D&D Next Playtest: Round 2, Fight!

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.

No related posts.

About Jan

Jan is a passionate gm. His current favorites are D&D 4 and D&D3/Pathfinder. He muses about gamestyles, adventure design and rpg theory. He is always on the hunt for ideas and advice to get better at gaming. His German blog is "De Malspoeler" ("the insane gamer" or "the insanity pretender"), where he is haunted by a gull that is interfering with his writings. In real life he is a computer scientist from south-western Germany and likes playing volleyball.
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One Response to D&D Next Playtest: Round 2, Fight!

  1. Jan says:

    James, I won’t have time to do it, sorry.

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