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Thursday, June 7, 2012

D&D Next Playtest

I know I am a little behind the curve on this one, it's been a busy time for me. My dad has been in the hospital, I had a friend break her leg and she hasn't got anyone else to take her to her appointments, Ashli has had her appointments and even Ember had a dentist appointment stuck in there since I got the playtest packet. I had skimmed the first few pages before and wasn't really happy with what I saw.

Last night I finally got around to reading the entire "How to Play" and "DM Guidelines", as well as all the characters. Having read through most of the packet, I am now much more ambivalent about the entire project. I guess I am going to have to actually play the damned thing to get a feel for it before making a final decision, but my gut tells me that there are some things I am going to like and some things I am going to hate, and a couple of things I am just going to wonder what on earth they were thinking when they came up with that idea?

I suspect those are the 4th editionisms that people in the OSR blogosphere have mentioned, but 4th edition is a real blind spot for me, I took one skim through the 1st Player's Handbook (I have heard they have more than one) and said "Nope, this isn't for me". I had already abandoned WotC D&D with 3rd edition, first for Hackmaster, then I just went back to 1st edition AD&D, but 4th edition was a disappointment for me nonetheless because of the pre-release hype, and at least one playtester's report I read that said he was selling all his 3rd edition D&D stuff while it was still worth something, because 4th edition was JUST THAT AWESOME!

D&D Next, and I hope they change the title, doesn't seem to suck so hard as 4th edition did, and it was nice of them to put the "modular" old school section on the character sheet. They could still FUBAR this edition by adding in all the stupid races from 4th edition when all is said and done, to please their current customer base. I won't be pleased to see Dragonborn as a player race, not in a core book anyway, or any of the other odd races they added just so they could be different from every previous edition of D&D.

As I predicted, Race as Class is dead as a doornail, so we're getting a B/X meets AD&D 2nd edition vibe with a bunch of 3rd edition mechanics and terminology thrown in for good measure. So I guess what I'd like to see are four core classes, Cleric, Fighter, Thief, and Wizard (I know we're not going to go back to Magic-User), and four core races Human, Elf, Dwarf and Halfling (despite my personal dislike for Halflings, they are traditional for the game). Demi-Human level limits are probably gone the way of the Dodo too, so too I imagine are Class restrictions based on Race, so I imagine they'll end up with the 3rd edition style "Preferred Class" or whatever it was called.

I don't have a problem with the game evolving over time, it's evolving it into a tactical miniatures game, that, as DM, I am expected to lose every week that I really have a problem with. I also have a problem with having an actual rule for every possible situation, it steals from the power of the DM and just empowers rules lawyers. So far this seems like a step in the right direction (except for neutering the Cleric). The next time I actually get to game, I guess we'll see.


  1. Nicely said. I'm also fairly ambivalent about 5E at this point. I also still need to actually play it a bit to make any sort of final decision. And I like your summation of 4E. I had to quote you on my blog.

  2. I agree, the 4E observation was extremely perceptive

  3. It appears there is a lot left unsaid in the "materials" for 5E, am I to assume it defaults back to 4E type stuff? There is nothing on spell recovery/regeneration, or much at all on the magic system except for some vague bullshit about spells being dependant on Class, but no specifics. It is admittedly difficult to make definitive answers on missing or incomplete info. I hope they come up with some updated materials based on the first round of feedback.