Posted by : David Guyll March 18, 2013

There is a new playtest packet coming out this week, and just in time for the debut of my sandbox playtest campaign, to boot. There will be new classes and spells, as well as some changes to the math, fighter, skills, two-weapon fighting, and more.

Druid
The druid sounds like a kitbash of 3rd and 4th Edition; you can wildshape at 1st-level (but it is a daily thing), you get to choose a circle that makes you better at either spellcasting or wildshaping, and it has healing on par with the cleric.

Having played a druid in 4th Edition and seen a druid in action in Dungeon World, I am not a fan of making wildshape (and most things, actually) a per-day ability. If it must be usable a specific number of times per day, it would be nice to explain why. I would also take a page from Dungeon World and restrict a druid to terrain types/animal forms that they are familiar with.

I like the non-combat forms, which was an issue in 4th Edition as they tried to balance it out by preventing you from having a fly or swim speed if you changed into a bird or fish. Even more bizarre was the inability to manipulate things, even if your form should have allowed it (such as a monkey or bird carrying things).

I dislike the healing, because I do not think that the game should assume someone is playing a healing class, and think that it would greatly benefit by foregoing that assumption, but at least according to them it will meet the threshold as established by the cleric.

Paladin
I am going with the more charitable interpretation of the statement that they are giving us paladins of various alignments "for the first time ever", to mean that they are giving us a trio of more distinct classes from the start, instead of adding new things (like the warden and blackguard) down the line, because we could already make paladins of any alignment at the start of 4th Edition.

While I think it is nice that they are paring down detect evil to just undead and fiends, I think this is kind of odd for blackguards, and especially so for wardens (at least, if they are going to be as nature associated as their 8th-level mount implies). For blackguards I can at least get behind it insofar as it allows her to sense where the evil dead are hanging out, presumably so she can help them plot to swallow souls or defeat chainsaw-wielding protagonists.

For wardens I think that undead are still pretty good as affronts to nature go, but that aberrants/aberrations work better than fiends as symbols of all things unnatural. That, along with the 4th Edition warden's pseudo-shapechanging dailies, would go a long way to help differentiate them.

Finally, I think that 8th-level is a bit much for a summoned mount, especially one that is "fairly weak" without specializing, and as seen in 4th Edition's cavalier sub-class would be a lot better to grant early on, if the player even opts to choose it at all.

Ranger
1st-level spellcasting? Automatically part of the the class? Really? I am of the mind that spells should be one of several options that rangers can pick up, along with favored enemy and whatever it was that those terrain-based options that the hunter in one of the Essentials books were called.

Speaking of favored enemy, I like the idea of thematic bonuses that can be applied to various monster types. 3rd Edition's favored enemy was too rigid, and often became obsolete as you leveled up and things like orcs were no longer viable threats. 4th Edition's hunter's quarry changed it into a hefty damage bonus, which made it effective all the time if maybe a bit boring. This could make for a more dynamic middle-ground.

Everything Else
Martial Damage Dice is getting changed back to Expertise Dice (yay), fighters (and other martial characters) are getting multiple attacks (yay?), and they have to spend actions to regain spent dice (again, yay?). It will be interested to see what fighters can do, especially given that they no longer have to decide between dealing more damage or doing something potentially more interesting.

I hope that rogues do not scale at the same rate, and that fighters will have ways of regaining spent dice in other ways, such as by landing a critical hit, defending an ally, watching a nearby ally drop, getting "bloodied", and so on. I think those could make for interesting class feature choices.

Not sure what to make of skills, but I am glad to hear that two-weapon fighting is being changed to reflect a "options make you good, not competent" approach. I think it is interesting that they changed words of power to swift spells. Sounds like they are one step away from just re-creating 3rd Edition's swift action, which I am totally okay with.

{ 4 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. This is not the first time Rangers get low-level spell casting. The Essentials builds have level 2 utilities that look and feel like they came from the Druid section.

    I never personally liked the Wild Shape concept for druids. They have beast companions and/or tangle enemies with vines, buffet them with wind, and zap them with lightning.

    Personal opinion out of the way, I think that the daily limitation has something to do with spending too much time as an animal; The longer you are an animal, the more like an animal you become. Such is the danger of polymorph abilities.

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  2. I was fine with that because ultimately it was your choice to nab things with the Primal keyword. At the least I am glad to see them removing the assumption of either two-weapon fighting or ranged weapons, so a spear-wielding ranger is more of a solid concept.

    The druid I think would be best with just nature-oriented magic, with the option of picking wildshape, an animal companion (that is better than the other guy's animal companion), or more spells. Heck, if you do not want to change into an animal, they could even give you access to animal-istic traits.

    Making it so that you started to "lose yourself" if you spend too much time in an animal form sounds kind of cool, and think that it would be a good consequence and make the choice of spending a longer period of time as an animal more compelling.

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  3. What of a druid that can posses/morph its animal companion?

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  4. The 'lose yourself' thing is supposed to be more of an explanation for why they restrain themselves to only a few times per day.

    Spear-wielding Rangers were a solid concept for the entire tenure of 4e. Dual-wield a pair of spears, anyone? Martial Power 2 made it more solid with the hunter style and those fighting style feats.
    (why would they have a group of feats with the same name as a class feature??)

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