Tuesday, December 18, 2012

5e playtest weirdness

I have been out of the loop for a while now and still have not come fully back into the gaming fold despite beginning to blog a little recently.

The latest D&D5e playtest material is available. I downloaded and skimmed a bit of it so I could get some idea where they might be heading. Knowing that playtesting involves trying things that may not end up in the game I can honestly say that 50% or more of what I read belongs in the 'leave it out' or make it a module category.

For example, the steep escalation of ability scores appears in this iteration. I dislike that for many reasons including making magic items that enhance ability scores too powerful and/or less interesting, and because I don't like to mix my swords and sorcery genre with my superhero genre. Escalating ability scores forces other modifications to the math throughout the system and I saw too much of that in 4e.

A bunch of things from 3e have made their way into this packet as well. Attacks of Opportunity and the load of different triggers are back. Grappling appears to be heading back to being more complicated, though not yet what it was in 3e.

The experience table had me scratching my head from only a quick glance. The table itself likely won't be a big deal so I'll reserve comment until I get a more detailed look at what they are trying to do with XP.

There also seems to be power creep in the system. If my understanding on a skim is correct, a fighter might potentially be able to inflict 51 or more damage when rolling a 1 with their weapon at top level. I know without context this makes no sense so please download the documents from WotC and let me know if I need to give it a detailed read.

While I like the idea of flatter math for attack rolls, I'm not so sure making damage output increase so dramatically is needed as a balance mechanism.

Looking at character creation and levelling gives me a very 3e feeling. It looks as if character sheets are going to look like novels as a character levels due to all the information that will be needed. That kind of clutter may slow down play since there will be a lot there a player won't want to miss.

Skills will definitely require a detailed look. With just a glimpse it seems as if a character can be at variable levels of ability with the same skill moment to moment. They can apply a bonus mechanic to help boost a skill and then if they are trying again and don't have the bonus mechanic available are suddenly less capable. Please tell me that isn't the case.

Ability enhancing items may work jut like they do in 4e (as tactical short term boosters) instead of having non-tactical use and flavor. That assessment is based on one passage in part of the playtest documents and does not appear to match the description o giant strength belts in the Magic Items section. Not sure which way they are handling it.

Can anyone tell me if WotC are still working on modularity of parts or have they tossed that out to go with a single way of doing things. I have not noticed modularity being mentioned in the most recent things I have read, but that doesn't rule it out.

If time permits I hope to give the 5e playtest material a more comprehensive read.

1 comment:

StevenWarble said...

I have a few problems with the current playtest material myself.

I think the attack bonuses are too flat (+1 to +5 in 20 levels?) and I'm bothered that Fighters and Rogues have the same attack bonus and damage bonus progression. (I'm not a fan of Rogue = Striker... I'm a fan of Rogue = Sneaky Skill user). And the Rogue Assassinate maneuver is a bit scary.

But, I am really like the play between Class, Background, Specialty and Feat. I can imagine some really interesting characters.