How have you been running your playtest?

I started a playtest campaign today, with the plan of having a campaign that will keep going for a while. I decided to embrace the simplicity of the system and run a very loose sort of game, with a blurry line between combat and noncombat. I used miniatures, but no grid, instead just drawing terrain on a blank whiteboard and eyeballing everything. I decided to have players sit around the table in order of their initiative mod, and just run encounters by going around the table instead of rolling for initiative every fight. This change helped blur combat and noncombat, because I often run sessions outside of combat by simply going around the table asking people what they do. This was a big change of pace for my group, because in 4e we have a big distinction between combat an noncombat, and use the grid for every fight.

How are you approaching the playtest? Are you using a similar style to your normal game, or are you changing things up? I decided to play to what I feel are the game's strengths, and changed some things around to make it work better. Are you playing by the book or changing things as you go?
"So shall it be! Dear-bought those songs shall be be accounted, and yet shall be well-bought. For the price could be no other. Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Eä, and evil yet be good to have been." - Manwë, High King of the Valar
I'm usually very flexible in other games, but I've been trying to stick to the rules as written in the playtest, in order to accurately test those rules. The only things I have added are: bonus languages based on Intelligence bonus (the playtest still has absolutely no rule for learning languages other than the ones your race gives you automatically, which makes it kind of pointless to have languages in the game at all, so this was a necessary change), partial cover on the target when firing into melee, and unarmed strike is treated as a light weapon for the purpose of feats (RAW does not make it clear one way or the other). I've also just stuck to the old initiative tie-breaker systm of going by Dex score instead of the roll-again method prescribed in the latest packet, I feel that the new way only slows down the process of starting combat. I'm also seriously considering reverting martial damage dice to refreshing every round instead of every turn, because they are completely breaking the game.

I use a grid, even though the rules are not designed for it, I don't feel they need to be, that should be each group's choice and the rules shouldn't assume one way or the other.
Wow, I completely missed that MDD refresh every turn, not every round. That seems completely absurd, parry has no cost at all.
"So shall it be! Dear-bought those songs shall be be accounted, and yet shall be well-bought. For the price could be no other. Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Eä, and evil yet be good to have been." - Manwë, High King of the Valar
technically not true, you only get one reaction a round (with very limited exceptions).
Yeah, you can still only do it once, but I mean there's not really any reason no to use it to its max every chance you get. I guess if you plan on using an OA later that round you shouldn't do a parry.

Anyway, back to original topic, what sort of style are you using in running your playtest games? 
"So shall it be! Dear-bought those songs shall be be accounted, and yet shall be well-bought. For the price could be no other. Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Eä, and evil yet be good to have been." - Manwë, High King of the Valar
Yeah, that's why I qualified my statement with technically.
I've been running things a little bit differently then strictly by-the-book, because Next's combat is boring and its math is terrible, and to some extent there needs to be some "play" in with the "test" to hold anybody's interest. I've mostly been running things as one-shots interspersed between "real" sessions that use complete systems. Next's novelty wears off pretty fast, and gaming time is too valuable for most people to squander on such a (currently) inferior system, compared to using more or less anything else.

I've been running gridless, but mostly with maps, even if they're just crude schematic maps indicating the relative positions of things.

It's gotten increasingly harder to get anybody else to want to give it a roll, and I've generally started caring less and less, although there was a brief resurgence when everybody whose interest had cratered way back when they saw the first packet gave it another chance. ("It's only kind of [expletive] now.") New packet releases sometimes spark a little interest. We'll have to see.
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
I've been running things a little bit differently then strictly by-the-book, because Next's combat is boring and its math is terrible, and to some extent there needs to be some "play" in with the "test" to hold anybody's interest. I've mostly been running things as one-shots interspersed between "real" sessions that use complete systems. Next's novelty wears off pretty fast, and gaming time is too valuable for most people to squander on such a (currently) inferior system, compared to using more or less anything else.

I've been running gridless, but mostly with maps, even if they're just crude schematic maps indicating the relative positions of things.

It's gotten increasingly harder to get anybody else to want to give it a roll, and I've generally started caring less and less, although there was a brief resurgence when everybody whose interest had cratered way back when they saw the first packet gave it another chance. ("It's only kind of [expletive] now.") New packet releases sometimes spark a little interest. We'll have to see.



Me too. I'm just terribly bored with it all and trying different ideas I've had over the years. I'm just seeing what D&D5 elements from the playtest people like and just dumping what they tried and don't like. That's why I keep asking about my version of what 5th edition should be. No new play-test material.. My mind starts to race.

If you're still bored, you can playtest my ideas yourself on your own time. You don't need a party but a party could also use this Javascript program. I'm making absolutely no money from this. It is just a hobby.
kira3696.tripod.com

My D&D5E JavaScript Roll Tracker http://dnd5.weebly.com/

I started a playtest campaign today, with the plan of having a campaign that will keep going for a while. I decided to embrace the simplicity of the system and run a very loose sort of game, with a blurry line between combat and noncombat. I used miniatures, but no grid, instead just drawing terrain on a blank whiteboard and eyeballing everything. I decided to have players sit around the table in order of their initiative mod, and just run encounters by going around the table instead of rolling for initiative every fight. This change helped blur combat and noncombat, because I often run sessions outside of combat by simply going around the table asking people what they do. This was a big change of pace for my group, because in 4e we have a big distinction between combat an noncombat, and use the grid for every fight.

How are you approaching the playtest? Are you using a similar style to your normal game, or are you changing things up? I decided to play to what I feel are the game's strengths, and changed some things around to make it work better. Are you playing by the book or changing things as you go?



I like your idea about initiative.  I'm sure it speeds up the game and gives more order to non-combat encounters.   Often, without turn rules, non-combat situations become dominated by the more boisterous players.   Giving each person a turn helps balance that.

I started the playtesting with a mini-campaign using Blingdenstone, running PCs from 1st to 5th level.   After that, I decided to just do one-shots.   I like the idea of trying both campaign and one-shot, but campaigns are difficult to continue because the rules keep changing.   I like one-shots because it gives me a chance to play with designing and running games using the guidelines.  What amazes me most is that with a party of 3 or 4, we can easily play a 3 or 4 encounter mini-adventure in 2-3 hours.   I love that.   

The only thing I really change while playtesting is monster stats and abilities.   I like to add abilities to some monsters to make them more fearsome.  I also give leaders/elites 50% more hit points, and sometimes upgrade their armor or give them different weapons to use.

Interestingly, so far, I've found that using the guidelines and the way the game flows it is far easier and most optimal to set a default party at around 3 or 4 pcs.   5, 6 or 7 really makes the party way too powerful.   The way the numbers are working now, there is a disproportionate increase in power for both PCs and Monsters when the number of PCs or monsters increases in any given combat.   I don't know if this is bad; it is just different than what I'm used to so I'm adjusting to it.

edit:  I guess I actually began mini-campaign play with Caves of Chaos in package 1.   I think we played 3 or 4 sessions of that.   I forgot about that. 

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My approach recognizes that the primary goal is testing the system, not providing me with an awesome campaign.

It's nice to have plot, but it's rather secondary to me at this stage.  I see it as an investment:  sacrifice a little bit of enjoyment now in the hopes of getting a better game so that my enjoyment is greater later.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Yeah I'm running a bit of a campaign with adventures, but more of an open sandbox.  A LOT of rolling cast members, my players switch out to try specific classes and stuff.  I make a few encounters have a bit of fun and we see how things feel.  However it is in my own campaign world that I'm kind of making up as I go.
So far we've been hitting specific mechanics pretty hard, with a one-shot exploration, interaction, or combat phase to validate (or disprove) choices and assumptions. But it's time to work in the long-term effects, and we'll be starting a campaign this month. I've specified a broad range of classes and races, and everyone knows things will change as new packets come out.

I'm going to try to focus on the storyline and see how the mechanics either support the story and the play around the table, or feel like they're getting in the way.

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.

My approach recognizes that the primary goal is testing the system, not providing me with an awesome campaign.

It's nice to have plot, but it's rather secondary to me at this stage.  I see it as an investment:  sacrifice a little bit of enjoyment now in the hopes of getting a better game so that my enjoyment is greater later.


The thing for my group is that our games have always been very narrative-focused and revolve around character interaction. Testing a roleplaying game without doing substantial roleplaying seems like a poor way to test the system.

Beyond that, strip out plot and character, and the current system is really boring. The only strength of the system right now is its general lightness, which gives a great opportunity to roleplay and develop characters.
"So shall it be! Dear-bought those songs shall be be accounted, and yet shall be well-bought. For the price could be no other. Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Eä, and evil yet be good to have been." - Manwë, High King of the Valar
We started our campaign with the first playtest packet and modify our characters to fit the newest packets. We began in the Caves of Chaos, then L1 Secret of Bone Hill, then the Isle of Dread. Next we begin L2 the Assassins Knot.

We prefered the earlier packets to this latest one. Let me give you an example of one of the things that has changed. Our Rogue disguised himself during the Caves of Chaos so he could enter the goblin cave unnoticed. We said CHA v WIS and he was able to scout ahead. It felt intuitive and worked. Had the goblins been aware adventurers were afoot I may have imposed Disadvantage. Jump ahead to the latest packet and we saw the Mimic Skill Trick and thought "Cool, lets give him that!" Now we had to look up a rule, read it to make sure we were using it correctly, and the player had to use a resource to even have the ability which he did from imagination before. He was successful in infiltrating the Natives hideout in the volcano on the Isle of Dread, but felt less intuitive.

I am sure as we master the system we would not need to look up those rules, but we felt special rules defining every possible situation confining. I also see players looking at character sheets for options rather than their imaginations.

As to Initiative we have gone around the table for years. Whoever rolls highest starts and either goes left or right depending on who roles lowest. Very loose because the focus is on story and action over mechanics for us.   

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of any failed saving throw, including but not limited to petrification, poison, death magic, dragon breath, spells, or vorpal sword-related decapitations.

My approach recognizes that the primary goal is testing the system, not providing me with an awesome campaign.

It's nice to have plot, but it's rather secondary to me at this stage.  I see it as an investment:  sacrifice a little bit of enjoyment now in the hopes of getting a better game so that my enjoyment is greater later.

As someone who loves data, the fact that I'm using what boils down to suboptimal experimental design by tweaking the playtest to make it at least palatable sort of kills me, but I feel like in this case, potentially contaminated data is better than no data at all. (Not something I believe in general, funding agencies!) My guilt is assuaged to some degree by the fact that the stuff I'm messing with (mostly monster survivability) are things that are known issues. They phrase it as player damage, rather than monster survivability, but it's easier on everyone to just inflate monster HP than to mess with various player abilities. If I can get people to actually stay at all interested by making Next's tissue paper monsters into two-ply tissue paper, that seems like a sacrifice I'm okay making.

Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
I stopped, there is not enough material to pass it as a game I would play. I figured the closed playtest would do a better job, unitl more is released to the public.
I ran a mini-campaign using Caves of Chaos, with a plot written to tie the dungeons together -an evil cult of Mammon had it's golden claws in most of the humanoid tribes' business, with some cooperating and gaining corrupt Wealth and Necrotic powers, and turned the Minotaur in the maze into a bronze bull (the Golden Calf) and had the Medusa turn people into Silvered statues. It turned out creepy, and lots of fun. 
Then I tried to write my own city campaign in a setting I improvised (low magic, epic continent in which the mythical gods are actually legendary Craftsmen who exalted their work into creations of wonder), which was nice but the story didn't work for my group, and after three sessions or so I decided to start again from scratch (I must note that my friends and I love the random tables). Next with the new packet and with characters on 8th level, I ran one of my old adventures, a sandbox-style island exploration, with an escaped villain at large and several mysteries to solve. I tried to insert lots of interaction and exploration and intrigue, and the new rogue proved to be a hit with my players. The adventure turned out to be a huge success, and in three sessions my friends were hooked. The highlights were the Monk punching a soaring Black Dragon back to the ground, the Wizard destroying a whole village corrupt by the villains with a maximized Lightning Bolt centered on a disfigured village, and the Mercenary Archer Rogue bluffing the three Fates and cutting the villain's Life String, dooming him. The adventure ended with an epic magic battle and activating the island's defenses to hold back a horde of alien horrors from Beyond. 
It was pulpy, epic and fun. The game seems to work very well for middle-high levels. 
Our main critiques towards the new packet are the loss of the simplicity the earlier packets had, and the monsters not posing enough of a challenge. I'd love to see this fixed without extending combat any longer then they had already. 
All in all, this is a good game so far, better then any edition I tried before (Ad&d 2E, 3E and 4e, each for several years).
 
-Ashtoret
How are you approaching the playtest? Are you using a similar style to your normal game, or are you changing things up?  Are you playing by the book or changing things as you go?

Since 5e seems to be trying very hard to evoke the classic game, I try to run it as much as possible like I remember running AD&D back in the day, which generally comes pretty easily.  I do stick to the "RAW" closely, and simply note when the game 'crashes' rather than trying to fix it on the fly, it is a test, afterall, and there's no point in testing anything else than the current packet.

 

 

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I've been running things a little bit differently then strictly by-the-book, because Next's combat is boring and its math is terrible, and to some extent there needs to be some "play" in with the "test" to hold anybody's interest. I've mostly been running things as one-shots interspersed between "real" sessions that use complete systems. Next's novelty wears off pretty fast, and gaming time is too valuable for most people to squander on such a (currently) inferior system, compared to using more or less anything else.

I've been running gridless, but mostly with maps, even if they're just crude schematic maps indicating the relative positions of things.

It's gotten increasingly harder to get anybody else to want to give it a roll, and I've generally started caring less and less, although there was a brief resurgence when everybody whose interest had cratered way back when they saw the first packet gave it another chance. ("It's only kind of [expletive] now.") New packet releases sometimes spark a little interest. We'll have to see.



 More or less htis. I ran the D&DN packets when they are kind of new. Also plugged the D&D beastiary into AD&D retroclone and tweaked the numbers and it worked surprisingly well. D&DN has issue from level 5-14 most of them being boring. 

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

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