Playtest Session Report

I wish I hadn't filled out that last survey yet because I need to do some venting.  First, perspective.  I love Next.  I can't go back to 4E.  I love my character.  My rogue has so many interesting things he can do and I can feel the narrative weight in every mechanical decision.  BUT.  Something has gone wrong.  The 4Eisms are creeping back in.  Specifically I'm talking about the duration of combat.  Too many choices are rearing their ugly heads.  The casters are spending too long choosing spells.  The cleric can't figure out what the hell to say when he uses Command.  The Monk is doing...okay.  The Fighter is is cool.  I'm hoping someone will tell me I'm mad.  Anyone else think combat time is creeping back up beyond fun?

While I'm calling for heads, We Need to Talk About Character Sheets.  There is not one person at our table who likes the character sheet.  I need some space for ma' skill tricks.  They're a bit long for the maneuvers section.  Casters want space for spell descriptions.  I don't think its THAT bad, but I think this is due for an update.  It's the 1e-2e guys calling for blood.

As for house rules.  These have been introduced or proposed.
-Gritty healing: Everyone at our table hates the "you are at 100% after a long rest" model.  We're going with, after a long rest you get one roll of all your hit dice.  Mechanically it works out to the same thing usually, but we feel better about ourselves.
-Bonus Languages: PCs receive a bonus language for every point of Int Mod.  Everyone hates not being able to interact with the Goblins and Orcs in their own tongue.  Sure you COULD make everyone speak Common but where's the fun in that?
-Initiative: Hasn't been played yet, but I'm surprised there's so much interest in this.  Three of our Six people have stated a preference for rolling initiative every round.  It'll slow down the table and drive the DM to drink in large battles, but hey democracy.

Vampire Class/Feat in 2013!

I prefer Next because 4E players and CharOpers can't find their ass without a grid and a power called "Find Ass."

I can't compare to 4E since I've only previously played 2E and the original Basic, but I will agree that there have been a couple of times in my Next playtesting that combat time has been a little long. Nothing terrible so far, but a couple of encounters have felt longer than I would have liked.
Some of the confusion at my table is just that people are unfamiliar with their spells, and since spell effects have changed from packet to packet even people who have play tested are a little leary about the spells.   

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"


Rhenny's Blog:



I don't think any edition has made spellcasting faster. Best they can do is print out spell cards or use laptops to search the PDF. Eventually, you just start to memorize them.

I have never found a character sheet that I've liked. The best ones I've always made myself or modified.

Every round initiative can work fine on a virtual tabletop. If you have to roll every round, I suggest everyone should make their own notecards with their names and a place to pencil-in an initiative score. Everyone rolls, jots down their score, and passes to you for sorting. I don't recommend it. It's a huge slowdown that leads to some players getting 2 turns in a row and general weirdness with round-to-round effects.

I think that the long spell desciptions need to be reorganized into common and uncommon use cases. The core information should be put at the top in bold: target, saving throw, area of effect, and the spell's main effect. Then afterwards they can put in all the little conditional effects.

I think that Web and Phantasmal Force are good examples of spells that require you to stop and re-read the spell every time you use it, which is bad. The simpler spells like lightning bolt or mirror image don't really have this problem.

how long is an average combat in 5E? My memory of 4E is a combat took anywhere from 1.5 - 2.5 hrs. And it was waaaaaay too long.
The longest we have seen so far has been 30 maybe 40 minutes and that involved some strategy and  bad luck that lead to a near TPK.
There absolutely needs to be rules for players learning new languages. I feel like the character sheet won't see much improvement during playtesting since rules and everythign change all the time, a lot of work on the character sheet would just be a waste.

And if my players ever recommended rolling initiative every round....I'd go nuts. 
Cheers Pumpy - that sounds very promising indeed - will have to give 5e a go!

1) How big was your party? From what you described, I would say that the long combat time lies more with the players than the mechanics. I was playing in a party of 10 (11, but one left before first combat) and we thought the combat moved very smoothly. The only reason our combats took any kind of long length is due to decisions we made previously coming back to haunt us in the form of ambush by hoard. Being a new set of rules that everyone is learning, I think it's only natural that it takes a little longer, but it sounds like your spell casters were a little unorganized. (not trying give you crap. just what I got out of your described situation). I think if you got your magic slingers more organized in RL, in-game you would find operation more streamlined. I personally like the idea someone had above about spells on notecards. I might do that with all my characters in future games myself. Having a small stack of notecards each with one of my skill tricks, feats, etc would definitely cut down on page flipping time. Thanks Veggie-sama for that suggestion.

2) My group was in unanimous agreement about the Character Sheet. Not good at all. However, I think the makers are aware of that vibe from the community. Also, I don't think that this CS was ever going to be the final version (at least I hope not). So I'm not going to point out a bunch of things I want changed on it. I think it will be rememdied quite a bit before the official game is released. 

3) Love your house rules on Gritty Healing and Bonus Languages. I don't care for rolling Initiative every round. It slows down gameplay. Not so much from the actual rolling, but more from confusion I think. rolling every round makes it harder for the DM to keep track of everything. I really like rolling once and remembering that number. The we do it most often is roll, and then every round the DM just counts down from 25. When you hear your number, stop him and take your turn. Countdown continues from your initiative. It streamlines the process and keeps things moving. Also, it gives you a little more time to plan, strategize, get spells figured out, etc. This is probably just personal preference though. 
Thank you all for your feedback.  I think the combat time issue I encountered is a table problem rather than a system problem.  It's partly a mixture of new players in a new system with new characters, partly because I feel a DM should be mushing the players a bit more.

Vampire Class/Feat in 2013!

I prefer Next because 4E players and CharOpers can't find their ass without a grid and a power called "Find Ass."