Non-D&D Players Playtesting

A friend who has never played any edition of dungeons and dragons ever after a couple a play session with D&D Next brings up certain questions.


And it got me thinking – one of the issues with Playtesting is that the majority of playtesters are D&D players. There are certain places that we just wont go – while they will. We need to get more people which have little to zero preconceived perceptions of the game to playtest.


This is what was put forward: 


So you have expertise dice, advantage/disadvantage dice, different dice for different damage, different dice for attack – why cant we just use a single die type for everything ?


Specialties give feats, maneuvers give combat feats ? Why cant we just call im all maneuvers or all feats ?


Sometimes an advantage is granted and sometimes a numerical bonus ? Why cant we just stick to one ?


Why are there so many sub-mechanics ?  Why do so many things in D&D (any edition) require you to pause a session and look it up ?


Why is there no unifying conflict resolution that runs everything ?


Why doesn’t by level 1 magician cast level 1 spells and level 2 when he gets to level 2, and level 3 when he gets to level 3 ?


Why cant my elf be a faerie which talks to trees ? Its a fantasy system not a setting, why doesn’t the core rules allow us to make different flavor of elves or dwarves rather then just Tolkien inspired ones ?


WoTC will figure out what D&D players want, but how about what non-D&D players want ?   

The answer to many of these questions is - This was done in previous editions, and now they are trying to move away from those mechanics to something different

Why cant your elf be a faerie? It can, your DM just has to come up with the rules for it. If in the rulebook under "Races" it had a bunch of tables and lists of things that you could then put together and call it a race, a lot of people would NOT be very happy, more people than would be happy with that scenario. Plus, the game would no longer be Dungeons & Dragons, the races are part of the icon of the game.



So you have expertise dice, advantage/disadvantage dice, different dice for different damage, different dice for attack – why cant we just use a single die type for everything ?

Because polyhedrals are awesome, and using nothing but sixers is boring.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
So you have expertise dice, advantage/disadvantage dice, different dice for different damage, different dice for attack – why cant we just use a single die type for everything ?

Because polyhedrals are awesome, and using nothing but sixers is boring.



Tell that to Champions players Cool

I really think that non-D&D players, like this one, bring up good issues that we've become accustomed to, but that are obvious areas for improvement and obstacles to the accessibility of the game. I think we need to really get back to the drawing board and make a game that just 'makes sense'.

"Make things as simple as possible, but no simpler." - Albert Einstein

So you have expertise dice, advantage/disadvantage dice, different dice for different damage, different dice for attack – why cant we just use a single die type for everything ?

Because polyhedrals are awesome, and using nothing but sixers is boring.



Tell that to Champions players Cool


Ok, where are they?  I'll tell them.  And if they try to argue, they'll be wrong.

You want to play with a fistfull of sixes, go play Yahtzee.

D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Your friend's choice of words sounds very much like not only a D&D player, but a visitor to these forums.  So maybe you worded the questions from what they really said, but instead it comes across as you are asking these questions under the guise of a "non-player".

"The turning of the tide always begins with one soldier's decision to head back into the fray"

Maneuvers are an easy way to put a prerequisite to gain them, instead of adding a lot of feats with class prerequisite to the feat list.

Every spells could also be feats with specific prerequisite, but I'm not sure that a huge list of feats to handle any class option is the way to go for a game based on archetypes, and not organic character development.

The only interest when basing a game on archetypes is to simplify things. So if you have archetype, the best thing to do is to play on its strength and attach everything that makes sense to it, and only provide general options for aspects that can be shared by all archetypes without doubt.

I include skills in this, keeping them away from the archetypes is an old nonsense in D&D, now.
Thieves had their own archetypal skills in the past. How they were implemented was not good, but each class should give access to its own set of archetypal competences, without having to invest optional ressources.
The "sacred cow" skill system is basically skill taxes, just like having feats to make a class functions better is feat taxes.

D&D is based on archetypes, so the archetypes should provide anything archetypal to this class, from feats (maneuvers, spells) to competences (no true example, the closer is the old thief or bad limited skill set).
Feats and skills should only be characterization tools, functioning in addition to what the archetype already offers.
You want to play with a fistfull of sixes, go play Yahtzee.

Or a pre-4e arcane caster? Innocent

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So you have expertise dice, advantage/disadvantage dice, different dice for different damage, different dice for attack – why cant we just use a single die type for everything ?

Granularity in randomneses and distribution.  (math).

You could do stuff like, 1d6 reroll 5 and 6.  Or 1d8/2.  Or d20/5.  But it's quicker to do roll a d4.

Specialties give feats, maneuvers give combat feats ? Why cant we just call im all maneuvers or all feats ?

Wizards get feats and spells, but not manuvers.  Fighters get feats and manuvers and not spells.  So you want to keep them seperate lists.

Sometimes an advantage is granted and sometimes a numerical bonus ? Why cant we just stick to one ?

Math.

Why are there so many sub-mechanics ?  Why do so many things in D&D (any edition) require you to pause a session and look it up ?

To keep things interesting and have different classes play differently.

That happens with any game.  More complex games with more stuff require more look-ups.

Why is there no unifying conflict resolution that runs everything ?

There is.  1d20+mod. vs DC/AC/ect.

Why doesn’t by level 1 magician cast level 1 spells and level 2 when he gets to level 2, and level 3 when he gets to level 3 ?

Good question.  But it is that was from the begining, so it's unlikely to change.

Why cant my elf be a faerie which talks to trees ?

There where faries (pixies) and a few "talk to tree" spells/abilities in previous editions.  Next is pretty thin on content at the moment.

And you can ask your DM for things that do not exsists.  He's encuraged to say yes.

Its a fantasy system not a setting, why doesn’t the core rules allow us to make different flavor of elves or dwarves rather then just Tolkien inspired ones ?

Some settings do.  Dark sun for instance.  But when most people think of dwarves and elves, they think of Tolkien.

And again, ask your DM.  He's encurage to say yes.

WoTC will figure out what D&D players want, but how about what non-D&D players want ?

They can't (at least i can't think of a way).  Though they'll definatly listen to this.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

I have a certain amount of experience with the game stretching back over two decades now. I actually have a lot of the same questions as the OP posted.
The game designers seem to go out of their way to make 5e needlessly complicated.
While the questions are valid and good things to consider.
I have seen non-D&D players playtest. At the Escapist Expo where James Wyatt ran playtest games. These players, claimed, to have not played D&D previously. From what I saw, they picked it up real fast and were quite creative with their abilities. 
So, I don't know if it was your player that had problems or if these people were just a fluke, but I think they way things are now the rules are easier to pick up than ever before.
The game designers seem to go out of their way to make 5e needlessly complicated.



The plan if they stick to it... is to make  the elements of complexity suitably modular so that I can play with my daughter using fundamentals and easily ignore higher elements of complexity ... or add them on in a well defined and play tested way, when my son and others are in the action.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

Curious, what game(s) does this player have experience with?
I agree with the OP's concerns, as well. I'm very interested in getting my non-gamer family and friends to join my table and these sorts of concerns illustrate to me an opportunity to improve the game's design.

That said, I am very optimistic about the proposed 'modularity' design.

"Make things as simple as possible, but no simpler." - Albert Einstein

I've DM'ed playtests for two complete parties of complete Noobs. They had a blast. The only hang-ups were, "where do these bonuses come from?" and some confusion about healing, hit die and getting used to the idea that thy wouldn't always be at full health between fights like a video game.
A few guidelines for using the internet: 1. Mentally add "In my opinion" to the end of basically anything someone else says. Of course it's their opinion, they don't need to let you know. You're pretty smart. 2. Assume everyone means everything in the best manner they could mean it. Save yourself some stress and give people the benefit of the doubt. We'll all be happier if we type less emoticons. 3. Don't try to read people's minds. Sometimes people mean exactly what they say. You probably don't know them any better than they know themselves. 4. Let grammar slide. If you understood what they meant, you're good. It's better for your health. 5. Breath. It's just a dumb game.
So you have expertise dice, advantage/disadvantage dice, different dice for different damage, different dice for attack – why cant we just use a single die type for everything ?

Because polyhedrals are awesome, and using nothing but sixers is boring.



Tell that to Champions players Cool


Ok, where are they?  I'll tell them.  And if they try to argue, they'll be wrong.

You want to play with a fistfull of sixes, go play Yahtzee.




Oh it's not the handfull of d6 I mind in Champions/Hero.  Oh no. (afterall, I have quite a bit of fun using just d6s in almost every minis wargame I play)  It's the pointlessly involved game mechanics.  Who thought this crap up?  Talk about a clunky system. 
Curious, what game(s) does this player have experience with?



Mostly superhero games like the 80s DC and Marvel and Pendragon.  Hes not totally lost with D&D since he did a lots of the TSR/SSI era games.

Im sorry i cant figure out how to quote multiple authors so ill address them by manually typing.

orkbard
"So, I don't know if it was your player that had problems or if these people were just a fluke, but I think they way things are now the rules are easier to pick up than ever before"

He didnt have problems nor difficulty in picking up the rules, just these concerns.

mellored and Phoenix182
Yes you have answered his concerns and most of the other guys a the table had  similar responses - but answering is not the point, the point is as  ggboostrom put it, do these explanations get people other the usual D&Ders interested ?

I personally myself have been interested in very different types of games for the last couple of years, so i too (thou not along the same lines as my friend) am interested in D&D this time doing something diversifying their target audience .  At the moment it does not appear to be.   
MY seven year old daughter loves her monk, and had almost no issues with the system.
My 40 year old wife was a different story. First time for both.

Where does that leave us?

The best part was everytime my daughter attacked, she felt the need to stand up and demonstrate the moves, she was truly immersed.... She accounted for each FoB roll. 

Also my daughter asked no questions about the game except, when can we play next., I said, "Whenever you can convince mom to play..." 

My mind is a deal-breaker.

So you have expertise dice, advantage/disadvantage dice, different dice for different damage, different dice for attack – why cant we just use a single die type for everything ? Because you simply can't have a d20 do damage or the damage becomes swingy. Expertise dice have the issue of being additional damage. This means at level one they can only be a d4, but really a d4 isn't must fun and so needs to scale later in the game as monsters increase in hp. Ideally expertise dice would stay at a d4, but there are possibly mathematical reasons this can't be. The different dice for different damage is what makes a greatsword a better choice than a dagger. 


Specialties give feats, maneuvers give combat feats ? Why cant we just call im all maneuvers or all feats ? Because feats are really not maneuvers. Though using combat feats in place of maneuvers could make sense.


Sometimes an advantage is granted and sometimes a numerical bonus ? Why cant we just stick to one ? Because adv/disadv is a horrible system that shoudl be tossed away. The levels of cover really can't be done with adv/disadv. I'd prefer we just stick with the numerical bonus myself.


Why are there so many sub-mechanics ?  Why do so many things in D&D (any edition) require you to pause a session and look it up ? Life that is a roleplaying game.


Why is there no unifying conflict resolution that runs everything ? Really not sure what is meant by this.


Why doesn’t by level 1 magician cast level 1 spells and level 2 when he gets to level 2, and level 3 when he gets to level 3 ? Because he only gets spells every other level. So spells need to be either odd levels (thus skipping a level) or behind his actual level (not skipping any level). Because different classes have historically granted skills at different times the latter has been the default way to go.


Why cant my elf be a faerie which talks to trees ? Its a fantasy system not a setting, why doesn’t the core rules allow us to make different flavor of elves or dwarves rather then just Tolkien inspired ones ? Because faeries are faeries and elves are elves. Nothing is stopping this with DM approval though.


WoTC will figure out what D&D players want, but how about what non-D&D players want ?   In order to become D&D Players? At this point they probably don't want to play D&D, but they can join in the playtest as well. I think ultimately making current D&D players happy is the only real way to go at the moment. 




Because polyhedrals are awesome, and using nothing but sixers is boring.

What if they were all d12s?

The metagame is not the game.
Because polyhedrals are awesome, and using nothing but sixers is boring.

What if they were all d12s?


Immeasurably superior.  d12s are the best dice.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Because polyhedrals are awesome, and using nothing but sixers is boring.

What if they were all d12s?



Nobody has ever designed a game that uses only d12s because it would destroy the universe in a single blaze of awesomeness.
Because polyhedrals are awesome, and using nothing but sixers is boring.

What if they were all d12s?


Immeasurably superior.  d12s are the best dice.




I like D4's because they double as caltrops.

My mind is a deal-breaker.

d4s are the second best dice.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
d4s are the second best dice.



If my DM's fiat leads to a 'dicy' situation, I can throw down a handful of D4s and make my get away.

My mind is a deal-breaker.

But d12 is the most massive of the dice, making it the ideal ranged weapon.  I guess it depends on whether your more aggressive or defensive as a DM!
But d12 is the most massive of the dice, making it the ideal ranged weapon.  I guess it depends on whether your more aggressive or defensive as a DM!



All work equally well crammed into a blunderbus

My mind is a deal-breaker.

Minus the d20, which I'm indifferent on, the bigger the die the better. d12s FTW. Go take some tumbling lessons, lil' d4s.