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This Week in D&D
Legends & Lore
Mike Mearls

A fter a stretch of cold weather, by Seattle standards at least, and a week of spooky fog, we're finally back to a regular cadence of gray, drizzly weather here in the Pacific Northwest. It took me some time to adjust to the weather when I first moved out here. Not so surprisingly, given that my complexion could be generously described as being as white as the underside of a cavefish, I've adapted fairly well to our annual stretch of gloom.

This whole reflection on recent weather brings me to how weather is treated in roleplaying games. Weather is one of those things that fantasy games often overlook. There's nothing like a snowstorm or a scorching heat wave to liven up a game session. For something that shapes so much of the real world, it's something that DMs can easily overlook. Do you work the weather into your games, or would you prefer to worry about it only in your real life? Drop an answer in the comments below.

Fight, Fight, Fight!

We made some interesting progress on the fighter in the past week. We've known for a while that asking fighters to choose between damage and a maneuver was not an ideal situation, and we're working to fix that. On top of that, we're looking at maneuvers to fill the space between the fighter's basic combat ability and the class's full power. It's like an equation that looks like this:

Barbarian = weapon user base combat abilities + rage
Monk = weapon user base combat abilities + ki
Fighter = weapon user base combat abilities + expertise
Barbarian = Monk = Fighter
Rage = Ki = Expertise

"Weapon user base combat abilities" is an intentionally awkward way of saying, "The basic method in which you get better with weapons."

In essence, building those two classes let us settle on exactly where maneuvers should rest, and the conclusion we came to was that they are additive to an attack, rather than something that comes at a cost of your base effectiveness. That means bigger, more effective maneuvers that are fighter-only, with stuff that we want any character to gain as being accessible through feats.

As an example, a feat that makes you better with a bow might allow you to ignore cover. A fighter maneuver aimed at ranged attacks might let you fire a quick volley of arrows to make an area attack by spending your expertise.

Expertise represents a combination of skill and energy. A fighter expends energy to pull off difficult maneuvers and can use an action to take a break and regain some of that energy. Mechanically, we're representing that energy with a pool of dice.

Do We Need Rules for This?

Last week I mentioned exploration rules, and that brings up a key point for the game. Outside of the basic mechanics for stuff like moving, combat, and casting spells, we're assuming that everything else is optional. Something like the exploration rules, or the shortcuts for handling fights with lots of creatures, are simply tools for DMs to use or adapt for their games.

Just as we know that DMs and players have a wide variety of styles, we also know that different styles demand different amounts of rules. Some DMs want structure, and others want to wing everything. The core rules present the minimum rules needed, and they rely on a DM to make lots of calls and judgments, primarily because that keeps the game simple and also plays to the RPG's strengths.

Minimum is a tricky word. You can expect things like rules for flying, but presented in a fairly simple, easy to run form. If you want to run dogfights with detailed rules for turn radius and such, we can provide deeper rules for that. In most cases, though, you just need to know how fast a creature flies. We'd likely just provide simple rules that apply to all flying creatures in the core system, unless otherwise noted in the creature's description. For example, a creature might need to move forward at least half its speed and cannot turn more than 90 degrees total during its turn.

In Other News

Most of our work right now is focused on new races and classes. We have three races worked up, along with two or three more classes. We'll playtest them a bit internally to work out the obvious kinks, but you can expect future packets to focus on providing more character-building options.

Mike Mearls
Mike Mearls is the senior manager for the D&D research and design team. He has worked on the Ravenloft board game along with a number of supplements for the D&D RPG.
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