Sunday 2 September 2012

DnD Next Playtest 2

Well, my friend was kind enough to run the latest DnD Next playtest for us.  Here are my thoughts:

Open to Feedback

I'll start with something positive.  In the last playtest review I mentioned the PC hitpoint inflation.  This has apparently been fixed, so I guess someone at WotC is listening.  This gives me some hope for the rest of the problems with 5e.

Character Creation

The previous playtest came with pre-generated characters, while this playtest actually gave us the rules for creating low-level characters.  I brought a friend whose only exposure to DnD was from computer games and set-about creating a Warlock for him and a Rogue for myself(class randomly determined).

I already mentioned after the last playtest that the character sheets looked overly-complex due to the many facets(Race/Class/Background/Specialty).  Add to this the fact that the Warlock has two types of magic(Invocations, Rituals) and that one of them is divided into different classes(Lesser Invocation and Minor Invocation) and it took us an hour to get our first two characters created.  I expect that with practice, I could get the character creation time down to 15-20 minutes.  I like my character creation as short as possible and for Medieval fantasy that means under 5 minutes, so this leaves a lot to be desired in my mind.

Of course, I'm doubtful that WotC will change this.  They need to make money and one of the ways they like to do this by selling subscriptions to Character Creation software.  So I don't anticipate them giving up that revenue stream.  On the other hand, I don't intend to DM any game that requires an online subscription to play.


So to preface, each character faced(Race/Class/Background/Specialty) comes with it's own skills/abilities.  Now you might think(as I did) that this is like a general skill system(as in CP2020), where it's enough to write the names of the skills/abilities on your character sheet.  You would be wrong(as I was).  These aren't general, associative, real-world abilities with a unified mechanic, as in CP2020.  Rather these are specific, dissociative abilities, each with it's own mechanic, so you need to look-up the ability description pretty-much each time you use it.  And some of these get wordy, so again, another reason why you would have to use a character generator program, so that you don't have to copy each ability down word-for-word each time.


Oh and one note on the adventure provided with the playtest: total railroad.  It's divided into chapters, each with a predetermined conclusion.  And the players can choose what order they do them, but they are in order of ascending difficulty, so the order is more or less predetermined.  Anyway, bad adventure design doesn't concern me so much since you can take or leave bad adventures.


Anyway, to summarize
  • HP Inflation fixed
  • Character Creation overly-complex
  • Still way-better than 4e
  • Still not my choice DnD to run

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