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D&D Next Q&A: 01/31/2014
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 Group stealth, while simplified, still seems to have the basic problem of the armor-wearing or clumsy guys making it impossible for the group to hide. Are there any aspects of the group stealth rules that address this?

The only aspect of those rules that addresses this comes in where we talk about splitting the party into two (or more) smaller groups, one of which scouts ahead (taking full advantage of the ability to sneak), and the other of which comes behind more slowly. We are aware of the challenges of having party members who are bad at sneaking when everyone is trying to get somewhere stealthily. On one hand, we think this is an acceptable tactical challenge when dealing with an adventure, something that players may need to be creative to overcome. At the same time, we know splitting up the party (or, worse, simply leaving some characters out of a scene entirely) isn’t always very satisfying. We’re choosing to address this in character abilities, not in top-level rules; see the ranger’s hunter’s veil spell for an example of a spell that addresses this very issue, and it is not the only place we’re doing so. This also has the benefit of making certain classes more appealing due to the way they create engaging interaction between multiple characters in the same party.

2 With high Strength negating the penalties of heavier armors, what kinds of incentives are there for warrior types to use medium armors like scale?

We’re not trying to specifically incentivize using a lower tier of armor, but there are reasons for, say, a fighter to choose to wear scale instead of chain. If you’re a Dexterity-based fighter, you probably want to wear light or medium armor so that you can put your other good scores in Constitution, Wisdom, or even Charisma (as you might if you want to play a charismatic general) and don’t have to invest in Wisdom. Alternatively, you might choose medium armor if you want to avoid having disadvantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks, which all heavy armors (and some medium armors) have. If you have a good Strength score and proficiency in heavy armor, though, heavy armor is going to be your most appealing option.

3 Are the changes to extra actions meant to discourage rogues from using two-weapon fighting?

The intent of the rule is exactly as Mike said: to speed up play and prevent players from stacking up actions on their turn, which can slow things down and create potentially overpowering combinations. We’ve elected to fold two-weapon fighting into this rule (along with things like the monk’s multiple unarmed strikes) because those extra attacks take time and because we collected a lot of feedback from our surveys that clearly indicated that people liked being able to fight with two weapons without penalty, but many were also concerned that it overshadowed fighting with sword-and-shield, or fighting with only a single weapon. Limiting you to a single bonus action at least makes choosing to fight with two weapons more of a tactical choice, instead of an automatic option, and we see it as a good thing if this makes weapons such as the single rapier more appealing to the rogue.

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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 was wondering if the expertise feature's given by some classes stacked? I'm playing a Bard currently and when I hit level 3 in that I get expertise. If I were to multiclass into rogue and get the level 1 expertise feature from it would I get all the bonuses from both?
Posted By: Awizard7 (2/5/2014 12:59:49 PM)


No, they wouldn't stack. You'd need to pick different skills. And you'd be a real skill master!
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (2/7/2014 12:09:18 AM)


Looks like in November playtest, yes, they would stack.
Posted By: Theodorius (2/15/2014 2:25:58 PM)


How we do group stealth is every 5 above the DC one character makes it, all who failed get +2.

Flavorwise its like that scene in movies where a clumsy sidekick like rob schneider or christ tucker knocks over a vase and his vastly more agile buddy cop grabs it in the nick of time and glares at him.

I found it works very well.
Posted By: Eric888 (2/4/2014 3:53:32 AM)


On group stealth. As with most alleged problems with the game, a little bit of common sense DMing goes a long way towards “no longer a problem”. I have a lot of experience with guards, having served several tours as an Army officer, including both real world operations in the Middle East, training exercises, and routine garrison duty. A given guard’s ability to spot something unusual has far less to do with his perception and someone else’s stealth than it does with whether or not the guards are bothering to pay attention. Novice DMs often assume everyone is vigilant at all times. They aren’t. Guards get bored, tired, resentful, and sometimes just plain old don’t give a hoot. Similarly, the PC group’s ability to sneak up to an orc encampment has less to do with individual DEX checks and more to do with how they plan it out. I usually try to resolve group stealth as a skill challenge including insight into the target’s habits and schedule (Wis), planning of movement (Int) and di... (see all)
Posted By: TheWilds (2/3/2014 8:12:29 PM)


@The Gimper: The weight of armor is very well distributed over the wearer's body. The flexibility the character has at the joints is the whole picture as far as how much dexterity would still work to its full impact, and if any armor were really inflexible, it would be useless because in combat you have to be able to move quickly or you'll be dead in seconds.
Posted By: SirAntoine (2/3/2014 3:16:53 AM)


They need to make a shield more useful if they want people to use it. All shields could have a small built in damage resistance, a "block" bonus.

Light shields have the standard +1 ac +1 ref, and could be resist 2 with no skill penalties and the ability to keep the hand free for torches, etc.

Heavy Shields with the standard +2 ac +2 ref and resist 4, with the normal skill check penalties and an occupied hand.

Also equipping a shield should be a minor action in a round you did not drop it/stow it/take it off in some way. I don't think people should be able to take it on and off willy-nilly so they can make two-handed attacks as they wish while still having a shield bonus on the enemy's turn. But if your turn starts and you want to put your shield on, you shouldn't have to abandon your chance to attack while the other characters are busy making 3 attacks each.
Posted By: randomvirus (2/2/2014 11:20:09 PM)


I suggest the normal small bonuses but the character can use their reaction to make an active defense roll. This roll would take the higher of the 10 or d20+ the defense score (AC or Reflex). This way having a shield would be a lot more effective and be a more competitive choice with other styles.
Posted By: ZaranBlack (2/3/2014 8:42:42 AM)


A shield is designed to protect primarily against ranged and reach weapons. It should give a +1 vs melee weapons, and +2 vs. ranged and reach weapons. A buckler which should only be +1 vs. all attacks, but allow you to use 2-handed weapons with a -1 to-hit penalty (or disadvantage?). Tower shields should be +2 vs all attacks, but negate Dex bonus to AC. Two (or more) adjacent, friendly, creatures using shields should negate (reduce?) flanking bonus.
Posted By: Rlyehable (2/4/2014 11:30:40 PM)


The real problem with group stealth is that even 5 really stealthy people will usually fail, since only the lowest result matters. You're effectively rolling 5d20 and taking the lowest result--it's like having super-disadvantage! It's also a pain to roll that many dice--how the hell am I actually supposed to adjudicate 5 bugbears hiding from 5 PCs?

There needs to be a group skill check rule, where the whole group only rolls once (using the worst member's modifier for stealth, or the best member's modifier for perception). The passive perception rules are already a step towards this: there's one d20 roll, and only the highest perception modifier matters.
Posted By: G_X (1/31/2014 7:00:37 PM)


Well... you're not really taking the worst of 5d20 (like in disvantage rules): if 4 members are super-stealthy and one is not, it means that only his d20 is the one that matters (you are not going to compare it with the other 4).
Posted By: Erik_Burigo (2/1/2014 11:25:56 AM)


But even if the entire party is really good at stealth, inevitably one will roll poorly. That means that no matter what your skill modifiers are, it's almost impossible for five characters to sneak anywhere.
Posted By: G_X (2/1/2014 1:17:41 PM)


This situation in the rules matches the conundrums people would have in real life, doesn't it? It matches situations I've seen in fiction, at least. That's not a rules issue then, but a tactical one, right? Party formation can work around it by assigning a scout, for one solution.

There are also different ways failing a roll can turn out: The PCs may be taking separate approaches, so the remainder can still sneak, but we'll assume for the nonce they're all together. The sentries may only expect the number of PCs who fail their rolls, and if only one fails, it may depend on how badly s/he failed, if the DM keeps track of such things; the PC may be able to disguise the sound as something else.
Posted By: Dreamstryder (2/2/2014 8:40:37 PM)


PS: Different PCs contribute to combat/exploration/interaction in different ways: During combat, heavily armored characters guard from frontal attack and squishy people support and fling things from the back. During exploration (in this case, sneaking), heavily armored characters may guard the rear from ambush, while sneaky characters scout for traps and other encounters in front.
Posted By: Dreamstryder (2/2/2014 8:45:09 PM)


Thanks for the explanation on the development of the rules.
Posted By: Prom (1/31/2014 6:04:33 PM)



"Armor shouldn't limit the wearer's dexterity bonus to AC, first let me say. It is like saying an agile, dextrous person couldn't be agile and dextrous so much the heavier the armor worn, and that doesn't make sense."

Sure it does. The more weight you're carrying around, the harder it is for you to move quickly and nimbly. Try strapping 65 lbs (the weight of plate mail) of stuff to your body and see how well you move compared to carrying 45 lbs (the weight of scale mail). Now, all other things being equal, a person who is more agile than another will still be more agile, but compared to how agile that person is without all of that bulky, heavy metal armor, there will be a difference.
Posted By: TheGimper (1/31/2014 6:03:53 PM)


Heavy armor or light armor are the only valid choices for a fighter right now. The only time (other than at low-levels) when medium armor would be worth it at all would be for a fighter with a Str 12 and Dex 14. No one makes a fighter with those stats. These systems require you to either go all Dex (and light armor) or all Str (and heavy armor). Anyone with less than a Str 13 is going all Dex.

But there should be an option for a more balanced fighter (Str 18-20, Dex 14) to pay the price of one lower AC in order to derive a mobility benefit in medium armor. Right now he can only do it with mithril scale. If mithril isn't in the picture (which is isn't for many of us, or at least is a mythic material we can't build a character around the assumption we will ever see) then we are out of luck. Take out mithril, and Dragon* Scale is purely inferior to Plate armor. It has worse AC, still has stealth Disadvantage, and since the fighter obviously has a Str of higher than 13 (or he wo... (see all)
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (1/31/2014 3:23:03 PM)


A possibility that just hit me:
Str 13: Ignore stealth Disadvantage in medium armor
Str 15: Ignore movement penalty in heavy armor (stealth disadvantage always applies)
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (1/31/2014 4:15:58 PM)


I'm not sure that's true. Let's use Dragon Leather and Studded Dragon Leather for example, since they cost the same. If your Dex mod is +2, medium armor is clearly better (light = 14, medium = 16). If your Dex mod is +3, light gets a bit better (light = 15, medium = 16). If your Dex mod is +4, it evens out (light = 16, medium = 16). Only if your Dex mod is +5 -- the highest it can be -- which is near superhuman and should be hard to achieve -- light armor is better than medium (light = 17, medium = 16).

Also, I disagree that there should be an "incentive" to use lighter armor, when you're capable of wearing heavier armor. I believe that heavier armor should be more protective than lighter armor, period. Even Conan wore plate mail once he could afford it.
Posted By: G_X (1/31/2014 4:33:13 PM)



Respectfully, the examples fail to address the problem. If your Dex mod is +2 you will not be using light armor unless it’s the only thing you are proficient in (in which case you have no choice) so that example doesn’t have any relation to real characters. A character who is proficient in medium but not heavy armor (ie, ranger, barbarian) can benefit from medium armor, unless he has a high strength, in which case light is better. That is working as intended.

But there should be such a thing as a fighter in scale mail. It’s absurd for such a concept to be unsupported—and a clearly and significantly inferior choice = unsupported. Again, I’m not saying his AC should be as high—I think it probably should be a point lower. But he should get something for that point! If he isn’t getting anything for that point, then a Dex mod of +2 should give him the same AC as plate would. Remember, most fighters either go all Dex or no Dex. This is to support a more balanced fi... (see all)
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (1/31/2014 5:53:32 PM)


Why do you think that should be supported, though? It seems to me that heavier armor should just be better than lighter armor.
Posted By: G_X (1/31/2014 6:40:29 PM)


Actually, I agree that heavier armor should be better than lighter armor, all other things considered. I was a strong proponent for that earlier in the playtest when heavy armor was horrible.

But what I'm saying is that *if* a Dex based fighter can have an AC of 17* in light armor, and a Str based fighter can have an AC of 18 with stealth disadvantage in heavy armor, then a fighter in medium armor shouldn't be limited to an AC of 17 with stealth disadvantage*. That is making medium armor worse than light! Not just equal (I wouldn't object to equal) but actually worse.

Medium should not be worse than light.

*I'm specifically leaving out mithral because it should be treated the same as magic items--not assumed available by default. Plus heavy and light armors are perfectly balanced with or w/o it, only medium armors require it.
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (1/31/2014 8:01:43 PM)


Ah, good point. I thought you were arguing that medium should be as good as heavy. What you're really arguing is that medium should be better than light. That I agree with.
Posted By: G_X (1/31/2014 8:25:38 PM)


since 1e multiple attacks have been part of the game for fighter, monk, paladin, and ranger classes; possibly for a bard and never for cleric, druid, thief and wizard as at higher levels their spells were potent and the thief's backstab was x5. However these attacks were made a separate times of the initiative rounds and weapon speed and spell casting time also lengthened the initiative rounds considerably.

I have found that by applying multiple attack (as an extra action) on initiative and again at half that combat is not delayed by much and allows for others to join the fray. Much like 1e.

When its not an extra action like two weapon fighting a prefer the second hand weapon to be penalized (or at disadvantage).
Posted By: morandir62 (1/31/2014 12:59:49 PM)


thank gawd. players who trick out to heck so they get to attack a crazy amount of times in a row just make the GM have to put in stronger monsters till the encounters become overwhelming for most of the party and only the munchkin can fight and if he happens to be taken out the rest of the party has no chance. seen that happen sooooo many times in pre 4th games
Posted By: Keen_Man (1/31/2014 12:26:36 PM)


Both items one and two can be solved by paying adherence to encumbrance. Lightly encumbered suffer no stealth or dexterity penalties, but as loads increase so do the penalties. Thus stronger fighters and clerics can handle heavy armor and still not suffer stealth penalties or dex saves and agile can still benefit from higher dex.

Str 10 would be:
lightly encumbered 50lbs (keeps all dex bonus even for medium and heavy armors)
normal encumbered 100lbs (keeps all dex bonus, even for medium armor)
medium encumbered 150lbs (keeps all dex bonus, but only for light armor)
over encumbered 200lbs (lose all dex bonus and no benefits to armor)
Posted By: morandir62 (1/31/2014 12:02:17 PM)


Personally I'd prefer if they dropped encumbrance caps down to 3xStr base. so a Str 10 would be lightly encumbered by 30lbs. This is more true to life I find and makes survival/travel a bit more interesting in that you have to think creatively about how you pack (as you would in real life). For instance, I exercise at least 3 times a week doing crossfit and weight training as well as yoga, running etc. occasionally, when I go backpacking, a pack in excess of 30-40 lbs. definitely feels like drain after a couple miles. Likewise, fighting with said pack seems very arduous. Though I understand not all weight is represented in the form of a pack, for example, well-fitted armor disperses the load across the body and feels much less cumbersome, even at higher weights than I have described, than a pack, but even with an exception for fitted armour and whatever could be fit into a 'vest' type arrangement (bandolier + belt with pouches), I still think 3x is closer to reality than 5x, especiall... (see all)
Posted By: OskarOisinson (1/31/2014 5:03:32 PM)


Ugh. So is this article saying that the opportunity to get dual weapon attacks won't be until other styles get extra attacks? How is this giving players the option to use dual weapons without penalty?
Posted By: ZaranBlack (1/31/2014 9:44:34 AM)


How is Choosing to use two weapons a tactical choice when it just changes from getting two attacks to be the automatic choice to fighting with a single weapon and shield is the automatic choice.

What is the benefit for having an offhand hand weapon if our bonus attack is wasted on an often smaller damage die?
Posted By: ZaranBlack (1/31/2014 11:26:17 AM)


No, extra attacks from class progression do not use your bonus action, and you can still two-weapon fight from 1st level.
Posted By: WotC_Rodney (1/31/2014 12:18:43 PM)


So this new rule just limits the player from granting their character more than one extra action beyond what the class normally gives. That I can get behind. This should be clarified better in your articles.
Posted By: ZaranBlack (1/31/2014 12:41:31 PM)


Extra attacks take very little time to resolve. Mearls and Rodney should watch their own playtest videos again and time how long they actually take. They are simple, straightforward, fast to resolve, and you can improvise more with them.

If the designers remove extra attacks from the game I will not be interested in DnD Next. Extra attacks are the one thing keeping the concept of the "simple fighter" in the game.

I love rolling for extra attacks far more then I like to use 4e style single action powers. In fact, I would give up all the fighters unique maneuvers for a set of extra attacks.
Posted By: dmgorgon (1/31/2014 9:43:28 AM)


Extra attacks are still a part of the game. Nothing we've said was intended to say otherwise.
Posted By: WotC_Rodney (1/31/2014 12:19:20 PM)


Rather than giving the now and future demi-martial classes' additional combat actions fancy names and/or classifying them as "extra actions" use the same language & name (a spicier one would help) for Flurry of Blows, setting a modular precedent which preempts stacking in that way. Extra Action, Combat Prowess or whatever you want to call it, just needs to say it only works with the weapons in the class proficiency list to be completely concurrent for the monk, the fighter and all h/h cousins. This also allows monks to effectively wield thematically appropriate arms such as the sai, an excellent parrying weapon when in combat with armed opponents.

Regarding the rapier, many second- and third-level rogues probably will carry one, given the ease of drawing and putting away weapons during "your action, your move, or both." Depending on the penalties for using an inappropriate weapon combination (and also given the pathetic Armor Classes of low-level m... (see all)
Posted By: RadperT (2/4/2014 1:57:15 PM)


This is as much about keeping two-weapon fighters from become over powered as it is keeping the game moving fast. Prior editions made two-weapon fighting more attractive than using a shield, but in real warfare, I'd imagine the shield was a lot more important than two weapon fighting.
Posted By: gpchem (1/31/2014 2:59:41 PM)


Really not sure I am liking the extra actions changes… but at this point, I am just prepared to alter the rules any way my players and I like. We have the old play tests, so we can always pull stuff we liked back into the game from that and older editions. It's up to the DM to stop the cheesy stuff in his game, not the core mechanics. Don't let the core mechanics kill the game for you, just change them.
Posted By: Sands666 (1/31/2014 9:09:12 AM)


I always say, "don't be a slave to the rules". The game mechanics are merely provide a framework to tell a good story and have fun. Having AC 20 isn't "fun". What's fun is having a character so heavily armored that they rarely get hit. Dealing 15 damage isn't fun. What's fun is slaying the Ogre with a well-placed hit. If the mechanics ever get in the way of having fun, then the mechanics aren't doing their job well enough.
Posted By: Ramzour (1/31/2014 9:19:55 AM)


In general that's true, but where this comes into play, and thus needs to be addressed by the core rules, is in public play, which is a reality that has to be dealt with. In public play, everyone has to play by the official rules. The DM doesn't really get to customize the rules to any great extent.
Posted By: TheGimper (1/31/2014 3:05:46 PM)


They say that this change encourages Rogues to use the rapier more often... but does it, really?

Even if you can't use two "bonus action" types in the same round, why would this encourage you to entirely give up on one of your options? Sure, sometimes you will want to use the utility of cunning action. Of course. But does this then mean you don't want to dual-wield anymore? Because if you don't use dual-wield all the time, then you also wouldn't use it some of the time?
Posted By: Belphanior (1/31/2014 8:54:52 AM)


It doesn't mean "you never dual wield" but it might mean that you'd prefer the rapier, with its higher damage die, over a smaller weapon if you tend to use your bonus action for Cunning Action.
Posted By: WotC_Rodney (1/31/2014 12:21:40 PM)


I think if am item is in the game is should be useful and a good option for some characters. Is scale armour is in, then there should be a mechanical reason for some characters to want it over plate.
Posted By: Chimpy20 (1/31/2014 7:28:49 AM)


Exactly. Right now there is almost no situation where a fighter would wear medium armor past low-level.
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (1/31/2014 1:07:26 PM)


Banded & dragon scale would be a better comparison. Only a character with under 14 Dexterity would be willing to shell out the extra 250 gp for +2 AC (barring magic & the attitudes of dragons toward the possessor). Mithral scale offers a clear trade-off over plate (though the artificially skewed price of plate mail troubles me). Giving up 1 or more points of AC depending on Dexterity yields benefits in speed (for those with average Strength) and stealth.

@Sir Antoine (I wanted to respond to the last part of the adjacent comment as well, but you have to Reply to what you can):
I am firmly in the camp of those who feel the two-weapon fighter is entitled to an attack with each of h/h weapons, as well as anything extra arising from spells or class features. I think asking to multiply that potential damage by Extra Attacks, Flurry of Blows, Haste and so forth is too much.
Posted By: RadperT (2/3/2014 10:51:42 PM)


1. You can't have everything. If you have party members with heavy armor or someone very clumsy, why would you even ask the rules to "address this"?

2. Armor shouldn't limit the wearer's dexterity bonus to AC, first let me say. It is like saying an agile, dextrous person couldn't be agile and dextrous so much the heavier the armor worn, and that doesn't make sense. I've heard an argument that otherwise, dexterity becomes an "uber stat". I've never had anyone in 30 years of DMing call for this, or consider dexterity to be too powerful even so. It really works, and it means that agile, dextrous characters will still be able to act that way in heavy armor. A character's strength is only partly useful for wearing armor, as it happens. The armor must be very flexible, and its weight is distributed over the body. Of real significance is the potential for overheating, the time it takes to don or remove armor, and the weight a mount has to bear (alo... (see all)
Posted By: SirAntoine (1/31/2014 6:46:29 AM)


I'm not understanding from this text the incentive to a Rogue to use a single weapon. Rogues don't get a bonus action, so this would mean they can't use two-weapon fighting?
Posted By: Bly2729 (1/31/2014 6:39:27 AM)


It is nice to know that the real, game-world-based issue heavily armored PCs pose to group stealth isn't somehow "disappeared" by gamist rules that make little sense translated into the game world. This should result in more players in-game thinking about how to address their problems in the DnD world over how to best take advantage of abstract rules.

That's the basis for scouts in an army as well as rogues in a party. They don't go ahead of the group because they're more front-line capable.
Posted By: Dreamstryder (1/31/2014 5:03:40 AM)


Did "Haste" become useless to two-weapon-fighters this way?
Posted By: Cypher2009 (1/31/2014 4:46:23 AM)


These rules sound good for making dual-wielding less of an automatic choice for the Rogue. A dual-wielding Rogue will deal more damage, but a single-wielding Rogue will be able to make better use of Cunning Action, and use that free hand to do whatever tricks (though this depends on Cunning Action uses that require a free hand, which in the public packet are few and situational). That actually fits pretty well with my mental idea of a Rogue.

Do swift spells count as a bonus action?

Do multiattacks count as bonus actions? How does multiattack interact with dual-wielding now? A few packets ago, multiattack canceled out dual-wielding (so a high-level warrior like Drizzt would have no mechanical reason to use two weapons).

Does the haste spell break this rule? If not, that's a pretty lame spell. (You get a bonus action! Too bad you already have one from X class feature!)
Posted By: G_X (1/31/2014 1:05:44 AM)


I did it. I've time traveled into the future!

Thank you for posting these. I just started a Next campaign and I'm fairly positive the Rogue in my group of players was planning to exploit the hell out of this without letting me know. Glad I got to see the rule change to shut him down!
Posted By: evanl10 (1/31/2014 12:06:02 AM)



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