art of my personal quest to kick the tires on D&D Next consists of running games that I've really enjoyed in past editions or doing things with D&D that I've always wanted to try but never got around to trying. This week, I'm prepping for a huge game involving about ten players, five tables of pre-arranged 3-D terrain, and several hundred orcs, gnolls, and other nasties in an epic, all-day game. My aim is to fit an entire, epic story line into one day. The characters will represent the last hope against an army of evil that seeks to ravage the land. We'll have sieges, battles, daring commando raids, and good old-fashioned dungeon romps. By the time you're reading this, the game will be done and (hopefully!) a success.
So far, the system has mostly done what I've needed in terms of prep. We don't have mass combat rules yet, but I'm planning on using the shortcuts I used with Steading of the Hill Giant Chieftain as needed. The more telling thing will be the relative power of various monsters. How well does a dragon attack on a small town play out? Will the town guard snuff out the creature or will it run rampant? Mathematical modeling is a useful starting point, but I've found that sitting down and playing is the best way to get a good handle on the correct assumptions, details we've overlooked, and the actual flow of events in the game.
Have you tried any interesting scenarios or set-ups in your own playtests? Drop a comment below and tell the world about it.
Physician, Heal Thyself
We have had a few interesting talks about healing in R&D lately. I'm wondering if we might be thinking too much about healing. Our goal has been to remove cleric healing as a necessary element of adventuring. Does that approach make sense given our modular design?
I'm starting to think that it doesn't. As a default, we can just embrace the cleric's healing with the understanding that most groups have rolled with that in the past without any real issues. The nice thing about that solution is that it keeps things simple, since the Hit Die mechanic (along with the other options we've tried) becomes an optional rule for groups to use as they see fit. We can then also offer other options for DMs, either making healing rarer or more plentiful, along with options for lingering wounds, longer or shorter rates of natural healing, and so on.
The real issue, based on playtest data, is that there really is no consensus on the perfect set of rules for healing. Going for the simplest route available to use makes the game more accessible while giving DMs the most latitude to make adjustments. In other areas, like the fighter, we've seen shifts in one direction or the other, but I've always felt confident that there was an answer for us to focus on. Healing is far more scattered. I think that we started off with a few assumptions too many in terms of what people want out of the core, treating an element that should be an option—nonmagical healing—as a key part of the game.
With this sort of thing, we don't assume that the default rule is the "right" or "correct" choice. With the core game, our aim is to err on the side of simplicity and streamlined, easy to learn rules.
In any case, nothing is set in stone. There are still discussions pending, and we all still have thinking and playing to do, but right now I'm leaning toward this as our best path forward.
Mike Mearls is the senior manager for the D&D research and design team. He has worked on the Ravenloft board game along with a number of supplements for the D&D RPG.