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Rule-of-Three: 10/10/2011
Rich Baker

You'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's Rich Baker 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 Whatever happened to the "deeper look at thri-kreen" Dragon article mentioned back in the March and Beyond preview? Was it cancelled?

I asked Greg Bilsland, the producer who handles most of our DDi material, about this, and it turns out that we chose not to proceed with the article. It wasn't quite heading in the direction we wanted, and we decided to take a step back and rethink the proposal. There is a little ray of sunshine here, though: We're taking another shot at this with a new thri-kreen article, and I suspect you'll see it in Dragon a few months down the road when a slot opens in the editorial calendar. Our apologies for the long silence on everybody's favorite mantis-people!

2 What motivated the design decision to have masterwork weapons and armor count as magic items in 4e?

That's an interesting one; I went and chatted with 4th Edition designer James Wyatt to test his recollection and compare it with mine. Initially, we weren't going to include any masterwork items in 4th Edition. We felt that in 3rd Edition, the window of time in your adventuring career when you cared about progressing from a normal longsword to a masterwork longsword before you found a +1 longsword was really pretty short. Sure, that might be a little interesting for your first couple of sessions of play, but then you'd be past that window– there is a limited amount of time in which a price of 300 to 1,000 gp is a relevant restriction. 4th Edition made plate mail available to beginning characters for pretty much the same reason. Anyway, given the fact that the masterwork items weren't adding all that much to the experience (in our opinion at the time) and were adding a little bit of complexity that wasn't absolutely necessary, it seemed better to us to keep it simple and streamline gear progression.

During the development of the 4th Edition system, we discovered a hole in the system math: Characters who added their ability score modifiers to their ACs began to outpace the AC of characters who wore heavy armor. (Yes, in retrospect it's obvious; we spotted it when we began to playtest at higher levels.) Clearly we needed heavy armor to improve at higher levels. Ideally, it should improve as fast or faster than a rogue could pump his or her AC with ability score improvement. Since the concepts of "masterwork" and "special materials" were basically still untouched on the shelf, we decided to marry them up with the improved heavy armors that were necessary at paragon and epic levels. That's how we wound up with the armor system you see in 4th Edition.

3 Any information on if there will be a D&D Game Day this fall or what it will be about?

We're pretty much wrapped up with D&D Game Day events for the year, so no—no Game Days this fall. We're still working on the Game Day plans for 2012, but we're not ready to announce dates or themes quite yet. We'll tell you as soon as we can! (Thanks to Organized Play guru Chris Tulach for the assist on this one.)

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