So, today’s Legends & Lore column. It’s … iiinnnnnteresting …
On the one hand, it’s a real signal that the D&D Next team is willing to try out some odd new things in order to give people what they want. People demanded a more interesting fighter, and this is definitely ‘interesting.’ A dice pool made up of non-d20 dice, that can be either used as boost dice or spent like points to perform combat maneuvers, and that refreshes each round? I can’t recall a mechanic quite like this in any prior version of D&D (though there are definite parallels in other games).
On the other hand, that the devs are willing to do this really exposes that D&D Next is still in a very volatile development phase. If they were as set in stone about the direction of the game as some people have accused them of being, there’s no way they’d put something like this out there. Tthis rule has got to be thought of as not even Beta, but Alpha — a first trial, at risk of being scrapped or drastically overhauled. I really get a sense that this playtest is going to drag out longer than I originally thought it might. Gen Con 2014 is a real possibility.
As for the rule itself? I can’t wait to give it a try on the tabletop, but my initial reaction is that it’s probably going to flop, or at least require significant revision as things move forward. It’s just too different from everything else in the game thus far — it’s the only thing in the rules as currently written that uses dice as anything other than a number generator, and it makes for something else to keep track of round to round. I do like the idea of giving the other polyhedral dice more to do than just roll damage, but I’m not at all certain this will be the way to do it. Sure will be fun to try, though.
If this new “dice pool” mechanic does fly, it could be interesting to see it trickle into other corners of the game. Monsters with CS dice seems an obvious development, but I’m thinking, what sort of “dice pools” might other classes take advantage of? Things like:
- Arcane Mastery for wizards — spend a die to recall a spent spell or to Disadvantage a target’s saving throw
- Improvisational Luck for rogues — use die to boost skill checks or to take a “lucky” reroll to a failed skill check
- Field Authority for warlords — spend dice to give an ally a basic boost to a combat roll
Eh, maybe, maybe not. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens with Combat Superiority. Chances are we’ll all get a peek at Gen Con, when the next round of public playtest begins.