WotC On One D&D Playtest Survey Results: Nearly Everything Scored 80%+!

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In a 40-minute video, WotC's Jeremy Crawford discussed the survey feedback to the 'Character Origins' playtest document. Over 40,000 engaged with the survey, and 39,000 completed it. I've summarised the content of the video below.

High Scorers
  • The highest scoring thing with almost 90% was getting a first level feat in your background. This is an example of an experimental thing -- like advantage and disadvantage in the original 5E playtests.
  • Almost everything also scored 80%+.
About The Scoring System
  • 70% or higher is their passing grade. In the 70s is a thumbs up but tinkering need. 80% means the community wants exactly that and WotC treads carefully not to change it too much.
  • In the 60s it's salvageable but it really needs reworking. Below 60% means that there's a good chance they'll drop it, and in the 40s or below it's gone. Nothing was in the 50s or below.
Low Scorers

Only 3 things dipped into the 60s --
  • the d20 Test rule in the Rules Glossary (experimental, no surprise)
  • the ardling
  • the dragonborn
The next UA had a different version of the d20 Test rule, and they expect a very different score when those survey resuts come in.

It was surprising that the dragonborn scored lower than the ardling. The next UA will include new versions of both. The main complaints were:
  • the dragonborn's breath weapon, and confusion between the relationship between that dragonborn and the one in Fizban's Treasury of Dragons.
  • the ardling was trying to do too much (aasimar-like and beast-person).
The ardling does not replace the aasimar. The next version will have a clearer identity.

Everything else scored in the 70s or 80s.

Some more scores:
  • new human 83%
  • dwarf, orc, tiefling, elf tied at 80-81%
  • gnome, halfling tied at 78%
Future installments of Unearthed Arcana
  • The next one will have new ardling and dragonborn, a surprise 'guest', and a new cleric. It will be a shorter document than the previous ones, and the one after that is bigger again. Various class groups.
  • Warrior group digs into something teased in a previous UA sidebar -- new weapon options for certain types of characters. Whole new ways to use weapons.
  • New rules on managing your character's home base. A new subsystem. Create bases with NPCs connected with them, implementing downtime rules. They're calling it the "Bastion System".
  • There will be a total of 48 subclasses in the playtest process.
  • New encounter building rules, monster customization options.
  • New versions of things which appear in the playtest after feedback.
Other Notes
  • Playtests are a version of something with the assumption that if something isn't in the playtest, it's still in the game (eg eldritch blast has not been removed from the game). The mage Unearthed Arcana will feature that.
  • Use an object and other actions are still as defined in the current Player's Handbook. The playtest material is stuff that has changed.
  • Thief subclass's cunning action does not interact with use an object; this is intentional. Removed because the original version is a 'Mother may I?" mechanic - something that only works if the DM cooperates with you. In general mechanics which require DM permission are unsatisfying. The use an object action might go away, but that decision will be a made via the playtest process.
  • The ranger's 1st-level features also relied too heavily on DM buy-in, also wild magic will be addressed.
  • If you have a class feature you should be able to use it in the way you expect.
  • If something is removed from the game, they will say so.
  • Great Weapon Fighting and Sharpshooter were changed because the penalty to the attack roll was not big enough to justify the damage bonus, plus they want warrior classes to be able to rely on their class features (including new weapon options) for main damage output. They don't want any feats to feel mandatory to deal satisfying damage. Feats which are 'must haves' violate their design goals.
  • Light Weapon property amped up by removing the bonus action requirement because requiring light weapon users to use their bonus action meant there were a lot of bad combinations with features and spells which require bonus actions. It felt like a tax on light weapon use.
  • Class spell lists are still an open question. Focus on getting used to the three big spell lists. Feedback was that it would be nice to still have a class list to summarize what can be picked from the 'master lists'. For the bard that would be useful, for the cleric and wizard not necessary as they can choose from the whole divine or arcane list.
The playtest process will continue for a year.

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As I have repeatedly said: they use awful survey design and push polls, not actually effective survey gathering. And, as noted, they don't seem to distinguish between "controversial but still good," "vocal minority hates it but most players love it," and "actually not very popular but a vocal minority loves it."

This thing you complain about here has been a problem since the D&D Next playtest. Nothing has changed about this. It just happened to actually affect something you care about this time.
You're more in the Mearls era than the current one. If they're going for a 70% success rate as their primary means of feedback they do have ways to weed out over-amplified vocal minorities unless survey stuffing is going on.

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The people who are most likely to engage with the survey are already 5e fans. The new revision is changing very little. Ergo, the 5e fans are happy that few meaningful changes are being proposed.
I'm a little shocked that the entirety of the playtest packets don't have a 96% approval rate.
I want real change to the game, but what can I do besides take a survey and respond "scrap most of this and do something new, or just reprint the 2014 version with a new commemorative cover."

I feel you, but I'm not quite that jaded. I'd guess that 90-95% of the final draft is written in stone, and that the primary purpose of the playtest is about change management. You tell people about the changes coming, listen to their complaints, then implement what you want anyhow.

For the other 5-10%, I'd guess that's where the A-B testing is coming in,
I am less jaded still... but untrusting. I think they have a good chunk (more then half) written and ready. I think they have another 1/3 written but needing more passes... and the playtest CAN change some small things, and WILL influence the remaining amount a lot, and the 1/3 wip a bit and maybe make some minor changes to the half already done.
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Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Darn - I really do not like feats. Love that they are optional in 5E 2014 since it makes it easier as a DM to not allow them in my games. I guess I can just ignore them in 5E 2024. Since everyone gets them it should balance if I ignore them completely. Or I can just keep running 5E 2014 - I have all the books I need physically and digitally and it will essentially be the same game.

Instead of feats I allow players to attempt just about anything they can imagine and that makes sense with their PC concept - I just use opposed/unopposed ability checks.
Alternatively, just think of “1st level feats” as background features - heck, tie them to specific backgrounds and ban custom backgrounds. Then rule that the only 4th level feat you can take is the ability score increase feat.


Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
They've proven before that they care about more than just profit. Otherwise, they would leave books alone after they publish them and not waste time with errata. The existence of errata proves that they have motivations beyond just pure profits.
This doesn’t follow. A profit-motivated company would still publish errata if they thought doing so would bring them a greater net profit in the long-term.


Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I still say doing it piecemeal is an ineffective method of testing. D&D has A LOT of moving parts and how they interact is far more important than how any individual part operates in isolation. Putting out a singular big playtest packet and asking people to go hog wild is a much better way to actually figure out whether the rules work. If that's the intent. Which this probably isn't.
It would certainly seem that way, but apparently that approach had poor results in the Next playtest.

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