On the Heartbreaking New D&D

So this D&D thing I'm doing needs a name.

It's about maximizing player agency.

It's about being quick and inviting to new players, while still allowing older players to customize their characters without needing to have a 'build'.

It's about being explicit about how we are going to handle fictional positioning.

It's about the idea of negotiated choice.

How is it doing the above? Seven choices in player character creation. Creation starts with rolling dice.  Combat is abstracted, not concerned with simulating the progression of a combat round. Choices about characters all come at second level, not first.

You want to play a paladin? How about a monk? Well, then you pick fighter and take abilities that feel paladin like to you. What about causing the fall of a paladin?

Why would I ever want to do that?

You see, the fall of a paladin is about the nadir of poor communication built exclusively around things that are founded on things that are thought without proof (belief).

Why argue about something unresolvable? Being a paladin is about either playing a role of a brave and noble hero or getting the list of powers that they have. If it's the first, then quibbling over what is or is not a violation of their standard should not really be a part of game-play. If it is the second, then fine. In these rules fighters are picking their powers anyway.

I find myself asking this question often: "Does this rule or system improve the experience of play for people at my table? i.e. Are they enjoying themselves more with this addition or subtraction."

If the player wants something above and beyond fighter abilities, such as a magical status as paladin, then that is something that falls in the realm of negotiated choice. And in that case, the consequences, benefits, and rules will be explicit and quantifiable - otherwise the choice won't be informed and agency will be impacted.

So, any ideas for the name?


  1. How about "Paths to Renown" (PtR)or "Adventurer's Journey" (AJ)? Just trying to think of a name that reflects the progression of characters in the game.

  2. Whatever you do, present the character advancement system as something that can be "punched out" from the game and used in everyone else's dream Frankenstein D&D game.

  3. Continuing to watch with much interest. Your goals sound very much like the sort of things I strive towards myself.

    For the name I'd recommend sitting and condensing what the game is about, as you'd describe it to someone who had never played D&D before. Focusing on agency and negotiated choices is great, but what is the game ABOUT? Even if you're not including a setting there must be something that you want to be the focus of the gameplay.

    When you have this sentence hopefully part of it will jump out as a catchy cluster of words.

  4. Oh god, the tedious "Paladin fall" story. I feel you there.

    "Decisions & Dice" ;)

  5. I don't know what you should call the game, but the introductory adventure should be "Tomb of the Quantum Ogre".

  6. "You see, the fall of a paladin is about the nadir of poor communication built exclusively around things that are founded on things that are thought without proof (belief)."

    Things that are thought /with/ proof are mere beliefs also. This is because you have to first decide what constitutes 'proof' of anything and then believe in the decision you have made. Belief is all there is... do you believe what you see?

    1. You don't have to decide what constitutes proof.

      Proof is when you can make a claim that can be repeatedly shown and proven.

      Such evidence of proof is expected to be empirical and properly documented.

      I.e. I can tell you how an internal combustion engine works and why, and for any part, I can show you at any time that it works.

      It's not a belief; I don't have to think it without proof; I can demonstrate the proof of it any time you wish.

  7. I think that the fall of a paladin is an interesting and legitimate course for a player to take, but that the old-school way of handling the paladin fall (you break your code, no more fun stuff) is aweful. I'm currently running a 2e AD&D game where I have designed a set of tempting alternate features that a paladin may opt to use. If the paladin falls, then cool, he has become a different class with different, equivalent features. If he stays true to his code, cool, he gets to keep all of his paladin abilities.

    The thought process that I followed is that the alternative has to be beneficial. Something has to be gained for breaking the paladin code, or why on earth would anyone do it. My paladin player went into the game wanting to play a good, noble, courageous knight who is an instrument of his god. Now that he sees there is not an automatic penalty for being a struggling, tempted, and perhaps misguided punisher of those he sees as "wicked," he has to make actual choices about whether or not to uphold his code.

    As an aside, I've been trying to incorporate some of the advice I've read in this blog into my game. My players and I are coming from a 3.5/4e base, so it's a pretty big change in playstyle. We don't really use NWPs, and my players went from bored ducks to CSI investigators when I told them they didn't have to roll to find the clues, they just had to tell me how they were examining the evidence.

    I have a potential player who usually plays wizards because they are usually the closest thing to psychic powers, and because psionic classes are generally more book-keeping than they're worth. We are in the process of looking at your psionics suppliment to see if it's something we want to use, and he's very excited about it. Thank you so much for all the work you've put into this blog, and all of the resources on it.


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