D&D 4th Edition How the D&D Next Public Playtests Will Work


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    How the D&D Next Public Playtests Will Work

    Mike Mearls discusses this here. As always, this has been added to our comprehensive compiled D&D 5E Info page.

    As a reminder, the public playtests begin on May 24th. The playtest is not a store only thing, so you will be able to do it at home and/or with your usual gaming group. You will not need a DDI account to participate in the playtest.


    You get the basic core rules plus a limited set of classes and races: fighter, cleric, wizard, and rogue, along with the human, elf, dwarf, and halfling.
    • The characters will be pre-gens.
    • As feedback comes in, more material will be released.
      • Starting by levelling the pre-gens up through 10th level
      • Followed by character generation
    • Starts broad, then zeroes in on specific option
    So, in just under a month you'll get to actually see the core rules of the next edition of D&D. Exciting stuff!

    Last edited by Morrus; Monday, 30th April, 2012 at 03:35 PM.

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    Nice - I'm looking forward to this!

    Touching on what they're looking at for the fighter, I'm guessing they're going to get a bit of pushback on #2 from the lovers of the Book of Nine Swords.

    Also, a tad concerned about them "focusing only" on the first 10 levels (though, personally, I don't much care for the higher levels anyway...), as I seem to recall one of the "issues" that lead to the 3.5 revision was that play above 10th level wasn't tested as rigorously - the designers just trusted that "the math worked". Hopefully, they'll be sceduling high-level play further down the line (again, something I'll most likely pass on, personally).
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    While I'm excited about the playtest, starting a playtest for a system that's built on the premise of being modular and having tons of options with pregen characters seems really counterproductive to me. I get that they can't throw everything at you at once and that they just want to show off the base mechanics at first, and I guess that's fine. But leveling content and character generation seem like the most basic stuff you can put out, and I'd rather they just give us some form of that stuff from the get go. I think they'd get better, quicker feedback that way too.

    Other than that, sounds good. The class and race selection seem limited until you realise that, if this is a truly modular system, then those basics'll get blown wide open as they add more options. Focusing on the first ten levels initially seems like a smart idea too. I'm still pretty excited, but I really wish they'd revise the actual launch plan a little, maybe even delay until they have that material ready to go.

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    Basic core rules and character pregens sounds cool. I plan to start running a playtest campaign right away.

    Is there any way to learn how long this thing will go on? I don't need or want an end date, but months, weeks, what?

    Also, campaign settings and adventures are pretty diverse. Are we getting these as well or are we home brewing? Perhaps there will be rules for converting these to 5e for playtesting purposes?
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    I expected that they'd limit it to those races and classes, but I hoped they would let us build our own characters. Maybe we can reverse engineer it from what they give us?

    Also I noticed that it doesn't mention what to expect on the DM's side. How many monsters and magic items will we get? Will we have tools to create our own adventures, or just run some prewritten ones?

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    I know I should be patient and my quastions will be answered over the course of the next month,but I have to ask...


    Are these new pregens or the ones from pax? Is there a preset adventure (if so is it the one from pax?) will there be goblins or kobolds or orcs. Or necromancers and zombies?

    What themes and backgrounds will there be?
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    Quote Originally Posted by MatthewJHanson View Post
    I expected that they'd limit it to those races and classes, but I hoped they would let us build our own characters. Maybe we can reverse engineer it from what they give us?
    Well, if the basic rules with pre-gens don't work, they'll have to change all the creation stuff anyways. So may as well start without character or adventure generation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ashilyn View Post
    While I'm excited about the playtest, starting a playtest for a system that's built on the premise of being modular and having tons of options with pregen characters seems really counterproductive to me.
    The Pre-gen characters seem counter productive at first glance, but I would venture to guess that this is probably used as the control method for the playtest feedback.

    Due to the sheer amount of playtest feedback that's going to come down the pike (I'm sure), the developers are surely trying to limit the amount of variables to account for in quantifying playtest data.

    That goes with saying, I'm not sure what format Mike and Co. are going to use for public playtest sessions, but ensuring that they are working with a relatively narrow window of variables and getting the right data where they need it is important at this stage of development.
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    Really looking forward to the playtest. I fondly remember a Pathfinder Beta PbP with similar available classes and characters and my first 4e PbP with pregenerated characters (ending with a TPK )
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    As others have mentioned, using pregens is a good way for WotC to make sure that there is a decent baseline for how hard/easy it is. When you are doing any sort of large-scale testing (of any kind) you absolutely need to start with a control group in order to get a set of baseline values.

    Pregens against set encounters (I bet that there will be in there somewhere a "Try this group of characters against this set of monsters") will probably be used to give an idea of how many rounds, how many TPKs, etc. With large scale testing, you will get a decent enough set of statistics in order to smooth out any outliers (great DMs, crappy DMs, powergamers, etc). Then, as you open up the playtest, they will be able to see that "OK, when we add in this set of rules, we go from an average of 6 rounds with 5% TPK to 20 rounds with 5% TPK.

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