D&D Next Playtest

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Postby Kowal » May 27th, 2012, 4:44 pm

So according to the agreement we sign for volunteering to playtest this (currently) hot mess, we're allowed to discuss this playtest as much as we want provided we don't quote the rules directly, distribute the PDFs without permission, or run games with people not in on the playtest or over the internet.

That said, I can't be the only person who had a chance to peruse the rules this week, can I? Has anybody else gotten their hands on the PDFs, and if so, what are your impressions? My biggest complaints currently are how boring the Fighter is, and how odd the math works on the different armor types. I do like a few things quite a bit though, like the way characters are designed based on a combination of Race, Class, Theme, and Background in almost equal portions at level 1, and the Advantage/Disadvantage system. I feel like the latter really encourages people to get more creative with the environment to seek Advantage, or work together as a group more frequently by taking your action to open a foe up for a swing with Advantage by your ally. In fact, I think more liberal use of it could make the fighter more interesting by extension. If the fighter got some sort of bonus to using the 'improvise' action in combat, it could make for a pretty elegant way to encourage the fighter to use his strength to flip a table to help provide cover for his party, or have a dexterous fighter be rewarded for swinging on chandeliers and sliding down banisters.

Something else pretty cool is the pre-gen Wizard's Researcher ability. In this case, if he fails a knowledge roll, he intrinsically knows where or from whom he needs to go to in order to figure out the answer. He's a living Dewey Decimal System!
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Re: D&D Next Playtest

Postby James » May 27th, 2012, 5:06 pm

Getting the PDF at this very moment. It's a 9 PDF file package.
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Re: D&D Next Playtest

Postby MikeD » May 27th, 2012, 6:37 pm

Ignoring the obvious math faults with the pregens, it is certainly an interesting system so far. My group played some on Friday and are supposed to be playing again tomorrow, and we all enjoyed our time, but more then a few of the guys said they still preferred 4e.
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Re: D&D Next Playtest

Postby mansen » May 27th, 2012, 10:58 pm

Our testing starts this Wednesday. So far I agree with Kowal about the Fighter being a bit boring, but so far I am looking forward to checking this out in actual play.
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D&D Next Playtest

Postby AlchemicFox » June 2nd, 2012, 5:39 pm

I'd really like to start a playtest, but so far I've asked over a dozen people who've downloaded it and exactly ZERO of them are interested.

It's not helping that our only bookstore has a "we don't talk about 5e" policy.
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D&D Next Playtest

Postby lincoln » June 2nd, 2012, 6:40 pm

AlchemicFox wrote:It's not helping that our only bookstore has a "we don't talk about 5e" policy.

That is the most retarded thing I have heard/read today. People that are so stuck in their ways that they are unwilling to try anything else (and go so far as to refuse to discuss other options) drive me crazy.
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Re: D&D Next Playtest

Postby Kowal » June 2nd, 2012, 7:58 pm

The elitism is frustrating at times, though at least on the bright side the bookstore isn't missing much this time.. I gave it a couple fair shakes and in its current form it's quite terrible. There are certainly some parts I like, but they're so deeply sandwiched in stuff I don't like that it's easier to pluck them out and move them to a new system than try to fix everything that's wrong surrounding them. The Advantage/Disadvantage concept is pretty cool, and it's quite exciting. Initially, I was under the impression the vast majority of character mechanics you needed to pick were just the Race, Class, Theme, and Background, and that developing new and higher level abilities/tweaks would automatically unpack from those four boxes. Sounds more like you still get to pick from a humongous list of feats, etc each level, but my probably incorrect interpretation sounds really appealing. Ability bloat gives me a headache in 4e, as much as I love the rest of the mechanics.

Biggest issues though are the intensely boring fighter, the minimally interesting bestiary, and the combats require houseruling or they feel 'broken'. No attacks of opportunity, marking, or the like makes combats feel like you're hoping to kill every combatant before they get a turn because if they get to go, they'll alpha strike the wizard and kill him.
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Re: D&D Next Playtest

Postby Greg » June 2nd, 2012, 8:28 pm

Kowal wrote:and the combats require houseruling or they feel 'broken'.


This is exactly the problem I had with third (and second) edition. It very heavily relied on the DM adjusting the rules on the fly to create a fair game, which I personally feel is awful :(
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Re: D&D Next Playtest

Postby Thoth » June 3rd, 2012, 12:12 am

Exactly, Greg.

From before the announcement, when Mearls and Cook were writing the L&L articles and filling them with their (terrible) ideas, one of the running themes was what they called "DM empowerment". All of the examples they presented to show how this "empowerment" would / should work with their ideas essentially came out to "The DM gets to arbitrarily say yes or no to pretty much everything - including players' goals and development for their character - so they can tell the story the DM wants to tell", and I was instantly inclined to hate pretty much anything and everything they put forth based on that principle.

If their goal is / was to make a D&D where the DM tells the story and the players are only playing at the DM's whim, the DM should just write a damn book.

The massive design step forward in 4 of making the rules as transparent as possible (a lesson learned from modern video gaming), and having balance be a major design goal have both been thrown out the window (as far as the materials we've seen are showing), all so that the new game "feels like D&D". The nods to older version using saving throws, the DM's degree of influence over everything (rather than writing fair / balanced rules as a default, and at the expense of player freedom), random HP and stat generation, clunky healing mechanic (it's Surges, but rolling dice rather than using a static number), Vancian casting... all these things have been done in order to make the new game feel less like 4 and more like older versions to people who already play the game they want.

The D&D5 materials we have now may "feel like D&D" to some, but it certainly doesn't feel like a D&D that I want to play. I want a new version of a game to be an evolution in design. I want new rules to be a shining example of learning what went wrong with the previous edition and fixing those problems in clever, elegant ways. I want new systems to present new possibilities for exploration for both the players and the DM (if there is such an analogue in the system in question). From everything shown and discussed so far, D&D5 is a Frankenstein's Monster of D&D's history, with no thought at all to making something that moves the system forward.

I will continue to read and play with the test materials, and I will offer as much feedback as their little text windows allow. I will be 100% honest - both on the things they get right and the things they get wrong. I will not judge the system as a whole until I play the release product (likely on the very first day it's available at my FLGS). If the finished product looks like what we've seen so far, I will not be sticking with D&D5 for longer than it's "fair shake" sessions right after release.
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D&D Next Playtest

Postby AlchemicFox » June 3rd, 2012, 6:06 am

Like this?
Attachments
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Re: D&D Next Playtest

Postby Thoth » June 3rd, 2012, 7:06 am

Wow... did you just whip that up, or is it from somewhere else?

But yes, that more or less sums up how I feel the game has been put together. It just needs to add a dig on the "DM empoerment" line the designer commentary keeps crowing about.
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D&D Next Playtest

Postby AlchemicFox » June 3rd, 2012, 7:35 am

No, I found it on twitter late last night, and now I can't find the original.

My concern is that they want to make everyone happy, and so far they've done nothing but piss everyone off. A disturbing amount of Legends and Lore polls are coming out around 50% for something and 50% against.

Each edition of DnD so far has built off the previous editions but have always been identifiable as completely different systems. I'm not seeing that here. It's like a "best of" Metallica album that only contains the songs that were sequels to songs that were successful 20 years ago.

I want a new system. If I wanted to play a mishmash of different already existing systems, I could do that. I own EVERY 2nd, 3rd, and 4th edition book. If I wanted to play a retroclone, I could do that too, I've picked up at least 4 of them in the past year.

My favorite quote to come out of the playtest was "DnD has become an ouroboros, constantly circling and devouring itself without going anywhere."

But, I'm realistic. The entire point of the playtest is to complain about the bad things so they get fixed. There is still some hope that this becomes something more appealing.
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Re: D&D Next Playtest

Postby xhalo » June 3rd, 2012, 12:57 pm

I haven't been able to playtest so I can't really say much on the system as a whole. However, from what I read on their HP system, I liked the ideas they were trying to shoot for. It has bugged me that you had to have a healer in the group in past versions. Playing a healer can be fun but being forced to be a healer so the group doesn't drop is annoying. Also, having to stop once the healer ran out of healing spells for the day made things drag out. I would love to see a system where magical healing was useful but not needed. I also remember reading that they wanted it to be a game two people could play. That I think would be cool because I have a hard time finding a group of 5+ people with the time to get together but 1 or 2 others I can manage.

I guess my point is this: I would like to request of you who are playtesting to keep in mind what the goals of the system are and help them to produce a good system that we can all have fun playing.

Is this beta-testing or prebeta-testing? Does anybody know?
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Re: D&D Next Playtest

Postby Kowal » June 3rd, 2012, 3:59 pm

They've been referring to it as sort of a pre-alpha testing. Very very early in the development process.
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D&D Next Playtest

Postby AlchemicFox » June 5th, 2012, 7:01 am

Good news for me, they lifted the ban on playing by post or Skype.
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D&D Next Playtest

Postby AlchemicFox » June 13th, 2012, 5:11 pm

Well... They updated this thing.
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