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D&D Next Q&A: 02/14/2014
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 Doesn't the concentration rule effectively eliminate lower-level buff spells from a caster's repertoire once they get higher-level spells that are more effective?

Many buff spells—especially those like bless or shield of faith—are additive, meaning that they're good no matter your level. This is especially true in D&D Next, with its slower scaling and more bounded accuracy. While it’s true that higher-level spells requiring concentration will fight with lower-level spells for use, we think that’s acceptable as a tactical choice to present to spellcasters: Do you want to have an additive buff and use your higher-level spells for instantaneous or short-burst effects, or do you want to use higher-level spells with ongoing concentration effects and your lower-level spell slots for weaker instantaneous/short duration/utility effects?

Additionally, since concentration can be broken by taking damage or being otherwise incapacitated, there’s the risk of not getting the most out of using a high-level spell slot for a concentration spell, which we think helps balance some more powerful spells (and also produces some good tension as opponents try and disrupt the spellcaster in order to shake off a powerful effect). Concentration, as a rule, is really helping keep a handle on some of the most powerful spellcasting effects and is one of the most effective effect-stacking mechanisms we have.

2 Would it be possible to have a feat that would allow spellcasters to maintain concentration on two or more spells at a time?

We considered it, but ultimately decided that such a feat (or class feature) is bad for the game, largely due to the unintended consequences it would produce. Every time we design a spell that requires concentration, we design and develop it knowing that it won’t be stacking with other concentration spells. With that primary safeguard gone, there would be far too many unpredictable combinations of spells that were never intended to function together.

3 Do main villain type monsters have ways to shrug off completely debilitating effects?

Yes. We’re still pursuing the legendary monster/lair mechanics that Mike previewed in Legends & Lore a while back. Additionally, we’ve tweaked some of the more debilitating effects to either allow multiple saves to end the spell (either end-of-turn saves, saves when the creature takes damage, and so forth), or we've made the spell function slightly differently so that they are not encounter-enders; for example, polymorph now breaks if the creature is reduced to 0 hit points in its new form, similar to how the druid’s Wild Shape works, making it so that if you polymorph the fire giant it’s more useful as a control technique than a pure encounter-ender.

Additionally, some creatures may simply be immune to certain effects, depending on the monster. We’re definitely treating villain-type monsters in this regard much like we did Solo monsters in 4th Edition, and we're taking a lot of what we learned in the development of those monsters over the years and applying them to the monsters in the next edition.


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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I have been having trouble finding anything that breaks concentration in the play test. The concentration description states that attacks will state whether they will break concentration, yet I cannot find anything in the play test that says it breaks concentration. What am I missing.
  
Posted By: Archangel1 (2/19/2014 10:48:37 AM)
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It is discussed kind of generally in the top-right two-thirds of How to Play, page 28 (p. 23 in older releases). Mike Mearls "introduced" damage-based concentration breaking in "Design Finesse, Part 2," http://wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4ll/20131202 but it is a long-standing part of the concept. Like many parts of the public playtest, higher levels of DM interpretation are called for than Third and Fourth Edition players are used to. The Wizards staff are most likely still figuring out what levels of damage call for specific concentration DCs, an unenviable task given the variance in caster HPs and wide range of potential damage amounts and types of debilitation to be considered as additional monsters are developed.
  
Posted By: RadperT (2/21/2014 8:36:14 PM)
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It really sounds like the WotC team are really trying to close any loop holes that might have been created. Good.
  
Posted By: Prom (2/16/2014 5:32:29 AM)
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1. Concentration mechanic: love it.

2. Ways around concentration mechanic: should be very, very rare, such as the result of a Wish spell, or perhaps an extremely rare consumable item (Potion of Concentration of the like).

3. Solos - Please take a hard look at this. I like the idea of having legendary adversaries who are an encounter unto themselves. However, the 4E Solo monster I used as a DM only twice. After the second instance of the solo being dazed, stunned, weakened, and blinded all at once by the second round of combat, I never again used a solo, preferring multiple elites instead. 5E solos definitely need to have a way to shake off effects without being completely immune to them. Perhaps they get an extra free save but only if affected by more than one save-ends effect at once.
  
Posted By: TheWilds (2/15/2014 10:48:37 PM)
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Sound good to me. I love the concentration mechanic and hearing that you guys won't break it the future is fantastic news. It really goes a long way to prevent spell-stacking and overpowered combos. I'm glad to hear your making boss encounter like 4e's Solo monster. They were a blast for me as a DM to run, and my players enjoyed them too. I really like that insta-wins are being taking out. Nothing angered me more than Disintegrate automatically killing my cool villain. Overall, great news!

As a question for next week, can we have a quick look at what martial classes have to look forward to at higher levels? We know they get extra attacks, but are there Book of the Nine Swords stye maneuvers appearing at some point, special resistances, or something else to give Martial classes more options in the midst of combat than basic attacks. I'd honestly like to hear more, as that was one of my biggest problems with 3.5. I play martial characters because I like the idea of relying on... (see all)
  
Posted By: Claymore65 (2/15/2014 12:22:05 PM)
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I like it all. Especially about the part of not putting in a later class feature or feat that overrides the concentration mechanic. I think the multitude of splat books in 3e created a lot of issues like what is being implied. I.e., unintentionally a combination was created that threw a wrench into the game.
  
Posted By: rajzwaibel (2/15/2014 9:15:59 AM)
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Our house rule for concentration states that the DC for maintaining concentration on a spell after taking damage equals the damage taken+ the spell's level, when the caster has to beat the DC on a con save and gets too add his proficiency bonus on the save.
  
Posted By: Ashtoret (2/15/2014 5:42:17 AM)
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This sounds really good. I like how concentration serves as another element of bounded accuracy, preventing power creep in casting. However, as far as making constitution checks for maintaining concentration in certain circumstances, how about putting in something that allows for the use of your proficiency bonus for such a check? Maybe a classes feature or a feat. Maybe a feat called combat caster could allow you to add y profecency bonus to concentration checks, allow casting while wearing armor, and the ability to stack two concentration spells if you can pass a concentration check each round, otherwise both spells end. Additionally, while concentrating on two spells stacked, you can't cast other spells. Might be a neat idea to test out.
  
Posted By: moes1980 (2/14/2014 6:08:45 PM)
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I'm down. Love it all.

The polymorph scenario is just fine. I always hated encounter ending 1-shot effects. Not to say there shouldn't be that great moment equivalent to Indiana Jones shooting the sword guy, but it should be an occasional thing. Polymorph has been the bane of many encounters with the big baddy. BUT, I could see it going along the route of the target getting a save at the end of every turn.

And for those that want to have that permanent effect, they would just have to do it in ritual form with the creature to be polymorphed all tied up and stuff.
  
Posted By: Timmee (2/14/2014 2:44:33 PM)
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Largely really good ideas by the DnD Team. But I disagree on the claim thatonly higher level concentration spells would compete with lower level versions. Bless and Shield of Faith are both lvl 1 and compete with each other. And +d4 on attack rollls and saving throws for the entire group beats +1 AC for ONE person *every* time. So Shield of Faith sort of "does not exist". Unless you have several spell casters involved. Also I think the "multiple spellcasters" thing might be problematic by stacking buffs on one character. Personally I would find it a great idea if single-target buffs would be self-cast only. This would also fix the problem that casting Haste on the 2H-Warrior is more effective than casting it on yourselves.

I really like the Polymorph-and-stuff changes. Any chances on a preview of the spell changes ? And does this only affect "boss monsters" or also players who get polymorphed and stuff? (I assume yes...).

Thanks for t... (see all)
  
Posted By: MagicSN (2/14/2014 12:09:25 PM)
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Would changing Shield of Faith to +1 AC to the entire party fix the issue with bless?

  
Posted By: Wrathamon (2/14/2014 5:40:10 PM)
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Unless you're trying to go out with a bang in your first encounter, the limited number of castings available already somewhat restricts potential stacking. Eliminate ritual buffing, apply some of that flavor to a ceremony which still expends a spell slot, and you're well on your way to making it impractical for even multiple casters to stack buffs. Add a cost or spiritual requirement for the recipient, and you've got an effective mechanic which reflects the way such benefits are typically conveyed in fantasy literature.
  
Posted By: RadperT (2/14/2014 10:56:24 PM)
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I'm very, very leery of "this spell has a super limited duration"-- which made a lot of 4e powers be like "GIANT GEE WHIZ CRAZY WORLD ALTERING MAGIC...that lasts for six seconds and then is over"-- as well as "some monsters will just be immune to stuff."

The former...well, I like magic that is magical, not just a fancy laser canon. DnD Next seems to "get" that, so I'm not too concerned, but the polymorph description just sounded to me like the solution to a neat spell like polymorph was to nerf it, rather than to balance it.

The latter...I'm not really opposed to it entirely so much as I am opposed to it because it usually makes an encounter boring. 3e undead were a perfect example. Immune to way too much stuff. Sneak Attack, for instance (because heavens knows there is no fictional basis on headshots doing more damage to the undead...) or enchantments or charms (even if it has a mind, like a lich, because...reasons) or ... (see all)
  
Posted By: mordicai (2/14/2014 11:37:15 AM)
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I understand not having a feat to allow for extra buff stacking, and I like what we hear about powerful villains here, but I am again worried about concentration breaking on damage combined with the comment about not wanting class features to get around concentration's limitations - that really sounds to me like "don't be a melee cleric" because if you're engaged in combat (and especially with no marking mechanic) it should be trivially easy for a melee cleric to get damaged by something, thus ending any self/group buff spell after only like a turn or two. Is divine power really worth spending your 4th level spell slot on if you only get a couple of swings? Not a chance. Not to mention earlier than that, if I cast Bless or Shield of Faith, then the party will want me to hang back to keep the buff, not wade into melee where I could get hurt and end the spell. Works fine for the laser clerics who only have to worry about arrows, but sucks for others. Any chance clerics could ge... (see all)
  
Posted By: viper5 (2/14/2014 10:51:52 AM)
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Agreed. I'd almost want to see certain domains (maybe War) have a feature that gives you a bonus for keeping Concentration against melee attack damage. But that may skirt too close to the "destroying the built-in limits" idea that they used to justify not having a multiple-Conc-spell feat. Still, melee cleric is a pretty iconic archetype, so they should get some love.
  
Posted By: JoeyLast (2/14/2014 11:13:45 AM)
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In general I'm also okay with feats that get around a limitation...as long as GETTING that feat is hard enough that it balances out.
  
Posted By: mordicai (2/14/2014 2:02:14 PM)
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It makes more sense to me to make Concentration easier for a melee cleric/gish rather than to circumvent the mechanic entirely. Advantage on Con saving throws, or even a +2/+5 bonus?
  
Posted By: Germytech (2/14/2014 6:09:07 PM)
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You can be a melee cleric or you can be a controller cleric, but you can't be both. I don't see a problem with that, just like I don't see a problem with a fighter not being able to simultaneously shoot arrows and swing a sword. If you are "concentrating" on melee combat (which takes a lot of mental focus) then you can't "concentrate" on a spell. It's a strategic choice, and a good part of the game to make players *think* from round to round rather than devise the "one true best of all possible, no drawbacks, no compromises, strategy that works every time against every enemy" that some people here seem to want.
  
Posted By: Noirsoft (2/15/2014 5:19:08 AM)
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The problem here isn't a control vs (melee) dpr, it's that the purpose of the cleric is to support the party, which it does through concentration spells. However, if a cleric cannot maintain a concentration spell while standing in melee, then it hurts the party for the cleric to stand in melee. More so when there is a ranged caster version that's basically just as offensively powerful.

If you wanted to give some party support abilities tied to weapon attacks, that'd be mostly a different story, as you would have ranged clerics supporting with a big concentration effect and melee with lots of small immediate effects (I say mostly because again, Divine Power is an explicitly melee ability, but is not worth only 1-2 rounds as written vs other level 4 spells).

Getting advantage on concentration or something could help a lot (and guaranteeing a check - at one point concentration just broke on any damage, period), though something has to be done to differentiate melee c... (see all)
  
Posted By: viper5 (2/16/2014 9:44:58 PM)
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On number 2, I understand Rodney's point about the danger of unintended consequences if you allow stacking of concentration spells and mostly agree. However, it might be cool if that were a level 20 capstone ability for a caster class that focused on control or buff effects.

Secondly, the principle behind concentration is sound, and as I said, the guidance against staking is good. However, how do they maintain this over time? What prevents the designer of a future supplement from breaking the rules that were observed while creating 5E?
  
Posted By: GilbertMDH (2/14/2014 8:45:31 AM)
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I love the fact that the Concentration mechanic limits the ammount of self-buffing, but allows for the party's spellcasters to work together to buff the most combative PC (say, the fighter). This allows for some really cool teamwork, which is the hallmark of DnD.
  
Posted By: Pozas (2/14/2014 8:29:53 AM)
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@WotC_Rodney

It IS good to know you read the comments! This whole open playtest thing has really been wonderful and unique, especially in a world where companies are trying harder than ever to hide how the sausage is made.
  
Posted By: RC-0775 (2/14/2014 8:23:49 AM)
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@awogaman

I'm madly excited to play a spellcaster! More hit points, at-will spells, spell slot flexibility, ARMOR! No other edition has treated spellcasters so well and taken away a lot of the arbitrary limitations that we houseruled out anyway.

I'm not sure what you mean by "jobbing" for other classes. If you mean that spellcasters are being relegated to a support role, I think that depends on the spells you are using and how you are using your character.

I'm certain there will be many more spells and cantrips to choose from and that you won't be stuck with Ray of Frost as your only option. Besides, any elemental spell is pretty easy to change damage type without breaking the game so you could do that as well.
  
Posted By: RC-0775 (2/14/2014 8:17:11 AM)
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Any particular reason why it's just casters that can be interrupted? Why not ranged people or melee?

Seems like casters "job" for the other classes far too much as is.

Don't get enough spells, forced to take Ray of Frost if you want to be able to do a little damage and at range.

Currently, only way I'd ever play a caster is to waste the feat to give me a spell or 2.

Just my unprofessional opinion. :)
  
Posted By: awogaman (2/14/2014 7:43:34 AM)
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@WotC_Rodney

It's good to know you guys read the comments. Thank you very much for your weekly articles and paying attention to the community! Since we all anxiously await the final release of DnDNext, these article tidbits keep us excited from week to week.

My playtest experience: the Concentration mechanic works great at low and high levels. I'm happy with it.
And I'm very excited to see some Legendary / Lair rules! Any chance Mike can throw us a bone and post another sample legendary monster? Even if it's labeled under construction?
  
Posted By: Ramzour (2/14/2014 6:03:14 AM)
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The polymorph change sounds good, at least on the PC side. Previously, there was no reason to ever use it on PCs (the fighter is way stronger in his natural form than as a dinosaur of the same HD).

So the infamous "polymorph into fish" would have them suffocate and hit 0 hp after like 3 rounds, then turn back into a fire giant (assuming the other fire giants don't know they should kill the fish)? What about polymorph into fruitfly, which the other fire giants wouldn't be able to do much about?
  
Posted By: G_X (2/14/2014 2:48:00 AM)
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Polymorph someone into a basilisk.
  
Posted By: NinjaPlease (2/14/2014 9:31:36 AM)
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I'd be happier if anyone felt good when I replied to them. I usually read the comments on the article each week, even if I don't comment myself. Most of the time I just can't keep up--turns out, a lot of folks have opinions about the game!
  
Posted By: WotC_Rodney (2/14/2014 1:26:54 AM)
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If concentration spells are designed to not combine, wouldn't that mean a party with two casters could break the game by casting a concentration spell each?
  
Posted By: Rartemass (2/14/2014 12:19:49 AM)
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No. When I talk about combining effects, I mean on a single spellcaster. If two spellcasters combine their efforts together to achieve an overlapping effect, that's OK. Concentration on a spell isn't a license for the spell to be broken if it combines with another spellcaster's spells, it's something that lets us know that a single spellcaster can't get away with stacking them up.
  
Posted By: WotC_Rodney (2/14/2014 12:34:05 AM)
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I'm not sure if I should feel good that the designers read and reply to these posts because it's evidence that they care about fans' criticism, or if I should feel bad because of the anger directed towards them in some of the comments...
Either way, I always appreciate it when devs from any industry take the time to talk with their fans! Thanks, Rodney!
  
Posted By: sixtymya (2/14/2014 1:10:19 AM)
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