Actual Playtest Report (3e players)

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Greetings!

So yesterday four players and I sat down to playtest.  Here are our notes from actual play.

My test players were almost all people who had played 3rd edition, and had tried but greatly disliked 4th.  I've played 3rd, but for the most part I prefer 4th.  This promised to be interesting.

I had only read the rules once, so no doubt I expected to make some mistakes.

We handwaved character creation -- the Dwarven Cleric was Sir Alebeard Shinkicker -- and got into the mechanics of the game.  The party quickly got to it.

Before the game even began, we tossed out the rule which says that the player needs to specify EXACTLY where they search.  I made a deal with my players -- if they say they search the whole room, I'll give them a test to find anything hidden, on the basis that they're competent characters who know how to rifle though things.  But they take responsiblility for any traps that come up -- if they search the room, I assume they throw open the treasure chests, and if they fail find/remove traps on a given chest, the consequences hold.  No backing down.  Everyone agreed this would be the better way to go.

First question that came up: Which ability score does what?  The rogue has +3 to find/remove traps.  Is that based on wisdom (to spot something),  intelligence (to understand how to take it apart), or dexterity (for the steady fingers?)  There was a lot of "precident from past editions" which came up.

Second issue, having three sklll bonuses under class features, and another three skill bonuses under background was deemed annoying.  This should be easy enough to fix.

We noticed a reference to "simple" weapons in some parts and "basic" weapons in another, and decided these were the same.  May want to clarify that.

There were no explicit rules about shooting into melee that we could find, so insead I decided that the hobgoblin archers shooting past allies were dealing with about 1/2 cover.  

Other questions the came up: dropping prone?  Is that a free action or a reaction or what?  We ruled reaction, but we didn't know. 

Ray of frost... what defense does it attack?  The creatures only had one defense, so I made it target AC, but that seemed weird.  Not sure if they should have been making a dexterity save or what, but the spell description did not have anything like that at all.

The guardian shield power: we could not figure out when the guardian had to call it.  He had been using it to force a re-roll on any attacks which hit, which seemed like it may be overpowered.

Lack of flanking + hiding being a standard action really made the rogue under-able, though the monsters had so little HP than sling bullets were doign a fine job of killing them off anyway.

Things I noticed: the battlefield is very loose and floaty.  Without AoO, and with people being able to move before and after an attack, there was very little preventing an endless procession of move in, attack, retreat.  I didn't abuse the rule, but when the players set up a choke point against a room chock full of hobgoblins, I noticed that by the rules the choke point was useless of the hobgoblins were content to move in, strike, and move away... and there was nothing anyone could do about this.

Either AoOs need to come back, or we have to get rid of this move/attack/move nonsense.

The party hasn't hit level two yet.

On the bright side, advantage was easy to understand, combat moved quickly, and the players all had fun.  Characters were a little afraid of death, but not too afraid.  The wizard got to use magic almost every round without overshadowing the rest of the party.

It seems promising, but unpolished.  I'm not a fan of random HP progression, but this did not come up in the playtest.

Another thing I disliked: level one and the system is already talking gold pieces.  The party was looting silver from the hobgoblins, and that was fine, so being handed 25 gp each for returning the merchant felt excessive.  However, given that the party is trying to loot every sword, spear, and armor from the dungeon, I can see where its going.  I'd like to see see rituals operate as a sort of spell substitution, letting a player give up a 1st level spell to cast a 1st level ritual... thus adding flexibility without making each spell an exercise in accounting.

At least one player hated advantage and thought it was stupid.  I disagree, but I'm trying to report objectively.

That's all so far.  Going to run the same adventure with a group of 4e fans on Sunday.  Will report back with more findings.
Thanks Maple!  (May I call you Maple?)  

This is value added right there.

I haven't had a chance to play yet, so could I ask you to clarify/expand your thoughts on the "Move/Attack/Move" trouble?  I don't quite see what you're saying.

Cheers! 

First question that came up: Which ability score does what?  The rogue has +3 to find/remove traps.  Is that based on wisdom (to spot something),  intelligence (to understand how to take it apart), or dexterity (for the steady fingers?)  There was a lot of "precident from past editions" which came up.



The adventure does a really good job of telling you this. Finding a trap is a Wisdom check and disarming it is a Dexterity check.
Content on this thread was editted because it was in violation of the CoC.

If you would like to read more about the CoC or have questions, you can see it here:

company.wizards.com/conduct 
Whoops!  I'm sorry about the CoC violation.  I was actually very confused when I got the email notice.  (For anyone asking, the Dwarven name was a bit more... colorful... than what the ORC edited it to.  That was the correct decision, and my apologies.)

Ok, onto questions.

Ravidell, Maple is fine.  So anyway, rule #1 of tactics.  If you are outnumbered, find a choke point.  The fighter and the cleric could, standing shoulder to shoulder, block off a tunnel, and the hobgoblins could only engage two at a time.  The other ones were forced to hold back, waiting for their allies to fall before they could rush in.  Only with a move/attack/move deal, a hobgoblin could move in, attack, and retreat, allowing ANOTHER one who was behind him to do the same.  In the space of a turn a fighter could take melee attacks from 2-3 enemies right in front of him.

You can't do this in 3.5 or 4e.  The fighter can make it especially hard in 4e.  The lack of stickyness makes combat tactics less important.  I didn't play exactly by the rules, but if I did, the players would be in for trouble, and thats broken.

TLenze, the reason it came up was because the players said "search for traps" on a dead end which had no traps, so I couldn't find it.  However the adventure picked what I did.  Yay! 
I have a feeling the move/action/move thing wasn't meant for melee, but other actions like spell casting and such. Even in 1E you couldn't simply move out of melee at will. I'd chalk that up in the 'stuff they need to add' column.

Veteran of The Transfer... Add 700 to my post count... 

The move-attack-move thing is a nice catch... I intend to run this sometime this weekend and since I'm playtesting I want to abuse anything I can find to abuse, even if it means DMing like kind of a jerk. That's what playtesting is for, though. I also want to see if players can find any way to prevent me from completely ignoring the fighter and the defender cleric and ganking the wizard at every opportunity.
Things I noticed: the battlefield is very loose and floaty.  Without AoO, and with people being able to move before and after an attack, there was very little preventing an endless procession of move in, attack, retreat.  I didn't abuse the rule, but when the players set up a choke point against a room chock full of hobgoblins, I noticed that by the rules the choke point was useless of the hobgoblins were content to move in, strike, and move away... and there was nothing anyone could do about this.

Either AoOs need to come back, or we have to get rid of this move/attack/move nonsense.



This is a very good point. AoOs really need to be core. They don't have to be the strict AoOs of 3E/4E, where you're dealing in threatened squares and such, but at the very least moving out of a threatened area should provoke to prevent this sort of abuse, because you're right, a choke point is useless if you want to abuse it.

 

Ray of frost... what defense does it attack?  The creatures only had one defense, so I made it target AC, but that seemed weird.  Not sure if they should have been making a dexterity save or what, but the spell description did not have anything like that at all.


It's a ranged attack, so it targets AC. This probably requires clarification in the spell rules, since that wording comes from 3e.

Also, thank you for actually giving playtest experience and useful feedback, rather than just emotional first impressions and unconstructive criticism.
Oh, something else that came up during the playtest.  Aid another!

The closest we could find was Help in the Actions in Combat.  Would have been nice to see some good rules for tag-teaming a search together, especially for things like listening through a door -- the elf already has advantage on the check.

This is an area which doesn't feel "wrong" so much as half baked, and I look forward to seeing how the designers refine it.