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D&D Next Q&A: 03/14/2014
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 How does the bard's focus on spellcasting affect bard college (specifically College of Valor)?

Going with a full spellcaster progression has taken some of the pressure off the bard colleges, actually, and let us trim them down to provide a more focused and direct set of class features. The College of Valor is still centered on providing a more combat-focused bard, who gains better armor, extra attacks, and the ability to cast spells and attack on the same round (outside of the normal swift spells, many of which appear on the bard spell list). The College of Lore concentrates more on the versatility of the bard, providing additional skills and known spells to give the College of Lore bard more flexibility. Additionally, each bard college provides a unique use of the Bardic Inspiration dice; the College of Lore focuses on debilitating enemies and blunting their attacks, where the College of Valor lets the creatures you inspire boost their damage and Armor Class.

2 Can a Bard's inspiration bonus dice be “banked” or saved? How long can the recipient wait before using it?

Yes. Once a bard gives another creature a Bardic Inspiration die, that creature has up to 1 minute to use that die. We think this not only makes the dice more versatile, but also allows the bard to give a pep talk to everyone in the party before springing an ambush, or inspire a character that is about to undertake a complex task, without worrying about the inspiration wearing off too soon.

3 Is double proficiency bonus the new expertise?

Yes. We think this provides a less jarring jump in skill than the flat +5 bonus, and also allows the character benefitting from Expertise to see that benefit scale upward. We’ve also tweaked the proficiency bonus to go from +2 at 1st level up to +6, so that proficiency and Expertise alike are more meaningful at 1st level.

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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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It seems that now you better understand the importance of numerical bonus/malus.

I hope in an advanced manual with system of point bonus for skills.
Posted By: Eilistraecomeback (3/26/2014 7:27:01 PM)


A question: Will DnDN feature intelligent magic items?
Posted By: moes1980 (3/24/2014 3:49:46 PM)


Bleh. So a +4 bonus to your skills at level 1 is the new standard - probably higher with backgrounds and other misc. bonuses. So now you have level 1 characters with potentially a 20th-level character bonus to skills. And at level 20, you're talking about a 12-15 bonus? Maybe more? We're right back to where we started with binary skills: you're either spectacular or you shouldn't bother. Definitely disappointed to hear about this, especially since the entire math seems to be busted just to fix one class.
Posted By: nukunuku (3/18/2014 3:29:40 PM)


It would work better with more granular skills, particularly if the feature affects one skill at a time, for instance at the even-numbered levels not conferring a feat. Notwithstanding that being an example I know it sounds like a lot, but we're looking at bards, rogues and eventually rangers having a selection of interchangeable class features at certain levels. Kind of like the thief's Read Languages & Use Magic Item in AD&D and rogue's Crippling Strike/Defensive Roll/Improved Evasion/Opportunist/Skill Mastery/Slippery Mind special ability choices in Third Edition, different subclasses will have selections of features which make them skill monkeys to lesser or greater degrees.

The increases in trained bonus and the divide between trained & untrained ability checks are, as I state on, a provocative proposition. I'm glad so many people spoke out on both the Expertise and Jack of All Trades aspects of the b... (see all)
Posted By: RadperT (3/19/2014 10:07:32 PM)


So far at first level only 1 class gets a +4 bonus to 4 skills/tools and a standard bonus to the other 15+ skills/tools. I would think the standard bonus would be what is common instead of what is specific and isolated.

Bards will either have similar treatment or a deferred bonus but that's still only a couple of classes.

The change is, however, a +4 bonus at first level for rogues in their specialties (expertise skills) and was a +6 bonus in the last packet so the bonus has dropped. Changing the range of bonuses from +0 thru +9 at first level to +0 thru +7 at first level is a bit more restrictive than what we had. The difference at level 20 is the bonuses can run from +0 thru +17 instead of +0 thru +16; the change in expertise bonus is negligible and only creates heavier level progression with weaker low level skills.

Bonus dice before the +5 bonus was even worse because the bonuses ended up even higher time investment by inevitably exceeding averag... (see all)
Posted By: Ashrym (3/20/2014 4:41:24 AM)


Last dnd next campaign I played a bard, college of valor. And he p@wned fools. Hopefully bard isn't ruined (nerfed) too badly in final production.

Looks like already ruining the inspire feature. Sounding like can only affect 1 target at a time which doesn't make any real sense to me. If everyone can hear you, they should be affected as well.

Hopefully I'm just misreading these posts. Hope bard isn't ruined too much! woot. College of Valor bard was pretty much perfect; the other one, I couldn't think of any good applications for it's use. I don't remember what it was exactly, but seemed like it wasn't nearly as useful as valor. So hopefully they improve that one.
Posted By: awogaman (3/17/2014 9:33:36 AM)


The Wit Bard. Seemed good for a campaign with intrigue, let alone empire building. I like my hack-and-slash too, though. Powergaming seems to be the measure of class features, anymore. I wish they'd just come right out and say backgrounds were for developing the interaction & exploration aspects of your character, and go ahead and make sure every race had at least one feature useful for defense and a choice of interesting social imperatives.
Posted By: RadperT (3/17/2014 11:19:50 PM)


PS: if you do have the first few game books in the works already...PLEASE, WotC, don't let stuff like '(see page xx)" be printed.

Also, could you go to a quality chinese print factory that uses ink that DOESN'T smear at the touch, and also doesn't dissolve into a mess if a bit of water is dropped on it?

The 4e books were so cheaply made...And yet you had the audacity to charge over 30 bucks for each one.

I wish I could edit my posts and reply to myself and others.
Posted By: seti (3/16/2014 1:08:16 PM)


Not one to invest in Fourth Edition publications, but I just bought an Eberron Player's Guide, dabbed at one of the illustrations with a damp cloth, and the blue ink doesn't seem too well fixed. I'm sure you had quite an accident, but I didn't want to test the text.

You're on to something with that, but if they're putting it in galleys now we should have the Players Handbook in our hands around June, which would suit me just fine. I do finishing for a publishing place & the book usually comes out about 2 months after the readers' copies. Still, it's obvious they're still working out the kinks, though I hope we will have the first book soon and they'll just bring out a really spiffy DMG at GenCon.

I really don't like the new, improved feats but at least they don't lend themselves to being recapitulated as class features. Given the modularity of this new version, however, I think some back-referencing is bound to creep in. I'll be happy if the finished book... (see all)
Posted By: RadperT (3/17/2014 11:35:50 PM)


I'm looking forward to sitting down in a Barnes and Noble or Hastings and perusing a 5e PHB. Sorry, FLGS's in Albuquerque, NM. The two or three in my town seem to frown on sitting and reading for an hour. Maybe I'll then order it on Amazon. Or not, lol.

I'm worried that the 5e bard will seem too powerful...I liked the 'jack of all trades, master of none' element of that class. I'm (of course) still worried about game balance, excellent late 4e-style layout of MM entries, god-wizard PCs, Psionics?!, loop-holes and min-max/rules lawyer exploits, and no campaign worlds other than FR...

Until then...I have no more real comments. I'm sure they are done with the game, it's in layout/editing software now, and will be off to printers soon. If they are still going for a GenCon 2014 release, that is.
Posted By: seti (3/15/2014 2:15:06 AM)


As an aside, I liked the old ratings system better. It's kind of funny that apparently one or two people who dislike what they've done with the bard this time are just going through rating everyone's posts with 1 star. I mean, really? The old liking system was much better for getting an idea of how much agreement there actually was amongst players.
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (3/14/2014 9:11:57 PM)


I mean, someone gave manuerukun's comment half a star for simply answering someone's question with completely neutral data.

I think this current ratings system encourages juvenile behavior, and that's the last I'm going to say about it.
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (3/14/2014 9:15:18 PM)


At the time I didn't see any evidence that the low ratings are anything but the petulant activity of a h4ter. Someone did go through Mike Mearls' article one-starring the following Monday, though; however, it's lazy sabotage. You have to reload the page to give a comment half a star.

BTW Seti, I ran a DnDNext game in my small city's Barnes & Noble. Until they moved the table across the store and stacked merchandise on it! Happy Saint Pat's from the snowy mid-Atlantic…
Posted By: RadperT (3/18/2014 8:50:51 AM)


This is meant to reply to seti, as once again the forums won't let me reply to that comment, but will allow me to reply to any other comment. I even deleted all my cookies and tried in two different browsers!

You can type Dungeons & Dragons, you just have to type it as
Dungeons & Dragons (and imagine what I had to do to type that :) )

It's standard HTML restrictions that causes the ampersand (&) to need to be escaped, just like > and < can't be typed directly.
Posted By: Noirsoft (3/15/2014 11:35:23 PM)


I agree. And that's the least of it, IMO.

Everything that could be wrong with a 'comments section' on a webpage is wrong with the one they use currently.

You can't type the name of the game with out typing Dungeons AND dragons.

I'm even shocked I can reply to you, as more than half the time, I cannot reply to people.

Maybe, and this is just an idea...They should hand their' comments' over to Disqus. Lots of websites use it, you DON'T need a facebook account to reply, and they seem to handle a lot of stuff really well. No I don't work for them, I just spend too much time on the internet...Often commenting on whatever I feel like commenting on.
Posted By: seti (3/15/2014 2:03:20 AM)


I like the change to proficiency bonus myself. +1 at first level was fine for attack bonuses, but it felt meaningless for skill proficiencies. You chose your skills when you created your character, and then might as well have forgotten about them for a few levels (unless you had expertise). +2 actually feels like a meaningful distinction from a non-proficient character.

I recognize the attack bonus could be an issue, but I'm fairly confident that they've carefully balanced the monsters. The monsters are going to be significantly different than what we've seen so far--much more so than the classes, which will also be different. So any guess about math based on the ancient bestiary we have isn't going to mean much.
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (3/14/2014 5:59:02 PM)


I everything's well-considered, but I'm still concerned about number bloat. I wonder if the max bonus should be kept at 5.
Posted By: Dreamstryder (3/15/2014 11:59:40 AM)


Why does profecency bonus have to start at a +2 at level one? Characters already have an easy time hitting monster's AC. Are monster ACs now going to increase? Starting off with a plus two to hit at level one sounds like number bloat is creeping back into the game...

And I still say a bard without bardic music is not a bard. Please call "inspiration dice" bardic music.
Posted By: moes1980 (3/14/2014 5:12:40 PM)


I've been very critical of the dev team on a lot of stuff, but I actually do think the Inspiration mechanic makes a lot of sense. You can call it whatever you want, based on what kind of bard you have. Inspiration represents the /effect/ not the /source/. So it can come from Bardic Music if you are a traditional DnD bard, or from Bardic Oratory if you are based on a real-world Earthling bard, or you can fluff it as a Bardic Illusion cantrip or whatever else you like.
Posted By: Fuzzypaws (3/14/2014 6:49:13 PM)


Very curious to see how this will translate into an Athasian Bard, what would you call that 'college?' Likewise, while I like the option of the Bard taking some of the Warlord's territory, with Bard being a full caster, I'm skeptical of the more 'Seargeant' type martial warlord being able to accurately translate. I would really like to see that as a sub-class of the Fighter at this point. With Martial Maneouvres serving in place of spells… just my opinion, but that makes a lot more sense for many of the Warlord character concepts.
Posted By: OskarOisinson (3/14/2014 3:20:53 PM)


An Athasian bard quite simply isn't a Bard and never was; it never had spellcasting, inspiration or anything else associated with a traditional DnD bard. It's a rogue with a poison focus. If you want to build something in between an Athasian bard and a DnD bard, I'd say you're probably starting with a Valor bard and then focusing your skills and equipment around poison and subterfuge.
Posted By: Fuzzypaws (3/14/2014 6:52:28 PM)


Boy I really like how this all sounds, for the first time ever I might actually be interested in playing a bard!
Posted By: tirwin (3/14/2014 2:14:02 PM)


I can see the bump in Proficiency Bonus working (particularly for the bard who uses Jack of All Trades in social situations), but I hope it doesn't mean the attack bonus of everyone except wizards is also being increased by 1.
Posted By: RadperT (3/14/2014 11:00:43 AM)


Changing prof bonus doesn't make sense. Expertise is gained at 2nd (1 st for the rogue). Doubling a +1 or +2 is still a good bonus for a low level character. Bard doesn't gain Jack of all Trades until higher level. Changing prof bonus affects bonus to all classes.
Posted By: jedibeary (3/14/2014 9:47:37 AM)


"Once a bard gives another creature a Bardic Inspiration die, that creature has up to 1 minute to use that die."

Is that one minute "in-game" time or "real-world" time?
Posted By: johnwain (3/14/2014 8:18:36 AM)


Since they aren't referring to players as "creatures" - and when have they limited abilities with real-world time, anyway? - it's likely game time.
Posted By: Dreamstryder (3/14/2014 9:49:32 AM)


College of Valor!? College of Lore!?

(Insert long, drawn out sigh here)

And just when I was warming up to the Valorous Bard, the Cunning Bard, and the Prescient Bard of 4th Edition. After having played a Bard of Valor (where I tried to out-paladin a paladin), I am now trying to play a Bard of Cunning, who tries to skulk around just behind the Line of Battle.

As for College of Medicine, I would be more inclined to do a hybrid bard/cleric for that option, with my patron deity being either Lathander, Chauntea or Ilmater of the Realms.
Posted By: arnvid2008 (3/14/2014 3:56:27 AM)


You might, but then again you have that option regardless of my option for a college of medicine or not. I see no reason not to have both instead of just one or the other. ;-)
Posted By: Ashrym (3/14/2014 4:17:38 AM)


I would expect more than 2 colleges. Perhaps not at release but I can see room for a college of the arts (music based) and still room for college of wit (jester based). College of medicine would be a good 5th college as a more healing focused bard.

I like the fact that the first level bonus was tweaked in the progression so expertise at level 1 is a +4 bonus and proficiency is more noticeable.

I'm curious if inspiration is still considered magical or not.

I do like what I'm seeing in the changes for bards. I see more flexibility in archetypes and conceptual options the way this is heading.
Posted By: Ashrym (3/14/2014 3:36:23 AM)


2 to 4 is probably good enough for the core book. There are of course ideas for more bard colleges but they're much more niche ideas, that deserve to be in a splatbook. I really don't think arts (too broad it's something all bards do) or medicine (too narrow) are good ideas for colleges. My ideas would be instead Divinity/Hope might be a more appropriate idea as opposed to medicine with cleric like abilities as it at least implies a crossover with the Divine. Another would be Gloom that fits a niche of a necromantic/shadow magic bard which could affect undead, and probably something reserved for a themed splatbook like Libris Mortis.
Posted By: KoboldAvenger (3/14/2014 4:08:57 AM)


I don't know if that means the College of Wit has been absorbed into the greater Bard class or if it's been changed to the College of Lore.
Posted By: KoboldAvenger (3/14/2014 2:34:10 AM)


I like most of that. I would have preferred it if there were separate colleges for the minstrel-bard and the lore/magician bard, but I get the impression there are only two colleges, so hopefully it will be flexible enough to the make either concept.
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (3/14/2014 1:18:48 AM)


Wow! The last public playtest had proficiency bonus of +1 at first level. was raised to +2 in non-public playtest, and now is going to +6 at first level?!? Or did you mean that you are raising the proficiency bonus to +2 at first level and that it will max out at +6 at later levels?
Posted By: Rlyehable (3/14/2014 12:22:48 AM)


He meant that the last public playtest had +1 at first level and now the non-public playtest has +2 at first level up to +6 at max level.
Posted By: manuerukun (3/14/2014 12:41:02 AM)


Unless you're a bard, in which case you're +4 at first level and +12 at max level, except probably higher with other random bonuses and feats and whatnot. So yeah, we're back to runaway bonuses in skill checks, it seems.
Posted By: nukunuku (3/18/2014 3:31:57 PM)



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