D&D 5E Blingdenstone done - Playtest 2 retrospective

It's 1am, so I'll be brief. Spoilers ahead, of course, but I don't think anyone's taking the playtest adventure terribly seriously.

We finished Playtest 2 tonight by performing a ritual that we thought would get us divine guidance on who should be king of the svirfneblin. We had the crown, but didn't trust the guy who wanted it most.

The ritual didn't offer any real guidance so we shrugged and gave the crown to the guy who wanted it most. Our noble sorcerer charmed him first and arranged a generous trading compact, so we could retire comfortably, and stop having to kill all those kobolds.

All in all, gameplay was fun. The rules were simplistic enough that we could enjoy multiple things per session. Man I did not realize the weight that had been hanging over my gaming these past, I dunno, 9 years? Combats that last forever. With Next, in one night we could wander caves and be ambushed by kobolds 4 times, then go into a dungeon and clear out a half-dozen rooms full of monsters before killing a boss monster in two hits.

Sure, it was too easy. But I think even if the challenge was upped, the game would still go quickly. That's wonderful.

So, what about the mechanics?

Character creation was fun. I liked that I could play a sneaky halfling warlock who hid and blasted, but I could have almost as easily have played a brutish dwarf warlock who glided through walls and assassinated people with an axe.

Nothing felt 'wrong' or 'out of place' for a D&D game.

Our party was full of ranged combatants, so we often won before the enemies could get into melee. I don't really have a problem thematically with primitive cave-dwelling humanoids being outmatched by spellcasters and guys with finely crafted weapons and armor, but I would have liked to see more foes who were on our level.

The battle with the drow and her bugbears while the elemental monster tried to kill us? That was a good, challenging fight. A cave network where kobolds occasionally popped out and were either dead or scattered after 3 rounds of combat? Too easy. Maybe if there'd been a setpiece to take out the kobold warren, and the critters had been swarming in from multiple directions, there would have been enough challenge.

I do think monsters need to hit a bit more easily, but only just.

Having advantage on opportunity attacks feels a bit too punishing. A free attack is bonus enough, I think.

Some of the powers with HP thresholds are wonky; we never really explored those too much.

Some spells felt useless. Our sorcerer was a bad-ass with a sword, which made his shocking grasp spells pretty pointless. Maybe it was just build-based, and a weeny sorcerer would have made more use of it.

No one played a cleric.

Fighters are cool, and we like the dice mechanic.

Rogues felt right. Choice-wise, I think the class could use a few more options -- maybe instead of just 'sneak attack' they could have "scheme dice" (like fighter combat superiority dice). Sneaky rogues can spend them with a successful Stealth check to do extra damage or to sneak around the battlefield without cover so they can get in the right spot for an assassination.

Bookish rogues might spend them with Lore checks based on the type of monster to give allies bonuses on their attacks, sort of like Hannibal (who loves it when a plan comes together). Acrobat rogues might spend them with Acrobatics checks (if they added that skill) to move farther or more nimbly, to increase their AC, and maybe to pop out from cover as a reaction to hit an enemy when an ally does. Fencer rogues might spend them with Bluff checks to disarm foes, hit for extra damage, or goad an enemy into attacking them.

(Maybe that's too much like fighters.)

Warlock I liked, though my eldritch blast was a bit too strong and my invocations a bit too weak, so I tended to fall back on damage instead of tricks. Hard to use a power that 'knocks out all the lights' when every monster has darkvision.

Sorcerer was a hit with its player, though he wanted more bladesinger/duskblade/swordmagery, like casting shocking grasp through his sword for more damage.

This game is good. Could use some art, though. :)

log in or register to remove this ad


First Post
I think the rogue deserves another look at the Move-based stunts of the Essentials Thief. If there's one thing all rogues have in common is the ability to be where they want to be to make the best of a situation. For a skirmisher-rogue, it'd be darting around the battlefield. For the backstabby-guy, it'd be sneaking past allies to take advantage of the openings their enemies leave. For the con-artist, it's a simple step to the side to leave foes unbalanced for their comrades to do the bloody work.


Can't xp you, so instead I'll just say thanks! I'm loving the playtest after-action reports.

I like your ideas for the rogue. A while ago I would have agreed that it's too close to the fighter, now I'm coming around. CS is just so much fun! If they could come up with a way of functionally delivering what you talked about, but separating it from the CS dice in some way, that would be great. If it ends up that they have to look pretty similar, I'd rather have two classes that look a little similar and play very well then two distinct classes, one of which isn't as much fun to play.


No one played a cleric.
I think it's significant that you can play through a whole adventure with great success without having a cleric on board. :)

Nice report, RW. I found many of the same things in my time with Blingdenstone; monsters need a bit of an adjustment, and the Wormwrithings are more than a little tedious. In fact, the official line from our game coordinator at PAX was "If your players go into the Wormwrithings, don't roll randomly for the crystals. Just let them find some."

I'm eager to see what levels 1-10 hold in the next playtest.

Epic Threats

An Advertisement