I know the designers have decided to bring old fans back rather than focus on creating new ones. And I'll agree that there are some genuine good game design bits and pieces to be mined from older editions (shorter combat for the win!). But some are just real stinkers, and they're smelling up D&D Next. These are the worst offenders:
- Non-proportional healing. 4e showed us how a 10th level fighter and a 1st level fighter who were both just bloodied can both be healed to full by the same exact character. This is both realistic and good game design, and it boggles the mind that we would throw away this innovation. It is even more crucial in D&D Next, where HP is shouldering ALL Of the weight of a character's skill in avoiding damage. If I ask if my 10th level fighter has learned a thing about blocking in all those adventures, you'd tell me its ALL in the HP. Then why does it take a small army of clerics to heal him up, if that damage represents all kinds of skillful blocking and dodging?
- Saving throws instead of attacks. If you want a streamlined system, just roll attacks. In the end, there's a bonus on one end and a bonus on the other, with a random element. The math works out the same. Why are we introducing this confusing mix of attacks and saves just to make the grognards happy?
- AC and a pile of saving throws. We're really going to adandon the Fort, Refl, Will trio that 3e and 4e used and were much loved? We're already seeing that some abilities are too good, and the rest are either key to class or neglected (like in the old days). It's not interesting to have 6 possible vulnerabilities with no feasible way to account for them all. Even worse if 3 of them are often used, and the other 3 come up once in a blue moon just to annoy.
- Unbalanced attack bonus progression. I couldn't believe it when I first saw that the progression rate was at 3 different rates. I know the idea of Bounded Accuracy is that if bonuses are small, screwy bits like this won't break the game. But why mess with it? Fighters get more melee damage and stuff from leveling up! It's not about accuracy in D&D Next! And as some have already pointed out, when you add stat bonuses, magic weapons, and accuracy bonues, the accuracy differential will grow large by the humble level of 10. EDIT: I'm not saying there can't be flat class bonuses to accuracy, just that the gaps should stay flat.
Let me just add that they're doing some great things, most of which are not throwbacks (bounded accuracy and interesting options for martial characters). That's why I want to provide feedback: I want the cool new stuff without the old bad stuff!