D&D Next First Impressions #4 (12/17/12)

Hello again. Presented here are my first impressions for the 12/17/12 playtest, written as they arouse while reading. These are only minimally edited.

Posts in for the previous playtests can be found here, here, and here. Warning: these are all very long.

(*Asterisks mark points I consider particularly important.)

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The Changes:



How to Play



The rules for falling look good.



The new grappling rules look good.



*I'm glad to see that PCs no longer get a bonus to critical hits.



The bonus for critting with a weapon is interesting... okay. I suppose that makes sense.



The new Two-Weapon Fighting rules, while better than the old ones, have problems of their own. Damage is dictated by the light weapon? This leads to some nonsense situations. For example, a TWFer with a magical shortsword and nonmagical longsword is inexplicably more powerful than one with a nonmagical shoertsword and magical longsword.



Nat-20 on death saving throws to get back up? I'm not sure how I feel about this... May be better as an optional rule.



Holy and Unholy damage types are gone. Yay!



Descriptions for damage types: sure.


>I prefer simple “positive” and “negative” to “radiant” and “necrotic”. It makes them feel more like forces of the universe.



The rewritten rules for ethereal seem unnecessary. “As part of its move, an ethereal creature can pass through...” Is this now implying that they can't stay in an object when not moving? And if so, why not?



Casting in armor requires proficiency in it: Approved!



Attacking without proficiency: Okay. I don't see why it can't be canceled out by advantage, though.



Character Creation



*So you do stop getting feats at 9th level... I do not like this. Feats are the primary mechanical mode of fine-tuned character individuality; more is better, not less.



Background and Skills



*Skill dice are interesting... I like the concept.



Classes



Cleric:


You can now prepare a number of spells per day equal to your level. Okay.



*Channel Divinity is back. Yay


*>Channel Magical Might is very, very powerful... Too much so, I think.


>In channeling positive and negative energies, why is healing stronger than damage?


*>Polymorph may be a tad powerful to be giving away as a free spell (Channel Trickery)



*“Your choice might reflect a focus on only one particular aspect of that deity, which might coorespond to a particular sect dedicated to that deity. Thus, two clerics serving the same sun god might make different choices for the purpose of this class feature.” Hooray!



Deities are open-ended, but have examples. Nice.



*Whoa, am I misreading something or are all domain spells infinitely-castable? Because that would be broken beyond all measure... I'm assuming it just means they're always prepared once per day, and that the wording is just ambiguous.



*The Lightbringer is even more overpowered now. Not only is Lance of Faith still free, but now it can be used as a reaction whenever attacked, and as an opportunity attack? This is bad. Very bad.



*The Trickster: Minor Illusion is very powerful as an at-will...



*Speaking of which, Cantrips are at-will again. I believe this is a big step backwards. Magic is too powerful, and too easily abused when it is free, even at such a low level. It intrudes upon, and makes redundant significant parts of adventuring.



Clerics get Expertise Dice now. Okay. I would say it further exacerbates the problem of clerics being too good all-around, but it looks like damage has gone up in general.


>Also, their attack bonuses have gone down, which is good.


>And no save DC bonus anymore? This I thought was fine, but okay.



The rules for spending dice aren't as explicit as they are for fighters.



*Now there are even more deities with offensive spells. So long as clerics have offensive spells comparable to a wizard's, either they will be overpowered, or the wizard will be underpowered. Clerics simply have too much in their package to balance otherwise.



*Words of Power appear to no longer exist (ostensibly, considering some spells are still marked as such). If so this is very, very good (particularly relating to Cure spells).



Orisons are now called Cantrips just like with the wizard. Awww, why? Diversity is better than simplicity.



Fighter:


Expertise/Martial Dice have gone up since last time, but attack bonus has gone down. Fair enough.



*Perhaps a more steady increase on the Martial Damage Bonus, rather than jumping up by a whole 5 every few levels? The more smoothed out progression becomes the better, in my opinion. Makes more sense, and is more realistic.



*I don't like the Martial Damage Bonus in general. There's no variance with it, and it's all-or-nothing on a single enemy. I think it would be much better to treat it more like Martial Dice, where the damage is rolled and can be divided between enemies.


>I think it may have been a poor idea to separate it from Martial Dice in general. Fighters now have to make less of a choice between damage and utility; they can do high damage every turn even without spending dice on it. I do not like this. Perhaps remake Martial Damage Bonus to work like Parry does now? Or have special 'damage dice' that can only be spent on damage (and not maneuvers)?



Parry is now a class feature. As far as I can tell, the only reason this was done was so that Skill Dice can be included as well. Okay.



There's a strange asymmetry between offense and defense on the fighter currently. Defense draws from the same pools required to do maneuvers and skills, while offense draws from maneuvers and a dedicated damage pool. I'm not sure how I feel about this.



Extra attack is gone. I think this was fine... It just doesn't mesh well with the new Martial Damage Bonus system(which I already stated I think is problematic).



**Combat Surge: Aw no. Please don't bring dailies back to the fighter. Please, please, please don't. Please.



*Overall, I really don't like the changes to the fighter...



Monk:


*A monk's raw damage output is identical to a fighter's?! That's not right.



*All the same issues with the fighters' Martial Damage Bonus apply here too.



Monks are simply too powerful. I like all the little bonuses they get as they level, that's what a monk's about, but that they can dish out damage like a fighter on top of that is just too much.



Abundant Step and Empty Body are too powerful for at-wills, in my opinion.



Quivering Palm works differently than it used to. Now it's no longer a remote-trigger bomb, but a time bomb with a short and unstable clock. The traditionalist in me is fighting this, but objectively I guess it's okay.


**>Except that there's no way to stop it. So long as the monk is free to act, a creature will eventually fail enough saves and die. I propose that three successful saves will end the effect, however, the monk does not need to continually force the saves to happen and can prolong the duration for up to a week.



*The Martial Damage Bonus is creating far more reliable damage for fighters and monks than exists elsewhere. Monks get even furtherly reliable damage via some of their ki abilities. I don't think I like this... why is martial damage, which can be done all throughout a fight, more reliable than spell damage, which is highly limited? One more reason against Martial Damage Bonuses...



Rogue:


*The rogue now deal equivalent damage to the fighter as well? Shouldn't a rogue be rewarded for craftiness and situational play, but unable to stand toe-to-toe with a true fighter? There seems to be a lot of mechanical homogenization going on between classes. I don't like it. :/



Skill Mastery is now a class feature, and simply gives the equivalent of advantage on all skills (I suspect it doesn't just say advantage so it can stack with natural advantage, this is good). This equalizes the benefit across all rogue levels. I guess it does prevent absurdly high rolls at higher levels.



Schemes now grant a special ability (“talents”). Cool.



Is assassin simply going to be a scheme for rogues? I was under the impression it was being brought back as its own class.



*Assassinate deals double damage on a failed save rather than death. While this leads to damage sufficient to instantly kill a good number of targets, I think this would be better as an actual save-or-die. Four reasons:


1. Assassins are all about bypassing defenses. However, resistances still apply in this case. They're about pinpoint precision, and would rather focus the energy to put a needle through the heart than an axe through the chest. The current approach more closely resembles the latter.


2. Part of the fun of being an assassin was know you had a chance, even if a highly circumstantial one, to kill anything that has a weak point instantly. It's why people play assassins. This removes the chance, however large or small, to instantly fell giants, and thus a lot of the fun of being an assassin.


3. Tradition and thematics. If true save-or-dies belong anywhere in the game, anywhere at all, it's here, with the class and specialization revolving around killing instantly.


4. The mechanics of it conflict with the flavor and archetype: It incentivizes assassinating with something like a greatsword rather than something like a dagger.


>Also, assassinate should have a clause that the target can be aware of your presence, so long as they do not recognize you as an enemy.



Slippery Target mentions melee attacks in the first line, but switches to talking about opportunity attacks midway through.



*Sneak Attack and Assassinate cannot be possessed by the same character? 'Tis a sad day for assassins indeed.



*The option to customize your own rogue scheme has been removed??



Uncanny Dodge: this looks good.



*Ace in the Hole: While I'm more accepting of it on rogues than fighters, I'm still sad to see dailies return to the rogue. What's more, I'm sad that even more guaranteed-effect options are here. Most such things had been removed by last playtest, and I dared to hope they wouldn't return. 100% certainty is bad. It breeds exploitation and challenges verisimilitude.



Detect Noise should still require a check to hear them in the first place. It doesn't make sense to know their location if they're not actually making enough noise, regardless of whether they're trying to conceal themselves or not.



*Taunt has all sorts of logical problems. I really dislike the idea of 'mind control' non-magical abilities. Anything that compels a creature to spend its action in a designated way that isn't actual, magical, forced control runs into countless problems when put into the context of a coherent story.


>Charming Presence skirts dangerously close to this as well. It doesn't actually force an action, though I still think it's a poor rule and should be removed.



Wizard:


I'm not particularly fond of how sections of the text switch from talking in third person about the world to talking in second person to the character. It's awkward. This is present throughout the playtest materials, but is particularly obvious under the Spellcasting section for the wizard. If the second person is to be used, at least talk to the player. Reading the rules in-character is like turning the fourth-wall into a mobius strip.



*As mentioned with clerics, Cantrips should not be at-will. They're still too strong.



*Wizards get very few spells-per-day, considering that it's the only meaningful thing they can do. Granted, arcane magic is powerful, but it's not so powerful that the class can be so skeletal in comparison to the cleric and barely have more spells to use.



*Wizard spells are not expended when cast anymore. While this is a significant power-boost to the wizard, I feel it's a move in the wrong direction. Wizards are supposed to be a class that needs to, but is rewarded for thinking ahead. They now play more like clerics, or like 3.X sorcerers did, which is fine in its own right, but not the wizard.



*School of Evocation and School of Illusion are much, much weaker than Scholarly Wizardry



Signature Spell is gone. This is for the better.



Advancing from level 17 to 20 as a wizard is relatively underwhelming.



Spells



Nice specifications for Antimagic Field and Astral Projection.



Can one use Astral Projection to send a body into the same plane their real body is in?



The elimination of gold costs on rituals is fine, considering most of them still have significant other requirements.



**Augury, Divination, Remove Curse, Identify, and True Seeing need more cost for their rituals. Otherwise players will just cast Augury before every single action taken, use Divination every single day, curses become nothing but a minor inconvenience, the mystery of magical items is gone forever, and all illusion and darkness effects become meaningless.



*I very much like the “special” section of just about every spell that has it.



*Some spells can be cast at higher levels. Hooray! Now they don't go obsolete!



Ooo, Chain Lightning can target unattended objects. I like.



I like the effects of Clone



Create Water is a 1st level spell now. So long as cantrips remain at-will, I like it better this way.



*Destruction is a nice spell in effect, but once again, the cleric is making the wizard obsolete by having comparable spells in addition to much stronger class features. Disintegration may be a level lower, but it does nothing on a successful save, and destroys equipment. The utility provided is not enough, especially considering how spell-strapped casters are.


>Harm is in a similar place



I like the location-based effects of Earthquake!



*Firestorm and Flame Strike, again, render the wizard nearly obsolete. I understand the need for clerics that can rain fire and brimstone, but it needs to be done without breaking the balance of power.



*Hm, I quite like the solution to the save-or-die problem in Flesh-to-Stone. Flavorful, sensical, not unfair, and drives action. Great!



Summoning via Gate now requires the creature's true name. Okay. This helps balance and gives story opportunities.



Invisibility ends if you cast the spell again. Why? If a caster wants to blow half-a-dozen precious spell slots to invis the party, why shouldn't they be able to?



Magic Missile had its number of darts doubled, and the overall damage slightly lowered. Why? I figure its so that 1st and 2nd level wizards can target multiple enemies, but meh, I like it better the old way. It's actually fun having your trusty little single-target pea-shooter at low levels. The ability to hit multiple opponents is just a bonus as you level.



*So long as cantrips are at-will, Minor Illusion cannot be one of them. It is incredibly powerful as an at-will, easily brokenly so.



Otto's Irresistable Dance works on its own saving throws. I like this. Keeps it from being little more than an expensive, more humiliating version of Hold Monster. :P



I absolutely love the ritual for Regenerate.



True names evolve. Interesting. I like it. It helps prevent them from becoming abusive.



Planar Ally's costs are ultimately DM discretion. Hooray!



*(Aside from the offensive cleric spells,) the new high-level spells are all pretty good.



I just noticed, Polymorph specifies “The new form can be any beast...” (emphasis mine). This is a pretty good way to prevent a lot of Polymorph abuse.



Prismatic Spray no longer has an insanity option. Sad face. There's also a White option now instead of two rays. Eh...



There's a Mass Suggestion, but no regular Suggestion? I figure that will change.



Mass Suggestion doesn't force you be creative with your wording the way it used to. I think the reintroduction of that would be a great flavor boost.



*Teleport now needs fixed destinations, and Greater Teleport now functions more like the old Teleport. Okay, I like it.



Time Stop has more stringent rules. Okay.



True Ressurection requires a Commune first. Cool.



Wish has different specifications. Okay.



*Wish's limitations are good, but like raising the dead, I think they need to have an experience drain reinstated. Otherwise periods of long downtime become periods of 'the wizard is going to play god for free now'.



Some spells are still marked as being Words of Power, despite that no longer existing in the rules elsewhere. I really hope this is just a remnant and they are actually gone.



Maneuvers



There are fewer Maneuvers overall now; some have been sniped for the rogue's new Skill Tricks, and rogues no longer have access to these. I'm not sure how I feel about this.



*Bull Rush requires no check? This is not good.



Deflect Arrows is handled really nicely



Disarm deals damage as normal? Maybe if you're literally “disarming” them... It's also very powerful this way, too much so.



*Whoa, Flurry of Blows is waaay too strong. Especially considering the Martial Damage Bonus. If the attacks were made with disadvantage, this would make more sense, but as it stands this utterly breaks the already-powerful monk.



There may ought to be rules for pushing enemies into walls. For something like Hurricane Strike, the force to push a frost giant 60 ft. ought to be worth something when used to send a goblin into a wall.



*Rapid Shot's description and its mechanics don't line up. If you're firing two shots, why do they have to be at different targets? It's also completely redundant with Volley.



*Hurricane Strike and Step of the Wind should really be ki powers, not maneuvers. Maybe Iron Root Defense as well. Or at least they should have the ability to use ki as a prerequisite.



Specialties and Feats



I like the new presentation of the specialties.



Unlike other specialties, Hedge Magician comes pre-loaded with character background, not just suggestions. This kind of flavor really belongs in Backgrounds, not Specialties.



Does Ambush benefit Assassinate? Because technically as-written it does not.



Charge has strangely circumstantial rules. In a cluttered room you may be able to charge climbing over a pile of trash, but in a clear room you can't even make a swerve?



Deflect has strange rules as well. Consider how it interacts with the Lunge maneuver.



Relentless seems to only make the strong stronger. Flurry of Blows and other multi-attack options are already so powerful



Restore Life really ought to have a check associated with it... though it probably is for groups that simply hate character death



Shield Bash” sounds like a different action than its rules imply



Equipment



More options for armor, though some are strictly better than others, save cost. Okay.



I like that speed and stealth penalties are no longer synonymous with weight category.



Finesse” and “Heavy” have been converted into weapon properties. I like.



I just noticed, the wording of the “Reach” property is awkward, and when taken literally does not work as intended. Think of how it interacts when dual-wielding, or using Reach for something other than attacking with that weapon. A simple rewording could fix this.



A thrown weapon lands in a spot of the attacker's choice within 5 feet of the target.” Really? Of the attacker's choice? Controlling ricochet like that is even harder than hitting with the weapon. This should be random.



I like the Versatile property.



There's a special weapons category now. Okay.



Weapon groups are gone. Why? they were looking like they would become part of a better proficiency/weapon bonus system.



No scythe anymore?



Continuing Issues:



How to Play



*There's no penalty for using ranged weapons or spells in melee? Why bother with melee weapons or touch spells at all?



*The Ethereal state makes no sense at the moment. Ghosts can pass through something freely, unless it's being used in an attack where they can somehow only “half” pass through it.



*Attack spells still use your magic modifier instead of Dexterity. This doesn't make much sense, and rewards putting all of one's eggs in one basket. What, exactly, does a “magical attack bonus” represent? (Granted Dex is strong enough as it is, but I'd hope there can be other was to address that.)



Still no rules for blind-fire (attacking with non-area attacks by guessing location). This is something people will try to do.



I'd still like to see a return of degrees of the Fear condition.



Character Creation



*The True Neutral alignment still does not have its passive incarnation, that is, the person who just happens to be balanced, but isn't a crusader about it. A great deal of characters fit into that descriptor,but have no representation at the moment. Alternatively, the definition of “Unaligned” can be adjusted to include this.



Ability scores are still advanced 2 at a time. Why not separately, but twice as often? Is it just to ensure that the same ability score isn't raised twice in a row, because I don't think that's too hard to remember



Races



Low-light vision and Darkvision are still one and the same. Still not sure I like this...



*I really, really think racial weapon proficiencies should be actually proficiencies and not damage bonuses to certain weapons. All this does is choice-trap entire races.



For the Dwarven Toughness feature, it's worth noting that 2d6 does not follow the increase progression of the average (+.5 whereas each previous step is +1), and it does not have the same degree of randomness as the other Hit Dice options. Lacking a d14, there isn't a perfect way around this, but d12+1 is probably a more consistent option.



It's still uncertain if Elves are aware of their surroundings while in trance.



*The Halfling Nimbleness feature is problematic. Either it implies that something the size of a human can't move between something the size of a giant's legs, or it's meaningless, neither of which is good. I suggest opening up movement of this type to all creatures, however halflings take no penalty for it, and may use it on creatures only one size larger than them (whereas others could only do it if the opponent is several sizes larger).



*Fearless should be converted into a check (even if an easy one), rather than automatic. It would add some variation to it. Certainty breeds exploitation, and challenges verisimilitude.



I'd still like to see the human's ability score bonuses lessened so that they can have an extra trained skill or two as another racial feature. It highlights their diversity and makes the race a little less one-dimensional. (Not to mention it is currently impossible to have a human with an ability score of 3 because of this. Those are always fun, and no race should be deprived of such poor souls)




Classes:



Taking average HP, because it rounds up every level instead of every other level, is statistically a better option than rolling. Rounding down on even levels and up on odd levels would put it more in line with the random option (which is still technically worse, since low HP hurts more than high HP helps)



It may be a good idea to throw in that the DM has the ultimate say on whether a spell is allowed or not, rather than giving wizards (and clerics) 100% free reign in their choices. Most of the time this isn't a problem, but there are those who pick spells just to exploit unintended synergies, and sometimes certain spells just aren't suitable for the campaign.


Cleric:


*I don't like Battlefield Concentration, particularly because it further presses the problem that clerics are better combat casters than wizards, despite having more abilities otherwise.



**Clerics are better combat casters than wizards, despite having more abilities otherwise.



*Continuing recommendation: At-wills should function like reserve spells from 3.5, where you must have a similar spell of higher level yet-unspent to be able to use it. It's a good way to preserve at-wills while still allowing the possibility of total burnout.



Wizard


Fun as it may be, Minor Illusion is very abusable as an at-will



Spells



Blink's description still seems to conflict with How to Play's version of Ethereal regarding damage from non-ethereal sources. I hope this is resolved in favor of Blink's version.



Still no counterspelling option?



*Cure spells should not be ranged. It removes the drama of rushing to a fallen ally, and the danger that should accompany it. Even Sanctuary's description thinks so!



*Lance of Faith is still illegitimizing weapons and wizards everywhere. The mitigation to this problem brought on by last playtest's rendering of it non-daily to most clerics has now been reverted and it is once again a huge problem.



Mage Hand: “Many wizards use mage hand to retrieve components from their pouches while leaving their keeping free.” “While the hand is present, you can control it as an action.” Why would a wizard need to retrieve components if doing so would take an action, and thus they would not be able to cast a spell?



Prestidigitation lacks the open-endedness it once had. I'd like to see it also come with a line stating that it may be used for other minor effects as well at DM discretion.



*Raise Dead's material component cost is only 1/10 of what it used to be. This new price is waaay too cheap. It also no longer comes with a significant penalty (negative modifiers for 4 days is nothing), which is also bad. This grossly trivializes character death!



*I always thought spells like Lesser Restoration and Remove Curse should have more significant costs... once characters reach mid-level these spells eliminate any kind of 'long-term' affiliation the party may have within minutes after it was acquired. Some such afflictions can be truly debilitating, and so the option to remove them should exist, just make it less trivial.



*Sanctuary: “Clerics sometimes cast sanctuary on themselves to move to injured opponents or to cast more challenging spells without the risk of interference from their opponents.” ...Well, the first point is meaningless now that Cure spells are ranged, and the second point is meaningless now that clerics have Battlefield Concentration. I'm hoping this conflict is resolved in favor of Sanctuary's wording.



Zone of Truth has too low a ritual time and cost. It's very easy for a party to set this up constantly before social meetings.



Levitate and Wall of Fire are lingering example of spells whose descriptions dictate player actions rather than spell effects. I'd like it if the descriptions were reworded.



Feather Fall is still vvvvvveeeeeerrrrrryyyyyy sssssslllllloooooowwwwww (6x slower than in previous editions).



Feats and Specialties



Ambush's ability for ranged attacks that miss to be unnoticed doesn't make much sense... If it's supposed to represent waiting to strike until their back is turned or something, there should be a bit of DM discretion in there, and a chance of failure for the ability, because under certain circumstances this is completely implausible. The other end of the feat is okay.


*>A good way to fix the Ambush feat may be to have it allow you to make a hide check, rather than automatically go unnoticed.



I'd really like to see familiars given their (pathetic) attacks back.



*Familiars are still encouraged to be treated like disposable scouts. There should be some substantiate penalty for their death. Once upon a time familiar death could even cripple the master; now it's a 30 minute wait before the next suicide run.



The lack of proficiency feats, and higher-level magic feats looks to be making a spellsword impossible, given the current options.



Backgrounds and Skills



The Thug's Bad Reputation trait doesn't really make sense as a 100% global effect. There should be some DM discretion as to where the reputation has, and has not spread to (of course, the character can always broaden those horizons manually...)


*Ultimately, the world is created and run by the DM. Because traits are a mechanical link to the world, a simple comment that the DM has final discretion over whether a trait applies in a given situation is important to avoid conflict.


Charlatan: It's ambiguous as to whether they can forge anyone's handwriting as long as they have a sample, or only one person's.



*I don't like “Forbidden Lore” as its own skill. It's very nebulous, and the parts of it that aren't could fit in just fine under Religious Lore. (Fun fact: The very first check made in my group for the very first playtest was: Forbidden Lore: King's Sex Life)



*Is Drive really necessary as a separate skill from Handle Animal (and Ride)? I don't imagine many people will be taking it anyway.



Equipment



*Shields are all lumped together (no tower shield even?), and far less useful than they should be. I really don't like this.



*The usefulness of heavier armor has definitely moved in the right direction, although I would argue for even a little more. As it stands, a person with 20 Dex can still be in light armor and match a person in Plate. Sure, the person has 20 Dex - that's huge! - but because Dex is so widely useful it makes a high Dex-based warrior just plain better than a high-Str based warrior (no stealth penalty, not slower, better initiative, less weight, better with ranged weapons, and can use finesse weapons for melee; heavy weapons are the only advantage to Str). Heavy armor could be one of the factors that helps balance this. Re-introducing something like the 1.5x Str bonus for two-handing could be another.



*The light crossbow has been moved to simple weapons: good! But the other crossbows should still be there with it. Slow reload is more than enough penalty.



*And the Shortbow should be a martial weapon.


Magic Items



Some similar creator details give benefits while others do not. Compare: Elemental (Air) to Elemental (Fire).



I don't know if the ability to stack Dancing Swords is intentional, but I know I'd do it given half the chance. The idea is cool enough that I kind of want it to stay, though I recommend requiring atunement to keep things from getting completely out of hand (No pun intended). Granted, for this to work in the first place, you need to find multiples of the same rare magic item.



*A Potion of Longevity should be Very Rare. These are things entire plots can revolve around. I'd also like to see some hinting that they are sometimes rumored to be created via very... unsavory means, and that knowledge of their use might upset some greater powers.



Can Bracers of Defense and Mage Armor stack? Their wording seems to imply not, but it's not wholly clear.



As always, I welcome discussion on any of these points.

The explaination depth in the above post is admitedly low; I am also open to requests for elaboration.


*There's no penalty for using ranged weapons or spells in melee? Why bother with melee weapons or touch spells at all?





does the line in missile range that says you can't use the weapon to make a melee attack only imply that you can't use your str mod for attacks?



Also I disagree strongly on your view of at-wills. Cantrips are one of the things that really made casters more interesting to play and I think casters not only need more cantrips, but cleric actually need stronger options.

Lance of Faith's 2d6 might seem powerful, but when you compare it with a 1d8+1d6+Agi longbow attack by a Martial Character you find that it isn't so game breaking. I'd be happier if it as 1d6+mod though.

Also on Clerics making Wizard's obsolete? No way, Wizards have a much more different form of utility. Sure Clerics can heal and do magic damage, but Wizards can do that damage on many more different forms, plus have a much wider array of spells and tricks at their disposal. The damage spells you mentioned were mostly in 3.5, and Clerics didn't make Mages obsolete then. Hopefully we will get a wider array of spells in future iterations, I know that casters are lacking in options, specially at the cantrip level.



*Whoa, am I misreading something or are all domain spells infinitely-castable? Because that would be broken beyond all measure... I'm assuming it just means they're always prepared once per day, and that the wording is just ambiguous.





That a spell is prepared only means that you can expend one of your daily spell slots to cast it, if you cast a spell that you have prepared you don't lose that preparation, you can continue to cast it as long as you have daily spell slots.




The lack of proficiency feats, and higher-level magic feats looks to be making a spellsword impossible, given the current options.




Good to point out, but I think this will get taken care off when they sink their teeth into prestige classes.



..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />does the line in missile range that says you can't use the weapon to make a melee attack only imply that you can't use your str mod for attacks?


Ah, I must have overlooked that. The point still stands for spells, though. I'd like to see a return of spell disruption in melee, giving touch spells a practical reason to exist again.


Also I disagree strongly on your view of at-wills. Cantrips are one of the things that really made casters more interesting to play and I think casters not only need more cantrips, but cleric actually need stronger options.


I won't disagree with more variety being good. We do seem to disagree on at-will cantrips, though. My problem with them is two-fold. First is that even simple spells, such as Light, erase interesting problem scenarios, like having been in the Underdark for the better part of week and noticing that you're running low on torches. To me, things like torches are proud staples of low-level play. Second, there's a traditional appeal to the idea of a burned-out mage. There were times and places were a low-level wizard would pull out a crossbow he barely knew how to use, and that was part of the fun.


Lance of Faith's 2d6 might seem powerful, but when you compare it with a 1d8+1d6+Agi longbow attack by a Martial Character you find that it isn't so game breaking. I'd be happier if it as 1d6+mod though.


I have an aesthetic problem with the idea of 'laser clerics' to begin with. But that aside, the problem isn't that it's stronger than what the martialist can do, but that it's stronger than what the cleric can otherwise do. Clerics not only have no need, or practical use for weapons because of this spell, but it's strictly better than them as an option, unless you're pouring points into Str/Dex. A cleric either takes Lance of Faith and becomes a laser turret, or he's simply less effective than he could be.


Also on Clerics making Wizard's obsolete? No way, Wizards have a much more different form of utility. Sure Clerics can heal and do magic damage, but Wizards can do that damage on many more different forms, plus have a much wider array of spells and tricks at their disposal. The damage spells you mentioned were mostly in 3.5, and Clerics didn't make Mages obsolete then. Hopefully we will get a wider array of spells in future iterations, I know that casters are lacking in options, specially at the cantrip level.


Wizards do have a utility edge, but as it stands that's all they have, and it doesn't help much in combat. The reason clerics didn't make wizards obsolete in 3.5 was because wizards had more spells per day, more powerful versions of their spells and more feats than they do now. And as more and more 'splatbooks' came out, the wizard did become less and less powerful relative to clerics, giving rise to the phrase "CoDzilla" (where CoD stands for "Cleric or Druid"). Even taking damage spells alone, the cleric's and the wizards are pretty much on-par with each other - but they shouldn't be.  A Cleric has better weapon use, better HD, can wear armor and Battlefield Concentration; they should not get the same raw damage as well (or spells per day for that matter). I agree again in hoping for more options, though.

That a spell is prepared only means that you can expend one of your daily spell slots to cast it, if you cast a spell that you have prepared you don't lose that preparation, you can continue to cast it as long as you have daily spell slots.


That was a misread on my part. Thanks for the clear-up.





Good to point out, but I think this will get taken care off when they sink their teeth into prestige classes.


I'm fairly condfident they'll fit it into the final rules one way or another. I'm actually curious whether or not prestige classes will be making a return, and how multiclassing is going to work.
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />does the line in missile range that says you can't use the weapon to make a melee attack only imply that you can't use your str mod for attacks?


Ah, I must have overlooked that. The point still stands for spells, though. I'd like to see a return of spell disruption in melee, giving touch spells a practical reason to exist again.



well from what i have seen, touch spells seem generally better to ranged spells.

more specifically AOE
the only tradeoff now with touch is that you must be in melee range. without spell disruption this allows touch spells to be better :P
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />does the line in missile range that says you can't use the weapon to make a melee attack only imply that you can't use your str mod for attacks?


Ah, I must have overlooked that. The point still stands for spells, though. I'd like to see a return of spell disruption in melee, giving touch spells a practical reason to exist again.



well from what i have seen, touch spells seem generally better to ranged spells.

more specifically AOE
the only tradeoff now with touch is that you must be in melee range. without spell disruption this allows touch spells to be better :P


In 3.x touch spells did not provoke Attacks of Oppurtunity, while any other spell did. That's what I meant by bringing spell disruption back. Right now there's little reason to prepare a touch spell when you could just prepare another ranged spell, especially given the danger of a wizard getting up close.
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />does the line in missile range that says you can't use the weapon to make a melee attack only imply that you can't use your str mod for attacks?


Ah, I must have overlooked that. The point still stands for spells, though. I'd like to see a return of spell disruption in melee, giving touch spells a practical reason to exist again.



well from what i have seen, touch spells seem generally better to ranged spells.

more specifically AOE
the only tradeoff now with touch is that you must be in melee range. without spell disruption this allows touch spells to be better :P


In 3.x touch spells did not provoke Attacks of Oppurtunity, while any other spell did. That's what I meant by bringing spell disruption back. Right now there's little reason to prepare a touch spell when you could just prepare another ranged spell, especially given the danger of a wizard getting up close.


well like i said, touch spells generally seem better, they just have a higher risk to pull off
I have an aesthetic problem with the idea of 'laser clerics' to begin with. But that aside, the problem isn't that it's stronger than what the martialist can do, but that it's stronger than what the cleric can otherwise do. Clerics not only have no need, or practical use for weapons because of this spell, but it's strictly better than them as an option, unless you're pouring points into Str/Dex. A cleric either takes Lance of Faith and becomes a laser turret, or he's simply less effective than he could be.



I agree on Lance of Faith being the best cantrip by far, but I attribute that more to other cantrips being terrible .


On the Cleric vs Mage subject:

 While maybe the damage numbers are even, Mages have a lot of more choices on how to unleash their spells, more variety on aoe and spell effects to go with the damage.

While Clerics do have higher armor and one more hp per level, Clerics are still not that useful with a weapon. A cleric with high strenght would be like a Wizard with high dex for armor and you have to remember that heavy armor does restrict movement.

Mages have more spells/day than Clerics.

While this is not certainly something we can dismiss, I don't think it's a pressing matter. If anything I'd argue that mages are missing some other nifty abilities besides their spells.
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />does the line in missile range that says you can't use the weapon to make a melee attack only imply that you can't use your str mod for attacks?


Ah, I must have overlooked that. The point still stands for spells, though. I'd like to see a return of spell disruption in melee, giving touch spells a practical reason to exist again.



well from what i have seen, touch spells seem generally better to ranged spells.

more specifically AOE
the only tradeoff now with touch is that you must be in melee range. without spell disruption this allows touch spells to be better :P


In 3.x touch spells did not provoke Attacks of Oppurtunity, while any other spell did. That's what I meant by bringing spell disruption back. Right now there's little reason to prepare a touch spell when you could just prepare another ranged spell, especially given the danger of a wizard getting up close.


well like i said, touch spells generally seem better, they just have a higher risk to pull off


Given the lack of spells at the moment, it's hard to say. Inflict Critical Wounds is very powerful, but there is no equivilant-level single-target spell to compare it to. Shocking Grasp scales, and turns out less powerful than even level-equivilant AoEs, but as a cantrip that's to be expected. The only straight comparison that can be made (where AoE and utility do not come into play) is Inflict Moderate Wounds vs Melf's Acid Arrow. In this case, Inflict deals the same damage as Melf's, just with the final 1d8 frontloaded. That doesn't seem much better to me.
Given the lack of spells at the moment, it's hard to say. Inflict Critical Wounds is very powerful, but there is no equivilant-level single-target spell to compare it to. Shocking Grasp scales, and turns out less powerful than even level-equivilant AoEs, but as a cantrip that's to be expected. the only straight comparison that can be made (where AoE and utility do not come into play) is Inflict Moderate Wounds vs Melf's Acid Arrow. In this case, Inflict deals the same damage as Melf's, just with the final 1d8 frontloaded. That doesn't seem much better to me.



Touch spells need a little extra love IMO.

Compare mage cantrips, Shocking Grasp, Chill Touch and Ray of Frost all deal the same damage and you could argue that their effects are pretty comparable.


I agree on Lance of Faith being the best cantrip by far, but I attribute that more to other cantrips being terrible .


Cantrips/Orisons are supposed to be terrible. They're basically the equivilant of pulling a quarter from behind someone's ear. :P Casters should never be relying on them. The fact that one is making the entire idea of clerics weilding weapons obsolete is what bothers me.



On the Cleric vs Mage subject:

 While maybe the damage numbers are even, Mages have a lot of more choices on how to unleash their spells, more variety on aoe and spell effects to go with the damage.

While Clerics do have higher armor and one more hp per level, Clerics are still not that useful with a weapon. A cleric with high strenght would be like a Wizard with high dex for armor and you have to remember that heavy armor does restrict movement.

Mages have more spells/day than Clerics.

While this is not certainly something we can dismiss, I don't think it's a pressing matter. If anything I'd argue that mages are missing some other nifty abilities besides their spells.


I'm not really sure what you mean by more choices in how to unleash. Wizards are bound by their spellbooks, whereas clerics automatically get their whole spell list. They do have more AoE and elemental options, but that's rarely as large an issue as armor is, and the requirement to prepare beforehand limits how useful those options actually are. Then there's Channel Divinity, some options of which are really powerful for casters. As for wizards having more spells per day than clerics, that was more confusion over prepared spells vs spells per day and how domain spells fit into that. It still only makes a difference for lower-level spells though.

But I agree, the problem is more in wizards lacking than clerics having too much, though my notes may not have seemed to reflect that.

Hi,

Since this doesn't appear to be based on a playtest session I'll be moving it to Playtest Packet Discussion.

Thanks!

Monica

I'm not really sure what you mean by more choices in how to unleash. Wizards are bound by their spellbooks, whereas clerics automatically get their whole spell list. They do have more AoE and elemental options, but that's rarely as large an issue as armor is, and the requirement to prepare beforehand limits how useful those options actually are. Then there's Channel Divinity, some options of which are really powerful for casters. As for wizards having more spells per day than clerics, that was more confusion over prepared spells vs spells per day and how domain spells fit into that. It still only makes a difference for lower-level spells though.

But I agree, the problem is more in wizards lacking than clerics having too much, though my notes may not have seemed to reflect that.




If you want to make a pure damage dealing caster Cleric, you are likely to have only 1 damage dealing spell per level, maybe 2 if you have helpful domain.  Mage's are bound to have way more options and I fully except further incarnations of the playtest packet to display that.


Also cantrips shouldn't be supposed to suck, that would be wasting a perfectly good option to give characters more option on what to do on their turns, swinging the same weapon / casting the same signature spell gets boring quick. I fully believe that adding cantrip that support an hybrid Fighter/Caster is the way to rather than making cantrips battle useless.



*The Lightbringer is even more overpowered now. Not only is Lance of Faith still free, but now it can be used as a reaction whenever attacked, and as an opportunity attack? This is bad. Very bad.



You may have missed this because it was deleted and not added, but the Lightbringer no longer gives you profeciency with anything. Meaning you cannot wear armor. So sure, you can cast Lance of Faith for free when someone attacks you, but you really don't want anyone to attack you when you're only wearing your priest robes.

If you want to make a pure damage dealing caster Cleric, you are likely to have only 1 damage dealing spell per level, maybe 2 if you have helpful domain.  Mage's are bound to have way more options and I fully except further incarnations of the playtest packet to display that.


I'm just going based on what we have now. That very well may change as more options are added. It's just that the wizard has a finite number of spells, and currently, if he choses to spend these all on damage, then he has more options than the cleric, but is less powerful, and loses out on his utility advantage. Or he can go for some ulility spells as well, in which case he has his own niche, but it still less powerful than the cleric and no longer has more combat options either.


Also cantrips shouldn't be supposed to suck, that would be wasting a perfectly good option to give characters more option on what to do on their turns, swinging the same weapon / casting the same signature spell gets boring quick. I fully believe that adding cantrip that support an hybrid Fighter/Caster is the way to rather than making cantrips battle useless.


This might be one of those discrepancies based on playstyle. To me, much of the fun of low-level play is creative use of the few tools you yet have. Cantrips aren't useless, but they're bad enough that you don't want to fall back on them if you can help it. I feel the current system has cantrips being the caster's primary tool, shifting the decision from 'how do I use what I have?' to 'when do I pull out the bigger guns?'.


You may have missed this because it was deleted and not added, but the Lightbringer no longer gives you profeciency with anything. Meaning you cannot wear armor. So sure, you can cast Lance of Faith for free when someone attacks you, but you really don't want anyone to attack you when you're only wearing your priest robes.


I did notice that. It's just that, like I said before, the cleric has too much relative to the wizard. The complaint would more clearly be, 'the Lightbringer is now even more powerful than other offensive casters.'
Clerics need a restricted spell list.  I'd like there to be a core list pf 'traditional' cleric spells, a domain list (which I'd like to have two choices per level), and then a secondary list where most other spells (usually from splatbooks) are added.  Spell choice from the secondary list should be limited to maybe two spells per level.  To that you can add unique spells for particular deities.

It may complicate the process in some ways but limiting clerical choice is a mustif 3e is anything to go by.  With the above method clerics would have about half a dozen spells of each level on their universal list plus two domain spells, plus for example, three spells per level of the secondary list, would give players a choice of 11 spels per level and would mean that players need not spend too much time wading through a massive clerical list after a long rest.
Clerics need a restricted spell list.  I'd like there to be a core list pf 'traditional' cleric spells, a domain list (which I'd like to have two choices per level), and then a secondary list where most other spells (usually from splatbooks) are added.  Spell choice from the secondary list should be limited to maybe two spells per level.  To that you can add unique spells for particular deities.

It may complicate the process in some ways but limiting clerical choice is a mustif 3e is anything to go by.  With the above method clerics would have about half a dozen spells of each level on their universal list plus two domain spells, plus for example, three spells per level of the secondary list, would give players a choice of 11 spels per level and would mean that players need not spend too much time wading through a massive clerical list after a long rest.


I like this idea.
I don't really have that big of an issue with the cleric having access to all of the spells on the spelllist. They still have to choose what they can actually cast day to day. The biggest problem with the cleric in previous editions (specifically 3.X) was that they could cast multiple buff spells on themselves at once, making them stronger, harder to hit, harder hitting, etc. The new concentration mechanic seems to address that nicely. The biggest problem I can foresee is splatbook spell inflation which typically introduces spells far superior than the original options over time. That's pretty much been happening from 1st Edition though.
I don't really have that big of an issue with the cleric having access to all of the spells on the spelllist. They still have to choose what they can actually cast day to day. The biggest problem with the cleric in previous editions (specifically 3.X) was that they could cast multiple buff spells on themselves at once, making them stronger, harder to hit, harder hitting, etc. The new concentration mechanic seems to address that nicely. The biggest problem I can foresee is splatbook spell inflation which typically introduces spells far superior than the original options over time. That's pretty much been happening from 1st Edition though.


The concentration mechanic isn't really new. It existed in 3.X as well, albeit affecting a smaller proportion of spells. It's true that the cleric got more powerful spells via splatbooks (while the wizard's most powerful were typically in the core), but I think a large part of it is that the cleric started getting more wizard-like spells and abilities. This meant that the cleric got much of the versatility of a wizard without the drawbacks.

If you want to make a pure damage dealing caster Cleric, you are likely to have only 1 damage dealing spell per level, maybe 2 if you have helpful domain.  Mage's are bound to have way more options and I fully except further incarnations of the playtest packet to display that.


I'm just going based on what we have now. That very well may change as more options are added. It's just that the wizard has a finite number of spells, and currently, if he choses to spend these all on damage, then he has more options than the cleric, but is less powerful, and loses out on his utility advantage. Or he can go for some ulility spells as well, in which case he has his own niche, but it still less powerful than the cleric and no longer has more combat options either.


Also cantrips shouldn't be supposed to suck, that would be wasting a perfectly good option to give characters more option on what to do on their turns, swinging the same weapon / casting the same signature spell gets boring quick. I fully believe that adding cantrip that support an hybrid Fighter/Caster is the way to rather than making cantrips battle useless.


This might be one of those discrepancies based on playstyle. To me, much of the fun of low-level play is creative use of the few tools you yet have. Cantrips aren't useless, but they're bad enough that you don't want to fall back on them if you can help it. I feel the current system has cantrips being the caster's primary tool, shifting the decision from 'how do I use what I have?' to 'when do I pull out the bigger guns?'.


You may have missed this because it was deleted and not added, but the Lightbringer no longer gives you profeciency with anything. Meaning you cannot wear armor. So sure, you can cast Lance of Faith for free when someone attacks you, but you really don't want anyone to attack you when you're only wearing your priest robes.


I did notice that. It's just that, like I said before, the cleric has too much relative to the wizard. The complaint would more clearly be, 'the Lightbringer is now even more powerful than other offensive casters.'

The 121712 Packet Pre-Gen Human Cleric (Lightbringer) clearly has AC 15 from Studded Leather and states "You are proficient with all armour, all shields and simple weapons."

So, it's pretty easy to miss for the Playtest Devs too.  And completely changes the build.

I agree that it's not listed for the Lightbringer or Arcanist in the 121712 Classes document.  (I wish they'd just include the "Armour and Weapon proficiencies" heading and say "None" if that's what they intend, rather than leaving it out and making you wonder if it was just an editing omission.)

So, the Lightbringer in my party is now non-proficient in the Chainmail and +1 Shield he's using, but can react to zap people with Lance of Faith the moment they think about attacking him.  The only time he ever uses a melee weapon as it is is when combined with a Word of Power, and now he doesn't even need to carry a weapon for Opportunity Attacks.  (In fact, we worked out yesterday he can 1. Attack with his Spiritual Weapon - cast previously, 2. Cast a Word of Power, 3. Attack with a mace, and 4. React to an attack with Lance of Faith all in the one round.)

The penalty for wearing armour with which one isn't proficient? 121712 Equipment document says:

"If you put on armour that you cannot use, you have disadvantage on checks, saving throws, and attack rolls that involve Strength or Dexterity"

So, basically, if he uses a Str or Dex skill check (unlikely during combat), rolls initiative? (Dex check, once off) makes a Str or Dex saving throw (not that common, maybe once per combat) or makes a melee attack (almost never - again once or twice per combat) he's at disadvantage.  I guess he'll go right on using that armour and shield without proficiency and enjoy two Lance of Faith's per round while he's in the thick of melee.  His mace will be largely ceremonial.

I agree that LoF as a reaction is ridiculous, especially without a meaningful penalty for not being proficient with armour and shield.

I agree that LoF as a reaction is ridiculous, especially without a meaningful penalty for not being proficient with armour and shield.



You're right, I never really thought of how meaningless the penalties for not being profecient with shields and armour are. Really the only meaningful downsides are rolling with disadvantage on initiative (but my Cleric rarely likes to go first anyway) and on Dex saving throws (which are far more common than Str ones, but if that's the biggest downside I'll take my chances).

When you compare that to the AC and survivability gain you get, why wouldn't you strap every cleric into the best kind of armour they can get and screw the proficiency? 

I agree that LoF as a reaction is ridiculous, especially without a meaningful penalty for not being proficient with armour and shield.



You're right, I never really thought of how meaningless the penalties for not being profecient with shields and armour are. Really the only meaningful downsides are rolling with disadvantage on initiative (but my Cleric rarely likes to go first anyway) and on Dex saving throws (which are far more common than Str ones, but if that's the biggest downside I'll take my chances).

When you compare that to the AC and survivability gain you get, why wouldn't you strap every cleric into the best kind of armour they can get and screw the proficiency? 



Because of this, which I had a nagging feeling I'd read, but couldn't find before (121712 How to Play) which wasn't in the previous packet:

Casting in Armour


Because of the mental focus and precise gestures required for spellcasting, you must be proficient with the armour you are wearing to cast a spell. You are otherwise too distracted and physically hampered by your armour for spellcasting.


So, you can wear whatever armour you like, but can't cast spells.  Kind of a big drawback after all for a spellcaster.

Which means I now have to offer my Lightbringer the option to a) keep his deity and take off his armour, or b) switch to a deity that lets him wear armour.  Fortunately he's just done something I consider fairly evil, so forcing the issue immediately can be a perfectly plausible roleplaying opportunity.

I do wish they'd stop screwing up the pre-gen characters (which are always my starting point when converting PCs from packet to packet) so this wouldn't occur.  And changing a cleric from one that can wear anything to one that can suddenly wear nothing is a pretty big change!)

Lightbringer not having armor proficiencies is not a very large drawback if you create a dwarf cleric that gets armor proficiencies, as part of its race.  If this is going to be a balance point than it needs to be an explicit restriction.

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