More collected info and thoughts on D&D Next / 5e

  You may remember, that on Friday I posted some info I collected about D&D Next along with my thoughts on the matter. If you didn’t read that article you may find it here. However since that the developers of Wizards of the Coast spoiled several other little tidbits on the new Dungeons & Dragons during D&D Experience so I decided to collect them here.

While now we know a little more about the game, this didn’t changed my general opinion I detailed earlier.

But back on the new information :

Spellcasting : It will be Vancian stlye of magic (memorizing), at least for the basic Cleric/Wizard classes with other possibilities added. For example you may receive At-Will spells (both combat related and non-combat) as feats. On higher levels you may replace several weaker abilities/spells for something stronger.

Thoughts : I guess it’s mostly OK. At-will spells were already available with some feats under D&D 3,5 and there are non-spell abilities  and unlimited cantrips presented forspellcasting classes in Pathfinder, so nothing really new here, but that’s OK for me. However I think the “forget what you know to learn something new” really don’t make any sense story-wise. I hope it won’t be mandatory.

Spellcasting -combat spells : They try to stop the extreme damage-outpu difference between spellcasters and fighters on high levels by limiting the spellcasters damage output. For example the fireball will deal 5d6 damage, regardless of caster level, and to gain very high level spells they must sacrifice some abilities or resort to rituals.

Thoughts : except of the “change your abilities” part this makes sense. It could be a deal-breaker for me if they could manage a good engine for magic, what I highly doubt. I think the main problem with spellcasters wasn’t their damage output, but they invulnerability thanks to invisibility, flight and different defensive spells. It seems the developers have a different idea about this.

Magic items : There will be less items than in previous editions, as they are not essential to character development anymore.

Thoughts : First, in D&D treasure is one of the main things which show how much a character adventured and advanced. It’s core. While i1m not against low-magic games it’s definitely not D&D style for me. Otherwise, it’s these items which let a fighter compete with a defensive caster and his spells (see above)

At-will-abilities : There will be At-will-abilities, which could be gained from a specific class on specific levels, from feats or from spells. I1m not sure how close they will be to D&D 4E at-will abilities.

Thoughts : While I don’t like D&D 4E methods on this, it could be something better based on execution. We will see.

Multiclass : They want multiclass as easily managable as in D&D 3,x edition.

Thoughts : This is exactly the opposite what they said just one day before the seminar they mentioned this. There they mentioned picking up abilities instead of your own class abilities, which is definetly something like the current 4E multiclass-feats work. So I can’t figure out what they really want…

Cleric/Priest : It seems there will be two different classes for the clerical role : the cleric will be the armored mace-wielding team support character, while the Priest will be weaker in combat but he is closer to his god, and therefore he owns better magical abilities. I guess this place the Cleric between the Priest and the Paladin class.

Thoughts : This is a nice idea, I’m intrigued how this will turn out. In my first ever RPG, M.A.G.U.S. there were the Paladins for the role clerics would fill in D&D Next and there were Priest too, and it worked nicely. (there weren’t Paladins in the game in the D&D sense)

Abilities and skills : Abilities will be modified not only by race but class too. So a cleric will receive +1 Wisdom for example. On the other hand skills in the sense as 3th and 4th edition presented them will vanish : most skill checks will rolled by ability modifiers, others will be successful based on your ability score alone. There will be some class based skills (with no pre-defined but eternally expandable list) and some gained by feats providing certain bonuses. (like full-speed stealth) characters may also gain skills from themes (for examle : Blacksmith)

Thoughts : Simply put : no thanks. I think this seems an over complicated method, even compared to the skills+feats which so much players feel to complicated already. (btw : I like skill points+feats) But to derive all skills from classes and themes, that provides a little bit too much rigidness. For example, they say a Cavalier is maybe a character theme, but Blacksmith too, as for example Feyborn.. so I cant be a Cavalier trained in blacksmith skills ? Or I can through some loops like multi-theme instead of multi-class ? and I didn’t mention that the whole theme thing is optional, so if you choose to ignore it no more cavaliers nor blacksmith. I hope I gravely misunderstood something here.

Saves : It seems there may be saves based on all abilities, not just the three (Reflex, Will, Fortitude) we already knew. They mention Intelligence in an example.

Thoughts : without further detail I can’t evaluate this. Maybe it will be something like regular ability checks, but I can’t be sure.

Overall I still have mixed feelings about D&D Next and it’s design decisions, and I see the same confusion on many other players I know. Others simply doesn’t care at all, having some bad experiences with Wizards of the Coast they won’t even touch the new rules, no matter how awesome it seems. On the other hand, there are others who wait D&D Next as a new dawn of roleplaying. (btw : from here it seems the later group is mostly the same who were stayed with Wizards  after the release of 4E, and they are already their customers)

I think this mixed reception just reinforces my opinion, that D&D Next won’t be the edition for all. I hope it’s success won’t be tied directly to this as I think to reach a sighlty larger player-base than 4E do is already a success, and it’s a more viable target.

Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros

2 thoughts on “More collected info and thoughts on D&D Next / 5e

  1. Pfff!

    What a shame. Seems to me they are continuing with the same horrific ideas as in 4th edition.

    The more complex the rules, the more difficult to play the game. Don’t they understand?

    Speck it down, guys! Build a good skills system. And maybe an “achievement system”, where a character gains certain skills at a certain level and optionally can chose from a list.

    The Magic system worked well in 2nd edition, allthough not perfect, as was the available magic items. So were most of the other rules. I don’t deny, there were some things worth improving back then (like the calculation of how to hit in combat), but at least things were understandable and easy to use.

    I am disappointed :-(

  2. Hi Apollo,

    I guess it’s to early to tell how this turns out. Hopefully thanks to the modular approach you may at least decide how complex rules you want to use.

    I’m really interested how the skill and magic systems will turn out in the end.

    Cain

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