Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Overreaction Wednesday: Almost There!

So the playtest material comes out tomorrow. In the meantime...

Interview with Mike Mearls here. I don't know if it's deliberate but one part of the conversation struck me:

You need to make sure that the class that is a steady contributor, like a fighter, isn’t constantly overshadowed by the wizard. Ideally, in a party of the four core classes each one has the same amount of spotlight time and the same chance to play a big role in the adventure. 

What word on concept could we use to state this more succinctly? Perhaps ... BALANCE! There seems to be a conscious effort to avoid using that word in this chat and in much of the material released so far about Next. Considering that it was one of the buzzwords for 4th Edition that's probably not an accident. Was it really that bad? Probably.

I also wish they could just go with a simpler breakdown of parts as he mentions in another response that Class largely covers combat capability. Well, then, what if Theme covered your Social aspect and Background covered your exploratory capabilities? It's nice and clean and any one component could be mixed with any other, with Race as a nice wild card cross-function option, mechanically speaking, some being more about combat, some being more social, and some being more exploratory. That's probably too clean and 4E-ish - they seem to associate older editions with some rules messiness in their discussions so it probably won't happen that way, but it's a thought.

More from Mearls here about Hit Points. For the most part it's a vary familiar explanation/justification of hit points as not being a measure of purely physical toughness and that's fine. The more interesting part is where he discusses the concept of "Hit Dice" for player characters which are ... healing surges in most respects. Magic healing doesn't tap into them, but short rests do, and eventually you need a longer rest to replenish them, just like ... healing surges. I'm glad the concept is being retained (for now - I have some concern that the hard core opposition will push to have this dropped) but calling them Hit Dice is a little weird as in the past the term Hit Dice was associated with monsters, not PC's.

As for this week's Rule of Three I'm just going to post up one question and answer:

 Is the idea in D&D Next that all fights or encounters could be run with or without a grid, or do you expect that some encounters or scenarios will require a grid?

This is a topic we want to address when we look at adventure design, rather than system design. In general, we want the vast majority of our rules to be perfectly functional whether you're using the grid or otherwise. However, we know that sometimes the adventure is just going to demand an encounter that is so tactically involved that a battlemat is the only practical way to go. However, we want the design of that encounter to be a conscious choice on the part of the adventure designer, not an unintended result of building the encounter. Moreover, I think including encounters that make use of a battlemat nearly mandatory is something we want to be judicious with, saving it for adventures that are really geared toward the tactical style of play.

So ... yes? Wow that is some serious non-answering of the question. I like Rodney Thompson just fine (he's the answerer of the questions and was a leader of the Star Wars Saga Edition) but that is not very clear. So they want the rules to work without a grid except sometimes possibly the climax of a big adventure where you will need to use a grid. Can't they just pick a default for the core of the game and say "no grids" and then add in a tactical combat module for those of us who want one? I don't think they've made up their minds on this yet and they're going to take a bunch of heat from both sides as a result. My advice: just commit to one or the other, ignore the reflexive internet "I'm out" comments, and make sure that whatever you decide it doesn't suck!

So anyway there it is - what could possibly be the last overreaction post ever! Well, let's see how this goes before we start making any promises.

Even Ned is bracing for the new edition

1 comment:

Aaron E. Steele said...

Color me underwhelmed. As a non-game designer, i'm tired of the designer-speak coming out of the mouths of these numb-nuts.

How about just give us a game that's fun to play, that can be condensed into 64 pages instead of 400 pages of 8-point type, that I don't need pore over for months in order to be "competitive" with the other players at the table.