Cheat Sheet of Notable Differences between 4th Ed and D&D Next

I've prepared a list of points for my 4th Ed players to point out and describe the major differences between 4th Ed and D&D Next to ease them into the new system. I've seen that we aren't the only 4th-Ed'ers to be beta-testing, so I thought I'd share this list for anyone who wants to use it. As well, if any of you want to give feedback, it would be most appreciated!

Here is a brief summary of the major differences between 4th Ed and D&D Next.

On your turn, you can take “one action”, and move your speed. There are no minor actions: either the action is a free action, rolled into specific action, or takes the full action.

You can move some of your speed before your action, and some after. All movement impairing actions cost five feet to do on top of actually doing. Standing from a prone position costs 5 feet. There are no “squares”. Movement and distance is calculated in feet, with 5 feet equal to 1 “square”.

There is no shifting.

There are no longer any “at-will”, “encounter” and “daily” actions. Casters gain spell slots they can configure on a daily basis. Melee characters get basic attacks that upgrades as they level.

Combat Mechanics
There are no opportunity attacks. Ranged attacks made in an opposed creature's reach are done with the new disadvantage mechanic. There are no opportunity attacks if you move out of a threatened square.

There is no flanking or combat advantage. Some conditions that gave combat advantage now use the new advantage mechanic; flanking does not currently exist.

There is no marking of targets, or other way of managing or acquiring aggro.

Hit Dice and Healing
Hit dice are used for two things:
1) At level 1, you roll a hit die to see how many HP you add to your CON score. When you level, you roll the Hit Die and add the larger of the Hit Dice or CON modifier to your HP.
2) You can spend hit dice to heal, like healing surges. You can spend one or more hit dice during a short rest to regain that much hit points. You do not lose the HP the Hit Dice give you as you level. You get that many hit dice a day; during an extend rest, you regain the dice.

The spells “Cure Light Wounds” or “Healing Word” do not cost a hit die to use or have used on you. The target just gains HP back. Healing kits are the only item that cost hit dice to use.

There are many, many differences in spell-casting.

  1. When casting a spell, the caster does not make attack rolls against the target(s). The targets have to each make a saving throw against the effects to see if the spell hits or misses.

  2. Clerics and wizards do get some small spells as At-Wills; these are called cantrips for wizards and osirons for clerics. However, they both have to prepare their main spells at the start of a day. Once those spells have been cast, they have been exhausted until the start of the next day where they choose new spells.

  3. Most spells must be cast with hand gestures and/or spoken words. Thus, if a caster is restrained or silenced, they may be unable to cast.

  4. Some prepared spells require a small component to cast. 

  5. Some spells can be cast as a ritual instead of cast as one of the prepared spells. These take longer and the caster has to spend more materials than if cast as a prepared spell.

Most checks will be d20 + ability modifier.

Death checks are DC 10 Constitution saving throws. If you succeed three, you are stabilized. When you fail, you take 1d6 damage.

You die when you hit Level + Constitution score hit points in the negative.

Some checks have requirements which, if not met, are automatic failures. For example, picking a lock without thieves' tools is an automatic failure.

Magic Items are alleged to be much, much rarer in this instalment of D&D.

There are many non-weapon attack items available for immediate purchase, such as caltrops.

There are many items that give bonuses to skill checks, such as crowbars.

Many mundane armours are too expensive for a level 1 character to purchase.

Advantage / Disadvantage
The idea here is, rather than give you additive or subtractive bonuses to a dice roll due to conditional modifiers, you roll two d20s and, depending on whether you have the advantage or disadvantage, choose the higher or lower of the pair, respectively. You can get advantage or disadvantage on attacks, checks, and saving throws. You only get one advantage or one disadvantage on a roll, and if you have both, it cancels out.

Things That Give Advantage
DM Fiat may give any roll advantage.
Attacking while hidden has the advantage.
Helping a someone gives them the advantage.
Charmer has advantage on any social checks against the charmed.
Attacks against paralyzed creatures have the advantage.
All melee attacks and ranged attacks in melee-range against a prone creature have advantage.
Attacks against restrained creatures have the advantage.
Attacks against stunned creatures have the advantage.
Attacks against unconscious creatures have the advantage.
Drinking antitoxin gives advantage on saving throws against poison for 1 hour.
Heal checks while expending a use of a healer's kit are done with advantage.
Using a magnifying glass as part of any appraise or inspect check on small or highly-detailed items has advantage.
Using a portable ram to knock down a door gives the Strength check advantage.
A merchant's scale gives advantage to appraise checks.
Grease gives the castee advantage in escape grabs and restraints checks as well as squeeze in tight spaces checks.
Shocking Grasp attack against medium and heavy armour made of metal has the advantage.
Attacks against a squeezed creature have advantage.
Social checks against someone that thinks positively of you have the advantage.

Things That Give Disadvantage:
DM Fiat may give any roll disadvantage.
All rolls if over-encumbered have the disadvantage.
When you attack something you can not see, you attack with the disadvantage.
Attacking creatures in the long range of a ranged weapon gives disadvantage.
Ranged attack while within a hostile creature's reach gives disadvantage.
Blinded attacks are with disadvantage.
All checks and attacks while frightened are with disadvantage.
Attacks against invisible creatures have disadvantage.
All checks and attacks while intoxicated are with disadvantage.
Ranged attacks at range against a prone are at a disadvantage.
Attacks made by restrained creatures are at a disadvantage.
Donning armour a creature is untrained to use gives disadvantage for Strength and Dexterity checks, saving throws, and attacks.
All hide or move silently checks made while wearing medium and heavy armour are made with disadvantage.
Loading and firing a crossbow in the same action gives the attack disadvantage.
Without artisan's tools, you have a disadvantage to all craft check.
All attacks made against the castee of Shield of Faith have the disadvantage.
Attacks made by a squeezed creature have disadvantage, as are Dexterity-based saving throws.
Balance, swimming, and climb checks have disadvantage if a player chooses to not take the 5-foot cost while balancing, swimming, or climbing.
Social checks against someone that thinks negatively of you have the disadvantage.

That's a nice list to go over with a group used to 4e. But #1 under spellcasting isn't completely correct. Some spells do require you to make an attack roll against AC, and spellcasters have a 'magical attack' score they use for attack rolls on spells. Other than that, though, everything looks good. I really liked your lists of things that grant advantage and disadvantage. It got me to thinking that you should get advantage when attacking someone using a bow with a melee weapon. That could be a good way for rogue's to take advantage of sneak attack: send them against the archers.
Nice write-up. Will use next weekend when I get a chance to run a playtest. Thanks!
visit my blog about writing, voice-over,and games (and not necessarily in that order) at

There is no marking of targets, or other way of managing or acquiring aggro.

I hate using the term aggro when talking about 4th edition, not because I care about the fuel for the argument that 4e = MMO, but because it's not accurate to the way a solid defender works. A solid defender makes it where the enemy has NO good choices. With a good punishment, enemies might pile on, but this is a bad situation to be in as well.

So, my point, when defender style mechanics are added to DDN (such as the Gaurdian theme), I'd prefer that defenders can spend resources to make themselves the most attractive target but still not something an enemy wants to attack. You can do this a bit with the Gaurdian theme, but it lacks any punishment. Dodge and Defend makes it so enemies have to makea  choice between attacking you and missing because your defense is too high and attacking an ally knowing it will be at an effective -5 with disadvantage. Of course, after the first attack against an ally adjacent to you, you've got nothing else you can do (thinking of this, I imagine an optimized party might be 4 clerics with shield proficiency taking Gaurdian theme and casting long range powers while standing adjacent to each other, or 4 fighters with ranged weapons doing the same).
I would just mention as of right now in early Alpha testing these are the differences. I feel the final product will be much different in a good way....
Great comparisons list... Love the advantage/disadvantage.
@Gazra:  Yeah, I realized that later.  It really seems arbritary which spells are save rolls versus attack rolls.  But that's a good point.

@IxidorRS:  I know what you mean, but there really doesn't seem to be any way currently in D&D Next for a "defender" to force enemies on to him instead of someone more vulnerable.

 @Archon007:  No worries, I don't consider this a finished product  Would it set your mind at ease if I told you I am a senior test engineer and am not unfamiliar with pre-release versions of things? 
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