Playtest of "The Mud Sorcerer's Tomb"

First off, big ups to ProfessorProf, Gazetteer, and Ryuujin from the SA forums for giving this a shot with me.

Our level 14 playtest was kind of a mess. It had two fights, the second ending with a wipe (except for Ryuujin's Monk, but well get to that in a bit). I'm going to break this into several sections since there was so much that I wasn't happy with.

Rules:
Despite being around for six month there are still variety of interactions that are not clear. Are curses diseases (something that would have been important had the party survived)? Do the MDD auto maximize on a crit (we assumed no but the crit rules say maximize damage and add the weapon dice)? When does a fighter get back their MDD (rules say turn not round)? The scattered nature of the rules plus the poor layout of the document is currently making this harder to play than it should be.

Player Characters:
We had a fighter, monk, and cleric. There are some issues with each.

Fighter: The good news is that the Fighter does feel powerful. The bad news is that it makes a poor defender, and I was told by ProfessorProf in our post-game discussion that it was about as boring to play as it looked as there was no reason to not just swing big for a bunch of extra damage. There is also no impetus for a monster to engage the fighter when easier prey is around. Their MDD allow them not only dish out a massive attack on their turn, but as the rules are written, then mitigate an equally massive amount of damage on their turn via parry. The only reason to not just brush past them is fear of a MDD'd AoO, but only one of those is going out per round.

Cleric: Poor Gazeteer... you got to fire a few arrows, buff the Monk, then were devoured by Mummies. RIP homie. I can't say much about the Cleric since they didn't get to do a whole lot in the one round they weren't being stunned by a Mummy. The question, if Gazeteer survived this, would be if their Cure (which cures all diseases) also clears curses. The cleric seems to have decent offensive potential but was hampered by the poor design of this module from actually doing anything.

Monk: Everyone give Ryuujin a round of applause because he broke this system in two with his mighty kung-fu. His character, at level 14, has unlimited short range teleportation, and had an absolutely stratospheric AC of 26. Since the highest attack bonus of any monster in this module was +9 he was nigh untouchable. Also... he can cast Hadokens if he needs to do elemental damage. The Monk really feels like it wandered in from another game that uses different math. Speaking of which...

Monsters:
Okay, to be honest, at this point, all I can say is that the Monster Math is there. To me, it is inscrutable. Case in point, the first encounter was against a level 18 monster worth 45,930 xp, it's gimmick was that it could attack four times in one round. They pulped it in two rounds without any risk of reprisal. 

The second encounter, two level 10 mummies worth a combined total of 16,680 xp. These two monsters, that are four levels below the party and outnumbered, proceeded to happily slaughter the fighter and cleric while the Monk could only watch. They had a save or suck ten round stun (each) and another save or suck curse (different from a disease?!) on hit that would prevent you from regaining hit points and kill you within two weeks if not removed. Also, they were resistant to all physical damage as well as necrotic typed. But they were vulnerable fire so I guess they're balanced?

Looking at this I have no idea how an encounter is supposed to be put together. XP alone is clearly not a good indicator, but there isn't anything else to figure out how dangerous a creature is supposed to be. Additionally, as mentioned before, their attack bonuses don't necessarily scale with party defenses. I needed a 17 or better to touch the monk, so again, why not focus on the things that will actually be hit and provide a challenge to the party? Hint: because it immediately pulps them. The average damage from their attacks was over a third of the fighter hit points and many monsters have multiple attacks per round. Unless you're supposed to be gulping down healing potions like a JRPG after a fight I am very concerned with how things scale in this game. 

Adventure Design:
This module, "The Mud Sorcerer's Tomb" was horrible. There's no nice way to put it. Almost all of the checks to progress the adventure are INT based, which means the party stands around while the wizard is smart at things. More, the clues inside the tomb are in a dead language that no one has an opportunity to learn. For those of you who are connoisseurs of poor game design, this is basically the Verdernt Nablorong problem from World of Synnibarr. It would have been tolerable if the party had a wizard

Now, if I was running this for my group, and assuming I wanted them to have fun, I would have changed the checks around, allowed Dungeoneering or Spot, inserted a sort of Rosetta stone thing (because presupposing party composition is a horrible thing to do), etc. But my goal here is to see how D&D Next works as written, and I have a sinking suspicion that it doesn't. 

See, this module is an examplar of old school design. You need to get the key from the pool in room A by ringing the bell, then waiting for it to drain, then making a DC 7 INT check (or DC 25 WIS because INT is better that's why) to be able to get past room C (where you can dig seven feet down to find a coffin in one alcove but as someone who has dug ditches that isn't something that happens in a few rounds but rather over a surprisingly long amount of time since you can only get one person a shovel down there) to get to room E where you find the scroll with the hint (in a dead language you need a spell to read) of how to solve room H and oh god what are we doing with our afternoon? 

The other modules fair slightly better but rely on Gygaxian Naturalism to determine encounters rather than, you know, game design. They advise you that you can increase or decrease the difficulties of encounters but, as noted above, the actual monster math is so confusing that it's hard to get a feel of what you should be throwing at the party. They also have a nasty habit of mixing in time measurements in minutes rather than turns, which means some effects will last all fight.

At this point the game doesn't seem terribly fun for players, and as a DM seems like a quite a bit more work than it should be. 
Two things. First, what was your method for calculating abilty scores and how do you think that affected the playtest? Second, can you post a copy of the monk's stats? I fell over laughing after reading your description and I want to know how the monk player managed his impressive feat! Laughing

Just a few onions short of a patch.

Scathing as it is, this is good input, GZ.  It's hard for me to comment extensively, as I haven't given either the adventure or level 10+ characters a run, but there are some points/questions I have to the above.

First, as Remove Curse was always a staple to D&D, I am guessing that this is an oversight at the moment.  Greater Restoration *is* in the game currently and it will remove a curse, but as a level 7 spell, that's a bit of a high price tag on any simple curse (though the ones you point to are obviously not simple).

Second, did you reduce the encounters?  One character less will definitely add much more difficulty to an encounter.

You are 100% correct on the need for more clarity in the rules.  When MDD get recharged (I use start of PC's turn, but last actual ruling I saw on it in writing was end of turn - which I don't like), Spell Casting in Melee, Crit rolls, Dual Weilding, etcetera and so forth are all needing better wording.  I think we all have to accept the shortcomings in BETA testing and look at intent when necessary.

Monk... Well, I haven't dived too deeply into them.  26 AC, hm...  A level 14 Fighter by comparison would have... what?  I would assume at least something like +3 Plate and a +3 Shield by then.  That would put him at AC 25.  Honestly, I am not sure what the typical equipment expectations are for NEXT right now, but I would think +3 items in key slots by level 14 would actually be fairly understated even.  So I am not sure if that AC 26 seems as outrageous as it appears.  Really hard to judge what the expected equipment is without some reasonable guide or more experience, though.

I am 100% with anyone who assesses the Bestiary to needing a lot of fine tuning, though.  Honestly, I think class features, fun, and balance is higher priority than monster development, so while we all strive to help make the classes the best they can be, I think we have to accept that the Bestiary is getting the shorter end of the attention stick.

At any rate, informative read and definitely worth mulling over! 
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />You are 100% correct on the need for more clarity in the rules.  When MDD get recharged (I use start of PC's turn, but last actual ruling I saw on it in writing was end of turn - which I don't like),
 



well to me it was pretty straight forward. you never actually spend the dice. you just cant use the same one twice in the same turn
You may be right (I haven't spent significant time reading the rules with the holiday days here upon us), but I really don't like it at all if that's their intent.  It's taking strategy and thought completely out of the class in that case.  I actually like the fact that there was more than just drool and dice to the class initially.

Two things. First, what was your method for calculating abilty scores and how do you think that affected the playtest? Second, can you post a copy of the monk's stats? I fell over laughing after reading your description and I want to know how the monk player managed his impressive feat! 


Character creation used the standard 27 point buy, then rolling for 13 levels of hit dice. Someone, on another forum, was kind/insane enough to sit down and figure out how many magic items and cash a party would acquire over fourteen levels. I used the mean value of those giving each character a budget of around 16,000 gp to kit out with. 

As for the monk:


Name: Po 
Race: Human
Class: Monk 14
Specialty: none
Background: Commoner


Stats
Base Cost Race Class Level Total Mod
Strength 10 2 +1 +0 1 12 +1
Dexterity 15 9 +2 +1 2 20 +5
Constitution 11 3 +1 +0 0 12 +1
Intelligence 11 3 +1 +0 0 12 +1
Wisdom 15 9 +1 +0 3 19 +4
Charisma 09 1 +1 +0 0 10 +0


HP: 104/104 1d8 (5)/level


AC: 13+5+5=23


Feats: 
Level 1 - Toughness (Gain an extra hit point equal to level, each level after gain 1 extra HP)
Level 3 - Hide in Shadows (Gain training in Sneak skill. Gain the ability to hide in dim light
and other lightly obscured areas. Gain low-light vision with a range of 10’.)
Level 6 - Weapon Mastery (When roll MDD to increase damage can reroll one or two
of those dice and keep the second result.)
Level 9 - Iron Hide (Whenever he takes bludgeoning, piercing or slashing damage the damage
it is reduced by 1.)


Skills:
Gather Rumors +1d10 Cha +0 
Knowledge Folklore +1d10 Int +1 
Persuade +1d10 Cha +0 
Profession Sailor +1d10 Int +1
Sneak +1d10 Dex +5
Spot +1d10 Wis+4
Listen +1d10 Wis+4


Trait:
Salt of the Earth: Can find a place to hide, rest or recuperate among commoners, unless have 
shown to be a danger to them.


Armor and Shield Proficiencies: None
Weapon Proficiencies: Club, dagger, handaxe, light crossbow, longspear, quareterstaff, sling, 
spear


Weapon Attack +4+5=9 Ki 5/day
Maneuver DC 10+4+5=19 Martial Damage Dice 6d6
Martial Damage Bonus +15


Class Features:
Combat Expertise: 6d6 MDD, can be added to damage or spent on maneuvers
Mindful Defense: AC equal to 10 + Dex mod + Wis mod
Monastic Training: Gain training in two skills of my choice from: Balance, Climb,
Escape Artist, Listen, Sneak, Spot or Tumble.
Monastic Tradition: Pick a tradition, gain 1st level Ki power from it.
Way of the Fist: Unarmed strike functions as a finesse weapon with which he has
proficiency. It deals 1d6 bludgeoning damage.
Undaunted Strike: Unarmed strikes count as being magical, adamantine, cold iron, and 
silver for the purposes of overcoming resistance.
Purity of Body: Immune to disease.
Clear Mind: Cannot be charmed or frightened
Diamond Body: Immune to poison
Abundant Step: On my turn can give up normal movement to teleport up to 30’ 
to a location I can see.
Diamond Soul: Have advantage on all saving throws against spells.


Monastic Tradition: Path of the Phoenix
1st) Flames of the Phoenix: As an action can expend a use of ki to create a 15’ cone of magical fire
from my hands. Each creature in the cone takes fire damage equal to 2d6+monk level, or 
half damage on a successful Dexterity saving throw.
5th) Fiery Soul: When hit by a melee attack can use my reaction to expend a use of ki to channel
magical fire into the attacker. The attacker takes fire damage equal to 5+monk level, or 
half damage on a successful Constitution saving throw.
8th) Vengeful Flame: If reduced to 0 hit points or fewer, or even killed, can expend one use of ki
to cause magical flames to lash out. Choose up to 3 creatures within 50’ of me. Each takes
20 fire damage, plus an additional 20 fire damage for each unexpended use of ki I have remaining.


Maneuvers:
1st) Flurry of Blows: As an action, can make a flurry of blows. Spend one or two MDD, and make an
unarmed melee attack. If spent one die make a second unarmed melee attack as part of the same
action. If spent two dice, make two additional unarmed melee attacks as a part of the same action.
1st) Step of the Wind: When start a move can spend MDD to increase speed. Roll all the MDD he 
spent but take only the highest die result and multiply it by 5. Increase his speed for that move by
a number of feet equal to the total. If he spends at least two dice he can magically walk along
vertical surfaces as part of he move. If he spends at least three dice he can magically walk across 
any liquid as part of the move.
4th) Hurricane Strike: As an action can spend one, two, or three MDD to hurl an enemy my size or 
smaller away from me. Make an unarmed melee attack, if it hits it deals damage as normal, and 
the target must succeed on a Strength saving throw. If the creature fails its save the effect depends
on the number of dice spent. If spent one die the creature is knocked prone and pushed up to 10’
in a straight line away from me. If spent two dice can magically push a creature that is up to one
size larger than me and the push distance can be up to 30’. If spent three dice can magically push
a creature that is up to two sizes larger than me, and the push distance can be up to 60’.
7th) Iron Root Defense: As an action can spend MDD to reduce the damage I take for the next round,
provided I haven’t moved during this turn. Roll all the MDD I spend and add up their results.
Until the start of my next turn the damage I take from any source is reduced by that total.
Cannot move while this benefit is in effect, if I am somehow moved the benefit immediately ends.
10th) When I fall but before I take damage from the fall I can spend MDD to reduce the damage.
On landing roll all the MDDD I spent, add up their results and reduce the damage by that total.

Equipment:
Quarterstaff
dagger
Light crossbow
20 bolts
Adventurer’s kit
Caltrops
Climber’s kit
Silk rope (50 feet)
And belt pouch containing 74 gp and 8 sp


Common clothes,
Iron pot
spade
Flask of rotgut
Tool Kit (appropriate to profession)
14 gp and 4 sp


15,750 out of 16,000 GP worth of magic items


Bracers of Defense (AC becomes 13+Dex mod, instead of 10) 1,250 gp
Pale Blue Sphere Ioun Stone (+1 Wisdom) 3,500 gp
Ring of Regeneration [attuned] (regain 1d6 HP/10 min) 3,500 gp
Pale Green Prism Ioun Stone (+1 to attacks, saves, checks, and AC) 7,500 gp


HP 8+5+5+5+5+5+6+5+7+5+5+5+5+5 + 14 + 14 = 104





The key abilities here are: 
Mindful Defense - Allowing him to add his WIS mod to AC 
Abundant Step - Give up normal movement, teleport up to 30 feet to a location you can see.

Po is now a combination of the X-Men's Nightcrawler, Street Fighter's Ryu, and the US military M1 Abrams main battle tank. 

Scathing as it is, this is good input, GZ.  It's hard for me to comment extensively, as I haven't given either the adventure or level 10+ characters a run, but there are some points/questions I have to the above.


First, as Remove Curse was always a staple to D&D, I am guessing that this is an oversight at the moment.  Greater Restoration *is* in the game currently and it will remove a curse, but as a level 7 spell, that's a bit of a high price tag on any simple curse (though the ones you point to are obviously not simple).
 
 


Traditionally curses have been distinct from diseases, requiring a different potion/spell to remove them. But why would you put a fatal curse on a monster low level enough that the party's caster(s) wouldn't have access to the necessary spell to remove it?



Second, did you reduce the encounters?  One character less will definitely add much more difficulty to an encounter.

 


I did not. I wanted to run this RAW as this is playtest and no strict guidelines exist for encounter creation. Additionally, as pointed out, they demolished a single monster that was four levels above them and worth twice the combined XP of the mummies. What's more, an additional character would, unless it was WIS based, suffered the same issues of the massive multi-round stun (which is a mechanic I loathe and normally refuse to use when I DM) in that encounter.






You are 100% correct on the need for more clarity in the rules.  When MDD get recharged (I use start of PC's turn, but last actual ruling I saw on it in writing was end of turn - which I don't like), Spell Casting in Melee, Crit rolls, Dual Weilding, etcetera and so forth are all needing better wording.  I think we all have to accept the shortcomings in BETA testing and look at intent when necessary.

 


I can forgive some of those, but MDD is the new core mechanic for lots of classes. I get the suspicion this one of the things they really want feedback for and, so far, I'm seeing lots of playtest reports where the DM is house ruling them, which isn't doing anyone any good. RAW, this mechanic is ambiguous.






Monk... Well, I haven't dived too deeply into them.  26 AC, hm...  A level 14 Fighter by comparison would have... what?  I would assume at least something like +3 Plate and a +3 Shield by then.  That would put him at AC 25.  Honestly, I am not sure what the typical equipment expectations are for NEXT right now, but I would think +3 items in key slots by level 14 would actually be fairly understated even.  So I am not sure if that AC 26 seems as outrageous as it appears.  Really hard to judge what the expected equipment is without some reasonable guide or more experience, though.

 


I misspoke earlier. The monk only had 23 AC, which means the most dangrous monsters in this module could hit him on 14+. In contrast, the fighter had 18 AC: 10(base)+2(DEX now limited by armor)+5(Dragonscale Armor)+1(Ring of Protection). This feels... about right for base attack bonus on the monsters (which ranged from +7 to +9), they're hitting him about 35%-50% of the time. The monk just felt untouchable by just about everything in the dungeon.



I am 100% with anyone who assesses the Bestiary to needing a lot of fine tuning, though.  Honestly, I think class features, fun, and balance is higher priority than monster development, so while we all strive to help make the classes the best they can be, I think we have to accept that the Bestiary is getting the shorter end of the attention stick.

At any rate, informative read and definitely worth mulling over! 


 


Well thanks for suffering through my small novel up there. My concern is that there is some fundamental disconnect somewhere in the math that is going to prevent them from properly balancing classes. Without being able to build balanced encounters there’s no real way to test if classes are functioning correctly.


well to me it was pretty straight forward. you never actually spend the dice. you just cant use the same one twice in the same turn

Right... but does this mean that as I fighter I can use all my dice to swing for the bleachers on my turn, then on the monster's turn I get to use them all again to power a reaction? Also, since MDD are a turn based resource, but actions are a round based resource, is there any incentive to not just blow them all at once whenever I do a thing? If MDD are a round based resource then that would result in a dramatically different play-style.  

Scathing as it is, this is good input, GZ.  It's hard for me to comment extensively, as I haven't given either the adventure or level 10+ characters a run, but there are some points/questions I have to the above.

First, as Remove Curse was always a staple to D&D, I am guessing that this is an oversight at the moment.  Greater Restoration *is* in the game currently and it will remove a curse, but as a level 7 spell, that's a bit of a high price tag on any simple curse (though the ones you point to are obviously not simple).

Second, did you reduce the encounters?  One character less will definitely add much more difficulty to an encounter.

You are 100% correct on the need for more clarity in the rules.  When MDD get recharged (I use start of PC's turn, but last actual ruling I saw on it in writing was end of turn - which I don't like), Spell Casting in Melee, Crit rolls, Dual Weilding, etcetera and so forth are all needing better wording.  I think we all have to accept the shortcomings in BETA testing and look at intent when necessary.

Monk... Well, I haven't dived too deeply into them.  26 AC, hm...  A level 14 Fighter by comparison would have... what?  I would assume at least something like +3 Plate and a +3 Shield by then.  That would put him at AC 25.  Honestly, I am not sure what the typical equipment expectations are for NEXT right now, but I would think +3 items in key slots by level 14 would actually be fairly understated even.  So I am not sure if that AC 26 seems as outrageous as it appears.  Really hard to judge what the expected equipment is without some reasonable guide or more experience, though.

I am 100% with anyone who assesses the Bestiary to needing a lot of fine tuning, though.  Honestly, I think class features, fun, and balance is higher priority than monster development, so while we all strive to help make the classes the best they can be, I think we have to accept that the Bestiary is getting the shorter end of the attention stick.

At any rate, informative read and definitely worth mulling over! 

actually the magic items rules state that items are rarely higher than +1, unless they're specific items, such as efreeti chain or whatever.  but the reason why a 26 ac sounds high is because normally they only add dex and wisdom to ac.  and with it starting at a 10, well, there's 16 points that need to be accounted for...  just sayin.  i'm sure there was some kind of bracers of armor or ring of protection or something thrown in... but, i can tell it would be similar for my group too... i always despised those adventures where they have monsters that do high damage, can rarely miss an attack and stun on every hit.... argh....   just my babbling 2 cents.
Po is quite impressive. There is certainly nothing about him that seems abusive to the rules or that would take anything more than some thought by an experienced player--at first I had wondered if there was a chance that he was bending a rule or if he was just a better power gamer, but neither seems to be the case. The monk (and your player) are just that good. Po optimized for defense and that was a smart move in this system.

I agree that the lack of strict guidelines on the number of magic items a player should have at a given level is something of a pain to work with. Though I think you handled it well. At the same time, I think it is nice to see nothing about making sure that a character must have X number of items if they are going to be considered capable to face a challenge of their level. Not sure what is more important for the game's success, though.

Just a few onions short of a patch.

Wow, +1 max to magic... that's a significant difference to every version of D&D ever created. :D  I hadn't really spent much time looking into magic since all my groups are still low level, but I guess I should have seen it coming with the bounded accuracy system they are giving us.

AC 18 vs AC 23, however, is simply unacceptable.  The Monk wire-teleportation-fu stuff doesn't bother me, as long as the class is balanced overall.  They should have some funky fun stuff to play with.  That said, you can't have the best of all words and it sounds like they are simply broken at the moment.

Thanks for the replies and the education!  I simply don't have the time during the holidays to spend significant energy on the playtest packets.   
Some very interesting feedback on the Monk. It's the one class I haven't had a chance to take a close look at yet.


The MDD definitely needs to be clarified in the text but they did at least clear some of it up over twitter:

Trevor Kidd (WotC): Yeah, your dice refresh at the beginning of your turn and you only get one reaction per round.

Jason E: Martial dice refresh at the start of turn, so if you use them on your turn, they're gone for the rest of the round?

Trevor Kidd (WotC): If you use them all, yep.

So if you use all your MDDice on your attack, you don't have any available for a Parry [Reation] later in the round (though you would still have your Skill Die). You have to make a decision to split up your MDD if you want any available for a Parry.

Excellent, A-koss!  Just what I wanted to hear.  It's how we are playing it, but that felt like a houserule as there wasn't any clear indication of what they intended.

To me, it's the obvious choice because it puts decision making back into the hands of the Fighter.  Their MDD are valuable and how they use them is important to their roleplay and success. 
In the last playtest they explicitly refreshed at the end of a character's turn (people did math about how this helps PCs-- also assuming they start the encounter w/ mdd). The rules as written currently say turn in RAW (so refresh on everyone's turn). The RAI seems to be on the character's turn and will probably be clarified going forward.
Combat Reflexes monk is an uber-power house w/ RAW.
I am surprised abt the 13 base AC item. It absolutely works, and makes the monk rather overpowered (unless we apply certain theories abt tanks being hittable, but difficult to damage).
"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
With the current state of the rules, I don't think the bracers of armor should work that way... They essentially work just like wearing armor without the weight and proficiency penalties but their wording doesn't really allow for them to stack with mindful defense.  If that's the case, then the monk's AC should have only been 19 (13 + 5 DEX + 1 ITEM) or 20 without the bracers (10 + 5 DEX + 4 WIS + 1 ITEM).
Also, the fighter's AC would have been much more comparable if he had tried to optimize for AC like the monk did.  If he had used plate, a shield, and an AC boosting item he would have had at the very least a 20 AC (18 PLATE + 1 SHIELD + 1 ITEM) or more if he had magical armor.  
Agreed on Bracers of Defense, though some clarification will help.

> While wearing bracers of defense, your AC becomes 13 + your Dexterity modifier.

Mindful Defense

> While you are wearing no armor and are not using a shield, your Armor Class equals 10 + your Dexterity modifier + your Wisdom modifier.


Only one of the two can be true. The two clearly don't stack. However, which of the two would take precedence is not spelled out, though "Bracers" would be the natural reading.
 
That leaves monster math and general design. Agreed that this is broken. 1-minute effects are insane. Low-Wis characters abound, so anyone but the priest and the monk are at about a 35 to 40% chance to save, each round.
Requiring Comprehend Languages so the module works at all, and needing an Int check to even know you require Comprehend Languages, is harsh. Or to put it another way: Not playable without a wizard. Not fun. It sounds like the module is designed for "holy trinity + 1", with that "1" likely being "rogue". That's very Gygaxian, but not necessarily still fun.
 

With the current state of the rules, I don't think the bracers of armor should work that way... They essentially work just like wearing armor without the weight and proficiency penalties but their wording doesn't really allow for them to stack with mindful defense.  If that's the case, then the monk's AC should have only been 19 (13 + 5 DEX + 1 ITEM) or 20 without the bracers (10 + 5 DEX + 4 WIS + 1 ITEM).


See, that's exactly why it seems like such a no brainer for a monk. It has the same effect as armor, but doesn't count as armor. Traditionally monks have had been able to use bracers and belts with out being considered "armored" for the purpose of their defensive skill. 

Agreed on Bracers of Defense, though some clarification will help.

> While wearing bracers of defense, your AC becomes 13 + your Dexterity modifier.

Mindful Defense

> While you are wearing no armor and are not using a shield, your Armor Class equals 10 + your Dexterity modifier + your Wisdom modifier.


Only one of the two can be true. The two clearly don't stack. However, which of the two would take precedence is not spelled out, though "Bracers" would be the natural reading.



I'm not sure why they wouldn't stack though. The bracers effectively change your base AC from 10 to 13 and Mindful Defense allows you to add both DEX and WIS to your base AC.


However this getting away from the larger issue. As a GM, if I have a Monk that I can't hit, and a fighter that I can't damage... what am I supposed to do? As I said earlier, it seems that at level 14 monster damage has scaled significantly faster than PC health. A good hit from anything they encountered would nearly kill the cleric (and in fact did take her from full to ~20 hp with one hit).  Combat, and please understand that I don't mean this in a Grognardy way, doesn't feel like D&D*. If felt significantly more deadly than either 4e or 3.x, almost a "Riddle of Steel" vibe where you had a good chance of getting killed if things didn't go exactly right in battle. 

*For any flavor of D&D that isn't Best Dark Sun.  

I am with you, GZ.  I am all for simplified combat, a streamlined system where DMs and players can just sit down and play.  However, it puts a lot of pressure on the system to get it "just right" and stresses the luck of the dice if the idea is to have all combat, whether it is at 1st level or at 15th level, to last about 3 rounds.

I have a bit of Grognardery in me, I admit, but AD&D had plenty of damage and lethal effects, but there were also a lot of misses and still plenty of encounters that involved numerous monsters trying to overcome the PC's defenses en masse because it took multiple shots to bring down a strong character. 

So, while I really like the addition Martial Dice and Maneuvers as they are elegant solutions to adding simple complexity, I would like to see a little more give-and-take involved in combat myself. 
Cross-posted at EN World: www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?333...

It's 2 am and I just finished running the D&D Next playtest adventure for some friends.

Wizards, I cannot fathom why you decided the Mud Sorcerer's Tomb should be used to playtest and show off your new rules. It is a stupid, stupid adventure.

Have you seen Cube? It's a bizarre movie with horrible traps that kill people. It's like the Tomb of Horrors, intended to kill you, so challenging that you feel prestige in surviving it.

Have you seen Cube 2: Hypercube? It's a pointless movie where weird things happen for no reason, which occasionally kill people, but you don't care. That's the Mud Sorcerer's Tomb: nonsensical, badly designed, not challenging, and a poor way to have people test your rules.

One of my players nailed the issue, I think. He called this The Troll Dungeon. "Oh, you were clever and found a secret key, then figured out where to use the key. Look, you found treasure: a necklace of strangulation! Oh, you went down this hallway that seems to serve no purpose, but there's a big glass wall holding back a bunch of water, so you decide to break it to see what's inside? There's nothing inside at all. That whole area was pointless."

And, I mean, it's not even high-quality death traps. The water doesn't drown you; it does 10 damage and floods the room to a depth of 5 feet.

Don't get me wrong. We had a good time. But it was because we were laughing at the dungeon. There's no time pressure, no memorable antagonists, no dynamic combats, and - for a playtest - no gratification. I mean maybe if this was part of an ongoing campaign it would feel interesting to get heaps of treasure like all those scrolls and potions the party never needed to touch, but how many playtesters do you think give a damn? The reward needs to be the story and the experience of playing, not imaginary doodads that they'll never use.

Wizards, please, c'mon guys. Grognardism should not be a replacement for game design. You seemed to proudly announce that this adventure was based on one from the early 80s. The horrid E.T. video game also game out from the early 80s. Neither is any good. There are quality adventures out there, and I'm sure there are plenty of adventure writers who'd gladly write a D&D Next module for you to include in your future playtests.
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