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Codex Interview RPG Codex Interview: Mike Mearls on Dungeons & Dragons and D&D Next

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Crooked Bee, Jul 23, 2012.

  1. Crooked Bee wide-wandering bee Patron

    Crooked Bee
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    Tags: D&D Next; Mike Mearls; PnP Interview; Wizards of the Coast

    For the third installment in the Codex' P&P RPG interview series, we reached out to Mike Mearls, Head of the Dungeons & Dragons Research and Design team at Wizards of the Coast and Lead Developer on D&D 4th ed. as well as the upcoming D&D Next. In this interview, Mike discusses his career, D&D Next and D&D in general, as well as RPG design. The questions were contributed by Alex. Have a snippet:

    On the subject of exact rules, did Wizards take inspiration from computer or board games for the rules in the previous editions? If so, could you name some that were especially important? Do you see these more exact rules as something that could help the game make the transition to video-games and board games and other environments where there is no GM to make a ruling? If so, does the new edition's focus on modularity make it harder to make a boardgame or videogame based on it?

    As far as I know, 4th edition was the first set of rules to look to videogames for inspiration. I wasn’t involved in the initial design meetings for the game, but I believe that MMOs played a role in how the game was shaped. I think there was a feeling that D&D needed to move into the MMO space as quickly as possible and that creating a set of MMO-conversion friendly rules would help hasten that.

    What we’ve learned since then is that the specific RPG rules aren’t very useful for making other games. Instead, the world lore, feel of the game, distinct features of each class, race, and monster, and so on are much, much more important. If you look at our current boardgames, they don’t use the same exact rules as the RPG but they evoke a similar feel. That’s really the key to us. We want to be able to have a clear, easily understood definition of what a wizard or paladin is. We can then transfer that definition into other games. As long as the feel and key story beats are there, the specific rules are secondary.

    One aspect that was important for some fans in 4e is how the game is "balanced". Some see this as such an important aspect that they have stayed away from introducing house rules that could break this balance. What is D&D Next's approach to this? Are you still trying to carefully balance the powers and abilities each character can have? Does the modularity aspect of the system work against this? Conversely, do you see the modularity as helping people to tweak their own game, creating new rules, classes, skills, abilities and what not?

    When we talk about balance, we want to make sure that the character classes are roughly equivalent in effectiveness across the three basic pillars of D&D play: combat, exploration, and interaction. Some classes might be better in one area that another, but the gap is never so huge that players feel ineffective.

    From a monster stand point, the key to balance is to make sure that we can give DMs clear guidance on a monster’s power level and XP value. If a DM throws an ogre at the party, the DM should have a sense of how much of a challenge that might be. We don’t really care how the DM uses these tools. A DM might want to run lots of easy fights, one big fights, or put in monsters that the PCs aren’t meant to fight. We just want the DM to have a good idea of the relative power between characters and monsters.

    For modularity, the key is to let DMs know how a new rule can change the game. We trust that DMs will alter the game to fit what they and their groups want out of D&D. If we have a lethal, gritty hit point option, we’re not worried about maintaining balance across everything because the DM has opted into that. To some groups, balance is meaningless, so there’s no point in trying to enforce that in all cases.

    If we keep the core simple and transparent, I believe that it will be much easier to create new content. Precise balance is really only possible through lots of playtesting, but I think that if DMs use our existing content as a guide they’ll find it easier to create new stuff.​

    We thank Mike for his time and Alex for the questions.

    Read the full article: RPG Codex Interview: Mike Mearls on Dungeons & Dragons and D&D Next
     
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  2. CappenVarra Phantasmist

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    Codex 2012 Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2
    :greatjob:
    Excellent questions, Alex!

    Please add a link anchor to this paragraph so the next time a 4venger insists that 4th ed is nothing like WoW, it can be linked directly :P

    Please do :)
     
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  3. felipepepe Prestigious Gentleman Codex's Heretic Patron

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    Interviews were both people know what they are talking about are always good to read, good job Alex! :salute:
     
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  4. Mother Russia Andhaira Dumbfuck Queued

    Andhaira
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    Awesome! I had no idea the dex was now interviewing p&p designers. This is great, who came up with it? And who the fuck is Alex and why haven't I seen him post much here on the dex?
     
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  5. Thrasher Erudite

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    Interesting!
     
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  6. Mother Russia Andhaira Dumbfuck Queued

    Andhaira
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    Also, when doing p&p interviews perhaps you should ask the users here if they wish to add questions of their own. For instance, a very pertinent question that could have been asked was left out, which is: Why did you bring back vancian casting when you took it out in 4e and got a lot of positive feedback when you announced you were doing so back in Delve 2008 (feb)
     
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  7. Havoc Cheerful Magician Patron

    Havoc
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    That's a bad and good idea at the same time. Good - unique classes. Bad - too much rules. I know it's DnD to have many, many rules and game mechanics, but after playing couple of years I can tell you that this will be bad. In my opinion of course.
     
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  8. LeStryfe79 Wino Patron

    LeStryfe79
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    Good interview, Bad game.

    :rpgcodex:

    Edit: Where's Grunker?
     
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  9. Thrasher Erudite

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    Rules are optional/modular. Which is a good thing.
     
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  10. Morkar illiterate

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    I think it's a good idea when the underlying basic rules are the same to start with. For a player I think it's a good idea. Every new class you play gives you complete different gameplay experiences. For a DM on the other hand it can get easily get a frustrating mess.
     
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  11. Havoc Cheerful Magician Patron

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    Yeah, that's my point. I like how in Pathfinder they streamlined (in a good way) all those special maneuvers. CMB/CMD. You still have your options and can build your character in a different way (special feats, weapons for each maneuver), but everything goes down to that one dice roll. I hope it will be like this.
     
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  12. Metro Arcane Beg Auditor

    Metro
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    This can't be D&D since Neverwinter is truly what Dungeons and Dragons is about.
     
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  13. Excidium P. banal

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    Good work, Alex! :hug:
     
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  14. thesheeep Arcane

    thesheeep
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    Bah. Am I the only one to note further downfall in D&D here?

    Up to DnD 3.5, classes were different, played different in combat and other areas, etc. In DnD 4, every class is the same. Take combat, for example.
    Each character has a certain set of at-will, per-encounter and daily powers. Those always (okay, 90%) do the same: Some damage of some kind (which doesn't matter as most monster immunities simply vanished from 3-5) plus some random effect of some kind (fear, which effects brainless undead also...).
    It is exactly like this for every class and almost every power. Just the descriptors vary. In one, the mage sends a bolt of electricity, in another, the rogue may infuse his slingshot with lightning powder (or whatever). But both are the same. Basically every class now has spells with different descriptors, like a MMO.

    And this upper quote sounds like they are going to continue along that line even further.
     
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  15. Morkar illiterate

    Morkar
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    I don't have much hope in D&D anyway. With 4th ed they completely abandoned what made D&D. Someone other took over and is now a better D&D. And since they cannibalized the older classic settings and didn't produce anything worthwhile in the "fluff" department (sourcebooks and settings were shit most of the time, mostly a random collection of enemy statblocks) they don't have that much to offer anymore. Completely changing the style was good way to alienate the older playerbase, too.
    Even before in 3rd Edition Paizo (and other companies thanks to an open license) was actually the company who took care to produce something playable and consistent for D&D instead just more and more stats, powers, artifacts etc.
     
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  16. Mozgoëbstvo Learned

    Mozgoëbstvo
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    So, when will you guise manage to scrounge up an interview with Monte Cook instead?
     
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  17. Ulminati Kamelåså! Patron

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    When Monte Cook has something relevant to say :obviously:
     
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  18. JrK Cipher

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    But then on the other hand the CMB thing ruined the actual effectiveness of manoeuvres with the fact that CMD is CMB +10 + dex mod. Once size modifiers and high dex start adding there is only a low probability you will make CMB checks against anyone of your size or bigger, unless the target has a bad BAB or low Str/Dex. And those who do have BAB or low Str/Dex know that they cannot compete in the CMB/CMD area. It wouldn't be bad if they would be weak at it, but PF is made so that at a certain point you cannot win anymore.
     
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  19. Mozgoëbstvo Learned

    Mozgoëbstvo
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    I believe he has. Or rather he would, if it weren't for his non disclosure agreement after being fired from WotC.
     
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  20. Grunker RPG Codex Ghost Patron

    Grunker
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    Codex 2012 Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Torment: Tides of Numenera Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Great interview Alex!

    So far I've done interviews with Kromm from GURPS and also one with White Wolf. Alex interview is third in line.

    Alex was kind enough to take the D&D interviews while I handled the other ones. And he's done some pretty impressive stuff! Expect more D&D interviews in the future with other glorious designers :)

    Have you played the play-test? It's sort of a mix between 3.5/Pathfinder, 4th edition, and some very cool new ideas. I'm skeptical it will make me move away from Pathfinder, but it's more promising than I would have thought.

    Not promising anything, but you may get your wish fulfilled within a reasonable time-frame.
     
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  21. Excidium P. banal

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    More like they abandoned it with 3rd Ed., the character build simulator.:avatard:
     
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  22. Morkar illiterate

    Morkar
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    The first 3rd Edition core rules were pretty solid (with some exception like one dice hp gain with every level and the skill system) and a direct evolution of 2nd Edition. Prestige classes were never meant to become that meaningful.
     
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  23. Grunker RPG Codex Ghost Patron

    Grunker
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    Codex 2012 Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Torment: Tides of Numenera Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    lol
     
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  24. Phelot Arcane

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    So, in before leases of 4th edition to MMO's I suppose? :D
     
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