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DnD 5th Edition

Most of the RPG bloggerati is convinced that DnD5e is in development. Posts from Monte Cook are scoured for hints as to what DnD5e will be like. People have put up wish lists of their hopes for the next edition of the 800-pound gorilla of the industry.

Hell, I might as well put out my own wish list. You listening Monte?

  1. Ditch Armor Class. This was a bad game mechanic from its inception. For a miniatures game, which may be where it came from,  it’s fine. For a role-playing game, it’s outdated. There are a dozen different ways to handle to-hit and damage resolution.
    Give up on the hubris — admit there might be a more elegant solution to depicting armor in combat.
  2. Stop Obsessing About Game Balance. 4th Edtion DnD is a game where everyone is some sort of mystic warrior. Everyone has powers. They do different things, yes, but a fighter seem to me to be a mage who casts his spells through his sword.  How about different advancement paths for different classes?
  3. Lose the Grind. Epic battle don’t have to be really long battles.  Instead of giving Orcus 1500 hit points, how about making that final fight fast and deadly? There is a pervasive belief that the Epic Tier of 4th Edition is not as much fun as the Heroic Tier. This is a result of the power level creep of the system. Higher to-hit targets and more hit points inevitably leads to longer combats.
    Long combats are boring. Especially when the party has tipped the scales toward inevitability.
  4. Can We Go Back to a Flexible Magic System? Yeah, I know there’s a bunch of rituals in the back of the book, but I’ve never seen anyone use them. Let’s meld spell-thrower powers back into the spell list! Let’s write the spells so more of them can be an option in combat. Let’s have those mages with an intelligence score of 20 to actually use their noodle and come up with interesting ways to use that spell list during combat.
  5. Consider — just Consider — Ditching the Class System. I know, I’m crazy. But might there be a better, more flexible way to make the character I want to play, rather than whatever character I can assemble from your race, class and alignment modules? Seriously. I wanna play a mage who uses flails — and I don’t want a splat book that includes the Flail Mage class. No. I want to be able to build that character myself.

I’m on record as being the kind of  role-player who’ll try anything before playing DnD.  And the fact is, there’s a reason for this. Just because Gygax and Arneson made certain decisions with regards to game mechanics doesn’t make those decisions sacrosanct.

Over the past 30+ years, many brilliant game-designing minds have come up with much better ways of doing things. WotC should consider learning from some of that innovation.

Written by

Stu Venable is the producer of Happy Jacks RPG Podcast and writer and editor of He is founder and director of the Poxy Boggards and a member of Celtic Squall. He holds a degree in Journalism and Public Relations from California State University, Long Beach. He is a husband and a father. He hates puppies.

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5 Responses to "DnD 5th Edition"

  1. callinNo Gravatar says:

    For me AC and the Class system are integral to D&D. Take those away and I wouldn’t call it D&D anymore. I’m not saying there aren’t better ways of doing things, but it wouldn’t be D&D without them.

  2. Yong KyosunimNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t think I would play D&D if it got rid of AC and classes. I’d agree with Callin in that I don’t think it would resemble D&D anymore.

  3. Philo PharynxNo Gravatar says:

    There are hundreds of games with the qualities you’ve described. These have the beauty of already existing. Savage Worlds, RuneQuest, Gurps, Fantasy Hero, etc. While I think 5e will go closer to it’s roots, I don’t think it’ll get rid of all of the old parts of D&D. For example classes. Classes limit some of your options. They also give you a framework to give you ideas. They make it easier to not have all of the players step on each other roles. They make the game feel like D&D to me. I play other games without classes, but I’m happy to keep them in my D&D.

  4. StuNo Gravatar says:

    That’s why I said “consider” dropping the class system. The PC archetypes are one of the defining things about DnD. I get that argument.

    The problem is, I think you can make a case that DnD has lost a lot of players since 4th Edition came out. Maybe they should take a hard look at the entire game. Damn near everyone who plays another game started with DnD and moved on. Maybe they didn’t like the genre. Maybe they didn’t like the system. But there has always been a steady stream of players who’ve “moved on” from DnD.

    If the 5th Edition came out with a solid, streamlined, elegant system behind it, I think you’d have generations of role-players, who moved on from DnD to something they felt was better, suddenly consider coming back to the game that started it all.

    Why not take the opportunity to *really* revise the game from the ground up. You can’t tell me that through four editions, not to mention every basic/expert/essential edition, every editor, every designer, every manager has believed that AC/hit point attrition is the best way to handle combat.

  5. rabbidninjaNo Gravatar says:

    i have to say that after 14 years of dming that i did kinda like 4e but my players didn’t because, of the confinement of character classes. in 3-3.5 cross classing was the best! you could even make that “flail mage” from your example very easily. really, i think the best that i could hope for would be is a slight return to that system. i did take the minion idea from 4e, it really helped flesh out encounters! As far as hp i also got bored with that and began using wounds & vitality systen frim the unearthed arcana book added with the massive damage rule set from modern d20. All in all it made my post-apoc very realistic and heroic feel. i have also used opposed attack vs. ac rolls but, this favored the player way too much. i wouldn’t mind trying a new hit/miss system myself.

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