Thursday, 29 September 2011

Monte Cook Drops The Ball

So, Monte Cook - a man generally regarded as a pretty fine gentleman. For those of you who don't know him (and can't be arsed reading the Wikipedia link), he was responsible for quite a bit of the ideas and design for the Planescape campaign setting, was one of the main writers for 3rd Edition D&D, and is the guy behind Ptolus, one of the best-regarded fantasy city books around.

He's just been announced as coming on to work on D&D4e for Wizards of The Coast, presumably to help shore up flagging sales by bringing older players back into the fray through nostalgia and name recognition.

And he's just posted his first article up on the WotC site, regarding an idea for a new mechanic for 4e he calls "passive perception" - as an example, your perception is ranked, and certain objects/obstacles (like secret doors) are similarly ranked - if your Passive Perception is a higher rank than the door, you automatically succeed at finding it (if you choose to look).


Those of you who've ever played 4e will know, this is not new - it's in fact part of the core rules. It's even called your "Passive Perception Score". Rules which came out 4 years ago. Which he's here to "fix", and apparently hasn't even read through, or if he has, hasn't payed any attention to whatsoever.

Hoooooo boy, this is gonna be a long winter...


  1. Yeah, after reading that article all I could do was facepalm. I like his suggestion that players actually describe their actions instead of just reaching for the dice, but any DM worth his salt has already trained his players to do that anyway.

    I had high hopes when Monte's return was announced, but I think he needs to spend some more time actually playing and running 4E before writing up these articles.

  2. The question remains whether or not he's talking about 4e. The Legends & Lore column has been darting back and forth, theoretically proposing ideas for RPGs as a whole. Right now, that faint smell of rain on a sunny day hangs in the air hinting towards a new edition. Isn't it possible he's thinking out loud about 5e but not coming right out with it. Monte doesn't strike me as the ignorant poster and his tweets suggest a lot of people "don't get" what he's inferring.

  3. Hmmm... I would have expected more of him, myself, but part of it is the wording - which implies the idea of "Passive Perception" is his own. I'd also say it's sorta-kinda meant to be for 4e (after all, when you bring out the big guns, you shoot them off at the main target... that analogy is a bit weird, but you get me).

    It remains to be seen what his response will be. I'm guessing he'll admit if it was a mistake, but might have some other motive behind it.

    Time will tell, I suppose.

  4. So many games borrow off each other nowadays, it's never about who came up with the idea for "passive perception," but who makes it work better. Or whose version works best for a particular style of game.

  5. Problem being, he reinvented Passive Perception for 4e, in such a way that detratcs from 4e's "One Mechanic To Rule Them All" kinda feel - it's clunkier than regular passive perception.

    As someone else put it, it's like he reinvented the wheel, then decided it would work better as a hexagon.