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Rule-of-Three: 06/27/2011
R&D Staff

You’ve got questions—we’ve got answers! Here’s how it works—each week, our Community Manager will be scouring all available sources to find whatever questions you’re asking. We’ll pick three of them to answer, whether about the about the making of the game, the technical workings of our DDI studio, 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 Have monster templates been phased out of 4th Edition?

Templates are still part of the game, though as a design avenue they haven’t quite worked out the way we thought they would. In most cases, it’s been easier for DMs to just pick and choose abilities from monsters rather than use a template to complete that process. As designed, they also tend to produce elites, which might be more than what a DM wants out of a vampire or similar creature. To fill that gap, we’ve introduced monster themes to give DMs bundles of related powers that you can add to a monster without doubling its potential challenge.


2 Will there be any themes offering augmentable at-will power swaps, to cater to the psionic classes who benefit less from standard theme options?

We’ve received a few questions asking if we’re going to do themes aimed at a specific type of character, so this answer applies in general. When we launched themes, we weren’t sure how they would go over. They were new ground for D&D. We rolled them out in Dark Sun because that campaign setting has traditionally been a bit different than core D&D, and we thought we had more room to experiment. Now, nearly a year later, it’s clear that people like the concept behind themes and want to see more.

As we look at themes, you can expect us to first cover general ones that can work in a wide area, or to insert new ones in articles that have already been planned. As we move forward, we’ll start looking at specific settings, power sources, and other mechanics and start designing those.

So as a general rule of thumb, we start broad and then work to the specific.


3 The psionic question has bugged me for a while. You created four psionic classes, but you didn't just create one new mechanic for them, you created two—the monk has its very own taken on psionics. Why create two psionic mechanics?

When we started work on Player’s Handbook 3, we knew that we wanted to tackle the psionic power source and design the monk. Given that psionics have traditionally offered an alternate take on D&D magic, we were keen to introduce a new mechanic to the game for that power source.

Meanwhile, we decided that the ki power source was far too focused on elements of Eastern Asian culture. In looking at characters like the wu jen, samurai and monk, we decided that we could just as easily incorporate them into existing power sources and give them new mechanics, and achieve the same goal.

In the monk’s case, we designed the full discipline mechanic first, then considered the best fit for the power source. In looking at the story of each, we felt that psionic was the best match. At that point, we decided that the full discipline mechanic was a good match for the class while also providing about as much complexity as we felt the monk needed. Thus, we decided to forgo including power points.

While the monk does use different mechanics, in terms of the world of D&D it is no different than the gap between a wizard and warlock. Each of those classes accesses arcane power in a different manner. The monk and psion have a similar relationship when it comes to psionics.


How can I submit a question to the Rule-of-Three?

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 dndinsider@wizards.com. So, if you’d like to have your question answered in the Rule-of-Three, just continue to participate in our online community—and we may select yours!


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