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Role Playing (Games)

D&D's Story Manager Answers Your Questions on Camera 112

Chris Perkins, story manager for the upcoming Fourth Edition of Dungeons and Dragons, took some time out this past weekend at the D&D Experience event to talk back to us. He answered the concerns of five readers who had commented on their responses to our earlier questions from January. With a large amount of information about Fourth Edition now out in the open and the NDA for playtesters lowered, there's been a floodgate of new concerns over the latest change to this tabletop icon. You might also be interested in the other videos from Gamer Radio Zero filmed at the D&D Experience event, which covers everything from DMG design to D&D Insider pricing. Chris's responses can be seen in the YouTube videos included below. Thanks both to Mr. Perkins and Michael Lescault for making this interaction possible.
Mongoose Disciple asks "Is there any concern that you've eliminated the most tactically interesting/complex characters from the game?"

Anonymous Coward asks "halivar asked what influence computer games might have had on the design of 4th ed, but what about computer games that are going to use the D&D rule set having an influence on the design of 4th ed? None of the games based on 3/3.5ed appealed to me because of the over-complexity of the rules, I preferred the older titles such as Baldur's Gate that used 2nd ed. That's obviously a personal opinion, but I know it's not an uncommon one. So, were there any design choices made based on the fact that computer games will also use the system?"

skinfaxi asks "Does WotC think all players and DMs are male?"

BobMcD asks "I'm looking at the back of that specific Tiefling Wizard's sheet, and it seems to me that conversion is going right out the window. This 1st level character seems pretty beefy to me, in terms of sheer spell face-meltage. Does 'At-Will' really mean 'as much as you want, just so long as it is your turn'?"

bugnuts asks "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?"

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D&D's Story Manager Answers Your Questions on Camera

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  • by Fozzyuw ( 950608 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @10:59AM (#22649410)

    Was typing too much work?

    To Summerize...

    Why did you get ride of complex characters?
    We didn't. We're going to sell them to you in another book at a later time.

    Did you design DnD4 around video games?
    Yes, we designed DnD4 with consideration of selling our rules to video game makers and to work on other platforms.

    Are all DM's male?
    There is a such thing as a stupid question, and that's one of them.

    Will wizards be overpowered because they can cast as many spells a round as they want?
    No, a wizard can only perform a certain number of things a round, but they can cast as many number or different spells per combat. We don't want wizards to have to use a xBow because their spells are gone. That's boring.

    Does WotC consider everything in DnD their IP?
    I don't really know how to answer that question without bringing my legal team down on me, so I'll just say that d20 is symbolic with DnD but other games use it, but logically our IP = our IP.
  • by SirGarlon ( 845873 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @11:18AM (#22649714)

    First of all, no, I did not watch the damn videos of Perkins spewing marketer-speak. If I wanted to see video I would go to YouTube, not Slashdot.

    Second, the elephant in the room is the Open Gaming License, or "Game System License" as it will be called for 4E. Basically, Wizards of the Coast is dropping open gaming in all but name. Some details are here []; highlights are:

    The 4th edition SRD will be much more of a reference document than the 3e SRD. The current edition contains almost all of the rules and allows "copy and paste" publishing. WotC would prefer to see 3rd party publishers to use their creativity and talent instead of reformatting or slightly changing pre-existing rules. As such, the 4e SRD will contain more guidelines and pointers, and less straightforward rules repetition.

    Translation: we are not going to release the actual rules under a free license.

    The 4e OGL will contain some aspects of the old d20 license, and is more restrictive in some areas than the prior Open Gaming License. We are tying the OGL more closely to D&D. There is a free registration process, a community standards clause, enforceability clauses, and no expiration date.

    Translation: we are moving from free-as-in-speech to free-as-in beer because we think it's in the best interest of our brand.

  • by halivar ( 535827 ) <> on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @12:10PM (#22650534)
    Did that sound like an advertisement?

    OSRIC [] is an OGL compilation of OD&D ("Old" D&D) rules, put together in a much more easily comprehensible format than the original books. It's sort of like an SRD for 1st Edition. If you miss 1st Ed., you may want to give it a try with your kids.
  • by SirGarlon ( 845873 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @03:14PM (#22653530)

    They never did. The current 3e/3.5e SRD is quite far from "Free" in many regards, and the d20 System License is full-blown branding

    It seems you understand the difference between the SRD, the OGL, and the D20 License, but a lot of readers might not. So others can follow as we get technical: the OGL is the Open Gaming License [], which I and some others would argue is not really very open. The SRD is the System Reference Document [], which are the D&D 3.x rules as trimmed down and released under the OGL. The D20 System License [] is a separate license one could use to put a "D20 System" logo on one's product, which was supposed to indicate some level of compatibility with D&D. To get that logo one had to consent to rather odious and very non-free license terms.

    What about the SRD is not free? I don't see how the "Product Identity" clause of the OGL affects the SRD because the SRD doesn't include any WotC "Product Identity." Are you referring to something else?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @06:31PM (#22656260)
    The DnD spell casting system is bad game design. Period. I'm not going to go back and read a player's guide to get my example down exactly in terms of rules, but heres how it plays out for a player in the real world when they play an arcane magic class in old DnD.

    I gain access to level 5 spells. I can memorize two per day. There are 10 level 5 spells. One is a direct damage spell, ALL the other spells are hyper-specialized utility spells. I'm going to select the direct damage spell because it's the most likely to be useful in most situations, and ONE utility spell that I may or may not use ever. I enter combat and find 5 cases where if I had randomly selected one of the other utility spells, I could have used that spell in that situation, but I didn't because I had no idea what was going to happen in my encounters (I'm ignoring metagaming here because most people consider it bad form in DnD anyway). So I got to cast my direct damage spell once in an entire day of encounters (which can be weeks in real time for some games). The rest of the time I was hiding in the back or casting low level cantrips doing almost nothing of value in combat or out. If I'm lucky, I found a wand or some useful scrolls, and the thief didn't claim he should get them because he spent points in use magical device specifically to use them.

    So for weeks in real time, my character did one cool thing, and continually felt that if I had arbitrarily chose a different utility spell weeks ago, I would have done two cool things.

    DnD's spell system was retarded and needed to die. It was anti-fun. When you put a lot of time and effort into researching your class, and still feel like whether or not you can do something useful is based entirely on the luck of which encounters you face, it's not a rewarding experience.
  • by Yosho ( 135835 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @10:55PM (#22658888)

    1) The book says you can do this, but NO WHERE does it actually detail the rules for it. Like how long it takes to prepare a single spell. I've tried before, to do the math on it taking "an hour" to prepare all your spells, and basing the numbers off that, but you end up with huge charts.
    PHB page 178. See the section titled "Spell Preparation Time". It's very clear; preparing all of your spells takes an hour, preparing a small number takes an amount of time proportional to how many you prepare, but at least 15 minutes. It's not as clear as a lot of things in the book, but that's still high school algebra -- the amount of time is equal to (number of spells you want to prepare) / (total number of spells you can prepare) in hours, with a minimum of 15 minutes. No chart necessary.

    2)It's REALLY stupid to make magic items. Even scrolls. They not only cost XP which only the wizard pays, even though they benefit the ENTIRE parte, but they also cost a CRAZY amount of gold for "magical materials". And that's never explained or defined anywhere, either.
    This is true in a lot of situations, unless you're playing a class that specializes in making magical items (see Artificer). But scrolls are cheap. Look at how much it costs to make a scroll compared to character wealth by level. It's a little pricey if you're cranking out scrolls of the highest level you can cast, but the cost of scrolls a level or two lower is a pittance. The GP cost is simply part of being a well-rounded wizard -- do you refuse to buy a new axe when you're playing a barbarian or more ammunition when you're playing a ranger? Do you complain about buying new armor because you being a better tank "benefits the entire party"? The XP cost is practically little more than a rounding error -- a 9th level scroll costs only 153 XP! By the time you can cast 9th level spells, you can sneeze on something and get that much XP back. If you don't mind a little bit of cheese, take a look at the Complete Adventurers' Thought Bottle, and all of your XP problems are gone.

    But that's not the only way to end your "running out of spells per day" problem. Be a specialist, get a few Rings of Spell Storing or Pearls of Power, and get a Headband of Intellect for more bonus spells.

    Sure, you can say it's all up to the DM, but that's always rule 0. Something that integral to the viability of a class should be clearly spelled out in the rules.
    It's not all up to the DM. Aside from the specifics of "magical materials" -- which I admit is a bit vague, but can easily be explained away as the cost of specially prepared paper, magical ink, etc., all available from your corner adventurers' market -- all of that is pretty clearly spelled out.

    I won't even get into the issue of being able to lose your spellbook
    First, you know that a typical spellbook has 100 pages, and it takes one page per spell level to scribe a spell in it, right? You're probably going to be hauling around several spellbooks. Losing one will suck, but it's not the end of the world. You can also re-scribe any spells you had in memory at the time it was gone into a new book. Second, any DM who destroys a spellbook is a cruel bastard. Yes, it's a viable tactic, but it's no different from making all of the fighter-types fight waves of rust monsters. All it does is piss off players.

    Of course, a respectably high-level wizard will have a couple of Boccob's Blessed Books with copies of his favorite spells in all of them. One of them will probably be in a Leomund's Secret Chest, too. Yeah, it sucks if you lose one, but you've lost less than a fighter whose magic sword got sundered.

    and the concept of "learning" a spell, even though you need special feats to prepare it without the spellbook.
    Wizards don't "learn" spells, they copy new ones into their spellbooks. I think you need to re-read the chapter on magic.

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