D&D Next – Nearly there…

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Wizards of the Coast has, after a long testing period, finally closed off the beta for D&D: Next, commonly called D&D 5. When I say they have ended it, what I really mean is they have rolled out the final packet in the public phase of the D&D: Next playtest. It is still available right here for download, but I don’t know how long that link will remain active. If you want to have a look at it, get it now while you can.

This doesn’t mean that this set of rules will be coming out any time soon, there are still many more months of work that need to be put into it before release. Another page, which you can go to here, says that a few more months effort will be put into that main set of rules, doing such things as killing bugs, simplifying things and incorporating more public comments. A second team will be working on more things, I’ve copy pasted that information below.

  • The underlying math of the game. We’ll run stress tests on the numbers, monster abilities, and so on to make sure that everything shakes out as we expect. This work is important to making adventure and encounter design fast and easy. It also ensures that the classes play fair.
  • An optional tactical combat system, with rules for using miniatures, rules for combat that operate like 3rd Edition or 4th Edition in that they remove DM adjudication of things like cover, and expanded, basic combat options to allow for forced movement, tanking, and so forth, as options any character can attempt. This optional system will look a bit like AD&D’s Player’s Option: Combat and Tactics book with key lessons learned from 4th Edition. Its goal is to present combat as a challenging puzzle that pits the players against the DM, capturing the best parts of 4th Edition.
  • An optional dramatic system that emphasizes D&D as a storytelling activity. This system treads ground that D&D hasn’t formally embraced in the past. It casts a gaming group as collaborative storytellers, with the DM managing the action and everyone contributing events, plots twists, and sudden, dramatic turns.
  • An optional system that cranks up character customization by allowing players to build their own subclasses. This system is really more of a set of guidelines that let you mix and match abilities pulled from subclasses within a class. You can approach it as a DM tool (“In my setting, the wizards of the Burning Isle combine illusion and necromancy”) or as a way for players to have more choice in building characters. We’re making this system optional because we know that some players want a lot of ways to customize their characters, but more customization invariably leads to broken combos. We can manage combinations and fairness at the subclass and feat level, but slicing things much finer than that goes beyond what we can reasonably expect to playtest.
  • A campaign system that extends the action beyond the day-to-day adventures, focusing on what we’ve called downtime. This includes managing a domain, running a business, playing politics on a grand scale, and so on. Things like mass combat would naturally slot into this system.

I have played some of the playtest, but that was a while ago, when there wasn’t much in it. I will get this last playtest and read through it completely to see what I think about it. Has anyone else kept up to date with these? Post some comments on your thoughts, I will once I’ve read it.

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