Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Mike Mearls summarizes D&D Next

There is a very interesting podcast out from WotC in which Mike Mearls explains D&D Next to the Penny Arcade guys. I especially liked the part where Mike summarized D&D Next with "In the new edition your characters will suck, you're half as powerful as you used to be" (at 20:19 in the podcast).

Now I do understand his reasons for the change: The basic unit of 4th edition is the encounter; the basic unit of D&D Next will be the adventure day. While in 4th edition you can recharge a good portion of your power in a short rest between encounters, in D&D Next the encounter powers are gone, and there are only at-will and daily powers left. And in the core rules some classes don't even get daily powers. Thus you end up with a much simpler game, with a lot less tactical options, much shorter encounters, less player power in combat and *potentially* more time spent roleplaying. Although in the adventure they provided with the playtest the group could as well end up fighting monsters all the time, with the only roleplaying being about retreating back to town and resting up.

What struck me was how they were discussing the "problem" of 4th edition essentially being bad players and/or bad DMs only doing what it said on their cards. Because that isn't really a rule system problem. My campaigns don't have that problem. Neither, apparently did Gabe's, who says at 16:12: "I already felt like I could do whatever I wanted with these (4E) rules. So I don't understand why I need a new set of rules to do whatever I want with."

And that is true regardless of what version you are currently playing, be it 4E, 3.5, or even Pathfinder. Even Mike Mearls says (at 16:40): "Honestly at the end of the day, if you're playing 4th and you enjoy it, there is no reason to stop playing". Which is exactly what I plan to do. I just hope WotC isn't trying to sabotage that by further dismanteling the 4E support on D&D Insider.

As I understand it, some classes will have only at-will powers, while others will have at-will and daily powers.
That will definitely speed up combat, but I'm more concerned about the balance between classes. Classes with daily powers become more powerful with more resting between combats.
I know there are ways to address this and I hope they do address these issues.

Role playing can be done in 4E and in other systems as well. House rules exist to adapt the system, just like Gabe mentioned.

The best thing WotC can do is play nice with the community, meaning don't push 4E players to D&D next, have a more open licensing, digital distribution of content (pdf's), etc.
We ran an out of the box 4E adventure, and quite frankly, it was disappointing. Part of it was the fault of the module, but the bigger fault was with the DM (me) for taking the low road and just running the module as-is. It was our first adventure, and I felt it was better for the players to get a handle on the system, in preparation for LATER rewards once it became old-hat.

The module itself WAS nothing spectacular: just a dungeon crawl with a reason at the end. We could have EASILY had spiced it up, but combat was taking quite a while per-session. Unless one occasional session was devoted to RP, we really didn't "have time" to deviate from the published content if we wanted to get it done.

On the other hand, I picked up the Neverwinter Source Book, which is basically nothing BUT hooks for very rich and deep RP opportunities.

So 4E THE SYSTEM is very tactical, with it's constant mention of maps and minis and rules to support it, but the ECOSYSTEM acknowledges that once you get the core rules down-pat, there's a lot more opportunity waiting for you.
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