Wednesday, March 14, 2012

D&D Next - This One Goes To...

In Spinal Tap, the amp in question went to eleven.  From what little we've seen discussed about D&D Next, the new edition doesn't look to be amping up the character power like 4e did, but instead it seems to be ratcheting it back.

They want the basic monsters to be effective over a larger swath of levels.  Not by, apparently, giving us mooks, elites, bosses and such, but by actually having the base monster be an effective threat over multiple levels.

The only way you can accomplish this is by doing away with, or greatly slowing down, the THAC0 (to-hit) increases that the classes get.  Gone are the days of +1 per level to all the classes like you see in 4e.  I suspect that the +1  per level that fighters have gotten since AD&D is gone too.

The neutering of Save or Die mechanics.

The depowering of "Turn Undead".

The idea of set skill targets for skill challenges.  If the PC has a skill score that meets or beats the skill target, it's an automatic success.  No roll needed.  (this isn't empowering, it is disempowering - because the moment the skill target is out of reach, your chance of success is nearly nil).

The thing is, if they can keep characters leveling slower, or leveling at a somewhat normal speed with a slower increase to their actual power levels, no longer will modules be written for levels 1 - 3 but 1-6 or 1-8.  It's going to be a wide band, but I suspect those bands will have cut off points where the power level "jumps" to the next tier.

It almost seems as if someone on the design team spent some time reading up on E6, the game inside D&D.  They want to keep the game at it's initial sweet spot, then they will jump it to the next tier and keep it at that sweet spot, and so on.  Yes, I'm talking outa my ass... I know that.  That being said, I strongly suspect I am right on this.


  1. Another method to keep lower level monsters relevant is to not give HP to players. Players keep the same HP value for life. They become more skilled and lest prone to be damaged, but if damaged they can die just like in 1st level. This of course would be a real rule change for D&D, but would solve the problem of runaway characters which are just HP walls on the board.

  2. Players keep the same HP value for life.

    Which is more or less exactly how RuneQuest has always done it.

  3. Re: Static HP: Wouldn't they just be jumping into the boots of a different 'class' of RPGs (the BRP games - RuneQuest etc., and to a lesser extent WFRP), and finding that those boots suit these older games much better, as they have spent 20-30 years building a suitable playstyle around that level of PC fragility?

    Although, I have to say, I have a soft spot for Dragon Warriors, a British D&D-alike. It has classes and levels (well, ranks), but PCs gain just a handful of HP over their entire careers. Add to that a Defence score that must be split if fighting multiple opponents, and you have a system in which the PCs can reach pretty heroic levels, able to cut through Goblin after Goblin, but if that Knight finds himself surrounded by Goblins, he is going to be overwhelmed.


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