During the 3rd edition era of Dragonlance gaming, I learned an important lesson from Cam Banks. When you design a setting a game for a new system or a new edition, you have to look at the setting through the “lens” of the rules you are designing for.
For example, during the early DL3e days, many fans wanted sorcery and mysticism to function much like they had in SAGA. Yet those two systems are so totally different it wasn’t funny. I remember Andre’ La Roche coming up with how spellshaping worked in D&D 3rd edition – metamagic feats.
With Dungeons & Dragons 5e, we must do the same. I know that the temptation is there to turn every prestige class in the 3rd edition books by Sovereign Press/Margaret Weis Productions into subclasses. Likewise, we could examine every race, feat, piece of equipment, and so forth and carry it on into infinity.
Don’t get me wrong. If you find converting rules fun then by all means, have at it! However, I believe that we should follow the tenets of KISMIF (Keep It Simple, Make It Fun). Where you might be tempted to make a new rule, see if an existing one will work with some reskinning.
A recent article on EN World compiled some thoughts from Mike Mearls on the design philosophy of 5th edition.
“In terms of players, we focus much more on narrative and identity, rather than specific, mechanical advantages. Who you are is more important than what you do, to the point that your who determines your what. In broad terms – and based on what we can observe of the community from a variety of measures – we went from a community that focused on mechanics and expertise, to one focused on socializing and storytelling. Mechanical expertise is an element of the game, but no longer the sole focus. Ideally, it’s a balanced part of all the other motivators. If balanaced correctly, every has their fun. Enjoyment isn’t zero sum.”
It’s this philosophy that I believe we should take with Dragonlance in 5th edition. Dragonlance is one of the most narrative of D&D settings. It’s a world of story, adventures, and wonderful characters. That’s what I want to focus on.
In future installments of this series, I’ll be talking about Krynnish races, classes, and archetypes, and how we can approach Dragonlance gaming with a philosophy of “less is more.”
So stay tuned. We’re going to have some fun.