Mike Mearls' thoughts on 4e design

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Tim Baker
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Mike Mearls' thoughts on 4e design

Post by Tim Baker » Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:04 am

I thought Mike Mearls' exchange on Twitter about 4e design was interesting. It's continued here.

What other elements from 4e would you like to have seen carry over to 5e?

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Re: Mike Mearls' thoughts on 4e design

Post by shesheyan » Fri Nov 09, 2018 2:29 pm

I loved the creature type system for monsters (archer/tank/blaster/mook). It was easy to create encounters with solid strategy just by reading the keywords of the entries.

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Re: Mike Mearls' thoughts on 4e design

Post by Tim Baker » Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:57 am

shesheyan wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 2:29 pm
I loved the creature type system for monsters (archer/tank/blaster/mook). It was easy to create encounters with solid strategy just by reading the keywords of the entries.
That's a great example. It's one of the reasons I enjoy running 13th Age, which has the same type of monster classification.

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Re: Mike Mearls' thoughts on 4e design

Post by Havard » Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:36 am

It was an interesting read!
Mike Mearls wrote:If you skipped 4e, take a look at Madness at Gardmore Abbey. It draws from the Keep on the Borderlands model in a way I find interesting. An overlooked classic IMO.
I own Gardmore Abbey, but I mainly picked it up for the Deck of Many things included. Maybe I should take another look? :)
Mike Mearls wrote:Hard to answer, because the 4e I wanted to do and the 4e we ended up publishing were different on a fundamental level. I wanted classes to have different power acquisition schedules, and more thematic ties between power types.

Example - In the wizard, your daily spells would unlock words of power, the component words needed to cast the spell, as encounter powers. The idea was you’d cast part of a daily spell as an encounter power.
I have no idea how that would work. Sounds interesting, but also complicated?

Roles & Rangers:
Mike Mearls wrote:It was a core concept, but it was somewhat frustrating. 4e had a tendency to build matrices and try to fill them without thinking through whether that was a good idea, especially in a system where each class had an enormous overhead. Forced power design into narrow niches.

I would’ve much preferred the ability to adopt any role within the core 4 by giving players a big choice at level 1, an option that placed an overlay on every power you used or that gave you a new way to use them.

Yes, exactly. Might be:
Controller - Animal companion
Leader - Aragorn-like herbalism
Striker - Hunter mechanic
Defender - Mobile interceptor (melee or ranged)
I like these ideas for the Ranger. Powers are interesting, but the way Mearls describes it, the design matrices seemed to be detrimental to the overall flexibility of the game. I think many RPGs suffer from this in one way or other.

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Re: Mike Mearls' thoughts on 4e design

Post by Tim Baker » Sun Nov 11, 2018 3:48 am

Havard wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:36 am
Mike Mearls wrote:It was a core concept, but it was somewhat frustrating. 4e had a tendency to build matrices and try to fill them without thinking through whether that was a good idea, especially in a system where each class had an enormous overhead. Forced power design into narrow niches.

I would’ve much preferred the ability to adopt any role within the core 4 by giving players a big choice at level 1, an option that placed an overlay on every power you used or that gave you a new way to use them.
I like these ideas for the Ranger. Powers are interesting, but the way Mearls describes it, the design matrices seemed to be detrimental to the overall flexibility of the game. I think many RPGs suffer from this in one way or other.
13th Age allows each character to select three talents from a collection of possible talents available to each class. While this doesn't allow each class to fill every role, it goes a long way to allowing the player to customize the class to fit one of the possible roles available to the class. You can dip into talents that are intended for three roles, for example, and play a dilettante, or focus all your talents on one role and be specialized at doing one thing quite well.

I wonder how much of this came from Rob Heinsoo's (13th Age co-designer) interactions with Mike Mearls in the 4e days.

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Re: Mike Mearls' thoughts on 4e design

Post by brassdragon » Sun Nov 11, 2018 5:22 pm

Havard wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:36 am
I own Gardmore Abbey, but I mainly picked it up for the Deck of Many things included. Maybe I should take another look? :)
From just having read and never played/run it, I can say that it has a lot of interesting ways to make set-piece battles stand out from one another. Which include new uses for the cards in the Deck of Many Things.

(I bought Gardmore Abbey because I'd heard several other sources describe it as was the height of 4e module design, and I had skipped 4e entirely and was curious about what I'd missed out on.)

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Re: Mike Mearls' thoughts on 4e design

Post by Zeromaru X » Mon Nov 12, 2018 6:25 pm

Pretty glad Mearls' ideas didn't got to the final draft, then. A lot of stuff he didn't planned is what I like about 4e, like classes in specific roles (it encourages teamwork... the rogue that 3e always was a nuisance for the rest of the team, was a team player in 4e because of this) and all classes getting all their options from the start. I can see why Essentials' classes were the way they were, though.
Havard wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:36 am
I own Gardmore Abbey, but I mainly picked it up for the Deck of Many things included. Maybe I should take another look? :)
You should. The adventure is really good.

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