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D&D Next Q&A: 4/4/2014
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 Will maneuvers simply make it easier for Battle Masters to do these things that anyone can try, or restrict other characters from trying to do them at all?

In some cases, maneuvers allow you to combine two different kinds of actions into a single attack. For example, the Pushing Attack maneuver lets you make a melee attack and push an enemy away from you all in a single attack, and you roll the superiority die you spend and add it to the damage of the attack. Anyone can try to push someone, or knock them down, or help their allies attack someone, but most of these things require a character to use an action, while some maneuvers let you do these things and attack all as a part of the same action. In other cases, maneuvers do unique things that other people can’t do without the maneuver; for example, the Commander’s Strike maneuver allows you to forgo an attack and let one of your allies attack in your stead, applying the superiority die you spent on the maneuver as a bonus to their damage. These are mostly for things that we don’t expect just anyone to be able to do without some kind of training.

2 When you spend superiority dice to use maneuvers, do they just happen or is there some kind of check required?

In some cases, they just happen; you don’t need to make a check when you use Commander’s Strike to give someone else an attack. However, some maneuvers (like the aforementioned Pushing Attack) allow the target a saving throw to resist some of the effects. However, whenever possible, we try to make sure the superiority die is not wasted by applying the superiority die as a bonus to damage.

3 Are all maneuvers granted by the fighter class, or can a fighter pick up more through options like feats?

Much like the feats that grant access to cantrips and spells, we have a feat that grants access to superiority dice and maneuvers. Battle Masters that take this feat gain more versatility and additional opportunities to use them; non-Battle Masters gain the ability to dabble in maneuvers for variety.

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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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We grognards need a game we'll be willing to play until we die & get out of the way, but it's time to stop being petulant about everybody else's badwrongfun. Classify movement powers, and maneuvers which impose typed damage or a complex debilitating condition on opponents, as exploits (prone & granting advantage would be tactics), healing and what DMGorgon calls "player authoring" leadership, other powers beneficial to one's allies buffs (I think everyone knows what that means at this point), and all the elements which stodgy old grumps would actually allow in their games, as tactics. Having such categories of maneuvers enables individual DMs or groups to easily disallow those elements they find incompatible based on flavor, or even the complexity of the mechanics involved.

Organizing maneuvers in anything except a single alphabetical list also opens the possibility of a future supplement which, in addition to new maneuvers, could also offer cleric and mo... (see all)
Posted By: RadperT (4/9/2014 12:18:03 AM)


Just had 2 awesome sessions of that broken 4th edition. The players even the ones who paid for wed. play, didn't seem to complain about the broken parts. In fact one of them just purchased that wreaked insider. So again my question is how long can I depend on this awesome pc and monster builder?
Posted By: DMSalvatore (4/6/2014 10:01:51 PM)


Pay attencion on fighting spells and combat maneuvers combo.

The multiclass mage/fighter risk to be too strong.
Posted By: Eilistraecomeback (4/6/2014 6:46:53 PM)


i agree with the realism in an rpg, especially with fighters. magic is magic, nothing more. while fighting is fighting, nothing more. a fighter uses physical abilities unless otherwise augmented by a magical class and/or magical abilities he has acquired. i also have a new sense of awareness when it comes to putting on armor since joining the SCA
Posted By: thezdemeus (4/5/2014 1:27:12 PM)


Yeah, I totally need complete realism in my fantasy worlds with wizards and beholders... Personally, I like the approach wizards is taking in that if you want a basic bare bones jobber fighter you can have it. If you want techniques then you can.
Posted By: seto (4/6/2014 12:21:57 AM)


What's in a name really? Commander's Strike could easily be called 'Feint' or 'Improved Distraction' for all that matters. As long as the mechanics work within the game is the main concern. You can justify how the mechanic applies to the 'reality' of the game in a multitude of ways. Besides without the actual description here to scrutinize, at most, we can only speculate how it will affect the game. My real question would be how does it affect the character getting the free attack, will it be a reaction, a free action, etc. That would be more of a discussion point in terms of whether the ability is balanced. I like the direction things have been going, hopefully the outcome will be a clear, concise, balanced game. If the basic rules work well the rest will follow, such as customization and all that good stuff. I would like to see a TV show that has a couple of fighter types discussing maneuvers though, that would be awesome.
Posted By: lookatmeiamabug (4/5/2014 5:06:38 AM)


It sounds like a lot of maneuvers amount to "you can perform this regular action as a swift action." Except, of course, that only spells can be swift, because it's a casting time, not an action, so you have to circumlocute your way around it.

CS dice also seem pretty poor since they take a full hour to re-charge, you might have to chew through several fights within an hour, let alone with an hour of downtime in there somewhere. They might be more worthy as a class feature if they refreshed with each combat.
Posted By: Tony_Vargas (4/4/2014 8:13:49 PM)


Reading the comments, and my reaction is once again, "Really?" In a world of heroism and magic and dragons and gods, are we really hung up on whether it's "realistic" for a fighter to be able to inspire a companion to get an extra attack or do parkour stunts like you see in action movies? These aren't ki blasts and flight, people.

Is it in theme? Yes. Is it simple to understand and use? Yes. Is it overpowered? No. That's really all that matters.
Posted By: Fuzzypaws (4/4/2014 7:19:32 PM)


Yes ... really! I think its great that you like that kind of stuff. More power to you! My group, however, prefers a good underpinning of reality. DnD (Chainmail) started as a simulation then layered magic and RPG on top. I think all we are asking for is good descriptions of how these thing work. If you can't explain it without magic ... then its magic. Not a problem for us to exclude it from a PC that shouldn't have any magic capabilities.
Posted By: stormkhan (4/4/2014 10:13:33 PM)


Or, even more simply--it's not "Shout a command, ally gets an attack." It's something like, "Maneuver the opponent so that his guard is down against a nearby ally" or "Push the opponent into your nearby ally's waiting sword."
Posted By: Lord_Welkerfan (4/7/2014 12:13:04 PM)


It doesn't take much imagination to see this working without magic. /I myself/ can parkour, and I'm not a fantasy character. As for "commander's strike," people need to get past the /name/ and look at the effect, much like Bardic Inspiration. I see it as in the heat of battle, the fighter's tactical mind is keeping on top of everything. When he sees an opening while his ally is engaged with a foe and maneuvering he shouts a command, one that will exploit that opening, and the ally reacts accordingly. Remember that even though the game is turn based, it's supposed to represent a real time affair. The fighter's turn and command is happening simultaneous with the ally he is aiding, not in some niltime.
Posted By: Fuzzypaws (4/5/2014 1:43:38 PM)


In designing the fighter abilities maybe the question to ask is this: "Is this an ability that some one in a medieval documentary would be talking about when explaining medieval warfare?" Terms like "hamstring" and "shield bash" make sense but "commander's strike?" How could you explain what commander's strike is in terms of actual combat manouvers, and not just something made up for a board game?

I can't see a historian explaining how soldiers trained in the art of "commander's strike" so that they could say "attack again" to increase the rate at which one individual combatant attacked.
Posted By: moes1980 (4/4/2014 6:51:40 PM)


Apparently all back ranks of armies were full of Battle Masters who granted the front ranks several extra attacks. Entire nations fell because of it.
Posted By: dmgorgon (4/5/2014 5:10:33 PM)


Remember that PC classes are the exception, not the rule. The rank and file warriors of an army don't have the Fighter class. To put it in 3rd edition NPC class terms, most of them are merely Warriors, or even Commoners conscripted into service. They don't have special training or special powers. However, the commanders of that force do have that training, which might help represent why units directly led by a competent commanding officer have historically done so overwhelmingly better.
Posted By: Fuzzypaws (4/8/2014 11:27:30 AM)


If there is a training path for a single person to become a battlemaster then there is a way for a few hundred to become battlemasters.
Posted By: dmgorgon (4/9/2014 3:54:10 PM)


Ugh, I was hoping 'gamey' type things were not making a comeback, such as a fighter saying "attack!" to let some one else get an extra attack. I liked the manoeuvres in the last packet because they all made sense. I can see a fighter hamstringing or knocking prone their opponent, but some one getting an extra attack just because the fighter says "hey, attack again!"? It breaks my suspension of disbelief and shifts the game into the realm of board game play rather than role playing (one the things I hated in 4th ed was that my fighter could only shield bash once per fight, which made little sense to me).

Oh well, at least I don't have to play my fighter that way and, if it doesn't lead to brokenness then those kinds of things shouldn't show up too much. I do like that other classes can attempt most of the same things, and all of the same things if they pick up feats. It is just that fighters do them better. So that is cool. I did like how manoeuvres worked... (see all)
Posted By: moes1980 (4/4/2014 6:30:00 PM)


SirCorin - I agree completely. (Reply isn't working right now.) No Martial abilities should smack of magic unless so stated. There should be a physical explanation as to how the task is accomplished. I am not at all against magic - there should just be a clear delineation else suspension of disbelief is lowered.
Posted By: stormkhan (4/4/2014 6:25:31 PM)


I agree as well. Please keep "gamey gimicks" out of the game or, at least, to a minimum. Fighters spending their turns telling other players to attack just sounds really annoying. Keep these martial abilities "marital." Trip, hamstring, shield bash, disarm, those are all great. But "commander's strike?"

Posted By: moes1980 (4/4/2014 6:49:23 PM)


I hope mechanics don't become too gamist either, but I think Commander's Strike can be explained satisfactorily. Originally, whether or not it's true anymore, attack rolls each represented an opportunity a character got to land a hit in a round. The Fighter using their turn to create an opening or opportunity for another to make an attack sounds plausible to me, akin to being able to Aid Another better in combat, the Fighter's domain.
Posted By: Dreamstryder (4/5/2014 3:54:23 AM)


I'm okay with the addition of "Warlordy" type of maneuvers being available; just make certain that there are reasonable justifications given within the description for any maneuver that effects another (like granting them your attack in your stead along with extra damage). If they're just video-gamish 'I-cause-you-to-do-something-because-the-rules-say-so' types of attacks, I will have little patience for them. I want to know WHY something happens and have it be within the realm of the believable. If it can't be rationalized, review and revise, says I.
Posted By: SirCorin (4/4/2014 3:35:43 PM)


Could guys be kind enough to categorize or label player authoring powers like Commander's Strike so that they are easy to remove? These kinds of powers conflict with my group's playstyle. It's one of the major reasons we stopped playing 4e.
Posted By: dmgorgon (4/4/2014 1:05:46 PM)


Given that "player authoring" is not a term that's well known (google, for example, has no idea what you're talking about), I'm pretty sure you're going to be on your own for what stuff your group doesn't use. Which is kinda okay, because I'm sure every group will have their thing they don't like, whether it's encumbrance, death saves, rolling for hit points, or what have you, and they'll all learn to cope.
Posted By: Keithric (4/4/2014 3:41:36 PM)


The best way to cope is not to play it. DnD is not the only game in town now. There are plenty of alternatives out there. If the game acknowledges that people play differently and that there are many folks don't like player authoring powers the game will be a success. On the other hand, if it tries to ram 4e style powers in everyone's face they will turn and run.
Posted By: dmgorgon (4/5/2014 4:51:54 PM)


"learn to cope"? Actually, with so many game systems out there no group has to really cope as long as they all share the same play style. I like the idea of labeling aspects as "player authering" (a new term to me) to help explain what it is and how it works, and to remove it if its not liked. A DM can then say "no player authoring aspects" if they want to tone down that kind of stuff. Other groups though might really like that and want to make sure they incorpoerate them into their game and so they want to find those aspects easily.

I think labeling things like cammander's strike as a player author power is a good idea.
Posted By: moes1980 (4/4/2014 6:35:01 PM)


Exactly, it's a win for everyone when the game lists or labels what playstyle each mechanic is applicable to.
Posted By: dmgorgon (4/5/2014 4:55:17 PM)


DMgorgon: maybe we could label them "nice," so that anyone who can't stand the fighter having nice things could ban them.

Of course, it'd be false advertising, since CS dice are a pretty weak little mechanics.

Posted By: Tony_Vargas (4/4/2014 8:11:13 PM)


Nice is a very relative term. In addition, the fighter can still a have "nice things" and not have a single power that controls the narrative. The two are not mutually exclusive.
Posted By: dmgorgon (4/5/2014 4:57:33 PM)


So dmgorgon I guess you do not want ANY magic whatsoever in your DnD games. Because nothing screams player authoring like spells do. By their very nature spells are the player's way of telling the DM 'this is what happens". So your real problem is with allowing non-spellcasters to do that too, right? It is either that or very poor imagination in describing your fighter's action. There is nothing wrong that telling the DM you will draw that big Ogre's attention so that it leaves it's guard open long enough for your ranger buddy to TRY and stab him in the side. That's Commander's strike btw..We used to do it in every edition of the game and it was always up to the dm whether it works or not. Now its not alright to try it because the players actually have it as an option? The DM is always free to say that it doesn't work because the Ogre is wary of you. But than you shouldn't be suprised when he tells you that the same Ogre simply walks through that Web the wizard put up, because he ... (see all)
Posted By: MariusKeint (4/13/2014 7:08:14 AM)


I like when players work together and strategize. Commander's Strike is a tactical move, a well-defined entitlement and as such, players will use it without any rational justification or "flavor text." I see that every time I play Fourth Edition, and it turns moe & me off. Telling the DM what another player's character does also adds an order of magnitude to the complexity of the combat round, which in my opinion already takes too long. We're just asking that such maneuvers be introduced with some kind of structure which allows us to control their impact on our games.
Posted By: RadperT (4/15/2014 10:59:15 AM)


Sounds fantastic! A great way of implementing 4th edition style exploits. I have a fighter player who will love this system, I think.
Posted By: LanethanAK (4/4/2014 12:47:44 PM)


That works. I remember one packet had the dice acting as a sort of consolation - i.e. spend a die, attempt to trip, if the trip fails then the die becomes a damage boost. I like the feat-dabbling because it's reminiscent of those 'Arcane Initiate' feats that appealed to me - a way to get just a little bit of the mechanic without going full multiclass. If those are still in, then it makes sense to have the dabbling go both ways.

This in turn has me wondering if there will be a way to feat-dip for other features - there isn't much else that comes to mind, but a 'backstabber' feat for an extra die of Sneak Attack, or maybe some limited-trial version of Rage? Given the intended power of feats - hefty, rather than a minor +1 boost to something - being able to use them for just a taste-test of a multiclass does appeal to me.

That and I like the idea of a rogue who knows just one or two illusion cantrips in a pinch, or a monk who knows a few takedown maneuvers.
Posted By: Skoldorf (4/4/2014 9:14:03 AM)


Monks should have total access to trip, disarm, parry, stun, etc. maneuvers. They should not have to spend a precious 5e feat on abilities like that. It's what makes a martial artist a martial artist. When I play a monk (and I love monks) I want to be Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan.
Posted By: seti (4/7/2014 6:01:31 PM)


Sounds like what I expected. Spend a superiority die, add an effect and bonus damage to an attack or get a special action and add the dice to it.

Glad to here for can snag a feat for a die and a maneuver. This might solidify fighters as "just flat out plain better" at fighting.
Posted By: Orzel (4/4/2014 6:46:35 AM)


I just want to say thanks again for acknowledging the fans of 4e by making a fighter option that does more than just make basic attacks. I just hope every class gets a way to use this 'new' add a die to your d20 roll mechanic. Everyone should get to enjoy that new take on encounter powers.

It sounds like multiclassing/dabbling will be done through feats. I like that approach. I do hope 5e has a 4e hybrid class option eventually too. What would be even more interesting (at least to me) is the ability to break class abilities/features down into a collection of 'feats' so you could literally build a custom class feature by feature.

PS: don't let the 4haters (a.k.a. grumpy old men who hate change) get you down. There's nothing wrong with loving 4e, and wanting to see it's influence on 5e. I've always been of the mind that DnD has gotten BETTER with each addition. Now, it's starting to look like that might just hold true for 5th. I still want the option of something l... (see all)
Posted By: seti (4/4/2014 1:32:57 AM)


Multiclassing, from what they said earlier, will not be done with feats like 4e, but by just taking a level of the class you want to move into when you gain a new level. It's more like the 3e/3.5 mechanic. It was in one of the articles a few months ago that this was how they were looking at doing multiclassing.

The people who designed 4e actually came out and said that that particular edition was a "mistake" in a lot of ways. Now, I played 4e from the start of it. I've also played every edition since 1e over the last 34 years. My group and I enjoyed 4e for what it was, but all of us say it is our least favorite version of the game. That said, I think it's a good thing that some parts of 4e are coming into Next. Having a fighter that looks something like a Warlord isn't a bad thing. Hybrids might be a bit difficult to bring over, as there won't be any powers (A/E/D/U) and multiclassing by buying a level is fairly easy.

Also, you really don't need Fort/... (see all)
Posted By: Tulloch (4/4/2014 4:09:51 AM)


"The people who designed 4e actually came out and said that that particular edition was a "mistake" in a lot of ways. "

Do you have a citation for this? I'd like to read it. I doubt Rob Heinsoo would agree. After doing tons of work on 4e, then being laid off from WotC, he co-created 13th age, which is basically a 4e clone with a few somewhat significant tweaks.
To me, the only significant (financially, at least) mistake WotC did when 4e came out was to stop supporting 3x, and let Paizo just HAVE it, thus creating the DnD-Pathfinder divide and the ensuing edition wars. Another mistake was to publish the essentials line LAST instead of FIRST, but I digress...

The con/dex/wis saves are nice, but it'd be more balanced to include str/int/cha in that too...Like how fort/ref/will was modified by your better of str/con, int/dex, and wis/cha. If you only do con/dex/wis saves, I can see cha, int, and str based PC's losing out a lot.
Posted By: seti (4/4/2014 9:48:46 AM)


The BIGGEST mistake by far with 4ed was the online tools. 4th ed was very popular at my local game store until every one started to just pay 30 bucks every 6 months to get all the content that was in the hard bound books that the store owner couldn't sell. He finally junked 4th ed and switched his store over to pushing pathfinder. After that, no one played 4th ed any more. WOTC, please make sure that what ever you do online it won't hurt local game stores. They are the lifeblood of the community and to ignore them and their power to promote games will make it very difficult to push the new edition, no matter how awesome it is.
Posted By: moes1980 (4/4/2014 6:39:29 PM)


This. Just this. I do not usually agree with a lot of the things moes1980 says (in a personal prefference way, not that I have anything against moes) but 4th edition's biggest mistake was making it optional to have ANY book whatsoever by making everything available in the Insider. That hurt not only WotC's book sales but the sales of all local stores as well.
Posted By: MariusKeint (4/13/2014 6:46:14 AM)


There is nothing wrong with loving the 4e style of play. There IS something wrong when it's forced down everyone neck. If the game can't at least make it easy to exclude all the player authoring elements it won't fair much better than 4e. Don't forget DnD Next invited everyone back to the DnD table including all those old grogs. Making all play styles feel welcome is very important.
Posted By: dmgorgon (4/5/2014 5:07:06 PM)


Liking the sound of everything here, honestly. I'm REALLY glad to hear commander's strike is staying very similar to the 4th edition version. The feats solution sounds handy as well, so other classes can dabble in it if they please. Really liking the sound of this, and the Battlemaster solution allows people who aren't interested in a more complex fighter to play a simpler one. Thanks, I really like the sound of this, now I'm much more excited to play a fighter in Next.
Posted By: Claymore65 (4/4/2014 1:14:03 AM)


Are the 'saving throws' targets get to 'resist some of the effects of the maneouvres' vs. just the 'result of the maneouvre die roll' or is it vs. that 'MD roll result' AND an 'ability modifier' (Str or Dex)? I would prefer the latter as it makes maneouvres seem less arbitrary. Not necessarily for all maneouvres but for hier-tier ones, I think it would make sense that there would have to be synergy between one's natural abilities and one's training/experience to get the most out of them.
Posted By: OskarOisinson (4/4/2014 12:23:26 AM)



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