First read through

Hi,an old 1e gamer here recently lured back to the fold by the talk of the playtest. Thought I'd share my thoughts after a read through of the packet as a way of getting my feet wet on the forums (forae? Forii?)

There's a lot I like in the base rules, things like advantage/ disadvantage that seem geared to speeding up play. With the barbarian and monk especially, there's been effort to give some classes a distinct flavor of their own.

I also like that they've deliberately tried to use everyday terms to describe game mechanics. That said, there's a lot of places the language could be clearer, and more care taken to explain terms on first mention. It's never explicit how many "reactions" a player can make, though the text seems to imply it is one each. Two-weapon fighting in the "how to play" section talks about light weapons, before we find out what those are. Armor proficiency is similarly discussed under magic, without any hint of what proficiency is or how it is gained.

As a 1e-er, I'm delighted, if somewhat overwhelmed, by the options for character customization. Am I being hopelessly antiquated if I say I don't quite get the role or positioning of feats, traits, maneuvers, rogue schemes, backgrounds and specialties. Why, for example, is called shot a feat but sniper is a maneuver? What's the difference between a fighting style and a specialty if there's a 1-to-1 correspondence between them (e.g. Duelist--Swashbuckler)? Iron Hide and Disarm seem to refer to two different mechanics, which seems unnecessarily confusing.

I like the simplification of weapon damage compared to 1e (no more d4+1 weapons, huzzah) though at the moment Martial damage seems to outweigh weapon damage, making two handers a loser's choice.

I rolled up a wood elf archer and tested a few combats with some of the monsters in the bestiary. I find in one-on-one fights, he's able to easily kill even baddies that should be "tough" opponents like orcs, gnolls and bugbears. When outnumbered even by weaker enemies he gets quickly overwhelmed. Martial damage is a killer, and parry usually soaks most or all of a single enemy's hit. For that reason, archery opponents tend to be far more dangerous that swordsmen.

Speaking of the bestiary, not sure why the humans listed get such big attack bonuses. Monsters, OK, they live by slightly different rules, but what's the excuse for giving Joe Spearman +4 to hit?

Minor gripes aside, very impressed with the new direction and looking forward to giving the rules more of a workout.
It's never explicit how many "reactions" a player can make, though the text seems to imply it is one each.


D&D Playtest: How To Play / Combat (pg. 11) / Lower right corner / "Reactions"

"Once per round, you can take a reaction, a special action that is an instant response to a trigger of some kind. You can take a reaction only if you make an opportunity attack (see "Movement in Combat"), ready an action (see "Actions in Combat"), or have a special ability or spell that allows you to do so..."
Thanks. To clarify, the question for me was whether a reaction is in addition to, or instead of, the player's normal action.
The reaction is generally going to be on another players turn, unless you are using your reaction to block an opportunity attack that you provoked on your turn.

So, if you are a fighter and have the Parry reaction, you could attack normally as your action, then on a creatures turn, parry their attack as a reaction, but that is your last reaction for the entire round (since you are limited to one).

Or, on your turn you could spend an action to ready an action that is triggered by an event. Say, for example, on your turn you use your action to say you will shoot an arrow at a monster when it comes around the corner. When the monster comes around the corner, you use your single reaction for that round to shoot it because you previously readied that reaction.
Thanks. To clarify, the question for me was whether a reaction is in addition to, or instead of, the player's normal action.



To clarify, the reaction is in addition to the PC's normal action.  The exception is when a PC uses their action to ready an action, which, according to the RAW, becomes their reaction when triggered.  Personally, I prefer making that one of the few cases in which a character can make more than one reaction, though they'd lose that extra reaction if they took another reaction before it, and they could only take a single reaction on any single turn.

BTW, as a 1e player, you might not have realized that a "turn" has been redefined.  While a round is one complete pass through the initiative order, a turn is when each individual participant takes their move and action.  It's more intuitive, but could be confusing if you're coming directly from 1e.  IIRC, that edition called it a segment, but it's been forever since I've played 1e, so I could be wrong.
Thanks everyone for chiming in on the action/reaction allowance. I'd actually figured it out after reading all the way through the packet, just thought the rule was a bit ambiguous at first.

I'd be more interested to know how you feel about backgrounds, specialties, feats, tricks and maneuvers. It seems like a lot of different categories for things which are actually pretty similar: called shot and sniper being an obvious example. Could maneuvers be folded into feats, with some feats being class-restricted, the way maneuvers are. That way, you're only referring to one list to find out what characters can do, instead of 2-3 separate ones.
Thanks everyone for chiming in on the action/reaction allowance. I'd actually figured it out after reading all the way through the packet, just thought the rule was a bit ambiguous at first.

I'd be more interested to know how you feel about backgrounds, specialties, feats, tricks and maneuvers. It seems like a lot of different categories for things which are actually pretty similar: called shot and sniper being an obvious example. Could maneuvers be folded into feats, with some feats being class-restricted, the way maneuvers are. That way, you're only referring to one list to find out what characters can do, instead of 2-3 separate ones.

I like the direction they're taking with backgrounds, specialties, feats, tricks, and maneuvers. I hope backgrounds and specialties is a large part of what they intend to do to make the game more approachable for new players.

I like the differences between the Feats "Sniper" and "Called Shot".

Sniper: would be used in a situation where you just want to get a quick hit on a ranged target. A good example of when this Feat would be great (which probably wouldn't come up a ton but it would've helped my group last night) is if one of the PC's is charmed by a Monster and needs to take any damage at all to break the charm.

Called Shot: Obviously, you would use this when you got a round and want to do some heavy damage if you hit.

The major difference between Feats and Maneuvers though is that Maneuvers are fueled by MDD where Feats are not. They would need to completely redesign or eliminate Martial Damage Dice.

I appreciate the desire for greater simplicity but I think once you've made a couple characters and otherwise had to referenced different sections multiple times that the book will seem more approachable. I had some of the same impressions after my first read through. 
Greetings:

    I feel the same way about Feats, Traits, and so on. 1e (when I also started playing) didn't have terms for their special abilities, they just listed things characters can do.
   Mechanically, once the story begins, it really dosen't make a difference.
   I just make sure I am picking from the right list and make a note about it. Otherwise, I just put all my feats, manuevers, and special class powers together on the character sheet as the list of "things my character can do."
   Don't worry about it in play. 

--Buck