First Impressions: Intensely Negative

I'll be giving a full DM report once I run my group through the package adventure. But for now, I just wanted to give my first impressions of the new edition.

About Me: I've been playing DnD since 1980 (tons of AD&D, Basic, Expert, Companion, Master, 3.5 and 4e; a little 2e). I've been DMing since a few years after starting playing. 

My first impressions of the new edition are intensely negative. My main concerns are:

--This is a return to 3.5, with a few elements of 2e and 4e thrown in, and some original twists on old mechanics. I loved 3.5 back in the day, and played it a lot. But I've moved on, and the things that I really liked about 4e (more on that below) have been jettisoned, whereas many things I intensely disliked about 3.5 have been brought back.

 --A return to basic attacks for martial classes and monsters. This is a killer for me. I don't think I will be able to take the monotony of playing a martial class whose turns consist of 'I move and attack' repeated ad nauseum. One can say, 'Well, improvise!', but not everyone wants to do this or should be required to do this. My wife plays with us and is a newbie; she won't like having to try to work with me to invent rules on the fly. Also, improvised rules are by their very nature potentially very different according to the DM; get a bad one, and the game can be extremely bad (this is a universal problem in any edition, of course, but it gets far worse when the solution to a lack of mechanics is 'Improvise!'). 

--A return to rolling for HPs. I know we might get the option to just take a standardized roll, and I will definitely be using that if it is in the game... rolling for HPs was just a recipe for frustration when my group played 3.5. I thought that 4e had advanced beyond that. 

There are some things I very much like about the materials. The new HPs are fine. I like the return of damage types (slashing, etc.) for weapons. I even like the return of some of the old-school spells in a way. But overall my first impressions are intensely negative. Seeing monsters and martial classes return to the 'move and attack' turn, with basic attacks being the mainstay of the class, is IMHO not a step forward, but a huge step back.

I'll post more in a couple of weeks once I run my group through the adventure. Hopefully, my opinions will change... but for now, I am extremely disappointed.

Hopefully, your mileage will vary.

Cheers           

 

"What is the sort of thing that I do care about is a failure to seriously evaluate what does and doesn't work in favor of a sort of cargo cult posturing. And yes, it's painful to read design notes columns that are all just "So D&D 3.5 sort of had these problems. We know people have some issues with them. What a puzzler! But we think we have a solution in the form of X", where X is sort of a half-baked version of an idea that 4e executed perfectly well and which worked fine." - Lesp


--A return to rolling for HPs. I know we might get the option to just take a standardized roll, and I will definitely be using that if it is in the game... rolling for HPs was just a recipe for frustration when my group played 3.5. I thought that 4e had advanced beyond that.  


I found this potentially confusing, but at the very least, from what I can tell, I don't see rolling for HP as something that was being applied here in the playtest thus far, with Hit Dice only being used as part of rest healing thus far.  Unless there is something else in the rules that suggest that rolling for HP is going to be used, I just assumed that the Hit Points for heroes was:

12 + Con Modifier + 1/2 Total Hit Dice value

That seemed to be the formula that was constant for all characters.

** EDIT **

I do generally agree with your other points, especially regarding Fighters - I think that it's a compromise to have improvise be in there...but something more formalized as a system (such as having a handful of basic improvised modifications that a fighter can employ per attack, or something) would be a decent balancing point, while leaving things to more creative players/DMs to come up with more compelling ideas on their own. 
I agree with your points. Forcing fighters and other non-casters to rely on playing "Mother may I?" with the DM to have fun is just lazy and bad design.

--A return to rolling for HPs. I know we might get the option to just take a standardized roll, and I will definitely be using that if it is in the game... rolling for HPs was just a recipe for frustration when my group played 3.5. I thought that 4e had advanced beyond that.  


I found this potentially confusing, but at the very least, from what I can tell, I don't see rolling for HP as something that was being applied here in the playtest thus far, with Hit Dice only being used as part of rest healing thus far.  Unless there is something else in the rules that suggest that rolling for HP is going to be used, I just assumed that the Hit Points for heroes was:

12 + Con Modifier + 1/2 Total Hit Dice value

That seemed to be the formula that was constant for all characters.

** EDIT **

I do generally agree with your other points, especially regarding Fighters - I think that it's a compromise to have improvise be in there...but something more formalized as a system (such as having a handful of basic improvised modifications that a fighter can employ per attack, or something) would be a decent balancing point, while leaving things to more creative players/DMs to come up with more compelling ideas on their own. 

Ah, that would be much better. I hope that is the case.

 

"What is the sort of thing that I do care about is a failure to seriously evaluate what does and doesn't work in favor of a sort of cargo cult posturing. And yes, it's painful to read design notes columns that are all just "So D&D 3.5 sort of had these problems. We know people have some issues with them. What a puzzler! But we think we have a solution in the form of X", where X is sort of a half-baked version of an idea that 4e executed perfectly well and which worked fine." - Lesp

I was trying to think of some potential ideas in this realm, and there is a handful of things that could be done to make those sorts of manuevers implemented into the current framework, either in a complex manner, or a simple appraoch...I dunno, something like:

Disarming Strike: Make a STR vs. DEX check along with your attack roll.  If you succeed on your check, the enemy is disarmed, whether or not you connect with your attack.

For the time being I'm mostly brainstorming.
I was trying to think of some potential ideas in this realm, and there is a handful of things that could be done to make those sorts of manuevers implemented into the current framework, either in a complex manner, or a simple appraoch...I dunno, something like:

Disarming Strike: Make a STR vs. DEX check along with your attack roll.  If you succeed on your check, the enemy is disarmed, whether or not you connect with your attack.

For the time being I'm mostly brainstorming.



This. Exactly this.

Try and keep in mind this is a playtest, and not even for testing character balance/mechanics!  I whole heartedly believe we will be seeing the above before the final product is realeased...

If not, and the fighter is actually released as a "make up your own rules" character... well, I still have 4e!
I was trying to think of some potential ideas in this realm, and there is a handful of things that could be done to make those sorts of manuevers implemented into the current framework, either in a complex manner, or a simple appraoch...I dunno, something like:

Disarming Strike: Make a STR vs. DEX check along with your attack roll.  If you succeed on your check, the enemy is disarmed, whether or not you connect with your attack.

For the time being I'm mostly brainstorming.



This. Exactly this.

Try and keep in mind this is a playtest, and not even for testing character balance/mechanics!  I whole heartedly believe we will be seeing the above before the final product is realeased...

If not, and the fighter is actually released as a "make up your own rules" character... well, I still have 4e!

Yeah, there is talk of a more complex fighter coming out along the line, and if so, I'm totally fine with having a simple/accurate fighter, and a more complex/trick based fighter available at the same time, either through modified rules, backgrounds, or themes.

This is mostly me just brainstorming until I can actually play.

I don't see the issue.  Since these are simplified playtest rules we don't have everything available yet.  

I am letting the fighter perform a bunch of different manuvers

Disraming strike - make an attack roll with weapon opposed by the targets dex save - if successful the target drops their weapon

Trip - make an attack roll opposed by the targets dex save or strength save - if successful the target falls prone

Push - make an attack roll opposed by the targets strength or dex save - if successful the target moves back

etc, etc, etc

Easy to rule on the fly - easy to use.  I figure others could use these manuvers but would not get their attack bonus added to the roll.

I am sure we will get additional rules for this sort of thing later in the playtest.

 
I guess the killer for me right now is that it's not just the fighter. It is basically any class that doesn't have spells.

Even worse is that this includes most monsters. Their turns too seem to consist of 'Move and attack.' Some have some special tricks or properties, to be sure... but many of them have nothing at all. The combat of 4e, like it or not, was at least exciting when it came to monsters pulling out crazy powers on the party. That seems to have died with the return to 3.5.


  

 

"What is the sort of thing that I do care about is a failure to seriously evaluate what does and doesn't work in favor of a sort of cargo cult posturing. And yes, it's painful to read design notes columns that are all just "So D&D 3.5 sort of had these problems. We know people have some issues with them. What a puzzler! But we think we have a solution in the form of X", where X is sort of a half-baked version of an idea that 4e executed perfectly well and which worked fine." - Lesp

I don't see the issue.  Since these are simplified playtest rules we don't have everything available yet.  

I am letting the fighter perform a bunch of different manuvers

Disraming strike - make an attack roll with weapon opposed by the targets dex save - if successful the target drops their weapon

Trip - make an attack roll opposed by the targets dex save or strength save - if successful the target falls prone

Push - make an attack roll opposed by the targets strength or dex save - if successful the target moves back

etc, etc, etc

Easy to rule on the fly - easy to use.  I figure others could use these manuvers but would not get their attack bonus added to the roll.

I am sure we will get additional rules for this sort of thing later in the playtest.

 


Sure, but the concern is that we are only judging things based on how they are presented to us ths far.  Most of the complaints I've seen have very little to do with actual mechanics (aside from OA's), and more to do with character functionality, which I would view as meaning that the core mechanics are probably fine enough for most players/DMs so far.

I think the manuevers you listed are definitely in the right idea, though as written I would suspect that these are all things that you'd do instead of attacking.
I guess the killer for me right now is that it's not just the fighter. It is basically any class that doesn't have spells.

Even worse is that this includes most monsters. Their turns too seem to consist of 'Move and attack.' Some have some special tricks or properties, to be sure... but many of them have nothing at all. The combat of 4e, like it or not, was at least exciting when it came to monsters pulling out crazy powers on the party. That seems to have died with the return to 3.5.


  


I remember a few cases of having a creature pull a different ability out of nowhere, or changed up when bloodied - it was a neat aspect of the core rules that kept players from just assuming what the monster might be able to do.

I suspect that some of that might come out when more rules roll out. 
I don't see the issue.  Since these are simplified playtest rules we don't have everything available yet.  

I am letting the fighter perform a bunch of different manuvers

Disraming strike - make an attack roll with weapon opposed by the targets dex save - if successful the target drops their weapon

Trip - make an attack roll opposed by the targets dex save or strength save - if successful the target falls prone

Push - make an attack roll opposed by the targets strength or dex save - if successful the target moves back

etc, etc, etc

Easy to rule on the fly - easy to use.  I figure others could use these manuvers but would not get their attack bonus added to the roll.

I am sure we will get additional rules for this sort of thing later in the playtest.

 



That's all great, but as DMs why should we have to be thinking up things on the fly? That takes time and leads to arguing about the rules. 4e incorporated things like this into the powers, so they always worked the same every time, without the DM having to constantly be making rulings. Does your trip work on a large or huge creature? Do you get your weapon bonus to an attack role if you are trying to trip someone? Who gets to choose which save the creature you are trying to trip makes: you or the creature? Etc. Etc. This edition seems to be a lot more work for the DM, a lot more susceptible to DM whims, and a lot easier to abuse/argue about. This is why I really dislike it.

 

"What is the sort of thing that I do care about is a failure to seriously evaluate what does and doesn't work in favor of a sort of cargo cult posturing. And yes, it's painful to read design notes columns that are all just "So D&D 3.5 sort of had these problems. We know people have some issues with them. What a puzzler! But we think we have a solution in the form of X", where X is sort of a half-baked version of an idea that 4e executed perfectly well and which worked fine." - Lesp


--A return to rolling for HPs. I know we might get the option to just take a standardized roll, and I will definitely be using that if it is in the game... rolling for HPs was just a recipe for frustration when my group played 3.5. I thought that 4e had advanced beyond that.  


I found this potentially confusing, but at the very least, from what I can tell, I don't see rolling for HP as something that was being applied here in the playtest thus far, with Hit Dice only being used as part of rest healing thus far.  Unless there is something else in the rules that suggest that rolling for HP is going to be used, I just assumed that the Hit Points for heroes was:

12 + Con Modifier + 1/2 Total Hit Dice value

That seemed to be the formula that was constant for all characters.


That's not my understanding.  If you look at the characters, all of them have HP equal to their Constituion score (not modifier) plus one-half their maximum HD value (i.e. 6 for the fighter's d12, 3 for rogue's d6, etc.)  Also, if you look at the "Additional Levels" section of the sheets, you can see that their HPs continue to rise by one-half their maximum HD value at each additional level.  I assume this will either be the static option for those who don't want to roll, or it's a way to make playtest feedback not vary by bad luck on HP rolls.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

 I just assumed that the Hit Points for heroes was:

12 + Con Modifier + 1/2 Total Hit Dice value

That seemed to be the formula that was constant for all characters.


That's not my understanding.  If you look at the characters, all of them have HP equal to their Constituion score (not modifier) plus one-half their maximum HD value (i.e. 6 for the fighter's d12, 3 for rogue's d6, etc.)  Also, if you look at the "Additional Levels" section of the sheets, you can see that their HPs continue to rise by one-half their maximum HD value at each additional level.  I assume this will either be the static option for those who don't want to roll, or it's a way to make playtest feedback not vary by bad luck on HP rolls.

Both of our math actually ends up with identical solutions at the end, based on what the current CON scores are for each of the characters:

Ex:

Fighter

12 + 2 + 6 = 20, +6 = 26,  +6 = 32 
vs.
14 + 6 = 20, +6 = 26, +6 = 32

And this pattern would continue all the way down through the others. 

Just seemed to be a funny coinincidence in how the numbers lined up.

** EDIT **

Re-reviewing the How to Play segment reveals my mistake in the matter - Even so, I found it kinda funny how the math worked out in this case.   The character sheet doesn't seem to follow the rules set in How to play regarding gaining HP per level, though, and I'm assuming that is based on your assumption of how the playtest characters are intended to function (by gaining 'average' health over time)
 4e incorporated things like this into the powers, so they always worked the same every time, without the DM having to constantly be making rulings.



Your 4e powers always worked the same every time. Every time. Same thing. Over and over. Sounds boring ;)

To be fair, 4e powers were ALL different, so basically combat lasted forever. I don't know about you guys, but every time we play there are at least 1 rule/power question every round. I think we can make up a few rules that every character can use in the same way for 5e.

Dms have to be good at what they do, or at least be willing to learn. 
Honestly, I don't see what the issue is. This is the first round of the playtest, with the most basic of rules. The sky isn't falling. I agree with the poster who said that it seems to them that if this is what most folks are complaining about, then the core rules work just fine.

Conversely to the OP, to me I got a very old-school feel from reading through things (but slicked up a bit to reflect some more modern innovations) - a happy marriage of old feel, and some newer mechanics. I can't wait to run my playtest group through this tomorrow night. We're all quite excited. 

For those confused on how DDN's modular rules might work, this may provide some insight: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/11/the-world-of-darkness-shines-when-it-abandons-canon

@mikemearls: Uhhh... do you really not see all the 3e/4e that's basically the entire core system?

 

It is entirely unnecessary to denigrate someone else's approach to gaming in order to validate your own.

I've been tossing around some thoughts and I think I know what the designers are doing.

In this packet we find a very slimmed version of a game. No character creation rules, no tactical combat options. A lot of text about improving new ideas, some pregen characters that are not transperant in how everything stacks up, and just enough crunch to let a game happen.

So why do this? I believe it may be so they can watch our reactions to it to see what direction the fan base wants most.

Thoughts? 
I've been tossing around some thoughts and I think I know what the designers are doing.

In this packet we find a very slimmed version of a game. No character creation rules, no tactical combat options. A lot of text about improving new ideas, some pregen characters that are not transperant in how everything stacks up, and just enough crunch to let a game happen.

So why do this? I believe it may be so they can watch our reactions to it to see what direction the fan base wants most.

Thoughts? 



I think you may be right. I was giving my initial impressions in the hopes that it might indicate that I and my group feel this is not the right direction. People who disliked 4e will almost certainly disagree, but I wanted to put my own perspective out there.   

 

"What is the sort of thing that I do care about is a failure to seriously evaluate what does and doesn't work in favor of a sort of cargo cult posturing. And yes, it's painful to read design notes columns that are all just "So D&D 3.5 sort of had these problems. We know people have some issues with them. What a puzzler! But we think we have a solution in the form of X", where X is sort of a half-baked version of an idea that 4e executed perfectly well and which worked fine." - Lesp

It should also be noted that these are level 1 to 3 characters.  Early level characters just shouldn't have a great many or variety of strange combat options (nor should their opponents, yet).  As levels progress, the martial classes should, and probably will get more interesting options.  I always found it exciting when you level up and get to do something new and cool.  It would not be the same having all these abilities from the get-go.
The first thing that jumped out at me was the number of spells that was reduced to easy spells that you can cast at will. I have been gaming as a player sence 1983 ( yes im old... i helped built the wheel) & D.Ming sence about 1990. If you allow casters to cast spells at will then you will end up allowing fighters more power. Then you end up with a war over who gets the biggest bonus or power up.
 Call me old or old fastioned but i doont agree with fighters having special powers unless it is conecceted to the combat prowess, and then it should not be a spell like ability.
 I also dont think that spell acquation should take longer than one minute per spell level, if there isnt a respect for how long it takes to regain the spells you cast then you will cast spells all day long. Yes i know you need to rest( not even spell anymore) before you can regain them. But who care when you can cast magic missle at will, not even cantrips should be at will casting. It seems to me that the game has been boiled down to a more video game format.
As negative as this sounds, thats not to say i dont like some of what is being presented to us so far. I just hope that the game designers will actually listen to us the players.
I am intriged about the A/C and how it might be changed or how it might be made better. I persnally have hated the A/C for years, it is very unbelivable and is very broken in all versions after level 5-7. ok i need to stop and just post


--This is a return to 3.5, with a few elements of 2e and 4e thrown in, and some original twists on old mechanics. I loved 3.5 back in the day, and played it a lot. But I've moved on, and the things that I really liked about 4e (more on that below) have been jettisoned, whereas many things I intensely disliked about 3.5 have been brought back.

 --A return to basic attacks for martial classes and monsters. This is a killer for me. I don't think I will be able to take the monotony of playing a martial class whose turns consist of 'I move and attack' repeated ad nauseum. One can say, 'Well, improvise!', but not everyone wants to do this or should be required to do this. My wife plays with us and is a newbie; she won't like having to try to work with me to invent rules on the fly. Also, improvised rules are by their very nature potentially very different according to the DM; get a bad one, and the game can be extremely bad (this is a universal problem in any edition, of course, but it gets far worse when the solution to a lack of mechanics is 'Improvise!'). 

--A return to rolling for HPs. I know we might get the option to just take a standardized roll, and I will definitely be using that if it is in the game... rolling for HPs was just a recipe for frustration when my group played 3.5. I thought that 4e had advanced beyond that. 

There are some things I very much like about the materials. The new HPs are fine. I like the return of damage types (slashing, etc.) for weapons. I even like the return of some of the old-school spells in a way. But overall my first impressions are intensely negative. Seeing monsters and martial classes return to the 'move and attack' turn, with basic attacks being the mainstay of the class, is IMHO not a step forward, but a huge step back.

I'll post more in a couple of weeks once I run my group through the adventure. Hopefully, my opinions will change... but for now, I am extremely disappointed.

Hopefully, your mileage will vary.

Cheers           




Sorry but I disagree, I have to; because I play 3.5, I love 3.5, and so far I really hate this game. It's not 3.5 it OD&D with a very few items barrowed from 3.5. I'm not trying to be a jerk, but I keep seeing 4e fans writing this, and this isn't remotely 3.5. Please don’t blame 3.5 players for this mess.


--This is a return to 3.5, with a few elements of 2e and 4e thrown in, and some original twists on old mechanics. I loved 3.5 back in the day, and played it a lot. But I've moved on, and the things that I really liked about 4e (more on that below) have been jettisoned, whereas many things I intensely disliked about 3.5 have been brought back.

 --A return to basic attacks for martial classes and monsters. This is a killer for me. I don't think I will be able to take the monotony of playing a martial class whose turns consist of 'I move and attack' repeated ad nauseum. One can say, 'Well, improvise!', but not everyone wants to do this or should be required to do this. My wife plays with us and is a newbie; she won't like having to try to work with me to invent rules on the fly. Also, improvised rules are by their very nature potentially very different according to the DM; get a bad one, and the game can be extremely bad (this is a universal problem in any edition, of course, but it gets far worse when the solution to a lack of mechanics is 'Improvise!'). 

--A return to rolling for HPs. I know we might get the option to just take a standardized roll, and I will definitely be using that if it is in the game... rolling for HPs was just a recipe for frustration when my group played 3.5. I thought that 4e had advanced beyond that. 

There are some things I very much like about the materials. The new HPs are fine. I like the return of damage types (slashing, etc.) for weapons. I even like the return of some of the old-school spells in a way. But overall my first impressions are intensely negative. Seeing monsters and martial classes return to the 'move and attack' turn, with basic attacks being the mainstay of the class, is IMHO not a step forward, but a huge step back.

I'll post more in a couple of weeks once I run my group through the adventure. Hopefully, my opinions will change... but for now, I am extremely disappointed.

Hopefully, your mileage will vary.

Cheers           




Sorry but I disagree, I have to; because I play 3.5, I love 3.5, and so far I really hate this game. It's not 3.5 it OD&D with a very few items barrowed from 3.5. I'm not trying to be a jerk, but I keep seeing 4e fans writing this, and this isn't remotely 3.5. Please don’t blame 3.5 players for this mess.



Whichever edition it resembles it isn't something I have any interest in playing. A lot of people elsewhere are comparing it to 2nd edition or basic. If I wanted to play second edition or basic that's what I would be playing. Or one of the free retro-clones that mimics the play style of those older editions. If I'm going to pay good money for a game I want a good solid rules system not something where I have to make constant houserules just to get through the session. WOTC, stop forcing me to houserule making rules is what I'm paying you to do.
I'm not sure why they abandoned the basic idea of every class having a range of interesting, dynamic, and comparable powers.  Yes, the fighter powers were often silly and cartoony and ill-suited to a more realistic low-tech fantasy adventure.  But I don't see why fighters (or non-caster classes generally) can't have a "skill book" or suchlike of limited-use high end techniques to deploy that's comparable to a wizard spellbook.  How many they get and how limited-use they are is a balancing issue; but the idea of options and impressive finishers is just straight-up good game design, and is key to tactically interesting combat.

Wasn't dull fighters one of the key complaints of earlier editions?  Was anyone actually asking for a return to that?


Whichever edition it resembles it isn't something I have any interest in playing. A lot of people elsewhere are comparing it to 2nd edition or basic. If I wanted to play second edition or basic that's what I would be playing. Or one of the free retro-clones that mimics the play style of those older editions. If I'm going to pay good money for a game I want a good solid rules system not something where I have to make constant houserules just to get through the session. WOTC, stop forcing me to houserule making rules is what I'm paying you to do.




1) Every game system will have elements you disagree with. Inflexibility is a critical weakness in a DM.

2) This is a playtest. The entire concept is that it is an unfinished product that needs to be tested and tinkered with before being released as a final product. If you are not interested in testing and tinkering I suggest you delete your copy of the playtest materials and wait for WOTC to release a product you can then pay for which should not require so much effort on your behalf.
 


Whichever edition it resembles it isn't something I have any interest in playing. A lot of people elsewhere are comparing it to 2nd edition or basic. If I wanted to play second edition or basic that's what I would be playing. Or one of the free retro-clones that mimics the play style of those older editions. If I'm going to pay good money for a game I want a good solid rules system not something where I have to make constant houserules just to get through the session. WOTC, stop forcing me to houserule making rules is what I'm paying you to do.




1) Every game system will have elements you disagree with. Inflexibility is a critical weakness in a DM.

2) This is a playtest. The entire concept is that it is an unfinished product that needs to be tested and tinkered with before being released as a final product. If you are not interested in testing and tinkering I suggest you delete your copy of the playtest materials and wait for WOTC to release a product you can then pay for which should not require so much effort on your behalf.
 



You're right. It is a playtest. That's why I'm here talking about the parts that aren't working for me in the hopes that those parts will be changed. I'm getting a very clear impression both from the currently provided materials and the articles going up on the blogs that this idea that DM fiat is a decent replacement for rules is something they intend to put in the finished product. If people who don't like that idea don't tell WOTC that they don't want that in their game then WOTC will have no reason to change it.
I have to agree with the whole, all classes without magic get to just move and attack... Its kinda disheartening, but I am sure that with so many people talking about how they would like that changed, it will be different in the final product. Personally, I loved the combat/powers system in 4th ed. I wish it was the same basic rules for the combat in this and that there would be more powers for them to use. I understand that its a roleplaying game, but combat is a HUGE part of it, and deserves to be treated as such. Taking away options during combat is not the way to go WotC...

Thanks for reading,
Tyler Francis 


Whichever edition it resembles it isn't something I have any interest in playing. A lot of people elsewhere are comparing it to 2nd edition or basic. If I wanted to play second edition or basic that's what I would be playing. Or one of the free retro-clones that mimics the play style of those older editions. If I'm going to pay good money for a game I want a good solid rules system not something where I have to make constant houserules just to get through the session. WOTC, stop forcing me to houserule making rules is what I'm paying you to do.




1) Every game system will have elements you disagree with. Inflexibility is a critical weakness in a DM.

2) This is a playtest. The entire concept is that it is an unfinished product that needs to be tested and tinkered with before being released as a final product. If you are not interested in testing and tinkering I suggest you delete your copy of the playtest materials and wait for WOTC to release a product you can then pay for which should not require so much effort on your behalf.
 



You're kinda missing the point, incomplete playtest or not so far many are not satified. If there not allowed to say their unsatified, what is the playtest for?

You're kinda missing the point, incomplete playtest or not so far many are not satified. If there not allowed to say their unsatified, what is the playtest for?



But so many people appear dissatisfied with the WRONG things.  They're critiquing those things that aren't included in the playtest (like fighting styles for the fighter.  Everyone seems so hung up on this, but it's just a darn first level fighter, what do people want from it?) instead of focussing on those things that ARE there.  I plan on sticking with critiquing them for now, and worry about the rest once we have a better idea of just what the final game is going to be like.

From what I've read, people seem to like a lot of the stuff this particular playtest appears to be testing.  Advantage, checks, combat, healing, casting...  

Saying combat isn't fun is missing the question of whether its mechanically sound, and so far it looks like it is.  For all we know the other rules and the included character builds are specifically designed to force a test of one or another mechanic and won't reflect the final version at all (there are incinsistancies between the pregens and the How to Play pack, for example, that may be there on purpose for some reason).

Saying build options are missing (like an armored mage or a specific list of powers for fighters) is just completely wacky to me since character creation is completely missing.  People are basically complaining that they don't know about options that (weve been told) are present but happen to not be in this playtest.

The one thing I've see people say is strictly broken is heavy armor. 

For the parts that are here, I'm optimistic about what I've seen, and that there's a pretty good framework for plugging all the rest of the stuff that people are waiting for (and we've been told will be there) into place.

Basically... what about what is actually included doesn't work? 
I'm not sure why they abandoned the basic idea of every class having a range of interesting, dynamic, and comparable powers.  Yes, the fighter powers were often silly and cartoony and ill-suited to a more realistic low-tech fantasy adventure.  But I don't see why fighters (or non-caster classes generally) can't have a "skill book" or suchlike of limited-use high end techniques to deploy that's comparable to a wizard spellbook.  How many they get and how limited-use they are is a balancing issue; but the idea of options and impressive finishers is just straight-up good game design, and is key to tactically interesting combat.

Wasn't dull fighters one of the key complaints of earlier editions?  Was anyone actually asking for a return to that?





Not everyone was on the same page on this complaint. Lots of people wanted a return to simpler fighters (which doesn't make them boring). For me, 4e was the opposite of what I want in a fighter character. It was one of my key gripes with the system. Prior to 4e I was pretty happy with fiters (though I think 3e could nhave done more like give them a heavy base bonus to damage or something.

You're right. It is a playtest. That's why I'm here talking about the parts that aren't working for me in the hopes that those parts will be changed. I'm getting a very clear impression both from the currently provided materials and the articles going up on the blogs that this idea that DM fiat is a decent replacement for rules is something they intend to put in the finished product. If people who don't like that idea don't tell WOTC that they don't want that in their game then WOTC will have no reason to change it.




The entire point of the system is the aknowledgement that there isn't a SINGLE game that everyone wants to play. That groups, both DMs and Players, have differing expectations from the D&D, and that trying to reconsile that requires allowing different groups to play differently.

The "modular" approach is just that. There will be a core system, and there will be a TON of houserules, but instead of just leaving it up to the DM to come up with those houserules, they will present them in the book. Run the game gridless, OR run it on a grid. Roll for hp OR use a fixed hp progression. Roll for stats OR point buy OR use one of these arrays.

BTW, the fighter stars the game with a feat that turns his basic attacks into reaping strike. Yes, it's only ONE of the 'at-will' powers from 4e, but it's more than 'just' a basic attack. Cleave may not be that exciting, since it's a 'get an extra attack when you drop someone', so it doesn't give you something different to do, just something extra, but it's still more than JUST attacking. [If nothing else, it's encouraging you to maneuver yourself to be able to take advantage of it]. Based on SOLELY the content already presented, the fighter could instead have taken a theme to be able to do some defendery interupts as a guardian, or could have learned some cantrips, etc.

And just like an early demo, this is clearly a playtest with a lot of the options turned off. They want to test the core mechanics before they get into things like tripping, grappling and other 'standard' maneuvers that will probably be available to everyone (not to mention getting into character creation options where everyone is playing different types of fighters with different combat maneuvers and thus it becomes impossible to compare people's playtest results to each other because no one is playing the same game.

To start, we all play the same game with the same PCs, more or less. As later playtest packages come out, there will be stuff added to be tested, but if the foundation is crumbling, decorating the house ain't going to help. 
I wonder if this might become the biggest bone of contention in the whole game.

Old-school gamers like me are quite happy with fighters wot just hit fings. That's their job. I hated the proliferation of artificial 'powers' in 4e. "That Covering Strike thing was cool - I'll do it again" - "Sorry, you can't, it's an Encounter power".

I'm sure we'll see all that stuff come back in later modules. But for me, it's great to see and be able to playtest a basic game which looks and feels more like the D&D I've been playing since 1978.

How ironic if Wizards manage to alienate all the 4e players who liked powers...but I don't think they will. I think the game will encompass that complexity if you want it to...but not yet in the playtest. 
They're critiquing those things that aren't included in the playtest (like fighting styles for the fighter.  Everyone seems so hung up on this, but it's just a darn first level fighter, what do people want from it?) instead of focussing on those things that ARE there.


Because the way this iteration of the game treats fighters and "martial classes" is important for many potential players. And the fact that the "simple" fighter, as introduced in this playtest, feels less "simple" than "we have no idea on how to make it interesting while still being simple" is not very motivating.
The way fighters will work - both as in their "simple" version and their "complex" version - is one of the major point on which this edition will be judged, and I think that many players expected to see something interesting, a new approach, new concepts, and not a retunr to the way fighters worked in gygaxian times.

Here are my ideas and suggestions :

4E tried to make martial classes interesting by giving them "powers" similar to the spells of casters. These powers used a lot of status effects and movement and positioning effects (so they remained "believably martial"). But "narrative, gridless" combat makes movement and positioning unreliable as a "special" for fighters/martial. It doesn't mean that you can't build "rules" in narrative combat allowing a fighter to be feel "special" and unique, while trying to stay simple.

I'd suggest something like giving to the "simple fighter" the possibility to add a special effect to any of his attack - a kind of status effect meant for narrative combat. For instance, he could chose to give the ennemy he hits one of those effects, each remaining untill his next round :


  • Lock : your constants attacks and menace force to ennemy to keep his attention on you -if he attacks any other target than you, you are entitled to immediately attack him, with no special effect if you hit.

  • Force move : your attacks force the ennemy to move where you want him to be. You can decide he must stay where he is, or decide he will be in the zone of effect of a spell, a dangerous place, or too far from another PC to be able to hit him, or from one of his allies to protect him, etc.

  • Vulnerability to distance attack : you position the ennemy in such a way that friendly bowmen can hit him without penalty (or even give them advantage)

  • Vulnerability to magic : or distract the attention of the ennemy from the spellcasters of your team, lowering his saves because he can't see what's coming.

  • Distraction : you keep the eyes of the ennemy on you, making it easier for others to hide from him

  • No time for complex things : your attacks are so fast and numerous that the ennemy can't use some of his powers and abilities (if, for instance, some monsters are given "big powers" needing great concentration to use, like spell casting, but that would be another suggestion)

  • etc (but keep the list short!)


This is quite simple, doesn't need much book keeping ( only affects one ennemy at a time, with only one effect), doesn't need a grid or miniatures, but still would make the fighter both more "tactical" - and more "team working". Of course it would also need a lot of balancing and testing.


But it would be the kind of "rules" that would be both useful for narrative combat, and interesting simple choices for fighters.


I hope they will be able to design simple things, along this line or another, that would make the "simple" version of the fighter not so simple that you absolutely need to chose the "complex fighter module" to have fun with this class.

Remember Tunnel Seventeen !
I wonder if this might become the biggest bone of contention in the whole game.

Old-school gamers like me are quite happy with fighters wot just hit fings. That's their job. I hated the proliferation of artificial 'powers' in 4e. "That Covering Strike thing was cool - I'll do it again" - "Sorry, you can't, it's an Encounter power".

I'm sure we'll see all that stuff come back in later modules. But for me, it's great to see and be able to playtest a basic game which looks and feels more like the D&D I've been playing since 1978.

How ironic if Wizards manage to alienate all the 4e players who liked powers...but I don't think they will. I think the game will encompass that complexity if you want it to...but not yet in the playtest. 


Past editions had powers too, they just weren't put in the rulebooks.  Every creative improvisation you come up with is basically just a "hidden power" that you force the DM to come up with the rules for on the spot.  And don't think for a moment that players won't repeat improvisations that work.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

I'm not sure why they abandoned the basic idea of every class having a range of interesting, dynamic, and comparable powers.  Yes, the fighter powers were often silly and cartoony and ill-suited to a more realistic low-tech fantasy adventure.  But I don't see why fighters (or non-caster classes generally) can't have a "skill book" or suchlike of limited-use high end techniques to deploy that's comparable to a wizard spellbook.  How many they get and how limited-use they are is a balancing issue; but the idea of options and impressive finishers is just straight-up good game design, and is key to tactically interesting combat.

Wasn't dull fighters one of the key complaints of earlier editions?  Was anyone actually asking for a return to that?



I couldn't agree more. 

Also please everyone remember that it's not just fighters... it seems to be basically every non-spell-using class AND monsters as well that are in the same boat. Move and basic attack is going to be the main thing most things do on the battlefield. It's just fighters that are feeling it most because we don't have the other classes yet, and people aren't really noticing that the monsters are doing basically the same thing. 

One of the most commonly heard phrases around my gaming table when 4e came out was 'Fighters don't suck anymore!'. I don't think I'll be hearing this when we play 5e. And that, to me, is a real step backwards.   

 

"What is the sort of thing that I do care about is a failure to seriously evaluate what does and doesn't work in favor of a sort of cargo cult posturing. And yes, it's painful to read design notes columns that are all just "So D&D 3.5 sort of had these problems. We know people have some issues with them. What a puzzler! But we think we have a solution in the form of X", where X is sort of a half-baked version of an idea that 4e executed perfectly well and which worked fine." - Lesp

I'm not sure why they abandoned the basic idea of every class having a range of interesting, dynamic, and comparable powers.


I'm not sure either but I can make a number of guesses.
1)  It was overly complex.
2)  It wasn't what enough people were looking for.
The fact that a new edition is coming out this fast and that at least in part it appears to be reverting to earlier edditions suggest that in a buisness sense 4th edition did not live up to the hopes managment had for it.
Yes, the fighter powers were often silly and cartoony and ill-suited to a more realistic low-tech fantasy adventure.  But I don't see why fighters (or non-caster classes generally) can't have a "skill book" or suchlike of limited-use high end techniques to deploy that's comparable to a wizard spellbook.


What you describe is one reason that I suspect many did not transition to 4th edition.  Certainly the literature that inspired D&D tended to have fairly simple fighters.  That is simple in what they did but the complexity comes in how and where they do it.  Making use of terreign and figuring out who or what to take out first.
Wasn't dull fighters one of the key complaints of earlier editions?


Not that I ever heard and indeed fighter was a very common choice in the earlier editions. Then of course the feats in 3.0 and 3.5 allowed for pretty complex fighters.
Was anyone actually asking for a return to that?


I don't know what the actual numbers are but among most of my friends and aquantences who play D&D none that I know of switched to 4th edition.  I looked at it for a time and it looked like it was actually a pretty decent game but it just didn't feel like D&D to me.

As others have mentioned in these various threads though this is still a fairly early stage of playtesting.  Furthermore we only have a small segment of the rules.  I suspect things will get more complex as time advances.

I like fighters just hitting things. I really did not like the whole power structure of 4e core with regards to the martial classes. Fighters should be the best at hitting things and getting hit. I liked the fighter thou they did for essentials more than the core fighter. I could live with that kind of fighter. He hits stuff and has different stances to chose from. That is so much better than the fighter having basically the same kind of power that a wizard has.

Each class has its own strengths and weaknesses. Fighter types really don't need special attack powers because they have other advantages instead. In the earliest edition (OD&D from 1974, plus supplements) there were many things that made fighters special. They just didn't have lots of fancy attacks.


1. Fighters get more hit points than other classes. In the White Box it was due to more hit dice, in the Greyhawk supplement it was because of better dice type.

2. Fighters gain to-hit bonuses at a rate faster than other classes, plus they could go higher than other classes on the combat chart.

3. Fighters were the only ones who got "exceptional strength" bonuses above 18. This means that fighters were the only ones who got a to-hit bonus greater than +2 or a damage bonus greater than +3. Exceptional strength fighters could also attempt to open doors that were wizard locked or magically sealed in some way.

4. Fighters had sub classes that allowed for spellcasting options (e.g. the Ranger and Paladin had some of this) plus additional cool things like tracking or anti-magic shell or lay-on-hands that they could do.

True, fighters didn't have a lot of special names for attacks back then, but they had quite a few advantages over other classes and could deal out some decent damage as well as take quite a few hits from badduns along the way. And, unlike magic-users who run out of spells, their swords never ran out of damage.  Magic-users had the trade-off of having a few really flashy things they can do, then they fizzle.

Fighters are like the Energizer Bunny and just keep going and going....

Marv (Finarvyn) Master of Mutants (MA and GW) Playing 5E D&D and liking it! OD&D player since 1975

I'll be giving a full DM report once I run my group through the package adventure. But for now, I just wanted to give my first impressions of the new edition.

About Me: I've been playing DnD since 1980 (tons of AD&D, Basic, Expert, Companion, Master, 3.5 and 4e; a little 2e). I've been DMing since a few years after starting playing.



That makes us both.



My first impressions of the new edition are intensely negative. My main concerns are:

--This is a return to 3.5, with a few elements of 2e and 4e thrown in, and some original twists on old mechanics. I loved 3.5 back in the day, and played it a lot. But I've moved on, and the things that I really liked about 4e (more on that below) have been jettisoned, whereas many things I intensely disliked about 3.5 have been brought back.




As others have mentioned this is really a d20 version of 2.0 with feats. The old 2nd ed kits have been replaced by "Themes".
I honestly understand what you are saying, and understand that this is just a playtest (and by no means complete), but it really screams more boxed set series/ 2nd ed than 3rd. Hell, they even brought back Electrum.
The only 4e mechanics i see are Rituals and healing surges disguised as Hit Dice. 
:/



 --A return to basic attacks for martial classes and monsters. This is a killer for me. I don't think I will be able to take the monotony of playing a martial class whose turns consist of 'I move and attack' repeated ad nauseum. One can say, 'Well, improvise!', but not everyone wants to do this or should be required to do this. My wife plays with us and is a newbie; she won't like having to try to work with me to invent rules on the fly. Also, improvised rules are by their very nature potentially very different according to the DM; get a bad one, and the game can be extremely bad (this is a universal problem in any edition, of course, but it gets far worse when the solution to a lack of mechanics is 'Improvise!'). 

--A return to rolling for HPs. I know we might get the option to just take a standardized roll, and I will definitely be using that if it is in the game... rolling for HPs was just a recipe for frustration when my group played 3.5. I thought that 4e had advanced beyond that. 



This.
This.
A thousand times this.
The only consulation to rolling your HP's is that if you roll under your con bonus, you get your con bonus instead. But still, it's yuck.


There are some things I very much like about the materials. The new HPs are fine. I like the return of damage types (slashing, etc.) for weapons. I even like the return of some of the old-school spells in a way. But overall my first impressions are intensely negative. Seeing monsters and martial classes return to the 'move and attack' turn, with basic attacks being the mainstay of the class, is IMHO not a step forward, but a huge step back.

I'll post more in a couple of weeks once I run my group through the adventure. Hopefully, my opinions will change... but for now, I am extremely disappointed.

Hopefully, your mileage will vary.

Cheers           



Hopefully.


EDIT-
I'm not sure why they abandoned the basic idea of every class having a range of interesting, dynamic, and comparable powers.  Yes, the fighter powers were often silly and cartoony and ill-suited to a more realistic low-tech fantasy adventure.  But I don't see why fighters (or non-caster classes generally) can't have a "skill book" or suchlike of limited-use high end techniques to deploy that's comparable to a wizard spellbook.  How many they get and how limited-use they are is a balancing issue; but the idea of options and impressive finishers is just straight-up good game design, and is key to tactically interesting combat.

Wasn't dull fighters one of the key complaints of earlier editions?  Was anyone actually asking for a return to that?



Yeah, and i think the Fighter concept article even mentioned that.
 
FWIW [4e designer] baseline assumption was that roughly 70% of your feats would be put towards combat effectiveness, parties would coordinate, and strikers would do 20/40/60 at-will damage+novas. If your party isn't doing that... well, you are below baseline, so yes, you need to optimize slightly to meet baseline. -Alcestis

You're right. It is a playtest. That's why I'm here talking about the parts that aren't working for me in the hopes that those parts will be changed. I'm getting a very clear impression both from the currently provided materials and the articles going up on the blogs that this idea that DM fiat is a decent replacement for rules is something they intend to put in the finished product. If people who don't like that idea don't tell WOTC that they don't want that in their game then WOTC will have no reason to change it.




The entire point of the system is the aknowledgement that there isn't a SINGLE game that everyone wants to play. That groups, both DMs and Players, have differing expectations from the D&D, and that trying to reconsile that requires allowing different groups to play differently.

The "modular" approach is just that. There will be a core system, and there will be a TON of houserules, but instead of just leaving it up to the DM to come up with those houserules, they will present them in the book. Run the game gridless, OR run it on a grid. Roll for hp OR use a fixed hp progression. Roll for stats OR point buy OR use one of these arrays.

BTW, the fighter stars the game with a feat that turns his basic attacks into reaping strike. Yes, it's only ONE of the 'at-will' powers from 4e, but it's more than 'just' a basic attack.



It's also not something they get from being a fighter. According to material posted on the blogs earlier it's from a theme that can be taken by someone from any class.

BTW, the fighter stars the game with a feat that turns his basic attacks into reaping strike. Yes, it's only ONE of the 'at-will' powers from 4e, but it's more than 'just' a basic attack.



It's also not something they get from being a fighter. According to material posted on the blogs earlier it's from a theme that can be taken by someone from any class.


And based on the wording of it, a Cleric could use it for Radiant Lance, and get a guaranteed 4 Radiant Damage on a miss at range, for example.  I suspect there will be some balancing that needs to be done with some of the themes, but that's for a later playtest.
I guess the killer for me right now is that it's not just the fighter. It is basically any class that doesn't have spells.

Even worse is that this includes most monsters. Their turns too seem to consist of 'Move and attack.' Some have some special tricks or properties, to be sure... but many of them have nothing at all. The combat of 4e, like it or not, was at least exciting when it came to monsters pulling out crazy powers on the party. That seems to have died with the return to 3.5.


  



I perfectly agree with you... my players got so bored by the absolute absence of choices that they wanted to leave the test after two fights, I coaxed them to continue... but also the use of my monsters was the utmost monotony...
I really hope that they are just beginning to shape the rules, maybe I can understand (actually I cannot understand, but...) that a new player should want to use a dull fighter and like better not doing any action other than the basic attack... but we play (and run as masters) d&d from the basic set (red case) to the 4th edition and no one of us will be likely to accept dullness rather than complexity.

(sorry for my english)
No more vancian. No "edition war" for me, thank'you.