12 months ago ::
Jun 05, 2012 - 8:54AM
Oct 25, 2007
First a little about myself and the group. My experience with D&D started with 2nd edition, but I didn't start any serious gaming until 3.0. I am usually the DM, but also a player from time to time. Currently I'm part of two 4e campaigns (one as a player and one as a DM) as well as a Pathfinder campaign (as the DM). Both groups are relatively new to D&D. The 4e group has been playing for a cuple of years while the Pathfinder group has been playing for less than a year. I plan to be doing the playtesting with both groups. Since they are familiar with different versions of the game, I expect it to be some differences in their feedback.
I ran the first group (Pathfinder familiarity) through the goblin lair (cave D). The adventure was run with the rogue, wizard, fighter, and the human cleric. I decided to treat each square on the map as 10x10 ft rather than 5x5 to avoid too cramped space for battles. The moment they entered the cave, they were attacked. From that point on they moved from room to room slaying whoever they encountered. The group retreated once after being attacked by the ogre, goblin king, and about 15 goblins. They managed to take down the ogre and almost half the goblins in the first attack, but the dwarf was at that point gravely injured (1-2 hp left). The group waited for an hour (both to give the dwarf the chance to spend his HD for healing and to give the priest the chance to use her herbalism feature) before they went back to finish the job.
Things learned from the battles:
The mobility has become much better when removing attacks of opportunities and by allowing the combatants to split their movement before and after their action. The battle flowed between rooms and into the corridors, and allowed the party to fight as they withdrew out of the cave for the rest described above. It also allowed ranged attackers to "shoot from the trenches" by moving out from a turn in the caves, fire at their enemy, then move back around the corner.
The rogue spent a large part of the combat hiding and shooting to gain sneak attack. I was a bit concerned that the rogue may not be able to use sneak attack as often as in the other editions, seing how flanking has been removed. However, this did not turn out to be a problem. Seing how sneak attack now is increased every level, it could be the designers may want to make it an attack that is not coming into play as often as before but that are more severe when it does.
The player liked having the rerolls from the Lucky feature, and the automatic "take 10" on his trained skills from Skill Mastery.
The wizard had choosen to prepare two burning hands and one sleep that he made good use of. The sleep spell managed to knock several goblins out of the combat (to become victim to coup-de-grace later) so the group could focus on the goblin king. The at-will magic missiles were used often, and a timely ray of frost kept the ogre from following when the group retreated.
The cleric kept distance to the fight using her radiant lance most of the time. Searing Light was used on the ogre, and Spiritual Hammer was used both on the ogre and to take down some of the goblins. Searing Light deals 4d6 damage (+ modifier), and it can be questioned whether it is too powerful for a 1st level spell. However, it was neither used exclusively by the player, nor did it make it too easy to take down the ogre. I'll keep the spell in mind for later playtests, though.
As mentioned above, the cleric had good use for her Herbalism feature.
The figher went into melee and did what the fighter does best - slay goblins. The others kept supporting from range, and the mobility allowed the fighter to withdraw when needed.
The player liked having immunity to poison (even though it was not put to use at this time).
Background: We like the background features, including the "fluff" like Knight's Station, Temple Services, Researcher, and Trade. It gives the party some benefits they may take advantage of while in town and may help bring the game more to life. The players mentioned they would like to see background specific feats.
Advantage/Disadvantage: We like the new concept. The extra die makes a big difference when it comes to succeeding or failing in a task.
Bounded Accuracy: Seing that there were no skill ranks, I got the feeling from reading the character sheets that the designers might be trying to reduce the gap between high and low-level characters. I have since read the Bounded Accuracy article, and both the players and I like the change. To compare, I recently had a level 5 barbarian in Pathfinder try to climb a cliff. With the Strength, training and ranks of the character he would only fall on a 1 (but would get stuck on a low roll). That was level 5, so imagine at level 15. The issue I see (which the designers also have seen, apparently) is that most normal tasks doesn't scale with level. Breaking a wooden door, scaling a cliff, running across a thin bridge have a set DC no matter which level you are.
Speed: The players like that the difference in speed between different races is less than than before.
Short Rest Healing: Being able to get some healing from a short rest even if you don't have spells or potions left is a good thing.
Charge/Bull Rush: One of the things that were mentioned as being missed were the ability to charge or bull rush. It will be easy enough to implement (especially when you are familiar with other editions of the game), but it was mentioned. We'll have to see if there will be any specific rules for those kind of actions or if it will be left to the DM to decide. With the removal of attacks of opportunity it is likely that the players will use those kind of actions to a larger degree.
Aid Another: One thing I miss is the ability to aid another in combat. I realize we have the "Help" action, but it seems to be meant for checks only. I may try allowing it for attacks as well to see how it affects game balance, though.