D&D 5E Our 5 Session Playtest



I was just reading over this and noted that I said that I had included some wilderness encounters in the session.

I would just like to point out, very few of the encounters in this game were pre-determined.

I had a Random Encounter chart for the Ravine & surrounding forrest, and another for the Thornwaste (the desert to the south of the road used).

I had players roll for encounters, so they knew I had not predetermined their fate and the enemies they WOULD meet. FOr eg, I was just going to have the KotB abandoned, but the PCs rolled 1 for the random encounter check, so I then rolled on the sheet and got a mixed humanoid group from the CoC. (It turned into the goblin and ogre encounter).

I am very comfortable putting these together on the spot, and I have a large compiled Encounter document that helps me put together Creature, Event or Place encounters.

Even the gnoll, orc and zombies on poles was made up 'on the spot'. (We had a short break, so I wanted the players to return to a cool encounter. Having the time to set up, I positioned the orcs on the ledge, bushes for the gnolls to hide, then with a glance at my DM Box I saw the people on ple minis I had from a Dracula set and quickly added them).

For creatures, the document also has 'actions' - so it helps to determine what the creatures are doing. Edit: Attached this doc below.


  • Encounters - Fantasy - Generation Charts (Mar12).doc
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Playtest for Package 2.0

On the past weekend we played a double session of the new Playtest Rules. (I so wish I could alter the title of this thread now :erm:).

Most of the first session was roleplaying and traveling. When we got to where we were going we played out the old 1E module Cult of the Reptile God. (We did not quite finish and will do so next session. Then we are playing another one-off before embarking on a full playtest campaign when I convert the Rise of the Runelords).

This time Shane (Vamprey here) DMed. We had the same players as in the initial post minus the guy who has come back to RPing (and Shane and I swapped spots of course). Again - I will separate my thoughts.


Playtest 2 Characters

We had a diverse lot of PCs.

1. High Elf Sun Cleric (Noble, Jack-of-all-trades)
2. High Elf Wizard (Spy, Necromancer)
3. Halfling Fighter (Bounty Hunter ?)
4. Halfling Rogue (Thief, ?, from the playtest packet)
5. Human Fighter (Sharpshooter, Archer, from the playtest packet).

PCs 1-2 were determined totally randomly (by myself and the other player of most editions).

PC 3 was built by the player that might have played some 3.5, but mostly 4E.

PCs 4+5 were selected at random at the start of the session from the pregens that came with Playtest 2 packet. (1 player has played since 2E?, the other was new to 4E).

Yes, (those of us that made PCs) rolled stats - and well ,a whole lot more in the case of PCs 1-2.
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Playtest 2 Classes

The classes seemed to work very well in this playtest.

Fighter: Both players loved the Combat Superiority mechanic, but neither realised it was 'every round' until near the end of session 2 :(

Rogue: This one seemed the most 'limited' in our group, but it was more to do with the player not knowing the PC beforehand and the PC Sheets weren't exactly easy to use. Also, this player has only experienced 4E and is used to looking for powers to use first, rather than stating what the character was doing and then using rules to support that. Overall, though, being small, the halfling started hidden and got to use Sneak Attack often enough.

Wizard and Cleric: We had fun with the spells. We didn't often run out, as we were used to saving resources. My cleric had no healing other than Channel Divinity (spells were done randomly ;)).

No real complaints here, but if there are specific Q's, please ask.
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In all, there are not many situations that stood out to me regarding the rules (so, I guess at least there weren't any real ones that concerned us).

We were happy with the OA's, but it never really came up.

We house ruled Magic Missile again (but it never came up either. Only the cleric had it and never used it).

The fights seemed a little easy. Perhaps the enemies need an initial attack bonus too. PC damage seemed high - most of our attacks would take out each other. As in the first playtest, we haven't really given the Healing/Dying mechanics a real run, as we haven't had to.

I wasn't happy with the defined skills. I preferred the first Playtest in this regard (esp the not having a set Ability Score for each Skill).

One thing we agreed on was the Human. Those ability bonuses completely throw out what the other races' ability bonuses mean.

In all the game ran very smoothly and the reliance on Ability Checks for most things was elegant.



Having now communicated with some of the other players post game we all listed humans as something we did not like.

I don't really care for the balance or power of their stat boosts - to me it completely nullifies what a stat boost means. Don't dwarves get +1 Con (for eg) because they are more robust than humans? Under this system every human is as robust as any dwarf and moreso if the human chooses Con for the extra stat boost. Their stats cancel out other races' stat boosts?!

Instead, I reckon go for the old 'versatility' idea with humans. Give them one of two stat boosts where they want. But my favourite idea is to give humans an extra Specialty. This kind of covers bonus feats from previous eds and can be converted to a skill with the Jack-of-all-Trades Specialty too.
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4 Key Components of Character Generation

Far and away one of our favourite aspects of making characters was the combining of the 4 key components: Race, Class, BG & Specialty.

Especially for those of us that like to do things randomly. No more sorting through lists and endless possibilities (in the case of feats). One simple roll from the number of BGs and Specialties available (and Race and Class ;)) and we had our PCs done. Some strange and interesting combos to boot! :)

My personal preference would be for each of the 4 areas to contain one important choice...or in our case chance to roll randomly ;).

Race: Has subrace.
Class: Has Fighting Style, Domain, Scheme (and hopefull Wizard Schools down the track). Oh and Heritage and Benefactor/Patron for the warlock.
Background: I would like all listed relevant skills here and the player chooses 3.
Specialty: Again, I would like to see all relevant feats listed in one spot and the player then selects.

The last one is especially important to me. I am happy if the feats are listed in a preferred order for those that don't want any customisation, but if the feats are a list for each specialty, then it will be easy to add others down the track. So if new Two-Weapon Fighting feats come out later you don't need a new specialty for them - just add them to the Dual-Wielder Specialty list.

Taking the Dual-Wielder further, you could then choose T-W Defense before T-W Attack if you wished to be more defensive. (I am hoping feats are more open and not stuck with certain levels as seems to be the case so far - but this has not been made clear).

So, there you have it. We loved the 4 components and rolling random matches amongst them. Now I think each could be made more interesting with 1 major choice in each.

Li Shenron

Especially for those of us that like to do things randomly. No more sorting through lists and endless possibilities (in the case of feats). One simple roll from the number of BGs and Specialties available (and Race and Class ;)) and we had our PCs done. Some strange and interesting combos to boot! :)

Kudos for your bravery! :cool:

Background: I would like all listed relevant skills here and the player chooses 3.
Specialty: Again, I would like to see all relevant feats listed in one spot and the player then selects.

I haven't thought of this, and I think it's a great idea!

It will kind of defies the original purpose of background and specialty to relief a player from choices tho, therefore I think it should be done in a "sensitive" way...

How would you like something like the following rules/guidelines:

- each Background lists a small bunch of skills (e.g. max 5-6) and a trait
- the PHB suggests three possible methods (the DM may restrict some of them)
a) do not use skills at all
b) use backgrounds only (PCs must pick a background), pick 3 skills from its list
c) instead of picking a background, freely choose any three skills from the whole list + one of the background traits*

*this includes choosing a background as a starting point, but swap skills freely

- each Specialty lists a number of feats, and also suggests a ready-made default choice/sublist of them by level [or alternatively, first present the ready-made list like now, then mention a small list of possible additional feats]
- the PHB suggests four possible methods (the DM may restrict some of them)
a) do not use feats at all
b) pick a specialty and use default feat sublist
c) pick a specialty and also pick feats freely from all of which belong to your chosen specialty
d) pick feats freely from anywhere*

*this includes choosing a specialty as a starting point, but swap feats freely

I am also especially interested how Specialties can be used to enhanced the game. As a DM I would like to be able to use Specialties to define the equivalent of 3ed prestige classes, or membership to groups with restricted knowledge, but without imposing a fixed progression. Instead the PC entering the Order of the Screaming Wands or the Academy of Grim Clairvoyants will have an array of feats to choose from, representing what she can learn from her group (and isn't available to anyone else who isn't part of the group); then of couse each feat might have a level prerequisite if needed. I think this could be something good for the designers to exploit in campaign settings books and supplements, because it can represent elite groups without using classes.
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[MENTION=1465]Li Shenron[/MENTION]
Thanks for the discussion. Re your proposals - that is EXACTLY what I envisage for BGs and Specialties and EXACTLY how I would treat them as a DM. B-)

I too am interested in how organisations will play a part in advancement and how Specialties will develop. How will higher level specialised roles fit in? (Prestige Classes, Paragon Paths, etc).


We played again on the weekend. The group finished Cult of the Reptile God, but I did not make it to that.

We then played another 1-off playtest that combined the 4E Goblin and Orc delves into one keep.

It was heavy combat and a slogfest which was good - we hadn't really done that as a playtest until now. :)

I played a Rogue and did find it hard to get my Sneak Attack going, but that never really bothered me. I had not chosen the Lurker Specialty, so I guess that contributed. I kind of played as a skirmishing second fighter with 2 weapons.

I believe we enjoyed the rules - they seemed simple. There were a few Disengagements this time, but we all survived. Just when we had taken the last of all the foes down we would have taken a long rest anyway, so in all that worked well :)


Oh crap! I totally forgot about being able to take actions at any time during move. I am sure that I could have had some more fun with a dual-wielding rogue had I remembered that.

Though: 1. An 'Action' to disengage. :(
2. Could you hit with at different times with each hand? (I take it as written = no, but I certainly would allow it if GMing).

Epic Threats

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