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Brave, New World

The Next D&D

by Charles Dunwoody
Mar 29,2005


The Next D&D

By Charles Dunwoody

Disclaimer: This column consists entirely of fictional musings (it takes place in 2014 for instance). In real life I have no affiliation or control over the direction of D&D and no connection with anyone or anything mentioned by name in the column (except, maybe, myself).

Flights of Fancy

The year is 2014. I have achieved, beyond my wildest expectations, RK Rowling wealth through novel writing. I make Hasbro an offer it can't refuse and buy all Wizards of the Coast roleplaying game lines and affiliated products.

Planning for a 4th edition begins. I make job offers to some of the keenest game minds currently writing and move the offices somewhere warm, with good schools, and in the middle of the US. The new company is called simply D&D Games. After basic game design will come extensive playtesting.

You are one of the game designers or a playtester. What follows is my basic game plan. Please share your opinion on 4th edition with me.

Basic D&D

Our first decision is to create a core, easy to get into, intro rulebook. We'll call it Basic D&D.

Basic D&D Races

It contains info on four races plus humans. All races choose some skills based on race and start with a set number of race feats. The PC can customize what racial abilities he starts with by choosing from the race feats the DM allows in his world.

Basic D&D Classes

Basic D&D includes the classes of cleric, fighter, rogue, and wizard up to tenth level. Also included are skills, feats (including race and class feats), and spells.

Casters (whether arcane or divine) can learn only so many spells. Out of the spells they know, they can ready so many per day and cast any readied spell using magic points. Magic points can also be spent to power certain class feats and to power some magic items.

Caster level stacks for multiclassed casters and is listed for each class. Three Spells Readied Tables consist of one for single classed casters, one for multiclassed divine casters, and one for multiclassed arcane casters.

Each table is based on total caster level as well as caster class level. A cleric 8/wizard 2 will be able to ready roughly half the 5th level divine spells that a single classed divine caster can but will be able to cast both arcane and divine spells of 1st level.

Basic D&D Feats

Feats include class feats that only certain character classes can take at certain class levels. Adding or subtracting to this list of class feats allows a DM control to construct a world uniquely his or her own while allowing players to choose the abilities they prefer.

Basic D&D Spells

Spells that access other planes are not included in Basic D&D. Instead, divine spells focus on boosting, defense, and healing all based simply on the faith or mindset of the cleric. Arcane spells provide some boosting and defense but excel at attack, divination, and movement.

Basic D&D Combat

Combat is based more on race and class and not as much on magic items. D&D combat can take place entirely without miniatures if so desired. D&D combat is fast and furious and anything the players or DM can imagine can be attempted.

Basic D&D DM Section

Monsters, treasure, and a campaign round out the book. Magic items play a role in D&D, but not nearly so large as in 3rd edition. Magic items supplement the character's skill and feat (including race and class) choice and do not define the character.

Monsters use simplified stats modified by a few race feats. Monsters can be increased or decreased in power simply by raising or lowering hit dice. The emphasis is on creatures and how they interact in an underground or wilderness world and on sentient races and what their culture is like. And, of course, how creatures or races react when encountering other beings.

The campaign, called for now the Basic world, is new, simple, and small with just a few kingdoms on an isolated small continent. A sample underground environment, the simply named but infamous Dungeon, is also introduced. Roleplaying information ties the rules, from classes to monsters to treasures, to this optional world with notes on tweaking that info to relate to homebrewed campaigns.

Advanced D&D

Advanced D&D follows. It takes the characters up to fifteenth level and includes new class feats each class can take to modify it in a different direction, such as a wilderness adventurer. Examples of modified classes that fit in the base world include the druid (wilderness cleric), ranger (wilderness fighter), bard (charismatic rogue), and warlock (wizard that uses spell-like abilities rather than spells). Additional monsters, magic, and Basic world info round out the book.

Play from tenth to fifteenth level is truly enhanced. Characters can truly shape the history of a campaign world at this level and the rules reflect those abilities. Examples of how the PCs could change the Basic world are provided.

Additions to AD&D

Supplements could include:

Basic monster manual (CR up to 12)

Advanced monster manual (CR from 10 to 17)

High level monster manual (CR from 15 to 22)

player's handbook (more class feats, modified classes, feats, and spells all up to 20th level)

dungeonmaster's guide (guidelines for creating everything from modified classes to gods to monsters to feats, more magic items, more world info, and discussions of running campaigns from 1st to 20th level)

monster handbook (race and class feats for playing monsters and races not included in Basic D&D; includes a few monster specific spells, magic items, and races)

psionic handbook (up to 20th level, race feats for psionic races, class feats to modify the classes with psionic abilities)

High Level D&D (up to 20th level, includes an explanation of what happens to characters after 20th, 9th and 10th level spells, examples of what happens to the Basic world when PCs can literally shape and change reality).

deepearth (underground) guide

deepwater (underwater) guide

farplane (planes) guide (including feats that provide plane based class feats, modified planar classes, spells up to 10th level that access other planes, monsters from other planes, and the planar set up of the Basic world)

farsky (aerial and space) guide

Basic world guide

books about Eberron and the Forgotten Realms.

Other Worlds

Other worlds could be leased out to other companies to develop and support. Oriental adventures, Planescape, Greyhawk, Dark Sun etc.

Your Ideas

What would you add? Delete? Change?

Somewhere on the 20th level of the Dungeon,
Charlie Dunwoody
Writer and Gamer
D&D Games

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What do you think?

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