DM Cypher's playtest "Caves of Chaos" with 3.5 /4E fans

Setup:
DM with experiences hosting 3.0, 3.5, and 4E for a vast amount of players as a regular on conventions.

Players:
Mostly 3.5 and 4E fans. One AD&D player. Prefer battlemat over ToM.

Adventure:
Scenes of "Caves of Chaos"

Rules:
Playtestmaterial May 24th

Houserule:
Flanking gives advantage; several minor rules to easy play on a battlemat

Story:
I set up the scene with a count fearing an archenemy rallying animalpeople in former military tunnels and storageareas known as "Caves of Chaos", now long abandoned by the creators. The count fears that these beasts gather to his county. A drunkard dwarven knight was sent here to take care of the rumours together with some unexperienced adventurers. They have been told by the count to be on a "peace mission" - meaning they are supposed to bring peace to the countryside even if this means using violence to achieve it.

How it went:
We had a rather short session but it gave the players a pretty good glimpse at the core mechanic. We used a battlemat and minis since this is our prefered playstyle.

The players snuck into the goblin tunnels and confronted a goblin guard group. Some goblins tried to get away and nearly made it to the door of the hobgoblin lair to get more help. The party was able to stop the escaping goblins in time. The party then heard more goblin voices behind a barred door and retreated.

The wizard wanted to put her comprehend languages spell to use to understand the Goblin language. Since now you have to touch a creature to understand it the party lacked a living specimen. I ruled she could use a chopped off goblin head as a material component with a DC 8 arcane lore check instead.

After the party realized that a whole lot of hobgoblins waited behind the next door they decided to use another tunnel to get deeper into the dungeon. They overheard a group of goblins wondering if "he who sleeps" would actually make it to their guardpost.

Since movement didn't provoke OAs the player came up with the plan to sneak into the bear's cave, open the door to the goblin area from there, run through the goblins ranks while luring the bear behind them and letting the bear cleave through the surprised goblins.

Since there are no group checks at the moment (which was the only chance in 4E to let a whole group succeed in climbing and sneaking) the dwarf failed terribly with his stealthy approach to one of the cave entrances waking the creature inside.

On the picture you can see the scene were the chars entered the "bear cave" only to find out that the snoring came from a mercenary ogre - not from a bear. The halfling rogue ran through the cave and opened the next door, hoping to find the secret door to the goblin tunnels quick enough to lure the rampaging "bear" to the goblins:

Characters entering teh ogrecave

We figured that the Wizard could lock the ogre on the ground with Ray of frost since the ogre's movement was 0 thus he could not spent 5 ft to get up. The party might have tried to talk to the ogre. The drunk dwarven knight though (benefiting from damage reduction 2 while intoxicated) just saw him as a worthy opponent (resting next to a luring brandy barrel) and attacked the ogre.

The fighter rolled some lucky hits against thre ogre and took him down with the help of the Pelor cleric and the wizard. The ogre mostly had some unlucky rolls and landed only one hefty hit on the cleric which made him "bloodied".

The ogre and the goblins died and the party continues to look for a more intelligent creature to parlay with.

The sessions might continue at a later point.


What we liked:


  • The game felt like D&D. The 3.5/4E players said it reminded them of v3.5. The AD&D player said it reminded him of AD&D at this level

  • The playtest overall felt more like an organic progression of older rules compared to the first 4E sessions

  • The skill system is awesome. It was very well received. There was a discussion if you would base a perception check on Wis or on Int. We went for Wis.

  • The hit dice to self-heal with healer kits were flavorful imagining them as a character's vitality. The healer did an extra effort to roleplay bandaging up his comrades instead of using healing spells with his kits.

  • The advantage/disadvantage system was well received. We weren`t sure though if 2 times advantage vs. 1x disadvantage would end up as 1x advantage though. I ruled it would.

  • The fighter player was pleased with his abilitys on level 1 but is hoping to get more tactical maneuvers with higher levels

  • The rogue player was very happy to never roll less than 10 on her skill rolls; we considered the wording of this power too open though since it wasn't clear what would happen if you would get training on more skills later

  • "Intoxicated" as a condition. We are mature enough to realize that this doesn't promote alcoholism and considered this a fun add-on (as long the negative effect of having a constant disadvantage can't be countered by a rules trick later)

  • We liked the rules to gain constant knowledge from a tome. The 1 hour rule should not be hard coded into the rules though but should be determined by the DM




What we didn't like:


  • OA (AoO) were missed pretty much as without them movement on the grid was a bit pointless

  • We missed flanking. I ruled that flanking gives advantage. It was discussed that the sneak attack progression (+1d6 dice per rogue level) would result in flanking to get advantage to be too powerful in later levels though

  • coming from 4E the game mechanics and the character attack options felt bland

  • we ran out of spells after a single tough fight and there wasn't a way to get spells back other than a long rest. It was discussed if it was possible to sacrifice hit dice to get spells back instead of hit points

  • the return of "feet" as measurement was a pain to use and we are hoping that "squares" (or yards) will come as an additional info with every feet measurement

  • The lack of grid based rules was a bit disappointing Since the module for it has not been released yet we lacked infos how to deal with movement, hard corners, charging, flanking etc. but simply used 4E ruleset where 5E was missing out so were were doing fine.

  • We miss group checks. A failed check of a single character when sneaking is funny once in a while but makes it also nearly impossible to succeed with a full group in the long run.

  • The fighter dealing damage even on a miss was welcome, but would make little sense against higher level enemys. Maybe this only works against monsters of his level and below?

  • We didn't understand why Electrum pieces made their return. These should only appear in setting specific modules

  • Paying rituals with gold - didn't work well in 4E, won't work here. Why not "pay" with hit dice? For higher level rituals you would need a circle of mages (who all provide their hit dice to the pool)

  • Resting heals you completely over night - no thanks. There's no chance to run a long energy draining overland travel quest with this. What about rolling all your hit dice to see how much you heal over night instead? Results in quick healing if you have hardly a scratch... might take longer if you are really beaten.



Summary:


We really enjoyed this playtest and were surprised to taste D&D flavor in the new rules right from the start. We are looking forward to see more crunchy modules released to be able to test more.

I enjoyed reading that, and so well organized Laughing
Agreed! I think your feedback is great!
Thanks a lot! Bottomline is: We had fun!


We weren`t sure though if 2 times advantage vs. 1x disadvantage would end up as 1x advantage though.

Any ideas?
I believe it is written somewhere that it does not, you only get advantage once (ditto for disadvantage) no matter how many things offer it and advantage and disadvantage cancel out.
The player rules book, page 2: "No matter how many times you gain advantage or disadvantage on the same check, attack roll, or saving throw, you roll only one additional d20."
Im sorry but ADEU is a French word for goodbye, not a combat system. You say, "Encounter Power" and I stop listening to you. [spoiler Have Played/Run] D&D 1st ed D&D 3.5 ed D&D 4th ed Shadowrun Star Wars SAGA Cyberpunk Interlock Unlimited Run.Net [/spoiler] I know my games, don't try to argue about them. [spoiler Alignment Explained] This is a very simple problem and I will outline it below. Their are two types of people Type 1: a lot of people (not all, but a lot) who play see alignment as "I am lawful good thus I must play lawful good" Type 2: a lot of people (not all, but a lot) who play see alignment as "My previous actions have made people and the gods view me as lawful good. The difference is subtle but it is the source of the misunderstanding. Alignment does not dictate how you play your character. All it does is tell you, the player, how the rest of the world views you, and your previous actions. Any future actions will be judged by their own merits. Say you're a baby eating pyromaniac. You are most likely chaotic evil. But one day you decide, "Hey all I really need is love." So you get a wife, have a kid, and get a kitten named Mr. Snook'ems. You become a member of the PTA and help build houses for the homeless. You are no longer chaotic evil. And just because you were once chaotic evil it does not mean that you have to stay chaotic evil. Alignment never dictates what you can do, it only says what you have done. Now that is cleared up here is a simple test. What is the alignment of... A Police officer: The average Citizen: A Vigilante: The answer is simple. The Police officer is lawful good. He uses the laws of the country and city to arrest people and make them pay their debt to society. The Citizen is Neutral good. He wants to live is a place that is Good and follows moral and ethical principle, but he sometimes finds the laws impedes him, and he wonders why we spend so much on poor people. The Vigilante is Chaotic Good. He wants to uphold the morals and ethics of society but finds that the bad guys often slip through the cracks in the law. He takes it upon himself to protect the people from these criminals. That is the basic breakdown of the good alignment axis. What needs to be remembered is that any one of these people can change alignments, easily. The Police officer could be bought off by a local gang, and suddenly he drops to lawful neutral. The average citizen might find that his neighbors dog is annoying, barking at night and keeping him up. So he poisons its food, now he is no longer good, he is stepping towards true neutral. Maybe the citizen really goes crazy also kills the neighbor, hello neutral evil. It is possible that the Vigilante realizes that the cops are actually doing a pretty good job and decides to become an officer himself, leaving his masked crime fighting days behind him. Now he is Lawful good. Your alignment is not carved in stone, it is malleable and will change to reflect your actions.[/spoiler]
The player rules book, page 2: "No matter how many times you gain advantage or disadvantage on the same check, attack roll, or saving throw, you roll only one additional d20."


I think he means like this:

3 Adv & 1 Dis = 1 Adv
; 3-1=2, and you can't roll than 1 die for Adv, so it's just 1 extra die
or 
3 Adv & 1 Dis = No Adv/Dis; 1 or more Adv and 1 or more Dis cancel each other out, no matter how many Adv or Dis there are.

Does that example make sense?
I was unclear on this myself.

 
good writeup - I also played old school D&D (1e, 2e and 4e) and I completely agree with your write up - I like the bonuses of advantage / disadvantage and how you house ruled the flanking , oa, etc....

Another possible solution i felt would also work is to just plug in 4e flanking, oa, charging rules so that these would only provide a moderate bonus, and that DMs could reserve the advantage / disadvantage for (which bestows a larger bonus) for situations requiring extraordinary planning / execution by the party, serious role play, or situations more like that....

I agree it was fun to play - i am excited at the prospect of having a basic rule set which promotes rp yet allows tactical play also.... since I DM as well as play, I think this will be really fun to DM also.... provided WOC provides better support than they did for 4e and fixes that damn printing bug %&*$!
(half my club can't print the char sheets!)

As far as the play style, my favorite DMs and games recently are 4e conversions of old school modules - the DMs just converted them on their own using the DM tools and encounter builders from DDI.  These DMs really focus on rp and ToM, party maps the adventure, etc..... but still break out the battle mat /terrain / minis for battles.... I am excited that 5e seems to be going along these lines and seems to support the style of my play preference! (especially judging from the old school module they included in the playtest!)

Good start!  yay
The player rules book, page 2: "No matter how many times you gain advantage or disadvantage on the same check, attack roll, or saving throw, you roll only one additional d20."


I think he means like this:

3 Adv & 1 Dis = 1 Adv
; 3-1=2, and you can't roll than 1 die for Adv, so it's just 1 extra die
or 
3 Adv & 1 Dis = No Adv/Dis; 1 or more Adv and 1 or more Dis cancel each other out, no matter how many Adv or Dis there are.

Does that example make sense?
I was unclear on this myself.

 



That's exactly what I meant. The rules state clearly that you don't get ADDITIONAL dice... but it's unclear of "several" advantages cancel out a single disadvantage and also leave at least one advantage over.