So I got a chance to take D&D Next out for a little spin this morning. It was only an off the cuff one on one session but we got to do quite a lot of playing about with it.
I decided to jump straight into the action and framed up our hero (the pregenerated wizard) as he trudged through the wind and the rain across the moors of the borderlands. He was missing a lot of essential travel kit (tent, travelling clothes, rations) so we narrated that he was having a pretty bad time of it. As it was getting to twilight and was very overcast, he decided to fire up a Light Spell on the end of his staff.
He managed to completely fluff a perception roll and get jumped by 3 Kobolds that had decided he looked like easy pickings. We only realised afterwards that because of his race he should have had Advantage (roll 2 d20's and pick the best one) on the spot check, so would probably have passed.
Fortunately, the kobolds were at Disadvantage (roll 2 d20’s and take the worst) for most of the fight, otherwise it might have been a bit nastier. They are at a disadvantage any time they are in bright light.
One kobold threw a dagger and missed, the other stabbed with a spear and also missed. The third one closed in and grabbed the staff to try and rip it out of his hands and throw it away sparking our first contest. Contests are just a competitive test, both parties roll and add the skills and the highest total wins. It was pretty close, but the battle of the feeble was won by the mage and he managed to keep hold of his staff.
For the wizards action he fired off a Sleep spell. I kind of felt like I missed to hit rolls by the wizard, but my player seemed pretty happy to go back to saving throws. Like me he started off with 2nd ed, so it all felt familiar enough. The spell resulted in 1 sleeping kobold and 2 slowed ones. A poor result from one of his 3 daily major spells.
On their turn the Kobold managed to grab the staff (winning the strength contest this turn) and run off. It wanted to throw the staff away, but that would require a second action so had to wait until next turn and the dagger thrower closed with his spear before failing to hit again. The wizard countered this with a magic missile spell (a minor spell that does 14d+1 damage and always hits, it can be used at will) to the spearman’s throat causing the first death of the fight.
For the last round of the fight, the last kobold standing threw the staff into the distance only to turn around to face the mage once more and see a magic missile closing just before it pierced his skull.
We narrated the wizard retrieving the staff and walking over to stand above the kobold and then jumped to a flash back to the wizards guild earlier covering how he ended up on the moors with so little equipment. We did quote a few more tests for social and perception based skills during the flashback and they were easy to improvise. There were a few research/library based tests that came up and we agreed that he automatically passed due to his “Sage” background choice.
It was all good fun and the rules didn’t get in the way of the role-playing, but we could probably have used almost any system as easily.
The only things that had been from the beta adventure so far were the stats for the Kobolds. Everything else had been created on the fly by me or the player.
Cut back to the moors and the wizard casts comprehend languages to hold a conversation with kobold that succumbed to the sleep spell. We were half way through the conversation before we realised that Comprehend Languages is one way only. I dropped some hints about the Chaos Rift and how close it was, the fact that there were multiple tribes and the fact that there was a high demand for slaves for something. He left the kobold tied up, but with a knife within eventual reach.
We then went on to cover our wizard arriving at the Keep on The Borderlands, the notional base for the beta adventure that is mentioned in the intro, but no detail is given. He talked to some of the soldier stationed there and recruited some help for the adventure it’s self. I also linked in piece of jewellery that had been found as loot in the fight with a plot hook about an captured relative of the local lord. It was all good fun and we didn’t really bother with dice. He had a Long Rest so he could replenish his spells and set out in the morning.
We then kicked into the adventure proper. There was some back and forth about positioning and use of spells during the first battle, but he thought it out well and the first fight was a slaughter (kobolds outside during daylight so they were all at Disadvantage). The second fight was much more tense, but he managed to sneak into a position to use burning hands on this lot killing them in one blast.
By now he’s down to just the minor spells and a Shield spell and we are out of time. Rather than pick it up later I quickly summarise the next fight (which is joined part way through by the Kobold Boss) as bloody but leading to an eventual victory. Before we called it quits.
All in all we decided that we really enjoyed out little session. We both felt it reminded us of our fast and loose, rules light AD&D games that we ran back in high school. It was fun and it was easy and the rules didn’t get in the way of the fun.
Once more I got really bored with the adventure design that they provided. Fight after fight with the same foes and no real tactical challenges or any real incentive to hammer through the fights except for the hope for XP and Treasure. If I want to just go and kill some stuff, I’d probably load up Skyrim to be honest.
My normal games have maybe one short fight scene per session and the rest of it is politics and intrigue, so maybe I’m a bad fit for D&D now. I know I struggled with the 4th Ed adventure I ran for the same reason. We found lots of stuff on the character sheet to inspire RP though, with the Racial Features, Background & Theme all helping to shape the back story and flashback RP.
We liked it. We really did. Not sure how long we would stick with it when other games support our intrigue and RP heavy style of play better. But, for a quick pick up game or a few weeks of high fantasy fun I can totally see us using something like this.