D&D Next Playtest 1

by ian
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Published on: June 6, 2012

I recently had the opportunity, like many others, to play test the next iteration of Dungeons and Dragons. (D&D Next) It was a good experience overall. Our biggest hurdles were from incomplete information. The system is designed to be much more flexible than the current version (4E). I think the strict rules make for some interesting combat but tend to stifle some of the creativity. Maybe there is a balance point.

I should probably mention that I play D&D quite a bit and I really like the balance of 4E. All of the character classes have cool abilities and powers. In the playtest I ran the halfling rogue. I felt like a sidekick as I didn’t have any cool things I could do. I could attack with either of my weapons but there isn’t anything special about that. I could get a sneak attack if I had “Advantage” but that was one of those open ended rules that we weren’t sure how to work it.

The spell casting was reminiscent of 3.5. You prepare a few spells at the beginning of the day and that’s what you get. It was nice to have a few attack spells that were at-will. I’d be interested in seeing something like the mana systems we see in other games. You have a certain amount of magic points, each spell takes a certain amount of those points away.

It seems that the new rules put a lot more responsibility on the DM to make rulings on things. It will take a shift in mindset from a strict adherence to rules to an open ended do what you want experience and let the DM figure out what check to make.

The pregenerated characters had some conflicting stats. We weren’t sure how some of the calculations were made but we just played with what we were given. We spent a significant amount of time scouring the documents to find the rules but were unable to figure it out.

In essence the experience was decent. We were able to have a small skirmish. No one died and we were able to use spells and special abilities. Everyone appeared to be pretty well balanced. I think I’ll miss the powers of the mundane classes but I think the openness of the combat has potential. Specifically the “Advantage/Disadvantage” rules are intriguing. I’d really like some clarification or additional examples of how they should be used. I think a lot of the strategy will be lost in the combat with the open rules.

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