Friday, December 14, 2012

Why I LOVE Dungeons and Dragons Next! of the 11/13/2012 playtest release. That's a reference point for you who are reading this in THE FUTURE.

Good news, everyone! WotC released ANOTHER playtest packet!
Time to remake all your characters!
First of all, I love d20 systems. There is just something about the combination of the one die for everything (save for damage) and the 5% chance for success that makes me happy. I know I'm not the only one that feels this, as evident by the continuing stream of d20 splat books.

Second, the plug and play character creation makes creating characters that much more fun. While there is the option to pick and choose the individual feats and features, the package deal with Backgrounds and Specialties not only makes the creation process faster, but also helps weave an intriguing story for the character. With the Human/Cleric/Charlatan/Healing Specialist build, I've essentially put together a fantasy-genre version of a t.v. evangelist! "Be HEALED by the mighty Light of Pelor!" The hardest part of character creation that I have thus far seen is only in coming up with the character's concept, which has nothing to do with the game's mechanics!

Third, creating a game where the skills are no longer tied to ability scores allows for creative roleplaying. Imagine you're the fighter and you are trying to interrogate a low-level villain into giving up the Big Bad Evil Guy's location. In previous editions, the Intimidation skill was tied to Charisma which is a lot of the times an ability score a fighter would use as a Dump Stat (right next to Intelligence and Wisdom). Now, you can tie that Intimidation straight into Strength instead, allowing for a simple snapping of a plank of wood to bring a point across to an NPC.
"Make a Charisma check to interrogate him."
"Can I add my Stealth to this?"
Fourth, STORY! Story Story story. I get a strong sense that every decision backing this game was made with story largely in mind. My players and I tried to get as much story out of 4th Edition as we could, but the overwhelming combat mechanics and three hour long encounters made that extremely difficult. In Next, we are able to strongly focus on the story of the characters and interweave them into the overall plot of the game.

Allow me to explain point Four further. The typical gaming night for a group of people with jobs and families is about 4 to 6 hours. If a single 4th Edition combat encounter takes three hours to complete (an arguably average amount of time in that system), it can take up anywhere from half to three quarters of your gaming session. If you ask me, that's ridiculous. A single encounter should never take a majority of a single session. The flow of a story, even one based mostly on fights, cannot handle the near death of pacing that a single three hour combat would create.

With this newest iteration of Dungeons and Dragons, I am getting more story involved in our games than I have had in the previous two editions. Some will claim that it is my own fault for that, and maybe they are right to a point. But with a system that allows such quick combat and a simplistic system for creating and playing our characters, we can build the one thing that we as roleplayers strive for the most: a cohesive collaborative story that is fun.

And in the end, it is the fun that matters the most.


  1. Most people don't complain about three hours unless it is epic play. It seems to be about 1 hourd per tier.
    Otherwise, I agree with this post.

    1. I had a few players essentially refuse to learn the rules of 4e so combat was ALWAYS a drag. But my time calculations were based on more than just my own experiences.