First Concerns, Likes, and Questions

Haven't played it yet, just read through the Player's and DMs docs, scanned the Bestiary and the Characters. Will be playing this weekend. Here are my initial thoughts, prone to change as they are. If anyone wants to chime in, go for it. Just remember, I have yet to fire it up and run it down the highway to see what works and what falls apart:


Not Sure Of:


Use of Attributes in lieu of Saving Throw categories: just not sure, want to see how it works.


Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic: seems like it precludes the cinematic “succeeding beyond your wildest dreams against impossible odds”. I'd make the 2 dice thing optional and instead give the DM guidelines for determining a light dis/advantage or heavy dis/advantage with a +2/+4, or -2/-4 modifier as suitable.


Themes: I just don't get them. They seem harmless now, but I foresee WotC getting carried away with canon themes as designers make all kinds of fun themes for their favored classes while leaving other in the dust. Saw this in 4e with all the “cool” stuff going to the fancy classes while the core 4 were almost ignored.


Death and Dying mechanic: I understand that the higher you go in levels the harder you should be to kill, but this seems to be pushing it to an extreme. +10 is way too high. Cut it to +5. Otherwise characters are too prone to being “death proof”. I know they can die, but this mechanic makes it too easy to survive, and part of the thrill of adventure is the risk of death.


Restore the Magic Missile to 1d4+1 PER LEVEL. Make it a 1st level spell. Essentially, restore it to 1e/2e standards.


Spending Hit Dice to heal is a just sneaky way to keep those damnable Healing Surges in the game, isn't it? (Yeah, I don't care for Healing Surges.)
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Like So Far:


The return of the electrum piece! Don't ask why this gets me excited, I just like saying “electrum”. Lots of fond, goofy memories of my players referring to the "rectum piece"!


Emphasis on simplicity. I saw many guests at my house get intimidated by the rules and the sheer amount of books.


The so far lack of emphasis on minis. Lots of questions from potential gamers asked whether or not they would need a pantload of money just to buy the “right” minis and tiles.


NO POWERS!!! Dancing in the streets on this one. Let the spellcasters be spellcasters! No need for gobs of special “powers” for everyone just so nobody feels left out. So the fighter can't cast spells. Big whoop. The wizard can't bury a telephone-pole sized falchion in your skull, either. If you want to swing a sword and cast spells, multi-class.


Like the way rituals are handled. Keeps a cleric or wizard from having to memorize spells that will most likely be used in non-combat situations, thus cutting down on the number of spells that might actually help keep them and their comrades alive.


Thank you for finally defining Mage Hand in the manner I believe it was intended. My number one player, my husband, disagrees and doesn't care for it. He believes that if you can find a creative and potentially damaging way to use a cantrip you should be able to go for it.
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Questions:


Invisibility says you can still be spotted by a potential shadow. How does becoming invisible affect even casting a shadow? The light is bent around you, so no shadow should be present.


Why would a heavy crossbow use a STR mod? The mechanical parts of a crossbow only need your STR to effectively **** them. I can see needing a particular STR to use one, but not to add to any attack score.


Sling damage: Is that for a stone or a sling bullet? A sling bullet is specifically designed to deal greater damage than a sling stone.


Sling staff? Common enough technology, contrary to current misconceptions is perfectly fine for use in dungeon-type environments. Don't believe me? Watch LaCrosse. Short, powerful throws, not always requiring a large arc. Unless they're thinking of a traditional sling attached to a traditional staff (which I admit is unsuitable for dungeon use) please consider including the LaCrosse style sling staff in the final equipment list.
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Suggestions:


Don't go crazy with classes. Before you create a whole new class, ask yourselves if it can be a sub-class for one of the core 4.


Keep the release of books at an affordable pace and price, such as one every two months, ranging from 15$ for soft-cover minor supplements to 30$ for hard-cover settings and heftier supplements. Modules shouldn't be more than 15-20$ depending on size and material added. Get more mileage out of the game that way. Feed good teasers to keep people from paying too much attention to third party products.


To call DC 10 “Trivial” sells that DC short, especially at lower levels. The text further says it's “so easy that it's not worth a check”, and that an adventurer “almost always succeeds”. Save that for a DC5. Let's not discourage DMs from calling for a roll that might sound like nothing but can be nasty if failed. For example, seeing someone's reflection in a mirror behind a bar counter is easy, even trivial, and certainly not worth a Hazard assignment. However, it should not “almost always” succeed. A hero might not notice the guy walking up behind him who he helped put in jail ten years ago but who recently broke out and is looking for revenge. I know, I know, DM fiat, but I'm concerned this definition is being too dismissive of a trivial matter that can turn very exciting... or ugly.

Drawing a weapon is incidental, but what about switching weapons in a fight? Dropping your pole-axe in favor of a short sword as the enemy gets in too close, is that also incidental?



Again, these are just first impressions. I just got the thing last night and was worn out from a hard day at work. Comment as you like, help me catch some things I might have missed!   



  

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That four-letter word that was censored in my question about heavy crossbows? Really guys? What do you call it that's safe? Loading it doesn't take strength. Firing it doesn't take strength, but pulling that string back and getting it ready to fire? You know, that word that rhymes with "dock" but swaps the D with a C? Heh-heh, I jest. I just wonder what anybody thought I was doing with a crossbow that required censorship!
I think that Magic Missle is better in the cantrip slot. I thought about this long and hard and I think it has to do with the fact that Magic Missle is not only one of the most known DnD spells, you always want to have it open. It's iconic, it's special, and it seems that putting in in place with spells that have so much more kick is a bad idea. Magic Missle becomes a base line for Mage types, which is a good place for it to be at.

Everyone always wants more magic missle.
Any thoughts on heavy crossbows using the STR modifier to the attack score?
i'd be down with a crossbow that deals more damage that can only be reloaded by a character with a given strength, but as part of the attack no.  At that point, the machine is doing all the actual work, and we're right back at dex.
i'd be down with a crossbow that deals more damage that can only be reloaded by a character with a given strength, but as part of the attack no.  At that point, the machine is doing all the actual work, and we're right back at dex.



Agreed, Wasn't there an older eddition that had something like that?  Higher power cross bows or long bows that had a STR requierment to use?
Any thoughts on heavy crossbows using the STR modifier to the attack score?



Yeah, I saw that & scratched my head as well.
When we get to play test this we'll run it as is though for an evening or two. 

But like the str. adjusted bows of previous editions I can imagine a crossbow using a similar logic.  The heavy bow part firing the bolt with a str bonus equel or beyond that of the weilder. 

I didn't look any further though.  Is there a light xb listed?  Does it have this str or dex based attack?  Does the heavy have a slower reload time?
If so, then maybe it's just in there to provide some additional incentive for picking the heavy version.
Five other ranged weapons (lt xbow, hand xbow, shortbow, sling, and longbow) all have DEX as their modifier and are under Simple Missile Weapons. The heavy xbow is the only weapon listed under Complex Missile Weapons and has STR as its modifier. Hmmm, typo, perhaps? There have been a few in the adventure module that was with the packet.
Surely a typo. It was one of the first things I saw that made me go "eh?". Heavy crossbow has to use Dex not Str, surely.

As for hit dice vs. healing surges, I know it's daft but I like it. It feels like D&D, and I like the idea of players having pools of hit dice that they put to one side as they use them. There has to be some answer to the 'one-encounter-then-rest' problem. 
Kitty-

Agree with all of your concerns and likes.  I come from the same beliefs on all of that.  Especially on letting the classes be classes and ditching powers. 
Not that I'm not saying it might be a typo, but it's possible that they are thinking of the Heavy Crossbow as one with a Crank. The farther you crank it back the more power it has and the more strength it takes to do so. Here's a link to a crossbow that looks like it could be used in such a way.
www.silvermane.com/acatalog/GI-AH5104.JP...
Actually, I can see a rationale for the STR modifier on the heavy crossbow: it's heavy. Holding one up at arm's length takes muscle, and in a weaker character's hands it's going to wobble about some, resulting in a less accurate shot and less damage. If HP are an abstract representation of health (and they are), the STR modifier represents the greater likelihood that a buff character will hit the center of the target, rather than just winging it.
illcom94- I had never seen one like that. Thanks.
professordaddy- Okay, that makes sense.

Thanks, guys!
As for hit dice vs. healing surges, I know it's daft but I like it. It feels like D&D, and I like the idea of players having pools of hit dice that they put to one side as they use them. There has to be some answer to the 'one-encounter-then-rest' problem. 



Idea
After an encounter, when you have enough time to loot bodies and search for secret doors, you reagin half your missing hp (round up).
Ex: Your max hp is 30.  You lost 10 in the last fight.  Afterwards you  heal 5, getting you back to 25.
Next fight you lose 8 more.  You're at 17.  You heal 6.5 (rounding up to 7), to 24 hp.
Next fight is brutal, and you took 18 damage.  You are down to 6 hp.  You heal 12, bringing you to 18hp.

I'd be happy to see something similar for magic slots.  Like casters recharge 1 lvl worth of spells per character level.  So a lvl 3 wizard could recharge 3 lvl 1 spells, a lvl2 and a lvl1 spell, or a single lvl3 spell.

Why?
The players still have to manage their limited supply of spells and hp.  They can keep dungeon crawling if they want to, but will have difficulty ever getting back to 100% without 8 hrs rest.  If they keep getting banged-up badly or blowing through spells, they will have to play more conservatively in the future if they want to get strong again.
Affablevagrant,


Your idea is very intriguing. Add some limited and situational ability to somewhat shirk that death spiral, and I think you could have the basis for a neat system that helps draw out the action and prevent an overwhelming case of 15 minute adventuring days. The idea even makes sense from a more abstract standpoint, in that you may be able to catch your breath and get a bit of your 'oomph' back, but you're never gonna be at 100% without some serious rest/outside assistance.
Agreed. I may steal that and try it even in my regular game.
Themes: I just don't get them. They seem harmless now, but I foresee WotC getting carried away with canon themes as designers make all kinds of fun themes for their favored classes while leaving other in the dust. Saw this in 4e with all the “cool” stuff going to the fancy classes while the core 4 were almost ignored.

Themes are not class-specific. They can create dozens of Themes, and any class will be able to use any of them. All a Theme is is a pre-selected group of Feats. If you don't like the Themes that are presented, just choose your own list of Feats, like in previous editions.

Themes are there as an easy way for someone to pick Feats without poring through all the books. That's it.

I have to disagree with Kitty about the Magic Missile suggestion, much for the same reasons that RedTopHat had, but in addition to the fact that as you progress in level you still get more missiles. This means that Magic Missile stays useful through your adventuring career as it auto-hits AND still scales up damage. Not as much as 1d4+1/level, which the developers said they were trying to avoid, and to great reason.
My wizard last night loved it as a nice fallback to shocking grasp. And I don't mind it's current incarnation at all.

Also, /agree on affablevagrant's idea.
Themes: I just don't get them. They seem harmless now, but I foresee WotC getting carried away with canon themes as designers make all kinds of fun themes for their favored classes while leaving other in the dust. Saw this in 4e with all the “cool” stuff going to the fancy classes while the core 4 were almost ignored.

Themes are not class-specific. They can create dozens of Themes, and any class will be able to use any of them. All a Theme is is a pre-selected group of Feats. If you don't like the Themes that are presented, just choose your own list of Feats, like in previous editions.

Themes are there as an easy way for someone to pick Feats without poring through all the books. That's it.




Where did you read this?

Where did you read this?


I thought this was everywhere by now.    As for the original location, see the link & snippet (emphasis added) below from the Backgrounds & Themes: A Closer Look blog post by Evil_Reverend.

Blog Quote

community.wizards.com/dndnext/blog/2012/...

Does this mean any class can have whatever combination of skills a player chooses? Yes, with the DM’s approval. I can see backgrounds used in several different ways:

DM 1:We’re not using backgrounds at all. Just ignore this stuff.

DM 2:Use the background suggested by your class.

DM 3: Choose a background for your character. It can be the one suggested for your class or a different one.

DM 4: Choose a background for your character. You can trade out one skill for a different one.

DM 5: Come up with your own background by choosing up to four skills.

The same approach to backgrounds also applies to themes. At heart, a theme is a feat-delivery system. Choosing a theme identifies the way you play your character. Your class will suggest a theme, but we expect you to choose whatever theme you like.


Shiftkitty, we await your feedback! 

"The goblin's mace comes down full force at your head. Just as all seems lost, your vision goes dark and a loud clanging noise, followed by a crack and a *splat!* fills your senses. The thing blocking your vision goes away and you see Helm smiling at you, lowering his shield. Goblin brains drip from his warhammer. 'That's two drinks you owe me," his eyes seem to be saying."

I am liking themes and backgrounds the more I see my guys putting them to use. Looks like they're going to stay with us! The above is how I described the rogue's near death experience when he was at 2hp and it was the goblin's turn. Helm Forgebeard was standing right next to him and we thought that ws all she wrote for Charod. I was giggling in anticipation of my first kill when I heard Helm's player say "No you don't! I stick my shield in the way! And since my turn is next, I brain the goblin!" He spun his character sheet around with his finger triumphantly on the Theme: Defender part of his sheet. With a grumble in a goblin tongue that sounded like a Cambodian curse word, I rolled that second d20... grumble grumble... tricksy little players and their tricksy little themes!Cool