Handling Errata

So WotC seems to have a never ending stream of errata that comes out. I get a bit torn about this. One part of me feels it is such a pain to try and keep up on the changes for powers and items, and wishing WotC took a bit more time to playtest new material. Yet another part of me is happy that WotC tries to address powers and abilities that are too powerful, or even better, get some of the older powers up to snuff with new options available to players.

Trying to incorporate this stuff into your existing books is a bit of a pain though. When the first errata started to trickle out, I diligently printed, cut, and taped the text into my books. As more and more piled up I realized it would be a huge endeavor to try and update the books and keep them current.

Instead, I have all the errata printed out and put into sleeve protectors. I indexed them with color tabs and have a notebook with all the errata broken down for each WotC book. I then took the books and highlighted the name of powers that had some errata (sometimes put brackets in the margin if it was a chunk of text). Then if I was looking in a book, I would know I should pick up the errata notebook to make sure a power was working correctly.

So it is still a little tedious, but a lot easier than making individual changes to each book. Plus I can easily add to any future errata that comes out. I still think if I were a new DM I’d freak out about all the changes and corrections floating out there. So I’ll offer some advice on the matter.

Check the stealth rules – Make sure you’ve got the updated stealth rules (PBH 188) and how to target things you can’t see handy (PHB 281).

Make changes to the DC levels – Go through the skill DC levels and adjust them (DMG 42). Make sure to keep these values in mind for skill checks. Almost every other skill check in the game, from the disease tracks to traps, are altered due to these changes. You can readjust most checks on the fly if you’ve got this errata change handy.

Mind failures for skill challenges – Update the skill challenge complexity (DMG 72) so that each is not a success once 3 failed checks are made. It’s a big change and helps keep skill challenges a little exciting.

Don’t sweat the other stuff – Honestly most of the other changes are minor tweaks and corrections. If anything, they are specific to a certain player class. I’d definitely make an effort to go through the errata once a player picks a power, but don’t get too freaked out if you miss something.

A few powers and abilities are broke. As a DM you’ll usually find out about this (and might have to make changes later), but for the most part you could likely play your game with your pals and never bother making changes to Delver Armor, or even the ‘new and improved’ magic missile.

In fact the worst part about being dismissive with errata is that you are hurting your players. I suggest putting the work on their shoulders. If they find an errata to a power, let them tell you about it. Have them keep that printed page handy when you all play. You’ll be surprised that if a player can get a boon to a power due to changes or corrections, they’ll be sure to scour the errata to find it. It’s a great way to delegate the responsibility for keeping all the characters up to date.

So these are my little tidbits on errata. How do other DM’s handle game changes to the rule books?

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