Feedback from two DDN groups

Background: I am running two groups using DDN. One is an adult group of 4 playing a sandbox-style campaign. The other is a party of 7 teens playing more of a 2E story-based campaign. The former group has used DDN from the beginning of the campaign, dating back to April 3rd. The latter has used DDN the last two sessions, porting characters over from a homebrew hodgepodge of various D&D iterations.  Adult group uses Feats. Teen group does not. I have been a GM for about 3O years, and have played every single version of D&D, including a lengthy stint with 4th [in other words, I didn't just dabble, then criticise the thing from afar].

NEXT: For the most part, the experience has been very positive, and I intend to support the system. We have a third campaign pending the release of the next packet.

Anyway, I have very general comments to make.

Random Notes:
*DM'ing OVERALL: Much more a breeze to run than 4E. Static skill DC's make sense. It's good not to be chained to the battlemat. I've been able to convert monsters from AD&D and Mystara, though on the fly conversion isn't perfectly simple, as I lack guidance on THACO conversion. Simply converting a THACO 11 to a +9 to hit, for example, throws bounded accuray out of balance. I am hoping future packets have some conversion data.

*Deadly Strike: Fighters really do kick arse with this damage mechanic. A nod to something in 4E that works in DDN. The teen group had 4 fighters in it. Those guys throw down the smack really well.

*Expertise Dice: Wasn't til the last session with my fighter-heavy teens we really saw these in action. The Parry mechanic saved the group's bacon in one instance. That said, we used the thing wrong, and allowed him to parry as long as he had dice. This was a mistake on our part, but I am wondering if it is justified, since he was parrying multi-attack creatures. If a fighter wants to burn all his ED's in one round, why not let him? If he does, he won't be able to activate other exploits.

*Deep Wound: a nice little power, especially  for low-levels to get a bit more oomph. I'd like to see the ability to burn 1-2 dice, though, rather than just 1. This might allow fighters to bring down beasts quickly, making the warrior even more valuable. Further, it encourages more choices among players. "Do I throw down a second Deep Wound dice now? Or shoult I reserve a dice to Parry, just in case the Ogre does not go down?"

*Richochet: Little effect for what you spend. This might work better as a trick shot that allows you attack creatures behind cover, or around corners, or generally out of line of sight.

*Finesse Weapons: choices are nice, but the Katana should probably go. It is evidently there to give finesse fighters a two-handed weapon. Feel like if you go the finesse route, you must accept the fact that you can't use high damage weapons. Make it a real choice.

*Healing Dice: it seems to work, though I am looking forward to using the surge mechanic we see in the Slave Lords packet. If characters can toss a X% surge once/day, it would go a long way toward making it easier to run without healbots or potion stockpiling.

Some suggestions to increase utility:
Surging in Combat: Rather than a flat surge mechanic {which looks like it's coming with the "Slavers" edition}, maybe allow ike characters to be able to burn 1-2 dice as an action at any time during combat. Keeps PC's in the fight longer, allows an additional combat choice {"Do I heal a bit now, or continue pressing the attack?"}, and makes surge dice more valuable.

Healing Dice as crit damage: one aspect of 4E that was interesting to use as a GM was the loss of surges as a form of non-combat damage, say from surviving close calls when navigating through dangerous environmental effects, or scary situations. I am wondering if there is a way that monster crits could do normal damage, but also cause surge loss. If you combine this with Combat Surges, then the loss of healing dice becomes a very big deal, as it removes on the spot healing, plus impairs your rest ability if you survive the combat. A static crit loss of damage and a surge might be an interesting option. Of course, monsters don't have the same kind of surges, so this may be too fiddly.

Healding Dice Death Save Mods: Since you can be one shot with all your "health" remaining, I am wondering if maybe HD's could serve as mods to the death saves, provided you don't get one-shot. Maybe allow a +1 to the CON save per HD you burn to the check. This allows a low CON PC with HD to have a better shot at making a save, while using some of his health.

*Super Stats, DEX, CON: these are pretty much essential stats for every single character, as they crossover into so many other things. Indeed, DEX is ridiculously useful, as it mods AC, INISH, saving throws and -- with finesse weapons-- to hit and damage. No other stat has that much utility. The CON stat mods hp's of course, plus hp's from healing dice, plus serves as a saving throw. Plus, if you're still using the older dying rules, the CON score is the negative threshold. Of course, now the rules state the attack must reduce you to less than your Max HP, which seems to go overboard the other way. 

In any case, I think we need to see something that brings cache to other Stats. I have a couple of suggestions:

INT: allow this to modify INISH, either along with, excluding or as an option to DEX. The ability to react quickly isn't just physical. Bringing INT into the equation would force fighters to think about INT as a stat with some sort of bonus to it, rather than a dump stat. This would also allow clever characters to react just as fast as the martial PC's.

CHA: Outiside communications and roleplaying, the skill is useless. I'd like to see this as a "Presence" ability used to combat Fear and Charm effects.

*Static Save DC's: Don't really care for the static number the caster uses as an attack roll versus opponents. Would much prefer the caster roll to hit the save stat [CON or DEX usually], then calculate effects based on the hit [half if a miss, full it a hit]. Feel like the save versus ongoing should emulate 4E's static DC of 1O. Simple to run, plus rolling to hit makes the caster more "active," and allows for a greater variety of results. Also removes the "gauranteed hit" effect that occurs with the typical caster, whose DC's in our game usually start at 15. If casters roll, they're subject to "missing," just like everyone else. Nothing more boring than a constant auto-hit.

*Death Saves: The current mechanic seems much more fair to higher level PCs, though I do believe the "must hit negative max HP's put almost all experienced PCs beyond a one-shot. This is probably the point, I suppose, and since the PC can still get a coup de grace while down, there is still peril. That said, a loss or some usage of HD when in an unconscious situation would make more sense to me [using HD as a bonus to saves, as above, for example].

*Spells: the ability to tweak low level spells to make them more powerful at higher slots is a great idea. There are still some damage issues, however. Thunderwave at 3d6 is still very powerful for a level 1 spell. The move away from auto-effects [ex: sleep requires a droll to determine effect] is definitely a step in the right direction. The ability to save from ongoing effects needs to be mitigated, however, as the DC's tend to be way to high when you're relying on stat mods alone to hit them.

*Barbarian Rage: Damage reduction from all normal weapons is a tremendous advantage, as is the ability of the barbarian to theoretically stay upright forever at higher levels. The class seems OP'ed compared to the fighter. Feel like this should be a sub-class, though the rage power as a daily resource mandates it be separate. In all honesty, a barbarian is more of a background than a class.

*Druids: I'd rather see turning into beasties as spell effects, rather than inherent abilities. Min-maxers are going to go straight to this class for all the utility it has [travel, fighting, healing, buffing, spells, etc.]. Have always felt the druid is just a nature-based cleric, anyway, but I guess it's there due to tradition. Seems like it's a background, rather than a class, and if the wonky shapeshifting wasn't a feature, it wouldn't be a class. Can't this effect be woven into some sort of spell? [Beast Shape?]

*Skill Dice: Everyone likes the mechanic, but I think we'd like to see a bit more expertise via the stat mods, since skill dice are not easy to get if your're not a rogue. Suggest a separate check mechanic, similar to Myth & Magic. Check Mod=Stat minus 1O. So you basically get a +1 for every number above 1O and a -1 for every number below. This lends value to numbers that normall don't have modifiers [11's for example], plus allows for a greater range of skills, for example:

Break an object DC 1O:
Current system: Strength 13=+1 [failure rate=45%], Strength 16=+3 [failure rate=35%]
Proposed system: STR 13=+3 [failure=35%], STR 16=+6 [Failure rate=2O%]

Throw in skill dice, and high stat characters will be very good at the mundane checks, and pretty good at difficult ones. Not sure how this effects the static DC's, but it definitely allows someone to be a true skill monkey if they want.

That's all I can think of for now. On the whole, I am enjoying what's here. Nice to see a packet of monsters that doesn't include a ton of bloat.  Keep up the good work!


For the druid, I almost wonder if wildshape could form the bulk of the druids class with spells being a secondary feature. You already have the cleric as the primary divine spellcaster, and I think a wildshaping druid with a few spells to back it up would add more variety to the game than a caster druid who goes into wildshape sometimes.
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 hadn't thought about that. That's intriguing. So, how would this work? Maybe the druid spell progression should be closer to the Ranger's?  What about Druid as sub-class of Ranger? You might be able to fold in the beast-fiend mechanic that way, unless the Druid is the Beast-Fighter type, summoning and controlling creatures, while being able to turn into one himself [but then suddenly we have Twilight werewolves {shudder}].
I hadn't thought about that. That's intriguing. So, how would this work? Maybe the druid spell progression should be closer to the Ranger's?  What about Druid as sub-class of Ranger? You might be able to fold in the beast-fiend mechanic that way, unless the Druid is the Beast-Fighter type, summoning and controlling creatures, while being able to turn into one himself [but then suddenly we have Twilight werewolves {shudder}].



Spell progression could be like ranger, but would probably be more like clerics. So less spells than the wizard, but still 9 levels. However the druid would make up for it with his wildshape abilities allowing him to preform multiple party roles from tank to scout to striker to healer. He would be the ultimate generalist, but would still have his own distincy flavor.
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.
If Barbarian were a  background then EVERYONE would take it.
If Barbarian were a  background then EVERYONE would take it.


Exactly. Bad idea from TS.

Besides he's only strong when he's in rage. Outside that, a barbarian is incredibly weak for a fighter type character.

Honestly getting real tired of all these "barbarain OP" whiners who haven't seen a barbarian fight vs a mage or without rage. Real eye-opener, you guys.

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/20.jpg)

Expanding the modifiers for stats seems a good idea... I like the idea of an initiative modifier for int but it might be redundant as dex and con are the secondary stat for any light armoured class by default.

Charisma could realistically place fear into an enemy and negate dex bonus in melee (it does in sporting contests). The power of charisma is such that it could place negatives on the initiative of enemies within melee range. Random targeting from melee could be reduced (Two targets... 1-3 on target one and 4-6 on target two. Target two you don't wish to anger, so 1-4 on target one and 5-6 on target two). However, these things are feats, things learned by way of intimidation.

Including small combat bonuses into non-combat feats might be a better move than blanket changing the stat workings that have spanned 4 editions.

"Mimic" for instance is a non combat feat that many will not choose unless a full on role-player. If in combat you could mimic the one giving orders you would make your opponents hesitate, a bonus to initiative in the right situation.

"Herbalism"- you might have a component on you that can stablize someone at 0hp for a few minutes while combat continues even if you can't heal them. 
I should clarify. Barbarian as a background would not include the Rage ability. Rage would have to be some sort of Feat chain, I think. Probably not preferable, but I don't see how a Barbarian is a "class" at all. It's a fighetr sub-type, at best. Druids as a sub-class would drop the Wild Shape in favor of spells that emulate the ability, but decrease how long it works.
If Barbarian were a  background then EVERYONE would take it.


Exactly. Bad idea from TS.

Besides he's only strong when he's in rage. Outside that, a barbarian is incredibly weak for a fighter type character.

Honestly getting real tired of all these "barbarain OP" whiners who haven't seen a barbarian fight vs a mage or without rage. Real eye-opener, you guys.



I'd like to see that. However, the Barbarian is almost always raging. Unless I want to create arbitrary encounters to burn up the character's rage, I would ask that it be re-examined. I think you're also forgetting the base HP's and HP/lvl barbs get, which is higher than fighters. Plus, resistance to basically all normal weaponry is a HUUUUUUUGE buff. HUGE. That said, the current PC is only level 4, so we'll see what changes as she levels up. I'll be happy to be considered wrong on this, even though I think a Barbarian is a background [sans the rage power, of course]. The class seems to be there as a mobility-based striker type. I'd like to see more options in the actual fighter class to build the same thing without having to be some form of Conan.

Finally, an observation and/or disagreement is not whining. I only sit at my table and comment on what I see. Not sure how I can be expected to comment on anything else.
I lack guidance on THACO conversion. Simply converting a THACO 11 to a +9 to hit, for example, throws bounded accuray out of balance. I am hoping future packets have some conversion data.


No need to rely on WotC for help with that!

General thoughts: Monsters used roughly the same THAC0 progression as Fighters in both AD&D and BECMI D&D, give or take 1 at certain Hit Dice (when compared to equivalent fighter level).

So just take the Hit Dice of the monster and treat it as fighter levels, grab the attack bonus from the fighter class, and maybe add or subtract 1 point as you see fit.

Edit: Decided to put together a little chart.

Thac0     Attack bonus
19-20     +1
14-18     +2
9-13       +3
4-8         +4
1-3         +5

ATTENTION:  If while reading my post you find yourself thinking "Either this guy is being sarcastic, or he is an idiot," do please assume that I am an idiot. It makes reading your replies more entertaining. If, however, you find yourself hoping that I am not being even remotely serious then you are very likely correct as I find irreverence and being ridiculous to be relaxing.

Now, why didn't I think of that? I still have all the old charts and books. Derrrr.... [Thanks for the advice!]
I just want to point out that as the barbarian levels he only gets stronger.  More rages, regeneration while raging, more damage bonus, and have you seen the capstone?!

Barbar is OP.  But to be fair the current fighter essentially stops at level 11, so we will see what it looks like fleshed out.  The ranger is the melee guy really getting the shaft so far.
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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Anyway OP, regarding your other observations, my group feels the exact same about the death save.  As players we aren't afraid to hit 0 hp, its more of an inconvenience.  Thanks for the write up!
To read about my playtest sessions click here: http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/29995793/?sdb=1&pg=last#533677003


D&D Home Page - What Class Are You? - Build A Character - D&D Compendium

I just want to point out that as the barbarian levels he only gets stronger.  More rages, regeneration while raging, more damage bonus, and have you seen the capstone?!

Barbar is OP.  But to be fair the current fighter essentially stops at level 11, so we will see what it looks like fleshed out.  The ranger is the melee guy really getting the shaft so far.



True on the Ranger. I'm assuming he's a ranged attacker, which, again, to me, seems like yet another type of fighter.

I really do like the idea of expertise. I'm not entirely sure how it balances well against the more powerful dailies like Rage [and perhaps even Divine Smite, on top of Deadly Strike].  And you're dead on about the captstone for Barbs--they should just call it, "I really can't be killed." It's, if you'll pardon the expression, overkill.
Yeah the pure melee ranger is just a fighter with the right feats now.  The actual ranger is the warrior who is magically in tune with nature.  The concept has yo-yoed around for a few years but the current version is barely fleshed out.  There is more to come for both the ranger and the paladin we hope.
I hope so too, the ranger, rogue, and bard are my favorite classes and right now the ranger sucks (even ranged is underwhelming), the bard is absent, and the rogue is OP.

I wish for paladin they would make it more about channel divinity (more times/day or a recovery mechanic) and less about him being a fighter with spells.  I like the direction they are going for both ranger (FE kits) and the paladin, just not quite there yet.
To read about my playtest sessions click here: http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/29995793/?sdb=1&pg=last#533677003


D&D Home Page - What Class Are You? - Build A Character - D&D Compendium

I just want to point out that as the barbarian levels he only gets stronger.  More rages, regeneration while raging, more damage bonus, and have you seen the capstone?!

Barbar is OP.  But to be fair the current fighter essentially stops at level 11, so we will see what it looks like fleshed out.  The ranger is the melee guy really getting the shaft so far.



Just had our first fight in our first playtest game - level 1 PCs, Caves of Chaos.

Barbarian Rage, rolled & 6 and a 20 to hit, so Critical hit with Maul vs. Skeleton = 34 points of damage

Sure, the skelly takes double from bludgeoning weapons, and the Barbarian criticalled

Players (mostly with 1e backgrounds anda bit of 2e) all look at each other and say WTF?

Their universal comment is that whilst the Barbarian itself isn't OP, Rage needs fixing.



I completely agree with regards to the 'super stats' comment.  Since DnD is a combat-focused game, the non-physical stats are usually going to be dump stats.  I agree that there should be real tangible reasons to want a fighter with a high wis, int, or charisma.  In a previous version of DnD, the number of skills you recieved was tied to your int.  Wisdom at least has an affect on being suprised or not in this iteration of Next.

Charisma is the stat that is really lacking any sort of affect on the typical game.  Usually groups decide on which one person is going to be the 'face'.  That frees everyone else to make cha their dump stat.  If charisma played a larger role in combat, it would make assigning stats a more thought provoking process.  Additionally, it would allow for wider variety of characters.

I like the idea of cha affecting anything that influences the character (i.e. fear, charms, sleep, etc).  On the more offensive side, cha might be useful for imposing your will on others.  Perhaps a shout from a high charisma character could induce a morale roll on his opponents.  Another option is to introduce charisma 'skills' which affect combat.  Something like a taunt (that provides some sort of debility to your foe) or intimidate.  There could also be a charisma skill to give a rousing speech before a combat.  Anything at all would be better than what it currently provides today.

As you can probably tell, I've run a lot of groups where every single character is butt ugly (except for the 'face').  It's become a bit of a pet peeve.  :p
You fight for your freedom? Well, I fight for the freedom of all.
The idea of Warning Shout and other such guardian exploits being Cha-based is an excellent idea.  I've toyed with it in a house-ruled version of fighter exploits. The house rules use two separate mods off of stats, one the usual suspects -- to hit, damage, etc. -- the other for skills and saves. So I have "mods" and "check" ratings. With Warning Shout, I figured something like this:



  • Warning Shout: When an ally you can see is attacked, you may spend 1 XD before the attack roll to add your Presence check to the ally’s AC


Since Presence goes off a check rather than a Mod, and since scaling on checks starts at lower levels than Mods, a high CHA warrior could use this to grant a decent bonus to an ally. For example, a 14 CHA has a +3 Check rating to Presence [which is also used to save versus mental effects], so using shout to aid an ally has some real value.  I included a second exploit that affects targeting:



  • Bolster Allies: Before an ally you can see makes an attack roll, spend 1 XD to add your Presence check to the ally’s attack roll result.


Of course, in the system I'm fiddling with, fighters don't have to learn a set number of exploits. They can use anything on the list, to include movement and reaction exploits, guardian exploits, damage, accuracy, what have you. So, warriors are extremelt flexible. I kept the XD idea, calling them exploits, and, since they're more or less encounter-based, as they recharge faster than wizard spells, this differentiates the warrior from the caster, who uses a daily resource model. I have yet to work in anything like Divine Smite and such, which I feel is more of a feature.  So, I have some work to do on that.

I just want to point out that as the barbarian levels he only gets stronger.  More rages, regeneration while raging, more damage bonus, and have you seen the capstone?!

Barbar is OP.  But to be fair the current fighter essentially stops at level 11, so we will see what it looks like fleshed out.  The ranger is the melee guy really getting the shaft so far.



Just had our first fight in our first playtest game - level 1 PCs, Caves of Chaos.

Barbarian Rage, rolled & 6 and a 20 to hit, so Critical hit with Maul vs. Skeleton = 34 points of damage

Sure, the skelly takes double from bludgeoning weapons, and the Barbarian criticalled

Players (mostly with 1e backgrounds anda bit of 2e) all look at each other and say WTF?

Their universal comment is that whilst the Barbarian itself isn't OP, Rage needs fixing.






Off the cuff player feedback on the BarBar is Rage is still broken.  We'll have to see what happens as it plays out (certainly I'm convinced it is broken at low levels and needs revising or removing).  Still, back in the 1e days I felt a few aspects of the BarBar were broken - so at least the ONE thing that ISN'T broken is tradition!