins the common and coherent vision of DnD world.
Posted By: Eilistraecomeback (9/24/2013 7:42:26 PM)


I'm one who enjoyed the skill-less iteration of the packets but I have to say skills in this packet aren't nearly the turnoff they have been. I like that they're not hardcoded to a stat. I also miss the lores, those were pretty cool. Hopefully we'll see them pop up in some other optional skill system, of which there seems to be several. Just wish I could see of this other playtest material!
Posted By: VCD (9/24/2013 5:20:02 PM)


I love the direction this is going. In particular, I'm looking forward to the dramatic section to see how it's handled. I'm hoping to see some guidelines on character advancement for good storytelling, the way skill challenges put some hard XP numbers on situations that can be traversed with skill checks. The last "official" attempt I saw at this was in the 3e Dragonlance campaign guide, which suggested throwing out a few hundred XP when players do something that is both 1) appropriate to the character's ethos or racial leanings, and 2) stupid or suicidal from a metagaming perspective.

I think splitting tactical combat back out to a separate option is a good idea, too. TC is fun when it's good, but it take a long while before players get good at it. As a play my The first few encounters with a new DM all started with "you're traveling more or less in a line when you see monsters 20' away. they run up in a line and attack. Roll initiative." If the encounte... (see all)
Posted By: longwinded (9/24/2013 2:35:57 PM)


I'm optimistic about the game. The current packet is solid. It needs a bit more tweaking, and I'm sad to see Lores go (they were a terrific tool for the DM to advance the plot), but it's solid.

What I'm really excited about is the downtime system. Lot of opportunity to flesh out the game, there. Especially if WotC devotes time and resources to facilitating play in this modern life, where it's often hard to schedule games, and a lot of "RP" occurs over email. Imagine if WotC developed some form of online downtime system that handled the mechanics, facilitated scheduling, and tracked characters and plot points? Or better yet, what if they licensed that out to the guys behind Obsidian Portal? Now that would be something.
Posted By: Zaruthustran (9/24/2013 2:29:50 PM)


So it appears that we will have a basic game with the option for wargamers to advance wargame.

We will have consistent math that goes beyond "feel" and "opinion."

We will have a big book of advice on roleplaying (gods, i hope it goes beyond being just a big book of advice).

We will have a "how to run a domain" supplement for downtime.

Don't I already own 7 previous editions of the same thing? Where's the breakthrough news here?
Posted By: Emirikol (9/24/2013 11:44:58 AM)


Oh, and I'm 41 having gamed since I was 9. That makes my opinion the same as everyone elses.
Posted By: Emirikol (9/24/2013 11:47:04 AM)


Do you? I feel like no single edition has had all the pieces to the puzzle. Some excel at one thing and drop the ball on others. What editions are you referring to that provide all these things in coherent ways that make for great gaming? For example, I love Castles and Crusades for the simple and elegant game part. I love Adventurer Conqueror King for the domain management and I love 13th age for the advice angle. I love Dungeon World for the story based advancement. I love 4E for the tactical combat elements and well designed balance. I would love 5E to touch all these bases and wrap it all up in a single edition of the game. They've got the simple clean edition rules down. We'll have to wait and see if the other parts are coming together as nicely.
Posted By: mbeacom (9/24/2013 2:23:17 PM)


There is no perfect system. There will never be a perfect system. I am hopeful however that this edition will pull some stuff together. Coming out of the DundD fog after all those years (thank you 4 e for helping me to move to other game systems entirely) opened my eyes to those other things you are talking about, but surely makes clear that no game system can replace the visceral feel of good-quality scenarios and experiences that happen at the game table..that is where the magic lies.
Posted By: Emirikol (9/24/2013 2:29:30 PM)


I very much agree (although it sounds like I enjoyed 4E more than you did). But I'm just wondering what were those 7 systems you referenced that already do the stuff that Mike mentioned? Or was that just a more rhetorical comment to say that these things are nothing new?
Posted By: mbeacom (9/24/2013 3:38:43 PM)


Get this - the message board of the company that makes Dungeons n Dragons won't let you use an ampersand. If you do use "D ampersand D," the board software spits out the "The text in your comment does not pass validation. Ensure that all of the approved tags are properly closed" error message. Comedy gold! - john
Posted By: Seanchai (9/24/2013 11:40:48 AM)


I'm pretty sure it's for technical reasons.

This new system is pretty clearly a variation on the "discussion" tab system used by Gatherer (the MtG card database). My guess is that they chose it because it's in-house (unlike Facebook) and easy to embed within a page (as opposed to being a separate webpage that you have to follow a link to get to, like most article discussion forums on the Wizard's site).

In that system square brackets are exclusive to markup and ampersands are right out (because both are used in search strings which are passed as queries in a URL to the database). Also, I think angle brackets and ampersand would be undesirable anyway, because they could be HTML markup. For example, depending on how this thing is coded (ampersand symbol)le could be interpretted as "less than symbol" (the open angle bracket), which starts off an HTML tag, which leads to arbitrary injection in the HTML when it's served up later.

Just dis... (see all)
Posted By: longwinded (9/24/2013 2:14:27 PM)


THAT's why I've been getting that. HMm. Funny stuff.
Posted By: FitzTheRuke (9/25/2013 12:35:32 AM)


I would love to see ages and years of experience in gaming behind the posts.
Posted By: LostLegolas (9/24/2013 9:12:07 AM)


To what end?

For the record, I'm 42. I started with red box Mentzer in 1982. I've played all the editions except white box ODnD. My favorite editions thus far are 3e and 4e.

I'm pretty meh about DnD Next at this point. I'm a the proof of the pudding is in the eating of it kinda guy and while many of the promises made sound great, I'm waiting for the actual delivery of said promises. For example, everything in the article about. - John
Posted By: Seanchai (9/24/2013 11:18:58 AM)


We've been running a home campaign in DnD Next for the last month and a half and I have to say it's the most fun I've had playing the game (for someone that's been playing since the original Basic set, that's saying something!)
Posted By: Guest1179210017 (9/24/2013 8:09:33 AM)


Sounds great! It's great that you're keeping us in the loop with what's going on. :) I'm loving the module ideas that you've presented so far.
Posted By: cassmi (9/24/2013 7:30:33 AM)


I'm really looking forward to seeing a core rule system that anyone can just pick-up and play. What is more hopeful is the clear intention to follow up with rule modules, hinted at. An optional dramatic system will please the women in my groups and a few of the guys.
Posted By: Prom (9/24/2013 2:40:48 AM)


Like the way this is going. Nice one Mearls. Looking forward to the domain stuff and the dramatic system. I'm glad you're going to keep the rest of the play test in house it should slow down the progress of all the trolls on Derailing the game for others
Posted By: patricklewis (9/23/2013 6:20:31 PM)


Posted By: Guest1179210017 (9/24/2013 8:10:15 AM)


After the appreciations for working on the optional rules, if yours want to squash bugs, we have noted these in core rules.
For me and my players, the fact that all classes have the same precision to strike with weapons its a great bug.
The possibility to create a flying barbarian that cast magic missiles and a multiclass warrior/mage that cast whitout problem wearing a full plate armor and great shield is an enormous bugs.
And the few spells per day for spellcasting focused classes is a colossal one.
Posted By: Eilistraecomeback (9/23/2013 6:11:24 PM)


Those aren't bugs. Those are differences in play styles.
Posted By: Xeviat-DM (9/23/2013 9:42:12 PM)


This makes a lot of sense. I can see the thought and direction going on from this and it inspires a lot of confidence.
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (9/23/2013 6:03:39 PM)


So the current play test packet is more or less the core, simplified version without the modual bits (except for the scant rules we got on exploration and interaction)? Awsome! That is cool, I like the basic game right now quite a bit. The fact that they are going to still work on more tactical rules for people who want to lift the burden of DM adjudication of his shoulders is a great optional bit that I can see using for large encounters where the details matter as a lot is riding on the outcome of the fight. The drama rules sound at least interesting, and the guidelines on building new classes sounds like a great DM tool. Very excited about the extended campaign rules too! Always wanted something like that! I just wish we were getting tables so we could roll up random backgrounds four our characters. Now I need to go find this players options: combat and tacticts book for a better idea of what is coming next...
Posted By: moes1980 (9/23/2013 5:05:51 PM)


No public playtest on the final maths and mechanics? That's clearly a smart move.
Posted By: Fardiz (9/23/2013 1:36:59 PM)


Probably the smartest. They don't need a public forum to test the math. An Excel sheet can do that just fine and will alleviate the tendencies of people who don't know what their talking about to chime in on everything. The other mechanics referenced that are still being developed ARE being playtested, and from groups that are public and private. This method will deny trolling from those that don't like a certain section of optional rules...makes sense to me.
Posted By: NinjaPlease (9/23/2013 5:23:25 PM)


Except that is the sort of maths that cannot easily be computer modeled. We're not talking about simple probabilities here, but rather factoring probabilities against other advantages and disadvantages. For example, how damage damage is it worth losing to apply a status effect?

I wouldn't mind the maths not being ready yet, but saying that the underlying maths of the game is one of the last things they are going to factor in, and without wide-spread testing of its effects is just laughable.

If anything needed wide-spread testing, it's the mechanics and how they fit together. After all, its not as though the genre changes much from edition to edition, just the mechanics.
Posted By: Fardiz (9/23/2013 5:29:57 PM)


I believe the article state they would still be testing it through many avenues, only that they don't need the thousands of us giving our input. I do think it would be nice to get a glimpse a few months down the line, and then again a few months later. And I absolutely agree with you that it is the most important part. I however, have no valid input into the math other than "That seems broken". I'm sure a good majority of the rest of us would be just as helpful.
Posted By: NinjaPlease (9/24/2013 10:07:17 AM)


>"combat ... pits the players against the DM, capturing the best parts of 4th Edition."

In news that will shock absolutely nobody, Mike Mearls either did not play, or never understood, 4th Edition.
Posted By: erachima (9/23/2013 1:34:04 PM)


I believe Mr. Mearls helped in creating the rules and many 4th Edition books, so I am absolutely shocked to see your comment.

And this is just what he has his name linked to.
Posted By: mykesfree (9/23/2013 3:39:55 PM)


If that comment shocks you, then you also either did not play or did not understand 4th Edition.

For god's sake, that same paragraph has the day-1-newbie mistake of thinking "tanking" is a character job.
Posted By: erachima (9/23/2013 9:03:44 PM)


Mearls was a developer, not a designer. - John
Posted By: Seanchai (9/23/2013 4:38:04 PM)


I'm always surprised by comments like this. They must have originated somewhere and they get repeated without ever a second thought to actually check. Crack open PHB 2, PHB 3, DMG 2, MM2, MM3 and Primal Power just to name a few. Mearls helps design them all, some as lead designer. Mearls probably designed (and developed) more content (classes, races, monsters, powers, feats, items) for 4E than anyone else. Anyone claiming he doesn't understand the system is simply ignorant of reality.
Posted By: mbeacom (9/23/2013 10:45:11 PM)


4.0 was absolutely the DM vs the players when it came to combat. If your DM wasn't trying to out maneuver or out play you than your combats must have been boring slug fests just waiting for the locked down creatures to die already.
Posted By: NinjaPlease (9/23/2013 5:18:54 PM)


What were combats in previous editions then? The DM let the players win? Hardly. Hopefully, the DM made combat exciting in every edition by using the monsters, their abilities, tactics, etc., to the utmost. 4e doesn't pit the DM against the players in combat any more or any less than any other edition.

Nor is it DM vs players outside of that. One of the chief complaints by people who don't like 4e is that the power of the DM is taken away and given to the players in 4e. It's earlier editions - ADnD, I'm looking at you - where DM-player struggles are a hallmark of how the game was meant to be played.

4e is more balanced and more codified than other editions. Perhaps Mearls meant something along those lines with his comment about the best 4e had to offer. (For the record, I don't necessarily agree, but...) - John

Posted By: Seanchai (9/24/2013 11:39:02 AM)


I agree. Unlike in earlier editions, the 4E DM was not simply running the mosters as things to die at the blades of the heroes. The DMs some in running a fun and challenging 4E combat was to use the monsters powers and abilities to create challenging tactical encounters that were as Mike said, a tactical puzzle to be solved. 4E was great for this and my players loved it. I hope that the 5E tactical module continues this as its one of the best parts of 4E.
Posted By: mbeacom (9/24/2013 10:48:51 AM)


I never said it was a DM's goal for the players to die. Only that if a DM didn't understand the tactics required in 4e than the combats were boring. 4e created a more adversarial DM as he had to constantly be on his toes and be weary of the millions of player options.
Posted By: NinjaPlease (9/24/2013 10:04:31 AM)


Don't be silly. If the DM's primary goal was for the characters to die, then he could do that with a snap of his fingers, just as he could in any edition.
Posted By: Fardiz (9/23/2013 5:31:18 PM)


Mearls probably designed more content (races, classes, monsters, powers, feats, items, etc) for 4E than anyone else. It's likely no one else has spent more time designing, developing, playing and working with the game. Don't argue he doesn't understand the game itself since he was a huge content creator for it throughout its entire run. Saying so just makes you sound foolish.
Posted By: mbeacom (9/24/2013 1:20:58 AM)


Anyone who claims "player vs. DM" is a good thing and "tanking" is a desirable character function does not understand the system, full stop. As for content, rules being written by people who didn't get the system have always been common, if not the norm.
Posted By: erachima (9/24/2013 2:25:57 AM)


Hogwash. My players, who have spent 3 years in an ongoing 4E campaign must not understand the system either, since they enjoy both. We have an Eladrin Fighter who loves tanking. 4E has made it a task moreso than any other system (although it has always existed). He draws every enemy to himself and triggers powers that damage those nearby, using combat challenge and superiority to lock them down. Because of the supreme balance and finely tuned math, the outcome of combats often come down to tactical superiority on the side of the player or the DM. It's a blast and I love 4E for it. So I think you're overstating and being melodramatic. And even more likely, you don't actually understand the system if you're unable to recognize some of its greatest strengths. I hope that 5E does include such concepts since they are reasons my group has chosen and stuck with 4E over any other system.
Posted By: mbeacom (9/24/2013 8:37:25 AM)


@Erach I think you're confused. I have had players who would embarrass the CharOp board experts with their builds. We've played DandD since the 70s and have played every edition. We understand the system deeply and use it to do a ton of things. That you have the audacity to claim ownership of understanding tells me all I need to know, that you're simply confused because nobody could be that insultingly patronizing and be serious. 4E is a huge system. It provides for and supports many styles of play and was designed and intended to do so. It can't be pigeonholed as you're attempting to do.
Posted By: mbeacom (9/24/2013 11:29:47 AM)


Yeah, it's quite likely your players don't understand the system either. Ideally they don't have to and the game Just Works. That's what we're supposed to be paying Mearls for, remember? To give the basic rundown,

Strikers generate action economy by killing enemies.
Leaders generate action economy by buffing allies and directly granting additional actions.
Controllers generate action economy by debuffing and directly removing actions from living enemies.
Defenders generate action economy via tactical tradeoffs.

Confusing a defender with a tank --like confusing a leader for a "healer"-- puts you on the fast track to a weak PC, and is a newbie mistake which the staff should be doing their best to correct. You may recall the last time they indulged in one of these errors, it resulted in Cleric errata so badly received they had to retroactively dub it a playtest.
Posted By: erachima (9/24/2013 10:41:58 AM)


That people play(or even design) a game and fail to recognize what was written in the first two paragraphs of 4e's DMG isn't uncommon. The first two paragraphs explicitly and in no uncertain terms state that 4e isn't player vs. DM. It also explicitly states that doesn't mean the DM goes easy on the players either. As a DM, I've killed far more PCs in 4e than in any other edition - and that's in part because when a PC dies, it is usually because the player made obvious mistakes in retrospect, rather than failed a random gotcha saving throw.

That's not adversarial - the players know I'm not out to kill their PCs - I've merely created an encounter where I expect it to be a hard-fought win if they play to the level of tactical ability that I think they're capable of. If things go badly, a PC or two might die. But that's okay, because the death will be meaningful and cinematic, not random.
Posted By: Mommy_was_an_Orc (9/24/2013 10:01:02 AM)


I dont agree it explicitly states any such thing. At least mine doesn't. Player vs. DM doesn't mean adversarial in any negative way in this context. I agree the DM should never want the players to fail. But that's not what Player vs. DM means in this context, nor how well 4E supports it as a style. It means that both parties can use their characters abilities to make the situation exciting, chaotic and challenging. If my players are up against an encounter, they want me to do my best to use the monsters abilities effectively and as the monsters would use them. They don't want me fudging to help them win. This is not a bad thing. This is what many players want out of a challenge. The reason 4E is so good at this is because the DM can make the decision early on how hard to make the encounter by picking what types and levels of monsters to use. There's no obligation of players to "obey" any rulebooks. If 4E is great for players vs. DM style of play and people enjoy it, who are y... (see all)
Posted By: mbeacom (9/24/2013 10:46:11 AM)


From DMG page 4: "The DM plays the roles of the antagonists in the adventure, but the DM isn't playing against the player characters."

Not sure how much more explicit it can be.
Posted By: Mommy_was_an_Orc (9/24/2013 11:42:39 AM)


That's just it, it's not CHARACTERS vs. DM. He's talking about PLAYERS vs. DM. And not in a bad way. This is not adversarial DMing he's talking about. he's talking about a tactical puzzle created by the DM that the players must overcome using their characters. There's ahuge difference. I totally agree with the DMG that the DM should not be trying to kill the characters. But the DM should be trying to challenge the players by creating encounters (combat and otherwise) that are fun, engaging and push their capabilities. I find no contradiction in gaming groups who enjoy that tactical challenge of "outwitting" the DM. 4E supports this style in spades. Even the designers have pointed it out on many occasions. I think Mearly has rightly listened to feedback about what people enjoy about 4E and is attempting (as we've requested) to make sure those elements make the leap to 5E as well.
Posted By: mbeacom (9/24/2013 12:19:01 PM)


You might want to look who you are replying to. I doubt there are (m)any people who know the 4e system better than erachima.

4e defending is not the same as tanking.
Posted By: Fardiz (9/24/2013 9:16:42 AM)


Baloney. From Wikipedia:

Tanking occurs when the unit is intended to be the one taking damage (typically by being dangerous or detrimental, or using a game mechanic that forces it to be targeted), and secondly, to ensure that they can survive this damage through sheer health points or mitigation.

This is EXACTLY what 4E defenders do. That you and Erachima don't think it happens in 4E proves you are the ones who don't understand the system, or at the very least what tanking means.

Posted By: mbeacom (9/24/2013 9:41:02 AM)


It won't let me reply to you, so I replied to myself to try and put the comment in the right place.

First of all, if a defender is taking all the damage of an encounter, then either the defender is dead or the combat is too easy.

The defender role in 4e is a melee controller. Your purpose is not to make enemies purely focus on you, like a tank would. Rather, the purpose of a defender is to give the enemies no good choices. You cannot 'draw aggro', this is not an MMO. You may mark monsters, but the DM can make the tactical choice of whether or not to respect that mark. As a defender, you want both choices to be the wrong one. This is generally known as a catch-22 situation.

There is plenty more reading that you can do on this topic. You could ask in CharOP. Perhaps start by reading:
Posted By: Fardiz (9/24/2013 10:03:53 AM)


Nobody said the defender takes ALL the damage. Nobody said anything about drawing aggro. Neither is mentioned in the quote I included and neither is necessary in tanking or defending inn an RPG. I recommend some more reading on tanking and 4E so you can better converse about the system without introducing irrelevant MMO references. 4E is not an MMO but 4E does support tanking as an RPG concept and it's a darn fun one. Making it dangerous to ignore the fighter who has the most HP resources and generally best defensive abilities isn't just a catch 22 (although Fighters can be pushed more in this direction if you want). It's tanking, pure and simple. Denying that 4E Fighters are designed to be tanks is simply absurd.
Posted By: mbeacom (9/24/2013 10:29:19 AM)


Tanking is, by its definition, an MMORPG reference (first coined in MUDs). As Wikipedia says, the term tank "used as early as 1994 on Usenet to describe the warrior class on DikuMUDs which had high hit points and the rescue skill, which allowed transferring one attacking mob from another player to the rescuing character." You will also note that every example they use refers to an MMO.

To quote your source: "In most games that feature a clear-cut "tank" class or character, there are three factors that contribute to a tank's survivability. The first is a large amount of health for absorbing damage that would normally go to lower health classes.[1] The second is damage mitigation, the ability to lessen the damage attacks do in the first place. This is often accomplished through a high armor or defense stat mechanic. Finally, there is the ability to avoid attacks altogether."

For the fighter?

A large amount of health? 1/level ... (see all)
Posted By: Fardiz (9/24/2013 10:51:42 AM)


@Fardiz You really don't understand defenders do you? The fighter for example meets all those points, easily. That you think HP is the core of health really exposes you for not knowing the system. And there are dozens of defender powers devoted to damage mitigation, even raw damage reduction utilities. Temp HP is just the beginning. Many powers also improve chances of avoiding attacks altogether, from forced movement to CA cancellation to temporarily increased defenses. I suggest running games for defenders over many levels, you'll learn alot about how they work and exactly why they meet all those criteria and then some.
Posted By: mbeacom (9/24/2013 11:15:42 AM)


HP is the core of health. If you have no hp left, you are unconscious and dying. If you have minus bloodied hp left, you are dead. HP can't get any more central to health. But a defender can't afford to be a meat shield (especially with MM3 maths), as the status effects that come with powers mess up his ability to defend.

And yes defenders have ways of boosting their defences and getting out of attacks, but so do all other classes. A wizard has shield, does that make him a tank?

I have DM'd 4e from near its beginning and have played many defenders. All of them defended, none of them even attempted to tank, except possibly the warden and he was the least effect defender and soon shelved.
Posted By: Fardiz (9/24/2013 11:28:20 AM)


Well, if you think HP is the core of health, you missed something pretty important along the way in 4E. HP differences are often trivial between classes, while survivability might be drastically different despite that fact. Having 0 HP is but a blip in the life of a defender. Low HP can actually trigger some pretty major abilities, making it almost a desirable state to maintain under certain circumstances. It's when they hit 0 surges they start to get nervous. Your comments truly make it sound like you've not played or run for many defenders.
Posted By: mbeacom (9/24/2013 11:34:35 AM)


Send out a survey to find out what people actually like about 4e and 3e tactical options.

Because for me, nothing you're talking about gets it. The primary thing that's awesome about 4e combat is powers. It's having distinct packaged abilities on the player side, that the player chooses when to use, some of which are unique to that character.

if all the tactical stuff exists on a general, everyone can try it, level, it's kinda boring.

Also, for the love of Talos don't make it play like an actual war game, like warhammer or war machine. I hate those games.
Posted By: DoctorBadWolf (9/23/2013 1:26:55 PM)


My players aren't big on the powers themselves (especially since so many are the same with only slight variations, like which stat they use). What they like is the role and balance of the classes. They like having different jobs. The fighter loves being a tank. He just eats it up. If he can stop my movement or cause me damage just by me being near him, he giggles every time. They love pitting their tactics against mine/themosters. It's very player vs. DM. But in a totally good way. 4E is so well balanced, I can throw down an encounter with little thought whose outcome will be determined almost completely by tactics. That's simply awesome. I really hope this abililty still exists in the 5E tactical module because that's an element of 4E we depend on.
Posted By: mbeacom (9/24/2013 9:51:48 AM)


The optionals rules for storytelling, tactical combat and characters customization, rappresent an intelligent and hoped way to perfection favourite sides of DND role gaming without carrying on the core rules.
And this is very good!
Pay attention to don't exasperate tactics like in 4th edition, or fighting will be too long. And for customization... obviously bugs and ultra combo emerge, sooner or later, so write in capital letter in core rules that the DM has the precise task to stop, avoid or correct destabilizing powers and incoerent rules that ruins the fair play.
The system for downtime gestion is fundamental if you want players to appraise new skill, feats, powers and so on in that time, but put a limit for this.
Posted By: Eilistraecomeback (9/23/2013 1:08:55 PM)


4e, the DM-vs-Players minigame. Evidently that's the best part according to Mearls?
Posted By: fzaaq (9/23/2013 12:53:44 PM)


If I'm not mistaken he was one of the key designers for 4e, right? WotC should have fired this man long ago. I love 4e and roleplaying remains a key element in my sessions.

But we'll be probably still reading this jerk when 6e is announced in 2017.
Posted By: OCAMPO (9/23/2013 2:59:59 PM)


This post is exactly what I hoped they were going to do with this game. I could not be happier with the direction they are taking this game. Bravo!
Posted By: gloomhound (9/23/2013 12:50:13 PM)


My group also feels that the static +1 to all ability scores for humans does not feel like a racial bonus as it should. By giving them a bonus to every ability feels like they are just a superpowered race. Perhaps an ability score limit should be enforced like this:

Races can reach a max of 20 in any ability score that they receive a bonus to except humans whose ability scores cap at 18. This would make humans more powerful at the start, but allow for the racial differences later on that should be apparent.

Another option for humans could be that they receive ability score bonuses based on the class they choose. This could be as simple as giving two +1's to the same abilities that the class has proficiency with on saves. It essentially would say that humans as a race tend to be attracted to class paths that they are genetically predisposed towards.

I really feel this should be changed as it ruins the concept of racial ability score bonuses.
Posted By: LostLegolas (9/23/2013 9:11:55 AM)


"Awesome now, Suck later" (and its inverse) are largely meaningless as balancers, as they require the game to progress to that "later".
Posted By: Qmark (9/23/2013 11:00:57 AM)


Have you been playtesting? With the ability score increases most characters can have a 20 in their primary stat before the game hits 10th level. So later is and should be planned for.
Posted By: LostLegolas (9/23/2013 12:17:48 PM)


10th Level is a year after you start. If it takes a year of play to balance, it's not balanced.
Posted By: erachima (9/23/2013 1:36:29 PM)


My group played to 10th level in an intense weekend at GENCON with Wizards staff as our DM. If it takes you a year to get to 10th level then your DM is not giving enough XP or you are not playing frequently enough.
Posted By: LostLegolas (9/24/2013 9:00:48 AM)


I don't like it either and have complained about it in every feedback for all playtest packets since I saw it in there.
Every other race has something in their bonuses to add flavour. Humans just get an arbitrary number increase. Plus they are the dominant species in most cities. I'd prefer them to be an endangered species (like in Titan AE). It would add immense flavour to the world. But that may just be a setting issue that DMs can work around.
Why don't they have subraces either? There are mountain dwarves and forest elves. Why not coastal humans?
As long as they get racial traits similar to the other races, along with subraces, I'll be happy.
Posted By: Rartemass (9/24/2013 1:01:48 AM)


The dramatic system is something I looking forward to!
Posted By: PaladinNicolas (9/23/2013 9:05:03 AM)


With the finalization process beginning and many more classes/options to come, have you devised a way to received continued feedback before new options get published? Or will the feedback only be taken one more time when this playtest ends?

I am very concerned that some of the options/classes we are seeing for the first time will not get the attention they deserve, i.e. the Bard, which seems to fall drastically short as a spellcaster in its newest iteration. I hope someone realizes that the Paladin and Ranger whom have never been predominately spellcasters are equal in power to the bard and they are scaled back or the bards casting is beefed up.

Posted By: LostLegolas (9/23/2013 8:58:26 AM)


Bards are not primarily spellcasters either. They are rogue-warrior-poets who dabble in the arcane as well. They should have just as much spellcasting as Rangers and Paladins.
Posted By: Trebuchet (9/23/2013 10:33:13 AM)


Maybe in your point of view they are, but every edition of the game BARDS are better casters than Paladins and Rangers. Maybe you should do some research before you make your opinion known.
Posted By: LostLegolas (9/23/2013 12:14:49 PM)


Research an opinion? How does that even make sense? He feels bards should be arcane dabbling warrior poets, you feel that it should just be something you've already seen before. Neither opinion is wrong, and neither requires research.

That said, why should the Bard have more magic because it had more magic in other editions? What does that achieve mechanically? If anything, giving it more magic removes the interesting trifecta created by the Bard, Paladin, and Ranger. Each have their combat abilities, and represent a martial fusion with a particular type of magic, whether it be arcane, divine, or natural magic. And yet this doesn't remove their interesting personal class features. I think it's great, and I don't see any good reason to give the bard more magic in this edition.
Posted By: Kageshinju (9/23/2013 1:06:51 PM)


Clearly the beef-up in the Ranger and Paladin's spellcasting was by design. It's nice to have more classes that have a chance in fulfilling the role of the Cleric, so that you don't "need" a Cleric. I don't think the Bard has to be a bigger spellcaster than the Paladin or Ranger to "feel" like a Bard. What is it, a contest? As long as the classes are relatively balanced with each other overall.
Posted By: FitzTheRuke (9/23/2013 5:09:38 PM)


Throughout this process (and reading many posts), I have learned of, downloaded and read a number of other new RPG's out there that claim to be simpler and more enjoyable than DDN. Examples include: Dungeon World, Numenera and 13th Age.

While there are things I appreciated about all of them, I have to say DDN has remained the simplest format and easy to understand system of them all, even when it comes to free form storytelling.

I've played all editions of this game and loved each for it's own qualities. I have used every edition of this game to play in every imaginable setting from prehistoric to high futuristic and found little lacking that a few tweaks couldn't remedy.

To me, DDN feels like coming home. Mike and the gang have done an outstanding job and I anxiously await the release of the full blown thing. Thanks guys.
Posted By: Timmee (9/23/2013 8:08:55 AM)


I couldn't agree more, this is already the best addition, and I too have played them all. I can't wait for the official release, well done WotC!
Posted By: tirwin (9/23/2013 12:41:04 PM)


Me too. It still need WORK, sure, but it's shaping up well. I'm still assuming that what we're going to see in the final product will be even better in what we've seen so far. What else would be the point of playtesting?
Posted By: FitzTheRuke (9/23/2013 5:05:12 PM)


Absolutely agree! Thirty-plus years of DnD and this feels like it did when I first experienced the wonder of the game!
Posted By: Guest1179210017 (9/24/2013 8:14:41 AM)


I like what I see so far, except the whole "players vs. DMs" thing with the tactical combat. The game tends to take a less-fun turn when this dichotomy is used.
Posted By: sgt_d (9/23/2013 7:37:49 AM)


I agree that's not fun for me, but I still think there's an audience for that sort of thing.
Posted By: Bly2729 (9/23/2013 8:06:52 AM)


Player vs. DM is the DnD standard. I would love a mechanic that enabled a DM to pit two (or more) different groups of players against each other to add a competitive twist to the game.
Posted By: Neptune0923 (9/23/2013 8:38:23 AM)


That would be cool. I've done similar things by letting players run the monsters at times. It's a great time.
Posted By: mbeacom (9/24/2013 11:42:05 AM)


Sure isn't going to appeal to this 4e fan. Never felt like 4e was DM vs Player, but the ideas they're throwing around for next tactical combat will be.
Posted By: DoctorBadWolf (9/23/2013 1:31:33 PM)


I don't think he meant LITERALLY "player vs DM" in that the DM is actually trying to kill off the players (like in Layer Assault). I think he was referring to the mental exercise involved in a tactical game. The chess-moves, the one-upmanship. You can certainly play a 4e combat without even realizing this is happening, but from a design standpoint it's all there.
Posted By: FitzTheRuke (9/23/2013 5:00:40 PM)


It's not exactly how I hoped it would turn out, but probably ok in the final version. The only thing that REALLY bugs me is the human's +1 on every score*. If the ritual spellcasting gets an overhaul and alternative class features* (in addition to "create-your-own-subclass") will be implemented, I'll be fine.

*now that we have skills: what's wrong with +1 skill, one free ability adjustment (i.e. feat) and maybe +1 on top of that.
Posted By: Archelaos (9/23/2013 7:30:11 AM)


Reading about the outstanding topics make me finaly I´m still looking forward to DnD Next.

Posted By: Marleron (9/23/2013 4:43:15 AM)


I would like to volunteer for the playtest of the tactical combat system as me and my group are big 4e fans. What shall I do to volunteer?
Posted By: erleni (9/23/2013 4:42:59 AM)


Mike and DndNext crew (Robert Schwalb, etc.),you are working incredibly hard and doing an awesome job!
And: An optional dramatic system that emphasizes DnD as a storytelling's just awesome! there's nothing I can say. Oh yes: Thank you!

Posted By: sjap (9/23/2013 4:34:17 AM)


I'm running two groups with 11 people total. One group loves tactical combat (and mass-battles- another drama systems. How can I volunteer to testplay your optional modules ?
Posted By: Cypher2009 (9/23/2013 2:58:11 AM)


Did anyone ever liked humans having a +1 in every ability? I can't remember any comment stating so from the first iteration of said bonus, but humans still get it. I missed an attempt to give an alternate advantage to humans in any packet. It seems that this bit of feedback was basically overlooked.
Posted By: nirnel (9/23/2013 1:28:45 AM)


I'm new to playtest, but I have already posted on this.
For me and my players, this interpretation of our race, is raw and stupid.
Superpowered humans with no flexibility at all, is not really humans for us.
Give them 2 or 3 ability points to distribute and something similar an extra feat and extra skill is much more interesting.
Posted By: Eilistraecomeback (9/23/2013 8:46:30 AM)


I do! Quite a bit actually. I think people haven't actually played a Human in Next. They're a little OP with three +3's at first level, but that more than any Racial Trait you could give them, speaks to their Everyone's Friend and Adaptability.

I'm in the process of rolling up a Multi-classed Fighter 1/Mage 1 and boy howdy this is going to be a fun character to play!

Human rock, just as they are.
Posted By: E-Tallitnics (9/23/2013 3:56:18 PM)


How much simpler do you need the game to be? It's already been dumbed down too much, in my opinion.
Posted By: LupusRegalis (9/23/2013 1:01:36 AM)


“Simplifying things” doesn’t necessarily mean making the mechanics “simpler.” It can also mean polishing the way things are expressed in the rules, i.e., simplifying sentences, simplifying grammar, reducing repetition, finding efficiencies, etc.
Posted By: CHeard (9/23/2013 1:20:27 AM)


I hope we see something akin to skill challenges in the final book.
Posted By: Noirsoft (9/23/2013 12:27:01 AM)


Here here. I thoroughly enjoy the concept and execution of skill challenges in general.
Posted By: jrg1199 (9/23/2013 12:32:26 AM)


I have to agree, skill challenges were a great tool and added a lot to the game.
Posted By: BillW (9/23/2013 7:38:39 AM)


I thought that skill challenges in 4e would be good...before my group used them. I soon realized that they were there for DMs that didn't know how to role play. They are a crutch for the lame DM. I'm OK with skill challenges as an optional rule but I've all but eliminated them in my 4e games, going with pure player-driven roleplaying instead.
Posted By: Neptune0923 (9/23/2013 8:33:19 AM)


Nope. Skill challenges were awesome, and the flow of them was driven by roleplaying.
Posted By: DoctorBadWolf (9/23/2013 1:34:32 PM)


It was all about how they were run, and very few DMs in my experience understood how to run them.
Posted By: FitzTheRuke (9/23/2013 4:54:00 PM)


Me too!
Posted By: alhoon2 (9/23/2013 12:25:21 PM)


Given the description of tactical combat and deeper customization above, my worst fears have been confirmed. They have gotten this game completely and utterly wrong.
Posted By: thecasualoblivion (9/23/2013 12:08:31 AM)


Oh noez! I shall just have to keep on having my badwrongfun then.
Posted By: Fallen_Star_02 (9/23/2013 12:26:46 AM)


Really? You think that optional rules that you can absolutely chose to ignore is "completely and utterly wrong"?
Posted By: michaeljpatrick (9/23/2013 12:27:02 AM)


You misunderstand. I hate the core game, and 4E style combat and customization might have saved it. The options they describe sound horrible however.
Posted By: thecasualoblivion (9/23/2013 12:34:35 AM)


In what way? All he's said is "a group is working on a tactical combat system." How can you tell from that that it will be bad?
Posted By: FitzTheRuke (9/23/2013 1:23:03 AM)


I actually thought that the 4e style of combat was wy too borring for me. sure, we had alot of "options" but to me they railroaded what I wanted to do, plus it seemed more like an excersise in tracking ongoin effects, buff, bonuses to ac and the like... I like the primary combat being simple, theatre of the mind and whatnot. Its a role playing game btw, not a tabletop war game.
Posted By: allnatural20 (9/23/2013 1:30:14 AM)


You hate the core game, and yet you post incessantly here. You are a TROLL.

Get lost, loser
Posted By: Gornichex (9/23/2013 1:35:36 AM)


Posted By: Guest1179210017 (9/24/2013 8:15:47 AM)


This. The specific ideas they've mentioned completely miss what made 4e combat interesting and engaging, and their general goals give me no confidence that they've listened to any 4e fans trying to tell them what was good about 4e combat.
Posted By: DoctorBadWolf (9/23/2013 1:41:10 PM)


Is there any way to volunteer to test things that are in our particular fields of interest? I, for one, would be really interested in offering feedback on Downtime and Storytelling.
Posted By: FitzTheRuke (9/23/2013 12:08:15 AM)


I would love that too! I'm a DM and a novelist, so the storytelling aspect is HUGE for myself and my group!
Posted By: Guest1179210017 (9/24/2013 8:16:44 AM)


At this point, the proof (as they say) is in the pudding. While the latest playtest package was an improvement over the prior one, there have been a lot of good innovations cast aside for, what, "feel?" The maneuver system used by fighters, rogues, etc. a few packs back was a great idea. Sorry to see it was dropped in favor of a d6 roll vs. ability mod for a specific fighter build.

The less said about the broken math in the playtest, the better. If it isn't fixed, you won't have a playable game.

Hopefully, the tactical combat module and the storytelling module will be worth my $, 'cause if the current playtest pack is indicative of the final iteration of the rules, they sure won't be the game's selling point.
Posted By: Clansmansix (9/23/2013 12:07:35 AM)