We stand on the brink of another year full of roleplaying goodness, but I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to see from Wizards of the Coast in 2019. During the last year we’ve seen some interesting stuff like Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica, the Waterdeep Dragon Heist adventure and Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, but they still haven’t quite built on or tapped into certain topics that I personally would love to see covered.
Here’s what I want to see come to D&D this year.
Flesh Out Social Encounters
I’ve been running Curse of Strahd since March last year and, after talking to my party’s bard, I had to agree that nearly every encounter in the adventure included some sort of combat and bloodshed. Every NPC was hostile and/or a servant of Strahd. So I set out to make the latest encounter a social one. I turned a spooky abbey filled with hostile mutants into a scene of a (albeit drab) party on the player’s behalf. I used the small parts of the Dungeon Master’s Guide to plan out the NPCs, how they could solve the encounter with persuasion, intimidation, and insight, and brought in other social systems from other games I know. It turned out okay.
I would like Wizards to actually give me a full chapter on this, and to develop the mechanics more. It’s not fair that players who have martial prowess can do many things in combat, and yet characters who have +9 persuasion just have to walk up to NPCs and do that and hope it solves the encounter. How about some structure, how about some mechanics, how about some idea how to reward and engage these types of classes.
Party Composition Guides
Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica had a lot of good stuff in it, and if you’ve read my article you’ll know that there’s stuff in there I would have in the Player’s Handbook. It touches on Session 0 type decisions where players decide together what kind of party they’d like to have, how they all met, what connections they have and where their official and unofficial allegiances lay. If you’ve started a bunch of campaigns before then you know that getting this stuff sorted is essential, and yet this was the first book to suggest it.
I had to work this stuff out on my own, but putting it in a book for all to use and learn, as well as fleshing it out to include normal Forgotten Realms adventures and parties would be an excellent way for Wizards to ensure more games have a healthy start. One of the biggest issues with new characters is that the players don’t know where they can be from, who they can be aligned to and how they relate to the other party members. Druids are from the forests, barbarians from the mountains and rogues from some urban conurbation. But what Guildmaster’s teaches us is this can vary wildly.
Again if you’ve read my articles before then you know I have a bone to pick with alignment. Its mostly been forgotten in it’s purpose and continues to give players the wrong impressions about the world they’re playing in. It keeps one foot of the game in a morally black and white setting, whilst the game itself – especially in 5th and with great story-telling campaigns like Critical Role – is stretching to have a much more nuanced narrative and deeper characters. Guildmaster’s did more for resolving this issue then anything, by providing players with factions to align themselves with that have tangible bonuses and consequences like alignment of old.
So I would indeed love Wizards to sort out alignment this year. Build on it, drop it, do something to let new players know exactly what it is they’re supposed to be doing with the whole mechanic.
Advanced Combat Rules
Combat in D&D is one of the more heavily concentrated on areas, and as such it is rather robust. However there are some rules that are optional in the DMG, and I think they’re a great start but haven’t been built on since. What would be great is a combat supplement that introduces alternative or dare I say, better rules for combat, or to address the concerns that have been coming up since the release of 5th.
Games Workshop have a bi-annual FAQ as well as a Chapter Approved book that release new rules and mechanics, as well as erratas for all existing books, and answers to FAQs. If Wizards did something similar, they could give official answers, and expand upon, things like shooting into melee, flanking, charging, and how entering and exiting stealth works mid-combat. These are just examples of things but I see them crop up again and again. Also the community have done a great job in encounter balancing, going a step further and taking a look at the classes present would be a great help. A party of bards, clerics and druids will definitely take many more rounds to eliminate 300 collective HP than sorcerers, barbarians and wizards.
Best PCs List
This is not so much a rules thing, but something I would like to see Wizards do just to improve community engagement, and to give players more food for thought: A best player character list. This could be on their website, or on DnDBeyond, or anywhere, but it would be a database that contained all the best PCs that were entered on there, and could be sorted by class and race. Therefore if you’re looking to make a half-orc warlock, what are some of the coolest characters that have come before? It’d be a great way for players to get inspiration, and also see beyond the traditional backstories and personalities of the classes and races. Xanathar’s and Guildmaster’s and their new subclasses do a great job at fleshing out the classes in ways you wouldn’t normally think of them – cleric’s Domain of the Grave, and the druid Circle of Spores to name but two.
Bonus: Sort out DnDBeyond
Bonus round but still something I’d really like to see: A full release of DnDBeyond! Give us the offline character app, let me have my content I’ve bought already in book form on DnDBeyond, or just start a way to buy the book and also have it in there as well simultaneously. Have the PDF character sheet export with a spell list that tells you what the spells do, stuff like that.
And that’s my things I’d like to see in 2019. If you are hankering for one thing to make your games better, let me know!