DDN First Session

So tonight was my first run of DDN. I must start by saying that I have D&D4th in huge contempt and it was for me, possibly, the worst gaming experience I ever had with a system.

My Group: My group is a good composition.
Fighter, the player is pure casual mostly never gamed in his life. Like the idea of gaming but isn't prepared to invest more than few hours a month on a game. He didn't know the system at all. He played 3.5 one time.
Rogue, Druid, are both semi-casual gamers. I've played with them a bit but not often. Both played enough either 3.5 or 4th to say that they were comfortable and didn't need much guidance through the game. 
Ranger, I've spent most of my teenage gaming time with him. He knows D&D quite well, and he always liked it. But he hasn't tried the 4th. 
DM (me), I play a lot, I've been in and out of D&D a few time. I generally have more negatives towards D&D than good to say. And I have tried my faire share of system. Current Favorite is Hero System 5er.

The Setting: My current setting is easy enough. They all are young (13-16), starting level 1. The most basic element of the game is to help the village, their hometown, to expand. Hunt threats, find new ressources. Kinda simple, yet effective.

Character Creation: Must admit that I like being able too setup a playable character sheet in less than 15 minutes. For everyone of my group, the sheet took between 10 to 30 minutes to set. 30 minutes went to the Fighter because the guy doesn't know anything about the system. 30 minutes to roll stats, explain their uses, skils, feats, setup what he wanted, making him understand how to do a roll, skill rolls and saves. Which is really good in my head. Can't say anything against a system that can be learned to play mroe or less in 30 minutes for a complete beginner.

Flexibility of creation: none.
Lack of feats, lack of skills, lack of difference between classes.
While creating was easy, I felt I wouldn't see the difference between 2 characters with the same class. My Ranger, at first, wanted to go fighter built on range. Because he didn't want any of the spell. Considering the feats right now, he finally built a Ranger cause he felt he wasn't different from the melee fighter enough to actually make an impression in game.
The Druid went Moon instead of Oak because he said that Moon gave him the opportunity to be a good combatant while still being able to be useful with spells. But Oak only gave him more spells that he didn't quite need and didn't gain any useful form for combat.
The Rogue felt like he didn't have skills. He went treasure hunter. And considering the earlier editions was expecting to get more sklls for his buck. And I agree with him, he built Intelligence, to have this more knowledgable (spelling?) feeling, but 2 lores and 4 skills doesn't cut it. He wanted to be that versatile dude we used to like with Int based rogues. And finally changed his stats around to get more dex and more strenght since Int didn't help him enough in anything pertinent.

As for races, everyone went human. Simply because it was simpler that way for a small village to have everyone with the same race. They all resented the fact that human didn,t get any bonus feat and bonus feat. +1 to all stats is nice, but amke every human look the exact same and kinda kill the versatility feeling. They would have prefered +1 to two stats, or a +2 and a +1, and a skill and/or a feat. I felt the same.

Everyone much loved that classes now influenced Abilities. It is a great idea, and now that I see it, I wonder why I never thought of it myself.
While I was not hot on the idea, my players really liked that they could choose any skill they wanted without restriction. No class skill, for them worked better, cause they felt they had more choices which is true.

Gameplay:
Palying the session was easy, quick, light. Much appreciated from everyone.
They fought a crazy old man who was more or less shambling about while drunk.
It went fast, without any real question. Everyone understood the Saves and Skills quickly. Attak/Dmg. Went smoothly.
Most of all, we all liked the new saves. As a DM, it was just fun to call "Make a Dex save/ Con save/ Int save" with how I felt the character had to do and to see the player just do the roll without searching for all the bonus that we were used to get around Saving Throw. I like the return of the feeling that some classes are better at those saves than others. So yes the rogue have better Dex saving throws than the fighter. I find it only natural, and that's what make a rogue a rogue, and a fighter a fighter.
While Skill Throws went well, the +1D6 seemed to confuse all my players at the beginning. By the end of the game session, everything was alright. I expect my less experimented players to be a little bit confused with that roll at the beginning of the next session.

Advantage/Disadvantage went strangely. All of us found it interesting, exciting, while overpowered in both the bonus and malus. I like how gaining advantage now will actaully make a difference. While +2 to hit was interesting, starting from level 5 it was pretty much usuless as a stat and find its use in permitting specific maneuvers that could only come from gaining the advantage.
Now I feel that a character gaining advantage actaully ahve the upper hand on someone. Flanking, became a huge part of the fight for my players. Moving around to get the higher ground, shifting, tumbling. Everything was executed with this idea: gain the advantage, avoid the disadvantage. It mades for an interesting combat. And I never seen a fighter so preoccupied to flank cause he wanted the advantage too. It is good. but at the same time, a character with disadvantage find himself in a position so weakening that the player stop figthing altogether and seem to loose the interest in the fight because he feels he can't do nothing.

Hit Die for healing is jsut perfect. I find it the best healing system so far.
New spell system is also awesome. Haven't found anyone to complain about it. Give you limitation, yet still versatile. Change a little bit of the feeling of the mage vs sorcerer vs druid. But still, i don't dislike it. But while I don't have any suggestion, I would like to see something to make it clear that theya re different type of spellcasters and their magic don't work the same. Like Sorcerers vs Wizards used to do.

Conclusion: 
I find this build so far, much more enjoyable than the 4th ed was. I like the simpler system, I like how I don't waste my time in combat. My players didn't need 30 minutes of endless dice throwing to get rid of one guy. (4th ed was relly heavy for combats)
The system is enjoyable, easy to play. It gets people quickly in the mood and don't stun them with endless rules.
Saving Throws felt natural. And most of the system is.


But I see a tendency to reduce the creation options and i really don't like it.
I'm a guy that like to see 4 fighters around a table, and every last one of them feel different.
I like to see the Skill based Rogue and the Assassin build on the same class and yet feel completely different.
And right now I don't have it.
i don't like that, my players don't quite like that too. 
Optional skills and feats is possibly the worst ideas I have ever heard in my life for a game system. Those are what makes every character different. And in the same idea, MORE FEATS! 4 feats from level 1 to 9 is choking. Even more considering that a feat like Improved Initiative is really not worth it for any character (except some figthers). Or Precise shot. Most Ranger or range character will find a way to be out of the way to take their shot. It's really not that hard. So all those Ranged Comabt feats are mediocre at best. Normaly i would say they ar eok, but considring taht I only have 4 feats to choose in my whole character life, it is unacceptable.
 
Our group feels the same way on many of those points.  ESPECIALLY the feats.  I think you should definitely get more of them as you level.  The key is just not publishing feats that become "must haves"  because they are clearly stupid not to take.
To read about my playtest sessions click here: http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/29995793/?sdb=1&pg=last#533677003


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