Thursday, January 19, 2012

Modularity in D and D

I don’t want people to get the wrong idea. I am actually tentatively excited about the next D and D. I’m not ready to give up on 4e, but I think there is plenty of time to finish it out with a bang. If anything the idea of another edition coming gives me the motivation to get back in and finish some of my games, Primordial Threat I am looking at you. I am also playing in three excellent paragon tier games and I hope that there is enough time to bring them to their logical end. Whether that is level twenty, thirty or some other place remains to be seen.

I do have some real concerns about the modular nature of the next D and D. I was very excited when I read this about the goals for the new edition. It really speaks to one of my main concerns about the modular nature of the game. I am concerned that when I step up to the table to play D and D I’ll find something else instead. Maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement. I do kind of agree with the Dungeon Bastard’s take on the Edition Wars. On the other hand there are some things from old editions that I am not excited to have to deal with again. It’s not to say they aren’t problems with 4e either, but I like the basic assumptions 4e makes about the game.

Feats? Check. Skills? Check. Magic Missile all day? Check.-- Red Mage
I like Swords!--Fighter
Stabbity goodness-- Black Mage
So when the author said that I could play my character with lots of skills and feats and powers and my friend can play his character who likes to hit things with his sword at the same table, it made me very excited. It does sound a bit impossible, but if they can pull it off I would love to see it. Maybe there could be a day when I can play D and D with my wife again. Who knows, stranger things have happened.

I read a blog post this week about some history of the game and what the author would like to see in the upcoming new edition. I really wish I could find it, but one thing the author talked about was in older editions the dm had more power and it was ok. I’ve actually played D and D since second edition and my first dm did have a lot of power. In fact he even leveled our characters for us. It was awesome he told great stories we still talk about to this day. I don’t think my wife will forget when Lady Lark suddenly became a cleric after the god of the moon showed up to save us one time to many. It’s funny now that I think about it I don’t really have any awesome memories about my characters. I think there might be a blog post in there somewhere. In any case I think if a dm tried a trick like that today I would have a fit.
I'm a what now?

I think the reason I trusted the dm to take that level of control was that he was a good friend. Besides, part of me was just excited to be playing. I’m not saying we didn’t have some issues, but I wouldn’t let a dm level up my character today. I have had too many problems with DM’s with god complexes. I’ve actually talked about some of my bad dm experiences in my post about pirates. Part of the problem is that I have moved a couple of times and I’ve lost touch with friends so in order to play I’ve had to find pick-up games and play with strangers. I won’t say it’s been all bad. I have certainly found my share of good times and good DMs. Even more I have found some good friends as well. It’s not the same though I just don’t trust a stranger to tell a good story and run with it. I want to go in with some guidelines so we can start a shared experience.

I could give you a laundry list of things I want in the next iteration of D and D. Things like powers and being able to do something magical as a wizard more than one time per day.  I was thinking of doing just that, lists of modules that I wouldn’t play without, and when the Angry DM said he was excited about limiting them I was all set to write a post about not limiting my D and D. But, I realized what I really want in DnDnext or whatever it ends up being called is not a list of fiddly bits or rules. What I really want are the baseline expectations that make for a good 4e game.

Home wrecker and Game killer.
So here is what I would like in DnDnext, at least for today, tomorrow I might change my mind. I want page 42. That is I would like an easy way to adjudicate things the rules don’t cover and have it spelled out clearly that it’s ok to make calls. I am ok with a bit of Rule 0 thrown in as well. I want the information imperative continued. I want to be able to know the information I need to make good tactical decisions. I think the bloodied condition was one of the best additions to the game. It gives me an idea where to have my friends attack if I am playing a warlord. I think adding some mechanical bits to the condition make it better than just having it be half hp. Some of my favorite monsters get more deadly when they are bloodied. But the one thing I really want in DnD next is Yes and… I have had too many DMs shut me down with a no.

 I think the best example was the encounter that killed D and D for my wife. We were doing an investigative adventure and we ran into dead end after dead end. My Paladin was about ready to start knocking random heads together and my wife asked if the family whose disappearance we were investigating had a maid servant. The DM said no shutting down yet another avenue to adventure.

The worst part that when my wife explained that a well to do family would have had a maid servant it devolved into an argument about medieval politics and actually ended up killing the whole game. I know I have fallen into the trap as a DM myself because it requires a great deal of thinking on your feet to run with what the players give you. If you follow it yes and can vastly improve your game, which is why I am glad it is a baseline expectation of 4e and hope that it continues to be in DnDnext as well. Until next time remember don’t let your DM tell you no. It’s always “Yes and…?”


  1. Lady Lark was awesome and fuck anybody who doesn't realize an upper-middle class family in the supposed time period with a wife and 2 daughters wouldn't have at least a maid, and more likely 6 or 7 other servants. Gah! So frustrating. I mean, how are you supposed to solve a mystery without any witnesses, clues or anything? *rawr*

    1. That was my point exactly. Behold the power of Yes and

  2. I really thing the catch-phrase should be "Yes and... well, maybe... give me a minute to come up with something suitable!" ;)

    1. I know exactly what you mean. It is really hard to think on your feet a lot of the time. I have to say I am really enjoying your game you seem to be able to run off the cuff fairly well.