Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Fifth Edition Character Sheet

Having viewed the 5E character sheet over at EN World, I am slightly concerned. It is from the starter set, but nothing tells me whether the character info is basic or using options from the PHB. I sincerely hope this sheet shows use of optional rules in all of these areas.

Stuff that sticks out to me as questionable or negative:

Endless Second Winds as long as the fighter takes a complete short or long rest before using it again. If it were limited to a couple times a day and had the note that it requires someone to bandage your wounds, then it would be closer to the method I like.

Humans appear to start with Plus 1 to all Ability Scores. This means that other races that should stand out in some particular way are instead inferior in all but one measure. For example, Elves which are reputed to be graceful, agile, etc, are only a match for humans in that category instead of being renowned for these things.

An Ability score increase of +2 every 4 levels in one Ability. I disliked the plus 1 every 4 levels from the introduction of it in earlier editions and now it is plus 2. Why do crazy things like this when you're trying to make use of bounded accuracy?  It seems to me to be another version of power creep.

The XP table appears whacked. Maybe this is just one done for the sake of the starter set adventure so that it quickly gives people new to D&D a rapid taste of different levels. If not, then a fighter needing only 300 xp means to me that either the monsters and treasure are worth very little xp, or the game may go through multiple levels in a single 4 hour session. Also, the progression changes so that it becomes quicker to go from 4th to 5th than the character would if the math followed the pattern set in the first few levels. Using this xp table, I wonder if it is possible to play from level 1 to level 20 in a single day of play.

Action surges and bonus actions. Wow, someone suddenly became Quicksilver.

Under the fighter's proficiencies it lists some armor and weapons, and playing cards. Did they mean gambling with cards or cards used as weapons? Is the character now both Quicksilver and Bullseye combined?

If those and some other items are part of the basic game then I'll have some serious editing and house ruling to do.

The meh stuff:

Saving throws based on Ability scores (modifier plus proficiency bonus for two of them, modifier alone for the rest. I'm only slightly annoyed with this since it means reworking my rules for Wizards Identifying items instead of using a spell.

Chainmail seems to have a base armor value of plus 7. That is different from the plus 5 in recent editions. It also appears to mean an escalation in defense. Characters have always been able to get outrageous armor classes with a little finagling so why boost the base values? This one is more a curiosity than a concern.

On the positive side:

Maximum hit points for the character's hit die type, plus the character's CON modifier at first level. My groups have done that from way back in 1E.

The character sheet design is excellent. It is easy to find things like the modifiers and skills, something some players have a heck of a time with in the Castles and Crusades campaign I play in. Even with redesigned sheets, two of the players can't seem to locate things quickly enough. Part of the blame lays squarely on those players for not paying attention. Hopefully a sheet designed like the 5E sheet will even help them find most of the important stuff.

The Proficiency Bonus doesn't increase until 5th level, and this bodes well for bounded accuracy.

The more I look at the sheet, the more it seems that there have to be a bunch of optional rules at work here. If not then WotC have failed the test of trying to be all inclusive.

I'm certainly not opposed to creating house rules or including some of the optional rules, so having a cleaner basic game would be an excellent starting point. Hopefully we'll know more details in the coming weeks, and the basic game will be downloadable for free in July.

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