Thu
May 31 2012 12:00pm

Playtesting Dungeons & Dragons Next

Playtesting Dungeons & Dragons Next

Last week Wizards of the Coast released the playtesting materials for their new edition of Dungeons & Dragons, D&D Next. It is open to anyone who wants to try it out — you can sign up at D&DNext.com — and this weekend my regular gaming group and I gave it a spin. They had an epic battle with an ogre, were kidnapped by hobgoblins who crept in through a secret door while they slept, parlayed with a motley band of prisoners, and negotiated with a cruel and cunning warlord... losing two of their noble companions along the way. We gave it a pretty good shakedown and here is what we had to see about it in the aftermath.

 

The Good

I can’t sing the praises of the “Advantage” mechanic highly enough. Quite simply, if you have a nebulous edge — you are hiding, or you’re fighting from a better position, or you are electrocuting someone wearing metal armor, or whatever else might naturally come up in the course of the game — you roll two d20s and take the better result.

A “Disadvantage” is the inverse of that; if you are stuck in mud or cursed or laboring under some crummy situation, you roll two d20s and take the worse result. This simple little mechanic gives Dungeon Masters and players a powerful tool to support improvised play. Want to reward the fighter for deciding to swing off the chandelier like a swashbuckler? Give him Advantage on his attack. Is the wizard trying to communicate with an ancient lich using a dead language that he only knows how to write, since there are no living speakers? Disadvantage! “Aid Another” has been replaced with “Help,” and you guessed it, it grants Advantage. Elegant, simple and it feels very “Dungeons and Dragons-y.”

Overall, my impression of D&D Next was very positive. One of my players described it as “Like Second Edition, only they took out all the stuff that didn’t make sense, and replaced it with the smart rules from Third Edition.” There is some element of truth to that, but I think it is more a reinvisioning of earlier systems, reimagined through the prism of Third and Fourth Edition. It is stripped down, but has a keen eye on the lessons of playability from past versions of the game.

My players were particularly grateful for the new rules on standing up from prone — it is just five feet of your move — and how easy it is to switch weapons. Of course, they weren’t so happy about that when the ogre that was frozen in place started throwing javelins at them, but that is the way the cookie crumbles.

Other sophisticated pieces of simplicity are the rules for light, medium and heavy armor—add Dex bonus, half Dex bonus and no Dexterity, respectively—as well as the fact that now every attribute is its own saving throw. You could make a Strength saving throw, a Charisma saving throw, et cetera. That sort of fresh thinking goes a long way toward making a cogent system.

 

The Bad

The biggest problem my players had was healing. I understand that this is a common thread of complain among playtesters, but I think we might diverge from the main point. First, the obvious. For a cleric with the theme “healer,” the human cleric of Pelor does not pack much of a healing wallop. One cure light wounds and one healing potion…and both were used in the first combat of the session I ran. Not only that, but the cleric doesn’t know the ranged healing power, healing word. The whole thing was a problem; one of my players commented that the addition of spontaneous casting would have fixed it—if the cleric could use the spiritual hammer or searing light slot to cast another cure, things would have gone differently.

The flip side of this is that regaining all your hit points after an eight-hour rest seems ridiculous to my group. To go from “I was near death’s door this morning” to tip-top shape really impacted our suspension of disbelief, even in a world with a hundred ton fire-breathing reptiles. Regaining a hit dice after a short rest is a good conservation of the “healing surge” idea, but I think 4e’s “bloodied” condition is something that D&D Next should consider keeping. It telegraphed being “hurt” in a way that hit points have always failed at, and it could be incorporated into healing perhaps?

 

The Ugly

Strictly from a Dungeon Master perspective, I find The Caves of Chaos both fun and frustrating. Fun, because it is a reactive complex that encourages the DM to alter it, evolve it, and in general treat it like an organic system. Frustrating because…well, here is where the ugly comes into play. There are some “old school” elements that really make things tricky to use — most notably, the sheer number of enemies in some encounters. Now, I am happy that not every room was built to be a balanced math problem that your finely tuned characters just cut down at a statistically normal rate; that isn’t what I mean. What I mean is that by embracing a “theater of the mind” ethos, supporting play without miniatures and battlemats…they’ve made it hard to use for those of us who like using minis. Twelve rats? What happened to swarms? I don’t have a dozen rat minis! Eighteen stiges? Are you kidding? 

I’m as granola and low combat as they come; my usual games are roleplaying heavy and we can go for many sessions without a brawl, but when they do come up, I like to use the grids and the minis, for two equally important reasons. One, I find it helps people stay engaged and make sense out of the fight — how many times have you heard “oh I thought I was attacking the ones outside the cave!” or “Wait, didn’t I damage that guy? No? How he is across the ravine?”  Using visual aids cuts down on that and gives players something to look at when it isn’t their turn. Two, minis are cool. I like ‘em, and I like busting them out on players and having them go “oh what is that, let me see, oh no I hate it!”  I’m not a painter, but that is an important part of the hobby too; I just want both styles to be supported.

 

Characters

Seeing them in action, all the classes have something to recommend them. The fighter is notable for his Reaper power, a call-back to Fourth Edition’s Reaping Strike that lets him do his ability score bonus in damage, even if he misses.   The rogue’s Sneak Attack is well designed; our halfling was sneaking and attacking ever other turn, which is what you want as a rogue, I think. Besides that, the rogue’s Skill Mastery seems awfully potent; even if he rolls a 1, the die still counts as a ten, plus his bonuses. The elf wizard’s at-will spells are neat, too; an at-will “magic missile” is nice, but it is even nicer that “ray of frost” and “shocking grasp” are so well designed that you might actually want to use them, depending on the circumstances. The wizard’s “Lore” skills are too vague to be very useful, though. I was least impressed with the human cleric; his attack spells actually seem potent, but when you have a healer…well, I expect him to be a better healer. We didn’t get a chance to see the dwarf cleric in action, but the theme that allows him to give enemies Disadvantage when they attack someone adjacent to him seems really neat.


Mordicai Knode honestly can’t believe they brought the electrum piece back. Making it the relic of a forgotten empire is cute but please cut it out and stick with decimal coinage! Maybe you really like absurd numismatics?  You can argue about it with Mordicai on Twitter or Tumblr, if you like!

39 comments
Jack Flynn
1. JackofMidworld
I gave up on D&D when they went 4e (not on RP, just picked up different games to play) but the Advantage/Disadvantage is an intriguing idea.

One of the things I've heard about 4e was that it was...well, not necessarily dumbed-down, but made so that it was more like a video game than an RP game. I'm wondering if this edition will feel more like old-school RP or a video game with dice instead of a controller.
David Thomson
2. ZetaStriker
On hit points, the full recovery thing makes perfect sense to me. Hit points are an abstraction; taking a "hit" isn't actually meant to be getting nailed by the giant's two-ton javelin. That makes less sense than anything else, really, because there's no logical way you'd survive. Instead it's always been meant to represent a slow weakening of your character. You're not even injured until you start getting low on hp, and even then it represents light cuts and bruising that slows and weakens you for an eventual heavy blow. The first non-glancing blow is meant to be the blow that knocks you down to zero hit points. In that sense, I have no problem with them recovering quickly, but maybe making a mechanic that slows recovery for having dropped below 0 might be in order.

As for the spells, I assumed Clerics worked like in 3E. They don't need to be spontaneous, but they can prepare spell slots with different spells. As in multiple cures.

Anyway, I'll get more of my thoughts up later. But I can say I thought Advantage was poorly described. Is it supposed to come up often? Rarely? Should I use it in place of flanking and opportunity attacks because it makes logical sense, even though they took those things out deliberately? It's just too brief a section for too new a rule.
David Flor
3. David Flor
For encounters with a boatload of minions I don't think anyone can be expected to have that many minis, but in those cases I've used a handful of pennies to mark where things are.

This is hardly a "showstopper" in my book.
Jonathan Downing
4. jondowner
I haven't actually run or played in the playtest yet (to be remedied this weekend...), but just from reading about it the Advantage system seems to be really awesome. The designers are aiming for much flatter math in the game, and Advantage addresses that nicely.

Regarding your comments on clerics and a lack of healing, I know that Mike Mearls wrote a playtest overview article on the Wizards website addressing this at least in part. Clerics currently are going to have a spellcasting system similar to the 3/3.5 sorcerer, but with a big difference. Clerics will pick and prepare spells each day, but can spontaneously cast any of them by expending spell slots. It sort of takes the 3/3.5 converting of prepared spells into the various "cure" spells and ramps it up to the next level.

I'll have a more solidified opinion once I'm actually able to sit down and run the playtest, but so far I'm really liking how D&D Next is shaping up.
Mordicai Knode
5. mordicai
1. JackofMidworld

This has very little in common with DnD 4e, besides taking some of the better concepts & stripping them down for parts. I'd even go so far as to say it is more "old school" than 3e, & I desperately enjoyed the Third Edition. I think a lot of people agree, hence the attraction of Pathfinder...

This is much less "video game"-- besides my aforementioned problem with Hit Points & fast healing-- & even less "tactical combat" than 3e. Heck, you don't loose anything by trying it out; I say sign up for the playtest. Maybe they'll take your voice into account when they refine it, right?
Mordicai Knode
6. mordicai
3. David Flor

Well then it becomes a case of being "against cool minis." I mean-- I like having a tableful of orcs! I know I can use pennies or aquarium beads or whatever, but...I don't know, I do have a dozen orcs, I just don't have like, a dozen of everything, you know?
David Thomson
7. ZetaStriker
I actually had this article pointed out to me today, which clarifies some things like the Cleric's spells. We were all doing it wrong, apparently, but only because Wizards forgot to include all this important information in the playtest rules.

http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4ll/20120528
Mordicai Knode
8. mordicai
2. ZetaStriker

I mean, those are some of the general problems I have with hit points, in a nutshell. Is it a total abstraction? Then why have an AC & a to-hit at all? I mean, if it doesn't represent actually getting hit, you could simplify everything to just damage dice...which would make an interesting & extremely low-crunch option, but I don't think that is what DnD is actually representing with hit points. Are they scratches & bruises? So then monsters are just all stormtrooper & COBRA bad at aiming? Frustrating.

That is why I like bloodied; it represents some intangible concept for you to hang your hat on. If you get bloodied, then bam, you know you got actually hurt.
Peter Czyzewski
9. sebastianelgar
With the current playtest rules, you don't need to declare spells for the clerics, they can spontaneously cast any spell they have prepared (which is all the spells they have on the sheet) Only the wizard has to declare each spell slot at the start of the day. It's not spelled out clearly, you have to notice the different wording on the wizard and cleric sheets.
Mordicai Knode
10. mordicai
4. jondowner
&
2. ZetaStriker

Oh I think Advantage is really great. Partly because...heck, use it for flanking if you want too! As long as you apply it to both sides of the table, it should balance out. It is a tool for the DM. Flanking a pain in the butt? Ignore it! Flanking is a cool tactical piece of the game? Simulate it with Advantage!
David Thomson
11. ZetaStriker
Actually it makes a lot of sense. You avoid the hit, but are off balance. Or the powerful blow to your shield numbs your arm. The blow glances off your armor but drives you momentarily to a knee. There's a lot of ways to describe a hit without it actually becoming a wound. The point is that the attack puts the character at a disadvantage and weakens them, but isn't necessarily drawing blood. That hardly means that the monsters are bad at aiming, just that the characters are good at protecting their weak points.

I do second your love of the Bloodied condition though. It was the first rule-stated interpretation of the abstracted hp concept that I'd seen in a long while from Wizards or any other company with an RPG that used them. I don't think its inclusion is vital, but it is nice.
Mordicai Knode
12. mordicai
4. jondowner
&
7. ZetaStriker
&
9. sebastianelgar

Oh well then! That does go a long way toward fixing the problem! Except...now I'm worried that clerics are overpowered...
Mordicai Knode
13. mordicai
11. ZetaStriker

I guess then it is a matter of taste; I find the slog of hit points as a total abstraction to be a bit...cartoonish? There are people swinging swords at one another, shooting arrows with long bows at each other!

The ability to go from "knocked out & one failed save away from death" to fine & dandy with a healing kit & a night's sleep...it stretches my credulity too far. I can suspend it for hit points-- it is a convention of the game & it ain't goin' nowhere-- but not the extreme leaps that it sometimes required. At least have nonmagical healing take a little bit!

I get how you can do the mental gymnastics to make it work, but I think I'll always be dissatisfied with a hit point scheme on some level...but like I said, "Bloodied" goes a long way towards making it less silly, I think. At some point you get hurt.
Jonathan Downing
14. jondowner
Hit points have always been a bit of a finicky aspect of the game that I've mostly come to just accept. The "How to Play" document of the playtest dances around the concept of being bloodied without ever actually declaring it a mechanic. Until you hit "bloodied," you've just been exerting energy to avoid getting hit. Once you get into the lower half of your hit point pool though, you get tired and start taking small cuts and scrapes here and there. When you hit zero, that's when the sword goes through your gut or the ogre hammers you into the ground like a piton. When worded in that way, it sorta reminds me of the Vitality/Wound system from the Star Wars RPG.

I agree that the full recovery with an extended rest is a bit absurd, but the developers have apparently taken note of that. Ideas for slowing down the natural replenishing of health and more long-term damage (like broken bones each time you drop to zero or something) are being tossed around if the online chats posted are any indication.
Mordicai Knode
15. mordicai
14. jondowner

My personal campaign is Oubliette, & in the first iteration I used (heavily modified) Third Edition rules, including Wounds & Vitality. It was...okay? I mean, another way of saying "SDC" & "Hit Points" without invoking Palladium, right?

That said, I understand why people thing it is complicated...it was a bit of a pain in the neck. "Bloodied" is pretty intuitive though; half your hit points? Heck, you could tie it to the "Disadvantage" mechanic pretty neatly, too.

I would like to see slower healing in the default, too; not just as an optional rule. I think fast healing (video game: you stay at the end, all your hit point & magic points come back!) should be the optional rule.
David Flor
16. Joe Mar
Very interesting. I would love to playtest this. I've only played (and I am still playing 3.5) which works with lots of DM modifications to make battle more fun and less about paperwork.

The Advantage/Disadvantage system makes a lot of sense.
Mordicai Knode
17. mordicai
16. Joe Mar

Go click on the link above & sign up; they aren't being stingy with the playtest which is super smart of them. I liked 3.5 but like you I found myself making a lot of house rules, to the point where I didn't even call it "3.5" but rather "d20." Generic classes, Wounds & Vitality, DR/piercing or bludgeoning with some armor types, spell points, class features as feats, yeah...I went to town. The developers have said that they intent D&D Next to be hyper-modular, which...well, that is the most appealing thing to me. I think every book should be half Unearthed Arcana.

& the Advantage System is easily the most robust part of the game; it is a simple & evocative mechanic with good probability behind it. I filled out the playtest survey & that was my major feedback-- they can simplify a lot by just relying on it more.
David Flor
18. J Mccaffery
As one of the players -- Calcas, the ill-fated! -- I came away with the impression that the best thing about the new game was the math. 4e's ever-increasing set of variables was inelegant kludge to me; the flat math (in which PC bonuses are smaller and DCs also appropriately smaller) is big. It also felt like a better streamlining-- preserving the "tactical wargame" aspects that everyone likes without the clumsy bloat that plagued 4e and the draconian oddness that plagued (some would affectionately say "characterized") 3e. Advantage is a great mechanic because it produces consistency instead of a simple +10% success rate like the old +2 modifier did.

The rogue's skill mastery is amazing and reveals a real attention for the pitfalls of a d20 system-- a rogue with a great bonus is still 25 percent likely to fail because every result on a d20 is equally likely, which is a fine risk for a single roll like an attack roll but when you have 4 people sneaking, even if all of them are good at it, someone gets caught. If you sneak for more than 4 rounds, you are probably going to get caught.

Which now that I think about it could be a feature, not a bug, to discourage rogues from getting too far away from the party, but now I'm rambling.
Mordicai Knode
19. mordicai
18. J Mccaffery

You weren't ill-fated, you just made your choice not to work for the hobgoblin warlord, & he put you in the ground. Not even by fiat either; that guy is super dangerous it turns out! I only tweaked him a little bit-- I made his main attack his bow attack rather than melee-- & gave him Advantage.

Anyhow, multiple dice is just...I mean, not only is the math good-- which it is, as you say-- but it is also a fix that feels like Dungeons & Dragons. I know people who swear by playing the game with 3d6 instead of d20 for the probability distribution (though I've never seen them play that way...) but the biggest problem with that is that...it doesn't feel like DnD anymore. Advantage is the best of both worlds & I really can't say enough nic things about it. If there is one take away from this playtest it is that.

I still think Skill Mastery is overpowered-- I hear your point but part of the "flatter math" is that a 16 default is...really, really high.
David Flor
20. J Mccaffery
Right, but "sneaking around" is a thing that rogues should be able to do reliably. Unlike many other hecks in D&D-- making an attack roll, a diplomacy check or other assorted skill checks, even a saving throw-- failing a sneaking check pretty much means you die? Maybe an overstatement, but it's... a very dramatic failure, if you were at all doing it at a time that mattered.

Besides, if I recall a 16 is still only an "average" DC in D&D Next (god, I hate calling it Next-- it's one of those words that just loses meaning when you say it enough times). The rogue should just be able to sneak past dudes who can't manage an average check.
Mordicai Knode
21. mordicai
20. J Mccaffery

I agree, I'm just saying that 16 (an "Advanced" DC) is high for a starting character. That said, I'm not sure how skill & attribute bonuses level, so maybe that 16 stays 16 for a long time...which would be better, but still, I'm not sure it is ideal? Mostly I am thinking about things that aren't Stealth, though, like Open Locks & Find/Remove Traps...both of which are dramatic enough that I like having the random element? Partially maybe I just need to get used to the new DCs...like, what DC should manacles be?

Also worth noting that Skill Mastery gives you the ability to take a 10-- no, not "take a 10," that would be one thing, balancing efficacy & risk-- the ability to never roll under a 10 with any skill you are trained in. I am concerned about the potential for abuse, too.
David Flor
22. Darryl Mott Jr.
Just wanted you to know that clerics in Next DO spontaneously cast. They prepare all spells they know, and can then cast X number of spells per level each day. So at first level, the Pelor Cleric can cast one Spiritual Hammer and one Cure Light Wounds, one Searing Light and one Spiritual Hammer, two Cure Light Wounds, or even two Spiritual Hammers. The rules are under Spell Preparation and Casting a Spell on the cleric character sheet.
David Flor
23. Vistcoatis
So, I am looking forward to the advantage disadvantage system. That is especially appealing to me. I can see the throw back appeal of doing away with skills completely, I mean why not just let the characters try whatever they can think of and use the stat modifier. I will be sad if the Cleric does not get a healing boost. Playing pathfinder Cleric healing is not particularly good there either and it is annoying to feel obligated to build cleric characters that are better at fighting than healing. All and all I am curious to see how character building looks in the final version and how they might go back and draw from the obvious success and failure experiances of previous editions.
Sol Foster
24. colomon
Okay, I'm completely mystified by the affection shown in these comments for the new advantage /disadvantage system. Adding / substracting a bonus from your roll is how nearly every d20-based mechanic in the game has been handled since day 1 in D&D, it's dead simple, and it's much more flexible.

Is everyone simply geeked because their chance of getting a critical hit when advantaged just (nearly) doubled? Or is there some horrible flaw with the plus / minus system I've never noticed in all my years of d20 system playing? (Mind you, I stopped GMing anything but diceless games twenty years ago...)
Mordicai Knode
25. mordicai
22. Darryl Mott Jr.

Yeah, I've been pointed at that upthread. I guess the part of my brain that was soaking in the game was like "Uh, spells, know how those work, moving on..." & didn't delve any deeper. I'm concerned about the spontaneous casting, but only because I don't want to see that mechanic totally subsumed by the cleric.

If anything, it seems like "Channel Divinity" is a good mechanic for "spontaneous casting" with the cleric...that is how turn undead works now, right?
Mordicai Knode
26. mordicai
23. Vistcoatis

That is basically how it works; there are skill bonuses-- as in, you get a +3 when you do this specific thing-- but everything else is a d20 plus your relevant stat. I like it, but I worry that some ridiculous things or special skills will be left solely to DM adjudication. "Can I hack the mindflayer spaceship?" "Uh...yeah?" (I know, I know, you can set the DC impossibly high or say no, I just want strong rules too.)
Mordicai Knode
27. mordicai
24. colomon

Yeah, the flat escalation of DCs & bonuses is...well, super boring, for one thing? I mean, when things just keep pace "+5 to hit/+5 to AC" all you are doing is...playing the same game no matter the circumstances. Plus, rolling two dice is fun! I mean, ultimately that is the name of the game. & better heads for math than mine can probably say smart things about the way the probabilty shakes out.
Sol Foster
28. colomon
Oh, I can do the math. Quick breakdown: If you need 10 or better, rolling two d20s and taking the max is just about the equivalent of a +5 bonus. If you need a 19 or better, it's a a bit worse than a +2. If you need a real 20 (not a critical), then it's slightly worse than a +1 bonus. On the other hand, if you need a 20 for a critical hit, it almost always doubles the chance of that. (39/400 chance instead of 1/20.)

Meanwhile for disadvantage, you will almost *never* get a critical hit -- 1 in 400 odds instead of 1 in 20. If you normally need 15 or better, the new disadvantage is roughly equivalent to a -4 penalty.
Mordicai Knode
29. mordicai
28. colomon

I'm not fixated on the critical hit; I'm focused on the use of mechanics to invoke fun & story. Rolling two d20s is oodles more fun than adding or subtracting 5; there is anticipation, the feeling of being able to see a possible path (we had a 20 & a 1 on an Advantage roll & crowed!)

You play diceless games; I like rules light games. In general I feel like rules should be the dirty little secret, the white lie; I don't want them to interrupt the flow of the story. That said, when they do get broken out, I want them to feel like they bring something to the story; they provide an element of chance, of twisting probability, that other narrative forms just can't.

Elegant rules are the thing for me; that never means super complicated, but it doesn't always mean the simpliest. Rolling two dice FEELS like an Advantage or a Disadvantage. That nebulous piece of the brain is probably the same part of the brain that makes people toss all their money away in casinos, but it is harnessed to the story here. It gets at some primal chunk of grey matter & it does it in a way that doesn't get in the way of getting on with things. That is golden, if you ask me.
David Flor
30. Kosherinfidel
Hit points as an abstraction, while that might be what is related to gamers, is not really true. We are told that combat is an exchange of blows and feints, and the die roll represents the telling strike. Damage is meant to be fatigue, wear and tear, exhaustian, et. al. But what about ranged combat? I loose an arrow, that arrow is removed from my quiver, it is a physical object occupying time and space. And when I hit with the arrow? How do you abstract that sinking into your flesh? PLease let us not resort to, it was a grazing wound, that cheapens the discussion and is not entirely accurate. The arrow, now accounted for as missing from the quiver, has now struck the target dealing actual damage. That is how bows work.
Modern systems are better off letting go of HP and using things akin to shaken and wounds ala Savage World. But I know, I know, it isn't D&D without the old tropes...I have heard that since '82.
Mordicai Knode
31. mordicai
30. Kosherinfidel

I mean, I run my regular campaign with the World of Darkness, so I feel you, definitely. That said, I'm willing to deal with hit points as an abstraction, especially if there is a way to get hurt built in; I mean, "fine," "hurt" & "incapacitated" are all like reasonable catagories for describing people. Whether it is ranged or melee...I mean you roll damage dice, after all.
David Flor
32. Rich Green
Of course, I forgot to use my dwarf fighter's reaper power every time I missed :(
Mordicai Knode
33. mordicai
32. Rich Green

Oh that is horrible; Reaper is wonderful! My fighter remembered & even better, he read the rules so that when he switched to his crossbow he started doing his Dex bonus on a miss. Good for him! Anyhow, what do people think about offering the fighter two themes, as a recent article suggested? If anything I thought the fighter was possible too good, just a hair, just a smidge; I don't see needing him adjusted upward in power level.
David Flor
34. DakotaStrider
I playtested the new rules at a recent game Con, and I think they will need a lot of work, before they bring me back to Dungeons and Dragons. The OP made a very rosey review of parts of the game, that I believe are flawed. The Advantage/Disadvantage aspect is one of those. A character may have several advantages in a given situation, and some of those may be considered major advantages. Yet with the rules, their needs to be only one disadvantage to nullify all of those advantages, and make it a wash. Very frustrating. Other aspects of the game seem to be over-simplified to the point of being laughable. They seem to be totally ignoring all the great efforts that went into the game for over 40 years, and dumbing it down to an early elementary school level. Dungeon and Dragons used to be a game that required thinking. Wizards of the Coast seem intent to remove that aspect.
Mordicai Knode
35. mordicai
34. DakotaStrider


See, Dakota, I think we disagree on a basic philosophical level, but let me start with your primary point-- Advantage/Disadvantage. I don't have the rules in front of me, but if memory serves, yes, Advantage & Disadvantage cancel each other out...but if you have multiple Advantages, wouldn't that then...result in an Advantage? That is, at least, how I would rule it. In fact, I play pretty fast & loose with that sort of thing; I wouldn't even bean count if there was what you call a "major advantage." I'd just give the PC an Advantage!

Which I think goes to what I was saying about philosophical differences. For me, uncomplicated rules are a plus, not a minus. I like games where the rules are easy & more importantly easy to ignore. The "elementary school level" of it is a plus for me, because I am very heavy on the "roleplaying" element of the game. I want the rules to get out of the way of the story. That said, I know that having robust rules can help tell the story, for some people; I don't think this is a "right or wrong" question but a matter of preference & taste. You might be more interested to read about what Pathfinder is up to, then?
David Flor
36. Leirra
There are things I like and dislike about advantage.
The Good: It takes 'sudden death' out of the roll. If the nymph is attempting to no-magically charm the king's 7th son (who has self-esteem issues and stays in the basement RPing as a SEAL Team commando), she shows up naked and brings beer (so she needs to roll a 3 to suceed), but rolls a 1 - she just chokes. It FEELS silly to me that that's all there is. Advantage system makes it extremely unlikely that you will fail the ridiculously easy checks, while only slightly improving your chances at the high end. At 10 it is +5, but at 1 it is +19. That is good.

I am a skilled rogue. Picking these low end locks should be a cinch, but this gnomish "Mindmaze" (tm) vault security, it isn't happening, even with my lucky masterwork picks.

At the other end, it doesn't let you overachive.
The bad:
No ammount of advantage lets you do better than a natural 20. If you need a 21 to suceed, 35 major advantages won't cut it. You still get a 20. You roll 35 dice and get a 20 on every one? You still failed. (yes, I would house rule on 35 natural 20's rolled fairly, just for sheer awesomeness of it).

I think there needs to be a system where "Advantage" turns into pluses.
If my rogue is trying to sneak past the vampire guard (DC30, so we can run numbers high).
Say she has +12 for stealth modifier
Say she has 6 advantages.

Is rolling 2 dice and hoping for an 18 enough?
Maybe 'cash out' 4 dice for +2 and roll two for a 16? something like that seems like it would be more fair.
Mordicai Knode
37. mordicai
36. Leirra

Isn't that what skill dice & bonuses are for? Those two mechanics are different, & they aren't meant to overlap. Advantage can go to anyone-- the nymph showing up with beer & naked under a trench coat (though, wouldn't that just make him blind & dead, depending on your edition?) gets an advantage from the beer & trench, but so too would a PC of average Charisma, or even a Hag. Exception success if a different issue-- part of the Nymph's skill set, right? She'd have bonus dice.
David Flor
38. Jbob
I am a long time DnD player but after trying 4th edition It just seemed like D20 was becoming a very tired/dry experience. I have recently tried the Star Wars RPG by Fantasy Flight and the system is fantastic. The mechanic clearly demonstrates just how convoluted the D20 system is (especially with 3.5).
David Flor
39. Bloodluster
Regarding hit points and healing them: How about a tiered structure and using the bloodied concept. If one goes to sleep with only half of the HP down, which makes them not bloodied according to 4e, then they get it back after resting. If they are bloodied, then they need proper healing and a nights rest to be healed (X amount of days to rest according to the healing roll). If they are knocked out, then increase the healing die roll to reduce the number of nights the person is out of combat. Then this requires a given number of days of healing plus a certain amount of healing or healing skill checks. Sometimes doctors have to check on their patients multiple times; multiple healing checks would cover this concept.

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