Feedback From a DM of 25 Years from Basic All the Way Up to D&D Next


I have been playing for 25 years, 95% of that time DMing D&D from Basic to Expert to 1st edition all the way up to 4th edition and now D&D Next.

My gaming group has played 4e for roughly the past two years.  There is a lot to like but it too suffers, at higher levels, from some of the same problems that 3.5 did - the combat breaks down, takes way too long, gets too rulesy and cumbersome and character combinations can become too cheaty and overpowered.  At least once every couple sessions someone comments about a 4e rule "and I thought 4e was supposed to be simpler!"  My general point in telling you this is that as a DM I sincerely hope that any new edition stays fun and simple as characters level up and doesn't allow for broken combinations and classes that are overpowered. 

We began the playtest and have been playing it.  Feedback:   

The Good:
We had that nostalgic "old school D&D feeling." 
It seemed to try and simplify some aspects such as everything being stat based and only one defensive stat, AC.
I like the "You get a move and action" and that's it, speeds up combat.  Unless I missed it though, PCs should be limited to just one "free" action per turn.
The Advantage and Disadvantage system seems very cool!

The Bad:
Fighter is broken with the feat everyone complains about.  Within a day my Rogue said "I should just be a fighter!"
Healing rule, as written (refocus) can easily be cheated out.  After every fight I just keep using it to heal to full.
Allowing Wizards unlimited Detect Magic feels broken too.  Think of all the modules that this spell will ruin.
Keep it simple!  For example, a Nat 20 gives max damage.  However, you need PC levels to add more rolled damage.  Why not just let everyone get +2d6 damage including mobs?  Keep It Simple!
Allowing a PC to move before AND after their Action (you can split your move) makes combat longer, take out that rule.  You get one move and Action, period.
Dodge gives +4 AC to the DEX saves.  Again, Keep It Simple!  +4 to all defenses, period, less to remember.  Instead of Dodge, call it "Prepare" or "Gird" to justify that you have +4 vs any attack. 
Unless I missed it, I didnt see any rules on moving in Stealth, can you move max distance?
Keep it Simple - You use Wisdom AND Intelligence for some perception-related things.  Make it so you use just one.  Many times we had to reference which was which, Keep It Simple!

There is "what is logical" and what "makes a good, fun and streamlined game."  The benefit of simple is that you spend less time "rules lawyering" and more time playing and role playing.  For example, it may make sense to use INT for SPOT and WIS for SEARCH and CHA to LISTEN (just as an example) but it wastes time trying to remember which is which.  Use one stat, done.   

Some good points there about simplicity . overall, though, I think it s easier to house rule simplicity than it is to house rule complexity. By which I mean: if rules allow for some complexity, though not too much, you can always and easily house rule that complexity out of your game. House ruling complexity in that isn't there to begin with is a lot harder.

move and action. My players love that you can break this up. We use a vtt so combat is still fast. This is one of the highlights of the system for them.
Extra mob DMg on crit: too early to say. Pc/monster math is hugely unbalanced right now. We're in wait and see mode.
dodge as all defense: would make my group unhappy. Better to house rule for your group.
adv/disadv: potentially broken, the 25 point swing either way makes it 'I can't miss' on adv and 'why even try might as well go home' on disadvantage. Those are literal comments by my group. We're observing. if the current system will impact fun, we will house rule to something like +-2.

So there's a good example: unless a lot of people complain, keep the adv/disadvantage system as is. It is easier for my group to house rule something simpler and less swingy than it is to house rule the current adv/disadvantage system in, should wizards remove it. Always easier to rule complexity out than to rule it in, if only for reasons of player psychology

Agree with the confusion surrounding Perception/Wisdom for spotting and listening... please keep it simple and stick to one attribute for that.
Agree with the confusion surrounding Perception/Wisdom for spotting and listening... please keep it simple and stick to one attribute for that.

You can always make it "choose one" 

I personaly like being able to play the sherlock homes (new BBC) like character.. he is razor sharp, but not the wiseist man in the house...  
I agree with point about skills (assuming I understood correctly). I really didn't see any problem with 3.5's skill system and I can't find a reason to get rid of it. If anything, the problem with using abilities is that there is no realistic or plausible way for them to correlate with the skill needed to accomplish a task plus they actually complicate the game needlessly imho. Perhaps having a skill list requires a teensy amount of extra work while preparing your character, e.g. after level-up, however the rewards are reaped during play when you can just easily reference the skill level you have on the sheet (and be rather specific about it too).
Think of the modules detect magic will ruin? You mean none of them ever, right?

ATTENTION:  If while reading my post you find yourself thinking "Either this guy is being sarcastic, or he is an idiot," do please assume that I am an idiot. It makes reading your replies more entertaining. If, however, you find yourself hoping that I am not being even remotely serious then you are very likely correct as I find irreverence and being ridiculous to be relaxing.

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