dnd 5e is in development – quick thoughts

Well its happening again, that wonderful and monstrous creation called Dungeons and Dragons is being re-vamped again, to 5th edition. I feel old just reading that.

What does this mean:

  • the game devs have a huge job to do, but the factory has experience in this. They deserve the opportunity to do it well.
  • the internet will broil with opinions of what should be done, what the target audience should be, and what sucked (see below). Expect a snow storm made of razor wire and badger leavings when these conflicting neck-beards meet in the forums to fight it out. I won’t be reading most of it, as it will be similar to what has gone before.
  • the ramblings and conversations in public will help steer the game devs, but the game devs already have a mandate in mind. They would not start this without already having a destination in mind, and changes needed.
  • the product needs to stay profitable, so expect what ever they develop to be a product, not a dream project of love. That means new books on the same fluff, and probably great artwork. These guys have families and mortgages too.
  • expect that some of your favourite aspects of the game will change, and get used to having an open mind during the journey. Or if you can’t do that then please stay silent – the community needs more radicals screaming as much as it needs more competition from computer games. Not at all.

OK, given that – these are my quick thoughts on what would I do:

The mechanics will make a huge difference, but it is secondary to the setting. The setting makes or breaks the game, and dnd needs to consider the settings. How do they keep it fresh too, without the old trope: “terrible war changed the land…”.

Forget trying to make the game play like a computer game. I know I’m a grumpy mongrel sometimes, but the feel of dnd 4e was so much like a computer game that I felt like it was inherently inefficient. The story was sidelined by the process.

Concentrate on one to two settings, and do them well. I guess that means picking the two that sell the best, or that have the largest community still playing.

Don’t design the game for new players, or old player, or even vocal players. Design it for intelligent players. A basic set of mechanics with options is far better than an overtly simple approach.

Make classes more like career paths, and skills less tightly bound to classes. This gives diversity to the character creation.

Consider Pathfinder has done some things right, and critically look at what their community loved beyond just being a 3.75 re-vamp.

Get rid of the idea of playing a card game in an rpg game. Its a chap gimmick that I don’t like and i think adds no value.

Give me a magic system that is flexible beyond spells per day, or memorised spells – think abstract. Make crafting items, investing spells and such core, and do not make them cost XP to create.

I started with dnd 1e, and have loved many rpgs over the years. I’m really keen to see what dnd5e will be like. A late 2013 or 2014 date is not too scary.

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