Probably my only playtest report.

I was looking forward to playtesting the new edition of D&D when I signed up. 

The packet was released on May 24th, Labor Day weekend.  I was committed to running games at a convention that weekened, and the one before.  I caught the flu at the con, so I was in bad shape for another week.  Even so, I ran my regular campaign this weekend, and squeezed in the first (and likely only) playtest session.  

Thanks to all that I was not at my best.  I'm a pretty good DM, better at story and RP than rules minutiae, but I've been able to run 4e at conventions many time at both Heroic and Paragon, run Encounters, and to run a 1-13 level home campaign.  In the past, I've run Storyteller and even Champions (a painfully rules-heavy system).  I've gamed for over 20 years starting with AD&D (mainly in a single campaign, and I don't recall a lot of it), continuing with Champions and Storyteller, and finally playing both 3.0/5 and 4e/Essentials for their full runs, thats D&D prettymuch every week for the last 12 years.   

On Saturday I ran my home campaign, and while I was tired, recovering from the flu and mentally frazzled from running so much the last two weeks, and running Paragon level, it went OK - not my best session ever, but there were no major problems.

On Sunday, I got a couple of my regular players together, and a couple from the Lair Assault one of those players runs, himself, on Sundays, and ran the playtest.  We spent about 4 hours on it and got through the first area A kobold encounter, which went on and on due to more kobolds coming out every time there was at least one standing.  No one was pleased.

For myself, my biggest problems were actually with the adventure.  The rules didn't help, but the module just gave me very little to work with.  For background, I don't use published adventures in my regular campaigns, I like to come up with my own stories, with long plot arcs, and with my own encounters and other challenges, which I create ahead of time.  When I do use one, it's for a setting like Encounters or an impromptu convention game or pick-up game where I don't have time to come up with anything of my own.  Thus, I expect a published adventure to be complete and ready to run.  Caves of Chaos was anything but.  There was no set-up, no background, no hooks, nothing, just a pompous pronouncement that it was special and wonderful that I had to come up with anything of that nature, myself.  

Improvisation is not my strong suit, but I ripped a plot point from a novel I was reading, went with the old "you're in a tavern" cliche, and RP'd it as best I could.  The players enjoyed trying to figure out how a local had managed to turn his skin blue and get aphasia, but couldn't figure out much - the two were unrelated, the blue skin comming from eating a magic mushroom (and leading to some bronie jokes about feeding them to horses), and the aphasia something to do with venturing into a mysterious cave.  Though he couldn't explain anything, the victim did make them a rough map to the cave, and off they went.  After the game, player feedback was that this was the best part of the adventure - it involved a lot of mostly-humorous RP, and one skill check.  That one skill check required me to decide which ability (I went with INT to the consternation of the Cleric of Pelor) and skill to use.  Immediately we had an issue, because there was one character with "Wilderness Lore" and another with "Nature Lore" and no indication to me which aplied to wierd mushrooms.  I just let them both roll on the assumption it was a typo - the same skill under two different names.  

Things went downhill from there.  The map led them to area A.  As best I could tell from the difficult-to-see (I'm 47, even with contacts and reading glasses, I can't see low-contrast small print like I used to) pallid-blue-on-off-white map, it was a clearing with a cave entrance on one side and forest on the others.   By unanimous consent, we decided to use a 'grid,' so I sketched it out.  I couldn't find rules on moving through forests - at least, not quickly enough, so I ruled it "difficult terrain" (which one of my player pointed out wasn't a D&D Next term, but that there was terrain that added 1 to movement costs, it just wasn't called anything specific) that provided concealment.  The players lined up at the edge of the forest and wondered what to do about the dark cave.  

The wizard cast Light on a rock and tossed it into the cave.  Kobolds hate bright light, and several of them were revealed, so I had them pour out of the cave and attack.  Initiative time.  Immediately I notice there was no initiative number of the kobolds in the module, so we had to bring up the 'Bestiary' (I had only printed out the module, rules, and character sheets) on an ipad, so I could look it up.   The Kobolds won and came to grips with the party, who were lined up abrest, so they all got attacked.  The Moradin Cleric gave one Kobold disadvantage to attack the wizard, which saved him from a little bit of damage - at the time, I had missed that Reactions cost you an action, I doubt it'd see that much use with such a major cost, not that it mattered.  The wizard ran away into the forest (what, no opportunity attack?), and three of the players then proceeded to use trigonometry to figure out where his perfectly-spherical Sleep spell needed to be cast to be sure of getting all the Kobolds without getting himself in it (26.8 feet, if anyone cares).  The rest of the party was caught in it, but as they all had more than 10 hps and the kobolds all had less, all it did was slow them.  Most of the Kobolds fell asleep, but the party managed to crap out on attack rolls, so, at the end of the first round 4 out of 7 kobolds had been taken out by the wizard, and /one/ by the rest of the party.  The wizard added another to his kill pile on the next round.  Then the more badass kobolds started coming out, every round.  They might just as well have been minions with the damage the Fighter and the Theif hiding in the forest dished out, but the Clerics didn't consistently kill them (when they didn't, Magic Missle finished one off each round - auto-hitting, even for d4+1 turns out to be pretty good vs low-hp monsters).  Advantage and disadvantage came up.  I gave the kobolds advantage for ganging up and flanking one PC, and the wizard gave them all disadvantage with that damned Light spell.  The Rogue had advantage the whole time - at the cost of him rolling Stealth contests every round (I really missed passive perception by the end of the fight).

Finally, 4 or 5 rounds in, the party has a lucky round, hits ever time, and all the kobolds are down.  Everyone breathes a sigh of relief.  Not so much because they feared for their chacters' lives - they'd used both their healing spells, and both clerics were down about half, the wizard and rogue were untouched due to persistant cowardice and the fighter due to high AC - but because they were just glad to be done with it.

Aside from the Wizard, who used different spells each round to dramatic effect, the whole combat lacked any sort of tactical depth or meaningful choice.  Without OAs, movement was theoretically unrestricted, but movement also didn't accomplish anything - you moved, the monster moved after you, nothing could stop either of you from moving, so you could run in circles comically and fight (which one of the PCs did for the first two rounds before realizing it accomplished nothing) or just stand and fight.  There was very little to do, tactically, and, even though we used a grid, the advantages - the simplified movement, placement, and AEs - of the grid were lost because everything was in feet.  Characters at half-movement from the Sleep spell moved 12 feet instead of 2 squares, and, again trigonometry for the wizard's spell placement.  Actually, I'm not upset about the trigonometry, because it beats me having to try to draw a perfect circle to determine what monsters are in a spell effect.

I asked my players what they thought, and this is their feedback as I recall it (I should have taken notes, but I was exhausted and had stopped caring much at some point):

 
Player 1:  Is very nice, usually very involved, and likes mechanically simpler characters.  She was delighted playing Eldeth the Dwarf Slayer pre-gen from Encounters, for instance.  So, she picked the Dwarf Slayer.  Her feedback was that the whole experience was very boring.  Her character had no particular options, and it's damage was enough to drop any of the monsters, so there was no impetus to try anything special, though, in theory, she could have made my life heck by trying to come up with something 'creative' every round to get advantage or whatever.

Player 2:  A very nice guy, very talkative and into rules and tactics.  He's the "bronie" who wanted to feed the color-changing mushrooms to horses, and his sense of humor kept him going through the game.  He like the RP at the beginning, found the amount of healing in the game inadequate - a fairly minor, boring combat depleted all their healing spells - and was concerned about the skills.  The example he used was:  "If I were to have a character with say, 'Handle Animal,' and I wanted to juggle ferrets, I could, because well, it's 'handling' an animal, but if someone else came in with a 'Juggling' or even 'Ferret Juggling' skill, all of a sudden, I wouldn't get my Handle Animal skill to juggle ferrets anymore."  

Player 3:  A triffle more serious and a bit of a powergamer, he enjoys Lair Assault and likes high-damage rogue and sorcerer builds.  He played a very little 3.5, and has otherwise just played 4e.  He found the rogue effective, but not much fun.  He found advantage and the skill system overly complex for what they did.

Player 4:  My other Lair Assualt draftee, he likes complicated hybrid builds, but he had downloaded and read the 'How to Play' packet and PCs on the 24th, so he was a big help with the rules.  He was also the engineer doing the math to find the 30' "cord" of the wizards 20' sphere spell effect.  He found the rules a mixed bag at this point, though I can't recall which bits he liked vs disliked.  I believe he agreed that more healing was needed.

Player 5:  An old-school D&D'er who started with the basic set and has played everything.  He picked the wizard and used it quite effectively, though he was dismissive about doing so ("just standard-issue AD&D tactics").  Though he was the most effective, he didn't seem to like anything about the game (except the humorous RP intro).  I guess he'd done it all before enough that it just wasn't interesting.


I'm not sure I'll continue with playtesting.  The playtest materials were hard for me to use, the reception by the players poor, and I have more demands on my time and more RL stressors than I had when I signed up.  It seem like D&D Next is the kind of game that requires a DM to be at the top of his game to run well, and I'm not sure when I'll be up to the challenge.

 
I agree completely. There is just too much missing for this to be considered a 'core' game. Then on top of that they threw in vancian casting as 'core' which makes no sense as vancian casting is complex and precludes other casting styles...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
I was looking forward to playtesting the new edition of D&D when I signed up. 

The packet was released on May 24th, Labor Day weekend.  I was committed to running games at a convention that weekened, and the one before.  I caught the flu at the con, so I was in bad shape for another week.  Even so, I ran my regular campaign this weekend, and squeezed in the first (and likely only) playtest session.  

Thanks to all that I was not at my best.  I'm a pretty good DM, better at story and RP than rules minutiae, but I've been able to run 4e at conventions many time at both Heroic and Paragon, run Encounters, and to run a 1-13 level home campaign.  In the past, I've run Storyteller and even Champions (a painfully rules-heavy system).  I've gamed for over 20 years starting with AD&D (mainly in a single campaign, and I don't recall a lot of it), continuing with Champions and Storyteller, and finally playing both 3.0/5 and 4e/Essentials for their full runs, thats D&D prettymuch every week for the last 12 years.   

On Saturday I ran my home campaign, and while I was tired, recovering from the flu and mentally frazzled from running so much the last two weeks, and running Paragon level, it went OK - not my best session ever, but there were no major problems.

On Sunday, I got a couple of my regular players together, and a couple from the Lair Assault one of those players runs, himself, on Sundays, and ran the playtest.  We spent about 4 hours on it and got through the first area A kobold encounter, which went on and on due to more kobolds coming out every time there was at least one standing.  No one was pleased.

For myself, my biggest problems were actually with the adventure.  The rules didn't help, but the module just gave me very little to work with.  For background, I don't use published adventures in my regular campaigns, I like to come up with my own stories, with long plot arcs, and with my own encounters and other challenges, which I create ahead of time.  When I do use one, it's for a setting like Encounters or an impromptu convention game or pick-up game where I don't have time to come up with anything of my own.  Thus, I expect a published adventure to be complete and ready to run.  Caves of Chaos was anything but.  There was no set-up, no background, no hooks, nothing, just a pompous pronouncement that it was special and wonderful that I had to come up with anything of that nature, myself.  

Improvisation is not my strong suit, but I ripped a plot point from a novel I was reading, went with the old "you're in a tavern" cliche, and RP'd it as best I could.  The players enjoyed trying to figure out how a local had managed to turn his skin blue and get aphasia, but couldn't figure out much - the two were unrelated, the blue skin comming from eating a magic mushroom (and leading to some bronie jokes about feeding them to horses), and the aphasia something to do with venturing into a mysterious cave.  Though he couldn't explain anything, the victim did make them a rough map to the cave, and off they went.  After the game, player feedback was that this was the best part of the adventure - it involved a lot of mostly-humorous RP, and one skill check.  That one skill check required me to decide which ability (I went with INT to the consternation of the Cleric of Pelor) and skill to use.  Immediately we had an issue, because there was one character with "Wilderness Lore" and another with "Nature Lore" and no indication to me which aplied to wierd mushrooms.  I just let them both roll on the assumption it was a typo - the same skill under two different names.  

Things went downhill from there.  The map led them to area A.  As best I could tell from the difficult-to-see (I'm 47, even with contacts and reading glasses, I can't see low-contrast small print like I used to) pallid-blue-on-off-white map, it was a clearing with a cave entrance on one side and forest on the others.   By unanimous consent, we decided to use a 'grid,' so I sketched it out.  I couldn't find rules on moving through forests - at least, not quickly enough, so I ruled it "difficult terrain" (which one of my player pointed out wasn't a D&D Next term, but that there was terrain that added 1 to movement costs, it just wasn't called anything specific) that provided concealment.  The players lined up at the edge of the forest and wondered what to do about the dark cave.  

The wizard cast Light on a rock and tossed it into the cave.  Kobolds hate bright light, and several of them were revealed, so I had them pour out of the cave and attack.  Initiative time.  Immediately I notice there was no initiative number of the kobolds in the module, so we had to bring up the 'Bestiary' (I had only printed out the module, rules, and character sheets) on an ipad, so I could look it up.   The Kobolds won and came to grips with the party, who were lined up abrest, so they all got attacked.  The Moradin Cleric gave one Kobold disadvantage to attack the wizard, which saved him from a little bit of damage - at the time, I had missed that Reactions cost you an action, I doubt it'd see that much use with such a major cost, not that it mattered.  The wizard ran away into the forest (what, no opportunity attack?), and three of the players then proceeded to use trigonometry to figure out where his perfectly-spherical Sleep spell needed to be cast to be sure of getting all the Kobolds without getting himself in it (26.8 feet, if anyone cares).  The rest of the party was caught in it, but as they all had more than 10 hps and the kobolds all had less, all it did was slow them.  Most of the Kobolds fell asleep, but the party managed to crap out on attack rolls, so, at the end of the first round 4 out of 7 kobolds had been taken out by the wizard, and /one/ by the rest of the party.  The wizard added another to his kill pile on the next round.  Then the more badass kobolds started coming out, every round.  They might just as well have been minions with the damage the Fighter and the Theif hiding in the forest dished out, but the Clerics didn't consistently kill them (when they didn't, Magic Missle finished one off each round - auto-hitting, even for d4+1 turns out to be pretty good vs low-hp monsters).  Advantage and disadvantage came up.  I gave the kobolds advantage for ganging up and flanking one PC, and the wizard gave them all disadvantage with that damned Light spell.  The Rogue had advantage the whole time - at the cost of him rolling Stealth contests every round (I really missed passive perception by the end of the fight).

Finally, 4 or 5 rounds in, the party has a lucky round, hits ever time, and all the kobolds are down.  Everyone breathes a sigh of relief.  Not so much because they feared for their chacters' lives - they'd used both their healing spells, and both clerics were down about half, the wizard and rogue were untouched due to persistant cowardice and the fighter due to high AC - but because they were just glad to be done with it.

Aside from the Wizard, who used different spells each round to dramatic effect, the whole combat lacked any sort of tactical depth or meaningful choice.  Without OAs, movement was theoretically unrestricted, but movement also didn't accomplish anything - you moved, the monster moved after you, nothing could stop either of you from moving, so you could run in circles comically and fight (which one of the PCs did for the first two rounds before realizing it accomplished nothing) or just stand and fight.  There was very little to do, tactically, and, even though we used a grid, the advantages - the simplified movement, placement, and AEs - of the grid were lost because everything was in feet.  Characters at half-movement from the Sleep spell moved 12 feet instead of 2 squares, and, again trigonometry for the wizard's spell placement.  Actually, I'm not upset about the trigonometry, because it beats me having to try to draw a perfect circle to determine what monsters are in a spell effect.

I asked my players what they thought, and this is their feedback as I recall it (I should have taken notes, but I was exhausted and had stopped caring much at some point):

 
Player 1:  Is very nice, usually very involved, and likes mechanically simpler characters.  She was delighted playing Eldeth the Dwarf Slayer pre-gen from Encounters, for instance.  So, she picked the Dwarf Slayer.  Her feedback was that the whole experience was very boring.  Her character had no particular options, and it's damage was enough to drop any of the monsters, so there was no impetus to try anything special, though, in theory, she could have made my life heck by trying to come up with something 'creative' every round to get advantage or whatever.

Player 2:  A very nice guy, very talkative and into rules and tactics.  He's the "bronie" who wanted to feed the color-changing mushrooms to horses, and his sense of humor kept him going through the game.  He like the RP at the beginning, found the amount of healing in the game inadequate - a fairly minor, boring combat depleted all their healing spells - and was concerned about the skills.  The example he used was:  "If I were to have a character with say, 'Handle Animal,' and I wanted to juggle ferrets, I could, because well, it's 'handling' an animal, but if someone else came in with a 'Juggling' or even 'Ferret Juggling' skill, all of a sudden, I wouldn't get my Handle Animal skill to juggle ferrets anymore."  

Player 3:  A triffle more serious and a bit of a powergamer, he enjoys Lair Assault and likes high-damage rogue and sorcerer builds.  He played a very little 3.5, and has otherwise just played 4e.  He found the rogue effective, but not much fun.  He found advantage and the skill system overly complex for what they did.

Player 4:  My other Lair Assualt draftee, he likes complicated hybrid builds, but he had downloaded and read the 'How to Play' packet and PCs on the 24th, so he was a big help with the rules.  He was also the engineer doing the math to find the 30' "cord" of the wizards 20' sphere spell effect.  He found the rules a mixed bag at this point, though I can't recall which bits he liked vs disliked.  I believe he agreed that more healing was needed.

Player 5:  An old-school D&D'er who started with the basic set and has played everything.  He picked the wizard and used it quite effectively, though he was dismissive about doing so ("just standard-issue AD&D tactics").  Though he was the most effective, he didn't seem to like anything about the game (except the humorous RP intro).  I guess he'd done it all before enough that it just wasn't interesting.


I'm not sure I'll continue with playtesting.  The playtest materials were hard for me to use, the reception by the players poor, and I have more demands on my time and more RL stressors than I had when I signed up.  It seem like D&D Next is the kind of game that requires a DM to be at the top of his game to run well, and I'm not sure when I'll be up to the challenge.

 



My players didn't enjoy it so much. It was pretty easy to run for me, I just told them there were mountains of gold in the many different caves, so they went up and picked one. They made it easy since we were trying to keep to the rules.

Like you, I made a couple DMing mistakes (rules things), but overall they just weren't that excited. 
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />For myself, my biggest problems were actually with the adventure.  The rules didn't help, but the module just gave me very little to work with.  For background, I don't use published adventures in my regular campaigns, I like to come up with my own stories, with long plot arcs, and with my own encounters and other challenges, which I create ahead of time.  When I do use one, it's for a setting like Encounters or an impromptu convention game or pick-up game where I don't have time to come up with anything of my own.  Thus, I expect a published adventure to be complete and ready to run.  Caves of Chaos was anything but.  There was no set-up, no background, no hooks, nothing, just a pompous pronouncement that it was special and wonderful that I had to come up with anything of that nature, myself. 



Yeah, I agree. They need to do some work with the adventure, It's pretty dry and dull. It's basically a contrived hack and slash. They could have worked some more story into it to add the full effect.

Probably the least impressive part of 5e so far IMO

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"If it's not a conjuration, how did the wizard con·jure/ˈkänjər/Verb 1. Make (something) appear unexpectedly or seemingly from nowhere as if by magic. it?" -anon "Why don't you read fire·ball / fī(-ə)r-ˌbȯl/ and see if you can find the key word con.jure /'kən-ˈju̇r/ anywhere in it." -Maxperson
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I keep seeing this. Is this a link?
I hope you guys don't let the adventure turn you off to 5e. I mean, it's not like it's a part of the core, and it's not like it's going to be typical for all the adventures. From what I understand, they were just using it to test rules, flexibility, and the core mechanic. Also, I think they expected people to do more negotiation roleplay during that adventure, but that didn't happen in my campaign, or, it seems, in most others.
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />For myself, my biggest problems were actually with the adventure.  The rules didn't help, but the module just gave me very little to work with.  For background, I don't use published adventures in my regular campaigns, I like to come up with my own stories, with long plot arcs, and with my own encounters and other challenges, which I create ahead of time.  When I do use one, it's for a setting like Encounters or an impromptu convention game or pick-up game where I don't have time to come up with anything of my own.  Thus, I expect a published adventure to be complete and ready to run.  Caves of Chaos was anything but.  There was no set-up, no background, no hooks, nothing, just a pompous pronouncement that it was special and wonderful that I had to come up with anything of that nature, myself. 



Yeah, I agree. They need to do some work with the adventure, It's pretty dry and dull. It's basically a contrived hack and slash. They could have worked some more story into it to add the full effect.




No, YOU, the DM, need to do some work with the adventure.
You always have with this module (it's a partial reprint of "B2: Keep on the Borderlands). 
Heck this time they even tell you that right up front on the 1st page of it!  And they give you some general idea hooks.
As for why they sent you a hack/slash fest?  Because this playtest round is just taking some of the rough combat features for a spin.  Maybe some skill check or whatever if they come up.
And you know what?  They're copying something I've been doing for decades!  A new edition of D&D comes out?  We play through the Caves of Chaos again. Counting PF?  This thing has served as my own playtest 8 different times.  Soon it'll be 9.   
I agree completely. There is just too much missing for this to be considered a 'core' game. Then on top of that they threw in vancian casting as 'core' which makes no sense as vancian casting is complex and precludes other casting styles...



You know, when you post things like this it becomes ever harder to take you seriously.  Especially the part I've bolded.

Why?  Because way back during Christmas break of 1980, a group of normal children (ages 9-11), found THIS*:
 

under the tree. 
And without any adult help - or prior gaming xp - they figured out how to play it.

 *This is always listed as the 1981 set.  I don't know where/how Grandma got ahold of it in Dec. of 1980.  And I never thought to ask her while I could.  I suspect she ordered it through Sears or JCPenny's Christmas catologue. 

(in no particular order);
It had weird shaped dice. 
It had Vancian casting (though we didn't know that term back then).
There were NO skills.
ACs went down for some unknown (and unquestioned by us) reason.
There were charts for hitting & saving that varied by class & lv. (THAC:0 was still a few years away)
Clerics didn't cast ANY spells until 2nd lv.! Surprised 
It had NO GAME BOARD! Or playing pieces! (wich is a pretty big change for a kid!)
It's rules are very comprable to this playtest in terms of movements, actions, etc.
The adventure that came packed with it?  The exact same one we're using here in 2012 as a playtest.  With a map drawn at 1 sq= 10', WAY too many monsters to fight all at once, & practically zero "plot".
One player was to be the DM & pretty much had ALL the power.
One class (the ELF) was 100% better than all the others (being both fighter & Magic-User combined!)
But the #1 thing?  Right in the introduction pages we were told to feel free to change any rule we saw fit as this was OUR game now. (once again, a pretty big change for kids)

So 4 normal children, 32 years ago, figured out how to play this stuff pretty easily.  Including Vancian casting, how to tell stories, how to DM/RP, how to improv a rule/work together to make an answer we liked for our games, etc. etc etc.
We were hardly alone.

But yet somehow people today can't manage it?  
Really?


Oh, and simply including one option does not preclude including another way of doing something.  
I agree completely. There is just too much missing for this to be considered a 'core' game. Then on top of that they threw in vancian casting as 'core' which makes no sense as vancian casting is complex and precludes other casting styles...



I'd be interested in seeing why Vancian casting precludes other casting styles. I can't see that at all.
I agree completely. There is just too much missing for this to be considered a 'core' game. Then on top of that they threw in vancian casting as 'core' which makes no sense as vancian casting is complex and precludes other casting styles...



You know, when you post things like this it becomes ever harder to take you seriously.  Especially the part I've bolded.

Why?  Because way back during Christmas break of 1980, a group of normal children (ages 9-11), found THIS*:
 

under the tree. 
And without any adult help - or prior gaming xp - they figured out how to play it.

 *This is always listed as the 1981 set.  I don't know where/how Grandma got ahold of it in Dec. of 1980.  And I never thought to ask her while I could.  I suspect she ordered it through Sears or JCPenny's Christmas catologue. 

(in no particular order);
It had weird shaped dice. 
It had Vancian casting (though we didn't know that term back then).
There were NO skills.
ACs went down for some unknown (and unquestioned by us) reason.
There were charts for hitting & saving that varied by class & lv. (THAC:0 was still a few years away)
Clerics didn't cast ANY spells until 2nd lv.! Surprised 
It had NO GAME BOARD! Or playing pieces! (wich is a pretty big change for a kid!)
It's rules are very comprable to this playtest in terms of movements, actions, etc.
The adventure that came packed with it?  The exact same one we're using here in 2012 as a playtest.  With a map drawn at 1 sq= 10', WAY too many monsters to fight all at once, & practically zero "plot".
One player was to be the DM & pretty much had ALL the power.
One class (the ELF) was 100% better than all the others (being both fighter & Magic-User combined!)
But the #1 thing?  Right in the introduction pages we were told to feel free to change any rule we saw fit as this was OUR game now. (once again, a pretty big change for kids)

So 4 normal children, 32 years ago, figured out how to play this stuff pretty easily.  Including Vancian casting, how to tell stories, how to DM/RP, how to improv a rule/work together to make an answer we liked for our games, etc. etc etc.
We were hardly alone.

But yet somehow people today can't manage it?  
Really?


Oh, and simply including one option does not preclude including another way of doing something.  



Haha, of course you did. Children are way more imaginative than adults. Or at least they used to be before they started playing those damn vidya games all the time!
Children ages 9-11 are much better and more willing to try new games and pick things up then children ages 13-17
But much fewer children ages 9-11 are in an environment to be exposed to these things since they have to have grandmothers or parents which want to expose them to it.    It's not such a cut and dry thing. 
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" class="mceContentBody " contenteditable="true" />

I keep seeing this. Is this a link?



Its proof that the forum system that WotC is using is horribly broken... There are better free ones out there that do everything they want with no problems because they've been tested by thousands of websites.

"You can lead a company to a good website suite, but you can't force them to choose it over a kickback giving salesman..."
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
I agree completely. There is just too much missing for this to be considered a 'core' game. Then on top of that they threw in vancian casting as 'core' which makes no sense as vancian casting is complex and precludes other casting styles...



You know, when you post things like this it becomes ever harder to take you seriously.  Especially the part I've bolded.

Why?  Because way back during Christmas break of 1980, a group of normal children (ages 9-11), found THIS*:
 

under the tree. 
And without any adult help - or prior gaming xp - they figured out how to play it.

 *This is always listed as the 1981 set.  I don't know where/how Grandma got ahold of it in Dec. of 1980.  And I never thought to ask her while I could.  I suspect she ordered it through Sears or JCPenny's Christmas catologue. 

(in no particular order);
It had weird shaped dice. 
It had Vancian casting (though we didn't know that term back then).
There were NO skills.
ACs went down for some unknown (and unquestioned by us) reason.
There were charts for hitting & saving that varied by class & lv. (THAC:0 was still a few years away)
Clerics didn't cast ANY spells until 2nd lv.! Surprised 
It had NO GAME BOARD! Or playing pieces! (wich is a pretty big change for a kid!)
It's rules are very comprable to this playtest in terms of movements, actions, etc.
The adventure that came packed with it?  The exact same one we're using here in 2012 as a playtest.  With a map drawn at 1 sq= 10', WAY too many monsters to fight all at once, & practically zero "plot".
One player was to be the DM & pretty much had ALL the power.
One class (the ELF) was 100% better than all the others (being both fighter & Magic-User combined!)
But the #1 thing?  Right in the introduction pages we were told to feel free to change any rule we saw fit as this was OUR game now. (once again, a pretty big change for kids)

So 4 normal children, 32 years ago, figured out how to play this stuff pretty easily.  Including Vancian casting, how to tell stories, how to DM/RP, how to improv a rule/work together to make an answer we liked for our games, etc. etc etc.
We were hardly alone.

But yet somehow people today can't manage it?  
Really?


Oh, and simply including one option does not preclude including another way of doing something.  



You missed my point. The point is that vancian casting is a complex subsystem. There are no other complex subsystems in the playtest. The idea for the 'core' was the simple most basic parts that make the game D&D. Vancian casting does not make the game D&D, it is an alternative to sorcerer style casting and AEDU. It should be a module, not in core.

As to people learning it, sure, but how many casters did you have die before you got a handle on it? Nowadays people aren't that patient, on their 2nd or 3rd character they are going to rage quit and go play a video game...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Most of your criticisms stem from not reading the packet well enough, it seems. I'd recommend giving it another shot and using your head instead of a calculator to play your next session. There are lots of other posts about how simple the rules are compared to previous iterations, and you had your players using trigonometry... Maybe that's a sign something deeper than the materials needs to be looked at.
I think a lot of the misgivings are more misunderstanding.  Not saying you don't get it but this module appears to be far more open for the DM and players to try different options of play.  When I first read the rules my thought was 3 maybe 3.5 but playing I found myself DM'ing like my old 1st and 2nd edition days and the players loved it.  It is not a "module" set for publication and not all of the supplemental rules are out or even needed.  The idea is simply to have a base set of rules to interpret game play and allow for as much custimization and options as the group would want.  You may have noticed on the player sheets the note of old game feel don't use backgrounds or themes.  It was not easy to run having to flip back and forth and I am not sure it is intended to be story based, but easily could be depending on what you do with the "module" and the rules and descriptions make a strong push toward creativity not seen in many editions.  Not to harp on 4e but very few tables I ran or played with had anything creative or imaginative not because it was not there but because the players saw it as more mechanical and structured and did not think differntly.  I was easily possible to do it if you worked at it.  I would be interested to hear your view of that opinion Elauria just to get an idea of how you look at the game.  Storytelling can mean many different things to many different people.  I can't say that it will improve as the playtest or the edition evolves because I believe the flexiility the edition is attempting to offer will a less polished feel to some people that want every option described versus allowing people to pull in what they want, that being said, I would definitely think you will see more fluff such as plot hooks, backgroud, box text [I saw no boxes  ], etc.. 

  I will say the one thing I do enjoy is the fact I feel I much more player involvement using mini's and a map and not.  I love that there is an option to play with or without a mat and for my games I would say I have done about 50/50 inside the same session.    
Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate. "Abandon all hope ye who enter here." A child of 5 could understand this, someone bring me a child of 5.




No, YOU, the DM, need to do some work with the adventure.
You always have with this module (it's a partial reprint of "B2: Keep on the Borderlands). 
Heck this time they even tell you that right up front on the 1st page of it!  And they give you some general idea hooks.
As for why they sent you a hack/slash fest?  Because this playtest round is just taking some of the rough combat features for a spin.  Maybe some skill check or whatever if they come up.
And you know what?  They're copying something I've been doing for decades!  A new edition of D&D comes out?  We play through the Caves of Chaos again. Counting PF?  This thing has served as my own playtest 8 different times.  Soon it'll be 9.   



No, that's just dumb. My job is the DM is to try and learn the rules and figure out how the game plays, not spend a bunch of time coming up with extraneous stuff for a game I haven't even been able to play.

They could have put out a fully packaged mini adventure that didn't require a bunch of DM rules learning PLUS world building to launch. It's too tedious to expect both at playtest time.

"If it's not a conjuration, how did the wizard con·jure/ˈkänjər/Verb 1. Make (something) appear unexpectedly or seemingly from nowhere as if by magic. it?" -anon "Why don't you read fire·ball / fī(-ə)r-ˌbȯl/ and see if you can find the key word con.jure /'kən-ˈju̇r/ anywhere in it." -Maxperson
I signed up for the playtest today and plan on doing a one shot with it. I have been playing D&D since 1987 when I was 9 years old. I hope I have a good experience with this play test and reading this thread has helped me immencely. Wink




No, YOU, the DM, need to do some work with the adventure.
You always have with this module (it's a partial reprint of "B2: Keep on the Borderlands). 
Heck this time they even tell you that right up front on the 1st page of it!  And they give you some general idea hooks.
As for why they sent you a hack/slash fest?  Because this playtest round is just taking some of the rough combat features for a spin.  Maybe some skill check or whatever if they come up.
And you know what?  They're copying something I've been doing for decades!  A new edition of D&D comes out?  We play through the Caves of Chaos again. Counting PF?  This thing has served as my own playtest 8 different times.  Soon it'll be 9.   



No, that's just dumb. My job is the DM is to try and learn the rules and figure out how the game plays, not spend a bunch of time coming up with extraneous stuff for a game I haven't even been able to play.

They could have put out a fully packaged mini adventure that didn't require a bunch of DM rules learning PLUS world building to launch. It's too tedious to expect both at playtest time.




You're not building a campaign to last for the ages, you're testing the flow of a new game. If plot is so clutch for you, download the keep on the borderlands, and then it's the full adventure: just use the 5e stats and the w/e edition fluff.  But if you don't want to do more than learn rules, you probably shouldn't be playtesting.

In a system this unpolished, snags will be hit, and if improvisation is so difficult for you it's probably best to avoid it.
'That's just, like, your opinion, man.'
looks like the op came into the playtest with a bias against the new system. All of the people who play 4e that have tried the play test have failed to enjoy it because they refuse to let go of their preconcieved notion of how the game is supposed to work. 

D&D isn't any of the things that were core concepts of 4e, combat especially. Until people can learn to play without those extra maneuvers that bog down combat this game isn't going to be the game they want.

I sugest waiting a few months before trying to playtest this one since it's gonna be a while before the rules you want are added to the game. 

Blaming the edventure for shoddy DMing is a symptom of shoddy dming. This is especially true if the DM doesn't even read the adventure before sitting down to play. They would know that they needed to add a little something to the setting before they ever got near the gaming table.

The first rule of using something someone else wrote: make it yours.
looks like the op came into the play test with a bias against the new system. All of the people who play 4e that have tried the play test have failed to enjoy it because they refuse to let go of their preconceived notion of how the game is supposed to work. 

D&D isn't any of the things that were core concepts of 4e, combat especially. Until people can learn to play without those extra maneuvers that bog down combat this game isn't going to be the game they want.

I suggest waiting a few months before trying to play test this one since it's gonna be a while before the rules you want are added to the game. 

Blaming the adventure for shoddy DMing is a symptom of shoddy dming. This is especially true if the DM doesn't even read the adventure before sitting down to play. They would know that they needed to add a little something to the setting before they ever got near the gaming table.

The first rule of using something someone else wrote: make it yours.



Yeah, sorry no. I've played the game since 2E, and this is worse than 2E ever was. I enjoyed 4E for the simple reason I didn't have to constantly figure out which ability to use for an attempt at improv in combat. There were improv moves in my 4E game, but they didn't happen every round because the fighter, rogue, and wizard all got tired of using the same attack over and over again.

Every round in 5E I have to figure out which rolls I want my players to make because they are tripping targets, swinging on chandeliers, throwing chairs, throwing dishes, throwing each other, grabbing targets, doing back flips because they are bored, etc...etc...

All of this because they are bored of just hitting it, or hiding then hitting it, or casting magic missile at it.

This isn't even as good as 2E...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Yeah, sorry no. I've played the game since 2E, and this is worse than 2E ever was. I enjoyed 4E for the simple reason I didn't have to constantly figure out which ability to use for an attempt at improv in combat. There were improv moves in my 4E game, but they didn't happen every round because the fighter, rogue, and wizard all got tired of using the same attack over and over again.

Every round in 5E I have to figure out which rolls I want my players to make because they are tripping targets, swinging on chandeliers, throwing chairs, throwing dishes, throwing each other, grabbing targets, doing back flips because they are bored, etc...etc...

All of this because they are bored of just hitting it, or hiding then hitting it, or casting magic missile at it.

This isn't even as good as 2E...



You can improvise and add fluff or flourishes to the mechanics of every edition of D&D to come out to date; which edition you find it easiest to do that for is your personal preference and not an across-the-board statement of fact.

And perhaps the reason it "isn't even as good as 2E" is because it's the first public playtest and they're still working on the mechanics. I think some positives have come out of the playtest packet - the Advantage / Disadvantage mechanic seems very well received, as do (in general) Themes and Backgrounds.

It is possible that you found absolutely nothing of value in the playtest materials, and no that doesn't mean "you were doing it wrong" it just mean you didn't find anything that appealed to you - but please just keep in mind that if others did it's not because they "were doing Edition X wrong" either. But again, just remember this is a playtest packet not a final product and there will obviously be things to change. I think that dismissing it entirely because Vancian magic is currently the core mechanic or whatever portions of it you disliked is a little foolish at this early stage.

(This isn't directed at lokiare but at the posters in this thread in general.)
What's the matter, you dissentious rogues, That rubbing the poor itch of your opinion Make yourselves scabs?
Yeah, sorry no. I've played the game since 2E, and this is worse than 2E ever was. I enjoyed 4E for the simple reason I didn't have to constantly figure out which ability to use for an attempt at improv in combat. There were improv moves in my 4E game, but they didn't happen every round because the fighter, rogue, and wizard all got tired of using the same attack over and over again.

Every round in 5E I have to figure out which rolls I want my players to make because they are tripping targets, swinging on chandeliers, throwing chairs, throwing dishes, throwing each other, grabbing targets, doing back flips because they are bored, etc...etc...

All of this because they are bored of just hitting it, or hiding then hitting it, or casting magic missile at it.

This isn't even as good as 2E...



You can improvise and add fluff or flourishes to the mechanics of every edition of D&D to come out to date; which edition you find it easiest to do that for is your personal preference and not an across-the-board statement of fact.

And perhaps the reason it "isn't even as good as 2E" is because it's the first public playtest and they're still working on the mechanics. I think some positives have come out of the playtest packet - the Advantage / Disadvantage mechanic seems very well received, as do (in general) Themes and Backgrounds.

It is possible that you found absolutely nothing of value in the playtest materials, and no that doesn't mean "you were doing it wrong" it just mean you didn't find anything that appealed to you - but please just keep in mind that if others did it's not because they "were doing Edition X wrong" either. But again, just remember this is a playtest packet not a final product and there will obviously be things to change. I think that dismissing it entirely because Vancian magic is currently the core mechanic or whatever portions of it you disliked is a little foolish at this early stage.

(This isn't directed at lokiare but at the posters in this thread in general.)



Me and my players found that the game lacked the feel of D&D, and in addition it was more work than 4E on the DM side to try to adjudicate the improv that the players attempted because they were bored. Add in that vancian casting pretty much leads to a TPK if you don't know how to use it, and your looking at bad game.

I understand its a "play test" that's why I'm giving feedback. If this is the core game with no modules, then its not sellable to me and my players and people like me. Fix it...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
We spent about 4 hours on it and got through the first area A kobold encounter, which went on and on due to more kobolds coming out every time there was at least one standing.  No one was pleased.

For myself, my biggest problems were actually with the adventure.  The rules didn't help, but the module just gave me very little to work with.

Improvisation is not my strong suit

I couldn't find rules on moving through forests - at least, not quickly enough, so I ruled it "difficult terrain" (which one of my player pointed out wasn't a D&D Next term, but that there was terrain that added 1 to movement costs, it just wasn't called anything specific)

three of the players then proceeded to use trigonometry to figure out where his perfectly-spherical Sleep spell needed to be cast to be sure of getting all the Kobolds without getting himself in it (26.8 feet, if anyone cares).

Then the more badass kobolds started coming out, every round. 

they were just glad to be done with it.

First of all, I am sorry that your group had such a bad experience.
I'm also sorry that I had to pull your post apart; I wanted to highlight some sections that I think illustrate why your group didn't have fun.

The first is decisions that you made as a DM.  Now please note: I am not at all saying you are a bad DM.  But you did make decisions, and some of these led to the group having less fun.  You decided, for example, to have kobolds keep coming out and attacking.  You certainly noticed that the players were not having fun (you mention how they all sighed at the end of te fight, and said that "they were just glad to be done with it."

So the trouble right from the start is that the adventure given to us required a lot of DM improvisation in order for it to work best, and improvisation is not your strong suit.  So a legitimate complaint about the adventure, but doesn't relate to the rules of the system.

Next, it seems that your group was going into it with a bit of an attitude.  Having a player point out (quite needlessly) that a certain term doesn't exist indicates to me that the group was going into the playtest with an attitude of "This isn't going to be fun".  Your ruling was perfect, and in line with the advice given in the booklets: some terrain has a movement cost. 

You then all got bogged down with math.  Seeing as how you decided to play the playtest with a grid, why didn't you just turn the sphere into a grid-based approximation?  You have been playing 4E, and so you must know that spells can easily be converted to a grid.

What I would suggest, assuming your group actually has an interest in trying the playtest again, is for you to make your own adventure.  You clearly have a ton of DMing experience.  So make an adventure, and run it using the playtest rules.  That will let you actually focus on the rules and give feedback, rather than not be able to get past the adventure design.
We spent about 4 hours on it and got through the first area A kobold encounter, which went on and on due to more kobolds coming out every time there was at least one standing.  No one was pleased.

For myself, my biggest problems were actually with the adventure.  The rules didn't help, but the module just gave me very little to work with.

Improvisation is not my strong suit

I couldn't find rules on moving through forests - at least, not quickly enough, so I ruled it "difficult terrain" (which one of my player pointed out wasn't a D&D Next term, but that there was terrain that added 1 to movement costs, it just wasn't called anything specific)

three of the players then proceeded to use trigonometry to figure out where his perfectly-spherical Sleep spell needed to be cast to be sure of getting all the Kobolds without getting himself in it (26.8 feet, if anyone cares).

Then the more badass kobolds started coming out, every round. 

they were just glad to be done with it.

First of all, I am sorry that your group had such a bad experience.
I'm also sorry that I had to pull your post apart; I wanted to highlight some sections that I think illustrate why your group didn't have fun.

The first is decisions that you made as a DM.  Now please note: I am not at all saying you are a bad DM.  But you did make decisions, and some of these led to the group having less fun.  You decided, for example, to have kobolds keep coming out and attacking.  You certainly noticed that the players were not having fun (you mention how they all sighed at the end of te fight, and said that "they were just glad to be done with it."

So the trouble right from the start is that the adventure given to us required a lot of DM improvisation in order for it to work best, and improvisation is not your strong suit.  So a legitimate complaint about the adventure, but doesn't relate to the rules of the system.

Next, it seems that your group was going into it with a bit of an attitude.  Having a player point out (quite needlessly) that a certain term doesn't exist indicates to me that the group was going into the playtest with an attitude of "This isn't going to be fun".  Your ruling was perfect, and in line with the advice given in the booklets: some terrain has a movement cost. 

You then all got bogged down with math.  Seeing as how you decided to play the playtest with a grid, why didn't you just turn the sphere into a grid-based approximation?  You have been playing 4E, and so you must know that spells can easily be converted to a grid.

What I would suggest, assuming your group actually has an interest in trying the playtest again, is for you to make your own adventure.  You clearly have a ton of DMing experience.  So make an adventure, and run it using the playtest rules.  That will let you actually focus on the rules and give feedback, rather than not be able to get past the adventure design.



Actually the adventure itself tells the DM to send a kobold/orc/hobgoblin/goblin to the next nearest area and get reinforcements. So they were just playing it like they should have...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Actually the adventure itself tells the DM to send a kobold/orc/hobgoblin/goblin to the next nearest area and get reinforcements. So they were just playing it like they should have...



It also states that you can reduce or increase the number of creatures in any area if it makes for a better game.


Actually the adventure itself tells the DM to send a kobold/orc/hobgoblin/goblin to the next nearest area and get reinforcements. So they were just playing it like they should have...



It also states that you can reduce or increase the number of creatures in any area if it makes for a better game.



This.  I honestly can't say this enough.  "The rules are not in charge.  You, the DM, are in charge."

Seriously.  Say it to yourself.  Like a mantra.

If the DM ever says, "Sorry guys, the rules made me do it." or "Sorry guys, the adventure says to do this.", something is wrong.  The designers can't possibly know how all of us like to play the game.  There is no way.  They can't know the things we like and dislike.  How could they?

But you know who knows what you and your group like and dislike?  What they find boring and what they find exciting?  You do.

When I am DMing, if I can see that the players are getting bored, frustrated, or just not having fun during a fight I just end it.  I say, "You kill the rest of the goblins."  or "The remaining goblins run away." or "The goblins attempt to parlay." or whatever.

Note that what I say above is edition (and even game) generic.  It is just what the DM is supposed to do, what they have always done, and what they will always do in the future.

Actually the adventure itself tells the DM to send a kobold/orc/hobgoblin/goblin to the next nearest area and get reinforcements. So they were just playing it like they should have...



It also states that you can reduce or increase the number of creatures in any area if it makes for a better game.



This.  I honestly can't say this enough.  "The rules are not in charge.  You, the DM, are in charge."

Seriously.  Say it to yourself.  Like a mantra.

If the DM ever says, "Sorry guys, the rules made me do it." or "Sorry guys, the adventure says to do this.", something is wrong.  The designers can't possibly know how all of us like to play the game.  There is no way.  They can't know the things we like and dislike.  How could they?

But you know who knows what you and your group like and dislike?  What they find boring and what they find exciting?  You do.

When I am DMing, if I can see that the players are getting bored, frustrated, or just not having fun during a fight I just end it.  I say, "You kill the rest of the goblins."  or "The remaining goblins run away." or "The goblins attempt to parlay." or whatever.

Note that what I say above is edition (and even game) generic.  It is just what the DM is supposed to do, what they have always done, and what they will always do in the future.


I have to agree it is totally up to the DM to modify or change content and still keep the basic flavor of any module or scenario.  In this case, I took two suggestions out of the module to give the players a couple possibilities to explore.  First, dark cultists were extorting and hiring the local monsters for their cooperation.  Second, the eye of Grumush might be found soon by the orcs.  Both worked well.  So far, my players are thoroughly enjoying themselves with the playtest.

I won't say there were no glitches along the way, but between my players (who have a couple DMs sitting among them) and myself we came up with simple ways to adjudicate any situation that the module presented.

You also got to realize that this module is an adaptation of the earliest days of D&D, when dungeon crawling was a big part of D&D.  It also may not have had the best writing or backstory, but it was a time, when DMs were the driving force behind any good games scenarios.  Almost all modules back then had to be adapted to fit each DMs campaign setting, since there were no grand campaign settings. 

I might be the only one out there, but I really enjoyed seeing this module reworked to fit the new rules.        
I might be the only one out there, but I really enjoyed seeing this module reworked to fit the new rules.        

You are not the only one out there.  I think this old module was chosen very deliberately.  One of the complaint that you often hear regaing a new edition is, "Now I can't use all my old modules without putting in a lot of work to convert it."

If D&D Next can let DMs take an old module and run it with a minimum of work, that is a huge plus.

I was looking forward to playtesting the new edition of D&D when I signed up. 

The packet was released on May 24th, Labor Day weekend.  I was committed to running games at a convention that weekened, and the one before.  I caught the flu at the con, so I was in bad shape for another week.  Even so, I ran my regular campaign this weekend, and squeezed in the first (and likely only) playtest session.  

Thanks to all that I was not at my best.  I'm a pretty good DM, better at story and RP than rules minutiae, but I've been able to run 4e at conventions many time at both Heroic and Paragon, run Encounters, and to run a 1-13 level home campaign.  In the past, I've run Storyteller and even Champions (a painfully rules-heavy system).  I've gamed for over 20 years starting with AD&D (mainly in a single campaign, and I don't recall a lot of it), continuing with Champions and Storyteller, and finally playing both 3.0/5 and 4e/Essentials for their full runs, thats D&D prettymuch every week for the last 12 years.   

On Saturday I ran my home campaign, and while I was tired, recovering from the flu and mentally frazzled from running so much the last two weeks, and running Paragon level, it went OK - not my best session ever, but there were no major problems.

On Sunday, I got a couple of my regular players together, and a couple from the Lair Assault one of those players runs, himself, on Sundays, and ran the playtest.  We spent about 4 hours on it and got through the first area A kobold encounter, which went on and on due to more kobolds coming out every time there was at least one standing.  No one was pleased.

For myself, my biggest problems were actually with the adventure.  The rules didn't help, but the module just gave me very little to work with.  For background, I don't use published adventures in my regular campaigns, I like to come up with my own stories, with long plot arcs, and with my own encounters and other challenges, which I create ahead of time.  When I do use one, it's for a setting like Encounters or an impromptu convention game or pick-up game where I don't have time to come up with anything of my own.  Thus, I expect a published adventure to be complete and ready to run.  Caves of Chaos was anything but.  There was no set-up, no background, no hooks, nothing, just a pompous pronouncement that it was special and wonderful that I had to come up with anything of that nature, myself.  

Improvisation is not my strong suit, but I ripped a plot point from a novel I was reading, went with the old "you're in a tavern" cliche, and RP'd it as best I could.  The players enjoyed trying to figure out how a local had managed to turn his skin blue and get aphasia, but couldn't figure out much - the two were unrelated, the blue skin comming from eating a magic mushroom (and leading to some bronie jokes about feeding them to horses), and the aphasia something to do with venturing into a mysterious cave.  Though he couldn't explain anything, the victim did make them a rough map to the cave, and off they went.  After the game, player feedback was that this was the best part of the adventure - it involved a lot of mostly-humorous RP, and one skill check.  That one skill check required me to decide which ability (I went with INT to the consternation of the Cleric of Pelor) and skill to use.  Immediately we had an issue, because there was one character with "Wilderness Lore" and another with "Nature Lore" and no indication to me which aplied to wierd mushrooms.  I just let them both roll on the assumption it was a typo - the same skill under two different names.  

Things went downhill from there.  The map led them to area A.  As best I could tell from the difficult-to-see (I'm 47, even with contacts and reading glasses, I can't see low-contrast small print like I used to) pallid-blue-on-off-white map, it was a clearing with a cave entrance on one side and forest on the others.   By unanimous consent, we decided to use a 'grid,' so I sketched it out.  I couldn't find rules on moving through forests - at least, not quickly enough, so I ruled it "difficult terrain" (which one of my player pointed out wasn't a D&D Next term, but that there was terrain that added 1 to movement costs, it just wasn't called anything specific) that provided concealment.  The players lined up at the edge of the forest and wondered what to do about the dark cave.  

The wizard cast Light on a rock and tossed it into the cave.  Kobolds hate bright light, and several of them were revealed, so I had them pour out of the cave and attack.  Initiative time.  Immediately I notice there was no initiative number of the kobolds in the module, so we had to bring up the 'Bestiary' (I had only printed out the module, rules, and character sheets) on an ipad, so I could look it up.   The Kobolds won and came to grips with the party, who were lined up abrest, so they all got attacked.  The Moradin Cleric gave one Kobold disadvantage to attack the wizard, which saved him from a little bit of damage - at the time, I had missed that Reactions cost you an action, I doubt it'd see that much use with such a major cost, not that it mattered.  The wizard ran away into the forest (what, no opportunity attack?), and three of the players then proceeded to use trigonometry to figure out where his perfectly-spherical Sleep spell needed to be cast to be sure of getting all the Kobolds without getting himself in it (26.8 feet, if anyone cares).  The rest of the party was caught in it, but as they all had more than 10 hps and the kobolds all had less, all it did was slow them.  Most of the Kobolds fell asleep, but the party managed to crap out on attack rolls, so, at the end of the first round 4 out of 7 kobolds had been taken out by the wizard, and /one/ by the rest of the party.  The wizard added another to his kill pile on the next round.  Then the more badass kobolds started coming out, every round.  They might just as well have been minions with the damage the Fighter and the Theif hiding in the forest dished out, but the Clerics didn't consistently kill them (when they didn't, Magic Missle finished one off each round - auto-hitting, even for d4+1 turns out to be pretty good vs low-hp monsters).  Advantage and disadvantage came up.  I gave the kobolds advantage for ganging up and flanking one PC, and the wizard gave them all disadvantage with that damned Light spell.  The Rogue had advantage the whole time - at the cost of him rolling Stealth contests every round (I really missed passive perception by the end of the fight).

Finally, 4 or 5 rounds in, the party has a lucky round, hits ever time, and all the kobolds are down.  Everyone breathes a sigh of relief.  Not so much because they feared for their chacters' lives - they'd used both their healing spells, and both clerics were down about half, the wizard and rogue were untouched due to persistant cowardice and the fighter due to high AC - but because they were just glad to be done with it.

Aside from the Wizard, who used different spells each round to dramatic effect, the whole combat lacked any sort of tactical depth or meaningful choice.  Without OAs, movement was theoretically unrestricted, but movement also didn't accomplish anything - you moved, the monster moved after you, nothing could stop either of you from moving, so you could run in circles comically and fight (which one of the PCs did for the first two rounds before realizing it accomplished nothing) or just stand and fight.  There was very little to do, tactically, and, even though we used a grid, the advantages - the simplified movement, placement, and AEs - of the grid were lost because everything was in feet.  Characters at half-movement from the Sleep spell moved 12 feet instead of 2 squares, and, again trigonometry for the wizard's spell placement.  Actually, I'm not upset about the trigonometry, because it beats me having to try to draw a perfect circle to determine what monsters are in a spell effect.

I asked my players what they thought, and this is their feedback as I recall it (I should have taken notes, but I was exhausted and had stopped caring much at some point):

 
Player 1:  Is very nice, usually very involved, and likes mechanically simpler characters.  She was delighted playing Eldeth the Dwarf Slayer pre-gen from Encounters, for instance.  So, she picked the Dwarf Slayer.  Her feedback was that the whole experience was very boring.  Her character had no particular options, and it's damage was enough to drop any of the monsters, so there was no impetus to try anything special, though, in theory, she could have made my life heck by trying to come up with something 'creative' every round to get advantage or whatever.

Player 2:  A very nice guy, very talkative and into rules and tactics.  He's the "bronie" who wanted to feed the color-changing mushrooms to horses, and his sense of humor kept him going through the game.  He like the RP at the beginning, found the amount of healing in the game inadequate - a fairly minor, boring combat depleted all their healing spells - and was concerned about the skills.  The example he used was:  "If I were to have a character with say, 'Handle Animal,' and I wanted to juggle ferrets, I could, because well, it's 'handling' an animal, but if someone else came in with a 'Juggling' or even 'Ferret Juggling' skill, all of a sudden, I wouldn't get my Handle Animal skill to juggle ferrets anymore."  

Player 3:  A triffle more serious and a bit of a powergamer, he enjoys Lair Assault and likes high-damage rogue and sorcerer builds.  He played a very little 3.5, and has otherwise just played 4e.  He found the rogue effective, but not much fun.  He found advantage and the skill system overly complex for what they did.

Player 4:  My other Lair Assualt draftee, he likes complicated hybrid builds, but he had downloaded and read the 'How to Play' packet and PCs on the 24th, so he was a big help with the rules.  He was also the engineer doing the math to find the 30' "cord" of the wizards 20' sphere spell effect.  He found the rules a mixed bag at this point, though I can't recall which bits he liked vs disliked.  I believe he agreed that more healing was needed.

Player 5:  An old-school D&D'er who started with the basic set and has played everything.  He picked the wizard and used it quite effectively, though he was dismissive about doing so ("just standard-issue AD&D tactics").  Though he was the most effective, he didn't seem to like anything about the game (except the humorous RP intro).  I guess he'd done it all before enough that it just wasn't interesting.


I'm not sure I'll continue with playtesting.  The playtest materials were hard for me to use, the reception by the players poor, and I have more demands on my time and more RL stressors than I had when I signed up.  It seem like D&D Next is the kind of game that requires a DM to be at the top of his game to run well, and I'm not sure when I'll be up to the challenge.

 

If you need to use trig to figure out how many people were inside a certain sleep spell, you are in the wrong place. Just roll a random die that your prefer and use that to determine which Kobolds were inside it. They are all running around like crazy, probably - attempting to grab their loot and get out of the cave etc. Who can tell which kobold was where?
Yeah, sorry no. I've played the game since 2E, and this is worse than 2E ever was. I enjoyed 4E for the simple reason I didn't have to constantly figure out which ability to use for an attempt at improv in combat. There were improv moves in my 4E game, but they didn't happen every round because the fighter, rogue, and wizard all got tired of using the same attack over and over again.

Every round in 5E I have to figure out which rolls I want my players to make because they are tripping targets, swinging on chandeliers, throwing chairs, throwing dishes, throwing each other, grabbing targets, doing back flips because they are bored, etc...etc...

All of this because they are bored of just hitting it, or hiding then hitting it, or casting magic missile at it.

This isn't even as good as 2E...

I'm sorry, I'm having a hard time understanding this.

Characters didn't have many combat options in 2e (which I played a lot).  Fighters attack, thieves try to set up backstabs and otherwise just attack, clerics (at low levels) cast CLW and otherwise beat things with a mace, wizards may or may not even have any combat spells, but they only have two at best and then use their sling or quarterstaff (which sucked, but damage mods were so low in that game, except for single-classed fighters with 18(%) Str, that they didn't seem totally worthless).  Ever class in the playtest has at least as many combat options, if not more, than they did in 2e.

If the problem is that your players are driving you nuts by improvising, then the problem isn't in the system.  There were nonweapon proficiencies and ability checks in 2e, and if anything they were more broken due to a total lack of scaling.  The same things are possible now that were then, but now we have a little more guidance about DCs and whatnot.  Maybe your players are bored because they're used to 4e-style powers and now they can't live without them.  Maybe they weren't challenged by kobolds and would have done better with other opponents.  Maybe they were just feeling antsy or silly that day.

But comparing it unfavorably to 2e in this regard?  Sorry, can't see it at all.

"Edison didn't succeed the first time he invented Benjamin Franklin, either." Albert the Alligator, Walt Kelly's Pogo Sunday Book  
The Core Coliseum: test out your 4e builds and fight to the death.

I agree completely. There is just too much missing for this to be considered a 'core' game. Then on top of that they threw in vancian casting as 'core' which makes no sense as vancian casting is complex and precludes other casting styles...



You know, when you post things like this it becomes ever harder to take you seriously.  Especially the part I've bolded.

Why?  Because way back during Christmas break of 1980, a group of normal children (ages 9-11), found THIS*:
 

under the tree. 
And without any adult help - or prior gaming xp - they figured out how to play it.

 *This is always listed as the 1981 set.  I don't know where/how Grandma got ahold of it in Dec. of 1980.  And I never thought to ask her while I could.  I suspect she ordered it through Sears or JCPenny's Christmas catologue. 

(in no particular order);
It had weird shaped dice. 
It had Vancian casting (though we didn't know that term back then).
There were NO skills.
ACs went down for some unknown (and unquestioned by us) reason.
There were charts for hitting & saving that varied by class & lv. (THAC:0 was still a few years away)
Clerics didn't cast ANY spells until 2nd lv.! Surprised 
It had NO GAME BOARD! Or playing pieces! (wich is a pretty big change for a kid!)
It's rules are very comprable to this playtest in terms of movements, actions, etc.
The adventure that came packed with it?  The exact same one we're using here in 2012 as a playtest.  With a map drawn at 1 sq= 10', WAY too many monsters to fight all at once, & practically zero "plot".
One player was to be the DM & pretty much had ALL the power.
One class (the ELF) was 100% better than all the others (being both fighter & Magic-User combined!)
But the #1 thing?  Right in the introduction pages we were told to feel free to change any rule we saw fit as this was OUR game now. (once again, a pretty big change for kids)

So 4 normal children, 32 years ago, figured out how to play this stuff pretty easily.  Including Vancian casting, how to tell stories, how to DM/RP, how to improv a rule/work together to make an answer we liked for our games, etc. etc etc.
We were hardly alone.

But yet somehow people today can't manage it?  
Really?


Oh, and simply including one option does not preclude including another way of doing something.  



I think this post is fantastic. It boggles the mind how so many of these threads I'm seeing about the "horrors" players are experiencing and the difficulties they had playing when, back in the day as kids, we just played it. Why is it now people can't seem to do this?

I think this post is fantastic. It boggles the mind how so many of these threads I'm seeing about the "horrors" players are experiencing and the difficulties they had playing when, back in the day as kids, we just played it. Why is it now people can't seem to do this?





I agree, it seems to me as you get older you want more rules when in reality this game trives when they are viewed more as guidelines and people go back to imagination and go about playing by asking "will this be fun and memorable if we do it."

I remember never using a battlemat or mini's in the 70's then in the 80's/90's using them and losing some of the "fantasy" but for the first time in years enjoyed being able to do both when playing in the playtest. 
Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate. "Abandon all hope ye who enter here." A child of 5 could understand this, someone bring me a child of 5.
I'm hearing that DM's should change the encounter to fit what the characters are capable of fighting? Well too bad there aren't any guidelines for that.  Also this is a playtest, so we're supposed to be looking out for these sorts of things.

We're not complaining that "Sorry that the rules made me kill you guys," it's "I'm sorry that I have no idea how lethal this scenario is, and it can apparently vary quite drastically. I guess as the DM I can always do something contrived to not kill you this time, but this system issue should be reported."

Likewise, the use of a dice to determine how many kobolds are in the range of a spell? What's the point of the specified zone then? I think that you're hitting on one of the most abrupt inconsistencies with the presented game mechanics and "theater of the mind" gameplay. As a DM, I'll admit that I've rolled to see how many monsters are in range, and I'm not proud. That was about when I realized how much happier my players and I were with visual representations of the surroundings. As a designer and player I also know the random zone mechanic is terrible because it reduces the specifics about each encounter into vague randomness. It speeds the game up, but it also undermines any sense of consistant reality. Why have round to round combat if we're going to throw out all the details of what's going on? I actually ask this question with nonfacetious intent.
I'm hearing that DM's should change the encounter to fit what the characters are capable of fighting? Well too bad there aren't any guidelines for that.  Also this is a playtest, so we're supposed to be looking out for these sorts of things.



Wrong. The rules explicitly say that you can change encounters, monsters, numbers, or anything else that you want.

We're not complaining that "Sorry that the rules made me kill you guys," it's "I'm sorry that I have no idea how lethal this scenario is, and it can apparently vary quite drastically. I guess as the DM I can always do something contrived to not kill you this time, but this system issue should be reported."



Or it's a challenge for the characters to get creative when playing - again...as stated in the playtest materiels. In fact, the module states flat out that much of the module is far beyond 1st level characters in a straight-up fight. It exhorts both DM and players to get creative.

Likewise, the use of a dice to determine how many kobolds are in the range of a spell? What's the point of the specified zone then? I think that you're hitting on one of the most abrupt inconsistencies with the presented game mechanics and "theater of the mind" gameplay. As a DM, I'll admit that I've rolled to see how many monsters are in range, and I'm not proud. That was about when I realized how much happier my players and I were with visual representations of the surroundings.



Theater of the Mind worked for decades. It's just a style of play. Whether it works for you isn't an issue of rules, its your personal preference. As a DM I have no problem simply stating, "you can catch about 10 of them in your sleep spell as the outliers are too scattered." The player takes my word for it and we move on. Getting caught up in the minutae is exactly what D&DN is about avoiding. It's cutting out the little stuff so the game can flow quickly and allow more mental space for roleplaying.

If what you're looking for is a game which is primarily about small-unit tactics and manuver, the 4th edition is definately more your style. I'm hoping that D&DN will have expansions/modules so that you also get exactly what you want. Maybe we can all win on this one.

But the core rules must necessarily be simple so that it is easy to add many kinds of expansions. 
I'm hearing that DM's should change the encounter to fit what the characters are capable of fighting? Well too bad there aren't any guidelines for that.  Also this is a playtest, so we're supposed to be looking out for these sorts of things.

We're not complaining that "Sorry that the rules made me kill you guys," it's "I'm sorry that I have no idea how lethal this scenario is, and it can apparently vary quite drastically. I guess as the DM I can always do something contrived to not kill you this time, but this system issue should be reported."

Likewise, the use of a dice to determine how many kobolds are in the range of a spell? What's the point of the specified zone then? I think that you're hitting on one of the most abrupt inconsistencies with the presented game mechanics and "theater of the mind" gameplay. As a DM, I'll admit that I've rolled to see how many monsters are in range, and I'm not proud. That was about when I realized how much happier my players and I were with visual representations of the surroundings. As a designer and player I also know the random zone mechanic is terrible because it reduces the specifics about each encounter into vague randomness. It speeds the game up, but it also undermines any sense of consistant reality. Why have round to round combat if we're going to throw out all the details of what's going on? I actually ask this question with nonfacetious intent.

Autolycus gave a good response above, but I'm going to toss in my own thoughts too.

It isn't that the DM should make all the fights winnable (because sometimes the heroes might have to run away).  It is that the DM needs to be responsive to the mood at the table.  If you see that all of your players aren't having fun, it is up to you to do something about it.  If they are bored, frustrated, or whatever, you do what you need to do to make them have fun again.

The adventure was indeed quite lethal, especially at first level, and it came with warnings for the DM.  If your group doesn't like to deal with that sort of thing, it is up to you to adjust it.  You don't need specific guidelines.  Just use trial and error.  Cut the numbers of monsters in half to start, and then adjust from there until you find a balance that your players enjoy.  No one knows your group but you.

Yeah, rolling to determine the number of targets seems odd when you are used to playing with a grid, but it is pretty much your only option without a grid.  But as I said before, if you want to use a grid, just adjust the spells to fit the grid.  You don't have to get out a calculator, just make a rough approximation.  If you have ever played D&D with a grid you will know how to do this easily.  If you haven't, just use this wonderful resource of a forum and ask for help.

I actually found playing without a grid to be a refreshing change, as did my players.  Yeah, it was tough at times (such as when the wizard cast grease), but you work around that.  Battle becomes a lot less rigid, more fluid, and everyone takes part.  You all just sort of know that the grease is "over there".  My players actually found that they could focus on the battle much more easily without a grid.  But the point is that you can play the way you want to play.  Neither style is better, neither style is "more D&D".  You need to find what works best for your own group.  The next time I run the playtest I am going to try something new: I have a map of the fight, but the players can't see it.  That way, I can keep track of positions (most important for zones and stuff), but they still get the advantage of playing TotM.

autolycus, how am I wrong? Where are the guidelines I just asked for? There's almost no mechanical outline to actually reward the creativity that you say this game system is exhorting. I've played and ran games from Amber to MektonZ so I know the difference between a system that encourages creativity and being free to "just making stuff up." You're talking about the later.  Once again, there are no guidelines for this beyond occasionally granting Advantage and Disadvantage for another roll. If throwing 30 goblins at my party is certain death, I feel the DM Guidelines should let me know that ahead of time. This is a problem.

I'm not asking for a primarily small-unit tactics game, but I wouldn't mind if such elements existed either. It just bothers me that this game seems to move in contradictory directions while supporting neither. And you still sidestepped my question: "Why have round to round combat if we're going to throw out all the details of what's going on?" Why not abstract the whole scene to just a series of skill tests if we're going with a minimalist improvisational system? Why bother with the nitty-gritty of hitpoints and weapon damage, and spell-slots if we're just going to improvise our way through the scene in way that completely ignores where people are standing or what is situationally advantagious?

I've played dozens of "Theater of the Mind" game systems with hundreds of different players and in all of them the player's eyes roll when combat started. If we're just rolling to decide how much damage we do each round, and our moment to moment decisions are only as useful as the DM Fiat, why do we bother running the battle like each round matters? So far D&DNext has been no different and certainly no better structured than most of the Theater of the Mind style games. If we're moving in that direction I'm hoping to see some actual innovation or consideration for that.

Edit: Sorry, I rushed to copy this message and got it quite jumbled.
Actually the adventure itself tells the DM to send a kobold/orc/hobgoblin/goblin to the next nearest area and get reinforcements. So they were just playing it like they should have...



It also states that you can reduce or increase the number of creatures in any area if it makes for a better game.



This.  I honestly can't say this enough.  "The rules are not in charge.  You, the DM, are in charge."

Seriously.  Say it to yourself.  Like a mantra.

If the DM ever says, "Sorry guys, the rules made me do it." or "Sorry guys, the adventure says to do this.", something is wrong.  The designers can't possibly know how all of us like to play the game.  There is no way.  They can't know the things we like and dislike.  How could they?

But you know who knows what you and your group like and dislike?  What they find boring and what they find exciting?  You do.

When I am DMing, if I can see that the players are getting bored, frustrated, or just not having fun during a fight I just end it.  I say, "You kill the rest of the goblins."  or "The remaining goblins run away." or "The goblins attempt to parlay." or whatever.

Note that what I say above is edition (and even game) generic.  It is just what the DM is supposed to do, what they have always done, and what they will always do in the future.




This falls under that whole good, fair, balanced DM thing, not everyone is a good DM.

So while that's great advice, not everyone is going to know how many enemies is 'fun' and how many is 'boring'. The game should be designed around what most people find 'fun'. It might even have a section that tells the average number of 'fun'...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
I was looking forward to playtesting the new edition of D&D when I signed up. 

The packet was released on May 24th, Labor Day weekend.  I was committed to running games at a convention that weekened, and the one before.  I caught the flu at the con, so I was in bad shape for another week.  Even so, I ran my regular campaign this weekend, and squeezed in the first (and likely only) playtest session.  

Thanks to all that I was not at my best.  I'm a pretty good DM, better at story and RP than rules minutiae, but I've been able to run 4e at conventions many time at both Heroic and Paragon, run Encounters, and to run a 1-13 level home campaign.  In the past, I've run Storyteller and even Champions (a painfully rules-heavy system).  I've gamed for over 20 years starting with AD&D (mainly in a single campaign, and I don't recall a lot of it), continuing with Champions and Storyteller, and finally playing both 3.0/5 and 4e/Essentials for their full runs, thats D&D prettymuch every week for the last 12 years.   

On Saturday I ran my home campaign, and while I was tired, recovering from the flu and mentally frazzled from running so much the last two weeks, and running Paragon level, it went OK - not my best session ever, but there were no major problems.

On Sunday, I got a couple of my regular players together, and a couple from the Lair Assault one of those players runs, himself, on Sundays, and ran the playtest.  We spent about 4 hours on it and got through the first area A kobold encounter, which went on and on due to more kobolds coming out every time there was at least one standing.  No one was pleased.

For myself, my biggest problems were actually with the adventure.  The rules didn't help, but the module just gave me very little to work with.  For background, I don't use published adventures in my regular campaigns, I like to come up with my own stories, with long plot arcs, and with my own encounters and other challenges, which I create ahead of time.  When I do use one, it's for a setting like Encounters or an impromptu convention game or pick-up game where I don't have time to come up with anything of my own.  Thus, I expect a published adventure to be complete and ready to run.  Caves of Chaos was anything but.  There was no set-up, no background, no hooks, nothing, just a pompous pronouncement that it was special and wonderful that I had to come up with anything of that nature, myself.  

Improvisation is not my strong suit, but I ripped a plot point from a novel I was reading, went with the old "you're in a tavern" cliche, and RP'd it as best I could.  The players enjoyed trying to figure out how a local had managed to turn his skin blue and get aphasia, but couldn't figure out much - the two were unrelated, the blue skin comming from eating a magic mushroom (and leading to some bronie jokes about feeding them to horses), and the aphasia something to do with venturing into a mysterious cave.  Though he couldn't explain anything, the victim did make them a rough map to the cave, and off they went.  After the game, player feedback was that this was the best part of the adventure - it involved a lot of mostly-humorous RP, and one skill check.  That one skill check required me to decide which ability (I went with INT to the consternation of the Cleric of Pelor) and skill to use.  Immediately we had an issue, because there was one character with "Wilderness Lore" and another with "Nature Lore" and no indication to me which aplied to wierd mushrooms.  I just let them both roll on the assumption it was a typo - the same skill under two different names.  

Things went downhill from there.  The map led them to area A.  As best I could tell from the difficult-to-see (I'm 47, even with contacts and reading glasses, I can't see low-contrast small print like I used to) pallid-blue-on-off-white map, it was a clearing with a cave entrance on one side and forest on the others.   By unanimous consent, we decided to use a 'grid,' so I sketched it out.  I couldn't find rules on moving through forests - at least, not quickly enough, so I ruled it "difficult terrain" (which one of my player pointed out wasn't a D&D Next term, but that there was terrain that added 1 to movement costs, it just wasn't called anything specific) that provided concealment.  The players lined up at the edge of the forest and wondered what to do about the dark cave.  

The wizard cast Light on a rock and tossed it into the cave.  Kobolds hate bright light, and several of them were revealed, so I had them pour out of the cave and attack.  Initiative time.  Immediately I notice there was no initiative number of the kobolds in the module, so we had to bring up the 'Bestiary' (I had only printed out the module, rules, and character sheets) on an ipad, so I could look it up.   The Kobolds won and came to grips with the party, who were lined up abrest, so they all got attacked.  The Moradin Cleric gave one Kobold disadvantage to attack the wizard, which saved him from a little bit of damage - at the time, I had missed that Reactions cost you an action, I doubt it'd see that much use with such a major cost, not that it mattered.  The wizard ran away into the forest (what, no opportunity attack?), and three of the players then proceeded to use trigonometry to figure out where his perfectly-spherical Sleep spell needed to be cast to be sure of getting all the Kobolds without getting himself in it (26.8 feet, if anyone cares).  The rest of the party was caught in it, but as they all had more than 10 hps and the kobolds all had less, all it did was slow them.  Most of the Kobolds fell asleep, but the party managed to crap out on attack rolls, so, at the end of the first round 4 out of 7 kobolds had been taken out by the wizard, and /one/ by the rest of the party.  The wizard added another to his kill pile on the next round.  Then the more badass kobolds started coming out, every round.  They might just as well have been minions with the damage the Fighter and the Theif hiding in the forest dished out, but the Clerics didn't consistently kill them (when they didn't, Magic Missle finished one off each round - auto-hitting, even for d4+1 turns out to be pretty good vs low-hp monsters).  Advantage and disadvantage came up.  I gave the kobolds advantage for ganging up and flanking one PC, and the wizard gave them all disadvantage with that damned Light spell.  The Rogue had advantage the whole time - at the cost of him rolling Stealth contests every round (I really missed passive perception by the end of the fight).

Finally, 4 or 5 rounds in, the party has a lucky round, hits ever time, and all the kobolds are down.  Everyone breathes a sigh of relief.  Not so much because they feared for their chacters' lives - they'd used both their healing spells, and both clerics were down about half, the wizard and rogue were untouched due to persistant cowardice and the fighter due to high AC - but because they were just glad to be done with it.

Aside from the Wizard, who used different spells each round to dramatic effect, the whole combat lacked any sort of tactical depth or meaningful choice.  Without OAs, movement was theoretically unrestricted, but movement also didn't accomplish anything - you moved, the monster moved after you, nothing could stop either of you from moving, so you could run in circles comically and fight (which one of the PCs did for the first two rounds before realizing it accomplished nothing) or just stand and fight.  There was very little to do, tactically, and, even though we used a grid, the advantages - the simplified movement, placement, and AEs - of the grid were lost because everything was in feet.  Characters at half-movement from the Sleep spell moved 12 feet instead of 2 squares, and, again trigonometry for the wizard's spell placement.  Actually, I'm not upset about the trigonometry, because it beats me having to try to draw a perfect circle to determine what monsters are in a spell effect.

I asked my players what they thought, and this is their feedback as I recall it (I should have taken notes, but I was exhausted and had stopped caring much at some point):

 
Player 1:  Is very nice, usually very involved, and likes mechanically simpler characters.  She was delighted playing Eldeth the Dwarf Slayer pre-gen from Encounters, for instance.  So, she picked the Dwarf Slayer.  Her feedback was that the whole experience was very boring.  Her character had no particular options, and it's damage was enough to drop any of the monsters, so there was no impetus to try anything special, though, in theory, she could have made my life heck by trying to come up with something 'creative' every round to get advantage or whatever.

Player 2:  A very nice guy, very talkative and into rules and tactics.  He's the "bronie" who wanted to feed the color-changing mushrooms to horses, and his sense of humor kept him going through the game.  He like the RP at the beginning, found the amount of healing in the game inadequate - a fairly minor, boring combat depleted all their healing spells - and was concerned about the skills.  The example he used was:  "If I were to have a character with say, 'Handle Animal,' and I wanted to juggle ferrets, I could, because well, it's 'handling' an animal, but if someone else came in with a 'Juggling' or even 'Ferret Juggling' skill, all of a sudden, I wouldn't get my Handle Animal skill to juggle ferrets anymore."  

Player 3:  A triffle more serious and a bit of a powergamer, he enjoys Lair Assault and likes high-damage rogue and sorcerer builds.  He played a very little 3.5, and has otherwise just played 4e.  He found the rogue effective, but not much fun.  He found advantage and the skill system overly complex for what they did.

Player 4:  My other Lair Assualt draftee, he likes complicated hybrid builds, but he had downloaded and read the 'How to Play' packet and PCs on the 24th, so he was a big help with the rules.  He was also the engineer doing the math to find the 30' "cord" of the wizards 20' sphere spell effect.  He found the rules a mixed bag at this point, though I can't recall which bits he liked vs disliked.  I believe he agreed that more healing was needed.

Player 5:  An old-school D&D'er who started with the basic set and has played everything.  He picked the wizard and used it quite effectively, though he was dismissive about doing so ("just standard-issue AD&D tactics").  Though he was the most effective, he didn't seem to like anything about the game (except the humorous RP intro).  I guess he'd done it all before enough that it just wasn't interesting.


I'm not sure I'll continue with playtesting.  The playtest materials were hard for me to use, the reception by the players poor, and I have more demands on my time and more RL stressors than I had when I signed up.  It seem like D&D Next is the kind of game that requires a DM to be at the top of his game to run well, and I'm not sure when I'll be up to the challenge.

 

If you need to use trig to figure out how many people were inside a certain sleep spell, you are in the wrong place. Just roll a random die that your prefer and use that to determine which Kobolds were inside it. They are all running around like crazy, probably - attempting to grab their loot and get out of the cave etc. Who can tell which kobold was where?



Uh, so then your answer is to house rule it if its too hard to figure out? Oberoni...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
I'm hearing that DM's should change the encounter to fit what the characters are capable of fighting? Well too bad there aren't any guidelines for that.  Also this is a playtest, so we're supposed to be looking out for these sorts of things.



Wrong. The rules explicitly say that you can change encounters, monsters, numbers, or anything else that you want.



Actually they are right. It can tell you all day to change things up, without guidelines its meaningless unless you are a DM that can balance an encounter in your head. See "A good DM can..." fallacy...

We're not complaining that "Sorry that the rules made me kill you guys," it's "I'm sorry that I have no idea how lethal this scenario is, and it can apparently vary quite drastically. I guess as the DM I can always do something contrived to not kill you this time, but this system issue should be reported."



Or it's a challenge for the characters to get creative when playing - again...as stated in the playtest materiels. In fact, the module states flat out that much of the module is far beyond 1st level characters in a straight-up fight. It exhorts both DM and players to get creative.



My players weren't challenged at any point in the game. They played through about 4 encounters without resting. They were slaughtering the monsters. However they were bored out of their minds and started doing backflips out of boredom...

Likewise, the use of a dice to determine how many kobolds are in the range of a spell? What's the point of the specified zone then? I think that you're hitting on one of the most abrupt inconsistencies with the presented game mechanics and "theater of the mind" gameplay. As a DM, I'll admit that I've rolled to see how many monsters are in range, and I'm not proud. That was about when I realized how much happier my players and I were with visual representations of the surroundings.



Theater of the Mind worked for decades. It's just a style of play. Whether it works for you isn't an issue of rules, its your personal preference. As a DM I have no problem simply stating, "you can catch about 10 of them in your sleep spell as the outliers are too scattered." The player takes my word for it and we move on. Getting caught up in the minutae is exactly what D&DN is about avoiding. It's cutting out the little stuff so the game can flow quickly and allow more mental space for roleplaying.



yes, I remember those days.

DM "You can catch about 10 of them in your sleep spell."

Player "But I thought you said the room was 15x20? That means I should be able to catch anything in the room from the doorway."

DM "Shut up or a rock will fall from nowhere onto your characters head and kill them."

Player "Ok..."

If what you're looking for is a game which is primarily about small-unit tactics and manuver, the 4th edition is definately more your style. I'm hoping that D&DN will have expansions/modules so that you also get exactly what you want. Maybe we can all win on this one.

But the core rules must necessarily be simple so that it is easy to add many kinds of expansions. 



Unfortunately they included sorcerer style casting and vancian casting as 'core' so there's nothing simple about it...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.


You know, when you post things like this it becomes ever harder to take you seriously.  Especially the part I've bolded.

Why?  Because way back during Christmas break of 1980, a group of normal children (ages 9-11), found THIS*:
 

under the tree. 
And without any adult help - or prior gaming xp - they figured out how to play it.

 We were hardly alone.

But yet somehow people today can't manage it?  
Really?

Oh, and simply including one option does not preclude including another way of doing something.  



Exactly.  EXACTLY.  this toggle switch thinking (its gotta be this or that, this or that) not only isn't rational, but it was proven false for DECADES by players of Basic and Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.

Can i say it enough times?  This isn't a Wargame.  this is also a PLayTEST packet that lacks a TON of what is to come.  So freaking out that they haven't even told you how parry, trip, bull rish and other things work is premature and...

See the big picture and that picture goes back 30 years.  perspective is not something anyone can teach, unfortunately, but it is something one can share.

thank you for sharing this perspective.
@Jancoran: This isn't freaking out. I think you vastly underestimate the amount of experience that the people who are pointing these things out have. If you're not giving critical feedback and finding mechanics that aren't working then you might as well not be participating in this playtest. People aren't having fun and they're saying so and explaining why.

 @Arithezoo: I've already addressed Auto. I didn't find his feedback at all helpful as he completely missed the point. This makes me wonder if you too didn't get the point. The point is that "trial and error" doesn't cut it at most tables. The second time you TPK you pretty much have everyone asking if there's a different game to play.  It's easy to say that players of new games have lost their edge, but in truth they've just gained some freaking standards.

If you think I and the people I playtest with aren't used to this style of gameplay, you vastly undersestimate the amount of the experience we're talking about. We have decades of experience in gridless game systems. There is no scarcity of them in the RPG market. I've even worked on a few. Back when 3e decided to emphasize greater use of tactics and visual representation of action, it was largely lauded among this player base. Since then we run D&D whenever we want something where the rules matter.

Before 3e we'd stopped running D&D entirely except as one-shot parodies and nostalgia. Our only TSR campaign to survive that era is an old 4e Gamma World game. Of course, 4e GW was designed by Jim Ward and so its game mechanics had a heavy influence on both 3e and 4e D&D. Consequently, our GW game has gradually morphed into a hybrid of newer and old systems. But it's not the system that keeps that game going, and we'd never pay for a new game that was as dodgy and roughly designed as those old TSR core books.

Back to the point: When we want a semi-historical fantasy narrative with minimal tactics there's everything from Ars Magica to 7th Sea. Quite frankly this playtest isn't even starting to compete in that field, as even though those games frequently have design issues, they've still tried to develop better mechanics and clear GM guidelines to match their system goals. If the D&DNext designers want to abandon the game's tactical and balanced gameplay to compete with Storyteller and FATE they have a lot of catching up to do.

Furthermore, the idea of adding greater tactical complexity later seems misguided. Any experience in how systems are developed and grow demonstrates that's generally a destabilizing approach. It's far safer to include tactical elements from the beginning and then design a method to scale back on complexity than it is to do the reverse. That's why it's troubling to see such complexity both scarce and inconsistant in the core system.
I'm greatly anticipating the next playtest release in July to see how the game has changed and grown, but right now I have little to feel optimistic about. Especially considering how much of the playtest community seems to push back even on objective critical feedback without actually reading and understanding it. It really makes me reconsider if public playtests are a good idea for anything beyond market sampling.