Areas to focus on moving forward in D&D Next
The second iteration of the playtest rules have given the opportunity to run the playtest as more of a free-form campaign. So far, the experience has been more-or-less smooth. The two things that I’d like to see changed in the immediate future are the Armor Chart (which should be a simple fix) and the experience values of monsters (which should be slightly more complex). Both of these areas read as if they’re afterthoughts to the design process at this point. Almost place-holders awaiting proper design and development.
My issue with the armor tables is that it’s too exotic, and especially at the higher values, too expensive for the Armor values they provide. Armors like Displacer Beast Hide and Dragon Scale Armor are either simply too rare for inclusion in a list of generally available mundane equipment, or they imply that such fantastic creatures (and rare ores like Mithril) are common enough to have suits of armor available for general purchase. The varieties of armor types should be made even throughout the categories provided, and internally consistent in pricing and mechanics-value.
Experience values of monsters is a far more concerning issue. Some creatures, like the Giant Centipede have XP values consistent for it’s Encounter Building statistics; in this case Level 1 and 70 XP. But further in the Bestiary we have a Goblin, with similar statistics (indeed the same Armor and Hit Points, with an XP value of 120. Furthermore, a Hobgoblin, who still poses at best a moderate challenge one-on-one with a 1st level player character, is considered a 3rd level monster and worth a whopping 320 XP (!) this means a single Hobgoblin is worth more experience than a Medusa at 300 XP, and she is considered a Level 4 “elite” creature.
As it stands currently, the character creation, spells, and general adventuring sections of the playtest are working well. I’m a bit disappointed that advantage and disadvantage has been scaled back in the design of the monster challenges. Advantage and Disadvantage is the mechanic that makes this version of Dungeons and Dragons distinctive from the others (and is the mechanic most easily house-ruled into previous editions), and because of that quailty, should be utilized more thoroughly.