Hey, for once, not a bitter, hate-filled, rant. This is in reply to the latest “This Week In D&D” post, so, read that first, or this will make even less sense than most of the things I write.
This sounds good. I admit I wince every time I read the word “simplify”, because that usually translates to “punt all the work to the DM” in WOTC-speak, but it seems you’re using the term here to mean ‘apply more structure so the rules start to work together’. I like the structured interaction as an adjunct to roleplay. It’s how I tend to run things in GURPS and WoD, where there’s specific tags and traits you can quantify for NPCs, and use them as guidelines when interpreting an NPCs reaction to a player’s roleplaying and their character’s interpersonal skills. Common sense works for the “easy” cases (“No, the captain of the guard won’t let you see the king for a copper piece, are you insane? I don’t care what your Diplomacy is.”), but the rules aren’t there for easy cases, they’re there for the tipping point where there’s not an “obvious” answer and there needs to be a resolution mechanism beyond “what mood is the DM in right now”. I’m glad the game design is, finally, drifting back into that direction. Hopefully, the advanced rules will add even more detail for those of us who like it.
I’m also very pleased to see that you’re talking about how to tie game mechanics into character abilities and suchlike. This is very, very, important, as until now, pretty much the only really quantified parts of the game were those involved with gutting orcs, which means the only character options tended to be “How well do I gut orcs?” This is positive step.