[D&D Next] Looking Good So Far…

Posted: January 17, 2012 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Dungeons & Dragons, Roleplaying Games
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Today’s Legends & Lore Article by Monte Cook brings up some interesting possibilities with regards to what the next iteration of D&D will look like. While this is a lot of high-level talk that doesn’t really delve into the guts of what the system may be, what I’m seeing so far has me generally optimistic.

“Imagine a game where the core essence of D&D has been distilled down to a very simple but entirely playable-in-its-right game. Now imagine that the game offered you modular, optional add-ons that allow you to create the character you want to play while letting the Dungeon Master create the game he or she wants to run. Like simple rules for your story-driven game? You’re good to go. Like tactical combats and complex encounters? You can have that too. Like ultra-customized character creation? It’s all there.”

This is the kind of thing that has me intrigued. The ability to pick my level of complexity when it comes to the rules for my D&D campaign is something I’ve been longing for ever since I’ve played 3.5 and even 4e. I think that the modular approach is a good idea, and if anything, it shows a certain amount of trust the designers have for their players. I’m fairly certain that I’ll stick to the lower end of the complexity scale for D&D and having that option is empowering. I don’t have to be intimidated by the sheer volume of rules, and a modular systems allows me to ignore large, well-defined chunks without fear of messing up game balance.

“This new approach comes out of a single idea. At its heart, D&D isn’t about rules. It’s about participating in an exciting fantasy adventure. The rules are just the means to enable that to happen. They’re not an end unto themselves. The reason most of us play is for the story that arises out of our games.”

This quote in particular has me happy because this is how I feel about a lot of my campaigns. Emergent stories are a big thing in my campaign, and I wholeheartedly encourage the development of such, and seeing some form of validation from the designer that this kind of fun is a major design point?  Definitely a big plus in my book. In some ways I’m reminded of how D&D and the older TSR stuff used to be presented.  There was a Basic rulebook that was simple to learn and easy to play, and an Advanced book with all the options that were available tied into the system.

“Second—and this sounds so crazy that you probably won’t believe it right now—we’re designing the game so that not every player has to choose from the same set of options. Again, imagine a game where one player has a simple character sheet that has just a few things noted on it, and the player next to him has all sorts of skills, feats, and special abilities. And yet they can still play the game together and everything remains relatively balanced. Your 1E-loving friend can play in your 3E-style game and not have to deal with all the options he or she doesn’t want or need. Or vice versa. It’s all up to you to decide.”

This is particularly intriguing.  I can sort of see it happening, but I’m still wondering how they’ll retain some measure of balance.  I don’t want to comment on this right now, but I will say that this is a lofty design objective in terms of rules and I’m hoping that they manage to pull it off.

  1. Hikkikomori says:

    I know what to suggest now: Don’t include exp values for EVERY THING.

    Reward experience points for every successful arc or quest, not when killing every moving thing on the road. Since this only gives the player’s license to suddenly gain awe-inspiring abilities out of nowhere.
    And learning abilities should have an appropriate time, place, and prerequisites. (A mentor, a week (downtime), in the monastic temple by the sea) which is supposed to eat up an Adventurer’s adventuring time. Unless of course he exercised its use during his adventures, suffering through the penalties for non-proficiency, before actually getting used to it and gaining its benefits without setbacks.

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