D&D 5E Our 5 Session Playtest


First Post
AFAIK magic missile and a few other combat cantrips were never meant to be cantrips at all and were demoted from 1st level spells last minute for the playtest because the true combat-effective cantrips weren't ready to go yet.

In other words, I don't think this will be a problem in the future.

Definitely, the overkill in Magic Missile at will was mentioned in public Q&A by the deign team very early on. Their response was basically that they'd rather err in setting the power level high and turn things down for balance, than approach character power levels from the other direction.

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Not a bad idea and much preferable.

@slobbo & [MENTION=59816]FitzTheRuke[/MENTION]
Yeah, I am sure something will be done. I would rather not focus anymore of this thread on one spell either. ;)

As stated, most of the rest of the playtest went really well. And...I won't give the game away if it remains as is (I will simply House Rule this one teeny weeny spell. Easy :)).

So does anyone have Q's about how it went, etc?

Oh, and for those interested, I have attached my 'Realm' sheets for the Caves of CHaos and each of the tribes I detailed if interested. (Perhaps there are others yet to still do this :p).


  • Caves of Chaos - Ravine.doc
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  • Barghests - Goblin Tribe.doc
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  • Bleeding Butchers - Gnoll Tribe.doc
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  • Feytrappers - Kobold Tribe.doc
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  • Smiling Skulls - HobgoblinTribe.doc
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  • Storm Furies - Orc Tribe.doc
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First Post

So if I understand correctly, you're objecting to the fact that it's auto-hit and at-will, yeah? In that case I think we're more on the same page than it appeared. In my 5e playtest it did come in handy with the rabid gnoll in the hobgoblin torture room; I (playing the wizard) was able to say "I put it out of its misery with magic missile" and that was that, with no wasted time or effort. But I can understand the concern that being able to hit all the time no matter what, even if it's only for a small amount of damage, is too much. I think I was confused because your objections all focus on it auto-hitting, which as stated has been a feature of every magic missile I've ever seen (except the original 4e version, but again, that's an at-will as well). I think that a low-damage, auto-hitting spell that does use up a spell slot isn't overpowered-- would you agree?

As for the document I got at the start of that campaign, I should be clear that this was an extreme corner case dealing with something that had come up in play before I joined. It was a case of the DM codifying in writing something that he had ruled in the game so as not to forget the ruling later. I think you could raise a similar issue with lots of spells-- really any that deal damage on a miss/failed save, such as fireball and its ilk. They still "auto-hit" in a sense, so corner cases would similarly apply.

EDIT: Also, random thought about the hunting issue, which I've heard raised on other threads. I was bugged by that too but heard what I thought was a reasonable counter-argument, namely that hunting is different from combat and should really be handled with a wilderness or survival skill. Being able to kill an animal isn't necessarily the same as being able to take it down in a useful way. You can hunt ducks with lead buckshot in your shotgun but you sure wouldn't want to eat them; you could blow them up with dynamite but you wouldn't get a meal from it-- that sort of thing.
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Well if magic missile hits 'b/c it is magical' why the rolls for EVERY other attack type spell.

How have you gone with at-will magic missiles over many sessions? Have you played a wilderness game where food is scarce and the mage is a better hunter than the ranger?

I agree - the main thing this needs is to be LIMITED in use. One of those spells for that very special occaision when other ranged attacks would be hard. Not everytime this is the case. I also agree that changing its damage is less of a concern for me. More damage + limited use suits me fine. It is the 'all the time under any circumstances' that does my head in.
...and unique. That part's important. If Magic Missile has a miss chance, it doesn't feel any different than a monk's ki strike ability or any of the other dozens of low damage spells over the years. The auto-hit puts the "magic" in magic missile to me.

I'm betting monster HP will get a small boost as the playtest data is refined since enemies dropping too easily has been a common complaint. That might fix the issue with magic missile being too spamable.

Another idea is to shift to a X per day power associated with a theme or class feature choice. A warmage would have a good reason to have an auto-hit ignores cover attack, but limiting it to "2 + Int Mod times per day" might take some of the sting out of its spamable nature. You can either thin out the mob or save it to chip away at the BBEG, but it's now a limited resource but not so much so that it takes away the feel of the spell being a basic spell.

As far as the hunting, the ranger's still going to have an edge because he/she can track and find the animal. The wizard's still got to find game to auto-kill it. And if you want flavor, have magic missile kills make the meat taste disgusting. I've always done that in a survival setting - kills by magic always spoil the meat. It's showed up enough in fiction for comedy purposes (Slayers and the Legend of the Seeker TV series off the top of my head) that it isn't coming out of left field.


First Post
Yeah, the problem is auto-hit + at-will.

The idea of prepping cantrips in a spell slot is interesting. It might be more complex/confusing than they want for the rules kernel, but this allows you to have magic missile both ways.

0-level spells would include an extra entry/paragraph describing the effects of casting that spell with a spell slot. This allows cantrips and orisons to scale with level without spamming crazy effects.

In the case of magic missile, the base 0-level spell requires an attack roll. When preparing it with a spell slot of any level greater than 0, magic missile auto-hits, and it's damage scales with spell slot level.

Kind of like a snapshot, or shooting from the hip; improvised magic vs prepared.


Magic Missile should be returned to full spell power.

My proposed solution is to make Magic Missile a Level 1 spell that lets you auto hit with 3 missiles that deal 1d4+1 each. The missiles can be targeted individually, so you can spread them out or assign them all to 1 target. Then if you prepare it as a higher level spell, you get more missiles. Would you cast a 2nd level spell to auto-hit 4d4+4 damage on one target? Or 5d4+5 damage on one target?

While Burning Hands might do more damage in its cone to more enemies, Magic Missile would be longer range and could target enemies who are further apart from each other. It would be a very flexible attack spell.

A replacement cantrip would be created in its place that does not Auto-Hit. It might require an attack roll at 100 feet range for 1d6 force damage. Perhaps Arcane Bolt?

Or if the designers wanted to go the route of utility cantrips that can be used to damage foes, they could make Mage Hand do a 1d6 force damage with a slap.

Actually, I reeeally want mage hand to be able to force slap enemies now.

An Ignite cantrip can heat things, set things on fire, and turn up the heat to burn your opponent.

Ray of Frost can variably chill or freeze things, or have the temperature dropped to reduce a creature's speed by 20 feet. (I don't like the immobilized condition being delivered by a cantrip. I would prefer a level 1 spell that did damage and immobilized.)

Stuff like that!


Aaarrrgghhh!....(Magic Missile Again)

I tried to end this and I really didn't want the whole focus of our Playtest to be on one spell...(my fault I guess, I did call it 'Dealbreaker' didn't I? :blush:).

If you wish to comment on my comments regarding the spell, PLEASE read all references to it above and in our playtest. I am merely saying, it did not suit our style, there were many moments where it came up that we did not like, and therefore I can only imagine there would be a WHOLE lot more over a campaign.

Sure, you can 'just say' the meat tastes bad if killed with MM, but WHY do that. It was killed by force. See, to me that is approaching this the whole wrong way. And yes, a ranger can track the food, but when it is around them (as I like to give wilderness areas life) the mage could blast away all day at small game that doesn't have the sense to stay away (in our case squirrels and ravens).

And yes, other spells do half damage BECAUSE THEY FILL AN AREA IN FIRE or what have you. I am cool with that. I am just not cool with a missile/ranged attack of any kind being able to hit ALL THE TIME, NO MATTER THE CIRCUMSTANCES and is an UNLIMITED RESOURCE. It is such an unimaginative spell in the first place, but then steps on the toes of all ranged attackers. When even the best archer can't quite get a decent shot off the wizard ALWAYS can and ALWAYS hits.

Man, and people were worried about wizards stepping on rogue's toes with invis, silence and knock spells.

So yes, I am happy to keep said spell auto-hit (I don't like it and and as statedin playtest we tried it), BUT it must be limited in use (and more than happy to change the damage. In fact, I don't care what damage it does. That was not an issue for us. I have no problem with the spell dropping 'minions' with one hit. My view on the playtest would be the same if it was 1d8+1. Damage was not the issue).

I'd 'prefer' to roll to hit like any other ranged missile however, and then I don't care where it sits level/use/damage wise.

Whoah, my bad. I'd rather not continue with the focus on MM (perhaps it could have its own thread...but I am sure it has been done to death anyway). So, please consider any further remarks on it 'in the context of our game and what I have said'. I really aren't that concerned about it to be honest - I doubt it will go through in its current form and if it does we'll House Rule. I am still all over DnDN :)
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First Post
As one of the players in this session I found that overall the session was very enjoyable and the extra work put into making the game more suited to our style of game by the DM was greatly appreciated by all the players.

In general I personally felt it was more a return to the role playing of the characters (with a little background & personalities added) than the sheer number crunching some of our games felt like at times during 4E sessions.


sounds like an

exciting adventure, guys!

I look forward to playing this too (arrgh all my friends are busy all the time with jobs and assignments and girlfriends and lame stuff like that...ugh).

Not to kick a dead horse, but if MM is auto-hit, it should do 1 HP damage! and recharge on a 1 on a D4 roll every round. That would keep it at-will but slow its spammyness down, and allow enemies time to escape (or pummel the wizard). I mean, let's face it, if the wizard can ping you from a safe place and you can't escape, you deserve what's coming to you. I'd say it should be auto-hit but the enemy has to be visible the entire time. No seeing the enemy once then you have heat-seeking, infrared xray neutrino radar on it. Infrared is enough (heat seeking. If it ducks behind a rock the missile goes straight and loses its target).

There was a card in Magic the Gathering that did something similar, wasn't there? It did 1 damage, period. Now, imagine a posse of wizards...all they do is have a wall of pikemen in front of them, and loose magic missiles every round, killing a few things and mopping the rest the next round. You could do wave after wave of zombies this way. I kind of like it. MM has to be at-will, because they promised us at-will attack spells, but the damage could be low (1 HP sounds good, at 1st level at least). Then you add more missiles, each doing 1 damage. That would be incredibly powerful because you could fire three at this guy then switch targets when it drops to put the other two in the final kobold, killing it too. That's a higher level wizard, mind you.

We don't want a game where you spend 20 rounds fighting...if the only person who can hit the enemy is 1HP damage missiles from the wizard, that's a bad adventure / enemy design. But then again...it's the little missile that *could*. I like the "always on" advantage idea too, but I'd prefer a recharge mechanic. Would add some spice for when you're out of spells and the enemy orc has finished off everyone but the wizard.


I am not restating my views on the MM, hopefully the horse is dead (from all the auto-hits ;)).

If you have not run this yet, have you checked out the 'Realms' sheets I attached earlier? They may be of use if you plan to have a lot of interation between the tribes and between the tribes and PCs.


As another of the players from this game, let me just say that my impression was of an improved game from 4e.

I came up through all the versions of D&D since the Red Books, and I while I like some of the concepts introduced by 4e, I hadn't realized how much it had hampered our creativity as players. The game had always been one of the players stating what they wanted to do, the DM assigning it a roll (be it an attack roll, a skill check, or an ability check), and then letting the dice determine the result. 4e changed that to the players looking at their character sheet to see what their character could do, then just doing that.

I really did treat this as a Playtest, knowing that there will be further developments as the system progresses. There were some things that really didn't impress me at this stage (some of them mentioned above), but I'm willing to give WoTC the benefit of the doubt that there will be changes to some, if not all, of these as the process continues. One thing I really do applaud them on is involving the community so thoroughly in the process itself. My biggest beef so far is that it's going to take so long for us to get our hands on the final product!

At the end of the day, I think that this system is looking like a genuine improvement in the game, and I'm excited at the prospect of the next round of playtesting already!


Yeah, the problem is auto-hit + at-will.

I don't think the issue is really as much at-will atuomatic hitting, I think it's really more at-will automatic killing. Even when Magic Missile went back to auto-hitting in 4E it didn't auto-kill anything but minions, usually being just a minor amount of damage and not a great spell when you reach mid levels and the only time you use it is when you're having trouble hitting or so beat up, out of healing, the melee people are down and you want to be as far away from the enemy as possible.

With flatter math and lower enemy HP it becomes MUCH more powerful. Instead of 6 points of damage being 1/5 of an enemies HP even at beginning levels, 4 points now kills a lot of them.


How We Played

Just some basics on how we actually played at the table.

*We use miniatures. Between our group we have 1000s and I had my draws full right behind me ready to go. (We have always used minis to represent positioning).
*We did not use the 'grid'. Whilst there were squares on some of the maps I used, I did not use them. We played it a lot looser - especially in regards to how many people could fit where. I am happy with up to 4 across a 10ft wide tunnel if they are using piercing weapons for eg. I tend to call it as I/we would imagine it.
*We did have 6 inch rulers on hand for each PC to be able to quickly measure how far they can move. Again, this was fast. It helped that the rulers were bendy too.
*I ignored the individual room layouts for Caves of Chaos. I simply used them to draw maps of how each room was positioned in regards to another.
*Battle maps used were from my collection of 4E ones, including the many I drew up for the Trollhaunt Warrens. When they reached a cavern where a fight was likely I often grabbed a map. OR I quickly created one using the many ties from hooded tops I have (or dominoes, blocks, etc) So, all rooms were a LOT larger than in the module.
*Wilderness fights are cool too. I scatter green or brown dice (I have lots of green) to represent trees and many green poker chips to represent bushes (that can be moved through). Again, hoody strings made good paths and rivers.
*I used a lot of pictures. I had a picture of a standard member of each tribe. I also had symbols or favoured colours used by the tribes, so these came up a lot. The painting of the Caves of Chaos was used for the players to get the granduer of the place. (My map represented a lot more than a few hundred feet.
*The final battle was a much bigger room. I had blocks for the altars and used blocks and tiles to make a raised area for the throne. I used the tile for a giant throne and placed 2 smaller ones on either side (which was cool, b/c a female PC was charmed and asked to join the BBEG). Again, hoody ties made the curtains.
*In all, we did play out all major fights with minis, but were not so restricted by the grid/squares.


Still can't XP you, but your game all sounds pretty cool, I could certainly see myself enjoying it. Nice to see your players posting too.


First Post
Connorsrpg - Wow! Great recap, and thank you for sharing the interesting and fun tools. I'd love to run the playtest over GenCon weekend similarly for some of my friends. If it pans out, we will DEFINITELY be using these tools!

SO, the one thing I'm amazed didn't come up for you - skill system.

In my playtests, this has been the biggest gap. Especially as a 4e experienced DM, I've come to rely on and LOVE the skill challenge system from 4e. To have such a drastic shift to "just say it" and it all works. I lost some of the much-loved dramatic tension from interaction and exploration. The rules had reasonable guideposts, but got messy at times. For example:
The halfling rogue scouts ahead. - ok, no problem, you see a dozen orcs.
We all sneak up on them. - uh, well it's going to be pretty difficult for the dwarf in plate...
Alright, everyone but the dwarf sneak up, and he readies a crossbow. - um, ok, so you're only as strong as your weakest link, have the lowest dex person make a DC13 Dex check (-1), and fail. Hmmm....

How did you play around this or what might you suggest from your playtest campaign weekend? (Loaded question, I've got some definite thoughts myself!)


First Post
Excellent work, Connorsrpg. Thanks for taking the time to write up your session. I am two behind on mine.

I love wilderness exploration so I will ask, how did you handle supplies like rations and encumbrance? In 4e Dark Sun if you are familiar with it, there are survival days. Since next doesn't have healing surges, (thank goodness from my POV) I am wondering how to go about what happens when supplies start running low. CON damage? I am not sure.

I am somehow pleased that you used minis and not a grid. I prefer to do it that way also.



And [MENTION=1363]ashockney[/MENTION]

Just a very quick BG first. I loved when Non-Weapon Proficiencies were introduced into 2E, then I was over the moon with skill points in 3E. I then liked the shift to trained and untrained skills in Saga and 4E (and 3.5E?).

At the times I thought they were all great innovations and I didn't get this talk about class-based system vs skill-based system.

However, over time with each system, there became many things I didn't like, especially: spending skill points as a DM, play being focused too much on what you were good at, etc.

If you had told me you were removing the skills system and returning to Ability checks even 4 years ago I would have thought that a bad move. But I actually loved the simplified skills system. I have been leaning towards such a thing for some time now, and can see the problem with skills being 'tacked on'.

RE a dwarf in plate sneaking around - I would have thought that a problem no matter the system. In any case I 'picture' it as difficult, so I like that it is. Mind you, I always had the enemies 'doing something' that may have made it easy for the PCs to sneak up sometimes. (I roll on a random chart on the Encounters doc I have created...I will attach if interested). Also, one time I had a few orcs simply stand there all bravado-like willing the PCs to them (so the gnolls could spring an ambush of course ;)).

So, did we have a problem with the skills system? 1. Some players found it hard remembering what they could do. We found this more of a problem of the character sheet than the actual skills. I would lay them out differently myself.

We (and I hope my players might back this up...I could be wrong) thought the skill system was very elegant and spoke volumes to character. Along with 'bounded accuracy' and DCs that make sense and don't scale = perfect. (I should have mentioned both as parts we liked).
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Re Food & Encumbrance


Thanks for your question and thoughts. Yes, I love the focus going back on exploration. I built a fair bit of travel and several wilderness encounters into the playtest.

Unfortunately, food wasn't a problem. Town was 3-4 days away and the PCs carried enough. Then the Keep on the Borderlands was chocked with foodstuffs that the humanoid raiders had taken from the caravan raids, so it never came up :( They did run short of water on one trip, but never actually went a full day without.

Some carried kegs of water on their shoulders. (Good thing they did, b/c that was what they traded with the orcs).

I didn't track encumbrance for this. I usually do, but the PCs did not take on too much. I simply said PCs carrying kegs were reduced by 1 for their overland speed, but given the movement rate was 5 anyway it did not affect anything (as dwarves aren't slowed when encumbered).

How would I handle things? Probably with Constitution checks. I would probably remove their access to Hit Dice (like surges), and, especially for water, they act with disadvantage. Once hit die go, a failed save = Death.

We did have a couple of PCs struggle with the heat. On a Warm day I asked for one easy CON check (DC 10) if they travelled during the heat. Failed checks had disadvantage on all checks until rested and watered. For hot days I called for 2 checks. That seemed a solid off-the-cuff call (though looking back I could have limited access to Hit Dice instead or as well as a cumulative thing). When a player explained how a skill of theirs would help (like Survival) I allowed them to add that to the roll.

My players are all very cool with me just calling for rolls and suffereing the consequences if they fail. Mind you, I am very open the other way too. (I care little for a balanced fight and if the PCs are prepared or just get lucky, well I let them have all the advantages available. (This was the exact case with the encounter at the keep). :)

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