This is just a dump of my notes from the Seminar, which I’ll be editing when I get a chance!
9:38- Laptop set up in the Potomac room. The room is maybe ¾ capacity, in a fairly inefficient banquet table format.
9:40- Danny returns with “What you need to know about D&D 4th edition at D&D Experience 2008”, a hotsheet containing 13 important changes to the rules for the purposes of playing. The saving throw mechanic that debuted in the DDM rules IS in. Durations are either until save, one round, or entire encounter. Action points give an extra action, and they are accrued by finishing encounters. Short vs. extended rests- short rest is 5 minutes and recharges per encounter powers. Extended rest is 6 hours, fully heals you, regain all healing surges, get daily powers back, and action points are reset to 1. Healing wind- once per encounter, can take a standard action to gain second wind. Gives you hit points equal to Healing Surge value and +2 to all defenses until the start of your next turn. Then lose one healing surge. (Wish we had a scanner here)
9:46- “Fighters attempt ‘sploits” Joke- it actually says “exploits”
9:47- “The ‘Marital’ power source” Joke- instead of the Martial power source.
9:48- Slide changes on the front to Dungeons & Dragons Experience 2008 Preview Seminar
9:56- Groups start using the standing room
10:01- Lights down… all the way down
“Welcome everyone to D&D Experience!”
“Tomorrow I celebrate my 10th birthday… and I can’t think of any better way than to spend it with you guys.” Awwww…
First person to kill a 4e character. Was playing Rob Heinsoo’s character, an Elf. “Woody”, couldn’t remember the real name. Walked into proto-Keep on the Shadowfell. Bugbear Stranger leapt out and garrotted him. Rogue disengaged to try to save his life… but Bugbear Strangler used cool new power to make the Elf a meatshield against the Rogue. Rogue critted, eviscerated the Elf. First kill… and it was from another PC.
R&D will jumping into the fray to guest DM throughout the D&D XP.
Mike Mearls (resident killer DM)
Linae Foster (licensing efforts)
General design philosophy
Looking to deliver 4 things:
- Physical Product / Game Rules
- Organized Play (making OP the same game as the home game)
- Community (build up the community, make more DMs, have DMs share DM-fu, can put things up on D&D Insider that can be testflown before printed product. Example: classes up on D&DI before printed products.)
- Digital Offerings
What isn’t changing:
- Cooperative Play
- Group storytelling
- Medieval Fantasy
- Great game design
- Options not restrictions
- 3D strategy combat
- Awesome monsters
- Amazing heroes
- Faster play around the table
- DMing more fun
- Digital components
- Expanded community
- All-new organized play
- 24/7 play
Plays just as well at high and low levels, keeping speed of play the same at all levels and balanced at all levels. “Shorter than 2 minutes per turn.”
- Updated look and feel
- Annual products
“We mean two things: D&D Insider side will collect best content into annual print Dragon and Dungeons. Followup PHB, Mms. PHBs will introduce new classes… new classes won’t be in all books. We want people to know where to look when looking for classes and martial feats. Thinking of products as PHB every year will have new classes and be easy to find.”
- D&D Insider “Enhance D&D game experience by giving online tools for DMs and players, in addition to putting a tremendous amount of editorial content.” Similar to the magazines.
Return of Living Forgotten Realms in 4e as part of OP program. More RPGA programs rolled out over course of the year.
- Integrated organized play programs
Audience Member: “Do dragonborn have breasts?”, illicits “ooooo”
Chris Perkins: “Yes, and they’re scaly. Any more questions about dragonborn breasts?”
- Digital component of D&D
“Many different ways to play D&D… 100% analogue around the table, 100% digital on game table online, access rules information online, OR anything in between. Tools can be used to enhance tabletop book experience.”
“The guy who is the mean draconian boss responsible for rules and minis games.”
Keep on the Shadowfell
- Comes out a month before core rules
- Adventures for 1-3
- Includes Fast-Play D&D rules
- 3 double sided poster maps
- 8 classes, 8 races
- 100s of powers
- Over 150 feats
- 200 magic items
- Skills, rituals, paragon paths, destinies
Dungeon Master’s Guide
- James Wyatt principle author.
- Communicate key concepts for running a great game. Players will NOT need to own this.
- How to build encounters, adventures, campaigns
- Rules for customizing monsters and creating NPCs
- More than 20 templates, from the Lich to Scion of the Flame
- Traps, artifacts, the planes, and more…
- 500 monsters from aboleth to zombie
- Includes rule for how to play over a dozen of the monster races as PCs…
…yes, including the gnome.
Steve Schubert has “Grr, I’m a gnome” as his ringtone.
Core Rulebook gift set
- Three rulebooks in slip case
Tome of Treasures
- Hundreds of new magic items
- Dozens of new weapons, armor, alchemical items, and other tools
- Name might change after getting through legal
- For both players and Dms. Arms and Equipment guide/”Gun book for D&D”. 1-30 level.
- Includes plenty of non-magical items too.
- Expanded options for fighters, rogues, rangers, warlords
- Hundreds of new powers, feats, paragon paths, and more
- Like Complete Warrior. One place for where the fighter or ranger goes to for more options instead of having to look at other books.
- All about Chromatic Dragons
- Adding three new dragons to chromatic family
- Follows the lead set by 3E Draconomicon. Combing crunchy rules with psychology, society, and physiology. If you like the 3e Draco, you’ll like this.
Manual of the Planes (last big hardback of 2008)
- Explores the new cosmology introduced from core rulebooks
- ”Oh by the way, now you’ve gone to this plane, you’re screwed.” Trying to eliminate that by adding plenty of interesting and fantastic places to explore instead of punishing. Designing cool (yes he said it) adventures on other planes.
- Also for players looking for planar exploration
Heroic Level Adventures
Spanning the first ten levels.
- H1 Keep on the Shadowfell (1-3 level)
- H2 Thunderspire Labyrinth (4-6 level)
- H3 Pyramid of Shadows (7-10 level)
Each one includes a double sided poster and battle map.
Paragon Level Adventures
P1: King of the Trollhaunt Warrens (11-13)
P2: Demon Queen’s Enclave (14-17)
More paragon and epic level in 2009.
Might be revisitng “old favorites” for other adventures.
DT7 Fane of the Forgotten Gods (temple trappings)
DU1 Halls of the Giant Kings (giant tables and thrones, super-sized furniture)
DU2 Streets of Shadow (first urban-themed DTs, cobblestone streets, nasty sewers)
Character Record Sheet
- Deluxe Sheets. Color coded for reference, both standard and landscape, cards to record powers
- All classes, all levels
- Super heavy weight gamer stock
- Four-panel landscape-style screen
- Heavy stock capable of stopping thrown dice and bullets* (*Not a guarantee)
- Less knocking over. “Monopoly board” thickness. Without Boardwalk.
Special Edition Rulebooks
- Leather bound Collectors edition
RPG Starter Set
- Great for introducing new players
- Everything included in box
- Characters, Basic Rules, Adventure, Dungeon Tiles, Tokens, Dice
- “Nothing better for the game and the industry to get more players”
- No minis, tried to make the cheapest starter they could, and the fastest possible
Audience: “Does it come in a red box?” “We’ll go to the art folks on that.”
Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide in August
- Gives DMs what they need to run adventures and campaigns set in the realms
- Trying to present the information friendlier to the reader, less like an encyclopedia, more being able to crack it open and get an idea from any page
- More information, but avoiding overwhelming the new reader
- Full of story-rich elements
“Who’s on the cover?” “Shade of Neverill riding a dragon. Shades are back as a force in the FR.”
FR Player’s Guide
- Book for the player
- Includes rules for drow and genasi player characters
- Introduces the Swordmage class
- Regional backgrounds, new feats, and more
FR1: Scepter Tower of SpellGuard (Adventure in September)
- 2-4 level
- Embraces FR flavor
- Still accessible to everyone
- 4e game content on D&DI beginning in June
- 2009 setting
- Expanded article on playing Warforged in 4e
- Previewing artificer content
- Continues until release of campaign setting
- Gnome artificer won’t have entire breath of options of a Dwarven Fighter, but will be playable.
Some brand new campaigns coming, some old friends, should talk more later in the year
Every campaign setting ever produced has at least one champion somewhere in R&D
- New minis starter set in April
- Five non-random unique minis, including large green dragon
- New rulebook
- Two double-sided poster maps
Dungeons of Dread
- New monsters and old favorites
- All minis will be on display at D&D XP
- Prerelease here
Against the Giants (summer)
- One word: Huge
- Includes giants, titans and dragons
- Exciting set, sculpts just now coming back (one example)
- Drow, demons, and Underdark
- More mind flayers than you can shake a stick out
- “New and innovative scuplts”
- Full Minis Conversion- Starting in July
- Free card and rules download on D&D Insider
- Minis community will be engaged to help do the conversion
- Same high standards as official sets for OP purposes
- First novel set in 4e Forgotten Realms
- Written by Rich Baker
- Also introduces new class. “What will the new class be called?” “The Baker. I bake, I bake well”
- Blades of the Moonsea Book 1
Reader’s Guide to Drizzt
- Guide to RA Salvatore’s characters
- Hardcover, richly illustrated
- Celebrating 20 years
- Previews will be around at the show
- Sequel to The Orc King
A lot more coming out of publishing department than just the three.
TerraDave shoutout for dubbing him “The Rouse”. His kids will start calling him that soon.
4e playtest story: Eladrin Rogue. Playtesting Keep on the Shadowfell. Fighting huge mob of goblins, boss hiding behind doorway shooting crossbow. Halfling Warlock is dying. Boss comes out from his room. Was saving per encounter abilities and daily for that moment. Gets set up to move and take him out. Full move action. Opportunity Attack by running by a goblin, takes some damage. Spends an action point to get another move action. Uses Feystep to teleport behind him. Combat advantage for flanking with Dragonborn Paladin. Tortorus Strike, 3d8+2d6 for sneak attack damage, moves one step even on miss. 30 some damage… boss grabs minion to take the hit. Obliterates minion. Misses the boss.
Big cross department summit to discuss 4e/Orcus. R&D brought up what they thought was needed to bring in new players and make Dms job easier. D&D Insider was crucial part of that idea.
6 parts to it:
- Rules Database. Searchable online content database with realtime information- includes new books, Dragon/Dungeon content. Access all content without having all books there. D&D Insider subscription gives access to all books, not just the ones you’ve bought.
- Character Visualizer. Will demo here in pre-alpha. Entire package for online play. Gives DM the way to play wherever they are. Lets you build your own mini for use on the game table. Real mix and match suite of tools. Can put cleric robes on a paladin, or preset items for a class. Lots of options “including making really ugly characters, as some have pointed out. Actually, you can make some very gorgeous characters.”
- Character Creator. Online character sheet that taps into rules database. Drop down menus for all the options… or can turn off official menus to enter whatever data you want, and that will be noted on the character.
- D&D Game Table. To play D&D online in 3D space. “This is NOT WoW.” Requires DMs to do rules adjucation, but will count squares, die roller, put art collection, minis, die rolls, whatever are in rotating toolbar at the bottom. (Was compared to looking like a Watch display case.)
- Editorial Content. Like Dungeon and Dragon. All goes into the database. All crunchy bits that is official content. Equivalent to complete sized book, like what Paizo was doing, approx 160 pages per month.
- Gleemax. Tap into community to share ideas, post notes about campaigns, share your characters, connect to players
- Young, old, poses, classes, races, backdrops, armor, items, glow effects.
- 2D background unique to every race.
- Fully rotate-able.
D&D Game Table
- Top down view of dungeon for DM dungeon creation.
- Isometric view while playing. 2D surface with 3d elements. Some animation, like braziers with flame.
- PCs move over inscription on floor to discover a pit (3D)
- Demonstrated revealing a Beholder in a new room
- Both player views and DM views
What does subscription offer?
- Access to Rules Database (everything official)
- Full use of Character Visualizer and Creator. 50 storage slots and can save locally
- Ability to play or DM on Game Table. (also non-subscriber options)
- Access to every article (also non-subscriber options)
- Limited time offers. Everyone who signs up initially gets starter set of minis. Gives you tokens for free for all MM, but most minis extra.
Beyond the subscription
- Micro transactions
- Virtual minis- purchase individual and groups. Pricing announced soon, shooting for low price point. Cost nothing like real minis. NOT RANDOMIZED
- Lot more minions than elites. Goblins cost less than a big red dragon.
- Sets of 2D and 3D tiles. Fairly large starter set, with new additions coming out as part of subscriptions.
- No physical reciprocation… if you buy the analogue, you don’t get the digital. This was more of a challenge than what they had expected. (sounds like the book plan for that will be dropped too)
- E-books. Was a bad user experience. Weird stuff happening when you tried to share characters. So everybody has access to everything. Rules Database solves the issue, 100% access to content whether you have the book or not. Separate PDF will be available for purchase, with discount. Can buy even if not a subscriber.
- ”I can go to a database and download a 5th level paladin.”
- E-adventures. Play out of the box experience, everything you need preloads into the gametable.
- Dragon Magzine. Be able to purchase as non-subscriber. About half of what the print versions cost… $3.
- Game Starts: can buy 24 hour passes to play on the game table, can sponsor people playing on your table.
Samples and Trials
- Query the rules database- subscriber or NOT. Subscribers get all rules text, non-subscribers get told where the rule is in a specific book. “Go to pg 15 of Book X”
- Limited use of character visualizer. One or two races and classes.
- Online character sheet. Editable PDF. Subscriber auto-populates, char sheet just enters.
- 2D dungeon builder to built tactical maps, like the tools that are online now with some extra options. Free to use. Subscribers can import into game table.
- 10 day free trial for everything.
- One month: $14.95
- Three month: $12.95/mo
- 12 Months: $9.95/mo
Re-iterates how much you get for your $9.95/month.
Open Beta, May-June 2008
More posted on D&D Insider
D&D Game Day Saturday June 7th
Thousands of participating retailers worldwide.
June 21st Free RPG Day
- 4e giveaways
- “Trying to avoid saying cool… Wicked Awesome!”
- Exclusive tile, exclusive mini, and exclusive adventure
- Streamlined Play but not dumbed down
- Evolutionary Rules, nothing foreign
- Revolutionary Delivery
Q: Pricing structure- $40 for family is too expensive. Household plan?
A: Free to share your password and login. No plans for household pricing, like most subscription plans.
Q: What steps have been taken to avoid long downtimes, and will users be compensated for downtime?
A: We have experience with downtime thanks to Magic Online. Can’t speak to exacts, but Customer Service Team is good. Working with very large server farm to provide bandwidth.
Q: Map maker… can things be scaled and rotated, or is it all set by the grid?
A: Has snap to grid function. Ability to go off the grid.
Q: Visualizer- can it be turned into physical mini?
A: Thought about it. Future idea, talks about it, may go into 3D printing at some point. Some talk about how they’re moving from clay-based sculpt design to CAD based design for their minis sets.
Q: Character Creator: online only tool, or is there a way to save it on your PC?
A: Yes, offline function. Have to login to do all the data updates.
Q: Game table- can NPCs be other players? (i.e. another way for a family to all play at the same virtual game table)
A: Can backdoor the system by using four monitors, then control everything. Can use monitors, projectors, etc. DM view is different than player, so it’d share that.
Q: Limit of 50 characters online?
A: Can save others on your hard drive. Can create NPCs too.
Q: Mac support?
A: Not supporting Mac, widely stated. Have not tried using system emulators like Parallels. Game table and character visualizer are windows-only. Dungeon Builder MIGHT be web app, same with character creator. Rules Database online.
Q: Contradictory- bring a lot of books, versus only a few?
A: Happy medium between them. Arcane Power in 2009. Players who aren’t playing Arcane characters won’t need it. Trying to cut down from books of 3e. Also trying to get away from long lists of feats in every book. Still going to be some mechanical options in every book, but definitely trying to keep it down.
Q: Harder for stores to promote D&D?
A: D&D Insider is not a replacement for hobby stores. Hobby stores will be supported still by releasing physical products. Expanding Organized Play to have more in stores. More to announce about OP at GenCon. Store-based programs. Not walking away from hobby stores. Game day is testament to strength of D&D in hobby stores.
Q: Will we be seeing non-D&D rules that came up with the development process?
A: “d20 Modern. Is that what you’re asking?”
Follow-up from Rob Heinsoo: Lot of systems that were rejected in playtests. Told to go as far as they can with rules experiments, and moved off the edge of not playing D&D anymore. Rob can’t tell you what they are because he wants to get them published. One cast off mechanic turned into the core mechanic of Inn-Fighting. There will be other systems put out that were developed but that weren’t D&D and weren’t as flexible.
Trying to avoid Unearthed Arcana in the early years.
Q: How is errata incorporated? Will errata be quicker to come out?
A: Back on the errata horse. Back on reasonable schedule by using customer service and RPGA. Rules database should be updated seamlessly with errata. Won’t have to worry about updating character sheet. Better schedule… “playtesting errata process.” Don’t want to rush it to avoid errata to errata.
Q: Another question about family discount.
A: Great idea and will talk about it. Would like to reward group, but don’t want to throw the doors open.
You will get a number of guest passes per month as part of your subscription.
Q: Will I be able to download rules database?
A: No, it’s a web app.
Q: Will there be a point when you say you won’t do a setting?
A: “We’ll only announce what we’re doing.” Don’t want to shut any doors. Hollow Earth and Red Steel probably won’t be released next year. Don’t want to create a plethora of competing product lines. No campaign should be a “sub-bookshelf” of products. Everything is on the table, will have conversations about what to release. Magazines will showcase all campaign settings.
Q: Guest ticket pricing?
A: Probably around $3 for 24 hours.
Q: More about campaign settings. Will one per year fix the problem of segmented audiences?
A: We know not every setting appeals to everyone, but we’re going to try to appeal to a wide audience.
Q: How did Ruins of Greyhawk do?
A: Did well, don’t have exact numbers. Greyhawk is still on the table as a campaign setting.
Q: Do players need to buy the MM?
A: Make everything for its purpose, not for something else. Character classes are designed for characters. NPCs “reflect” those classes, but don’t need to be as rich. Monsters are designed to be monsters, not to be summoned monsters or pets. Summoned monsters and pets will be built to do that. Pit fiend is a great monster, but everyone was shape changing into it all the time. MM should not be needed for players. MM has a section for DM’s to allow PCs as monsters.
Q: Fantastic locations series on the digital game table?
A: Should be. Also should be able to play D&D minis “VASSAL style” on the game table, but not supported. (by adjucating all the rules yourself)
Q: When is Eberron coming out?
A: Either first half or second half of 2009. Don’t want to commit to a product they haven’t started designing. Not quite a software company yet.
Q: For DDM Mini skirmish- where will maps be coming from?
A: Working on ways to release them. Starter set is primary, and would like it to be an annual product. So at least 4 every year. Too early to be specific, but figuring out ways to do it.
Q: Player Rewards carry over to Living FR?
A: Save question for Saturday RPGA meeting.
Q: PDF books be OCR and searchable?
A: Want to pack as much functionality into it as possible. Keyword search, searchable, etc.
Q: Any localization problems?
A: Working with licensing partners to localize 4e in Europe. None have committed to dates, but have received initial rules. Next few weeks will have galleys, then translation begins. Most will be seen in the fall of 2008.
Q: If you just buy core set- can you filter out non-core books from rules database?
A: Not sure, but sounds like a good idea. They have that option, just have to implement it.
Q: Later Player’s Handbooks. More optional, or will they replace rules?
A: More of an add-on, more additional classes, maybe some favorites from 3e that couldn’t be fit in, plus some brand new. Won’t be republishing the combat rules, for example.
Q: Online mapping content- can it show position with flying creatures and other unusual cases?
A: Plans to do so, but not at launch.
Q: D&D Insider and Star Wars tiles?
A: “How many folks would use Star Wars Insider?” Only a few hands.
On their minds, but “We don’t own Star Wars”. Talks are being had.
Q: How compatible are PHB2 classes with Martial Powers?
A: PHBs will be full of powers and feats for new classes. There might be some abilities for old books.
New classes for existing power sources, as well as new power sources. Psionics before too long.