Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

The D&D Designers Answer Your Questions 211

Posted by Zonk
from the all-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder dept.
In January we had the chance to ask the designers of Dungeons and Dragons Fourth Edition a few questions about the new version of the classic tabletop game. The Wizards of the Coast Community Manager, Mike "Gamer_Zer0" Lescault put our questions to members of the development team, including: Andrew Collins, Chris Perkins, Scott Rouse, and Sara Girard. Some of the questions weren't quite answered in as much detail as I would have liked. That said, they've given us a great opportunity to follow up on their responses. If you have a follow-up question, put it in a comment below (one question per comment please). We'll pass on five of the best, and the designers will answer your question on-camera at the Dungeons and Dragons Experience at the end of this month. We'll post the video to the site early in March. This is a great chance to put a face to some legendary designer names, and get your unanswered issues resolved. Get asking.
Why 4th Edition? by DrMrLordX:
3.5E had so many non-core sourcebooks that you could have easily respun and/or rebalanced the material into a new set of books if you had any need to sell more material (which you presumably do, as would anyone else in the same business). Based on what has been released and what I've read, 4E will be a radical departure of standards set back in 3E which were, in turn, meant to improve the game drastically. Don't you think more work could have, and should have, been done to improve 3.5E? It seems like you're throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Wizards of the Coast:
The design team had play-tested Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 extensively and it was clear that the game needed to evolve. Since there were things we wanted to do digitally, like the Digital Game Table and the Character builder, it became clear that we should create a new, fully integrated system, with rules that would support our online applications. There were so many system improvements that the team really felt that the time had come to revamp the game. I don't imagine that our customers would have been satisfied with a version 3.75.

How long will this edition last? by Erwos:
It upset quite a few folks when D&D 3.0E transitioned to 3.5E relatively soon after release, and made some people's investments in D&D become basically worthless overnight. While I appreciate that it's sometimes time to spawn a new edition that's incompatible with the old, it felt like 3.5E should have been an errata to 3.0E, rather than a totally new set of books. I understand that WotC can't commit itself to any firm "we will not release another edition for X years" guarantee, but it would be nice to hear some sort of assurance that we won't see a repeat of the 3.0E->3.5E debacle. What's the plan? What lessons have you learned?

WotC:
I don't think it would be unreasonable to argue that the transition from 3.0 to 3.5 happened a little too soon. Would Wizards of the Coast have released 3.5 if we knew at the time that 4th Edition was coming? My guess is probably not. We would like to have 4th Edition last 8 to 10 years just like previous editions.

Player's Online Component? by Zonk
I know this component is still 'in the works', but I have to ask: what are you planning for the online pricing for players vs. DMs? You've said that accessing D&D Insider and the 'online tabletop' will cost between $10 and $15, but is that for everyone? I just can't see telling my players they *each* need to pay $12/month to play online, let alone shelling out $30/month for myself and my wife. Also, will I need to have a paid subscription in order to access PDFs of the 4th edition books that I buy?

WotC:
We will be announcing pricing and subscription details at the D&D Experience convention in two weeks.

Open Gaming License by egg_green:
With D&D 3rd Edition, we were introduced to the D20 System and the Open Gaming License, which allowed third party publishers to produce supplements for the game. Will there be something akin to this for 4th Edition? What form will it take, and will it be more or less restrictive?

WotC:
The initial 4th Edition plans for allowing third-party publication of compatible supplements have been announced, and we're currently working with a number of independent publishers to iron out the details and get them started. Our goal is to allow 3rd party publishers, both large and small, the opportunity to publish products compatible with Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition.

Will combat be more streamlined? by DeafDumbBlind:
At higher levels in D&D 3.5, a fight between the party and a group of enemies can easily last a couple of hours. How has combat been streamlined?

WotC:
Two significant changes to gameplay that accelerate and streamline high-level combat are the reduction in the number of dice rolls required on each turn, and the drastic simplification of monsters. No more "full attack actions" requiring handfuls of d20s. No more monster powers hiding in feats, or that require you to look somewhere else to understand what they do--monster powers are self-contained, specialized abilities appropriate to that monster's role, its tactics in a battle, and its identity in the world.

Magic Item Requirement by Blackeagle_Falcon:
One of the things I dislike about 3rd edition is that at medium and high levels magic items are such a big part of a character's power. A PC has to be decorated like a Christmas tree with various magical doodads in order to be effective. Running a campaign in a world where magic items are rare or nonexistant required a lot of house rules and adjustment on the part of the DM. Will it be easier to run a low or no magic item campaign in 4e?

WotC:
We're definitely reducing the number of magic items that a typical character will carry around. Magic items aren't going away--they're a great way for characters to specialize their tactics, shore up weaknesses, and otherwise differentiate themselves from other characters--but they'll be a smaller overall portion of a character's array of special abilities. In addition, we're being clearer to the players and DM what mechanical benefits we expect all characters to derive from their array of items, which makes it easier for a DM running a "low-magic" campaign to know what his characters are missing (so that he can either take that into account by reducing monster stats, or provide the missing benefits via other methods).

D&D and WOW by halivar:
It appears (to me, at least), that many of the new rules-changes mirror popular MMO's like WOW. How much influence do the designers derive from video games; and, to the extent that D&D 4th resembles WOW, is this a conscious effort to reach the MMO-generation of gamers with table-top role-play?

WotC:
Just as the design teams of most computer games draw on their experiences with Dungeons & Dragons and other tabletop games, we look to other games for inspiration and innovation. Many of us in RPG R&D play or have played MMOs and other computer games. Some of the lessons we learned about gameplay on those platforms have helped us craft a better tabletop RPG, both for current D&D players and for potential new players who either haven't yet tried D&D or haven't found previous iterations of the game to their liking.

The balance between easy and good by Mongoose Disciple:
How do you feel you've struck a balance between a desire to simplify/streamline rules to speed play and make the game more accessible, and a desire to preserve the strategy and general goodness of the game as it exists today? Details about proposed changes that were a tough call either way would be interesting.

WotC:
The struggle between playability and tactical depth is a constant one for any game designer, and D&D is no different. We're always wrestling with the right balance between providing streamlined, intuitive play and giving players all the options they want. For example, by giving more characters customizable options for their actions in combat, we've added a dramatic level of depth (both strategic, in building your character, and tactical, in employing those options during a fight), but at the cost of increasing complexity for some characters. We think that's a net positive effect, because the lack of tactical and strategic options for fighters, rogues, and many other characters had become a glaring weakness in the game. The key is to ensure that players of different sensibilities can still find a rewarding play experience within the game's framework. A player who prefers simple options can select those and still feel like he's creating an effective character, while his buddy who thrives on complexity can load up on interesting combos without grinding the game to a halt.

New content for old Settings? by andphi:
I know that some of the old settings (Ravenloft, Spelljammers, Dark Sun, Planescape) have been transitioned to other companies or have been quietly kept alive by their fans with knowledge bases and efforts at rules translations between old rulesets and 3.5. Will any of these old, orphaned settings being making a comeback in 4.0? (Planescape. Please, Planescape!) If not, are the 4.0 rules being written to make these on-going translation efforts easier?

WotC:
We appreciate the devoted fans who have continued to run campaigns in our older campaign settings. For a variety of reasons, we can't give every setting an equal amount of support, but we certainly expect to revisit older settings from time to time on D&D Insider. We constantly re-evaluate the role of older settings in our business plans and product schedules, and it's entirely possible that some of those settings may well stage a full-fledged return at some point in the future. For now, though, we're focusing on relaunching the Forgotten Realms campaign setting in August of 2008, with the Eberron campaign setting following in 2009. When we firm up any other plans, we'll certainly share those.

Negative Press by eldavojohn:
Short intro, I read a lot of fantasy and sci-fi. Play a lot of computer games. Enjoy reading up on lore and the like. But I never got into D&D. I had friends that played it but I was never into it. I tried playing it a few times and had some fun experiences. But there's always been a sort of negative stigma associated with it among ... well, the general populace. What are you doing to break free of this? Or do you embrace it? What are your thoughts & opinions on this strange negative publicity that popular movies push onto D&D players? Do you ever try to break free of that?

WotC:
(Note from Gamer_Zer0: Sorry Zonk, I tried my best to get this question answered for you, but apparently the Sci-Fi channel was having an original Battlestar Galactica marathon and the entire D&D team was no where to be found!)

Complexity vs. other gaming systems by Mechagodzilla:
Has there been any thoughts or discussions on reducing the amount of books needed to play? Donating a bookshelf to every new edition is getting a little ridiculous for the casual gamer. I have 40+ books from first and second edition. I bought the Player's Handbook from the third edition, read the first thirty pages and went "bleh". I know it goes against the business model, but can you actually make a game that can be played with less than four books?

WotC:
The only book any player needs to play the game is the Player's Handbook. In addition, the DM will want a copy of the Dungeon Master's Guide and Monster Manual (to help him craft encounters, build adventures, and run an entertaining game). Players won't need the Dungeon Master's Guide to equip their higher-level characters, because the PH will have plenty of magic items for all levels. Players won't need the Monster Manual to adjudicate shapechanging or summoning effects, because those effects will be self-contained within the classes or powers that grant them. That said, a large number of D&D players want more options than the core rulebooks provide--so we publish additional supplements and sourcebooks to meet that desire--but the game's fully functional without them. Of course, with the new online tools provided by D&D Insider (including a full rules database), it'll be easier than ever to carry around even your whole collection of D&D books wherever you play--just log on and there they are!

DRM? by MykeBNY:
Many people are acting as if a new edition will not only obsolete their old books, it will actually prevent them from accessing the ruleset at all. Level-headed people of course regard that as silly, nobody's going to sneak into your house and burn your old books! However, with more and more importance being placed on digital content (not specifically Wizards of the Coast, but in general) ... Is the issue of whether to DRM or not, and why and how being treated very seriously within the company?

WotC:
There is still a fair amount of non-rules content in the 3.x books that is still usable with 4th Edition. The rules themselves are changing and the old rules content will be obsolete. We plan to sell digital versions of our books for use online. Our DRM philosophy is to be as unobtrusive as possible.

Character sheets like by coppro:
We know that you are providing a tool for editing character sheets on your computer, although you have not specified anything else. An editable PDF sheet seems likely. However, there have been many popular tools (e.g. PCGen) that can update many aspects of data automatically based on game events, rather than numbers. Will the suite of digital tools released with 4th Edition include a tool that can maintain a character sheet that can be updated based on effects and modifications, rather than simple numeric input? If so, will it be extensible with published supplements/user-provided data?

WotC:
Our character builder application let's you build characters of any 4E class and level. It will also let you populate the sheets with content from the D&D database, and to update your characters as they grow.

Arcane/Divine Balance? by Rydia:
In 3.5 and even basic 3d ed, Priests were far and away more useful than wizards and sorcers. They had damage spells, could use better weapons out of the box and had a serious of buffs, combined with their armor, that made them powerful and extremely difficult to kill. At very high levels, a powerful wizard can deal great damage with delayed blast fireball and whatnot, but at that point a good cleric can throw down greater aspect of the diety, divine power and a load of other spells and turn themselves into a combat machine, plus the ability to heal and a few good damage spells. How are you going to balance the two main spellcasting types in 4th ed? Or are you going to leave things generally as they are?

WotC:
One of the most significant design goals of 4th Edition was to clarify the roles filled by each of the character classes in the game. Not only does this help prevent one class from being good at too many things--such as the cleric--but it also prevents classes from being unable to accomplish any role effectively (such as the bard or monk). For example, clerics in 4th Edition occupy the "leader" role (sometimes also known as the "healer" or "party buffer" role). Their damage output is decent, but far behind that of the wizard or rogue, and they don't have the defenses or melee-control abilities of the fighter.

Who are you trying to please? by HikingStick:
I started playing D&D (the basic boxed set) and AD&D ages ago--first on 1st Ed. rules and eventually ponying up for 2nd Ed. My friends and I liked the game because it was easy and simple (regarding game mechanics) in the first edition, and we did enjoy some of the changes going into 2nd E. With the arrival of the 3rd Ed. rules, you lost me as a regular player, along with many of my peers. I had no desire to relearn a gaming system that, for the most part, had its rules embedded in my head. My question is this: who are you trying to please? Are you attracting any younger gamers to the fold? If not, what's the point in publishing release after release after release? The question I'm asking beneath the surface is, "Why should I care at all?"

WotC:
The "beneath the surface" answer is, "Because this edition is the most exciting and playable version of D&D that has ever been published." In order for Dungeons & Dragons to continue to thrive, it needs to retain current players while also attracting new players to the fold. Third Edition D&D succeeded wildly on both counts, and also brought thousands of lapsed D&D players back into the game (in some cases after years away from the tabletop). We have every expectation that Fourth Edition will repeat that success.

The fact that the Player's Handbook continues to be a strong-selling book years after its publication tells us that new players still enter the game every month. We also know from our RPGA programs that the game environment is full of diehard veterans from the 70s, 80s, and 90s, as well as new players trying out their first characters. But in order for us to continue to please existing players (whose preferences in gaming continue to evolve) and also attract new players (whose needs may be quite different from veteran gamers), the game must keep pace with an enormously volatile and variable marketplace.

D&D has always been a tabletop-based game, and Fourth Edition won't change that. However, we recognize that people think about games, information storage, and even social gatherings differently now than they did in 1974, and we want the new D&D to recognize and embrace those differences rather than risk becoming obsolete. So now you'll be able to access your rulebooks online via the Rules Database, craft the perfect look for your PC with the Character Visualizer, and even game with players across town or across the globe on the Digital Game Table.

At the end of the day however, we really just want to please the fantasy gamer inside all of us and feed that insatiable desire to keep the adventure fresh and exciting!
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The D&D Designers Answer Your Questions

Comments Filter:
  • Ahhh D&D (Score:5, Funny)

    by AndGodSed (968378) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:28AM (#22475126) Homepage Journal
    The reason geeks haven't been able to get girls in like... hold on, it's my turn...
  • by ajs (35943) <ajs@@@ajs...com> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:31AM (#22475172) Homepage Journal
    WotC likes to tout the 8 to 10 years number for the longevity of a release of D&D. They do some interesting accounting to get there.

    What they do is ignore the period of time that Wizards of the Coast has owned the D&D brand. *TSR* was certainly capable of producing a radical revision to the rules only every 8 to 10 years. Thus far, Wizards of the Coast (Hasbro) has NEVER managed to meet that standard.

    GURPS, BTW, has published their most recent edition. They *do* keep to such long periods between publications, and there's a rather large amount of compatibility between their 3rd and 4th (most recent) editions, allowing those who invested in 3rd edition's many supplements to maintain the value of their investments....
    • by Erwos (553607)
      I asked the question, and, yeah, I was not terribly impressed with the answer. It was nice to hear them acknowledge 3.5E as a mistake - that alone might get me to consider 4E.
      • by Rogerborg (306625) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @12:44PM (#22476060) Homepage
        I agree. If we just love them enough, then they'll change.
      • by Forseti (192792) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @01:39PM (#22476958)
        3.5E Wasn't a mistake, 3E was. They released it too early, it needed more playtesting.

        When 3.5E came out, my play group was pissed off and decided not to buy it. Then a friend took a look at the new rules and uttered the words that rattle me to this day: "The new rules are WAY better; more balanced, etc..." We switched and rebought all of the damn books. I learned my lesson though. We'll skip 4E until we're sure they won't come out with 4.5E to tweak it.
        • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:25PM (#22484052)
          Amen.

          But, being fair, I'm not sure that it would have been practical to be playing 3E internally for the four years it took to realize some of their biggest mistakes with it.

          A lot of it is perspective. If you're a home game maybe a few sessions a year kind of player (as I am now), 3.5 could seem like a cash grab. If you're a heavy con/tournament player (as I was at the time), 3.5 seemed like an overdue patch to a hundred things we all knew were almost unplayably broken.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ultranova (717540)

        It was nice to hear them acknowledge 3.5E as a mistake - that alone might get me to consider 4E.

        Hypothethically speaking, if I admitted that selling you the Golden Gate bridge was a mistake, would you be interested in some beachfront property in Tibet ?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      GURPS, BTW, has published their most recent edition. They *do* keep to such long periods between publications, and there's a rather large amount of compatibility between their 3rd and 4th (most recent) editions, allowing those who invested in 3rd edition's many supplements to maintain the value of their investments.

      While I do realize that material things (books, computer, cars) have value, the term "investment" as applied to D&D is a joke. That's like talking about a sizable investment in Magic: The Ga

      • by ildon (413912) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @12:45PM (#22476072)
        I assume you're posting anonymously because the user name CaptainObvious [slashdot.org] was already taken.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by morcego (260031)

        That's like talking about a sizable investment in Magic: The Gathering cards.


        Humm. Considering the ROI I've got for those cards was 4 years, and netted a 80% profit, I could say you are wrong in there.

        But, as with any other investments, you have to know when to buy, when to sell and all that.

        I have have some investments on comic magazines I plan on cashing next year for something like 900% profit. However, the ROI was longer (10 years).
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ajs (35943)

        there's a rather large amount of compatibility between [GURPS] 3rd and 4th (most recent) editions, allowing those who invested in 3rd edition's many supplements to maintain the value of their investments.

        While I do realize that material things (books, computer, cars) have value, the term "investment" as applied to D&D is a joke.

        Not at all. You're focusing on the value of an investment only in terms of its retail re-sale value, not its overall ROI. The only useful metric for measuring all investments is ROI (Return On Investment), and that metric includes all forms of return. The "value" returned by gaming books is play-time. That value is radically degraded if they cannot be used with the current edition (not to zero, of course, but reduced non-the-less).

    • by Utoxin (26011) <utoxin@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @12:06PM (#22475562) Homepage Journal
      You act like they've 'violated' this over and over again... there's only been one major revision since 3.0 (Which was over 10 years after AD&D 2E, by the way), and if you discount 3.5, they're now 8 years from the release of 3rd edition.

      So basically, one violation that they say they regret. I completely ignored 3.5 when it came out. I don't own a single 3.5 rulebook, and none of the people I play with do either. But I'm curious about 4th edition, and I'm certainly going to give it a good look, and possibly update my rulebooks.
      • by mdielmann (514750)
        A fair number of 3.5 books had updates released as pdfs. Don't ask me when - it's not something I examined more than a couple years ago. Here's the link [wizards.com]. Given that it's free, it's at least worth examining. Of course, once you're there, why would you as a publisher keep on printing the 3.0 version?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bugnuts (94678)

      What they do is ignore the period of time that Wizards of the Coast has owned the D&D brand. *TSR* was certainly capable of producing a radical revision to the rules only every 8 to 10 years. Thus far, Wizards of the Coast (Hasbro) has NEVER managed to meet that standard.

      If it wasn't for WotC, it would be infinity years before TSR's next release.

      I'm not sure why you're concentrating on the time between releases. 3.5 has been out a few years, and nobody is forcing anyone to change. There's a plethora o

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bigdavex (155746)

        I'm not sure why you're concentrating on the time between releases. 3.5 has been out a few years, and nobody is forcing anyone to change. There's a plethora of material out for 3.5, so if you don't want to change your rules... don't.

        That's certainly true to an extent; I just started a campaign with the basic & expert box sets.

        The problem is the network effect. It's the same way people feel compelled to upgrade to a new version of MS Word. It's not because they care about the new features; it's becaus

      • The "No one is forcing you to change" comment appears often in discussing 4E, and it's valid up to a point.

        However, if you're a person who does tournament/convention gaming at all, you're updating or you're giving up that kind of gaming.

        A campaign like Living Greyhawk is a lot different from a home game, simultaneously bringing out some of the best and worst of D&D. It's not for everyone, but it's not something you can really replace by any alternative that doesn't move on to 4E rules.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by camazotz (1242344)
          Not only would a D&D gamer have trouble getting in to a RPGA style torunament, but they'll have to accept that while they are playing 3.5 or what-not, their buddies may all be buying in to 4E, and thus he'll need to upgrade if he wants to keep playing with his friends. Unless he gets friends who are all sympatico with their choice of edition, this is another roadblock to staying retro. Finally, people seem to think it's all about playing whatever edition you like....people sometimes forget this is a con
      • by ajs (35943)

        3.5 has been out a few years, and nobody is forcing anyone to change. There's a plethora of material out for 3.5, so if you don't want to change your rules... don't.

        But, you know that the line is dead. No one will be publishing 3.5 stats for any of the new things that are published from now on. None of the back-story for 3.5 campaign worlds will be updated with 3.5-relevant crunch.

        Sure, if you want to run a stand-alone game, you can run any game ever published. But, if you want to play something that all of your players likely already have, or can easily get in good condition, then the list diminishes quickly over time (about 5 years is as far back as you can go and r

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Brownstar (139242)
      What Interesting Accounting?

      1974 - D&D is released
      1979 - AD&D is released (1st Edition)
      1985 - Unearthed Arcana (Major Optional core rule update for 1E)
      1989 - 2nd Edition AD&D is released
      1995 - Player's Options Books Released (Major Optional core rule update for 2E)
      2000 - 3rd Edition D&D is released
      2003 3.5 Edition D&D is released (Major core rule update for 3rd edition)
      2008 - 4th Edition will be released.

      Each Edition relea
    • by podperson (592944) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @01:44PM (#22477044) Homepage
      GURPS achieves outstanding backwards compatibility by never fixing major bugs. E.g. impaling weapons are supposed to do less damage but be better at penetrating armor, but the rules have the exact opposite effect, and this has been the case from GURPS 1 to GURPS 4, despite numerous complaints and the fact that this could be fixed without breaking anything else.
      • In our group of us who played RPG games, we had one guy who was always like "I should run a GURPS game!" So, one day, he did. We went through all the rules, etc so everybody was square on how to play and we decided to do 4 sessions (we played every Saturday night).

        After a month, we decided to switch back to AD&D. While GURPS was okay, we found the mechanics of the game hard to get our heads around. Maybe it was that we'd just played too much D&D and that was where our heads were.

        With that all sai
    • by Snowgen (586732)

      GURPS, BTW, has published their most recent edition. They *do* keep to such long periods between publications

      Maybe you're a new comer to GURPS, or you just have a short memory.

      GURPS First Edition was published in 1986.

      GURPS Second Edition was at the printer by April of 1987.

      GURPS Third Edition was the 1988 Game of the Year at Origin.

      Three editions in three years.

      Of course, one might say that the third edition spent a whopping 16 years in print, but that ignores the fact that it was changed to be GURPS, Third Edition, Revised in 1994. And then in 1996 things were shook up with the release of Compedium

      • by ajs (35943)

        GURPS, BTW, has published their most recent edition. They *do* keep to such long periods between publications

        Maybe you're a new comer to GURPS, or you just have a short memory.

        I've been playing GURPS since the 80s, and yes, they had too many editions in the early years, but their incremental and fairly compatible growth from 3rd to 3rd revised to 4th has been slow, steady and in drastic contrast to WotC over the same 20 year period.

        You have to go back past 20 years to contradict that, and I'm OK with a 20-year track record of stability.

    • by Sandbags (964742)
      OK, I get that many people are pissed over their large investment in 3rd edition, and they believe it to be basically worthless going forward... Not so.

      Sure, the data tables, ability specifics, rolls, and numbers will all need to be adjusted for 4.x, but the content, source material, monster ideas, encounter ideas, magic item ideas, all of this is still relevent to a good DM, and a player with access to this information, and a halfway good DM, should be able to reasonably translate older information into 4
  • Meh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Paranatural (661514) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:35AM (#22475226)
    I'm looking forward to 4th Ed, but damn that was sanitized. Straight from a marketer's mouth. I'd actually hoped for something more frank.
    • by Entropius (188861)
      No kidding. There wasn't an actual informative answer in the lot.

      My group is watching all of this with interest, looking to see whether or not we need to invent some sort of 3.5/4.0 chimera... and there's no information in there. None.
      • Re:Meh (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Abreu (173023) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @01:22PM (#22476688)
        Well, I have been following the 4th edition information in the WotC website and ENWorld, and the new information provided here is:

        * Magic Items will be moved to the Players Handbook
        * A Rogue will be able to consistently deal more damage than a Cleric
        * a reference to "melee control" abilities by the Fighter

        Plus, this is the first time WotC has admitted that 3.5 came too soon. That is not worthless to me. Also, the way they ignored the trollish "what are you doing to make this game less nerdish?" question made me laugh.
        • by nuzak (959558)
          So in other words, they buffed the DPS of the rogue and aggro control of the fighter?

          C'mon, you KNOW they are looking at that market.
          • by Abreu (173023)
            I wouldn't know, I have never played World of Warcraft or any similar games, I live in the third world and 10-15 USD monthly is unjustified for a hobby... Now $100.00 every few years for Tabletop Roleplaying games is a lot more reasonable.

            Now, on regards to videogame influence on Dungeons and Dragons, I would say that it's natural for things to go full circle... Warcraft/Everquest/etc were obviously influenced by D&D and it's only natural that interesting game mechanics from any source can and should be
            • by nuzak (959558)
              > I live in the third world and 10-15 USD monthly is unjustified for a hobby

              The pricing varies by region, but yeah it's a money sink. Still, in the more industrialized parts of the world, computer gaming is a much bigger market than tabletop RPGs ever were.

              And I'm not actually disparaging WoW, not completely anyway: in the end, it is a game, and it is about fun. Rules systems should always look to other sources for inspiration, including other game genres. At least they're not making you buy collector
              • by Abreu (173023)
                Oh, of course WotC will try to steer players towards its miniatures lines... However, its only logical that, while the rules suggest buying their minis (and dice) you could use any 28-30mm figure to represent your character --or a paper chit, a toy figure, or (my favorite) a colored glass bead.

                It like the "Dungeons and Dragons official dice" that TSR sold a while ago... No one forces you to use them, though...

                Now, on regards to your last comment, this is known as "exception-based game design", where you hav
        • by pokerdad (1124121)

          Also, the way they ignored the trollish "what are you doing to make this game less nerdish?" question made me laugh.

          I think I laughed as much at the question as the answer. Without changing the basic premise, how could you possibly make it less nerdish? They won't ever make it less nerdish because they don't know who would buy it if they made such a radical change, but know as long as its a table top role playing game there will be nerds like me who will shell out the bucks.

    • Re:Meh (Score:4, Interesting)

      by sckeener (137243) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @12:52PM (#22476198)
      About the only information I got was this...
      We will be announcing pricing and subscription details at the D&D Experience convention in two weeks.

      So far I've been unimpressed with their stewardship of Dragon and Dungeon...but they are free now, so I can't complain too much....except that I was getting more gaming material when Dragon and Dungeon were produced by Paizo.....heck the WotC site was publishing more material when Paizo was running Dragon & Dungeon...

      Of course I'm willing to bet their pricing for D&D Insider will be nice at first....and then like Comcast, WotC will raise their rates....or maybe we can expect WotC to make D&D more CCG...and we'll be addicted to paying them more...

      whatever...color me underwhelmed by their response too...

    • by cp.tar (871488)

      I'm looking forward to 4th Ed, but damn that was sanitized. Straight from a marketer's mouth. I'd actually hoped for something more frank.

      Ah. So I'm not the only one to notice that.

      I'm looking forward to 4th Edition as well — if nothing else, because it will get me to play again.
      I'd left the last campaign due to free time and other personal issues at the time, and the new game will be the perfect excuse to return ;)

  • Open-source gaming (Score:5, Informative)

    by itsownreward (688406) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:51AM (#22475422)

    Do you want to get off the Wizards of the Coast treadmill? Do you miss the old editions, but like the simplified, unified mechanics? Want to play a game that's essentially "open source?" Check out Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game (BFRPG) [basicfantasy.org]. It's very similar to taking some d20 mechanics and retrofitting them to the old Basic and Expert sets that many of us started with as kids.

    At first I didn't think I'd go that way, but it's really grown on me. It's a complete game in a few pages and has streamlined mechanics (except for the thief skills, but that suits me, actually). There are many add-ins to adjust it for flavor, and you can use much of your old B/X, 1e and 2e material with some minimal changes. You should really check it out. It's even a supported, living system and the creator is quite friendly and approachable, and many folks discuss it regularly [dragonsfoot.org].

    Oh, yeah, if anybody would like to join up with an old-school (ie, dungeon crawling/swords & sorcery) BFRPG game in the Sugar Land, Texas area...

    • by MsGeek (162936)
      Tri-Stat dX, best known as the core rules for the Anime RPG Big Eyes, Small Mouth, is still a lot more manageable than that. My absolute favorite system is the original Traveller rules, but since Traveller^5 seems to be held up indefinitely that's no longer viable. At least with Tri-Stat dX you can still find the core rules in downloadable form, even though White Wolf technically owns it and doesn't seem to want to do anything with it.

      Game play mechanics should NEVER get in the way of interactive storytelli
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by itsownreward (688406)
        To each their own. Everyone's ideal play style is their own preference, so there is really no game that is better or more flawed than any other. Rather, there are just some that support different play styles better.

        Personally, the idea of an "interactive storytelling experience" of the White Wolf variety makes me want to dry heave, so I would never even consider rules of that vein. The whole notion gives me visions of emo and goth kids trying to one-up each other on calling things "lame."

        However, explori
  • by techpawn (969834) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:59AM (#22475488) Journal
    as much as we WANT hard answers like "yes, you can convert you epic duskblade/bard character to 4.0" and "No, we are not going to screw all your players with the online section" we are more likely to get marketing answers. They want... NEED to sell more editions/books/modules and there are only so many new monsters and classes you can throw into the mix while keeping the game fun/balanced.

    Then again, that's up to the DM to say "No, we only use THESE books. You're only allowed 4 magic items at a time from the MIC and no draconian ones... etc" not the publisher...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by LandDolphin (1202876)
      "Then again, that's up to the DM to say "No, we only use THESE books. You're only allowed 4 magic items at a time from the MIC and no draconian ones... etc" not the publisher..."

      People don't seem to get that. Just because a book is out there, does not mean you have to allow it in your game. And it's a good hint to the DM that if a player wont play because he cannot play broken combo X, that you don't want him in your group anyways.
    • by nuzak (959558)
      > They want... NEED to sell more editions/books/modules

      Actually, I suspect they're making more licensing the property to CRPG's now than they are from selling books. That would explain a whole lot of the rule changes.
    • by mark-t (151149)

      They want... NEED to sell more editions/books/modules and there are only so many new monsters and classes you can throw into the mix while keeping the game fun/balanced.

      Back in the old first edition days when Gary Gygax was still running things, TSR used to keep the revenue flowing by regularly releasing new adventures, instead of always just making more rulebooks. New players could get introduced into the game by being invited to play one of these adventures without any long term commitments to keep pl

  • by Deathdonut (604275) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @12:13PM (#22475648)
    I am extremely concerned regarding the response to the question on Character Builder customizations. One of the most compelling reasons to play a Pen and Paper game over another media is largely one of customizations and options. I have played D&D in every edition since I first colored in my dice with a white crayon in 1981 and I cannot recall a single campaign that stuck to "content from the D&D database". The canned response to Coppro's question either failed to answer his question or implied a complete lack of interest in meeting the customized needs of the playerbase. Either is disheartening.
  • Has anyone have more info on this? Will there be online web based maps with chat based tools and possibly VoIP?
    • There are actually already a number of programs that can do that (and there are numerous voice chat/VoIP apps out there). The real question is the one that WotC didn't answer here, namely, what's their pricing structure look like, and will they be charging a monthly fee for access as opposed to the flat fees that the existing software packages charge for?

      The other question (unasked) is whether 4th edition would be licensable for third-party virtual tabletop (VTT) software. When the d20/OGL license was ins
      • by jp10558 (748604)
        What VTT are you using? I've looked into the free OpenRPG, which was ok, but not that easy to use. I didn't really see anything amazingly enticing from other vendors several years ago when I last looked.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @12:28PM (#22475840)
    The only book any player needs to play the game is the Player's Handbook. In addition, the DM will want a copy of the Dungeon Master's Guide and Monster Manual (to help him craft encounters, build adventures, and run an entertaining game). Players won't need the Dungeon Master's Guide to equip their higher-level characters, because the PH will have plenty of magic items for all levels. Players won't need the Monster Manual to adjudicate shapechanging or summoning effects, because those effects will be self-contained within the classes or powers that grant them.
    Okay... so the Monster Manual will be unnecessary for all shapechanging and summoning powers...

    This is either a damn lie, or they're making powers far more limited and less interesting.

    My favorite part is where they don't want you to own books any more. They just want you to pay $15/month forever for the privilege of accessing them from your $1000 laptop with the small, low-res, low-contrast screen, and having it on the kitchen table where a bunch of dorks are eating messy snacks, spilling drinks, and flailing their arms spasmatically.
    • by Abreu (173023) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @01:12PM (#22476542)
      Shapechanging and summoning were the number one issues with third edition... Polymorph basically had to be banned after a certain number of Monster Manuals had come out. And I had to ask my players who used summoning spells to give me printed statblocks of every creature they planned on summoning during the adventure, otherwise the game would grind to a halt everytime a summoning happened.

      So yes, the game needed to limit those powers... Its up to the DM and the Players to keep them interesting, though.

      Now, about the online tools, this is a strawman argument... No one is forcing you to subscribe to the DDI if you'd rather play with your physical books, in your kitchen table, with coffee-stained character sheets.
      However, some of us would like to play with our old childhood friends (who used to play AD&D with us), even though some of them live in different cities or even countries.
      • by Macgrrl (762836)

        I played a druid in a long runing campaign, the DM basically restricted me to forms I had seen, and then we restricted it to only one per major category of beast (a flying creature, a swiming creature, a large mammal, a medium mammal, a small or tiny mammal etc...).

        The main forms I had were: Falcon, Stoat, Wolf, Grizzly Bear, Mouse, Leopard. We wrote up stat blocks for each of these and that was my list of acceptable shapeshifing forms. If I wanted to use a new form I had to spend time learning it - we us

      • by Dr. Evil (3501)

        Back in the days when I DMed... I'd wait for the player to say "I summon a saltwater scrag" or some other nonsense. Then they'd get some Kobold or something who behaves like a saltwater scrag. Then I'd ask them: "Has your character ever actually *seen* a saltwater scrag? How do you *know* that this isn't one?

        Players should never need the monster manual. DMs who are playing or NPCing should not ever draw on knowledge of the monster manual to inform their characters. I'd take it so far as to have a cha

    • Okay... so the Monster Manual will be unnecessary for all shapechanging and summoning powers...

      This is either a damn lie, or they're making powers far more limited and less interesting.

      I don't see why that's so hard to believe. Players that were summoning or shapechanging for crunch reasons generally always shapechanged into the same things. Players that were summoning or shapechanging for role-playing reasons generally don't care what the stats are. You could honestly take the Monster Manual, cut it dow

  • Computer Gaming (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bugnuts (94678) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @12:29PM (#22475852) Journal
    How does the Open Gaming License affect WotC's view on computer programs? Does Wizards consider the actual rules, the type of map, the genre, the number of d20's, etc to be their IP?

    In other words, if some enterprising hotshot programmer wrote a program that might somehow compete with Wizards or silently incorporated some of the D&D rules, should he expect retaliation and C&D letters, or would Wizards consider it free marketing for them?
    • by KiahZero (610862)
      Depends on how lawyered up that hotshot programmer is; game rules aren't subject to copyright, much like recipes. So long as said programmer was clever enough to avoid copying expressive elements, like mind flayers for example, WotC would have a lot of trouble getting a judgment against him.
    • Link to the Software FAQ. [wizards.com]

      Note that a lot of this will be changing for 4e. They're backing away from a true "open" license in favor of a new license they've tentatively called the Game System License. They will also not be releasing an SRD which is little more than the PHB with a little Product Identity filed off. They do NOT want people just playing with the SRD and not buying the PHB anymore, so that's going to go away.
      • Yeah, the SRD for 3.5 is actually pretty expansive for free content. It's the Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, Monster Manual, Expanded Psionics Guide and a little bit of Unearthed Arcana. Some enterprising gentleman in St. Louis compiled it into a cross-referenced document online. [d20srd.org] It's not surprising that they're axing the SRD. With the Hypertext SRD, you honestly didn't need to buy a single book from WotC to play or DM.
  • by L7_ (645377)
    Do you still take design commentary from D&D legends like Gary Gygax? Or are all of these design decisions based on modern gaming sessions?

  • What's the concern with all these new releases? Why would anyone bother with them?

    I played AD&D off and on for years, and just last week played 3rd edition for the first time (never played 2nd). It felt pretty much the same. It's still a dungeon crawl simulator focused on battle mechanics, some of the rules have been streamlined, though there seemed to be more of them.

    3rd ed. is a ploy to sell source books. The marketing drone's bullshit answer about why 4th ed. is needed tells me that things aren't
  • D&D is, and has been, tedious to play, the rules are incoherent and gameplay in combat is slow.

    These are NOT just bugs, this is brokenness by design. Some concepts like "levels" or "character classes" or the dichotomy of monsters vs. characters are just not fit for coherent rules and fast gameplay.

    For contrast, compare this to RuneQuest (1977):
    - Monsters, animals, characters, whatever, are all the same, follow all the same rules.
    - events which have similar effect all use the same rule: there is one rule
    • What you're describing amounts to a different kind of game. It's not inherently better.

      I like D&D for what it is, and I like a game like Call of Cthulhu for what it is. Combat in the Runequest-and-variant systems is simple and fast, but the flipside of that is that combat isn't especially tactical or interesting. (Note: this is specifically combat that's uninteresting, not the game in general.) Equally, a design choice like high character mortality rates can be a good or bad one, depending on the g
    • The problem with Runequest was that as a fatasy RPG system, it never had an "epic" feel to it, it was far more "nitty gritty" than D&D ever was and I personally found the subject matter of Runequest very plain and ordinary.

      However, with that said, I most of the games that were based on the same system because the mechanics of the system were far superior to D&D - Stormbringer and Hawkmoon captured the Michael Moorcock universe very well, the source material for Pendragon was absolutely top rate an

    • by seebs (15766)
      I disagree. Classes and levels can, and do, work very well for coherent and fast gameplay. They have their limitations, but D&D does epic fantasy well.

      By contrast, GURPS "epic fantasy" tends to be a long battle of blocks until someone scores a single instant-incapacitate critical. Sort of tedious, IMHO.
  • by bughunter (10093) <bughunter&earthlink,net> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @01:30PM (#22476800) Journal
    When asked "I'm a 1E grognard who you couldn't sell on 3E - why should I buy this edition," the reply was:

    The "beneath the surface" answer is, "Because this edition is the most exciting and playable version of D&D that has ever been published." In order for Dungeons & Dragons to continue to thrive, it needs to retain current players while also attracting new players to the fold. Third Edition D&D succeeded wildly on both counts, and also brought thousands of lapsed D&D players back into the game (in some cases after years away from the tabletop). We have every expectation that Fourth Edition will repeat that success.

    Translation: You're not even on our radar. In fact, we didn't even comprehend your question. Honestly, the only people who are pleased with this edition are us marketing droids.

    And the last sentance should tell us that this edition is yet another turd in a can [slashdot.org].

    Frankly, I'd rather play Rolemaster [wikipedia.org].

  • All of this information is available on other sites, and these answers aren't as informative as the information available at enworld.org.

    To answer one of the questions :P, the Open Gaming License is no longer Open, so it's going to be more restrictive. They are probably not going to be calling it the open gaming license anymore- it's going to be the Game System License, and you very likely won't be able to create things like the d20 SRD with rules information.

    http://www.enworld.org/showthread.php?t=218511 [enworld.org]
  • Hello,

    (First question!)

    It seems that almost 3.0/3.5 party is basically a bunch of people walking around in chain shirts, with one or two of them with no armor, and many one wearing a full plate. The problem is that the better protection provided by heavier armor than the chain shirt is constantly negated by its lower max dex bonus, point for point. Additionally, wearing armor that is heavier than light has considerable disadvantages for no other gain. Has there been any effort made to correct this? Has armo
  • it became clear that we should create a new, fully integrated system, with rules that would support our online applications

    Translation - You used to have the ability to buy the core book and then nothing else. Not anymore, suckers!

    Seriously, these guys have made a lot of money by finding ways to turn ordinary RPGs into "value added" schemes requiring constant upgrades and boosters and the like.


    Would Wizards of the Coast have released 3.5 if we knew at the time that 4th Edition was coming?

    Uhhh...
  • Hello again,

    (Second question! See? I respect the rules.)

    I know the Monk will not be part of the next Player's Handbook. First, thanks for taking the time to think through this class, because it was very problematic at best. I know you wanted to make it into a "Striker" (a damage dealer like the rogue) and have basically a request. Everyone in my gaming group fondly remembers the monk class from RoleMaster, way back when, that had tons of crazy movement abilities like you see today in movies like Crouching T
  • Pardon me as I hijack this story a bit.

    I'm looking for a resource for generic setting information. When the characters show up at $town, I'd like to have a map of it and some NPCs living there. They aren't really part of our story, but I don't want them to be completely flat, either. Any suggestions?
  • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @02:35PM (#22477850)
    My original question as seen above:
    How do you feel you've struck a balance between a desire to simplify/streamline rules to speed play and make the game more accessible, and a desire to preserve the strategy and general goodness of the game as it exists today? Details about proposed changes that were a tough call either way would be interesting.

    WotC's response:
    The struggle between playability and tactical depth is a constant one for any game designer, and D&D is no different. We're always wrestling with the right balance between providing streamlined, intuitive play and giving players all the options they want. For example, by giving more characters customizable options for their actions in combat, we've added a dramatic level of depth (both strategic, in building your character, and tactical, in employing those options during a fight), but at the cost of increasing complexity for some characters. We think that's a net positive effect, because the lack of tactical and strategic options for fighters, rogues, and many other characters had become a glaring weakness in the game. The key is to ensure that players of different sensibilities can still find a rewarding play experience within the game's framework. A player who prefers simple options can select those and still feel like he's creating an effective character, while his buddy who thrives on complexity can load up on interesting combos without grinding the game to a halt.

    Follow-up Question:

    Is there any concern that you've eliminated the most tactically interesting/complex characters from the game?

    Further explanation/clarification:

    As 3.5E D&D stands, I agree that the lack of tactical options for many kinds of characters is a weakness in the game. I'm glad to know that it will be possible to play a tactically interesting fighter without having to comb 10 books for esoteric feats and prestige classes to somehow combine together into a mutt build that ends up tactically interesting.

    However, my fear and what my original question was alluding to, is that instead of 'helping the poor', so to speak, you've opted for 'gaming communism'.

    I'll try to better clarify that by explaining it in 3.5E terms. Take these three classes for example:

    Fighter:
    - Moderate strategy at the character-build level.
    - No strategy at the day level.
    - Few tactical options at the combat level. That is, your fighter with feats picked for mounted combat CAN fire a longbow, but he's not very good at it. His best options in all fights come from a very short list.

    Sorcerer:
    - Moderate strategy at the character-build level. (Less feats to pick vs. fighter, but now you're picking spells, so...)
    - No strategy at the day level.
    - Moderate to many tactical options at the combat level. As you reach the mid-levels, you've got a long list of spells and maybe some metamagic feats to apply on the fly.

    Druid:
    - Moderate strategy at the character-build level. (You pick more skills than sorcerer/fighter, but few feats and a few are so good as to be default choices for many of the picks. Probably your single biggest 'build' choice is your animal companion, how you advance it, etc.)
    - High strategy at the day level. You can fill a variety of roles depending on which spells you prepare. How well you anticipate which spells you need will have a huge impact on the usefulness of your character.
    - High strategy at the day level. Lots of spells to choose from, an animal companion to manage, wild shape, etc.

    Essentially, I'm concerned that instead of making fighter more of a complexity like sorcerer, you've instead chosen to make everyone like sorcerer and that there's no niche in the game for, say, the so-called 'Batman' style wizard; at best, a poor Batman sorcerer style controller seems possible. (See: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=18500 [giantitp.com] if you're not familiar.)
  • by EvilNight (11001) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @03:06PM (#22478290)
    Seriously. "clerics in 4th Edition occupy the "leader" role (sometimes also known as the "healer" or "party buffer" role). Their damage output is decent, but far behind that of the wizard or rogue, and they don't have the defenses or melee-control abilities of the fighter."

    I swear I had flashbacks to SOE message boards filled with whining Monks. Folks, is this really the hill you want to die on?

    There are a great many (hundreds) of role playing games out there. There are many times more tabletop games than that.

    My advice to you is that you set down the WotC torch and pick up another game for a while. The worst that can happen is that you'll come back to D&D with a better understanding of why you like it. The best that could happen? You may realize you're paying for an over-designed, over-priced, over-hyped, over-played soulless shell of a role playing game - one that really doesn't do anything badly, but doesn't do anything well, either.

    Repeat after me: The system is part of the setting. The system is part of the charm. The system is the soul of the game. Learning new systems is fun. After learning D&D, learning new systems is a friggin' cakewalk.

    Try something different. On a budget? Check out CheapAss Games. Want more role playing and less dice rolling, maybe some more flavor in a gaming system? Try out Continuum (time travel/any), Deadlands (western), Earthdawn (swords/sorcery), Unknown Armies (occult/underworld), Paranoia (psychotic and fun), Big Eyes Small Mouth (anime), Ironpaw (yes, furry has an RPG). Want miniatures and grand tabletop battles and strategy? Try Warhammer. That's just a short list of the ones I've enjoyed off the top of my head. Wikipedia has a list, RPGNet has reviews, you know what to do.

    Heck, try something like Universalis if you want real innovation - they are designing the GM/DM right out. It didn't quite succeed, but the idea has a hell of a lot of merit. Enough that I think it'll shape the future of interactive storytelling in role playing games. I'll admit, I've been out of the loop for some time. There's plenty more out there I've never heard of.

    If you bought 40 D&D 3.5 books, you could have spent that money instead on 50 different RPGs. WotC tends to be expensive. There's more to RPGs than D&D. If you've only ever played D&D then I suggest you really don't know what you are missing, and you should take a few others for a spin - and don't overlook card games, board games, and trivia games either. Those genres aren't standing still. They can make for a great two or three session break in between various campaigns - or a good gaming night for most of your group if too few people show up to play your current campaign.
  • I watch a lot of G4TV, Gameplay HD, Sci-Fi Channel, Discovery, and the like. I also regularly visit several geek-oriented and video gamer-oriented websites. Why do I never see advertisements for D&D and other tabletop RPGs targeted to "outsiders?" This ask slashdot was the only thing I've ever seen that would even reach outsiders, and even this is geared towards insiders and isn't really an advertisement.

    If you had slipped a little flyer into my KotOR case that said something like, "Continue the sto

  • This is a follow-up question to this exchange:

    Open Gaming License by egg_green:
    With D&D 3rd Edition, we were introduced to the D20 System and the Open Gaming License, which allowed third party publishers to produce supplements for the game. Will there be something akin to this for 4th Edition? What form will it take, and will it be more or less restrictive?

    WotC:
    The initial 4th Edition plans for allowing third-party publication [wizards.com] of compatible supplements have been announced, and we're currently wo

  • I loved 3E. I wasn't so happy about 3.5, as a lot of people will tell you, the changes weren't enough to warrant the update, but just enough to mess up compatibility between 3.5 and 3E.

    Having said that, there's a lot of people who don't like it! All AD&D 2nd Ed players... But the only reason you might not like 3E is because you never tried it.

    It's much, much simpler than 2nd Ed ever was. The ruleset is more orthogonal, anyone who's a programmer will appreciate the value of a consistent central rule s
  • Seems like every time they release some sort of Character building application, it's Windows only. I'm not a programmer, but it seems like there are a ton of options out there to make applications cross-platform. Maybe just make it a website or something.
  • If I had my time again I would be chasing girls instead of listening to the dm talk about how "after your party enters a bar and sits down for a drink you hear one of the clients talking about a tressure deep within an abandoned castle". Holy crap, what a waste of time, and I only realised this after getting layed.

What this country needs is a good five dollar plasma weapon.

Working...