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D&D Next Q&A: 12/20/13
Rodney Thompson

Y ou've got questions—we've got answers! Here's how it works—each week, our Community Manager will scour all available sources to find whatever questions you're asking. We'll pick three of them for R&D to answer, whether about the making of the game or anything else you care to know about... with some caveats.

There are certain business and legal questions we can't answer (for business and legal reasons). And if you have a specific rules question, we'd rather point you to Customer Service, where representatives are ready and waiting to help guide you through the rules of the game. That said, our goal is provide you with as much information we can—in this and other venues.




1 For monsters that can summon in help, like the pit fiend, do the summoned monsters count toward the pit fiend’s XP, or must they be accounted for separately when building encounters?

If a monster can summon other creatures, that ability will be accounted for in the monster’s XP value, so the DM won’t need to make any adjustments.

2 Is there room in the game for monsters that are immune to things like Sneak Attack or magic? As “puzzle monsters” perhaps, designed in such a way that the party has to figure out their one weakness?

Yes, but the key is that we think it’s important to look at these as individual monsters, not entire categories or types of monsters. Pure immunity to major portions of the game’s mechanics has a serious impact on game play, not only in making the monster tougher to deal with, but also in slowing down the pace of play. While puzzles (including “puzzle monsters”) can be fun, they definitely change the pacing of the game since the party needs to slow down and figure out how to deal with the monster. Slowing down the pace of the game isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it needs to be used judiciously and where appropriate to the adventure; one puzzle is fine, but five puzzles can become tedious. When it comes to targeting individual class features not shared by multiple classes (for example, Sneak Attack), we’re far less likely to explore this in monster design, since it unduly punishes a single class.

3 Is the spell point system mentioned in Legends & Lore going to be something that the wizard or cleric can opt in to at character creation or will it have a separate class built around it?

Alternate spellcasting systems (for example, a spell point system) could be something you use to replace the traditional spell slot system regardless of which class you are playing. This is the kind of system that’s going to change the feel of spellcasting in your entire campaign, and it might be something that you want to apply to divine casters, arcane casters, or maybe even individual classes depending on the tone you want to set for spellcasting in your campaign. That’s really going to be up to the DM and players to decide, so hard-coding something like that into a single class wouldn’t necessarily be useful to all groups. We think that when it comes to alternate mechanics, especially those that have as big of an impact as spellcasting systems, healing systems, and the like, the best use of the mechanics is as a tool that the DM and players agree to use as they see fit.

That said, we’ve experimented with classes that use a casting system based on spell points (a previous iteration of the sorcerer was a spell point class). Each time, the feedback for those classes typically indicated a desire to use spell points for other classes. As the sorcerer class has continued to evolve, we’ve moved back to a more traditional slot-based system, though the sorcerer as currently designed also has a pool of “sorcery points” to draw on to use for metamagic and to cast extra spells.


How can I submit a question to the D&D Next Q&A?

Instead of a single venue to submit questions, our Community Manager will be selecting questions from our message boards, Twitter feed, and Facebook account. You can also submit questions directly to dndinsider@wizards.com. So, if you'd like to have your question answered in the D&D Next Q&A, just continue to participate in our online community—and we may select yours!

Rodney Thompson
Rodney Thompson began freelancing in the RPG industry in 2001 before graduating from the University of Tennessee. In 2007 he joined the Wizards of the Coast staff as the lead designer and developer for the new Star Wars RPG product line. Rodney is the co-designer of Lords of Waterdeep and is currently a designer for Dungeons & Dragons.
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The ability should give no bonus. It shouldn't even be an ability at all. Monsters should be accounted for when you build the adventure. At least that's how I do it. I've always found that summoning (especially with a % chance) just disrupts gameplay.
  
Posted By: Zaistars (12/24/2013 8:02:50 AM)
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The way I'd like to see it: Some classes should have different spellcasting systems as the default. A sorcerer should work differently than a wizard who should work differently than a warlock.
HOWEVER, you should still be able to change out the spellcasting system of any class for one you and your group wants to use. If you want to make everyone slot based, fine, do that, but I like the diversity of casting systems between classes as a default base. Guessing that won't be the case, in the interest of keeping a "simple" base among all classes.

I'm sure you guys have some other ways in mind to differentiate different classes' casting styles (ie spell points for metamagic, etc) so I guess I'll withhold judgment til I see them.
  
Posted By: bogmad (12/20/2013 12:23:42 PM)
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Removing immunities from monsters because some class ability might be thwarted is ridiculous. My game has always included immunities of all sorts. Even players can gain immunities via spells and magical items. If DnD Next is going to change all that and remove the countless number of so called "puzzle monsters" from the game for the sake of player entitlement, then I'm not interested.

All I have to say is this, LONG LIVE THE JU-JU ZOMBIE! ..."The animating force of a ju-ju zombie is more strongly tied to the Negative Material plane. The result is that only +1 or better magical weapons can harm them....in addition to normal zombie spell immunities, ju-ju zombies are immune to mind affecting spells and psionics, illusions, and to electricity and magic missiles. Fire causes only half damage."
  
Posted By: dmgorgon (12/20/2013 10:55:12 AM)
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I don't read this as them completely removing immunities (or resistances) from the game. This question is more focused on "puzzle" monsters - that is, monsters that are difficult to defeat but through the use of unconventional tactics or specific abilities. I would think that fire elementals will still ignore fire, etc.
  
Posted By: To11 (12/20/2013 11:17:36 AM)
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YOUR game is still free to include as many immunities as you want. However, many of the rest of us like the change to Sneak Attack.
  
Posted By: Ramzour (12/20/2013 12:04:21 PM)
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Of course, I could argue that you're free to remove them. In terms of the core of DnD, it's a major departure. I guess I'll be stuck using the monster manuals of previous editions. Every time I go to use a DnD next monster, I'll have to fix it by reviewing how it should work in my 2e MM.
  
Posted By: dmgorgon (12/20/2013 1:15:05 PM)
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Which to me is the beauty of DnD next!
  
Posted By: NinjaPlease (12/21/2013 12:52:02 PM)
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1. Seems like an answer not really thought through

2. Player Entitlement and the Gamist mentality are the only reasons to enable Sneak Attack to work as the Dev's intend. Sneak Attack is not, nor should be, the focus of the Rogue class. Earlier playtest packets even made it Optional when creating the Rogue character, and that was doing it Right. Sneak Attack should be a situational benefit that a Player has to work hard to achieve in game, not made part of the regular combat experience. Lame and Lazy class design.

3. Didn't really answer the question, except for a big Maybe if houseruled. Also, previous iterations of the Sorcerer in the playtest were not Spell Point based. They still used spells as normal, but had a 'Spell Point' hybrid tacked on that didn't really work well. We have yet to see a Spell Point or other alternate spellcasting mechanic actually introduced. Probably won't now. Yet another Design Goal unfulfilled by WotC.
  
Posted By: LupusRegalis (12/20/2013 9:45:07 AM)
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I totally agree, in fact I hope we still have some undead monsters that are immune to turning attempts, beholders that can't be knocked prone (thwarting CS-trip), and pit fiends that can fire ball themselves at will because they are are immune to fire. The problem with sneak attack is that it's only focused on damage. In 2e the rogue got a +4 bonus to hit even if his target had no vitals to backstab. In DnD Next, sneak attack doesn't allow the rogue to hit more often, it's only damage focused. so much for the rogue who likes to sneak attack with a poisoned sleep dart, and doesn't really care about the damage.
  
Posted By: dmgorgon (12/20/2013 10:40:08 AM)
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@Ramzour Advantage is equal to +5 to hit–if your chance of hitting was 50/50 to begin with. Any better or worse and the effective bonus goes down, which means that if you were "taking the" Advantage rather than giving it up in order to inflict Sneak Attack damage and you estimate that you need to roll a 6 or better to hit, you're only getting the equivalent of +3 to that attack roll. The effective bonus is usually around +4 in most practical situations, but a problem arises when you're counting on springing out of the shadows to give you the edge you need to hit a tough target. If only a natural 20 on a d20 will hit, Advantage makes your 5% chance to hit a big 9.75% (about the same as a +1).
  
Posted By: RadperT (12/22/2013 8:40:34 PM)
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If you're Sneak Attacking with a poisoned sleep dart then you're probably initiating said attack while hidden, and you would therefore have Advantage to your attack. That's usually equal or better than a +4 to hit.
Also, with bounded accuracy a +4 to hit would be wildly unbalancing during flanking situations. Furthermore, BA means that you won't have to work so hard to reach impossibly high ACs, so you can focus more on direct damage than accuracy.
  
Posted By: Ramzour (12/20/2013 12:00:22 PM)
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SOME monsters having immunities is fine, but beyond "Gamism" (which is now bad somehow?) and "player entitlement" (translation: "your way of elfgaming is inferior") there's also a question of how complicated encounter design can be when great swathes of the Monster Manual have categorical immunity to major class abilities. It makes themed dungeons/campaigns a pain to design because you have to discourage certain builds going in or drop loads of hints.

The occasional puzzle monster is fine, but things like "all undead are immune to criticals" were ridiculous- not even terribly simulationist, given the broad definition of a critical hit. (Really all structures, organic or not, have their weak points.)
  
Posted By: Criswell (12/20/2013 2:26:08 PM)
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Wizards definitively not having to use spell slots is the best news I've heard about DnD Next since the first playtest. Not exaggerating, either. Thank you.
  
Posted By: nukunuku (12/20/2013 9:43:13 AM)
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I think "puzzle" monsters that are immune to everything need to be left in the hands of individual DMs. Unless I am very unusual, many DMs also play as Players, and vice versa. In addition, groups will play more than once. As a result, this makes any published "puzzle" monsters one-use monsters at best. Anyone who has read the MM or seen the monster before will know the trick.

So rather than include them in the MM, I think it would be better to include a section on it in the Building Monsters chapter. It could include advice to DMs for incorporating "puzzle" monsters as well as a few examples.

In addition, making a monster immune to one thing, like Sneak Attack, doesn't make it a "puzzle" monster. All it does is invalidate one character in the group (or none, if there aren't any rogues!). There are better ways to encourage your players to think outside the box. For example, if you make the outcome of improvised actio... (see all)
  
Posted By: Arithezoo (12/20/2013 7:57:06 AM)
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SSShhhhhhh!!!! Don't tell my players that thing about trolls and fire!
  
Posted By: Ramzour (12/20/2013 12:02:01 PM)
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Making whole classes of creature immune to backstab was the worst, especially when a good description could make sneak attack make sense anyhow, even against undead (zombies SPECIFICALLY have a famous headshot weakness even) or constructs (the structural weak point!) or whatever. That said if you wanted to have, under special qualities for like, I don’t know, people fighting a hovering rock, “Immune to Sneak Attack,” then so be it. Just keep it ad hoc.

Spell points-- and I say this as someone who used spell points in my last generic d20 game-- should be kept for psionics. They just "feel" like psionics, to me. PS: I also think the Monk should be a psionic class.
  
Posted By: mordicai (12/20/2013 7:50:45 AM)
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2. I hope a number of monsters will be designed who engage exploration and role-play aspects of the rules as attractive options for the party. A lot of this depends on individual circumstances, but ghosts and certain golems may be designed specifically so the most efficient line of interaction is not normal combat (regardless of class). 5 puzzles in a row may be tedious, but 5 combats in a row can be too! I'm happy Wizards is looking into this.

3. Just call them "magic points" if they act like magic points; like HP, GP, and Experience Points, MP is a universally recognized game term and makes the game easier to learn.

It looks like different characters can use different magic systems in the same campaign if the group allows, but they'll also be able to use the same, of course. Sounds fun.
  
Posted By: Dreamstryder (12/20/2013 7:37:57 AM)
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Spell points, I think, would be good for a new kind of wizard class who uses his own unique spells. I wouldn't like to see the traditional wizard spells like magic missile and fireball cast with spell points. If clerics and other priests are to use spell points, I would say the same thing, but spell points have a VERY arcane magic feel so I would try to reserve them only for arcane spell-casting.
  
Posted By: SirAntoine (12/20/2013 7:28:11 AM)
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If you have a reason, for creative or mythology purposes to make something immune to an attack, do it. If it makes the game harder for some classes, that's fine.
  
Posted By: SirAntoine (12/20/2013 7:26:41 AM)
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Summoned monsters should give their own XP awards. This is a no-brainer.
  
Posted By: SirAntoine (12/20/2013 7:25:00 AM)
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They do...and it's already been factored into the XP of the monster that summoned them.
  
Posted By: Ramzour (12/20/2013 8:41:49 AM)
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I don't mean a little bonus to the XP of the summoner, I expect 100% of the XP of the summoned monsters as if they were summoned by a bell or a whistle.
  
Posted By: SirAntoine (12/20/2013 9:27:27 AM)
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That's kind of a hefty bit of XP to add to one Monster, to account for the possibility of summoning multiple other monsters. The Death Slaad for example has traditionally been able to gate in more than one lesser Slaad over the course of an encounter.
  
Posted By: LupusRegalis (12/20/2013 9:35:57 AM)
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The bonus obviously should be equal to the monsters summoned, not based on a potential to summon any. Every monster needs to count, and the lesser slaadi would be examples of XP-worthy monsters.
  
Posted By: SirAntoine (12/20/2013 9:41:10 AM)
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Agreed. Should have made that more clear in my answer, as I was giving an example of why the Devs answer seemed incorrect.
  
Posted By: LupusRegalis (12/20/2013 9:46:19 AM)
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So how do you account for the fact that the number of summoned monsters could be random? Or that the summon might not be successful at all?
Some demons, for instance, summon "3d8 dretches, 1d4 hezrous, or 2d4 vrocks", or they can summon a more powerful demon with a 50% chance of success.

You might as well say that they should award a certain amount of XP for every point of damage the monster's attacks can do...but oh no! Their damage is random too!

It's just not practical.
  
Posted By: Ramzour (12/20/2013 11:37:00 AM)
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You may want to be able to measure total XP values for encounters and adventures ahead of time, or so it sounds. Summoned monsters are no different than monsters behind the next door in the dungeon who come out when they hear battle. As long as you have to fight them, they can die and you can die, they're real, extra monsters. They're not "just a spell", so there is no getting around this.

In case you were asking for the obvious, though, you look at the MM entry for the summoned monsters and award XP for them normally. If none are summoned, no XP, if one or a particular type, that much extra, and if five of a particular type, x5.

One might argue that the ability of a special monster like a pit fiend to summon monsters should increase its own XP value, but that is different and it would depend on the rules you were employing to determine the XP values of monsters. The summoning ability would itself warrant mention as a magical ability, but I woul... (see all)
  
Posted By: SirAntoine (12/20/2013 6:33:36 PM)
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