Good morning, my name is Rodrigo and I ’m going to analyze this new playtesting pack (10-29-2012)
Let’s start talking a little about my experience :
I started playing d&d 8years ago, playing 3.0 and 3.5 editions at least once a week, never interrupting playing for more then a couple of months a year. I have a huge experience as a master and as a player, as me and my core group (other two guys) introduced many others to the game, being in contact with most of the d&d groups in the nearer cities. We also tested 4.0 for one and a half year, and we left that for 3.5 recently because it was too skill intensive (too many stuffs to remember, hours combats with hours of plans simply to place toons on the terrain), too low in role play and absolutely not master friendly, even for us with years of experience. 3.x edition is absolutely unbalanced (melee classes only roll dices in combat, while high level casters do miracles and such, also prestige classes are not equilibrated) but at last It was master friendly, with some easy combat mechanic (not even needing for some terrain map in 60-70% of the cases), and master touch could easily fix all the classes gap with some focused drop (even if “you are the gear you wear” is a mechanic we don’t really like in role-play terms).
What we expect from d&d NEXT:
We expect d&d next to be a fixed version of 3.5 while keeping up with it’s easiness, master friendliness and roleplayfriendliness . We don’t even consider 4.0 d&d as a d&d, but similar to a random online roleplay game in which you keep press buttons while not caring about roleplay at all. We’re not the kind of group totally caring on in-combat aspects of the game (but we would like to have it balanced) , if we want 100% combat we play some board game. That said, this pack is a start of a good job but with some minor bugs and some big pack of unbalanced stuff. Let’s check it out together in detail (also providing for solutions).
FIRST OF ALL: we’re always kind annoyed about measures. In EU, length are measured in METRES and weights in KILOGRAM. We don’t rly care about kg’s, but always calculating movement doing divisions etc is disappointing. A reasonable solution could be to substitute feet into squares.
In the “How to play” section
-The “hide” action is not clearly explained. In our opinion hide can take “action”, “movement” or “no action” at all depending on the situation. Examples : 1) “I make some place in the bush to hide myself” (normal action), “I run behind the huge rock while they come in our direction” (movement), “I hide myself hopping behind the rock I was sitting on” (no action).
-Movement. The in-combat movement appears slow. This is not really a thing to correct, as the combat mechanics prevent kiting mechanics and looks overall equilibrated. We are just usual to some “charge” mechanic, so moving 4/6 squares and attack per turn looks a bit slow.
-Ranged attacks in melee: this absolutely looks like a “must fix”. You shall not be allowed to hit an enemy in melee with a ranged attack (including spells that makes you do ranged attacks) without drawbacks. We think that a reasonable fix could be : If you attack a target with a ranged attack into his reach you have disadvantage, if you are in the reach of an hostile creature and you want to attack another creature you suffer an opportunity attack (in the case of cover, it works like usual).
-Critical hit: the critical hit extra damage at lvl 1 is too high, maxed dmg is enough to one shot a creature (including the fact that you maximize expertize die spent to deal more dmg) and +2d6 makes it even bigger. Suggestion is to exclude expertize die from the maximized effect, and/or reduce the extra damage into 1d6.
-Invisible: attacks made while invisible MUST have advantage. This advantage does not apply versus creatures that does not rely mainly on sight.
-Intoxicated : why in the world an intoxicated creature shall take less dmg? An intoxicated creature shall DEAL less dmg, like when you’re drunk and you can’t apply your full power to attacks. This is also a “must fix”, otherwise ” I’m a tank and I drink random low level poisons to tank better”.
-Unconscious: an unconscious creature is not able to protect itself, so it’s not reasonable that you only get advantage in the attacks you make against it. Attacks shall be automatically hit, and if not coup-de-grace at least they should be automatically critical hits (you can easily take aim at that creature’s weak spots).
In the “Backgrounds and Skills” section
-Artisan: The guild mechanic is considered bad by everyone here. If you’re an artisan you should craft stuffs, that’s the point. The mechanic you inserted in the pack before was overall corrected, the gaining in doing it was just too high, risking to transmute the game into a “4hrs session in which every player grind for mats to craft stuffs and gain big money”. It’s easy to fix it, just diminishing the gains can be ok. You shall provide mats no more equal to ½ of the item’s cost, but 8/10 or 19/20 or 999/1000 or whatever you think it’s reasonable. Consider that x% of a cheap item is a poor amount of gain, but the same x% of some really expensive item can be big money (in the pack before 50% of a full plate armor could be a straight 2500g gain, unbalanced)
-Thieve : A thieve must be able to pickpocket better then anyone else. Take out balance and insert sleight of hand in his ability list.
-skill DRIVE: this skill looks totally useless, you can remove it and add drive’s function to the ride skill.
-skill DISGUISE: remove totally and add it’s functions to the bluff skill. Having too many skills to do similar actions can cause confusion for the master and for the players.
In the “Character Sheet” section
-There’s too many space for the character’s note. You don’t need that space at all, if my character has details I simply describe them while I introduce the character. That space can be better use for known/charged spells. Reduce that space and increase space for spells.
In the “Races” section
-IMPORTANT: What really annoyed us about the 4.0 d&d was that if you wanted to be 100% effective in combat you MUST select a race combined to a certain class(usually the one that improve your attack roll). So if your toon dies and you want to do another one with the same class you had to take the same race or change the class specialty and take a different race. Every player if possible wants to have the biggest advantage he can by building the character in the best way, the point is that the dwarves are not only warriors and priest, and elves are not only rogues or mages. If I want to do something different, like a dwarf mage, why have I to be nerfed? If I build my own background I may be a dwarf without any “martial weapon” training and instead be trained by a magic council, so why should I have an increase in weapon dice damage, or a train in medium armor just because I’m born as a dwarf? . Same for the physic stuffs. Not all the elves are full of dex, they can also be tough or whatever else, especially depending on the training they received. What we really ask is not to lock the player’s creativity into schemes, but help them develop instead. If I want to play something different from the standard, that shouldn’t necessary be lower then the average. Suggestion could be to take out all the advantage that a race can give you in combat while keeping up with racial out-of-combat stuff (like elves’s trance, dwarves’s stonecutting and so on). I understand +1ability given by the class, but the racial one should be free to choose (or included into background/specialty).
IF YOU WANT TO KEEP THINGS LIKE THEY ARE, THESE CAN BE SOME FIXES TO DO
-Mountain Dwarf: probably a typing error. Correct the proficiency in light armor into heavy armor (or just add it, if you’re competent in heavy armor it’s supposed you can wear light ones)
-High elf: this race is not appealing as a human to make a caster class. The +2 ability bonus instead of +1 makes your hitting bonus bigger and increases your cd’s by 1. Suggestion may be to remove the “free spell” ability (quite useless) and insert some bonus to caster’s combat(or just nerf human, see below).
-Halfling: small size only appears to be a drawback. You shall add some circumstances bonus like +x to hide and sneak. Also, lucky 2x day looks too big for a racial bonus. You shall substitute one charge of lucky with some static balanced bonus.
-Stout Halfling: this race is totally not appealing, I bet nobody will play it. No class using car, no synergic bonus for any of the listed classes, just a situational crap. Remove it.
-Human: if you want races to be a “mark” of something , the +2ability modifier of the humans is the worst bonus you could give. For instance, Dwarves actually should be the tougher race while Elves should be the most agile one. However, a random human is better then an elf in dexterity and another random human is better than a dwarf into constitution (also, the stat bonuses make him better then a specific race and equal to ALL THE OTHERS). It is clear that, in role-play terms, this is not acceptable. I suggest you to reduce the ability bonus to +1 to 2-3abilities and give a +1 bonus damage with physical weapons (this bonus is given specifically by all the races, in this case it’s just more versatile).
In the “Specialty” section
-Arcane: maximize spell should be learned at lvl 9 while quickens should be learned at lvl 6.
-Stealth: this specialty is totally not appealing, it gives some low combat advantages confronted with other specialties.
In the “Bestiary” section
-Average monsters/encounters are absolutely LOW. This translates in fights with loads of monsters to compensate, making turns longer. You should pump up the average monsters, in order to diminish their number in the fights.