Monday, July 2, 2012, 8:56 AM
Because of holidays there have been less gaming than I've been hoping. If I'm lucky, we'll have another session in about two weeks. Until then I've decided to look a little closer at the maths behind the five pregen characters from the public playtest material.
First of all, I'm still working on making my calculations available and understandable by anyone who wishes to look them through, secondly prepare for some awesome nerdiness.
I started by creating a formula that took into consideration the average damage a character does per round taking damage rolls and modifier into consideration. Then I added the "to hit" probability, which lowers the average damage per round since a character doesn't hit every single round. I then added values for critical hit (always hit and always max damage) and critical miss (always miss and always 0 damage). I was left with a formula that depicted the average DPR (damage per round). If you want to convert it to the famous DPS you see in many computer games, simply divide by 6, since one round lasts for six seconds.
I now had the formula that I've used in my calculations, which I'll be talking about later. For fun, I went into more depths with the formula. I looked at KPR (kills per round). This revealed that first of all the DPR of a character is always equal to or lower than the target's HP multiplied by the characters amount of attacks per round. Secondly, I realized that the KPR formula was changed dramatically when the DPR of a character was higher than the HP of the target (in case the character had multiple attacks). Apart from these two points, I didn't continue with these calculations.
Cleric of Moradin
This character revealed that buffs are incredibly important. The cleric has his warhammer, which he uses for his standard attacks. He has two spells that can buff him, Crusader Strike and Divine Favour. When facing creatures with an AC between 10 and 20, the Cleric of Moradin does an average DPR of 2,1 to 5,9. However, fully buffed, the cleric nearly doubles his average damage done, going to 4,3 to 10,8 DPR.
My calculations also reveal that Crusader Strike is more beneficial than Divine Favour, unless the cleric is facing an opponent with more than AC 20, in which case the bonus to attack from Divine Favour makes it more powerful than the damage difference between the two buffs.
In conclusion, the Cleric of Moradin has an incredibly low DPR, the lowest of all five pregen characters. However, if the cleric fully buffs himself, he will have the second highest DPR, only rivalled by the Fighter.
Cleric of Pelor
This character has a ranged and a melee attack that has the same attack bonus and the same damage, Radiant Lance and Spiritual Hammer, making the maths behind this class very boring. In short, the Cleric of Pelor has an average DPR of 3,2 to 7,4 when facing foes with AC 10 to 20.
In conclusion, the Cleric of Pelor has a relatively high DPR, only rivaled by the Fighter, but has so few damage dealing abilities and buffs, which means other classes can beat the Cleric of Pelor at DPR if they simply used all their available combat abilities and bonuses.
This character has both a melee and a ranged weapon, but his greataxe is much more powerful than his crossbow, meaning that I'm only looking at that weapon. Furthermore, the fighter has an ability that ensures that he deals damage even when he misses. I've taken this into account in my calculations.
The fighter has an average DPR of 7,0 to 12,5 when facing opponents with AC 10 to 20, which is the highest DPR of all the pregen characters. I then checked the effects of removing the miss effect, but it has a minor impact on the DPR compared to the other classes. The Fighter still has an average DPR of 5,2 to 12,2 when facing opponents with AC 10 to 20 without the miss effect, still giving the Fighter the top DPR spot of all five pregen characters.
The Rogue was interesting because his ability to Sneak Attack, which both gives a higher chance to hit because of Advantage but also deals more damage. Sneak attack is always preferred if possible, but the question is whether it's worth spending a round hiding before attacking again or if the DPR is higher if the Rogue simply attacks. In my calculations I've looked at the Rogue using his sling and doing Ranged Sneak Attacks since these were more powerful than his melee attacks.
When the Rogue simply attacks with his sling, he has an average DPR of 2,4 to 6,2 against foes with AC 10 to 20. When he uses Sneak Attack, the curve of the DPR changes from being positive to becoming negative, meaning that the higher the foes' AC the faster the DPR falls, but against low AC foes (< 14 AC) Sneak Attacks every other round does less damage than simply attacking but against high AC foes (> 14 AC) it does more. Ranged Sneak Attacks give a Rogue an average DPR of 3,0 to 5,2.
In conclusion, the Rogue has extremely low DPR, with only the unbuffed Cleric of Pelor having less. Using Sneak Attack shows that the Rogue actually does less DPR than the unbuffed Cleric of Pelor against foes with less than AC 13, but more than the Wizard against foes with more than AC 17. However the Rogue plays, he will never reach a DPR as high as the Fighter, Cleric of Moradin, or the buffed Cleric of Pelor.
The Wizard has a variety of spells at first level. Magic Missile always hits but deals low damage. Shocking Grasp is a melee attack. Burning Hands is an area spell but can only be cast a limited times per day.
In short, Burning Hands is the most powerful spell in the Wizard's arsenal when calculating DPR. Because of its limited use, however, we'll look at the other two damage dealing spells. Magic Missile has a constant 3,5 DPR since it always hits and always deals 1d4+1 damage. Looking closer at Shocking Grasp reveals that it's usually more powerful than Magic Missile, with its disadvantage being that it's a melee spell. Shocking Grasp gives the Wizard an average DPR of 2,8 to 6,6 against enemies with AC 10 to 20. Only foes with more than AC 18 should be targetted with Magic Missile to ensure an optimum DPR.
The Wizard has the most balanced DPR in the game when using Shocking Grasp. When using Burning Hands they do a large amount of damage (especially because it's an area spell) and when using Magic Missile they do very little damage but always hit, which is an advantage against foes with high AC.
If you wish to play a damage dealing character, the Fighter has the highest DPR of the pregen characters by far, doing 5,1 DPR more than the second highest. Their miss ability isn't near as powerful as Magic Missile but most likely because of the Fighter's high average DPR.
If you want to play with classes that can burst foes, then the Wizard's Burning Hands (multiple targets) or the Cleric of Pelor's Searing Light (single target) is for you.
If you want to play a class that is dependant on buffs, than the Cleric of Moradin (lowest DPR) is able to enchant himself up to near the same DPR as the Fighter.
If you play Rogue, then doing hit and runs is very dependant on the foes' AC and HP and of other combat opportunities that might be able to give the Rogue advantage every round instead of every other round.
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Sunday, June 10, 2012, 10:43 AM
Second Playtest Feedback (mainly themes and background)
The three players I used for my second session didn’t have as much feedback about the rules as the three players I used for my first session. I did have a completely new player to the game who really enjoyed it. There was actually only one real point that is worth mentioning as feedback, and that’s concerning the pregen characters especially themes and backgrounds.
All the players in my second session found the game way too restrictive. They were missing the character creation aspect of the game, which they felt is a major part of D&D. They wanted to be able to create their own characters and test the game from their own perspective instead of being forced to use characters that were created for them.
This also means that they really disliked themes and backgrounds, which is again too restrictive. They fear that they will be forced to choose themes and backgrounds in order to gain skills and feats. It would be much better to simply remove themes and backgrounds, leaving that aspect up to RPG and character creation and then only have skills and feats rules, giving the players a sense of freedom when creating and playing their characters.
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Sunday, June 10, 2012, 10:43 AM
Yesterday we played our second session of the playtest. This second session was played with three completely new and different players. They took much more initiative to roleplay minor events, such as campfires and tavern stays and the such. It made the adventure much more interesting, which was positive, but it seemed that we gathered much less feedback in this session than in my previous session. I’ll start with a summary of the game and then I’ll add another post describing the feedback we discussed. I hope you enjoy the read.
Flux (wizard), Machalion (cleric of Pelor), and Palaninanok (rogue) were travelling towards the Keep on the Borderlands seeking fame and fortune by adventuring through the Caves of Chaos. Fate had decreed that they formed an adventuring band and so they travelled together to the keep on the edge of civilization. On they were they bonded a lot, especially when it came to dinner one night where Palaninanok took care of the fire and the cooking while Machalion and Flux went gathering herbs and hunting a deer. They didn’t have much experience hunting and didn’t have the gear for it, but with magic they subdued it and then they bashed the deer to death with sticks. It was a very good dinner they had that night.
The next day they arrived at the keep. They set up their base at the tavern and the inn. Palaninanok cheated his way into winning all of Flux’s money at the tavern while Machalion took care of their accommodations at the inn. When they were ready, they travelled out to the Caves of Chaos, which Machalion easily found because of his knowledge of nature and tracking. They were hoping to kill powerful evil creatures to gain fame and find great treasures to gain fortune.
They started to explore the caves. At the first cave Flux lit up a stone and cast it into the darkness to reveal the various tunnels before he extinguished the stone again so that Palaninanok could sneak in and explore the entrance. He discovered that a patrol of goblins were coming their way, most likely to investigate the strange glow of light. The adventurous band set up an ambush and as soon as the goblins revealed themselves, the party started to cast and shoot their offensive ranged abilities. While Flux pushed the goblins deeper into the tunnels with Machalion keeping him alive, Palaninanok kept to the entrance.
Then the ogre arrived. The fight continued but the party slowly retreated back into the ravine. Both Machalion and Palaninanok was hit by the large ogres club, but their efforts in slowly and shooting the ogre seemed to work. The ogre was forced to use his large spears, which he threw at the Halfling that was dealing the most damage and seeming the most delicious. However, the ogre had to retreat and the party was also weary and didn’t pursuit the ogre into the goblin tunnels, fearing that more goblins might attack if they continued into the darkness.
The party returned to the keep seeking rest. Here Palaninanok and the first guard they had met at the gates schemed with a group of mercenaries to scare Flux, which ended up with all seven of them drinking away the night. They woke up in the common room of the inn with a heavy hangover and only fragments of what had happened the night before. They remembered something about screaming and pissing at the gates to the inner bailey, and something about a sprained arm and going in and out of the rooms in the inn. After cleaning up the common room, the group went outside to make a camp where they could recover from their night. Machalion offered them all both breakfast and a concoction, which should help against hangovers.
When they were ready, the adventurous band returned to the Caves of Chaos while the guard and the mercenaries returned to the keep. The adventurers used ropes tied together to ensure that they wouldn’t get lost in the caves. They found an abandoned goblin cave, and following the blood trail from the ogre revealed a secret passage into a neighboring cave where the ogre had died from its wounds. The goblins had apparently looted the ogre and taken the spoils deeper into the caves. The adventurous band decided not to venture too deep and thus left the goblin caves in order to explore some of the rest of the Caves of Chaos.
They followed a path winding up the side of the ravine until they reached a strange cave with groaning and shrill noises. They explored the high vaulted tunnels where they discovered wooden doors. Palaninanok checked for traps and overheard the terrifying conversation concerning demons. Fearing that they had stumbled upon a temple where demons were summoned, Palaninanok retreated back to the cave entrance and left his two companions to explore the room beyond the wooden door. They found a small band of four human cultists whom they quickly dispersed. The last cultist survived and after disarming him they interrogated him about the area.
The adventurous band discovered that they had stumbled upon a Temple of Chaos and learned a few things about the clergy, the high priest and the layout of the temple. Finally, Palaninanok slit the throat of the cultist, revealing a darker side of himself. The party continued deeper into the temple.
They found their way into the heart of the temple, where Machalion and Flux became mesmerized by the dancing forms on the magical wall while Palaninanok moved to the throne at the end of the chamber to steal its gems. Machalion and Flux started chanting without knowing it and before long three zombies arrived to take care of the intruders. They oversaw the Halfling who started to pry out the gems from the throne while Flux and Machalion were forced to dispatch the zombies by themselves.
When the zombies were defeated, Flux and Machalion joined Palaninanok in retrieving the gems from the throne. When they were done they discovered that Palaninanok had clearly gathered more gems than the rest of the adventurous band and they demanded that the Halfling share his share of the treasure. It ended in a brawl where the cleric and the wizard attempted to slay the Halfling rogue for stealing all the fortune from the Caves of Chaos. Palaninanok fled into the shadows, wounded by the spells from the cleric and the wizard.
Machalion and Flux hunted for the rogue but couldn’t find the pesky little Halfling. They therefore used the bell in the chamber, hoping that whatever it summoned would attack Palaninanok. However, nothing happened. They also found the high priests’ chambers but it was also empty. Finally, they decided to leave. As they were about to leave they heard Palaninanok scream from the main chamber and as they came back there they saw dozens of skeletons and zombies ready to take care of any intruders. They decided to retreat and leave Palaninanok to fend off the undead if he ever revealed himself.
On their way back they ran into four cultists and the high priest who had heard the bell and had gone to get reinforcement. Now Flux and Machalion were surrounded and had no choice but to accept defeat. They were dragged towards the other end of the temple unknowing of their fate.
Meanwhile, Palaninanok quickly prepared a trap using the oil from his lantern. When the high priest arrived, he lit the fire and jumped on to the human, piercing his dagger into the back of the burning cultist. The adepts came to their leader’s rescue and knocked out the Halfling before focusing on extinguishing the flames from their high priests’ vestments. This gave Flux the chance to break free before freeing Machalion, who turned to all the undead with his holy symbol and turned them. The distraction was enough for the two to grab the Halfling and make a quick escape from the temple before returning to the keep.
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Sunday, May 27, 2012, 5:33 AM
Rules vs Roleplay (major feedback)
The largest difference between D&D and a computer game is the rules vs roleplaying aspect. In a computer game, the rules will always take precedence while in D&D roleplaying should always come first. However, sometimes it’s possible to be in a situation where if you want to ensure good roleplaying you need to bend some rules which in turn affects other rules which finally doesn’t make sense. It is important that the rules therefore tie together in such a manner that they are all flexible and make space for roleplaying. This is something which has slowly deteriorated over the editions and almost completely disappeared in 4th edition. Unfortunately we have no examples at this time, but we’re working on some specific feedback that we’re hoping that Wizard of the Coast will listen to. More on this later, for now it is simply important to keep the roleplaying aspect as described in the playtest DM guidelines, which are explanations and descriptions which have been missing in the 3rd and 4th edition core rulebooks.
Intoxication (major feedback)Intoxicated should NOTbe a condition. In reality, being drunk is technically the same as being poisoned. This is also true for taking drugs or smoking cigarettes. All of these things should fall under poisons in the core rules. Later modular rules could then focus on the specific effects of alcohol, drugs and cigarettes.
Furthermore, intoxicated is very unbalanced. If the party was a group of humans who drank themselves into a stupor and then walked into a cave filled with goblins and started hacking away, they would probably miss most of their attacks, but the goblins would practically deal no damage at all. We (my players and me) therefore suggest that instead of reducing damage taken when intoxicated, then intoxicated simply ensures that your character is still conscious even when you go below 0 hit points.Fighter class goals? (major feedback)
I’ve been trying to follow the creation of D&D Next and read the following concerning the goal with the fighter class mentioned by Rodney Thompson:
“… our current vision for both the fighter and the rogue includes access to a system of combat maneuvers.”
I’m very happy that there aren’t a ton of abilities with push, pull and slide like in 4th edition, which was both confusing and very often annoying, both for players and for myself as a DM. However, in this playtest the fighter seemed much more powerful if he simply stood still and either dodged all the incoming attacks or hit away like a maniac as the goblins came charging. Neither situation called for a system of combat maneuvers, and the cleric of Moradin actually seemed like a more powerful fighter than the fighter was. I therefore hope to see more maneuver abilities for the fighter and see that the cleric become less of a warrior than the fighter.
Missing Grab, Bullrush, Charge, Shadowing etc (major feedback)
We are playtesting the core rules, and one major aspect of the rules that are missing are the rules concerning grabbing, bullrushing and charging. My players ended up in a situation where they were in a 10 feet wide tunnel and surrounded by hordes of goblins along with an ogre smashing away at them. Some of the goblins had bows that they were using to shoot at them and the players were missing rules for grabbing both live and dead goblins to use them as body shields or cover, bullrushing past the goblins or into the goblins as far as they could, or even charging. The lack of attacks of opportunity and the movement rules also meant that there was a shadowing rule missing to ensure that melee characters would always follow ranged goblins to ensure that they received disadvantage, even when they used their moves to move away from melee characters. Hopefully these core rules will be available in the next version of the playtest.
Fighter Miss Rules (suggestion on an alternative)
Whenever the fighter missed an attack, he would still deal damage. Imagine the party attacking a dragon. Even though they would most likely fail in their endeavour at level 1, the fighter would still be able to deal damage, which makes no sense. Our suggestion is therefore to use degree of success instead, just like the ability threshold. If the fighter misses by 5 or less, then he deals miss damage, but if he misses by 5 or more then he deals no damage. You could also set the degree to 10.
Cleric of Moradin (Unbalanced AC)
Can the cleric use Defender on himself? If not, why not? Is Defender not quite unbalanced? If he faces one monster, the cleric can simple block the cave passage and dodge, giving him AC 20. The monster would have to roll twice every time to try to hit the cleric because of Defender, which would result in a player doing nothing but dodging to ensure that the other players can take down creatures with ranged attacks. If he can’t use Defender on himself, he can simple stand behind the fighter who dodges and thus has AC 19, still forcing the attacker to do two attacks and thus blocking the way while the other players take down the monster. However, if there are lots of monsters, like a dozen goblins, then Defender is practically useless, since it requires that you target a goblin before it attacks, and if that goblin misses then the ability was wasted. We haven’t found a solution to this yet though and will keep testing it hoping to find a creative suggestion.
Spell Description (uncertain explanations)
Our wizard had many questions about the various spells and didn’t truly understand the rules as they were described. Is it possible to conjure a spectral hand on the other side of a barred door and use it to lift the bar if she could guess where it was without seeing it, or does the spell require that the wizard can see the hand to cast/control it? Is it possible to blind creatures with Light? Can a wizard move in next to the dodging cleric use shocking grasp and move back again with no danger, in which case why not focus on Shocking Grasp instead of Magic Missile? If there’s an ogre in the way, is it still possible to use Magic Missile on the goblins behind the ogre even though they are obscured? Why can’t you use Shield on allies? Does Sleep and Burning Hands also affect allies if they are in the way, and if so how do you use these in combat when there are other melee in the party especially when the wizard is trying to stay out of melee in order to stay alive? Does it really require to touch a creature in order to understand it, which means that Comprehend Languages is useless against the goblins even though it would have helped greatly without being unbalanced or overpowered? The conclusion is that the spells don’t need more complex descriptions, but need more precise explanations.
Armour (minor feedback)
My players were very confused that chainmail was a heavy armour. It was fine that both the cleric and the fighter had heavy armour, but the description should have been different, because in our imagination chainmail is at most medium armour.
Character Sheet (minor feedback)
The character sheet was missing “Age” and had “Align” which wasn’t used at all.
Furthermore, why was the cleric the only one with money? The players had no way of paying for food or information at the keep. I therefore decided to award them all with starting money.
Many of these feedbacks are posted at different places throughout the forums, but they are all gathered here. Hopefully Wizard of the Coast will take some of them into account since we believe that some of these things are major issues that should be rectified before releasing the next version of the playtest.
Stay tuned for more feedback concerning D&D Next. Our next session will be on Saturday June 9th.
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Sunday, May 27, 2012, 5:32 AM
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Sunday, May 27, 2012, 5:31 AM
Yesterday we played our first session of the playtest, and even though the adventure itself was a bit of a failure, we believe we have gathered some very interesting feedback that we would all like to share. I’ve divided our feedback up into three posts. The first post is a summary of the session. The second post is a quick run through of my thoughts on the various points that came up while I was reading through the playtest before our session. You can see these points in my previous blog. Finally, the third post covers the more creative and relevant feedback relating to the session that we played. I hope you enjoy the read.
Alina (wizard), Dvalin (cleric of Moradin), and Ulfgar (fighter) were travelling towards the Keep on the Borderlands seeking fame and fortune by adventuring through the Caves of Chaos. Fate had decreed that they formed an adventuring band and so they travelled together to the keep on the edge of civilization. When they arrived to the keep they met various guards and priests, and easily gained entry into the keep where they also came face to face with the Corporal of the Watch. They gathered information concerning the Caves of Chaos. This is when they met Paul at the tavern.
Paul was a guard who worked for a merchant and his wife. However, the caravan, which included the merchants along with Paul’s partner, were ambushed by hobgoblins. They were all taken prisoner except for Paul, who had escaped. He had been drinking at the tavern for days, certain that his master and friends had been eaten by the hobgoblins. The adventurers disagreed and promised to rescue the caravan. They departed for the Caves of Chaos to free the prisoners.
They started to explore the caves, first discovering a cave with what seemed to be a bear resting. They decided not to arouse it, since it clearly wasn’t a hobgoblin cave anyway. When they entered the second cave they encountered a patrol of 6 goblins. They charged into combat, but the goblins called for aid. More and more goblins arrived. They weren’t too much of a challenge but then the ogre that the goblins had hired came. The ogre smashed the cleric unconscious, forcing the fighter to carry him away from the cave while the wizard ensured their escape with Ray of Frost.
They rested for 17 hours, and in that time a group of 5 goblins ambushed their camp. They easily fought them off and even shot down the two goblins that tried to flee. When the party was ready they returned to the goblin cave only to find it abandoned. Little did they know that the goblin tribe had retreated back to the hobgoblins deeper in the caves, seeking an alliance to defeat the adventurous band.
The players explored the caves until they finally found the hobgoblins. They started to cut them down, seeking the prisoners and demanding their release in exchange for the hobgoblins’ life. The hobgoblins retreated as the players cut down their guards. The hobgoblins forced the goblins to pay the ogre one more time for his assistance and send the bulk of their tribe against the players.
The players found themselves surrounded in a 10 feet wide tunnel with goblins charging in from both sides and an ogre attacking. While the cleric ensured that the ogre blocked one passage, the fighter and wizard took care of the other passage. The situation looked grim and the players were determined not to surrender. They knew that if they surrendered they would end up as dinner. The cleric dodged the ogres clumsy attack, forcing it to cause a cave in. The heroes now all focused on the tunnel from whence they had come and started to cut their way through the horde of goblins.
Many goblins fell and finally the goblin chieftain along with his three elite guards were forced to show themselves to boost their troops morale. The fight continued and it was a close call, but finally the goblin chieftain fell. As the rest of the goblins retreated, the adventurous band decided to retreat as well and return to the Keep on the Borderlands with the body of the goblin chieftain. Their second encounter with the ogre ended in yet another stalemate and they still hadn’t rescued the merchants.Upon their return, the Corporal of the Watch deemed the adventurers worthy of an audience with the Castellan, however, it was late and the audience would have to wait until the next day. The adventurers couldn’t wait. They were going to rest and then return to the Caves of Chaos in search of the lost caravan. Their audience with the Castellan would have to wait for now.
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Friday, May 25, 2012, 3:28 PM
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