How is 5e D&D Gonna Pull This Off?

WoTC 5e Seminar
I know it's a pain to read a blog entry that links to other sites, but you don't really need to read these to follow my line of thought. But here are the most recent official discussions from Monte Cook, Mike Mearls and the WoTC team about what 5e is gonna try and look like:

Discussion 1: mainly about the overall course of the game's development, look and feel
Discussion 2: specifically about class design, but with some other stuff too

So, in light of what's been said so far I'm curious about one thing in particular. And here I quote Mike Mearls from discussion 1,

Mike: "If we get this right, everyone is sort of playing their own edition of the game. All at the same table."

The question I have is how in the heck are they gonna pull that off?!

From reading the design seminars it seems to me they are aiming at trading abilities and damage bonus for other types of abilities that might make your PC more, I don't know, unique? because it seems they are trying to keep power bloat to a minimum by gradualizing the base attack bonuses over level rise; and requiring PCs to sacrifice certain basic abilities like an increasing BAB for more unique abilities like double attacks or fancy combat maneuvers.

To tell you the truth I'm really not sure, and based on the discussion afterwards others aren't sure either. I don't think the Wizards design team is being purposely evasive on everything. Just that some things they haven't quite figured out yet. And I can understand why.

The idea of having a 1e PC, a 2e PC a 3.5 PC and a 4e PC at the same table? I mean basically that is kind of what they are saying. And I'm supposed to DM them all. I think I might be able to DM them all, but how do the players feel? the 4e PC gets powers, the 3.5e PC is creatively multiclassed and feat laden, the 2e PC has tons of skills and used a point buy system to design his stats and the 1e guy is, well ... 1e? How the heck does that work?

Near as I can tell they are planning on some type of PC design, that allows all these different builds to work more or less together in their class niche while not sacrificing power levels for any build. I mean they all sort of will balance with the ability to do cool things in line with their class regardless of the build chosen.

Eerrrr? O-tay ...

I've been around the block a bit game-wise and I have never seen this done. Even GURPS doesn't do it. At least not well. I mean you can have 4 PCs in GURPS that are all say 175 point builds, but one uses the fantasy supp, one uses the biotech supp and one uses the hi-tech supp and you've got three very different PCs. Yeah they're all 175 point PCs but who wants to trade their blaster-rifle for a magic longbow? Not me. Not if we're talking in terms of pure ability/power levels. I'm not sure this is a very good analogy, but what else do I have to turn to.

Long story short--WoTC is doing something that has never been done before. And bully for them for even attempting it. I truly hope it will work. As I was reading it I began to wonder if we wouldn't see some release like the first release of 3e which flopped until they were able to clean it up. Maybe the playtest will avoid another catastrophe like that.

Next time I'll pick out a few gems that I think would make at least a few grognards happy and show they are throwing more than token respect towards the venerable past of old school D&D. That and by Saturday night we should have some info on release dates for 5e product!


Hamel™ said…
Designers talked about "swapping features" when passing from a game-style to another.

IMHO you can do so just lowering HD/BAB/ST in exchange of more tactical features.
That's what I find very intriguing about this edition... well, we'll see.
Chris said…
Yeah, The swap idea is what I got, but wasn't quite sure how they planned to pull it off.

I noticed you used the term "playstyle" Hamel; that's actually an interesting way to look at it. But if 4 PCs embody 4 different playstyles how do they all play in the same game?

I'll tell you what, they certainly have me intrigued. I can't help myself but get more excited the more I hear--not sure it'll hit my sweet spot, but the sheer audacity of the plan has me chomping at the bit to get in some playtesting. I've signed up to do so, but don't know how they plan on the public playtest release.

If they do it like Paizo did PF I'll be all over it. If they reply via email to my request and put all sort of constraints on it, I may have to postpone. We'll see indeed :) Good times in game-world!
Drance said…
I doubt they can pull this off. Even if they did, I for one would probably not allow players to have characters who would fit into various eras of D&D in play simultaneously. Play style/character options would be set before a campaign would begin, and all players would have similar generation requirements. At least in my games.
Hamel™ said…
Well, I've used the term game-style because WotC's primary intent seems to be making players from different decades sit at the same table and have fun together.

WotC itself seems to use the term module, roughly referring to the same thing.

Talking about different characters on the same table, WotC said there won't be huge advantages between playing this or that module/gamestyle.

We still have no knowledge about the real rules (we only know the advancement rates are going to be decreased from 1/2 to 1/3 or more and other indefinite details), so it's still hard to think about a possible solution.

My only idea is that a 0e/BECMI flavoured Fighter (just THAC0, HDs and STs) could give up something in order to get and "advanced feature".
Marcy R.Wilson said…
There is obviously a lot to know about this. I consider you made certain nice points in features also.
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