The (Non-)Playtest Experience, or How the Hit Die Mechanic was a Non-Starter

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First Post
Except that he didn't even try the game, he just poo-pooed it before trying it due to this one rule that must make the game completely unplayable somehow. I'd respect the opinion, too, but I'd have taken the sheet and said, "Okay, see ya next week. Everyone else ready to play?"

Probably anyway. I do my best to not hang out with such closed-minded people.
It's a strong position this guy takes, but clearly it comes from experience. He's played rpgs, and he knows what is going to cause a problem for him. I don't think that's close-minded, as long as it comes from experience.

If I'm a DM, I look at it as my responsibility to create an experience that's worth several hours of a busy person's time. If a person tells me that isn't the case, it's my responsibility to address the issue, not his responsibility to give it a try.

If I invite people over for dinner, and one of them informs me that he won't eat what I prepared because he is a vegan, I don't call him close-minded, I accomodate his needs.

Li Shenron said:
But the truth is that the others agreed with him then you made a mistake of not playing the game... you should have agreed to house rule the mechanic they refused to play and try playtest anyway. It actually says so in the playtest adventure: if the playtest rules don't let you play the game the way you want, change them and play that way, then let WotC know what you needed to change in order to suit your idea of game.
It may be that the person's complaint about healing was not the entire issue. That said, this is an entirely reasonable thing to do. Some people just don't think that way.

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Li Shenron

If I'm a DM, I look at it as my responsibility to create an experience that's worth several hours of a busy person's time. If a person tells me that isn't the case, it's my responsibility to address the issue, not his responsibility to give it a try.

If I invite people over for dinner, and one of them informs me that he won't eat what I prepared because he is a vegan, I don't call him close-minded, I accomodate his needs.

Only to a certain degree tho... When I DM a game, I spend a lot more time than the players to prepare it. I take the responsibility to accomodate everyone if they take the responsibility of putting their pet peeves aside if I cannot accomotate them in the current game.

If I have a vegan guest, I make sure I have decent vegan options at the table, but I'm not going to cancel or spoil a barbecue that the other guests are expecting.


In the end... the whole thing comes down to this...


The ONLY way that the designers of D&D are going to know that a rule shouldn't be in the game is if enough people PLAY the game with that rule and then tell them IT DOESN'T WORK.

If they don't get people saying that to them... they will assume it's fine.

So if you don't like it, PLAY IT AND THEN TELL THEM.

Otherwise... when the game is released full with rules you wouldn't have wanted... you have nobody to blame but yourself.


First Post
Yes, but if I were to redesign the nature of hit points, I wouldn't call it D&D. I'd call it Rounser's Nextastic Fantasy Heartbreaker, so D&D fans wouldn't look at it and have to relearn fundamental conceits they thought they already knew. D&D already has a common understanding of it's conceits such as hp, healing etc. They may think they get to mess with that, but may be in for another unwelcome surprise from the D&D existing audience.

Since I have been playing DnD, which was 1988, I have never encountered (in the flesh) somebody who really believed hit points represented physical tolerance to damage. It was explained to me, by my first DM, that the only serious hit you would likely take was the one that put you down. That was in 1988.

All the, frankly, :):):):):):):):), that has flown around a mechanic, that at core, should be simple, and attractive, to new hobbyists, and new players, and preferably, one that is a familiar trope. I'm all for a modular wounds system, and I'll likely be using my one from 4e, where you lose from your maximum HP pool, and lose a surge, if you drop below 1. Without magically healing, it takes a month for that to come back. The issue, of course, is that my group has been known to *kidnap* a cleric, if their own was unavailable. - so you're never without magical healing with out the worst kinds of DM fiat.

Doug McCrae

D&D has a long tradition of non-simulationist mechanics, such as hit points
Further to this point, it seems to me there has always been a disconnect in D&D between the fundamental core mechanics - classes, levels, hit points, armor class, alignment - and the secondary systems. The former are a lot less simulationist than the latter. So different people can look at D&D and see different things, like the blind men and the elephant, and they're both right.

I suspect this may be because Dave Arneson created the core mechanics, and Gary Gygax created the secondary systems.

Last night our game group got together, with the intent to try the D&D 5e Playtest. One of our regular players was out of town, so the GM who's been running our GURPS campaign wanted to take the night off, and get in a "one shot" as a player just for fun.

Obviously, this was the perfect setup for doing something like the playtest--short, pre-gen characters, self-contained--so I volunteered to GM the playtest scenario.

So I printed out the "How to Play" PDF, studied up on the mechanics and Caves of Chaos, and was all set to go.

I show up at the appointed time, people are there, hanging out and eating food, and what not. I start handing out the pre-gen character sheets, and start going over some of the basic changes compared to other editions (all of the players have played Pathfinder, 2 of the 5 regularly played 1e and 2e in the past).

Everything's going fine; they like the "Advantage" and "Disadvantage" thing, they like being able to base checks off any attribute . . .

But as soon as I explain the hit die / healing mechanics, the GURPS GM (who was going to be a PC for the playtest), hands back the character sheet, and says, "I won't play a game where your hit points are LITERALLY guaranteed to be returned to you every night. Period. If this is how the game works, it's a waste of time to even play it. Let's do something else."

And to be honest, I didn't necessarily disagree with him. I was willing to give it a shot in the playtest, but the basic premise of the mechanic hadn't been sitting right with me all week.

Now, in some sense, this was a "knee jerk" reaction on his part, but he also gave a very succinct reason for his opinion--"I get that they want to not force players to be a cleric, but how do you simulate a wilderness survival scenario, or an extended mission scenario using this mechanic?"

I suppose I should report this in the WotC survey, but so far, the sum total of our playtest experience is---"Hit Die Mechanic is a Non-Starter. Not terribly enthused about what we've seen so far. Interest in actually buying product in the future is sinking even further."

Personally i plan to houserule the hd and one day heal if they stay in the game (andthe next iteration is as acceptable as the playtest doc), but i agree hd and healing are aweful so far. Your group's reaction is exactly why this needs to be an optional add-on.


I remember when I first tried 4E. I didn't like what I thought was the idea of the Healing Surge mechanic but I played, I actually tried it. And you know what? I came to love it and not want to go back to the old system in any way, shape or form because:

1. It made just as much sense as the old way.
2. It plays so much better than the old way.
3. It also opened up Clerics/healers to do cool things as well.
4. It got rid of all those boring, hackneyed "Cleric in a Can" magic items.
5. Better represented actual Hit Points, etc. by their definition.
6. Actually put a reasonable limit on stamina/adventuring day without grinding the game to a halt after every big fight/day or loading up on said hackneyed items.

Doug McCrae

1. It made just as much sense as the old way.
5. Better represented actual Hit Points, etc. by their definition.
That's a good point. If most hit points are non-physical, as is the case with the Gygaxian explanation, then fast recovery is actually more realistic.

Though it's rather hard to say how long it takes to recover one's skill, luck, sixth sense, or magical protection. Hang on a moment. Are these attributes that one has a set amount of, and then loses?

"Oooh, that orc hitting me over the head has made me a lot less lucky! I'll need a good long rest to get it back. My sixth sense is shot all to hell too. Ninjas are sneaking up on me now."


And nowhere did I say they were simple wounds. You're tilting at a strawman of your own devising. Regardless, regaining all HP overnight without magical intervention does not pass the "is it D&D" sniff test, no matter how WOTC thinks they can redefine the game, IMO.

It's not a strawman, it's you being shown you are incorrect, have been incorrect and always will be incorrect on the subject of Hit Points being defined the way you're trying to define them unless they actually change them from what they've always represented.

You CAN play them in other ways (it's a HOUSE RULE) but you grossly misrepresent what they've ALWAYS meant by definition of Anderson, Gygax, Cook, Cook, Tweet, Williams, Heinsoo, Bonner, Collins, Wyatt, Mearls, etc.

That doesn't make you wrong for wanting a system that better represents physical wounds or is more tied to them at least. Or for house ruling them differently in the game. That's just different from what D&D always has been.

The overnight resource replenishment is just as realistic as not, whether or not someone actually likes it because Hit Points again are not that closely tied to actual wounds/physical damage.

Look at it this way, at the end of each and every day in real life we are worn down, even martial artists, soldiers, etc. Look at soldiers especially. They may have cuts, bruises or whatever but in the end what they need, just like every other human being, is sleep.

Sleep re-charges the body, speeds healing and when they awaken in the morning they are re-charged to take on another day. The bruises hurt a bit less, the scrapes itch a bit from healing, etc. They're up and going again. They're not perfect, but Hit Points aren't that granular either. There's no "Severely Sprained Ankle" or "Dislocated Shoulder" condition/mechanic, and a twisted ankle or popping a shoulder back in to place are things adventurers have to deal with and still perform just as well with or they die.
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