Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Apprentice

The latest information about DnD Next is intriguing.  Wizards plans on having explicit tiers of play in the system to divide up the levels into groups.  Apprentice levels are 1-2 in which the characters are extremely fragile, have virtually no abilities or special powers, and are training to become full fledged adventurers.  Adventurer tier is from 3-15, and then Legacy tier from 16-20.  It seems a bit odd to me to have the tiers be so drastically different in size but it could work; I can't think of any objective reason why they would need to be so.  They are framing it such that the new default for a starting character is level 3 and levels 1-2 are just there for those who want to play incompetent normal people.

I suspect they are trying to do an end run around the problem of low level squishiness.  They know that characters that all one shot each other is a stupid system but rather than just fix the HP calculation they have decided to just make us all start at level 3 since level 1 will be both boring tactically and also incredibly lethal.  I know all kinds of people including my last two Pathfinder games started at level 2-3 because we felt that level 1 was so silly but I would really rather they fix level 1 rather than keep it and just tell us not to use it!  This is the problem of trying to shoehorn crappy old mechanics into a new game; you end up doing all kinds of terrible things to support mechanics that don't work.

One of the major reasons for doing this seems to be to fix multiclassing.  There was always a great difficulty in that a 1st level character needed certain abilities to feel unique and competent in their class; without those abilities they didn't work but with them it became too powerful to multiclass into them for just one level.  For example, barbarians got fast movement and rage right away so dipping in was too tempting for other melee type classes.  Under this new system you would need to take 3 full levels in a new class to actually get their suite of basic powers which is a much more significant investment.  They still have not presented us with anything to suggest that they have fixed multiclassing for caster types - unless there is something really saucy coming up multiclassing is for weapon users only... again.

Even though this might 'fix' multiclassing in the sense that it will prevent multiclassing from being overpowered for melee types I think that they really need to come up with an entirely different model for multiclassing instead.  Multiclassing in 3rd edition was always complete garbage or overpowered; Fighter/Mage/Sorcerer was useless and Barbarian/Ranger/Fighter/Paladin was insane.  4th edition actually had a totally reasonable multiclassing system; perfect it was not but it worked.  Going back to the 3rd edition style of multiclassing where you actually take levels in other classes is simply shovelling in nonfunctional mechanics in the hopes of satisfying nostalgia.  That isn't how you make a good game.

1 comment:

  1. This also means that if you want to be an actual 2-classed character that you have to wait until level 6.