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D&D Next Q&A: 11/22/13
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.

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1 Could you tell us a little bit more about how the sorcerer is shaping up?

Sure. Right now, the sorcerer is a spellcasting class that has a spell progression like other primary spellcasters (druid, cleric, wizard). The sorcerer’s subclasses focus on his or her sorcerous origin, the source of that sorcerer’s magical ability. For example, having a draconic heritage (like the 3rd Edition sorcerer) is one method of obtaining innate magical power, but another one we’re exploring is exposure to wild magic. Additionally, since sorcerers are “innate” spellcasters who simply know spells instead of studying rigid arcane formulae, we’re experimenting with giving them sorcery points, which can be spent to produce metamagic-like effects (for example, you could spend sorcery points to increase a spell’s damage, increase its range, cast a 1-action spell as a swift spell, and so on). Since the story of the sorcerer is that they use their inherent understanding of magic to cast spells, it also stands to reason that they would be the best at shaping and molding raw magical power, changing the nature of those spells on the fly.

2 Will the available armor types be expanded?

We’re pretty happy with the available arrays of armor types right now, and according to our survey data, so are most of our playtesters. We’re not likely to expand the basic armor types, though we’re certainly interested in a wide variety of magic armors to provide some more options.

3 I’m curious to know how similar effects are compared and balanced against each other. Take the example of rogue Stealth and the invisibility spell. What kind of things does the team do when balancing these class abilities against similar effects found in spells or elsewhere?

Many times, we like to make them so that they are complementary, so that you’re happy to have both. While rogues are sneaky, a rogue with invisibility cast upon him or her is at a serious advantage and should be able to sneak in anywhere, because the benefits of invisibility stack on top of a high bonus to Dexterity (Stealth) checks. Sure, you could cast it on the wizard, but the wizard still has to make Dexterity (Stealth) checks to avoid being noticed by sound. Similarly, the invisibility spell complements the rogue’s Sneak Attack class feature well, while it’s not an exceptionally powerful combination with the wizard’s other class features. Take a look at charm person as opposed to having the bard try to talk a way past the guard; the charmed condition has been specifically worded to make it so that it isn’t an automatic success. The condition instead gives advantage on Charisma checks, making it complementary with the bard’s high Charisma score and potential training in social skills.

The nice part about complementary design is that, if another class intended to be complemented by the spell isn’t present, the spell can produce an almost-but-not-quite-as-good substitute, making it a useful solution, if not an optimal one. What we have to strive to avoid is the complementary solution being better than the class it’s trying to complement. In cases where we can’t make them complementary, like the knock spell vs. picking a lock with thieves’ tools, we look for ways to make it so that the spell isn’t always the best choice; in this case, the booming knocking sound is definitely a drawback in stealthy situations, so you almost certainly want to pick a lock when sneaking in somewhere.


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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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I loved metamagic, looking forward to a new incarnation of it. The armor selection looks good. Mystical armors are fine, just change the names of you want mundane armor. Wizards being weaker for once is fine by me, considering how strong they usually are making them backup will probably just put them on even ground.
  
Posted By: Blooper999 (11/27/2013 10:29:51 AM)
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1) Ok, it's interesting the concept for sorcerer to have a reserve for metamagic effects. I hope that the origin of the sorcerer powers is more wide than only dragons or wild magic, with paths, feats and abilities based on origins.
But above all, give to all primary spellcaster more slot per day of high level spell!

2) So yours are "pretty happy" for a selection of armours that banalize such rare materials like dragon scales and mithral? Please...
And is not the time to give some normal armor of fine masterwork the capacity of a little damage reduction?

3) I want to remember that the spells are already limited in time and slots.
And each sense give to the characters different informations: listen is not the same of spot that is not the same to sniff or touch. "Perceptio... (see all)
  
Posted By: Eilistraecomeback (11/25/2013 12:49:18 PM)
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Wow. Another week of ignoring anything that's not related to DnD Next. Any chance of next week telling us what subscribers to DnD Insider are getting as way of compensation when Dragon and Dungeon go dark? Or what is happening with Dungeon Command? Or if the 4th Ed Character builder will stay active? Answers to any of these would be great in a Rule of Three. I really don't think one week with out expanding on Next would hurt....
  
Posted By: Rekmar (11/25/2013 6:24:45 AM)
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If they really want people to subscribe, they would make the character builder compatible with 3.5, 4e, and Next. They don't even really "need" to keep them all on the same tool (though that would be nice)... they just need to build a selection interface to go to whatever version, and then they can add the 3.5 and Next sections whenever they're ready to add them... or if they just added compatibility for Next, that would be fine too, so long as 4th ed remains... I really see no reason to remove the 4e tools if people are continuing to pay to use them.
  
Posted By: Sunyaku (11/26/2013 2:03:31 AM)
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Most of 3.5 has jumped to Pathfinder because of continuing support for it. I doubt it would be cost effective to add 3.5 to it. As for next, they probably don't want to be constantly changing it or leave it appropriate to what are old materials to them, though I'm sure they will add Next when it comes out.
  
Posted By: Blooper999 (11/27/2013 10:34:09 AM)
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Knock spell for me is an example of going overboard with compensation. Only usage for a knock spell was to open something SILENTLY. If you dont need silence you can just bash it open with a chisel and hammer or something. Its not like a chest will fight back you can just hit it until it runs out of hitpoints.
Now knock is largely useless, except maybe for when you dont have a rogue, need something opened real fast that can not be bashed with hammer, which is rare occurance. (Speak friend and enter)
Why would you spend a one of your very few spells per level slot for a spell that is so rarely usefull.
If you study spell when you reach the lock it is probobly faster just hammer it into submission.
Knock spell was already compensated by costing a spell slot, if you had no rogue, wizard usualy had to spend most of his 2nd level slots for knock limiting his capabilities in something else.
In this edition spells cost more and more (so few prepared, less spellslots)... (see all)
  
Posted By: Quiberon (11/25/2013 3:58:11 AM)
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I totally agree with this. Knock should be useful to a party that doesn't have a rogue. Also I think it would be interesting for a Wizard to specialize in rogue like activities through their spell choices.
  
Posted By: ZaranBlack (11/25/2013 9:12:10 AM)
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There was a time any stat could be a dump stat, but that hasn't been possible with Dexterity since Third Edition came out. When I tried to play a clumsy elf in Fourth Edition they just laughed at me! The window is closing on a chance to make Dexterity less of a must-have ability for every D & D character.

Dexterity contributes in 4 key areas: Armor Class, the Dexterity saving throw, ranged attacks and Dexterity-based skills, of which Stealth is most important skill to character survival. Regarding stealth, I don't want to make it harder for people with high Dex, I think it's too hard already in most situations.

Nobody wearing armor in which they're trained should have to roll Stealth to keep low or try to walk quietly. If the character has Stealth training, a beneficial trait or class feature, or imagines that a successful roll is the only way to elude detection, the player should be able to make a Stealth roll, but change the Stealth column (in the Armor... (see all)
  
Posted By: RadperT (11/24/2013 9:30:17 PM)
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-Insert Gripe-
-Realize 'insert gripe' is useless-
-Carry on-
  
Posted By: Sands666 (11/24/2013 8:15:07 AM)
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Good enough huh? What polls are telling you the armor is good enough? Just about every entry I see on the message boards show how people agree that dragon and mithril should not be part of the standard armor list. Those should be exotic materials, left up to the DM as to how they are incorporated into their world.

Its really not that difficult to put together a full list of armors that overlap but have different characteristics to them. Give people options, but leave the HIGH uber montey haul fantasy out of the basic equipment lists please.
  
Posted By: Oxlar (11/23/2013 2:51:03 PM)
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REALLY want the armor re-worked. I've mentioned this a number of times in my feedback but I would prefer

3 Categories of mundane armour 'Types' (Light, Medium, Heavy)
3 Entries of mundane armour undr each 'Category/Type'

I liked that from 4e, armor was simple to understand.

I think 'Materials' and (non-magical) 'Properties' should be completely separate from the base-line armour entries and basically equivalent to 'Masterwork' pieces.
EX: So you have basic cloth/leather/hide and then iron/steel to begin with, but then if you want something made of Dragon Leather, it becomes a masterwork item.
  
Posted By: OskarOisinson (11/23/2013 2:04:59 PM)
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Not sure I understand invisibility + stealth. If you have just stealth, you need to roll stealth to sneak. If you have invisibility, you STILL need to roll stealth to sneak, just for the noise.

Not seeing what invisibility brings to the table in a situation where you want to sneak (not talking combat where targeting is an issue).
  
Posted By: Blue23 (11/23/2013 9:03:47 AM)
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First, Invisibility doesn't require the character to stay hidden away. Also, it certainly gives the character advantage. And I, for one, am more than willing to add a bonus if the invisible characters already had advantage by themselves (I'm still not much in for this all-or-nothing approach to advantage and disadvantage)
  
Posted By: nirnel (11/23/2013 9:48:38 AM)
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Making the wizard an enabler of other classes is a big step up from letting him replace other classes altogether with the right load out. I would be wary of making him a pure support character, though.
  
Posted By: powerroleplayer (11/22/2013 6:07:59 PM)
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The Wizard still has Sleep and Web and Fireball -- classic things that a Wizard is the best at. A pure support build is possible, but a mix of combat spells and support spells is also straightforward to achieve.
  
Posted By: tesseractive (11/24/2013 3:41:06 AM)
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For armor, the stats on the table are probably sufficient. But the fluff on the table needs work. Fantastic armors shouldn't be in the equipment list right alongside mundane armors. It should be up to the campaign whether or not fantastic armors are even available--and you shouldn't have holes in the standard table when they aren't.

Simply make mundane armors for the all of the dragon armor slots. You have a wealth of options (lamellar, brigandine, etc). Then dragon armor can be a more expensive magical armor that also provides resistance vs. the appropriate breath weapon. Mithril shouldn't automatically trump dragon in effectiveness, since many characters will want dragon for the difference in aesthetics, and shouldn't be penalized for their choice.

This is no brainer. I know you've got a lot of work to do, but at least take a look at it, please.
  
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (11/22/2013 2:37:34 PM)
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What happened to the spellpoint system idea? That was great, why did you skip that? Mana is part of the greater fantasy tradition (in literature and videogames), it always striked me why DND wouldn't make it a core system.

That's s really a shame - not only 'mana' points are thematically appropriate for a spellcaster with inherrent power but it also makes the Sorcerer an entirely different play-exprerience than the Wizard. I love the idea of using spell points for metamagic effects but it would be so cool if they could draw from the same pool of spell power. PLEEEEASE bring it back!!!
  
Posted By: man.of.tomorrow (11/22/2013 12:47:30 PM)
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I really liked the 4th ed addition of Wild Magic to the Sorcerer; makes it a super appealing class, but I've always had a weakness for Wild Magic.

Armor-wise, all I want are smart mechanics. You can give the same stats for scale/lamellar/however you want to slice the pie.

Complementary solutions is the best way to go across the board, I think; things that stand on their own-- and thus are attractive on their own-- but can make good combos or even WEIRD combos.
  
Posted By: mordicai (11/22/2013 11:16:48 AM)
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Pretty disgusted by your 'Armor is good enough' mentality. Given the resources WotC has available, it wouldn't take much effort to actually design an Armor table worth having in the game.
  
Posted By: LupusRegalis (11/22/2013 10:51:13 AM)
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I think there's a real danger in making spells that are "almost-but-not-quite-as-good" substitutes. An optmium solution is nice, but one that's Good Enough will do, and spells are already hugely more versatile than classes. If it's good enough to achieve the task, why do you need the person whose class makes them better than good enough? Expecially since the next day, there might be a need for different abilities, which are easy enough for a Mage to swap spells out for, but not to change classes to be useful. You need spells like Knock which have clear disadvantages which make it a problem for them to be used, rather than ones which are merely not quite as good.
  
Posted By: Bluenose (11/22/2013 9:31:14 AM)
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Xynthoros : Rodney was playing a sorcerer during the 25-hour extra life marathon. I remember him rolling dice after casting spells. At one point he ended up covered in dragon scales (and was subsequently attacked because of it). So some of the mutation stuff was present at least in that build.
  
Posted By: WCU_Scout (11/22/2013 9:19:05 AM)
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There sorcerer answer is interesting, because it gives a little more insight into the design. The sorcerer "has a spell progression like other primary casters." I read this to mean the spell slot and preparation system that we are now familiar with from the playtest. The sorcerer's unique class elements - spell acquisition and spell enhancement - set it apart. They will know fewer spells, but will have greater flexibility through sorcery points.

This is actually good news for folks who are not fans of vancian (or neo-vancian). By having all casters use the same core spell slot and preparation mechanic (with class-specific elements overlayed), it makes it very easy to swap that with an alternate mechanic (such as spell points).

On #3, I also like the "complimentary" approach. I like things that promote teamwork and cooperation, and this moves in that direction.
  
Posted By: GilbertMDH (11/22/2013 9:18:54 AM)
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While I wouldn't mind a little more fluff to armor as far as types and so forth, I must say, I'm quite happy with the direction of the Sorcerer and the balance they're going for between class ability vs "class-like" ability. Love the terminology "complementary design".
  
Posted By: Timmee (11/22/2013 1:26:18 AM)
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I, for one, wolud pretty much prefer mundane armors to be expanded (padded, ringmail, splint, etc) than having a lot of magic (or fantastic) armors. The basic armors are good as they are now for a core rulebook, but an option offering more kinds of mundane armour would be welcome indeed.
  
Posted By: nirnel (11/22/2013 1:25:11 AM)
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So they aren't bringing willpower back, how sad... i doubt they are going to make you mutate as you cast more spells...
  
Posted By: Xynthoros (11/22/2013 12:56:54 AM)
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