So who’s received their 5e playtest packet? (April Fools Post)
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    So who’s received their 5e playtest packet? (April Fools Post)

    I just got a link via email, and it took me a while to read it all, but I want to kick off the discussion. If you haven’t signed a playtester NDA, please don’t read this thread.

    Apparently different groups will be getting different classes, which I think is a cool way to get a diverse playtest. Everyone gets the same three base classes – the slayer fighter, the templar cleric, and the arcanist wizard – plus two other classes and one rules module. I liked how the email joked that this is the closest D&D NEXT will ever get to being a ‘collectible RPG.’

    So what did everyone get for their uncommons and rares? I got the beastmaster druid and the daredevil rogue.

    They mentioned that some groups were getting the skill system, the hireling system, or the ritual magic system. I got the “high level PCs” system. It’s good that they’re playtesting this early. The low-level characters look pretty solid, but we all know high-level D&D can get messed up pretty fast.


    BASIC MECHANICS
    I’m okay with the general stuff, which we already pretty much knew from other playtests and chatter from WotC. Stats are the same as before, though the fact that attack bonuses aren’t dependent on ability score modifiers means you could actually do “roll 3d6 in order” and play a viable game.

    Likewise the system of using ability score checks to handle most challenging actions looks like it will work pretty well. I appreciate the shout-out to DMs that you should tell your players what baseline you’re using. By just adjusting the “auto success” DC by a few points, you can switch the game from realistic to action movie physics to video game logic.

    Hit points are Constitution score plus somewhere between 4 and 12. That’s more than 3e, less than 4e, but it looks like you’re going to have less healing than either game. They mention that wands of cure spells are not going to be ubiquitous like they were in 3e, and you won’t be able to heal to full after each combat like in 4e.

    Whenever an effect heals you, you get ¼ your max HP back. You can take two short rests per day, each time healing ¼ your HP, but you can only take an extended rest if you’re some place safe for a whole day.

    The DM guidelines say that you can pace adventures easily with this rough estimate. Basically, a typical monster of the party’s level is much weaker than the PC. So 1st level PCs deal with kobolds and skeletons, while 5th level PCs deal with orcs and ghouls. Apparently 1st level PCs are on par with “normal people” now, so a single orc warrior is enough to challenge the whole party.

    A ‘typical monster’ will in an average combat deal damage equal to ¼ the PC’s HP, so the PC can survive 4 monsters in a single fight, or a total of 6 in a single day, 8 in two days, 10 in three days, etc. So if you want a single epic battle with a party of 5 PCs, 20 monsters of the party’s level have a good chance of killing the party. If you want a dungeon with a one-day time limit, don’t have more than 30 monsters total.

    Of course, the guidelines say that PCs should regularly face monsters that are higher than their level. I like it.

    Since a low-level cleric can only cast a single powerful healing spell per day, that doesn’t throw off the math too much. I’ll talk about the high-level rules later.

    Oh, one key thing. When you fall to 0 HP, you’re stunned and prone, but not unconscious. So you can still see what’s going on and maybe mumble some dying words. They keep the 4e system where you can die from negative HP or die from ‘bleeding out’ via death saving throws.


    COMBAT
    The basics of combat are interesting. They say that grid-based combat is one of the rules modules, but the system easily handles combat without a grid. This really helps provide a sense of combat not being THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE GAME. It’s not that critical to know whether you hit 4 goblins or 5 with your spell, or if the monster is 6 squares away or 7.

    A lot is handled by advantage. If you can justify getting into an advantageous position or if you have a clever idea, you can get advantage against your foe, which provides a +2 to your attack roll. There’s also Superior Advantage, which you only get if, like, the enemy has no idea you’re there, or if they’re stunned.

    Speaking of conditions, they’re still here, but some of the annoyance factor has been toned down. They’ve implemented the HP Threshold system, and standard tactics like trip, disarm, bull rush, and various dirty fighting tricks rely on it. The conditions are listed in serious and minor pairs, and if you hit with an attack that would, say, trip the opponent but they’re above the HP Threshold, they’re just slowed. Disarm’s minor version is deterred, which incurs a -2 attack penalty. Stunned’s minor is dazed, which just makes you grant advantage to everyone and prevents you from taking reactions.

    As a base, the HP Threshold is equal to 5 + twice your level (and you can just mark it on your character sheet). For stunned it’s just equal to your level. Feats can adjust these thresholds for different tactics.

    One cool thing is that all those weird weapons like nets and whips raise the HP threshold, so it’s easier to trip an enemy with whip than with a greatsword.

    We knew attack bonus and defenses don’t scale, but ability scores still modify weapon damage. You use Strength for melee and heavy thrown weapons, and you use Dexterity for projectile and light thrown weapons. You have the option of which to use with light melee weapons. You add your level to damage rolls.

    Two weapon fighting is nifty, and nicely balanced with greatweapon and sword-n-board. There’s a table that provides guidance of the differences. A medium weapon is d8+mod damage. A light shield is +2 AC, and a heavy shield is +4 AC. A heavy weapon is 2d8+mod damage. Two medium weapons gives you versatility; you can treat it as one weapon that does 2d6+mod, a d6 weapon and a light shield, or you can make attacks against two targets, doing d6+half-mod (round down) against each.

    And thankfully there’s a basic stunt system. It has three options: deal damage, affect multiple foes, and add condition. The player decides what options he wants to accomplish, and has to make a check of some sort for each option he adds. He can also choose how severe he wants to make the extra effect. Diving into a pair of enemies so you can hit them both might require a moderate check; swinging on a rope and slicing the throats of five guys in your path would be a lot harder. A failure is always a noteworthy setback, and trying for three options but failing all three checks will really mess you up. But the risks and rewards seem balanced.

    The most basic example? Make a Dexterity check to approach stealthily, get some extra damage on your attack.

    There’s also a sidebar with one simple question for DMs. What sort of game do you and your players want? If you want a more realistic game that discourages stunts, then increase the DCs; there’s still reward, but these tricks will be rarer. If you want to encourage stunts, then just remember to say “okay, that’s possible; give it a roll.”


    RACE
    Nothing really special here. I think everyone got human, elf, dwarf, and halfling. As usual, humans are flexible, the other races get tiny boosts to skills.



    CLASSES
    Everyone gets the first 5 levels of their classes, which they describe as Adventurer Tier. You’re not really any tougher than normal people, just slightly better trained and equipped. Then come five levels of Heroic Tier, then five levels of Paragon Tier, and finally five levels of Epic Tier.

    The Slayer Fighter is designed to be the simplest character, obviously. They get the usual suite of armor and weapon proficiencies. At 1st level they get Combat Training, which lets them once per round when they hit an enemy, add one combat trick. Stuff like trip, disarm, grab, plus some nifty stuff like “flick a dagger for tiny damage at an enemy within 30 ft.” or “cleave and deal tiny damage to an enemy adjacent to your main target.”

    At 1st level they get two tricks which they can do better, and they can get more specialties as they level up.

    Nothing adds extra damage (though you can get extra attacks), or gives you an automatic attack bonus boost (though you can inflict conditions which will help on the next turn). At 6th level they great Improved Combat Training, which lets them add two tricks. Then Greater at 11th level for three things, and Combat Mastery at 16th level for four things. You can chain stuff together, like kill an enemy, throw his weapon at another creature, then use the body as a human shield as you charge and bulrush another enemy.

    In epic tier, combat seems focused on trying to mess up your enemy's plans as you whittle down his HP. Then once he's below your HP Threshold, you try to finish him off. Of course, this is epic tier, so the 'mess up plans' takes the form of throwing them through walls, or slicing off their spell component pouches so they lose access to some of their spells, or goading monsters into wild attacks that miss you and hit their allies.

    Also, the epic spark traits make you solidly above normal men. You might just be so tough you get regeneration, or you might be able to parry and reflect spells with your sword, or stomp the ground to create a shield of stone and block an incoming attack. The epic combat finally feels grandiose, rather than just having harder math.


    The Arcanist Wizard introduces us to how magic scales in 4e. There are four ranks of spells – minor (cantrips and orisons), lesser, greater, and arch. You start with Arcane Training (clerics get divine training), which lets you cast three cantrips which you can replenish with a short rest, and one lesser spell per day.

    At 6th level you get Improved Arcane Training, which lets you use cantrips at will, three lesser spells (replenished by short rest), and one greater spell per day. Then at 11th and 16th level it shifts over one more step. So 16th level clerics can use three arch spells per rest, and can cast cantrips, lesser, and greater spells at-will. However, you prepare spells at the start of each day, and you can never have more than 4 spells prepared per rank. So you can use cantrips all the time, but you only have a handful available in a single encounter.

    You start at 1st level with access to only three schools of magic. You can get more as you level up, or get perks like a familiar, supernatural senses, energy resistance, and so on.

    You have a spellbook, and the number of spells you can learn is based on your Intelligence.

    Cantrips are fairly weak stuff like light, stabilizing the dying, and mending damaged objects. Basically doing things simple tools could, but in an instant.

    Lesser spells never deal more damage than an equivalent weapon attack of your level (and for clerics, they never heal damage). Attacks are usually low-damage, but can affect an area, or they create conditions weapons simply can’t, like setting people on fire or weakening them. No lesser spell lasts more than a round unless you sustain it, and you can only sustain one spell at a time.

    Major spells are when you start getting to the fireballs and lightning bolts, the flight and monstrous shapeshifting. Divine spells of this rank can actually heal damage (so yes, at epic tier, you can heal all damage after an encounter, but combat is likewise more swingy).

    Arch spells are the wondrous stuff like heaving the ground into the sky, or summoning a mighty demon, or creating a firestorm.

    So how do fighters and wizards compare at high level? Well the HP Threshold system keeps the wizard from being an “I Win” button, so I think a fight would actually have some nice back and forth, assuming the two characters weren’t both super-specialized.

    A lot of class design seems to be focused on expanding options as characters level up, and then giving ways to shut out certain options. The wizard is blasting you from far away, so you use a bow. He creates a wall of wind, so you hurl a heavy spear through the barrier to disrupt his concentration, then close in. He summons monsters to protect him, and you have to kill them in melee. Then you throw a monster at him to pin him in place, and he has to switch to his close-combat magic, where he can paralyze you with a touch, if your HP is low enough.

    This is taking longer than I thought, so let me breeze through the other classes.

    Templar Cleric? Sort of a pre-statted multi-class fighter/wizard. No ‘combat training,’ but better HP and armor. Fewer spell options (with spheres based on your god), but the same basic spellcasting progression as a wizard. You have access to different spells, but I think arcane and divine spells of the same rank are equivalent in power.

    Beastmaster Druid? A less-well-armored cleric, who gets different spell access, plus an animal companion. As you level up, you can learn more spells, or improve your ‘pet.’ The pet mechanics are more 4e-ish. The critter moves with you and retaliates against anyone who attacks you (you can also direct it to guard another ally), but it only attacks on your turn if you spend your action to direct it. At higher levels, though, it can act independently.

    Daredevil Rogue? This one’s the most experimental. Imagine a slayer fighter with less armor and smaller weapon selections, but who gets all sorts of perks when using the stunt system. This class is designed to do balls-to-the-wall stuff. A 1st level daredevil can tumble past several enemies, grazing them all, and dazing them so his allies gain advantage against them. Or he can act like Jackie Chan and respond to an attack by picking up a chair and entangling his foe’s weapon in it.

    At epic level, he can do stuff like throw a knife at a sailor in a ship’s crow’s nest, have the sailor fall out and tangle in a rope which runs through a pulley, grab the other end of the rope and use the falling enemy as a counterweight to pull him up into the ship’s rigging, then slash the lashing holding the crossbeam in place, dropping a sail and a huge chunk of wood onto a gaggle of enemies below him. Effect? Kill a minion, fly into the air, and deal massive damage in an area attack.

    Obviously this class doesn’t work with uncreative players.


    Let me know if you have any questions, and I’ll try to answer them. I haven't even gotten to the monster design, which is a dream.

    And I’m curious what playtest packets you got. If they’ve got a druid, I’m sure they’ve got to have a barbarian, ranger, and paladin. I won’t hold my breath for a warlock; maybe it has constant supernatural powers instead of spells?

    Oh, and April Fool’s!

    If you'd like to see me design some actual game material, click the link in my sig and support our Kickstarter.
    Last edited by Morrus; Sunday, 1st April, 2012 at 03:01 PM.

  2. #2
    Damnit why did I check my email.

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    You need to take out that second to last sentence for this to really work.

    I checked my e-mail, and sure enough, my packet came in. One e-mail verification later and I'm looking over the site where this stuff is stored. Looks like I got low-level stuff - level 1-6, but that suits me fine. I'm guessing the "epic" stuff is rare - given out to only a select few based on those questionnaires they e-mailed us last month.

    I got the standard three classes you mentioned as well as Elf Bladesinger (basically a fighter/magic-user type - elf being the class - with some sort of swordmage theme tacked on, I believe) and Bard Choirmaster. Both have access to spells and decent combat ability. Lastly, they each have unique abilities - one for each of the other two "pillars" they keep referencing in the document.

    The Elf Bladesinger threw me for a bit of a loop because the class augments his "elvin race" with a couple of special abilities. He gets fey vigor, which gives him a bonus to avoid or shake off conditions like sleep, stun, charm and the like. In combat, he gets a small collection of spells (mostly blaster spells) or he can choose to expend one of his spells to channel extra damage through his weapon (1d6 per spell level). Though he's equipped with a longsword, it mentions that there are archer builds that allow the spell power to augment ranged attacks - specifically bows in the Bladesinger's case. For his exploration pillar, the Elf Bladesinger gets an augment that allows him to automatically detect secret doors whose DC is less than or equal to his Intelligence (kinda like a "take 10", but using the Elf's Intelligence score instead of 10). For the "roleplaying" pillar, there's discussion how society tends to perceive elves as the epitome of beauty and elegance, and in situations where such perceptions might influence an individual, the elf can sort of "charm" an individual if their Wisdom is lower than his Charisma (again, kinda like a "take 10" ability, using ability scores - I see a trend developing) so that the interaction goes in the elf's favor. Of course, this "charm" doesn't extend to the elf's companions, and if the individual is hostile, the elf does something nasty or unsightly to the individual or a fight break out, the effect instantly ends.

    The Bard Choirmaster is an odd beast. While a competent fighter (but not nearly as good as the Slayer Fighter), his main ability seems to be in bolstering companions through song. As a move action, the bard can break out into song, giving all his allies in 30 feet either a +1 bonus to hit, +1 bonus to one save type or let one ally in the round reroll a d20 roll (Majestic Ballad). While this pretty much locks the bard in place to do this, he can still fight - or cast a spell. As a minor action, he can Inspire, giving one individual a +1 bonus to a check - whether attack, saves or AC - to one individual. This second option would let you still maneuver and somewhat bolster allies (I'm guessing the Bard may have killed the Warlord and stole his stuff somewhat). The spells appear mostly charm-types - Befuddle, Hypnotize and Fear are the ones my copy was armed with at 1st level, and I saw a few buff or healing spells on the expanded list (the bard gets a new spell level once every 3 levels, it looks like).

    I'm still reading through all this stuff, and RangerWickett's covered what I've read of the basic rules, but as I find more I'll post back on here.
    Last edited by Stormonu; Sunday, 1st April, 2012 at 08:35 AM.

  4. #4
    I got the appendix, GM section and introduction. First off, love the hit location charts and weather simulator (and the critical hit tables are just stunning).The introduction says "the goal is to make the most realistic version of D&D yet" and from what I can see they succeeded. I don't know if this is the final text or not (I imagine they will make minor changes based on feedback) but the Gyxaxian-style prose really should help them get back the 1E crowd.

  5. #5
    All I got was a bunch of wandering monster tables, the glossary, and the index. Is anyone willing to trade for some PC classes you might have gotten duplicates of?

    At least the wandering monster tables have some variety, though I'm wondering what stats will be assigned to the lesser, greater, and superior versions of the Tarrasque they list.

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    I think WotC must know what a big fan of 4e I am, because it looks like I got the 4e module playtest package. And I must say that I'm very happy with what I'm seeing.

    If you're a 4e fan and you're worried about changing things around too much, you can set your mind at ease. Everything is there: healing surges, power sources and roles, the AEDU classes, races like the dragonborn, the deva, the wildren and the shardmind, classes like the warlord, the avenger, the runepriest and the seeker, etc. It even has the pre-errata come and get it! (They did revise the flavor text. It now reads: Since this is modular, we don't have to worry about verisimilitude any more. Make up whatever the heck you want.)

    The best part is, it reads and plays exactly like 4e! It's like we never switched over to a new edition at all!

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    For sure I checked my email this morning and I can't hold back my giddly excitement. Obviously my special package included not just new classes, but a totally new race!

    I appears that the designers have been closely following the forums, and I confirm that SENTIENT BEARS ARE IN!!!

    The Bearborn come in two flavors. The one in the playtest was an Icesoul Barbarian. And boy do they rock in that class! It's not just the cold resistance, the +4 to Strength checks to Swim and the +1 natural armor, the pregen character uses something called "monstrous claws" for a whopping 1d12 weapon dice. It's not spelled exactly but I think it's a racial feat.

    Also, turns out that they listened to all the complaints, and Barbarian Rage is no longer a daily power. It works like a stance where you take a -2 penalty to all defense rolls (!) and instead you have the option to reroll all damage dice. Which is pretty awesome if that die is a d12.

    Now excuse me, I need to read the new chapter on narrative options and plot-based adventures. Looks good so far.

  8. #8
    Hmmh,

    I´d buy that game... some great ideas there. I hope we se some of them in the actual game.

  9. #9
    I got the Priest and Specialty Priests,
    Ok so all Divine spells/prayers are broken up into spheres. There is an all sphere that everyone gets (bless, prayer and miricle are in it) Each sphere has 3-5 spells per spell level. Depending on what god you worship you get access to 5 spheres+ the all sphere. You prep spells like before, and at level 1-6 you have 1st, 2nd and 3rd level spells.
    So the base cleric gets weapons and armor and spells, and turn undead.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-comfficeffice" /><o></o>
    The specialty priest trades access to most armor and most weapons to choose a domain sphere from there list of spheres, and they can trade prepped spells out for their domain spells. They also gain a channel Divinity that they can use instead of turn undead.
    So I made a specialty priest of Mystra (cool she is a core god now) I took Magic, Spell, Healing, Divination, and War spheres, and choose spell as my domain. I got the channel divinity power call Silver Fire (that can destroy anti magic fields and do damage).

    My spells preped for our first adventure at level 4 are:
    1st level- Cure Light, Bless x2, Magic weapon (I can swap for magic missle, Sheild, or Mage armor thanks to spell domain)
    2nd level- Detect secret Doors, and Aid (I can swap for Anyspell, Counter spell, and Symbul's Tessersck)

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    I got 4 characters and somthing. That I think supposed to be an advantures or rules but the file is corrupted sent an email to the beta support stuff and I wait for reply...

    Anyway, I got the human fighter with the noble theme, a warlord a wizard and somthing that I think is a cross over between a ranger and a thief...

    Warder

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