I feel like this post should start with a Star Wars crawl: “It was a time of great change in Dungeons & Dragons…”
Back in one of my earliest Architect DM posts I said that structure was one of the most overlooked elements of dungeon design. These days most of the published dungeon maps that I see are not bad with regards to structure, but from what I’ve heard this is still something that a lot of people would like to learn about for their personal, hand drawn dungeon designs.
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!
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.
I’ve sat through more hours of architectural history classes than seems reasonable for a human being, everything from the crude Dolmen tombs of early Europe to weeks of studying the various gothic cathedrals that all look pretty much the same. I never got the chance to take an asian architecture course, but one of the most memorable asian structures that I learned about was the Ise Grand Shrine.
Sometimes, in any fantasy world where you have invested a large amount of your imagination, you start to append your real-world experiences to those of the characters being portrayed. For example, in the Star Wars universe, characters such as Luke are relatable, in that most people understand the story of “the everyman.” He is compelling because of the extraordinary destiny that lies ahead in his life.
Whenever I get a chance I make a pointed effort to read about or look at a map of other DM’s and GM’s roleplaying game worlds. I find it fascinating to look at them both objectively and subjectively, to see things that I may never have come up with or elements that are similar to things in the worlds I’ve created. Over the last few years, I’ve noticed a handful of elements that pop up in the majority of people’s fantasy game worlds and these elements have been some of the inspiration for earlier world building posts in my Architect DM posts.
Today’s D&D Next post at the Wizards site by Bruce Cordell is titled Time to Heal and discusses the role of the Cleric class and how it relates to healing through the life span of Dungeons & Dragons. There’s a nice little recap of how healing and the Cleric class have both worked in previous editions, and then there is a poll asking how people prefer the mechanics to be handled. Reading about how healing worked in previous editions brought forward some experiences that I am dying to share with you.
I was very intrigued with Mike Mearls’ vision of creating a “D&D’s Greatest Hits”. It evokes a plethora of images about modular designs and piecemeal “build your own game” elements that inspires the writer and buding game designer in me. This gave me an idea for a series of post here at Critical Hits. I thought it would be interesting if we shared our five DMing Greatest Hits for some or all of the versions of D&D we played as dungeon masters.
The 4th Edition of D&D brought about the only long campaign I’ve ever managed to run, and I attribute a large part of that to the ways the new edition changed the role of being a Dungeon Master and the tools it provided. After D&D Next was announced the online RPG community went crazy, and I saw a number of people sharing lamentations that 4th Edition was now “old” and “going away”. I’ve finally managed to wrangle my thoughts about D&D Next, and they are overwhelming in their hope that whatever D&D Next is it allows me to continue running 4e D&D.