Designing DDM

With the DDM Guild carrying forward the D&D Miniatures game, there is, of course, a strong temptation to “make a mark” on the game—to make radical changes to the rules, or to add new rules subsystems “just because one can.” This is also almost always a terrible idea.

Luckily, the more I poke and prod, the more I find that the current rules are fundamentally sound. I’m happy to say that, despite pressures internal and external, we’re going to stick with them. You’re not going to be playing a different game at D&D Experience, because you’re already playing a game you enjoy.

Clean up and simplify existing rules

The rules did have a small number of strange interactions that were dealt with by layer after layer of increasingly edge-case rules, rather than by tackling those problems head-on. There weren’t many of them, but we’ve cleaned them up, and simplified many others.

I’m happy to say that the new Comprehensive Rules Guide is several pages shorter than the previous.

Better “out of the box” experience.

This one’s tough. We want the game, given a handful of cards and the casual rules, to be easier to pick up. The first part of this is handled by the above “rules scrubbing.” We also want the cards to use language that disambiguates as much as possible—more than the current cards, whose informal language can often lead to errata, lengthy forum discussions, and, in some cases, edge-case rules to handle them.

By cleaning up the language on the cards and following a more rigid template for card text, we can go a long way towards fixing that.

We also feel you should be able to play with the cards you already have, so we haven’t changed intent on any powers. For old cards, you’ll generally just have to play with the cards and a casual knowledge of the Oracle card text database, as you do now. For the new cards, you generally won’t even need a that—everything you need to know is right on the card.

Better alignment with RPG.

The revised D&D Miniatures game rules were written during the early stages of design and development of the Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition rules. In many ways, the miniatures game is a snapshot of how 4e might’ve turned out, if small decisions had gone one way instead of another during that game’s development. However, they also occasionally differ in small ways.

Unfortunately, these slight differences make it hard for people who play both games, which is a large segment of the players. Where the RPG and the miniatures game differ in implementation due to evolving game design, and where making the rules match makes sense, we’re doing so.

What this doesn’t mean is that we have any intention of making the game play identically to the RPG. The rules echo the RPG, but are simplified and streamlined for faster play and to support competitive games.

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lucina1969's picture
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7 October 2013
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4 years 15 weeks

It is really not that easy to design today. - Mallory Fleming

ravvi's picture
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Cipto Junaedy loves those who want to be successful.

jack11's picture
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