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Design Finesse—Part 2
Mike Mearls

L ast week, I talked about how elegance is the ultimate goal for every game designer, and about how that goal has shaped the design of D&D Next. Design finesse is the main tool we use in the quest for elegance. However, beyond design, it's important to remember that elegance only ever reveals itself as a byproduct of play.

Elegance arises in the natural, organic rhythm of an RPG session, as the rules effortlessly support the action, make the DM's life easier, and enable flow at the table. Elegant rules are invisible rules, in that using them makes the moments of the game move more smoothly than they otherwise would. You can think of elegant rules as helpers who are always in the right place at the right time.

The last two of our four precepts for design finesse are specifically focused on creating elegance in the way the game is played.

Think Locally to Keep Rules Invisible

American politician and former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill was famous for saying, "All politics is local." The same can apply to RPG rules—at least rules designed to take care of a specific situation.

The story of opportunity attacks in D&D Next was written by this concept. If you remember attacks of opportunity in 3rd Edition, they had quite a number of specific cases and exceptions attached to them. A number of actions either did or did not provoke attacks of opportunity. Moving into a creature's threatened area did not provoke, but moving within or out of that area did. Casting a spell provoked. Standing up provoked. Drawing a sword didn't. It's a lot to learn, and every player had to understand the rules because they had a big effect in combat. Each round, almost every character or monster involved in an encounter would do something that was specifically called out as provoking or not provoking attacks of opportunity.

In 4th Edition, we slimmed down opportunity attacks considerably. They were triggered by movement and certain types of attacks (ranged and area), as in 3e, but by nothing else. In D&D Next, we took this simplification even further, with opportunity attacks triggered only when you leave a creature's reach.

In this case, we knew that opportunity attacks were a rule that everyone needed to learn. As such, we needed to keep that rule as simple as possible. If you run away from a melee, you risk a free attack. That penalty has been a part of D&D for decades, and it makes sense in terms of the game's narrative.

However, we knew also that spellcasters have never been eager to engage in melee. This is where the principle of keeping rules local comes in. Rather than including spellcasting in opportunity attacks, we introduced the concept of concentration. In the final form of the rule, attacks can break your concentration and cause a spell to end. Casters who use concentration spells thus still want to avoid melee and take cover whenever possible.

A fighter or rogue doesn't need to learn this rule, nor does a paladin or bard who never picks up concentration spells. It only comes into play for those who want to use buff spells or long-lasting control spells. A player who learns the rules and knows that an evil cleric has used a concentration spell is rewarded by being able to make informed tactical decisions when fighting that cleric. However, you don't need to know the rule to play the game.

As an added bonus, you can't keep more than one concentration spell active at a time. This also cleans up spell stacking and prevents buff abuse. It's an efficient little rule that has done a lot of work toward making the game play well.

Go With the Flow

The final principle of design finesse ties into the idea of creating rules that stem from the players' understanding of how the game is supposed to work, even without any knowledge of the rules. RPGs are powerful because we can take our understanding of the world, apply it to the game, and often come to a correct decision without using the rules to make that choice. This aspect of RPGs helps produce their unique immersive qualities—the ability to draw players into the world of the game and make it come to life.

As an example of a type of gaming that depends entirely on the rules, consider a strategy board game such as Lords of Waterdeep. When playing that game, I know that I should slap a mandatory quest on Rodney because he's in the lead, it's the last round, and he can't complete any more quests with that mandatory quest hanging over him. Only by understanding the rules do I understand when and why to make that decision.

By contrast, in D&D, the DM might describe a pack of hobgoblin archers taking aim at my rogue. If the DM mentions a stone pillar nearby, I can decide to leap behind it and take cover. In D&D we give you a bonus to AC for taking cover. That's a sensible, logical rule that people would expect. However, in deciding to jump behind the pillar, I might know how the rules for cover work, or I might not. I'm simply taking my understanding of how the world works and applying it to the game. All things being equal, the guy behind the pillar is harder to hit than the yokel standing out in the open.

Along these lines, we've talked about adding drawbacks to using bows and ranged weapons in melee. Prior editions used opportunity attacks to punish such attacks, but I don't think a free attack necessarily captures what actually happens when you try to use a bow in melee. Instead, I might advocate for a new trait for weapons—call it 'unwieldy' for now—that we can use to capture the sense that some weapons are a bad choice for close-in fighting. You suffer disadvantage when using an unwieldy weapon within 5 feet of a hostile creature. The longbow, sling, and longspear might be labeled unwieldy, capturing the idea that they are difficult to use when an enemy presses in close.

Rather than use the opportunity attack rules and make everyone learn another exception, the unwieldy rule puts the burden on the attacker and links it to a subset of weapons. Simply by envisioning a character trying to use the weapon while surrounded by orcs, a player can get a clear sense of how and why the drawback makes sense. Even without the rule, many players will intuitively understand that you don't use a longspear or bow in close quarters fighting. As such, the players' sense of the real world makes it seem logical that some sort of drawback should come into play.

Mike Mearls
Mike Mearls is the senior manager for the D&D research and design team. He led the design for 5th Edition D&D. His other credits include the Castle Ravenloft board game, Monster Manual 3 for 4th Edition, and Player’s Handbook 2 for 3rd Edition.
I *really* like that opportunity attacks have changed--I also think the more "Adanced" versions of opportunity attacks could be specific to the more combat-heavy classes. Rogue, fighter, and maybe barbarian Characters would actually see an opportunity to strike an enemy when it's falling, or drawing it's own weapon--but sorcerers and the more magical types might not.
Posted By: fepriest (2/28/2014 1:02:08 PM)


I keep saying this, but I like the way the game is far.
Posted By: gloomhound (12/10/2013 11:02:47 AM)


@awogaman The Withdraw action is a little harder to find since they changed its name to Disengage. I approve of its revision to make faster creatures able to move a little farther without risking that additional attack on their turn. Basically it lets you take a move-and-a-half if you do nothing else, to try to get away while the enemy gets only its usual chance to hit you. That's if the opponent in question chooses to follow you, in which case your allies may be entitled to an opportunity attack upon it. You still have the option of taking a double move to try to get away entirely, but that's often only going to be effective with creatures of a lower speed than your own. D & D could use a rule to better resolve pursuit!
Posted By: RadperT (12/9/2013 11:29:47 AM)


I still don't understand how moving out of reach provokes opportunity attacks, while as moving in does not.

In the really real world, there's a quote from, I dunno, Bruce Lee, or somebody that says if you don't want to get hit, back up. Or something to that effect.

Moving out of their reach seems like they'd have less of a chance to hit you. And actually, seems more like they'd be throwing themselves off balance if they were trying to zap a fool backing away from them.

I dunno, just never made any sense to me. haha.
Posted By: awogaman (12/9/2013 9:49:38 AM)


Disadvantage instead of AoO for shooting in melee is a great idea.

Which brings the longspear issue. Reach weapons are really underperforming in current next format, and the reach is not coming into play most of the time to compensate for 5ft disadvantage. You need a feat to make them barely worth it. But medieval combat enthusiasts really love polearms! After playing some mount and blade series (great medieval sandbox), Im thinking of house-ruling 'crowdy', 'regular' and 'roomy' melee combat situations, making light weapons better for crowdy and reach for roomy. Its not as simple as basic next is aiming for, but seems intuitive nonetheless, enough for a module to experienced players without slowing the game down.

A rogue could perform an action to make a combat situation crowdy, like droping a courtain above an ogre wielding a greaclub, so he can turn the tides for his dagger.
Posted By: GuruMaux (12/5/2013 9:04:06 AM)


That makes sense (I assume only those who were within 5 ft would have advantage), but I keep wondering how to make things more simple.

I feel disadvantaging an unwieldy attack vs a target within 5 ft is the simplest to explain and grasp, compared to disadvantaging defending against certain attackers, or advantaging certain attacks. It seems odd that holding a bow or pike would decrease defense, too.

Furthermore, if pikemen lowered their melee defense or advantaged their melee attackers, they'd be units especially vulnerable to rushes and charges, which is the opposite of what they were historically.

Also, contrast attacking someone within 5 ft at disadvantage from being disadvantaged from attacking anyone if an opponent is in 5ft. The latter is more complex and aggravating, and thus a worse version, I'd argue; having an opponent in melee range when you don't have to be to attack them is bad enough.
Posted By: Dreamstryder (12/5/2013 8:12:57 AM)


Your analysis of the strength of polearm units fails to take into account that the difficulty of assailing them with shorter weapons arises from the fact that they can attack at a distance (especially in formation). That your supposition, that disadvantage only affects adjacent targets, does not apply to missile weapons supports my next point.

Mr. Mearls, you just got rid of the "versatile" keyword, with its confusing alternative damage amounts. Do you really now want to add another, or 2 or 3? There are already rules for reach and missile weapons, and whatever the penalties for using them in close quarters, specifying them in that rules section is "local," clearer, and less trouble than having to look up cryptic terms given in the weapon descriptions.
Posted By: RadperT (12/5/2013 11:15:45 PM)


While the concept explained is great, I think the example "Concentration" is not fitting. According to the Playtest rules standard attacks do not disrupt Concentration, but only some sort of special attacks (I think an earthquake or someone thrown of a ship was mentioned somewhere) do. Which is actually also needed as defined in the PDF to make some Concentration spells "work".
Posted By: MagicSN (12/4/2013 4:41:44 AM)


Or to use better "rules" terminology: "Anyone using a weapon with a range of > 1 has combat disadvantage versus all melee attacks."
Posted By: zeim (12/3/2013 8:23:03 AM)


I believe the arguments here that using what is being called an "unwieldy" weapon" is actually a greater penalty to defense (dodging, blocking, etc.) than it is to-hit are more persuasive. Under the heading of keeping rules simple I'd recommend something like this (presuming it is decides to move ahead with this at all): "Anyone using a weapon with a range of > 1 offers combat advantage against all melee attacks."

Simple and concise and doesn't require adding new categories and subsets of rules for specific weapons that you have to look up.
Posted By: zeim (12/3/2013 8:10:30 AM)


Assuming melee also applies to reach weapons, a spear-user would want to attack another spear-user from 5-ft away, then move 5 ft back. That doesn't make real-world sense to me, and DnD tries to apply some real-world semblance to its mundane combat rules.
Posted By: Dreamstryder (12/3/2013 9:50:20 PM)


We're starting to fall behind the current state of the playtest rules (more than we already were in the context of the "software development model" he previously discussed) as illustrated by Mike Mearls' statement (concerning the concentration mechanic) that "in the final form of the rule, attacks can break your concentration and cause a spell to end." He mentions the "longspear" twice near the end of his exposition, indicating that the weapons list has returned to an earlier distinction between spears which can be thrown and those which have occasionally been confused with pikes in the playtest.

I think a rule imposing a defense penalty on close-quarters use of an unwieldy weapon would have to reference attacks against the user during the subsequent round. To give goblin rogues their due, it would best be phrased something like: "if a character uses an unwieldy weapon within 5 feet of a hostile creature, any attack against that characte... (see all)
Posted By: RadperT (12/4/2013 12:58:48 PM)


Not sure this should be a core rule (to avoid rule-bloat), instead being an example of how individual DMs can add rules or use advantage/disadvantage their own way.

In my experience it is difficult to attack a close opponent (or in tight spaces) with a pole-arm, but that's the opposite of my experience with ranged weapons (those being guns and shrunken). *shrugs*
Posted By: Dreamstryder (12/3/2013 7:19:25 AM)


*Shuriken* (shakes fist at auto-correct)
Posted By: Dreamstryder (12/3/2013 7:20:45 AM)


I knew what you meant. I don't think loading weapons are scheduled to fall under this classification, and I can only hope that anything longer than a halberd is intended to be unwieldy as well. I am against encouraging anyone to advocate for expansion, especially arbitrary expansion, of the use of advantage and disadvantage, because no provision has been or is being made (beyond cancelling each other out) to handle multiple sources of them. As a result the game would bear two layers of improvisation atop the published rules, creating a culture of conflicting assumptions about acceptable gameplay (or further complicating the one we already have, after the publication of more than four incompatible versions of the same game).
Posted By: RadperT (12/4/2013 11:24:50 AM)


Well, can't reply to comments yet again. I'll just have to 5-star the ones I agree with even though it gives no indication of how many people support it. (Did you know if you refresh the page you can rate a comment again? Turn those half stars into 4 and a half stars!)

Are you guys planning to ditch this comment system yet, or is it safe to assume you don't even look at this disgusting mess?
Posted By: Shroom-Mage (12/2/2013 10:08:35 PM)


Good point, Earthwizard. I am so used to seeing some sort of numerical bonus/penalty it still takes a minute to translate "advantage/disadvantage" into a number in my mind. Also, while I did not use OA in older versions, I did use OA in v4 as you really can't get rid of it there. It is too integrated into the whole flow/powers/feats of the game.
Posted By: zeim (12/2/2013 9:24:38 PM)


A note to Shroom-Mage before I get to opportunity attacks: I couldn't reply to your comment, sometimes you just have to improvise. Many people would have just gone @Shroom-Mage. The Reply threading is bad, webmaster needs to scrap it and go with the same object they use for the star rating system. The only problem with that is it doesn't display your recorded rating to you. They have it, though, I've changed my rating on a few comments so I should know.

I do not know how you would play Third Edition without Attacks of Opportunity, unless you were playing without a map ("Theatre of the Mind") or initiative.
Posted By: RadperT (12/4/2013 11:09:39 AM)


I was wrong about the stars, they do work they way Shroom-Mage says, and the fact that you sometimes have to refresh the page is a bad sign, too. I hope someday we have a 21st-century forum system which shows your user image again, too.
Posted By: RadperT (12/8/2013 10:16:07 AM)


BTW, nothing at all against these types of discussions. You will not find a bigger "rules lawyer" than me. And just the fact we're having them for this version is unbelievably great. But I think we need to be careful not to fall back into old habits. If the DM doesn't want to allow long bows or long spears in melee, then he can make that call.
Posted By: zeim (12/2/2013 8:18:37 PM)


Zeim - FYI in response to your previous post. From the article:

"Instead, I might advocate for a new trait for weapons—call it 'unwieldy' for now—that we can use to capture the sense that some weapons are a bad choice for close-in fighting. You suffer disadvantage when using an unwieldy weapon within 5 feet of a hostile creature."

Using an unwieldy weapon in melee might impose disadvantage on the user.
Posted By: earthwizard (12/2/2013 9:17:35 PM)


I didn't see any specifics as to what the "unwieldy" penalty would be, a minus to hit (if so how much?) or a penalty to AC (again, how much?), so not sure. And remember the very first bolded sub-heading. "Keep the rules Invisible". I personally never liked the OA rules at all. All they did was add complexity for very little gain ("Realism"? Really? Are we really going there?) and in the v2.0 thru v3.5 games I have run I did not use OA at all. In the case of Next, with the supposed overriding principle being to reduce rules and complexity and make more things the DM's decision, it almost sounds like the old gurus just can't help themselves from coming up with more and more rules to cover all contingencies. If a pc can use a bow in melee then so can the Orc he is fighting. I don't see an issue, unless you bring in the "Realism" argument, and as soon as someone tries to tell me it isn't "realistic" for someone to use a bow in melee with an... (see all)
Posted By: zeim (12/2/2013 8:08:03 PM)


First, I like these design articles and I like the examples presented. Those are good, elegant ideas.

Second: shooting a bow from 5 feet away actually gives a bonus to hit in old school DnD. The idea that it makes you weaker in combat is actually nonsensical; the guy with a ranged weapon in your face can't hardly miss, because ranged weapons are more accurate with less distance. If you are surrounded, you likely have the same chances as someone with a sword, who can also do nothing when surrounded. That was a poor example of something used to balance an in-game mechanic - ranged weapons' advantage over melee - with something you'd expect intuitively.
Posted By: nukunuku (12/2/2013 4:36:30 PM)


Sounds like another house rule I never heard of. When I was a kid we actually had a chance to pull and aim bows–have you ever tried to hold one back for a few seconds? (I think even a heavy crossbow would be unwieldy, but you could hold somebody up with a light one, as you would with a gun–assuming they were afraid of the amount of damage it would do them. See Atlemar's reply about 4 comments away for clarification.)

I think a person with a sword has a better chance of hitting more than one of his assailants, in your second example, than a ranged weapon wielder. I question the applicability of your model of reality in this regard, and I've had six cops stand in a circle around me. What would be a good example of compensating for the overwhelming efficacy of ranged weapons? The fact that the rules permit you your full AC against any opponent in view, even though you couldn't possibly see them all at the same time? (I favor lowering handaxe and javelin damage, and limit... (see all)
Posted By: RadperT (12/4/2013 10:41:09 AM)


Mike, when you say bard who don't use concentration spells don't need to learn this mechanic does that mean you've completely redesigned the performance abilities in the class?
Posted By: Ashrym (12/2/2013 4:33:35 PM)


Strangely, the Inspire abilities I remember from Third Edition are missing so far. Despite Mearls making spectacles of the laser-healing and comedy roast bards, though, I fully expect to see some kind of Fochlucan bard, skald and Warlord in the class eventually.
Posted By: RadperT (12/4/2013 9:41:24 AM)


Most of the 3.5 abilities were bonuses to attacks, damage, and saves.

The bounded accuracy concept forces those out, but they are simulated in college of valor in the form of advantage on attacks and saves using war college training, coordinate allies, or words of warning. Fascination is covered in college of wit and suggestion would be redundant anyway with the spells. Adding a mass charm effect of fascination helps cover mass suggestion and much earlier. Song of freedom is added in the form of improved dispelling. With eviscerating wit and inspire dread there seems to be several song options, but they are divided up a bit.

College of Valor is supposed to be the skald/warlord style of bard as I understood the tweets. I'm hoping for some other options besides wit but that's a different topic. ;-)

I'm more concerned that Mike missed the fact all bards rely heavily on concentration based on the article comments and that with the current mechanics re... (see all)
Posted By: Ashrym (12/4/2013 5:26:03 PM)


Now that I read the Bardic Performance section separate from the colleges, I think it's safe to say that neither Third Edition Bard aficionados nor Warlord devotees are likely to be satisfied with the Valor Bard, except that as one of the former who occasionally appreciates the challenge of an underpowered character, I might enjoy playing this subclass if Countercharm and Coordinate Allies were toned up and its healing ability were more effective. Other than that, the Wit Bard looks fun both in and out of combat when not neutered by some circumstance which negates her Performance "encounter power." I'm definitely going to buy the new Player's Handbook, because I can't see all the damn powers of any subclass by opening a single page in the PDFs!
Posted By: RadperT (12/6/2013 11:39:51 AM)


David did NOT have disadvantage going into battle with the lumbering giant that is Goliath.

I think it would be pretty silly to say that a Shepherd boy had taken the "Point-Blank Shot" feat or else was REALLY REALLY lucky or REALLY REALLY skillful in order to beat Goliath.

Sure, you can say that it was God guiding his strike (and thus call him a Cleric or a Paladin, and invoke abilities that way to make it work), but the crux of the matter is this – a shepherd boy went into battle with a giant and won because the Sling is an extremely effective weapon, akin to a gun, and at point-blank it's even more effective a weapon. It's not unwieldy.
Posted By: Marandahir (12/2/2013 2:01:39 PM)


David also didn't hit Goliath from five feet away.

If you're aiming a bow at someone 100 feet away, and they move five feet, you only have to shift a little to keep aim. If you're aiming a bow at someone five feet away, and they move five feet, you have to swivel maybe 90 degrees to keep aim. That's why ranged weapons are unwieldy in combat.
Posted By: Atlemar (12/2/2013 2:21:38 PM)


(I can't reply directly to Antlemar.)

Ranged weapons are also "unwieldy" in close combat because they're in no way meant to parry a blow, and the enemy is close enough to reach out and slap an archer before he has finished raising his weapon. Once the bow is raised the enemy has a pretty decent chance of knocking bow, arrow, and all off course before it's fired. And then before you fire again you have to reload.

Someone with a sling is in an even worse position, as they're essentially unarmed.

And on the far-fantastical side, a spellcaster _is_ unarmed.

The combat rules assume that you're doing a fair amount of dodging, deflecting, parrying, and even jabs of your own in between the opportunities you get for a good, solid attack. With a ranged weapon, you're pretty much reduced to dodging. The enemy gets many more openings to try and land a blow (hence, opportunity attacks).
Posted By: longwinded (12/2/2013 2:48:49 PM)


David used the sling so he could stay out of melee. That was much of the point of using the sling rather than other weapons. Also, sling is the weapon he was proficient in.

Perhaps the sling could be used as some sort of improvised flail or club in melee.

I also agree with the idea that in a one-on-one situation the melee character would try to push the bow or similar aside, thus making disadvantage reasonable. And having unwieldy on some polearms could encourage the use of polearms with a sword as sidearm. Watching youtube I have kind of tried to come up with a reason to have a character using a sword as a backup weapon.
Posted By: Be3Al2 (12/3/2013 7:40:12 AM)


A sling is a stick with a string and a leather cup tied to it. David's might have been a piece of cloth he held in his hand.

I can't reply directly to longwinded!

H/h description of the consequences of using a ranged weapon or casting in melee sounds excellent to me–up to the point where he says a person with a bow can only dodge. You can do a bit of blocking or deflecting with a bow, but absent the typo, longwinded's explanation completely justifies penalizing the slinger's or spellcaster's AC, or in our brave new collective paradigm, granting advantage on the next attack against h/h.
Posted By: RadperT (12/3/2013 11:14:11 PM)


Curious about the buff abuse idea...obviously, the players do want to have quite a number of advantages of going into a combat, but limiting them to only a few might upset some players who enjoy playing a support role...perhaps a feat later on down the line to allow concentration on two spells?
Posted By: dejectedgeek (12/2/2013 12:16:26 PM)


Since my original post got deleted due to spacing issues, let me just say that the "unwieldy" idea is not bad, and the same goes for "concentration" spells drawing opportunity attacks. I have played ADnD games that did not use the "free attack for casting or shooting" rules however, and the game did not suffer for it. I wonder how those crying out about "realism" or "versimilitude" and how it is synonymous with old-school DnD will react to this idea? Mostly since those are big parts of the "DnD feel" touted in the playtest
Posted By: Clansmansix (12/2/2013 12:00:34 PM)


By the way, I personally (strangely enough) prefer that ranged attacks and spells provoke opportunity attacks. I guess I am part of the old-school crowd in that regard!
Posted By: Clansmansix (12/2/2013 12:02:09 PM)


I'm sorry I didn't get to read your preceding post, you have good ideas. I'm inclined to agree with Mike about triggered actions complicating things, not that there aren't appropriate detriments for trying to hit someone in the face with a spell or two-handed weapon. My recollection of AD&D is that you just can't cast a spell within reach of an enemy, but the game is light on justifications and was rife with house rules, too!
Posted By: RadperT (12/3/2013 10:50:29 PM)


All I can say is: yes! Ad hoc is good game design, and the proliferation of traits for weapons is something I'm behind-- I'd even advocate for an optional "advanced" weapons traits, like "armor piercing" for warhammers or "sword-catcher" for a polearm.
Posted By: mordicai (12/2/2013 10:39:50 AM)


I like the so-called 'unwieldy' trait. I did not realize the drawbacks of Concentration spells while in Melee, good to know!
Posted By: StrikerGreen (12/2/2013 10:28:20 AM)


This and your last article are very clear and concise, and the points you make are really sensible. Good job! It seems like the final product is moving in a good direction.
Posted By: SirCorin (12/2/2013 9:41:13 AM)


The 'unwieldy' weapon trait concept seems pretty good.

What I don't like is the idea of "Making local" a given general rule, like with"opportunity attacks". One of the worst things about 3.5 was thumbing back and forth through the PHB trying to figure out how something worked. 4e was perfect in that nearly every rule was in one spot in the book. Easy and clear.

Don't make one rule suddenly become 4 'local' rules.
Posted By: Sentack (12/2/2013 9:15:37 AM)


Trying to fire any sort of ranged weapon, or cast a spell that has a somatic component (something more involved than 'speaking a Word of Power' should at the very least provoke some sort of Opportunity Attack, or some other detriment to armor class, or 'to hit' penalty.... if the character is being engaged/attacked by one or more enemies.
(For the Legolas examples....He's seldom standing in arm's reach of his opponents... He's using his agility to continually keep out of reach while using his bow. I have a Shifter Seeker that I built to do the same thing... keep stepping away without provoking and then fire.)
I don't much care how the rules work, but it always bugged me that a spellcaster could stand there - getting turned into a pincushion by a dozen archers - and still cast spells like he was standing in his lab at home.
Posted By: Kazadvorn (12/2/2013 8:04:33 AM)


Currently, a lot of spells which are intended to buff a character's abilities in melee combat require concentration (e.g. Divine Favor, Divine Power, Hunter's Mark). Making it dangerous to engage in melee while maintaining concentration would render these spells next to useless unless they were cast on a different character. War Priests, Rangers, and Paladins should be able to cast these spells on themselves and wade into melee combat without concern that the spells might be disrupted. As such, I hope that the spells will be modified in some way to prevent disruption when the new rules for concentration are put in place.
Posted By: Leugren (12/2/2013 6:58:18 AM)


This article is a little bit incompatible with the current rules. Currently standard attacks do not interrupt concentration. In a very early packet they used to, and clerics had a class feature which allowed them to take melee hits and maintain concentration. It seems like they may be moving back towards that.
Posted By: WCU_Scout (12/2/2013 11:01:50 AM)


If buffs are concentration and concentration doesn't work in melee then the Warlord concept does not work very well. This would make me and several others sad. The warlord is for me a symbol of saying "we want the 4e crowd on board as well" and I am already worried that they are trying to "solve" it with the war college bard.
Posted By: Be3Al2 (12/3/2013 7:12:30 AM)


Hopefully they will make it *actually useful* to cast Concentration-requiring spells. I don't really expect that, though.
Posted By: Telwar (12/3/2013 8:45:16 PM)


I would love to see the rules for disrupting spells with damage.
As it could have many knockon effects, depending on how often disruption comes into play.

Need dpells to be more powerfull if they can be disrupted. or maybe the numger of spell slots increased?
Posted By: edwin_su (12/2/2013 5:02:38 AM)


"RPGs are powerful because we can take our understanding of the world, apply it to the game, and often come to a correct decision without using the rules to make that choice."

Hmm. This can be helpful, but I think you have to be REALLY careful. We all carry around a model of "how the world works" in our heads, and these models all have one thing in common: they're all wrong. They are wrong in different ways and they generally get quite a bit right, but they are also often wrong on things that we have little or no experience of. Like fighting a dragon with a sword.

Take your example of a pillar to take cover behind. Add in a bush or a smoke cloud that gives no solid cover but completely obscures the rogue from the archers - which is better? The GM might easily imagine one to be better while the player(s) imagine the other to be better - and the player will get screwed because their model of reality doesn't count. The rules are a communicatio... (see all)
Posted By: Balesir (12/2/2013 4:52:38 AM)


Relying on the rules to often for an ersatz DM is a good way to make an open TRPG's rulebook very heavy. Hence, it is important to make the rules act like the scenarios they represent, within reason: targeting things you can't see, you guess, and the target has no cover from lucky shots if not behind the pillar. Blind attackers have disadvantage (a descriptor as well as a game condition), so they'd get that, too. Not oversimplifying it into a percentage chance (because the scenarios involve gambling on different risks), you can rely primarily on their bad guesses or your higher AC.
Posted By: Dreamstryder (12/2/2013 6:39:15 AM)


That is a very valid point. We tend to have skewed views about what is or is not possible in the real world, mostly due to generations of TV and movies combined with lack of real world experience. I have had a lot of people talk about what is "realistic" in combat when they have never, ever been in a fight or picked up a real sword.
Posted By: Clansmansix (12/2/2013 12:05:44 PM)


I can see unwieldy working out well. It can be used on reach weapons (to have something between the 3.5 and 4e reach weapons (you can use it at close range, but not optimally). Similarly, crossbows make sense at point blank range, while bows are a bit harder to pull off. And you can have feats or class features that remove or mitigate unwieldy traits, etc. As a default though, the reload time of the crossbow compared to the unwieldy trait of bows makes a solid decision of utility trade off.
Posted By: WaltKovacs (12/2/2013 3:45:41 AM)


Local rules helps keep the load of individual players, but it makes it harder on the DM. if you have 1 player at the table who suffers from a disadvantageous local rule then they may (in good conscious) forget it or not understand it. With central rules, other players can help keep things being played as intended. With exception-based design (because this is what we are talking about) you would need to learn all the exceptions to be able do that. The DM will need to understand everything a player or monster can do, with no guarantee of support from the other players.

At a practical level, I think the best way of doing things like this is to have local triggers of central rules, kind of like Aspects in Fate. What Aspects do is defined centrally, but a person, place or object has individual aspects; it's a very flexible mechanism. So any weapon could be given a classification which describes circumstances when it automatically suffers disadvantage or gains advantage, for exam... (see all)
Posted By: dbm (12/2/2013 3:30:48 AM)


I like the theory Mike, game flow and invisible rules. But in actual practice, I still think it's easier for a new player not to have to think about attacks of opportunity in the core rules.
Posted By: Prom (12/2/2013 2:01:32 AM)


The problem is actually on the boundary of segmented and continuous movement. If you are fighting a creature it intuitively makes sense that it would have another chance to hit you if you turn to run away. Our dogmatic adherence to the creed of simplicity, however, demands that such concerns be resolved within the context of a well-defined turn sequence. Going around the table worked pretty well in AD&D days (an improvised solution, I admit) but we did occasionally get into arguments about who was fighting what. It does usually seem fairer to break the sequence up into little bits called the initiative order, but I'm not sure that trying to stitch the big picture back together with special rules like opportunity attacks actually speeds anything up. If I could suggest one fix it would be to NOT assume that everything within arm's reach of you gets a chance to tag you in the back when you try to run.
Posted By: RadperT (12/3/2013 11:25:48 PM)


I do not like unwieldly. Look at Legolas - he fires his bow in melee several times during the movies. I can understand spellcasting, since you are waving your hands and speaking in weird tongues. But firing a bow takes a fraction of a second.
Posted By: Jaden.Shadowcraft (12/2/2013 1:04:57 AM)


And that moment of Legolas firing point blank at the orcs is cool because he's using a bow point blank when there are monsters with swords right in his face.
He's not doing something effortless and easy, he's doing something dangerous and heroic and still succeeding.

Legolas is going "I don't care if I have disadvantage, I'm going to use my bow." Because he's high enough level compared to the orcs that he can make that choice.
Posted By: The_Jester (12/2/2013 1:27:32 AM)


Alternatively, you can just make a feat that lets you use an Unwieldy weapon in close combat without penalty. Take the bonuses of Point Blank Shot and add that particular perk.
Posted By: the_Horc (12/2/2013 1:37:13 AM)


Also, the bow Legolas uses is a shortbow, not an unwieldy weapon. If it was a longbow it would be nearly as tall as him.
Posted By: anytwofactors (12/2/2013 2:07:00 AM)


Actually, I have to retract that. The bow legolas uses is "whatever the hell the director wanted at the time" as it seems to change from scene to scene.
Posted By: anytwofactors (12/2/2013 2:09:17 AM)


I really like the 'unwieldy' idea. It would be quite cool if the longbow received the penalty and the short bow did not, seeing as that would actually make the short vs. long decision more interesting as opposed to a "Can I afford/carry the big one?"
Posted By: FinbaroftheCreek (12/2/2013 12:59:57 AM)