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Archive for January, 2012

Next D&D Goldenrod Character Sheet Peek

This past weekend, Wizards of the Coast hosted a Dungeons and Dragons Experience convention in Indiana, as they have for the past few years. This year was special because they announced a new edition of Dungeons and Dragons was in the works – and it was being designed as “one edition to rule them all” by taking the best aspects of all editions and building the game from the ground back up

There were four major conferences during the convention, one each day starting on January 26, 2011, and extending until Sunday the 29th. For those attending, there were also four hour slots each day to play test the first version of this new d&d. At least one of the adventures played was the classic “Caves of Chaos” from the seminal adventure “Keep on the Borderlands.” The play-testers were all had to sign Non-disclosure waivers, and so far little has leaked.

For now, we will ignore the play-testers out of jealousy and envy, and instead focus on the transcripts of the conferences, which were thankfully not held by NDA waivers. The conferences are as follows:

Class Design, from Assassins to Wizards
Charting the Course: An Edition for all Editions
2012 D&D Products
Reimagining Skills and Ability Scores


So, from the four talks, I have pulled out the most interesting quotes, to which I must thank all those people involved in tweeting and live-blogging the event. It made it possible to be there without actually being there. I am pulling the quotes from all four with no particular order. This series will be broken down into broad categories. Under the quotes I give a brief reaction or analysis, depending on my quixotic whim.

On Character Generation:

Bruce: If you’re picking up one of those common classes and you’re building a character, it shouldn’t take more than 15 or 20 minutes to create a character if experienced; a new player might take 30 minutes.

Ok, my take-away from this is that we won’t need the character builder to generate a character. The real problem, though, with the character generator is not so much the initial investment in character building, as much as having to go back to the builder and print 6-7 pages after gaining every level. Many people however, do not want to spend any time making characters, while others can make new characters all day long.

The trick is finding a balance that lets a player who spent little time customizing their character play at the same table as one who customized and optimized their character to maximum potential. If the mechanics swing too far one way, the optimizer is pissed off that a local yokel can outperfom him; swing too far the other direction, and the simple player becomes thwarted at every turn by his character’s simplicity.

Rob: Yeah, it was really quick in one of my playtests. it was pretty sexy and awesome to be able to create the character and jump into the game. My group, 7th level, core characters, 15 minutes to make them.

Do you realize how many feats that would be?? Core characters though, might be as simple as rolling up a first level character, then adding some hp and an item or two. With rapidly ascending modifiers a thing of the past (see quote later in the series) building a character cold become more about making choices rather than maximizing potential. For example, I would love a progression that lets the fighter pick power attack or cleave at second level, rather than a slew of feats of which that was one of many.

Monte: What we’re really getting at is that character creation should take as long as you want. If you want to jump into a game quickly, you can put together an easy character and not worry about too many of those options. But if you want to build the more complex character and go through the options and tweak it to be exactly what you want, then you have the time and options for that.

OK, again Monte clears things up with a magic missile of insight. Here he basically lays out the groundwork of the complexity of the classes,from base, up through the layers of customization available in the core, and then it can even support optional “module” enhancement after that! If that is the case, this could be incredible, or incredibly clunky. Only Monte Cook could make this sound simple and elegant, let us hope he maximizes his innate design potential. What a challenge!

Monte: We’re looking at having both positive and negative modifiers for races.

Kaboom, a shot across the bow. Embrace the negative. Only through adversity is potential realized, only by darkness do we know light.

Much of “character creation” can be found under the more specific subject,like ability scores, etc. making this subject a little light on quotes. The bottom line is that they are staking out territory in the core game design to please all types. From rolling ability scores with the option of point-buy and array, to the wrapping skills into and under ability scores, characters are meant to be dynamic, to open as a flower to the level of engagement of the player.

One particle of wisdom I have cultivated in a long life of study is a tendency to seek answers in the wrong kinds of compromise. Trying to please everyone is never possible, but sometimes it can seem possible by introducing the “either way works” choice. Some things, critical things, need to be concrete and final, or they will forever be the squeaky wheel of loose mechanics. Making things optional by letting a player choose either way of doing something critical to the game or his character can lead to this. Often a brand new way of doing things that gives respect to the essential desires of two opposing viewpoints, is the best way forward. With the new implementation of ability scores, the designers have shown a willingness to take the old ways and combine them into something new, and it looks promising. With character generation, they are splitting the issue, by creating options for multiple play-styles. While it could lead to innovative design, it could also lead down a road towards perpetual imbalance. The nest topic is one of those danger areas.

On Multi-Classing:

Rob: We’re shooting for the 3E style of multiclassing that makes it easy to multiclass into any other class. It’s been on the forefront of our minds when we’re doing all this class work.

Excuse me, yuck. OK that is sad news indeed. One of the most ridiculous, broken, absurd, ad just plain repellant aspect of third edition was the multi-multi-multi-classing. It got to the point where every character should take first level in rogue, for the skill points, and fighter levels were sprinkled in for feats. Multi-classing has never been done well (unless you include multi-class feats and hybrids of 4e) but 3e was worst. It totally broke the barrier of believability. The 3e method was no friend to wizards either, which were forever locked out of high spell levels. And it also made each character into a gestalt character which could lead to a certain distasteful kind of play. No thanks, and I hope this is a “module.”

Mike: We want to make [multi-classing] simple, but iconic class features need to be important as well. There are also packages we’re looking at where characters can gain certain features or qualities that helps them branch out and feel like more of an individual or a real person.

Hmm, there seems to be some back-pedalling here. Perhaps if they limit the multclassing to a single pair of classes, or kept other limitations on it, like the disparity between levels,it could work. And the part about iconic staying iconic tends towards the idea of no “everything multiclass” that is so bad. Then he meanders into what I am guessing is theme territory.

That is all they said about multiclassing, and it wasn’t much. My guess: they haven’t thought much about it, so here is what I propose. es keep it simple and yes, keep it iconic, but there needs to be a way to make a traditional archetypal “elf fighter-magic user” so it should be two classes that advance equally (and equally as slowly, i.e. the character levels will always be below their peers, but not by much more than a level) or make it a simple feat choice, where you pluck single abilities from another class. Mudularity, eh? Make it so.

There you have it. So what do we know about the other random chunky bits of character design? We know feats are in, but from clues i the quotes, they are not as we know them. Hopefully that means there is no massive list of thousands, but possibly “class feats” or maybe “class, race, and theme” feats, 3 central pools. Let’s hear what the developers have to say:

On Feats, Skills, Abilities, and Powers:

Bruce: You have those feats that give you at-will style attacks, and some spell or class options will give you at will kind of attacks.

I’m sorry what? Feats are now at-will attack powers? Feats And other class abilities can give at-will attacks, apparently. Ok, all this tells us is that feats are new and different, and that they have powers.

Rob: And there’s nothing stopping us from looking at all those green attacks from 4th and seeing how those fit into this new iteration. Some for combat, some for not combat. The spell feats fit for that and other class options or feats could offer similar things.

Yep, powers. Ok, as long as I dont have pages of power cards to print out, I think it was the cards that did it for me, but as much as I railed against them, they were so damn useful. I’m not exactly sure where he is going with the thought, once we leave combat, we still use powers? Are powers coming back in a new and big way? Im not sure, but there seems to be some hints that powers are happening, in a new and bigger way. Anyone ever heard of Javelin of fire?

Rob: We could bring back a whole raft of at-wills from 4e, and make those type of things Wizard feats. There are also magical feats that are non-combat oriented. Different frequency rates, as well (encounter).

They are powers but called feats. OK, I think I see what is happening, pwers are now feats. i just hope it is not one more thing they are dumping into the grab-all category called feats, ‘cuz if so, they just dumped another couple thousand feats into the grinder, going by 4e numbers. My head would explode if this were the case, but it can’t be true, an it? It is interesting that they only mention green at-will attacks. It almost sounds like he is talking about the cantrips mage hand, prestidigitation, and the like.

Create and purify water NEEDS to be a cleric orison. Please make it so.

Bruce: 4e took Vancian magic and gave it to all classes. We’re bringing it back to the part of D&D where it belongs. Fighters have their version of abilities and options as well, but it will have a different feel than the vancian magic for arcane stuff.

It is interesting that they keep talking about wizard feats, but when it comes to the fighter, who has traditionally been the feat-maester of the game, their are no feats, but “class abilities” mentioned. At least they won’t be dailies. I cold see using powers for fighters. Im still not on board with powers though.

Bruce: Wizards have magical feats (at-will, always available).

Ok, thanks for clarifying. Feats are at-will wizard attack spells.

Rob: I really want to see feedback on the wild talents. There’s a lot of different and interesting things going on there and I think there’s a lot of room for feedback there on if they work, how they work.

This is the only place in the whole convention where wild talents are mentioned and I am intrigued. If they are anything like the psionic wild talents in the 4e Dark Sun book, then I am sold, those were great. I gave them ot as boons to players at some point, and it really added flavor (and value) to the characters.

Otherwise, I don;t know what he could mean, other than possibly a sorcerers wild powers? Rob, come on!

Rob: As of *right now* skills specifically interact with your ability scores, outside of, and a little inside combat. A feat is bigger and chunkier and changes the ways you interact with the game. A skill would be something that’s a reflection of a stat or a specific feature of a stat. A feat is more like a feature that is beyond that, more unique and not inherent to an ability score.

There are many traps that feats can fall into. Feat tax is where a feat is required to perform at best level. That is the worst. And non-combat feat ALWAYS lose out on combat feats. Would your character rather be +1 with an axe, or know another language?

Bruce: Adding to that, a feat might provide a bonus that is always on, or a power or ability. Feats are always on, (e.g. Toughness), skills are used situationally. Feats are the territory that lie beyond ability scores

But Bruce, always on tends to create feat taxes. I hope its not an unknown territory. I do not want 5,000 feats, and I do not want to search through 30 books (Or go online dammit!) just to pick the right frakking feat. Im not kidding here. This is important.

Rob: Feats also cover stuff that would be like your at-will powers. For example if you saw the javelin of fire at-will in the playtests, that was from a magic feat.

Ok, this feat stuff is making me sick, luckily this is the last one. Its almost like they are apologizing for feats. They just can’t stop saying how they are needed for this, or this, or this, but I for one am not convinced.

Feats are a great concept, but they are a huge wasteland of unrelated random traps, taxes, bad, and required feats that grows greater and greater like a blcak hole, while we suffer all the more. Get rid of feats, or narrow down their focus to something that can fit into the core of the game and then never be allowed to grow or propagate again. Use Napalm or a concerted javelin of fire assault, but destroy or neuter feat-bloat.

Stay tuned for Part 4.

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D&D Next Caves of Chaos

This past weekend, Wizards of the Coast hosted a Dungeons and Dragons Experience convention in Indiana, as they have for the past few years. This year was special because they announced a new edition of Dungeons and Dragons was in the works – and it was being designed as “one edition to rule them all” by taking the best aspects of all editions and building the game from the ground back up

There were four major conferences during the convention, one each day starting on January 26, 2011, and extending until Sunday the 29th. For those attending, there were also four hour slots each day to play test the first version of this new d&d. At least one of the adventures played was the classic “Caves of Chaos” from the seminal adventure “Keep on the Borderlands.” The play-testers were all had to sign Non-disclosure waivers, and so far little has leaked.

For now, we will ignore the play-testers out of jealousy and envy, and instead focus on the transcripts of the conferences, which were thankfully not held by NDA waivers. The conferences are as follows:

Class Design, from Assassins to Wizards
Charting the Course: An Edition for all Editions
2012 D&D Products
Reimagining Skills and Ability Scores


So, from the four talks, I have pulled out the most interesting quotes, to which I must thank all those people involved in tweeting and live-blogging the event. It made it possible to be there without actually being there. I am pulling the quotes from all four with no particular order. This series will be broken down into broad categories. Under the quotes I give a brief reaction or analysis, depending on my quixotic whim.

On Advancement:

Monte: If your fighter goes up a level and would normally get some bonus damage or a bonus to hit, or something simple, then maybe instead you could choose to replace that with an option or options that allow you to do some cool moves that allow you to push people around, or protect your allies a bit more, or control the battlefield a little more.

Ok, this is an area dear to my heart, as I have a distinct disdain for the current method of escalating modifiers. AC of 43, being +23 to an attack, these are all absurdities of a system to linearly dependent. Monte is opening the doorway, here, of a different way to treat advancement. Perpetual numbers creep is not the best method, contrary to most popular MMO’s. In 4e, most characters BEGIN THE GAME being at least +4 to hit and damage, usually closer to +7 or +8 in at least one attack, and it only goes up from there, practically by a point a level.

This is tentatively good news, but let’s see if we can get something a little more concrete.

Monte: I don’t want any class to have to take longer than any other class to come into it’s own. Story wise, I want all the classes to progress at the same rate. So that a third level assassin feels the same as a third level bard in as much as how assassiny or how bardy they feel. The story comes first, and character advancement should come as fast as the group wants it to. I think character advancement should go as fast as the group wants it to go. So I want information available so that you can control that entirely based on your gaming group. Yes, there will be a base progression, but I want there to be information on speeding that up or slowing that down as necessary. There will be a set pace in the player’s book, but meaty rules in the DMs book to adjust that.

This should perhaps go into the DM’s section, though it pertains directly to level advancement. We can pull from this that we are not going back to a 1e method of different XP requirements for different classes. That is good to know, and he goes on to add that there might be different XP tables for a group to follow, for a shorter or longer campaign. This is interesting,and I know Pathfinder has such a table, though I can’t recall seeing anything like it in previous editions.

The fact that they come out and say the DM will set the pace is good news indeed, and a steady refrain throughout the convention – putting the DM – who apparently IS your daddy – back into the game. Here here, says daddy-dm.

Monte: Every edition of the game “breaks down” at a certain level. I don’t think it breaks down, I just think it changes. I think 4E does the best of highlighting that high level change and being clear that things are changing. I think that we can run with that for the future and have a list of options for classes/characters that open up when you hit a certain level. We can also have other options, like building a castle, having followers and vassals. We can build that into what high level characters get.

Now I want to run a domain game, with a castle, tower, temple and thieve’s guild. You have 3,000 peasants betwixt you, now defeat the evil empire to the north.

Ok, seriously, Monte is really calling up some old school imagery with the castle building, and I totally agree on the heroic, paragon, and epic destinies of fourth edition. Can we add a “worthless level 0” tier at the bottom, you know, for everyone else? Level 1-5 should not quite be so heroic, and the rest sould be rather less epic. Im still not were paragon ties into the whole thing except “medium” so my campaign went straight from poor losers, to heroic, to epic demi-gods at level 15. To get back to castle building, it was paid for one block of stone at a time, or to spell it out: low levels should be meat grinders, high levels should feel attained.

Monte: Instead of the fighter getting a better and better attack bonus, he instead gets more options to do stuff as he goes up in level, and his attack bonus goes up at a very modest rate. I think it offers a better play experience that the orc/ogre can remain in the campaign, and people can know how the monster would work from a previous experience, but they remain a challenge for longer.

Here is the golden quote, thank you as always Monte for giving us the gold. If I am correctly understanding his eloquent description, it hues directly to the 1e method of the fighter to hit table slowly increasing over time (Or maybe even – gasp – slower advancement than even that) while the non-fightery classes are fairly static, or advance even slower on would hope.

Monte: Not having ability scores advance as quickly also makes magic items more relevant at higher and lower levels. Because level will mean less dramatically for things like attack bonus, those things will scale a lot less, we can play around with you having other options to improve your ability scores or skills so those choices really matter instead of just having them advance as you level. The current playtest system allows us to do fun things with scaling. Attack bonus scales less, so ability mods mean more.

Not having bonus creep solves A LOT more problems than it creates – which is nothing more than some imaginary feeling of advancement by the player. Feelings, pshaw. The benefits are that the whole game is playable, not just a slice or window of level-appropriateness. First level in a party of 8th level characters? No problem. (OK maybe bring a backup)

This was my personal highest pet peeve of 4e, and 3e as well, and I hate watching players add these columns of double digits on their fingers – or worse, with their wrist watch calculators. Lets mellow the modifiers to something more modest, max +1 to +3 at first level, and decked out prince at level ten being +5 to +7, max, or a barbarian raging +40. Keep it simple.

On Gameplay:

Mike: If we support those three things (combat, role-play, and exploration) we’ve covered about 90% of what’s important in the game. The customization comes in at the table level. DM makes choices along with the players to craft their game.

Mike mearls is here introducing the idea of modularity at the table, where the group forms a consensus and plays by that set of rules. This is a natural way to do things, and it is the person most invested in the game, usually the dm, who has most of the books and therefore the most sway in any discussion.

Monte: You want to reward behavior but you don’t want to penalize people for not playing a certain way. We shouldn’t force players to be penalized because they can’t be personally eloquent on the fly. What we’ve done now is we have this thing called “advantage” that a DM can hand out if the players set themselves up with a good description.

Here is an interesting tweak, taking combat out of advantage, and bestowing the reward (presumably +2 or the like) for good role-play, creative idea, etc. This has always sorta been in the game, but codifying it helps bring it to the forefront of the mechanics, which will help players. Sounds reasonable.

Monte: We’re not just giving more power to the DM, we’re giving more power to the players. In a way we’re giving more power to the players, and not just the characters. We’re giving the player the ability to come out with his crazy ideas and say I want to do this. And instead of giving the DM lots of concrete rules, give him rules for making calls and keeping the action and roleplay going. So when a player goes I want to jump up onto this table and kick the magic helmet off the monsters head, the DM will know that he can just let it happen because of the ability score and/or require a roll for some of the things that are going on.

Everyone gets more power! Its power-up time. I feel empowered. I also feel like Monte is saying that the rules in general are going to be presented more as guidelines, and will offer ways such as (in the event of an argument, roll a d20 or flip a coin) to keep the game moving.

He also mentions the “just letting it happen” which is an ominous foreshadowing of the “no roll, step level” skill checks, where if you fall in or outside a a certain range, it is auto success or fail. Personally I feel this design element goes against the grain of what 5e is trying to achieve (leveling the playing field) and this mechanic flies in the face of that. Hoipefully Monte will see the light and let us take impossible odds again.

Trevor: I’ve heard a lot of people talking about how at first level they are concerned with their characters dying. Probably not the lethality that original or early D&D had, but surviving at low levels and beyond is something that players will be careful of it they’re doing more dangerous tasks.

Its the Kidd. There is no way to make the game too lethal to first level characters. Make it more lethal. Characters should start with an AC and HP of 1, all ability scores of 3,k and then should crawl naked ot o the mire of a potato field to achieve heights of glory and or infamy. Luckily this is ultimately in the DM’s purview, but it would be nice if we didnt have to strip the PC’s of scores of hit points from the outset.

Monte: In every edition of the game, the DM has had the ability to play out the the combat in a theater of the mind style, or pull out a grid and miniatures to be more more precise. Nothings changed with that – a DM will still be able to do that. But if you want to make things more tactical, then the DM would choose to apply the tactical rules module. The DM would let his players know that when he’s setting up the campaign, and then there are certain options that would or might be flagged as specifically useful in a game using the tactical rules module.

While this is technically true, some editions are openly pro-grid. Coming from a miniature background (we played the game on a matchbook cover) I have never had a problem with a “grid” and there are times where I count every square, and there ore other times when each square equals a mile. We adapt to the situation, and as long as D&D Next has a conscious design goal of making it playable with or without miniatures and a grid, then it cant go too far gone.

That said, lets make sure the tactical module is built into the ore game, even if it is optional, an lets make damn sure that it is available from the get-go. My biggest fears have all been relieved in this series of conversations, but new fears have developed – the wait for these “modules” that some may deem critical to playing the game may lead to disruptions in adoption of the new game. I need druids from day one, and I need tactical combat from ay one. Please no mistake on this one, guys, go big. There will always be room and ideas for expansions, no need to “save stuff back” and space limitation is a pretty weak argument.

Bruce: Those options would also still be useful in the theater of the mind kind of games as well. While an option might be flagged to make it easy to find and use if your game is using the tactical rules module, it’s just as useful in other game styles as well.

Oh right, flagging, I knew I missed something,thanks Bruce. Yes, I always loved those little bulls eye things in the Dummy guide books. Lets have flags, and if they have in and out of combat uses, so much the better. In 4e, we tried to use our flashy and elaborate powers out of combat, but the results were… mixed. Dissociated mechanics is sokmething that these new feats, powers, and other abilities need to avoid. I want these “powers” to sound and behave like a real thing, even spells, and not an anime or video game move.

Monte: And this tactical rules module that we’re envisioning would be covered in the initial book release.

Oh, Monte has put my worries to rest. The initial release will support my insatiable need for more miniatures, battlemaps, dungeon tiles, and other accessories. Thank goodness.

Part 5 coming soon.

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Next D&D Goldenrod Character Sheet Peek

This past weekend, Wizards of the Coast hosted a Dungeons and Dragons Experience convention in Indiana, as they have for the past few years. This year was special because they announced a new edition of Dungeons and Dragons was in the works – and it was being designed as “one edition to rule them all” by taking the best aspects of all editions and building the game from the ground back up

There were four major conferences during the convention, one each day starting on January 26, 2011, and extending until Sunday the 29th. For those attending, there were also four hour slots each day to play test the first version of this new d&d. At least one of the adventures played was the classic “Caves of Chaos” from the seminal adventure “Keep on the Borderlands.” The play-testers were all had to sign Non-disclosure waivers, and so far little has leaked.

For now, we will ignore the play-testers out of jealousy and envy, and instead focus on the transcripts of the conferences, which were thankfully not held by NDA waivers. The conferences are as follows:

Class Design, from Assassins to Wizards
Charting the Course: An Edition for all Editions
2012 D&D Products
Reimagining Skills and Ability Scores


So, from the four talks, I have pulled out the most interesting quotes, to which I must thank all those people involved in tweeting and live-blogging the event. It made it possible to be there without actually being there. I am pulling the quotes from all four with no particular order. This series will be broken down into broad categories. Under the quotes I give a brief reaction or analysis, depending on my quixotic whim.

On Ability Scores:

Rob: Looking at all the iteration of D&D, the classic way of doing ability skills is rolling. So the very basic we’re working from are 4d6 drop the lowest for each stat. But since we’re also looking at the modularity, those core books will also have options for other ability score generation which might be point buy, point arrays and other things.

Back to rolling as the standard method of stat generation, bravo, this is exciting news, and sorely missed in recent editions. However, I can see how it could be difficult, when the importance of ability scores becomes clearer through the quotes below. Essentially the ability scores are going to be the direct numbers used for many parts of the game, such as saving throws and skills. So to have the whim of the dice be so important is surprising. I am not sure how they can pull it off without some sort of “cap and trade” policy in place.

Monte: Making a saving throw against something has become something that’s really a part of D&D. So again, what we’ve done is tie those into the ability scores. For example you’ll make a strength saving throw or wisdom saving throw against a certain effect and so far it’s become a big part of some effects and abilities. The attacker makes a check and that sets the DC for your saving throw.

This is surprising news, and seems very simple and elegant. Instead of saving against petrification which is modified by constitution, one simply rolls against constitution. Yes, this could work. HE also mentions opposing rolls, which, as is usual with Monte – complicates the issue. This could mean that it is a roll-off, like a good ol fashion stealth-against-perception marathon, only with saving throws? Sure why not? My motto is ROLL MORE DICE.

Rob: Right now, Cha is linked to saves for fear and charm effects. However, if you describe it well, you could use different stat. For example the big monster is grappling you, you might use dexterity to save and get out. But you can also have some other ways of getting out that grapple. Maybe there’s a gem on that creature’s head and you can make an intelligence saving throw to realize that if you mess with it, the creature would die and let you go.

Sorting through this, we come up with a couple of interesting tit-bits of info. The first is that Charisma is used for charm and fear – makes sense, and also gives us a clue that they are trying not to let any stat be a “dump stat” by giving the traditional dump some new perks. Classy. The other idea is the open ended-ness, but he describes it like a puzzle the PLAYER might have to figure out in order for the CHARACTER to benefit. Very cool.

Monte: Another thing that we’re trying out is not only having races give you ability scores changes, but the classes also give you bonuses. It makes sense that if you’re a cleric that you would get that bonus to wisdom – you’ve had training or experience that help you out there.

This is new, yet seems like it should have always been there… Just like with the rest of character generation, if it is used with a system of “cap and trade” it could work. I am also getting a strange vibe from the way some of these descriptions sound, as if it might use a “Step” system, instead of a straight numerical progression. Nothing was specifically said, but then there was a lot of importance being made about a single “+1” during these discussions. Step, Cap, and Trade, my friends, the new economy.

Bruce: I also see it as kind of puzzle pieces or guiding. I can pick the half orc and lets say that gives you a +1 strength. I can then look at the classes and see that fighter gives me a +1 strength and see the synergy there.

Lock, step, cap, and trade. This could work. I hope they also have negatives. Nothinghighlights a positive like its looming cousin, the negative. And I add one more thing, dammit, since I am apparently on a tirade. I am sick and tired of characters with no low ability scores. Just like the art, they are fabulous in everything. I think every character should have a mandatory maximum 8 in one ability score. Lock, step, cap, and trade.

Monte: It allows you to make the weird choices, too. Half-Orc Bard gets Cha bump, so you’re still a good Bard.

If this can really make non-traditional choices work without feeling gimped out of the gate, they will have achieved a first. They imply throughout the dialogue the importance of ability scores, yet a whimsical attitude towards the actual goodness or badness of the abilities.

Bruce: Looking at the playtest characters here, you might have noticed that a class or a theme might have given you a bonus to skill, but you didn’t have a skill list. Normally if you were to call for a check, you would just call for the ability score – like a dexterity check for sneaking up. But if you have a class or character feature that gives you a bonus to sneak, you would add that in. There are a lot of different expressions for skills.

OK, from what I understand. The skill system is keyed off the ability score. For those of you who played Encounters, the skills were listed below each relevant ability score. It only makes sense to do this, and then no matter the skill, roll the score, but if you are “trained” or “have a feat” or a “special snowflake point” then you get to add any relevant bonus. This souns like it could work, but I wonder about “trained only skills” like picking the magic lock, or running barefoot over lava.

Monte: In previous editions, ability scores played into skills. We want skills to play into ability scores. Maybe more open-ended.

Oh, thanks for clearing up so succinctly what I just stumbled through, Monte my main man.

Bruce: If skills are not the portals to ability scores, but rather the tweaks to them, we can add interesting tiny skills. More flavor. Because the ability scores are the core, we can make any little skills we want.

Could you give us a hint about making up our own skills and adding these “little skills?” My wife practically forced me to make up the skill “tinkering” during our 3rd edition game, so… She wants to know. This seems very open-ended and indeed, it sounds like the skill system that first appeared the basic edition of the game as an option in The Duchy of Karameikos and standard fare in the eventual amalgamation called the Rules Cyclopedia. I could deal.

Monte: It means that if you’re a DM and you don’t even want to deal with skills, you can totally do that.

But of course. And the way it ties directly into ability checks, this is a completely doable design as stated.

The way they present ability scores is that they are the fundamental building blocks of the character, and that instead of modifying much of what your character is capable of, the ability scores directly represent the character, and other modifiers mitigate that core assumption. In other words a 17 constitution represents a 17 fortitude, or a 17 save against poison, or a 17 agianst a trek across the desert, etc. But “dwarf” gives +1 vs poison, so it becomes 18. This is a great way to represent a character.

In many ways it goes against a core old school belief in minimizing the importance of stats. This shows that the designers are forward thinking in their approach and not just picking and choosing from a buffet table of past editions. The growing importance of the six prime ability scores seems natural and positive.

Another issue, is that with the importance of the ability scores, rolling dice creates a real problem with chronically bad rollers, with cheating, and with all kinds of other problems, like public games. I hope the lock-step-cap-and-trade system is used to good affect, or that some means is taken to level the playing field.

What is this now? Themes are in the core? From the below, we will ome to nderstand that the theme is part of the core three part triumvirate of character creation: race, class, theme. Elf-rogue-pirate; dwarf-cleric-defender; human-paladin-noble, etc. We get the idea.

On Themes:

Monte: What we’re working with now is that you pick you stats, class, race and then you also have a theme. So you might be a commoner, a noble, a knight, aprentice, etc. These themes would offer you skills. As you go up in level you could expand on that and express the story of your background and character by picking more options that support your theme. But if you want to get into a more complex character development system (modular option), then you could pick other features and things to basically build your own theme.

It sounds like there is a three part choice when gaining levels, and you can pick from class, race, or theme feats, bonuses, skills, or what-not. I can get behind that idea, though it seem like a lot of material. Pages and pages of it, all open for ay class, or possibly with requirements.

Monte: We’re doing a lot of really cool things with themes. For example, you could have a planetouched theme that would give you some extraplanar stuff.

Next.

Bruce: This is on the edge of what we’re thinking of, but maybe something like being a deva would actually be a theme instead of a race. There’s a more basic one that I really enjoy is the pubcrawler. You’re that guy when you walk into the bar everybody knows your name, and it has some other flavor like that. It doesn’t really speak to the combat or some other character areas, but it really helps inform who that guy is.

Now we are getting somewhere! I am Norm hear me belch! This is one of the coolest ideas of a theme ever. There would need to be plenty of communication with the DM. I could see it causing trouble in some campaigns. Infiltrating a foreign country. “Not agian, where is the bear suit?”

Rob: I like the idea of possibly taking what might have been classes in other editions and making them themes. For example, I love avengers, but an avenger themed Paladin is really cool too. It opens up the space for working with a class from a previous edition that there might not be space for as it’s own class, but still has some great flavor.

I really love avengers too, and my wife played an elf avenger for a two year campaign. “A little elf with a big sword.” Her pair of d20s are legendary.

Monte: The themes work well with the open-ended skills system. We can make skills just for specific themes.

I really love the idea of create-your-own “little skills” and it really does seem totally open-ended and a great addition.

Monte: If you wanted to play the most basic version of the game you could ignore themes completely.

I think this means you can play a core game of the basic four races adn classes. Or at least I hope that’s what he means. Otherwise, he is saying that themes are a module, and not a part of the core triumvirate.

Bruce: We can use themes to express non-core classes.

Like avengers?

Rob: It’s useful to take classes that are mechanically similar, and differentiate them with themes.

A good example of this are the hexblade, swordmage, and bladesinger. They all seem to have something in common. Or wait, I have it backwards. Sword-mage-wielder will be differentiated by a witchy theme (hexblade) except – wait a witch is a mage – ok now I’m confused. What was the question?

I just want avengers as a core class. Thats the only wish I have left. SO far, they are meeting them all. More parts to follow.

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Next D&D Goldenrod Character Sheet Peek

This past weekend, Wizards of the Coast hosted a Dungeons and Dragons Experience convention in Indiana, as they have for the past few years. This year was special because they announced a new edition of Dungeons and Dragons was in the works – and it was being designed as “one edition to rule them all” by taking the best aspects of all editions and building the game from the ground back up

There were four major conferences during the convention, one each day starting on January 26, 2011, and extending until Sunday the 29th. For those attending, there were also four hour slots each day to play test the first version of this new d&d. At least one of the adventures played was the classic “Caves of Chaos” from the seminal adventure “Keep on the Borderlands.” The play-testers were all had to sign Non-disclosure waivers, and so far little has leaked.

For now, we will ignore the play-testers out of jealousy and envy, and instead focus on the transcripts of the conferences, which were thankfully not held by NDA waivers. The conferences are as follows:

Class Design, from Assassins to Wizards
Charting the Course: An Edition for all Editions
2012 D&D Products
Reimagining Skills and Ability Scores


So, from the four talks, I have pulled out the most interesting quotes, to which I must thank all those people involved in tweeting and live-blogging the event. It made it possible to be there without actually being there. I am pulling the quotes from all four with no particular order. This series will be broken down into broad categories. Under the quotes I give a brief reaction or analysis, depending on my quixotic whim.

On Classes:

Monte: To start with we kind of shot at the moon, and said everything that’s been in a Player’s Handbook 1, we want to potentially have in our new player’s book. That includes things like the warlock and the warlord from 4th edition, but also includes the classes from other editions like the ranger, the wizard, the cleric. Going along those lines we separated things along the lines of what’s common or uncommon. So for example fighters, clerics, wizards and clerics might be commmon while warlocks, bards, and paladins fall into uncommon and something like the assassin might be rare. This helps DMs determine what options they want to run in their games as well.

Oh ya, let’s start off with a big one. Monte (Cook, co-author of the 3e PHB, brought on board to head up this titanic endeavor) uses a caveat – potentially – but I love the direction this is going. He specifically calls out new favorites of 4th edition, the warlock and warlord, and then name drops the assassin, which means this is serious, and we are looking at over a dozen core classes. The idea of separating them into common, uncommon, and rare is an interesting idea without much to go on, but if it ends up being “Choose me if you’re a simpleton” or “Im for the mathematical bunch” then its a bad idea. Giving the campaign direction by making assassins and paladins rare, however is an idea with merit, and deserving of development.

Bruce: I think there’s room for idiosyncrating skill choices and progression for one class, but not have those same options, feel or look for another class. As Monte mentioned we want each class to look, feel and play differently. But there’s also room for some options that spread across all classes.

It sounds like they are reacting to a core complaint of 4e, that the characters all sound amazing and different, but play out much the same. While reading the 1e PHB recently, I was struck how each of the core class had gamemechanics – or even systems – that were devoted solely to their class – cleric turning, thieve’s skills, for instance. Each core had its own FEEL and mechanics to back it up. I also love it when people make up words – that’s how language evolves. Did He really say idiosyncrating? Or was it idosyncratizing?

Rob: For example we might say that all classes get a feat at third level. But then if you dip into the full customization options, you could trade that out for brute strike or something. So there will be some bits of progression that are shared from class to class, but each one will still feel like it’s own class and have the ability to trade out it’s own options.

I’m sorry, I cannot react properly to this quote due to the uncontrollable bawling at the mention of the word “feat.” OK, whew, Its not that I don’t like feats, it’s that I am allergic to them, and break out in hives – the number corresponding to the amount of feat in that particular edition. I have a recurring case of feat-hives from my subscription to DDI. Why couldn’t I trade out BRUTE STRIKE for a feat instead? I hope he had it backwards, if feats don’t have the look of “Prime module material” than I don’t know what does!

Rob: They’re all awesome, but I think I would have to pick the Ranger. There’s so much stuff going on that I’m excited for each version. You could make up a beast ranger, or an Aragorn stye ranger or a Drizzt style ranger and they all feel awesome and iconic.

OK, so they are having main classes with lots of customizabilty, or kits, or themes, or prestige classes, or whatever you want to call it, now we are getting somewhere. Two weapon, beast companion, or archer ranger. Sounds good.

Monte: Well the barbarian fits with what some of us are familiar with, he rages and can take lots and lots of damage and deal out lots of damage.

I think what Monte is saying is that, at least out of the gate, some classes will be just that – what they are. A barbarian rages and rips into shit. Not a lot of “buildin”g to them. Now maybe when “Viking and Skalds of the Old Kingdoms” comes out, we can have 15 different sub-classes of the barbarian, berzerker, battlemaster and axe-battler.

Bruce: As some of you have seen the cleric has an interesting mix of healing and other options. We’re working on some things that focus on different kinds of clerics like healing, or marshal, or ranged focus. Cleric is interesting, because the Cleric has a few different potential expressions. Domains, healing, how will they express their powers? Work is continuing.

Did he just say that the marshal (warlord) and laser-cleric (or invoker) are going to be sub-classes of the cleric? Is a cleric not always “divine”? This quote begs more questions than it answers. Why do you toy with us mere mortals, Bruce? Tell us about how divine our clerics are.

Rob: My big thing with the cleric was getting back to the cleric of 1E that fights with a mace and shield and gets his party back up. But 2nd edition introduced the other option that is very closely related to your god and had more spell casting. So we’re looking at keeping the cleric as this guy who fights and is that classic cleric, but the priest is that guy that is closer to his god, maybe doesn’t wear that armor is laying down more divine effects and spells.

OK, this makes much more sense. Our cleric is back to basics, of course, but then they are offering the “priest” option, supposedly mroe complex or “uncommon” and it can unfold into many different domains, or possibly even more open-ended with themes and sub-classes. Cleric and priest, separated. Got it.

Bruce: I really like the warlock, that there are several different pacts that you can choose right out of the gate. The customization is a bit more complex, but being able to choose from a strong number of pacts is very important to me and I hope that as it exists in our current playtest, we can move forward with that.

Another example of complexity built into some classes. Like divine domains and arcane schools, warlocks have their pacts.

This wraps up Part 1. Part 2 will delve deeper into the discussion of characters as we discuss Ability Scores.

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Under the moathouse lurk miions of the Dark PriestStarting the new year with a new mini-campaign of the classic adventure Temple of Elemental Evil becomes a better idea with each passing week. Using the Pathfinder Beginner Box Rules has managed to draw the interest of the players with the well done “basic” races and classes. The party is thus made up of 2 fighters, two wizards, a cleric, a rogue, and soon a second cleric. There are two dwarves in the party (the fighter Derp and the cleric Brony Will) and there is 1 elf wizard.

OOC: On the DM side, converting the first edition to third, and vice versa, on the fly has been pretty simple. Generally what happens is I use the HP, attacks, and damage of the original entry, and I convert the descending AC to ascending (i.e AC of 7 becomes AC 13) then I check the pathfinder rules to check on any special attack they might have, but so far, the original monsters as presented in the module contain most important special attacks, like the frog’s added fun attack. Saving throws can be a little trickier, especially finding the proper DC.

The human rogue Kurasawa the Conniving was in the lead, having just dispatched some rats. The party was lined up in a narrow cellar that led to a stairway down into utter darkness. As Kurasawa lit a torch and started down, the barbarian Nugrl began shoving towards the front of the line. Kurasawa saw her approach, and held the torch forward as he dashed down the thirty foot descent of the stairwell. There was a narrow archway that led into a dark chamber beyond, and barbarian and rogue brushed shoulders while each trying to exit the doorway at the same time. The heard a plop and a sizzle, then the pain set in.

Two green slimes dropped from the hidden recesses above the arch, each onto the head, neck and shoulders of those unfortunate ones below. The rogue took almost full damage and fell to the ground as the slime bubbled away. He was already grabbing a blank character sheet. Nugrl shrugged off her slime taking minimum damage and on her turn jumped away and into the room.

From the sputtering torch she could see a large chamber. One end was filled with all sorts of debris, including furnishings, from roof to ceiling. in the other end, a row of four bodies was laying on the ground. Cady leapt over the bubbling rogue to check out the bodies, discovering they were 4 of the 6 bandits slain the day before. Derp leapt the rogue as well, leaving the cleric and wizard to deal with the green slime and their dying ally. Brony Will lit another torch ad attacked the slime on Kurasawa, driving it off him. The wizards then cast various spells in an effort to aid the dwarf, but little aid was forthcoming.

More minions of the Dark Priest

Finally the slimes were killed and Kurasawa was miraculously saved by the dwarf cleric channeling positive energy. He crawled away to the pile of rubble to lick his wounds while Cady, Nugrl, and Derp dealt with the undead they disturbed. Hiding behind columns were two zombies, re-animated corpses of two of the bandits slain the day before. In addition to that, the chamber opened into an L-shaped room, with crypt-doors down one side. Five doors in all, and when the zombies engaged the party in combat, 5 ancient skeletons with scimitars clattered out of the doors.

A wild melee ensued, and finally the wizards were able to get down the stairs and into the main chamber. First the cleric strode forward and channeling his energy, he directed it to blast the 5 skeletons, shattering three of them, while two stood smoking and shaking from the assault. Five more skeletons appeared from the doors. Now the wizards xame forward and using their mage hand, they closed the two nearest crypt doors. Three final skeletons appeared out of the last three, open doors, and that was the last of the undead to appear.

Skull Smashing Spectacular


The battle was vicious, but other then the rogue, no one went down. At last the undead were slain. The rogue had meanwhile tunneled under the debris and found two doors at the end of the chamber. Into the first chamber, he found suits of leather armor and stacks of shields.

Against the other wall of the room are stacks of barrels, and they have an overpowering stench of the rogue’s least favorite fruit (pineapples) so he steers clear and tunnels to the next door. Meanwhile Derp is systematically checking what’s beyond the five crypt doors, an finds two open coffins in each room. Standing at the door of the last crypt his dwarven eye catches a glint in the bottom of one of the coffins, and his senses detect a gem. It is a light green peridot, which he enthusiastically appraises at 1,000 gp.

Cady meanwhile checks the open doorway at the far end of the chamber, and finds a room full of torture devices. Most of them seem dust covered and inoperable, but one table with a bronze cog looks recently used. Checking carefully, Cady notices blood drops that lead towards the south end of the room. They stop at a spike filled coffin, but strangely the coffin is dust covered and unused. They manage to slide it aside and find a concealed trapdoor in the floor. They pause in their search to the other side of the room to shcek out the loot the rogue has found.

The wizards are the first to crawl through the tunnels and into the store rooms. Suits of leather armor and shields line one wall, and barrels pile against another. Behind the preserved fruit the wizard John Clark finds casks of salted fish and meat. The elf wizard follows Kurasawa into the armory, which is lined with pole-arms along one wall (10 glaives and 6 bohemian ear spoons) 50 spears, and 3 battle axes. Also they find a stack of black cloaks with a golden eye wreathed in yellow flames sewn onto it. After the rogue disguises himself in the cloak, he convinces the rest of the party to don an evil elemental eye cult cloak. Behind the staks of cloaks are two crates, containing 200 each of bolts or arrows.

They then proceed, Brony Will the dwarf cleric in the lead, down the narrow 30 foot well revealed beyond the portal in the floor. Iron rungs provide the way down, and Nugrl tries to help by casting a torch down, which narrowly misses the dwarf. At the bottom is a long twisting corridor that ends at a brick wall. He detects the presence of undead beyond the wall, and discovers the unmortared bricks to be easily deconstructed, revealing a dark chamber beyond.

This time he lets the barbarian charge ahead, and the fighters run to the fore to engage the four ghouls. The ancient burial chamber is dank and there is an overpowering stench of death and decay. The ghouls are deadly attackers with their claw-claw-bite attacks, but the deadly paralysis is unsuccessful every single time. The failure of these unskilled ghouls to paralyze a single member of the 8 strong party meant that the adventurers were soon able to get the upper hand.

It was a quick, dirty fight in the crypt, and when it was done, the cleric was all out of divine channeling, and most of the party was down in hit points. Even before searching for loot, they were already thinking of a place to hole up and lick their wounds before continuing on into the unknown depths.

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The archetypes, heroes and champions all

First published in 1978, the First Edition AD&D Players Handbook introduced the character classes that would become iconic in Dungeons and Dragons. Over the ensuing decades, expansions and new editions would increase the overall number of classes, and some would even reach the iconic status of these original 11, but with a few exceptions, the popularity and presence of those original classes has never faded.

There are few things in nature that spring whole from nothing, and most things are improvements or advancements or adaptations of previous things. Even us. So it is with Advanced D&D being an evolution of Basic D&D, which in itself was an expansion to the Chainmail fantasy wargame rules… which themselves are said to be inspired by a game called Little Wars by H.G. Wells a century before. The same is true of the class choices in the AD& D Players Handbook. The basic four archetypes are:

    Fighter, a warrior trained in battle;
    Cleric, a holy warrior who calls down divine aid
    Magic User, a wizard of arcane magic and spellcraft
    Thief, a master of skill and cunning

Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Handbook added the following “sub-classes” which are all full classes in their own right, but simply fall under the main heading of the four base classes, since they follow many of the same paths of advancement throughout the game.

    (Fighter) Paladin, Chivalrous knight of Lawful good
    (Fighter) Ranger, woodsman, hunter, tracker
    (Cleric) Druid, priest of nature, balance, and neutrality
    (Wizard) Illusionist, a wizard trained in deceptive magic
    (Thief) Assassin, an evil killer for hire, in the Dungeon Master’s Guide, actually
    (Cleric-Fighter-Rogue) Bard, the first prestige class, required multi-multi-classing,but was easily house-ruled
    Monk, its own class, based on Asian monastic tradition of super-natural martial arts, broken from the beghinning

Thus, the two sets of classes above form the “core” and “secondary” classes of the AD&D game. Many more classes became available over the span of the first edition, the main sources being the Unearthed Arcana, which included the cavalier, thief acrobat, and especially the barbarian, an instant classic, despite the 6000 xp cost for second level. These classes can safely be considered a part of the “secondary” tier as well, except possibly for the thief acrobat, which if anything, can be said to have increased the need for a more expansive skill list, but been that claim is dubious. Oriental Adventures released a slew of character race and classes that we will tucked aside as a “setting specific” tome, and thus those classes are of “tertiary” importance at best.

Dragon Magazine was also a prolific contributor of “tertiary classes” which were usually classified as “non-player character or NPC class” but this too was easily house ruled, and my second favorite character of all time was a Duelist Alec LeFont, out of the Best of Dragon Vol. IV. The Dragon Issues, and “Best of” Compilations 1-V were a great source of character classes, such as: Anti-paladin, witch, jester, and Archer-Ranger. All of these semi-official character classes were quirky and fun. Some were over or under powered, but that usually didnt matter too much (I totally pwned with Alec for two reasons: D12 hit dice and Parry-the-death-blow.)

Of the initial 11 core classes, the illusuionist rolled into the eventual concept of a wizard’s “Schools of magic” of which illusion was but one of many, along with evocation, necromancy, and divination to name a few. As an “archetype” the idea of the illusionist survived mainly as a concept of specialized wizard. They were very unique in AD&D and even had their own extensive spell list, of which a few, like color spray, are classics.

Another non-archetypal class is the assassin, which is actually in the Dungeon Master’s Guide with warnings against its use by players. The various tables in the PHB, however, include the assassin, so it is technically in the PHB, and besides I am an includer, not a denier, and will always vote for more classes, so the assassin is in, and with it, though it may not have developed into an archetype, pre se, is the idea of an “evil character” of which the old school games tended to produce more than later editions of the game. Therefore, the assassin is doubly worthy, since it gives a tacit acceptance to the anti-paladin, necromancer, bounty hunter, to name but a few traditional “evil archetypes.” the assassin might best be though of in terms of the archetype anti-hero, of which other classes, like warlock, vampire, or werewolf, might easily fit.

I would put it thusly (although I don’t think there is no base class Anti-hero, so its not perfect):

Anti-Hero

    Assassin
    Anti-Paladin
    Warlock

There is no doubt that the monk and bard became instant classic archetypes. Dragon magazine was again helpful in providing updated versions of the classes, so that the bard could be played from first level, and the monk was given various treatment, to make him more or less like kung fu, usually. From Friar Tuck to a ninja, the monk was covered.

Looking Forward

Future editions would go one to promote or demote various classes over the decades since the first edition made it appearance. Second edition divided the cleric into the priest with dominions or areas of specialty, similar to the way arcane schools of magic were done. Pacificst priest became a viable class, and later on, with future editions, other types of priests like “laser cleric” who fired divine energy rays, or in other words was a ranged focused holy warrior; The invoker is another priestly type, being an avatar of a direct intervention of a deity. They bring down the flames of (insert deity) on the enemy. Similarly, another “divine” type of character class is one I think 4th edition brought to classic status, and that is the Avenger, a dark executioner of a deity, imbued with power, and trained in hunting down enemies to extinction.

Not yet mentioned is the Sorcerer who was a unique take on the wizard, being an innate user of magic, rather than book learned, and usually involved dragon blood or some other influence. Being a complete re-imagining of the wizard, not so dependent on the traditional “vancian” style of magic, since they are not beholden to memorization of spells out of a book, but rather cast spontaneously, the Sorcerer is a perfect compliment to the wizard.

The Third edition PHB might be said to have the most all inclusive set of classes, and it included the base 11 except for the lack of assassin and illusionist, which it replaced with the Barbarian and Sorcerer. I personally feel this was a fair trade off, if keeping the number at 11 is important, and would rate the 3e PHB as having the perfect set of core classes. However, other archetypes exist, and a truly great one would be inclusive of all.

Fourth edition sadly only had 8 core classes in Players Handbook 1, and two of them were brand new. This was unfortunate, in that only 6 of the 11 established archetypes were present at launch. It would be rectified in the Players Handbook 2 and 3, the following years. On the other hand, the two new classes were the warlock and warlord, and they both became the two most beloved classes of that edition.

The warlock was a creature who made a pact with a being of immense power, whence sprang their fell powers. The warlord was a captain, leader, and kept their allies going against all odds.

Next D&D

With a new edition of Dungeons and Dragons being released, comes a game that claims to be “one edition to rule them all” and claims to bring ever edition,and play-style into one core game, with modularity for added complexity.

Any time there is a new edition, players of the game worry about which character classes are going to “get the chopping block” by being out of favor, and what new flavor of the month is going to usurp long time favorites? The designers of “Next D&D” are quoted in their first public speech on the subject, claim that their goal is to “include every class that has been in players handbook 1 from any edition.”

Those are big claims, and if they are true, then this iteration of the next edition of the world’s greatest role playing game of all time might just become even greater yet.

Update
Based on that quote above, I thought I would throw in my wild-ass guess at the future edition’s core classes:

Fighter
Paladin
Ranger
Cleric
Priest (with domains)
Druid
Rogue (modern moniker of “Thief”)
Bard
Assassin
Wizard (with schools)
Sorcerer
Monk
Warlord
Warlock

14 classes, or possibly 12, if priest and cleric are rolled into one, and if wizard and sorcerer are also combined. If warlord can be made a sub-class of fighter, they could even get the number to that magical 11.

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D&D Next Playtest Adventure

Oh, interesting choice of adventure. I wonder if there is a nearby keep on them borderlands?

Next up…

D&D Next Goldenrod Character Sheet Peek

My my my, a warlord in the core set opens up an interesting set of parameters. And such FLAVORFUL description of the class, sir.

Oh one more thing (not from the D&D Next playtest, but tucked away ina book since oh about 1986 I guess:

Pay honor to those heroes of legend - slain by ants

Yes, into the slave pits of the under-city they went, if memory serves, and never came back out. Ziggler might have survived, actually, the bastid.

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