D&D Next: Playtest Report

Since Kia was not up for a two-hour commute in 100 degree weather, we decided to give that whole playtest thing a run. The last time we gave it a shot opinions were pretty mixed: rogues only getting Sneak Attack damage every other turn, fighters were boring, severely limited healing, and fire-and-forget magic. On the other hand being able to get through an entire fight in about a minute was a plus.

Character generation took about an hour. This is not as bad it sounds given that we only had one laptop to scope out the pdfs, and I was the only person who had really looked at the content beforehand. We also had a new person in the mix.

We decided to roll ability scores--4d6 and dropping the lowest--which resulted in everyone but Melissa having an 18 (Josh actually had two). Wanting a low stat, he traded Melissa for one of her 9's.

Kamon went with a wood elf bounty hunter rogue (spy scheme), Josh with a human charlatan sorcerer, and Melissa with a human acolyte fighter (slayer). Seeing as they lacked healing, I let her trade in the two orisons for healing word. In the end everyone had a 20 in the main stat, which was fine because it was only the three of them. The best reaction during character generation was from Josh while reading the charlatan's gear package; he really dug the flavor and the fact that at no point did I say "adventuring kit".

Once we started the adventure I ran into some hiccups. It was not very easy to navigate, and kind of confusing. In the end I just winged things and let them explore the cavern, having them run into some orcs--which downed Josh's sorcerer in one hit--before finding the ruined temple.

Here it transitioned into a more traditional dungeon crawl, which was good for me since I was used to describing narrow, branching hallways. It was bad for them because they were not used to having to navigate narrow, branching hallways by description, and I was both surprised and happy when Kamon suggested that they start mapping the place out.

They managed to explore a few rooms, avoid a pit trap, kill some skeletons, almost lose the fighter to a gray ooze--you know, the usual--before we had to wrap things up. Despite being "just a dungeon crawl", they actually enjoyed themselves quite a bit, particularly the fact that stealthing worked, combat started and ended quickly, the fighter was extremely potent, and though Josh never got to see the sorcerer's "Hulk out" mechanic in action, thought it was a really cool direction to go with it.

There was more added danger than what they were expecting, about as much as I would anticipate from 3rd Edition, but the Hit Die mechanic helps alleviate this (even by just a bit). Fighters with the parry maneuver can also help mitigate damage on a round-by-round basis, so long as they are the ones getting hit. I really dislike the cost of equipment; I had to just give Melissa a weapon and armor, because she could not afford anything. Most ended up with studded leather, given that scale armor is 500 gold pieces.

We are planning to give it another shot later this week, with more people and characters ready to go. I might roll out minis along with my Dwarven Forge sets. Maybe and try to find a more direct dungeon crawl-type adventure. In the interest of trying out everything, I might just make a series of connected rooms with random monsters (so, maybe Kamon can use Rapid Shot against things that are not orcs or skeletons).

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