Posts tagged RPG Predictions

The Next Iteration of D&D

2

In October I made predictions about D&D 5e. Not two weeks ago I predicted that Dungeons & Dragons 5e would be announced sometime soon. Honestly, I didn’t imagine that it would be this soon. If you’ve read other gaming blogs, you no doubt already know that Wizards of the Coast made an announcement that they are indeed “developing the next iteration of D&D, and will be looking to the legions of D&D fans to help shape the future of the game along with us.”

Before I give my opinion, I’d like to say that there are two things that strike me about this. One is that they are calling it “the next iteration of D&D,” rather than “D&D 5th Edition.” This suggests to me that it will have some new name. Later in the press release, Mike Mearls states:

We want a game that rises above differences of play styles, campaign settings, and editions, one that takes the fundamental essence of D&D and brings it to the forefront of the game…We seek to reach as many people as possible, from the gamer who just started with D&D last week to the gaming group that has been together since the early-1970s. For this process to work, we want to give a voice to all D&D fans and players of all previous editions of the game.

Given this goal, it makes sense that they would be hesitant to name it D&D 5e, since it would imply that it is next in a serial line of progression that’s one more step removed from your favorite edition. From a psychology standpoint, I think this makes sense because it’s dissociating this next iteration from that serial progression. The only trouble is that we don’t have a definitive name for it yet, although “D&D Next” seems to be the predominant term. The Platinum Warlock has predicted that it will wind up being “D&D Anniversary Edition” because 2014 is the 40th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons, but I suppose time will tell.

The second thing is that Wizards of the Coast is getting feedback from the players about the new edition and you can even sign up to get prerelease materials this spring for your home campaign. Moreover, they’re trying to get feedback from players of all editions. I see this as a double-edge sword. It’ll be a good thing because Wizards will get a lot of feedback and be able to fix a lot of issues and complaints before the final product is released. They did this with the hybrid classes that appeared in D&D 4e’s Player’s Handbook 3 and I think that process worked out well.

The trouble is that there are going to be a lot of passionate players with a lot of strong opinions about the best rules for Dungeons & Dragons. There will no doubt be long and heated discussions and rants on the internet. Heck, there already are just based on the initial announcement alone! Still, it’s my sincere hope that the majority of players will be civil about the process and will able to constructively give suggestions.

So what do I think about it all? I’m optimistic. I think that this “best of D&D” mentality combined with crowd feedback will result in a product that will appeal to the majority of D&D players. And let’s not forget that a successful version of D&D and a united D&D playerbase benefits the role-playing game industry as a whole. After all, more D&D players encourages more people to get into the hobby itself, after which many will try different systems. So here’s to an improved next iteration of Dungeons & Dragons!

Savage Worlds Deluxe

Review of Savage Worlds Deluxe, Part 2

2

Welcome back! This is part two of my review of Savage Worlds Deluxe. You can read part one here.

New Subsystems

I said in my first review that Savage Worlds Deluxe was truly a deluxe version because it featured a number of supplemental rules. The biggest addition is a number of new subsystems. I’d like to go into a bit more detail about each of them:

Chases

Savage Worlds DeluxeActually, this is an old system, but it’s gotten a complete overhaul. Rather than tracking distances in a chase, each round players are dealt multiple cards that tell them the relative distance of how far away they are from their target and if ranged or melee attacks are possible. It’s a really abstract system that takes getting used to, but it’s fast and works well for chases in situations like a crowded city with lots of traffic, where the participants are dodging in and out of shops and climbing on rooftops.

I think that the chase rules in Explorer’s Edition did a lot better with a more traditional chases, like pursuing a rider on horseback on the open plains, and it would be somewhat unsatisfying to do such a chase with this new system. But there’s no reason that both can’t be used if you identify which is more appropriate for your situation. By the way, Pinnacle has released a PDF of the new chase rules for free here.

Dramatic Tasks

Dramatic Tasks are somewhat like the D&D 4e skill challenge system except that they’re all about trying to get so many successes before time runs out (typically 5 rounds or 5 attempts). For instance, if you’re trying to disarm a bomb, you might have to get five successes (raises count towards this) before five rounds are up or the timer reaches zero. There’s also some advice on making this task happen in the middle of combat for extra tension. Used alone, I’m not sure they’re really all that special, but done in the middle of combat, I think they’ve got a lot of potential.

Interludes

This is a system for when the characters have some downtime and are revealing a bit more about their lives. Each player gets a card and, depending on the suit, shares with the party about a tragedy, victory, love, or desire that they have. I let these be loosely interpreted, so drawing “love” would allow a character to, for instance, share about a cause they are passionate about. As a reward, players get a benny or an adventure card. It’s a nice way to tie in character backstories, although I think having only four options makes it a bit limiting. (Pinnacle has a full release of the text here).

Social Conflict

If you’ve ever wanted to have a courtroom debate or get the players to make a mob stand down, this system is for you. There are three rounds of conversation where characters are trying to rack up more successes on Persuasion rolls than the other team, with bonuses going to especially good points. There’s also extra rules if you’re trying to argue technical points, like legal matters. After these rounds are done, just look at a table describing the outcome based on the margin of victory. All in all, a decent subsystem that, if a bit simplistic, works well for what it tries to do.

Travel

For when you want to have something more interesting happen than “you walk for many days and nights,” there’s this new system. You can calculate how long the journey will take by land, air, or sea and each day you draw from the encounter table to see what happened that day. It’s a simple way to make things more interesting without bogging down the journey, but might need to be customized depending on the style of play. For instance, if you want a Lord of the Rings style journey, you could draw more frequently and customize the encounter table (e.g. as you’re traveling, you get intercepted by a group. Since you’re in Rohan, it’s a group of Rohirrim soldiers).

Some Final Thoughts

All in all, I think it’s a really good book and has some neat additions. It’s not an essential upgrade if you already have the Explorer’s Edition, especially since Pinnacle has released some of the new stuff for free online, but it’s really cool nonetheless.

Being a Savage Worlds fanboy, I preordered Savage Worlds Deluxe at Origins this year. Studio2Publishing had a deal where you could get a CD with the PDF right there at the con and then pick up the hard copy at GenCon or get it mailed to you. I did that and got it signed by Savage Worlds creator Shane Hensley and contributor Clint Black!

Signatures inside Savage Worlds Deluxe

My signed copy of Savage Worlds Deluxe

If you’re a diehard Savage Worlds fan too or you like having a hardbound book in a larger size, I’d recommend getting it. If you’re a GM and think you’ll use the new subsystems or one-sheets, I’d recommend getting it. If you’re a player, it’s really up to you. If you are really intrigued by the new Edges or Powers, you might be interested in it, although if you have at least one copy of the book at the table, you can get them easily enough. Aside from that, I guess it just depends on whether or not you like the larger, hardbound book.

Also it’s worth mentioning that Joel Kinstle, vice-president of Pinnacle, wrote the following on the Pinnacle forums:

Like the two Deadlands core books, you should expect an Explorer’s Edition-sized paperback coming out in about a year [from the August release date] (possibly sooner if all the SWEX evaporate really fast), and then those two core rulebooks will share the shelf and catalog space.

To the best of my knowledge, Savage Worlds Explorer’s Edition has been evaporating pretty fast. So I wouldn’t be surprised if by Origins, or GenCon at the latest, we’ll see a new “Explorer’s Edition size” of the Deluxe Edition. I predict that it will be $10-15, but in order to convert the material from 160 big pages to 160 small pages, some things will have to be axed. No doubt that the full page setting ads will go away as well as the “Design Notes” sidebars. My guess is that it will have the rules changes, the new Edges, the new Powers, and either the Races or the new subsystems, but there will only be one one-sheet adventure instead of five.

Well, that’s my review! If you’ve got any questions, comments, or jokes, feel free to share it in the comments!

Predictions About D&D 5e

3

Recently the PlatinumWarlock wrote a blog post predicting what changes we might see in the next major revision of Dungeons & Dragons. Margaret Weiss has directly stated that a new edition of D&D is in the works and there is other evidence that substantiates this as well (Source). So just like I predicted what a new Star Wars RPG from Fantasy Flight Games would look like, I’ve decided to make a few predictions about what we’ll see in a future version of D&D. When the final product comes out, I’ll revisit this to see how well I predicted.

Product Packaging

  • The first Player’s Guide will be in book form: I’m tempted to think that the Player’s Guide will be a box set containing books and some fiddly bits, but at the end of the day, I think that it will be in a book form due to cost. A lower price point means more potential players.
  • There will be one core product for Dungeon Masters and it will be a box set: D&D Essentials currently has the “Dungeon Master’s Kit” box set, containing a book with rules and DMing advice along with a book of monsters and some fiddly bits, like monster tokens. By doing this, it will be easier for a DM to obtain everything that he needs to run a basic game. And for what its worth, a DM needs both a Dungeon Master’s Guide and a Monster Manual, so it makes sense to sell them together.
  • Either the above two will happen OR it will be sold in one box set: I’m cheating a little bit, but I’m going to make a different prediction about this too. I think it’s somewhat likely that D&D 5e will be packaged in one box like Gamma World with everything you need to play inside. By being packaged like a board game, it might appeal to new players. Or at least old timers who fondly remember the original D&D colored box sets.
  • There will be a starter set providing a simplified D&D: This is a pretty sure-fire guess. There was a starter set for D&D 3.5, D&D 4e, and D&D Essentials. So it makes sense that there will be one here too.
  • There will be some sort of card deck that will be a necessary component for playing: Especially if it all comes in one box set, I think this will happen. Gamma World did this to limited success. I would guess that it would be something like a “special event” deck that modifies the battle. Whatever it is, the real reason it will be used is that it makes piracy more difficult. After all, having a PDF of cards doesn’t do you any good on your computer and printing it off on cardstock results in an inferior product.
  • Digital versions of the books will be available for sale, but will only be viewable with proprietary software: In 2009, Wizards of the Coast decided to stop selling PDFs of their products, citing piracy concerns (of course, this didn’t prevent people from pirating the book by scanning it in). It’s a bit of a strange thing to do in this modern, digital world and I think that they will finally cave in. But instead of being PDFs, they will sell files that can only be read through a proprietary program to limit the potential of piracy. Digital copies of school textbooks often do this and I think Wizards of the Coast will too.
Classes
  • There will be roughly the same number of classes, but more sub-classes: The way I see it, classes reflect what your character looks like and what they do, sub-classes reflect how they do it. In 4e, there was some support for sub-classes by this definition. If you made a Rogue, you might choose to make him an “Artful Dodger” or a “Brutal Scoundrel,” but this only had a minor influence on the game. Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies similarly provided a little bit of a sub-class. On the other hand, Essentials has classes like the Slayer which is a very distinct form of Fighter. I think that that we’re going to see sub-classes in the style of the Slayer in the Player’s Guide.
  • Powers as they appear in 4e will remain, but there will be fewer choices for each class: Powers were an interesting concept in 4e. Unfortunately, there became way too many of them as more supplements were added (some classes had as many as 15 to choose from at any given level). Plus I can only imagine how many hours Wizards spent making and play-testing the powers. I predict they will not disappear, but will be greatly reduced in number.
  • Instead of powers, many classes will get class abilities at certain levels: This was present in 3.x, but dropped from 4e except for Paragon and Epic destinies. However they did begin to reappear in the Essentials classes. I think they’ll become more prevalent in 5e.
Races
  • We will have at most one new player-character race: There’s more than enough races to go around in D&D at the moment and I don’t expect there to be more. D&D 4e upgraded the Tiefling, Eladrin, and Dragonborn to player races, which previously existed as monster races. I think that at most we will see one new player-character race and the rest will be ones that have been seen before.
  • Human, Dwarf, Elf, Half-Elf, and Halfling will be player-character races: After all, they’re the archetypical fantasy races and have been in virtually every version of D&D. (Okay, so this prediction is just to pad my correct prediction ratio, but I made it anyway).
  • Dragonborn will stay as a PC race: Some people hate Dragonborn. Personally, I can’t figure out why. Sure, they’re not Tolkien-esque, but I think that’s what makes them appealing. I think they’ll stay as a core race and be included in Player’s Handbook 1 (or as a worst case, in Player’s Handbook 2).
Mechanics
  • Attributes scores will no longer correspond to 3d6: This is a sacred cow that I think is ready to be slaughtered. In the old days of D&D, you got your attributes by rolling 3d6 (or 4d6, drop the lowest) and then deriving a modifier from that. So an 8 in your Strength would give you a -1 modifier, a 10 would be +0, and a 12 would give you +1 and so on by steps of 2. D&D 4e still acknowledges that you can roll 3d6, but it strongly recommends using a point-buy system instead. So I predict they will take one more step away from the rolling and just make the modifier the same as the stat. So a Strength of -1 gives you a -1 modifier, a 0 would be +0, and a 1 would be +1. Much simpler! Mutants & Masterminds 3e already did this and I think it’s a simplification for D&D 4e too.
  • There will be a return to degrees of training (skill ranks or otherwise): In D&D 3.x, you bought skill ranks to add a +1 to a skill, which could be bought multiple times. In D&D 4e, you could be “Trained,” which gave a +5 bonus and could only be purchased once. Although it simplified things, I think it made trained characters a bit too similar. I’m predicting either a return to the old skill rank system or a happy medium. Maybe for different skills you could be one of four things: Untrained (+0), Apprentice (+2), Journeyman (+4), or Master (+6). Simpler and still with enough granularity.
  • Feats are here to stay in roughly the same forms: Feats seem to be one of the aspects of D&D that are least in need of a fix. They provide a small mechanical benefit that distinguish characters from each other. They’ll stay.
  • Percentile dice will still not be used for anything: I can’t think of a reason to use them over the other dice. Apparently the designers of 4e couldn’t either. This isn’t going to change.
Supplements
  • Splat books will provide more character archetypes and fewer modifications for existing archetypes: We’re not going to see books like “Martial Power 2” or “Arcane Power.” Instead, we’ll see books that add new classes (or sub-classes).
  • By the time 5e is released, Forgotten Realms (in some form) will be announced as a setting: Forgotten Realms is the biggest D&D setting and ia the most likely candidate for one of the first settings. It will probably be Forgotten Realms as a whole, but may be a smaller part of the whole setting, like the new Neverwinter setting for 4e.
  • One other setting will be announced by the time 5e is released: Thus far with 4e, there have been 4 settings released (Forgotten Realms, Eberron, Dark Sun, and Neverwinter). Ravenloft was also announced as a setting, but was cancelled. I think that they’ll pick up the pace with releasing settings in 5e and we’ll see more of them.

So those are my predictions. Perhaps some of them were influenced more by what I personally would like to see, but overall I think that it’s a fair guess at where D&D is going. Perhaps the best way to sum it up is that D&D 5e will be more of tune-up revision of D&D rather than a major overhaul.

Please comment and share your predictions. Anything you agree with? Anything you flat out disagree with? Anything you predict that I didn’t? I’d love to hear what you think!

Predictions About a New Star Wars RPG

2

First off, I apologize for the delay in posting. Now that university is in full swing, I’ve had less time to write for this blog. In the future, you can expect at least one post each week (which may be standardized to a certain day of the week). Thanks for reading and sorry about the delay!

Earlier in the summer, Fantasy Flight Games announced that they had purchased the license to Star Wars card, role-playing, and miniatures games. Furthermore, they already had two games in the works: X-wing, a tactical minis game, and Star Wars: The Card Game, a cooperative card game. No word yet on a role-playing game.

First off, I have to say that I’m really intrigued by this announcement. I’m a huge Star Wars fan ever since I was a kid and saw the Special Edition of A New Hope in theaters with my dad. I’ve bought my share of the figures and Legos, played some of the board games, played most of the computer games, tried the trading card game, read many of the books (got Heir to the Empire signed by Timothy Zahn at Origins!), and even got a chance to talk to the guy who played Chewbacca (also at Origins a few years ago). Fun fact: according to him, Chewbacca didn’t get a medal for destroying the Death Star because Carrie Fisher wasn’t tall enough to give him one.

I have no doubt that they will eventually create a new Star Wars RPG, but I’m wondering a bit about what it will look like and I’ve been wanting to speculate about that on my blog. So far, Fantasy Flight Games has published the Warhammer 40k Roleplay line (consisting of Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader, Death Watch, and Black Crusade), Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd Edition, and a few other minor role-playing games. They are all fairly generic RPGs with a percentile systems and self-contained books, except for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. That one actually comes in a box set with color character sheets, several decks of cards for things like combat maneuvers, standup cardboard character figures, lots of little tokens and chips, and even a special set of dice. It’s all very beautiful and it’s nifty, but it’s also a bit expensive at nearly $100 (although one box gives everything that an entire group needs to have to play).

My prediction is that Fantasy Flight Games will make their Star Wars RPG similar to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd Edition (henceforth abbreviated as WFRP3). Here are my predictions about what the final Star Wars RPG will look like when  it is released.

  • It will have similar production quality to WFRP3. There will be color cards and lots of new art depicting exciting things in the Star Wars universe.
  • It will come in a box set like WFRP3. This will have the added draw of encouraging Star Wars fans to try a role-playing game if it’s all self contained like a board game.
  • It will have fewer cards for combat maneuvers than WFRP3 (which included things like Shield Bash, Twin Shot, etc.). That’s less important in Star Wars where you’re just interested in shooting your blaster at the Stormtrooper or swinging your lightsaber.
  • There will however still be cards for basic combat maneuvers. There will be cards for things like shooting, brawling, dodging, and other basic things.
  • Jedi will definitely have combat cards. Things like lightsaber blaster bolt deflection, force powers, and other things will have cards to help players more easily keep track of things.
  • It will use a career system like WFRP3. In that system, your character could transition from a thug to a tomb raider to a soldier. This fits for Star Wars where we have a farm boy turn into a pilot who then turns into a Jedi.

A career system like this would work out rather well for Star Wars. This Thug could easily be a Bounty Hunter, for instance.

  • It will be set in the Galactic Civil War era. It’s the most recognizable era and it’s the same era that their two upcoming board games will be released in. I believe further supplements will allow for play in other eras with The Old Republic being the first era released (to coincide with the MMO coming out) and the Clone Wars being the next one since the TV show is still going on.
  • It will have special dice. The WFRP3 dice provide a unique way of describing the battle (e.g. he thrusts his sword and hits twice, but is fatigued by the effort). I think that would help work for the cinematic nature of Star Wars. It will be a different system of dice than the WFRP3 dice, but I predict that we will have something special like that.
  • The box set will be priced at $60. I estimate this since I’m guessing there will be about as many components as Arkham Horror, a very elaborate board game that is priced at $59.95. Thus the role-playing game will be within the price point of the same people who buy their elaborate board games. Moreover, it will be less than WFRP3 because Warhammer fans are already spending a lot on armies and such, but a lower price point will be needed to pull in casual Star Wars fans.

Anyway, that’s my predictions for a Star Wars RPG from Fantasy Flight Games. When that does get released, I’d like to revisit these and see what things I predicted correctly. All in all, I’m eagerly awaiting it and I’m cautiously optimistic that they will do a good job with it.

Go to Top