Like, I suspect gamers everywhere, I’m having a go with D&D Next. For me, it’s a mixed bag of good and bad.
When perusing the below lists, keep in mind we’ve only been playing for a month or so and have only reached the dizzy heights of 3rd-level. Thus, my views may change as we discover additional facets of the game.
5 Things I Like
- Combat: Combat is both faster and more fluid.This is huge as of course much of the game revolves around combat and challenge. I like the slimmed down number of choices in combat and the way actions have been streamlined. I’m sure once we get more used to the system, we’ll zip through fights even faster. I also like having to fight more foes – it feels much more like Old School D&D when you sometimes had dozens (or scores) of enemies instead of the three goblins it takes to make a CR 1 encounter in 3rd edition.
- Rituals: I’m delighted they made it into 5e. They were one of my favourite parts of 4e and I think they are great both for the flavour of spellcasters and for moving the plot onwards when the PCs really need access to magic like comprehend languages, detect magic and so on.
- Character Generation: Character generation is quicker and simpler than 3.5. I’m sure this will change as more and more options appear, but at the moment I like the speed at which I can make a character and jump into the game.
- Fewer Magic Items: It seems D&D Next characters are destined to own fewer magic items than in previous editions. This is good as I’d much rather the PCs rely on their own skills and abilities than the shiny trinkets they find or buy. I also like the edition’s stance on magic shops – namely there aren’t any.
- Greyhawk is Back (Again): Lots of named spells in the PHB “belong” to famous Greyhawk wizards. Even better, a small selection of Greyhawk deities appears in Appendix B.
5 Things I Don’t Like
- At-Will Cantrips: I loathe this in Pathfinder and I loathe it in D&D Next. Some of the cantrips also seem to do an insane amount of damage. Take for example, fire bolt that does 1d10 fire damage out to a range of 120 ft. That’s better than any comparable archer at 1st level, and you have the added bonus of never running out of ammunition.
- The Organisation of the PHB is Terrible: It takes me days to find anything. Why not, for example, provide a handy list of DCs for the various skill checks in the skills section? Scattering them through the text is not an ideal solution to speed game play. Information for critical hits is in two places and (of course) we learn drinking a potion of healing is a move action in the equipment chapter. Obviously.
- Speed of Advancement: Advancement seems insanely fast at lower levels. 300 XP to reach level 2? I understand you seem to get less each time you level, but still it seems way too quick.
- Spells seem Inordinately Powerful: Pretty much every encounter we’ve had has been won through the judicious use of spells. Often the fighters are unconscious (or dead) while the spell caster blow up or sleep the enemy. I’m playing a wizard, but I’m sure this is frustrating for those playing melee-focused characters. I’m particularly looking at inflict wounds, sleep and witchbolt as crazy powerful for 1st-level spells.
- Advantage/Disadvantage: I’m not a big fan of this mechanic. Sure, it’s quick and easy to use but I just don’t like it. I think I would have preferred a straight +2 or +4 modifier to the die roll. To me, that feels more traditional and in the keeping of D&D. I also hate how there is no definitive list of what does and doesn’t confer advantage or disadvantage in the PHB.
Something I Haven’t Decided On Yet
- Is there enough (or too much) healing in the game?: Pathfinder has definitely skewed my view on healing – we’ve been “spoilt” with the channel energy ability of clerics which gives the party buckets of healing. It seems in D&D Next that ability doesn’t exist so the party must rely on actual healing spells (which are in short supply). Countering that is the (insane?) inclusion of healing potions on the standard equipment lists! Surely this means, the PCs can buy as many of them as they please?
What Have I Missed?
Do you particularly love or hate aspects of the new D&D? Have I missed things in regards to some of my points above? Let us know what they are in the comments below!