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.
What exactly does “caster level” refer to, in the context of cantrips?
This is something that we’ve been admittedly vague about, largely because we hadn’t made up our own mind about how we wanted it to work. Right now, we’re leaning toward changing all instances of “caster level” to simply refer to character level, allowing cantrips to scale up based on your character’s total amount of experience. We believe that will be simpler to understand and use, especially in cases where, as with the high elf, a racial trait needs to remain relevant for the character’s lifespan.
Why have saving throws, checks, and attacks as separate things that are resolved the same way? Why not have everything just be a check?
This is an area where a small amount of texture is a useful tool for distinguishing characters from one another in a meaningful and logical way. Simply put, in our class-based games, some classes need to be better at certain things than other classes, and since our system of six ability scores has each score encompassing multiple different aspects of a character, being able to refer exclusively to an attack (for something that is used to harm someone else), saving throw (to resist something in a defensive way), or check (to attempt to perform a task that is not necessarily combat related) is a valuable tool in class, race, and background design.
For example, it’s useful to be able to say that clerics are good at resisting mind-affecting abilities (Wisdom saving throws) without also automatically saying that they are among the best at noticing things via sight and sound. Some class features, feats, magic items, and other mechanics are inherently defensive in nature, for example, and being able to refer to a saving throw in that mechanic is a useful tool. Otherwise, we would need standard template language that describes when a particular check is being made in a defensive way. This is the constant balancing act we deal with when choosing when to introduce a new game term and when to explain things through more explicative language.
Similarly, we learned over the course of the public playtest that players are looking for more granularity in the form of skills, and the version of skills in the last public packet seems to be very well received; yet, we would not want to have that kind of granularity apply all the time. For example, it would be far more challenging to be the Dungeon Master for (and, admittedly, design for) a game that requires you to apply the texture of skills to something such as saving throws.
Will any of the mechanics, options, or rules that were cut from the core for the sake of elegance and complexity find a place to live in rules modules?
Almost certainly. There are many combat options that we have toyed with over the course of our iterative playtest process that might find a new home in an optional rule. For example, the martial-oriented classes accessed a shared pool of maneuvers at one point. While it’s likely that some of those maneuvers will be integrated into the revisions to the weaponmaster subclass of the fighter that we’re working on (which might function similar to how it does in the public packet, but with choice points for selecting maneuvers at various times to allow for more customization), others may end up in expanded combat rules found in an optional module.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 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.