Monday, April 30, 2012

Thoughts on First Phase of the Public D&D Next Playtest

I've got to admit that I was more than a little disappointed when I read this post by Mike Mearls. Apparently, the playtests will start out with just pregenerated characters. Even though I can't be sure of their reasoning because (to my knowledge, at least) nobody has gone into any detail on why they're doing it this way, I do think I understand. Using pregenerated characters insures that new groups start on roughly the same playing field. It reduces complexity. It forces people to focus on the mechanics of the game rather than the mechanics of character generation. It makes sure that the feedback they receive is based on known quantities.

However, I'm still bummed. In my humble opinion, character creation is one of the most exciting parts of any RPG. Taking that away just bugs me, and I don't know how to shake the feeling. Honestly, it kind of makes me want to drop the playtest idea and just run 3.5, but make it known to my players that we're going to convert to the new edition whenever we get halfway decent playtest rules.

Oh well. Time will tell. Maybe my players will be cool running characters that somebody else rolled up... but I wouldn't be.

7 comments:

  1. I agree about character creation being one of the highlights of the D&D experience. The announcement of pregen characters struck me as a little odd... are there going to be premade adventures for those pregenerated characters to go through?

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    1. I think I read that somewhere, but I'm not 100% sure.

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  2. Yeah, not a fan of pre-gen PCs. It's a big part of why I never ran the intro scenarios for nWoD (they were written specifically for the pre-gens they came with, with no good way to mod them for custom PCs).

    Anyway, enjoy the play testing. I never (and likely will never) played 4.0. I might consider 'Next' or 5.0 or whatever they're calling it based on the reviews of folk like you ;-)

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    1. Well, honestly, I might not run though the playtests at all. I'm going to run this by my players and see what they think, but I'm inclined to just keep up with previews until I see some character creation rules.

      I liked the idea of 4E, but playing it felt stale. I hope I don't have the same problem with D&D Next. I really like a lot of the ideas they're putting out there, and I'm really excited. I'm just scared that it'll hit the table and not feel like D&D.

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  3. The email that the "Friends and Family" playtesters got today clearly explains the answer to your question-- they want to get the rules for the world the characters inhabit solid (combat, skills, feats, etc) before they add in the layer of building those characters. They're specifically taking this one piece at a time.

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    1. Yeah, I figured that. And honestly, I understand. I would probably want to do the same thing if I was developing a game myself... but it's still a buzz kill in my opinion. And what's worse is that I anticipate it being a loooong buzz-kill. They're planning to run through 10 levels of pregen playtesting before they put character generation rules out there. That will probably take a while.

      And if that's what it takes to get it right, then I'm fine with it, I guess. I just don't see myself participating until the game is in a later stage.

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    2. I agree the logic would be that for every variable you add in, it gets harder to analyze the response. But then I'm not sure why you open up 64 rooms of monsters to play with - surely that's counter-intuitive. Why wouldn't you have everyone play the same couple of encounters as stage one? That would make the feedback easier to guage. Still - I'm liking the new rules a lot and it's a rewrite of The Keep on the Borderlands, so that makes me a happy camper.

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