Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Caustic Elf's First Round Overview of D&D Next's Playtest First Round Overview

It seems all these long forgotten adventurers are coming out of the dungeons where they were left behind by the most recent D&D versions.  And they seem to be coming out bitching about everything.  It seems the dungeon they've been exploring or should I say the rules aren't quite what they used to be a decade or more ago.  Dwarves, halflings and now elves are pouring out complaining about the hell they've been in during D&D 3 and 4 and screaming at what 5 seems to be turning into.

The Caustic Elf just read a scroll delivered by a raven from the mighty city state of Seabattle in the kingdom of Wish-a-ton.  His skin almost drowed itself pitch black from what he read.  I leave you now with the Caustic Elf in person.

Thank you thank you o great lord Saurondor master of the most pissed barren lands a dungeon master has ever gamed in.  I appreciate this opportunity to rant, ejem, I mean pour my opinion on the news from Seabattle.  It seems my long years adventuring have not been paying off too much.  The most recent news I have received come in this scroll.  I have to say I'm appalled with what I read.  It's not enough to have been rolling all those d20s missing my skill check for no apparent reason.  Now I have to read this:

" Advantage and disadvantage used to be a –2 penalty. By rolling two dice and taking the higher or lower result, we hope to make it easier to resolve situations that call for these rolls."

What the fuck?  Adding a number is harder than rolling two dice and comparing.  What about the change in probabilities.  Why doesn't Mage Mearls talk about that.  No oh no.  He goes on and explains that a good reason for this is : 

"it's much more forgiving if you forget to apply it, but have already picked up your d20 (and can't remember what the result of the die roll was). "

And can't remember what the die roll was?  And you forgot to apply your bonus?  Is he fucking nuts?  You're making a rule and endorsing it because some dim wit can't remember to add a bonus?  I know people want to forget bad news and forgetting a bad die roll is understandable, a fucking week later, but you just rolled the die!  Shit, I mean what next?  The DM says you suffer 12 hit points of damage and you forget that by the time you pick up your pencil to write it down on the character sheet.  "Excuse me DM, how many hit points?"  What happens if the DM forgets too!?!?!?  Oh and it gets better.  Get a load of this:

"The same applies to disadvantage. If you hit and picked up the die, you can just roll again. If the second roll misses, you missed."

Oh so fucking great.  If I forget to add a disadvantage but I hit like hell am I going to remind the DM, gosh you know what I forgot.  So I get a second chance to fail.  Did you also notice how it's like five lines touching the "I forget" topic and one covering the "it's easier to add".

Well there's lots of ground to cover, next. "For instance, you can't pick a lock without thieves' tools." 

Holy shit! A whole new set of rules to say the obvious.  I don't recall a version that allowed to pick locks without tools.  But then again I've been in the dungeon so long I might have missed it.  Nonetheless it seems quite obvious.  Maybe Mage Mearl's age is showing and his memory failing, but for me this is quite clear.

I'm going to add this one We assume that swimming, climbing, and jumping don't require any special checks." to the same rant.  I mean hasn't it always been like that?  I walk into a calm pond and drown?  I don't know how Mage Mearls has been playing the game the last few years.  Maybe he's used to a skill check for walking and talking too.  Doesn't it seem like Mage Mearls is making rules to regulate the rules that shouldn't be there in the first place?  Maybe he's been failing his "write game rules" skill check as of lately (last 6 months).

Onto stealth now.  The Mage says "To design stealth, we first decided that we wanted rogues to be able to hide in situations where other characters cannot."  Oh boy did that bring images of the Pink Panther to my head and the inspector walking right in front oblivious to the Panther's presence.

"Anyone can try to hide in darkness or if they are fully obscured from view."

Holy  crap Mage Mearls you just defined hiding.  If you're fully obscured from view you're hidden.  Your statement can be rewritten "Anyone can try to hide in darkness or if they are hidden".  But it doesn't end there. "If a rogue hides and no one is around to see him, don't bother with rolling the dice unless".  Like no shit Sherlock!  When did common sense leave the game?  Have past editions been such a hand holding experience that game masters are treated like small children.  I mean really small children like 2 years old.

Last but not least Spells : " The spell rules should look familiar to 3E fans. The big change here is in the spell description. We wanted something that was fun to read, so we decided to fall back on plain language rather than a formal stat block."

Arrrgghhhhhh holy shit crap fuck.  What is this??  All these months and all they can come up with is a nicer description for spells!  Something nicer to read.  Isn't that the dungeon master's job to describe.  Maybe in the new drone mechanics focused on combat things like "narrative" have become ancient customs.  But there was a time when a short description was enough to get the game masters and players inspired.  Is this the illness of D&D in this day and age?  Over detailed rules that actually play out the adventure rather than set the guidelines for a great adventure.  Trying and failing to lay down in text the most important rule in RPGs: "common sense".

Well that's enough for today.  There's more in the scroll, but it blisters my skin just to read it again.  I'll enjoy a tea now and wait for the next raven to arrive.

Your's trully,
Caustic Elf

Well thank you Caustic Elf for your comments it's put some points into perspective.  Folks don't miss his post on magic here.  Being an elven fighter-magic user Caustic has been quite strongly opinionated on this matter.
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