So while I was away the world changed, and we suddenly have a new D&D Next Playtest Packet. I haven’t had a chance to look at it yet, but lots of other people have: once I’ve worked my way through it I’ll add my thoughts to the conversation and probably try to run another playtest (I’m particularly interested to see if my players take to the character creation system or not). Apparently, this process is expected to continue for 2 years.
In the mean time, there’s a summary of changes included in the packet and I thought I’d share my initial impressions on that.
Hit Points: everyone, both players and monsters, have lower hit points. I’d have to look at what exactly this means, but I think it may be a good thing. (Though, I’d have to finish my investigation of What Hit Points Mean before I can really say.)
Surprise: rather than changing your initiative (-20 to your roll), Surprise now just prevents you from acting at the beginning of combat (essentially just like always). This is probably a net-positive, but I really liked the penalty-to-roll mechanic.
Opportunity Attacks: exist again, but only trigger if you leave a character’s reach. I think this gives characters more maneuverability around Giants than around Orcs, but I’d have to check. They also added a disengage action, so you can run away without provoking an attack.
Ranged Attack in Melee: rule only applies to ranged weapons, not spells. I’d have to refresh myself on what the rule was to be sure of what this means, but again I think it’s probably good.
Short Rest: can be taken even if you have fewer than 1 HP left. Not sure if that really changes the dynamic or not; apparently it lets a henchman use a healing kit on you, which seems reasonable.
Long Rest Variants: They say they haven’t changed the rule, but they’ve added variants to try out. I’m tentatively intrigued.
Conditions: Some conditions were altered; I don’t remember having a problem with any conditions before.
Armor and Weapons: the tables have apparently been heavily revised, which is good because they needed it. Medium Armor no longer penalizes Move Silently. Don’t know what I think of that one.
Monsters: New stat block format, new abilities, and an XP-based encounter-building system.
Spells: Changed spell disruption rules (now not just Wizard-specific), clarified what you need to cast (your voice and a free hand), and added and revised spells.
Classes: Changed Cleric’s Turn undead and Channel Divinity. Added combat superiority and fighting style for Fighters. Changed Rogue’s Sneak Attack and Skill Mastery. Too vague to really comment on at this level.
Misc: added a skill list (yay), associated skills with attributes (boo), changed the word “Theme” to “Specialty” (huh), and changed some feats.
Oh, by the way…
Did I mention that none of this matters any more? OK, that might be a little bit of an exageration (for some of you), but WotC also announced that they’ll be releasing their “whole back catalog” of D&D products in electronic format. I’m not sure what that means, either in terms of what exactly will be available and in exactly what form, but if it means I can hand them a reasonable amount of money and get all those 2nd Ed. treasures I apparently missed out on, color me excited.