Catch me up on the latest about D&D next

For a variety of reasons I lost interest in D&D Next just before the second playtest came out. Given that it's been a while since I've kept up with any of it, I found that looking for the information was more than I could handle or be bothered with. So I was hoping that people here could throw me a bone and help me catch up with what's been happening and where D&D Next is at right now.

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of splitting up the party, sticking appendages in the mouth of a leering green devil face, accepting a dinner invitation from bugbears, storming the feast hall of a hill giant steading, angering a dragon of any variety, or saying yes when the DM asks, “Are you really sure?”

Not really sure what you're asking for. I guess I'd say the first four races are probably set in stone with the exception of more sub-races for each; sounds like eventually all the 3.5 PHB races and possibly the dragonborn will be in the game. As for classes, they're still largely under construction. The five classes currently in the game all have unique abilities and mechanics at this point, but they're still working on the damage balance between classes and between PCs and monsters and also on the spells per day; it also seems that all of the 3.5 PHB classes plus the warlock and possibly the warlord will be included. Some big changes have come for spellcasters such as all cantrips being at-will, a difference between the number of spells you can prepare and how many you can cast. Most common complaints so far are that fighters' damage is overpowered and casters don't get enough spells. Level progression now goes to 20, but no class features beyond 10th are listed yet. Some combat rule changes have come about: moving around within a threatened zone doesn't provoke opportunity attack, only exiting the threatened area, but the five foot step to avoid threatening when you do exit now requires a feat; two-weapon fighting now defaults to what the feat gave you in 3.5.

Once they get more things settled, they are planning to pump out races and (possibly classes) on a very regular basis until they are done with beta, which I will imagine will be done several months before the release in August. Also the Classes they are still working on so far are: Ranger, Paladin, Sorcerer, and Warlock, they had the latter two out for a bit but pulled them back. I could see rangers being folded into Fighters and Paladins being folded into Clerics, which I personally would be fine with. I feel it allows for the variability within a single class. Sorcerer and Warlock were testing out different ways to do magic. The monk was placed on display last go around, and it seems it’s here to stay, although I feel it is so much unlike the other classes and has too much of a third edition feel, in that it is so set in stone and has very little variability even though it has paths. I mean the wizard and cleric can choose their spells at each level they gain spells (I don't know if that IS every level). The fighter gains maneuvers which because you can customize your specialty you could theoretically just choose something different at each time you gain one. It still feels more closed off then the choices presented in 4th edition but hey, there doing something different here. The rogue gets something similar, but I don't really remember that class too well. The equipment has changed again and is now basically what 4th edition was which is fine, it works. Well Weapon wise, Armor wise it seems a bit different this last iteration. Backgrounds / Skills and the Specialties / Feats I think have stayed mostly the same for a while now. The skill list is a bit wonky and is fractioning into a lot of little skills now. Level maxes keep jumping we’ve just jumped from 10 to 20 and I wish they would hold that off a while, I know it’s to stretch out the classes and to see if they balance as they go up in level but I am personally not ready to go there yet. I know I’m bouncing all over the place in answering your question, but I’d really like to see some other things, let me go check my packet to give you more. For races I’d like to see Orcs, Goblins and Gnomes added in, that seems to round out the most common races in fiction it would round out medium and small sized humanoids it would give a few races with evil tendencies and it would give a large picture of cultures that have large impacts on the world (especially in Tolkien view like point). Otherwise I don’t know. I’m imagining Gnomes will make an appearance especially since they are name dropped in the wizard class about illusions and the like. I imagine they will keep their new creation Dragonborn and the reintroduction of the Tiefling that use to be a monster race in 3rd that got re-skinned as a mainstream race. I don’t like how much the classes feel more third edition than fourth edition, such as the channel divinity feature feels like a weird hybrid right now. I don’t like the cosmology of alignments, the inner planners and things that feel too much like the old way, and not in the way 4th did it. The fact that nothing is listed in little convenient power boxes, especially the spells, drives me bonkers; it feels like a disorganized list that way, instead of individualized powers. The system going back to the odd 1 through 9 numbering of spell levels. Whereas in 4th everyone got everything at equal rates it feels like this one has classes at uneven levels of gaining abilities and powers to use on the field. I’m fine if they remove the encounter subtype and just have daily and at will attack powers. I would also like to see the daily and at will utility powers make an appearance more prominently. The rogue recently got skill tricks, and well it dismays me to see the team so against 4th like this when they can just use it as a jumping off point. It feels to me at least anyways that they are starting from 3rd and jumping off, I like some of their new features like bounded accuracy and advantage, all though when they say take two skill dice roll them and take the higher I don’t know why they don’t’ just say advantage there even if it isn’t d20s it should be made more generic in that way. Whereas the wizard and cleric just feel like they could be cousins to their 4th edition counterparts the fighter and rogue feel like they don’t get nearly the number of powers they get in 4th, they are giving them far less choices almost down to 3rds feeling of no choric, I didn’t have enough of a dedicated team to get very far in any of the editions I played but I enjoyed 3rd and when I say 3rd here I almost entirely mean 3.5. I also enjoyed 4th a great deal. I… I am getting very dismayed about some of the things 5th have done. When 5th shows me things that have either not been done in the 2 editions I know of like the backgrounds specialties and things like this I find them intriguing and I want them, but when they do things that remind me of 3rd edition I cringe and want to (in most cases) rewrite them in 4th edition terms. When I see 4th edition stuff, I gawk at how they would dare actually keep any of that in considering what I have seen. Its few and far between, I like D&D next the most when it is neither 3rd nor 4th edition, then next when I see 4th stuff I am like okay this is just standard stuff move along and then I get frustrated when I see stuff that reminds me of 3rd edition in wrong ways. I should mention in here about how I prefer Non-AC defenses over Saves but if it ends up feeling right then I could probably live with this one. I like the Deities, or at least how they are doing them in regards to domains and cosmology although I don’t like how they specifically mention 3rd edition deities but no mention of 4th which bugs me so much it’s like it never happened. The fighter as it stands needs to incorporate more things so that it can be a barbarian and a ranger under its wings fit them under them the wings. The fighter needs more unique mechanics to do. Flying into fits of rage or dropping prone and using a crossbow to pinpoint pick off the guy on the other side of the room. The fighter’s player can suggest all sorts of improvisation ideas for their character but without more ground work they may not be creative enough (depends on the player and how they view things such as feeling limited to what they have in form t of them). So give them jumping off points for stunts and things with how to perform them mathematically. Have a power for acrobatic ones that use I don’t know swinging or jumping or have athletic ones for pushing tables various things have them spelled out plainly. Or go the martial arts route of tactics and have it be military tactics each level brings to light a new way you can do it folding into the mix the warlord if the warlord gets folded into the fighter as well then I’m going to play a fighter my first chance for characters. Think about it, you could spread yourself to thin, you could be in a regiment and without specialization you might be to generic a bard of fighters, not good enough to snipe alone (ranger), lead alone (warlord), or rage up and close alone (the barbarian). I would like to see a reduction in classes, so there isn’t as much need to multiclass to get a mix of features that fit your perception of your character. There would have to be a ranger under the rogue to I Might want to play like my Skyrim character as a sneaking silent deadly very weak if in actual combat archery type sniping roguish character. What I was hoping to see that I didn’t see in 4th edition was a bit more tactical things, I don’t see as much healing and short rests and encounter powers but I do see a bit more grim and gritty things similar to how the board games are doing it. I want to see some facing rules and rules for hexagonal warfare like in the unearthed arcana also the… I forget hang on. I just liked all the physical warfare even though it’s a roleplaying game. Okay I’ve got over a page and a half of text here just typing for about 40 or so minutes I think I’m good. I don’t like how monks are so very eastern, especially knowing the religious backgrounds of the Mahayana Buddhism in china where the martial arts of monk practices would have started and most resembled hits. It just feels odd to have them in what is otherwise almost entirely western, if they go this route they need more aster options I also feel weird with them in it, it’s like a different genre it bugs me so much. It’d be fine if it were a mix back in 3rd I didn’t mind but after that it felt out of place. That’s how far back in my life 3rd was. Okay it’s been an hour, does this help?

AD&D 1st Edition Character (Simplified)

BIOGRAPHY
Name: Brother Michael
Adventuring Class: Cleric
Adventuring Experience: 1446 out of 1501
Bonus Experience: 10%
Languages Known: Common, Orc, Elven.
Alignment: Lawful/Neutral Good
ABILITY SCORES
Strength: 10
Dexterity: 10
Intelligence: 11
Charisma: 11
Constitution: 14
Wisdom: 16
WEAPONS: HIT; MEDIUM; LARGE
Footman’s Flail: 1d20; 1d6+1; 1d4
Hammer (Thrown): 1d20; 1d4+1; 1d4
Sling: 1d20-3; 1d4+1; 1d6+1
MAGIC
Today’s Prepared Spells: Cure Light Wounds x2, Command x1
Spells Spent: Cure Light Wounds x1
Other Cleric Abilities: Turn Undead
Spell Failure: 0%
Magical Attack Adjustment: +2
DEFENSES
Armor: 5 (-4 Armor, -1 Shield)
Maximum Health: 10
Current Health: 9
CONSUMABLE ITEMS
Water Skin
7 Days of Trail Rations
7 Pints (Flasks) of Oil
1 Ounce (Vial) of Holy Water
4 Parchments
12 Sling Bullets
6 Pieces of Silver
8 Pieces of Twine

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