One of the stated design goals for Next is creating an edition of D&D that can cater to all playstyles. How do the packets we have now, and have had in the past, accomplish that goal for you and your group? What elements are they missing? Now, of course there are some elements we know will be in the game but have not been released for testing yet - more races and classes, play beyond level 10, etc. Nevertheless, what do you think?
The background and skill system works very well with my roleplaying and narritive-oriented tendancies. Backgrounds provide an easy way for players to define their characters beyond statistics, while picking up some gameplay-relevant skills as well. The skill system, though the number and types of skills could use some tuning (listen + spot should be the same, for example), is good in that even a coordinated party won't have someone good at every skill, and in that it defines them as situational modifiers to ability checks. The presented monsters are all right. I'd like to see an easy way to differentiate members of the same monster type - for example, slightly different stats for hobgoblin spearmen, archers, and skirmishers. Of course, monsters hitting is broken, especially the higher level ones. I want them to be more deadly - my players need to feel fear! The ability score system works pretty well with my favorite style of generation - 4d6, drop the lowest, in order, then pick race and class. Of course, my players would be outraged if I forced this on them, and the random roll than arrange as you wish works alright too. The Cleric is... alright. Words of Power are probably great gameplay-wise, but for me they break verisimilitude - I can easily imagine my cleric laying on hands, but throwing band-aids at players as I swing my mace doesn't work so well. In addition, I think the cleric is not malleable enough in role. Few gods care about the undead, and some don't care about healing wounds, so why should I be forced into those options? The Fighter is great. Exactly what I want my Figher to be. It can be any kind of warrior I can imagine, from the grizzled mercenary to the skilled archer to the foppish duelist to the stalwart knight. You could make a party of entirely fighters and have a great time. The Rogue needs work. It's just too stuck into one role; the skill monkey. While I'm not one to cry that the sky is falling on sneak attack and such, I feel that the rogue should encompass any number of archetypes, and this one doesn't seem to have room for some of them. The Wizard is pretty good. While in the last packet I felt that at-will spells broke verisimilitude (freeze a lake with Ray of Frost! Hire a High Elf to refresh the streetlights in a town every hour!), they played well and I don't feel like limited-use cantrips are quite as good - the at-wills of the last packet would satisfy me, with a note that explains they're not truly at-will, they're just functionally at-will in most situations. I'm okay with not having a million level 1 spells at L10, and the signature spells are pretty decent. The DM guidelines very much support my preferred style of DMing - making things up as you go along. The encounter building guidelines in this packet don't look quite as broken, and I might start using XP again! I'm not terribly satisfied with the equipment. A silver standard would be a good option to have for those of us who like to preserve the majesty of gold. Having "magical" armors listed on the normal table is a problem for me, except possibly mithral chain - dragon scale armor should not be available for purchase! Everything else is alright. Checks, attacks, and so on are great - exactly how I'd expect them to be in D&D. Advantage/Disadvantage is a great mechanic for "on the fly" DMing and freeform combats. I've mostly ignored the exploration rules, but that's true for many editions - it's something I tend to eyeball. Combat is good, and I like how there are options to either take defined or undefined actions. It's not needlessly complicated, and forgetting a small rule won't substantially alter the game balance. Damage and healing feels right as is. I don't plan on using the experimental rules. The magic item rules seem good. The tables give things a good story with a minimum of work, and no items feel particularly bland. The percentage chance of finding items per encounter seems way too high for this magic-light guy, but it's easy to ignore. For story-focused groups, attunement should have an option to be more complicated. Maneuvers are good - simple, but they give the figher and rogue some good options. Even though this is a 4E-like resource mechanic that will likely apply to most martial classes, it feels a lot better because there are no "encounter" or "daily" powers, which really only make sense for spellcasters. The races are okay, although a sidebar mentioning the fluff can be changed might be nice. As a DM, I want players to have fair warning when elves in my world aren't exactly the same thing as elves in every other world ever. Humans are bland, but it's played well so far. Specialties seem to me to be a great way of combining 3E's customizability (in terms of feats) with an easy-to-navigate system. I liked how Packet 2's specialities let characters "dip" into another class, and this has been lost with the Arcane Magic Specialist. I guess it's okay to have a wizard-exclusive feat tree, but there should be an option for a minor spellthief or spellblade as well. Spells are okay. More low-level spells should work like Magic Missile - there's no reason to have Summon Monster or Cure Wounds listed nine times in the spell list. I'm not seeing higher level support for the Illusionist, which is a bit odd. The cleric list is a bit boring for my taste, but it's always been that way.
I like the general "Old-School" feel of it so far. It does a fairly good job of recapturing, for me, that air of mystery that good old 1e held for me as a child.
I like that it places heavy armour wearers in the lead of the Armour Class race.
I like that the Fighter kicks more butt in combat than other the classes--he hits the hardest and is the hardest to hit; that's the way it should be.
I think some of the armour names need to be changed. If it were up to me, "displacer beast hide" would become Brigandine, "studded leather" would become (Chain)mail shirt, "scale mail" would become Breastplate, and "ringmail" would become Scale armour.
I would prefer a heavier, more overt medieval European flavor to the entire thing.
I think some of the numbers are too big in certain places. In particular, I think the PCs attack bonuses are too high from the start. If it were my decision, I would grant only the Fighter a +1 bonus to hit at 1st level, and none of the other classes would have any at all for several levels, relying solely on their ability score bonuses to attack. However, even if this isn't fixed, I can always maintain control of runaway PC attack bonuses by placing restrictions on ability score maximums at character generation in order to achieve what is, I feel, a more realistic and manageable level of PC combat competence.
The monster stat blocks resemble those from 4e far too much for my taste. I don't care for a monster's ability to "recharge" on a die roll at all. That's just weird.
Generally speaking, I am satisfied with the direction of D&D Next so far. I feel that it will support my playstyle very well, and most of my quibbles with it are related to aesthetics or fluff rather than mechanics.
Fair enough I will have a go, but a lot less detail
The ways it caters to my playstyle; -The first thing which I was in two minds about putting here was the feel of power and Ive decided im going to put it in both lists and talk about two sides of the coin, the feel of character worth and power. Being able to fight far more monsters is a huge boon to this game, but this feel is more of a comparison to 3e/4e. You can kill a lot more monsters in the same time frame in D&DN ( which I will here on refer to as V ) compared to these previous editions and thats just great for me fleshing out weaker races and monsters being able to fight.
-Carryon from above, keeping monsters viable for longer. I love players levelling up in my games but I always hated leaving behind a lot of key monsters in terms of power so quickly, I love being able to keep my key monsters and NPCs viable without a huge deal of effort on my part. Keeping my playstyle without bending the rules too far is always a great feeling.
-Backgrounds, yes... just, yes. I have had plenty of issues of players not liking the RP side of things and not fleshing out backstory, and while that is a table not a game issue, this feeds mechanical benefit into having a story and makes things feel more "real" overall. Not only that but simply having the trades list fleshed out gives inspiration, and that alone would have been great for me as a note to have in the players guide.
-Fighters, whenever I play as a character its almost always a fighter and I liked the previous packet, LOVE this packet. The only problem I'm having on this front is the great deal of people who don't like the way the fighter has a leap in power... Please wizards, give a boost to other classes at level 5, something comparable, what I was thinking was "Recall" for wizards, the ability to recall one spent spell of a level worked out by a die roll, for rogues, a nice "coup de grace" specialisation would be nice, being able to put that weakened enemy down a lot easier than other players would make them a great benefit to any party without overshadowing with raw damage.
The problems I am having; -Zombies, a minor issue but one that has caused some issues for me running games. Being able to save vs death every time I have to "fudge" results far more than I like in a game. I would prefer to see a penalty on their saves in relation to this, but a penalty that doesnt require a lot of bookkeeping such as simple disadvantage or a static -2/3.
-Monsters, this one I can keep short as you all probably know. I would love to see them hit something. This is the flipside to my positive about V earlier, yes killing more makes you feel awesome but not so much when the things your killing are pitiful.
-Personal gripe, I would love to see rules for travelling distances be more acceptable to use and not just a boring roll fest. I've never seen groups stick to these little rules but I always feel there should be something most people would accept, I just cant work it out. ( If anyone has any interesting houserules on this I would love to hear from you ) but you can take or leave this gripe as its not in the playtest, I just needed to vent :p
- Stat emphasis, some stats are just outright better, and this will always be the case, but does it need to be by this much. Dexterity has been the uberstat for a very long time, we need to give charisma a bit more flavour.
- Giving me the old-school feel of BECMI/1E, but sprinkled with bits of of more modern games. It seems as though they are truly looking at all 38 years of D&D and interjecting bits and pieces from all of those years and editions, not truly favoring 1 particular edition over another.
- Gridless by design. Yes, any and all editions of D&D can be played on a grid, but it was only hard-wired into the rules in OD&D and 4E. I much prefer TotM to grids and minis. Tactics depend more on narration and improvisational thinking as opposed to the precise measurements of who is where, who is adjacent, who is within my 3 square blast, and so on. Yes, it takes more attention to detail and better explanations of surroundings by all involved, but that's how our main group plays (and has always played).
- Bounded Accuracy. When you gain an ability score bump, it actually means something. When you gain a magic item, you can, in theory, keep it forever without the need to trade it in every level to keep up with the game's assumed math. There's true growth of power as opposed to the illusion of advancement.
- Humble Beginnings. Not starting out at level 1 as a superhero, in other words. A definite cut above the bulk of society, but not to the point that I feel like dressing my character in brightly-colored spandex body-suits with the underwear on the outside. We gain the title "hero" by our actions, not by default.
- The multiple, optional methods for healing. This is important for me. If I want a more gritty feel, I have that option. If I want a faster rate of recovery, that option is also available.
Things I do NOT like so far:
- Monsters. They can't hit easily, but when they do, it hurts. Bad. I hope to see them square up the monster math significantly more than it currently is. Making it so they can hit more often but do a bit less damage is a good step in that direction.
- Specialties. I know, many people love them. I do not. To me, they really feel like little more than things that should've been included as class features, but were instead left out in the name of keeping the core "clean". They're not a real issue right now, and certainly not a deal-breaker, but I truly hope they don't go down that 3.5/4E road of using feats to patch holes in the rules or to cover up blatant mistakes. Using ham-handed specialties to deliver those feats won't make them any better. I also don't want to have to take a particular specialty in order for my class to be viable. Specialties should be added goodness and nothing more...certainly not patches or cover-ups for mistakes elsewhere in the design process.
I am pleased by what we have so far, and expect many more changes as we continue forward with the playtest. Right now I'm not ruling anything out or in. We're still in the "does this work or not" phase. I fully expect by the time we receive packet #7 or 8, the entire feel of the game will be drastically different than it is right now. If it keeps heading in the direction it is, DDN will be a game I will play. If it swerves too much away, that opinion might change. Time will tell.
One of the stated design goals for Next is creating an edition of D&D that can cater to all playstyles.
Yep. And it's a tough one. The practical way of doing that would be to be 'style-neutral,' to cater to no specific style, but to allow as many as possible. Unfortunately, those who have been accustomed to D&D radically over-rewarding certain styles in the classic and 3.x eras, consider anything playable more broadly to make their favored style 'impossible.'
'Customer education' could theoretically be a way of addressing the problem, but I don't think WotC has the necessary trust of it's customer base for such an approach to work.
Pros: • 3 Choice Characher Design: Class, Background & Specialty Simple, fast, and versatile. Unlike other versions of D&D, and most other RPG's i've ever played. This system gives so much versatility at no expense of complexity. It prevents the problems associated with charachter rail-roading of all previous editions of D&D I can make a Cleric Skill monkey, and a fighter/healer. Thanks D&D next, it's liberating. Just the
• Advantage/Disadvantage. Again, simple, fast, and brilliant. The first time I have ever seen such a good idea for incentivising thinking on your feet. Rewarding players for smart/creative play in a simple, fast, efficient way. Of course, DMs have been doing this in their own way since the dawn of RPG, but this dismantles the arbitrary, and at time,s time consuming elements of determing reward/penalty. Makes it easier for players can anticipate the value of the reward/penalty (adv/disadv) before throwing it out there.
• Bounded Accuracy. For the same reasons mentioned above.
• Tree Based Charahcter selections. I don't care if there is an option for people to pick and choose from feats, or manuevers. But allowing for Tree-Style of Selection is cleaner, less likely to be broken, and allow them to build a system that doesn't have balanced individual feats.
Cons • Inbalanced Races: Why make humans mechanically superior? • Specialities that lock out specific classes • Excessive skils, skill redundancies, and lack of skill balance (skills that aren't relevant for tests, should be given freely for RP) • Rogue class as a skill caddy • Fighters being superior to all other classes in combat pillar
Thats all I can think of for now, I'm mostly positive at the moment, becuase all of the cons can be easily fixed with house rules. We are playing by the playtest to support the endeavor of contributing to the surveys. But if the PT3 is final we'd be A-ok, and just fix the pain points. This would have been in impossible in 4ed and 3.5.