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D&D Next playtest rules. Your thoughts?

Playtested. I DMed for 3 buddies; they ran the rogue, dwarf cleric, and wizard. It rocked pretty hardcore, and I'm tentatively planning on getting the system when it comes out now, since it seems like a good, solid replacement for 3e (though 4e remains a completely different game). The players had mostly positive, but mixed feelings; overall they liked it, but wanted more rules.

I think the system did a great job of making players feel heroic, but not immortal. Easy crits means tanking hordes of enemies is a very bad idea (As the dwarf cleric of our group discovered), but the crazy DPS afforded by Crusader's Strike and Magic Missile at-will were enough to send said hordes scattering in terror.

The dungeon design for the module is a huge change that I don't think got a ton of attention. This module really seems like the type you can just plug into a custom campaign with no problems at all; maybe there are others like that, but the 4e and 3.5e modules I've read have all been pretty linear. If it reflects the publishing style they'll look for in subsequent premades, I'll have to start looking at not homebrewing every single adventure as per my norm XD

I can see similarities to 2e, especially in skills (or lack thereof), but I really think it's a good blend of 4e and 3e as well. Characters are definitely simpler, like in earlier editions. However, the resting mechanics and at-will spells mean sessions last longer (though not as long as with 4e). The consistency in check mechanics for saves, attacks, etc. seem to be headed further down the path that 3e blazed.

The rules are definitely up to speculation, though. Not a lot of rules-lawyering could be possible since so much is expressly put up to the judgement of the DM; this may initially look like a good thing from a storytelling standpoint, but switching DMs could mean essentially switching systems. I think this is the biggest weakness of the system; rather than putting down hard rules and specifying that they can be bent, there just aren't that many hard rules. I'm interested in seeing if and how they plan on meshing these rules into the RPGA; I feel like a convention-based game using these rules as written would be a nightmare of dashed expectations. A good DM, keyed in to their players' playstyles would have none of these problems; then again, a DM like that could probably do just as well with any previous edition.

Also, it seems a lot less boardgame-ey than 4e. Just overall, there's more open-endedness, story and creativity focus, etc. This is all great from a storytelling perspective, but it might alienate more casual players who run the game like a miniatures battle more than a cooperative storytelling adventure. Dunno.

Character creation looks like it'll be fun, and should help force the creation of 3-dimensional characters. BUT since we cannot use such mechanics yet, it is impossible to say if they'll soar or suck. I hope they let background and theme be used independently of class (if they don't, that shiz is getting Houseruled with extreme prejudice); daddy wants a rogue-knight.

Anyway that's my take on the system rules so far. We didn't have a fighter, so I can't comment too much on the earlier discussion except to say this: They brought back Vancian casting AND they buffed Wizards from the standpoint of 3e to now. The fighter/wizard power dichotomy does not seem to be a concern this edition so far, and if it's a problem for you, it looks like you'll probably want to stick with 4e.

The fact that "D&D Next" is one of the most insipid titles ever doesn't help, too.

Thanks for the info svipdag. That helps me know what to look forward to when I run it on Sunday.

There may be more rules coming down the line. To me it is looking like they only want to test certain aspects at a time, which might be why a lot of the rules have that nifty "DM judgement" clause tossed in. I'm very curious myself to know if we will get skills in the game, or if it is going to boil down to ability checks with some bonuses based on background, which is what it looks to be so far. I have a hard time believing they would go to such a skill-light game system (4e had already cut the skill list down a bunch). I don't mind doing it that way myself, but I know a lot of players who love skills.

In reading the module it looks like the swarm mechanic used in 3e/4e is going away. I'm not sure I like that. Having to roll attacks for 18 rats in an encounter, and then keep track of the number to see if the swarm attack bonus still applies is kind of off-putting to me.

As for the name, D&D Next may not be the finished product name. Many projects have a name during the testing phase, but the name changes when the product is finished. I'm hoping that is the case here, that D&D Next is just the working product title while they decide what to call it (after all... do they really want to have D&Dn)

With playing other systems so much after 3.5, if I did ever run a 3.5 game again the rules would be quite similar to what I've seen in D&D 5th edition. There are many smart things they borrowed from elsewhere that make the game better. Things I use other systems for already. Combining a bunch of them in one game could be a trainwreck or pure amazing.

As for the name, D&D Next may not be the finished product name. Many projects have a name during the testing phase, but the name changes when the product is finished. I'm hoping that is the case here, that D&D Next is just the working product title while they decide what to call it (after all... do they really want to have D&Dn)
Lol yeah, if they stuck with "D&D Next" I might need to boycott it out of allergy to stupid names. I mean, it immediately becomes dated as soon as it's released.

Well, thanks to a nasty virus, I had to cancel my gaming session this weekend. Really upsetting. Hopefully next weekend things will get better or I'll be running it for the first time after the playtesting is over....

They have released a new batch of rules today. I like some of the ideas, and some are.. We'll see. I notice people on their boards freaking out about things in these playtest packages and I can't help but laugh. The purpose of the whole process is to try a bunch of things and see what sticks, yet the most vocal only want to see is how they think it should be and that is final. Oi.

The concept of the Green Knight paladin is exciting, even though many keep saying it is just a plate mail ranger. I like the concept of the split paladin class a lot.

Here is the article.
Originally Posted by Mike Mearls
Big news this week: We have a new playtest packet coming this Wednesday, March 20th. So, what can you expect to see in the next packet? Let's take a look. In fact, I'm grilling Jeremy Crawford about this stuff as I type this.

Druid: The druid in the packet gains wild shape at 1st level, along with the choice of a circle. The circle of the oak grants improved spellcasting, while the circle of the moon focuses on wild shape. The druid matches the cleric's healing in terms of spells, but also has more access to damaging spells.

Wild shape is a daily ability that allows a druid to turn into a specific, chosen form. For instance, a 1st-level druid can transform into a hound that has a high speed, low-light vision, and a superior ability to find hidden things. Its bite attack makes it a useful combatant.

At higher levels, you gain access to more forms. Both circles gain access to forms that provide noncombat abilities, such as a fish or bird. The circle of the moon druid can turn into a bear or assume other mighty forms that can tear a swathe through the battlefield. In contrast, the circle of the oak druid gains more spells and can thus unleash flame strike and similar spells on enemies.

Paladin: For the first time ever, we are giving you the paladin, the anti-paladin, and the warden, all in one package. Those three characters map to good, evil, and neutrality. The class as a whole is called the paladin, but the individual types are the cavalier (good), blackguard (evil), and warden (neutral).

A 1st-level paladin gains a bonus to saving throws, can detect evil undead and fiends, and takes an oath that determines the character's ethos. The oath grants a paladin domain spells and special channel divinity options, such as smite evil or the ability to control undead.

At 8th-level, a paladin gains a mount, whether a celestial charger, a nightmare, or a summer stag. In the past, the paladin's mount has been a bit of an issue in dungeons and other areas where a mount has trouble maneuvering. The mount's attacks are fairly weak, meaning it doesn't have much value in terms of the paladin's combat abilities. Instead, it is useful for traversing rough terrain while traveling overland or for paladins who specialize in mounted combat.

The paladin is our knight in shining armor, whether that knight is clad in white, green, or black. Compared to a fighter, the paladin lacks tactical maneuvers but gains spells and the benefits of an oath.

Ranger: The ranger gains spellcasting at 1st level, marking a bit more of an emphasis on magic in this class than in earlier editions. The ranger's favored enemy serves to give this class a set of special abilities that grant the class a set of static bonuses and advantages. This class feature illustrates the ranger's role as guardian of the wild.

The favored enemy bonuses are themed around specific opponents such as dragons or giants, but the mechanics are versatile enough that you can gain their benefits against a wide range of creatures. For instance, picking dragon as a favored enemy grants a ranger immunity to fear. This ability is useful against a dragon's fear aura, but is equally useful against undead, spellcasters, and so forth.

In a bit of a change from the past, the ranger does not feature specific abilities to augment archery or two-weapon fighting. The specialties we offer allow a ranger to pursue those paths. We thought about creating ranger-only versions of them, but that approach ended up competing with the fighter's maneuvers.

New Spells: This packet includes many new spells to support the druid and ranger.

Math: The math has been overhauled, with character damage dropping. Monster stats are remaining the same, but you might see some monster levels and XP values shifting. More importantly, the martial damage bonus is going away for our weapon-users. Instead, they will gain multiple attacks at higher levels.

Fighter: The fighter is getting expertise dice that are spent to gain a bonus to AC or attack rolls, along with other specific abilities. A die spent is gone until the fighter pauses for a moment to rest, with an action spent to rest allowing the fighter to regain a die.

Skills: Skills are part of our ability check system as before, but we've made some tweaks to how we present them. For instance, you gain your skill die when using Intelligence to search for traps. The system is similar to what you've seen before, but we are casting it as an augmentation to your ability checks. The biggest benefit I've seen at the table is from a DM's point of view. I've quickly fallen into a cadence of saying things like, "Make a Wisdom check to listen" or "Make a Strength check to break down the door." The idea is that those descriptive reasons for the check map to our skills.

Two-Weapon Fighting: Our default assumption is that if you fight with two weapons of the appropriate size and are proficient with both of them, you are on par with a two-handed weapon user or a sword and board character. Feats and such make you better at two-weapon fighting. This change reflects our overall approach to character options, with options making you good at things rather than merely competent.

Swift Spell: The word of power mechanic has been renamed as the swift spell rule, allowing us to use it as necessary with other classes and clearing up confusion between the rule and spells such as power word stun.

Races: We've revised races a bit, refining their abilities so that they are simpler and easier to apply in character creation.

Exploration Rules: These are in the packet this time, rather than just listed in the playtest email alert.

What's Next: Just as a new packet is going out to the world, we've finished up an internal packet with even more races and classes, along with multiclassing. Those will be the big pieces of our next packet.
That was from two days ago, discussing the release packet for today.
Here is the link for the PODCAST released in conjunction with the rules package.

Also, the change from martial damage dice to just scaling weapon damage is an excellent simplification. At certain levels a weapon-using class will just get more dice with their weapons. So, a d8 longsword later becomes 2d8, then eventually 3d8. It gives each weapon some uniqueness now and makes it feel more than just a bonus. I dig it.

I haven't had a chance to read through the new stuff yet, but I like that scaling idea.

Honestly my group has sorta fallen apart and I haven't playtested past the initial packet.

Anyone else notice the bit about multiple attacks making a return? I hope that doesn't lead to higher level combat for martial types involving standing still and wiffing after the first couple of attacks.

I have not as yet tested the rules. I will spend some time with it the week end, I hope.


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