9 comments on “What’s Next: First Blush on the Open Playtest

  1. Hey mate really appreciate the comprehensive reflection. I’ve only just managed to get my playtest packet this morning, so not read very much yet. But I appreciate your reflections, some things I noticed are obvious already marked for changing, its a fluid situation, but many of the comments and caveats you marked out, I hope Wizards get to hear and reflect on. Not all of its a disaster to me, but like you this very lean model of the rules, does make me a little worried as to how it will play out.

  2. Nice observations.

    One thing to note, however, is the Cleric of Moradin’s healing power. Unlike the cleric of Pelor’s cure light wounds, he has healing word.

    It allows him to heal an ally without expending his action. It does less healing than cure light wounds, but it addresses your concern about healing eating into actions.

      • I hadn’t noticed that, but it’s interesting. So a cleric can heal an ally and then blast away with an orison or melee attck, but not a more powerful spell. So it can potentially make for a tough decision: do I heal my ally or blast away with a more powerful spell? I like it.

  3. Good review of the playtest packet. One of the things I think is worth mentioning is one of the Dwarves is a Mountain Dwarf and one of them is a Hill Dwarf. Additionally I believe they mentioned on the blog that there will be differences between Elf varients (High Elf and Wood Elf). Those seem to be variants on culture and faction.

    On immunities and Racial Talents: We don’t mind when an Elf can see in the dark or a Fire Elemental is immune to fire Damage. Why do people mind when we have dwarves that are immune to poison, or Elves immune to sleep? That’s just part of how their race was created (by the Gods in a D&D sense). It doesn’t seem to be a stretch that some races get some flat out immunities.

    • While “set to zero” and “always miss” are on my list of things that set off a warning bell for me when I see them in the game, if done properly they can be fine. I think that Immune to Charm and Sleep are probably okay because they’re sometimes foods and in an open-ended environment they tend to be anti-fun.

      Poison tends to be much more ubiquitous, which makes me more cautious about the value of immunity. As I mentioned, a Dwarf Rogue can simply ignore the worst aspects of many non-magical traps. Poison also appears on a great many monsters as well.

      As a thought exercise, would you allow the Deva to be immune to necrotic damage? How about the Genasi picking an elemental immunity? Would they be both good story and balanced mechanics?

    • Oh, and as a response to the Mountain Dwarf/High Elf issue, those are separate races, at least in my mind. If Thing X has a discrete rules set from Thing Y, then they are not the same thing. Humans all use the same rules set, but are explicitly described as having diverse cultures. The history of D&D has been that non-human races have generally been monocultures.

      Of course, they can very easily fix this by having culture appear as a separate theme-like package. This would allow them to have cultures that include more than one race, which I would very much like to see.

      • I feel like in the case of a Dwarven Rogue, the player has conciously designed a character to function in a certain way. Yes he may be able to ignore poisons on fairly common traps, but he should be able to do that. He’s built to do that. Just add a few more magical traps in with the mundane, or add acid instead of poison and it works just fine. He’s not unchallengeable you just need to change the domain of the challenge.

        Would I allow a Daeva to be immune to Necrotic Damage? In the context of this new system I likely would. If it’s a strong situational bonus like it appears I would have no problem with it. In this case I believe that Immunity is likely no nearly as powerful as it is in fourth.

        Looking at the Playtest document right now, the mountain/hill dwarf appear exactly the same mechanically. Despite coming from different cultures they are the same dwarf. It looks like culture is a background package (guessing as the Halfling is a Commoner, the Cleric a Knight, both of which appear to be social positions as well as mechanical packages). I think it likely we’ll see a Forrester Background, as much as a “Deeps Dweller” for dwarves, drow and the like.

  4. I guess I just like things that scale more than binary qualities. I also don’t think that “the character is strong against X, so I’ll start using Y” is good design. Admittedly the opportunity cost for these immunities is relatively low, but the principle remains the same: The more you work to defy the character’s qualities, the more you devalue the quality. If the immunity came from a feat, then I would feel even more strongly about this, as I think trivializing feats is a very bad thing.

    The real benefit to scaling resistances is that I can tune the threat without bypassing a character trait. If the character has Resist 10 Poison and I want to maintain a moderate level of risk, I just increase the poison damage. Conversely, if I want to highlight that the character is resistant to poison, I make sure that the resistance prevents most or all of the damage. I do this fairly regularly in my campaign.

    To be fair, I get where they’re going with this. It’s very simple and it doesn’t require any math. I’ve been seeing a fair bit of commentary over the last few months endorsing simplicity over pretty much everything else. I think that there’s a section of the community that believes that D&D has become too much work (see my article “Abnegation Station”). Next goes even farther than I expected, as it seems to be aiming for a pre-3.5 state as much as possible.

    I don’t have a problem with the idea that D&D should be less effort and more fun. I do have a problem, however, with the idea that D&D shouldn’t require ANY effort, that it should be as “straight out of the box” as possible. All roleplaying games are complex systems that require management to keep on track. You can minimize the amount of management that is required, but games tend to blow up – nastily – when the GM ignores the check engine light.

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