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D&D Next Q&A: 02/07/2014
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 What are the benchmarks for fighters at each tier, compared to the spellcasting guidelines used in Wandering Monsters?

While James Wyatt discussed spellcasting in his latest Wandering Monsters, the other classes have similar breakpoints. For fighters, 5th and 11th levels represent the point at which you get a second and third attack respectively. While extra attacks may seem relatively simple to hang an entire tier on, they represent not only an increase in damage output, but also in versatility; more attacks means more chances to hit, more chances to fire off a combat maneuver, the ability to attack multiple foes, more chances for critical hits, and the ability to perform special attacks (like shoving someone down or grappling) as a part of your combat round.

As you reach the 11th level tier, we also start giving out more abilities to shrug off spells and other effects, which then expand from there across the levels. Above 11th level is where we start including mechanics designed to increase fighter survivability and the ability to cheat death; when you reach 18th level as a fighter, we want you to feel like you can stand in front of the dragon in defiance with the ability to live through whatever the dragon throws at you.

2 How would you handle running a business in D&D Next? Is this something handled with the downtime mechanics?

The most basic version will be handled by our guidelines for what happens between adventures (what you refer to in the question as “downtime mechanics”). These basic guidelines will provide a simple version that’s enough to say, “I own a tavern,” or “I work as a blacksmith,” between adventures without getting into a lot of minutiae about how running the business works. Elsewhere, we plan to expand on these guidelines for dealing with an organization, which could be anything from a trade consortium to a thieves’ guild, to an army, and include not just your ability to administrate your organization, but also what you can do with it.

3 Is 20 the hard cap on maximum ability score or can magic push it higher?

Magic (especially magic items) can increase a character’s ability scores above 20. We simply use 20 as the cap for natural, non-magical ability scores. Additionally, other character features (for example, a class feature) could allow an ability score to exceed this cap.


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 dndinsider@wizards.com. 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.
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Aww, I was hoping 20 was the max, period. Now we're back to the magic items arms race.
  
Posted By: nukunuku (2/17/2014 5:12:24 PM)
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I "like" how someone went around downrating every comment suggesting that non-casters should get to feel interesting or do anything cool. GET BACK IN YOUR PLACE AND LICK MY CASTING BOOTS, PEONS.

They really need to take inspiration from Greek, Norse, Chinese, and Japanese mythology, as well as Exalted and 4E. There are so many examples out there of how to make non-casters interesting, but the people making the game seem to want to pretend that nothing after 2E happened. Even the stuff taken from 3E in Next feels incredibly begrudging.
  
Posted By: Fuzzypaws (2/11/2014 6:50:13 PM)
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When I completely disagree with a comment I usually give it half a star but that doesn't seem called for here. Although I think the trickiness of conveying the effects of martial training is giving the game designers some problems I rated Ramzour's, Claymore65's and Rartemass' comments highly, and their ratings appear to be the same as they were on Monday.
  
Posted By: RadperT (2/13/2014 2:59:16 PM)
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At the Winter Fantasy convention we allowed players to give themselves 2 magic items for their level 11 PCs. Both the Belt of Cloud Giant strength (STR 27, I think?) and the Vorpal Sword were problematic in play. Constant hits and constant crits were pretty destabilizing. If there is a hard cap intended, permanent magic items that break that are going to make the game harder for DMs to balance.
  
Posted By: Alphastream1 (2/11/2014 11:52:29 AM)
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Wow that argument about the cleric/sorcerer/warlock choice makes absolutely no sense given what they did to other classes. Given that the narrative of most classes is relegated to 3rd level I've already pretty much decided to start any home game at 3rd level; that way the Druid has their Circle and the Fighter their Martial Path; both potentially defining narrative choices for those classes.
  
Posted By: Cailte (2/11/2014 5:59:41 AM)
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@Ramzour @Seanchai What I take as the definitive statement on "extra actions" comes from the previous issue of this column, where Rodney replied to a comment by Zaran Black that "extra attacks from class progression do not use your bonus action, and you can still two-weapon fight from 1st level." I'm not the brightest bulb, but in combination with what was said about swift spells in Mike's article, I interpret that to explicitly exclude the Extra Attack class feature common to barbarians, fighters, paladins & rangers and at least imply, that what they call bonus actions are equivalent to the swift actions of late Third Edition, or a minor action in Fourth. This includes monks burning ki to fuel Flurry of Blows, rogues' Cunning Action, and the second attack of a two-weapon fighter, but what part of a bard's activities are included is not as clear. It's obvious that either a Valor or Wit Bard has many opportunities to influence both combat and noncombat situati... (see all)
  
Posted By: RadperT (2/9/2014 9:39:57 PM)
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@ Seanchai
quote: "I went back and looked. You're right. They said they were removing extra actions, but then went on to say that you were only going to be allowed one extra action per round. Two weapon fighting and Flurry of Blows were specifically mentioned. This Q and A does say third attacks, which, if I'm reading the previous L and L column correctly."

It's my understanding that your "extra attacks" for being a Fighter will "cost 1 bonus action". So it doesn't matter if you get 1 extra attack or 3. You can use that as your one bonus action per turn. That's my take on it anyway. I guess we'll have to wait and see.
  
Posted By: Ramzour (2/9/2014 2:12:40 PM)
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You spent pretty much an entire article talking about how wizards change as they level, their spells growing radically different, turning them into changed characters that impact the game and world as they go up.

Your response for fighters: See they attack TWICE!
  
Posted By: ProfessorCirno (2/9/2014 3:34:52 AM)
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I agree that a higher level rogue/fighter/ranger/etc should clearly be better than a lower level one in a similar manner as how the wizard is described. TO me that comes down to the role each class has in a party.
Wizards are flashy in what they do, tossing fire around, making everyone fly, ripping open a portal to hell.
A rogue is more secretive. If you see a stealth rogue then the character has failed. If you can't be convinced by a talky rogue then he has failed.
A fighter tackles bigger and stronger opponents. At epic level he should have abilities to compensate for his medium statue and still cause a great wyrm to question engaging him in combat. Having an extra attack or two doesn't cut it.
This is why I always hated playing a fighter in 2nd Ed. They didn't really have anything to do in combat other than hitting, and outside of combat they were poorly skilled.
A high level fighter should be able to run up a dragon's tail along its spine and implant his sw... (see all)
  
Posted By: Rartemass (2/9/2014 5:10:14 PM)
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This all sounds pretty good! in every edition of DnDN always avoided fighters cause I thought they were a little boring. But I'm rolling up a dwarven fighter for a game next weekend cause fighters look really cool. Having AC 20 at level one, in a bounded accuracy system, is pretty sweet. I plan on going path of the warrior for extra crits and the extra combat style, so I can add two weapon fighting. Then, I'll take the dual wielder feat and shield mastery feat. Then I can dual wield with 1d8+str in main hand and 1d6+str in off hand and still get the benefits of having a shield. This should give me a butt load of attacks without compromising my AC, and increased chances of crits since I will be two weapon fighting with crits occurring on18-20. It's going to be one mean dwarf!
  
Posted By: moes1980 (2/9/2014 2:35:03 AM)
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A lot of the potential of your build is inherent in the mountain dwarf, so enjoy! I don't see any way for you to do more than d6+Str bonus (base) with each hand since a shield isn't a light weapon, but what's a point or two when you max damage so much of the time? I'm impressed by your enthusiasm for hacking & slashing your way through your opponents, and I hope by eighth level you've got some sweet dragon armor to help you use that fourth attack or maneuver against them with maximum effectiveness.
  
Posted By: RadperT (2/9/2014 9:57:45 PM)
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I think the biggest problem right now isn't the rules, it's the lore for fighters and other martial characters. High level Wizards are described as being able to heavily influence the world, with spells. They can generate new adventures with portals and get to fly. In other words, they are described as being able to transcend normal people's abilities, and are in a new level. With the descriptions of a high level fighter, we get none of those cool things, we get 'they can hit harder, I guess'.

I think that's a problem. The way I see it, you should describe a very high level Martial character differently. A high level fighter seems more god than man on the battle field. Thousands of 'normal' soldiers can face him on the battlefield, and he can slay them all without a scratch. When he stomps his foot down, the earth cracks at his feet, submitting to his might. Gods and demon lords fear his skill with a blade. Basically, at very high levels, the fighter should cease to be mer... (see all)
  
Posted By: Claymore65 (2/9/2014 1:35:31 AM)
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To elaborate slightly, a good analogy would use Greek mythology. A low level fighter is a Greek Soldier. Powerful, but unable to stand against every threat. A High Level fighter is like Heracles (or Hercules if you prefer), capable of laughing off blows other men would be felled by, strong enough to wrestle giant monsters or things like that. A High Level Martial character should be Hercules-levels of power. If that were true, then fighters would no doubt stand up to their magic using counterparts.

Also, while not entirely relevant, can we see a Book of the Nine Swords stye class sometime in the future? I never had as much fun playing a martial character as I did with that book. All of the cool, flashy styles were entertaining both to read and use, and as a Fighter I always had a lot of cool options in combat. I don't need this in the core book, but a later expansion would be awesome.
  
Posted By: Claymore65 (2/9/2014 1:14:17 PM)
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I'm a little confused by extra attacks discussed in question 1, with regard to the fighter.
  
Posted By: Prom (2/8/2014 5:32:58 PM)
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Sweet mother of corn! WTF is up with this new system. That was supposed to be a reply to Ramzour, who said, "They didn't say they were removing extra attacks. They said they were going to limit the stacking of bonus actions. So you probably couldn't use a Cunning Action, TWF, Extra Attack, and a Swift Spell all at once." - John
  
Posted By: Seanchai (2/8/2014 4:57:37 PM)
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I went back and looked. You're right. They said they were removing extra actions, but then went on to say that you were only going to be allowed one extra action per round. Two weapon fighting and Flurry of Blows were specifically mentioned. This Q and A does say third attacks, which, if I'm reading the previous L and L column correctly (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4ll/20140127), shouldn't be allowed under the changed rules.

I guess I'll wait and see what the rules look like when they're in print. - John
  
Posted By: Seanchai (2/8/2014 4:56:22 PM)
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Wait a minute! You just had a column saying you were removing extra attacks because they slowed the game down. Now you're saying you're adding them back in? - John
  
Posted By: Seanchai (2/8/2014 10:40:59 AM)
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They didn't say they were removing extra attacks. They said they were going to limit the stacking of bonus actions. So you probably couldn't use a Cunning Action, TWF, Extra Attack, and a Swift Spell all at once.
  
Posted By: Ramzour (2/8/2014 2:06:03 PM)
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I think many of the comments in here are missing the point a bit. There are plenty of threads in the forum about figher vs. wizard and it turns out the fighter has the best sustained dpr at high levels. Its a good class if you just want to hit something until all the blood comes out.

The issue, at least in my opinion, is that it sometimes feels like that is all the fighter does. The spells in the Wandering Monsters article that really change how the game is played are not combat spells. Things like word of recall, find the path, contingency, true seeing, legend lore and goddamn wish fundamentally change how the game works outside combat and they are all limited to casters.
  
Posted By: WCU_Scout (2/8/2014 8:39:47 AM)
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I agree with you. Non-casters should be capable of extraordinary things as well. Moments of Superhuman Strength/Speed. Amazing Leadership skills. Shrugging off the effects of the most powerful spells. But once you go and give nice things to the non-casters, another group starts to complain that "Fighters healing themselves in combat breaks my realism".....but Dragons? Elves? The Elemental Plane of Shadow? The spell Wish? Nope, none of those break their realism at all.
  
Posted By: Ramzour (2/8/2014 10:18:40 AM)
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Fighters should get the option to trade in a move action for a maneuver die. Shields should provide damage resistance. Even if a dragon's tail slaps the fighter off hiss feet, if he managed to bring his shield up between him and the spiny scales of the wyrm, he should take less damage than a wizard wearing a bathrobe that was hit by the same attack by the other dragon across the room.

Or they could just high-five as they fly past each other.
  
Posted By: Vulf (2/8/2014 5:04:42 AM)
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I think, (and some seem to agree) that non-casters need more than just more chances to hit like 'I swing my sword for another possible 1d8 + STR mod damage' at higher levels. I'm all for casters having scaling spell damage, but fighters need scaling melee damage too. And the ability to hit multiple targets, and impose conditions like 'stunned' or 'slowed' or 'blinded'.

Maybe, just maybe,...What is needed is a more 4e approach to PC power advancement (ie: what you can do at higher levels in a fight). It seems like the people who think giving martial characters encounter and daily special attacks (ie: powers) is a goofy form of 'magic' for non-magic users are in the minority. Or have left the game a long time ago...For older versions.

4e was an awesome system, IMO...But I do see how it changed too much too soon for many people. Don't be so afraid of 4e; especially for inspiration. Be open-minded.

I want a 5e (even though the summer release has probably al... (see all)
  
Posted By: seti (2/8/2014 12:45:06 AM)
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PS: And this is totally off topic; but is an acknowledgement of all the simulationists out there...A shield is better than +1 to AC.

Seriously.

No one in their right mind entered melee combat without one. Ever. It won't save you from spells; but...damn...It sure as sh** will save you from swords, arrows, spears, etc. I'm not sure how to fix that in the rules...Maybe a scaling AC bonus. Or feats centered on shield use.
  
Posted By: seti (2/8/2014 12:58:37 AM)
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Let me get this straight. Tiers of play are based around the concept that casters gets spells that fundamentally change the nature of play (and not in combat), and non-caster same "this changes EVERYTHING" moment is that they get an extra attack?

No. Give non-casters EQUALLY IMPORTANT if different game-chagners at those tier-crossing levels. It being "nothing new, just an extra roll that only comes in during combat" is lame and not even worth discussing. That's the fact that spells do more damage at higher levels, no so do non-casters. It in NO WAY helps define the tiers of play or give those player ways that alter how everything is done.

Please consider and carry out how to add tier-worthy non-combat abilities to non-casters.
  
Posted By: Blue23 (2/8/2014 12:19:45 AM)
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I don't like the character's ability scores having a cap of 20. I would hope one of the character features allowing a score to exceed the cap includes an increase from leveling a character.
  
Posted By: Diamondfist (2/7/2014 9:09:34 PM)
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@Ramzour

Making multiple attacks in no way improves your combat maneuvers (going by the latest packet) because you're still limited by how many superiority dice you have. All this allows you to is spend your 4 dice in a round or two instead of over four rounds. Not exactly a shining example of increased power, because it still requires an entire action to regain one single die. Once you've burned up your initial allotment you won't use the dice again because trading in up to FOUR attacks for ONE die is a very bad bargain. You are almost always better off just attacking several times. The more attacks you get per action, the less useful your superiority dice become.

I sincerely hope the Next Fighter has improved a lot compared to what we last saw. Because it was a terribly bad class. (And yes, I have actually playtested Next with my group.)
  
Posted By: Belphanior (2/7/2014 8:21:10 PM)
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Wizards get dimension door, confusion, teleport, fly, disintegrate, and more. Fighters get... an additional attack.

Also note that more attacks doesn't mean more versatility. It's still a vertical increase in power, rather than a horizontal one. It means you do what you did before, but better (if both attacks are at the same bonus, you effectively double your average damage). But it's by no means whatsoever an increase in versatility.
  
Posted By: mod5000 (2/7/2014 5:40:52 PM)
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You're forgetting about combat maneuvers. More attacks doesn't just mean more damage. It could also mean a chance to disable one foe while you attack another.
  
Posted By: Ramzour (2/7/2014 5:48:44 PM)
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@Ramzour - the Weaponmaster specials will have to be more impressive than they were in the last packet in order to make that a big deal. They were pretty lackluster compared to both Bo9S and 4e.
  
Posted By: obryn (2/7/2014 6:24:33 PM)
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Your & Belphanior's criticisms of maneuvers' shortcomings are incisive and important. As an old-school guy, I don't support them having the breadth of preparation available to a spellcaster, but the power and the choices definitely need to be amped up. I thought the Expertise dice which monks, fighters & rogues could each use to bolster their own specialties were moving in the right direction, and Belphanior's observation about the inadequacy of the refresh mechanic is right on.
  
Posted By: RadperT (2/7/2014 10:52:53 PM)
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How so? It's not a perfect system, but it's far from bad. Have you playtested it? They're actually quite fun to use.
You can give Advantage to the next attack against your enemy (great for Rogue allies!).
You can "Disengage" for free.
You can knock your enemy prone.
You can prevent the enemy from taking [Reactions].
You can push the enemy back.
You can slow the enemy.
And best of all, if you "fail" at any of these things, you add a few points of damage instead. What more could you want?
  
Posted By: Ramzour (2/7/2014 7:32:16 PM)
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(@Zaran) I think the name is the main problem, as I replied under James' column, suggesting Gallant would be a better title. Waiting until second level to attain abilities as basic as turning undead and the thief's enhanced skill at climbing walls isn't optimal but encapsulating these benefits in a way which would offset multiclass front-loading is apparently too complicated for the developers to think about, and it is at least fairly simple to get a first-level character up and running.
  
Posted By: RadperT (2/7/2014 4:29:12 PM)
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I don't see how the name makes much difference. If you don't like the name, then change it. I re-flavor spells and monsters and weapons and names of things all of the time. It's what makes the game specifically yours.
  
Posted By: Ramzour (2/7/2014 5:54:53 PM)
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Sorry I didn't make clear that Apprentice is not a fitting title for a character who has already learned a trade or profession & earned or come into enough money to bankroll a venture into a second, more exciting career. No, a background of this sort isn't required but the material and personal resources to which a beginning character has access, beg the question of just how much of a novice s/he might be. Several commenters at http://wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4wand/20140205 agree with me that a more appropriate title is called for. Adventurer is too general, Explorer is too specific, and Gallant is my best suggestion. I would be perfectly satisfied if the Apprentice tier were renamed Expert, and Expert became Heroic, which is an exciting and evocative name.
  
Posted By: RadperT (2/7/2014 10:34:26 PM)
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So are you saying that Adventurers already know everything about being a [insert CLASS] at level 1? There's nothing left to learn? Cause I have an Experience Point table that indicates otherwise. You start level 1 with ZERO EXPERIENCE. Sounds like a Mage with 0 experience is a bit of an apprentice to me. But again, that leads me to say that the name of a group of levels is a strange thing to complain about. Calling those levels "apprentice" literally has zero impact on the game mechanics. And if it's the flavor of the word that bothers you, well change the name for your games and roll on.
  
Posted By: Ramzour (2/8/2014 3:38:06 AM)
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This is a reply to RadperT, but the system wouldn't allow me to reply directly to it.
While I appreciate your opinion, I am of the opposite. When I run my first DnD Next campaign, all characters must tell me who their mentor is. I will even have most characters at level zero and in the first session they need to find a mentor to teach them their class.
Some mentors will be very hands on and demand continued service, others will teach the basics and be available for later questions but have no real responsibility. The type of mentor the player wants is their choice, and as the DM I will provide a variety of mentor NPCs with differing methodology. The mentors will essentially make a contract with the character. If the character doesn't like the conditions then they can refuse and find another mentor.
Personally I prefer to have apprentice levels beholden to a master as it provides more NPCs to interact with and create a more in depth story. The mentors can then be part of ... (see all)
  
Posted By: Rartemass (2/9/2014 6:30:40 PM)
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Love it! I always appreciate a DM who is willing to put in extra work to make the game world believable for h/h characters. I'm sure you would have no trouble shepherding a naive player, such as we all have been, through the process of acquiring backstory. I never said I LIKED DnDNext characters having a background which makes them sound like seasoned adventurers at the beginning of the game, I'm just trying to work with it! While you might not be fully in accord with my desire to play a game in which first-level characters' abilities give them a lot of clout, I suspect we would both like something a little less overbearing than the prefabricated histories which have been provided as backgrounds with very little alteration over the life of the playtest. BTW, I hope you have read James Wyatt's most recent Wandering Monsters column, there were some very interesting comments.
  
Posted By: RadperT (2/9/2014 8:01:15 PM)
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Of course I'm objecting to a proposal I disagree with, they're feeling us out because they want our opinions. James' article (the one linked to at the top of this one) says they're "looking at" this idea as part of a plan which has nothing to do with the rules. I think it's a mistake to create the impression that beginning characters are beholden to a master, but that's what an apprentice is, a protegé who must obey a mentor. When I was a young player, the last thing I wanted to do when I could be playing D & D was answer questions about my character's connections to the game world! It would be nice if there had been an article which said we're lightening the touch of the optional background, so that it gives a minor benefit at first level, increasing in power and usefulness later, as the character's influence and renown grow. But that is not the case, so calling first- through fourth-level characters apprentices highlights the inconsistency between the class f... (see all)
  
Posted By: RadperT (2/9/2014 1:34:14 AM)
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I think you're reading a whole lot more into the word "apprentice" than you need to. No where does it say level 1 apprentices must obey some sort of master. You invented that. The word is only trying to convey that the PCs are "low level heroes", without using such a gamey term. Now, you're free to pick mentors for your character if that's what you want, but the game isn't forcing you to do so just because they use the word "apprentice".
  
Posted By: Ramzour (2/9/2014 11:14:22 AM)
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I don't like tier system and I think it's because of the Apprentice Tier. First of all, I don't like the name. Apprentice means to me "Still in school" and they PCs would have masters. Not only that but it effects NPCs as well. Having an old sage that is a level 4 wizard just doesn't scream apprentice tier. Then there is the fact that I do not want the first 4 levels of the game to have Training wheels on them. You guys have said that we who like more complex characters will have it but that shouldn't mean we have to skip the first levels of the game to get it to it.
  
Posted By: ZaranBlack (2/7/2014 3:40:50 PM)
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