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Rule-of-Three: 05/01/2012
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 Are themes just feat packages or is there more to them? What can we expect from feats for D&D Next—is it going to be what we're used to or are you spicing them up a bit?

The design right now delivers feats through themes—so yes, themes are the delivery device, just as themes in Dark Sun are a delivery device for some powers. Themes also do something great for character creation in that they really flesh out the story of your character and your character's place in the larger world. We've found (during the internal and expanded playtesting we've already done) that even experienced players enjoy that aspect of the themes, including when building their own theme feat-by-feat.

As for feats, we want them to have a significant impact on how your character plays. We also want feats to allow some complexity customization. If you want to play a simple, streamlined character, we want to provide plenty of simple, streamlined feats for you to use. If you want a complex character, take complex feats. Either way, we want you to feel like taking a feat really affects the way your character plays.

2 If all characters can pick skills through backgrounds or just by cherry-picking what they want, is being the "skill monkey" no longer the rogue's thing?

We like the idea of rogues and skills being tied together as an aspect of the rogue's identity (but not the totality of that identity). Right now, we're experimenting with giving the rogue extra skills, on top of those that everyone gains, as a way to express that aspect of the class; we may also give the rogue some exclusive skills or skill-like abilities, but that is something we're still working on.

3 What other monster advancing ideas are you playing with beyond leveling them up with class levels?

Truthfully, we're not far enough into the game's design cycle to put too much work into monster advancement; up to this point, we've been more focused on creating the base versions of the monsters, making sure they work, etc. That said, I think we'd like to have many methods of advancing and altering monsters. Personally, I loved the idea behind templates from 3rd Edition, and really like the way we handle monster themes in 4E as a method of tinkering. It's also pretty easy to just have rules for scaling up a monster's raw numbers. Ideally, we're going to have a broad spectrum of ways for DMs to modify and scale up monsters, letting the DM choose his or her preferred method.

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 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!

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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