Monday, September 27, 2021

Eating 6row?


I’m on record as saying that there’s no 6e for D&D on the horizon because it keeps selling like hot cakes.  But then Tasha’s came out, and then the expanded publishing schedule, and I started thinking that, whether they liked it or not, they were going to force themselves into 6e.  And yesterday…


Well, it might not be 6e, but there’s going to be a new… something in 2024?  Mike Mearls said thisabout a new edition 6 years ago:


I really don't like doing a new edition. IMO, new editions of D&D would focus on cleaning up trouble spots, applying lessons learned in design, and sticking to the core elements that made a thing successful in the first place.

Basically, a new edition asks people to re-learn the game all over again. It has to be worth that effort.


But that was before D&D showed so much growth and possibility.  Mearls has left the building, and his wisdom about “too much product killing D&D” has left with him. 


They are using the word edition, but they’re hedging things as well.  For instance, the next thing is supposed to be fully backwards compatible.  That makes it sound more like a 5.5 rather than a 6.  I honestly would not be surprised if they try to keep the 5 and we end up with some sort of “Pentium III” nonsense.  Probably something like 5+ or 5Next.


They did announce a reformed monster statblock yesterday that basically moves attack spells out of a monster’s spell list and moves it into their attack options, limited to once-per-day or with a rolled “cool down” mechanic like for dragon’s breath.  So this new version could potentially be all about quality-of-life improvements.  That being the case, here are some other things I’d expect to see:

  • Simplified action economy that looks an awful lot like Pathfinder’s.  This will likely require heavy modifications to Rogues.  (I also suspect we’ll see an integration of pets/familiars/etc. into this new system that makes them more useful.  Maybe you can make a second or third attack with a pet without suffering penalties?)
  • Changing the level names for spells, so instead of having their own levels, the spell’s level will now be the level at which you get the spell.  So fireball will become a “5th level spell” because you get access to it when your character reaches 5th level.
  • Further tweaks to tool skill rules. 
  • A heavily re-worked character sheet that makes it easier to understand how the different numbers relate to one another. 
  • Milestone advancement becomes the default; the Players Handbook might not even include a leveling-by-EXP chart, relegating that to the DMG. 
  • An attempt to resurrect something like 4e’s skill challenges.  It will faceplant as hard as the 4e system did. 
  • The Artificer will be in the PHB.  I suspect we’ll see at least one new class.
  • Classes that try to leverage the difference between short and long rests will do that less.  I expect the only class to see more changes than the Warlock to be the Ranger. 

I really wonder if the WotC crew realizes what sort of fire they’re playing with here.  5e is beloved; it’s the first system for literally hundreds-of-thousands of new players.  This is akin to doing open-heart surgery on the goose-that-lays-the-golden-eggs, and precedent has been set for competition from past editions.  Here’s the really crazy thing: Critical Role is publishing their own books now.  They don’t need WotC.  If WotC doesn’t bend over backwards to court them, and Critical Role does with 5e what Paizo did with 3.5e, it could get really ugly.   

EDIT: Mr. Brannon is more sanguine about this than I am.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Ghosts, Swords, and Wyrms

This pic, by the amazing Johan Egerkrans, was posted on Facebook recently, and the poster asked what the sword and broach do, and how you'll defeat the ghost to get them.  Here was my suggestion:

You set the ghost's soul to rest by slaying the White Wyrm (actually a black dragon with achromasia) and its servants that have claimed the ruin of an ancient watchtower in the middle of the swamp.  However, you must do this without telling a lie or killing an innocent.

The servants of the Wyrm are the fallen descendants of the ghost, men and women without honor or scruples who've been engaging in illicit slave trading through the swamps.  The Wyrm was wounded by the warrior who is now the ghost, and delights in tormenting the old soul by corrupting his descendants.  

The broach and sword are both fashioned from bronze and set with stones of alexandrite.  The broach confers immunity to poison, but if the wearer ever uses poison to harm another sentient, they will prick themselves on the broach's pin and fall dead from an especially deadly toxin.

The sword rings like a bell when an untruth is knowingly told in its presence, and any attacks made with the sword on the speaker of the lie deal especially vicious wounds.  However, should the wielder of the sword every speak a lie, even a white one, the sword will sap some of their strength.  The lost strength can only be restored by an act of public penance (flogging, climbing a mountain barefoot, crawling across broken stones on your knees, etc.).

In D&D terms, the sword is +1 to hit and damage under normal circumstances.  Against a liar, it's +3 to hit and damage.  Telling a lie while being the swords wielder confers a penalty of -1 to the character's Strength score.  Setting the sword aside while telling the lie is no protection; as soon as the sword is taken up again, the character loses the point of Strength.   


Sunday, September 19, 2021

Trollsmyth's Quick and Dirty Setting Info for Players Checklist


0 - Really rough overview in one sentence (plus picture if possible) to give players the general idea.

1 - Name and basic form of government.

2 - breakdown of population by race.

3 - clothing and overview of culture (whenever possible, use pictures for this).

4 - a random life-path tables that players can roll on for what sort of situation they grew up in, possibly followed by early adulthood.

5 - gods worshipped there (just a name and basic description; if they want to know more because they want to play a cleric, have that somewhere else.)

6 - how magic is learned (school, apprenticeships, hedge-witches, etc.).

7 - list of towns and cities the PCs could be from, with a single sentence description (though might be best to wrap this into #4 above.)

8 - description of how names are constructed, plus a list of names to pick from.

You have, at most, 100 words for each section (not counting tables and name lists) and 50 words is much better ("brevity is the soul of wit" and all that), so you want to use random tables and pictures wherever possible.