Critical Bits for the week ending 2012-01-29

  • RT @StvWinter: I analyzed how #dnd attack bonuses changed over editions. The result surprised me & might surprise you. http://t.co/h5uhEHru #
  • Check out "Gaming for a Cure," who run gaming events and conventions to benefit the American Cancer Society: http://t.co/7idRnQxl #
  • Live tweeting of "Charting the Course: An Edition for All Editions" seminar at #ddxp to start in 10 minutes. Mute/ignore/unfollow as needed. #
  • On stage for the seminar: @gregbilsland, @MonteJCook, @mikemearls and Jeremy Crawford. #ddxp #
  • Charting the Course #ddxp seminar beginning. Broad discussion about #dndnext goals, challenge, etc. #
  • What things the panelists would like to see carried forward: "relationship between player and DM" from @MonteJCook #
  • Monte: "I also like fireballs." Mike: "Players being creative in exploring a world." #
  • Jeremy: "Synthesis between toolbox for creating worlds and stories… we're making magic plus good game design." #
  • Mechanical elements of D&D: Mike: "First, here's what RPGs do. Then, here's what D&D does. Then you focus on the shared language." #
  • Mike: There are shared stories too, like a culture, in things like the gazebo or the Head of Vecna. #
  • Monte: Designers realized that people have different desires and different needs when playing/running D&D, wanted to embrace all styles. #
  • Monte: In order to start, needed to distill down to a core game, a foundation on which different modules can be added on for all styles. #
  • Monte: The modules would allow you to just play the core game, or add on modules for heavily tactical games, or heavily story driven games. #
  • Development team's role in the process. Jeremy: Received something from designers w/ goal, and determine if the goal is met or needs work. #
  • Jeremy: Each rule is examined for potential consequences, short term and long term, and if it's positive or negative. #
  • Development team also handles the number crunching, like expected monster damage by level. #
  • How to reconcile a modular system with exceptations of game balance? Jeremy: Each module is more of a spectrum approach. #
  • So the seeds of any potential module are placed in the core game. #
  • As an example, the fighter is built on some core abilities and concepts. Opt-in to more customization to exchange core abilities for others. #
  • Between the two fighters, one is more complex, but because it is a trade-off, they remain balanced. #
  • Jeremy: Meanwhile, DMs also have optional modules to customize for the game they want to run. #
  • Monte: DM can say that he's running a very tactical game, so it's a code for the players to make characters that work well with it. #
  • Mike: Even if the DM makes a very character-driven game, a player could still make a very tactical character and know what to expect. #
  • Jeremy: Modules would allow the game to shift styles in mid-campaign to react to DM and players' needs. #
  • Mike: Modules could even allow rules for a single story, like using mass battle rules for a session, or customized for a campaign. #
  • Monte: The three pillars have helped the designers inform class design. It gives a lens to recognize each class's role in each. #
  • Monte: "Bards can still kick ass." #
  • Mike: While the rogue may have a lot of exploration abilities, the customization may allow more "stabby" rogues. #
  • High level play: impression that all editions break down at some level. Trying to address those issues to let high level play work. #
  • All in all, sounds like they're still working on it, but part of that is where asking play testers will come in to identify issues. #
  • Mike: disparities always develop the longer a games goes on, and they need to determine what that experience should feel like. #
  • Monte: wants lower level threats to remain relevant at all levels. Orcs start scary, become easier, but never are irrelevant. #
  • Monte: instead of increasing attack bonuses, give higher level characters more interesting things to do. #
  • Jeremy: One of the reasons behind this is to provide good world-building tools for DMs. An entire realm of orcs is always a threat. #
  • No matter what level, if the DM needs the party to encounter an orc, they can just open the monster manual and get a useable one. #
  • Mike: Playtesting feedback will be considered carefully. The 1st impulse to feedback is to make a rule, which isn't always the right answer. #
  • Mike: Sometimes the answer is to provide the DM with more tools to customize the experience instead of making an entirely new rule. #
  • Jeremy: Internal playtesting has been going on ~9 months. Main lesson is how diverse people's experience is with D&D. #
  • Jeremy: Of course, this means that often feedback is diametrically opposed. It's the designer's job to come up with new creative solutions. #
  • Monte: Part of the challenge is coming up with identifying what the D&D version of something "is," like what a D&D wizards means. #
  • Monte: Identifying a D&D ranger is like looking at whether it's best represented by Aragorn or Drizzt. #
  • Designing adventures for such a wide audience? Jeremy: Sometimes you make adventures that apply broadly, and some that are more focused. #
  • Jeremy: Adventures can be more customizable to account for a group's needs, and some can be more targeted to styles. #
  • What kind of modules would you use in your games? Monte: Use minis, but not super-tactical. Lots of social interaction and exploring. #
  • Mike: A game that starts with a simple core, then introduce new pieces as the campaign goes on. Flexibility. #
  • Jeremy: Use modularity session by session. No minis or dice rolling in city, lots of dice rolling next session in big batttle. #
  • Audience Q&A beginning. Will customization be more like multiclassing, or within the class itself? Monte: Both are viable options. #
  • Monte: Class customization is easier, while multiclassing is a more drastic change that is more of a commitment and rulesmastery. #
  • Jeremy: The playtests will hint at some of the options. For example, the fighter is also a noble which grants some social skills. #
  • Support for new players? Mike: Complexity will be managed by products, all supported by the same core, and give the right experience. #
  • What will empower the players to be creative? Monte: Moving away from looking at a character sheet for options, to limitless options. #
  • Monte: Empowering the DM to make more rules calls allows the players to be more creative. #
  • Monte: For instance some DMs make their adventures via random tables. Random tables will be back, but not a requirement to use. #
  • What will be the role of random charts? Monte: There are different styles of DMs that are inspired by different things. #
  • Open playtesting should begin in the spring, and will be available for all kinds of groups to run. #
  • How easy it is to switch playstyles in mid-session? Mike: Modules will have a basic implementation that's easier to pick up and run. #
  • How will the new edition address organized play? Mike: No specific decisions made yet. Want to make a standard set of modules used for OP. #
  • Mike: There will still be room for DMs to customize in OP, but the basic implementation will be shared. #
  • What's the expectation of getting playgroups together with different styles? Monte: Want to make it possible to support multiple styles. #
  • Monte: So a player that wants something simple can play it, but as the campaign goes on, can decide to add more complexity or not. #
  • Jeremy: A spectrum of complexity is available in 4e in Essentials vs. other classes. This spectrum will be widened in new edition. #
  • How will it deal with more complex characters that take a long time to resolve an action? Monte: Big goal of design is to keep combat quick. #
  • Do you think D&D has started to take itself too seriously? Mike: D&D always needs an element of chaos, that can lead to silly or serious. #
  • Jeremy: Art conceptualization process for new D&D has lead to more grounded characters. Not all PCs will look like superheroes. #
  • Jeremy: Some heroes who looks like they just barely survived. Some halflings who look like they ate too many muffins. #
  • Will classes be specialized to specific pillars? Mike: Better at some areas, but no character ever be completely useless at one. #
  • Seminar is over. Will try to get some of the questions sent to us answered throughout the show. #
  • Live-tweeting of New Products seminar at #ddxp to commence shortly. Unlikely to talk much about #dndnext at this seminar. #
  • Mike Mearls on stage, going through the first half of the year, mainly 4e but with elements useable for any edition. #
  • New limited printing of AD&D 1e books coming in April. New cover treatments that use the original art but with added band for printing. #
  • Rise of the Underdark D&D Encounters season soon, focusing on the drow. #
  • Prototype covers of new Ad&D printing. http://t.co/Yp17KZzk #
  • May: Dungeon Survival Handbook. More themes that tie into story elements to inform DMs of villains, plotlines, etc. #
  • June will have Urban Underdark dungeon tile set, and D&D Lair Assault with drow theme. #
  • Drow houses filled with intrigue, or standard PC adventure setting options. Also Forests of the Underdark map pack in July. #
  • New Fortune Card type: Drow Treachery cards, using same mechanics, but cards to hurt other PCs in the group.. #
  • Menzoberranazan setting book coming in August. New kind of campaign setting for drow, where the PCs can compete against each other as houses #
  • So it's Ed Greenwood's vision of the Realms as it has developed in his own campaign, not necessarily the "official" presentation. #
  • Fourth quarter: Ed Greenwood Presents "Elminster's Forgotten Realms." From Ed's original campaign notes and ongoing campaign. #
  • Still a playable game book, but like a "What If?" version of the Forgotten Realms as Ed intended. #
  • Lords of Waterdeep board game releases in March, a "euro game" style game. #
  • DDI will continue throughout 2012 supporting 4e with new content. #
  • Dungeon Command will have a mix of new sculpts and old (with repaints) as well as Adventure System stats. #
  • Dungeon Command will retail for $40 per faction box. #
  • Some Ravenloft support planned for this year on DDI. #
  • Success of Dungeon Command will likely decide how many new sculpts for new minis are made for future boxes. #
  • 100% committed to supporting FLGS, which drives decisions like only selling AD&D reprints through them. #
  • Back catalog of older edition products being re-released (in electronic) is being planned for but nothing to announce yet. #
  • There will be a Dungeon Command game day, which will kick off organized play for Dungeon Command, including tournaments. #
  • Right now #dndnext is taking a lot of design resources, focusing on classic settings first, maybe a new setting after that. #
  • Dungeon Survival Guide will contain themes, under dark powers, new PC races (like Goblin). #
  • There will be a full kobold PC race in the Dungeon Survival Guide. #
  • MM: it is not our job to tell DMs how they should feel about a time period of a campaign setting so they want to include them all as options #
  • Like Star Wars, there are fans of all eras, so DMs can pick which one they want. #
  • Nothing new to announce for digital (ie video games) D&D. DDO ongoing, and Neverwinter being worked on. #
  • Looking at doing more collected editions of DDI material, but no changes to announce right now. #
  • DDI submissions: still accepting 4e articles until they say otherwise. #
  • Underdark season for organized play might look at similar events from different perspectives. Will be revealed later. #
  • No further Gamma World support planned, including DDI. They consider the game complete from a product perspective. #
  • No changes to the AD&D reprint content, except for the old ads in the back for the RPGA, replaced by info on the Gygax Memorial Fund. #
  • Missing from the slides: Halls of the Undermountain, a big adventure that extends from the D&D Encounters season. Sandbox style adventure. #
  • Nothing to announce yet about an open game license of some kind for #dndnext #
  • In addition to monthly Eye on Dark Sun column, there will be a Dark Sun-themed DDi month. #

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