Friday, June 01, 2012

D&DNext - The Good, the Bad and the Meh

After a first go through on the D&DNext playtest package, I have found some things I like, some things I don't like and some things I am wholly indifferent about. First the Good, skills are cool. They still work a lot like Pathfinder skills, except they don't scale with level. A character will typically have a couple of skills from their background which will have a +3 bonus. An ability score modifier will also be added to the skill check, but that's it. No ranks. Imagine that, a low-level palace guardsman actually has a chance to not be totally bamboozled by a smooth-talking high-level bard claiming to be the King's long lost son. As one can guess, skill check DCs are much lower. DC 27+ is considered to be "Immortal" difficulty.

With the Good, comes the Bad, healing. I can't say enough about how much I hate healing surges. No single rule turned me off 4e more than healing surges. Well, they don't call them that anymore, but the effect is the same. Did you just get stabbed in the neck? Sit down for a few minutes and you'll be right as rain. Combined with another 4e "innovation", massive 1st-level hit points, and you've got pretty near unkillable PCs. If they don't ramp up the danger level in the final product, this will probably be a dealbreaker for me.

Last, and certainly least, the Meh, for me, is the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic. I get it, sort of. To make up for the lack of scaling in skills, they introduce a mechanic to allow a bit more range of outcome. If the DM decides that the player has an advantage, he rolls two dice and takes the better result. If he has a disadvantage, he must take the lower result. In terms of the above example of the bard vs. the guard, if the bard attempted to tell a fairly believable lie, like he was an illegitimate son of the guard captain, he might enjoy an advantage. If, on the other hand, he was claiming to be the heir to the throne, that would certainly require a disadvantage, unless he had some compelling evidence to back up his claim. So, the mechanic works, I suppose. However, it feels sort of gimmicky to me and a bit too abstract and simplistic. Still, not a dealbreaker.

Overall, I'd say that while it's still too soon to say anything definitive, D&DNext looks promising.



Gleichman said...

I don't have much to say about D&D, but the whole advantage/disadvantage thing is really wonky and comes with a large range of problems.

Aaron E. Steele said...

I like the A/D system, but i'm familiar with a similar mechanic in Avalon Hill's Magic Realm, so it has an old-school feel to it.

I'm with you on the hit points and renamed healing surges.