Thursday, March 22, 2012

Looking At the "Latest Rule-of-Three" Re: D&D 5E

 1  Another awesome 4E innovation—minions (I most certainly wouldn't refer to "minions" as an awesome 4e innovation). How are these one hit wonders influencing monster design for the next iteration of D&D?
One of the things we're exploring in the game is what we refer to as a bounded accuracy system. Effectively, we're looking into whether or not we can strip out the assumption of accuracy and defense scaling by level, and let progression rest largely within the scaling damage, hit points, and capabilities of both characters and monsters. (Basically, so long as THACO isn't increasing, you don't need the magical christmas tree of wondrous items to balance it out)

When you have this, any monster whose hit points are less than the damage you deal is, effectively, a minion (yeah, I guess so.  So, for all intents and purposes, kobolds have been minions from the start of the game). Thus, we might not need a specific minion rule, because we would simply design monsters with hit points that rest below average damage for certain levels and let that take care of it (in other words, we do want monsters in the game that do what minions do for us). (what is it exactly that minions do do? or is that doodoo?  ) At the same time, since as the player characters gain levels their damage numbers are going up, monsters that previously were not "minions" become "minions" by virtue of player damage outstripping their hit points (okay, but not to all characters in the group at the same time, as i assume fighters will do more combat damage that clerics... or is that a bad assumption?). Since AC and attack bonuses aren't automatically scaling up, the orc that you fight at 1st level that took three hits to kill may only take 1 hit to kill at 6th level, making it a "minion" for heroes of that level.  (so he's just as hard to hit, but more likely to kill with one blow.  and where is this "3 hit shit" coming from?  weapon damage is still going to be variable, isn't it?)

 2  One of the earlier conversations touched on alignment. Will Alignment be in D&D Next? If so, will it be the classic nine alignments? And will it have a mechanical impact for characters? For monsters?
The classic nine alignments are planned to be the default alignment assumptions (woot!) (though personally I also have a soft spot for "Unaligned" as well). As for mechanical impact, I think that there's an assumption in the history, world, and cosmology ofDungeons & Dragons that there are tangible, elemental forces of good, evil, law, and chaos, etc. Some of D&D's best stories are built on it; see the war between Law and Chaos that led to the creation of the Rod of Seven Parts. Having mechanics that interact with a fundamental force of existence makes sense, much in the same way that having mechanics that interact with fire, lightning, etc. make sense. However, we want alignment to be a tool, not a straightjacket, so the execution of those mechanics should serve that goal, and really only apply when dealing with the powerful, elemental forces of alignments, not someone who just behaves a certain way (alright... I think this lost me.  alignment will have repercussions, but only if you stray really really bad?). Additionally, I believe we'll also want it to be easy for a DM to strip those mechanics out of his or her campaign, if the DM so chooses. (yeah, i may just want to treat it along the classic AD&D lines)

 3  How important is it to the team that different classes have different mechanics? What kind of ideas would you like to explore to give different classes a different feel?
The important thing about class mechanics is not simply that they be different, but that the mechanics of a class produce the best and most iconic experience of playing that class (folks throw around the word "iconic" way to often in games these days.  design fun classes, and they will be iconic on their own). It's OK to re-use mechanics between classes; for example, our current vision for both the fighter and the rogue includes access to a system of combat maneuvers. Clerics and paladins both should have access to divine spells. That's something the classes need to have because they are different; it's not a choice made simply so that they would be different. (the iconic part is what I assume is being referred to here)
As for how to give different classes different feels, that's all going to come down to how the systems work. For example, if you substitute maneuvers in for individual attacks, the fighter class plays more like a mix-and-match system combining maneuvers and multiple attacks; on my turn, I charge the orc, then use my next attack to disarm him, and my final attack to push him back away from the weapon he dropped (you do realize that combat like this isn't going to fit into the "60 minutes session" mike is working on, right?). Spells, on the other hand, are likely to be focused more on big effects, so that the cleric is more likely to cast a single flame strike spell that consumes much of what she does for that round.

Wow.  I'm actually intrigued by the Bounded Accuracy System, which has been hinted at before, but this is the first time I've seen it named.


  1. I have toyed with that exact set up (low to-hit, big damage) in the past, although not at the moment. It keep fights short, and gets rid of the HP-grind fights. It also makes a +1 sword a big deal. I like it.

  2. i'm intrigued myself. i never liked the magic christmas tree effect.

  3. However, we want alignment to be a tool, not a straightjacket, so the execution of those mechanics should serve that goal, and really only apply when dealing with the powerful, elemental forces of alignments, not someone who just behaves a certain way (alright... I think this lost me. alignment will have repercussions, but only if you stray really really bad?).

    I am applying a charitable reading to this, but I think this might be saying something to the effects of JRients's alignment tree - it's Ragnarok, Lawful folks go with the Norse gods, Chaotic folks go with Cthulhu and Azathoth, Neutral folks get the crap out of dodge.

    Or, perhaps more toned down, the various wacky folks who Elric meets (and ultimately soul-drains) don't generally fall into Law or Chaos, but some individuals have chosen to align with those cosmic forces.

  4. if I had to guess, 'Bounded Accuracy System' might be taking 4e attack bonuses to extremes.

    D&D 3.5 you could fall off the RNG, more than 15 points difference in attack bonus between characters tuned for martial attack and those not (but don't worry, those guys get to target saves and use touch attacks and the fighters don't, so they still hit more often).

    D&D 4e, they made it so everyone has about the same chance of hitting. Those targeting armor class have about the same net attack bonus (level/2+ability score + weapon proficiency + magic) [goddamn. So glad I'm bailing on enhancement bonuses in my campaign]. If you target an alternate defense you don't get a proficiency bonus so it comes in a little lower (just as AC runs a few points higher than alternate defenses).

    Since they say that the ascending attack bonus is a lie (because AC is so tightly bound to level as well, so you always hit at the same frequency regardless of level because you always fight things of your level) I could see them dropping attack bonus advancement entirely because it doesn't matter. See? "Bounded Accuracy System".

    Ta da!

    Oh, hey, that's what he said: "Since AC and attack bonuses aren't automatically scaling up [...]".

    I'm so smrt sometimes.

  5. Maybe I missed it, and if so, I apologize... but how are you not breaking the NDA by having this discussion?

  6. I'm commenting on a posting at Wizzies site. At what point do I need to sign an NDA to comment on their postings?

  7. Let me make it a bit clearer.

    Any concept I refer to, including idea of doing away with or slowing down the THAC0 advancement, that has already been discussed by Mike or Monte I've already posted about.

    In the case of THAC0, I think it was in Monte's article on how to keep monsters viable across a swath of PC levels.

    How is discussing anything they post at Wizards protected by an NDA?

    They've posted a huge amount about 5e, and I think I've discussed 95% of it ;)

  8. If "The Rod of Seven Plot Coupons" is one of D&D's best stories then man is it hurting for some good stories.

  9. I seriusky doubt the WOTC really wants to get rid of "magic christmas tree effect".

    Books full of new magcitems are a money maker for them.

    It'd be gravy if those magical items weren't needed for every fight so that might limit the christmas tree effect a little but, let's be real folks... they are going to engineer a game that gives them future publishing opportunities.

  10. I realized I was an idiot about an hour after I posted my comment... sorry

  11. I actually liked the 'Minion' idea from 4e. It did give you the feeling of swinging your sword scythe-like through the masses of kobolds trying to get to their boss. BUT its when you got to the boss that things went south. We fought a Kobold Shaman that I shit you not, had 240 hitpoints. We knew this by tallying everyone's hits while we fought him, until he finally went down. So if they can keep that w/o the power creep of the bosses, I am all for it.


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