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These Are Not the Rules You're Looking For
Legends and Lore
Mike Mearls

I am going to 100% promise you that, especially if you are a veteran player or DM, we will include stuff in the next iteration of the game that you will ignore. In fact, I'm going to come out and say that we want you to ignore parts of the game.

I like to draw the analogy between D&D and painting miniatures. Some people mix their own paints from a few basic colors. They have a lot of different brushes, and they spend hours and hours working on a single figure. These folks are veterans who take pride in knowing the craft and pouring time into it. Mixing paints, applying layer after layer of highlights, and bringing a figure to life is all part of the hobby.

Then there are painters like me. I don't want to mix paints. I much prefer buying off the shelf colors in various shades, along with washes and bright shades for shadowing and dry brushing. I paint miniatures because I want cool toys on the table when I play D&D. I'm not gunning for a masterpiece, but instead I want a miniature that looks nice enough from the opposite end of the gaming table. I want direct instructions. If I have to muddle through a hard to assemble figure, I'm likely to become frustrated and do something else.

I think a similar situation exists in D&D. Some players and DMs want to figure stuff out on their own or break down the game and make it suit their style. Other players, either for lack of experience, time, or inclination, want a more direct path to the game.

There are a lot of pieces of D&D that a veteran gamer doesn't need, but a newcomer, casual gamer, or DM short on time finds critical. Here are two specific examples.

Adventure Design Guidelines: Stuff such as XP budgets, treasure tables, encounter charts, and so on are there to make it easier to create adventures and build your campaign. If you are a veteran DM, it's quite likely you won't use any of this stuff.

I'll let you in on a secret. I DM'ed a year-long Eberron campaign in 3E and I never once used the rules for treasure or wealth by level. I gave out stuff that seemed cool and appropriate, and the game worked fine. I used the challenge rating system as a starting point, but modified stuff to fit my group.

I did make closer use of the 4E rules when they came out, but even then I used lots of custom magic items. If you've been running D&D for more than 10 years, adventure design is a solved art for you.

On the other hand, new DMs, people who don't have a lot of free time, or DMs who like more structure can and should find our rules useful and easy to use. I really want to build some specific, procedural approaches for the game that lay out five or six easy, step-by-step instructions for building adventures, encounters, and so on. You could argue that these rules are doing their job if veteran DMs don't want or need to use them.

Character Roles: This one is bound to be controversial, but I don't think roles belong in D&D as specific, mechanical elements that we design toward. Instead, I think roles are a great tool to help players focus on how they want to play a character. Veteran players should be free to create the character they want, however they want, instead of feeling that they must take on a job to "help" the party.

I'd much rather see roles cast as advice that highlights some basic strategies that players can follow. For instance, the advice for the cleric might explain how the class excels at healing. If you're playing a cleric and want some guidance on what to do, that advice can suggest some spells and abilities, along with tactics for use during the game.

In a game as open as D&D, this sort of advice can be tremendously helpful to a new player. More importantly, it helps show a player the sort of interactions that exist between characters. A new player doesn't have to worry about doing the "wrong" thing or letting the group down.

I'll admit that I have no use for roles. I like creating a character based on an image in my head, not a to-do list. I want roles to take the form of advice to help players learn the game, not a straitjacket that works against the freedom and flexibility offered by RPGs.

As far as designing the classes based on roles goes, I'd rather make sure that we're living up to the advice we give on how to play a class. We should be able to quickly and easily explain why a class is a useful member of an adventuring party. The mechanics should support that. Classes that are significantly weaker than the other classes—defined as easily overshadowed in all the aspects of the game—need a redesign.

 Which of the following kinds of advice do you want to see in D&D books? (Please choose one.)  
I want advice for players in D&D books.
I want advice for DMs in D&D books.
I want advice for both players and DMs in D&D books.
I don't want advice for either players or DMs in D&D books.

 Thinking back on the D&D books you've read, do you feel that you've gotten enough use out of the advice printed in them? (Please choose one.)  
Yes, I've gotten enough use out of the advice in most of the D&D books I've read.
Yes, I've gotten enough use out of the advice in some of the D&D books I've read.
No, I haven't gotten enough use out of the advice in the D&D books I've read.

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