First thoughts and impressions, likes and dislikes

First dislike, I'm guessing because the PDF is secured I can't view it on my playbook. I guess I understand why it is, but it's still frustrating, as it's much preferable to read a PDF like this on a tablet than on a laptop.

Advantages and disadvantages are probably my favourite new aspect of D&D next, one of the things that got each version of D&D over time (particularly since 3e) is power creep from stacking bonuses. Since advantage is just advantage, and disadvantage is just disadvantage, it looks like a great way to ward power creep off for some time, and slow it down when it does arrive. Some of the effects are rather amusing though - a drunk person is no worse off throwing a weapon at long range against an invisble target whose location is known. I'm more inclined to like it than dislike, but it does bring in a bit of suspension of disbelief issues.

Saving throws integrated into ability scores is pretty nifty. Fortitude, Will and Reflex saves always ended up seeming a bit redundant, also a rather interesting throwback to how OD&D was played in using saves to do actions (although how it remotely made sense to be doing a Poison, Paralysation & Death save to successfully juggle knives, or whatever arbitrary assignment Gary made I'll never grok).

Movement, it's a bit odd that it says every 5 feet of X costs 5 extra feet of movement, seems a bit more intuitive to say every foot costs an extra foot of movement (except for getting up). Maybe consistency? Concerns me a bit about how important grids might be. I'll have to see how it plays out.
Perception rules I don't think I like. It's the exact opposite of the Gumshoe system. If the adventure hinges on something being found (as adventures often do), requiring a perception check can let you be screwed by the dice. In the example, if you say you're searching the top of the bureau and roll a 1 on your wisdom check, you don't find the key. If you describe where you're looking and that's where whatever is hidden is, you should automatically find it. If you're describing the character as looking somewhere where nothing is, then perhaps a wisdom check to notice something else being out of place might be applicable.

Wrong way to do it:
DM: You arrive at the house, the front door is locked.
Player: I look under the welcome mat for the key.
DM: Roll wisdom.
Player: 1... plus my modifier of 2, that's 3.
DM: You don't find anything under the welcome mat.

Right way to do it.
DM: You arrive at the house, the front door is locked.
Player: I look under the welcome mat for the key.
DM: You find the key, it looks like it fits the keyhole for the door.

Obviously a good DM can forego requiring the wisdom check, but that's a rule zero fallacy - just because you can fix it, doesn't mean the rule isn't broken. It might not be a big deal in Undermountain - if you miss something there, there's hundreds of other rooms to check out. If you're doing a murder investigation, requiring the check can derail the adventure.

Combat sequence, I'd like to see steps 2 and 3 repeated. While I understand from a logistics standpoint that it's easier to just roll initiative once, it rather sucks being stuck at the end of the round through a whole battle. Getting to roll each round lets the order switch a bit. If there are 2 combats in a session and one player rolls badly both times, it's a pretty dull feeling. If you roll each round, 2 bad rolls is just the first 2 rounds, if you've got 10 rounds of combat in the session, you're bound to be among the first couple for at least one round. This is particularly necessary again since it's using the d20 system instead of a dice pool. With a dice pool you could have just one, because results will be pretty consistent, and an unusually bad one won't come up often.

Actions - I like improvise being specifically called out, I also like how AoOs have been replaced by being able to act early by foregoing your action the next round. Nice touch to keep them in without having things get too out of hand.

Natural 1 and 20... always more of a fan of the natural 20 than 1, but I'm glad to see confirming a crit hasn't made a return.

As far as damage being halved due to resistance goes - round up or down? I'd say up because .5 always rounds up, but RPGs have often said round down in all cases, even if it's .9, so I'd like some confirmation on that.

Death and dying - I like the system by looking at it, it seems elegant, but anyone with a low con score gets screwed twice. I guess con was always an important score and never got dump statted, but it'd be nice if certain scores weren't across the board more important than others. I'm glad though that heal doesn't first have to overcome negative hit points. Quite a bummer to be a -14 and after being healed still have to make death saves.

Conditions, ethereal seems a bit too gamey to me. I'd think that you couldn't take any damage at all from non-ethereal and non-magical sources... if you can pass through a wall or a person, how come you suddenly take half damage when you get hit by a sword or a fist?

Intoxicated, I love the damage reduction. I know there are complaints against its realism, but I just love it in principle and I hope it stays until the final version.

Unconscious, the first effect I don't think is necessary. Some people are rigid when unconscious and wouldn't drop what they're holding, and not everyone falls over right away either, especially if there's something to fall against.

EP and PP arouse suspicion and skepticism? Nice flavour touch I guess. Something of a Chekhov's Gun to introduce to a party that their employer is a villain who will double cross them?

I'm glad magic items are treated as priceless.

I like heavy armour just causing a speed penalty rather than an armour check penalty. Also nice how light armour is + dex mod, medium is + half dex mod (rounded up or down?). I like the touch on disadvantage for armour you're not trained to use. I'm getting the feeling the advantage/disadvantage system might be one of the best introductions of this system.

Equipment - glad to see the Adventurer's Kit - equipment selection is one of the most hated parts of chargen I've come across. Nice to be able to just select the kit, armour and weapons and head off.

Magic - speaking of the strange type of magic with powers coming from the mind, can we for once just see Psionics included from the start?

Concentration checks - I'm glad only the action is wasted, but not the spell itself. It's good to be able to include attempts to distract a wizard to prevent him from casting a powerful spell in your strategy, but it's really crappy for a PC wizard to get distracted and lose a spell that was actually crucial to the party's survival or success.

Ritual magic - probably my favourite aspect of 4E, I'm glad to see it's still in here.

Battle Psalm - what happens if your enemies follow the same deity? IE, one Drow house attacking another in Menzoberenzan. And would it be holy damage coming from an unholy deity?
I generally agree with your assessment.  It's nice to see people not condemning things simply for being different.  I'm not sure I agree with your thoughts on perception checks though.  Ultimately it's up to the DM to ensure that the party finds or doesn't find stuff.  When it comes to things like Perception which in 3.5 and 4e were such a bizarre mess to try and quantify I think we're better stripping things down and putting the DM into more an immediate role.
I find it very  interesting.

The adventure is a throwback to the crawl days, which many players seem to want. I hope WOTC find a way to balance this with 4E adventures. for a home game, crawls are great. if you are at a convention, not so much. I have done both at conventions. Its great to have the freedom whether to attack, sneak by, or find some other way to cause trouble. Maybe i'm just getting use to 4E finally.

I love the dice rule, that if it fits, ignore the dice roll.

Parts of the character sheet feel clunky, but then I know WOTC just wants us to run these characters through the adventure, not worry about the game mechanics behind some of the stats. I would suggust a way to put spells, etc, on the sheet itself so you don't have to flip through a book to find out what does what. How the race, class, background, and theme are written I feel are great, giving a player an idea of the concept behind the character and extra abilities. Reaper class ability is just great. It is a automatic hit no matter what.

Do I feel that maybe that WOTC is missing something? yes, I just can't put my finger on it. This why they have handed this packet out, for us pick apart, both game mechanically and game balance. I welcome the experience


I just hope we don't go back to the old saying: "I take a 5 foot step, I check for traps. I take a 5 foot step..."   
   
    
Everything is rounded down. It's in the PDF's...somewhere. (Getting late and I have to get up early, sorry.)

As for being able to take a delayed/triggered action, it has always been in the rules, I thought? Or maybe it was just a 4E thing.

And attacks of opportunity aren't in the playtest, but I wouldn't rule them out altogether. 
Wizard's first rule: People are stupid.
The original scenario is somewhat contrived. If the PC explicitly declares he is looking where something is hidden, I'm not certain *any* DM (even the most inexperienced) would require a roll. What if the character only declares that they're looking around the porch in general, but don't specifically call out the mat? Do you give it away then? Or what if he just says, "I look for an alternate way into the house..." Most times, even when mechanics are spelled out specificaly, situations will require some interpretation by the DM. The DM's Guide can give examples of when it is appropriate to use a check versus when a MacGuffin should "pop out" at the characters.

To make a similar situation out of the example:

#1
PC: I look under the mat for a key.
DM: [no roll] You find a key. 

#2
PC: I examine the door for traps.
DM: [makes a hidden perception roll with success] You notice a hard lump beneath your foot under the mat.

#3
PC: I examine the front porch for traps or alternate ways in.
DM: [makes a hidden perception roll with failure] You notice a hard lump beneath your foot under the mat and as you lift the corner to look, you yank a slender trip wire which causes a brick to fall from the lentil onto your head.

#4
PC: I examine the front porch alternate ways in.
DM: [makes a hidden perception roll with failure] The windows appear to be locked as well, but you could probably break out a pane of glass with only minimal noise.

Even in example 4, the DM could choose to ignore the result for the sake of plot, but instead chooses to present alternatives.

That should not be baked into mechanics, but should be mentioned in DM advice for good storytelling.

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Yeah, like I said, with a good DM, perception isn't an issue. Just I know that good DMs aren't as common as we'd like, and some of the godawful advice in the 2nd Ed DMG I know for sure created some bad DMs and ruined RPGs for everyone in the group as a result. This probably isn't so bad, but I can think of a specific example from a Pathfinder game where a player said they were searching the coridor, but didn't specifically say they were making a perception check, and the character (a Druid with an animal companion) failed to notice 2 Ghasts that were waiting there and surprised them. Ghasts stink, first of all the animal companion should have been snarling, second of all, no way anyone with a sense of smell ever gets surprised by a Ghast. Good DM, no problem. Bad DM, doesn't think it through, just requires a check. I'd prefer the examples and rules advice to be the best possible for shaping people who don't give much thought into good DMs and good players.
I was really down on the whole idea of D&D next honestly, but now that I have the play test packet I feel this sliver of a thing growing inside. I think it might be hope or excitement. I really appreciate that they seem to be making a game that we all want.

I really like how the class / background thing looks and feels. I like the character sheet lay out. I like some of the class abilities like thief hiding a skill mastery.

I REALLY like that halflings don't seem to get an extra huge bonus to stealth for being small: just the ability to find cover behind smaller things / people than humans. That's awesome.

Perhaps it is because I've been playing derivitive games for a long time now, particularly the most popular one, but those games have made me really, really sick of the "use y ability x times per day for no special reason, just do it that many times." The fighter ability to take two actions in one round twice per day is really glairing. We all know that he is just going to use them back to back during whatever he thinks the hardest fight is going to be. We know that you can't describe why it works that way with in character terms. And most of all we know that the house rules people have been writing really fun, clever material for the fighter for a long time. Take two actions twice per day is just not very good stuff.

I know I won't get my way at all on this, but I'd like to see less "do it x times per day" for everyone that isn't magic, and even for the magic people.

Paladin smite for example. It would be so sweet if he just got a damage bonus vs. undead and evil outsiders instead of a huge bonus 1 or 2 times a day. What if the bard could perform as long as he wanted? What if the monk could restore his ki with a few minutes of meditation? I think it would be a lot better.
I'm guessing you use the word "down" in the sense of "downer" rather than "I'm down with that"? Language is a funny thing over the internet.

I had a similar feeling as well, some of the leaks left me a bit concerned, and the impression that d20 would cause a power creep situation had me really worried, but it seems that they've gone to a lot of effort to prevent power creep, and everything else is just cool.