It’s not what you say, but how we read it
Ah Mr Mearls. You sure do have a way with letting your well meaning and well written words cause controversy, don’t you? The Commencing Countdown article which serves to officially introduce the D&D Essentials line and begin the big push to launch took off on the intertubes like a backfiring rocket with all and sundry bemoaning that…. well, I’m getting ahead of myself.
In short, the last couple of paragraphs dropped a bombshell. Or at least, appeared to.
It was all going so well too. This is, after all, the product I have personally been waiting to see from D&D since… well, the first Red Box set. It’s what the D&D Starter Kit should have been, and then some. The article went into more detail about the line: The Red Box contains everything you need to play: sample adventure, character generation for four core races and four core classes, monsters, DM guide, the lot. The rest of the Essentials line continues that; it’s a re-presentation of D&D in a manner that is designed to be easily accessible and usable for beginning DMs and Players alike.
Brilliant! I’m stoked. Where do I sign up for this awesome package? It’s Dungeons & Dragons Ambassador Program 101. Love it!
After much discussion, we decided to push forward with class designs that would appeal to both new and existing players. We wanted to introduce greater differences of complexity between classes while also creating options that would interest veterans of the game.
… we looked at eliminating daily powers and simplifying encounter powers.
… we could produce a “new” fighter with new mechanics without having to change the existing fighter class.
… The only real changes rest in wizard encounter spells (they have miss effects now), and those changes are almost entirely additive in nature. Your burning hands spell is the same spell as before, except now it deals half damage on a miss.
Waitaminute. What? What??!!!
The Interweb went crazy. Core classes changed? Dropping Daily Powers for Fighters? Completely new mechanics for Wizard Encounter Spells?
“This isn’t a newbie-friendly edition of D&D – it’s a whole new re-write of the game!” they said, “It’s 4.5e D&D!” they cried. There was wailing and gnashing of teeth. Babies went unfed. War was declared on Korea.
Ok, I’m exaggerating just a tad, but you get the picture. Stalwart 4e D&D fans (myself included) weren’t happy. Wizards goes and fecks up yet again. Dammit. And we keep on so wanting you to get things right, first time.
Then the voice of calm was heard through the fog of fury.
And that voice had a name. It was the very soothing WoTC_Trevor over on the ENWorld message boards. And he did say unto his flock:
And seriously, new builds is what I would liken the crunchy bits in the Essentials players books to. You’ve got the basic PH1 Fighter, you’ve got the battlerager, and then you’ll have the Essentials fighter build. You have the Bow/Two weapon ranger, you have the beast ranger, and you have the Essentials ranger. The rules for playing the game don’t change (beyond adding the rules updates into the compendium), and a party could easily have an Essentials build rogue right along side a Brawny Rogue from PH1 – that is, assuming the party wanted two melee strikers.
And lo! There was calm.
The Essentials build don’t replace anything. Not a darned thing. They’re new, optional, Builds of the Classes designed to be simpler to play and understand. That’s all. Nothing more, nothing less. They don’t take anything from your existing characters, but can play alongside any other Build should you so desire. That’s a perfect solution if you have a new player – give him an Essentials build of a Core Class and he can join in right at the table.
That’s cool. Very cool, in fact.
Y’all can go and feed your babies and make peace with Korea now.