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    Default D&D Next/5e Playtest Summary & Campaign Journal

    This thread is intended as a general quick-reference guide to the new D&D playtest, as well as a place to post play experiences. Contributions are welcome!

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    This thread is designed as a quick-reference summary for people curious about the contents of the current draft of the new edition but who don't want to sign up for the playtest or read the rules. It's intended to be a specialised thread intended for cataloguing/discussing mechanics, rather than the general one we already have. The idea is that someone who just wants to find out about the mechanics can open this thread and look at the first post, rather than scrolling through a couple of hundred posts in the other one.

    I know there's some overlap between this thread and the other, but I figure supplying a summary for newcomers is enough of a niche to justify a separate thread. Please don't ask for the threads to be merged, as I'd rather not have to explain this to the moderators with the big guns.

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    As per the D&D Next playtest agreement, public discussion of the playtest materials and playtesting experience is permitted. The Wizards DnD Twitter feed has clarified this as "you can talk about the mechanics, just don't post excerpts or exact text".

    As such, while I'll post summaries and general descriptions, I won't post excerpts, verbatim quotes, or exact text. Please respect the playtest agreement and do the same. Thanks!

    Playtest Summary


    General Changes

    • Skills have been largely replaced by ability checks. There are no skill points, and the most you can get to boost a skill is "training", which seems to be determined by your background and amounts to a +3 modifier.
    • 3e-style saving throws and 4e-style Defences have also been largely replaced by ability checks. Fortitude, Reflex, and Will are gone: in their place you make a Constitution, Dexterity, or Wisdom check.
    • Situational modifiers are mostly gone: you only have 'advantage' (which means you roll twice and take the best) or 'disadvantage' (which means you roll twice and take the worst). If you have advantage and disadvantage, they cancel each other out.
    • The 3e/4e action economy of standard action + move action + immediate/swift/minor/whatever action model has been simplified. Instead of a 'standard action' everything is now an 'action', and you can move your speed once per round for free.
    • Everyone can Spring Attack now, but there are no attacks of opportunity.

    Characters

    • All characters start with a 'theme' (which gives you a feat) and a 'background' (which gives you training in several skills). The backgrounds also come with minor but interesting special features, such as free lodging or knowing where to look up information.
    • Feats appear to be quite powerful, more in line with the stronger 3.5 feats than the heroic-tier feats of 4e. Feat progression seems to be as 3.5 or Pathfinder.
    • Racial bonuses or penalties against specific threats are gone: in place of things like a 3.5 dwarf's +2 against poison or an 3.5 elf's +2 against enchantment, you now either get 'resistance' (half damage) or flat-out immunity.

    Damage & Healing

    • Healing is a hybrid of 4e and earlier editions. If you're on negatives and are healed, you do a 4e-style up-to-zero-and-then-add. However, Healing Surges are gone - the amount you heal is based on the healing effect, and your total amount of healing isn't limited as it was in 4e.
    • Hit Dice are back, but not as you knew them. You get one per level, and they basically act as a pool of restorable HP: if you take a short rest and use a healer's kit you can spend Hit Dice to heal the dice result plus Con mod. Once you're out of Hit Dice you have to fall back on magical healing.
    • Taking a long rest fully heals you, 4e-style.

    Equipment

    • Finesse weapons have been introduced, allowing you to automatically use Dex on attacks/damage. Low-Str high-Dex characters can rejoice in no longer having a feat tax.
    • Light/medium/heavy armour now lets you add your full Dex bonus/half your Dex bonus/none of your Dex bonus, respectively. Eyeballing the numbers, medium armour seems somewhat pointless.
    • Electrum coinage is back, for the 3 of you who care.

    Magic

    • Wizards use Vancian casting.
    • Clerics use 3.5 Spirit Shaman casting. (It's basically Sorcerer-style spontaneous casting, except better because you get to change your spells known each day.)
    • Both Wizards and Clerics get at-will spells, in the style of 4e or Pathfinder. Some are utility effects like detect magic, while others are spammable attacks roughly equivalent in power to a 3.5 first-level spell or a 4e at-will.
    • Spell levels appear to be as they were in all editions except 4e. Both Wizards and Clerics start off with 1st-level spells and get a new level of spells at each odd-numbered character level. (Insert joke about the word 'level' here.)
    • 4e-style Rituals are back, but now they're an alternative rather than mandatory. You can cast a ritual spell by spending money without preparing the spell in advance, or you can save money and just use a spell slot normally.

    The Classes

    Cleric

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    • Channel Divinity is back, as in 4e. Its standard use is Turn Undead, but you gain uses for it as you level up.
    • Clerics use Wisdom for their attack/damage rolls for spells, with a small extra bonus.
    • The two clerics are split into a bashy heavily armoured hammer-wielder, and a laser-shooting ranged attacker.

    Fighter

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    • The fighter is the simplest class with the shortest character sheet. It doesn't do much but deal damage, though it does do a lot of damage.
    • The pre-packaged feats give the benefits of 3e-style Cleave and 4e-style Reaping Strike.
    • As they level up, fighters get a surge power that lets them take an extra action twice a day.

    Rogue

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    • Sneak attack is more powerful, but harder to qualify for - it goes up by 1d6 per level, but flanking doesn't give advantage.
    • Rogues get Skill Mastery, discussed here.
    • At present, rogues seem to be the only class that gets to pick locks or disarm traps.

    Wizard

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    • Wizards use Intelligence for their spell attacks in the same way that Clerics use Wisdom.
    • Wizards (and only wizards) become 'disrupted' if they take damage, making it more difficult for them to cast spells on their next turn. Their Armour Class is also terrible and they can't cast in armour.
    • Wizards get the most at-will spells. Probably the most interesting is ray of frost, which doesn't do any damage but immobilises for a round on a hit.

    Summary

    Without having played it, my first impression of the playtest rules is that they really do look like a hybrid of 4e, 3e, and AD&D, with some bits from earlier editions and from Pathfinder.

    Things that particularly stand out so far:

    - Emphasis on ability checks as a catch-all mechanic.
    - Emphasis on improvisation and general rules rather than specific rules/powers for everything.
    - Far fewer situational/stacking bonuses, faster and simpler mechanics.

    And that's it! Post any thoughts or suggestions below, and I'll have more detailed feedback once we get to play it this Saturday!

    Edit: First session's done! Link below.

    Playtest Writeups

    Session 1
    Session 2
    Last edited by Saph; 2012-06-10 at 10:12 AM.
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    Default Re: D&D Next/5e Playtest Summary & Campaign Journal

    Tidbits I noticed,

    • While you can move your speed per round for free, you also get Spring Attack for free. That is, if you can move 40 feet per round, you may also elect to move 20 feet, attack, then move 20 feet more.
    • Healing surges are still there, except they're called hit dice now. Clerical healing no longer requires a surge, but you can spend surges to heal outside of combat without needing a cleric.
    • Lock picks only give you a bonus if you're proficient with them.
    • There aren't any mechanics for Attacks Of Opportunity in the playtest.
    • Wizards can't cast spells while wearing armor.
    • Resistance is now a flat 50% damage, not a set amount to subtract; likewise, vulnerability is a flat 200% damage.
    • There are still situational modifiers; for example, being prone gives enemies a +2 to attack you, rather than "advantage".
    • Charmed is now a condition (which means you can't attack the person who charmed you) as is Frightened (you have to get the source of the effect out of your sight ASAP) and Intoxicated (you get damage resistance and "disadvantage" to everything).
    • Most 4E conditions are gone, including Slowed, Dazed, and Weakened.
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    Default Re: D&D Next/5e Playtest Summary & Campaign Journal

    Do fighters and rogues get any options in combat like in 4e, or are they mostly limited to auto-attacking like in 3.5?

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    Default Re: D&D Next/5e Playtest Summary & Campaign Journal

    Do fighters and rogues get any options in combat like in 4e, or are they mostly limited to auto-attacking like in 3.5?

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    Default Re: D&D Next/5e Playtest Summary & Campaign Journal

    I remember something being said about lower-level enemies being more threatening to higher-level characters than in 3rd edition. Is that true? Or I guess the better question would be do we have enough data to answer that?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    Do fighters and rogues get any options in combat like in 4e, or are they mostly limited to auto-attacking like in 3.5?
    So far, fighters and rogues are even more limited than they were in 3.5, options like disarming, bull rushing, tripping all don't show up in this playtest.

    However the designers have said that in this first playtest they've used the most basic version of the fighter imaginable, and that maneuvers are guaranteed to be in the actual game.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    Do fighters and rogues get any options in combat like in 4e, or are they mostly limited to auto-attacking like in 3.5?
    So far, fighters and rogues are even more limited than they were in 3.5, options like disarming, bull rushing, tripping all don't show up in this playtest.

    However the designers have said that in this first playtest they've used the most basic version of the fighter imaginable, and that maneuvers are guaranteed to be in the actual game.

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    Default Re: D&D Next/5e Playtest Summary & Campaign Journal

    @Kurald: good catches!

    @Tengu: The fighter is definitely an auto-attacker - pure damage and nothing else. None of the varied attacks and maneuvers of a ToB character, or even the more limited powers of a 4e char. Hopefully we'll get more options in later iterations.

    The rogue is more of a lurker - he hits hard when he has advantage, but advantage takes more effort to get, which seems to encourage an ambusher style.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    I remember something being said about lower-level enemies being more threatening to higher-level characters than in 3rd edition. Is that true? Or I guess the better question would be do we have enough data to answer that?
    Attack and AC curves seem flatter in this edition than past ones - it's harder to boost your attacks and defences, which suggests that it'll be more difficult to become flat-out invulnerable to low-level monsters. However, the playtest characters stop at 3rd level, so we can't test this properly.
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    Default Re: D&D Next/5e Playtest Summary & Campaign Journal

    @Dienekes - I see what you did there.

    Also, as I suspected. I know the game will be highly modular, but I wondered did they test the more complex (and more interesting to me), less classic versions yet. Apparently not.
    Last edited by Tengu_temp; 2012-05-28 at 06:01 PM.

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    Default Re: D&D Next/5e Playtest Summary & Campaign Journal

    What about knowledge checks? Are they... a thing? Are they treated like an Intelligence check, like other skills? Is training via background applicable? And if so, are they divided to categories, like 3.5?
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    Default Re: D&D Next/5e Playtest Summary & Campaign Journal

    Quote Originally Posted by HeadlessMermaid View Post
    What about knowledge checks? Are they... a thing? Are they treated like an Intelligence check, like other skills? Is training via background applicable? And if so, are they divided to categories, like 3.5?
    Yes, Lore is the general skill. Specific type of Lore get bonuses from backgrounds.

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    Default Re: D&D Next/5e Playtest Summary & Campaign Journal

    To the folks whining about "auto attacking":

    Has it occurred to you that the fighter and rogue may actually have *more* options? Now that the ruleset doesn't hold your hand and tell you specifically what you're allowed to do, you are free to use your imagination and do anything it doesn't explicitly forbid.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crow View Post
    To the folks whining about "auto attacking":

    Has it occurred to you that the fighter and rogue may actually have *more* options? Now that the ruleset doesn't hold your hand and tell you specifically what you're allowed to do, you are free to use your imagination and do anything it doesn't explicitly forbid.
    Which requires the game to run on DM fiat instead of hard rules, which could, depending on the DM in question completely screw them over or make them absolute combat monsters. As a generally non-trusting person, I don't like when a classes entire ability to be interesting is determined by someone else interpreting what I can do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dienekes View Post
    Which requires the game to run on DM fiat instead of hard rules, which could, depending on the DM in question completely screw them over or make them absolute combat monsters. As a generally non-trusting person, I don't like when a classes entire ability to be interesting is determined by someone else interpreting what I can do.
    ^^ This.

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    Default Re: D&D Next/5e Playtest Summary & Campaign Journal

    It's a trade-off. Having rules for everything gives a framework for less experienced GMs to fall back on, and sometimes it's nice to have the clarity. On the other hand, it does slow the game down, and it tends to produce an attitude of "you can only do it if the rules specifically say you can".

    With regard to combat options I'd have liked to see them copy the Pathfinder CMB/CMD system, since I think this was one of the things that Pathfinder got exactly right. You have a combat maneuver bonus, and a combat maneuver defence, and they get used for everything that isn't a direct attack. Better than either 3.5 or 4e, IMO.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Felhammer View Post
    I have gamed with good DMs and bad DMs. The good are far out numbered by the bad. Some rules are there to help give everyone a good frame work from which to have fun.
    I choose not to game with bad DMs. Because I do not believe that having rules against a bad DM makes him any less of a bad DM.
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    Default Re: D&D Next/5e Playtest Summary & Campaign Journal

    What are the monsters like? Do they follow mostly the same rules as the players (excluding special powers) like in 3.5 or do they follow there own fairly different set of rules like in editions other than 3.x?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crow View Post
    To the folks whining about "auto attacking":

    Has it occurred to you that the fighter and rogue may actually have *more* options? Now that the ruleset doesn't hold your hand and tell you specifically what you're allowed to do, you are free to use your imagination and do anything it doesn't explicitly forbid.
    This attitude is totally not condescending, no sirree.

    I like my games to be both mechanically and narratively interesting. A game with no rules for non-standard attacks is not mechanically interesting. Saying that lack of such rules opens up more options is a fallacy, because it heavily depends on what kind of DM you're playing with, and because a DM who allows and (much more important!) encourages you to to use nonstandard solutions in a mechanically simple game will do the same in a game that gives you lots of options on its own.
    Also, if you want to see a game where "use your imagination and go out of the box" is actually a part of the design, look at FATE. In DND it's not a part of the design.

    I'm looking forward to the playtest of the alternative, more ToB-like ruleset for non-casters. I'm sure it will be much more interesting for me. And speaking of which...

    ---

    Are non-primary stats of any use for characters? Is there a point for a fighter to invest in intelligence, for a rogue to invest in wisdom, for anyone to invest in charisma?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    Also, if you want to see a game where "use your imagination and go out of the box" is actually a part of the design, look at FATE. In DND it's not a part of the design.
    That is very much part of the design of 1st and 2nd edition D&D. 5E does try to appeal to fans of each edition, after all.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    Are non-primary stats of any use for characters? Is there a point for a fighter to invest in intelligence, for a rogue to invest in wisdom, for anyone to invest in charisma?
    They seem to be a lot more relevant. It seems like no one can be SAD, but most will be MAD 2-3.
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    Default Re: D&D Next/5e Playtest Summary & Campaign Journal

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    That is very much part of the design of 1st and 2nd edition D&D. 5E does try to appeal to fans of each edition, after all.
    It still heavily depends on the DM in these editions. For example, let's say that I want to kill a goblin by pushing him into a fireplace instead of attacking with my sword. Three different DMs will handle it differently:
    - DM Alpha decides that this counts as an unarmed attack (so it's harder than attacking with my sword), and if it succeeds then instead of dealing normal damage, the goblin suffers 1d6 fire damage from being in the fire.
    - DM Beta decides that this will be mechanically resolved exactly as a normal attack, just different fluff-wise.
    - DM Gamma decides that it's a tricky thing, so I will receive a small penalty to attack, but if I succeed the attack will deal extra fire damage in addition to ordinary damage.

    All three DMs allow out of the box solutions, but only Gamma encourages it. In Beta's game they make no difference, while Alpha actively discourages them.

    FATE requires the DM to approach it like Gamma. It's part of the design. In DND, it's not.

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    Default Re: D&D Next/5e Playtest Summary & Campaign Journal

    Quote Originally Posted by GnomeGninjas View Post
    What are the monsters like? Do they follow mostly the same rules as the players (excluding special powers) like in 3.5 or do they follow there own fairly different set of rules like in editions other than 3.x?
    They seem to follow more-or-less the same rules as PCs, a la 3.5. The way they're presented actually makes me think of AD&D more than anything, but that might just be me.

    Monster HP varies hugely. Kobolds and goblins have 2-5 HP, while giant-types like ogres and minotaurs have 100 HP or even more.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    Are non-primary stats of any use for characters? Is there a point for a fighter to invest in intelligence, for a rogue to invest in wisdom, for anyone to invest in charisma?
    Ability checks now cover saving throws. So any dump stat now carries the risk of being attacked through that stat.
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    Default Re: D&D Next/5e Playtest Summary & Campaign Journal

    How can you be attacked through intelligence or charisma? Except for social situations, in the latter's case.

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    Default Re: D&D Next/5e Playtest Summary & Campaign Journal

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    How can you be attacked through intelligence or charisma?
    Mechanically? By anything that says "roll an Int save" or "roll a Cha save". We don't yet know how common attacks against the respective attributes will be, but it's not like 3e/4e where you had Fort, Reflex, or Will.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    FATE requires the DM to approach it like Gamma. It's part of the design. In DND, it's not.
    Okay, but 1E and 2E also lean towards Gamma since you get extra experience for clever ideas, as an incentive or reward. Also, 4E clearly uses the Alpha approach, since the oft-cited Page 42 ensures that clever tricks will be less effective than your at-will attacks. In both cases, that's part of the design, too.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    Okay, but 1E and 2E also lean towards Gamma since you get extra experience for clever ideas, as an incentive or reward. Also, 4E clearly uses the Alpha approach, since the oft-cited Page 42 ensures that clever tricks will be less effective than your at-will attacks. In both cases, that's part of the design, too.
    In fairness, the "limited damage expressions" in page 42 generally have the potential to deal more damage than at-will attacks. I believe the problem isn't the table, so much as that Wizard's underestimated how powerful static damage bonuses to attacks were.

    Essentially, while you're correct that the damage expressions tend to be worse than at-will attacks, the intent (I believe) was that they would be more powerful. The incentive is there, just not necessarily the reward.

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    Default Re: D&D Next/5e Playtest Summary & Campaign Journal

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    This attitude is totally not condescending, no sirree.

    I like my games to be both mechanically and narratively interesting. A game with no rules for non-standard attacks is not mechanically interesting. Saying that lack of such rules opens up more options is a fallacy, because it heavily depends on what kind of DM you're playing with, and because a DM who allows and (much more important!) encourages you to to use nonstandard solutions in a mechanically simple game will do the same in a game that gives you lots of options on its own.
    Also, if you want to see a game where "use your imagination and go out of the box" is actually a part of the design, look at FATE. In DND it's not a part of the design.
    How was I condescending?

    Your assertion that my statement is a fallacy is simply not true. You will always have more options if you are not constrained by the rules, than if you have to have every option included in the rules. Yes, you need to have a DM who understands this, and your play experience will vary depending on the DM. There's no way around that, and some people obviously don't like that. It's a different mindset.

    However, being able to have your character do things that are outside the rules, and having a DM to adjudicate them so as not to automatically be auto-fails, is the one thing tabletop rpg's have going over video games in my opinion (aside from the social aspect). If the rules are going to cover every single action, you start to approach the point where a DM is no longer neccessary, and at that point, why not play a video game instead?
    Last edited by Crow; 2012-05-29 at 12:24 PM.
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    Default Re: D&D Next/5e Playtest Summary & Campaign Journal

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    Attack and AC curves seem flatter in this edition than past ones - it's harder to boost your attacks and defences, which suggests that it'll be more difficult to become flat-out invulnerable to low-level monsters. However, the playtest characters stop at 3rd level, so we can't test this properly.
    Interesting. That would indeed probably work but like you said, we'd need to look at the entire level progression from 1 to 20 (or whatever the highest level will be) to be sure.
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    Default Re: D&D Next/5e Playtest Summary & Campaign Journal

    Does the cleric have healing options/abilities that don't use up their action for the round?

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    Default Re: D&D Next/5e Playtest Summary & Campaign Journal

    Quote Originally Posted by theNater View Post
    Does the cleric have healing options/abilities that don't use up their action for the round?
    Nope. As far as I can see all spells, attacks, etc for all characters take an action to use.
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