Posted by : David Guyll September 23, 2013

Though the mostly-final Next packet was a disappointment, I am still ultimately reserving judgement until I see the finished product in case they end up fixing things, and/or create enough optional rules to provide a more entertaining experience.

At this point it looks like there are two design teams: one will be in charge of finalizing the core game, and the other will handle a number of herculean tasks; the underlying math, optional systems for tactical combat, drama, and character customization (all three of which should really not be optional), and a "campaign system".

No matter what the tactical combat system sounds like it would improve the game, though I think there is a lack of understanding as to why people liked 4th Edition combat so much. For me it was one part that every character had multiple interesting, thematic, and often unique actions they could try, one part that thanks to "page 42" it was incredibly quick and easy to (probably) fairly and reliably adjudicate off the cuff actions that the characters and monsters tried to attempt.

For me encounters never felt puzzles or player-vs-Dungeon Master (at least, no more than in any other edition). It was more that if a character wanted to shove a monster into a firepit that they had a good idea of what they would have to do (probably Strength or Dexterity vs. Fortitude), what would happen (fire damage plus ongoing fire damage), and a good estimate of their odds of success. On the other hand, if a player wanted to use Charisma to trick them into charging just before diving out of the way, I could just change it to Charisma vs. Will.

Likewise even if done poorly I think that the game would benefit from a dramatic system. After a brief foray into Dresden Files this is something I have been using in my games, having the players help create the world and giving me material to bait them with; I think that when the players put in work laying the foundation that it makes them more invested. It also makes it easier to get everyone together and the game rolling if they have to make it work, instead of largely shouldering the DM with the burden.

Why enabling more character customization is an optional system is beyond me. Not only would the game definitely benefit from this, but it needs it. I do not buy that breaking everything down into individual blocks would go beyond playtest expectations; just find the major players on CharOp, forward them the packet, and watch them go to town. From there you could decide what is legitimately broken, and what breaches Pun-Pun levels of absurdity such that no sane Dungeon Master would ever allow it, anyway.

The campaign system sounds interesting, though if I had to choose this is the one that I would have made optional, since domain management and especially business operations sound like they would be good for the occasional diversion. At any rate hopefully domain management does not have a level requirement.

What I think would be beneficial is allowing groups of players that fit a demographic to keep playtesting and providing feedback for one or more of the proposed systems, instead of keeping it more in-house. For example I never shut up about character customization, and I think that I would be a really good "custometer" as to whether the optional system would do a good job.


{ 4 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. My main concern is that if new content in suplements it´s released(and we know they will release them), it would be a complete mess because they need to make that new content work well with all the diferent mutations of the system or atleast make it in a way that the game doesn´t break....wish seems like an almost impossible task

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  2. I had not considered how potentially cumbersome it would be for new material to work with each of the modules. Personally I think talent trees are the way to go.

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  3. What do you mean by talent trees?
    (I'm +Eric Sheldahl, curse the need for a blogger account)

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  4. Yes you do. :-P

    The idea is that everything is part of one or more classes, and when you level up you take a class and pick a talent from that class (which would also determine how many more hit points and skills you can take).

    So if you take a level in fighter, you get +6 hit points and can take a fighter talent, generally weapon, armor, or physical skills. If you take a level in wizard, you get +3 hit points and gain a wizard talent, like magic, rituals, or mental skills.

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