Thursday, March 21, 2013

New D&D Next Packet, Vindication at last!

Yesterday Wizards dropped a new D&D Next packet. This featured the addition of the Druid, Ranger, and Paladin. Along with rules for exploration.

So why vindication at last? Truth be told it is nothing major just a pet peeve of mine that has been finally rectified after 30 years. See in Dragon #39 the Anti-Paladin was presented. After reading it I thought the whole concept was shaky. To me a anti-paladin is  Lawful Evil a champion of of Order at any cost. The idea of any type of Chaotic Evil "Order" was stupid.

From that I developed a Lawful Evil Myrmidon class which was my version of a Anti- Paladin. So when I started reading the Paladin class in the new D&D Next packet I found they added three themes; Paladin, Warden, and Blackguard. The description of the Blackguard is very close to what I describe my Myrmidon to be; a divine champion that promotes order regardless of the cost.

The Warden is interesting as well basically a divine champion of nature described as similar to the Green Knight of Arthurian legend. D&D Next's Ranger feature the return of the class to it's Dunedain roots. And the Druid makes its appearance as well. Also interesting is that the Paladin and Ranger feature spell casting as a class feature starting at 1st level rather than the higher levels of older edition D&D.

Finally they added rules for Exploration, nothing fancy but a clear and straightforward system of resolving travel and exploration extending over days and weeks.

D&D Next is shaping up to be a solid variant of classic D&D about as different as Blood & Treasure, Castles & Crusade or the other clones that mix 3rd edition mechanics with older edition design. And perhaps that why it is receiving a lackluster response in the OSR. It is not that D&D Next is bad, but rather the gamers of the OSR have moved on to a do it yourself ethos.

Ultimately I think the fate and popularity of D&D Next among the OSR will be two things. 1) That the straightforward presentation of the playtest is retained in a supported core product, and 2) that a reasonable license is created for third party products.  And even then it main use will be as a publishing tool in the same way the same product is released by a OSR publisher in a Labyrinth Lord version and a ACKS version and so on. And as a common ground for when gamers attend conventions and store events.

Anyway this version is worth checking to keep up on what Wizards been doing and after reading it I am cautiously optimistic that D&D Next will be a good thing for the OSR.


17 comments:

Jason Packer said...

I'll admit I was surprised as well by the inclusion of spell-casting for Paladins at first level. It blurs the line with the Cleric a little further, which is neither here nor there, I suppose.

As regards the acceptance of the new game by the OSR, I think there's something to be said for having the D&D name attached to a game. There are a subset of people for whom that will be a driving force to "return to the fold" rather than continuing with the many variants that have cropped up, and I suspect that may be WotC is hoping this will go.

Joseph Bloch said...

The more I see of it, the more I like DnDNext.

It'll never be my *exclusive* FRPG, but I can certainly see running and/or playing in a 5E campaign when it comes out.

Gregory Geilman said...

Personally, I care little what WOTC is going with D&D Next. As far as the Anti-Paladin they are not order, but the antithesis of order which is why they have always been Chaotic Evil. The concept was and has always been that they were diametrically opposed to lawful good.
Rob, I respect you as a writer, but have to disagree with you on this one my old friend.

Rob Conley said...

@Greg, good to hear from you. Certainly that one way to think about it. However the idea as it was presented in the past fails at being chaotic. While certainly evil the various anti-paladin classes fail to be chaotic.

A true Chaotic Evil Anti-Paladin wouldn't have any consistent power. Instead they would be a person infused with a random assortment of demonic powers. Every anti-paladin would be unique befitting a divine champion of chaotic evil.

Joseph Bloch said...

Not sure I follow the logic on that, Rob. If that were the case, why don't demons (the very embodiment of the CE ethos) have purely random powers?

Rob Conley said...

@Joseph I am not too fond of the Demon Type classification setup either. :-)

Rob Conley said...

However in all fairness the lack of chaos in Demon Types or Anti-Paladins can be justified in the fact that Chaotic Evil has to operate in a multiverse that works a certain way.

So the types and the anti-paladin are the result of the demons being lazy and reusing known magic to create or confer power.

Geordie Racer said...

I agree with Joseph, 5e does seem to be becoming a game I'd be interested in playing.

Tom said...

In my old gaming group we drew a distinction between anti-paladins and evil paladins.

Evil paladins were holy warriors of evil deities and were lawful evil. Anti-paladins were perversions of paladins who existed to sew discord and chaos. They were chaotic evil. Evil paladins could be negotiated with, their goal was to further the cause of their infernal religion. Anti-paladins could never be trusted, their purpose was to undermine civilization and any apparent cooperation was a prelude to an eventual betrayal.

Tom said...

"Not sure I follow the logic on that, "

Well of course you can't. It's chaotic evil :)

Random Wizard said...

Nice write up Rob. Got me to thinking. As a young man, I remember siding with all the commentary in Dragon magazine about "not allowing" player's to be anti-paladins. Thinking about it now (thanks to your post), I think I would put them in terms of Star Wars, light side, dark side. The dark side still has a heirarchy, master, apprentice but is dedicated to personal power.

Ken Harrison said...

Just from my very limited playtesting (first round) with you, Rob, I was pleasantly surprised at what I saw. I am curious to see how this newest edition will be an improvement on 3xe and Pathfinder. It seems like that is the biggest competition (and potential market), not the OSR.

Gregory Geilman said...

I guess I see anti-paladins differently. I could perhaps see the Blackguards as lawful evil as they have a code and structure to them, but to me the anti-paladin is the embodiment of evil and serves only his master. I don't see where that would make his powers any more chaotic and inconsistent.
As for the hello, yes, it has been a while since we talked. I liked your blog about class balanace and quoted you on the Paizo board about it. I agree that it is a falicy that has been especially a trend in WOTC and Paizo over the last 10 years or so. I may be reading and commenting on your blog or on Google+ more often:)

Rachel Ghoul said...

This was the first playtest packet I looked at for 5e since last summer... It's nowhere near what I want to play, but there are things that I'd consider mining for ideas at this point.

...I don't like rangers having spells in general, though, and especially not at first level.

The Warden presented in it is a far cry from the shapeshifting spirit-warrior that the class was in 4e, but it's definitely cool and I appreciate it as a valid interpretation of the concept.

Tim Herns said...

I am very much liking what I see right now in DnD Next (5e if you will) development. I am planning on using the rules for an upcoming short campaign.

One thing I don't like is that the Wizard is a bit nerfed in regards to having any non magic attack bonus. Even the Druid, a caster and melee type, has an attack bonus.

As far back as I can remember the Wizard had some form of non magic attack bonus and now it has gone missing. What gives.

As regards Paladins and Rangers having spells beginning at 1st level I personally believe it's a good thing. It gives them more to do than just fight all the time. It plants them between the more magical classes and the Fighter in the current version where they belong.

Lastly Anti-Paladins. Where to begin. First off an AP should be Chaotic Evil but I believe that to understand what an AP really is you first much understand what CE really is.

I can sum up what CE is quite simply. THARIZDUN. He who desires the unmaking of all that is. He who wants the universe to return to it's primal beginnings and wishes for it to stay that way for eternity.

That is what the AP should be focused on. An AP should view the order that was, in his/her opinion, forced upon the universe. He/She should see man in all it's incarnations (Human, Elf, Dwarf, Halfling, etc...) and all of it's creations (civilization, ruin, etc...) as evil. For to him/her all of these things are perversions of the natural state of the universe. CHAOS.

And thus the AP desires to bring about the undoing of order no matter what the cost or by what method. This is CE.

Tim Herns said...

Oh forgot to mention that another way that all spellcasters are nerfed in DnD Next as it stands now is that they cannot add their magical ability scores modifier to damage.

This seems a bit unbalanced considering that the non magic folk can add their combat ability scores modifier to damage they inflict.

Dru Perdue said...

"It is not that D&D Next is bad, but rather the gamers of the OSR have moved on to a do it yourself ethos."

... Which is funny b/c everyone I ever played w/ in the 80s and 90s took a DIY approach, so really a return to a loving, hobbyist tinkering.

My interest in D&DN has been growing, fueled recently by two things:
1. I watched the full two-hour PvP celebrity D&DN session on YouTube ... and I've got to say, though there was an occasional unfamiliar rule here and there, that game played just about like any other good old school romp.

2. The regular column at WotC by Mike Mearls is very encouraging and respectful of the fact that different folks want to approach the game they love in different ways. The word "optional" seems to be part of the new mantra -- irritated by Feats/Insta-healing/at-will casting/subclass begat ever? Just drop those options right out.