10 comments on 8/17 D&D Next playtest

Hello all! I have a few comments on this current iteration (I limited myself to 10).  As a GM with 21 years of GMing experience, so far, I’ve GMed about 8 hours of the 8/17 D&D Next Playtest for a group of 5-6 players.  I started the PCs off at level 3 and provided them 3000 gp worth of equipment, including magic items from the 3.5e system, though I didn’t allow items that gave bonuses to skills.  The magic items functioned like they would in 3.5e.  I composed a custom adventure based off of Act 2 of the Witcher 2 video game, set in the Dwarven town of Vergen. 


The characters were:


1)      Human Fighter (Duelist), Noble Background, Jack of All Trades Specialty


2)      Elf Cleric, Commoner (Sailor) Background, Acolyte Specialty


3)      Human Rogue, Thief / Spy Backgrounds, Magic-User Specialty


4)      Human Warlock, Charlatan Background, Healer Specialty


5)      Dwarf Fighter (Slayer), Soldier Background, Survivor Specialty


6)      Halfling Rogue, Thug / Bounty Hunter Backgrounds, Lurker Specialty


 


10 observations:


1)      Character creation is fun and simple.  Backgrounds and Specialties are a great way to flesh out characters because they make composing a character’s pre-story easy. Custom backgrounds should be made available to characters, which contain custom skills, like Commerce, Engineering, Forgery, Gambling, Riding, Rope Use, etc.


2)      Athletics seems to be a critical missing skill from the Skill list.  The ability to climb or jump should not simply be based on a character’s Strength or Dexterity modifier.  There’s a reason why gymnasts train to do what they do, even though they may not necessarily be stronger or faster than any other athlete.


3)      The Spot skill should be changed to Perception.  Listening with Spot doesn’t sound right (sorry for the pun).


4)      Humans are very enticing to players because of the bonuses they receive.  This is a great thing in my opinion because it makes humans take the dominant role they usually have in RPGs by being the most common and adaptable race.  Sub-races of humans should be considered, which could be classified by the region the human grew up in (i.e Desert, Plains, Mountains, Rivers, Cold, etc.), and provide a minor bonus for coming from that region.


5)      Monsters were VERY WEAK.  They didn’t hit often and did too little damage.  To fix this, during our second session, I gave each of the monsters a +1 to hit for every two hit dice the monster has and modified their attack and damage bonuses based off of their appropriate attack and damage modifier (i.e. Str or Dex).  If the monster had a magic item, it modified the appropriate statistic.  This all worked out perfectly.  Monster hit points were fine. 


6)      Monster experience point values seemed about 25-33% too high, making monster encounters have less monsters than they should because the PCs often outnumbered them, and I feel that it should be the other way around in order to create challenging combats.


7)      Solo and Elite monster classifications make no sense.  For these classifications of monsters, I think a 4th edition approach to their design should be HIGHLY considered, otherwise, they have too few actions compared to the actions that each PC gets.


8)      The rogue class’s Thug Tactics level 1 ability (from the Thug background) seemed too easy a way for such a rogue to get Advantage, or useless in groups without melee characters.  Also, the rogue’s sneak attack damage seems too high (like it was in the first playtest).  It should be 1d6 per two levels (i.e. 2d6 at level 3, 3d6 at level 5, etc.).


9)      The wizard’s magic missile lost its scaling damage, which I feel is iconic to D&D.  This should return to some degree in order to make it on par with scaling monster hit points.  I suggest that the damage becomes 2d4+2 at level 5, 3d4+3 at level 10, and 4d4+4 at level 15.  The Wizard also seems to lack any excitement beyond what it gets at level 1.  Additional Lore skills (similar to the Arcane Knowledge ability) could help mitigate this.


10)   Limiting Skills to a maximum bonus of +7 is a FANTASTIC limiting factor.  It created less emphasis on skill DCs needing to be higher as the PCs increased in level, while at the same time providing a real sense of potential failure.  I personally think that +7 plus the ability score is too great a bonus.


Bonus:


For those who may be looking for more monsters to use, I created some custom monsters too for the adventure and included their stats below:


Carrion Crawler: Large Beast; Armor Class 14; Hit Points: 33 (6d10); Speed: 30 ft, climb 30 ft; Senses: Darkvision 60 ft; Str: 20 (+5), Dex 14 (+2), Con 11 (+0), Int 3 (-4), Wis 8 (-1), Cha 6 (-2); Alignment: Unaligned; Languages: -; Actions: Melee Attack—Bite: +8 to hit (reach 5 ft.; one creature). Hit: 1d4+5 piercing damage and the target makes a DC 11 Constitution saving throw against poison. Failed Save: The target takes a 5-foot penalty to speed and a -1 penalty to AC and Dexterity saving throws for 1d6 hours. Multiple bites have cumulative effects, but the duration remains unchanged.  Melee Attack—Tentacle: +7 to hit (reach 5 ft.; up to 1d8 creatures within reach). Hit: The target makes a DC 11 Constitution saving thrown against poison.  Failed Save: The target is Paralyzed for 2d6 rounds.


Rust Monster: Large Aberration; Armor Class 15; Hit Points: 45 (6d10+12); Speed: 40 ft, climb 10 ft; Senses: Darkvision 60 ft; Str: 16 (+3), Dex 17 (+3), Con 14 (+2), Int 2 (-5), Wis 13 (+1), Cha 8 (-1); Alignment: Unaligned; Languages: -; Actions: Melee Attack—Bite: +6 to hit (reach 5 ft.; one creature). Hit: 1d6+3 piercing. Melee Attack—Antennae: +6 to hit vs. AC without Armor or Shield bonus (reach 10 ft.; one creature with a metal item). Hit: The target’s non-magical metal item is broken (if it is a weapon, it suffers a -1 penalty to hit and damage; if it is a suit of armor or a shield, it suffers a -1 penalty to AC, which make non-magical shields useless).  A second hit destroys the item completely.  If the item is magical, the target makes a DC 12 Constitution saving throw.  Failed Save: The item is broken. A second failed save destroys the item completely.


Harpy: Medium Humanoid; Armor Class 14 (Leather armor); Hit Points: 31 (7d8); Speed: 30 ft, fly 30 ft; Senses: Darkvision 60 ft; Str: 12 (+1), Dex 16 (+3), Con 10 (+0), Int 7 (-2), Wis 12 (+1), Cha 14 (+2); Alignment: Chaotic-Evil; Languages: Common; Actions: Melee Attack—Talon: +4 to hit (reach 5 ft.; one creature). Hit: 1d6+1 slashing damage.  Ranged Attack—Shortbow: +6 to hit (ranged 80 ft./320 ft.; one creature). Hit: 1d6+3 piercing damage. Mob Tactics +1: The harpy chooses a creature within its reach.  Until the start of the harpy’s next turn, friendly creatures that also have this trait gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls and damage rolls against the target while it is within the harpy’s reach.


Regarding #8: I think the thug feature only gives the sneak damage, not advantage as well. It seems to be the consensus here is that sneak attack damage should definitely be adjusted down.
Brahmin, welcome to the boards.   Good comments.


The monsters are very weak.  I've been adding +2 to their attacks for the past two sessions.  That helps make it feel more like how we want it to play.  Although I haven't changed the hit points of some of the monsters yet, I think the ones that are 3rd level or higher really do need more.   

WotC admittedly hasn't been working too much on monsters yet.   Maybe with playtest package #3 in October, they will have more on the monster front, and then the mook, elite, solo categories will make more sense.

I also like the idea that people want to play Humans again.   Although, I'm not convinced that the bonuses to attributes make up for some of the things they miss out on because they are not Dwarves (Dwarven weapon proficiency, poison immunity, low light vision), or Halflings (lucky, halfing stealth, halfling weapon proficiency),  Elves (Elven weapon proficiency, low-light vision, etc.)

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

 

 

2)      Athletics seems to be a critical missing skill from the Skill list.  The ability to climb or jump should not simply be based on a character’s Strength or Dexterity modifier.  There’s a reason why gymnasts train to do what they do, even though they may not necessarily be stronger or faster than any other athlete.




While agreeing - I disagree.

Athletics is not a 'skill'.  Jumping, climbing and swimming are skills.  Gymnasts train to do what they do - and what they do is not swimming or climbing.  Just as swimmers train to do what they do - but they are not gymnasts.

I would support adding, as 'skills' (and I dislike that term, I think it's too loaded from prior editions) for specific actions formerly bundled under athletics.  Just as I would oppose bundling all of the 'thieving skills' (open locks, remove traps, etc.) into one catch-all skill, I believe that the existing catch-all 'skills' should be broken down into action categories.

Keep in mind - the math of the game presumes that the roll is an ability check - and thus you don't need to be trained in the skill to have a good chance of success.  Skill training would represent a character who is exceptional in a specific action.   And characters would not be (should not be) exceptional in all areas one might consider to be 'athletics' just as they shouldn't be exception in all types of Lore, etc.




5)      Monsters were VERY WEAK.  They didn’t hit often and did too little damage.  To fix this, during our second session, I gave each of the monsters a +1 to hit for every two hit dice the monster has and modified their attack and damage bonuses based off of their appropriate attack and damage modifier (i.e. Str or Dex).  If the monster had a magic item, it modified the appropriate statistic.  This all worked out perfectly.  Monster hit points were fine. 




I agree 100%.  I think that monsters need two major fixes.
First - they need a bonus to hit.   In most cases, this ought to be (based on the current rules, but see below) the +3 (not including ability score bonus) given to combat-heavy classes.  They should be as proficient with their claws or teeth as any fighter (perhaps more so).    This goes a long ways toward fixing them.

Second - their hit points are too low.  They have AD&D hit points (with an added Con Bonus in most cases).  But the characters do 4E damage (fighters do around 14 points of damage on a hit - and they hit the majority of the monsters on an 8 (and hit some on a 2).   Mathematically - a L3 fighter does a bit over three times as much damage per round as a L3 fighter in AD&D; but the creatures have only a small increase in damage over AD&D.  If they don't want to change the fighter's attack numbers, they need to double to treble monster hit points - otherwise we have the laughable situation where an Ogre goes down in two hits - not two rounds - two hits (rogue plus fighter equals dead Ogre).

Finally:  Although above I recommended a +3 for monsters, that assumes no changes to the PCs attacks.  A prefereable approach would be to take the unnecessary and harmful to game mechanics +2 bonus given to each and every PC.  This would give both fighters and monsters a +1 bonus to their attacks.


6)      Monster experience point values seemed about 25-33% too high, making monster encounters have less monsters than they should because the PCs often outnumbered them, and I feel that it should be the other way around in order to create challenging combats.


Experience values are, in my opinion,  illogical and there is no strong correlation between level, hit points or challenge so I recommend ignoring them until they stablize into a useful form.  Level your party when it makes sense to you.


8)      The rogue class’s Thug Tactics level 1 ability (from the Thug background) seemed too easy a way for such a rogue to get Advantage, or useless in groups without melee characters.  Also, the rogue’s sneak attack damage seems too high (like it was in the first playtest).  It should be 1d6 per two levels (i.e. 2d6 at level 3, 3d6 at level 5, etc.).





Thug is clearly, in my opinion, badly broken and needs to be fixed.  It makes the thug rogue grossly more powerful than every other class - especially since it doesn't even require the thug to enter melee.  As written, it applies equally well to ranged attacks.


Sneak attack damage is also extremely high - probably too high.  In the case of the thief scheme, it at least makes some sense since they are generally forced to alternate rounds between hiding and attacking.  But for the thug - who can get sneak attack every round - it  is too much.


9)      The wizard’s magic missile lost its scaling damage, which I feel is iconic to D&D.  This should return to some degree in order to make it on par with scaling monster hit points.  I suggest that the damage becomes 2d4+2 at level 5, 3d4+3 at level 10, and 4d4+4 at level 15.  The Wizard also seems to lack any excitement beyond what it gets at level 1.  Additional Lore skills (similar to the Arcane Knowledge ability) could help mitigate this.


I agree.  I'm not sure why they took away its scaling damage from the last packet.  Personally, I was in favor of increasing iits damage, not decreasing it (I thought it should have gotten IntMod bonus total not +1 per die).
I suspect some of those who are offended by Wizards having a useful at-will complained.  That said - the autohit feature is roughy equivalent to doubling its effective damage - so it's a bit better than the low die roll indicates.  But it's still far weaker than a typical bow shot (the fighter's ranged at-will).


Carrion Crawler: Large Beast; Armor Class 14; Hit Points: 33 (6d10); Speed: 30 ft, climb 30 ft; Senses: Darkvision 60 ft; Str: 20 (+5), Dex 14 (+2), Con 11 (+0), Int 3 (-4), Wis 8 (-1), Cha 6 (-2); Alignment: Unaligned; Languages: -; Actions: Melee Attack—Bite: +8 to hit (reach 5 ft.; one creature). Hit: 1d4+5 piercing damage and the target makes a DC 11 Constitution saving throw against poison. Failed Save: The target takes a 5-foot penalty to speed and a -1 penalty to AC and Dexterity saving throws for 1d6 hours. Multiple bites have cumulative effects, but the duration remains unchanged.  Melee Attack—Tentacle: +7 to hit (reach 5 ft.; up to 1d8 creatures within reach). Hit: The target makes a DC 11 Constitution saving thrown against poison.  Failed Save: The target is Paralyzed for 2d6 rounds.


I do need one of these.  I'll look at what you did later and decide if I like it or not.  I tend to go back to the roots of these monsters (converted AD&D versions) but we'll see.

Rust Monster: Large Aberration; Armor Class 15; Hit Points: 45 (6d10+12); Speed: 40 ft, climb 10 ft; Senses: Darkvision 60 ft; Str: 16 (+3), Dex 17 (+3), Con 14 (+2), Int 2 (-5), Wis 13 (+1), Cha 8 (-1); Alignment: Unaligned; Languages: -; Actions: Melee Attack—Bite: +6 to hit (reach 5 ft.; one creature). Hit: 1d6+3 piercing. Melee Attack—Antennae: +6 to hit vs. AC without Armor or Shield bonus (reach 10 ft.; one creature with a metal item). Hit: The target’s non-magical metal item is broken (if it is a weapon, it suffers a -1 penalty to hit and damage; if it is a suit of armor or a shield, it suffers a -1 penalty to AC, which make non-magical shields useless).  A second hit destroys the item completely.  If the item is magical, the target makes a DC 12 Constitution saving throw.  Failed Save: The item is broken. A second failed save destroys the item completely.


My greatest problem is that the item is making a constitution save.  Items don't have Con, and there isn't much rationale for the character's abilities affecting the items saves.  Earlier editions got around this by just creating a table for items - the save was based on the material it was made of.  I think that is the way they should go.  At the very least, just define a DC and be done with it; don't cloud the issue by calling it a Con save.

Otherwise, I just reworked the Gray Ooze - I'd probably go with a similar mechanic for this.  It's basic principle was that each attack reduced an armor by 2 points or reduced a weapon by one die size - your sword won't break right away - but it will become less and less useful each time it gets corroded.  As with the grey ooze stat block in the Bestiary - repair costs half value, destroyed cannot be repaired. 


Harpy: Medium Humanoid; Armor Class 14 (Leather armor); Hit Points: 31 (7d8); Speed: 30 ft, fly 30 ft; Senses: Darkvision 60 ft; Str: 12 (+1), Dex 16 (+3), Con 10 (+0), Int 7 (-2), Wis 12 (+1), Cha 14 (+2); Alignment: Chaotic-Evil; Languages: Common; Actions: Melee Attack—Talon: +4 to hit (reach 5 ft.; one creature). Hit: 1d6+1 slashing damage.  Ranged Attack—Shortbow: +6 to hit (ranged 80 ft./320 ft.; one creature). Hit: 1d6+3 piercing damage. Mob Tactics +1: The harpy chooses a creature within its reach.  Until the start of the harpy’s next turn, friendly creatures that also have this trait gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls and damage rolls against the target while it is within the harpy’s reach.



The iconic thing that set the Harpy apart from the other monsters in the old days was its luring charm.  "All harpys are able to emit sweet-sounding calls.  Any creature hearing these calls will proceed towards the harpy unless they save versus magic.  Similarly, the touch of a harpy charms those creatures which fail to make their saving throws versus magic.  The harpies attack, torture, and devour these charmed prey."

If it's not drawing them in and charming them - it's not a harpy in my mind.

Carl


2)      Athletics seems to be a critical missing skill from the Skill list.  The ability to climb or jump should not simply be based on a character’s Strength or Dexterity modifier.  There’s a reason why gymnasts train to do what they do, even though they may not necessarily be stronger or faster than any other athlete.


Athletics and Acrobatics are tricky. Grouping them (like 4e) just overlapped with generic Strength and Dexterity checks. There was no reason not to make an Athletics check. And those skills became very must-have for exploration. 

There's a number of other problems.
Physical characters almost always took them, with Acrobatics being mandatory for rogues and Athletics mandatory for fighters. This quickly lead to the problem of having DCs that either challenged the specialist and were impossible for the rest of the party or DCs that challenged the rest of the party and were automatic for the specialist. 3e and 4e quickly became the game where you maxed out something and then got to sit out and stop playing when those skills came up.
3e and 4e both implied that training also trumped natural talent. Four or five levels in and you were an Olympic athlete despite having an 11 in the related stat. And if you had a 16 you could be shattering World Records with a decent roll before level 8. 

5 Minute WorkdayMy Webcomic Updated Tue & Thur

The compilation of my Worldbuilding blog series is now available: 

Jester David's How-To Guide to Fantasy Worldbuilding.

Wow.  Great input and very well thought replies.  Extremely constructive thread here.

I am with Carl.  Athletics was too broad.  I think just having some open rules on creating Skills to suite a background would be a good place to start.  Want to be a Mountain Climber?  Add what skills that are there (Nature? Survival?) plus add Climb as a STR based skill.  Etc.

It would be simple enough to just give a list of sample skills/actions for each attribute that could be considered appropriate for that stat... if players want to extrapolate it out futher and turn it into one of the 3 chosen skills, great.

Otherwise, great ideas and brainstorming going on here.
Wow.  Great input and very well thought replies.  Extremely constructive thread here.

I am with Carl.  Athletics was too broad.  I think just having some open rules on creating Skills to suite a background would be a good place to start.  Want to be a Mountain Climber?  Add what skills that are there (Nature? Survival?) plus add Climb as a STR based skill.  Etc.

It would be simple enough to just give a list of sample skills/actions for each attribute that could be considered appropriate for that stat... if players want to extrapolate it out futher and turn it into one of the 3 chosen skills, great.

Otherwise, great ideas and brainstorming going on here.


Honestly, the whole getting to make a skills package with backgrounds thing is really fun. Last night me and my GF sat around giving creating skill packages for celebs. Here's a couple of examples.

Bear Grylls
Survival
Natural Lore
Uriniary Lore (Just for the lols)

Lady Gaga
Performance
Fashion Lore
Disguise

Barrack Obama
Diplomacy
Political Lore
Law Lore

Etc, I could go on. It's actually quite fun. Plus the fact that you can custom tailor the skills to whatever makes sense to your character is soooo neat. Like a chef would be able to take cooking, even if it's not a listed skill. I love this system
My two copper.
8)      The rogue class’s Thug Tactics level 1 ability (from the Thug background) seemed too easy a way for such a rogue to get Advantage, or useless in groups without melee characters.  Also, the rogue’s sneak attack damage seems too high (like it was in the first playtest).  It should be 1d6 per two levels (i.e. 2d6 at level 3, 3d6 at level 5, etc.).

I really disagree that the Thug background is overpowered.    If anything, I think it's too weak.  The actual reality of finding yourself in a situation where two allies are next to a creature that is not dead is so rare, it's staggering.

Creatures have so few HP, they're going to be dead more often than not from two people beating on it.  The only time it's really helpful is against "boss" monsters.  I mean, I guess in a certain style of game, that's great, but I've not seen nearly enough "boss" monsters in D&D over the years to make Thug significantly better than (or even equal to) the Thief.



8)      The rogue class’s Thug Tactics level 1 ability (from the Thug background) seemed too easy a way for such a rogue to get Advantage, or useless in groups without melee characters.  Also, the rogue’s sneak attack damage seems too high (like it was in the first playtest).  It should be 1d6 per two levels (i.e. 2d6 at level 3, 3d6 at level 5, etc.).

I really disagree that the Thug background is overpowered.    If anything, I think it's too weak.  The actual reality of finding yourself in a situation where two allies are next to a creature that is not dead is so rare, it's staggering.

Creatures have so few HP, they're going to be dead more often than not from two people beating on it.  The only time it's really helpful is against "boss" monsters.  I mean, I guess in a certain style of game, that's great, but I've not seen nearly enough "boss" monsters in D&D over the years to make Thug significantly better than (or even equal to) the Thief.






What you are saying may be true, but, with a thug and two other combatants, even a creature with 50+ hit points will probably be dead in 1 round (two at tops).  The power of the attack for both thief and thug, may just make combats less challenging.   It is kind of like the "Striker" problem that some people experienced in 4e.   I guess the DM can design encounters to protect the bigger monsters with terrain or minions, or keep them on the move using ranged weapons, but this might be unnecessary work/energy when tweaking the Sneak Attack abilities of Thieves and Thugs might be able to address the issue.    I'd like to try some other options.

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

 

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

 

 

 What you are saying may be true, but, with a thug and two other combatants, even a creature with 50+ hit points will probably be dead in 1 round (two at tops).

Right, but enemies with enough HP to survive hits from two other combatants are so rare.  You're talking about creatures with 50+ hit points, but there's like, two of them in the entire packet.

The vast majority of fights will be against a larger number of enemies most people can one shot. 
 What you are saying may be true, but, with a thug and two other combatants, even a creature with 50+ hit points will probably be dead in 1 round (two at tops).

Right, but enemies with enough HP to survive hits from two other combatants are so rare.  You're talking about creatures with 50+ hit points, but there's like, two of them in the entire packet.

The vast majority of fights will be against a larger number of enemies most people can one shot. 




True - but I have to assume that will change or the game will suck and no one will bother to play it.

Right now - with the current ration of PC damage to monster hit points - the game doesn't work.

Carl
 What you are saying may be true, but, with a thug and two other combatants, even a creature with 50+ hit points will probably be dead in 1 round (two at tops).

Right, but enemies with enough HP to survive hits from two other combatants are so rare.  You're talking about creatures with 50+ hit points, but there's like, two of them in the entire packet.

The vast majority of fights will be against a larger number of enemies most people can one shot. 




True - but I have to assume that will change or the game will suck and no one will bother to play it.

Right now - with the current ration of PC damage to monster hit points - the game doesn't work.

Carl

That's fine, but I'm referring specifically to the power level of the Thug ability, which I think is underpowered, actually.

It might seem underpowered when you think of only one enemy at a time. But as you said yourself, a big part of D&D next is swarms of enemies.

Thug powers
red: enemies, blue: allies with melee 1

Just two allies gives you a pile of enemies to pick of with sneak attacks.

add more allies, let alone more thugs, or even a weapon with reach and you get a huge number of murderable targets.

grab a chessboard and mess around with it for a while if you don't believe me.
Yes, on a chess board, there are lots of possible positions for this to happen in.  But put the PCs and NPCs on opposites of tunnels, rooms, etc. and have them approach each other and see how many things like you set up happen.  In a tunnel, for example, it's far more likely that two enemies will approach, two allies will move up and kill them both, and then nobody will be next to anyone.  In a larger room, there will be too much constant movement really pin anyone down.  

I've seen it in action, and it's really not very powerful in a typical 4-5 PC party given typical scenarios.  Yes, it helped against the big tough things, like Gelatinous Cubes, etc., but mostly, it wasn't helpful.
Yes, on a chess board, there are lots of possible positions for this to happen in.  But put the PCs and NPCs on opposites of tunnels, rooms, etc. and have them approach each other and see how many things like you set up happen.  In a tunnel, for example, it's far more likely that two enemies will approach, two allies will move up and kill them both, and then nobody will be next to anyone.  In a larger room, there will be too much constant movement really pin anyone down.  

I've seen it in action, and it's really not very powerful in a typical 4-5 PC party given typical scenarios.  Yes, it helped against the big tough things, like Gelatinous Cubes, etc., but mostly, it wasn't helpful.



Actually - it happens around 90% of the time, usually within the first couple of rounds and stays true for the remainder of the fight.  Granted I have six or seven players more often than I have four or five.  But if two or three of your four or five are melee it is still easy to set up.  (And if you only have one melee in your four or five, a thug is probably a bad fit for the party.  Unless one is a Necromancer and you allow the skeleton to count as 'friendly to you' (something that my players haven't thought of yet....)


Remember - they don't have to attack the target, they just have to be in reach of it.


So unless your opponents are all ranged attackers, if you have two or more melee combatants it is amost always going to be true. 


If they kill something - they use their move to get close to another creature and if they don't kill it - the thug does.      At most the thug has to occasionally delay till one of them moves closer to a target.  (And if they keep moving away from the melee to avoid the thug's attack, that's just giving his allies free attacks).


Thug is not underpowered.  It is the single most broken, overpowered thing in the packet at present -saved only by the fact that the monster hit points are so low that much of its damage is wasted on overkill.


Carl
I have to agree with thestoryteller.

It might be group size issue as I haven't played with much more than four people, but I've yet to see the thug scheme prove useful outside of large monster fights.

Usually by the time the thug gets to an enemy it's nearly dead from the two other attacks that just hit it. Several of the monsters in next have hilariously low hp.
+1 op

I want to emphasize the monster are too weak

Stay Awhile and Listen!

+1 also for monster weakness.
I had to resolve to... "creative" measures to boost monster survivability without stepping too much outside the playtest packet: I had boss-type monsters "outfitted" with class levels. Rogue was by far my most common choice (very straightforward to implement and play), with fighter being the second most common. I also had a kobold sorcerer...
I just add up all hit dice and hit points (max hit points for 1st class level), factor in the class attack bonus, and add a feat. I didn't bother too much here, a bugbear rogue (thug) got Two-Weapon Fighting, but some 1st-level orc rogues just got Toughness ( :D ).
For those monsters I didn't feel class levels were appropriate (like oozes), I simply decreed that they have feats by virtue of their hit dice (hit dice = character level). Take Toughness for each feat slot, and monster survivability goes up, in some cases dramatically.
After using some of the monsters with class levels, I noticed that while their survivability had improved noticeably, their damage-dealing capability had increased waaaay too much. A 2nd-level bugbear thug ended up attacking at +4 for 2d8+2+3d6 damage when sneak attacking. It also had Two-Weapon Fighting (OK, this was typically a 6th-level character :D ), but only 28 hit points. I ended up giving it 2xToughness (from racial hit dice) and it got 38 hp, which was better, but only marginally...
I wonder how badass a 5th-level Minotaur Fighter would be...
James
+1 also for monster weakness.
I had to resolve to... "creative" measures to boost monster survivability without stepping too much outside the playtest packet: I had boss-type monsters "outfitted" with class levels. Rogue was by far my most common choice (very straightforward to implement and play), with fighter being the second most common. I also had a kobold sorcerer...
I just add up all hit dice and hit points (max hit points for 1st class level), factor in the class attack bonus, and add a feat. I didn't bother too much here, a bugbear rogue (thug) got Two-Weapon Fighting, but some 1st-level orc rogues just got Toughness ( :D ).
For those monsters I didn't feel class levels were appropriate (like oozes), I simply decreed that they have feats by virtue of their hit dice (hit dice = character level). Take Toughness for each feat slot, and monster survivability goes up, in some cases dramatically.
After using some of the monsters with class levels, I noticed that while their survivability had improved noticeably, their damage-dealing capability had increased waaaay too much. A 2nd-level bugbear thug ended up attacking at +4 for 2d8+2+3d6 damage when sneak attacking. It also had Two-Weapon Fighting (OK, this was typically a 6th-level character :D ), but only 28 hit points. I ended up giving it 2xToughness (from racial hit dice) and it got 38 hp, which was better, but only marginally...
I wonder how badass a 5th-level Minotaur Fighter would be...


I'm thinking about doing this for Reclaiming Blingdenstone, and though I haven't totally statted out the monsters yet, it seems like, as you said, they will get a moderate boost in HP but a huge one in damage. For example, I'm thinking about a "sniper" styled Kobold (3rd level Rogue), with Sneak Attack and the Archer feats, and I realized that with 4d6 (really, even 2d6 would be overpowering) Sneak Attack, it could probably one-shot many of the PCs from a distance. A Sorcerer or Wizard would manage the same thing, but with AoE spells like Thunder Wave and Flaming Sphere.
I was excited to hear that the next packet will probably have some PC damage deflation. 
Yes, on a chess board, there are lots of possible positions for this to happen in.  But put the PCs and NPCs on opposites of tunnels, rooms, etc. and have them approach each other and see how many things like you set up happen.  In a tunnel, for example, it's far more likely that two enemies will approach, two allies will move up and kill them both, and then nobody will be next to anyone.  In a larger room, there will be too much constant movement really pin anyone down.  

I've seen it in action, and it's really not very powerful in a typical 4-5 PC party given typical scenarios.  Yes, it helped against the big tough things, like Gelatinous Cubes, etc., but mostly, it wasn't helpful.



Actually - it happens around 90% of the time, usually within the first couple of rounds and stays true for the remainder of the fight.  Granted I have six or seven players more often than I have four or five.  But if two or three of your four or five are melee it is still easy to set up.  (And if you only have one melee in your four or five, a thug is probably a bad fit for the party.  Unless one is a Necromancer and you allow the skeleton to count as 'friendly to you' (something that my players haven't thought of yet....)


Remember - they don't have to attack the target, they just have to be in reach of it.


So unless your opponents are all ranged attackers, if you have two or more melee combatants it is amost always going to be true. 


If they kill something - they use their move to get close to another creature and if they don't kill it - the thug does.      At most the thug has to occasionally delay till one of them moves closer to a target.  (And if they keep moving away from the melee to avoid the thug's attack, that's just giving his allies free attacks).


Thug is not underpowered.  It is the single most broken, overpowered thing in the packet at present -saved only by the fact that the monster hit points are so low that much of its damage is wasted on overkill.


Carl



I think here are a few issues with the rogue class that need be fixed. The hability of thug is not a problem but the big damage is.
At this moment there are 3 forns to do SA: archer, thug, hide-atack sheme. For archer and thug (level+1)d6 damage is too much, but for hide-atack it is ok because it hits one time every 2 rounds.
While the problem of mosters hp was not fixed the big damage is only a overkill, but whem the problem gone rogue need be fixed. The 3.5e aproach for thug and archer sounds ok, but for hide-atack the atual sheme (or at least a sheme a bit more powerfull than 3.5e) could be used.

For me, Actually the use of SA happens around 60-80% of the time for thug/archer and 50% for thielf that hide and atack, regardless of the conditions in which battles are fought.

Talking about the monsters´weakness, and in my experience, in the encounters table in the DM guidelines, where is explained how to build an encounter you only have to expend your XP budget like you had one player more than you really have. It worked perfectly for us and the encounters proved to be exactly how I wanted

I think is a normal mistake, it must be difficult to fit