D&D Next Playtest at Gencon

I wanted to make a quick post having just got back from Gencon. We Played the D&D Next playtest on friday and I wanted to share my thoughts while the memory was still as freash in my head as always.

Character Generation process seemed fairly straghtforward and nothing was too dificult to figure out. I liked the extra d6 you get to roll on certain attacks, I think it was called a finesse die? It reminded me of third edition eberron action points no matter what term you wanted to put on it. But I like it.

I rolled up a fighter type and it seemed to me that they were going back to one basic attack instead of powers to choose from, This did not appeal to me. There were features and  other things that affected your attack. I was able to choose the slayer (feature?) and the bounty hunter (background?) but it really it looked like we were back to fighter chops at things while wizard has dozens of spells to choose from. So are we again going to have players handbooks again where the back third of the book, the spell index, is dedicated to the few characters that cast spells? This never really seemed fair to me.

When it came to playtesting I was very troubled by how they started, saying that they really wanted to capture the old school flavor of no maps, no minis, and everything in the mind. The early books of D&D did say that minitures were not needed but this was PRIMARILY because TSR did not sell maps and minis at the time.

Gygax, Arneson, et all were WAR GAMERS first. They were used to having minis and grids and having the scene set for your eyes on battlemaps. The change to Role Playing started when someone thought of using just using one mini instead of a fleet or battalion. D&D is meant to be played with minis and maps. It can be played without but that takes away all of the tactical play out of the game and that is a huge part of what D&D is. Many times in the old days it was played without, but that was simply for the lack of having them, not that there was some benefit to them not being there. Also they want the players to MAP the dungeon, again? While this was needed in the early days of D&D, it was never really a fun part of the game. Really think about it because the memory does cheat. Compelling descriptions of dark chambers and frightening encounters rocked. But becoming lost and wasting game time falling into the same pit trap 4 times becaus antoher player made a right / left mistake on the map was not a fun part of the game. It was annoying.

The play did really capture that old school feeling, but it left me wondering, if I want old school why don't I just grab hackmaster, or the 1st edition reprints? Why do I need a whole new game for old school? The term throwing out the baby with the bathwater kept coming up in my mind.

I take comfort in the fact that this is a playtest and I just saw the barest of minimum about the new system. Personally I missed choosing powers and feats during character creation, and at the table I missed the smooth, everything on my charactersheet play that 4e provides. If I want the old school flavor, I can't  understand why I wouldn't reach for hackmaster or 1st edition, I fear that we are trying to create something that will surpass our nostolgia for that first game we played and the memory cheats, nothing can be like that.


Gygax, Arneson, et all were WAR GAMERS first. They were used to having minis and grids and having the scene set for your eyes on battlemaps. The change to Role Playing started when someone thought of using just using one mini instead of a fleet or battalion. D&D is meant to be played with minis and maps. It can be played without but that takes away all of the tactical play out of the game and that is a huge part of what D&D is. Many times in the old days it was played without, but that was simply for the lack of having them, not that there was some benefit to them not being there. Also they want the players to MAP the dungeon, again? While this was needed in the early days of D&D, it was never really a fun part of the game. Really think about it because the memory does cheat. Compelling descriptions of dark chambers and frightening encounters rocked. But becoming lost and wasting game time falling into the same pit trap 4 times becaus antoher player made a right / left mistake on the map was not a fun part of the game. It was annoying.




I don't know... after having played D&D in its various incarnations for the last... what?... 32 years, I do miss AD&D 1E. No minis. Had to draw maps. Was the most fun I ever had in this game. Not that it was perfect, mind you, but having to draw the party's map was its own sort of fun... especially when I was the rogue, walked point, and I made the mistake that cost me a resurrect spell...

Then again I am an old geezer for this game, so my opinion will not be shared by many, but I miss having to use my brains, instead of just using props.

Just a personal opinion. Not more valid than anyone else's. 

I too could be called a geezer and I remember the same sort of thrilling and humorous implications of failing to see a trap and having it be the end of the line for a character. But if I may suggest sir the tension and drama were created by some missed rolls and the feeling that your characters imaginary butt was on the line ... mapping just kind of slowed the game down. 
Ok... I grant you that it made play slower. But at least for my old gaming group, it did not make it less fun. Your experience seems to have been different, and your thoughts are equaly valid.
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