Earlier tonight part of my usual gaming group tried out the 5th edition palytest rules. While playing we ran into a situation that we didn't have an immediate answer to, and the discussion, though civil, pretty much brought play to a halt.
Our group is made up of 7 people, three of whom DM. Our gaming experience runs the gambit from a fresh 13 year old to the old man in his late 60's who has played everything from Chainmail on down. The majority of us are in our 30's and 40's. Two of our 40 year olds were missing tonight.
The playtest went pretty much as expected for those of us that have played older editions. Most of us seemed to like the Advantage/Disadvantage system, but we found ourselves stumped on a particular idea. We had a decent group of kobolds that out numberd us, giving them advantage. It was a melee scruffle, and thanks to our mage, all of the kobolds were in a source of bright light, giving them disadvantage.
So far so good, the advantage and disadvantage cancel each other. Now, one of the kobolds swings at a target adjacent to the cleric of Moradin. The Dwarf attempts to use his defender ability.... what happens next?
We have two main camps on this issue. One is that once an advantage and disadvantage are cancelled out, and through a certain interpretation of not having multiple advantages (dice really), then there can be no further advantages or disadvantages to help or hinder the actor. In the case of the example above, the cleric is unable to use his defender reaction.
The second reading of this issue assumes that advantages and disadvantages stack, but are not allowed to give more than one extra D20. They continue to cancel each other out until there is only advantage (or disadvantage) left. Pointing back to the above example, the kobolds numbers are cancelled by the light, but they still are still able to be affected by the further disadvantage of the cleric's reaction... 1 ADV -2 DIS = 1 DIS Meaning logically that the poor blinded, but numerical superior kobold still rolls against his target at disadvantage.
I understand that the obvious answer is ... whatever the DM says. But as I've mentioned in the intro, we have 3 DM's and one wasn't even here tonight. My real concern is to wonder what the design philosophy for the adv/dis system is going to be. How simple can something be... and it still work?
I argue that a decent, but quick game will be able to be played that involves "advantage math". I think that if most bonuses are whittled down to just advantage then players will want to try to stack as many advantages as possible in order for the advantages to have any effect whatsoever.
The other GM, the more experienced and much older one, seems to think that for the advantage system to work, advantages need to be rather rare, otherwise they will always be negated by a disadvantage completely.
I'm not sure what else to write on this, but I'm curious to what other people think. Thanks.