Playtest DM results - Classes with unbeatable abilities (for example can't be suprised)

I’m liking what I see in D&D 5, but a few flaws remain.  One of the main ones is the inclusion of powers that simply negate other classes powers or attack or remove whole sets of actions and choices from the game.


A good example is the Barbarian Level 7 ability, Feral Instinct. After 7th level  the Barbarian can never be surprised again.. ever.


This negates a clever party arranging an ambush , negates classes with the ability to sneak up on others and removes part of the excitement (and fear) a player or group feels when exploring.


A better solution wold be to simply make it very, very  difficult to surprise the barbarian (advantage vs surprise checks?) And where another class has specific surprise abilities, why not an opposed role of some sort, perhaps tilted in the barabr’s favour?


For dramatic and story telling elements, all classes should be able to be surprised at some point in time, just some not very often. Equally, a party should always have a chance – even if it’s just a tiny one, of surprising an enemy. After all, isn’t working out how to defeat a powerful foe a key element of the game?


So sure, hand out abilities of this type, just leave open that little possibility of failure –that’s  half the fun of the game.

On one hand, I do agree with you in the Barbarian's case.  I think it would be good to see maybe a +10 or something to a check to avoid surprise.  Maybe more to make it so that 95% of the time he succeeds.  I think, though, that should a Barbarian be somewhat occupied with something (like the inevitable busty tavern wench), he should be able to be surprised, even if it's only when he rolls a 1 on that Wisdom check.

On the other hand, I think the complete protection against being frightened on the Paladin should remain.  It's thematically appropriate, whether it's from simple pure faith or the guy being too stupid to realize he might be in over his head.

There's also the Druid's and monks immunity to poison, the elf's immunity to sleep and charm, and numerous other complete immunities that are out there that I wouldn't like to see changed just in the name of consistency.  So, I'm honestly apt to just go with it.  Even if the Barbarian can't be surprised, his partymates can.  And, if the Barbarian rolls a poor Initiative check, he'll still not be able to do anything should the NPCs that surprise the group roll well on their attacks.
The biggest peeve of mine with the Classes is that half of them gain blanket immunities, and often multiple immunities, usually before level 10. Rangers, Rogues, and Barbarians are impossible to sneak up on, and a creature only form of blindsense out to 25ft. Paladins, Rangers (Dragon), and Barbarians are immune to Fear. Druids, Monks, and Paladins are immune to Disease and/or poison. All this before what would be considered Legacy tier. I have no issue with Paladins, Monks, Barbarians gaining immunities to conditions and effects, I just don't want them frontloaded into so many classes (Fighter, Cleric, and Wizard get none of these.) Many people complain when creatures in the beastiary gain immunities to damage types or effects but everyone ignores players gaining immunities very early in their career. If they started as Advantage and then transitioned to Immunity it wouldn't bug me as much but givng a level 2 anything a blanket immunity just feels wrong.
I'm not a fan of blanket immunities. I can get behind some racial immunities, like the elves' immunity to sleep, that makes perfect sense because they don't sleep (but also giving them immunity to charm might be too much). Certain classes' immunity to poison or disease isn't so bad, those things don't come up every adventure and most of the party will still be succeptible. Immunity to surprise I have a problem with. That has the potential of coming up nearly every combat that occurs. Like the OP pointed out, no matter how sneaky a rogue is and no matter how well thought out his plan of ambush, the barbarian subverts it just by virtue of being a 7th level Barbarian, it kind of kills tactics and creativity when you have so many of these immunities floating around.
I don't have a problem with being immune to fear or poison or anything like that because that's just one form of attack, the same as being resistant to fire. If you're immune to fear than I can charm you instead, if you're immune to charm I can stop you with a hold person. With these immunities, there is a very simple way around them, however with the immunity to being suprised that is not the case.

If you can't be suprised then there is no way around that, and players are not rewarded for planning an inteligent ambush. I for one like fights where the PCs are outnumbered, but use smart tactics to gain the upper hand and immunity to fear removes that.
The Oberoni fallacy only applies to broken rules, not rules you don't like. If a rule you don't like can be easily ignored, it should exist in the game for those who will enjoy it.
So a Level 7 PC Barbarian is immune to surprise, how does that mean a party can no longer sneak up?  Do Monsters have this ability as well?  I really don't see a problem with this.  That just means that the Barbarian himself will always get to act in the surprise round, because he is not surprised.  The rest of the party can still be surprised, and the monsters they are sneaking up on most certainly can be surprised.  Why just because the barbarian cannot be surprised are you guys saying the party cannot sneak up and do stuff?  All it really means is noone can sneak up and surprise the barbarian.  The party itself can still surprise others, and everyone else in the party can still be surprised as well.  I guess I am not seeing your issue.
I don't like any absolutes in the game, I can't find the link to the article now but one of the old game designers had a blog page about just that.  Fire elementals should not be imune to fire damage just have a crazy high number for resistance like ignore the first 200 points of damage or some such thing.

That being said I also let the dice land where they may when I DM and don't cheat and pull bs out of my hat "for the story". I think some people problems with absolutes are player empowerment, when the barbarian is immune to surprise it is somehow taking away power from the DM to force surprise on the player where if it was just a bonus the DM could lie and cheat and roll behind a screen and say the creature surprised him.

So no to absolute powers, but also no to using that to screw your players. 
So a Level 7 PC Barbarian is immune to surprise, how does that mean a party can no longer sneak up?  Do Monsters have this ability as well?  I really don't see a problem with this.  That just means that the Barbarian himself will always get to act in the surprise round, because he is not surprised.  The rest of the party can still be surprised, and the monsters they are sneaking up on most certainly can be surprised.  Why just because the barbarian cannot be surprised are you guys saying the party cannot sneak up and do stuff?  All it really means is noone can sneak up and surprise the barbarian.  The party itself can still surprise others, and everyone else in the party can still be surprised as well.  I guess I am not seeing your issue.



The problem is when you're sneaking up on the enemy encampment, and the guard happens to be a 7th level Barbarian.
I see your problem as using PC classes for npc's and monsters.  One of the best lessons from 4e is don't use the same rules for PC's as everyone else in the world.  Look at the write ups for cultists and such in the beastiary they don't follow the rules for being humans with X levels in cleric or wizard.

So just don't have the human barbarian npc's in your game have levels in barbarian, they have monster stat blocks with some simliar type abilities sure but leave out what you don't want to mess with as a DM. 
I see your problem as using PC classes for npc's and monsters.  One of the best lessons from 4e is don't use the same rules for PC's as everyone else in the world.  Look at the write ups for cultists and such in the beastiary they don't follow the rules for being humans with X levels in cleric or wizard.

So just don't have the human barbarian npc's in your game have levels in barbarian, they have monster stat blocks with some simliar type abilities sure but leave out what you don't want to mess with as a DM. 




Exactly, Monsters are not PCs.  If your group is sneaking up on a group of level 15 Barbarians, those are Barbarian Monsters not Barbarian PCs and as such, do not follow the same rules as PCs.  The Monster Barbarian -can- be surprised, the PC Barbarian cannot.
I see your problem as using PC classes for npc's and monsters.  One of the best lessons from 4e is don't use the same rules for PC's as everyone else in the world.  Look at the write ups for cultists and such in the beastiary they don't follow the rules for being humans with X levels in cleric or wizard.

So just don't have the human barbarian npc's in your game have levels in barbarian, they have monster stat blocks with some simliar type abilities sure but leave out what you don't want to mess with as a DM. 



That may be your style, but I prefer for PCs and their enemies to work off of the same rules, and I often create NPCs with class levels. The game is supposed to allow for various playstyles, not just 4th edition's.
Then if you are using actual PC built monsters, not monster built monsters, just Housrule certain game breaking things like that out.  I mean really, your the DM, you can change any rule you want.  If you determine that the group is going to be fighting a group of level 7 barbarians, then just rule that they can in fact be surprised and carry on.
I see your problem as using PC classes for npc's and monsters.  One of the best lessons from 4e is don't use the same rules for PC's as everyone else in the world.  Look at the write ups for cultists and such in the beastiary they don't follow the rules for being humans with X levels in cleric or wizard.

So just don't have the human barbarian npc's in your game have levels in barbarian, they have monster stat blocks with some simliar type abilities sure but leave out what you don't want to mess with as a DM. 



I see where you're coming with this, but I don't like it because you get the situation where you are a PC barbarian and you are immune to being suprised. Every other barbarian in the history of the universe can be suprised because they are NPCs, but you are better than all of them despite the fact that they may be half your level. Situations like that break the fourth wall that is so important in roleplaying.

Now if I'm fighting a monster that acts like a barbarian such as a minotaur with no class levels, then fine give him rage but not the other ability. But if I'm raiding a human barbarian outpost, then those barbarians should have all the abilities PC Barbarians have.

I like what 3e did and created the warrior class. Basically, the class only gave you more hit dice and a large base attack bonus (a fighter without feats). This was a great class for civilized NPCs because it made them stronger without giving them all the powers of a well-trained PC. 
The Oberoni fallacy only applies to broken rules, not rules you don't like. If a rule you don't like can be easily ignored, it should exist in the game for those who will enjoy it.
The problem is the game as it is being tested at the moment doesn't support your play style.  Look at all the npc human,elf, ect advesaries found in the beastiary or other support docs, like there is a 10th level fighter in the white plum mountain conversion section.  It has some of the abilities of a PC 10th level fighter but not all, and some are changed like multi-attack for a PC is only against seperate targets no such restriction is given for monster version of same 10th level fighter.

Monsters should not use same rules as PC's and so far Next is getting it right it seems.  Yes your player character 7th level Barbarian is probably the only person in the game that will never be surprized, that makes him special, interesting, the focus of a great epic tale told.  Player characters should be and feel special from the outstart.  Think of every novel or movie you ever enjoyed, the heroes of the story are almost always unique/special in certain ways they break the rules of normality in their world.  

But different strokes for different folks I guess, also another added benifit is it makes the DM's job so much easier if he doesn't have to stat out every high level humaniod adversary just like building a player character and only focuses on the important parts.
I see your point why it makes sense mechanically, and it certainly helps streamline things for the DM. But it also means that if you're up against a 10th level "fighter" you don't really know what that fighter can do and that just doesn't make sense to me.

But the great thing about this game is I can very easily make a 7th level barbarian NPC just like a PC of the same level, so we can both have what we want. Yay inclusion! 
The Oberoni fallacy only applies to broken rules, not rules you don't like. If a rule you don't like can be easily ignored, it should exist in the game for those who will enjoy it.
I see your point why it makes sense mechanically, and it certainly helps streamline things for the DM. But it also means that if you're up against a 10th level "fighter" you don't really know what that fighter can do and that just doesn't make sense to me.


I view levels and classes as purely metagame constructs.  People in the world don't think in terms of classes and levels.  So, that 10th-level Fighter your party comes across is just going to be called a swordsman or a bandit or a pirate queen.  Your 10th-level Cleric might be called priest or given a name according to the faith (Heartwarder, Silverstar, etc.).

A Wizard might be called a "sorcerer," and a Sorcerer might be called a witch.  A Barbarian might not be a barbarian, but a member of a perfectly "enlightened" society.

One need not be a Bard to be a bard.  And one need not be a Rogue to be a rogue.  Or a Thief to be a thief.  You don't have to be a Ranger to range.
I see your point why it makes sense mechanically, and it certainly helps streamline things for the DM. But it also means that if you're up against a 10th level "fighter" you don't really know what that fighter can do and that just doesn't make sense to me.

But the great thing about this game is I can very easily make a 7th level barbarian NPC just like a PC of the same level, so we can both have what we want. Yay inclusion! 



It doesn't make sense to me that you would even know the enemy is a fighter.  It doesn't make sense to me that you would ever know what your enemy is going to do until he actually does it, unless you spend time making a knowledge check of some sort to see what you know about it, if it is a monster.  If it is a person, well, how many movies, shows or comic books do the good guys know all the bad guys moves, or even vice-versa?  The other side always pulls out surprise moves.  You never know all that your opponent can do.

Yes, you can make PC Monsters all day long if you want, but then do not complain about mechanics that PCs have that Monsters are not intended to have and scream the game is broken.  Just Houserule the features like unable to be surprised out and carry on.
The problem is the game as it is being tested at the moment doesn't support your play style.  Look at all the npc human,elf, ect advesaries found in the beastiary or other support docs, like there is a 10th level fighter in the white plum mountain conversion section.  It has some of the abilities of a PC 10th level fighter but not all, and some are changed like multi-attack for a PC is only against seperate targets no such restriction is given for monster version of same 10th level fighter.



Then I am pointing out a problem with the game as it is being tested, which is why we're all here, isn't it?

Monsters should not use same rules as PC's and so far Next is getting it right it seems.  Yes your player character 7th level Barbarian is probably the only person in the game that will never be surprized, that makes him special, interesting, the focus of a great epic tale told.  Player characters should be and feel special from the outstart.  Think of every novel or movie you ever enjoyed, the heroes of the story are almost always unique/special in certain ways they break the rules of normality in their world.



That is your opinion, and this game is supposed to be about bringing us all together, not forcing one style on everyone. Maybe I'm not running an epic story, maybe the PCs are commoners with no importance to the world, or hated lowlives, D&D does not demand a certain tone.

I will bend the rules, but I don't want to ignore the rules to make the game interesting. I don't want to break the fourth wall. Maybe you do, but that's not my game.

But different strokes for different folks I guess, also another added benifit is it makes the DM's job so much easier if he doesn't have to stat out every high level humaniod adversary just like building a player character and only focuses on the important parts.



There is no reason the game cannot include these stripped down NPCs as well as rules for building NPCs as PCs so we can both enjoy it.




Monsters should not use same rules as PC's and so far Next is getting it right it seems.  Yes your player character 7th level Barbarian is probably the only person in the game that will never be surprized, that makes him special, interesting, the focus of a great epic tale told.  Player characters should be and feel special from the outstart.  Think of every novel or movie you ever enjoyed, the heroes of the story are almost always unique/special in certain ways they break the rules of normality in their world.  



While I personally endorse this attitude in my own campaigns, it only takes a very brief survey of the history of D&D to surmise that it is far from the standard attitude at every gaming table. I would even go so far as to say that this assumption (player characters should look and feel special from level one, player characters are heroes far mightier than the average folk) only really exists in fourth. After all, in AD&D most of the time you were basically a glorified tomb robber.

As far as monsters using the same rules as players, I think it is very important that they do. It is confusing and frustrating to people at the table to use a certain set of rules to do something like restrain an NPC, and then to have NPCs turn around and use a whole different mechanic to perform a similar act against them.  The game universe should behave in a clear and consistent way.
One thing to keep in mind is how rare a 7th-level character is. Using a random city generator I have, which generated a population of 17632, only 155 characters were of 7th level or higher. That's <1% of the population. Is a 7th level Barbarian going to be standing guard over a camp? I hardly think so! He would be a chieftan of a tribe (or tribes) of 2000 barbarians. If you tried to sneak into his hut, he wouldn't be caught by surprise.
One thing to keep in mind is how rare a 7th-level character is. Using a random city generator I have, which generated a population of 17632, only 155 characters were of 7th level or higher. That's <1% of="" the="" population="" is="" a="" 7th="" level="" barbarian="" going="" to="" be="" standing="" guard="" over="" camp="" i="" hardly="" think="" so="" he="" would="" chieftan="" tribe="" or="" tribes="" 2000="" barbarians="" if="" you="" tried="" sneak="" into="" his="" hut="" wouldn="" t="" caught="" by="" surprise="" quote="" br="" class="mbQuoteSpacer">



Yes, logically speaking, but if the party is 15th level, they aren't going to have a good time taking on 2nd level barbarians. And they're bound to run out of dragons and balors in the immediate area before long and pursue a good old fashioned bandit raid. To challenge tham at that point you need to have 7th level barbarians on watch.
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