Thinking outside the docs

A new playtest packet for the next edition of D&D upon us (get it here, folks!) and this time around we get a glimpse at how character generation is shaping up with a whole 5 levels of goodness to play with.

The playtest packet contains four classes (Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard), four races (Dwarf, Elf, Halfling, Human) with two variants each of the non-human races, very nicely presented stats for 35 different monsters (no Dragon yet, meaning this is technically Dungeons & …) and even DM rules for encounter building. There’s no adventure, but a new one is promised later in the week.

It’s worth stressing that this is a playtest first and foremost, and its reason for existence is to test how game development is shaping up. It’s easy to think of this as a new shiny free copy of D&D but it emphatically isn’t that (and if you treat it like this you’re doing it wrong). Criticizing and nitpicking a playtest document publicly just makes you look like an idiot in my books. Feedback through the proper channels & respect the playtest for what it is, and you’re helping make the game better for everyone. Thanks!

With all that said, what we have now even in its slighlty-less-raw-than-it-was-before-but-still-quite-raw state is turning into what could become an excellent “D&D Basic” product in its own right, a Moldvay for the modern age. I hope that when the playtest is complete Wizards of the Coast release a final polished version as a free “introduction to the new D&D” pdf and thank you to the playtesters. That would be a terrific gesture, and really help kickstart enthusiasm for the new edition when it’s published.

I find lots of things exciting about how D&D Next is shaping up. One area is character generation, and what a big area it is. If you prefer a fast and light old school game, just roll your attributes, pick a race and class and you’re ready to play.

Where things really get fun is if you add in the Backgrounds and Specialties (the new name for Themes). These help flesh out the hero’s backstory and help say something more about how the character acts both in and out of combat. While some Specialties (and Backgrounds, to a lesser extent) are a natural fit for certain classes (Fighter Guardian, Rogue Lurker, etc) it’s the unusual combinations that appeal to me the most. A Wizard Lurker could be a black-robed apprentice of an obscure magical assassin cult, or a Rogue Acolyte be a heretical preacher on the run from temple authorities. It’s combinations like this of which great stories are made.

When you’re generating your first (or fifth, or twentieth) character for D&D Next, why not think outside the box and try an unusual combination of Background, Class, Race and Specialty?

You never know. You might just like it.

Till next time!

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6 Responses

  1. Great article. It is full of humor and well-written. Thanks for taking the time to write this. As always, I enjoy your insight. Keep up the great work and enjoy the moment. As always, it may not last.

  2. EJ. says:

    There isn’t much 4th ed influence at first glance, but I bet it’s deceptive.

  3. Sneak attack damage on a spell attack. That’s what I was looking for and that’s what DnD Next gave me.

  4. EJ. says:

    How about a Sorcerer with the Fey Pact background? Or a Warlock with the Draconic Heritage background? Okay, those were too obvious.

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