Initial Thoughts on Classes from March, 2013 packet

Overall: I like it.  The classes all have a nice feel to them, and it is very easy to customize (both in terms of choices you make and creating your own custom elements).  For example, my friend is interested in a Cleric of a Nature god, and we both quickly saw that we could just make it ourselves.


General Stuff:


Replacing martial damage dice and the damage bonus with Deadly Strike is great.  It keeps things simple and at the same time is fun (everyone likes rolling more dice).


The unified spellcasting mechanic is great.  Like Deadly Strike, it is simple to use and fun.


Barbarian:  I like that they can rage 2/day at level 1, as this is really the defining feature of the barbarian.  The requirement to attack a hostile creature and lack of reactions are pretty good drawbacks to counteract the really nice benefits.  I’m not sure about resistance to physical damage (it seems like it might be too good), but I will have to playtest it to really see.


The rest of the features are nice.  They have a great primal feel while at the same time don’t force that concept.  If someone wanted to make a purely martial barbarian there is nothing here that would prevent it.


Cleric: I like the increased weapon attack bonus.  Keeps them a bit behind Fighter, but not too much.


I like how the domains all gain turn undead or control undead as a bonus channel divinity option.


Druid: I love the two paths.  All druids get utility wild shape, and then you pick between improved spellcasting or wild shape as your attack.  Very similar to the 4E druid.


Not being able to switch back and forth between forms is a bit limiting, though.  I would prefer something like this:


“You can use your action to revert to your normal shape earlier.  Doing so reduces the duration remaining by 1 hour.”


This way, a druid could turn into an animal (for the benefit) and then turn back in order to cast a spell without fully ending the wild shape. 


The different animal forms are great, exactly how I wanted it to be handled.  It makes it very easy to use because you don’t have to go flipping through the Monster Manual to find your new stats.  The Enhanced Form features are very cool.


Fighter: Expertise is a cool mechanic, especially with gaining new uses for it at higher levels.  I think it might be nice to allow more than one die to be spent at a time, giving Fighters the choice between going all out and a more balanced approach.  (Use the old “roll them all and use the highest” mechanic.)


I know some people don’t like the bonus feats, and I had the same initial reaction.  And then I thought a bit more, and realized that this objection didn’t make sense.  Rogues get extra skills.  Past versions of the rogue simply got a bonus background.  And yet I don’t remember anyone saying that this was dumb because anyone can just spend feats to pick up extra skills.  Feats are a limited resource.  Fighters get extra feats alongside many other bonuses.  If all fighters got was bonus feats I would say it was a bit boring.  But right now, fighters get almost a full second specialty (3 feats) on top of other cool features.  I find that pretty awesome, in the same way that rogues getting extra skills is awesome: it frees up character options.  You can use your 3 bonus feats for a fighting style specialty, and then use your actual specialty for something else if you want (like skills, or magic, or whatever).  Or you can go all out and use every feat for martial combat.


Death Dealer: Richochet and Wide Arc are cool, I like both of these.  Strike Command and Deep Wound are basically the same, but Strike Command uses your reaction.  Seeing as how all of your Superior Defense options use your reaction, this makes Strike Command a bit worse in my mind.  Slam seems too good, as it does the same damage as Deep Wound plus imposes disadvantage.


Superior Defense: I like these ones.  Does Warning Shout work like the others (in terms of using it after seeing the result of the attack roll)?


Unerring Attacker: nice choice here between a big bonus to the attack roll (before you roll) or getting a chance to deal half damage on a miss or turning a missed opportunity attack into a hit.


Multiattack: I like how this works, it balances nicely with Deadly Strike.  I think it would be cool to allow a bit more flexibility with it.  Instead of requiring the player to pick between one big attack and a bunch of little ones, I think it would be cool to be able to distribute your Deadly Strike dice among any number of targets.  This is already what you can do at level 5: attacking one creature for 2[W] damage or two creatures for 1[W] damage.  At level 15, it would be nice to be able to make two attacks (for 1[W] and 2[W]) in addition to one at 3[W] and three at 1[W].  But this is easy enough to implement on my own.  Also, it isn’t clear how Multiattack combines with Two-Weapon Fighting.  Would you get to attack each target with both weapons?


Unstoppable: Nice choices.  'Nuff said.


Monk:  Where is Flurry of Blows?  Other than that, it looks good.


Paladin: The three types are great.  While I personally don’t care for alignment restrictions, it doesn’t interact with any of the mechanics, so it is easy enough to ignore.  I really like how the Paladin isn’t linked to the gods, but instead is about living up to some sort of ideal.  A good Fighter/Cleric design while still being different enough from both to seem unique.


Ranger: Favored Enemy is perfect.  I can’t wait to see more examples.  It is flavorful, easy applicable in many situations, and makes it easy to design custom ones.  I like that the Ranger (and Paladin) begins getting spells at level 1.


Rogue: Seems a bit more balanced now, with combat prowess not quite at the level of the Fighter (with reduced attack bonus).  Getting 2 bonus skills instead of 4 is good, and I like the three bonus feats as part of the schemes.  This gives each scheme a nice focus.  I also like how each scheme has its own way to get advantage pretty easily.


Sneak Attack: at first I thought it was odd, because you get disadvantage.  But then I remembered that each rogue can very easily gain advantage on an attack.  So you are just trading out accuracy for damage, which I think is cool.  Being able to attempt a sneak attack even without advantage is also nice (I don’t think I would ever do it, but I like that it is an option…I know people who like to go all in every time).


I also like that they get their own unique multiattack options.


Wizard: Not many changes here, but I like them.  Arcane recovery plus lots of spells slots.  Good times.  I still think that Evocation and Illusion should be able to prepare extra spells (even if they just get a set list like Clerics), but I’m not too fussed about that.

My blogs: Spell Flavor Reflavoring Uses of Spells
To be fair, deep wounds is more versatile as it can be used on any attack whereas slam can only be used on melee attacks. Also you never know when you might find a rare two-handed weapon down the road and slam locks you into a shield forever.

That being said, slam still seems a little too good.
Monk is very lame now.

With the loss of all the Monk maneuvers the flavor of the class has gone from a kung fu badass with sweet ki ablities to a guy who has three ki abilities that he can only do a couple times a day. Monks only do a d6 of damage +Dex, while a Wizard has Ray of Frost. Silly.

Step of the Wind, Flurry of Blows, Deflect Missles? Those were the things that made the Monk class cool and they're all gone. They don't even get a martial feat until level 4.

Luckily they are aware that the Monk needs more work. I honestly think they should have pulled it like they did with the Warlock and Sorceror until it was back up to snuff.
I am glad to see a balanced review as opposed to all the vitriol I've been seeing. I agree with most of what you said. The fighter is cool, I approve of bonus feats, though the warlord-esque options are iffy.

As far as Strike Command goes, I think it works. If you have a 60% chance to hit and deal +1d6 Deep Wound damage, you still have a 40% chance to miss. With strike command, each of your allies has a ~60% chance to hit, so assuming 3 allies making attacks, every round you have ~93.6% of granting +1d6 Deep Wound damage, so long as at least 1 ally successfully hits. That improvement in DPR might necessitate the reaction expenditure.

Monks needs flurry of blows at level 5 as a multiattack option.
@Eric888: good point about Deep Wounds, I didn't think about that.  For Fighters who want to switch between melee and ranged attacks it is great.

Would Slam be too weak if you removed the damage completely?  So you would spend a die when you hit with a melee attack to give the target disadvantage on its attacks.  I think that is pretty good still, and in line with an extra 1d6 damage.  In addition, it really makes fighting with a shield feel unique.

@Campydraper: oh, yeah, I forgot about the cool Monk maneuvers!  I totally agree.  While some of the maneuvers might have been a bit powerful, they had the perfect Monk flavor.  But it doesn't need that much to fix it.  Unarmed attacks count as light weapons, so as a default the Monk can make two attacks (and benefit from all the two-weapon fighting feats).  But with no way to get extra attacks beyond the two, it isn't up to snuff.  I'd give Monks an Improved Two-Weapon Fighting feature that would essentially take the place of the Fighter's Multiattack feature. 
And then they just need to find a place for Deflect Missiles and Step of the Wind.
I would not assume flurry is gone for good. They are probably just scratching their heads trying to balance  multiattack powers so they left it out for one playtest while they look over feedback on the new two-weapon fighting rules to help them cross that hurdle. It'll be back.

Would Slam be too weak if you removed the damage completely?  


It so totally wouldn't. Imposing disdavntage on attacks several times an encounter in as solo-heavy an environment as 5th edition seems really good. There really is no reason to have it deal damage too.
I'm also wary of the Barbarian getting damage resistance.  I'm also not quite clear as to what the general sacrifice to defend yourself is.  Does that mean opponent gets an advantage on their attack?  Yes, you don't get a reaction, but there is nothing about it reducing your general AC by not allowing dex adjustment, or any other vulnerability.  Also with the dammage resistance to the most common forms of combat damage, what becomes the real disadvantage?  From what I've seen in playing, reactions don't happen enough to make the loss of them make you think before raging.

And then they just need to find a place for Deflect Missiles and Step of the Wind.



I think these could be added as class features on their own, obviously the mechanic would need to be tweaked since there's no MDD pool to draw from. Maybe you could gain them at a lower level and they could get better at higher levels.
@Veggie-sama: Thank you.  I try to ignore the vitriol, as I have found that responding to it just makes things worse.

The Warlord options are a bit iffy at times, but I think it is cool to have them as options.  Makes me very curious to see what else they have cooked up, and makes me really want to see a Warlord class for Next (because I want to see how they would do it).

Flurry of Blows as a level 5 Multi-attack would be perfect.

@Eric888 (can I call you Eric8?): Oh, don't worry, I'm not assuming that at all!  I was just very confused to see it missing, but your explanation makes sense.  They are testing out a brand new multiattack mechanic for both the rogue and the fighter, plus two-weapon fighting rules.

So, now for a bit of fun.  How would you handle Flurry of Blows?  Here is my Off The Top of My Head idea:

Level 5: Multiattack
Flurry of Blows:  If you use your action to attack and use two-weapon fighting (whether with weapons or unarmed) you can give up your Deadly Strike to make a series of quick strikes.  You can make one additional melee attack (don't add your stat modifier to damage).  At level 10, 15, and 20 you gain an extra attack, for a total of 6 attacks at level 20.

So you turn your Deadly Strike dice into extra attacks.  Advantage compared to Whirlwind Attack: you can stack more than one attack on a single creature.  Disadvantage: you don't get to add your Stat modifier to damage, so less damage when you attack a bunch of creatures.  I think this is a pretty decent trade-off.  The Fighter is better at clearing out a cluster of little guys, the monk can deliver a ton of attacks to one big guy.

The damage is still less than what a Fighter could do with a Heavy weapon, but maybe that is ok.
Rogue is a mess now. It's generic and it's not really good at anything. Its abilities don't even complement one another, like the 3.5 monk, or a badly multiclassed character. It needs fixing because, as is, the rogue has no role. It's not a damage dealer, it's skills can be duplicated by literally any other class, it's dangerously squishy, the only abilities they have that actually protect them from damage only work if something allows a dexterity saving throw, and it doesn't have spells.

1. Backstab is basically just flanking and this makes no sense for an ASSASSIN who, one would think, will be working alone.

2. Skill mastery is gone now, meaning rogues have no real advantage on skill checks over other classes.

3. As pointed out on another thread, Sneak Attack is a non-feature until higher levels.

4. Thief, somehow, doesn't get pick pockets, but Trickster does?

5. They seem to have just rolled a percent-die to see which specialties get advantage when alone, and which get advantage from flanking. It feels generic, and it feels like it's situationally dependent, which I don't like AT ALL.

6. I also don't like the way Blindsense is written. Abilities that simply negate (completely) other abilities are a bad idea, especially at mid-levels in a base class. So, nobody can hide when a rogue's around? Lame.


Ah!  Stop replying so fast, it is hard for me to keep up!

@Eric: that is what I thought (regarding the Shield feature).  Disadvantage alone seems good enough.

@Duelist71: Good point.  I didn't catch that part, but it totally mentions giving up defense.  Would granting advantage against all attacks be too harsh?  Given the Resistance to the most common damage types in the game I don't think it would be.  Something worth playing around with I think.
I don't like losing your Dex mod to AC, because it isn't a penalty for Barbarians with no Dex mod.

@Campydraper: I think that would work well.  You could get rid of the bonus feats and replace it them with those sorts of features.
Rogue is a mess now. It's generic and it's not really good at anything. Its abilities don't even complement one another, like the 3.5 monk, or a badly multiclassed character. It needs fixing because, as is, the rogue has no role. It's not a damage dealer, it's skills can be duplicated by literally any other class, it's dangerously squishy, the only abilities they have that actually protect them from damage only work if something allows a dexterity saving throw, and it doesn't have spells.

I don't agree, I actually found the rogue very flavorful and it looks like it would be a lot of fun to play.  The abilities complement each other very nicely.  You get the ability to gain advantage on an attack, giving you the choice of accuracy vs. damage.  You gain extra skills and features that let you use those skills better (feats).  They certainly are squishy, but I think that fits well with a rogue...they don't want to go toe-to-toe.  They gain plenty of unique features that other classes don't get (distract, uncanny dodge, evasion, etc), and they get a unique Multiattack feature.  Now, on to your numbered points:
1. Backstab is basically just flanking and this makes no sense for an ASSASSIN who, one would think, will be working alone.

Yes, backstab is flanking.  In a system without flanking, this is pretty awesome.  Your point about the Assassin is valid, and I would allow you to substitute Isolated Strike in place of Backstab.  Given the freeform customization built in to D&D Next, I don't see a real issue here.
2. Skill mastery is gone now, meaning rogues have no real advantage on skill checks over other classes.

Skill Mastery is not gone, it is simply toned down.  The Assassin gains +1d6 on bluff and sneak checks, for example.  I felt that Skill Mastery was too strong, so I really like this new version.  It keeps the Rogue as an expert, but an expert in a small area of skills, which makes sense (rather than an expert with 8 skills, plus more if you trained in more skills).
3. As pointed out on another thread, Sneak Attack is a non-feature until higher levels.

No comment on that "other thread".  That said (or not said), I think Sneak Attack is nice even at lower levels.  Many monsters are easy to hit, meaning advantage is sometimes wasted.  I'd love to give up advantage for the chance to deal extra damage when facing something like a Zombie, for example.
4. Thief, somehow, doesn't get pick pockets, but Trickster does?

If by "doesn't get" you mean "gets", then I agree with you.  Thief gets: Open Locks, Pick Pockets, and Skill Focus (sneak) feats.  There is no Pick Pockets skill.  Pick Pockets is a feat that lets you use the Conceal an Object skill to pick someone's pocket.  And Thief does indeed get the Conceal an Object skill as a bonus skill.
5. They seem to have just rolled a percent-die to see which specialties get advantage when alone, and which get advantage from flanking. It feels generic, and it feels like it's situationally dependent, which I don't like AT ALL.

Isolated Strike fits for the Rake.  The duelist is the guy who rushes off by himself to confront the enemy.  Likewise, it is the perfect fit for the Scout.  The Thief needs backstab for sure, but in terms of its iconic nature and how I imagine a thief fighting (teamed up with a big guy).  Same with the Trickster (backstab fits well).  The Treasure Hunter is hard, because it could really go either way.
But ultimately, remember that these are effectively interchangeable features.  As a DM, I would let you swap one out for another in a second.  I'd even work with you to create a custom Scheme.  Having three options is a strength, not a weakness.
6. I also don't like the way Blindsense is written. Abilities that simply negate (completely) other abilities are a bad idea, especially at mid-levels in a base class. So, nobody can hide when a rogue's around? Lame.

I wouldn't say 'lame', but it is a bit strong.  Perhaps give advantage on checks to find hidden or invisible creatures.  At level 20 you automatically notice them.

Then again, 25 feet isn't a big range.  It means you won't be surprised in close quarters, but anyone past that range is fine.  That still gives the DM a bit leeway for hidden creatures, while still giving the Rogue a very nice feature.





Also, I just noticed that they explicitely mention that both the Monk and Rogue classes are in transition.  I'm guessing we will see a mini packet release at some point with updates for both.

From the "Read First" file:

"Please note that this monk is in transition and wil recieve further revision in a subsequent release."
"Please note that, like the monk, the rogue is in transition and will receive further revision in a subsequent release."

I think they kept them in the packet because removing them would have been worse (especially for the rogue).  Leaving them in gives us the chance to test out new mechanics, and extra feedback is always good.  But I think they should have put this disclaimer in the Class file, because I'm guessing most people don't read the Read First file (give the number of very harsh posts I have seen about both classes).
Also, I just noticed that they explicitely mention that both the Monk and Rogue classes are in transition.  I'm guessing we will see a mini packet release at some point with updates for both.

From the "Read First" file:

"Please note that this monk is in transition and wil recieve further revision in a subsequent release."
"Please note that, like the monk, the rogue is in transition and will receive further revision in a subsequent release."

I think they kept them in the packet because removing them would have been worse (especially for the rogue).  Leaving them in gives us the chance to test out new mechanics, and extra feedback is always good.  But I think they should have put this disclaimer in the Class file, because I'm guessing most people don't read the Read First file (give the number of very harsh posts I have seen about both classes).



I certainly did not see that. Look, though, everything except the 'mastery' that boosts a rogue's skill checks are available for any other character as feats, and the skills affected by 'mastery' are mostly weak, situational at best (the one exception being sneak for thieves). The fighter, for example, could use his character feats to duplicate what a rogue does and still have his class mechanics AND his martial feats to out-tank, out-fight and out-awesome anything the rogue can do in combat. As it stands, a Dex-based fighter is a better rogue than the rogue. Whatever revisions they're making had better be good.

Also, I didn't see anything remotely broken about the Rogue from the last update, so I don't get the changes at all. It was flavorful, had meaningful options, had a clear role and clear advantages to taking the class without stepping on any other classes' toes. Why the change?
Also, I didn't see anything remotely broken about the Rogue from the last update, so I don't get the changes at all. It was flavorful, had meaningful options, had a clear role and clear advantages to taking the class without stepping on any other classes' toes. Why the change?

My best guess?  It had the combat ability of the fighter (same attack bonus, same dice, same damage bonus) plus tons of skill features.

As they pointed out in the podcast, the Fighter's maneuvers weren't really excellent options, because in the end dealing extra damage is better.  So the fact that the rogue didn't get fancy maneuvers didn't hurt, because they were dealing out the same amount of damage (plus the chance for more with sneak attack).

I think they want to scale the rogue back a bit in terms of combat.  They are still very effective, but clearly not as good as a Fighter (as it should be I think).  In return they get out of combat utility.

Also, I didn't see anything remotely broken about the Rogue from the last update, so I don't get the changes at all. It was flavorful, had meaningful options, had a clear role and clear advantages to taking the class without stepping on any other classes' toes. Why the change?

My best guess?  It had the combat ability of the fighter (same attack bonus, same dice, same damage bonus) plus tons of skill features.

As they pointed out in the podcast, the Fighter's maneuvers weren't really excellent options, because in the end dealing extra damage is better.  So the fact that the rogue didn't get fancy maneuvers didn't hurt, because they were dealing out the same amount of damage (plus the chance for more with sneak attack).

I think they want to scale the rogue back a bit in terms of combat.  They are still very effective, but clearly not as good as a Fighter (as it should be I think).  In return they get out of combat utility.




Then, why not simply reduce thier attack bonus, damage dice, etc? Why also completely gut their 'out of combat utility?' I think it's also important for them to realize that, while 'out of combat utility' can be fun, in practice a lot of that boils down to party service in much the same way as a Cleric's healing. Just like a Cleric doesn't want to be a heal-bot, Rogues don't like to be a trap-monkey (different from skill-monkey, in that trap monkey implies annoying, repetetive tasks like checking for traps that require character investment but yield very little satisfaction. Avoiding some calamity is not as fun as actually DOING something cool).

Also, I didn't see anything remotely broken about the Rogue from the last update, so I don't get the changes at all. It was flavorful, had meaningful options, had a clear role and clear advantages to taking the class without stepping on any other classes' toes. Why the change?

My best guess?  It had the combat ability of the fighter (same attack bonus, same dice, same damage bonus) plus tons of skill features.

As they pointed out in the podcast, the Fighter's maneuvers weren't really excellent options, because in the end dealing extra damage is better.  So the fact that the rogue didn't get fancy maneuvers didn't hurt, because they were dealing out the same amount of damage (plus the chance for more with sneak attack).

I think they want to scale the rogue back a bit in terms of combat.  They are still very effective, but clearly not as good as a Fighter (as it should be I think).  In return they get out of combat utility.




Then, why not simply reduce thier attack bonus, damage dice, etc? Why also completely gut their 'out of combat utility?' I think it's also important for them to realize that, while 'out of combat utility' can be fun, in practice a lot of that boils down to party service in much the same way as a Cleric's healing. Just like a Cleric doesn't want to be a heal-bot, Rogues don't like to be a trap-monkey (different from skill-monkey, in that trap monkey implies annoying, repetetive tasks like checking for traps that require character investment but yield very little satisfaction. Avoiding some calamity is not as fun as actually DOING something cool).

They didn't "completely gut" the out of combat utility (but at this point it just comes down to opinion).  You get 2 bonus skills and 3 bonus feats, plus mastery at two skills.  I think that is pretty awesome.


@Eric888 (can I call you Eric8?): Oh, don't worry, I'm not assuming that at all!  I was just very confused to see it missing, but your explanation makes sense.  They are testing out a brand new multiattack mechanic for both the rogue and the fighter, plus two-weapon fighting rules.

So, now for a bit of fun.  How would you handle Flurry of Blows?  Here is my Off The Top of My Head idea:

Level 5: Multiattack
Flurry of Blows:  If you use your action to attack and use two-weapon fighting (whether with weapons or unarmed) you can give up your Deadly Strike to make a series of quick strikes.  You can make one additional melee attack (don't add your stat modifier to damage).  At level 10, 15, and 20 you gain an extra attack, for a total of 6 attacks at level 20.

So you turn your Deadly Strike dice into extra attacks.  Advantage compared to Whirlwind Attack: you can stack more than one attack on a single creature.  Disadvantage: you don't get to add your Stat modifier to damage, so less damage when you attack a bunch of creatures.  I think this is a pretty decent trade-off.  The Fighter is better at clearing out a cluster of little guys, the monk can deliver a ton of attacks to one big guy.

The damage is still less than what a Fighter could do with a Heavy weapon, but maybe that is ok.


The problem is that it seems like the whole draw of multi-attack powers is doubling static bonuses. Removing them defeats the purpose, but keeping them gets out of hand when new books come out with new static bonuses (like what Iron Armbands did for Twin Strke). 

I like the new Whirlwind attack and Volley rules, and it seems like just having flurry work like that is fine. Making them split their attacks among multiple people is basically what 4th edition did anyway, and people seemed okay with that.

The new two-weapon fighting rules also look interesting as a system for flurry. Its hard to say this early without seeing it in action. 
The problem is that it seems like the whole draw of multi-attack powers is doubling static bonuses. Removing them defeats the purpose, but keeping them gets out of hand when new books come out with new static bonuses (like what Iron Armbands did for Twin Strke). 

I like the new Whirlwind attack and Volley rules, and it seems like just having flurry work like that is fine. Making them split their attacks among multiple people is basically what 4th edition did anyway, and people seemed okay with that.

The new two-weapon fighting rules also look interesting as a system for flurry. Its hard to say this early without seeing it in action.

That certainly is a problem, but luckily not one that seems to be influencing design that much.  Hense Deadly Strike just adding extra dice rather than static bonuses.

For me at least, removing them does not defeat the purpose.  The fun of multiple attacks (to me) is getting to roll all those attack rolls!

Having Flurry of Blows function like Whirlwind would work, especially if you can combine two-weapon fighting with it (attacking each target twice).  And I guess Deadly Strike already works for putting all the attacks on one big guy, even if it is less satisfying than rolling a bunch of attacks.