First Impressions on the D&D Next Update
Last night at Mage’s Realm, we explored our first Playtest game since the August 13 Update to the D&D Next Playtest. Overall,it was a very positive experience. I had been running the Playtest weekly since the first week in June, and by the time last week rolled around, we had pretty thoroughly tested the initial rules release, and frankly, wanted to go a bit deeper into really testing the new edition properly, which means characters and campaigns.
The new update gives me most of what I need for the latter and all I need for the former. So on first blush, I am very pleased. I had 10 (!) players at my table, and we managed to make characters in just about three hours passing copies of the rules (and an iPad with the PDF) between us all. Every player was able to create a character they wanted to make. One player in particular managed to make a Fighter build very evocative of the classic Ranger. Another created a Rogue (Thug) with some minor magic ability, and yet another player created a Cleric of the Sun Domain with the Magic-User specialty, giving her character a very pleasing selection of magic to utilize. Most of character creation went very smoothly.
There are a couple of snags in the system however. Firstly, under the Religion and Arcane Lore features of Clerics and Wizards (respectively), both feature are worded as “You gain training in a skill of your choice: (List of Lore-based skills follow). You must choose a skill in which you lack training.” By this wording it is unclear whether or not a character gains one trained skill, or all of the skills save the one where they lack training, or one trained skill, one skill with which they are not familiar, and the balance being untrained. It is a area that needs clarification.
Likewise, one of my players who made a High-Elf Cleric of War with the Necromancer Specialty, noted that there is no mention in the rules of whether or not a spellcaster needs a free hand to actually cast a spell. Studying the spell lists, we have discovered no mention of verbal or somatic components to spells in the rules. My experience in playing Dungeons and Dragons is such that all spells have at least a verbal or somatic component, and often both (and often including a material component as well). As it stands, a bound and muted spellcaster can still manage to cast her spells without restriction.
The omissions and bugs aside (we all understand that the playtest rules remain a work in progress) our first impression of the new rules is very positive and we are looking forward to venturing into the campaign environment next Wednesday. Our current roster of player characters are as follows:
Strom – Human Fighter (Sharpshooter) – Commoner (Woodsman) – Archer – NG
Ivellios – Wood Elf Fighter – Soldier – Guardian – LG
Dolemite – High Elf Cleric (War) – Sage – Necromancer – N
Vieler Crom – Mountain Dwarf Rogue (Thug) – Bounty Hunter – Magic User – N
Al-uk – Human Wizard – Sage – Necromancer – N
Ashura Miri – Human Rogue (Thief) – Charlatan – Lurker – CN
Thanatos – Human Cleric (War) – Commoner (Innkeeper) – Guardian – N
Brotor of Klarg Baldurk – Hill Dwarf Fighter – Bounty Hunter – Survivor – CG
Wort-Hollow – Lightfoot Halfling – Fighter – Bounty Hunter – Lurker – CN
Alice – Human Cleric (Sun) – Bounty Hunter – Magic User – CG