Thursday, April 12, 2012

Overreaction Thursday

This looks interesting:
Veteran Game Designers Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet Announce 13th Age: a “Love Letter” to Their Favorite Dungeon-Crawling Fantasy Game
Link to announcement here

Back to Next, there's a very high-level design document posted here that is an interesting read.

The line I liked:
We're not trying to reinvent D&D so much as rediscover it.

The paragraph I didn't:
D&D has traditionally required large amounts of time, a large play group, and a sustained commitment. The design process must focus on play time, group size, speed of play, and length of campaigns, with an eye toward reducing the minimum required from each area. Players who want a longer play time and so forth can easily scale up the game to meet their needs and opt into the various rules modules we'll provide or that they'll build themselves. However, our standard goal is to remove minimum group sizes, allow for a complete adventure in one hour of play, and satisfying campaigns in 50 hours of play.

Having played several editions (and other games) in the last few years that "complete adventure in one hour" is iffy to me. ICONS with minimal chit-chat, maybe, but that chit-chat is part of the game. Basic D&D maybe, assuming you aren't creating characters. Satisfying campaigns in 50 hours is a little vague to me - start to finish 20 levels in 50 hours? If it's not tied to a level goal somehow then "satisfying" is a useless term for evaluation. That's potentially 50 separate adventures, given the other goal - that's a lot.

This week's Rule of Three, the Q&A column:

#1 - Do you think mundane crafting has a place in D&D Next?
Dumb, next question

#2 - How do you see hit points evolving in D&D Next?
The answer was that they're pretty much going to stay the same. Good - they're a "signature" D&D thing. Let's not mess that up.

#3 was something about per-session resources and the answer was that it's not going to happen because it's unmanageable for the DM. Darn straight! It sounds like they're going to try to have a tight approach to game balance and that's fine, 3E and 4E both took that route. If you;re going to do that though the mushiness of "per session" becomes a problem. Otherwise I'm fine with it in games like Savage Worlds which are less concerned about balance and making the math more obvious.

Still having mixed feelings about this whole thing.

Oh, and a designer blog post here:

Our current plan is to condense skill and feat choices into two choices: background and theme. Background tells you where you came from, who you were, and what you are trained to do. Your background gives you a set of skills, specific tasks, areas of knowledge, or assets a character of that background ought to have. The thief background gives you Pick Pockets, Stealth, Streetwise, and Thieves’ Cant. The soldier background gives you Endurance, Intimidate, Survival, and an extra language. We want your abilities to carry the weight of basic task resolution, so these skills improve your chances when you perform tasks related to them or just let you do something, such as cook a meal, speak Goblin, or run for twice as long as the next person.

Alright, so the shortcut for picking skills is to pick a background now? OK, I suppose with the way they are changing skill checks to be based off of ability scores that's OK as long as there's an option to just pick skills directly.

Where background speaks to the skills you possess, your theme describes how you do the things you do. All fighters, for example, kick ass in combat because they are fighters. A sharpshooter fighter is awesome with ranged weapons while a slayer fighter dominates in hand-to-hand combat. Your theme helps you realize a certain style, technique, or flavor through the feats it offers. Each theme gives you several feats, starting with the first one right out of the gate. As you gain levels, your theme gives you additional feats that reflect the theme’s overall character.

Were feats really that hard to pick? You pick only one or two every other level? Do we need to "package" them too? This looks kind of like 2nd Edition's Kit concept in a more consistent mechanical form. Let's hope we don't see the regular errata and nerfing of feats like we did in 2E that would really screw up a preset chain of feats.

Rather than being a human fighter with Intimidate and Power Attack, I’m playing a human fighter who’s a soldier (background) that slays monsters (Slayer theme). Or I could be a thief (thief) who strikes from hidden positions (lurker theme). Or, I might be a mystical warrior who came from a wealthy family and can detect magic at will and might even one day get a familiar (without ever having to leave the fighter class).

It will be interesting to see if these backgrounds and themes are class or race specific - from the example given on the blog I don't think they are, but I can see this as an obvious route for expansion books: The Next Book of Elves might have Elf-specific Backgrounds and Themes (and thus Feats too). I suppose we can all see how it works when the Beta comes around.


Jeremy said...

Sweet, so when Complete Book of Elves comes out I can play my totally awesome Bladesinger kit--I mean theme.

When does Complete Book of Psionics come out?

Blacksteel said...

Ding! Someone in the audience knows the two most broken books of Second Edition! Let's hope they don't bring back _everything_...