D&D Trivia Archive May 2010

On Twitter, I give out little tidbits about D&D history as I know it or experienced it. This means I might not always be right, but at least it’s interesting.  You can challenge me on twitter or by email.

Here’s the May 2010 D&D trivia archive.

  • Even the greatest DMs, such as Monte Cook, fail to keep it all straight sometimes. Ask him, and he’ll tell ya. Relax and enjoy.
  • My understanding–D&D R&D DMs identify minions as such in some way. The assumption: skilled combatants can identify mooks.
  • Minions had higher HP, near PC at-will damage, at one stage. Development shaped the 1-HP minion for easier tracking.
  • D&D trivia tells us that trolls always follow string because they know every string ends in meat.
  • D&D trivia also tells us you can only make chewing gum from troll flesh. Tastes like chicken.
  • My defiling design for Dark Sun was meant to be as (or more) tempting as the force’s dark side. Hope the final version still is.
  • The convention previews of Dark Sun might not be the final version. The books are just wrapping up preprint production.
  • I helped make the crazy D&D editing test @loganbonner took to hire on at WotC, and I helped evaluate those tests.
  • When @loganbonner started, I was happy a new person (like me!) entered the industry. Weird we both got laid off the same day.
  • Aside: @gregbilsland is another new game-industry person.
  • Eric Holmes, the author of the the first D&D “blue box” basic set, passed away on 3/20 at age 80. http://bit.ly/cmD2K0
  • 3e Monster CRs (as much art as science) are still in 4e. The design team just decided to use “level” as the 4e word.
  • Level was the default for anything related to level for powers, items, and monsters. Smart choice IMO, and one I wasn’t part of.
  • The powers of 4e were in the earliest playtest I was in (early 2006?), but I wasn’t there at the beginning.
  • Powers evolved from Heinsoo crazy (6d12? Really?) to the versions you see today. The early mandate was to push limits on design.
  • FYI, Heinsoo crazy refers to wild-man designer Rob Heinsoo, and his sort of design crazy ain’t a bad thing in early stages.
  • The Ki power source was going to be home for classes such as the ninja, samurai, and so on. Then @aquelajames and others realized we were about to isolate those classes.
  • The team decided that the monk, samurai, ninja, and so on, could occupy neat spaces in other power sources, such as the psi monk.
  • Or that it’s possible that those classes already exist. @aquelajames didn’t want another Oriental Adventures.
  • I doubt you’ll see a whole book just about Eastern fighting techniques. It’ll be integrated with a D&D spin.
  • Monsters evolved to be simple to run and easy to design for flavor. R&D intentionally ditched the PC-like 3e design framework.
  • It’s a mistake to rely on play feedback only from extremely sharp players. They outperform normal players, skewing perceptions.
  • The initial 4e Monster Manual draft had more fluff. It was cut, I guess, to fit more stats. But monster powers alone are often evocative.
  • I’ve had players attest to the evocativeness of monster powers. One even asked me to tone down the evil critters.
  • Each good player power was similarly designed to tell its story with mechanics and brief flavor. Is it enough fluff? IMO, yes.
  • Many D&D R&Ders boggled at brand policy, but D&D and MtG worlds are kept strictly apart. Lorwyn campaign for D&D? Made of win!
  • 3e D&D crit confirmation rolls had obscure mathematical reasons, but we R&Ders and players saw it as post-crit denial. No fun.
  • 4e was also built to better control PC and monster crit ranges.
  • A discussion was had in D&D R&D whether the revenant would be a bloodline, like the dhampyr by @brianrjames. I still think so.
  • The view that won out, based on desire to do revenant minis, was that the revenant should be a unique Medium race.
  • The D&D world is not our world. Some aesthetic choices were made based on that idea. Take the assassin. The invoker, too.

8 thoughts on “D&D Trivia Archive May 2010

  1. @Shilling ive had the same complains on MM’s lack of fluff, thankfully for what ive seen so far on the previews of MM3 they have realized this and are working to include more suiting lore with the mechanics 🙂

    @Chris: love your trivias bro, although most of them i catch on the live feed ive had miss a couple, great compendium 🙂


  2. @Shilling: The lack of fluff hurts me, too, especially considering a lot was written (some by me) then cut in editing/managing editing. I feel your pain.

    Still, I’ll stick by my claim that powers can be fluffy. 😉

    @Alio: You hit on one reason I said the quoted line. I have safely ignored updates in my game and seen no diminishing of fun. The Character Builder can make that difficult, however.

    I also agree that encounter groups are bogus. I’ve always thought that and said as much when I was at Wizards. I don’t mind prose that tells me why one monster might appear with another, but I have never used an encounter group. In fact, I’ve never seen one used.

    As for twitter, I’ve been keeping my nose in my work, lately. I’ll be back after this week. Thanks for asking.


  3. @Gandy Or those of us who use the DDi Character Builder, where errata are automatically added, whether we agree with it or not. 😉

    BTW, as for fluff, I much prefer flavor over things like encounter groups. Especially since so many in the MM didn’t seem to make sense.


  4. Chris, pretty cool and informative. I’m going to become a twitter follower.

    @Shilling — I personally think that the powers and tactics from the MM are the fluff and something I’d rather do without.

    @Alio — I’m still rather amazed at the number of groups who actually discontinue a power in their game just because an errata update killed something. To heck with official, I say. I suspect that only those of the squeaky wheel power gamer bent read the errata anyway. Read it and groan, that is.


  5. It’s a mistake to rely on play feedback only from extremely sharp players. They outperform normal players, skewing perceptions.

    This is basically what I always bring up when I complain about things like powers getting the nerf bat treatment. Sure, some powers are “broken” when a min/maxer puts them together in a murderous combination. However, most players aren’t “that guy” and take powers because they like how they fit their character. When you nerf it the min/maxer is disappointed his Ultramegasupercombo doesn’t work anymore. However, the regular guy just trying to play his character gets a nice big gimp in his step. I think it’s far too often that the push for errata comes from DMs dealing with power-players, and in reality, the power-players are the problem. They’ll always find ways to break the system. Those voices are louder though, so the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

    Anyway, I recognize these from Twitter, but it was nice to see them all collected. Speaking of Twitter, where’ve you been lately Chris? You suddenly went silent.


  6. The lack of fluff in Monster Manual and powers still hurts me. The word ‘fluff’ itself implies lesser importance. I would describe it as “narrative rules”.

    Too many monsters in the manual, I have no idea what they look like nor how they act. All I know is the mechanics of their attacks. Those monsters require considerable background-building by myself before I can use them.

    As for powers; Justin Alexander has written lucidly about how dissociated rules hurt the game.


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