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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Internet time warp alows Mike Mearls to tell me why I was wrong yesterday, by answering a question last Tuesday.


First off Thank you to anyone who served in our military and happy Veterans day, much respect.



On with the show.
Yesterday I posted this: "Best darn game accessory ever."
In part of which I waxed on about  giving character backgrounds some mechanical weight using 5th ed as an example.

Thanks to Charles of over at the Dyvers campaign blog* and his article, "Cleaning up the  AMA with Mike Mearls"

I found the exact reason why I'm wrong, well wrong in the case of how they designed D&D 5th ed.
here is the quote.

First part of a question from (the IronApotecary)

2) Traits, Ideals, Flaws, and Bonds were an incredible introduction to 5e, and I've found they're great at giving starting characters real personality. That said, why don't they have more mechanical support? I really would have liked to see more bonuses for embracing, as well as penalties for ignoring them.

The the answer from Mike Mearls. 

"We avoided penalties in the game as much as possible, primarily because we feel that giving people incentives or bonuses to do things is a better motivator. That said, in the playtest and design process we felt that a light touch gave groups more room to determine how important roleplaying out character traits was to the table. If we add too many mechanics, we risk hitting the point where roleplay feels scripted or by the numbers"

That's neat right? It speaks to almost exactly what I was writing about yesterday. 

Which means Mr. Mearls's and my design philosophy don't quite line up in respect to backgrounds. Which is cool to me, there's room for everything. Lets face it  Mike Mearl's was only the lead designer on the most well received iteration of the  biggest franchise in the  RPG industry. He knows some things. **


My counterpoint was in my last post, which as I said  wrote before I ever read Mearl's view on backgrounds. With this new information I can completely see why  D&D 5th handles background in the way that it does. 
It does not change how I feel about giving mechanical weight to character backgrounds and motivations, though it will make me rethink how penalties would work when attached to backgrounds in 5th ed.


-Mark.

(* I have to take a second to praise Charles of Dyvers for his work here. Without his herculean act of mucking through the forums where these quotes originated I never would have found them on my own.)

(** Before any one jumps my shit, I really like 5th ed, and Mike Mearls, I just thought this was an interesting bookend to what I wrote yesterday.)