I’ve been participating in the D&D Next playtest. So far, I think what I’ve seen is OK. But I’m not sure it’s totally valid. Here’s why.
One of the main things I want out of D&D Next is to make the core rules slimmer and simpler – more like Basic/Red Box or 2e than these 300, 400, 500+ page legal tomes we’re saddled with as Player’s Handbooks nowadays. Simplifying D&D is how you’ll get the next generation on board. The initial playtest packet *seems* nicely streamlined – but is that just because they’re only giving us a small subset?
I’m getting concerned about whether they’ll be showing enough restraint that Next won’t turn into the same bloated mess. Already they are adding on more and more stuff to the core rules because ‘someone wanted it.’ I don’t believe we need a wizard and a sorcerer and a warlock in the core rules. I believe we need a wizard, and the others can be added on in optional supplements later. Sure, someone wants them – someone wants everything. That’s why design by committee is a Godawful way of doing things. “Next will be maximally inclusive” looks like it may be code for that. We have opportunity attacks back too, and fighter powers. Nice frosting but not must haves.
I don’t mind adding things on – but not in the core rules. Everyone feels entitled to have access to everything in the core rules. Everyone pretty much has to read and understand everything in the core rules. The core rules need to be the true core of the game – fighter, wizard, cleric, thief; dwarf, elf, halfling, human; exploration rules and some weapons and some spells, go. We had plenty of fun with just that from the Red Box. That’s Dungeons & Dragons.
Mike Mearls, pay attention – if you cannot make the Player’s Handbook no more than 128 pages long, you will have failed. Take all those two years with of “but we want this other thing too” comments and pack them the hell away for future product releases. (Naturally if you are putting DM info, magic items, monsters etc. into the book so it’s a core rulebook not just a player’s handbook you get a little slack here, but you probably shouldn’t do that.)
I already have a 500 page D&D game that works fine. I’m not interested in another. The only way you lure me away is with a leaner, finer machine. Do it. Stop now and ship 5e if you can’t resist adding more junk back in.