od&d tier1 feats much better but still some rough edges that will bite

tetrasodium

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the playtest thread seems to be exploding faster than I've been able to read it with a lot of first impressions & hot takes jumping in making it hard to discuss things with any depth. Surprisingly nobody seemed to do any item by item in depth posts on it & starting on page 50some(now pushing 70+) seemed out of place.

As a whole I think the level 1 feats are a dramatic improvement over o5e in many ways & the level appropriateness is much better.

  • Alert: You are proficient in initiative checks & can swap initiative with another party member.
    • This is great in a small 2-3 person group & will seem awesome
    • On a big 4-5+ player group it runs into problems & I've seen similar mechanics in other games. Because Alice has this ability that lets her swap with Bob the GM will feel pressured to roll initiative rather than just skip it by going (counter)clockwise. Even if they do skip it the mental bandwidth saving benefits are eroded by having to remember that alice & bob are swapped & after either of them the (counter)clockwise train is derailed. Worse still if you roll intiative the GM now needs to scratch out & reorder a paper list or manipulate a digital one as players go back & forth over the merits of Alice swapping with Bob vrs Cindy
      • Changing it from "immediately after you roll initiative" to something more like "before anyone rolls initiative you can declare the initiative order of one player (this can be you)." That would allow DM:roll initiative>Alice:"bob goes first" with the GM just starting with bob &setting him above everyone else without bob needing to roll or whereverif the position is something other than first
  • crafter: Some tool proficiencies & a discount on purchases.
    • Having a blurb to prevent double dipping where a player tries to haggle with the dm then points to their mechanic for another 20% would help with annoyances
  • Healer: let someone spend a hitdie using a healers kit plus get to reroll 1s & 2s when healing yourself/others with it or some other ability
    • overall great ability that's level appropriate & grants a lasting benefit that both newbies & crunchy charop geek types can "hmm..." over during character creation
  • lucky: Prof bonus luck points allowing you to give (dis)advantage to yourself or a target of your choice with some cleaned up wording over the o5e version
    • for you is no big deal.
    • For another target is probably fine in small groups but should maybe have some kind of save
    • For big groups this could be a disaster. Imagine a GM running a one shot at level 10 (+4 inititive) for a big group... 5 players look at the pitch & decide the dragon is a big threat... 5 players take lucky, the dragon is probably not going to last long enough to make 40 disadvantaged attacks & some kind of save would have helped make it interesting rather than just sad,
  • Magic initiate: pick two cantrips & a first level spell as learned & you can cast the spell once without using a slot. Also you get to decide the attribute linked to that spell
    • This is a great improvement and allows a caster to really diversify their toolkit of spells even if their class uses an attrib that doesn't align with the class that would normally get it
    • problem1: It's really a pain for a caster to fit a spell on their spellsheet & denote that it doesn't use a spellslot once while tracking if it already did or not, especially with digital sheets where you usually can't just scribble in the margin. Just giving an extra general first level slot as long as we aren't going back to seperate class based prep lists like in the past would simplify this a lot
    • downside2: Some first level spells are too darn good. Shield & healing word for example. These kind of spells need to be cleared up & preferably moved to 2nd level to minimize unintended charop bingo zaniness as spell/class/feat/etc options grow years down the line. When this kind of color outside the lines availability of first level spells is easy to obtain it strips things like "well wizards & sorcerers have low ac so +5ac as a reaction isn't broke" because paladins & clerics don't have low AC. With shield on the arcane list limiting the choices to the arcane/divine/primal or class specific lists might solve a lot of this if those spells were not included as options for choice here.
      • With spells still presumably a ways out this opens the door to starting 1st level casters with first & second level spells/spell slots & spells appropriately adjusted where those kind of spells are gated behind level 2 slots with a level 2 slot appropriate effect.
  • Musician: gain prof in 3 instruments & can grant inspiration to a prof bonus people on a rest by playing it
  • Savage attacker: roll weapon damage with advantage 1/round.
  • Skilled: gain proficiency in 3 skills
  • Tavern brawler: proficient with unarmed strikes & do 1d4+str plus can reroll 1s
    • If a player gains an ability like a fighting style that allows reroll 1s & 2s this could be reroll>reroll. It's also ime something that can be quite a slowdown where some players seem to hmmm & haw over what to do. Both of those could be solved by just making it so a 1 is automatically a 2 .
  • Tough: add +2hp each level.
    • The increases by your character level then +2 each level is awkward & raises a possible "but what if I gain this at level 1+N" problem. Just making it +2hp per hit die would add some clarity while allowing it to scale if a player somehow gains an extra hit die though something like a spell or magic item.

I love that they all have a prerequisite line even when they (understandably) all have "none" as first level feats. Not having prereqs on stuff makes it hard for things to bring a level appropriate impact to the math & having them even when it's "none" avoids formatting differences as well as "actually no this doesn't even have a prereq line" wheedling if something about the campaign/setting should put some kind should impose some kind of appropriate prereq,

There is a section on "d20 tests" that basically just explains roll a d20 for dc5-30 checks & 1 or 20 have autofail/autosuccess. Having this spelled out is a good thing that will solve the always annoying debate over which version of the commonlaw houserule for 1/20 whenever a new group forms or a new player joins an existing group.

Crit changes
: I like that crits are explicitly a weapon & unarmed strike thing avoiding the "ids this a crit?"/"wow I crit coool"debates & hope that we see magic appropriately tuned to fit no longer having the expectations of "what if this crits like that thing that works totally different" reserved couching of effects.

arcane/divine primal being split is cool enough but we don't have the results yet so just fluff & conceptual for now.
Divine spells: I love that it takes the effort to acknowledge that not every setting handles gods in the same way (or at all) & calls out power of the gods & outer planes. Hopefully that was deliberate rather than coincidental & we see it continue through classes & such.

Gaming set
: I guess it's nice to be defined but I'll be honest & admit that I hate these when it comes to them being a proficiency thing. If anything "you must be proficient at monopoly to add prof to monopoly" detracts from roleplay because most games simply are not that difficult or like chess & shogi they exist to teach something war that should be covered by some other skill. None of the gaming sets are something that might be interesting like carousel hazard & you just wind up with these really awkward coinflip blackjack hand style play pushed onto the table by a player who happens to be proficient. Worse gaming sets tend to be given as proficiency ribbons in a lot of places.

Grappled
: I like this new mechanic especially the inclusion of the drag/carry mechanics but hope that in the section on size categories there are rough weight ranges for creatures of a given size with some examples & a simple modifier for armored/unarmored weight for quick eyeball that doesn't require looking up too many things. Having drag/carry weight used it good, having it used against "ask your gm & argue over how much a fantasy monster weighs" less so.

incapacitated: it now ends concentration (good-ish) & disadvantage on initiative.. The initiative thing goes into the same kind of small vrs big group troubles mentioned with alert but the concentration thing raises some downstream issues. That might sound cool for a player to impose, but then everything that allows a player to stun a target needs to come with a weighty cost unlike stunning strike's not so weighty one. For monsters doing it to players that's certainly dramatic & all, but stun tends to be a pretty death spiraly execution by fiat when used with competence against a player. Stunning a caster to break concentration is a billion percent high levels of competence & as a GM I'd like a condition for mooks to use that breaks it without that for when I want to use a lighter touch than a 42 point crushing blow or a condition that makes Alice say :oops:FINISH HIM:oops: looking at bob knowing what's obviously coming next.

Inspiration: I Just tried to check the wording of 2014phb inspiration to see if it too says the same must decide before rolling or a similar & frankly I gave up because I had already sunk more time than a quick rules double check should take while still not having found it. I like that it says you need to decide before rolling but the fact that I would have needed to make a GM call on the wording without even running a game shows why inspiration needs to be in a simple glossary of terms like 3.5phb304-314 among others had.

That glossary need is especially important because Crawford mentioned a more mechanical inspiration gain mechanic than GM whim & what amounts to "decide before rolling if you want advantage" is an extremely different level of power than "roll then decide if you want advantage". Worse still that difference in power is one that the GM is at a disadvantage to actually be the fun police & enforce when players decide they want to pull puppydog eyes on the gm individually or as a group. "no look at the glossary" is very different from "no look in the phb page uhh... lets see hmm... "

One at a time: There's an actual psychology(?) term/process for how our brains work against this if the goal is easy in easy out even if I can't remember the name. Anyone who's ever eaten most of a package of cookies & put one cookie back in the cabinet knows the feeling. If you have multiple of a thing it's an easy step to consume or expend some of them but if you only have one lizardbrain scarcity & survival drives kick in to hold on because you might need it more later. limiting this to two & dropping it from 2/2 ->1/2->0/2 if a player has inspiration when starting a long rest would encourage players to use it while providing some(not very strong) incentive to push on rather than taking a rest just because the party feels they could.

Losing inspiration:good.,.. great. Losing inspiration on starting a long rest might not be a big cost, especially when someone can hand it out on a rest. It's a great thing to at least add something for players to consider before impulsively taking one just because they think they could.

Long rest: finally having it clarified that the players don't need much to have a long rest stomped & need to start over is a great thing but there's one other gripe that should be fixed. Back when rests gave X hp per hour or whatever it was easy enough to walk back HP if a rest is interrupted when a player records the recovery before the rest is complete but that's no longer the case when a rest recovers ALL hitpoints. I'd love it if the wording was a little more explicit & shifted the recover all hp point to breaking camp & setting out or something. because it usually works like this.

Musical instruments
: standardizing the price is a great thing. With varying prices & no real functional difference players are either pressured to take the cheapest/lightest/quietest one if gold/weight/noise matters or is expected to matter. The weight & noise are reasonable but everyone taking kazoo or whatever because it's only 1cp is annoying in an obnoxious fratboy sort of metagaming way that this solves

Slowed: I like the clarity on movement rather than speed & the way it now impacts attack rolls against slowed targets+dex saves

Tool proficiency: I like the existence of a mechanic for when there is a relevant skill and tool proficiency plus it's easy enough & solves table to table player to player "do I get expertise"/"do I get advantage"

Tremorsense
: having what this does explicitly defined again is greatI hope other special senses get similar, also neat that by calling out that it doesn't count as sight it won't work for targeting a point you can see. I desperately pray that we don't see darkvision/blindsight because we can expect some nice meaty changes to darkness/vision down the line.

Unarmed strike:Neat change how it automatically grapples. For everyone but monks the punch is so pointless that it never gets used resulting in confusion & a need to look it up over how it works on the rare occasion it gets used. Rolling it into an automatic grapple or shove inclusion is a good thing & I hope that some of the martial weapons do similar or similar but limit to 5 ft steps w/o the drag/carry

Poisoned: It's worth noting that the poisoned condition too is absent. hopefully poison damage & poisoned condition will be reworked & maybe poison damage changed all over to logical energy types with a little tagor something based on the source


Spell lists: I like that the arcane/divine/primal lists are so carved down & the lists look interesting pending reveal of class specific lists but the presence of shield worries or pleases me. Shield as written is just too good & that goes double when you add shield to crunchy builds with easy choices like magic initiate. Since it sounds like any caster gets one of the arcane/primal/divine lists plus a class specific one having shield here could be even ore problematic than shield is now unless the spell is rewritten to just be a long duration animated shield like mage armor or something


  • Human: gain inspiration on a long rest 1 skill proficiency & one 1first level feat
  • Ardling: Limited flight, radiant resistance a utility cantrip & over time sone spells of varying usefulness
  • Dragonborn: 8+con breath dc. 1d10+level save for half breath damage darkvision & resistance to the associated element
  • Dwarf: +1hp/level, poison damage resist, advantage on saves to end poisoned condition, a couple tool proficiencies, tremorsense
  • Elf:Darkvision, some spells at 3&5, advantage on charm saves, proficiency in perception, shortened long rest
    • You can see the cantrip+spellls/darkvision+spells cost analog with elf & ardling
    • for the love of god fix the wording on trance instead of making the gm into fun police for it wotc. "you don't need sleep & magic can't put you to sleep, you can finish a long rest in 4 hours." I'm sick of (warlock & monk mostly) players saying "well since I don't need sleep can I [invent mechanic] while they take their rest" & "since I don't need sleep do I count as being awake when our rest is interrupted by [event[" If you are going to have the ability for a player to stay on guard during a long rest then spell it out rather than making the gm declare if it happened when alice or bob was outside of their window, that's especially true as more races get this kind of thing. If you are going to have a thing that allows a player to ignore penalties for not sleeping after x or X+y hours of activity there needs to be a rule for what they are & when they kick in so the GM can transparently point to them rather than have players glaring daggers at them when they make up a penalty. If a race is going to be immune to the sleep spell make a sleep condition for it to be immune to & similar effects can impose it.
      The don't need sleep thing worked in 3.5 for warforge because they were pretty often spending that time using tools to repair the damage they suffered & had difficulty being heraled not dumping a tangled mess of "you are the gm, you make it work" on the gm
  • Gnome: darkvision, advantage on int/wis/cha saves, some ribbony scantrip stuff
    • I despise that clockwork device thing. It's both too specific & uselessly tuned. Just let them keep & maintain one "common" magic item that functions till used or till their next long rest & tune common magic items so they are common.
  • Halfling: advantage on saves against fear, move through occupied spaces, stealth prof, reroll 1s on d20 tests, stealth proficiency
  • Orc: Bonus action dash with prof bonus THP prof times/long rest, darkvision, powerful build, relentless endurance 1/long rest
  • Tiefling: Darkvision, a resistance, a utility cantrip, some spells at 3&5
As a whole the races seem to be similarly balanced. Some of them can slot into the old ivory tower design where they will excel in x or Y niche better than some other race but that's to be expected & it doesn't seem that any of them excel to a degree where one of them becomes the defacto voluntold analog of a choice.
Barring the elf & gnome there was very little to object with.

Darkvision is still extremely common since some of the choices grant it in addition to otherstuff. Either get rid of light & dark completely or rework darkvision so it actually matters because can't see color is of no consequence & making it matter with traps & such of consequence will grind the game to a halt as unprepared pPCs treat it like tomb of horrors

Backgrounds: I love that they all have the same 50gp in stuff & the way ability scores are shifted to here from race but there's one big gripe. If "Noble" is a minor noble then stop calling it Noble & call it Minor Noble Fallen Noble or whatever. Puffin forest talked about it in his linked 1e ad&d dmg breakdown with how it makes a hash of motivations. Nobles come with societal power and obligations but a PC can make efforts to demand the (often sizable& plot circumventing) benefits from the world while just shrugging off & ignoring any possible responsibilities & never pretend that noblesse oblige is even a thing. Some player could then absolutely make a noble background, but the GM has a much stronger position to call them on it when it gets stretched with quantum benefits.
 

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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Tool proficiency: I like the existence of a mechanic for when there is a relevant skill and tool proficiency plus it's easy enough & solves table to table player to player "do I get expertise"/"do I get advantage"
This is a change that I think has flown under the radar for the most part, but is pretty interesting. My knee-jerk reaction was negative, but after thinking on it a bit, I’m a bit more open to the idea. Could make for a back-door route to functional expertise.
 
Last edited:

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
This is a change that I think has flown under the radar for the most part, but is pretty interesting. My knee-jerk reaction was negative, but after thinking on it a bit, I’m a bit more open to the idea. Could make for a back-door route to functional expertise.
Yea I think there are a lot of little things like that scattered throughout the character origins doc that set the groundwork for a more stable & improved foundation. All things considered though it's very much an almost exclusively player facing playtest packet. Even if I were to run a game using it I as a GM don't have enough for it to be anything the game wouldn't have been had I started a couple days ago before this dropped.
 

If "Noble" is a minor noble then stop calling it Noble & call it Minor Noble Fallen Noble or whatever. Puffin forest talked about it in his linked 1e ad&d dmg breakdown with how it makes a hash of motivations. Nobles come with societal power and obligations but a PC can make efforts to demand the (often sizable& plot circumventing) benefits from the world while just shrugging off & ignoring any possible responsibilities & never pretend that noblesse oblige is even a thing. Some player could then absolutely make a noble background, but the GM has a much stronger position to call them on it when it gets stretched with quantum benefits.
Part of the issue here is that in the context of England, in whose language this game is written, "nobles" were only the handful of titled peers of the realm and their immediate families, and the rest of the rich people of long established families (many offshoots of noble ones) were the "gentry". But we also use the term to refer to other European nobility and in some parts of continental Europe all the offshoots of nobles maintained their noble status, and most "nobles" were not people who would have major political responsibilities. In the extreme cases about 10% of Poland was considered of "noble" status and people of technically "noble" status dominated the shoemaking trade in parts of Spain.

So yeah, I think "minor noble" would make things a lot clearer for the way they intend the background to be played. Having a character play the scion of an actually important noble family is also cool, but it should be a consequential decision with DM buy-in. Maybe they should just put a note along those lines next to the published background.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Yea I think there are a lot of little things like that scattered throughout the character origins doc that set the groundwork for a more stable & improved foundation. All things considered though it's very much an almost exclusively player facing playtest packet. Even if I were to run a game using it I as a GM don't have enough for it to be anything the game wouldn't have been had I started a couple days ago before this dropped.
I actually just had a character creation session for a game I’m going to be a player in on Sunday. If we had done it a week later, I frankly don’t think the release of the packet would have changed how any of us made our characters. Maybe we’d have tried the new 1st level feats? It’s Witchlight, so the DM was like “I’d try the new inspiration rules, but being unable to gain inspiration is a plot point.”
 

TheSword

Legend
Part of the issue here is that in the context of England, in whose language this game is written, "nobles" were only the handful of titled peers of the realm and their immediate families, and the rest of the rich people of long established families (many offshoots of noble ones) were the "gentry". But we also use the term to refer to other European nobility and in some parts of continental Europe all the offshoots of nobles maintained their noble status, and most "nobles" were not people who would have major political responsibilities. In the extreme cases about 10% of Poland was considered of "noble" status and people of technically "noble" status dominated the shoemaking trade in parts of Spain.

So yeah, I think "minor noble" would make things a lot clearer for the way they intend the background to be played. Having a character play the scion of an actually important noble family is also cool, but it should be a consequential decision with DM buy-in. Maybe they should just put a note along those lines next to the published background.
That’s the english way, but I prefer to see it the French way with the Second Estate. Thousands of nobles, some raised through military service, some from administrative service. All hierarchical. All constantly on the rise and fall as fortune and favour dictated.

For me, the player needs to come up with a reason why the scion of a rich and powerful house is adventuring - not use their status to try and leverage stuff that their class and wealth wouldn’t get them access to.
 

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