Playtest experiences and leaving the playtest process

Howdy!

I was going to add this text to another topic I created, but I thought maybe keeping things separated would be best. While I want to make a more detailed text about this subject in a blog or something, I've been having trouble finding time to so, and decided that I should make a more informal and perhaps more focused post here on the forums instead .

These are the things I'll try to focus on - briefly describe my playtest experience, my current situation, and my struggle to keep invested in the playtest.

---

Initial playtest experience

First, some background info. I've been introduced to Dungeons & Dragons almost 13-14 years ago, in AD&D. I briefly played that system, and then went on to play a long running D&D 3 campaign for many years. I migrated to 4e when it launched and have been playing that ever since. I have experience with other RPGs as well, but I don't think I need to extend into that.

I live in Brazil, and currenty, I'm not "home". I'm away from my home city for a while, and so, my two "main RPG groups" where I live have been on hold. I DM 4e campaigns for both these groups.

One of those groups is composed of longtime friends of mine. A group of five people, I have one with extensive experience with 3e, two others with less experience with it, and two whose first D&D was 4e. They all prefer 4th edition D&D. I'll call this the "newbie group", even though this doesn't accurately describe the experience of half of its players.

The other group is composed of veteran D&D players - "grognards", if you will. They all have extensive experiece with 2e and 3e, and some go back to 1e. They all currently play 4e and also have this as their preferred edition. I'll call this the "grognard group".

When the first packet arrived, only the "newbies" group were interested enough in playing it. The "grognards" have little time to play, and they decided Next wasn't interesting enough to warrant game time. After playing for a couple of sessions, they got severely disappointed with the game and did not want to play Next anymore. To them, the game was too "retro" for their tastes.

Shortly after that, I needed to move away from my city because of my studies. My campaigns went "on hold", and so did my playtest experience. I thought I would drop off the playtest, since I could no longer find people to play with.

---

A new group and further playtesting

However, contrary to my expectations, I found a new group to play here in my current location . After I provided some options about what systems I was willing to DM, the group chose to playtest D&D Next.

This group is also composed of five people. One is totally new to RPGs. One has extensive experience with White Wolf's World of Darkness. Two have experience with 3e and a bit of o 4e. One is an avid AD&D enthusiast who thought 3e "so, so" and shunned everything 4e. I'll call this the "foreign group".

After we settled on the system, I began using the second package to again DM the "Caves of Chaos". This group has a more mixed reaction to the system. The "newbie" is having a blast, and so is the White Wolf guy. The two "3e players" are somewhat "lukewarm" about the system itself. The AD&D is constantly upset by anything that differs from AD&D. At-will spells, maneuvers, hit points, everything aggravates his "sense of D&D".

However, despite the issues with the system, this group appears to be having a lot o fun with the game itself. We're usually mocking up design decisions made by the game, but in the end we're at least always laughing . The "demigod like" DC 25 for example effectively became a meme in this group. When any of them roll in the high teens and manage to beat the DC, we're often shouting "DEMIGOD!" with our best capcom videogame narrator voices .

I've recently converted the characters (and the adventure) to the latest package, and unless Wizards release something new, I guess this will be what we will be playing until december, when I go back to my home city.

---

Future playtesting and the DM's experience

Next month, I'll be coming home, to "newbie group" and "grognard group". From what I have gathered, none are interested in playing D&D Next, and the new packets didn't do anything to please them and lure them back.

My main concern is that I won't be able to DM this game anymore. DMing it has been very efficient in letting me better understand its weaknesses and strengths, and its sad that the system has not sparked any interest in my main groups. In fact, I have been thinking about leaving the playtest for a long while now.

As a DM, Next does not appeal to me as well. I've kept DMing it despite my dislike for its design mainly because I think experiencing the game is important to feedback. I've got to say that even though I disagree with mr. Mearls in more that once design stance, his frequent "thank you guys for playtesting this" have managed to help me keep invested in playtesting the game - even though its been such a chore to me, personally. :P

It hasn't been a "fun" process. Of course, I still get to enjoy the creativity of my players and being around friends, but this is in spite of the system, and not because of it. In fact, the most "depressing" moments in the game is when we realise something is not working or is against our "sense of D&D". The math, in general, is a great problem that can be often easily perceived in actual play. And personnaly, many design directions are against what I like in D&D.

Overall, D&D Next has been moving steadly away from what I think is the best Dungeons & Dragons experience. The latest packet improved in some ways over the last one, but got worse in many other areas as well (all in my opinion, of course). Right now, I have little hope of D&D Next ever achieving the playstyle I prefer - though I still have some hope left.

At least, there are many people who are apparently excited by the playtest - a good thing in my view. Even if D&D Next does not become the system I like, its success is vital to the continuation of the Dungeons & Dragons RPG.

I do not know if I'll be able to keep DMing after I go back home, but hopefully, D&D Next will eventually appeal to me and 4th edition players .

Well, time will tell. There are still a couple of weeks of D&D Next before I get back! :D
Are you threatening me master jedi? Dungeons & Dragons 4e Classic - The Dark Edition
I am sad that it has been a chore for you. That's unfortunate. I love the DEMIGOD meme. That is hilarious. I might start stealing it for my group.
But, I can see how it could be a drag to DM for people who aren't interested. Do you have any examples of the system being anti-d&d or anti-fun? Do you pass it on in the surveys?
"What's stupid is when people decide that X is true - even when it is demonstrable untrue or 100% against what we've said - and run around complaining about that. That's just a breakdown of basic human reasoning." -Mike Mearls
Yeah.  It is difficult to please everyone, but I am sure they are doing their best to try.  Next/5E isn't very much like 4E, though there are certainly elements of 4E that have influenced Next that can be seen in this version.

It *is* important to give good feedback, though, in hopes that it might become more what you and yours enjoy.  Saying not fun or not what you like in D&D isn't specific enough so give them best insights and see what happens.  You might shine some light on something they haven't considered or add to the voices that call for changes that they are obviously heeding.

Ironically, as a DM, I find the experience to be quite the opposite.  It's far from a chore for me... if anything, it's almost too easy in comparison to the process I go through running my regular 4E campaigns.  I am curious to hear where you are finding it bogging you down or challenging your ability to narrate or adjudicate the rules.

At any rate, make sure you give a good report on what's bothering you and your players.... It all contributes to the future.
You're both absolutely certain about your hints . I tried to avoid giving specific feedback here because this isn't much about my opinions but more about describing how the process has been like for me and my players .

You can be certain that when I answer the surveys, I create lengthy texts about the points that I find more important. I always keep in mind that my opininions are also just my personal preferences, and not every preference of mine should be heeded in the most "basic version of D&D", which is what we're aiming right now in these initial playtests .

Since you've shown curiosity, I'll oblige with a more elaborate answer to some of your questions. Keep in mind these are personal preferences - and in some cases, not things I would wish to see universally applied to the entirety of the D&D game.

Do you have any examples of the system being anti-d&d or anti-fun? Do you pass it on in the surveys?



I sure pass it on in the surveys . I tend to create lenghty texts in the surveys as well - sometimes, the options provided are not enough to acurately describe my experience or my wishes.

I wouldn't call any of the examples of "bad experience" I had with the sytem "anti-D&D" or "anti-fun" - seems too strong a wording. I would rather state that sometimes, the system is not able to be the Dungeons & Dragons I like, or not fun for me. .

I can highlight some personal experiences with the system who rubbed me the wrong way:

*In the first fight my "newbie group" had rolled badly, while I rolled good. After the fight, they had spent most of their resources, and the cleric was down. Since they had no meaning to "heal" him, they had to wait for him to "wake up" naturally to begin a "Long Rest". In game, they've waited for 17 hours before continuing with the adventure. In D&D 4th, this wouldn't have happened.

*The DCs are too low, and disbelief can easily set in when the 20 Dexterity elf is constantly achieving "demigod-like" skill checks...

*The fights are a too boring to my tastes. Fighters are often using the same maneuvers over and over (and they have few of them to begin with), while low-level spellcasters are often trying to save their spells and resorting to the same tactics over and over. Combats in 4e tend to have more variety of tactical choices.

*Monsters are just as "boring", in may cases. Some are even too overpowered to my tastes. Goblins that can make stealth checks after they move in a system where spotting such goblins takes an entire turn are simply too good. On the other hand, monster attacks are so low that hitting the PCs can be a rare thing. In one recent fight against five orcs, they've mostly spent their turns missing the PCs . As I have said, the math is too wonky, and this makes things bad across the board.

And of course, these are personal experiences with the game - which may not represent other playtesters at all. There are also personal preferences at play. I dislike the comeback of vancian magic, dislike classes not sharing the same "management system", dislike the design idea of balancing the encounters in a "daily" unit rather than in an "encounter" unit, etc, etc.

As I have said, these are my personal preferences. I know many people have entirely opposite view in some of these things . In many ways, I think that my personal preferences should not be contemplated if this makes the game worse for the majority of D&D players out there - the "basic" version of D&D Next should appeal to most of the Dungeons & Dragons playerbase, and if I happen to be in the minority, then so be it - Next must be the best version of D&D if this brand is to survive and thrive.

But such personal preferences are what makes the Next edition so far off the mark the D&D I and most of my players enjoy. I'll be happy if Next is a sucessful edition, but evidently, I won't play it if it is not good enough for me. I hope my feedback can help the game become better, but playing these packages who are so distant from what I think is the best Dungeons & Dragons experience is much more akin to work than fun for me .

Ironically, as a DM, I find the experience to be quite the opposite.  It's far from a chore for me... if anything, it's almost too easy in comparison to the process I go through running my regular 4E campaigns.  I am curious to hear where you are finding it bogging you down or challenging your ability to narrate or adjudicate the rules.



Hey, more power to you! ^^ I'm glad you're enjoying the experience .

As I said to YouKnowTheOneGuy, many of my experiences are perceived as negative because of my preferences. Some like a more "chaotic" take in combat. I don't. Some like vancian magic. I don't. Some like simple fighters. I don't. And so on... Overall then, its pretty easy to see why I do not like the experiences provided by Next so far .

I would also say that the game is not exactly hard to DM - in many aspects, its is probably as easy as 4th (or even easier). But to my mind, it simply does not work in the way I like D&D to work .

For example, battle tend to see very tactically "bland". Fighters have a couple of maneuvers, and keep using them round after round. Spellcasters save their spells, and keep using the same at-will spells or attacks over and over in most combats... Monsters are run mostly in the same way, and there's little variety in each given "species". That's different from the D&D combat I like, with many possible tactical options.

While I have been using the Caves of Chaos modules, the "difficulty guidelines" suggested don't seem to work as well... Recently, my players mowed through a pack of hobgoblins. I didn't give much thought to the encounter's suggested difficulty, but was curious enought that I decided to check later what "difficulty" value the system would suggest for that particular encounter with 12 hobgoblins. After reading the guidelines, the number of creatures involved would suggest a "tough" encounter - but the encounter in fact was pretty easy and straightforward :P.

These mathematical problems appear in many other areas as well: DCs are too low for the heroic PCs. The HP too low in the first level. Etc, etc.

To top it off, my battles in D&D Next have not been significantly faster than in 4th :P. This may be a consequence of the Caves of Chaos module, where the PCs can often face a high number of creatures as the dungeon is designed to "move in" on the PCs, but even some of the more even battles (with five creatures) sometimes become a festival of misses and near kills. Overall, my battles have been taking nearly as much time as my 4th edition battles (around 45, 50 minutes to one hour), but have been portraying a much lesser variety of tactical options :P.

So, as a DM, my experience has not been so great. While the ability to adjucate and narrate the game is not necessarily impaired (though I did find some difficulty in adjucating DCs on the fly in D&D Next), many of its design choices or mathematical problems interfere with my ability to enjoy the game itself.

Again, this is merely me. I'm sure a lot of people are having a blast . In fact, I do find some degree of fun DMing the game, otherwise, I wouldn't be capable of DMing it. However, as I said, whatever degree of fun I manage to find is not derived from the system itself, and more often, can be actually in spite of it. For example, the aforementioned "DEMIGOD" meme is a result of bad math in the DCs, but has been a reliable source of humor to me. We often laugh very hard whenever one of the PCs manage to attain a "DEMIGOD" check! As a DM, one of the most enjoyable things I like about RPGs is watching the players concot their plans and strategies, and interact with one another. The "foreign group" is a very diverse and easygoing bunch, and while I can be very aggravated by the AD&D grognard when he goes in one of his "hate 4e rampages", it is still loads of fun to see them play.

I find myself craving for my D&D 4 campaigns though, where I can enjoy the system as much as I enjoy the players .

At any rate, I haven't given up on Next yet. I don't think my "newbie" and "grognard" groups will want to play it, but at least I'll keep reading and providing feedback in what aspects we would like to see in the game. There are a lot of "promises" by the designers which I'm putting a little faith - the "tactical module", a truly "modular spell system", these are things that could appeal to me. Maybe Next will become a system I can like! Who knows?
Are you threatening me master jedi? Dungeons & Dragons 4e Classic - The Dark Edition
I for one really wish you would stick around.  My experiences are the opposite of yours but I appreciate that you are posting well reasoned non-vitrolic feedback.  The General Discussion forum is so toxic and so dense with non-playtested opinions at times it makes me sad.  We need more dissenting voices like yours, ie honest, straightforward and not bitter.
Hah, I'll do my best Hollbk01 . I try to keep level-headed, but we have good days and bad days, hahaha. I agree with you though - if people were more intent in providing feedback rather than complaining, these forums would be much easier to read.
Are you threatening me master jedi? Dungeons & Dragons 4e Classic - The Dark Edition
Yeah.  I don't think this initial set, core rules, to 5E will be much like 4E at all.  The complexity, tactical dynamics, and attention to a structured balance that comes with 4E isn't there.  I rather expect there to be supplements after release that'll offer options that might also include a more 4E-like uniform class format, but we won't know for sure until the time comes.

It rather shocks me at the length of your battles, though.  I honestly can't imagine how you get to so long a time span unless there's simple confusion on the rules with breaks to look up various features.  A 15 minute battle is a long one for us.  By far, most of our time is spent roleplaying with NPCs, exploring the world, and in-group discussions (not counting the OOC time sinks which are part of the fun).  It's been a huge departure for us where we went from about 80% of our 4E time spent in encounters to literally the opposite with Next.

It might be insightful to hear what's causing the snags in your groups as I believe more fluid, less time consuming combat is one of the goals of 5E.   
Thanks for the feedback; hearing from all sides is very important.  I have to agree with ShadeRaven on the length of combats.  Despite how the Expertise dice have made the rolling and the math a little bit more complicated, my players thought combat went more quickly than 4E or 3.5E.  Of course, there are less options and for those used to having cool special abilities to use in combat (ala 4E) well, there's less of that available.  I ran a group of 4 LV3 characters using the tried and true Caves of Chaos.  We had used the LV1 characters on the first play-test packet so wanted to explore higher level characters.  We also opted to use a grid and miniature (because we like them) and I have a digital projector which I use to project a to-scale map down onto the table.  It's pretty cool; I highly recommend it to any who like miniatures.  You can also project images of monsters, locations, world maps, etc, etc.  Very handly if you can afford it.  In any event the point I'm trying to make is that our combats went pretty quickly.  The Expertise dice added in a little more math and slowed it down a little bit but overall, I'd say that it made combat only take about 10% more time.  The players tend to try to play smart, using reconnaissance & the layout of halls, doorways & such to get a tactical advantage whenever possible.  Of course, things don't always go as they plan.   They got surrounded at one point in the Hobgoblin lair and took a few good hits, especially from the Hobgoblin leader.

All that being said, I'm not a fan of the Expertise Dice.  It seems to be a mechanic copied from other games such as old World of Darkness (where you used multiple d10s) or Marvel Superheroes where you build a dice pool and tally the results.  This is dice pool is different as you have a base d20 and add to that.  But I'm not a fan: I'd prefer either a static bonus, throw in Advantage at points, grant a situational bonus, etc.  The Expertise Dice just seen to be an unnecessary complication that can be handled better in other ways.... such as set bonuses that are incorporated into Fighter and Rogue builds rather than making it random dice additions.
There are no confusion about the rules at all ShadeRaven, or at least, we haven't been breaking things too look up the rules very often.

I think a significant factor in the duration of these battles is still player response time. Although there are less strategic options available, there are many decision points that remain the same - should I heal? Should I defend? Should I advance and attack? Should I try to help the cleric? Should I try to help the wizard? Both "newbie" and "foreign" groups lean towards taking some time making their decisions.

"Newbie" group, which has been playing campaings with me for most of their lives know that I'm not particularly fond o the time they take between their turns. I've tried to accelerate battle (using timers, forced delay, etc, etc), but eventually come to the conclusion that they enjoy having time to make their decisions. I'm the one who wants faster combats - they, not so much. So, while I try to keep their turns as fast as possible (2, 3 minutes per player tops), I no longer force speedy response from them.

The "single action" design didn't help much either. Players are still spending their time weighing different options - where should they move to, whether they should spent resource X or Y, etc, etc. Overall, they're taking a similar time to resolve their turns as they did in 4th.

However, I must point out that a factor that weighs more heavily in the duration of the battles are the size and abilities of the opposing force. Encounters in the Caves of Chaos can easily turn into battles of 10+ adversaries, as patrolling forces and reinforcements join the initial group. Its no wonder such fights take a little more time. And when adversaries have abilites such as the goblins "stealth", or the orcs "endurance" (don't remember what the orc special ability is actually called :P), fights can drag on... In "foreign" group, one of the fights was a mere "5 orcs vs 5 PCs", but it took most of our session just to resolve that single fight, because the orcs didn't die when they reached 0 hit points and the PCs were often weighing their different tactical options the battle conditions and the terrain provided.

So, overall, combat hasn't been particularly fast. They tend to be a bit faster than the ones in 4e, and some can end very rapidly, if the dice gods are feeling happy in that day, but neither me and my players are noticing a significant boost of speed in this aspect of the game. We do miss more tactical options however, to a lesser or greater degree depending on the group.

In the greater scheme of things, I don't think combat length in these groups ("newbie" and "foreign") has much to do with the rules themselves, but more to do with the players and their pacing. In "foreign" group, we have little dice to spare, and this certainly helps add lag to the battle. As I have said, although battles have been taking as long as D&D 4, most of the times, they are involve a much larger force. I would also say that the "single action" design didn't help both of these groups make their decisions faster than they already making.

---

To sum it up, these are what I think are the cause of the long durations in my games:

*Players still take as much time as they did making their decisions. Even though there are less tactical options available (compared to 3e or 4e), terrain tactics and battle conditions remain important factors in the decision making process.

*In the adventure I'm DMing, the opposing force tends to get reinforced, often leading to encounters with a large number of foes.

*Some monster abilites help combat lag. Goblin "stealth" and orc "endurance" are some examples. Overall, whenever a creature has easy access to "advantage", the number of rolls per creature can easily double...

*Math is wonky. Monsters often spend various turns missing PCs. PCs can have a bad streak and miss monsters. Damage may not be enough to down monsters in one hit. A combination of bad rolls can easily add a couple of turn to a battle.

Evidently, YMMV... Since people have been often praising D&D Next's speed of combat, I take this to be a local problem with either me or my players and leave it at that. I cannot state however that these battles have been generally "fast" on my games :P.
Are you threatening me master jedi? Dungeons & Dragons 4e Classic - The Dark Edition
You're both absolutely certain about your hints . I tried to avoid giving specific feedback here because this isn't much about my opinions but more about describing how the process has been like for me and my players .

You can be certain that when I answer the surveys, I create lengthy texts about the points that I find more important. I always keep in mind that my opininions are also just my personal preferences, and not every preference of mine should be heeded in the most "basic version of D&D", which is what we're aiming right now in these initial playtests .

Since you've shown curiosity, I'll oblige with a more elaborate answer to some of your questions. Keep in mind these are personal preferences - and in some cases, not things I would wish to see universally applied to the entirety of the D&D game.

Do you have any examples of the system being anti-d&d or anti-fun? Do you pass it on in the surveys?



I sure pass it on in the surveys . I tend to create lenghty texts in the surveys as well - sometimes, the options provided are not enough to acurately describe my experience or my wishes.

I wouldn't call any of the examples of "bad experience" I had with the sytem "anti-D&D" or "anti-fun" - seems too strong a wording. I would rather state that sometimes, the system is not able to be the Dungeons & Dragons I like, or not fun for me. .

I can highlight some personal experiences with the system who rubbed me the wrong way:

*In the first fight my "newbie group" had rolled badly, while I rolled good. After the fight, they had spent most of their resources, and the cleric was down. Since they had no meaning to "heal" him, they had to wait for him to "wake up" naturally to begin a "Long Rest". In game, they've waited for 17 hours before continuing with the adventure. In D&D 4th, this wouldn't have happened.

*The DCs are too low, and disbelief can easily set in when the 20 Dexterity elf is constantly achieving "demigod-like" skill checks...

*The fights are a too boring to my tastes. Fighters are often using the same maneuvers over and over (and they have few of them to begin with), while low-level spellcasters are often trying to save their spells and resorting to the same tactics over and over. Combats in 4e tend to have more variety of tactical choices.

*Monsters are just as "boring", in may cases. Some are even too overpowered to my tastes. Goblins that can make stealth checks after they move in a system where spotting such goblins takes an entire turn are simply too good. On the other hand, monster attacks are so low that hitting the PCs can be a rare thing. In one recent fight against five orcs, they've mostly spent their turns missing the PCs . As I have said, the math is too wonky, and this makes things bad across the board.

And of course, these are personal experiences with the game - which may not represent other playtesters at all. There are also personal preferences at play. I dislike the comeback of vancian magic, dislike classes not sharing the same "management system", dislike the design idea of balancing the encounters in a "daily" unit rather than in an "encounter" unit, etc, etc.

As I have said, these are my personal preferences. I know many people have entirely opposite view in some of these things . In many ways, I think that my personal preferences should not be contemplated if this makes the game worse for the majority of D&D players out there - the "basic" version of D&D Next should appeal to most of the Dungeons & Dragons playerbase, and if I happen to be in the minority, then so be it - Next must be the best version of D&D if this brand is to survive and thrive.

But such personal preferences are what makes the Next edition so far off the mark the D&D I and most of my players enjoy. I'll be happy if Next is a sucessful edition, but evidently, I won't play it if it is not good enough for me. I hope my feedback can help the game become better, but playing these packages who are so distant from what I think is the best Dungeons & Dragons experience is much more akin to work than fun for me .

Ironically, as a DM, I find the experience to be quite the opposite.  It's far from a chore for me... if anything, it's almost too easy in comparison to the process I go through running my regular 4E campaigns.  I am curious to hear where you are finding it bogging you down or challenging your ability to narrate or adjudicate the rules.



Hey, more power to you! ^^ I'm glad you're enjoying the experience .

As I said to YouKnowTheOneGuy, many of my experiences are perceived as negative because of my preferences. Some like a more "chaotic" take in combat. I don't. Some like vancian magic. I don't. Some like simple fighters. I don't. And so on... Overall then, its pretty easy to see why I do not like the experiences provided by Next so far .

I would also say that the game is not exactly hard to DM - in many aspects, its is probably as easy as 4th (or even easier). But to my mind, it simply does not work in the way I like D&D to work .

For example, battle tend to see very tactically "bland". Fighters have a couple of maneuvers, and keep using them round after round. Spellcasters save their spells, and keep using the same at-will spells or attacks over and over in most combats... Monsters are run mostly in the same way, and there's little variety in each given "species". That's different from the D&D combat I like, with many possible tactical options.

While I have been using the Caves of Chaos modules, the "difficulty guidelines" suggested don't seem to work as well... Recently, my players mowed through a pack of hobgoblins. I didn't give much thought to the encounter's suggested difficulty, but was curious enought that I decided to check later what "difficulty" value the system would suggest for that particular encounter with 12 hobgoblins. After reading the guidelines, the number of creatures involved would suggest a "tough" encounter - but the encounter in fact was pretty easy and straightforward :P.

These mathematical problems appear in many other areas as well: DCs are too low for the heroic PCs. The HP too low in the first level. Etc, etc.

To top it off, my battles in D&D Next have not been significantly faster than in 4th :P. This may be a consequence of the Caves of Chaos module, where the PCs can often face a high number of creatures as the dungeon is designed to "move in" on the PCs, but even some of the more even battles (with five creatures) sometimes become a festival of misses and near kills. Overall, my battles have been taking nearly as much time as my 4th edition battles (around 45, 50 minutes to one hour), but have been portraying a much lesser variety of tactical options :P.

So, as a DM, my experience has not been so great. While the ability to adjucate and narrate the game is not necessarily impaired (though I did find some difficulty in adjucating DCs on the fly in D&D Next), many of its design choices or mathematical problems interfere with my ability to enjoy the game itself.

Again, this is merely me. I'm sure a lot of people are having a blast . In fact, I do find some degree of fun DMing the game, otherwise, I wouldn't be capable of DMing it. However, as I said, whatever degree of fun I manage to find is not derived from the system itself, and more often, can be actually in spite of it. For example, the aforementioned "DEMIGOD" meme is a result of bad math in the DCs, but has been a reliable source of humor to me. We often laugh very hard whenever one of the PCs manage to attain a "DEMIGOD" check! As a DM, one of the most enjoyable things I like about RPGs is watching the players concot their plans and strategies, and interact with one another. The "foreign group" is a very diverse and easygoing bunch, and while I can be very aggravated by the AD&D grognard when he goes in one of his "hate 4e rampages", it is still loads of fun to see them play.

I find myself craving for my D&D 4 campaigns though, where I can enjoy the system as much as I enjoy the players .

At any rate, I haven't given up on Next yet. I don't think my "newbie" and "grognard" groups will want to play it, but at least I'll keep reading and providing feedback in what aspects we would like to see in the game. There are a lot of "promises" by the designers which I'm putting a little faith - the "tactical module", a truly "modular spell system", these are things that could appeal to me. Maybe Next will become a system I can like! Who knows?

I really wish that you choose to carry on playesting and giving feedback! Mostly because your review has given voice to my thought on D&D next...and your english is much better than mine!

If we want to hold some hope of progress we'll nedd you!
No more vancian. No "edition war" for me, thank'you.
Not to worry Mat.shogun. I'll do my best to keep going! ^^
Are you threatening me master jedi? Dungeons & Dragons 4e Classic - The Dark Edition
Thanks for getting back to me... or... well, us. :D?


I sure pass it on in the surveys . I tend to create lenghty texts in the surveys as well - sometimes, the options provided are not enough to acurately describe my experience or my wishes.

I wouldn't call any of the examples of "bad experience" I had with the sytem "anti-D&D" or "anti-fun" - seems too strong a wording. I would rather state that sometimes, the system is not able to be the Dungeons & Dragons I like, or not fun for me. .


Okay, so it's more like... not fun. Not specifically bad or distasteful, but not exceptionally engaging. There are more fun things to do than D&DN. I get you, I think. I'm glad you pass your thoughts on to WoTC.


I can highlight some personal experiences with the system who rubbed me the wrong way:

*In the first fight my "newbie group" had rolled badly, while I rolled good. After the fight, they had spent most of their resources, and the cleric was down. Since they had no meaning to "heal" him, they had to wait for him to "wake up" naturally to begin a "Long Rest". In game, they've waited for 17 hours before continuing with the adventure. In D&D 4th, this wouldn't have happened.


I'm actually a fan of PCs needing to rest for an extended period of time after being put into tremendously bad states. I've houseruled extended healing times into several of my D&D games. BUT, I think faster healing and less downtime is an exciting playstyle. D&DN should offer rules for that (outside of the optional playtest rules. Those seem to rely on drastically changing the game's internal rules).


*The DCs are too low, and disbelief can easily set in when the 20 Dexterity elf is constantly achieving "demigod-like" skill checks...


Okay... I intend to get my players to chant, "DEMIGOD!!!" whenever anyone gets a 25+ on a skill check. However, I thought DCs had a special relationship to stats, such that a DC15 should be passable by a Stat 18 character w/ no roll (assuming unstressed/out of combat)? Was this concept dropped from more recent playtests? So the reference to a demigod would mean that for a character to pass the check w/out rolling, they'd need to be a demigod.

*The fights are a too boring to my tastes. Fighters are often using the same maneuvers over and over (and they have few of them to begin with), while low-level spellcasters are often trying to save their spells and resorting to the same tactics over and over. Combats in 4e tend to have more variety of tactical choices.


You address this more later. Do your players think extensively about the turn their going to take before its their move, or do they think about it only when it's their initiative? I've been to a lot of tables and seen both playstyles. I know the planning on not one's turn thing usually makes tables play faster... but not always. I could see 4e helping to streamline viable options and give constraints.
As for Caves of Chaos having too many enemies? Definitely. Especially w/ passing around the dice. I've been buying a new set of dice every few years so I can roll 1-5 D20s in combat easily. W/ having to roll an attack for each enemy? Ouch. That is a massive timesink, and not fun in the least. I'd be bored Dming that game, too. 
If you do play w/ "foreign" group again, I'd suggest trying to group enemies together into a "swarm" similar to 4e. Make one roll w/ the swarm w/ a bonus for the number of creatures in it (this bonus would decrease whenever the mob of 5-10 kobolds gets hit and one dies). It might make the time required for you to take care of them less bad. It's how I handled groups of additional monsters in one of my caves of chaos playtests. Especially the rats.

*Monsters are just as "boring", in may cases. Some are even too overpowered to my tastes. Goblins that can make stealth checks after they move in a system where spotting such goblins takes an entire turn are simply too good. On the other hand, monster attacks are so low that hitting the PCs can be a rare thing. In one recent fight against five orcs, they've mostly spent their turns missing the PCs . As I have said, the math is too wonky, and this makes things bad across the board.


This? I agree with somewhat. I think the monsters are slowly getting their own identities, but should each race get its own special mechanic like in 4e or not? ...I don't know the answer to that question. I'd rather them use different equipment and tactics, which may have mechanical repercussions, but not assuredly.
You mentioned in a later posts that orcs stay up even when they drop to 0. That should only last for one more turn. A not-dead-0-hp-orc takes one last swing and then falls. They shouldn't exist until -14 or whatever it is. Also, I lazy-DMed the orcs. I had them take a swing at anyone in range (the one who put them down if possible), and then fall... rather than having their turn pop up again.

And of course, these are personal experiences with the game - which may not represent other playtesters at all. There are also personal preferences at play. I dislike the comeback of vancian magic, dislike classes not sharing the same "management system", dislike the design idea of balancing the encounters in a "daily" unit rather than in an "encounter" unit, etc, etc.


...yeah. I mostly agree. I prefer encounter (or scene) balance rather than day. Not a huge fan of vancian, myself. I'm okay w/ different classes getting different management systems, as long as thier is some logical division (spell-casters get slots, martials get extra dice). 

As I have said, these are my personal preferences. I know many people have entirely opposite view in some of these things . In many ways, I think that my personal preferences should not be contemplated if this makes the game worse for the majority of D&D players out there - the "basic" version of D&D Next should appeal to most of the Dungeons & Dragons playerbase, and if I happen to be in the minority, then so be it - Next must be the best version of D&D if this brand is to survive and thrive.


Perhaps I misunderstand what you are saying here? Do you mean that it's okay if the core game isn't interesting, as long as you have modules to support your playstyle? Because it's important to me that as many people as possible get a fun game out of D&DN.

These mathematical problems appear in many other areas as well: DCs are too low for the heroic PCs. The HP too low in the first level. Etc, etc.


Yeah, the math needs help. But, that's why we're here to playtest. :D?

At any rate, I haven't given up on Next yet. I don't think my "newbie" and "grognard" groups will want to play it, but at least I'll keep reading and providing feedback in what aspects we would like to see in the game. There are a lot of "promises" by the designers which I'm putting a little faith - the "tactical module", a truly "modular spell system", these are things that could appeal to me. Maybe Next will become a system I can like! Who knows?

I hope it becomes something fun for you. I think your commentary is valuable. Maybe you could organize online play w/ some of the people on these boards? I've seen some people throw together google hangouts.

"What's stupid is when people decide that X is true - even when it is demonstrable untrue or 100% against what we've said - and run around complaining about that. That's just a breakdown of basic human reasoning." -Mike Mearls
Hahaha, it's nice to talk to you guys .

So, "YouKnowTheOneGuy", I offer some replies!

Okay, so it's more like... not fun. Not specifically bad or distasteful, but not exceptionally engaging. There are more fun things to do than D&DN. I get you, I think. I'm glad you pass your thoughts on to WoTC.



Something along these lines . Let's be unfair an call this playtest a "finished game". At least, a finished game in its "initial release". The "core book" for it. I say this is unfair because this is a playtest, but lets assume, for a little while, that this latest package was "the" finished core rules.

I would have zero interest in playing or DMing D&D Next. I would keep playing 4e. I would even play 4e with only the core books, if need be (and in my opinion, 4e with only the three initial books is veeeery weak). I would rather DM Pathfinder - and man, I would hate to DM 3e again :P.

I think all of these options would be superior than playing Next :P. So, overall, its more like "bad" than merely "unfun".

But all this is personal playstyle preferences . At any rate, I don't think this is particularly very revelant to the grand scheme of things :P.

I'm actually a fan of PCs needing to rest for an extended period of time after being put into tremendously bad states. I've houseruled extended healing times into several of my D&D games. BUT, I think faster healing and less downtime is an exciting playstyle. D&DN should offer rules for that (outside of the optional playtest rules. Those seem to rely on drastically changing the game's internal rules).



I was looking forward for some "faster healing" options, but the ones presented in the latest packages did not hit the right chord with me as well :P. The thing is, it's not much about "HP recovery", but more about playability - in this matter, "power predictability".

I find that the healing workings in D&D 4e make it very easy to assess and foresee the "resources remaining" for the PCs. I know that the party will always (or almost always) be at full or near to full hit points. I know they'll always have at-will and encounter powers available. This gives me a much more reasonable ability to predict a encounter difficulty. Couple this with 4e's more tight math in monster balance, and it remains the best edition to give tools to gauge and predict encounter difficulty and player resources. In my opinion, of course :P.

The true measure of "adventure day length" in 4th edition is not HP and vancian spells (as it was in previous editions), but healing surges. Healing Surges are also what represent the actual health level of a party. Two fighters at 100% hit points can be in very different states of health - if one has 100% of surges and the other has 0%, the latter fighter is battered, bruised and on the brink of defeat: he's on his last reserves, and the next fight may be very well the one he dies...

I don't particularly care about the concept of healing surges - though I do think its a fine concept. What I care most is that they solve a lot of issues I have with a more... traditional take in the design of D&D. I hope that any "faster healing" option presented can be at least as useful and as functional as healing surges were for 4th edition.

Okay... I intend to get my players to chant, "DEMIGOD!!!" whenever anyone gets a 25+ on a skill check. However, I thought DCs had a special relationship to stats, such that a DC15 should be passable by a Stat 18 character w/ no roll (assuming unstressed/out of combat)? Was this concept dropped from more recent playtests? So the reference to a demigod would mean that for a character to pass the check w/out rolling, they'd need to be a demigod.



Well, if this concept you're describing is supposed to be the "main" way to look at things, I may have missed it entirely :P.

However, that does not acurately deal with the fact that a 1st level character is hitting the end of the DC chart. That list of DCs is supposed to be definitive - 25 is supposed to be "the" highest of the highest. It clearly isn't.

That also offer a stark contrast to the PCs other abilities at this level. The 1st level rogue with 20 Dex can easily "Slide down a staircase while standing on a shield" (a clear reference to Legolas in the Two Towers movie) but will probably die by a solid hit from a goblin armed with a little knife. The fighter with 20 strength can manage to "Fly out of a tornado", but will hit the ground with a single well hit orcish blade :P.

Too "dissonant" for my tastes. I'd rather that, at 1st level, the "skills" were more close to "reality" and the ability to fight was a bit better than it is right now.

You address this more later. Do your players think extensively about the turn their going to take before its their move, or do they think about it only when it's their initiative? I've been to a lot of tables and seen both playstyles. I know the planning on not one's turn thing usually makes tables play faster... but not always. I could see 4e helping to streamline viable options and give constraints.
As for Caves of Chaos having too many enemies? Definitely. Especially w/ passing around the dice. I've been buying a new set of dice every few years so I can roll 1-5 D20s in combat easily. W/ having to roll an attack for each enemy? Ouch. That is a massive timesink, and not fun in the least. I'd be bored Dming that game, too. 
If you do play w/ "foreign" group again, I'd suggest trying to group enemies together into a "swarm" similar to 4e. Make one roll w/ the swarm w/ a bonus for the number of creatures in it (this bonus would decrease whenever the mob of 5-10 kobolds gets hit and one dies). It might make the time required for you to take care of them less bad. It's how I handled groups of additional monsters in one of my caves of chaos playtests. Especially the rats.



Bah, its the classical conundrum. "Planning your turn" is the usual advice one gives to players, but battle conditions can drastically change between turns. If a character drops or takes a solid hit, then players may have to rethink strategies. Bill just got hit hard, and is near 0, should I help him? Perhaps John can heal him? But the mage is still vulnerable, if I don't help him now, he may be in a tough spot. I can almost hear their doubts as the NPCs hit, miss or shift positions and tactics .

And seeing that I am the kind of the DM that let the dice "fall where they fall", I can't begrudge they for being cautions. I don't adjust dice results or NPC tactics to save players...

The low number of dice available is a problem with "foreign" group, but the length of combat doesn't seem to bother them. At least, no one complained about it. As always, I'm the only guy thinking combat could be faster . They seem to enjoy the extra tension between the delay in rolls...

But well, maybe I should try to speed up things on my end with some pre-rolled results and such, don't you think?

This? I agree with somewhat. I think the monsters are slowly getting their own identities, but should each race get its own special mechanic like in 4e or not? ...I don't know the answer to that question. I'd rather them use different equipment and tactics, which may have mechanical repercussions, but not assuredly.



I agree, this is a tough question. However, this is an area where I think they can easily accomodate both groups. If one prefers "simpler NPCs" (like 4e minions, which these D&D Next monsters always remind me of...), the monsters given should all have simple abilities, as they have know. Some signature moves and such. Then, there should be guidelines for creating new "powers" for monsters - just like in 4e.

This will mean that those who like monster complexity in 4e will have to work an extra bit to make monsters have more abilities, but I think this would be a fair compromise of both parts, provided that the designers also continually offer sample powers and more complex NPCs throughout the edition.

You mentioned in a later posts that orcs stay up even when they drop to 0. That should only last for one more turn. A not-dead-0-hp-orc takes one last swing and then falls. They shouldn't exist until -14 or whatever it is. Also, I lazy-DMed the orcs. I had them take a swing at anyone in range (the one who put them down if possible), and then fall... rather than having their turn pop up again.



Yup, I know. They all got a single more turn. One "extra swing" before falling . But the PCs kept targeting the "dead orcs" - despite descriptions of "failing strength and endurance" and some orcs dying in their next turns :P. Can't blame that tactical choice as well - some of those "last swings" could hit some vulnerable folks pretty bad :P.

Perhaps I misunderstand what you are saying here? Do you mean that it's okay if the core game isn't interesting, as long as you have modules to support your playstyle? Because it's important to me that as many people as possible get a fun game out of D&DN.



Not at all. Although I wouldn't say that if modules were able to support my playstyle I wouldn't be happy.

The thing is, when one playtests this edition, one must think about the playerbase as a whole, and not only in his preferences. So, what I say is: the core game must appeal to the majority of the playerbase. IF my personal prefereces makes me lie with the minority of such group, than my personal preferences should not take priority over the playstyle prefered by the majority of the players.

I do believe, wholeheartdly, that the reasons for 4e's "fall" do not stem from the mechanics themselves, but from editorial decisions, presentantions and overnegative reactions of some fans. But seeing and reading people all around the net, one must also acknowledge that the playstyle offered by 4e is not the one the majority of the playerbase wants.

I learned a lot form this "AD&D grognard" in "foreign" group, for example. Here is a living example of a guy who wants what I would consider... clunky design. He wants overpowered spells. He wants oversimplistic fighters. He wants high mortality rates for low-level wizards. He wants the AD&D experience all over again - with the good bits of nostalgia attached as well.

I don't think Next should become an "AD&D clone" (or a 4e clone, for that matter), so I don't think the "core game" should be what he wants. But no matter how much I may disagree with his game preferences, I must acknowledge that they exist, and that he must be contemplated as much as I am.

It is impossible to please everyone. But they can try to please the majority of players. And if I'm the one of the unfortunate few not to be contemplated by that "pleasing of players", things will still be ok. Dungeons & Dragons needs to please "most", now more than ever, if it intends to remain a strong brand.

Perhaps the "Next edition of D&D" will not be able to contemplate my playstyle. Perhaps I want a Dungeons & Dragons game that is too different from what the majority of the players would describe as "true D&D". But that doesn't matter much, if the game remains alive. I'll always have 4e, who managed to please me very much. . And if need be, there are tons of other RPG systems out there, I'm sure I can find other systems that please me as much as 4e did. I can even build such a system should the need arise .

To sum it up - rather than having the designers pleasing me, as an individual, I would prefer that they please the majority of the playerbase. If I happen to be in the majority - lucky me! If I happen to be in minority - well, tough luck. Keep playing 4e and perhaps find a new system closer to your tastes!

I hope it becomes something fun for you. I think your commentary is valuable. Maybe you could organize online play w/ some of the people on these boards? I've seen some people throw together google hangouts.



Now there's a terrific idea, if ever I saw one!

Playing through the net can demand a heavy workload - I've been DMing a few solo sessions focused on roleplaying bits for "newbie" group and man, talk about testing a DM's endurance. My younger sister (new to RPGs, has been playing her first campaign in 4e for the past four years) plays a halfling wizard, and she can be very curious about the game world - she explores every nook and cranny of her current location, loves chatting with NPCs and roleplaying her character. I've recently compiled this "little" side adventures and I have over 100 pages of dialogue with her character :P. And we're not even done yet! :P

BUT this would be an excellent option to keep playing D&D Next and perhaps keeping in touch with "foreign" group - though I doubt most of them would have the inclination to play in a virtual enviroment :P. At any rate, maybe I could shake things up a bit and actually play a character in someone's else game? How's that for a spin?

Ha, good idea fellow poster, good idea. I'll keep it in mind .
Are you threatening me master jedi? Dungeons & Dragons 4e Classic - The Dark Edition
I think a significant factor in the duration of these battles is still player response time. Although there are less strategic options available, there are many decision points that remain the same - should I heal? Should I defend? Should I advance and attack? Should I try to help the cleric? Should I try to help the wizard? Both "newbie" and "foreign" groups lean towards taking some time making their decisions.

Heh.  Yeah, I feel for you.  It would drive me crazy if it took 5 minutes for a player to decide they were going to Attack Orc #2 when that's pretty much the only natural maneuver.

I always make a promise with my players... I won't play creatures perfectly, so don't worry about doing the same yourself with your characters.

Combat is fast, furious, and chaotic... things happen quickly and frantically.  The best way to reflect this... the best way to ROLEPLAY this... is to stop thinking and just react.  Play natural.  Play instinctive.  I guess I am lucky because players have really taken to it after just a little exposure to the colorful, fast, and descriptive combat I offer them.  Because combat is quick, it allows more dialogue within it.  Insults and graphic descriptions.  Roleplay and dramatic, cinematic actions.  When Player A takes 4 minutes to decide what to do, supsense is dampened and boredom increases for those not in the spotlight at that moment.  However, a quick decision to leap on the table and dive at the Kobold Spiritualist (without caring if it's the most tactically sound action) is exciting for everyone because its effectiveness and results, both for good and/or bad, will be immediately felt by the next player.  Everyone stays on their toes, knows their turn comes soon, and combat is dynamic and full of the unexpected.  No collective game of chess but moments of drama that are full of vivacity and improvosation.

5E has really lent itself to my style because there's less to track, fewer effects to worry about, and quickly decision points to act upon.  To be fair, I run the same way in 4E and encounters generally finish in under 30 minutes, but it's still longer and full of more bookkeeping than 5E.


That's an interesting take on combat! ^^ Almost the Savage Worlds motto - FAST! FURIOUS! FUN! ^^
Are you threatening me master jedi? Dungeons & Dragons 4e Classic - The Dark Edition

I always make a promise with my players... I won't play creatures perfectly, so don't worry about doing the same yourself with your characters.

Combat is fast, furious, and chaotic... things happen quickly and frantically.  The best way to reflect this... the best way to ROLEPLAY this... is to stop thinking and just react.  Play natural.  Play instinctive.  I guess I am lucky because players have really taken to it after just a little exposure to the colorful, fast, and descriptive combat I offer them.  Because combat is quick, it allows more dialogue within it.  Insults and graphic descriptions.  Roleplay and dramatic, cinematic actions.  When Player A takes 4 minutes to decide what to do, supsense is dampened and boredom increases for those not in the spotlight at that moment.  However, a quick decision to leap on the table and dive at the Kobold Spiritualist (without caring if it's the most tactically sound action) is exciting for everyone because its effectiveness and results, both for good and/or bad, will be immediately felt by the next player.  Everyone stays on their toes, knows their turn comes soon, and combat is dynamic and full of the unexpected.  No collective game of chess but moments of drama that are full of vivacity and improvosation.

5E has really lent itself to my style because there's less to track, fewer effects to worry about, and quickly decision points to act upon.  To be fair, I run the same way in 4E and encounters generally finish in under 30 minutes, but it's still longer and full of more bookkeeping than 5E.
 



Shade, I love this post.  I may copy it and send it out to my players/use it in my games.   It really speaks to me! 

And, Vin, your words are wonderfully clear and very reasonable.  Keep giving feedback.

A Brave Knight of WTF

 

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

 

 

Well, thank you Rhenny! Will do my best! :D
Are you threatening me master jedi? Dungeons & Dragons 4e Classic - The Dark Edition
Hahaha, it's nice to talk to you guys .

So, "YouKnowTheOneGuy", I offer some replies!


I think it's been a fun conversation. :D

Something along these lines . Let's be unfair an call this playtest a "finished game". At least, a finished game in its "initial release". The "core book" for it. I say this is unfair because this is a playtest, but lets assume, for a little while, that this latest package was "the" finished core rules.

I would have zero interest in playing or DMing D&D Next. I would keep playing 4e. I would even play 4e with only the core books, if need be (and in my opinion, 4e with only the three initial books is veeeery weak). I would rather DM Pathfinder - and man, I would hate to DM 3e again :P.

I think all of these options would be superior than playing Next :P. So, overall, its more like "bad" than merely "unfun".

But all this is personal playstyle preferences . At any rate, I don't think this is particularly very revelant to the grand scheme of things :P.


I wouldn't play/run it either. I might take some of the changes in the recent playtest packet and integrate them into the first playtest. Or, I'd try to hybridize 4e and Next. But, you're right, it is a bit unfair to expect it to hold up at this point. I'm glad it is just a playtest.


I was looking forward for some "faster healing" options, but the ones presented in the latest packages did not hit the right chord with me as well :P. The thing is, it's not much about "HP recovery", but more about playability - in this matter, "power predictability".

I find that the healing workings in D&D 4e make it very easy to assess and foresee the "resources remaining" for the PCs. I know that the party will always (or almost always) be at full or near to full hit points. I know they'll always have at-will and encounter powers available. This gives me a much more reasonable ability to predict a encounter difficulty. Couple this with 4e's more tight math in monster balance, and it remains the best edition to give tools to gauge and predict encounter difficulty and player resources. In my opinion, of course :P.

The true measure of "adventure day length" in 4th edition is not HP and vancian spells (as it was in previous editions), but healing surges. Healing Surges are also what represent the actual health level of a party. Two fighters at 100% hit points can be in very different states of health - if one has 100% of surges and the other has 0%, the latter fighter is battered, bruised and on the brink of defeat: he's on his last reserves, and the next fight may be very well the one he dies...

I don't particularly care about the concept of healing surges - though I do think its a fine concept. What I care most is that they solve a lot of issues I have with a more... traditional take in the design of D&D. I hope that any "faster healing" option presented can be at least as useful and as functional as healing surges were for 4th edition.

Yes. One of the things I think 4e-critics misunderstand is how healing surges are a daily resource which adventuring days can be balanced around. Or, maybe they understand it, but they don't like it as a narrative/mechanical concept? Whatever. My point is that I agree with you on this. It would be nice to get that sense in Next, or a way for it to foster that playstyle. I think Next is currently setup in a way where party members should be expected to go through a level+1 fights per day (barring pushover easy encounters and carrying a kajillion healing potions) due to the HD structure. This may not be true, but it seems like it based on the playtests I've run so far. Again, I can't really predict the power of my PCs and what will challenge them. I'm getting a better feel for it, but it'll assuredly change next playtest.


Well, if this concept you're describing is supposed to be the "main" way to look at things, I may have missed it entirely :P.

However, that does not acurately deal with the fact that a 1st level character is hitting the end of the DC chart. That list of DCs is supposed to be definitive - 25 is supposed to be "the" highest of the highest. It clearly isn't.

That also offer a stark contrast to the PCs other abilities at this level. The 1st level rogue with 20 Dex can easily "Slide down a staircase while standing on a shield" (a clear reference to Legolas in the Two Towers movie) but will probably die by a solid hit from a goblin armed with a little knife. The fighter with 20 strength can manage to "Fly out of a tornado", but will hit the ground with a single well hit orcish blade :P.

Too "dissonant" for my tastes. I'd rather that, at 1st level, the "skills" were more close to "reality" and the ability to fight was a bit better than it is right now.

Again, I may be incorrect about the DC/stat relationship. But, your point about dissonance is spot on. The characters become very capable of larger than life stunts, but are very humanly fragile. I know some people prefer this playstyle, but I like it when heroes are tougher than the average (insert race here). I thought the Con score+HD model in the first playtest did that much better than the recent ConMod+HD HP in recent playtests. I don't know if monster's damage was brought down enough to be proportional to the amount of hit points characters now have.


Bah, its the classical conundrum. "Planning your turn" is the usual advice one gives to players, but battle conditions can drastically change between turns. If a character drops or takes a solid hit, then players may have to rethink strategies. Bill just got hit hard, and is near 0, should I help him? Perhaps John can heal him? But the mage is still vulnerable, if I don't help him now, he may be in a tough spot. I can almost hear their doubts as the NPCs hit, miss or shift positions and tactics .

And seeing that I am the kind of the DM that let the dice "fall where they fall", I can't begrudge they for being cautions. I don't adjust dice results or NPC tactics to save players...

The low number of dice available is a problem with "foreign" group, but the length of combat doesn't seem to bother them. At least, no one complained about it. As always, I'm the only guy thinking combat could be faster . They seem to enjoy the extra tension between the delay in rolls...

But well, maybe I should try to speed up things on my end with some pre-rolled results and such, don't you think?

Hrmm... that's interesting. My group tends to have playstyle... well... did you ever play FFXII? In it the player could setup different "gambits" or situational playstyles. I think my players tend to get into automatic grooves depending on what happens. The only time things would get out of control is if multiple people were going down. 
I do prefer the letting the dice "fall where they fall" playstyle. It makes the game more fair and the sense of reward more visceral. A DM I once knew loved to throw extremely tough stuff at PCs, but I realized that he would never kill PCs. He'd fudge the math to keep us alive. It made the sense of risk and reward lower.
I've used pre-rolled rolls before. I always prefer to roll things on the spot if at all possible. I mean... yes... pre-rolling saves time, but it isn't as fun for me. :D? At least the "foreign" group was cool w/ long combats.


I agree, this is a tough question. However, this is an area where I think they can easily accomodate both groups. If one prefers "simpler NPCs" (like 4e minions, which these D&D Next monsters always remind me of...), the monsters given should all have simple abilities, as they have know. Some signature moves and such. Then, there should be guidelines for creating new "powers" for monsters - just like in 4e.

This will mean that those who like monster complexity in 4e will have to work an extra bit to make monsters have more abilities, but I think this would be a fair compromise of both parts, provided that the designers also continually offer sample powers and more complex NPCs throughout the edition.

I think some of the monsters in the current playtest have optional powers. I mean, some monsters use the recharge special attacks mechanic from 4e. I believe Reptile, Giant might be a good example of what you have in mind. It has several optional traits to make the giant reptile more mechanically unique. It doesn't give an XP value to these options, which I think it required (or at least some kind of guideline... maybe there's something in the DM Guidelines I missed?). You'd like to see this type of thing for each monster race (such as kobolds getting a shifty quality)?


Yup, I know. They all got a single more turn. One "extra swing" before falling . But the PCs kept targeting the "dead orcs" - despite descriptions of "failing strength and endurance" and some orcs dying in their next turns :P. Can't blame that tactical choice as well - some of those "last swings" could hit some vulnerable folks pretty bad :P.

Ahh... hrm, I guess if I were the PCs I'd just dodge or move away and take on another orc. I could see them trying to finish the orcs off, but were they explicitly told the orc was on its last legs and would die within a few seconds? They may have misunderstood the description as flavour rather than a mechanical description? In that type of situation my playstyle tends to err on the side of being more gamist than narrativist... which probably isn't a good idea. XD


Not at all. Although I wouldn't say that if modules were able to support my playstyle I wouldn't be happy.

The thing is, when one playtests this edition, one must think about the playerbase as a whole, and not only in his preferences. So, what I say is: the core game must appeal to the majority of the playerbase. IF my personal prefereces makes me lie with the minority of such group, than my personal preferences should not take priority over the playstyle prefered by the majority of the players.

I do believe, wholeheartdly, that the reasons for 4e's "fall" do not stem from the mechanics themselves, but from editorial decisions, presentantions and overnegative reactions of some fans. But seeing and reading people all around the net, one must also acknowledge that the playstyle offered by 4e is not the one the majority of the playerbase wants.

I learned a lot form this "AD&D grognard" in "foreign" group, for example. Here is a living example of a guy who wants what I would consider... clunky design. He wants overpowered spells. He wants oversimplistic fighters. He wants high mortality rates for low-level wizards. He wants the AD&D experience all over again - with the good bits of nostalgia attached as well.

I don't think Next should become an "AD&D clone" (or a 4e clone, for that matter), so I don't think the "core game" should be what he wants. But no matter how much I may disagree with his game preferences, I must acknowledge that they exist, and that he must be contemplated as much as I am.

It is impossible to please everyone. But they can try to please the majority of players. And if I'm the one of the unfortunate few not to be contemplated by that "pleasing of players", things will still be ok. Dungeons & Dragons needs to please "most", now more than ever, if it intends to remain a strong brand.

Perhaps the "Next edition of D&D" will not be able to contemplate my playstyle. Perhaps I want a Dungeons & Dragons game that is too different from what the majority of the players would describe as "true D&D". But that doesn't matter much, if the game remains alive. I'll always have 4e, who managed to please me very much. . And if need be, there are tons of other RPG systems out there, I'm sure I can find other systems that please me as much as 4e did. I can even build such a system should the need arise .

To sum it up - rather than having the designers pleasing me, as an individual, I would prefer that they please the majority of the playerbase. If I happen to be in the majority - lucky me! If I happen to be in minority - well, tough luck. Keep playing 4e and perhaps find a new system closer to your tastes!

That is a really excellent attitude. My hopes are that the core game will be enjoyable to play, but that modules will allow for quick/easy ways to make a game I enjoy more than 4e. But, I think your attitude is more noble than my own.


Now there's a terrific idea, if ever I saw one!
...
 At any rate, maybe I could shake things up a bit and actually play a character in someone's else game? How's that for a spin?

Ha, good idea fellow poster, good idea. I'll keep it in mind .


Heh, yeah... I was thinking you may want to give things a change and try playing D&DN and see how that is for you. Glad you dig the idea. :D
"What's stupid is when people decide that X is true - even when it is demonstrable untrue or 100% against what we've said - and run around complaining about that. That's just a breakdown of basic human reasoning." -Mike Mearls
It has been nice talking to you as well my friend! ^^

You'd like to see this type of thing for each monster race (such as kobolds getting a shifty quality)?



That would be a good thing, in my opinion . "Simple" monsters for the "core" is fine, but I want my monsters to be as tactically diverse as D&D 4e were, and want monster creation to be at leas as versatile as it was in that edition . So, yes, more optional powers to "complexify" NPCs would be welcome, at least in my end! ^^

Ahh... hrm, I guess if I were the PCs I'd just dodge or move away and take on another orc. I could see them trying to finish the orcs off, but were they explicitly told the orc was on its last legs and would die within a few seconds? They may have misunderstood the description as flavour rather than a mechanical description? In that type of situation my playstyle tends to err on the side of being more gamist than narrativist... which probably isn't a good idea. XD



Ahhh, that's an interesting thing.  "Foreign" group is pretty "anti-gamist" thinking. Mainly because of the AD&D fan influence . However, given their situation, running away from the orcs wouldn't do them much good - the orcs would still follow and hit them, unless they double moved or somesuch.

That is a really excellent attitude. My hopes are that the core game will be enjoyable to play, but that modules will allow for quick/easy ways to make a game I enjoy more than 4e. But, I think your attitude is more noble than my own.



Bah, there's no nobility in it at all. Every D&D fan benefits of a strong D&D, every fan, no matter what the edition he plays. If anything, history has shown that the world turns, and some things that may seem impossible or difficult can become very real indeed. Try to imagine the "AD&D" fans at the apex of 3rd edition's life - the world was playing D20 and if you happen to like AD&D, your fellow fanbase seemed small indeed. Fastforward some years ahead and we're in the middle of a "retro renaissance", Wizards is republishing old-modules bound in hardcovers and there are a lot of options for any old school fan.

Who would have guessed? In many ways, this is only possible because D&D is still alive today. Had the brand "tanked", this could be a much harder thing to pull off... Who knows, maybe twenty years from now people will be able to look at 4e without "hate glasses" and say "You know, there are plenty of good ideas here. This would be a good design direction for D&D!". So, in a way, having a strong D&D Next may help me even if I stop playing D&D because of it .

Or erhaps that will never happen. At any rate, D&D will still be alive in some form or another, and people will be having fun .

Heh, yeah... I was thinking you may want to give things a change and try playing D&DN and see how that is for you. Glad you dig the idea. :D



Hah, playing RPGs for me is such a rare occurrance that I savor every second of play I can get! ^^

It could be interesting to see Next through another perspective .
Are you threatening me master jedi? Dungeons & Dragons 4e Classic - The Dark Edition
I cant remember how orcs are supposed to play out. But when they drop to zero hit points they should have to take an immediate attack against the closest opponent then fall over dead to keep players from wasting an attack on them.
I also agree that would be a better solution.

As I have said, many NPCs abilities are in serious need of adjustments.
Are you threatening me master jedi? Dungeons & Dragons 4e Classic - The Dark Edition
Bah, there is plenty of nobility!

However, I do like the idea of a retro-4e in the future. A game to it as pathfinder is to 3.x.
"What's stupid is when people decide that X is true - even when it is demonstrable untrue or 100% against what we've said - and run around complaining about that. That's just a breakdown of basic human reasoning." -Mike Mearls
*Some monster abilites help combat lag. Goblin "stealth" and orc "endurance" are some examples. Overall, whenever a creature has easy access to "advantage", the number of rolls per creature can easily double...

This could be a function of the dice the player owns. If I know there's a significant chance that I'll be rolling 6d20 several times a session, I'll make sure I have six - not all, just six - of my d20s with me - while making sure NOT to bring (or at least not in my "working" bag) dice I'm confident I won't need, such as 10d12. Not every player, particularly not relative newbies or players on tight budgets, can casually say things like that.

Rolling 6d20 is a lot faster than rolling 1d20 six times. No matter what you do with the rolls.

"The world does not work the way you have been taught it does. We are not real as such; we exist within The Story. Unfortunately for you, you have inherited a condition from your mother known as Primary Protagonist Syndrome, which means The Story is interested in you. It will find you, and if you are not ready for the narrative strands it will throw at you..." - from Footloose