Meet up with the Green Dragon in last night's play test encounter. Group consisted of 3 fighters, 1 barbarian, 1 cleric and 1 wizard. Even with one of the fighters turning out to be a cowardly Lord-type, we were still able to seriously pound the dragon into fleeing for its' life pretty quickly. It seemed like the damage that the players were doling out made the dragon's hp value rather comical instead of scaring the bejebees out of us. I as the cleric didn't really need to heal anyone up before the dragon retreated. Only the wizard had been seriously clobbered via the dragon's breath weapon, but you expect that of wizards anyhow.
Haven't had an opportunity to play yet, but I've read through most of it and have mixed feelings about a lot of it.
I very much dislike the simplification of the feats, which were always a major part of play for me. I also disliked how little BAB players get; this change will make attacks much more luck based, as a +3 or +5 on a d20 roll just isn't as big a difference as a +15 or +20 was, and the relative difference means that having the new equivalent or full BAB isn't as much of an advantage over 3/4 BAB. The skill system seems kinda dumb as well, with only increasing die sizes. I really liked the versatility of the 3.5 skill system. Overall, this seems like a dumbed down 3.5, which I think is a poor plan. AD&D was what proved better in the past, no? Why try and make a simplified version of the game when more complicated, and more options, proved more popular in the past. As it is, this seems inferior to Pathfinder as a replacement to 3.5.
I would recommend trying to create a better, improved 3.5, similar to what Pathfinder does, using the new things that are good about the dndnext.
I liked the new spell system. The Spirit Shaman in 3.5 is a neat way of operating spells, and it works well in next. Having bread and butter spells like cure light wounds be condensed into a single spell that can be scaled into higher level spell slots makes great sense, and is an effective and useful simplification, and allows you to restrict the number of "spells known" for the day a lot more, without running into the problem of the cleric having to use half of her spells known just for cure spells. Cantrips are obviosly a good idea, letting low level casters do more than "cast magic missile/CLW twice, then stand in the corner and shoot a crossbow." The ability to roll multiple times for damage looks very good, and should help warrior classes compete. The Channel Divinity for clerics and paladins seems like a good way to not have an often useless turn undead ability. I liked how all six abilities are used for saves now, that seemed to be a good choice. I miss having base saves, though that might just be nostalgia. Maybe bring back 3.5's base saves, but without the +2 starting progression, and keep the 6 saves, with a fort-STR, fort-CON, ref-DEX, etc, using the same ability-save relations as in 4.0?
The new HP recovery system seems a little excessive; recovering from near death overnight? Definitely slow that down a lot, maybe Class Level + CON mod HP per long rest, with CON mod +1 HP during a short rest or so, possibly with certain classes gaining faster recovery as a class feature (such as "wild" classes like the Druid, Barbarian, and Ranger)? Possibly bring back the healing surges from 4.0, those seemed to work pretty well.
Some of the simplifications seem good. I like having weapon finesse built into certain weapons, as well as automatic brutal throw for thrown weapons (which, combined with the auto-finesse, means you can always use the same ability mod for thrown and melee attacks with the same weapon). Having finesse affect damage rolls, however, might make STR under-used; why use a Greatsword for a d12 damage, when you could use a Katana, dump strength, and have a higher dex, making up for the lower damage and having a higher AC and to-hit to boot? Maybe let finesse use half-STR and half-DEX instead of all STR for damage? Loosing Exotic weapons is a poor choice, but understandable under the current system were you don't have enough feats to waste. However, the lack of feats is the issue more so than the existence of exotic weapons, return the feat progression to 3.5 and bring back the exotic weapons. Ignoring the feat specialties should not be at DM discretion, the specialties should only be there to help newcomers.
I didn't see anything on multiclassing, though it looks like 3.5 style multiclassing should work fine. I hope to see PrCs as well. Multiclassing is my favorite part of 3.5, and the primary reason I disliked 4.0, since 4.0 made for many same-y characters of the same class (how is one 10 level Paladin all that different from another? Same with every other class, though some had a single differing option, like the rangers TWF or ranged option, though those still paled in comparison to 3.5s near-infinite options.
tl;dr. I dislike the new, lower BAB, and the lack of feats. New skill system seems like an unnecessary change. Finesse looks like it might make it too easy to pass on STR and max DEX instead. New spell system, good. Deadly Strike, good.
Basically, loose the dumbing-down stuff (mostly feats and BAB), keep the new things that differentiate this from both 3.5 and Pathfinder, and bring back the best bits from both 3.5 and 4.0, and you'll have a real DnD 3.75, which might actually bring DnD back as the premier table-top RPG.
We took an evening and went into the Mines of Madness as our first session with DnD Next. All in all it was great fun.
The group was mixed: one player for whom it was the first time ever DnD, others who had played 3.5 and 4, and the DM who had been through it all (DnD - DnD Next).
All the players, who had been in 3.5 and 4, seemed to love the simplicity of the character build. The "limited" set of powers made the players more involved: no searching through cards and sheets for the next max powerful move/skill, no stretched discussions on how the power or spell description is to interprete. It was much more cooperative and inventive.
But I agree with the DM - as somebody who really spends a lot of time to shape a character in all small detail, with all powers and weaknesses, this may turn out to be a bit too simple. Yet, DnD Next does fit our team quite well, since most of our friends just participate in the evening - just to have a good time. They do not spend much time between to fine tune characters.
For me personally, I started with DnD 4 - then went to 3.5 and now Next. I must say that I do love the high degree of details in 3.5. It is such a difference to read the campaign setting descriptions. Compared to 3.5, 4 really does lack something, but I hope Next will be back in the detailed corner. So far, from a DM perspective, 3.5 is my favorite. And I love in 3.5 that skills are used as you go ... and not in challenges (encounters). This encourages the roleplaying side of your character so much more. At any point, you can use your skills to act, make things happen or change. So I am quite happy that Next goes back to that, and I also love that physical characters (such as fighters) work again the "old way".
So - thumbs up and very curious where it will go.
Shameless plug for my Gen Con Countdown facebook project:
We put up fictional collectible game card #91: D&D Next
(note: you do not need a facebook account to visit the page)
I'm honestly quite pleased with this current iteration of the play-test. It has a sort of elegant throwback to the fonder editions while maintaining some modern flair. A lot of what I disliked in previous editions has seemed to disappear, and on my initial run (party of 4)everything as written went over astoundingly well. The skill system is something in particular I would like to focus on, and I feel it made the characters exude heroism in a more classic sense. The attribute resolve system also tends to streamline game play and prevent skill overload (where as in previous editions, quite literally I've had rogues stop every 5' to do 5-6 skill checks...) The class flavor is something I also quite enjoy (especially the paladin, great job!), the party I ran contained a fighter, paladin, cleric and rogue. Each character had their slice of the action, and I think, felt encouraged to actually premeditate some of their choices and think outside the box - sometimes doing things they might not have been able to do in a more rules heavy system, i.e. a fighter, being virtually skill-less in other editions, managed to make a few atypical attribute checks that scooted the party along. The A/C system was also a hit with both the group and myself, interesting concept I have to say.
Overall, some of the best fun I've had with RPG's in years! Really great job WotC, I'm looking forward to seeing how the rest of the play-test goes; it's been far too long since I've gotten this giddy for a TT rpg release.
I am happy too report I ran our first NEXT session last night. We had some seasoned and some totally new players in the party. I converted the ole B3 Palace of The Silver Princess. The game went along smoothly with the new rules. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and even asked to go further and run another encounter before quitting for the evening. I will be running it once a week for now so I will keep you posted and post any issues or questions that arise. So Far, So Good, So What!
I like what I see up until now, but I did not try it yet.
I just hope they're going to find a better way to represent the human race. In 3/3.5, most of the races were, according to me, undervalued statistically compared to humans. Now, Elves, Dwarves and Halflings have nice perks to go with. On the contrary, humans, though balanced, lack the capacity to choose (subraces) that other races provide and become totally uninteresting.
I've always felt that there should be a strong down side to things like the Barbarian's rage. I.E., even if there are no enemies left, it should take a will roll to voluntarily end the rage It could end after a round if there are no more enemies. That way, if the barbarian doesn't drop the last enemy, his rage would end before his turn would have come around again in initiative. Otherwise, there's a risk that the barbarian attacks the party.
I have noticed a couple of things.
First of all: Wall of Stone appears to be immune to acid, cold, fire, necrotic, psychic and radiant damage. However, it is not immune to lightning damage, which would be the most ineffectual of all of the elemental types. I assume this wasn't intended.
Rage appears to be countered simply by means of temporarily disabling a target. And if the rage falls, that's it. No more. I would first question why you must only be attacking a hostile target. It they give up, and you kill them anyway, but their brother in arms keeps on killing people, does your rage end because you didn't switch targets? What if you have friendly targets blocking your attacks? It seems that you should be able to maintain a rage so long as you are doing everything possible to engage. Do you get less mad if your target manages to run away from you? You cant stop them from double moving away when you cannot enforce AoOs.
Then rage is Very strong. Maybe too strong. In at least one case rage makes you 99% immune to death (that 1% is caused only by death spells). The level 20 Endless rage has it's own caveat on how you can be killed. However... It is impossible to realize.
Since you cannot die from negatives and don't bleed, you will always be triggering your barbarian regeneration. If you start your turn at - 2000 hp, your regen heals you +5, giving you a new total of 5 hp. Now even if you have no targets, your rage cannot end until the end of your turn. Meaning you cannot be killed unless they kick you out of your rage or spell end you. Fighter vs Barbarian level 20, fighter loses. Period, no matter what. I think this is a bad way to plan out the classes.
When we look over the class, almost all of their potential comes from the rage. Since they can only rage once, having it be so strong means they have a significant advantage over others-- while at the same negating much of them if the other side has an efficient way to hamper / control/ or end the barbarians movement.
This is one of those, too strong and too many eggs in one basket. It will either be too much, or too much is negated. I would far more appreciate seeing options within the barbarian class that gave it interesting flavor over this one bullet of pure power.
i'm actually quite enjoying the A/D system. very easy to implement as mentioned earlier, and its also easier to reward players for general awesomeness with it. must say though, the dragons look like total wimps now. i had 6 lvl 1s attack one just to test my theory. they killed it rather easily (for lvl 1s that is). it couldn't get through their armor class, but its was easily bypassed.
© 1995-2010 Wizards of the Coast LLC, a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. All Rights Reserved.