D&D Next News from PAX East

You can watch the video here, but someone on RPGnet posted a bullet list on some highlights.

Campaign settings as modules that can alter core rules.

Given that Eberron in 3rd Edition and Dark Sun in 4th Edition made it clear which rules they changed (for example, clerics and alignments and weapon breakage rules respectively), I am kind of curious how this is going to play out. Will we still see campaign setting-specific books, or will they be footnotes with recommended rules modules?

Grids and minis optional in the core.

This was already said like, awhile ago. I love me my minis collection something fierce, but in the past few months I have begun running combat miniless without any problems. I've been feeling the itch though, and will probably start using minis again for major battles, so hopefully this module is easy to toggle on/off.

Will not let the wizard overpower martial classes.

4th Edition has shown that D&D (and D&D-like games) can have fighters that remain viable throughout the entire level spread, so if nothing else D&D Next has a solid foundation to work with. In the video they admitted to the linear fighters, quadratic wizard trope and that spells that allow them to just shut down monsters were harder to balance than just the direct damage ones. Somewhat related, I was glad to hear that decoupling complexity from power is a design goal.

About 20% done and on 4th iteration of DND Next.

In the video they made it clear that they were nowhere near finished, and that our feedback has and will continue to shape the final results.

Perception will be an ability check.

Er...was it not already? I guess what they are trying to say is that there will not be modifiers, or maybe that you will always have to roll it? I like Passive Perception, which even existed in 3rd Edition in the form of taking 10, as it sped things up and avoided players guessing what they were rolling for (or why I was rolling).

Focus on non-combat roles and abilities returning.

To clarify they are trying to make sure that all classes have things to do outside of combat, not classes that are only good outside of combat. Unfortunately, the example given was him using his wizard to just prep non-combat magic like illusions and charms to "beguile" targets instead of blowing them up. It will be interesting to see how fighters and rogues will fare.

Giving more power back to the DM.

My kneejerk reaction to this statement is that the DM has--and always had--complete authority over her game. What they mention in the video is that they are making a "slight correction", because they feel that because of how the rules are codified that some DMs feel less empowered. I guess I am not clear on what they are talking about, as the rules in 3rd Edition were also pretty clear cut, but hopefully they are not talking about making some rules vague and dependent on DM fiat.

Unusual classes may be better as option for core classes.

Some people have been reading this as "unusual classes will be better than the standard ones", but my take from this is that things like the seeker or runepriest will work better as options for the ranger and cleric respectively. Personally I do not care so long as the mechanics deliver a working concept.

Bringing back step-by-step adventure creation instructions.

Watching the video I am really digging this process. Though I have never used the random adventure hook tables, the idea of an adventure creation walkthrough has a lot of appeal, especially for new players wanting to actually run a game. I would like to see a good amount of vanilla maps for villages, houses, castles, etc to just steal or work off of.

Focus on shorter games.

Being able to complete a major plot objective in one setting would be nice, as in my experience my group often ends up calling sessions in the middle of a fight and/or adventure. Outside of delves it is very hard to go from start to finish.

Skill challenges not in core.

Hopefully they have something else to reward players for completing non-combat challenges. Personally I would like to see D&D move entirely away from encounter-based XP, and just level up characters after succeeding at plot-relevant events, such as by slaying the dragon or stopping Kalarel from opening a portal to the Shadowfell for...some reason. Maybe it could be an optional module.

No info on public playtest date.

At least they did not say "soon".

Other things that stood out:

Apparently at-will spells have a pretty huge following. Hopefully it will persist without having to burn feats. Fireball is intended to be one of the "best" spells, like, better than charm person and other stuff. The quote was something like, "Some guy with an abacus could crunch the numbers and go a-ha! Fireball is the best spell!"

Skills have been a huge problem, because unlike other subsystems they have been different throughout all the editions. I would like to see something that is kind of between 3rd Edition's skill ranks and 4th Edition's skill training, as well as retaining skill powers.

Clerics have turn undead at 1st-level, when they had at one point pushed it back as a higher level option. The reason for the change is because players were confused as to where it went. I hope that it is not an assumed option for all clerics, despite god and/or focus.

Buffing magic will allegedly prevent clerics from becoming better fighters than fighters. For example, while a cleric buffing herself to get more damage and extra attacks would not be better than a fighter (or monk) "flurrying".

The paladin might end up being like a type of hybrid that can nab divine spells from the cleric list and martial maneuvers from the fighter's list. Personally I do not like this, and would like to see the paladin have its own focus and unique features and powers; smite evil, summoning a magical mount, and immunity to diseases and the like are more indicative of a "classic" paladin than simply making a prefabbed multiclass build.

They are describing an "indie games" type module, where you can make it more narrative or what-not. Reminds me of how games are planned in Dresden Files.


  1. Re: Paladins

    Why not make paladins (and rangers) a theme for the fighter class. They might have special skills in the new system, e.g. detect evil (wis) and lay on hands (cha), or you could just have them be fighters that are dedicated to a temple like in B/X (where Knights used to be fighters dedicated to some lord and Avengers chaotic fighters serving Chaos) At least to me, paladin-ess is about being absolutely dedicated to your cause, not about being immune to diseases and riding eldritch equines. If they make multiclassing work, you could multiclass to another archtype to get the spells you want. Paladins of Mystra might usually be fighter/wizards but that's your choice.

    One thing I'd like to see is mechanical support for the narrative of playing a paladin. In the rpg Polaris the knights start with Zeal that slowly turns to Weariness as they get more experienced. It's a game about tragic knights and paladins don't have to be that in D&D but I'd like to see something similar. That way your zeal meter would represent your dedication and your special fondling and unicorn summoning powers might depend on it.

  2. To clarify, I am hoping that the paladin is not "just" something that could be built by multiclassing a fighter and a cleric, which is what it currently sounds like. It just feels like they are wasting page space. Personally I would prefer paladins to champion causes, which would help divorce them from the cleric's concept (kind of like cavaliers and blackguards in 4th Edition).

  3. I don't see why not if you can create it through multiclassing. Creating strong enough theme with some special bits might save a ton of space (using the archetypal classes instead of creating splatbooks with a new class and spell list). The same might work with hexblades, blackguards etc. It's different enough from clerics if it feels different enough in play - even if it uses some cleric abilities. Adding the mechanics for narrative play might especially be the thing needed. Make the powers dependent on following your code of conduct and constant obeisance instead of being given your powers like a cleric. This all easily fits inside the mechanics of a theme.

  4. Wait, are you talking about a theme or a class? I was talking about a paladin class that is really just a multiclassing fighter/cleric.

  5. I'm talking about paladin as a theme for D&D next, as they are supposedly quite character-defining things and possibly grant you ability bonuses and skills. Making the theme broad enough (servant of a supernatural power) and giving it its own special skills/proficiencies that others don't get, it could serve as a paladin, a hexblade or a blackguard.

    After you've created your character, you could multiclass to further grant your character the abilities and skills they need to make the concept sing. E.g. a paladin-themed fighter might start with the skill detect evil (wis), connections to a church, a horse and later take a couple of levels of cleric to get turn undead and basic healing abilities to reflect the fruits of his dedication to a church.

    I'm just saying you don't have to make the paladin into its own class if the new theme mechanic is strong enough to envelop this kind of concept.


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