March 15, 2012

The 5th Edition I Want To Play (An Open Letter To WotC) Part II

Look, I'm not the kind of non-purposeful person who just ask for stuff without giving suggestions. So this is how you do this new 5th edition, step by step. No kidding.
  1. You get back to the BECMI model. Release content box by box, and as you're done you make it into a new Rules Cyclopedia (wasn't it your best sold product ever?)
  2. In the Red Box (Basic Set) you cover levels 1 to 3. You include all the base races (human, dwarves, halflings & elves) and classes (warriors, thieves, wizards and clerics), with some real basic skills (choose the dungeon-crawling related from Pathfinder list, like Perception and Climb and so), a list of feats (include only those who can be picked from levels one to three, and if you go with the 3.5 list this means maybe 10-15 of them) and all the 0 to 2nd level spells. In the DM section of the book you put all the dungeon-crawling rules, treasure & magic items, some dungeon dressing/design tables, rules to set up an encounter and the monsters. The page count is 64 pages in a single book. Include in the box: a (decent) set of dice complete with a custom bag, a copy of the character sheet, and module B2 (or T1) complete with the maps remade the fancy way printed in color on cardboard. No cardboard minis, no plastic maps: we don't give a fuck to this.
  3. In the Blue Box (Expert Set) you cover levels 4 to 9. You include the advanced races (gnomes, half-elves, half-orcs) and classes (barbarians, bards, rangers, assassins, druids and paladins), new skills oriented to wilderness crawling, more feats to cover the higher levels, and all the necessary spells. In the DM section of the book you put treasure & magic items, magic item creation rules, magic research rules, and all the wilderness crawling rules, among with tables and suggestions to run a sandbox. The page count is 64 pages in a single book. Include in the box: a module similar to X1 detailing the region surrounding the Keep On The Borderlands, numbered and non numbered hex-paper, and a sturdy DM screen.
  4. In the Green Box (Companion Set) you cover levels 10 to 15. You include prestige classes, all the spells, even more feats and optional rules for powers. In the DM section you put treasure & magic items, a gallery of NPCs, and tables to aid building domains, cities and strongholds, among with rules for the PCs wanting to run one. Optionally put some specific rules for using miniatures (attacks of opportunity, tactic movement, etc.) The page count is 64 pages in a single book. Include in the box a gazetteer in the style of Karameikos to further expand the lands (and factions) around the Keep.
  5. In the Black Box (Master Set) you cover levels 15 to 20. You include even more prestige classes, all the spells, and more optional rules for powers. In the DM section you discuss major artifacts, rules to craft them, more NPCs and rules to conduct planar adventures among with the usual tables. The page count is 64 pages in a single book. Then, if you really want to go wild, you can put in a sort of a gazetteer describing the Multiverse and detailing the various Plans.
  6. In the White Box (Immortal Set) you cover levels above 21 putting all the epic stuff in.
  7. Once you're done, you release a Rules Cyclopedia. Put in all the stuff from Basic to Master, except for the modules and the cool stuff that comes with the boxed set. This way you can sold the same rules twice in a way that is acceptable (I buy the boxes because they're cool, and the big-ass manual because it has all the rules in one place). If you want to go really wild you can add even more stuff, divide in three books, and label it Advanced.
  8. And remember, when in doubt: tables over shitty advice. I don't give a fuck on page count, and none I know considers a manual silly because it has less then 300 pages.
That was a lot to write. I'm tired, so I'm not re-reading this - if you find terrible syntax horrors please point out in comments. G'night!


  1. And see, this is why the whole project of a 5th edition that appeals to all is bankrupt.

    You and I share a similar view on D&D, I know this because I played in your game and loved it.

    And yet, I disagree completely!

    Official advanced rules (even if presented as optional rules) have a way of becoming non-optional canon over time. Leave out all mention of feats, attacks of opportunity, etc. and I'm with you 100%.

    But that's my whole point - we can't (and fortunately) and don't have to agree as to every aspect of what makes a good game.

    So the idea of a game that satisfies everyone's needs . . . seems unlikely.

  2. I like the gradual approach too, though I think many people would complain about "not being sold a complete game." I'm with Josh on feats. I hope they go away or are at least adjusted to be not relevant at early levels. Somehow I doubt that will happen though.

  3. In my initial draft I was thinking to include feats in the blue box as an optional mechanic. But then I realized that monsters needs them, so I put them in the Basic. Perhaps people at WotC can find a smarter way to make it work for "real basic" people (like, I don't know, ditch them and just explain how they work in the monster description as they used to do in 1e). Going with a small selection in the style of Dungeon Slayers sounded like a good idea ^^

  4. The basic problem with feats is that they will never stay few or simple. They just keep increasing and increasing because players love feats!

    1. If my players loved feats I'd see nothing wrong in let them having plenty, but this might be related with the fact I seldom had to deal with real dorks at the table. My point is: I (as both DM & player) don't wanna have to handle too many feats (particularly monster/NPC-wise). I already have just enough work, thanks.

    2. Well said. A small number would not bother me inherently. The other issue is the possibility of analysis paralysis.

    3. Great article! All the articles you have, they enjoy reading and learning a lot. Your article is very helpful for me. I hope you will continue to write such good articles as well.
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