Second Playtest with Third Packet – Adventure “Reclaiming Blingdenstone”
Group Background: Experienced master and players
We played nearly every editions of D&D from basic to 4th edition, and liked them all, but we always felt a sense of progression (evolution of game), so we like much more the last edition than every earlier and we could never go back.
I never felt any need to defend my edition, not I can understand an “edition war”, we don’t need any support or appreciation to play our game (we have already most manuals, we use our own setting and we create our own adventures), so we’ll pass to D&D Next only if it will be a progress compared to the earlier editions.
- First Session Playtest
Player 1) human/wizard/academic/jester
Player 2) high elf/cleric/warbringer/knight
Player 3) human/fighter /bounty hunter
- Quests: They talked to the gnomes, killed (easily) some orcs and went to the pechs, negotiated with success, then went to house central, here they defeated some skeletons and zombies (that refused to die with a good scaring effect) and then went directly to the wight.
I left them many opportunities to understand the danger of the adversary and flee or surrender… but they stood their ground and fight to the last… so they were wiped out .
- Second Session Playtest
Before the session I tried to explain to my players that their characters were not supposed to be heroes (as in the last edition), but just very normal peoples that were just beginning to confront with real danger… so maybe they want to be more cautious and withdraw when necessary…
Player 1) Luminoso: mountain dwarf/cleric/lightbringer/priest
Player 2) Sergent Kadonos: human/war – wizard/soldier
Player 3) Berallion II: human/fighter/bounty hunter
This time they talked with every important gnome, then went to the Wormwrithings and, very professionally, killed the kobolds, the blind ogre, took the crystals and closed the tunnels (with the precious help of their guide). After taking the reward the passed to second level.
Then, after listening the singing stones, they began the long quest for Pingtu, recovered the weapons of the drows, and then went to the central hall, avoiding traps and killings zombies and skeletons.
This time the party was much more careful, only the fighter charged the wight, the others stood just around the corner of the exit and killed the skeletons and the zombies one at a time. Unfortunately the wight was still to strong and lucky for the fighter that, let by himself in the room, was easily killed.
The cleric and the mage, after destroying the monsters attacked the wight and, with only few hits killed him and took the crown and his blade.
- During the whole adventure the players were very negatives, they mercilessly criticized the rules, complaining about the absence of real choices, the dullness of fightings and so on, nevertheless I coaxed them to give an opinion of good and bad points this packet:
Good: advantage/disadvantage rule (much better than summing a potentially endless list of + X and – Y); speed of encounters due to reduction of hit points of monsters.
Bad (after eliminating the most caustic comments): absence of real choices in combat; no strategic or tactical rules; specialties without meaning of flavor (just some bonus, very dull, flavorless); spell and maneuvers too flat (it was just too easy to chose the best action and often the fell not to have a real choice at all).
Some details on players complaints:
- few occasions of opportunity attack: they actually complained that the monsters were very stupid not to react to some obvious actions (as using ranged attacks in melee or moving around the monsters but without moving beyond the creature reach), they felt this was too unrealistic and reduced too much their options (the cleric used always lance of faith, it was just better than using a melee weapon);
- few movements or positions created advantage or disadvantage, so they could just no move at all;
- the whole system felt too raw, like a D&D for children (actually I explained many times that we were playtesting the core rules, and that complexity will come later, but they were just not interested…
- cleric: player 2) felt completely useless, the high elf as race was too disadvantaged as cleric; player 1) built his cleric carefully and was very efficient, but he was dying of boredom, at a point he felt that he was just rolling dices without making any choice;
- wizard: player 1) and 2) felt that it was the best developed class, with much more choice every rounds, but player 1) complained about the dullness of spells and he didn’t appreciate at all not to have any encounter spell;
- fighter: the maneuvers were useful, but without deepness, it was too easy, and so it was too boring, choose the right action, the melee fight felt too random;
- the adventure was appreciated, but they wanted to play it with a more complex system.
- It’s true that, at this point, fights have nearly no meaning, but I expect to see early these “layers of complexity” that were promised ;
- my players are just too used to have a complex system, they are not disposed to accept a compromise, so it would be very difficult to carry on playtesting until we have a module for expert players or something of this kind;
- speed of combat is a good point, but it cannot go to the dretriment of strategic choices.
- I felt that the rule for maneuvers for martial classes is a good idea, but must be developed to a more complex system.
- The magic system of at will spell/signature spell/daily spells, if it is strictly better that a pure vancian horror, inevitably leads to compare this underdeveloped system to the complexity of the last edition, with obvious conclusions, I think it would be better to try a completely new system than setting for a bad compromise.