Sunday, July 7, 2013

Daily Resources in D&D Next

One thing that the new D&D is still struggling with are daily powers and the 5-minute work day. Except now, I think they're making it potentially worse because monks and paladins are joining the ranks of the blast-and-rest group.

I wrote before about one simple fix, which is simply that all of your "daily" resources don't refresh when you rest. But now besides wizards, clerics, druids, rangers, and paladins having a daily amount of spell slots, most classes have additional daily powers:
  • channel divinity - clerics & paladins
  • wild shape - druids
  • ki - monks
  • rage - barbarians
So these classes can all suffer from out-of-resources syndrome. Then there's hit dice too, so even fighters and rogues can run out of those.

There are some attempts at fixing this though. Barbarians get another attack-type that they can use all day (get advantage by giving advantage) and wizards as well as druids who focus on spellcasting recover some low-level spell slots after short rests. At-will cantrips also give some options when spending daily resources seem excessive. But this doesn't change the fact that one rest basically replenishes everyone.

The hit die recovery mechanic for long rests is one way to help kill the five-minute work day. Currently you recover all your HP but only half your hit dice. I'm not sure that's the implementation that sings to me, but I like it. You don't get all your resources back. Now if they can apply this to spells and other daily features, that'd be great. Of course, there's really no reason that all of these things need to be different resources, they're all basically "spell slots". I'm not sure why wild shape can't be a set of druid spells (with wild-shape focused druids getting more of them and fewer other spells), or even turn undead could be a simple cleric/paladin spell.

Second Edition (and before?) had some version of this where, by the book, you needed a lot more time to memorize powerful spells. So you might have to really choose what to regain when you're resting during an adventure.

One objection to worrying about this is that the DM's responsibility is to ensure that games move along and to enforce plot-based reasons to avoid this problem entirely. I'm somewhat sympathetic to this point. I've rarely encountered this in games that I've played in or ran. However, a well-crafted game should ensure that most DMs won't find this well-known problem to be a problem.

Basically, resting should still be a reasonable option: you're trading time for some resources. The problem is when all your resources return with too little time spent. A simple mechanic would just be regain half your spent resources (round up).

That might be too simplistic though for the current set of rules. For spells, maybe you regain slots top-down so you do regain most of your big guns, but maybe not all the little ones (or go bottom-up so that you really have to think before using those big guns). But then with wild-shape, channel divinity, rage, and ki... you've got so little that it seems like maybe you should just regain one less than your maximum (minimum 1, I guess), so if you're 100% spent you still get most of your mojo back.

If I ran the show, I'd make all the daily points (spells, monk/psionic ki points, berserker rage, etc.) one system and then have a simple way for daily stuff to be recovered to around 75% capacity. Or, well, at least I'd heavily consider this, easier to apply an optional get-all-your-shit-back rule or grittier recover-slower rule and have the five-minute work day addressed in the base.

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