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Slashdot's Rob Rozeboom Interviews D&D Designer Mike Mearls (video)

Roblimo posted more than 2 years ago | from the my-imaginary-friend-is-a-giant-lizard-that-breathes-fire dept.

Games 139

Mike Mearls is the Senior Manager for the Dungeons and Dragons Design Team. He's been with D&D publishers Wizards of the Coast (a subsidiary of Hasbro) since 2005, Before that he was a free-lance game writer and designer. In this conversation with Slashdot editor Rob "samzenpus" Rozeboom, he talks about changes in the latest version of D&D and how the company interacts with players. (We'll have some more chat with Mike next week, different wizard time, same wizard channel, so stay tuned.)

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No thanks (1, Informative)

wbr1 (2538558) | more than 2 years ago | (#40686521)

if (DnD > 3.5) {DnD=='sucks'}

Re:No thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40686555)

if(DnD.system.version 4.0) { DnD.system.status = 'mechanically broken'; }

Re:No thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40687019)

Hmm. Not sure where the != went. It was supposed to be:
if(DnD.system.version != 4.0) { DnD.system.status = 'mechanically broken'; }

Re:No thanks (4, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | more than 2 years ago | (#40688047)

This is why you have a real live DM to correct for those times in which it is broken.

Is it possible to, by the letter of the rules, break 3.5? Sure it is. But in my group we have players who're more interested in having fun than in rules-lawyering, and a DM to ensure that that things stay balanced.

A good RPG system doesn't have to be balanced; it just has to be balanced to first order.

Re:No thanks (1)

bistromath007 (1253428) | more than 2 years ago | (#40688159)

Yeah, but D&D's main purpose is a wargaming system. Actual RP is the extreme minority, even in groups that enjoy it. Although I haven't and don't want to try it, I think it's smart of WizCoast to go back to those roots with their newer products. They actually have stuff that is consciously trying to split the wargaming aspect out of D&D. Maybe if that becomes more popular, the RP will have some room to grow?* *Nah, it'd be the killing blow. But I can dream.

Re:No thanks (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 2 years ago | (#40688167)

That's Rule 0, but we did come up with some weird builds where the character was unkillable, like the Warforged Fighter / Barbarian / Juggernaut / Frenzied Berzerker build with some of the BoHM feats.

I really enjoyed playing my Whisper Gnome Beguiler / CG Paladin build, but the DM moved to a different city.

Re:No thanks (1)

Iniamyen (2440798) | more than 2 years ago | (#40686623)

That's bad C-syntax

Re:No thanks (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40686811)

Codemonkey response: you need a single =, no quotes, and to define what enumerated type has a numeric definition of sucks. Or alternatively, single =, double quotes, and fix your variable placement. As it is currently, you are doing a numeric check, followed by checking to see whether that number is also equal to the single character 'sucks' (which is not a single character) and then completely ignoring the result of that check.

Gamer response: Not true. D&D 3.8E is quite fun. (Where 3.8E is the interesting hybrid version used by DDO)

Re:No thanks (3, Informative)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#40686935)

Honestly, it's not the versions that I have a problem with, it's that they've converted to an optional content/material publication system, to a required core update system that delivers no new content, just new rules. Wizards seem to have forgotten the value of charm and mystery along the way.

I remember when the problem really began with random miniatures instead of just buying what you need. The whole intent was to FORCE you to buy more to get what you need to play. I jumped ship, and I think lots of other people did too.

Re:No thanks (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40687199)

I'm not so sure. I have to agree with your assessment; 3.5 to me was the pinnacle of DnD and 4 just turned me off big time.

However, I still didn't jump ship, I've just stayed with 3.5. Technically I play other's products now, such as Arcanna Evolved by Monte Cook and Pathfinder, which are enhancements of the 3.0 and 3.5 editions and to me represent good quality upgrades. So maybe that's jumping ship to go to other D20 products, but I'll admit I'm not jumping ship to any of the other game systems like White Wolf or Palladium. DnD still represents the core RPG. Your assessment is good, but I wonder how many have really jumped ship.

Re:No thanks (1)

zlives (2009072) | more than 2 years ago | (#40688213)

which led to using whatever fig as whatever monster... which returned us to using M&M's as monsters... only use figs for PC from chain mail and such...

Re:No thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40689223)

This post was a lot funnier before I realized you were using "fig" as short for "figurine."

Re:No thanks (2)

suutar (1860506) | more than 2 years ago | (#40689495)

"He's dead, you can eat him now" :)

Re:No thanks (2)

The Good Reverend (84440) | more than 2 years ago | (#40687057)

Luckily for you, you probably have an imagination and can use the huge number of resources already available for 3.5 and play D&D forever. I happen to play and enjoy 4th edition, but other than the core rule books and a couple updates, I haven't had to get anything new in years, and likely never will.

Re:No thanks (1)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#40687763)

I still own the first D&D and AD&D first and second edition rules and source books. It was fun playing at the time, but when the third edition came out I decided not participate any longer and went for different systems to spend money on (but continued playing 2nd edition). But it has been several years now since my last rpg session (that was vampire the masquerade).

Re:No thanks (1)

Sir_Eptishous (873977) | more than 2 years ago | (#40688125)

if (DnD > 2.5) {DnD=='sucks'}
There, fixed that for you.

version 4 for dummies (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40686535)

only 49.99
yup the borked the whole game allowing a lot a crap and it jsut keeps dumming it down more and more , until your dog also can buy a copy and play......

Re:version 4 for dummies (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#40687953)

only 49.99 yup the borked the whole game allowing a lot a crap and it jsut keeps dumming it down more and more , until your dog also can buy a copy and play......

Quite the reverse. OD&D was nice because the game was easy to learn and allowed for quick resolution of most things (except wars; I ended up writing my first big program to handle War Machine rules and edited War Machine rules for use with 2nd Ed AD&D).

D&D 3, 3.5, 4, have been increasingly rules heavy, focusing on crunch with pictures instead of letting DMs rule minor stuff on the fly.

Crossover marketing efforts. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40686545)

So now that WoTC is owned by Hasbro, what do you think of the potential to leverage synergies through cross-marketing efforts [youtube.com] to widen the demographic appeal of D&D?

Re:Crossover marketing efforts. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40686775)

So now that WoTC is owned by Hasbro, what do you think of the potential to leverage synergies through cross-marketing efforts [youtube.com] to widen the demographic appeal of D&D?

It'll only work if they can do it in the cloud.

Dungeons and Dragons, really? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40686547)

What are we 12?

Re:Dungeons and Dragons, really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40686657)

I am 11 you incencitive clod!

Re:Dungeons and Dragons, really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40686745)

What are we 12?

No, nerds.

Re:Dungeons and Dragons, really? (4, Insightful)

KermodeBear (738243) | more than 2 years ago | (#40686853)

Yes, because games are something that only children do. Especially games that use a significant amount of math and copious amounts of (admittedly often too) complicated rules. Games that encourage out of the box thinking. Games where you can include complex scenarios - and be able to handle them in any way you choose, assuming you are alright with the consequences. Not limited to combat, games with older players often include politics, economics, religion, and other social issues.

I know you're just trolling, but there's far more to pen and paper RPGs than many people think.

I'd take a half-assed PnP RPG game over an incredible computer RPG any day. Why? Because the computer gives me a very limited set of choices and makes a lot of assumptions. If I want to do X, and it isn't coded into the game, then I can't even attempt to do X. Not so in PnP games.

Re:Dungeons and Dragons, really? (2)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#40688019)

If I want to do X, and it isn't coded into the game, then I can't even attempt to do X. Not so in PnP games.

That depends on how flexible your DM is. "No, you can't throw your sword. It's not listed as a hurled missile weapon. If you forgot to buy a dagger or throwing axe, that's your fault."

Re:Dungeons and Dragons, really? (2)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 2 years ago | (#40688195)

"... okay, roll a d20."

And there's nothing wrong with saying, "I wasn't expecting that, let's take a five minute break while I puzzle it out."

Re:Dungeons and Dragons, really? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#40688557)

Oh, I agree. Worst case scenario, it should be treated as a non-proficient weapon maybe with extra penalties for being unbalanced, but in OD&D, there is no such thing (fighters are proficient in all weapons). If your DM is a rules-lawyer, you're SOL.

Re:Dungeons and Dragons, really? (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 2 years ago | (#40689001)

I'd impose a -4 penalty due to it being improvised, but allow the attack (with AoO, if applicable) with the sword's damage + STR bonus if it hits.

There's a "Throw Anything" feat if they wanted to be able to throw anything.

Re:Dungeons and Dragons, really? (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#40689783)

One trick I learned from one of the original few D&D-ers: when a player tries anyhting oddball, just "OK, roll a d20". Only a small range of results will ever made you figure out what the rule was; usually the result will be obvious from the die roll without haveing to think about a rule.

Text transcription? (5, Insightful)

coldsalmon (946941) | more than 2 years ago | (#40686551)

First of all, thank you for doing this interview and releasing it for free for my enjoyment. However, I don't have audio on the computer I'm using right now, so I can't hear it. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I hate watching videos of things that can be communicated faster and more efficiently via text (like interviews). A transcription would be appreciated.

Re:Text transcription? (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40686711)

Transcripts are also more fun for cut-n-paste his answers and provide commentary. I look forward to being able to read the transcript, or at least a summary.

Pathfinder is widely seen as 3.75 or "what 4 should have been" or however you wanna phrase it. I happen to like Pathfinder and despite my noted ability to complain about almost anything, I find nothing to complain about WRT Pathfinder. Any comments about that in the video? It would be pretty cool if the newly released 5.0 or whatever it'll be called would just be "eh F-it we'll just license Paizo's core rulebook, slap on some new cover art, and call it a day". Kind of like if MS Windows 2013 turned out to be a Ubuntu boot disk.

Re:Text transcription? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40686779)

I enjoy Pathfinder too. There are lots of small problems - my current issue is power imbalance at close to Epic levels. My lvl 19 Druid has some pretty useless 9th level spells (regenerate - seriously? - there's no way to cut-off limbs requiring a regenerate in the game - why a 9th level spell for that?) Anyway - Pathfinder for the win!

AC

Re:Text transcription? (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 2 years ago | (#40687167)

Pathfinder is for the most part a sideways step for 3.5. It fixed a couple things and did away with a whole lot of broken splat ... but it didn't even fix all the major known flaws (gate is the same as it ever was for instance) and it's busy breaking casters with it's own broken splat already though, with the summoner and the bouncing/persistent metamagic rods for instance. Also it failed to learn the lessons from some of the later 3.5 splat such as Tome of Battle and Magic Item Compendium, both flawed books but with some really important improvements to the core game nonetheless. Magic item wise it basically regressed all the way to 3.5 core (almost everything sucks) and all martials get is more damage and a crit prox status effects and that's that, nothing like the flexibility of a ToB character.

Mostly Pathfinder is a wasted opportunity, of course not nearly as wasted as 4e.

Not as wasted as 5e will be either ... Mearls STILL doesn't see the value in keeping some continuity in the game. There is no reason you can't build a decent game around at least having Vancian casters with most of the old spells, 9 levels of them, and a fireball which does d6 per CL for instance ... it might not be as easy as just throwing everything old on the trash heap, but that's not the fucking point. Mearls hasn't acknowledged that his Grim Dark Points of Light bullshit shouldn't have been applied to all settings either ... what he did to FR fractured the player's base as much as the new rules, and there was no good reason for that. He could simply have adapted World of Greyhawk and made it the default setting and leave FR well enough alone. The people who like the new FR would have liked that as well and the people who only liked the old FR wouldn't have been driven away.

Mearls has a gigantic ego and gigantic case of NIH.

PS. I don't even like the old Forgotten Realms, but I don't see that as a reason to bury it for those who do.

Re:Text transcription? (1)

JabberWokky (19442) | more than 2 years ago | (#40689777)

it didn't even fix all the major known flaws (gate is the same as it ever was for instance)

I would say that it hies to the universal D&D flaws, thus retaining the core D&D feel. If you change enough of those, you wind up with an actual different game, not a progression within the same family. Of course, that's not a bad choice, but it would have resulted in a radically different end result that would have to seek a new audience. At least part of Pathfinder's appeal is that it's "a better D&D than D&D".

Re:Text transcription? (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 2 years ago | (#40687527)

Just getting in to Pathfinder, after being away from D&D since early 80's. Daughter is now interested in PnP role playing so off we go. I picked up the Core Rulebook a couple months ago, to get a handle on things and um, uh, this is pretty complicated. I say this as someone who has created and run Hero and GURPS campaigns, back in the 90's. Finally broke down and got the kid the beginners box (/rationalization) and the simplified instructions and workflow process descriptions are much clearer. Now the Core book is starting to make sense. I like how they balance out stuff, without outright restrictions on who can use what or do stuff. Overall, is pretty good system. I nothing else, they got rid of THAC 0!

Re:Text transcription? (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 2 years ago | (#40687675)

Pathfinder DM'ing is basically like 3e DM'ing ... a gigantic headache unless you just fudge everything and creating NPCs is a ton of work for something which might never impact the game whatsoever.

I'd never do it without a computer ... Maptool is really useful even if you only use it to track initiative, status effects,creature abilities/cooldowns, HP etc.

Re:Text transcription? (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 2 years ago | (#40687755)

I do hold a special place in my heart for computer game tools. Wrote my first dice roller on a TRS-80 and my first character created/db on my Ti 99/4a (still runs but need to munge up video adapters for tv). I started with Pathfinder by putting together a character db that would do the heavy lifting on modifiers and such. Man, rules have expanded! Still is fun and Wife can't complain I'm hanging out at the pub.

Re:Text transcription? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40686867)

That's right, some of us are fucking the dog^W^W^W discreetly wasting time at work and video isn't sneaky enough.

Re:Text transcription? (1)

bistromath007 (1253428) | more than 2 years ago | (#40686937)

mod parent up

Re:Text transcription? (1)

Rhaban (987410) | more than 2 years ago | (#40687087)

Same here.
That's why I hate podcasts that don't have a transcript.

Re:Text transcription? (1)

pudding7 (584715) | more than 2 years ago | (#40687663)

Agreed. I'm not going to sit here and watch a video of two guys talking. Sorry, it's just not going to happen. Give me a transcript, and I'll read it top to bottom.

Re:Text transcription? (1)

Vyse of Arcadia (1220278) | more than 2 years ago | (#40688399)

I read faster than I can watch a video interview, and the same goes for most of the people I know.

Re:Text transcription? (1)

residieu (577863) | more than 2 years ago | (#40689359)

Especially if you don't actually want to read everything. It's easier to skip over questions that don't interest you in text.

Question for the Interview (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40686791)

With the advent of 4th Edition, almost 10 years worth of direct effort from Wizards of the Coast (and almost 4 times as much effort from supplemental systems) was jettisoned in favor of an easier system that would allow for more quickly moving games. I was a very devoted fan of 4th edition (No reason to carry around a wheeled suitcase of rule books/supplements if you only need 1~2 that can go in a backpack. With the re-introduction/repackaging of nearly the same rules over and over again (Core books, Extra Handbooks, Monster Manuals, Essentials, Vaults, Compendiums) there were only 2 ways of keeping up with all the material. Become a professional D&D player with an entire bookcase dedicated to the rulebooks, or subscribe to the Insider where you could download the new rulesets.

My Question is this: After the merchandise bloat that occurred in 4th edition what plans does Wizards of the Coast have to combat the significant buy in to play at a decent level?

Re:Question for the Interview (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 2 years ago | (#40687253)

4e ... quickly moving games ...

Re:Question for the Interview (1)

Highly Responsive (1574833) | more than 2 years ago | (#40688695)

It depends on the players, really. If everyone knows their characters and discusses strategy with each other, fights go by very quickly and everyone feels extremely heroic. The major hangups tend to be when players haven't been paying attention and re-read their powers every round. Fighters can no longer say "I attack" for the entirety of their turn.

Re:Question for the Interview (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40689831)

My Question is this: After the merchandise bloat that occurred in 4th edition what plans does Wizards of the Coast have to combat the significant buy in to play at a decent level?

I believe WotC plans involve increasing the "significant buy in" until all D&D players have a 2nd job to support their habit.

Dear D&D Designers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40686801)

Everything after 3.5 sucks and I will never use it. ever.

Thanks for killing a superior product you bastards

Re:Dear D&D Designers (2, Insightful)

KermodeBear (738243) | more than 2 years ago | (#40687003)

Does the introduction of 4th edition and 5th edition in any way stop you from using older source books?

I'm still using 3.5, my books didn't suddenly disappear overnight when 4th was released.

Re:Dear D&D Designers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40687279)

No, it doesn't stop be from using older books, but it does stop the designers from creating new 3.5 matererial

my only consolation is that they're introducing these new versions during the worst global recession in a generation. i wonder how many less 4th edition books they sold as a direct result of the shittly economy.

Re:Dear D&D Designers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40687351)

3.5 is saturated with too many rules and variants. WotC should focus on new sourcebooks and adventure modules. No new rules, classes, etc.

Re:Dear D&D Designers (0)

Yakasha (42321) | more than 2 years ago | (#40687689)

3.5 is saturated with too many rules and variants. WotC should focus on new sourcebooks and adventure modules. No new rules, classes, etc.

That is the nature of anything that is constantly under development. You start out with a product... and a question, "But, how do I x?", then an update comes out to answer that question. But of course that makes the product just a little bit more complicated. One more rule to read and apply. One more part with another set of instructions. Whatever.
d&d rules, computer program, car, tax code, constitution, family... life. They all get more complicated

Then one day, you have a major version change, a new model, civil war, or mid-life crisis. You throw everything away, write a new book, then sit down with a hot cup of joe and say "aaaah, this is the life...", which is immediately followed by "But, how do I x?" So you pull out your notebook, and figure out a way to make it better: How to bake the perfect cookie to go with your coffee, how to pick up chicks, which language to switch to, which minority to blame and oppress, or what new prestige class to add.

"No new rules" simply means stagnation and irrelevancy or extinction... The Bible.

Re:Dear D&D Designers (0)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40687783)

The Bible has changed varies rules many times through its history. All of them based on superstitious nonsense and not actual fact.

The posters point was correct, 3.5 is saturated with too much new rules; and that's because the core 3.5 system is broken.

Just to be very clear: I'm not saying people must stop playing, or 'shouldn't play' 3.5.

 

Re:Dear D&D Designers (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 2 years ago | (#40687967)

3.5 is broken ... but refactoring is better than rewriting when recognizing the code itself is important to the users.

Re:Dear D&D Designers (1)

Yakasha (42321) | more than 2 years ago | (#40689889)

3.5 is saturated with too much new rules

and that's because the core 3.5 system is broken.

zzzzzzzzzz

Re:Dear D&D Designers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40687767)

my only consolation is that they're introducing these new versions during the worst global recession in a generation. i wonder how many less 4th edition books they sold as a direct result of the shittly economy.

No solid evidence, but I would speculate that they actually sold more, since P&P games are a hobby with a highly favorable price-to-hours-of-enjoyment ratio.

Re:Dear D&D Designers (2)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40688005)

Does the introduction of 4th edition and 5th edition in any way stop you from using older source books?

I'm still using 3.5, my books didn't suddenly disappear overnight when 4th was released.

Well, it does inhibit your ability to legally acquire said source books.

Re:Dear D&D Designers (1)

thomasw_lrd (1203850) | more than 2 years ago | (#40688329)

This is slashdot, since when was anybody on here worried about legally acquiring anything?

Re:Dear D&D Designers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40687303)

Everything after 3.5 sucks and I will never use it. ever.

Everything after 1 sucks and I will never use it. Ever.

(Currently enjoying my OD&D campaign. Now get off my lawn.)

Re:Dear D&D Designers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40687669)

AD&D 2nd edition's Planescape and Dark Sun campaigns are worth anyone's time. If you have never run a campaign in the Blood War or against against a Sorcerer-King on Athas, then you have had a very stunted experience playing RPGs.

Re:Dear D&D Designers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40688253)

Sure, kid. I'll be sure to let my DM [wikipedia.org] know how stunted his campaign is.

Re:Dear D&D Designers (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#40689045)

FYI, if anyone's looking for the new location of the old (A)D&D game world forums (Mystara/Planescape/DarkSun/SpellJammer/etc): http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/index.php [thepiazza.org.uk]

Re:Dear D&D Designers (4, Informative)

Creepy (93888) | more than 2 years ago | (#40688281)

I love your constructive criticism

Sorry, that was sarcasm and I forgot the tags

Earlier D&D editions were hardly great - IMO, all editions had serious problems. I just started playing 4 and actually quite like it so far, but haven't played it enough to really judge it. It does, however, have a more epic feel where you start and you seem reasonably competent rather than building up from very weak characters with no power to a godlike beings. My group is more roleplayers, so really we don't get into dungeons all that often - it is more about working toward some goal (often political - for instance, we spent 4 years of realtime and about 20 in gametime usurping a kingdom by building up a false champion).

3.0/3.5 if you didn't design your leveling from the beginning for your specialty class, you were screwed. You have to point bash, and that takes the fun out of feats - your character is basically fully designed from the start or worthless later on and also makes feats practically worthless - you may as well give 3 choices and then fix the rest based on those choices and not bother printing the rest.

1.0-2.0 you could role crappy and have 11 hit points at 11th level. Most 11th level monsters would kill you in 1 hit. Don't laugh - I made it to level 5 and had 5 HP on a wizard once (game ended, but I spent a lot of time bleeding to death in that one), and level 8 and had 10HP on a thief. Thief died in a claw-claw-bite after a spectacular backstab on a Troll that left it with 1HP - it turned around (ignoring the half ogre fighter in front of it) and claw did 12HP, claw did 11HP, bite did critical 34HP (we were playing -10HP to death and DM decided troll ripped both arms off and then bit off my head... and was chewing it when the half ogre clobbered it for 20 more damage "killing" it). My replacement character was given max hits but was one level below the rest of the party (this was the DM's "death penalty").

Low level D&D wizards sucked. Not as much as the Rolemaster elementalist with first level spell "boil water", but cast one magic missile and have to sleep 8 hours really sucks (and that is about all I got rolling 3D6 and not playing with a point bash DM that let me roll 4D6-1die for stats where I may have additional spells). When the DM gives extra experience for combat you can't participate in because you are out of spells, it sucks even more. Then they make the experience curve worse for Wizards.

In first and second edition, multiclassing was cool early on, especially if you were working around the wizard's cast a spell and need to sleep 8 hours, but made the midgame difficult (late game was sometimes OK, especially if one class was wizard and got 4th and 5th level wizard spells). Human changing class had less of an impact later on, especially if they just put in 3 levels or so to get some beneficial thief skills and switched to something else.

In first and second edition you could have an unplayable starting character. The worst I ever rolled had 4 threes and a max stat of 6 (my D6s are cursed, I'm pretty sure). I rolled a character not much better than that in Call of Cthulhu (max stats were 8 and 9, most were between 3 and 6) and not only was he playable, he got the nickname deadeye after the GM penalized him for being drunk (it was by prescription) and then rolling 1s and 2s on percentile dice for critical hits in several sessions.

Personally I didn't like halflings or to some extent dwarves in most of the released versions (not sure about 4.0 because I rolled my race randomly and it wasn't dwarf or halfling). Dwarves were pretty much pigeon-holed into being fighters or clerics, but halflings were worse, being pretty much useless as anything but thief.

1.0-2.0 and maybe 3/3.5 low level wizards/sorcerers suck and you spend most of your time doing nothing (I never played a wizard/sorcerer in 3/3.5, and again didn't play either much, as I was in a long running Rolemaster game and our group fell apart shortly after that due to life happening and we're just now regrouping after 2 years). Certain types of clerics, meanwhile, rocked - especially the ones where you are basically a fighter that can wear full armor and cast spells. Clerics were easily the most versatile class in the game, and a party of clerics of different types was a good way to point bash the systems.

1.0-2.0 rangers are relatively weak in comparison to almost any class. Again, not as bad as 0th (or whatever you want to call pre-first edition) and first edition Rolemaster rangers and to some extent second edition, but they don't do damage, heal, tank, or have much utility, plus they have the huge flaw of needing ammo and if they don't have boyer/fletcher and you're away from a city for a long time, you are screwed. This is especially important if you are using breakage rules for arrow recovery. Breakage for other weapons is rarely used in D&D - if you want a game where swords snap practically every combat, try Harnmaster (in fact, you can buy better weapons - good quality weapons may cost several times that of average weapons, as they historically did).

Bring Back AD&D 2nd Edition (4, Informative)

Infestedkudzu (2557914) | more than 2 years ago | (#40686879)

If I wanted everything equal, fair, balanced, I'd play a video game or watch fox news.

Re:Bring Back AD&D 2nd Edition (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 2 years ago | (#40687137)

As a DM, these were the things that seemed most unbalanced to me in v2:
1) Rangers and their damn ambidexterity
2) Fireballs from hidden positions ("Can I shuffle-cast so that my last movement is beyond the wall?")
3) Strength damage bonuses on missle weapons ("Screw archery or swordplay, imagonna load up on 50 lightweight daggers.")
4) Character attribute selection + no penalties for low charisma, intelligence, or wisdom for non-spellcasters

Other than that, it powered about four years of fun for me. How 'bout you?

Re:Bring Back AD&D 2nd Edition (-1, Flamebait)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40687819)

All you problems can be summed up in one sentence:

"You aren't a good DM."
Sorry, but nothing there is a problem in any way what so ever.

Every single one of those can be dealt with with better fight balance, and role playing.
You should listen to fear the boot. The first 100 or so episodes.

Re:Bring Back AD&D 2nd Edition (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 2 years ago | (#40687919)

Character attribute selection + no penalties for low charisma, intelligence, or wisdom for non-spellcasters

Anyone who tried playing a character with charisma below 6 in my games got ran out of town by the locals for looking like some kind of monster. Dealing with low-int and low-wis fighter in RP is a lot harder (and yeah, the save penalties are pretty much the only in-game rules that apply, and most of the people I was playing with thought that playing a hallucinating character was a trip ;). I basically gave up on trying to RP against fighters with int/wis dump stats and just assumed that the smarter characters had the patience to explain everything to the idiot and went from there.

Re:Bring Back AD&D 2nd Edition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40688247)

and just assumed that the smarter characters had the patience to explain everything to the idiot and went from there.

Wiz: "Why do we keep him around?"
background: "THOG SMASH!"
Rogue: "He hits things really hard."
Wiz: "He's attacking a vegetable merchant's cart."
Rogue: "Well, it was either that or he'd try to talk to the duke..."
Wiz: "Good thinking."
Cleric: "I did a few curative favors for the merchant, he's promised to chat with the artisans to make a few dedicated decoys if we need them when we get back."

Re:Bring Back AD&D 2nd Edition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40688995)

Anyone who tried playing a character with charisma below 6 in my games got ran out of town by the locals for looking like some kind of monster.

Then you're a lousy DM. Partly because the Charisma stat is not and has never been simply physical beauty, but mostly because players should not be locked out of large swathes of gameplay and RP experience simply because they have a low score in some stat - especially since a lot of perfectly valid character concepts pretty much demand low scores in some areas.

Re:Bring Back AD&D 2nd Edition (3, Interesting)

Sir_Eptishous (873977) | more than 2 years ago | (#40688261)

I disagree with no strength bonuses on missile attacks. How fast can pitchers in MLB throw? I guess it depends on the weapon. Obviously crossbows wouldn't be affected by strength.

In our 2nd ed campaign we've recently implemented a new tactic underground.
We call it "Wall of Fireball". This is where the Druid casts Stone Shape in a corridor creating a wall approx. 6" thick with a hole just large enough to cast Fireball through. Yes, there were a few miscalculations the first few times we tried this, and characters paid the price(Blowback through the casting hole, Oxygen consumed in smaller areas, etc). The DM didn't like it at first, but after significant research into what both spells can do, he allowed it.

Does it "break the games balance". Not really, and players will always look for ways to use spells, items, skills, etc; to master a situation. Several times during the casting of the Stone Shape our adversaries would hear the spell being cast and attack. Sometimes we're able to Silence the area in front of where the Stone Shape will be cast to counter that, which doesn't always work, so this tactic isn't foolproof, just fun to use sometimes.

Re:Bring Back AD&D 2nd Edition (1)

Zimluura (2543412) | more than 2 years ago | (#40688537)

I had lots of fun playing 2nd edition, don't even want to think about the money I spent on it. but when i got older and started thinking about mechanics i realized the class system was totally broken. i think 3rd brought in the kind of power-gaming min/maxing that was the natural conclusion of a class based system, what little i heard about 4th sounded like "diablo the rpg" if the next one is class-less, i might check it out. let me clarify, classes as starting templates are great; but afterwards progression should be free-form.

Re:Bring Back AD&D 2nd Edition (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40687583)

THAC0 was the pinnacle of table top RPG innovation. All other mechanics since were also rans.

Re:Bring Back AD&D 2nd Edition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40687615)

What on earth does Fox News have to do with equal, fair *or* balanced?!

Useless Video (1)

CrashNBrn (1143981) | more than 2 years ago | (#40687121)

Why was this even posted? Amateur Hour on Slashdot apparently.
We can't even hear the damned questions - just extended silence while Mearls listens to a question (apparently on the phone) that we can't hear..
It's not even a video, its an audio-cast with a static image embedded. And the whole damned thing cuts out mid-sentence at 10 mins.

Re:Useless Video (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40687363)

What would you guess, Rob = samzenpus, the guy who posts crap. IMHO i'd expect higher quality especially with so many tech related stories originating from this dutch guys hometurf.

Re:Useless Video (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#40689881)

Why was this even posted? Amateur Hour on Slashdot apparently

Wait, what? There's an hour that's notAmateur Hour around here? What have I been missing?!?!

I playtested "D&D Next" this last weekend (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40687129)

I playtested D&D Next this last weekend, and enjoyed it a lot. It's nothing like 4e, whatsoever. The mechanics go back to 3e, but are even simpler. Skills are simpler, there was no need for a battlemat, and we enjoyed 6 combat encounters in under 3 hours, and plenty of roleplaying. I encourage all D&D fans to check it out, if they ever played AD&D, 3e, or 4e. AD&D players will find it more balanced, and bereft of THAC0 insanity. 3e players will like the skill simplification, and overall feel of the mechanics. 4e players will... be glad to get rid of 4e's powers, forced movement, positioning, Opportunity Attacks, and all other combat clutter.

Re:I playtested "D&D Next" this last weekend (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 2 years ago | (#40687345)

Something similar to attacks of opportunity will almost certainly be back ... attacks of opportunity were introduced in 3e because of the way turns were played got changed from AD&D, making disengaging too easy. Something which is as applicable to 5e as it was to 3e.

Re:I playtested "D&D Next" this last weekend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40688945)

I found the split movement to be unexpected. If you have a movement of 25', you can move forward 15', attack, then move back 10' if you want. Because of this, I'm sure you're right that something like AOO's will be back.

Re:I playtested "D&D Next" this last weekend (3, Informative)

CrashNBrn (1143981) | more than 2 years ago | (#40687517)

Why bother? They're just reacting to Paizo eating their lunch. And have finally figured out that what the fans wanted was 2nd-Edition/3rd-Edition, which has been available as Pathfinder for what 3 years now (Aug.2009). Pathfinder Core Rulebook, $31.49 [amazon.com] , #4 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Gaming.

A few years back, WoTC pulled ALL of their PDFs of the books for sale. Compare that to Paizo, if you buy directly from them they give you the hardcover AND the PDF.
Heck if we look a little closer at Amazon's top selling gaming books, many of the v3.5 books are still in the top 40 (#19. Players Handbook 3.5). It's also worth noting that most 3.5 D&D Books/Supplements/Modules can be used with Pathfinder with little (to no) modification at all. Thus all that money one might of spent on 3.0 and/or 3.5 wont be wasted.

Further, with D&D 4+ WoTC changed the OGL to severely restrict any other company from publishing supplements for D&D, whereas (again) Pathfinder kept the original OGL from 3.0/3.5 which allows ANYONE to create content for Pathfinder.

Re:I playtested "D&D Next" this last weekend (2)

Riceballsan (816702) | more than 2 years ago | (#40687843)

Not to mention the other benefits of OGL. Not just for suppliments, but for the benefit's of web searchable rules. Software character generators etc... In 3.5 if a DM wanted to look something up, d20srd.org was awesome, as long as it was in one of the core rulebooks. If one of your players wants to use something from anything non-core if the DM doesn't own the book then the DM has to borrow the book to actually confirm the legitimacy and that the player is understanding it right etc... Pathfinder, well I can go to d20pfsrd.com or to pathfinders official SRD and look up anything in the game, including what was added in later source books etc... Monsters added in Bestiary 3, check. Races added in advanced race guide released this month, check, etc... Also spectacular from a DM's perspective for when players want to join in the game, but don't have the money to buy any books until they confirm they like the game.

Re:I playtested "D&D Next" this last weekend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40688133)

How does Next compare to 3.x in terms of ability to customize characters?

I was turned off by 4E primarily because it was a huge step back in this department; you didn't have nearly the flexibility in creating a build to reflect your character concept that 3.x's lego-style classes gave you. I had a similar gripe about how "roles" were applied. It was for this reason I largely overlooked 4E despite being very attracted by its unified power structure and solving the Caster Supremacy problem.

Re:I playtested "D&D Next" this last weekend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40688777)

It wasn't revealed in the playtest. We had to use pregenerated characters.

However, each character had a background and a specialization. The cleric had the priest background, which gave bonuses to several priestly skill checks, and the benefit of receiving full temple services for free (cures, spellcasting, etc.). It also had the herbalism specialty which allowed the ability to make healing kits. The kits are how characters heal outside of combat.

Based on this information, I believe that it will be something like this:

You will allot ability scores, choose a race, class, background, specialty, and buy equipment.

That's about it, I think. It's very AD&D in its simplicity. However, the overall theme of D&D Next is modularity. If you don't like a set of rules, don't use them. If you want more rules for something, they'll provide you with some options. Using a battlemat to make positioning in combat more important would be one such ruleset module. I imagine that character creation will be ripe for modularity, with several different ways to create characters, and give as much detail or simplicity as you desire.

Re:I playtested "D&D Next" this last weekend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40689095)

There was also a dwarf cleric who was much more battle-focused. I didn't play that character, so I can't give much information about it, but I do know that it looked quite different from the cleric of Pelor.

Fail (1)

KingMotley (944240) | more than 2 years ago | (#40687229)

Embeded video instead of transcript is fail. Using a flash player instead of HTML5, is even more fail. Seriously?

Slashdot -- news for nerd wanna-bes from 2005.

"Video" Gist (1)

CrashNBrn (1143981) | more than 2 years ago | (#40687249)

D&D was better before WoTC fucked it up, so we're going to reprint 2nd Edition as D&D Next and make a boat-load of money, since most long-term D&D fans bailed and switched to Paizo's Pathfinder.

Re:"Video" Gist (1)

Sir_Eptishous (873977) | more than 2 years ago | (#40688435)

I tried 3.5 and was disappointed and have stayed with 1.5-2.5 variants since. WoTC really just want people to buy new products every development cycle... Not modules or things that would add to an existing rule set, but whole new libraries of books, etc;

However, my read problem with the WoTC versions of the game are that they are too OTT and video-game-esque, with "be everything/do everything" characters, with more skills, powers and abilities than your typical Marvel Superhero. It ruined it. 1.5-2.5 for all it's issues with combat, etc at least kept things "in perspective".

I can't relate to half-White-Dragon/half-Drow Wizard/Rogue/Psionicists who are masters with the bow(and throwing axe), can regenerate every other round, cook souffles, breath underwater(and in a vacuum), summon giant bats(and spiders) all at first level before they've had breakfast.

Re:"Video" Gist (1)

CrashNBrn (1143981) | more than 2 years ago | (#40689225)

I thought 3rd Edition was interesting; 3.5 not so much. Although if you looked at Feats in 3.5 (physical/combat ones) anyways -- many of the modifiers aren't much different than a 2nd-Edition Warrior with a weapon proficiency specialist (+2/+4). Where the system really loses it (completely) is all the compendium/sourcebooks that keep adding classes and additional feats. You wind up with every little insignificant thing becoming a "Feat" ... which leads players to only focus on playing with and using abilities (Feats) that they have - instead of Role-Playing and being creative.

Every Special Maneuver does not need to be set in stone as a new feat, neither does there need to be countless classes and sub-classes. If WoTC was going to turn combat from AD&D's traditional 1minute turn, single-D20 roll to hit --- to --- hit/counter/parry/feat/etc/etc (extensive tactical combat, ala GURPS) then they really needed to do away with that single-D20 roll to hit and the concept of a passive THAC0. As it stands extensive customization of D&D's combat mechanics (or lack-thereof) isn't suited to a single D20 roll vs THAC0.

There's very likely a good reason why most other RPG's that weren't D&D-clones standardized on a basic system of stress-rolls, when the target of a stress roll is a task, or inanimate object - then you would have a target number to beat. Whereas when the target of a stress roll is a living-thing, then they get a chance to defend against your action - be it an attack or arm-wrestle or whatever.

There's many things WoTC did right in all of there various versions, but theres also many things they did wrong --- and no two people are going to agree on what exactly is right or wrong. Simplification of SavingThrows was good. Overpowered multi-classed characters was bad.

It's been a long time now, but if I recall one of the tenets of D&D was along the lines of "Less is More", and when the Game Rules and Regulations try to cover every minor variance you wind up with a broken system. WoTC threw that tenet out with the bathwater, and in the end you wind up with a System tailored for min/maxers instead of a System for RolePlaying.

Re:"Video" Gist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40689277)

And I can't relate to a viking human who trains as a fighter who then retires and takes up a thieving trade, only to then forswear his theiving ways and travel to the occidental lands to meet with druids who train him in their secret arts, who thereby learns the magic of song!

Yes, that was the number of steps necessary to play a bard in AD&D

Pathfinder is pretty awesome. (1)

Infernal Device (865066) | more than 2 years ago | (#40687361)

I have to say, I don't care for the 4th Edition of Dungeons and Dragons. My introduction to it included an iron-fisted GM who wanted people in each role and forced us to take on roles we didn't particularly care for. Being from the school where the GM works with what the players show up with, this just stuck in my craw.

I am enjoying the heck out of Pathfinder, though. The game can be played with two books, which lowers the barrier to entry. It's compatible with a system I was already familiar with and generally has a good level of shine and polish. Paizo has definitely grabbed the ball and run with it.

Re:Pathfinder is pretty awesome. (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40687859)

Don't confuse Crappy DM with the system.

That DM is in it for the power play, not the story or fun. DnD can be played with one book.

" Being from the school where the GM works with what the players show up with."
Once Again, that's the GM and not the system.

You clearly like Pathfinder. That's great I'm glad to see any gamer in any system having fun.
Don't hate something because you were introduced to it by a douche bag.

Movie? No. What game? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40687407)

The movie won't load. Oh no its a sound clip with a static image. What The .. Fuck? Is this the moment in history when all profesional and trustworthy news outlets degrade into 13 year olds' websites with embedded crap?

Anyhow, ive been listening and i am still wondering is this about the PC game (v1 i liked), or about the board/roleplay game (i dont like).

Re:Movie? No. What game? (1)

zlives (2009072) | more than 2 years ago | (#40688273)

board game, and it seems a rehash of 2.X and back then we didn't have high flutin video tech

i ha a good imagination (1)

aepervius (535155) | more than 2 years ago | (#40687645)

the problem is not good imagination, the problem is to hold the universe consistent enough over time as you make your own details. I found it much easier to buy 1 or 2 additional campaign ruleset and let my imagination run rampant. The core stay then consistent.

License for 5e? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40687757)

I liked the Open Game License [wikipedia.org] of D&D 3.5e.

I did not like the Game System License [wikipedia.org] of D&D 4e.

If D&D 5e goes back to the OGL, I'll check it out.
If it does not, then I'll stick with my Pathfinder subscriptions.

Re:License for 5e? (1)

zlives (2009072) | more than 2 years ago | (#40688293)

OGL led to innovation and loss of control (gasp)

Video on /.? (1)

zippy40 (737906) | more than 2 years ago | (#40688009)

If I wanted to watch a video, I'd go to yahoo. they are useless. Give me text anyday.

It's about the books (1)

Princeofcups (150855) | more than 2 years ago | (#40688199)

For those commenting that there is too much art and fluff, too many books to buy, etc. that's the whole point. Hasbro wants to design a game that will sell the maximum number of books. OD&D could be played with just a few dollars invested by one person, the DM. That's just the model that Hasbro does NOT want to emulate.

A eulogy for 4th edition (4, Insightful)

twoallbeefpatties (615632) | more than 2 years ago | (#40688611)

Ah, 4th edition. You tried so hard, and you largely succeeded. You gave healers something to do other than cast heal spells every turn, and a day of dungeoneering was able to continue past the first battle instead of everyone going, "The cleric's used up his spells - we're going back to base!"

You gave defensive builds a place in the world without making them boring. You took away a wizard's level 1 crossbow and gave him all the fireballs he wanted. You gave every class something to do other than basic melee attacks. You made characters interesting right from level 1 instead of forcing people to pray for an interesting character 10 levels down the road.

You took away multiclassing, and there was a gnashing of munchkin teeth, but you gave us arcane swordsmen and holy assassins and psychic healers. You broke up the age-old racial tradition of just elves, humans, and dwarves by sticking tieflings, dragonborn, goliaths, and devas into the main books. You got rid of prestige classes, those wonky things that forced people into specific build types, and instead gave us multiple builds for the base of a class and paragon paths for later on. Your flavor was more focused on the character than on the class min/maxing.

But, in your certain rush to fix everything that was wrong with D&D, you forgot the feel. You felt that you could discard the very makeup of the game and craft something new from scratch. Despite the interesting things that happened to a new character, your demand for balance forced you to keep everyone the same beyond level 1. While many people rallied behind you, you split the community as the players who had been in the game for years threw up their hands in disgust and went to a fork of your previous system, preferring an imperfect system that felt more like something from their youth and less like those infernal MMORPGs.

I've seen the playtest, and at first glance it looks like something that tries to bring the two groups together. But the PnP RPG faces a diminished audience from the outset, what with kids all distracted by their new-fangled machine, and the audience that you drove away has come to call you a heretic and isn't bound to return even if you pander to them again. Godspeed to you, Wizards, but I fear there's not much more you can do.

Audio with Still Pictures = Video!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40688773)

Most useless video on /. .. still pictures for what, audio would be sufficient . . .

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