I was reminded of this when playing the newest version of the playtest packet for D&D Next at Gen Con, and also clicked even more when thinking about themes and how they work in 4e (of which I just had an article posted with new ones, obvious plug) and also how 13th Age tackles it. Here’s my conclusion: I’m not a fan of the Race/Class/Background/Specialty system as implemented in D&D Next.
D&D is in a transitional period, and that showed quite a bit at Gen Con. No longer in one big room at the Sagamore, D&D events were spread out across different rooms in the convention center, with the booth in the exhibit hall focusing mainly on showing off the new MMO expansion, the Lolth statue, and selling branded merchandise. Organized Play such as Living Forgotten Realms and Ashes of Athas kept the torching going for D&D 4e, while other rooms were dedicated to demoing Next. Let’s start with the current offerings from D&D and move forward from there.
WotC announced yesterday that they’ll be shutting down their lukewarmly-popular Virtual Tabletop application that let people play (*gasp*) over the Internets. Of course, now those same Internets are on fire with all sorts of FUD and vitriol about how WotC is out of touch and predictions on how long before WotC sells the company to Paizo (obviously the clear winner of the online/tabletop RPG arms race). I’m not really upset about this. Why? You have to read the rest of the article for that, silly.
On June 15th, we conducted an interview over Skype with Mike Mearls, head of Research & Design of D&D at Wizards of the Coast. Also during that day, Mike was participating in an “Ask Me Anything” thread on Reddit, so some of the answers make reference to that. This interview has been transcribed, paraphrased, and edited by us from the call. We chose to mainly focus on the process of playtesting and design for D&D Next for this interview.
There are a lot of people talking about the D&D Next open playtest, and one of the subjects I hear about a lot is the way Advantage/Disadvantage are currently working. The general opinion I’ve heard is that it is overpowered when compared to the +2/-2 bonus we’re used to from previous editions of D&D. My gut reaction to hearing that something is overpowered isn’t to jump into the mob and swing my nerf-bat around, it’s to look at as much data as I can and figure out if I agree or not. So that’s what I’m going to do!
The D&D Next public playtest opened a couple weeks ago, and already we have angry sabers rattling and joyful hearts overflowing with weird smelling creepy pink froth. Thing is, nobody really knows what they’re talking about. Not yet. Thing is, this playtest is an entirely different beast than anything most gamers have ever encountered. Read on to find out how.
We can finally talk about our experiences with the D&D Next Friends & Family playtest! I’m going to do that now. All over the place. You might want to get a tarp, maybe change into the clothes you wear to do yardwork. It’s gonna get all Gallagher in here.
For me, choosing a class has always been one of the most fun and important decisions to make while playing Dungeons & Dragons. I can still remember the feeling of pure excitement I had when I first cracked open the 3rd Edition Player’s Handbook and saw that Monk was a core class. I also remember our friends all having multiple discussions about what exactly the Sorcerer class was and how it was different from the Wizard. With the next edition of D&D now in open playtest, I felt it was a good time to discuss the varying levels of class distinction in D&D.
With the open playtest of the new iteration of D&D coming tomorrow, I wanted to offer some of my advice on playtesting and giving feedback.
if we all had perfect spacial thinking and effective communication skills, we wouldn’t need a battle grid in combat. The DM could describe the dimensions and shape of a room in the dungeon, as well as relative positions of inhabitants and features. We could just describe how far we’re going, all adjust our mental pictures appropriately, and voila: the entire time to set up a battle would be the time we need to talk about it. Unfortunately, we don’t all have that. Some of us are terrible at it (me) while others of us are really good at it.