Monday, May 21, 2012

Gillespie on Mearls on Hit Points

Woke up to a strange column by Mearls this morning.

He is talking about hit points and healing. Actually I take that back, he isn't talking about hit points but rather curing magic and the desire to move away from reliance on a cleric (which by default will make the cleric obsolete).

I have never met Mearls, but boy he has strange ideas about D&D and the need to overcomplicate the basic tenets of the game.

He is suggesting using a character's hit dice as mundane healing dice. Basically a healing surge by another name. Which also has a byproduct of killing a bunch of interesting role-play opportunities, as we'll see.

The need for this is.......? I dunno, to placate 4e people?

Here are some friendly suggestions that accomplish the same thing without relying on gamey surges.

I'll start this list off and you can add to it in the comments.

The Barrowmaze Brigands - consisting of Lothar of the Hill People (Fighter), Galaxina the Magic-User, and Gutboy Barrelhouse the Dwarven Fighter - set off to make a quick gold piece in the crypts. WHAT A CALAMITY, they don't have a cleric.

Instead they decide to address their shortcomings within the game-world by:

1) Going to the Temple of Zuul and hiring the newly-minted Acolyte Vinz Clortho.
2) Visiting the gnarly local village crone to see if she has any healing salves or bandages.
3) Proceeding into Barrowmaze without a cleric but deciding on a course of action that is extremely cautious.
4) Hiring an elite cadre *snicker* of men-at-arms to walk point.

Ok. Now it's your turn. I like humour but let's take a moment to be constructive :) What else could the Barrowmaze Brigands do instead of relying on cheap/easy/dirty HD as healing surges?


  1. I effectively used a healing surge mechanic in my last several campaign: the ale quaffing rules I think I first saw on Grognardia. Emptying a wineskin is worth d6 hp once per session. That's enough to be the difference between life and death at low level. More importantly, it's a lot less boring than a meta-gamey healing surge.

    1. I'm pretty sure I swiped that house rule from Sham Bowman, so I can't claim credit for it. That said, it was very helpful at levels 1 and 2 and, after that, I don't think anyone ever bothered to use it again, even when it probably would have saved their butts.

    2. I'm not huge on the idea as it too closely resembles a Potion of Healing. I think I'd need an alternative approach.

    3. Yeah, but most Potions of Healing are pretty boring in comparison.

    4. Everything goes better with booze

  2. 5) Don't assume time flows per minute or per hour? It's ok, to say the group rest's up or goes back to town and comes back later. In the meantime, they could've healed some hit points.

    6) It's ok for the DM to adjust healing based on his or the group's preference. (this isn't a shot at WotC or Mearls, D&D HAS to cover alot more rules than most other modern publishers)

    PS-Let me say that what I've DM'd of 5E, I agree with Mearl that it feels alot like 2E. That's a feature for me.

    PPS-In the 16 years I spent gaming with my group, we NEVER had a cleric PC. It wasn't an easy game, but we managed.

  3. You say Mearls has a strange idea of DnD, and that is the exact reaction I tend to have with a lot of the OSR folk. There is a difference between making the cleric obsolete and removing the cleric's necessity. Yes, I realize that "make the game easier" isn't the same as "required", but I am fairly sure I've never heard "Boy, I sure am glad we don't have a healer" uttered in a game. As much as 4e had flaws in it's class system, it did a good job of making healing a defining trait of clerics (leader types) while making them more than just walking first aid stations.

    IMO, healing surges is one of the better parts of 4e. HPs are already one of the more metagamey aspects of the game, especially combined with "what does an attack roll represent?". Having a metagamey way of dealing with healing doesn't strike me as any worse than anything else. Admittedly they are a very "Action-heroic" style thing, but that's the kind of game I've favored ever since I started playing DnD back in the 80s. So I'm in favor of such things.

    1. In actual play, I've never experienced a cleric limited to a walking first aid station, but your making everyone a walking first aid station is "one of the better parts of 4e"?

      Hit points are abstract. Aside from missiles, so are "to hit rolls".

      I'm not opposed to those who meta game, but it needs to translate to the imagined world to make sense. I can easily understand what rolling to attack, abstract or not, means in the imagined game world.

      When a character uses a healing surge, what are the characters doing to cause this in your game?

      I'm sincere about this question. I have a difficult time understanding what a perception check roll is, so bear with me.

    2. "making everyone a walking first aid station is "one of the better parts of 4e"?"

      Well, yes I suppose. By making healing more ubiquitous, it frees any one class from being the heal monkey, and I think that is a good thing.

      "When a character uses a healing surge, what are the characters doing to cause this in your game?"

      A lot of this comes back to the abstraction of what damage represents. But if I'm looking for "what is happening", healing surges represent adrenalin, or "reserves deep inside us" sorts of things. As I said, I favor a more action-hero style of gaming, so it's the whole "Hero gets beat up but keeps on going". It's one of those areas where I am pretty forgiving of verisimilitude.

      "I have a difficult time understanding what a perception check roll is, so bear with me."

      Heh... I don't know why it's any harder to understand what it is than a to hit roll. It's the same level of abstraction. "I open the desk, flip over the drawers looking for secret compartments" is to "I feint right, then try to slip my blade under his shield guard into his left leg." as "I make a perception roll to search the desk" is to "I try to hit the goblin." *shrug*

    3. That's too over the top for me (Over 9000!).

      Heh... I don't know why it's any harder to understand what it is than a to hit roll.

      For clarity, I understand the mechanics. I don't understand why one would roll a die to, at the risk of sounding cliche, role-play.

      Combat rolls, are obviously to prevent the simple argument of "Bang Bang, you're dead!" versus "No I'm not!"

      Perceptions checks feed into not asking questions, not examining things verbally, not thinking about the environment, because the DM is just going to tell you if you roll higher than DC check. It's just not role-playing to me.

    4. "Perceptions checks feed into not asking questions"

      I get this, to a degree. I honestly tend to approach it in a more middle ground sort of way where rolls and roleplay mix, but I tend to feel skills represent the "Look, I'm just a guy but the thief I'm playing is trained for this..." part of the spectrum. And to me that doesn't reduce my feeling of RP.

    5. I do not disagree with your thief example.

      I will never throw down a real lock on the table and say, "Kay, that's the lock. See if you can open it." Obviously she's not a real thief and none of us at the table can pick a lock.

      We all enjoy asking questions, thinking, role-playing and just let the dice come into play when appropriate. Like whether or not the thief is successful at opening a lock.

      That's just another "Bang Bang, you're dead!" scenario, if you don't.

  4. One other thing, I don't think it's wrong for 5E to have a mechanic like Healing Surges. 4E player's are customers and if that's the only edition they play, no mechanic to simulate it would be hard to deal with. But, in my opinion, I like this mechanic better because I can ignore it completely, which was much harder to do with Healing Surges and their place in the 4E system.

  5. Healing surges are an abomination. Period.

    If you need the rules to define the style of cleric you are playing then you are a poor role-player.

    I played a lot of 2e and the entire edition was unremarkable. A lot of 2e stuff went hopelessly overboard - i.e. specialty priests.

    Come on people - HD as healing surges??? How depressingly devoid of creativity is that idea?

    What's next? Cats and dogs living together? Adding your Con to you hit point total? Nevermind...

    1. The problem with healing surges is that they encourage the "every fight starts with full resources" mindset that is antithetical to strategic play. 4E started with the assumption that every fight should be fun and easy to prep as a referee, and largely succeeded in that, but by framing things in that way removed many of the interesting non-combat choices, including the choice about whether or not to engage in a fight at all.

    2. Dude, what kind of cats and dogs? The rules don't tell me.

    3. To be honest, I'm not unsympathetic with finding *some* other way of dealing with healing apart from the cleric. I'm playing a cleric in two different campaigns right now, and the other players' expectation that I simply have to prepare CLW every time is palpable, and obnoxious. If I ever get around to running my own campaign, I'm going to have clerics roll randomly for their spells, and if "the gods" refuse to grant CLW, the group will just have to deal with it.

    4. "Healing surges are an abomination. Period."

      Nah. (and no, I don't feel a need to back that up, any more than your statement backs itself up)

      "If you need the rules to define the style of cleric you are playing then you are a poor role-player."

      Really? That's as loaded a statement as if I said "If you find the 4e rules make roleplaying more difficult, you are a poor roleplayer.".

      "Cats and dogs living together?"

      Cats and dogs living together is actually quite common in modern society...

    5. Cats and dogs living together is actually quite common in modern society... So is mass hysteria . . . er wait. ;]

    6. @Anony, 30 years of history backs up my opinion. The game that sent D&D players to other games in droves thus requiring a new edition backs up yours. THE END

    7. I was unaware that healing surges were determined to be abominations in ye olden times. And more importantly you are making assumptions that are not necessarily valid... while 4e was not a bon fire of success, like 3e and the OGL, it didn't necessarily "send people to other games in droves". It's much more likely that people just didn't adopt the new edition in a way WOTC hoped, and so enter 5e with their attempt to get people back at their table. *shrug* Just because you don't like it, and it wasn't in the white box does not mean it's an abomination.

    8. Hey man, I LOVE 4e. It's one of the (many) reasons why the OSR has thrived of late.

      Yes it did - see Finder, Path.

    9. I can't give evidence of "droves", but leaving D&D-branded D&D because of 4e is exactly what I did. I was excited by the new edition, started a campaign, and then abandoned it when the sense that it was a minis game polluted by RP elements (or an RP game polluted by wargaming elements, whichever) got to be too much.

      My tastes are particular – I like my wargames, and I like my roleplaying games, but the parts I like in the one interfere with my enjoyment of the parts I like in the other – but when someone says "4e drove players away from D&D", I hear someone speaking to my experience. I hear truth, even if it's not the reason of everyone who left D&D during the 4e era.

    10. Is Pathfinder "old school"? If it is... I think "old school" has lost any meaning other than "not 4e" which seems a poor way to define it. And even if it does, I still wonder how many were "driven from 4e" as opposed to "Just didn't bother to switch". As a side note, I find it amusing that I see more about 5e and WOTC's plans on "OSR" blogs than I do anywhere else... so thanks for pointing out when something important happens regarding it.

      I'll never say 4e is perfect, because it's not, but there are things it did well for me and my group (and the other not-insignificant number of people who like 4e).

      On the whole my group enjoys tactical combat, they are very... visual based. But outside of combat, they switch back into RP mode (generally)... so for them the "you got your wargame in my RP, no you got your RP in my wargame!" aspect works fairly well.

    11. The reason you see so many posts about 5E on OSR blogs is because WotC clearly said "Sorry! We want you back!" They knocked on the OSR door, not the other way around.

      "The days of edition wars and divided factions among D&D fans are over." -Monte Cook

      While Monte is not part of WotC any longer, that statement was made as a WotC representative. That statement was not made to current 4E players, but to people who left for Pathfinder and the OSR (i.e. players of older editions).

      There are many more statements to this effect made by WotC, Mearls and that other guy.

      It's no secret they want ME to buy their game. They want MY money.

      They wanted MY money when they packaged 4E in a "Red Box." They wanted MY money when they told ME I was going to be playing Keep on the Borderlands in Encounters.

      It's not just the OSR they want, they want the Pathfinder players they lost too and now they do not want to lose YOU either.

      You were not their first thought when 5E was conceived.

      "Fuck, we just burned all those 4E players, maybe if we add this healing surge thing . . ."

      They are a mess. They have no idea who their target is or how to target them.

      Worse, they own a few modules I don't have that I'd like. Sell me that, WotC.

      WotC is an Ice Cream Man convention trying to figure how to sell new products to kids. Sell the ice cream that's already in your damn truck, dummies. Just drive down my street with your little song. I know what I want already.

      As an aside, my players also love tactical combat. We do not use miniatures. I hope I am not assuming too much when you say "visual based."

    12. @burnedfx and @anonynos I do think there's plenty of room under the umbrella of "tactical combat". 4e is primarily miniature-based positional and interlocking-mechanics tactics, while OSR games are primarily creative use of resources and risk-management tactics. Both are tactics, both fun, but not everyone's cup of tea. :)

      Personally, I love positional, resource-based tactical wargaming. I take great joy in setting up a table of terrain, assembling a point-based army or skirmish group, and trying to manœuver for advantage against a fellow human. I also love interlocking-tactics play, but I prefer to do that in a focused way without story, character personality, and positioning concerns getting in the way: hence my love of Magic: the Gathering.

      And for roleplaying, I like to keep tactics in the realm of creative problem-solving. "Oh sh*t oh sh*t oh sh*t how are we going to get past the owlbear that just came back to its den and is blocking the exit; we only have six people, a sack of goblin biscuits, and this weird idol!" is way more fun for me than figuring out whether I should be standing two squares or one square from the cleric when I try to Sly Flourish Stab the owlbear… or maybe Sly Backflip Stab? Wait, if I move here than the wizard can Fireball safely… oh, but then the fighter won't get my flanking bonus. Hmm.

    13. @D7 I agree. There is no wrong fun. I too like playing "General" of a battle field using miniatures and terrain pieces. We just don't mix the two.

      It's definitely a preference thing and I completely see the appeal, because it can look so awesome on the table. Look at the header of this site!

    14. For the record, I'm not really "a 4e person". I'm more of a "I think 4e is a decent system, and while it fixed some 3x things, it introduced it's own issues and got rid of some of the good things in 3x. And both of those systems are closer to what I like than the editions I played previously..." guy.

      "I hope I am not assuming too much when you say "visual based.""

      I... don't know what you assume? I just mean that they like to see the little men on the table, and even when we play things games that don't need a battlematt, they like it if I use a white board and at least sketch out rough approximations of where everything is cause they like having a visual reference. I'm not really making any assumptions about anyone else with the statement...

  6. There are no healers, whatsoever, in my campaign. There are fatalities but these can be mitigated by careful play, which is really the objective isn't it.

    I eliminated clerics from my campaign because they are contrary to the sword & sorcery genre, which I favour. We haven't missed them one bit. Keeping a few healing potions on hand and avoiding stupid risks eliminates the need for a dedicated healer.

    Healing surges have no place in any version of D&D that I would want to play.

  7. Did anyone really think 5e was going to be "old school?"

    Here's another recent comment from MM, backing away from the supposed Old School Core of 5e. Now, it's just an idea they could possibly implement:

    "While themes are by no means complete, I’d love it if you could play the game without them and need only minimal or no modifications by the DM. That would be a good option for groups that want a slimmed down experience or who simply don’t want feat-style abilities in the game. For instance, our assumption for now is that if you want to build NPCs using classes, you don’t have to give the NPC a theme or background. That speeds things up considerably, while pointing us in a direction where PCs could also do that."

    1. I'm actually grateful to see posts like this, because it makes it very clear to me that 5e won't be "old school" in any meaningful sense and thus I need not give it any of my attention.

    2. Sure, but the nature of the WotC discourse - providing the one emulator to rule them all - was pretty clear at the outset. I think that has changed but the playtest will be the proof in the pudding about the direction they are going.

      @James, although you might not be giving 5e any attention, 5e is giving you attention. How many articles do you figure you have written for WotC prior to the last two leading up to the playtest? WotC's timing of your articles cannot be explained away.

    3. True!

      The thing is I believe the folks at WotC are very sincere in their desire to look to the past for inspiration in their new edition. I also believe they genuinely want to unite all D&D players under a single banner. I also think they're incredibly naive and superficial in what they're taking away from older editions.

    4. That sounds right to me.

      They could have it all if they:

      1) created an edition who's base was, for example, B/X or very B/X like. From there add your modules etc etc until you get to the newest editions. That would do the trick for many, but not all.


      2) support Classic D&D with different trad dress etc from the "modern" line.

      Hasbro does this in other venues, my son just bought a Star Wars Y-Wing that came in a box right out of 1982 - from a special line of old school Star Wars toys. I fail to understand why WotC can't do that with D&D.

    5. I couldn't agree with this more. Record labels continue to sell both Elvis and Lady Gaga. I fail to see why WotC can't do the same thing.

  8. You know, the old school solution to this is obvious anyways: control healing by the availability of healing potions. Make them cheaper and more plentiful in high-healing campaigns and expensive or non-existant in low-healing campaigns. The encumbrance added by the potions add a nice resource management aspect, and one could easily rule that they can only be used outside of combat. No metagame, easy to modulate, does not interact with other game systems (like the silly undead draining healing surges 4E mechanic). Added benefit that it should be obvious and logical to any new D&D player that has ever played a video game like Diablo. Healing surges are just so strange and awkward, a mechanical solution in search of a diegetic explanation.

  9. well besides adopting your post battle healing rules ( gain 1-3 hp back after a battle if a turn is spent bandaging, etc). I also use Shields May Be Broken,Helmets May Be Smashed. This allows a blow to be averted ( in most situations) by sacreficing a shield ( will absorb 1-6 hp then is useless) or a helmet ( I roll randomly to see where a blow lands and if its a helmet, characters can opt to sacrefice the helmet for 1-6 hp). Although this approach kind of sucks for non fighter types like the thief or magic user. But the way I see it- their job is to stay OUT of battle, not get into it ( or in the thiefs case, skulk around and make back stabs).

    Also, purchase healing salves ( I dont allow the purchase of magic items including potions of healing in my present game- much to my players moaning and groaning) which heal 1-3 hit points but only work once per 24 hrs and only are half effective if used again 24 hrs later.

    Another mechanic we have used in later versions of the game where there was no cleric ( 3rd edition/pathfinder) is to just give the party a wand/staff of healing with a fixed amount of charges. You could allow only one class to use it, or any I guess.

    1. Figures Tom, I forgot my own house-rule of binding wounds - although that always requires a random monster check :)

  10. The problem with this small healing abilities is that they dont help out higher level characters at all- but are good for helping out lower level characters.
    Another way I have handled HP is to allow everyone to heal back their 1HP per level per hour of rest. Unless they fell below zero, then normal rates of healing would be required ( 1 per day) until they returned back to full hit points- and magic curing and such did not work if you fell below zero hp as they represent "mortal wounds"
    This makes it so characters can stay in a dungeon/adventure longer without having to go back to town to rest after a few hours in the dungeon. It makes the game more realistic in that if they suffer mortal wounds they are taken out of the game for a significant amount of time. It also allows for return of hit points through resting to increase equal to the characters level which would make sense.

  11. 7) Bring fire. Fire and missile weapons. But mostly fire.

  12. One of the problems is that the modern game doesn't want PCs to go back to town and rest then make another foray into a dungeon, etc. etc. The designers of these adventures want it to move along briskly like a story, and have a climax/boss battle, without the need to interrupt the flow of it all. That necessitates a weird approach to HP and healing that was never needed in the earlier days of D&D.

  13. Is everyone completely against what would happen in real life or Final Fantasy 1 sans white mages? You just go to an inn and rest up. You run around fighting monsters then you run back to an inn and heal. It takes longer in in-game time but so what? You spend two weeks in the inn licking your wounds, big deal. Is anybody's character dying of old age where they need the extra speed?

    Are we really so addicted to having Moses on the team handing out faith healing miracles like chiclets that this is a necessary thing that we're entitled to and its absence is a problem that must be solved mechanically with no connection to realism?

    That's how the game is designed anyway. You only recover spells and heal naturally if you're resting _comfortably_, meaning camping out in the wilderness doesn't count! Having a cleric / white-mage is handy because it helps you venture a little further from your home base but it doesn't replace the need for one.

    Maybe the issue is that CLW is overpowered. Maybe we should bump it up to spell level 2? At least then it would be competing with Silence and Hold Person. No other 1st level spells are jumping out at me as competition for it currently. Plus, without healing in their first spell level it would lessen the impression that clerics are just medics.

    1. Traditionally clerics don't get any spells at first level, cure light wounds or otherwise.

      What is this about resting comfortably? Has anyone actually ever denied spell recovery to players resting in the wilderness? Assuming of course they get some rest; that is, are not attacked continually throughout the night or anything like that.

    2. I know. I was talking about balancing CLW against other 1st level spells so when they do get spells they're not all overshadowed by that one healing spell, giving the impression that it's all clerics are good for.

      I thought I saw somewhere that it had to be bed rest, but I must have been mistaken; I can't find it and don't know which ruleset it would have been. LL says "a full day of uninterrupted, continuous rest" and 2e gives natural healing at 3 times normal speed (3 points) if it's bed rest.

      In old computer RPGs, which are basically D&D simulations (Final Fantasy 1 and Dragon Warrior) you need to return to town to recover spells and healing. Old school D&D seems to assume recovering in town too... but why? Maybe it's related to that old rule about spellbooks not being portable for adventures...

      I've never done a proper hexcrawl but I imagine it would be tedious without the tension of trying to find the next town before wandering monsters wore down the party. Then you use that town as the new base, exploring the area around it and eventually moving on to a new area. If you can regain spells and HP in the wilderness then that has a huge impact on hexcrawling: you can just spiral off into the wilderness and do whatever.

      Maybe that's why clerics are seen as so necessary. If they're good for healing out in the wilderness, then they're like a mobile home base. Without one the players are disappointed they have to go "all the way back to town" to heal, because they're used to doing it the easy way, used to running off into the wilderness and doing whatever.

  14. Okay, I just finished reading the linked article. It is... interesting. On the one hand, I hate the idea of hidden hit points. This sounds like roll N dice for HP and then have N dice for optional healing as the session progresses. Why not just give the PCs double HP and be done with it? It is close to the same mechanically, and it simpler.

    On the other hand, quite a bit of how this works will depend on what defines a rest. In some ways, it seems surprisingly similar to this:

  15. "2) Visiting the gnarly local village crone to see if she has any healing salves or bandages."

    From the L&L column in question:

    "When a character rests, Hit Dice allow that character to regain hit points. Your character is bandaging wounds, ..."

    You have demonstrated a clear inability to comprehend the article you are responding to. Take off the bias glasses and give it a clearer look, please.

    1. You missed the point buddy.

      Why does it have to be so bloody GAMEY?

      So we just start hand-waving healing? Because that is exactly what you are advocating.

      Screw that.

  16. I love clerics but hate healing magic. It's so boring! Do a better job of not getting hurt because I am memorizing detect evil.

  17. Here's the historical sequence, and where things went awry:

    1. 0e (and B/X): Clerics are defined as holy warriors with special potency against undead. At higher levels they develop some utility as healers, but that's a secondary role. Low levels establish them primarily as a fighter variant.

    2. Greyhawk: Paladins take the "holy warrior" role. Clerics still differentiated by spells, so now players who want to be melee combatants can play paladins instead. Clerics get shifted toward the back rows.

    3. 1e: Bonus wisdom spells become standard, and "portable spellbooks" make resting to regain spells a standard strategy. Clerics are now mostly spellcasters, and modules begin to be balanced around the assumption that they can cast a load of healing spells every battle. More generous dice rolling systems make paladins much more common, and so they take over the holy warrior identity. Fighters gain lots of bonus abilities, so now by comparison clerics are third-rate as a melee class and nothing they can do is anywhere near as useful as keeping those fighters healed.

    4. Computer games define clerics around healing, and take away their melee capabilities entirely. This creates a generation of players who are used to clerics being fragile "holy mages" rather than "holy warriors".

    5. To boost survivability and make the game less lethal, everyone gets loads more hitpoints. This is important due to the shift to a narrative, story-telling style of play, where death creates an interruption in the intended "story" the GM wants to tell. Now clerics have to fill most of their slots with nothing but healing spells in order to keep the party at full health. If they try to memorize other types of spells, everyone gets annoyed and chides them for "selfish" play.

    6. Clerics get bored, since PnP games can't create a "healing minigame" that's any fun. (Arguably, even MMOs have trouble with this!) New mechanics are created to let everyone heal, and restore the freedom of clerics to pick their own spells. None of these mechanics make any sense at all, except as hand-waving gaming abstractions, but in all fairness, they are purposeful attempts to return the cleric to its original role.

    The better solution to this downward spiral is to return to sandbox/module design around the original assumption of healing being an occasional bonus, not a constant stream. That's a pretty hard sell in an MMO world where "healer" is a "role" that amounts to constantly streaming spells throughout an entire battle. But at least the historical development shows some of the wisdom in the original Moldvay decision to make 1st level clerics a non-caster class, as the initial defining experience for each new player of the game.

    My preferred solution is to 1) eliminate paladins (or make them super-rare), 2) bring clerics and fighters closer to parity in melee, at least at lower levels, and 3) reduce the number of healing spells that clerics are able to cast, either by removing bonus spells or (better yet) by banning the memorization of any duplicate spells at all. That forces players and GMs to define their ideas of "balance" around a world where healing is rare. And yes, that means that being slowly whittled down by kobolds and goblins is a serious threat and requires multi-battle resource management. That's the way the game was meant to be played.

    1. Spot on. I think this also shows how many seemingly innocent 1E decisions had long-term (often negative) ramifications. People wanted to play paladins, so ability score rolling methods were liberalized, so bonus inflation started to creep in, etc.

      One minor point: OD&D clerics do not get a spell at first level either, so I would not call this a Moldvay decision.

    2. Do you have a blog? This was great stuff. Most of it I have read before but you really laid it out in a nice way that helps me piece together where things start to go wrong and how to "fix" it with my house rules.

  18. I don't get what they're trying to accomplish with this re-imagining of what HD are. So instead of tracking just current and total hp, we have to track current and total hit dice as well? And "spend" them for natural healing? But it's not a "healing surge" because you can only use them between fights, and you regain them by taking long rests?

    Is it just me, or is 5e shaping up to be just 4e plus attempts to reify the dissociated mechanics with new, canonical in-fiction explanations? I would have hoped 5e's base would be less complicated than 4e, not more.

    In a related aside, did anyone else notice how the article let slip that "bloodied" is still an explicit part of the game, just not in name? "Here's a brief overview that gives you an idea of what happens when a creature takes damage…" Now, instead of getting rid of concepts like "bloodied", they're baking them into the basic game fiction. In the process, they're settling the question of "what hit points represent" with a canonical system answer.

    Reifying game mechanics is all well and good, and some excellent games out there do just that to make the game-play and the fiction intertwine in a satisfying and organic fashion. What I think the 5e crew don't get is that well-integrated examples of such games have their implied setting built around and from these reified concepts, while in 5e they appear to be tacking them onto D&D-as-we-know-it in an attempt to justify dissociated mechanics they want to keep. That's just going to result in a) many of these additions to the fiction feeling like transparent afterthoughts, or b) making the game's implied setting incompatible with everything called "D&D" prior to 4e.

    I applaud Mearls looking to classic D&D for inspiration, but I can't get excited by all this overcomplication of the game in order to blend the editions. This isn't unification – this is just throwing everything and the kitchen sink into a system and calling it unified.