The Best In Old School Roleplaying

The Best In Old School Roleplaying
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Friday, May 25, 2012

First Thoughts on D&D Next Playtest

It's funny that I've started an OSR blog and the first thing that I happen to officially post is regarding a new school playtest of Dungeons & Dragons.  As anyone who knows me knows by now, I have been pretty sold on running my games under the Castles & Crusades/Siege Engine system for some time.  In fact, if they like what I am writing, it looks like my first published modules could be released under that system!  That aside, and with what I dig about that system (OSR style play, but streamlined) it might be strange that I am not posting regarding said system (I will be later.)  However, I have been waiting on the 5E system since it was announced.  Lately I, along with many OSR folks, have been sorely dissapointed by the recent posts made about Next.  I was a bit taken aback by the rules light approach that I found when I was finally able to download my playtest.  Of course, I can't give away spoilers or rules info, do to the agreement that was required by WOTC to get this material, but I can still voice some pre-play opinions.  As I will point out, it seems that several ideas here were "borrowed" from Castles & Crusades, but WOTC-ified.

1 As originally promised, the game seems to be built around an ability driven skill based system.  This hearkens back to 3.X, but is different and far more bare bones.  It looks, to my eyes, like an amalgamation of 3.X and C&C skills.  It seems OK at first glance, though I think I like C&C's Siege Engine mechanic more.

2 As with point 1, something seems to be C&C inspired in the Saving throws (think of C&C's "all ability scores have saves associated with them" mechanic.)  Again, I like this, but we need to see how WOTC's version of this plays out.

3  I'm uncertain about how I feel about the "rest" rules.  I'll have to see how they play out.

4  Electrum is back in play; an unneeded currency that was still missed.

5 Armor rules seem fairly solid.

6 Weapons seem, to me, to have a distinct Advance Dungeons & Dragons 2E feel to them.

7 Magic, as it currently stands, appears to be primarily Vancian (I'll take time to do a reasonable write up on Jack Vance and Vancian magic in a future post) in nature.  This excites me greatly.

On a non rule related note, the adventure that comes with the playtest is a portion of B2- Keep on the Borderlands, with credit even given to Gary Gygax!  Someone has done at least a little bit of listenting!

I will have more info as this is tested.