Thoughts on D&D next based on playtest packed dated 17 DEC 2012

Ok reading into the last Packet 6 (17 Dec 2012) release, and having used it now 2 times.


As a DM and Player of D&D dating back the original small boxed set , and switched to the AD&D books when I got then for Christmas in 78. I have played 1st 2nd and 3/3.5rd and tried 4th edition.  For like  months till as a group all three groups of people I play with went back to 3.5.  Two of those groups have moved over to Pathfinder. The other group is still using 3.ted.


All three groups have been play testing.


We love the speed of combat, and the ease of character building.


We love Vancian Magic and want more of it. We see the spells per day allotments low, and the only can prepare your level +1 spells per day to way to low. (To those who say it is dead an all games have moved away from it: I point back to Pathfinder system the #1 selling FRPG for 2 years + the hordes of OSR games doing well that use it. Market share says it is still the leader.)


We miss the bonus spell based on Stats.


Making some spells (Cantrips, Orsins) as free casting we can live with but we think that free damage spells should be no more damaging than say a common weapon strike (1d6/1d8) max and should require a to hit role. Just as anyone can swing a weapon round to round a caster and jab at you with magic.


We agree that Detect (anything) as an ‘at will’ spell is wrong.


We would like longer durations on light spells and not limited to concentration.


Spells that scale in damage or effect with level is also nice, and required. Especially in light of the trend of martial dice and martial damage to scale with levels.  Though there looks to be a bit over the top at high levels as the Martial ones remain in effect round after round, and the casters are limited due to low spell per day count.


We Like the concepts behind:  Back grounds, Maneuvers, and Specialties.


Some examples of feat swe would like to see added or put back in:


Alertness: +2 Initiative, listen and spot


Blind fighting: Just an ability that allows a character to operate in darkness without disadvantage.  As this one has been around for a while the lack of it was unexpected.


Weapon Master:  Chose 1 melee and one 1 ranged weapon you are proficient with and increase the damage dice by 1 level.


We want to see more options in each, not that a character should gain more of them just more to pick from.  We as Old school players are used to levels where all you got was more hit points.


We Like the lower overall Armor classes and that effect on combat.


Things that surprised us:


Unarmored clerics – The player who had been playing the Lightbringer was not happy, but is agreeing to try it for a session or two.


Skill Dice is not so smooth:  and require more dice. Like the version in Packet 5 better,  (D20 +3 when trained). Then gaining points to make personal adjustments at the player’s choice as you gain levels.


Things for the long term that we have come up with of seen on the boards:


More Races: Gnomes, Half elves, Half orcs, and Half orgers


More traditions of magic:


More core classes: Barbarians, Bards, Druids, Rangers, and Paladins

We see the spells per day allotments low, and the only can prepare your level +1 spells per day to way to low.



Personally, I like the lower spells per day -- it makes those high-level spells feel a lot more appropriately dramatic when you only have the one, and all of those high-level spells are made to where you always get something for your spell slot (either it's something that doesn't involve a save, it still has some effect on a successful save, or you keep the spell slot if a successful save completely negates the spell). And honestly, in my experience playing spellcasters in 3.5, the "limit" on spells per day becomes largely nonexistent past the very early levels outside of very intense and drawn-out strings of encounters (even without a 5-minute workday), so I'm glad to see limits on spell slots that will actually be meaningful in play.

But that aside, I'm more interested in why you think the limit on spell preparation is too low. At most, the difference between the number of spells you can prepare and the number you can cast is 4, and this only holds for levels 9 through 11. Outside of those 3 levels, you have less difference between spells prepared and total spell slots -- and at level 19 and 20 (if you get that far) you can actually prepare more spells than you could actually cast in the day! If you were using a classic Vancian setup, odds are you'd have at least two or three spells that you'd want to prepare two or three times each -- that's basically what you're doing here, but you're not locked into exactly how many times you're preparing any given spell, only in how many spells total you can cast from the list you prepared.
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Our campaign options are more than 4 flights per day = a day and spells were also a mages a tool kit for these actions outside of combat.


It is about the other uses for spell:


Long duration light spells as options over torches and oil lamps (Yes I know cantrips are at will but the wizard passes out and the lights go out)


Tenser’s floating disk as a litter to bring out a badly wounded friend, or a feather fall to save myself of a friend: Or another magic missile what will I choose.


Rope trick to get out of a sloped walled pit or a crevasse, or Darkvision for the thief so light does not give them away: Or another Scorching ray.


Tongues to allow us to communicate with the ‘Flying spider monkeys’, or Shrink Item to get that oversized item out the door and down the hall: Or an extra fireball.


A Remove curse to help a ally, or Stone shape to seal or unseal a door/portal: Or another Ice Storm.


A teleport spell to evacuate the party, or A transmute rock to mud to remove fallen stones: Or a Cloudkill.


Stone to Flesh to save an ally, or an Animatic field to negate a permanent magic trap: Or A Chain Lighting.


Darwmij’s Instant summons or Mordenkainen’s Maginificent Mansion both for the utility value to the party or Finger of Death.


I could drag this out longer but it come down to the numbers as shown really pigeonholes mages into the cannon or other job (not using the word role on purpose)


They spoke of opening up options and what we see here is a closing off of options in an attempt to balance combats over the rest of the game time.


Our games have always been more than smash the door in how big is the room, kill the leader, mop up the minnions and loot the place.


Abilities, skills, and spells depending on class are needed for these functions beyond the fights.


We see so many people measuring (damage per round ) and looking no further in their postings.

I guess I can kind of see your point about the limited spells/day restricting a caster's out-of-combat toolkit. I never really had any issue with running out of spell slots in 3.5 due to utility spellcasting, probably in large part because utility spells are generally best handled with wands and scrolls and I rarely used my own spell slots on them. But with scrolls and wands not nearly so ubiquitous in Next, I guess that's not so much the case anymore.

However, it is worth noting that this is a question of playstyle as much as anything. Whereas some (like yourself) might like to use spells to solve problems, many others see this as a weakness of 3.5/PF. A lot of people would prefer magic to be used sparingly for solving such problems, rather than turning to the wizard for every last thing. Perhaps the point of limiting spells per day is to force you to make that hard choice between using a spell to magic away your problems, or save that resource for more dire circumstances and figure out a mundane way of handling it. Instead of simply selecting an option from your character sheet that essentially reads "make problem go away", figure out some creative way of getting past it without using that precious limited resource. Of course, this also means DMs will need to account for the fact that wizards won't necessarily just magic their way past every obstacle, and thus avoid putting too many obstacles that can only be solved with magic.

There's also the issue that there needs to be a balance within each class between combat ability and out-of-combat utility. If a class is maximally competent both at taking out enemies in combat and overcoming obstacles out of combat, it defeats the purpose of a class-based cooperative game -- you need each class to have both strengths and weaknesses. If wizards can kick butt in combat on par with the fighter and still have plenty of mojo left over to magic away any obstacles the party comes across afterward, that's a problem. That means the wizard excels in every major arena of the game, whereas other classes are stuck being good at only one and merely decent at the others. This is basically the root of the "caster supremacy" issue people complain about in 3.5 -- spellcasters excel at just about everything, whereas noncasters generally excel at only one specific thing and are useless anywhere else. By limiting spells per day, you can give the wizard access to both combat and noncombat spells without it meaning that wizards will always excel both in and out of combat. If you want to use magic for noncombat purposes, you'll have to hold back in combat rather than blowing everything up with Fireballs and Magic Missiles. You can't have your cake and eat it too.
But at least the way cantrips are in the latest playtest, you can still make a meaningful contribution in combat (though not nearly as much as a fighter can do consistently -- which is as it should be) if you decide to hold your big spells back for utility purposes.
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