Comments on: An Essentials Meeting – with Mike Mearls & Rich Baker! http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/essentials-meeting-with-mike-mearls-rich-baker A D&D 4e Blog Dedicated to Dungeonmasters & Players Thu, 21 Aug 2014 02:51:25 -0400 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.8.4 hourly 1 By: mbeacom http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/essentials-meeting-with-mike-mearls-rich-baker/comment-page-1#comment-409 mbeacom Fri, 20 Aug 2010 21:56:51 +0000 http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/?p=3334#comment-409 @martian, Skepticism is fine. I'm with you there. But you're kind of holding up examples that don't really hold any water, as if a certain sentence here or there is the truth, while the dozen sentences that came before and after can be ignored. That seems more like conpiracy, than skepticism. Also, whenever they start introducing new builds, they get the love for a while. Older builds are more mature and have been repeatedly tweaked. In most cases, they don't need much. The fact that essentials builds will include things that can be used by other builds, means that traditional builds are still evolving. This whole discussion just seems silly really. So now there are builds with stances. So what? Everything is fully compatible. You can use your build you like. I can use mine. Newbies and lapsed gamers can decide for themselves. Its pretty good design IMO. @martian,

Skepticism is fine. I’m with you there. But you’re kind of holding up examples that don’t really hold any water, as if a certain sentence here or there is the truth, while the dozen sentences that came before and after can be ignored. That seems more like conpiracy, than skepticism.

Also, whenever they start introducing new builds, they get the love for a while. Older builds are more mature and have been repeatedly tweaked. In most cases, they don’t need much. The fact that essentials builds will include things that can be used by other builds, means that traditional builds are still evolving.

This whole discussion just seems silly really. So now there are builds with stances. So what? Everything is fully compatible. You can use your build you like. I can use mine. Newbies and lapsed gamers can decide for themselves. Its pretty good design IMO.

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By: D&D Essentials: A Sign of the Apocalypse? « The Middle-Aged DM http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/essentials-meeting-with-mike-mearls-rich-baker/comment-page-1#comment-405 D&D Essentials: A Sign of the Apocalypse? « The Middle-Aged DM Thu, 19 Aug 2010 16:16:50 +0000 http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/?p=3334#comment-405 [...] release that might be viewed as an attempt to synergize the two product lines. This interview by Neuroglyph I think lays out their intention fairly clearly and succinctly, and probably better than the drips [...] [...] release that might be viewed as an attempt to synergize the two product lines. This interview by Neuroglyph I think lays out their intention fairly clearly and succinctly, and probably better than the drips [...]

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By: evilbob http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/essentials-meeting-with-mike-mearls-rich-baker/comment-page-1#comment-400 evilbob Tue, 17 Aug 2010 14:24:40 +0000 http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/?p=3334#comment-400 It's interesting that so many people are wary of "edition wars" - I've never actually worried that this was a "stealth 4.5," and everything WotC has said continually reinforces that. It's just a re-packaging of their base product, designed for a) people who play WoW (complete with starter areas and white, green, and blue items), and b) 3.5 folks who felt left behind (we changed Magic Missile back just for you!). It will also be interesting to see if they somehow manage to please both crowds without alienating anyone. Unfortunately, I will admit that the more I hear, the more I feel confused as an existing 4.0 player when it comes to what I might purchase for myself. Restarting their product line means new things to buy, but I wonder how much of this content will also be available with a DDI subscription? How much is new, and how much is just stuff I already own? Is it worth my money for a "75% new" monster catalog? I already own dice, minis, and a battlemat: should I get a Red Box or is that mostly redundant? I am wary of the trend of WotC releasing more tangentially-related merchandise that isn't necessary to play the game (power cards that are outdated by the time they hit the shelves, for example), and I wish it was easier for someone like me who has already invested in their product to simply pick up the new bits that I am interested in without wasting cash on stuff I already have. And lastly, like the first poster mentioned, I will call shenanigans on someone purchasing a PHB to expand their D&D game after the Red Box. That book is so horribly out of date it would only confuse a new player beyond belief. It no longer has value as a reference material - it is better suited as a writing board. It’s interesting that so many people are wary of “edition wars” – I’ve never actually worried that this was a “stealth 4.5,” and everything WotC has said continually reinforces that. It’s just a re-packaging of their base product, designed for a) people who play WoW (complete with starter areas and white, green, and blue items), and b) 3.5 folks who felt left behind (we changed Magic Missile back just for you!). It will also be interesting to see if they somehow manage to please both crowds without alienating anyone.

Unfortunately, I will admit that the more I hear, the more I feel confused as an existing 4.0 player when it comes to what I might purchase for myself. Restarting their product line means new things to buy, but I wonder how much of this content will also be available with a DDI subscription? How much is new, and how much is just stuff I already own? Is it worth my money for a “75% new” monster catalog? I already own dice, minis, and a battlemat: should I get a Red Box or is that mostly redundant? I am wary of the trend of WotC releasing more tangentially-related merchandise that isn’t necessary to play the game (power cards that are outdated by the time they hit the shelves, for example), and I wish it was easier for someone like me who has already invested in their product to simply pick up the new bits that I am interested in without wasting cash on stuff I already have.

And lastly, like the first poster mentioned, I will call shenanigans on someone purchasing a PHB to expand their D&D game after the Red Box. That book is so horribly out of date it would only confuse a new player beyond belief. It no longer has value as a reference material – it is better suited as a writing board.

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By: Editor-in-Chief http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/essentials-meeting-with-mike-mearls-rich-baker/comment-page-1#comment-397 Editor-in-Chief Mon, 16 Aug 2010 09:42:36 +0000 http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/?p=3334#comment-397 @Martian- Oh absolutely, they are hoping for the "vividness" factor to appeal to older D&D players, who in past editions played big armored guys with two-handers chopping their way through encounters. And anything that gets some of our more stodgy brethren off their 3.5 pulpits and at least TRY 4E before disparaging it to the rafters is awesome by my standards. But the vividness factor does have its play with new players - particularly those from an MMO like WoW or to readers of fantasy literature. For instance, I can say to a WoW player for instance: "The Knight build of a Fighter is similar to the Prot Spec Warrior, while the Slayer is a Arms Spec or maybe even a RIP (Rogue In Plate)" and they would totally get the builds. And I can say to someone familiar with fantasy: "An Illusion Mage is more like the Deryni is Kurtz's novels, whereas the Evoker Mage is a bit more like Harry Potter" and again that person would get the distinction. As to the traditional Class support, I think it's going to still be there - proof positive is the article in this month's Dragon on the Blade Channeling Class Acts. Great stuff, and very much aimed at the traditional class builds. But admittedly, traditional material is gonna be reduced for a while as they bring Essentials Character builds up to speed, and finish launching Dark Sun. Oh, and I would not be surprised to see some content space in Dragon and Dungeon being taken up by Gamma World starting in October. @Martian- Oh absolutely, they are hoping for the “vividness” factor to appeal to older D&D players, who in past editions played big armored guys with two-handers chopping their way through encounters. And anything that gets some of our more stodgy brethren off their 3.5 pulpits and at least TRY 4E before disparaging it to the rafters is awesome by my standards. But the vividness factor does have its play with new players – particularly those from an MMO like WoW or to readers of fantasy literature. For instance, I can say to a WoW player for instance: “The Knight build of a Fighter is similar to the Prot Spec Warrior, while the Slayer is a Arms Spec or maybe even a RIP (Rogue In Plate)” and they would totally get the builds. And I can say to someone familiar with fantasy: “An Illusion Mage is more like the Deryni is Kurtz’s novels, whereas the Evoker Mage is a bit more like Harry Potter” and again that person would get the distinction.

As to the traditional Class support, I think it’s going to still be there – proof positive is the article in this month’s Dragon on the Blade Channeling Class Acts. Great stuff, and very much aimed at the traditional class builds. But admittedly, traditional material is gonna be reduced for a while as they bring Essentials Character builds up to speed, and finish launching Dark Sun. Oh, and I would not be surprised to see some content space in Dragon and Dungeon being taken up by Gamma World starting in October.

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By: MartianAlien http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/essentials-meeting-with-mike-mearls-rich-baker/comment-page-1#comment-396 MartianAlien Sat, 14 Aug 2010 21:17:33 +0000 http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/?p=3334#comment-396 @mbeacom, They explicitly said, "We’ve charted a new direction in class design with the Essentials products. It’s a direction we intend to use from here on out." (In the Ampersand with the Essentials Cleric Preview) They're loudly proclaiming compatibility while making ambiguous statements about the direction they're taking post-Essentials. And the first post-Essentials release is Heroes of Shadow, which is 6+ months away. So, frankly, I remain skeptical that they're going to continue with the same degree of support for existing builds, and will likely remain skeptical until they can prove otherwise. @E-in-C, I agree that there wasn't a great weapon striker at the release of 4e (the only great weapon capable classes being Fighter, Paladin, and Warlord), but releases since then have pretty effectively filled that role: Avenger, Barbarian, and you can do it with a Ranger now (who could maybe use either a specific class feature or another At-Will to use besides Marauder's Rush). But I find the heavily armored great weapon wielder to be a concept that comes from older D&D editions, instead of the lighter-armor-wearing Celtic/Germanic/Viking "barbarians" of a semi-historical origin (often filtered through the lens of pop culture) or Conan (et al) from movies. (It's not that armored great weapon wielders didn't necessarily exist historically - some landsknechts used zweihanders - but it's not drawing on portrayals in wider popular culture in the same way.) The problem I have with the "vivid" argument is that I feel it's a false distinction. Those descriptions are more vivid to *players of previous editions*, not "newbies". "Newbies" aren't going to have the long-time associations to those concepts that players of previous editions will have. They could easily have said, "Wand is point-and-boom, Orb is mental control, and Staff is placing obstacles in their way," and made the distinction for Wizards just as well, but they latched onto 3e-isms for the nostalgia factor. And in my experience, I've found nostalgia is only a good design tenet if you're in marketing - not product design. And in terms of vivid, which paints a better picture: "You swing your " or "After each mighty swing, you bring your shield to bear and use it to push your enemy back"? They seem to be saying that the flavor text present with every single power isn't doing its job. So, again, it seems to me that it's really only vivid to players of previous editions, not to those who would be new to D&D. @mbeacom,

They explicitly said, “We’ve charted a new direction in class design with the Essentials products. It’s a direction we intend to use from here on out.” (In the Ampersand with the Essentials Cleric Preview) They’re loudly proclaiming compatibility while making ambiguous statements about the direction they’re taking post-Essentials. And the first post-Essentials release is Heroes of Shadow, which is 6+ months away. So, frankly, I remain skeptical that they’re going to continue with the same degree of support for existing builds, and will likely remain skeptical until they can prove otherwise.

@E-in-C,

I agree that there wasn’t a great weapon striker at the release of 4e (the only great weapon capable classes being Fighter, Paladin, and Warlord), but releases since then have pretty effectively filled that role: Avenger, Barbarian, and you can do it with a Ranger now (who could maybe use either a specific class feature or another At-Will to use besides Marauder’s Rush). But I find the heavily armored great weapon wielder to be a concept that comes from older D&D editions, instead of the lighter-armor-wearing Celtic/Germanic/Viking “barbarians” of a semi-historical origin (often filtered through the lens of pop culture) or Conan (et al) from movies. (It’s not that armored great weapon wielders didn’t necessarily exist historically – some landsknechts used zweihanders – but it’s not drawing on portrayals in wider popular culture in the same way.)

The problem I have with the “vivid” argument is that I feel it’s a false distinction. Those descriptions are more vivid to *players of previous editions*, not “newbies”. “Newbies” aren’t going to have the long-time associations to those concepts that players of previous editions will have. They could easily have said, “Wand is point-and-boom, Orb is mental control, and Staff is placing obstacles in their way,” and made the distinction for Wizards just as well, but they latched onto 3e-isms for the nostalgia factor. And in my experience, I’ve found nostalgia is only a good design tenet if you’re in marketing – not product design.

And in terms of vivid, which paints a better picture: “You swing your ” or “After each mighty swing, you bring your shield to bear and use it to push your enemy back”? They seem to be saying that the flavor text present with every single power isn’t doing its job. So, again, it seems to me that it’s really only vivid to players of previous editions, not to those who would be new to D&D.

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By: Editor-in-Chief http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/essentials-meeting-with-mike-mearls-rich-baker/comment-page-1#comment-394 Editor-in-Chief Fri, 13 Aug 2010 21:14:14 +0000 http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/?p=3334#comment-394 @Martian - I too was concerned about the "retro-fitting" of what seemed to be 3.5isms, like wizard schools, onto 4E classes. And in fact, I asked about that, and that's when Mike explained about finding ways making the builds more "vivid" for beginners. I tried to include some of those comments in my blog, where Mike discussed how difficult it can explaining to a beginner the nuances of "wand vs. orb" build wizard as opposed to "Illusion vs. blow things up". I think it actually has real merit for helping "newbies" get into the swing of their first D&D experiences. With regard to the "generic basic attacks", it again fits into creating that vivid experience that a beginner can understand by utilizing a different class mechanic. For example, the Slayer in our Essentials demo could attack using a generic basic attack, or take on one stance (Berserker's Charge) which would do a little more damage but be more accurate, or a different stance (Unfettered Fury) and not be as accurate but do heavier amounts of damage. I think those stances are pretty nifty for evoking an image in a new player's mind - 'I can swing this axe, or stand like this and swing it more accurately, or stand like this and cleave things apart!' Sadly, I wish we'd have had a Slayer back when I ended our long-running 3.5 campaign to move to 4E. One of my Players tried to make a PHB Fighter as a Striker, and was terribly disappointed with the results. I think he would have loved the Slayer class, and made his transition from 3.5 to 4E a considerably more enjoyable one. @Martian – I too was concerned about the “retro-fitting” of what seemed to be 3.5isms, like wizard schools, onto 4E classes. And in fact, I asked about that, and that’s when Mike explained about finding ways making the builds more “vivid” for beginners. I tried to include some of those comments in my blog, where Mike discussed how difficult it can explaining to a beginner the nuances of “wand vs. orb” build wizard as opposed to “Illusion vs. blow things up”. I think it actually has real merit for helping “newbies” get into the swing of their first D&D experiences.

With regard to the “generic basic attacks”, it again fits into creating that vivid experience that a beginner can understand by utilizing a different class mechanic. For example, the Slayer in our Essentials demo could attack using a generic basic attack, or take on one stance (Berserker’s Charge) which would do a little more damage but be more accurate, or a different stance (Unfettered Fury) and not be as accurate but do heavier amounts of damage. I think those stances are pretty nifty for evoking an image in a new player’s mind – ‘I can swing this axe, or stand like this and swing it more accurately, or stand like this and cleave things apart!’

Sadly, I wish we’d have had a Slayer back when I ended our long-running 3.5 campaign to move to 4E. One of my Players tried to make a PHB Fighter as a Striker, and was terribly disappointed with the results. I think he would have loved the Slayer class, and made his transition from 3.5 to 4E a considerably more enjoyable one.

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By: mbeacom http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/essentials-meeting-with-mike-mearls-rich-baker/comment-page-1#comment-393 mbeacom Fri, 13 Aug 2010 17:02:22 +0000 http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/?p=3334#comment-393 @Martian, "“There will be new material for all types of builds going forward.”" That's pretty much EXACTLY what they've said. The essentials builds are just that. Builds. I often play a ranger, but I ignore the beast master build. I'm 100 percent certain there will be further support for the beast master build, and the builds that I play, as well as any new builds. No different here. @Martian,

““There will be new material for all types of builds going forward.””

That’s pretty much EXACTLY what they’ve said.

The essentials builds are just that. Builds.

I often play a ranger, but I ignore the beast master build.

I’m 100 percent certain there will be further support for the beast master build, and the builds that I play, as well as any new builds.

No different here.

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By: Some thoughts D&D Essentials « King of the Nerds!!! http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/essentials-meeting-with-mike-mearls-rich-baker/comment-page-1#comment-392 Some thoughts D&D Essentials « King of the Nerds!!! Fri, 13 Aug 2010 14:40:28 +0000 http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/?p=3334#comment-392 [...] this type of stuff for new (or experienced) players.  Over at Neuroglyph Games there is a lengthy interview with Mike Mearls and Rich Baker on the Red Box.  While it doesn’t divulge anything all that new it does help enlighten some of the design [...] [...] this type of stuff for new (or experienced) players.  Over at Neuroglyph Games there is a lengthy interview with Mike Mearls and Rich Baker on the Red Box.  While it doesn’t divulge anything all that new it does help enlighten some of the design [...]

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By: MartianAlien http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/essentials-meeting-with-mike-mearls-rich-baker/comment-page-1#comment-389 MartianAlien Fri, 13 Aug 2010 01:44:25 +0000 http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/?p=3334#comment-389 I totally recognize that Essentials is a marketing vehicle rather than any changes on a 3.0-to-3.5 scale... but it still has that "New Coke" aura around it... :-P What I haven't heard is how much of the forthcoming material post-Essentials will be supporting Essentials-style builds versus "traditional" 4e builds? (The only class they acknowledged for 2011 that I heard was the bladesinger in the NWCG, but said nothing about styles of builds included.) They keep saying things like, "going forward, this is how we're doing class design," about the Essentials builds. And, frankly, I don't see the Essentials-style builds as being interesting to me - they seem to be steering in a direction of a lot of the things I *didn't* like about 3/3.5e (e.g. generic basic attacks, spell schools, pre-defined class features). It seems to be more of a "3.9e" than 4e... It's one thing to say, "There will be new material for all types of builds going forward." It's another to say, "New material will be focused on supporting Essentials-style builds going forward, but a subset of that material you can use with the 'traditional' builds because the mechanics are compatible." I haven't heard anyone actually say the former, which makes me suspect it's the latter case because saying the former would push aside a lot of the anxiety people have about Essentials. I totally recognize that Essentials is a marketing vehicle rather than any changes on a 3.0-to-3.5 scale… but it still has that “New Coke” aura around it… :-P

What I haven’t heard is how much of the forthcoming material post-Essentials will be supporting Essentials-style builds versus “traditional” 4e builds? (The only class they acknowledged for 2011 that I heard was the bladesinger in the NWCG, but said nothing about styles of builds included.) They keep saying things like, “going forward, this is how we’re doing class design,” about the Essentials builds. And, frankly, I don’t see the Essentials-style builds as being interesting to me – they seem to be steering in a direction of a lot of the things I *didn’t* like about 3/3.5e (e.g. generic basic attacks, spell schools, pre-defined class features). It seems to be more of a “3.9e” than 4e…

It’s one thing to say, “There will be new material for all types of builds going forward.” It’s another to say, “New material will be focused on supporting Essentials-style builds going forward, but a subset of that material you can use with the ‘traditional’ builds because the mechanics are compatible.” I haven’t heard anyone actually say the former, which makes me suspect it’s the latter case because saying the former would push aside a lot of the anxiety people have about Essentials.

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By: Scotty B. http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/essentials-meeting-with-mike-mearls-rich-baker/comment-page-1#comment-388 Scotty B. Thu, 12 Aug 2010 21:53:17 +0000 http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/?p=3334#comment-388 To say it won't foment a new edition war is a bit too optimistic, but only because people will make a fuss about anything (especially anything they haven't actually seen in action). I can't say I agree 100% with how they've made what few changes to the base game that they have, but it's really not that big a deal. I get the impression that Mearls et al are really comfortable with how 4e works (they designed it, after all) and that maybe it takes a certain perspective to be at ease with it. What they hinted at with feat organization was awesome, too. My favorite game updates are definitely with regards to presentation. It looks like your GenCon experience well exceeded your desires. :-) To say it won’t foment a new edition war is a bit too optimistic, but only because people will make a fuss about anything (especially anything they haven’t actually seen in action). I can’t say I agree 100% with how they’ve made what few changes to the base game that they have, but it’s really not that big a deal. I get the impression that Mearls et al are really comfortable with how 4e works (they designed it, after all) and that maybe it takes a certain perspective to be at ease with it.

What they hinted at with feat organization was awesome, too. My favorite game updates are definitely with regards to presentation.

It looks like your GenCon experience well exceeded your desires. :-)

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