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D&D Next Q&A: 01/10/2014
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 Where are we likely to see optional rules and modules?

The majority of the optional and variant rules modules are most likely to appear in a Dungeon Master-oriented product, because it’s going to be up to the DM to determine whether or not to include them in his or her game. However, some things might appear in player-oriented products; for example, we are likely to label both feats and multiclassing as optional rules, even though they will probably appear alongside our classes, races, spells, etc. These are the kinds of optional rules that we think are most likely to see inclusion in the game, based on the last two editions’ design, so their inclusion in a player-oriented product will make them easier to introduce in a campaign.

2 Is there still room in the game for more radical optional rules (like doing away with ability scores and only using the modifiers or scrapping classes and going with a "build your own" model)?

Major structural changes to the rules (like the ones mentioned in the question) might be out of scope for our initial releases, if only because they speak to fundamental rules objects in our streamlined core in a way that would have a rippling effect throughout the entire system. That said, though it might be outside the scope of our initial releases (which will probably focus on the rules modules that we think are the right combination of "most likely to be of use to a large segment of players" and "able to be introduced into a campaign without causing constant headaches for the DM and players"), there’s nothing to stop us from considering more radical rules modules down the road. We just want to make sure we’re putting those tools most likely to be used into the hands of players and Dungeon Masters first.

3 Does the game make any assumptions about how many magic items a player character should have at a given level?

No, but that’s a “no” with a caveat. The core system design makes no assumptions about the number of magic items possessed by a character. However, we are aware that magic items are likely to be introduced into games, so we’ve worked up design guidelines to help DMs adjust their adventures based on the amount of magic items they’ve given out. Rather than trying to build assumptions into the core design, we want the DM to have total freedom in giving out magic items, and provide the tools that allow them to adjust their adventures accordingly, not some theoretical progression that the DM may or may not have followed.

That said, for organized play, it’s likely that we’ll need to create some assumptions about magic item distribution, but that would largely be handled by the campaign administrators and the campaign’s adventure designers, not the players or DMs.

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 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.
1) We need to see those optional modules before their releases for a general discussion, confronting yours internal playtesters vision and community vision.
2) Personally, without ability scores, the game is not more DnD, but I think also that a class creation option don't ruin anything and its very interesting.
3) Mhmm... leave magical items only to DM and a general guideline don't leave me so pleased. I like the body slot limit in the 3rd edition, hope something similar will be added for Next.
Posted By: Eilistraecomeback (1/12/2014 3:53:27 PM)


The body slot limits in 3e and 4e are for how many magic items a character can use simultaneously, not how many they can own, and aside from rings they are largely a matter of common sense (you can’t wear two helmets at the same time, for example) that DMs can easily stipulate whether they’re in the books or not. The question, I think, was more in the spirit of the strict limits on item ownership (not simultaneous use) in Living Forgotten Realms and/or the DMG 4e guidelines on how many magic items a character is assumed by the game’s math to own (or not own) at a certain level. DMs need to understand these design assumptions when launching campaigns at levels above 1st or incorporating new characters into long-running campaigns. (Non-exclusive of other reasons people might want to know.)
Posted By: CHeard (1/23/2014 8:27:10 PM)


About organized play: Are you planning for making ONE assumption, or are you going to have more than one (such as a high and a low items per level ratio or the like)
Posted By: nirnel (1/11/2014 8:57:05 AM)


1) A better question might have been 'WHEN are we likely to see optional rules and modules?' Are there going to be several PHBs and DMGs spaced roughly a year apart in 5e? Will some of us have to wait a long time for our favorite race/class combo? Will these optional modules still be published even if the sales of the first 3 core books are low?

2) I'm all for a book (or chapter of a book) on building your own classes. Only using mods might be cool, but then what'd be the difference between a DEX of 12 and a DEX of 13? Oh, wait...there isn't a difference. Unless you get a +1 to an ability on a level up or from a magic item. Or, (here's an idea) what if the ability score WAS the mod? Then having a 13 STR over a 12 STR would be noticeably better. True, that would make table math harder...But I digress.

3) Glad to hear that giving out magic items will to be totally up to individual DMs/groups.
I hope the new encounter building tools and MM entries are as well d... (see all)
Posted By: seti (1/10/2014 9:18:25 PM)


1. It was clearly a mistake to milk the market by squeezing popular classes* out over several versions of the Players Handbook. OTOH Hasbro has more marketing execs schooled in planned obsolescence, than game designers devoted to developing an enduring product.

2. If there aren't any prerequisites in Fifth Edition, Seti's example makes sense–but it's still rather specific. I like the way carrying capacity scales over a range of 3 to 20 better than -4–+5, and an Intelligence of 10 being the same as a 100 IQ. Psychologically, having one or more average scores represented as 0's doesn't lend itself to enjoyment of the game. This approach leads to radical character generation methods inconsistent with the restraints in place to limit previous editions' excesses, and thus is best left to the discretion of the DM.

3. Organized play is good PR and good marketing. Hopefully there won't be any more Baldur's Gate-style exploitation of DMs willing to expose themselve... (see all)
Posted By: RadperT (1/11/2014 10:29:05 PM)


Nice to see that organized play will still exist. I hope it gets back up to the level of support it used to have with 4E DnD Encounters: printed adventures stores and DMs didn't have to buy, maps, occasional hand-outs, and parallels to other for-sale physical products so the FLGS hosting Encounters can make some money off the free advertising they give to DnD.
Posted By: JoeyLast (1/10/2014 1:41:28 PM)


Nicely put. I support this comment completely A+ ******************************
Posted By: Spykes (1/11/2014 1:46:39 AM)


"It may be a good idea to have a community vote"

Yeah right. As if that has ever happened in the playtest.
Posted By: Cypher2009 (1/10/2014 8:32:35 AM)


2. It may be a good idea to have a community vote on what rule modules people are likeliest to use; however, it may not be possible without revealing a number of rules that modify core rules that have changed since the playtest.

Tho' I'd like to try a "build your own" class-less module or a "modifier, not ability score" module myself, I recognize that may require further testing to arrive at a version that works well, testing the staff may not be prepared to do at the moment.

I wonder, for such major modules: will there be further public playtests for some?
Posted By: Dreamstryder (1/10/2014 3:41:11 AM)