Playtest Report


Okay, I finally got to run it last night. Three players, two mostly-grognards, and a relative latecomer. We've been playing a sort of C&C BECMI mashup lately.

We spent a good deal of time reviewing the rules "changes" and features before digging into it. Characters were the two dwarves, and the human Cleric. They entered the Gnoll caves. We saw 4.5 pretty good fights in two hours of playtime, along with some interesting moments of hesitation and skill checks. They retreated after the Gnoll leader and company pasted them pretty well. They took 2 days to heal up and buy some supplies. They returned to finish off the Gnolls, and I was about to sic an itinerant owlbear on them when we sort of broke down into discussion of how it went and what we liked and didn't like.

:DAdvantage/Disadvantage (and the idea of Bounded Accuracy). Everyone seemed to love this in play and in theory. This was the big hit of the night.

:DSpeed of Combat another thing people were happy to see. Things went almost as fast as with our BECMI/C&C combats, even with changes like initiative that we thought would take longer. Generally, we liked the powers/abilities as described (exceptions noted below.)

:heh:Backgrounds/Themes We liked what they added to the game, but were fearful of their future in splatbooks. Especially nice was the idea that you could actually run an all-fighter or all-rogue party without forcing someone to multiclass for healing or magic. Big concerns were ease of developing NPCs (as feats or whatever pile up) as well as bloat/balance concerns. Overall though, they were seen as a positive.

:hmm:Cantrips/Orisons Perhaps the most contentious issue. Of biggest concern was the flavor element. There's just no way to do low-magic or gritty when the cleric has "laser eyes". This can be a big issue, since it looks to me like the Wizard gets 4 of them to start with, regardless of theme. Radiant Lance was seen as too good. It was suspected that infinite Magic Missiles would also be too good. They seemed especially hated by the most fighter-lovin amongst us. One thought bears mentioning, perhaps they should be non-combat/damaging spells. No one objected to the idea of spamming Mage Hand or Detect Magic. All agreed that this needs further evaluation as the modularity gets explored. Being able to say "no cantrips" was seen as long as that doesn't mean "no wizards or clerics".

:-SRelative Strength of Dwarves It seemed like the Dwarven Cleric was slightly more effective in combat than the Dwarven Fighter....mostly because the Fighter kept taking hits due to his lower AC. They did comparable damage and both hit almost as much. Although this may be an issue to revisit, the Fighter player expressed that he would've liked to see the Defender them from the Cleric on his Fighter.

In general we agreed that it "felt like D&D", although the grognardiest player still though it felt more "boardgamey" he didn't really elaborate on why. (But then, he seems enthralled with earlier editions, C&C, and re-houseruling how weapons work.) We are still pretty cautious, since this is such an early stage, so even the things we liked or didn't like didn't engender too much emotion. Personally, I'd like more of a chance to stretch the roleplay and exploration pillars. None of us likes the idea of a Diplomacy skill.

Of particular note to me as a DM was how fast the abilities and spells resolved "in spite of" the fact that they weren't keyworded and formatted to the abyss and back. It underlined for me how differently tabletop play is from computer play, and how important it is to take that into account during design.:)

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Good report! It's interesting to hear of someone taking on the gnoll cave; it almost always seems to be the goblins or kobolds.

It would be an easy enough swap for the fighter to acquire a shield and a one-handed weapon, then take the guardian theme instead of slayer. We swapped weapons and armor when my players tried an all-fighter group (but since the girl playing said fighter was new to D&D, we didn't swap the theme). I really would love to see character generation rules for 5E so that we can put together some custom characters. Looks like that's a little ways off, however.

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