D&D Next: Public Playtests




D&D Next: Public Playtests

Friends & Family Insider Program

  • WotC currently has a "friends and family" insider playtest program.

Public Playtests

  • Wizards of the Coast will open the new rules up to gamers and actively solicit feedback to shape the game. They plan to leverage the relative popularity of the Encounters program - an organized event in game stores where players across the country participate in the same adventure each week - to offer adventures written for the new iteration of D&D using the new rules. Wizards plans to set up a website survey to track players' feedback and get it quickly into the hands of Mearls and the team designing the rules.
    • "We want to give the community enough time to thoroughly digest each play test package. Then, we need to make sure we have time to integrate player feedback into each play test cycle so their needs and desires are captured in the final product. This will take time." - Mike Mearls.
  • You can sign up for public playtests here. "This is a whole new process for Wizards and we’re excited to enlist the fan base to help shape the future of D&D... this process is an opportunity for fans to help us craft a new edition and help determine how the game is played moving forward."
  • Playtests are available at DDXP in Jan 2011: "as a convention special this year, we will be offering show attendees a first-look at a draft of the new set of rules."
    • This playtest is called Caves of Chaos: "Join the first public playtest of the next iteration of the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game. The playtest offers players the chance to run pre-generated 1st-level characters through the Caves of Chaos, a four-hour D&D adventure. Wizards of the Coast staff will be running several tables each day. As part of the playtest, participants must sign a special non-dislcosure agreement for playtesters."
    • Adventure Description: For years, Castellan Keep has stood on civilization’s frontier, commanding a grand view of that dismal realm known as the Borderlands. A forlorn place, rife with monsters and terrors beyond imagining, adventurers have used this fort to seek glory and plunder in this dangerous realm, to unearth fabulous treasures and destroy foul monsters. Of all the haunts found here, none equal the Caves of Chaos in both danger and the promise of reward. Rumors abound of the wicked humanoids, the sinister monsters, and the dark priests that run amok in this dungeon. Only the most cunning and bold adventurers dare to face the dreaded caverns. Do you have what it takes to survive the Caves of Chaos?
  • "...beginning sometime in the spring, we will begin open playtesting. Through our web site, we will release a growing set of rules, classes, monsters and other materials for your study and feedback."
  • "The idea is to start with big picture elements in the open test, then narrow down to more specific elements of balance and so forth." - Mike Mearls.
  • "Stuff like Castle Ravenloft had a big effect on our decision, as it showed that we could focus the tabletop RPG on its strengths rather than worrying about incorporating the latest trends in gaming." - Mike Mearls.

DDXP (D&D Experience)

DDXP (D&D Experience convention) was held this year from Jan 26-29, 2012. There was new 5E information there. In addition to the above mentioned playtests, the schedule included:
  • Charting the Course: An Edition for all Editions (Thursday) - Join Mike Mearls, Monte Cook, and Jeremy Crawford as they discuss the origin for the idea to create an edition of Dungeons & Dragons that encompasses all previous editions. The designers discuss the challenges in creating compatibility and balance, as well as the exciting possibilities such a system creates. Seminar to be followed by a Q&A session. [Read seminar transcript]
  • Class Design: From Assassins to Wizards (Friday) - Designers Monte Cook, Bruce Cordell, and Robert Schwalb discuss their approach to class design, including the difficulties in creating iconic versions of the classes that speak to players of all editions. Should the cleric be more martial or more healer? Does the default ranger have an animal companion? What level of complexity should the fighter have? Seminar to be followed by a Q&A session. [Read seminar transcript | Watch video]
  • Future Products and Q&A (Saturday) - Mike Mearls presents upcoming D&D products for 2012, as well as a vision for the future of Dungeons & Dragons. Seminar is followed by a Q&A session. Other members of R&D on hand to answer questions as well. [Read seminar transcript | Watch video]
  • Reimagining Skills and Ability Scores (Sunday) - The role of skills has fluctuated throughout the life of Dungeons & Dragons, and ability scores have been of varying importance in each edition. Find out what the design team has done to reimagine these aspects of the game, and how they arrived at a system to marry the two concepts more closely together. Seminar includes Monte Cook, Bruce Cordell, and Robert Schwalb, and will be followed by a Q&A session. [Read seminar transcript | Watch video]

PAX EAST 2012

PAX East took place over three days from April 6-8. Like the DDXP convention, it included public playtests and seminars. Relevant to 5E events included:
  • Playtest Special: D&D Next (Friday 7pm) - Join in a public playtest of the next iteration of the Dungeons & Dragons game at PAX East. Play in an adventure with characters provided, and give us your feedback to help guide the future of the D&D game! Players of any editions of the game are welcome to participate. All participants are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Length: 4 hours.
  • The Future of Dungeons & Dragons (Saturday 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm - Wyvern Theatre) - The next iteration of Dungeons & Dragons is on its way! Join D&D Senior Manager Mike Mearls in a Q&A about the next D&D, and how the open playtest is using fan feedback to help shape the future of the game. The full video for this seminar is here.

Origins Game Fair

Origins Game Fair runs from May 30 - June 3 in Columbus, Ohio. D&D Next events include:

Playtest Special: D&D Next
Length: 4 hours
Location: Regency Ballroom, 3rd floor Hyatt Hotel
4 tables each time slot:
Thursday: 8:00 am / 1 pm / 7 pm
Friday: 8:00 am / 1 pm / 7 pm
Saturday: 8:00 am / 1 pm / 7 pm
Join in a public playtest of the next iteration of the Dungeons & Dragons game at Origins. Play in an adventure with characters provided, and give us your feedback to help guide the future of the D&D game! Players of any edition of the game are welcome to participate. Ticketing will be available in the Origins registration system. All participants are required to agree to playtesting terms in order to participate.

An Hour with Mike Mearls
Time: 2 PM, Friday
Panelist: Mike Mearls
Location: Room C 212
D&D Senior Manager Mike Mearls takes questions about Dungeons & Dragons, his history with gaming, breaking into the game industry, and anything else you can think of.

Future of Dungeons & Dragons
Time: 6PM, Friday & 6 PM Saturday
Panelists: Mike Mearls, Robert J. Schwalb
Location: Regency Ballroom, Hyatt Hotel
The next iteration of Dungeons & Dragons is on its way! Join D&D Senior Manager Mike Mearls and designer Robert Schwalb in a Q&A about the next D&D, and how the public playtest is using fan feedback to help shape the future of the game. [h=1]The Real Public Playtest: May 24th, 2012

The PUBLIC Public Playtests

In the wake of Monte Cook's departure from the D&D design team, Mike Mearls posted a short announcement regarding the public playtests of the next edition of D&D. May 24th (yes, that counts as "Spring" for those counting).
I am surprised, and frankly saddened, by Monte’s decision to leave the D&D Next design team. I’d like to thank him for his contribution, and we all wish him well. As we close the first phase of the D&D Next project, I’m excited to share with you all what phase 2 has in store.

It is my pleasure to announce that our public playtest for the D&D Next project will commence on May 24th. The playtest is the single most important part of the D&D Next process. D&D is a game that has spanned 38 years of gaming, spawned countless campaigns, and launched an entire gaming genre.

Personally, I can’t count how many friends I’ve made through D&D, or how many hours I’ve spent playing the game, building worlds, or just talking about it with friends. Yet while D&D is an intensely personal game, taken as a whole it cannot afford to become something beholden to one team’s vision. D&D is a tool for creativity. The game must embrace the entirety of its past, and the entirety of its fandom, in order to create a compelling future. No one voice can rise above the others, unless it is the voice of D&D fans as a whole.

The public playtest is your chance to shape the future of D&D, your opportunity to share with us your creative vision for the game. If there are creative differences between the designers and gamers, then surely the needs and vision of D&D gamers will win out. D&D Next is your game.

In the coming weeks, the Legends & Lore column will provide insight into the materials in the playtest and our plans to roll out content. The curtain is about to go up on our stage debut. On a personal level, and I think I speak for the entire D&D Next team – Bruce Cordell, Rob Schwalb, Jeremy Crawford, Rodney Thompson, Miranda Horner, and Tom LaPille – when I say that we are all excited to hear what you think about our progress. We had a great response at D&D Experience, the UK D&D Tweetup, and PAX East, but those were dress rehearsals. You can never be sure of where you stand until you have a full, live audience in front of you. Maybe you’ll cheer, or maybe you’ll engage in heated and passionate debate. In either case, we’re absolutely dedicated to making D&D Next a modular game, one rooted in the traditions of tabletop RPG play while poised to blaze a trail toward a vibrant, exciting future. In the end it is you, the audience, who will determine the future of D&D. The game is too big, and too important, to stand for anything less than that.

--Mike Mearls

  • Trevor Kidd make a couple of tweets which clarify how it works a little:
    • "The #dndnext playtest is not a store only thing, so you will be able to do it at home and/or with your usual gaming group."
    • "No, you will not need a #ddi account to participate in the #dndnext playtest."

How the Playtests Work

Mike Mearls discusses this here.
  • 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 options.
  • "We'll have adventures for you, but when it's time to test the adventure creation guidelines we'll shift to that." - Mike Mearls.

Playtest Package Contents

[NEW 16 MAY] The public playtest package for D&D Next, available from May 24th (Thursday) will contain:
  • Five pregenerated characters
    • Two clerics to test the range of the domain/deity system. One of the clerics is more of an armor-and-mace fellow, and the other is more of a mystic.
    • Also a fighter and a classic wizard.
    • And a rogue.
  • The five characters will feature the background and theme system that WotC has alluded to in the past few months.
  • The Caves of Chaos adventure
  • A bestiary to accompany the adventure
  • Rules of play, both for players and DMs
The playtest is open to anyone who signs up, and the information will be available digitally. As part of signing up, there will be an online playtest agreement similar to the one used for Dungeon Command last year.
There will be many differences, both in the core mechanics and in the characters, from previous playtests at events such as PAX East.
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