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D&D 5E Our 5 Session Playtest


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.

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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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