First Playtest Impressions and Some Suggestions

Our group is going to meet every other week and has four players. We had a pretty good balance, with a cleric, a rogue, a fighter, and a sorcerer.

We are starting the classic D&D module/mini-campaign, "Night's Dark Terror." One interesting thing I noticed is how easy it is to translate old 1st edition (Basic) stats into workable D&D Next versions. It tends to underpower enemies slightly, but the numbers are pretty close.

Anyway, the party began in Kelven and journeyed upriver toward Sukiskyn, fought 16 (!) Iron Ring Reavers at a river ambush, then made it to the besieged homestead, where they fought 18 goblins (almost all at once) before getting through the gate to safety.

Some observations:

• The advantage/disadvantage (A/D) mechanic is great, allowing the DM to encourage more creative thinking by dangling a reasonable reward. I read elsewhere (a link through Reddit) that the bonus one gets through advantage grows greater as the DC gets higher, and the opposite holds true for disadvantage. At first I didn't like this disparity, but now I like it because it isn't a flat and predictable rate.

• I'm REALLY hoping that, for the future "official" D&D Next, feats won't be something predetermined and built into a character build option. I don't mind if there's a package people can select where the decisions have been made, because some people aren't really into fiddling with their character that much, but for the rest of us it would be great to be able to select feats as they come.

• Though I never liked 4E, I could see the value in letting characters "self-heal," at least a little bit, during combat. I would suggest turning Hit Dice into something that can be used spontaneously as an action during combat without need of a healer's kit. The healer's kit, then, could mechanically be sort of like a cheap healing potion with 10 doses, but can only be used during a short rest. Potions and healing spells still work as they always have, of course. This would let Clerics do more than just run around a battlefield trying to triage characters, and let them do other stuff; It kind of sucks when one's main benefit to the party is being a heal-bot. 

• It would be great if every character had Hero Points, which they could use whenever they want to get a free reroll. It would be like gaining advantage (or cancelling disadvantage!) at a moment of one's choosing. It wouldn't have to be much -- 1 point would do. Maybe this could become 2 points when the characters hit 5th level, then 2 at 10th, etc. The Luck ability would stack, as would a "Lucky" feat that characters could take.

• I hate attacks of opportunity in 3e/4e, but don't mind them so much here. This seems like a good limit, allowing for maneuvering on the battlefield but providing some level of consequences for ignoring enemies. 

• The advantage/disadvantage (A/D) mechanic is great, allowing the DM to encourage more creative thinking by dangling a reasonable reward. I read elsewhere (a link through Reddit) that the bonus one gets through advantage grows greater as the DC gets higher, and the opposite holds true for disadvantage. At first I didn't like this disparity, but now I like it because it isn't a flat and predictable rate.

• I'm REALLY hoping that, for the future "official" D&D Next, feats won't be something predetermined and built into a character build option. I don't mind if there's a package people can select where the decisions have been made, because some people aren't really into fiddling with their character that much, but for the rest of us it would be great to be able to select feats as they come.

• Though I never liked 4E, I could see the value in letting characters "self-heal," at least a little bit, during combat. I would suggest turning Hit Dice into something that can be used spontaneously as an action during combat without need of a healer's kit. The healer's kit, then, could mechanically be sort of like a cheap healing potion with 10 doses, but can only be used during a short rest. Potions and healing spells still work as they always have, of course. This would let Clerics do more than just run around a battlefield trying to triage characters, and let them do other stuff; It kind of sucks when one's main benefit to the party is being a heal-bot. 

• It would be great if every character had Hero Points, which they could use whenever they want to get a free reroll. It would be like gaining advantage (or cancelling disadvantage!) at a moment of one's choosing. It wouldn't have to be much -- 1 point would do. Maybe this could become 2 points when the characters hit 5th level, then 2 at 10th, etc. The Luck ability would stack, as would a "Lucky" feat that characters could take.

• I hate attacks of opportunity in 3e/4e, but don't mind them so much here. This seems like a good limit, allowing for maneuvering on the battlefield but providing some level of consequences for ignoring enemies. 




Hello Hawaiianwarrior...welcome.  Thanks for the thoughts.

I agree with you that advantage/disadvantage can be used to promote interesting play.  The bonus actually gets smaller toward the extremes (very low DCs and very high DCs).   It is more like a +5 toward middle value DCs.

I'm pretty sure they intend to make it so that we can cherry pick feats if we want rather than starting with a pre-made build.

I've been thinking about in combat healing, and I kind of like that there isn't any other than magic.   Combat is hectic.  Things move fast and 1 round (6 seconds) really isn't enough time to bandage and alleviate any real injury.  One reason why I think they have eliminated "Second Wind" in combat is so that combats don't go on forever.   In D&DNext, if a PC is injured too much, the player has to weigh the situation and possible step out of combat to seek protection.   I like that.   The same my be true for monsters.   This is an option that should be used more often.   In fact, there may be moments where the entire party will need to cut and run.   Again...I like that.   

I also agree about the way OAs work in this game...better than 3e/4e.

Not sure about Hero Points.   It never was really D&D ish.   Also, now that fighters have Combat Superiority, and other PCs have other benefits, I think Action Points would be an unnecessary complication.   These are also really easy to include in a mod/houserule.

Keep playtesting and reporting.

Cheers.

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

Our group is going to meet every other week and has four players. We had a pretty good balance, with a cleric, a rogue, a fighter, and a sorcerer.

We are starting the classic D&D module/mini-campaign, "Night's Dark Terror." One interesting thing I noticed is how easy it is to translate old 1st edition (Basic) stats into workable D&D Next versions. It tends to underpower enemies slightly, but the numbers are pretty close.

Anyway, the party began in Kelven and journeyed upriver toward Sukiskyn, fought 16 (!) Iron Ring Reavers at a river ambush, then made it to the besieged homestead, where they fought 18 goblins (almost all at once) before getting through the gate to safety.

Some observations:

• The advantage/disadvantage (A/D) mechanic is great, allowing the DM to encourage more creative thinking by dangling a reasonable reward. I read elsewhere (a link through Reddit) that the bonus one gets through advantage grows greater as the DC gets higher, and the opposite holds true for disadvantage. At first I didn't like this disparity, but now I like it because it isn't a flat and predictable rate.

• I'm REALLY hoping that, for the future "official" D&D Next, feats won't be something predetermined and built into a character build option. I don't mind if there's a package people can select where the decisions have been made, because some people aren't really into fiddling with their character that much, but for the rest of us it would be great to be able to select feats as they come.

• Though I never liked 4E, I could see the value in letting characters "self-heal," at least a little bit, during combat. I would suggest turning Hit Dice into something that can be used spontaneously as an action during combat without need of a healer's kit. The healer's kit, then, could mechanically be sort of like a cheap healing potion with 10 doses, but can only be used during a short rest. Potions and healing spells still work as they always have, of course. This would let Clerics do more than just run around a battlefield trying to triage characters, and let them do other stuff; It kind of sucks when one's main benefit to the party is being a heal-bot. 

• It would be great if every character had Hero Points, which they could use whenever they want to get a free reroll. It would be like gaining advantage (or cancelling disadvantage!) at a moment of one's choosing. It wouldn't have to be much -- 1 point would do. Maybe this could become 2 points when the characters hit 5th level, then 2 at 10th, etc. The Luck ability would stack, as would a "Lucky" feat that characters could take.

• I hate attacks of opportunity in 3e/4e, but don't mind them so much here. This seems like a good limit, allowing for maneuvering on the battlefield but providing some level of consequences for ignoring enemies. 


Some nice observations. Couple of comments.

Bullet 2: I really don't see what you are getting at here. There are plenty of feats that you can choose. Are you talking about the class features such as Dragon Blood or Domains?

Bullet 3: At first I disagreed with this statement. But as I have now run a few playtests, I am inclined to agree. I think fixing the need for healing would do well to let the other classes have a little healing themselves, and lower the healing on the cleric. Therefore you don't HAVE to have a cleric and the cleric doesn't HAVE to heal all the time. Win-Win.

My two copper. 
My two copper.
Did I misunderstand? I thought feats were pre-selected as part of one's Specialty? Thus, if you choose "Archer," you will receive the feat Rapid Shot at 1st level and Sniper at 3rd. I didn't see any choice there, other than choosing the Specialty upon character creation, then riding the track as it comes...

If I have it right, then what I'd like to see is specialty tracks with pre-selected feats available for those people who don't really care and are willing to pick a package, but "blank" specialties and a long(ish) list of feats for those who would like to pick and choose.
 

• The advantage/disadvantage (A/D) mechanic is great, allowing the DM to encourage more creative thinking by dangling a reasonable reward. I read elsewhere (a link through Reddit) that the bonus one gets through advantage grows greater as the DC gets higher, and the opposite holds true for disadvantage. At first I didn't like this disparity, but now I like it because it isn't a flat and predictable rate.

• I'm REALLY hoping that, for the future "official" D&D Next, feats won't be something predetermined and built into a character build option. I don't mind if there's a package people can select where the decisions have been made, because some people aren't really into fiddling with their character that much, but for the rest of us it would be great to be able to select feats as they come.

• Though I never liked 4E, I could see the value in letting characters "self-heal," at least a little bit, during combat. I would suggest turning Hit Dice into something that can be used spontaneously as an action during combat without need of a healer's kit. The healer's kit, then, could mechanically be sort of like a cheap healing potion with 10 doses, but can only be used during a short rest. Potions and healing spells still work as they always have, of course. This would let Clerics do more than just run around a battlefield trying to triage characters, and let them do other stuff; It kind of sucks when one's main benefit to the party is being a heal-bot. 

• It would be great if every character had Hero Points, which they could use whenever they want to get a free reroll. It would be like gaining advantage (or cancelling disadvantage!) at a moment of one's choosing. It wouldn't have to be much -- 1 point would do. Maybe this could become 2 points when the characters hit 5th level, then 2 at 10th, etc. The Luck ability would stack, as would a "Lucky" feat that characters could take.

• I hate attacks of opportunity in 3e/4e, but don't mind them so much here. This seems like a good limit, allowing for maneuvering on the battlefield but providing some level of consequences for ignoring enemies. 




Hello Hawaiianwarrior...welcome.  Thanks for the thoughts.

I agree with you that advantage/disadvantage can be used to promote interesting play.  The bonus actually gets smaller toward the extremes (very low DCs and very high DCs).   It is more like a +5 toward middle value DCs.

I'm pretty sure they intend to make it so that we can cherry pick feats if we want rather than starting with a pre-made build.

I've been thinking about in combat healing, and I kind of like that there isn't any other than magic.   Combat is hectic.  Things move fast and 1 round (6 seconds) really isn't enough time to bandage and alleviate any real injury.  One reason why I think they have eliminated "Second Wind" in combat is so that combats don't go on forever.   In D&DNext, if a PC is injured too much, the player has to weigh the situation and possible step out of combat to seek protection.   I like that.   The same my be true for monsters.   This is an option that should be used more often.   In fact, there may be moments where the entire party will need to cut and run.   Again...I like that.   

I also agree about the way OAs work in this game...better than 3e/4e.

Not sure about Hero Points.   It never was really D&D ish.   Also, not that fighters have Combat Superiority, and other PCs have other benefits, I think Action Points would be an unnecessary complication.   These are also really easy to include in a mod/houserule.

Keep playtesting and reporting.

Cheers.               

You're right, I remembered the article wrong. 

Here's the article I was talking about:

onlinedungeonmaster.com/2012/05/24/advan...
Did I misunderstand? I thought feats were pre-selected as part of one's Specialty? Thus, if you choose "Archer," you will receive the feat Rapid Shot at 1st level and Sniper at 3rd. I didn't see any choice there, other than choosing the Specialty upon character creation, then riding the track as it comes...

If I have it right, then what I'd like to see is specialty tracks with pre-selected feats available for those people who don't really care and are willing to pick a package, but "blank" specialties and a long(ish) list of feats for those who would like to pick and choose.
 


Well, in the current playtest no you cannot choose. But it has been said many times since themes/specialties were annouced that they were to be an option. If players wanted to cherry pick they could.
My two copper.
It is a stated goal that the Specialties will be 'feat packages' but simply choosing feats as you level up is also a valid method of advancing a character.  I don't remember if the playtest packet mentions this specifically, but I'm already allowing my players to choose feats from wherever as long as they have the prerequisites.  So far only one player has opted to do this, the rest enjoy the simplicity of choosing a specialty and getting what it suggests at particular levels.
As a number of people have stated, allow players to cherry pick feats is likely going to be an option that many people use. Personally, I think it will be an optional ruleset presented in the core rules, but I doubt even the devs know that for sure at this point.

Personally, I'm not going to allow my players to do that. I'm lucky, my group isn't too into min/maxing. I know which of my players will look for the most efficient specilization, but most will pick them for flavor reasons. I really like the flavor and character development that is encouraged by the package system. 
I too hated the self heal rules in 4E.  I think I would use the gritty combat system in a longer D&D Next campaign.
I too hated the self heal rules in 4E.  I think I would use the gritty combat system in a longer D&D Next campaign.

I also would like to see some kind of mechanic for actual wounds. Something abstract, a bit like how hit points are described, but not as elastic and easy to heal. The rule should be simple and open to interpretation. Here's what I came up with:

When a character is reduced to 0 hit points or below, they have taken an injury. Injuries are represented by a -1 penalty to attacks, skill attempts, saving throws, etc. -- anything that calls for a d20 roll. These penalties are cumulative until healed. They can be healed magically alongside hit points, where a cure light wounds removes 1 injury point, cure moderate removes 2, etc. They can also be healed over time. One full day of rest removes 1 injury point, or 2 points if the recovery is done in a comfortable place with access to medicine and clean water.

This variant makes for a more gritty combat, because injuries -- while not too common -- can have a noticeable impact on one's performance. Hit points, which measure temporary wounds as well as endurance and energy, come and go but the actual injuries remain until healed. 
I too hated the self heal rules in 4E.  I think I would use the gritty combat system in a longer D&D Next campaign.


The issue isn't as much player survivability, as much as it is the need to have a cleric in all parties. But then again, maybe I'm just a mean DM
My two copper.
Great input, Hawaiian.

Feats: They certainly will need to make this an optional rule to select freely.  I like the fixed nature, it's great for balance and RP, but I understand the need some have for variability and customization beyond what's given.  I just know that open feats in every previous version has lead to some char-op synergistic nightmares.

Self-Heal: Personally, I prefer using items.  Potions, Herbs, Alchemical products, etc.  I've had groups without any "Healer" that will find easier access to things like Althelas Leaves (heal 1d6, but must be kept sealed/fresh - so takes an action to open/ingest), Balm of the  Sylvan Moon (heal 1d8, touch), Potions of Healing (granted by the lord asking for help, etc), and so forth.

I just tie it into the RP of the world and let the group decide how to use their limited resources.  Once you give out Second Wind or other forms of immediate self healing, you can't put that cat back into the bag.

Wish I could agree with you on Hero Points, but I can't.  Halflings get Lucky... and it should be theirs.  Someone out there is looking out for the little guys.  Everyone else is at the mercy of unyielding fate.  I perfer it that way.  Too much of that, too easily, and instead of feeling empowered by hard fought victories, players come away with just a bit of a hollow feeling... as if they cheated to "win."

I wholeheartedly agree with you on A/D, OA, and the rest

@Jenks: I knew to fear you the first moment I saw Rainbow Dash as your representation.  Surprised

@Jenks: I knew to fear you the first moment I saw Rainbow Dash as your representation. 


My players always taunt me about being too dangerous a DM I can't help it if I like my games to feel this way. Fearing for their life really helps people think in character lol.

Also, your note about items was something of epiphany. I've honestly haven't thought about that before, with Next anyway. The possibility of making healing items easier to obtain would definately help out the healing issues. 
My two copper.
Since Wizards specifically mentions that hit points are an abstraction, a combination of energy, luck, and actual physical injuries, it would be really easy to come up with some cheap "healing" items that aren't a full on magic potion. A little tin with crushed leaves that one snuffs for "rejuvenation," for example, or a luck charm that can be rubbed once a day, etc.
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