Wednesday, January 11, 2012

D&D 5th Edition: My Wish List

Today in The Cube:

Adventurers – and D&D – need to plan for the new edition!

So, with the announcement Monday that there is a new iteration (popularly called D&D 5e) of Dungeons and Dragons coming out, and the fact that Wizards of the Coast is itching for gamer input on how to improve the franchise, it's gotten me thinking about what I'd like to see.

So here are my modest proposals:

1. Backwards Compatibility. Works for video games, right? When a new edition of a game comes out, it's always a paid because then your old books and supplements become obsolete - no longer supported by the new edition and its rules. Mike Mearls said that they want to see the game support as much or as little complexity as a player desires, meaning a customizable experience. To that end, I'd like to see a D&D that actually can absorb and use previous editions' products seamlessly, or at least with a minimum of conversion.

2. Keep Simple Innovations... Dungeons and Dragons 4e, while certainly not perfect, does have its virtues. First and foremost of which, it's easy to play. I like that character skills listings were consolidated and skill points simplified. I like that turning undead has been fixed. I like that there is no Base Attack Bonus anymore. I like that it doesn't take 5+ die rolls to execute a grapple. This streamlining of basic rules is an immense help and I hope that it will continue.

3. ... But Do Away with Unnecessary Ideas. I like Feats, but Powers? Please, no; not EVERY class needs spells. Being "Bloodied"? Useless. Healing surges? No - please, no; just stick with clerics and potions.

4. Bring Back Role-Playing. This is an RPG (role-playing game). Ergo, you're supposed to play a part. Unfortunately, 4e has made role-playing secondary to butt-kicking. Role-playing encounters are often more fun and more rewarding than just kicking in a door and chopping orcs. This is what distinguishes D&D from, say, World of Warcraft.

5. Analog 'Yes'. Digital 'No'. Simply this: D&D is fun because it's a group of people around a table talking, thinking, and rolling dice. I don't in any way want this mediated by a computer screen. I know there are already a lot of D&D materials online (which I love) but please don't let it go further than that. No doubt there's a possibility that the new rules will probably be available in a downloadable PDF format, etc. Fine, but don't forget that books are good, too!

Hmm... a Balrog? Grr. Argh.
6. A D&D App? Yes, Please! While this may sound incongruous after the last item, I mean this sincerely. A constantly-updated D&D app with searchable rules, a glossary of terms, etc., would be amazingly helpful. Right now there is NO official D&D app. C'mon, guys!

7. Keep Campaign Settings. I like Dark Sun, Eberron, Ravenloft, and so forth. They're fun, imaginative, and get my creative juices going. Just because we're looking for a new edition and a new way to play doesn't mean we have to throw out good old ideas.

8. Affordable. Let's face it: if we get new books, etc., it's going to cost. Currently a set of the core 4e rulebooks, plus a set of minis, is going to run you close to $100 retail. And that's not including supplements, adventures, dungeon tiles, and so forth. Please, do gamers a favor and don't try to soak us for a lot of money. Trust me – if it costs too much, we'll just go back to our Pathfinder books.

9. Species Balance. Seriously, Dwarves, Elves, Tieflings, Warforged and others all have bonuses now, and no penalties. In 3.5, the different species had bonuses as well as penalties. This created strategy and also flavor in your character that could be used for roleplaying.

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