After several hours of grinding through evil cultists, we finally concluded our second playtest session of D&D Next. Here is a short list of what we liked and disliked, along with some ideas for hacks of the system. Some of them I already included into the previous post, but some are new. This time I was behind the screen.
For reference, I favor 4th edition, but I also like 3rd and Pathfinder, but mostly as a player. Gming is too complicated (unnecessarily).
- Themes & Background that tie your character to the world
- Quickess of combat
- Character customization that matters (compared to “what power do I wanna have?” or “do I take the feat with +1 to a or b?”)
- Simple action economy
- Free adventure setting
- XP awards seem to be okay. Grinding makes you level pretty quick with the easy monsters, though the difficult ones will kill you.
- EDIT: Cantrips and orisons at will.
- According to the previous point monster balance doesn’t seem to good.
- Sneak attacks are few and far between
- Advantage/disadvantage is definitely to strong
- The dependency on clerics is still significant. Surely it’s always better with a clerics and that is part of the problem. But in-combat healing simple is not available without them. Only through potions which in this case are created by the cleric and are not cheap.
- NPCs should have defenses instead of saves to make life for the dm easier. And having the players role is much more fun for them. If the asymmetric mechanic is a problem reintroduce defenses as in 4th edition. Please!
- The con shape is strange. A close blast 15ft would do fine for burning hands. Would that really be that bad to fans of the editions before 4th? A 20ft circle would also work fine as Are 15 ft (cones are centered on a gridline, areas include their origin square, so –5 ft).
- Hit Dice are too few on level one, and if I take a look at the progression of HP and HD you can heal much more on level 10 for example. Therefore I’d use another formula. You get 2 HD on level 1 and should progress slowlier from there on. A possible formula, which takes into account the “always round down” rule is: 2+ level/2. With rounding up it might fit more nicely: 1 + level/2 (round down).
- The decisions for players have no tactical depth at all. Dear Wizards of the Coast, do you want to release a tactical module in the future? Is this certain? Because for a basic module the tactical depth is okay. I can live with that, though playing the npcs as dm war totally boring. I as gm and player want to have more tactical depth. Much more. For the simplest characters the same as the wizard now has and from that more. But if that comes later as a module it is okay. But I’m not sure whether there will be one.
- The adventure is a dungeon crawl at its best. Okay, but a system that is designed to include combat, exploration and roleplaying it’s bad. There is no exploration. Was that intentional and exploration is left out for now? Okay. But I would have expected some of it at least. And the Medusa didn’t work out well, though was not much of an issue.
- EDIT: The rule for some effects to be based on the current HP total didn’t work that well. The pcs or npcs are unable to determine the HP of a monster, often not even roughly, so it’s just a matter of luck how this works out. If it comes in later for other spells and works with larger numbers (say below 40 at level 5 or so), it might work better since that is easier to determine. But for now you just have a chance of wasting a good spell.
- EDIT: Some kind of “challenge rating” needs t obe added later so the dm gets a grasp of how strong a monster is. And it seems to be prone to lucky rolls. One time chewing through 10 undeads (with two clerics) is hard, the other 3 undead and 9 gnolls didn’t score than three hits on the party.
That’s it for this time. Any though from you, dear reader? I’d like to discuss what rules in specific you liked or disliked.
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