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D&D Next


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#1 Jason Panella

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 11:25 AM

I could very well be typing to myself with this, but Wizards of the Coast announced a few months ago that they were planning the next edition (the fifth) of Dungeons & Dragons. They're calling it D&D Next.

I'm really interested in the development of this. If you haven't been keeping up on D&D in the past decade or so, here's my synopsis: D&D 3E changed the game's rules up quite a bit in the late '90s, and made the game even more popular. That said, it also lost some of the old-school fans. WotC then debuted D&D 4E a few years ago, and that was even more different than 3E. (Many gamers complained that the new edition was geared toward winning new fans instead of keeping old ones, as the game's core mechanics became a little bit more video game-like.) Scores of D&D fans left 4E behind and started "clones" of older editions of D&D. So many left, in fact, that a modified version of D&D 3E — called Pathfinder — has been regularly outselling anything from WotC over the past few years.

So it seems like with D&D Next, the design teams is asking gamers — old and new, alienated or fanboy — what they think should happen with the next edition. More and more, it looks like WotC is planning making a tool-box style game, one that will actually involve mix and match elements from all previous edition (even the earlier Gary Gygax white/blue box versions). Want a more heroic game? You can add these things. Want a more powers-based game, like 4E? You can add this or that.

I don't know if this tool-box approach will be the final result, but letting people weigh in on decisions for the entire process like this has never really been done before in the gaming world, at least to this degree.

Here's a link to one of the key blog posts they made.

#2 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 01:18 PM

Link to our thread on 'Gary Gygax, co-creator of "Dungeons & Dragons", is dead' (Mar 2008 - May 2009).

#3 Jason Panella

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 12:40 PM

AV Club critic Todd VanDerWerff started a new monthly column today about all of the geeky things he missed growing up, things he is now investigating as an adult. First up: Dungeons & Dragons. I think it might be one of the finest pieces of writing to come out of the site, so it's worth a read even if you have no interest in tabletop gaming.

#4 opus

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 08:20 AM

Great article. His discussion of his Christian background, and the tension that he experienced when it came to Dungeons & Dragons, is something very — and sadly — familiar to me.

Oh, and bonus points for the Carmen references. There was a time when "The Witches Invitation" was pretty much the coolest thing ever.

#5 Tyler

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 04:26 PM

Some guy wants to make a movie based on Dark Dungeons, the anti-RPG comic Jack Chick produced in the 1980s.

#6 Jason Panella

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 02:57 PM

Some guy wants to make a movie based on Dark Dungeons, the anti-RPG comic Jack Chick produced in the 1980s.


I saw this when you posted it, Tyler, but I wanted to add a belated "thank you." This is comedy gold.

#7 Jason Panella

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Posted 19 May 2014 - 07:30 PM

Covers, release dates, and more information revealed about the fifth edition material. I'm a fan. I was kind of worried the core rulebooks would cost a lot and, well, they do. Still, I'm pretty excited, especially after playing some of the playtest versions of this edition.

 

More info here.



#8 James Blake Ewing

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Posted 20 May 2014 - 07:46 AM

Started playing 4e with some people recently. I'm more familiar with 2e, so I think I just like that version more because of the familiarity. However, I'm finding everyone having a swath of abilities is kinda ridiculous and can get super time-consuming in battles, especially for newer players who don't always understand what their abilities do. Pretty much no one ever does a basic attack.I can get how they want to make every player feel like they can do cool stuff, but it just makes some of the combat a real slog sometimes, especially if everyone starts planning bad roles. The group does recognize this problem and we're trying to streamline it, like making players get to rolling to hit as soon as possible so we don't spend 5 minutes discussing something only to have the person role a 1. 

 

I wonder if Next will alleviate that problem at all. I've not read much about it.



#9 Jason Panella

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Posted 20 May 2014 - 10:00 AM

Started playing 4e with some people recently. I'm more familiar with 2e, so I think I just like that version more because of the familiarity. However, I'm finding everyone having a swath of abilities is kinda ridiculous and can get super time-consuming in battles, especially for newer players who don't always understand what their abilities do. Pretty much no one ever does a basic attack.I can get how they want to make every player feel like they can do cool stuff, but it just makes some of the combat a real slog sometimes, especially if everyone starts planning bad roles. The group does recognize this problem and we're trying to streamline it, like making players get to rolling to hit as soon as possible so we don't spend 5 minutes discussing something only to have the person role a 1. 

 

I wonder if Next will alleviate that problem at all. I've not read much about it.

 

4E combat can become a slog, though I think it's still less complex than some of the spreadsheet/abacus-necessary rulesets out there. I do agree, though—everyone has crazy abilities, even the most mundane classes (many of which are, mechanically, identical to other powers from other classes). But on the flipside, I really didn't like how D&D 3.0/3.5/Pathfinder handled combat.

 

As for the new version (which is just being called "Dungeons & Dragons," I guess?), it really simplifies things. It's kind of a blend of several of the previous editions, and it simplifies combat a bit while still making it flavorful. Plus, I love how it handles bonuses from abilities like Bless; they used to be a static amount, but now it's randomized by a die. 


Edited by Jason Panella, 20 May 2014 - 10:01 AM.


#10 James Blake Ewing

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Posted 20 May 2014 - 01:24 PM

I've got most of my D&D experience from the old video games based on D&D and once they transition over to 3.5 system, I think there's a steady drop in quality, although I haven't played any of Temple of Elemental Evil yet.

 

Making a character in 3.5 also seemed like way too much of a pain. In 4e I felt like they dropped the absurd amount of options you had that quickly became overwhelming. I might be remembering it wrong, though. 2e just felt like each character had a clear role and position in the party and while not every class was as glamorous and had as many options, combat flowed much better.



#11 Jason Panella

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Posted 20 May 2014 - 09:25 PM

I've got most of my D&D experience from the old video games based on D&D and once they transition over to 3.5 system, I think there's a steady drop in quality, although I haven't played any of Temple of Elemental Evil yet.

 

Making a character in 3.5 also seemed like way too much of a pain. In 4e I felt like they dropped the absurd amount of options you had that quickly became overwhelming. I might be remembering it wrong, though. 2e just felt like each character had a clear role and position in the party and while not every class was as glamorous and had as many options, combat flowed much better.

 

Yeah, most of my initial D&D experience was also from video games: the original Eye of the Beholder Trilogy, Dungeon Hack, and eventually Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights. One of the reasons the 3.5-based games didn't work is because they're just poorly written, honestly. 

 

Combat does flow better in 4E, but I think that's partially because 4E is basically a tactical miniature ruleset and not much else. As far as options, I think it's the complexity has just shifted laterally. 3.5 had a lot of room to make characters unique, which I appreciate--slavish adherence to the "trinity" (tank, damage, healing) drives me crazy sometimes. But combat did flow better in 4E, probably because they cut out the stupid "make more attacks as you level up" rule. My favorite independent take on D&D third edition was a game called Fantasy Craft, which kept all of the subtle aspects I liked from 3.0 and added a whole bunch of tool-box elements (the game could be as simple or complex as you wanted). Of course, no one played it.

 

I think another thing I didn't like about 4E was how WotC shoehorned all of their new fantasy races into things. As as result, NO ONE wanted to play humans or half-elves. Most of the games I played were full of dragonborn, animated suits of armor, and vampires. It just seemed way over the top.



#12 James Blake Ewing

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Posted 20 May 2014 - 09:44 PM

Yea, we have a Goliath, Dragonborn and Genasi, but we also have a few humans and a half-elf. I forget what race our Warlock is. I do like that each player seems to have invested in their abilities and characters and it does give everyone personality. 

 

I've played through all the Infinity Engine games and bits of both Neverwinter Night games.Haven't tried Temple of Elemental Evil yet, which I hear is heavy in the 3.5 combat system. Apparently, Icewind Dale II was a rather lite treatment of 3e because it was something they were told to update mid-development.



#13 Jason Panella

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Posted 21 May 2014 - 11:23 AM

The Escapist has had some nice coverage of the release of the new edition, including this nice piece



#14 Jason Panella

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 09:30 AM

Lead game designer Mike Mearls announced that the basic rules for the new edition will be completely free. He compares this Basic D&D ruleset to the classic Rules Cyclopedia, and the free PDF will include info for some basic classes, races, and level advancement. 



#15 James Blake Ewing

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 10:02 AM

I saw that this morning. I think that's a smart move to try to get new and old people into it that might be skeptical or maybe aren't interested in making the financial investment without knowing what they're getting into. It's also good for people who plan to buy in because having a pdf will make it easier for people who might not want to lug around a rulebook to a game.

 

If you could have the basic rules on your phone/tablet that would make the game easier for people who plan to buy in anyway. I know in my group a couple people just have the books on their electronic devices, which I'm not sure why they haven't released them that way. I'd much rather have a digital copy than have to buy a big hardback physical book.

 

I figure my group will stick with 4e for a while and everyone is pretty deeply invested in their characters right now. I think for the kind of people we have it might be better for the group, but I might try to see if we can at least try next at some point to see what it's like if we want to make new characters at some point. 



#16 Jason Panella

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 01:34 PM

If you could have the basic rules on your phone/tablet that would make the game easier for people who plan to buy in anyway. I know in my group a couple people just have the books on their electronic devices, which I'm not sure why they haven't released them that way. I'd much rather have a digital copy than have to buy a big hardback physical book.

 

 

Wizards of the Coast has been releasing PDFs of their books on DriveThruRPG for a little while now!



#17 James Blake Ewing

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 02:25 PM

Ooo, thanks for the tip. Much rather pick up what I need this way. Maybe I'm missing it, but it doesn't look like it has the base player's manual, which is what I want the most.



#18 Jason Panella

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Posted 03 July 2014 - 12:19 PM

Wizards of the Coast released the basic ruleset for Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition today, which I wasn't expecting. Totally free. I thought it was going to be, like, 20 pages. Nope. Book-length!

 

You can get it here.



#19 James Blake Ewing

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Posted 03 July 2014 - 03:31 PM

I downloaded it but haven't had a change to read through it. After playing 4e last weekend and having people spend way too long to decide their moves in combat, I'm really hoping 5e fixes that flow. However, there's no way I think my group would be willing to switch over since it doesn't yet support a lot of the races/classes our group has.



#20 Jason Panella

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Posted 04 July 2014 - 04:10 PM

I was able to skim through most of the rules. It feels like a greatest hits collection of the game's previous incarnations. It seems to take the stuff I liked about the previous two editions and cut out most of the frustrating bits. I also love how WotC has moved away from the "minis are required!" mindset of Fourth; it works fine, but in my heart I've always been a "theater of the mind's eye" kind of player. 

 

My friend is going to be running the adventure that comes with the Starter Set that's coming out really soon, so I'll get some first-hand exposure and report back.