D&D 5E Considering the D&D Next Playtest in Light of the WotC Seminars


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Tony Vargas

Legend
Fair comment. But skill/experience of a DM has always played a part on whether a session was enjoyable or not or whether the preparation of the adventure was good, or whether the DM was well rested...
Or whether the system is any good, which is kinda the point. A good enough DM can make up for system deficiencies. A bad enough one can ruin any game, no matter how good. The vast majority of DMs between those two extremes benefit from non-sucky systems, though.

The D&D enthusiasts they wish to capture (their target audience) are not new roleplayers. Sure they want to expand the hobby, but the target market is the fragmented D&D base which they hope to unite.
I absolutely agree that it was a good idea to get good DMs to run the playtest, and, yes, that's their goal. Not a good goal for the longer term future of the game or the hobby it spawned in all likelihood, but 'long term' when you're a corporate subsidiary is next quarter. Can't blame 'em at all.

I guess I'm a little bias, and therefore a little more optimistic, since I am a DM myself :).
Nod, and I have a pessimistic bias on much the same basis.


I can never understand why this is a problem...never

There are levels which reflect power, start at a higher level, explain the lower levels as backstory fluff.
Sure, you can do that. Though...

(Well, first, with the Rogue scouting sans roll and the barb auto-smashing doors, 'incompetence' was /clearly/ the wrong word. At least we're not back to the theif with a 20% move silently trying to scout.)

...with all the retro-nostalgia aiming at the old-school, there's a legitimate concern that the game will only be balanced over the long haul, weeks spent twiddling your thumbs because you're not a diplomat balanced by weeks of the diplomat plinking with a crossbow because he's just not a combat character; vast godlike power at high level balanced by fragility at low. That sort of thing.

With 3e and 4e having clear systems for starting above 1st, and low 'punishment' levels can end up skipped.

So low levels need to still feel like heroic fantasy, so they get played, at all.


One of the things I miss from the BECMI and older editions are the titles you received at each level.
They've so used those up as names of classes, sub-classes, Kits, builds and PrCs though.
 

BobTheNob

First Post
I'm not real enthused by the 'mother may I' style of play, it /is/, as you may have experienced, very dependent on the skill/experience, personality/talent, and mood of the DM.
This one is 'post of the thread' based purely on number of replies. Frankly you have hit the nail on the head, its a really big shift from 4e (the ULTIMATE in player entitlement) to this which is sounding like its all about DM interpretation.

Unforunately, it really does fall back onto the skills of the DM, and if you get a bad one, this design philosophy is going to suck.

However, by the time I had finished playing 4e I was left with a feeling. My players didnt step outside of capabilities. Did they try to topple the statue to fall in the midst of their enemies? No, they ran in and fought. Did they come up with creative solutions to situations? No, they picked up the dice and started rolling.

I cant help but wonder "did I not encourage them enough?". I wont claim to be the worlds greatest DM, but I have been doing it for a good amount of time now and feel fairly confident in my craft, and as much as I tried to inject interesting twists in scenarios to aid players in coming up with successful scenarios, they never seemed to take the bait. (Not to understate my players, they have been doing it a long time too, and there a smart bunch of guys).

I couldnt help but feel that 4e sorta put blinkers on the player/character. "This is what you can do!", and as much as the fluff encouraged otherwise, the saturation of rules e.t.c. (while it didnt restrict the player from stepping outside the box) tended to predefine how to solve the problem (My experience, others may vary).

So, 4e just didnt feel like previous editions. Every release since 2.0 has more tightly defined what can and cant be done, but in terms of P&P games, Im not sure thats what we needed to do.

So, I understand your concern, if you get a bad DM its going to suck, but if you have a good one...well, this is probably the most promising aspect 5e has going for it. Loosening the reigns, the girdle, the blinkers and the saddle, and letting the player run free.
 


Sadras

Legend
Nod, and I have a pessimistic bias on much the same basis.

If you're the player: Is this system not going to improve your personal game with your playgroup? It is kinda like you telling me you have a bad DM now, which seems to be the real issue, no matter what the system you still wont get the enjoyment level you desire.

If you're the DM: You dont trust your own judgment? Isn't this better assisting in the story you wish to create?


At least we're not back to the theif with a 20% move silently trying to scout. .

So agree!


...with all the retro-nostalgia aiming at the old-school, there's a legitimate concern that the game will only be balanced over the long haul, weeks spent twiddling your thumbs because you're not a diplomat balanced by weeks of the diplomat plinking with a crossbow because he's just not a combat character; vast godlike power at high level balanced by fragility at low. That sort of thing.

With 3e and 4e having clear systems for starting above 1st, and low 'punishment' levels can end up skipped.

So low levels need to still feel like heroic fantasy, so they get played, at all. .

I hear your concerns, but I cannot believe they're gonna make the first few levels unplayable or design it so ppl are twiddling thumbs. What they might have learnt from the playtests is that monsters need to be toned down or pcs built up a little to avoid too many PC deaths or TPKs. Level 1-10 has always been the sweet spot for roleplaying - they're not gonna destroy that now with all the experience they have with design and role-playing. No chance.
 

avin

First Post
So low levels need to still feel like heroic fantasy, so they get played, at all.

Some people, in particular people who like 4E games, are fond of heroic fantasy from the beginning of the game. It's fine.

Some other people, in particular fans of 1E and 2E, like somewhat grittier fantasy at first levels, telling the story how some adventurers become heroes. And they play that levels.

I don't want to be back to a time where a house cat could kill a Wizard, but I like lower levels as something a bit less safe than they are played on fourth edition.
 

Connorsrpg

Adventurer
We always relished surviving those low levels of previous editions. It really felt like you had earnt those new snazzy powers.

I definitely want a return to 'normalish' 1st level. Want heroic, then add the Con score to hps, or start at higher level. Novels I read and enjoy mostly start out with the Orientation of establishing 'normal' characters thrust into the situation of adventure.

I also wanted to XP BobtheNob again, but can't.

Having all the things you can do set out on the PC sheet with their own names and descriptions, certainly limited the freedom I was used to XPing at my table. (Even though I initially loved the concept).

Freeing up their character sheets from powers I think will actually benefit NEW players. I have always loved the ideas players with little rules knowledge come up with.

Unfortunately in my latest games (4E), there seemed to be more expectation to 'do your role' and don't try other things. My son (8 years) played a Gnome Warden. He got into the whole warden relation to nature thing but also like the gnome trickster side and loved the cantrips. He roleplayed being frightened of larger folk when I described them 9as he was an escaped formorian slave). He found a cool hand crossbow and liked to use it (even though there was nothing on his sheet telling him it was any good).

Fortunately he didn't go through powers in order of +'s etc. But even more disturbing, was the other players (who have played along with me since 1E) often swayed him away from his initial response, stating he had a better power, or 'you are our defender, it would be better for you to get up front', or 'you know your bonuses aren't as good with the crossbow?' etc.

These players were long time roleplayers (and very character focused - not normally power gamers at all). Even worse - I even erred my son along another course of action a few times.

So, for DnDNext I too share the concern that everything you can do being defined by what you have - not what you don't have. Look at the blank faces when people go to disarm in 4E. I always allowed attempts at such things - and tried to encourage things not on sheets. The Terrain Powers were cool from DMG2, but players were too entrenched in their own powers.

Mind you there are so many things about 4E I love - definitely not flaming - I am still playing, and enjoying it too (see website in sig ;)), but this is not something I would like to be brought forward.

I DO want new players saying "I try this". Playtests so far are indicating a positivist outlook as far as i can see.
 
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vagabundo

Adventurer
They can make the first few levels more dangerous without making the PCs fragile. It's all about the balance. I enjoyed 4e's take on 1st level PCs. They had some staying power at first level, but I did kill a few 1st level parties - by accident I must add - when I first started DMing.

It is quite easy to do with a swarm of the right kind of bad guys. I'll always remember that unconsciousness wizard getting Thunderwaved to death. A TPK swiftly followed.

I also think the 0-level rules for 4e are quite good. I'd love to see a similar system for apprentice level adventurers in 5e
 

Raith5

Adventurer
This one is 'post of the thread' based purely on number of replies. Frankly you have hit the nail on the head, its a really big shift from 4e (the ULTIMATE in player entitlement) to this which is sounding like its all about DM interpretation.

Unforunately, it really does fall back onto the skills of the DM, and if you get a bad one, this design philosophy is going to suck.

However, by the time I had finished playing 4e I was left with a feeling. My players didnt step outside of capabilities. Did they try to topple the statue to fall in the midst of their enemies? No, they ran in and fought. Did they come up with creative solutions to situations? No, they picked up the dice and started rolling.

I cant help but wonder "did I not encourage them enough?". I wont claim to be the worlds greatest DM, but I have been doing it for a good amount of time now and feel fairly confident in my craft, and as much as I tried to inject interesting twists in scenarios to aid players in coming up with successful scenarios, they never seemed to take the bait. (Not to understate my players, they have been doing it a long time too, and there a smart bunch of guys).

I couldnt help but feel that 4e sorta put blinkers on the player/character. "This is what you can do!", and as much as the fluff encouraged otherwise, the saturation of rules e.t.c. (while it didnt restrict the player from stepping outside the box) tended to predefine how to solve the problem (My experience, others may vary).

So, 4e just didnt feel like previous editions. Every release since 2.0 has more tightly defined what can and cant be done, but in terms of P&P games, Im not sure thats what we needed to do.

So, I understand your concern, if you get a bad DM its going to suck, but if you have a good one...well, this is probably the most promising aspect 5e has going for it. Loosening the reigns, the girdle, the blinkers and the saddle, and letting the player run free.

I think this is a good and fair point about 4th edition. Monte or Mearls talked about forgetting about the invisible button when presented by so many options. I must confess to forgetting to be creative and thinking beyond the box because I get to entranced with my many powers, magic items and skills in 4th ed... But I must say that the encounter and daily powers of PCs are normally more powerful and reliable than stunts.

That said in 4th ed, my party was once confronted by a large group of hobgoblins which included a hobgoblin riding a dinosaur (or what ever it is called). I used a combat power to kill the rider, an athletics check to climb up the dinosaur and then action pointed to use a nature check to take control of the beast (and fulfill a boyhood fantasy) and turn the tide of battle (or at least that is how I remember it!). So the rules/powers/skills can be used to go beyond being blinkers and used to do cool things.
 

LostSoul

Adventurer
This is the part that has me the most excited:

Skills provided situational bonuses to checks that were also based on ability scores. As Bruce Cordell and Monte discussed in the same seminar, the D&D Next skill system is currently open-ended. Rolling to use any skill is always resolved as an ability check. The skill itself simply provides a bonus to that particular ability check in a specific situation.​

That's how I use skills in my game and it's great. I find that it really helps players think about the fictional situation/game world.
 

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