D&D 5E [D&D Next] Second Packet - initial impressions

Pickles JG

First Post
Only if you want to build a system that's puposefully broken (I'm not convinced it's not their intention, though). It's the old quadratic wizard again, just slightly worse. Gain more spells, new spells are more powerful, old spells are even more powerful.

Having a system that actively encourages metagaming is one of the closest things to terrible you can have in game design.

I had to check what made metagaming so bad! I agree that the ability to memorise the MM to play a wizard properly.

It is however hard to separate this sort of player & character knowledge, hmm. What do you do if you know all of the vulnerabilities of a monster your level 1 pc has never even heard of? In the olden days when players played as players that would be just another part of player skill, though I guess its why there were so many dumb trap monsters in ADD.
 

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cynicaloptimist

First Post
I haven't read through this whole thread, but here are my first-impression gripes about this iteration.

Skills
I liked the earlier playtest rule where all skills were a floating bonus that were applied to an appropriate attribute on-the-fly. The rules say the DM can still do it that way, but I thought that was a better default rule.
The reading of the +7 limit bonus is ambiguous to me. Is that +7 limit before or after ability modifier is factored in?
There are too damn many lore skills. I think they should be made a bit more general. Heraldic Lore and Societal Lore should be the same thing, and Forbidden/Planar/Magical lore might not need to be three different skills.

Spells
Why did we lose int/wis bonus to damage? That's kind of lame.
Spells like Cure, Inflict, and damage-dealing evocations should scale when cast at a higher-level spell slot. They'd mentioned this in a legends and lore article, I think, and I was looking forward to this.
Counterspell is weird. I like it, but I think it would fit better at a 'reaction' option of Dispel Magic.
Aid sucks.
A few save-or-suck spells had their current hit point thresholds changed to maximum hit point thresholds. I think this is a step backward. What's the point of using my save-or-suck spell on some mook? I think it's more interesting to have to beat down a boss character until they are vulnerable to something like Ray of Enfeeblement, especially if they're dealing a lot of damage while they are alive. Sleep works in a way that I think makes sense.
Vampiric Touch is cool. If I have the third level necromancer feat, can I use this every round to heal my undead buddy for ~18 HP? Maybe a little overpowered.

Misc
Prone is really weak. 5ft to stand up? I think it should be at least 10ft to stand up, with character options to 'kip-up' faster.
Healing looks a bit better, I'm looking forward to actually testing out the new system.
I like the level of granularity that the race+class+background+specialty gives. Although it's not different than choosing feats and skills in other editions, the increased benefits of 5e feats and background perks make things more interesting.
 

Someone

Adventurer
It does little to make a system that's intentionally (or unintentionally) broken. Rather, it keeps low level spells (the ones that haven't grown quadratically in power) viable. Plus, it works against the 15 minute day some players reported in 3e because there's no need for a spellcaster to demand a sleeping break simply because his highest level spells (the ones with the highest DCs) are expended.
Plus, having a save DC that's static across the spell levels is in alignment with 1e, 2e, and 4e (effectively). 3e/PF are the only odd editions out.

I won't argue this issue, since it's been repeteadly proven that this approach breaks casters at high level, and badly. Also, if casters are supposed to be balanced by the careful rationing of resources, the worst thing you can do is giving them so meny resources that rationing them is a non-issue!



Depends on if it's really metagaming. Basing on hit points, yes, that is. But assuming a purple worm doesn't have as well developed a mind or personality than a mind flayer isn't metagaming. Targeting the purple worm with your Int or Cha save spells should be fair. Same with hitting a giant with a spell he needs to dodge rather than endure with brute force (which he clearly has in spades).

So, you have two spells prepared, one that targets Wisdom and other Dexterity. Your party is attacked by an owlbear. Without looking at the monster stats, which one do you use? Preferibly without asking the DM is he looks particulary cunning or perceptive, and how graceful does it look like, or if he does carry the god of composite monster's symbol (wisdom is tied to faith, after all). Would you use an effect that targets Charisma (provided they existed) against a Zombie? They don't look very charming to me.
 

hamstertamer

First Post
I want straight 3d6 for each ability score to be not only first but with bold bigger font in the upper left corner of it's page. All other techniques for generating ability scores should be put in the back appendix with small plain font. This way straight 3d6 will demonstrate it's prominence over all other ways. I also believe there should be a sidebar that says "Real men use straight 3d6 to roll their characters. If you are a wimpy gay-mer, then look in the back for alternative gay ways."

Mod Note: Please see Lwaxy's post below. ~Umbran
 
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Lwaxy

Cute but dangerous
I want straight 3d6 for each ability score to be not only first but with bold bigger font in the upper left corner of it's page. All other techniques for generating ability scores should be put in the back appendix with small plain font. This way straight 3d6 will demonstrate it's prominence over all other ways. I also believe there should be a sidebar that says "Real men use straight 3d6 to roll their characters. If you are a wimpy gay-mer, then look in the back for alternative gay ways."


If this is supposed to be sarcasm, it fails big time. Don't belittle people who happen to differ from your play- or lifestyle.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
I won't argue this issue, since it's been repeteadly proven that this approach breaks casters at high level, and badly. Also, if casters are supposed to be balanced by the careful rationing of resources, the worst thing you can do is giving them so meny resources that rationing them is a non-issue!

Repeatedly proven? By whom and under what assumptions? That's a pretty serious statement that probably requires citation. Frankly, I'm skeptical.

If you think that the issue has to do with rationing, then the debate should be over how many spells a caster gets, not whether or not low level ones retain usefulness against higher level opponents. Low level spells becoming relatively weaker seems to me to be the worst of both issues - too many spells but many of them being useless.

So, you have two spells prepared, one that targets Wisdom and other Dexterity. Your party is attacked by an owlbear. Without looking at the monster stats, which one do you use? Preferibly without asking the DM is he looks particulary cunning or perceptive, and how graceful does it look like, or if he does carry the god of composite monster's symbol (wisdom is tied to faith, after all). Would you use an effect that targets Charisma (provided they existed) against a Zombie? They don't look very charming to me.

What's wrong with asking the DM if the creature seems particularly graceful? Isn't that an attempt to find out what the character is perceiving so he can make that decision without resorting to metagaming? Or how about rolling an appropriate lore check? That's a non-metagame way to find out a creature's weaknesses and relative strengths.

As far as the owlbear goes, I'd certainly avoid strength or constitution-based attacks - he's build like a bear, after all. I don't have any particular reason to believe it's not very perceptive. So I'd probably target its dexterity given a choice of the two.

As far as the zombie goes, so I may have something that target's charisma. Do I have anything else? If that's all I've got, of course I'd use it. But I might not if I had something else. Undead lore is probably enough to tell me they're slow and ponderous. I'd go for that first. They may not be personable, but that doesn't mean a zombie doesn't have a forceful personality. Is he of the "Brains!" variety? They're memorable. How about the zombies from "Dead Alive?" They had a lot of personality even if they weren't likeable (certainly don't go over to their house for the custard).
 

Someone

Adventurer
Repeatedly proven? By whom and under what assumptions? That's a pretty serious statement that probably requires citation. Frankly, I'm skeptical.

I assume you've not around these boards for a decade. Just google "quadratic wizards". It yields 11 thousand results, I'm sure that's enough to keep you entertained for a while.

What's wrong with asking the DM if the creature seems particularly graceful? Isn't that an attempt to find out what the character is perceiving so he can make that decision without resorting to metagaming? Or how about rolling an appropriate lore check? That's a non-metagame way to find out a creature's weaknesses and relative strengths.

You were asserting that you could guess ability scores on your own; otherwise, I suppose that avoiding a long string of question and rolls might be beneficial. I wouldn't like to have, in the middle of what's supposed to be a frantic combat, the wizard's player asking and rolling to see if the critter comes from Plant's Vs zombies or a Romero movie.

Anyway, can't you see this is exactly the same issue that came up in 3e so frequently? That the best way to get the most from your spells was with metagame knowledge - like knowing what creatures had the best (Ex) abilities to Polymorph into, or to avoid damage spells in favor of save or be out? It's the opposite of a game you can jump into, it's a game you have to pour hours before you start playing. This may appeal to a certain segament of the gamer population, the ones that came with pun-pun and the like, but I think it's a terrible decision if they want to reach to new players who are forced to play the n00b class while the "good players" push the I win buttons.
 

VinylTap

First Post
It's the opposite of a game you can jump into, it's a game you have to pour hours before you start playing. This may appeal to a certain segament of the gamer population, the ones that came with pun-pun and the like, but I think it's a terrible decision if they want to reach to new players who are forced to play the n00b class while the "good players" push the I win buttons.

Are you against all 'mechanics' depth? I always thought the different levels you could approach a game like, say pathfinder, was an asset rather than a liability. There's no NEED to min/max, but the option is there if thats you're thing. I could see it being a problem with a mixed group. I agree that there are good and bad ways of approaching the system, but it, and I'm just curious--not attacking, it sounds like you would prefer no 'tactical depth' associated with combat at all? Is that your opinion?
 

Someone

Adventurer
it sounds like you would prefer no 'tactical depth' associated with combat at all? Is that your opinion?

I don't know how you read that. The kind of metagaming I was referring doesn't have anything to do with tactical depth - it's all done before the actual game begins.
 

Cadfan

First Post
Wow.

If you find it so terrible to roll for stats, use an array or point buy. Bam, problem solved. But let's not make it sound like rolling for stats is harming today's youth. A lot of us turned out fine rolling for stats for decades.

For that matter, some of us still roll for stats today, even when running 4e.

I don't think all kids share the same playstyle- the one you're advocating- any more than all other gamers do. It's fine to have your preference, but painting other playstyle choices as bad for the kids is... just wrong.
Nah, I'm objectively right here. There's no conceivable way that "playstyle" can justify this. That word is not a magical aegis that makes bad game design not count.

Game mechanics have to support each other. If they work at cross purposes, nothing about "playstyle" will make the problem vanish.

D&D is presently designed for characters to be played over a long period of time. I think that's a objectively true statement that really can't be argued against.

Randomly cursing some characters with comparative incompetence to others works at cross purposes with this goal. The same is true of randomly blessing some characters with hyper-competence.

So, yeah. Rolling for stats is objectively bad even if people had fun in the past in spite of it, or if they had fun in the past in a game that had a different context (e.g., rolling for stats is perfectly appropriate if you play with disposable characters). It works at cross purposes with other aspects of the system.
 
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Ahnehnois

First Post
Nah, I'm objectively right here. There's no conceivable way that "playstyle" can justify this. That word is not a magical aegis that makes bad game design not count.
Well, let's see.

Game mechanics have to support each other. If they work at cross purposes, nothing about "playstyle" will make the problem vanish.
A vague statement that doesn't mean much, but okay. Sounds good at least.

D&D is presently designed for characters to be played over a long period of time. I think that's a objectively true statement that really can't be argued against.
Okay. Probably overstated; a lot of people don't play long-term campaigns all the time, but yes, that is a general assumption.

Randomly cursing some characters with comparative incompetence to others works at cross purposes with this goal. The same is true of randomly blessing some characters with hyper-competence.
:confused: And...a total non-sequitur. Why can't one play a cursed/blessed character for a long time?

So, yeah. Rolling for stats is objectively bad even if people had fun in the past in spite of it, or if they had fun in the past in a game that had a different context (e.g., rolling for stats is perfectly appropriate if you play with disposable characters). It works at cross purposes with other aspects of the system.
I think what you're doing is assuming a level of so-called "balance" that D&D doesn't, shouldn't, and can't have. For example, the game does not prohibit playing characters of different levels, which can happen either because the DM dictates it or for a variety of in-game reasons. Does having the ability to give one player a level 15 character and one player a level 5 character "cross purposes with other aspects of the system"? No. It's a playstyle. (One with debatable merits, but a playstyle nonetheless). Playing unequal characters is perfectly viable, even in the long term.
 

slobster

Hero
Nah, I'm objectively right here. There's no conceivable way that "playstyle" can justify this. That word is not a magical aegis that makes bad game design not count.

Blarggh.

Even leaving aside your claim to be objectively right, I disagree with one of your assumptions. Two, actually.

An explicit assumption you made is that nobody will be playing D&D in the future with disposable characters that die with great frequency. That will certainly be a playstyle that people continue to enjoy, so allowing them (not that you could stop them, anyway) to use dice to generate scores lets them get what they want from the game. Maybe what you would like to see is a warning in the section on ability scores, to the effect that "generating scores randomly is more suited to games that expect high character turnover . . ." etc. That sounds fine to me.

An implicit assumption you made is that playing a game where some characters come and go precludes the possibility of playing a long-term character. I disagree. Nothing drives home how much you want to keep your shiny new awesome character with 2 eighteens more than the 14 characters you had to roll up and watch die terribly before you made her. Alternatively there are the characters you love despite their flaws instead of because of their strengths. It's not for everyone, I grant you, but it is for some people.

Those are in fact playstyle differences that validate random ability score generation (and other, related game design features that I suppose would be called "old-school).

PS, I would like to note that I agree that point buy is a better fit for your average game, and that random scores should be used by people who understand (or at least have forewarning about) their quirks. I just disagree that one method of generation is "objectively better" than the other (what does that even mean? No matter what, somebody has to be subjectively setting the metrics by which you then "objectively" make your determination about the better mechanic. It's madness ;)).
 

Cadfan

First Post
To be fair, it leaves it leaves it to dice and the DM's common sense. I've never encountered (or been) a DM who forced a player use a set of unplyable stats. We cut the person with the cold dice some slack.
This is an indictment of rolling for stats, not a defense. Literally nothing I could say, no pretentious turn of phrase, could cut more deeply than a casual statement from a fan of rolling for stats to the effect that only an unreasonable lack of common sense could possibly lead one to roll for stats according to the book.
 

DerekSTheRed

Explorer
Anyone find it weird that the cleric has +2 in both weapon and magic attacks for levels 1-5. The rogue gets +3 weapon at level 5 while the fighter and wizard get +4 at level 4 in weapon and magic respectively. Could the cleric be a jack of all trades but master of none?

Also, two different fighting styles use Jab but none use Deadly Strike. Seems like the Slayer should get Deadly Strike at level 5 instead of Jab.

The specialties are the best part of the play test IMO. It's very easy to come up with character ideas reading those along with the backgrounds. The duelist seems like a fun swashbucking character to play. The Necromancer can be taken by either cleric or wizard. I like the idea of a non-wizard taking the Magic User specialty for an Eberron/High Magic type campaign setting.

Armor looks good on paper. I'm hoping it works well in play. Equipment in general is pretty solid IMO.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
I assume you've not around these boards for a decade. Just google "quadratic wizards". It yields 11 thousand results, I'm sure that's enough to keep you entertained for a while.

Well, you've given me the best laugh I've had in a while. A bunch of messageboarders complaining about quadratic wizards doesn't really prove much. If that were the case, I'd have proof that the Apollo moon landing was a hoax and that the World Trade Center was done in by an inside job.

What it proves is there's a core of players who don't like the way those mechanics work. Of course, having been pretty active on this message board for the last 10 years, I can find plenty of people who say that the classes are a lot better balanced than you assert. Who's right? There's no good way to objectively measure that.


You were asserting that you could guess ability scores on your own; otherwise, I suppose that avoiding a long string of question and rolls might be beneficial. I wouldn't like to have, in the middle of what's supposed to be a frantic combat, the wizard's player asking and rolling to see if the critter comes from Plant's Vs zombies or a Romero movie.

Anyway, can't you see this is exactly the same issue that came up in 3e so frequently? That the best way to get the most from your spells was with metagame knowledge - like knowing what creatures had the best (Ex) abilities to Polymorph into, or to avoid damage spells in favor of save or be out? It's the opposite of a game you can jump into, it's a game you have to pour hours before you start playing. This may appeal to a certain segament of the gamer population, the ones that came with pun-pun and the like, but I think it's a terrible decision if they want to reach to new players who are forced to play the n00b class while the "good players" push the I win buttons.

I can guess some relative abilities on my own. Hill giant - probably stronger and tougher than quick and clever. Quickling - probably the opposite. Some things, of course, will be tough to guess. That's part of the fun, but it doesn't mean I'm not going to try to figure out a weakness and hit it.

You can learn that stuff by trial and error as well. Go ahead and try to hit the bear with poison or wrestle the giant if that seems the 'cool' thing to do. I think I'll do my best to figure out, in character, that those might not be the best things to do.
 


Someone

Adventurer
Well, you've given me the best laugh I've had in a while. A bunch of messageboarders complaining about quadratic wizards doesn't really prove much. If that were the case, I'd have proof that the Apollo moon landing was a hoax and that the World Trade Center was done in by an inside job.

What it proves is there's a core of players who don't like the way those mechanics work. Of course, having been pretty active on this message board for the last 10 years, I can find plenty of people who say that the classes are a lot better balanced than you assert. Who's right? There's no good way to objectively measure that.

Well, if that's what you really think I don't believe there's much point in continuing the discussion, or to have started it in the first place.
 

Balesir

Adventurer
Nah, I'm objectively right here. There's no conceivable way that "playstyle" can justify this. That word is not a magical aegis that makes bad game design not count.
Actually, despite the fact that I'm really with you in thinking stat rolling is a bad approach for D&D, I disagree with you here. In fact, I think this cuts to the very heart of many of the conflicts and dividing lines around D&D on the 'net.

It comes down to what the players are supposed to be doing. Not the characters; the players. That's where the "playstyle" thing actually comes in. And if the player isn't supposed to be concerned with how his or her character performs compared to the other characters in the game, then rolling stats will work just fine.

There does seem to be a "playstyle" that consists of "meeting" your character (rather than designing, choosing or building it) and, in this as in everything else in the game, taking whatever crap the dice and the GM throw at you. It's sort of like an "Endurance" competition. You actually get kudos for taking worse flak than anyone else - and the "winner" is the "last man standing" after taking all the crud.

It's not really a style that appeals to me at all, but there are those who seem to enjoy it (for some value of "enjoy", at least). Probably the best fist I could make of such a game is to focus on exploring the dysfunctional world the GM has concocted* while spiralling down to my character's inevitable, miserable fate. Common traits of the style include GM "rulings, not rules" (because mere rules should not stand in the way of the arbitrary crap your character has to survive) and an emphasis on player ignorance of the setting and monsters (because knowing what was going to trip you up next would spoil the surprise). The player, essentially, is not supposed to be in control of anything in this style of game - their aim is simply to keep at least a breathing tube above the surface in order to keep in the game long enough to earn some small measure of a breathing space. It's basically the opposite of "player agency" or "empowerment" - but it's what some folk enjoy. Is it compatible with a system that also supports players having an active role to play and active aims in the game? I don't think so, personally, but maybe a system can come along that proves me wrong - who knows?

Such a system would have to resolve the "rolled stats/picked stats" issue, though.

*: There is actually also a quite functional style of play where the players' mission is to explore the game world, but the system is so constructed that character death or maiming are fairly unlikely. In other words, most of the "competition" elements are removed and the players (through their characters) cooperate to explore the world with their characters in (relative) safety. I get the impression that this is a minority playstyle with D&D, however.
 

Underman

First Post
Using phrases like "whatever crap", "flak", "crud", "some value of 'enjoy'", "dysfunctional", "inevitable, miserable fate", "arbitrary crap", "ignorance", "breathing tube above the surface", "some small measure of a breathing space" is a very strange way of acknowledging or validating another playstyle.
 

Imaro

Legend
Actually, despite the fact that I'm really with you in thinking stat rolling is a bad approach for D&D, I disagree with you here. In fact, I think this cuts to the very heart of many of the conflicts and dividing lines around D&D on the 'net.

It comes down to what the players are supposed to be doing. Not the characters; the players. That's where the "playstyle" thing actually comes in. And if the player isn't supposed to be concerned with how his or her character performs compared to the other characters in the game, then rolling stats will work just fine.

There does seem to be a "playstyle" that consists of "meeting" your character (rather than designing, choosing or building it) and, in this as in everything else in the game, taking whatever crap the dice and the GM throw at you. It's sort of like an "Endurance" competition. You actually get kudos for taking worse flak than anyone else - and the "winner" is the "last man standing" after taking all the crud.

It's not really a style that appeals to me at all, but there are those who seem to enjoy it (for some value of "enjoy", at least). Probably the best fist I could make of such a game is to focus on exploring the dysfunctional world the GM has concocted* while spiralling down to my character's inevitable, miserable fate. Common traits of the style include GM "rulings, not rules" (because mere rules should not stand in the way of the arbitrary crap your character has to survive) and an emphasis on player ignorance of the setting and monsters (because knowing what was going to trip you up next would spoil the surprise). The player, essentially, is not supposed to be in control of anything in this style of game - their aim is simply to keep at least a breathing tube above the surface in order to keep in the game long enough to earn some small measure of a breathing space. It's basically the opposite of "player agency" or "empowerment" - but it's what some folk enjoy. Is it compatible with a system that also supports players having an active role to play and active aims in the game? I don't think so, personally, but maybe a system can come along that proves me wrong - who knows?

Such a system would have to resolve the "rolled stats/picked stats" issue, though.

*: There is actually also a quite functional style of play where the players' mission is to explore the game world, but the system is so constructed that character death or maiming are fairly unlikely. In other words, most of the "competition" elements are removed and the players (through their characters) cooperate to explore the world with their characters in (relative) safety. I get the impression that this is a minority playstyle with D&D, however.

Wow, this is the most passive-aggressive, biased and incorrect... you know what... be honest were you just trying to insult people that enjoy a certain playstyle or was this really supposed to help Cadfan understand why some playstyle(s) might prefer random rolling of stats?

Hey here's one that doesn't denigrate a particular playstyle...

Casual beer and pretzels, the players aren't out to participate in an epic year-spanning campaign and really just want to explore a dungeon, kill some monsters and get loot every week for a couple hours... they aren't really hung up on being a particular race or class and the risk of death is part of the fun for them. They decide, in order to get a variable experience in race and class amongst the players and because it is quicker and simpler, to let the dice decide attributes for them.

The above is not really my style of play, but I understand the appeal it has for some groups. Notice I don't need to use words that put it down or make value judgements if I'm honestly trying to present it in order to get someone else to realize the playstyle exists.
 

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