Developing For Dungeons and Dragons

September 3, 2005

The column “Design and Development” over on the Wizards of the Coast site is always interesting, but this week it was enlightening as well. The column in question, What is Development? included this series of questions passed to potential hires:

1. In D&D, class and race are crucial elements that define a character’s role in the party and his place in the world. It’s no coincidence that they’re among the most important game mechanics for developers to understand.

a) What is the most powerful class in the Player’s Handbook, and why is it the most powerful?

b) What is the least powerful race in the Player’s Handbook, and why is it the least powerful?

2. Longstrider is a 1st-level ranger and druid spell that increases movement by 10 feet for 1 hour per level. Is this spell more powerful, equally powerful, or less powerful than most 1st-level spells? Why do you think this is true?

3. The concept of the “swift action” (as described in such books as Expanded Psionics Handbook and Complete Arcane) is a relatively new addition to D&D. Why were swift actions (especially swift-action casting time spells) added to the game? What’s the downside of adding swift actions to the game?

4. You’re part of the development team for the next D&D sourcebook. If these two feats were part of the design turnover, what are some comments that you would make about them?

Arcane Defiance
Your knowledge of one school of spells enables you to better resist spells from that school.
Prerequisites: Int 12, Spell Focus in the chosen school, ability to cast one spell from the selected school.
Benefit: Select one school of spells that you can cast and for which you have the Spell Focus feat. You get a +1 bonus on saving throws against spells from that school.

Burning Barrier of Breath
You can channel the power of your breath weapon to create a barrier of flames.
Prerequisites: Cha 13, breath weapon.
Benefit: Use your breath weapon to cast wall of fire.

5. You’re part of the development team for the next set of D&D Miniatures. If this model were part of the design turnover, what comments would you make about it?

Ruby Golem
Cost: 38
Faction: CG
Type: Construct
Level: 8
Speed: 4
AC: 22
HP: 80
Melee Attack: +4/+4 (10)

Special Abilities
Regeneration 5 (heal 5 damage each time Ruby golem is activated)
Sonic weakness (Ruby golem cannot regenerate damage from sonic attacks)
Magic Immunity (Whenever a spell is cast on ruby golem roll 1-10 the caster gets the spell back and it has no effect, 11-20 the caster loses the spell and it has no effect.)

Warband building
Ruby Golem can be played in any warband but costs an extra 5 points and loses fearless if he is not in CG.

6. Your development team has decided that this rule is mechanically balanced, but the team lead tells you that it needs to be rewritten for clarity. How might you rewrite this rule and why?

While this effect affects you, your Reflexive saves are improved by +2 if you’re a rogue or other kind of character with evasion, except when she’s flat-footed or loses her AC Dex bonus, in which case she doesn’t get any bonus, but if she has improved evasion improves you to +4.

7. Describe a game mechanic (from a game other than a roleplaying game) that you think is good, and explain why you think it’s good.

My answers will show up in the comments, and I invite you to do the same.

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