Thursday, February 16, 2012

D&D 5E designers check out Trail of Cthulhu, D&D 0E to 4E, and Pathfinder

Looks like he used Non-Euclidean dice
for his saving throw. Rookie mistake.
According to a thread on, which was apparently based on some "questions from the audience" session that the D&D 5E game designers held, the D&D 5E game designers have played a variety of games as part of their research work.

Those games include:
  • video games - Call of Duty, Skyrim
  • boardgames - Lord of the Rings confrontation
  • D&D editions - "every edition of D&D and Pathfinder"
  • RPGs - Pathfinder, Trail of Cthulhu

In response, Robin D. Laws held forth on his blog regarding his input on the investigation mechanic and something called the "Whiff factor" as an insight into the Trail of Cthulhu investigation mechanic and as cautionary advice on utilizing it for something like combat.

For folks uninterested in the discussions at those sites, here are some choice quotes and re-quotes:

D&D seminar Q&A

What are you guys playing that's not D&D?

Call of Duty, Skyrim, Trail of Cthulhu, Lord of the Rings Confrontation.
In the run-up to D&D Next we played every edition of D&D and Pathfinder.

Monte Cook

A couple of days ago I talked a little bit about how we want the core mechanic of the game to be the interaction between the DM and the player. And one of the great tools for that is the ability score. So what we want is to empower DMs and players so that if you want to attempt to do something "I want to open the door" then the DM doesn' t have to even have you roll, he can just look, see you have a 17 strength and says "Yeah, you burst through that door". We want to get past some of the mundane rolls and not tie up a lot of table time with that and move on to the more interesting stuff and the table narrative.

Bruce Cordell

An example I saw yesterday was a rogue going into a room and looking for traps. You can describe what you're doing and roleplay what you're doing. If he says I look in the jar and I know there's a gem in the jar, I'm not going to have him roll. However, if something is more hidden, like a secret compartment on the shelf I would look at their intelligence and see if he can just automatically find it or if he's looking in the exact right place. However, if he's doing that check in the middle of some other stressor like fighting, then I'd have him roll.  

Rob Schwalb

Earlier this week I had some players fighting some kobolds in the room. One of the guys wanted to jump over a pit, he had a 15 strength so I let him just do it - it wasn't that big of a jump and it sped up combat. It's very liberating to be able to do that kind of thing and just keep the flow going.

Robin D. Laws

The pacing of roleplaying sessions improves when the GM follows a simple principle: never ask for a roll if failure would lead to a dead end or other uninteresting result. This principle appears in various guises in GUMSHOE, HeroQuest, and the 4e Dungeon Master’s Guide 2. Sometimes though... it becomes important to distinguish between an uninteresting result and a setback that makes the player unhappy.


  1. Rients/Reints' Bill of Rights manifesto flies in the face, with his desire to roll to fail at every opportunity. The positive to the Look/Pass Ability Score system (which is not new) is that it doesn't disable rolling, so the 'I Like The Freedom To Fail' crowd can still do so without an obstacle. That's a great compromise. :)

    I used to run games with the Look/Pass system, but players kept insisting on rolling, often citing the arbitrary nature of GM fiat it seemed to impart the flavour of, whether true or not.

    Cannot make everyone happy all of the time.

  2. It seems that the pause to have dice resolve things is very important for some people. On the other hand, there are some guaranteed successes and guaranteed failures in various systems as well -- so I guess it IS a matter of whether or not the GM is perceived to be impartial or not.


That's my side of things. Let me know what you think, my friend.

Related Posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...