Playtest feedback

Ok, so I've played three session now, the first 2 with 2 earlier packets and just tonight with the latest one.


I'm not going to focus on the minor differences from the packets, but rather focus on what I see as common issues across all - assuming that these issues are staying around and will continue to be issues (IMHO).


1) Skills.
Sorry, so far, hate them. Really, really hate how skills are handled in every packet released so far. Admittedly, I'm a fan of 3.5 skills (even 4th did ok with them), but this version really smashed them good. Skills should give a character a means to focus on some (usually) non-combat ability that really fits their character background, theme, or whatever. In 3.5, one could pick a skill and absolutely focus on it to become very good at it. Certain skills (ie Diplomacy) could break the game, but that was a problem with those specific skills, if you ask me, so I don't want to get side tracked with those cases. I never liked the way 4th edition (and 5th ed) took skills and said: "Here you go, you get these at level 1, but as you level up you can't get any better? at them. (without sinking feats or such into them. ouch!). Nah, you should be able to train a skill or two as you level up. In my opinion, 3.5 was better at handling skills than 4th or 5th.


My suggestion: Ok, you pick a trained skill at level 1. You can apply your skill die to trained skills. Ok, this isn't bad, let's go with it. Now, every level (or two? or three?) you gain a skill point (or 2?). You can assign this to a skill, and get a +1 to that skill. Done, that's it. Simple. Don't give out too many skill points, but having a few availalbe (especially for a rogue!!) is kind of essentially, if you ask me.


2) Hit Points.
The biggest flaw with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd edition, gleefully brought back because, you know .. we all love level 1 and level 2 TPKs. *sigh*
Why is it, when we learn something (ie starting hit points in 4th edition) that works, we decide "Hey, let's toss that out - no reason". O_o
Seriously. In all three sessions we played (all at level 1). Each and every time, we were almost faced a TPK.
No, this is not exciting or thrilling. It's annoying, frustrating and boring!
No, we had plenty of resources, we hadn't overextended.
No, the enemies were an appropriate encounter (ie not too tough).
Yes, in ?each and every case?, it was due to 1 or 2 lucky rolls vs our front line tank, and, since they don't start with much over 10 hit points .. bam, front line fighter is now down and resorting to watching everything go by and rolling a death saving throw on each of his turns
How exciting!! Please go back and look at what made 4th edition interesting. One thing was that being dropped to 0 hit points and doing nothing but making death saving throws was not nearly as common of an occurance as any other edition.
Even in 3.5, our DM houseruled one campaign that we started with an extra level of NPC class (ie Commoner, Expert, etc). This gave us a couple extra hit points, and man, did we ever notice a difference!
When 4th edition came along, and basically did the same thing, I was all "hallelujah", somebody's finally thinking!!


Then they go back to making PCs excessively fragile. *sigh*


I remember reading something once "Stupidity leads to character creation, not bad luck." It was on a t-shirt that allowed the player to reroll 1/day. Smart!
So why do we then create a system in which bad luck alone can easily lead to a PC death?


My suggestion: more starting hit points at level 1. Resources for healing are still the same (ie Hit Dice, Cure spells, etc., so it's not a problem, it just means the PCs are punked with single lucky shots as much.


Option a) ala 4th edition: Hit Dice + Con score.
Option b) Hit Dice + Con Mod + 10.
Option c) 2xHit Dice + Con Mod.


That extra bit of hit points (usually around 10 or so), make all the difference between players sitting around doing nothing but rolling death saving throws, and actually PLAYING THE GAME!


3) Sleep spell.
Seriously, nerf this please. Way to strong.
No save?
No to hit?
Yeah. Go read Command. Take a few pointers from that one.
Fine, less than so many hit points, no save. sleep. Ok.
But if they have more, at least let them save.
And since Sleep can be "metamagicked" by using higher level slots, it can end up with a fairly high roll for hit points at some point.
So, using a 5th level wizard can use a 3rd level slot to get 9d8 of hit points.
That's an average of only about 40 hit points, and a max of 72. A good roll can hit 50 pretty easy, and that seems a bit high.
That 5th level wizard can almost drop a Vrock with that spell! a 7th level wizard could take the Vrock even easier.
A Vrock is a level 10 rating. Seems a bit much.


My suggestion: adapt Command's mechanic:
roll 5d8. Affects total # of hit points as per spell wording now.
Additionally if any target has hit points greater than half of what was rolled, they get a Wisdom save.
There, any sufficiently large critter - regardless of how well you roll - at least gets a chance to shrug it off. Let's not bring back in the cast = death spell. Even these save or die's are bad enough.


4) Coup de Grace.
Speaking of Sleep, this leads to the Coup do Grace. Sure, I understand being unconscious sucks when somebody decides to stab you in the neck with a sharp pointed stick. But wow, this edition is harsh.
Bigger brutes knock out PCs. Minions walk up coup de grace, hit for 1 point of damage, PC dead.
Thanks for coming out. O_o


My suggestion: Take a lesson from 3.5. Take the damage normally. Allow a Con save to withstand it. Of course, the coup de grace should auto-crit or something, or even double damage. And possibly, it should apply a penalty to the save based on damage. The point is, if you deal a reasonable amount of damage, fine, it should be insta-death. However, as it stands, a single point of damage = insta death, and that's a bit much.


5) Dual wielding And monk's are no longer special.
Everyone can dual wield? I don't know about this. Sounds neat at first, but then you think about it:
What's better: (assume Str 16 character)
a) 1 attack roll with Long sword for 1d8 +3 damage.
b) 1 attack roll with short sword for 1d6 + 3 damage. + 2nd attack roll with spiked shield for 1d6 damage.


so 1 roll, 1d8+3 vs 2 rolls, 2d6+3.
Yeah, I know, they did it to balance the 2-h vs two weapon.
So, Greatsword: 1d12 + 3 roughly = 2d6+3 ... fair.
But I don't see any reason anymore, why a standard sword/shield fighter would use a standard shield. Always use a light weapon + spiked shield.
So yeah, good start, but not quite there.
Also, by allowing everyone to dual wield with no problem, Monk's are no longer special. Monk? FLurry? meh, no big deal.


My suggestion:
-2 to attack with two weapons, unless you have a feat. It's what the feat is for, use it.
You want to dual wield? Train - it's not easy. But then, reward them. Make the two weapon fighting feats "better". It's ok if the two weapon fighting gets slightly ahead of two handed fighting IF FEATS ARE BEING SPENT TO DO SO.
That's ok.
Bring back flurry for Monk's, allow flurry to work on any "Monk weapon"
Define monk weapons as: quarterstaff, dagger, handaxe, club, spear/javelin.
Flurry does flat damage: ie 1d6, regardless of weapon used - but uses the weapon's damage type.

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Just my suggestions. Don't have all the answers, but I know what I'm not enjoying and what I find irritating, so there's my feedback!
Hope this helps.
 

1) I think skills do get better as you level.  If I remember correctly the skill die goes up or you can pick a new skill with the current die you have.  And this happens 3 or 4 times.  But I do have to agree that I think skills are too narrow focused.   I realize that skill bonus dice are just that.  Bonuses and WotC is trying to get use to think of our attributes as the base rolls but when a player  wants to play a Rake and then can't actually give her character the open locks skill without a feat... that's just not right.  Especially when the game only gives us the few feats we get.

2)  I'm a bit torn about the hit points thing.  I'm of the opinion that 4e gave us too many hit points and it was right hard to feel challenged in a fight.  I can see maybe making the hit points enough so that one hit from a low level monster such a bugbear can't take out a PC but I believe that's true already with some PCs.  


3) Sleep spell - So I used sleep twice.  Once with the previous packet and once with the latest.  In the previous packet I rolled really high got 18 out of a max of 18 hit points.  One monster fell asleep. (It was a hobgoblin chief and a hobgoblin warrior).  The second time I rolled 30 Hit Points.    Not a bad roll for 5d8 with the average being 23.  That time It slept a wolf, a goblin minion type, and a worg.  The Worg went down because they took damage already.  That part I do not like.   Sleep shouldn't work better because someone has already been hit by an arrow.  It should be based either on the max hit points of the creature or hit dice with max hit points determining ties.    I think that one change would make it a more balanced spell since one kick will wake them up and there are alot of things out there immune to the spell.


4)  All I can see about Coup de Grace is that if the GM uses it against the players then that's pretty poor GMing.  It makes sense to me that if someone skilled attacks a sleeping foe then they should die.   
      
   

5)  I think using two light weapons is balanced well enough.  2 chances to hit also means 2 chances to miss.  I think the way this rule is now is pretty good.   Maybe the Monk needs a bit of a boost.  The packet said they aren't done with the monk yet.

 
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3) Sleep spell - So I used sleep twice.  Once with the previous packet and once with the latest.  In the previous packet I rolled really high got 18 out of a max of 18 hit points.  One monster fell asleep. (It was a hobgoblin chief and a hobgoblin warrior).  The second time I rolled 30 Hit Points.    Not a bad roll for 5d8 with the average being 23.  That time It slept a wolf, a goblin minion type, and a worg.  The Worg went down because they took damage already.  That part I do not like.   Sleep shouldn't work better because someone has already been hit by an arrow.  It should be based either on the max hit points of the creature or hit dice with max hit points determining ties.    I think that one change would make it a more balanced spell since one kick will wake them up and there are alot of things out there immune to the spell.

 



I don't like how some spells like sleep and charm use Hit Points as a threshold.    Why should a lower hit point magic user (monster or PC) be more susceptable to sleep or charm than an equal level fighter who has more hit points?   

I like how they are going back to the saving throw mechanic for damaging spells.   I think they have to do the same for sleep and charm.  It would make spells more consistent and it would allow the caster to target different defenses...maybe sleep would require a constitution save...maybe charm would require a  charisma save (we need more ways to make charisma a more valuable abilty) 

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

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

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3) Sleep spell - So I used sleep twice.  Once with the previous packet and once with the latest.  In the previous packet I rolled really high got 18 out of a max of 18 hit points.  One monster fell asleep. (It was a hobgoblin chief and a hobgoblin warrior).  The second time I rolled 30 Hit Points.    Not a bad roll for 5d8 with the average being 23.  That time It slept a wolf, a goblin minion type, and a worg.  The Worg went down because they took damage already.  That part I do not like.   Sleep shouldn't work better because someone has already been hit by an arrow.  It should be based either on the max hit points of the creature or hit dice with max hit points determining ties.    I think that one change would make it a more balanced spell since one kick will wake them up and there are alot of things out there immune to the spell.

 



I don't like how some spells like sleep and charm use Hit Points as a threshold.    Why should a lower hit point magic user (monster or PC) be more susceptable to sleep or charm than an equal level fighter who has more hit points?   

I like how they are going back to the saving throw mechanic for damaging spells.   I think they have to do the same for sleep and charm.  It would make spells more consistent and it would allow the caster to target different defenses...maybe sleep would require a constitution save...maybe charm would require a  charisma save (we need more ways to make charisma a more valuable abilty) 



I didn't even think about the player side.  Yeah it does seem weird that the wizard would fall asleep first.
I like the Coup de Grace changes. It's now a 3-step process: get knocked unconscious by spell or effect, get reduced to 0 HP, then killed. It's simple and doesn't require saving throws or critical hits.

Now I can be an evil DM by reducing unconscious PCs to 0 HP with one hit, but I don't feel like I need to kill them until the battle is over.

2)  I'm a bit torn about the hit points thing.  I'm of the opinion that 4e gave us too many hit points and it was right hard to feel challenged in a fight.  I can see maybe making the hit points enough so that one hit from a low level monster such a bugbear can't take out a PC but I believe that's true already with some PCs.   
 



After doing a scan of this thread and the DM playtest feedback, seems there's an awful lot of TPKs happening due to lucky 1-shots on first level PCs, so it's not just our group.  

Let's assume for a minute, that we give more HP in 5th ... it's still very different from 4th for the following reasons:
a) 1 hit dice, vs 6 or 7 healing surges.
b) hit dice usable outside of combat, vs surges usable inside (albeit 1, but whatever).
c) limited healing by day.  Not so limited healing due to encounter healing powers (restricted only by surges )
d) Hit dice giving back flat amount, not based on your current hit points, vs surges giving back % of hit points.

So yeah, I don't think I see a problem with 5th adopting a larger pool of hit points at level 1. The resources will still be *very* limited in regards to healing, and the PCs will still have to manage it wisely.  However, it does do 1 very very important thing: Prevent lucky shots from preventing a player from playing the game.