For Many people the ideas behind D&D Next were exciting and appeared to be a chance to bring together many different play types and maybe bring a change to the conflicting world of Dungeons and Dragons editions. Most of this however was based on various promises by the development team.
“We saw an audience that had been divided by differences in editions and play styles, and wanted to design a version of D&D that all players could experience and enjoy” ~Mearls
Wizards of the Coast Spoke very highly of these three things; finding what was common in every edition, establishing a strong and simple core and then adding in modularity.
In my opinion they are not doing this at all. First I’ll start with an example of not doing what is common in every edition. In at least three versions of D&D skills were optional, you could play completely without out them, with the exception of the rouge/thief. Currently in D&D next every class gets skills, every background gets skills and there is a skills specialty.
However maybe you could just cut all that if you wanted, right? Well that brings me to my next point every melee class gets Expertise Dice and practily every class feature is depend on these Expertise Dice, so to cut them would be cutting everything they currently have for the Fighter, Rouge and Monk. What makes it even worse is the Rouge is touted as being different from the fighter because he has Skill Mastery. So now skills are being used to balance classes against each other.
Sure maybe you could cut skills from all classes except the rouge and let them have skill mastery. But then lets not forget a lot of the rouges skills are not just “Rouge Skills” it could be Knowledge or Profession or Track it’s basically a complete list of 3.x skills with specific stat dependencies.
Well lets move on.
So what about these expertise dice, don’t like them and now every melee class doesn’t have their class features. Maybe you could play with no class maneuvers. Lets see you could rework sneak attack as that is now a maneuver and then remake the entire monk class and be left with a fighter who has no ability to cleave or precise shot. But that’s ok right not every fighter has to have maneuvers right, surely they even have an option for that. Nope every fighter has Expertise Dice if you don’t like it then rework the system yourself. Many people on the forums just say “well assume you use deadly strike every time.”
So for a straight and simple melee attacking fighter your either juggling when and how to use these special dice or at least assuming your spending them on Deadly Strike so for damage you’d be rolling something like 1d10 + 1d4 + Your Strength. That’s not too bad but certainly doesn’t look like a common thread throughout editions or a strong simple core.
Maybe you disagree with me though, maybe you think skills are a common thread and the Expertise Dice are a new way of handling common abilities. So lets move on again.
How about a very common thing like flanking or surprise, well in D&D Next this would give you advantage so Roll 2d20 and take the highest…..? Seriously roll 2d20 is a core rule for flanking and such. In what edition was this common? How about if your in a situation that’s bad were you would normally get a penalty; roll 2d20 and take the lowest. So unless your combat has nothing interesting going on your more then likely rolling two dice to hit. Sure you could just ignore it but as it stands that’s a core rule and has been for multiple playtest packets. I have seen no evidence that it will be bumped to being an optional rule, so you can’t just assume that either.
There are many examples of things like this but I’m going to give just one more. As it stands every current clerical healing spell works at range of 50 feet away. So cure light wounds is not a touch spell it is a power word that lets you heal your ally 50 feet away and still lets you attack that turn. This is the default option.
I have not seen any of these presented as optional or modular or any discussion from the development team saying that this is not their strong simple core. I see no common, strong simple core, and very little modularity. Even their critical hits are strange.
Maybe we will get lucky and by the end of the play test they will have a core that shows the common threads and simplest forms of D&D with options to adjust it to be what you want to play. But as it sits it is nothing more then an entirely new edition for which people will Edition War about!
My best judgment tells me this new edition will do nothing more the splinter the player base even further. I could go on with reasons why but this post is long enough already.
I wish the Development Team luck and hope the playtest goes well.
Unfortunately my players no longer want to play test D&D Next as they don’t want to deal with a new game or edition with new rules. We will likely be playing other editions of D&D and/or our own games. You can expect some future posts about Adventures Dark and Deep as well as a few custom content posts.
P.S. If anyone is interested in play testing the new edition I strongly recommend it as the more people play testing and sharing their opinions then the more likely it will become what the community or a larger community wants.