Almost a Month into the Playtest
Last night, the group of intrepid playtesters over at Mage’s Realm braved the farthest (and by far most extensive) cave in that cursed ravine. We chose to send them in at third level, to ensure that all of the abilities got a good workout. The heroes have taken the habit of crossing the caves in the middle of the day, to lower the chances of ambush by the tribes lurking in the outer caves (those tribes are now well-known to not only despise the sun, but to avoid venturing out in daylight if they can.) Their efforts had been rewarded so far, with only a few unfortunate sentries and guards watching their passing from the shadows of their lairs and undoubtedly plotting revenge against the heroes’ trespasses once the hated sun had set for the day.
One such denizen, the Ogre doesn’t mind the sun so much, and on this venture into the ravine, he emerged from his cave to extort his own brand of “toll” from the heroes. What transpired was a fun few minutes of banter with a greedy, but none-too-bright Ogre, and an exploration of the game mechanics as applied to social challenges. The Halfling Rogue drew upon his knowledge of Folklore to learn that Ogres are greedy creatures, but thick-headed. This comes as no surprise to the players, but framing the information in the context of folklore meant that the Rogue’s knowledge comes from stories and tales of how Halflings outwitted and tricked Ogres to overcome them, rather than simply fighting them. Which led to the Dwarf Cleric of Moradin playing on that Ogre Greed to negotiate an “understanding”, the party would rid the Ogre of some pesky problems, like the undead lurking in the cave and return the “best” loot found therein. Diplomacy and Charisma played a big part, and in retrospect, it should have been an excellent application of Advantage, but that opportunity slipped our collective minds.
With the Ogre satisfied, the party ventured toward their objective. The Cleric’s ability to Turn Undead coupled with the D8 slingstone damage from the Halflings (or as I call them “Halfling Cruise Missiles”) made quick work of the Skeletons. Against the Zombies, the Cleric’s Battle Hymn and Divine Smite really laid terrible waste to the undead shambling masses. And the Fighter, after some shaky dice rolls early in the evening, truly started to cause mayhem when his dice caught up with him against the cultists. Cleave is a powerful synergistic ability when coupled with the increased damage and the Reaper power that the fighter enjoys at third level.
I’ve been running the playtest for nearly a month now at Mage’s Realm. So far the playtest is being very well received. There are some smoothing out points to be made (REACTIONS, I’m looking at you), and the pregen characters have shown both their flexibilities, and some of their limitations (I’m still not pleased with how the Cleric of Pelor plays out). All in all, we’re really looking forward tot he next round of playtest rules. Character Creation especially, and a wider variety of abilities, spells, and powers to introduce into the system.
One final note to the Powers That Be who are making design choices over at Wizards. Please expand the variety of spells that have ritual components. We’re eager to test all aspects of spellcasting in game play, the at will minor spells and the memorized first and second level spells are working well, but having only Alarm as a ritual is proving to be limiting with regards to how rituals are applied in game. We need more variety to really thoroughly test the spellcasting system and discover if the spellcasters in this edition of the game are truly “nerfed” or overpowered. So, more spells and spell abilities please.