1st session playtest thoughts

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BG: All editions over 20 yrs. Favorite: 4th.

I was excited when reading through the materials and I really liked the classes, backgrounds and themes. They looked exciting. Unfortunately, they weren't as interesting in play.

I'm a map fanatic and had the caves drawn up to scale on the grid. Map-Fu! I ran combats about 60/40 gridded/TotM (because I wanted to).

Formatting issues were forgivable in a playtest (I didn't care that initiative was absent from the stat block, for example). And combat was both fast and simple both gridded and TotM.

Sadly, it was too simple to the point of uninteresting. Tactics are watered down to maybe 5 effective options. I was able to drop the wizard every other fight without difficult. Party's fighter took the slayer role seriously and the Cleric of Moradin did everything she could think of , including collapsing walls and overturning tables for cover. It was definitely "off the character sheet" play. (she's used to 4th Ed paladin/cavalier and power cards but really performed admirably).

Overall we got to level 2 in about 5 hours and cleared 3 areas, with fights, traps, hazards, exploration, rests, negotiations, and plenty of RP.

But we didn't have a lot of fun with the game. It felt plain. The reaction design isn't effective enough to enable the guardian to do her job. (maybe the guardian theme could grant 1-2 additional reactions?) Wizard and rogue worked great. (sneak attack appears to be a trap option at low level as 2d8+6 > 1d8+1d6+3). Skill mastery was perfect (though we discussed skill mastery conferring advantage as opposed to auto-10s).

Cleric of Pelor did not feel like a cleric of Pelor. He played fine and healing was sufficient between TWO CLERICS but he didn't stand out as "of Pelor" particularly well. Though he made a capable caboose to marching order.

Monsters were unforgivably dull. The how to run sections were good to read but in play they were numerous clones that were typically 2-shotted by all but fighter. Goblins didn't feel distinct from Hobgoblins (as they do in 4th). If minions/mooks were intended, it wasn't working.

I'm thinking fewer, stronger, more individualized monsters are preferable to the clone army. Actually having fewer enemies might make the guardian better at defending (as written). Minions in 4th are wonderful but have specific design space that the clone army fails at. 4-8 level 1 mooks dealing 2 or 3 damage (and having only 1 HP) is preferable to 22 guys with 5 HP that deal 1d8+1 each. So instead of 22 clones, you fight 4 buffer/statted guys and 8 1 HP mooks. Then the wizard wouldn't be shanked in 1 round and the other party members don't have to form a living wall around him just singe has a chance to throw sleep.

TL/DR:

The game engine, core, kernel system worked! Yay! But it really wasn't very fun. Boo!

-Brad

Did Cleric of Pelor felt like a machine gun to your party firing a radiant light each round?
You have hit the mark!
No more vancian. No "edition war" for me, thank'you.
Not as good as a machine gun though!

He did cast light a few times, so it was nice to constantly give up our position to the bad guys.

Nah he was good, just not Pelor-y.

-Brad

Do you think when more tactical options are added to give you a more 4e like experience you will enjoy this more? Just wondering. 
Honestly I think I will. See I think this game worked. It did. But it's too stripped-down for me to enjoy.

I even tried to make it as tactical as I could (I mentioned my use of maps - I also use minis, 3d paper models, terrain, etc). But it just felt washed-out.

Today I boosted the characters to 3rd level. The fighter was more palatable but still very uninteresting. The other classes were mostly the same.

The monsters were still dull.

Obviously i can have fun with my friends doing anything. But I want Dnd to deliver me an afternoon of delight as least as good as I'm getting from 4th.

I'm not saying it can't or won't. Just that it isn't fun now. I anticipate change. I expect improvement. But my honest assessment of this was boredom.

-Brad