Friday, 3 February 2012

More D&D 5th Edition reports from DDXP

Another two reports from the guys over at Critical Hits of their experiences playing D&D 5th Edition:

DDXP 2012 Recap: Running the New D&D and Playing Games.
Initial Impressions of the New D&D.

This comment has me slightly worried, because I don't like slow healing:
"That same Paladin had previously charged a room full of stirges, and become close to death by blood loss, necessitating a several week recovery time back at the Keep."

Of course, this might be a DM choice in the game, so let's wait and see.

"As discussed in the skills and abilities seminar, ability scores now act as a sort-of passive skill check. If you want to open a barred door and that door’s DC is 13. If you have a strength ability score of 15, you don’t even have to roll."

This concept might be worth a whole blog post on its own:
"In earlier editions of D&D, and particularly in D&D 4e, character power progression scaled linearly. In 4e, between feats, magic items, and level bonuses, you gained roughly +1 to attacks, defenses, and skills. Since this bonus modifies a d20, you can say that every level you gain roughly equates to a 5% greater chance to succeed at something. In 4e, when you’re fighting a creature five levels higher than you, it becomes 25% harder to hit and hits you 25% more often.

As described in the charting the course seminar, D&D’s new math is flatter. This means that these 5% bonuses might be farther and fewer across levels. Now lower level monsters can still hit you and you might miss them. It means that skill checks no longer seem impossible at lower levels and stupid easy at higher levels."

Every edition has followed the +1/Level progression dynamic for fighters, so reducing this (and removing magic items from the progression) will mean a fundamental change to the system. Here's a quick blog post where I break down how the progression works across all the editions of D&D:

Mechanics of Attack Bonus progression in D&D and Heroes Against Darkness.

Here's a Quick Summary of how the progression is achieved in each edition:

- Basic: Character To Hit table progression (magic weapons outside of progression)
- AD&D: Character To Hit table progression (magic weapons outside of progression)
- 2nd Edition: THAC0 table progression (magic weapons outside of progression)
- 3rd Edition: BAB progression (Magic items and Feats outside of progression)
- 4th Edition: 1/2 Level + Ability Score Increases + Feats + Magic Items

The advantage of 4th Edition's method is that it works for spellcasters, melee fighters and ranged fighters.

So, coming from 4th to 5th edition, if they're implementing slower attack bonus progression then one way to do it is to remove the 1/2 Level bonus and compensate by offering more frequent Ability Score increases, such as +1 to two ability scores every two levels), which would increase the character's attack bonus by +1 every 4th level. The problem with this is that it doesn't also scale your armor class, but that could be achieved through the game's underlying economy (e.g. you can only afford types of armor at certain levels).

Removing magic weapons from the expected progression can lead to over-powered characters, but that could possibly be balanced by the DM by bumping monster levels to compensate (and/or reducing XP rewards).

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