This new packet seem to have slid backwards a little

So my group has been spending a lot of time with the NEXT playtest stuff and for the most part I've really liked the direction the new edition has been heading. However, the new packet seems like its taken a step backwards as far as bringing D&D back to its roots for characters.

I'll give you an example of what I mean by using my recent character that I have been playing. Using the previous rules I created a Wood Elf, Sharpshooter with the background Thief and the Specialty Magic User. The character concept was of someone who had been orphaned as a child and grew up on the streets so he turned to minor theft to survive. The Magic User specialty allowed him to tap into his elven heritage for minor magics that helped him steal. I chose mage hand because it would allow him to levitate objects out of windows and ghost sound would help me distract people for sneaking past or any number of things. He specialized in ranged combat because it could often be used to hunt in the wilderness if food became scarce in town. The Class felt very much like the old Fighter/Mage/Thief of times past. It was organic and it felt useful in many ways. For Example, in the underdark adventure I often used my sneaking abilities to scout ahead of the party and use my ghost sound to relay information back to the party by whipering it into a party members ear. Then if trouble surfaced I would often gain a nice advantage shot during the first round from stealth. I felt useful and really enjoyed the character without it feeling over or underpowered. Now enter the new rules set.

The same character now feels completely bland. The Guild Thief background now ties me by name to some unknown theives guild unecessarily. On the same note for some reason we've decided to step backwards skill wise as well and suddenly split perception into 3 skills again, making anyone who wants to feel perceptive have to waste all of their valuable skill specialties by dumping them into 3 seperate skills. The final straw that destroyed my great concept was the new Arcane Magic Specialist allows you to cast light, detect magic, or mage hand once per day making it nearly useless for a character option. Arcane casters would never take it since they can already use it, and non Arcane casters would never wast their valuable feats on something so completely useless with the other benefits available.

This is just one example, another equally bad example is how it feels like magic users are stepping back into 4th edition with the new every 5 minute spell (read encounter) while being restricted to 2 spell slots per day for everything else. Also the Rogue scheme Thief gets disable device but instead of the search skill he gets listen instead. Seems rather counter intuitive to be able to disable traps but not find them. I understand you could always take a background to help but it just seems like you shouldn't have too.

PS: There needs to be a flanking rule already.

The new playtest packet took a great and fairly balanced character concept and made it next to useless.

I know what you mean!  Reading through this I found so much disappointing.  New Backgrounds can be lumped into a "you get free room and board" group, Specialties seem to have lost flavor with broader specialties and more generic feats (no more necromancer, BOO   ), and the loss of Sorcerer and Warlock!

 I know they were overpowered, but to me they represented the height of what Next was offering.  A combination of "game-y" rules/skill goodness with directed roleplay that is actually woven into characters abilities.  Next seemed to have a much better way of encouraging us to roleplay (better than just "we encourage you to roleplay" written somewhere in the PHB).

 I guess my problem was I liked the "Cloudy" feeling before the update.  I.E. Greece didn’t have a very specific description.  I felt it could do whatever I could think for it to do.  My character could be anything I could think (and if I couldn’t there were good starting places in the backgrounds and specialties) and their background and story had direct effect on their "game" abilities.  


I loved all of it.  But, as you said with the thread title, "This new packet seems to have slid backwards a little". 

So a couple of days ago I got into an online game of Next, using the pregens to test things out.  I drew the Human Fighter.  When we opened in the Caves of Chaos, I was double-shooting kobolds like a machine gun, the half-damage I was outpiting was still enough to take out the kobolds.  Then once we actually got into the Caves, the new playtest hit and we decided to switch.

Suddenly Rapid Shot was gone, and in it's place?  Flippin' USE ROPE.

Hoo boy.
Yeah, I can understand the necromancer dissapointment. I'll give you an example of another character concept I put together. Warlock, Thug, Necromancer. So the Idea was that the character was everyone's living nightmare. He obviously trafficed in dark magic and everyone was terrified of him. He bullied nearly anyone that stepped in his way and if they pushed back they often dissapeared. If someone challenged him directly he'd often kill them using the necromancer ability to suck out their soul as a glowing orb of light to intimidate anyone who saw it into being quiet or they would be next. He would then create a zombie of the corpse and ransom the soul back to their families for money or favors (obviously he didn't have the real soul but they didn't know that). Yes I know this character was very disturbing but the sheer organic feel of the character was awesome. I often try to test villanous characters as much as I test the hero type to see what level of storytelling the rules will allow. We learn as much from understanding our darkest nightmares as we do from our wildest dreams. Now all of that is completely gone. No Necro, No Warlock, no nothing, Sad day

So now the new packet has destroyed two of my characters that felt completely awesome
I had the same problem with my Elf Wizard. Our experience was that the rogue was a little overpowered - it seemed to be able to hide and get advantage or sneak attack every combat, and was dealing far more damage than the fighter or the wizard. Yet the wizard got toned down for some reason.
Proposed new thread title: This new packet seem to have slid backwards into a galaxy, far, far away.

So, I've got a table full of players brand new to D&D. 

I mean BRAND NEW. The 'never played before, but always wanted to' types. Personally, I've been playing and DMing since 3E. For their first experience, I used the playtest packet from 10/08. We played with those rules for 2 weeks, and-- barring the occasional, expected speed bump or disagreement-- everyone has unanimously expressed they had a blast. 

For last night's game, I transitioned everything over to the new playtest packet. Since my players are so new, I was able to make the switches 'behind the scenes' so to speak-- during the week before we played. I simply told them that I was 'cleaning up their character sheets' and 'refining them'. They were all for it, and I handed out the new character sheets before we played.

So how did it go? 

Well, last night's game had a totally different vibe. There were a lot of questions that started with "Why can't I..." and I didn't have a lot of good answers. We still had fun playing, but it just felt different. So, as I'm packing up, the newest player (he started at week 2) says to me: "Hey, can we please switch back to the old character sheets? Tonight didn't seem as... well, no offense, but... it didn't seem as fun. I don't think it's your fault. If we just switch back, I think we'll be good. Would that be cool?" The other players who heard him agreed and asked if I still had their old sheets.

The bottom line? Players who were brand new to the game--no edition preference, or house rule requests-- had more fun with the last playest than with the new one.

I know this isn't specific feedback, but I think it's important feedback. Hopefully it'll help!

Either way, D&D fof Life!  Smile

(In fact, I'm going to start a new thread about this.) Wink

An new thread about this would be awesome, it shows how even without bias there is an underlying blandness that has spoiled this new packet. I tried to hit upon this in another thread though I had to stop because I would have written a novel, at some point I may write out all of it in a thread for anyone who wants to be pointed to direct evidence of problems. Anyway I'll paste it here to show what I believe is one of the main sticky issues.

I believe I have identified the problem with this iteration of the rules. 

One problem is the change from making very little assumptions to making everything super specific. The first example I ran into was the Thief background. Now this was merely because I was playing a character with this background so it was what I noticed first. The old Thief background just implied that you were trained to pick locks or disable traps and steal things. It doesn't make any assumptions for the player. You could be a guild thief trained by other thieves, you could be an orphan growing up on the mean streets with no other recourse, or you could be trained as an adventurer to combat the specific dangers that adventurers often face. In distinct contrast is the new background called Guild Thief. Already this background makes several assumptions for the player; you are in a guild with other thieves, you are a criminal, you must have lived in a moderately large town, etc... This in my opinion is just bad writing for a role playing game. The purpose of this game is to create a framework for characters to be built upon, not to design the entire building and let the players live there.

Another problem is with the blanding of many of the elements. Again I will use the backgrounds to make my point. In the previous rules most backgrounds had fairly unique abilities, but now half of them just allow you to find food and lodgings in a set of specific circumstances that will most likely never happen unless your DM writes them into the story specifically. An example of this is the Commoner. It used to give you a patch of land from which you plied your trade and a helper that could do so should you be absent. This made the character feel like he was tied to the campaign, like he owned a part of it. Now its been completely genericized with half the other backgrounds into you can find food and shelter in this specific set of circumstances.

I could keep going but I'm going to boil it down with an analogy. It's as if the older iterations of the rules were coming together to make a nice soup out of some interesting and flavorful ingrediants. Now they have simply thrown in some salt and pepper and are still trying to pass it off as soup.
I don't dislike that knowing thieve's cant ties you to an organization, but otherwise I agree. Specialties were really shafted in 102912, it seems like every change is for the worse.

And spell casting was better and simpler with the way cantrips/orisons previously worked. I don't really dislike the signature spell option as a concept, but it would have been better if they'd just called a spade a spade and said "use it once per encounter" instead of complicating things needlessly by trying to trick 3.x grognards with a cursory vancian magic integration. Nobody's going to be fooled by that, and it's less elegant for the people who would normally prefer it.
+1 to blandness   Was going to type fare more but I out of time.  I agree totally with the above!