What the Playtest of D&D Next Means for You

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What the Playtest of D&D Next Means for You

Mike Mearls explains some of the mechanics in the public playtest of D&D Next.

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Um. The link to the playtest rules is a 404. Might want to get on that.

My fault, sorry about that bad link and thanks kyosai7 for pointing it out.

That's okay, WotC isn't faring much better. The download link they e-mailed me gives me an invalid URL error.

I notice at the end, he says that DnD doesn't need new spells, new mechanics, new stuff like that. So uh.. what are you doing exactly? Just reformatting old ones? Boy that's boring, kind of seems like a waste of time and money if you're not even going to put in anything new, just rehash the old stuff with different numbers. I'll stick with 3.5 thanks.

Tradjus:
I notice at the end, he says that DnD doesn't need new spells, new mechanics, new stuff like that. So uh.. what are you doing exactly? Just reformatting old ones? Boy that's boring, kind of seems like a waste of time and money if you're not even going to put in anything new, just rehash the old stuff with different numbers. I'll stick with 3.5 thanks.

You can have it. 3.5 is kind of like Rifts: the game's validity as a balanced ruleset is inversely proportional to the number of books the DM allows at the table. Besides, he didn't say no new mechanics. He said that adding lots of new mechanics is a bad idea, and I agree, especially if the goal is to preserve D&D for future generations. Scrapping the old instead of evolving it and refining it is what led to the community's current fractured state. Sewing that mess back together is going to be a challenge, and declaring 5E to be the "new new" would not help matters.

Reinvention works for some things, but when you want your creation to last through decades, the Nintendo Method works best.

Besides, if you want more spells, go look up the 2E Spell Compendiums. If you think you need still more spells that that, then I don't know what to say.

I'm not sure why 3-3.5 needed to be ditched in favor of 4.0. I started playing D&D during 2nd edition's prime and have been DMing Planescape ever since. About a year after 3rd edition came out, my friends and I all switched to 3rd and I adapted the Planescape rules to match. We liked 3rd edition because it was a good mix of flexibility and customization. Warriors were no longer boring and prestige classes allowed for custom prestige classes that can be used to personalize a character without having to invent an entire base class from the ground up, assuming one of the billion prestige classes released throughout the books did not satisfy your needs.

I don't think re-inventing the rules of the game every few years is doing anyone any good. Sure, a few versions are fine but once the engine is running smoothly, you have to switch gear. It's funny but Wizard's infinitely more successful product: Magic, does exactly that. The first few editions of Magic continued to shift the rules until they were polished by 6th edition. Since then, all future editions introduce new settings and new mechanics ON TOP of the foundation. They don't replace them. Why can't they do that with D&D?

Release campaign settings every 1.5-2 years that introduce a new theme and major story line with some additions on top of the core mechanics. That way, after players have played a setting for some time, they can make new characters in a new, fresh setting with some new mechanics to play with. You don't invalidate the old settings or the core books but can keep the game fresh and every setting is an entry point for potential new players.

Axyun:
I'm not sure why 3-3.5 needed to be ditched in favor of 4.0.

Because WOTC is hemorrhaging money on the publisher end of it's business.

You're better off investing in Paizo's "Pathfinder" than modern DnD IMO. It's just a slightly more unified/streamlined version of 3.5 with significantly better core backstory.

Think of it like... DnD 3.75.

Hmmmm... Sounds interesting. Good or bad, Im undecided. I guess thats the point of them giving me access to the resul to test, though :D

Greg Tito:
My fault, sorry about that bad link and thanks kyosai7 for pointing it out.

The link after the first paragraph is working. The one at the end of the article is still broken.

Emiscary:
You're better off investing in Paizo's "Pathfinder" than modern DnD IMO. It's just a slightly more unified/streamlined version of 3.5 with significantly better core backstory.

Think of it like... DnD 3.75.

And that's exactly why I don't care for Pathfinder. I don't want D&D 3.75. I only switched to 3.5 because my 2E stuff got stolen and then I moved and joined a group that had switched editions. Right now I've got Castles & Crusades because 4E was too mini-centric, but it looks like 5E will be stepping back from that, so I'm going to follow the playtest and see what we're getting.

I kinda like what I've seen so far. I really like the schemes and themes for characters, a good way to mix fluff and mechanics!

What does it mean for me? Probably nothing, I've moved onto Ars Magica.

I'm not going to dismiss this out of hand, I'm willing to check out the beta and see what it's got. However I suspect any attempt to put the fractured pieces of the D&D community back together is destined to failure. 4E was an extremely different sort of system, and trying to balance it with 3E seems too contradictory. (I'm assuming they won't stretch back as far as the AD&D/3E schism.)

So I've been reading through the rules of the new system. Seems like they basically ditched the majority of the combat and power system from 4 and replaced them with more class specific rules. Now everyone can move and take an action on their turn. The action can be anything from pushing over a barrel, to swinging a sword, to hiding, to casting a spell. There isn't any move-minor-standard stuff, though. As far as classes, everyone can attack with a weapon but only wizards and clerics can use spells. Rogues can sneak attack, hide and disarm traps and fighters don't do anything but attack. No more grids or tokens, the sample adventure just comes with one map of the entire area. It all seems very old school. My guess is that they are trying to woo back the 3.5 crowd.

P.S. I was going to say something about how they didn't compromise at all, but completely abandoned 4th edition to appease the "core" crowd. But then I was reading a post on an enworld forum about how this new edition still reeks of 4th and doesn't go far enough. :P I suppose you know its a compromise when everyone is unhappy, but I don't know how good that will be for sales.

castlewise:
So I've been reading through the rules of the new system. Seems like they basically ditched the majority of the combat and power system from 4 and replaced them with more class specific rules. Now everyone can move and take an action on their turn. The action can be anything from pushing over a barrel, to swinging a sword, to hiding, to casting a spell. There isn't any move-minor-standard stuff, though. As far as classes, everyone can attack with a weapon but only wizards and clerics can use spells. Rogues can sneak attack, hide and disarm traps and fighters don't do anything but attack. No more grids or tokens, the sample adventure just comes with one map of the entire area. It all seems very old school. My guess is that they are trying to woo back the 3.5 crowd.

P.S. I was going to say something about how they didn't compromise at all, but completely abandoned 4th edition to appease the "core" crowd. But then I was reading a post on an enworld forum about how this new edition still reeks of 4th and doesn't go far enough. :P I suppose you know its a compromise when everyone is unhappy, but I don't know how good that will be for sales.

Keep in mind that this first stage is likely basic by design. At the very beginning of a playtest you shouldn't be trying to wow people with fancy features; you should be trying to hammer out the basic mechanics that serve as the foundation for everything else. The once-per-encounter technograpples and Githyanki necropaladins can wait until a later stage, since those can be used or ignored as an individual group desires. If the baseline mechanics fail to hit the bullseye, however, the dominoes will fall down like a house of cards.

Axyun:
I'm not sure why 3-3.5 needed to be ditched in favor of 4.0.

I'm not sure why 2nd was ditched in favor of 3rd.

OT: The term Hit Dice has come a long way since my edition where it was something equivalent to a monster's level. Now it's some form of heal?

In any case, I'll stick to my 2nd.

Draconalis:

Axyun:
I'm not sure why 3-3.5 needed to be ditched in favor of 4.0.

I'm not sure why 2nd was ditched in favor of 3rd.

Three words: TSR went under.

I still like 2nd Edition better than its successors as well, but that doesn't leave me completely pessimistic about 5E. And even if it does turn out bad, I've got Castles & Crusades and possibly(in the near future) Myth and Magic to scratch my TSR era itch.

One thing I think we learned over the past 10 years is that adding lots of mechanics to the game is a bad idea over the long run. The game doesn't really need new spells, new feats, and so on.

Hopefully they actually stick by this. I kinda like 4E, but it's ridiculously bloated with unnecessary and samey races, classes, powers, feats and items. There have been some fun additions that actually feel unique, but they just end up buried in the avalanche of bland.

I read through the How to Play and DM Guidelines last night, and I gotta say I'm pretty happy with how they are shaping up. Looking forward to actually trying the game out.

I liked third because it was my "birth" edition. I liked 3.5 because it flattened out some of the worst parts of third (Man, do I hate Wizards). It didn't solve the problems though, and it was still fairly (stupidly) hard to teach to new players (especially if they wanted to be a magic class). The "Book of Nine Swords" was the best moment for me in 3.5.

4th was, for me, great fun. It was easier to teach and balanced the game better than previously. I loved the fact that roles actually existed and that Fighters felt like they actually did something at higher levels other than roll 4/5 D20s and say "next" while the Wizard blew away half the battlefield.

I get that people have the whole "edition revulsion" problem. I spent most of my time playing third being told how second was the "one true path", now I hear how third was.

All that said, you bet I'll look into these rules and earlier this week I bought Pathfinder's core book. Let's see who can make a good game that appeals to new players as much as old ones.

DnD has issues in the post internet age. Getting 5-6 people together in meatspace for 4 hours a week is nearly impossible unless you are somewhere like college.

IMO Wizards should release the rules for free, but have a subscription service that is like an individualized MMO. 1 guy is DM and directs the action and customizes the game and the players exist in the world he built from pre-fab parts.

I always love when fan of DND complain that something seems "unrealistic". Everything about DND is unrealistic. I'm not even taking about things like magic and flying towers. I mean everything in the rules are based on abstract concepts completely outside of reality.
Armor Class alone is really weird if you take a moment to think about it. I've done sword fighting and been in a few street fight over the years. And I know that heavy armor doesn't stop you from getting hit.
My favorite is still that in an quake attack you roll your fortitude, to see if you stay up. I know there are some pretty beefed up guys out there who are shaken like jelly in an earthquake.
I'm currently playing essentially the same character in both a pathfinder and a DND 4e campaign. Both are barbarians with some multiclassing as a nature caster.
I love in pathfinder I can use my rages for one action to SEE BETTER (WTF?), I actually like the overall mechanics of the 4e Barbarians. I like being the one who hits hard and plows through waves of minions with little effort.

It's the most fun I've had with a barbarian since 2nd Advanced.

Emiscary:
You're better off investing in Paizo's "Pathfinder" than modern DnD IMO. It's just a slightly more unified/streamlined version of 3.5 with significantly better core backstory.

Think of it like... DnD 3.75.

That's the conclusion I came to in 2009 when it came out. So far I've DMed two campaigns and my players took to the changes quite well and had a really good time, even the one who really only knew D&D: Basic.

Generally, I stick with 4e unless the group I'm running games for rejects it outright. It's nicely balanced, the classes are all fun to play, and unlike earlier editions (and Pathfinder is close enough to 3/3.5 that it counts, no matter when it came out) all of the classes function on the same basic structure, so as long as you know how to read the power entries and understand the concept of the roles characters are supposed to inhabit, it's easy to play any kind of character you want. But it IS more limited than other systems. Because of the structurization of combat, it's really hard to have stuff like bar brawls or debates, or really anything outside of dungeon-crawling. Combat is the mechanical heart of the system, so while there's no reason you COULDN'T run an RP-heavy political intrigue game in 4e, there really isn't any reason to try.

Then again, combat-heavy dungeon crawls with RP focused on short trips in town and traveling through the countryside are most of what I run, which probably explains why I like the system so much.

The hit point system has always been a problem for DnD. Causeing slow and sluggish combat. Watching a fighter with a 1d8+8(3 strength, 2feat, +3 weapon)sword chips away at a beast with 400+hp is tedious. In 3.5 a fighter can be worthless at high levels unless you maxed out your character for damage. This is why I have always preferred game systems where health is low and avoiding damage and thinking fast is a better tactic. Games like Dead Lands(Pre 20 dice era)and The Riddle Of Steel where a party is richly rewarded for planing and working together so that a few well placed arrow volleys, gun shots, and quick sword stabs end combat before the enemy can get a hit in. None of that deathblow save nonsense, if an assassin stabs someone in the back then the target fall over cause they just got F^#$ING STABBED IN THE BACK!

Also I'm mad cause the playtest site linked here is all clogged up and not working.

rembrandtqeinstein:
DnD has issues in the post internet age. Getting 5-6 people together in meatspace for 4 hours a week is nearly impossible unless you are somewhere like college.

IMO Wizards should release the rules for free, but have a subscription service that is like an individualized MMO. 1 guy is DM and directs the action and customizes the game and the players exist in the world he built from pre-fab parts.

I agree. They should focus on being a easily accessible portal for players and DMs to interact without having to be at the same place. I know there are a few programs out there like Open RPG, but none of them seemed very polished or user friendly.

I just wish I had some people to play with. No one has time to play much anymore.

It means nothing to me, in my view wizards has completely lost the right to make D&D products. 4th edition was a travesty, actually rather comparable to the current Diablo 3 vs. the first two debate. I'll check out the new playtest rules but it'll take an act of Hieronious to get me away from Pathfinder OGL.

OT: I've played 2nd and 4th, and I've been happy with both (although THAC0 is dumb, and anyone who says otherwise is wrong and dumb by proxy). I'm with Axyun, I just hope that they make one solid base edition that has new themes, classes, and settings added on. It makes better business sense than releasing endless editions; sure, you may net sales of the basic rulebooks to a lot of people, but once they become settled into an edition (especially with long campaigns), they will buy from people other than Wizards if they feel their chosen edition isn't being supported (see:Pathfinder). Dividing and ostracizing the hardcore is not sustainable.

Draconalis:

OT: The term Hit Dice has come a long way since my edition where it was something equivalent to a monster's level. Now it's some form of heal?

In any case, I'll stick to my 2nd.

The way I understand it, it is non-magical healing; during a rest you are applying bandages, burn salves, etc. People get a certain number of dice to roll that tells them how effective their first-aid is, with specially trained characters getting more or better dice. (ex. one person rolls 2d6, while a trained medic might get 3d8).

rembrandtqeinstein:
DnD has issues in the post internet age. Getting 5-6 people together in meatspace for 4 hours a week is nearly impossible unless you are somewhere like college.

IMO Wizards should release the rules for free, but have a subscription service that is like an individualized MMO. 1 guy is DM and directs the action and customizes the game and the players exist in the world he built from pre-fab parts.

They're working on it: http://www.wizards.com/dnd/tool.aspx?x=dnd/4new/tool/virtualtable Still in beta, but it doesn't look too shabby. The problem is that trying to design a modular system that covers 4 (soon to be 5) editions worth of rules, tracking all the relevant data, while allowing DMs the freedom to make up stuff on the fly, is turning out to be a challenge.

My biggest problem with the newer iterations of D@D has been the absence of any conversion rules from older games for characters. I understand that this would have been a huge headache with all of the strange classes and options from the hey day of 3rd edition to fourth, but it still should have been attempted. I know alot of people who would have been on board no matter what, as long as they could have preserved what made their characters, at least statistically. We tried to remake some of the characters from scratch, attempting to preserve the idea and personality while adapting to new rules, but to limited success, and only seemed to work with lower level character concepts.

We have been enjoying Pathfinder immensely, as it allowed us to convert even high level characters with little complications. But I certainly am open to the possibility of going back... if we can bring our characters.

Double post... Although I do want to read a bit more about this new set of rules.

I want to stress that I'm not against the possibility of enjoying the game. Why I'm so adamant about voicing this, I don't know...

Me: "Oh! D&D 5th Ed Playtest! Yay!"

**goes to download**

Wizards: "Error. Server traffic too high. No Playtest for you. Please try again later."

**tries again every hour for four hours with the same results**

....

Me: "Screw you Wizards! Get better fucking servers! I'm gonna go buy more Pathfinder books from Paizo now because your servers suck so hard!"

"We want to get the playtest out to as many people as possible, so..."

... we make them register before they can download the playtest packet.

Way to go, I guess...

I've read through the ruleset they provided, and so far it's a pretty big "meh." The rules obviously stem from 3.5 and are boiled down to the basics. As far as I'm concerned, they've abstracted it too far. The systems will work fine for sure, but they are very flat, and won't provide a lot of nuance.

They've also almost completely removed skills from what I can tell. Characters just make ability checks now, and then some themes or feats will grant bonuses to specific circumstances or actions. The upside is that DCs are going to be very small, and there's going to be a lot less granularity in what characters can do with skills.

It's very hard to tell how the whole thing is going to pan out without seeing the progression of the character classes and any feats that are available. The playtest is built for levels 1-3, and those are always the most uninteresting levels.

All in all though, it looks rather bland, with martial characters not getting too much to play with and magic characters stuck with the same "choose spell from list, wait" routine.

Though in my opinion, 3.5 (at least vanilla) suffers from the same problem. Not enough freedom; too rigid.

Bara_no_Hime:
Me: "Oh! D&D 5th Ed Playtest! Yay!"

**goes to download**

Wizards: "Error. Server traffic too high. No Playtest for you. Please try again later."

**tries again every hour for four hours with the same results**

....

Me: "Screw you Wizards! Get better fucking servers! I'm gonna go buy more Pathfinder books from Paizo now because your servers suck so hard!"

My thoughts exactly, it's still not working for me. I keep filling out the sign up form which sends me an email, which gives me a link to the sign up form so it can give me another email, which gives me a link to the sign up form so it can...

My initial impression fifth edition is not starting off all that great

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