Thoughts on the How to Play book.

Here are my thoughts on the How to Play book.  Overall, things look good, and I am looking forward to playing this weekend.

Advantage/Disadvantage: I really like this.  It is quick and easy, and has a much bigger effect than +/-2.  As long as getting advantage in combat isn't too easy, this should work out nicely.

Stats: I like how they are described complete with examples of checks and saves.  This is a great resource for new and old players alike; it helps give everyone a common frame of reference.

HP: Good stuff, pretty much the same as 4E but with rolling instead of a flat number.  Although it is easy to see the inclusion of an option to just take the average.  Keeps Constitution important, as it is a big part of your level 1 hp and also helps with each level (although if you take the average it no longer helps, so there should be a way to incorporate that).  Having it up the minimum result is much nicer than adding it to your hp, as it keeps hp more managable.

Movement: I like how it is clearly presented that any way you move is simply deducted from your total movement score.  Also, I like that jumping doesn't require a check and is simply based on your strength.  Rolling for jump checks always seeme to add too much variance (adding from 5 to 20 feet to your jump).  This speeds up the action as well, because a character can just say, "I run over here, jump over the pit, and atttack the orc", rather than having to think about the chances of making it over.  But I would also let players roll to jump farther as an action.

Minor Actions: I like how this stuff can just be done for free.  It is another way to speed things up, as players don't have to think about all the different actions they might want to do.  They just say, "I kick over the table, draw my sword, and charge the orc."  I would give advice to the DM about giving some minor actions a movement cost.  The framework for doing this is already there (it costs 5 ft of movement to stand up from prone, which I think is great) so players wouldn't be shocked.  For example, while it makes sense that pushing a door open as you run wouldn't really slow you down, having to stop and pull open a door would (5 ft. cost).  Perhaps a very heavy door would also have a cost.  Drawing a weapon might be free, but bending down to pick up a heavy or unwieldy object might not (5 ft cost).  It wouldn't be necessary to have a comprehensive list, just tell DMs that some actions might have a movement cost and give a few examples.  It shouldn't be overused, but it is a good option.

Surprise: I like this new version.  It prevents the "I get to go twice" situation that happens from surprise plus a high initiative roll.

Coup de Grace: very scary.  I like it...it will make falling unconscious very terrifying.

Help: Can you use this action to grant advantage on an attack roll or saving throw?  I think that should be an option, perhaps requiring a check (although having it take your action might be enough of a cost).  I think it might be cool to be able to use your action to distract an adjacent monster (give it disadvantage if it attacks anyone else but you).

Death Saves: I will have to see how it plays out, but it looks pretty good.  It will be very scary for character with lower Con.  And because of how Coup de Grace works, bring at 0 or below will be scary even for the character with an 18 Con.

Non-Lethal Damage: perfect.  Easy and simple.

Healing from 0 hp: perfect.

Short Rest/Spending HD: I like this.  Allows for some management of hit points (increasing with level), but doesn't let you heal to full after every fight.  So as you gain levels the fights can become tougher (as characters have more healing after) or the characters can press on longer.  It does seem to make stocking up on Healer's Kits mandatory, but I guess that is ok.  It would be easy enough for a group to ignore this if they wanted.

Long Rest: I'm glad they have you recover all of your hp.  I'm sure there will be variants presented for slower long term healing for those who like grittier games.

Blinded: needs some clarification.  Do you make perception checks at disadvantage?  How does attacking while blinded work?  It says you have disadvantage, but in the section on attacking it says you need to be able to see your target (thus you would need to first take an action to find them, and then attack on your next turn).  Do you have to do this while blinded too?  If so, how does it work if your intended target keeps moving?

Armor: I like the special armors, but it would be nice if they had special properties.  For example, dragon scale could give resistance based on the type of dragon scales used.

Weapons: I like how they are very equivalent.  Players are free to pick what they want to use, rather than worrying about getting a mechanical advantage.  The longspear damage seems too low, given that it takes 2 hands to use.

Adventuring Gear:  I love the various special tools, like caltrops, acid, alchemist's fire, antitoxin, etc.

Spells: I know the goal is to allow people to easily play without a grid, but the description of spell areas of effect is very complex: “A cone’s width at a given point is equal to its distance from the point of origin.  The energy in a cone expands in straight lines from the point of origin.  If no unblocked straight line extends from that point to a spot within the cone, that spot is not included in the area of effect.”
It would be simpler to just say, "A cone is a 90 degree arc."
In addition, it needs clarification.  Do creatures block the line of effect?  So if you cast burning hands on a line of goblins, does it only hurt the one in the front? 

Minor Spells and Rituals: I really like both of these.  Rituals in particular are handled in a great way.  You can memorize and cast them normally, or you can spend components to cast it as a ritual.  Allows for people to play the way they want to play.  More spells should have the option of being cast as a ritual.  For example, Comprehend Languages and Continual Light should both be rituals.

Spells in higher level slots: It mentions that this will sometimes increase the potency of a spell, but none of the spells listed have an example of this.  The only spell that increases in power with level is magic missile, which seems to make it too strong compared to the other at-will attack spells.

Hold Person: needs clarification regarding what "can't move" means.  Does it simply mean they have a speed of 0 (and thus could still attack, cast spells, etc), or does it mean that they actually can't move at all (and thus couldn't attack or cast spells)?
My blogs: Spell Flavor Reflavoring Uses of Spells
Im already thinking about houserules for 4e, Advantage/Disadvantage, minor actions costing a square or more (I already allow unlocked doors to be opened as part of a move) and some more items.

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More spells should have the option of being cast as a ritual.  For example, Comprehend Languages and Continual Light should both be rituals.

QFT.  Both are especially, if not primarily, useful outside of combat and with no particular time limit.

Also Hold Person.  "Cannot move" isn't a defined condition.  Clearly not the same thing as Paralyzed, but what effects does it have?

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Also Hold Person.  "Cannot move" isn't a defined condition.  Clearly not the same thing as Paralyzed, but what effects does it have?



My guess is "Restrained", though that's just a guess.








Also Hold Person.  "Cannot move" isn't a defined condition.  




Going off of Taking a Turn, one can move and take an Action during their turn. My read on Hold Person is the target can't move (nor Hustle) during their turn and would lose their Dodge Action bonus, if any. Those seem the most obvious ramifications.
"At a certain point, one simply has to accept that some folks will see what they want to see..." Dragon 387









Also Hold Person.  "Cannot move" isn't a defined condition.  




Going off of Taking a Turn, one can move and take an Action during their turn. My read on Hold Person is the target can't move (nor Hustle) during their turn and would lose their Dodge Action bonus, if any. Those seem the most obvious ramifications.



Exactly this.  In a turn you technically get one action.  And then you can move.  So if something says "cannot move" then it means exactly that, you can't move.  You just get your one action to attack or whatnot.  You can't even use that action to hustle and move.  You're immobilized.
Here are my first thoughts, written in order as I encountered them:

Advantage/Disadvantage
Advantage d20 rolls have an average of  13.825 (so roughly +3 to your roll), a median of 15, and a mode of 20. Disadvantage d20 rolls have an average of 7.175, a median of 6, and a mode of 1. I'm not sure if I like this; if there is a 50% miss chance, than advantage is all but a guaranteed hit and disadvantage is all but a guaranteed miss. I'd rather have a +2 from a balance perspective.

Jumping
High jumps don't get higher if you run first, or at least not significantly so. I'm going to make a video to see how true this is. 3+Str mod for a high jump seems a bit excessive. Also, not withstanding the distances seeming weird, long jumps are going to scale poorly with high jumps. AS your strength modifier rises, your standing high jump will grow faster than your standing long jump. Seems odd.

Armor
I immediately don't like the "half dex mod" feature of medium armor. I just don't like halfs at all. I don't know why "max Dex bonus" wasn't brought back, as it made each armor useful to someone (except for the bad ones). I don't like that cost is the only prohibition against getting better armor. Everyone will be running around in mithral chain, dragon scale, and adamantine plate eventually; this means that AC is scaling, so monster attacks have to scale, and we make our way back to a smaller version of item dependency again.

Weapons
OH boy. Weapon balance has been my baby, since 3E; I have been a proponent of the Weapon Balance Calculators that I and others have drafted here over the years. These weapons have a lot of problems. Plus, the character sheets seem to imply that there is some sort of proficiency bonus, but I didn't see it listed.


    1. Thrown appears to have no cost value. Might be fine, but it means the non-throwing weapons are functionally inferior.




    2. Handaxe is strictly superior to hammer, as it has a greatly increased range.




    3. Hammer is superior to mace, as hammer can be thrown.




    4. Dagger is strictly inferior to hammer and handaxe. At first, I thought finesse weapons would deal less damage (quarterstaff deals less damage than morningstar), but the rapier and scimitar are equivalent to the club and mace.




    5. Quarterstaff deals less damage than an improvised two-handed weapon.




    6. Lance is better than the Longspear. The longspear implies the "reach" quality "costs a lot", but the Lance deals the same damage as the morning star.




    7. No reason to use a longsword over a bastard sword. Bastard Sword deals less damage than the great sword, but maybe "heavy weapon proficiency" isn't given out to everyone.




    8. Halberd proves that reach is only a "one step" decrease in damage.




    9. Shortbow is strictly inferior to longbow, as there is no reason to use a shortbow.



    10. Sling is better than hand-crossbow, except that hand-crossbow can be used in offhand. Previous weapons do not imply that "light" should cause lower damage (shortsword).


Magic




    1. Bonus Stacking is bad. I need nothing to show this.




    2. Continual Light: needs to be specified that "shadowy light" does not dim "bright light" to "shadowy light".




    3. Possible Saving Throw issue: Magic is DC 10 + magic ability. "Magic Ability" will be a character's highest ability, meaning it will be 1 or 2 points higher than other character's average abilities and possibly more so than their lowest abilities. This could be countered if classes gain saving throw bonuses.




    4. Non-combat spells have no need to be spells when they can be used ritually. No one, but a grognard, cares about the differences.




    5. Magic Missile's self scaling might make it strictly better than low-level spells at those points. It may also be better than fighter and rogue attacks. Possibly, especially considering that it does not miss.




    6. Searing Light may deal too much damage to undead if most undead are weak to radiant damage.




    7. If miss chance is near 50%, magic missile may be strictly better than shocking grasp at the initial levels, and it is strictly better than it by level 3 or 6.




    8. Spiritual hammer might deal more damage than other spells of similar duration, because it can be used in addition to attacking.



    9. Sunburst: does the bright light only extend to the 10 ft. radius of the original spell effect?


Characters
The character sheets seem to have a few errors in them. That's unfortunate.

Rogue
Rogue damage through Sneak Attack grows significantly faster than the Fighter's. At 3rd level, the Fighter has only gained +1 damage (though 2 extra attacks per day) and the rogue has gained +2d6.

Cleric
Cleric of Moradin's AC seems to be 1 higher than it should be. Divine Smite deals a lot of damage for an ability that can be used 3/day (seems to be Wis mod/day based on the other Cleric). Plus, what did the Cleric of Pelor gain for giving up heavy armor and shields? An extra orison basic attack (I mean spell that can be cast without expending a slot ... stop avoiding 4E terms please).

Fighter
Boring. Yawn. Cleric of Moradin seems able to blow the fighter out of the water in 1 combat per day.

Human
Is the human supposed to have +1 to all ability scores? Their stats add up to 6 higher than everyone else's.

Poe's Law is alive and well.


Hold Person: needs clarification regarding what "can't move" means.  Does it simply mean they have a speed of 0 (and thus could still attack, cast spells, etc), or does it mean that they actually can't move at all (and thus couldn't attack or cast spells)?



I would say that if it means speed 0, it would have said so.. as did Ray of Frost.  Going by the context of the spell, and casting spells, It leads me to believe that cannot move, means cannot move..  feet, arms, mouth, etc.  But, yeah.
"Five million Cybermen, easy. One Doctor? NOW you're scared!" - Rose Tyler
Fantastic Feedback Arithezoo!

Why can't more feedback be like this and less of the bickering kind.

I'm with you on almost every point. I only diverge in my sense that full overnight healing is a bit too much. But as you say, you expect a rule variation for grittier games. Give me that and I'm in heaven!

I'm a little down on the overly generous (IMO) death saves, but the more than scary coup de grace rules make up for it.  Seems the new fear is not the hit that drops you to 0 hp, but getting hit while at 0 hp. Basically, this system allows one more hit before you die. I'm ok with that.

Over all, it just feels so much cleaner than pretty much any edition from AD&D on. I realize their will be lots more options, but this base, where it all starts feels really smooth and clean. I think with that, you'll be able to layer on the complexity later without totally borking it. Keep up the great feedback, your post was inspiring. When I read through the How to Play portion yesterday, I made notes as I read and now I can't find them! When I do, I plan to make a post much like yours.
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