Friday, July 5, 2013

D&D Next: Putting it all together

Now that I've made a few characters with D&D Next, I'm struck by how the rules don't yet mesh well together. There are a few different systems in place that really need to be ironed out, and I'm a bit shocked because they've been playtesting this stuff for a while now. Examples:

A Forest Gnome (ok, I know its a new race, but still) Illusionist wizard has features that just plain overlap. Forest gnomes get the illusion cantrip and so do illusionists. This could be fixed if there's 2 cantrips from each school, but I'm not sure they want to give at-will invisibility as a cantrip and veiling/disguise is the other illusion option after creating illusions. Not only that, but Gnomes gain advantage on saves against magic (in general) which overlaps with Illusionists getting advantage on saves against illusion spells.

The Assassin scheme for the rogue gains the sneak skill, but also the hide in shadows feat, which grants the sneak skill (and 10' of dark vision). Though the Assassin seems tacked on in other ways, because they're the only scheme who doesn't get mostly specific expert feats. They need a poisoner feat which lets them brew and identify poisons.

Races grant weapon/armor proficiency, but it is incredibly hard to find a place to use these proficiencies. Elves are reasonable, because the long sword and longbow are solid weapons, but most weapon using classes will have them already. Its a little better for Mountain dwarves who gain proficiency with light and medium armor, but also a +1 bonus to AC when wearing medium or heavy armor. So something like elves being able to use long swords as finesse weapons might help a little. I liked the earlier version where these iconic weapons (or at least the simple versions of them) gained a damage die bump (i.e. Halflings with slings and such). Alternately, it might be nice to have that as a "cultural" option, so Elven Culture gives you proficiency with long and short swords (and ability to use them as finesse weapons) and long/short bows, or recall lore Magic or History or Natural.

Light/small weapons are overshadowed by other weapons. Daggers, for example, in earlier editions don't do much damage but they have an advantage in number of attacks or weapon speed. So these could be made more iconic with some additional properties (daggers and other small weapons, maybe could get a power where you get to make an attack of opportunity whenever someone tries to grapple you).

There is also a lot of ambiguity in how things stack (or don't). Mage Armor, for example, is worded such that it isn't clear if an Elven Monk could take Mage Armor and still gain his wisdom bonus. Or, frankly, if a Dwarven Wizard could use Mage Armor at the same time as other armor which he's proficient in. Third edition named every type of bonus, which wasn't an elegant system but you knew what could stack and what couldn't.

Anyway, none of this is entirely unexpected, except we're quite a ways out from the original playtests and these seem like some major issues to deal with. I expect there'll be a new packet in a month for GenCon and I hope it shows they're working on what types of bonuses races and classes should get and how to ensure they don't overlap to the point of uselessness.

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