Ongoing analysis and some thoughts.

D&D Next is an interesting idea.  Conceptually, I gather- not that I've heard anyone say anything directly, but rather the impression I get- is that it's supposed to take things the developers have learned from previous editions of D&D and mash them together to make the whole game better.

There are a number of ways such a thing could go and I'm sure I'm far from the only person to be commenting about the rules.  I'm probably not the best, but having played since good old redbooks were the only core books, I can certainly say I'm a pretty good person to have commenting on the system.  My areas of highest familiarity are 2nd Edition and 3.5 Edition- I didn't get many chances to play 3.0, it's been a long time since D&D/AD&D, and I only just started playing 4ed last year.

That said, I'd like to think my analytical ability counts for -something-.

I'm also sure plenty of people have read plenty of threads with overall overviews also, so I won't be surprised if a lot of people discard this out-of-hand as reading.

I'm not too bothered by that.  I do, however, hope that a moderator at least takes a few moments to check this and pass on some of what I've got to say, even just as one voice among many saying one or more of these things.

Not much point in playtesting if you don't listen to the playtesters, yes?

So, here goes.  I'm going to go over the whole 'How To Play', then do a quick overview of the character sheets provided in the playtest packet, and then I'll probably tack on a few other thoughts that I consider worth noting.

Initial stuff from Basic Rules seems pretty sensible at first.  A little odd that skills are a modifier to your checks, and not a form of check, but okay.

Saving Throws:  what.  That's my initial response; pre-4ed D&D (and its spinoffs like Pathfinder and the various d20 systems) has always been the only system I'm aware of that's inconsistent on how defenses work.  To wit; you have your AC, which is static, and you have your saves, which you roll.  This is pretty much unnecessary.  Why is the attacker trying to hit a target some of the time and the defender trying to hit a target some of the time?  This just doesn't make sense.  It's not internally consistent, and it adds some extra burden not only to the players and DM but also to the design team, who has to decide whether something is going to need an attack or a save (not to mention, why is a Dexterity Save separated from AC?  Both are determining how the attempt to hit you compares to your attempt to get out of the way....).

Advantage/Disadvantage:  Okay, sure.  Doesn't entirely make sense to me that you can't have multiple levels of advantage or disadvantage (since trying to hit someone with a sword while hobbled and blindfolded -is- noticeably harder than doing so only hobbled or only blindfolded, and it's much easier when they're hobbled and blindfolded than it is when they're just blindfolded) but sure- and same with Advantage and Disadvantage canceling each other out.  However, this raises a question- do you count how many times you get each and each one only cancels out one instance of the other, or do they just cancel out as long as you have at least one of each?

Ability Scores- Mostly the same-old same-old, but I do have a few questions here.

Strength:  Why are we still tracking carrying capacity?  D&D Next appears to be an attempt at a rules-light game- so why are we tracking the number of pounds of weight you've got?  Armor already does enough to hamper, thanks, and I think we can all judge for ourselves roughly how much weight a character can handle.  Same for push/pull/drag/etc.; unless you're rolling to beat a DC or win a challenge, why are we putting a specific number on this?  Just doesn't seem to go with the way the system is trying to work so far.

Dexterity:  Initiative.  What the hell.  I mean, I get that it's based on your agility and speed, but I think it makes just as much sense to pin this on Wisdom for your ability to notice that something is going on in time to process or react to it, regardless of how good you are at dodging, running, or assembling watches.

Why is Dexterity a must for nearly every character?

Constitution:  Hit Points.  Again, D&D and the d20 spinoffs are the only system I'm familiar with that makes you take random numbers for your hit points.  Having the option to take your Con bonus instead seems pretty cool, but what's wrong with set HP?  Are we really that set on making sure some people get awesome durability and others can just get stuck with 2HP per level?  This seems senseless.

All Abilities:  Saving Throws.  Why are these pinned to individual stats?  I foresee a lot of arguments and unnecessary discussions about when a player can use which saving throws to protect themselves.  While this could be cool for inventiveness, it's going to make experienced roleplayers with good reasons why their character can use Intelligence to protect themself from a falling rock look like game-slowing over-argumentative jerks to newer players, and the newer players are going to get clobbered by a lot of stuff they could have pretty easily avoided because they're going to expect to be told what save to roll and if it's a bad one, oh well.

Exploration:  Mostly cool here.  Confused on the jumping.  I don't know about you, but I sure as hell can't jog ten feet and then take a nine foot leap, nevermind the twelve feet or so my comparative lifting ability would suggest.  Also, how many maps are going to have gaps with specific measurements to the foot?  Most people are going to look at the five-foot squares.  The difference between ten and fifteen feet is going to mean a lot of rope use.  Similar confusion about jumping height as well.

Being Hidden:  Whoa, you can't be targeted at all?  That's... pretty powerful actually.  Less so if you can attack an area, we'll see if there's anything about that later.

Perception:  This is gonna be a major weak point for anyone who's not really heavy on the roleplaying side, since they're going to go 'I search the area'.  This leaves an uncomfortable choice in DM hands a good chunk of the time, since the DM at least shouldn't want to keep the players from progressing.  At the same time, compromising on the principle ('you can't find it if you don't look in the right manner') encourages a lack of roleplaying in the roleplaying game, comparatively speaking.  Then again, this has always bothered me a bit, and I haven't really seen a system resolve it properly anyways.

Combat:  This is probably where the most yay and wut moments are gonna happen.

Surprise:  And here's the first one.  A -20 to initiative is not in any way the same thing as losing a round.  That said, I can't say if this makes surprise not useful enough.  The surprisers are certainly losing a lot of their advantage over the surprisees, though.  I also find it weird that a surprised character doesn't get a disadvantage and a surprising character doesn't get an advantage.  I thought that was half of the point of surprising someone.

Taking a Turn:  Movement and one action at any point during it.  Well, this is pretty standard for most systems that are rules-light, so in and of itself I don't see that there's anything wrong with it.  Provided the possible actions are balanced against one another, I have no argument with that.

Reactions is an amazing little blurb.  In my opinion this should have been a thing forever, and not just a keyword in 4ed (not that it shouldn't have been a keyword in 4ed).  I've actually been calling that kind of a thing a 'reaction' in my head for a couple of years now, and it's nice to see them properly labeled.  First system I've seen to actually properly do that.

Actions::

Hide:  This is the whole thing you do besides moving on your turn?  Well.  It had better be pretty strong, that's all I can say.  Spending your turn on it is rather costly.

Improvise:  Hey, it's the Roleplaying Rule!  Nice to see this here, since it isn't actually written in in many games.

Attack Basics::

Cover:  Why is this not done with advantage and disadvantage?  Wasn't this kind of thing why the dis/advantage subsystem exists?  I do not understand.

Attacking an Unseen Target:  So everybody wants Wisdom now.  Okay, that's a little iffy.  Also, why is the Cleric the one who can find the Rogue?

Damage:  This Resistance and Vulnerability thing.  This seems iffy.  I'll have to see how blanket resistances are worded, but this looks like it could very easily become clumsy and hard to interpret in an information entry.

Dying:  So.... the moment you're dying, you start randomly varying between 'bleeding out super quick' and 'just fine, someone come over here and wake me up'.  This seems more designed to thoroughly screw over anyone who has low Con or just poor luck on their save rolls than it does to represent a character being in danger of expiring over time.  This is a little extreme.

Healing:  Okay, this is nice.  I've always liked the subsystems that track your healing without caring how dead, exactly, you were before you got healed.  On one hand it's a little silly, on the other hand, it doesn't punish you for an enemy rolling well and getting you to -10 instead of -3.

Resting::  ...wait, what?  Why is an item that has a cost being -consumed- to enable a player to recover during a short time period outside of combat here, when that item can't be consumed to recover inside of combat?  This looks like a resource sink to me.

I hate resource sinks.

Especially since it's, for some reason, paralleled by a free but time-limited resource internal to the character.  Thanks, now I have to track two -different- resources at the same time in order to know how much healing I can do, and what's more, one of them takes money out of my equipment funds.

Something here just doesn't feel right.

Conditions::

Frightened:  Whoa.  I like this.  I like this a lot.  Best fear-ish status I've seen in any game.  Probably one of the most sensible too.

Invisible:  Why doesn't this grant advantage?  It's kind of difficult to dodge an attack you can't perceive.  I understand not wanting to make the effect too strong, but this seems to be crossing the 'making sense' line a bit too far.

Paralyzed:  On one level I can understand the dropping stuff, but some paralysis is more 'cannot move' than 'muscles go limp'.  This is strange.

Equipment::

Selling Loot:  Oh gawdz finally, a game that both has a monetary system and grants you protection to a certain degree against haggling.  Selling goods and decorations at full price is a wonderful thing to see here.

That said, either DMs are going to go to dropping off exactly what the party needs anyway, or are going to have to pitch loads of extra loot and pray that it doesn't get abused anyway.  While it -is- realistic to have to sell off weapons and gear you don't want in order to get the kind of thing you do want, that degree of realism (and economic simulation) doesn't belong in a rules-lite system like D&D Next seems to want to be.

Armor::

Looking at this armor table, I can easily see that Light Armor is unquestionably better with the sole exception of Dragon Scale, which is clearly The Best Armor, unless you have a Dex over 19 or under 14 (Either way, you'd rather have Mithral Chain, since Heavy Armor cuts into your mobility as well, though a really low Dex may want Adamantine).  And its price still kicks the crap out of Adamantine like nobody's business.  Given Dex determines your Initiative -AND- your AC, so everyone wants it, this means that everyone in the world who's a serious adventurer either wears Dragon Scale or Mithral Chain.  As far as players are concerned Heavy Armor might as well not exist, and Ringmail, Scale, and Splint can go jump off a cliff.

Someone wasn't even trying very hard.

Getting into and removing armor is also useless.  Either you have time to kit yourself out, or you have to run out in your sleep shirt flailing a dagger like a lunatic.  There's no way this information is needed, especially not in the system D&D Next is trying to be.  Why is this a thing?

Weapons:

Weapon Categories: What is this nonsense.  Simple, Martial, Heavy, and Finesse??  This is not an internally meshing proficiency system.  Especially when not all the two-handed single-ended weapons are in the Heavy category.

If you're going to separate weapons by how you use them, separate them by how you use them.  Some weapons are going to appear in multiple categories, deal with it.

If you're going to separate them by how common/easy they are, then do that instead.

Doing anything else provides unnecessary complications, even if this was a rules-heavy system, which it's not trying to be.

IMPORTANT MISSING INFORMATION:  Apparently, we're supposed to infer that using a weapon you have proficiency with grants you some kind of bonus, and what that bonus is also.  Because nothing is said here- except in the Improvised Weapon entry:  "Anyone can use an improvised weapon.  Attacking with these weapons does not grant a bonus to the attack roll..."

What bonus?  Why is this bonus not mentioned (or, alternately, specified) anywhere?  And if it is mentioned somewhere, it's not mentioned here, which is an obvious place to mention it.  Why?  Something is wrong here.

At the same time, seeing a quickrule laid out for improvised weapons makes me happy.

The Weapons Themselves:  Why can you throw a Hammer and not a Mace?  Why would you even use a Mace?  Why would you use a Rapier instead of a Short Sword?  Why would you use one or two daggers instead of a Quarterstaff?  Battleaxe over Longsword?  Trident over Pick?  Warhammer over Flail?  Longspear over Lance?  Greatsword over Greataxe?  Most of these weapon choices are obvious- either the more expensive one simply isn't better period, or one of them is clearly superior and costs the same (or in some cases, vastly less).

While a lot of these options seem senseless in terms of player choice, it's also a good point in terms of world choice.  People didn't invent new weapons because they were more expensive, they were created because they had an advantage or a difference that made them more useful, either in particular situations or in general.  If two weapons are identical and one is made only partly of metal and half as expensive, guess which one is going to get used, every time?  This doesn't just apply to gamer choices; as far as this table is concerned, nobody would ever have bothered creating a greatsword, because the greataxe is less expensive, easier to make, easier to get the materials for, and has exactly the same level of effectiveness.

Equipment::

D&D Next is clearly trying to be a more rules-light game.  Skills are not a subsystem, there's one system set in place for all checks, Advantage/Disadvantage is possibly the simplest mechanic of its kind I've ever seen.  But we're tracking how many sheets of paper you buy and whether or not you have enough individual pitons to anchor your rope properly?

Don't get me wrong, I like the D&D system's gear stuffs and I'm familiar with them, but something like this really doesn't belong in Next.  Heck, it barely belongs in 4ed, which is far lighter on rules than 3.5, in terms of complexity.  Like selling loot for varying portions of its original value, this belongs to a more complicated and rules-heavy game than Next.  What is it doing showing up here?

Magic::

Spells have ritual versions?  This is interesting.  This could turn out amazing or terrible.  I look forwards to finding out.

Spell Preparation:  Dammit dammit dammit.  There's a reason why Sorcerer is the only caster class I regularly used in 3.5ed, and this is it.  It's like if you were a Fighter, but you could retrain all your feats every day and you were encouraged to do so.  Why is this here?  It's an extra chore, and those who take the time to memorize their options gain -way- too much advantage out of it.

Areas of Effect: Oh dear.

Cloud/Cone:  Have you ever noticed that most spells in D&D games are perfectly flat planes?  This doesn't seem to be an exception, RAW.  This is an oversight to me, especially with cones.  Why has this -still- not been fixed?

Attack Spells:  Well, this just makes sense.  I -do- like that attack spells no longer rely as heavily on your 'normal combat' stats.  Should reduce MAD a bit.

Stacking:  Well.  That'll be interesting.  I fear the likely result, though- some wizards and clerics building up huge rosters of buffs and then taking 10 rounds to apply everything before combat so that they can confer a total of +10 or something instead of +2.

Minor Spells:  I am not overjoyed here.  Not running out of spells to cast is good.  When you spend the unexpected fight dealing 1d3 cold damage over and over and over again at 10th level, though, this is likely to become aggravating.

Spells at Higher Levels:  Well, this is something new.  I like this, it has potential.  It also could easily do well for roleplayers (no, -this- is a fireball!).

The Spells Themselves:  Holy crap, someone finally got whopped one with the Clue-by-four.  Quadratic Wizards has been all but eliminated.  That is very promising...

....except that a lot of the rest of the work put into balance has apparently evaporated into thin air.  Between the weapons and armor issues and the return of extremely rampant MAD, this may not even matter all that much, which is sad.  Because the shifting of casters to linear rather than quadratic improvement would have a titanic effect on d20, and one that I can't imagine as being bad overall- except for the griping done by people who were used to the quadratic casters and wind up offended they don't keep that.

THINGS I CAN INFER FROM THE CHARACTER SHEETS:

Humans apparently have no racial traits.  I'm sure there's got to be -something- they get for being human.  At least, I hope there is.  I really do.

These kits are not playtesting properly: you do not roll for increased HP like the rules say you do.  Instead you get 'slightly below average' HP every level.  Great for stability, not so good for actually checking if that part of the system works.

Stone Dwarves and Hill Dwarves are the same.  I hope this isn't the case, but it certainly looks like it, and that's silly.

Small characters are slower, but apparently get no actual benefit for Smallness.  Also, halflings have a racial ability that shouldn't need to be a racial ability (you can hide behind creatures larger than you.  Really.  This is something -only- halflings can do?  Why?).

Your skills apparently only exist as bonuses granted by your Background.  This seems -really silly-.  On the one hand, you'll get people claiming all kinds of strange backgrounds just to get the skills they want.  On the other hand, new players will either make choices based on concept and find the skills useless or will make choices based on skills and discover that their RP doesn't make sense.  Or maybe they'll pick backgrounds based on the extra ability from the background and try to ignore the rest of it.  Either way, why has skill selection been even slightly divorced from the hands of the player?

Feats still exist.  This makes me happy.

You don't get any choices about character development in the playtest.  This doesn't make me happy, and makes me wonder what makes it a viable playtest, since really the only variables involved in the playtest are raw luck and degree of player skill.

WotCo gives every appearance of continuing their longstanding 3.0/3.5 tradition of making silly character choices when crafting characters for DMs or PCs to use (to wit, why the Rogue character wields daggers instead of a quarterstaff in melee, not to mention the question of why no bow is present).

Wizards are spellbook dependent again, which clashes completely with providing a quickrule for improvised weapons.  What the hell.

Alternating hiding with attacking for a Rogue, so as to take advantage of Sneak Attack, is stupid for level 1 Rogues and past level 3, promises to become hilariously ridiculous (in a supereffective way).  Also a pain in the ass to manage your activity as a Rogue.

Fighters promise to be very restricted and boring.  Where the casters get extra spells or other things in combat (including the Wizard getting an extra two cantrips), the Fighter gets.... dealing a little damage on a miss.  And the second-level feature is to act twice in a round, twice a day.  Please pardon me, I just got so underwhelmed I lost my footing.  Hopefully the feats make up for this, unfortunately, the playtest provides no indication (Cleave?  Really?  Not the most useful feat ever in 3.5 by quite a long ways.  Are we really expecting to be facing that many things at once in that large a portion of the fights?).



There, that's done.

Overall, this looks like a strange attempt to revive 2nd Edition with feats, twist in healing surges, and then increase the MAD that people were suffering in 3.5 edition to cover all six ability scores (If anything can be used as a save, anything -will- be used as a save, so now you need -all- the ability scores high as can be).

This wouldn't be too bad, if not for the fact that it also looks like it's trying to be rules-light- but has excess subsystems and added stuff (Cover has nothing to do with dis/advantage, keeping track of regular gear down to the sheet of paper)  unnecessary and detrimental chaos (roll for HP but can't be lower than Con modifier- See also 'what happens when my 1d4 hit die Wizard has Con 20?'), excessive MAD (All ability scores have different things they save against!), things that were never fixed (Dexterity remains godskill, all others bow down before it.  Initiative can only be determened by raw physical adroitness.  Dodging flying shrapnel and dodging flying arrows are separate from each other for no reason.  Et cetera.).

Removal of the old Quadratic Casters effect is a nice thing, but with the bizarre and kind of misshapen system it looks to be so far, the good points aren't going to rescue the rest.

Fortunately this is still in playtesting. There's time to tweak and fix.

Later today will be my first session playing with the playtest materials.  I'll probably come back to this and post more afterwards, including my thoughts on how things went.
My understanding on the saves is that it allows players to feel in control of their own fate when it comes to being targeted with things like the medusa's gaze.

Why can the cleric find the rogue? Because god is watching you!! Jk

I had the same concerns with advantage/disadvantage. Heck I even used bound and blindfolded as my example, of course I hung him upside down and spun him and gave him only an improvised weapon in the form of a kobold corpse. But I think we are on the same page.

Encumbrance. I've always been an equipment loving rogue so it's nice to know just when a pack mule is required. Please leave it in there for me, it's not hurting anyone.

I'm going to have to read the rest when I'm on the computer instead of the phone.

Tiny text started hurting my eyes.

Edition wars kill players,Dungeons and Dragons needs every player it can get.


Saving Throws:  ...Why is the attacker trying to hit a target some of the time and the defender trying to hit a target some of the time? 



Yeah, I agree, I like the 4e approach slightly better, but it's not too big a deal. So long as only one person is rolling dice per attack I'm basically ok with it. I'd be complaining more if, for instance, the attacker did an attack roll and the defender did a defense roll on most attacks. As is since only one or the other rolls it's still ok, albeit possibly a little more confusing.

Advantage/Disadvantage:  Okay, sure.  Doesn't entirely make sense to me that you can't have multiple levels of advantage or disadvantage (since trying to hit someone with a sword while hobbled and blindfolded -is- noticeably harder than doing so only hobbled or only blindfolded, and it's much easier when they're hobbled and blindfolded than it is when they're just blindfolded) but sure- and same with Advantage and Disadvantage canceling each other out.  However, this raises a question- do you count how many times you get each and each one only cancels out one instance of the other, or do they just cancel out as long as you have at least one of each?



Personally I think the rule should be as you described, that you count how many total advantages and disdvantages a character has and whichever they have more of determines the net result.

I also wouldn't mind a rule that says if you have a net multiple advantage or disadvantage then you roll one extra d20 for every net advantage/disadvantage and take the higher/lower result. So if the rogue runs out of hiding to attack a prone target then he has two advantages on the action and rolls 3d20, taking the highest result. Similarly if you fire a bow while in hand to hand combat at an opponent at long range then you have two disadvantages and roll 3d20 and take the lowest. This is more a suggestion than anything else, though, I can live with advantages and disadvantages not stacking.
 
Strength:  Why are we still tracking carrying capacity?  



My guess is that the carrying capacity rule is there in part to support DMs who like to track that sort of thing. DMs who don't want to bother tracking carrying capacity don't have to, of course, but in this case it's better to have a rule for the people who will use it and let others ignore it then not have a rule and force the people who want to track it to come up with their own system from scratch.
    
Constitution:  Hit Points.  Again, D&D and the d20 spinoffs are the only system I'm familiar with that makes you take random numbers for your hit points. 



Agreed, I'm not a fan of random hit points. I definitely would at least want to see an optional rule for static hit points per level, such as your characters hit points are the average of your total hit dice taking into account the minimum Con modifier result per hit die plus your Con score rounded up (usually you round down in DDN but rounded up here seems fairer). (For example, a level 6 wizard with a 14 Con would have 14 + 6 * (2+2+3+4)/4 = 30.5 rounded to 31 hit points.)
 
All Abilities:  Saving Throws.  Why are these pinned to individual stats?  I foresee a lot of arguments and unnecessary discussions about when a player can use which saving throws to protect themselves. 



Actually usually it's the DM and the rules which set what ability score to save against for attacks, not the players. Monster attacks and spells, for instance, specifically list which ability score to use for saving throws as applicable, and if the DM is doing something like an incoming avalanche then he will likewise tell the players which ability score to use for their saving throw to avoid taking damage or getting pushed or buried, etc.

In fact it's not any different from 3rd edition where players don't tell the DM "I'd like to roll a Will save to avoid the avalanche".   Instead the DM says "Make a Reflex save to dodge out of the way", or in 4e he rolls an attack versus the character's Reflex defense.
    
Being Hidden:  Whoa, you can't be targeted at all?  That's... pretty powerful actually.  Less so if you can attack an area, we'll see if there's anything about that later.



That plus Advantage is a bigger bonus than Combat Advantage. Being Hidden in DDNext is definitely a bit better than being hidden in 4e. On the other hand becoming hidden requires an action in DDN whereas in 4e you could hide as part of your movement, so becoming hidden in DDN is likewise harder to do.
 
Hide:  This is the whole thing you do besides moving on your turn?  Well.  It had better be pretty strong, that's all I can say.  Spending your turn on it is rather costly.



See above  
 
Cover:  Why is this not done with advantage and disadvantage?  Wasn't this kind of thing why the dis/advantage subsystem exists?  I do not understand.



I think they wanted partial cover to not be as big a bonus as advantage and disadvantage.  Advantage and Disadvantage are basically like +4 or +5 bonuses/penalties, but you want simple 1/2 cover to just be a +2 or so since it's relatively easy to get.
 
Attacking an Unseen Target:  So everybody wants Wisdom now.  Okay, that's a little iffy.  Also, why is the Cleric the one who can find the Rogue?



Actually it's the Elf Wizard who can find the rogue since the Elf gets Advantage on checks to listen, search and notice something (including the hidden rogue).

I'm sure in the full game it will be possible to make a rogue who is trained to searching and spot things, etc. The prebuilt rogue simply opted to train in other stuff instead I guess.
 
Resting::  ...wait, what?  Why is an item that has a cost being -consumed- to enable a player to recover during a short time period outside of combat here, when that item can't be consumed to recover inside of combat?  This looks like a resource sink to me.



I agree, I think once a character is above zero hit points they should be assumed to not have any serious physical injuries and therefore not need a Healing Kit in order to spend their hit dice during a short rest. I do think it's reasonable, though, to have to use a healing kit to stabilize a character at or below zero hit points since they have in that case suffered a debilitating physical injury.
 
 
Invisible:  Why doesn't this grant advantage?  It's kind of difficult to dodge an attack you can't perceive.  I understand not wanting to make the effect too strong, but this seems to be crossing the 'making sense' line a bit too far.



On the flip side if you're hidden while invisible you do get advantage, and while you're invisible you automatically have total obscurity so can take an action to hide any time you like. Yeah, you could argue that maybe an unhidden invisible opponent should have a bonus on their attack too, but the bonus in that case shouldn't be as much as the full Advantage you get from being Hidden (ie unseen and unheard and undetected)
 

  
That said, either DMs are going to go to dropping off exactly what the party needs anyway, or are going to have to pitch loads of extra loot and pray that it doesn't get abused anyway.  While it -is- realistic to have to sell off weapons and gear you don't want in order to get the kind of thing you do want, that degree of realism (and economic simulation) doesn't belong in a rules-lite system like D&D Next seems to want to be.



I agree, tracking every copper and silver piece always seems like a waste of valuble game session time. It's like tracking spare change for people who carry hundreds of dollars on them at all times. It's basically extra bookeeping for essentially no benefit to the game.

Normally I use a houserule that says characters are assumed to be picking up spare change and mundane items and selling them for cash, then assumed to turn around and spend that cash on things like taverns and stables and maintaining their equipment and supplies, etc. By assuming that minor stuff washes out that leaves the bookeeping for the important stuff like actually expensive items and services.

Of course that's just my houserule, and at the moment I'm not using it in the DDN playtest since I'm trying to play the rules "as intended". But personally under normal circumstances, were I not trying to test the game as written, I would definitely consider using my "ignore the small stuff" houserule.
 
 
IMPORTANT MISSING INFORMATION:  Apparently, we're supposed to infer that using a weapon you have proficiency with grants you some kind of bonus, and what that bonus is also.  Because nothing is said here- except in the Improvised Weapon entry:  "Anyone can use an improvised weapon.  Attacking with these weapons does not grant a bonus to the attack roll..."
 
What bonus?  Why is this bonus not mentioned (or, alternately, specified) anywhere?  And if it is mentioned somewhere, it's not mentioned here, which is an obvious place to mention it.  Why?  Something is wrong here.



The wording is bad but I think they mean you do not get any bonus on the attack at all when you use an improvised weapon. No ability modifier, no base proficiency bonus, nada. Just a flat d20.
   
Personally I think this improvised weapon rule is kind of goofy.  My suggestion would be to just say that if you are using an improvised weapon then you have disadvantage on the attack. Easy.
 
 
Spell Preparation:  Dammit dammit dammit.  There's a reason why Sorcerer is the only caster class I regularly used in 3.5ed, and this is it.  It's like if you were a Fighter, but you could retrain all your feats every day and you were encouraged to do so.  Why is this here?  It's an extra chore, and those who take the time to memorize their options gain -way- too much advantage out of it.



To be fair clerics cast spells exactly like 3e Sorcerer did, it's only the wizard that casts spells like the 3e wizard. Also it's very likely that other arcane casters like the Sorcerer and Warlock will use different casting mechanics, such as maybe the Sorcerer using the 3e Sorcerer mechanic and the Warlock using something more like the 4e power system, etc.

So if a player doesn't like using the wizard spell system but wants to use an arcane caster he at least will hopefully have some other classes to choose from. 
  
Stacking:  Well.  That'll be interesting.  I fear the likely result, though- some wizards and clerics building up huge rosters of buffs and then taking 10 rounds to apply everything before combat so that they can confer a total of +10 or something instead of +2.



That will only happen if there are a jillion types of buff spells available to memorize simultaneously. So far that isn't the case, but of course we've only seen a sliver of the total spell list so far so it might be something to watch.
 
Minor Spells:  I am not overjoyed here.  Not running out of spells to cast is good.  When you spend the unexpected fight dealing 1d3 cold damage over and over and over again at 10th level, though, this is likely to become aggravating.



Not sure why that would be any more aggrevating than shooting a bow over and over, but that's just me.  
 
These kits are not playtesting properly: you do not roll for increased HP like the rules say you do.  Instead you get 'slightly below average' HP every level.  Great for stability, not so good for actually checking if that part of the system works.



To be fair we're not testing to see how character generation works in this playtest. We're mainly just testing the basic core mechanics.  
 
Your skills apparently only exist as bonuses granted by your Background.



Again, to be fair, we have no idea how character creation and leveling up work so we don't know how often and how characters can gain training at later levels. It's quite possible you periodically can take new training of some sort every few levels and/or can spend feats to gain additional training.
 
You don't get any choices about character development in the playtest.  This doesn't make me happy, and makes me wonder what makes it a viable playtest, since really the only variables involved in the playtest are raw luck and degree of player skill.



Again, they're just testing the very basic rules here. You don't need to present a character development system to see if the core skeleton of the game mechanics works ok.
 
WotCo gives every appearance of continuing their longstanding 3.0/3.5 tradition of making silly character choices when crafting characters for DMs or PCs to use (to wit, why the Rogue character wields daggers instead of a quarterstaff in melee, not to mention the question of why no bow is present).



Just a guess but the rogue is probably using a dagger because he's a halfling and seems to have a racial affinity for daggers and slings which is what ups his damage to 1d6 / 1d8 respectively.
  
Alternating hiding with attacking for a Rogue, so as to take advantage of Sneak Attack, is stupid for level 1 Rogues and past level 3, promises to become hilariously ridiculous (in a supereffective way).  Also a pain in the ass to manage your activity as a Rogue.



I don't see it being a big pain in the butt but that's just me. Also remember that while being hidden is the most common way to get advantage it's also possible to get advantage from other things like melee attacks on prone targets and having allies Help the rogue on his attack.
 
Fighters promise to be very restricted and boring. 



I'm not reading much into the playtest fighter. Keep in mind this is just one example of a fighter and he's only 1st to 3rd level. They've already said they are planning to have more complicated martial characters available in the game, including possibly ways to give the fighter more types of attacks.

And keep in mind that not everybody dislikes the simple fighter as written. There's plenty of players who like having a character who's basically a one trick pony but whose trick is really good. So long as the game presents different martial classes and builds that offer different types of playstyles then that will offer a good chance of players being able to play a martial character in a style then enjoy.
What bothers me most is that nothing seems to scale with level.  As far as I can see from what they've given us so far, skills (and abilities), attack bonus, AC, saves, all of that, stays the same.  Perhaps I'm missing something here, and perhaps I haven't been paying enough attention and they've explained how it's supposed to work elsewhere, but it seems to me that this misses one of the fundamental aspects of a game with a level system.  As you go up, you improve.  Fighters get better at hitting things, rogues get better at picking locks.  If that kobold you fought at first level is just as hard to hit at 10th level, then it's hard to feel like your skill with a sword has improved with practice and experience.

You get more feats, which means you have more tricks you can try, and you get more HP, which means that you're harder to kill, and spellcasters get more spells.  All of that broadens your ability--you can do more--but it doesn't seem like that means you can do anything better