D&D 5th Edition Our 4th Playtest - Going for the Crown





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  1. #1
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    Ý Ignore Neechen

    Our 4th Playtest - Going for the Crown

    4th playtest Blingdenstone - 3rd level PCs

    Human Fighter Protector (Soldier- Jack of All Trades)
    Human Wizard (Sage Ė Magic User)
    Human Cleric (Priest Ė Acolyte)
    Halfling Rogue Thief (Lurker + 3 skills)

    This was our 4th session. We played for about 2 Ĺ hours. Lots of roleplaying/interaction - the backgrounds and specialties are really helping my players get into character.

    The PCs had just retrieved singing crystals for Gurmadden so after helping him, they saw that Pingtu was trying to conduct a ritual near the Speaking Stones. They went to him and began conversing. After finding out information about the stones, and Pingtuís attempt to contact his dead master, the group agreed to help him conduct the ritual one more time. The adventurers gathered with Pingtu and began the incantation. The all heard the voice of Bendekik and they realized that they already had many of the gems they needed. They gave Pingtu a citrine, an amethyst and a fire opal (one of the players had a ring with a fire opal in it from another adventure I ran them through at 1st level so I let them use it.) With Pingtuís aquamarine, they realize that they must keep their eyes open for a ruby, a saphire and an emerald. (I gave them all a chance to make an intelligence check to see if they remembered that the Burrow Warden had an emerald necklace, but they all rolled 10 or less).

    Pingtu asked them to bring back the other gems as they set off toward the House Center to retrieve the crown. (They had already learned about is previous game and they are not sure who to give it to. I think they are leaning towards giving it to Gurmadden, but weíll have to see what they do when they get it).

    I had them fight the 2 orc zombies, but then I had 2 more claw out of the rubble to attack the fighter. One of them hit the fighter, but the fighter used his parry to block all but 2 points of damage. The group dealt with the zombies quickly. The wizard was psyched to let his newly bound owl familiar fly at one of the zombies and deliver a successful shocking grasp.

    The group entered the house center from the north door, and the fighter used his brute strength to push the door open. Inside they fought the fire beetles. The wizard couldnít hold backÖhe used his burning hands to take them all out in one shot. Then, the group let the rogue sneak ahead. The rogue was very stealthy, and when he got to the first pit (he wasnít searching for traps) the floor fell away, but he managed to jump back before falling into the spiked pit trap. Then, the wizard had his owl fly down the corridors. The wizard closed his own eyes and was able to see through the eyes of his familiar. That was cool. Using the bird as a scout, he could see 4 skeletons in the guard room, and the dead deep gnome in the alcove. The thief stealthily slipped past the guard room and checked out the fallen deep gnome finding his masterwork pick, a chain worth 15 gp and the key around his neck. (I didnít give them a healing potion because right now, they donít need itÖthey barely are injured and they each have one already from their previous adventures). After that, they drew the skeletons out of the guard house and fought with themÖanother quick and painless battle.

    The party decided to stay on the east side of the dungeon and let the rogue scout all the way down to the south. As he got closer to the end, he was jumped by the giant centipedes, 3 of the 5 attacked him, and he got hit by 2 (although he made both Con saves). He ran back to the group, and the centipedes engaged with the fighter. The fighter took one bite but his parry saved him from damage (and he made his Con save too). Within 2 rounds the party cleaned up the centipede mess, and the rogue found the coins in the nest. They scouted around to find the doors into the other rooms, but they decided to back track to the beginning so that they didnít have to open any doors. Thatís were we stopped the session.

    Commentary

    The wizardís familiar was a big hit. He loved having it around, and found many ways to use him.

    The rogue was very effective as a scout, and even when he got jumped, he was able to get back to safety, and he used his sneak attack a couple of times resulting in overkills. Once against an orc zombie, he scored a critical sneak attack.

    The fighter likes CS, but most of the time he just saves it for parry since most of the monsters donít have enough hit points to make deadly strike worth using.

    The priest is very effective, especially against undead. All he used was radiant lance though. He also took the lead speaking with Pingtu, enjoying the interaction with the deep gnome priest.

    The group is having an easy time with this. I have added +2 to the monster ďto hitĒ scores. I added an extra skeleton and 2 extra zombies in those encounters, but that did nothing to challenge them.

    As DM, Iím starting to feel the same pressure I used to get when I planned and ran my 4e campaignÖthe pressure to make more challenging encounters. The little dinky encounters in the adventure do not even chip away at the adventurers enough to add tension to the game. I canít wait for playtest package #3 Öbetter monster vs. PC numbers.

    Next game (using this playtest) I may add ď+3Ē to all monster attacks. Perhaps the gray ooze in the other pit will give them a small challenge. Iím definitely going to make the fight for the crown much more difficult. Iím going to make Pharran a wight with 54 hit points, and Iím going to give him the 2 gnome skeletons and 2 Ogre skeletons (20 hp each with clubs that do 1d10+4 damage). Iím also going to give Pharran a chance to raise the dead once per encounter. I might even have Talabrina in the room so she can fight and then grab the crown at the last minute and run.

 

  • #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Neechen View Post
    The fighter likes CS, but most of the time he just saves it for parry since most of the monsters donít have enough hit points to make deadly strike worth using.
    I've noticed this in the automated runs too - at level 1, it seems best to save dice for Parry (in terms of fighters winning encounters), even if monsters have more hitpoints. There might be some exceptions depending on numbers of monsters and what they can do - obviously at higher level the fighter will have more dice and be able to split them.

  • #3
    A general feeling that my gaming group has is that all aspects of the game are too easy. Under the current rules the pcs hit too much, the monsters seems to be too easy to beat, the checks (if you are rogue) are all a joke, the healing you get is too much (even the grittiest mode). There is no tension in the battles, there is no challenge in the skills and certain choices seem to loose their gravity. In my humble opinion, the mechanics of the game as it is now make not a heroic game (in comparison with a gritty one) but a boring one.

  • #4

    wow

    that sucks balls. If they go the way of 4e/WoW nerf/carebear-fights, "no chance to die because so sad for kiddies", I'm out.

    There is NO edition of D&D where the game being too easy is fun. And by too easy, I mean, virtually no chance of PC death every session. When our DM in our 4e campaign doubled the enemy damage and halved their HP, we instantly had more fun.

    But this is something one should not have to do, either as players or as DMs, to have a proper D&D experience. It's like Prince of Persia. I worked on several of the sequels, and the original was, by far, the best. Done by ONE MAN.

    Design by committee is suckage. Players don't realize that what they want and what they say they want, and what they NEED, is a game that has verisimilitude. You go into combat, expect anything can and will happen, such as you dying a horrible death. Without that, you guys are right, there is no tension in the game, and I for one will stick to playing CRPGs instead and put my D&D daze to bed.

    Sick of having to fix core math issues in these games. If the designers can't get the default monster difficulty right from day one of release, I'm not purchasing let alone playing it.

  • #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Gorgoroth View Post
    that sucks balls. If they go the way of 4e/WoW nerf/carebear-fights, "no chance to die because so sad for kiddies", I'm out.

    There is NO edition of D&D where the game being too easy is fun. And by too easy, I mean, virtually no chance of PC death every session. When our DM in our 4e campaign doubled the enemy damage and halved their HP, we instantly had more fun.

    But this is something one should not have to do, either as players or as DMs, to have a proper D&D experience. It's like Prince of Persia. I worked on several of the sequels, and the original was, by far, the best. Done by ONE MAN.

    Design by committee is suckage. Players don't realize that what they want and what they say they want, and what they NEED, is a game that has verisimilitude. You go into combat, expect anything can and will happen, such as you dying a horrible death. Without that, you guys are right, there is no tension in the game, and I for one will stick to playing CRPGs instead and put my D&D daze to bed.

    Sick of having to fix core math issues in these games. If the designers can't get the default monster difficulty right from day one of release, I'm not purchasing let alone playing it.
    Just to be fair, since i was who wrote the highly criticizing post above, the developers said that are aware of the most of these issues and they are working on it. So, there is room for improovment.

  • #6
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    Ý Ignore Fazza
    Huh I haven't noticed a lack of deadliness, I've run 2 playtest games over 3 sessions. In the first one under the first package rules we had 5 players, I dropped two killed one and forced one to retreat to town, but for an invisibility potion some good plans and stellar rolls by the rogue I would have killed 4 out of 5 with a few hobgoblins.

    The second had 3 players at level 3 and only had 2 real fights(4 total 1 against 2 goblins and 1 against some dire rats) one was against a minotaur where he one shot one of the players the second was against a load of skeletons and the BBEG(and a pit trap with a grey ooze which did the most damage) but I brought the same player down to 1 and another down to a quarter or so health.

    Maybe it is the case that I used monsters that shouldn't have just challenged the players but rather actually killed them and the game isn't deadly enough but it worked for me, although I did edge more towards making it hard rather than easy as I had heard of these problems. But yeah the common consensus is that the math is a bit off so I'm all for it being fixed, if it's still there in the next playtest then it's time to worry.

  • #7
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    Ý Ignore VinylTap
    I see the criticism of the playtest package's difficulty rating from a lot of people, and a lot of discussion about it.

    Do people really believe that there is much to be gained by WOTC attempting to balance the internal dynamics between monsters/PC's before the combat system is fully developed(or at least close to publishable?). Does anyone, really, believe the power imbalance isn't completely intentional and by design?

    How do you balance this sort of thing when basic combat mechanics are still in such flux? It would literally be wasted work as the system changed and evolved through the design process. Any internal balancing is going to be instantly undone by even a moderate modification of a PC or monsters 'damage out-put'.

    Does anyone think WOTC released this set of rules thinking the monster/pc damage balances were functioning like they would be in a published polished product? There seems to be a common consensus that damage is too high, and monsters are too easy in the current play-test, but for me, that just sounds like things are working as they're suppose to. This is an opportunity for WOTC to test a lot of different design waters, and get pretty much instant feedback from the community. Do people think they would be better served by not pushing the combat system in extreme directions and getting feedback on it? Now they've got 'data' to work on, but without the initial testing of that 'high damage' scenario, there's little 'data' to move forward with, just more designer intuition.

  • #8
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    Ý Ignore MortalPlague
    Quote Originally Posted by Neechen View Post
    Iím definitely going to make the fight for the crown much more difficult. Iím going to make Pharran a wight with 54 hit points, and Iím going to give him the 2 gnome skeletons and 2 Ogre skeletons (20 hp each with clubs that do 1d10+4 damage). Iím also going to give Pharran a chance to raise the dead once per encounter. I might even have Talabrina in the room so she can fight and then grab the crown at the last minute and run.
    I ran a version of this fight during my PAX game. I was running a heavily modified version of "Chapter 3", where the regular House Center has been replaced with a veritable fortress. The same monsters are there (more or less), but their placement makes much more sense.

    I threw the Wight, the drow, her two bugbears, four skeletons, and four fire beetles at the party in the same fight, and they came out victorious at level two. So... you have your work cut out for you.

    On the topic of challenging players, we faced off with ten hobgoblins and an owlbear with a split party, and that nearly did it. Report here. The numbers are definitely weighted heavily in the PCs favor right now, but I'm confident we'll see some tweaks for playtest 3.

    Remember that playtest 1 was far deadlier, so it's not "5th Edition has kid gloves". The game will be deadly enough. The balance is shifting with each playtest iteration.
    Your skill in reading has increased by 1.

  • #9
    Balance is pretty much a non-concept at this point in time. And chances are that the WotC published material will always be rather "easy" because they're looking for the "average" party to complete it with some feeling of risk.

    My hope is that for published material they do have a "Hard" and "Nightmare" mode of the encounters to let groups with higher levels of skill and optimization still get challenge, or I'll be treating the published material for Next the same way I did for 4E or 3E (hah on that nonsense). Lair Assault shows they do indeed know what "challenging" is.

  • #10
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    Ý Ignore Neechen
    Quote Originally Posted by GreyICE View Post
    Balance is pretty much a non-concept at this point in time. And chances are that the WotC published material will always be rather "easy" because they're looking for the "average" party to complete it with some feeling of risk.

    My hope is that for published material they do have a "Hard" and "Nightmare" mode of the encounters to let groups with higher levels of skill and optimization still get challenge, or I'll be treating the published material for Next the same way I did for 4E or 3E (hah on that nonsense). Lair Assault shows they do indeed know what "challenging" is.
    That's exactly what I want from the final draft of this iteration. Standard monsters with a way for DM to easily ratchet them up to elite or solo, or tone them down to "mook". If they get the numbers right, this will all fit in well with XP values so it will be easy to plan adventures and decide how and when to challenge the players. Some people like games where PCs can fight 2 or 3 opponents at a time and it is still dangerous while others like having 10-15 opponents against the PCs. The monster math should help and guide us so we can vary these options by campaign, by adventure, by encounter as we choose.

    Cheers.

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