November 16, 2012

5E Friday

-The Monk class came out for 5E this week...and it came out of nowhere. This was not part of a new playtest package. Instead it came out all by itself (you still have to download the whole package). I like this move on WotC's part. It means they have finally figured out that they don't have to put everything into one lump package to impress us with how much they've done so far. If this is a new precedent that means we can, hopefully, expect to see more of these mini releases.

I think this works well a couple of ways.
First, it actually allows for more focused testing. Instead of getting feedback on numerous options from a large playtest package, they can solicit feedback from just this one add-on. Plus, the feedback will be more current. Players can test the most current add-on.

Second, it keeps 5E up front and in people's minds. Releasing small add-ons gives the potential audience more to discuss, more often. One thing about this long playtest is that people's interest will wane as time goes on...unless there is new and exciting playtest content released. This will help keep people talking about 5E. Especially for something like the Monk class which is outside the expected playtest area.

-One of the "features" of the Monk class is that it is restricted to a certain alignment. I fully expect this to change as the early feedback is almost universally negative (as seen in various forums). However, I like alignment to play an important part in character play, but not to the extent of restricting certain classes or races to specific alignments. Rather, I would like to see alignment handled in a positive manner instead of a negative one. Right now restricting class/race to alignments is a negative response - "no, you can not play a monk with that alignment".

One option is to provide a bonus for playing a class/race with a specific alignment. Monks who are Lawful gain benefits/options that playing a monk of a "non-standard" alignment do not have access to. The only problem is that players who choose the "non-standard" alignment will feel slighted. A bulky solution to that is to provide alignment bonuses for each class and each alignment, but that will quickly get too cumbersome. Which leads me to my more radical idea...

Move alignments from where they are right now (something extraneous) to a game mechanic such as a Background. Imagine a Monk taking the Lawful Neutral Background, or a Paladin taking the Lawful Good Background...or Lawful Evil for those who champion evil gods devoutly. No longer is alignment tied directly to class, nor is it left to hang nebulously outside of game mechanics. It now becomes a role-playing choice with benefits.


greywulf said...

Alignment as a Background option? That's genius! Yep. I'd go for that.

CrapEDM(Carpe Diem) said...

The problem with alignment is that a person has different 'alignment' in different situations and contexts.
A good person might still be evil when it comes to dealing with his greatest enemy.
A lawful person might still be completely against a certain set of authority.
You can't boil someone down to one constant alignment. You can give the general overall alignment, but it doesn't define every aspect of that person's life.
So, there's nothing wrong with restricting the monk's alignment to lawful when it comes to learning and practicing their discipline. But there should be a system in place that allows for the multiple alignments that people really have.