Long time DM, Feedback on Next

I have been a DM for a fairly long time.  I started running games at the launch of 3.0, and continued through 3.5, 4th and now NEXT.  I am not a powergamer in practice but I enjoy the theory, so class balanace and capabilities have been a longstanding fascination.  


I have been running D&D next since the first playtest packet, here is my collected and condensed feedback.

I. Character Creation
          
    My players loved creating characters, diving into the backstory and theme options, looking at specialties and seeing all of the new options in front of them felt like Christmas morning.  Ideas were flowing in, this was a marked difference from the playgroup, they had grown less fond of character creation in D&D up until we started the playtest.  Now people are planning character ideas again, they can't wait to see what new background or specialty options are out with each playtest.  The races feel important, powerful and unique which they also love.  This has been a smash hit with my playgroup. 

II. Classes
     
 
 My group enjoyed the return to the idiosyncratic feeling classes.  They give a lot of flavor, a lot of gamefeel and generally disguise the mechanics, or the inner working of the games rules.  The vancian system has had it's critiques but the fact that you as a player need to "learn" how to use it adds a lot of gamefeel to the classes that use it.  The players that enjoyed fighters had a ball with expertise, and manuevers.  The feel of the classes is solid, and the flavor has been another smash hit.  Save a few issues with the sorcerer and warlock.  




A.
    The Fighter... very powerful, absurdly so after level 6.  My party fighter ended up with 20 strength.  Which won't be remarkably uncommon.  Upon gaining extra attack they became far and away one of the most deadly characters around with seemingly no drawback.  A deadly strike attack from the fighter with a follow-up extra attack has become devastating.  The rogue who previously felt only a little undertuned in the new playtest now feels essentially useless.  The fighter has sneak attack in the form of deadly-strike with no major drawback to its use.  (my fighter has a magic weapon, as do the other non-casters) He can see a fairly common +10 to hit, 1d10+6+1d6+2d6(deadly strike) with a followup 1d10+6+1d6. Far and away outstriping the rogue sitting with a smaller finesse weapon, who gets no subsequent attack.  Extra Attack has caused major issues for the party from a balance perspective.  There have been jokes now verging on more serious comments about changing the party composition over the use of extra attack.  The fighters damage and mobility has made me turn my head on several occassions. 

B.

    The Wizard... Magic Missile is now a tour de force, fireball feels good, but there are concerns of non-scaling damage in the spells, no hint of fireballs damage going above 5d6.  This makes low level spells feel potentially "risky" at higher levels.  However the Wizard has been the only other character who is exceptionally happy this time around.  Lightning bolt, Maximize and Fireball feel very good.  The smaller spell list seemed odd to our wizard, he missed having access to things like alarm and counterspell.  As a DM I have no real problems with the wizard in its current form, nothing it does makes me turn my head questioning the class. 

C.
    
   The Rogue... This class went from feeling sneaky and unique to feeling like a weak fighter.  Their sneak attack feels... underwhelming, before I was used to the rogue hiding and moving around in combat and striking for very high damage, this felt rogue like and was kind of expected from the layout of the class.  Now the rogue teams up with a fighter and sneak attacks, the rogue wishes they just had deadly strike however.  Outside of combat the rogue plays well, it has a mastery of skills for sure, it does amazing things, sometimes verging on the head turning-jaw agape well.  But in combat... it feels like the rogue has "bad deadly strike" and without extra attack... there is a major issue.   The party a few builds ago would try to help the rogue find advantage through the use of wizard spells or otherwise, enjoying the sneak attacks and working with him to set them up.  Now people ignore him.  It feels... remarkably underwhelming

D.

   The Cleric.... Feels a bit boring currently, but a lot like a cleric.  The class feature change has been handled well, and the domains feel very good, and give a strong feel and theme.  Overall this class feels like a benchmark for "average" on its own, but becomes a powerful ally to rally around for everyone else.  I really have nothing to say in any positive or negative light about the class.  Everything they do feels "standard cleric"  nothing stands out... this might be an issue.  Even if it sticks out like a sore thumb (extra attack) they should have something that just screams cleric.  

E.
 
  The Monk... Ok, I know this one is new but surely someone noticed that the lack of damage scaling on fists, and the inability to have magic fists could be a problem for the unarmed monk?  A major issue in 3.5 was that monks peaked early.  Monks feel fine within the packet though, it has just caused concern for the future of the playtest.  We trust the reponse to feedback and hope this will be addressed.  Overall this class feels amazing.  Using Step of the Wind feels.... EXTREMELY good, it sticks out when your monk turns into an inhumanly fast sprinter running on impossible surfaces.  This is noticable, cool and overall impressive.  This bodes incredibly well for the class.  I have no major concerns for balance outside the lack of scaling for unarmed monks.  Flurry is a neat twist on Deadly Strike or Sneak Attack.  It is different enough to not feel like a "bad clone" (sneak attack compared to deadly strike).  


III. Running the Game

   As a DM this part has been a dream, the fights take less time, the hitpoints are tuned down for many monsters and their attacks feel unique and well laid out.  There is no nightmarish issue with massive important bricks of information hiding in an awkward layout from 3.5.  The clean feel of "Attack: Description and Rules" makes running combats wonderful.  The Skills and versatility of relying on stat checks with occasional modifiers is great, I feel a tremendous flexibility when thinking of possible checks.  Running the game seems very manageable and its easy to keep track of many things at once.
I agree with much of your post. But I have a few questions/comments.

Where is your Fighter getting the additional +1d6? I assume from his weapon and if so maybe that wasn't the best choice to hand out if you feel the Fighter damage potential is too high.

Clerics do feel kinda blah...

Our Rogue has been the star of the party! Using Tumbling Dodge he positions himself to be very useful and whenever he doesn't do enough damage to fell his foe the Wizard or Cleric is able to finish them off. I still feel they are missing something...

On the Monk not having escalating fist damage, they have deadly strike as an option. Also, flurry uses the XD which escalates with level so I don't see your point.

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of any failed saving throw, including but not limited to petrification, poison, death magic, dragon breath, spells, or vorpal sword-related decapitations.

I'm playing from 2nd edition,3,3.5,4th edition and what we did with my party is that we kept some good stuff from 4th edition like armor xps and monsters but we returned back to 3.5 cause we like using our imagination in skill fights etc .I think 4th edition limited some classes and made some other really strong. Also we like the fact that spells in 3.5 and and in 2nd edition were a lot of pages and not one paragraph description.Some people fit better the combat and characters of 4th edition some others of 3.5 and some 2nd(which in my opinion needed a lot of improvement but was great for its time).
Fighters are pretty metal. I think a lot of people have mentioned the extra attack is overly good.

My view of the clerics is that w/ domain spells & healing they get extra actions pretty frequently. Their actions aren't that noticeably good, so no one cries foul. Otoh, some groups haven't noticed that the cleric can cast a cure light wounds AND attack on the same round. If the cleric also has spiritual weapon, that's about 3 actions (1 heal, 2 attacks)/round.

It has been acknowledged from D&DR&D that rogues will be changed in the next playtest (so they're no longer weaker fighters w/ all the skills).

Glad your wizard seemed wizardly. I'm guessing this isn't the last revision of spellcasting we'll see, yet.

I'm guessing monks will get ki foci to magically enhance equipment (similar to 4e monks). 
"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
I agree with much of your post. But I have a few questions/comments.

Where is your Fighter getting the additional +1d6? I assume from his weapon and if so maybe that wasn't the best choice to hand out if you feel the Fighter damage potential is too high.

Clerics do feel kinda blah...

Our Rogue has been the star of the party! Using Tumbling Dodge he positions himself to be very useful and whenever he doesn't do enough damage to fell his foe the Wizard or Cleric is able to finish them off. I still feel they are missing something...

On the Monk not having escalating fist damage, they have deadly strike as an option. Also, flurry uses the XD which escalates with level so I don't see your point.

The extra 1d6 isn't the issue, it is an extra 3-4 damage ontop of the extra attack sure but the extra attack in and of itself is currently a bit overtuned given the state of the other classes. 



As to the monk, they have no magic item to-hit modification nor damage modification possible for their unarmed strike.  Say your higher level other melee people get a +3 mod on a sword, your monk is now 3 to-hit below then and 3 damage below them, permanently.  Not even considering other magic item modifications weapons can have.  This was a major issue in 3.5 and this was addressed (ki-focus) in 4e.  Deadly strike nor flurry fixes this as everyone has access to some manuever that turns expertise dice into damage.  
Excellent report!

Strider... keep in mind, a Fighter could also have Tumbling Dodge and be the same star that the rogue could be.  In fact, a Fighter with DEX could easily out Rogue the Rogue in combat.  Better damage, same mobility, better hit points, and more flexibility with weapons.

The only thing the Rogue has is exceptional skill use.  Which can be fun and advantageous, in the right hands and in the right campaign.  There are, however, quite a few campaigns and D&D sessions (one off nights, encounters, etc) that are very combat centric.  A class that is clearly weaker needs attention because the goal is to have all classes relevant in the most common situations. Obviously, Rogues will be tweaked in the next packet.

It certainly helps to put the game through the paces with each packet... and these kind of reports go a long way to improving D&D in the future. 

LordZeta-
I hope that the Fighter would do more damage than, well, any other class! As far as Monks and magic items that is simple enough, create a set of gloves that give a +1 bonus. We are early in the playtest and they haven't fleshed out magic items.  Also, only legendary magic items will give a +3.
We are at level 5 in our current group, so I am not sure how the extra attck is going to feel. On the surface is does seem overpowering, but, hey, it's the Fighter!

  ShadeRaven-
Again, I would hope that the Fighter would be the better combatant! But again, I feel the Rogue is missing something. Bringing Sneak Attack out of the Maneuver list seems like a good move.

I have never felt the Rogue should be the combatant that many seem to expect from the class. I think 4e has made them more combat orinented, so that is what people now expect. As a DM I try to design encounters with the partys capability in mind, I want all of our playes to feel they were able to contribute. So ifthat means adding elements to make the Rogue Skill Mastery shine, then great!
 

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of any failed saving throw, including but not limited to petrification, poison, death magic, dragon breath, spells, or vorpal sword-related decapitations.

Strider, it's not so much that the Rogue needs to be better than the Fighter (although, you could argue that a Protector shouldn't necessarily be significantly better than a Thug or Assassin) in combat, it's that what the Rogue should do better, even the fighter does that superiorly.

Don't we all agree the Rogue should be sneakier? Not true.
Don't we all believe that from stealth a rogue should be deadlier? Actually, the Fighter is clearly superior.
How about elusive? Maybe the rogue should be better there? Nope.

The only thing, period, the rogue has is Skills. As I said before, that can be a lot of fun and quite effective in the right campaign, but, and let's be honest here, D&D and combat are synonymous.  The Rogue doesn't have to be balanced or greater than the Fighter, but it needs to be interesting and enjoyable in what occurs quite often in most campaigns.  I run very roleplay rich, dialogue heavy campaigns but I still offer a lot of action and conflict.  There's still battle and booty.  It's part of the fun.


As it is now, the Rogue offers nothing - not a single thing - in Combat that the Fighter can't do as well or better.  So for me, that's a problem.

ShadeRaven-

The Rogue sneak attack is lacking. One suggetion I have made is giving the Rogue +1 damage per level when they have Advantage in combat. Haven't used it in our game mainly because we find the Rogue to be effective. Mearls has suggested that Sneak Attack will be taken back out of the Maneuver list.

I certainly do not feel all Fighters should be protectors. A part of me says not all Rogues have to be backstabbers and killers, but a greater part of me says we are playing D&D! And backstab has been a major part of the game as long as I have been around (playing since '82).

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of any failed saving throw, including but not limited to petrification, poison, death magic, dragon breath, spells, or vorpal sword-related decapitations.

Agreed.

I wasn't suggesting that all fighters should be protectors in the least.  I mearly pointed out that Fighters have many avenues of success to take - and not all of them should result in them being the dominate force in melee damage.

And again, with Rogues.... I completely agree that they shouldn't just be Backstabbers and Assassins.... or Thugs and Ruffians.... but... they should have that option.  As it is now, the Best Assassin would be a Fighter and the dirtiest, low-down Thug would also be a Fighter.

Rogues have become a one-trick pony. They are Skill Masters and nothing else. 
this is where multiclassing need to be done right, so if you want to make that skilled death ninja you would have a few levels in both Fighter and Rogue. The Rogue in our game is based on the concept on ninja (stealth specialist) and has proven to be uber-effective, but some of that is the role-playing efforts of our party too.

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of any failed saving throw, including but not limited to petrification, poison, death magic, dragon breath, spells, or vorpal sword-related decapitations.

thanks for the cool playtest feedback! It sounds like things went pretty smoothly overall. Most of the issues you had have already been mentioned by the devs as 'in work'.

About your monk....while Monks don't currently get the use magic weapons with their unarmed attacks, they DO literally become magic weapons in terms of overcoming resistance. So the way I see it, the monk is actually at an advantage there. At level 2 their unarmed strikes overcome resistance as if they were magical, adamantine, cold iron, and silver! With an ability like that at such a low level, there's a chance the monk will be doing the most damage against creatures with those resistances.

And if you did want to give them magic weapons, I'd suggest one of 2 methods:
1) Let them use any "monk weapons" (the ones they are proficient with) in combat, but use the unarmed monk damage (1d6 finesse) in place of the weapon damage. Treat magic weapons as you normally would, with the exception of the damage die.
2) As someone else suggested above, craft enchancted gloves or hand-wraps that provide magical bonuses.

I prefer the first method, personally. I see nothing wrong with saying my monk weilds a staff, spear, or hand axe, as long as mechanically they are still balanced to deal the same weapon damage.

Please introduce yourself to the new D&D 5e forums in this very friendly thread started by Pukunui!

 

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Giving classes iconic abilities that don't break the game: Ramzour's Class Defining Ability system.

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this is where multiclassing need to be done right, so if you want to make that skilled death ninja you would have a few levels in both Fighter and Rogue. The Rogue in our game is based on the concept on ninja (stealth specialist) and has proven to be uber-effective, but some of that is the role-playing efforts of our party too.

That is the wonderful thing about roleplaying... it will always trump worries about mechanics and relative strength - but only in groups/campaigns where RP is important/welcome.

That said, for release, the rules need to be as fair, consistant, and solid as possible.  The mark of a good RPG is one where DMs/GMs don't have to houserule and tweak to fix mechanical problems with the game.
Thanks for the great writeup!


My cleric PC agrees that the class feels a bit underwhelming... all she does is lance of faith every round with the occasional healing spell and she's gotten bored with that. Preparing 0-level spells and keeping track of domain spells and at-wills is a bit confusing... I still liked the cantrip mechanic.


Our fighter hasn't gotten to level 6 yet but I could see how extra attack + deadly strike could be a little too much I will have to see.    
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