Xanathar’s Guide: how much is mechanical balance, flavor and the ever-nebulous “fun”?

Hi Mike, always glad to see these kinds of events!

My question is about Xanathar’s guide, and its subclasses. I find the design process very intriguing, and for some subclasses it’s very easy to follow your intent all the way through Unearthed Arcana to their final incarnation, while for some others it’s trickier.

Looking at War Magic as an example, between UA and final print, its level 6 feature “Power Surge” was changed from a decent boost to AoE spell damage to a barely noticable single-target damage buff. Now, War Magic is strong defensively so a nerf to its offensive power may not be such a big deal, but I’m still really curious how the iterative process behind something like that works – how much is mechanical balance, how much is flavor, and how much is the ever-nebulous “fun”?

mikemearls23 points19 days ago
At that stage, mostly balance. We rely on the feedback surveys to point out issues with the class, and overwhelmingly people vote based on how balanced something looks on the page or feels in play. We do rely on math to figure out details, but feel and perception play a bigger role because this is a coop game.Comment from discussion AMA: Mike Mearls, D&D Creative Director.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.