There are two new sources of information that we can all dissect with a microscope: Rule of Three and Legends and Lore. Wizards is eager to show everyone that this is going to be a new and bright era for D&D and not a closed-room creation. Rodney Thompson in Rule of Three stressed the input of players for the development of 5e, something that I think all players are concerned with. “Sure they say they want to hear from players but they’ve probably already written most of it.” According to the article, though, “[i]t is no exaggeration when I write that your opinion and feedback is one of the most important parts of the process. One of the central goals of the next iteration of D&D is to provide a game that does what you (the players and DMs) want it to do, and in order for us to meet that goal, we need to know from you directly what you want it to do.”
It’s worth noting that Thompson doesn’t counter the idea that the game is already written in large part, even though it was directly asked in the question he quoted. My assessment is that the system is already written out (it has to since they invited all those bloggers to try it and then write their impressions) but they want to massage it and rewrite. Thompson points out that they are eager to have feedback on damage levels and adjusting bonuses but they really want feedback on “whether or not there is a deeper issue causing the element to be underpowered.” So if you really hate party roles and you provide that feedback back to Wizards, there’s a chance they’ll remove it but if it’s something like switching from a d20 base to a d100 I imagine we’ll see a polite smile. Things like throwing out feats or bringing back saves vs. specific effects are somewhat of a grey area and I’m trying to ignore the pessimist in me to be excited about the feedback aspect of this process. As someone who creates content as my day job as well, the last thing you want is to present a plan to your boss that makes your input seem minor.
To support this, Monte Cook in Legends and Lore assures everyone that this ” this isn’t another salvo in the so-called edition wars.” In fact, the system seems designed to diffuse the edition wars entirely. “Now imagine that the game offered you modular, optional add-ons that allow you to create the character you want to play while letting the Dungeon Master create the game he or she wants to run. Like simple rules for your story-driven game? You’re good to go. Like tactical combats and complex encounters? You can have that too. Like ultra-customized character creation? It’s all there.” This reminds me of AD&D products like Player’s Option: Combat & Tactics and Deities and Demigods which had whole new systems that seriously complicated things in ways that some people loved and others could ignore. This seems great to me (I mean, who wouldn’t like having everything their way?) but it also seems confounding. Sure hit locations and salient divine powers can be put in and taken out without too many ripple-effects. But what about things like basic class features, saving throws, magic items, and other stark contrasts between 3e and 4e? Those seem too big to switch in and out but negotiating opinions about those seems essential to an “armistice” in the edition wars.
Stay tuned for more, sports fans, and also keep yourself up to date on the EN World 5e Info Page.