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OneD&D Discussion - Unplaytested As Of Yet

Hello, all. New poster on the website. I read through the etiquette so hopefully not making any faux pas here

I’m interested in discussing the OneD&D playtest document. I did not listen to the actual Wizards of the Coast announcement regarding the playtest, so I may be reiterating some things they have covered. I plan to convert to the playtest rules at some point, but my current 5e game has a plethora of brand new players who have yet to master the rules as-is, so I’m holding off until a more cohesive playtest is released.

Therein lies some frustration with the playtest at this point: it is less of a playtest and more a smattering of variant rules and previews of larger design changes that are to come. With these rules changes come rules interactions that have a disproportionate impact on some classes. One chief rule change is the alteration of critical hits. According to the new rules, these apply only to weapon attacks (no spell critical hits) and do not double any dice rolled outside of the weapon dice. This change has a knock-on effect on classes like the rogue and paladin, so I suspect they will be redesigned to accommodate these rules changes. (A rogue wielding a 1d6 weapon adding 2d6 sneak attack dice rolls 3d6 damage normally. In 5e as-is, a critical hit doubles this to 6d6. In OneD&D, he would roll only 4d6.)

The materials provided indicate that OneD&D is clearly taking cues from D&D 4e, which is unsurprising. The online playerbase has expressed dissatisfaction with D&D 5e for some time. This vocal discontent is unsurprising likewise. D&D 5e has been released long enough that the system’s flaws are well-documented, and the online consensus—an important distinction!—is that the game needs more elements that were hallmarks of D&D 4e. These include:

  • A greater parity between spellcasters and non-spellcasters (“martials”). This has always and ever been an issue since D&D’s birth. Spellcasters increase dramatically in spell power as they advance, gaining options that allow them to shape the fictional game world. Spells are simply more powerful and interesting than the limited collection of abilities relegated to martials. The ability for a high-level fighter to attack eight times in a round is powerful within the combat system, but the ability to pump out high damage numbers is not impressive next to the potency of a suggestion spell.
  • More choices/options for martials. This flows from the previous point. Ignoring the perceived balance issues in the game, martials are less enjoyable to play for many gamers because of their lack of versatility. In D&D 4e, all classes gained access to a slew of abilities, both usable within combat and outside of combat. Rituals were a spell system accessible to all characters for the low cost of a feat, and later supplements introduced martial practices, which were akin to rituals for non-spellcasters. Utility powers were likewise available to all classes. I believe we will see the return of some of these mechanics.
  • Spell list divisions into Arcane, Divine, and Primal is a callback to 4e power sources. I have no strong feelings on this. There is much sound and fury about all classes having the same spell lists now (bards and wizards both being arcane casters, for example) but this is premature as we have yet to see class redesigns to accommodate these changes.

Some additional scattered thoughts:

  • The changes to race are overall positive. I do not care for the removal of ability score adjustments from races, but this alteration is negligible. Emphasizing unique mechanics to differentiate the races is desirable, though I wish they centered less on the combat system.
  • Increased character options. The online playerbase seems to revel in the character building aspects of D&D. With 5e’s cautious handling of feats, those players who enjoy character building are not fully satisfied with the 5e’s base game.
  • OneD&D is phasing out short rest recharge mechanics. This has long been a complaint of the online community. In D&D 4e, it was expected for characters to take a short rest after every encounter to refresh their resources. In 5e, moving short rests from a few minutes to an entire hour has created an awkward situation where players are reticent to take a short rest due to time constraints and would rather take a long rest or not rest at all. For classes dependent on short rest recharge mechanics (like warlocks), this greatly impacted their ability to contribute to the game. Placing characters on a similar power recharge schedule is another cue from D&D 4e. This change leads us to…
  • Proficiency bonus times per rest mechanics. Adding individually-tracked mechanics adds a level of bean-counting that I find tedious. Already D&D focuses on tracking expendable resources: potions, scrolls, hit points, hit dice, magic item uses, spells, individual class mechanics. Tacking on additional abilities from races and feats burdens the cognitive load further. As I have game with players who don’t remember to utilize all the mechanics as-is, this is undesirable to me.
  • Monsters are being reworked fundamentally, for good and ill. Monsters can no longer score critical hits, and the designers have expressed a roundabout desire to systemize the cadence of a fight. Monsters will now have abilities that provide more consistent damage spikes in accordance with certain climactic moments in a combat—at least, this is my interpretation of events. I think 5e’s monster design needs tweaking, so there are positives and negatives from my perspective. (I find the unpredictability of fights in 5e a mixed bag.)
  • Customizing backgrounds rather than offering a predetermined selection is a terrible decision that guts the enjoyable aspects of the system. The interesting part of the character backgrounds in 5e is that they weren’t geared toward character optimization, making it a choice that was more influenced by roleplaying considerations. With a custom background of chosen skills and ability score boosts and a bonus feat, the system simply becomes a Lego builder that encourages optimal configurations irrespective of roleplaying considerations. (Such decisions can be justified as roleplaying, but it will be curious to see how many custom backgrounds happen to grant Stealth and Perception proficiency.)
  • Inspiration is acquired upon rolling a natural 20 on the d20. It is lost upon taking a Long Rest. The developers apparently desire Inspiration to ebb and flow readily throughout the game. Players gain Inspiration and then they spend it, and upon spending it, they are more likely to roll a natural 20 and then more likely to gain Inspiration. The design goals are probably to encourage a forward momentum amongst player characters, previous success improving the odds of later success. Although I am uncertain of the mechanical implementation of this, I think making Inspiration a larger part of the game is excellent. As it stands, it’s almost entirely forgotten (at least in every game I have played), and I hope that easier acquisition emboldens players to undertake more daring exploits.
  • Character creation will take longer with these changes, as they add decision points to the character generation process. For players who enjoy building characters, this is a positive change. For those who do not, it is a negative. Character creation is largely a solo endeavor. Your mileage may vary on whether this is pleasurable.<
  • Unarmed strikes are changed. Shove/grapple are simplified. I don’t have strong feelings on this because I’ve never seen these used prominently. Already online discussions are gnashing and wailing their teeth about the changes, so I suspect these rules will change almost immediately, so I am not devoting any more thought to them.

Individual notes aside, my broader perspective is that OneD&D is going to make a lot of smaller changes to the rules that will be difficult to track. Upon first readthrough, many rules appear to be the same, except there are slight variations that change them. WotC claims that the release in 2024 will be backwards compatible with existing 5e products, but I’m skeptical of this. Although the rules will be superficially similar, I anticipate numerous changes that fundamentally change the game. Yes, you will surely be able to port in the same monsters and characters as listed in the existing adventures—the basics of hit points, Armor Class, etc. will remain the same—but the minutiae will be sufficiently changed as to make this difficult.As far as rules adoption goes, I suspect the majority of people will accept these changes in the same way that the majority readily accepted the change from 3.0 to 3.5.

My coldest hot take from this whole OneD&D project is that Wizards of the Coast is looking to create a digital product that they can “patch” like a videogame, adding errata and content easily without relying on physical sales. Some people are concerned about this, but I am not, as I prefer a physical medium for gameplay and am certain there will be a demand for physical books into perpetuity. The ability to issue errata on the fly or clarify/rewrite rules text instantly is an interesting prospect that will have a huge impact on the hobby—for better and for worse. We will no longer be paying for D&D books, but instead we will purchase a D&D service. If we don’t like the rules changes from D&D 5.1 to D&D 5.2, one wonders if we’ll be able to “roll back” to a previous version. I suspect not.

What are your thoughts?

Department: 
Actual Play
Games: 
OneD&DD&D 5E
Tags: 
D&D

Comments

Ron Edwards's picture

Hello! Thanks for taking a chance and diving in here. You've definitely discovered no faux pas, let's get past that right away.

What you have done, though, is to discover a hive of D&D play of all sorts, including perhaps especially some enthusiastic 4E practitioners. Several people have played a frightening amount of 5E although I'm not sure anyone has really expressed intense joy with it. So there are plenty of open doors to walk into from here.

Where this goes next should follow your lead, so here are some thoughts for orientation.

Is the upcoming product of genuine interest to you? My position is that nothing concerning play makes a bit of difference to Hasbro policy and planning except as part of image management. If your response is "yes," I'm interested in why you care. This is not snarky or dismissive; I'm always checking into why "D&D"seems to hold such prioritizing fascination for what is, historically, a wandering and blundering RPG-design endeavor and a consistently failed commercial endeavor.

On the other hand, I am enthusiastically interested in your own play experience of 4E and 5E, especially direct experiences of fun. Because if the discussion of OneD&D that you described is really opening up insights into how these systems already interact, and how one can be tweaked further due to thinking about the other, then yes, count me in! 

For example, does character "equality" matter much, actually? In terms of effectiveness? The topic has obsessed RPG designers and play-culture for decades, but somehow the elusive "balance" disappears every time someone thinks they've grasped it. My view is expressed in Presentation: Balance, power, spotlight, agency, talking a couple of years ago. What is yours? Acknowledging that a character should be good for something, does the specific issue of effectiveness really cause trouble in your own experience of play?

Is the upcoming product of genuine interest to you? My position is that nothing concerning play makes a bit of difference to Hasbro policy and planning except as part of image management. If your response is "yes," I'm interested in why you care.

Ron, that's an excellent questions. I am interested in D&D as a product inasmuch as D&D carries name recognition and makes it easier to find players and games. Outside of a handful of OSR games that I believe are more suitable for handling the style of games I enjoy running, I have no real attachment to D&D (outside of 3e being my first RPG).

On the other hand, I am enthusiastically interested in your own play experience of 4E and 5E, especially direct experiences of fun.

I have only played a single game of D&D 4e, so I can't really comment on it, but I am currently running D&D 5e in an old school manner with a host of players, and it is a real treat. The Isle of Dread conversion by Goodman Games has solidified for me that the playstyle enshrined in older editions is what works best for D&D. It is an absolute pleasure to be running a slow-paced wilderness trek as compared to the more typical "adventure path" style game. I have quite a few quibbles with 5e and what I view to be new player unfriendliness (and the overemphasis on the combat subsystem), but everyone is slowly learning.

For example, does character "equality" matter much, actually? In terms of effectiveness? 

Yes and no. In our current game, we have a notable power disparity between characters that is due in part to class selection and rules knowledge. For the players in this current game, it does not seem to matter that much. As I do not bother overmuch with "balanced encounters" (or a "proper" XP budget), it matters little to me: some encounters are terribly easy and others are terribly difficult. The group chooses how to engage with them.

However, I have witnessed games where the power disparity does cause issues, typically in two scenarios.

The first: games in which the encounters are supposed to be calibrated for a particular degree of challenge and the players significantly perform above or below the baseline. The former deflates the tension of the encounter and the latter creates player frustration. This is compounded by the fact that these adventures are often linear and deviation from the script (so to speak) is difficult. GMs often attempt to "correct" this error via fudging, which indicates a flaw in the system's design. (Intended design is a bit up in the air, but in the case of linear adventures, I believe the intended design is not to provide a suitable encounter that ends in player character victory but presents a sensation of danger and excitement.)

The second type of game in which power disparity exists: when one player character is drastically out of sync with the relative power level of other player characters. It fully depends on the player perception, whether they are cognizant of the disparity, whether they are competitive, whether they feel helpless or useless, etc.

As a final note, I've played in dysfunctional games where one powerful character was domineering toward the others with the implied threat of his power level. Alas, no amount of systemic recalibration would fix that.

Dreamofpeace's picture

Hi There! I'm glad you posted.

I have only played a single game of D&D 4e, so I can't really comment on it,

Just wanted to mention that if you remember the game well enough, you're welcome to write up your experience and post it. Your actual play experience is valuable, one game or many.

but I am currently running D&D 5e in an old school manner with a host of players, and it is a real treat.

I'm curious what you mean by "old school manner". I've found that people can mean very different things by that, so I'm interested in what your experience of "old school" is.

The Isle of Dread conversion by Goodman Games has solidified for me that the playstyle enshrined in older editions is what works best for D&D.

Imho, there is no one style of play implied by older editions, so I'm interested in what you personally mean by and are enjoying about it.

It is an absolute pleasure to be running a slow-paced wilderness trek as compared to the more typical "adventure path" style game.

I'd love to hear more about this, too; what is it you like about the wilderness trek? And by "adventure path", you mean a railroaded game, or something along the lines of what we might call intuitive continuity here?

I have quite a few quibbles with 5e and what I view to be new player unfriendliness (and the overemphasis on the combat subsystem), but everyone is slowly learning.

You mean you find 5e to have high learning curve for new players?

 

 

Dreamofpeace:

Regarding your inquiries about the Isle of Dread, when I say that the game is run in an old-school manner, I mean that it is a non-structured hexcrawl. I'm doing a couple of things that are hallmarks of old school D&D, or at least what I've been told are hallmarks of old school D&D.

  1. Meticulous timekeeping. (I track each and every day.
  2. Unbalanced random encounters. (Some are easy, some are hard. Had a couple character deaths.)
  3. Hexcrawling. (Players chart their own course around the island.)
  4. Gold-as-XP. (Selling treasure is the primary form of gaining XP.)

This is my perspective on the intended playstyle of the early D&D, whether that is accurate or not, I am uncertain, however, this is what I've gleaned from a lot of the OSR.

The wilderness trek is enjoyable because it's unpredictable. There are keyed encounters on the map, and so it's always interesting watching the paths the players take and the subsequent events unfold. Random encounters create emergent gameplay--the players encountered lizardman hunters, one of which was riding a giant gecko. The players now possess a giant gecko.

You mean you find 5e to have high learning curve for new players?

Yes. Certainly not compared to D&D 3e, but the complexity of character generation (ability scores, backgrounds, feats, skills) coupled with the number of player-facing mechanics and decision points (spells, inspiration, archetype, class features) creates a game that is a bit steeper on the learning curve than I'd like. (This varies from player-to-player. I am in the process of making some game aids to assist them.)

John Willson:

I'm largely in agreement with everything you've written, but I think WotC is going to be bolder in the published "5.5e" than they have been in the past. I think we will see quite a bit of increased mechanical complexity; I foresee a lot of 4e bleeding into 5e. Like you, I'm not much interested in character building but actual gameplay changes, and I'm waiting until we get a "full" playtest to convert the group over.

I have seen Level-Up 5e, but that was too crunchy for my tastes. I did like a lot of the basics with the combat maneuvers, however.

Rod_A's picture

Your comments on the learning curve remind me of some of my early experiences with the game. Case in point: Wizard spells. I was familiar with this as a big point of contention between playtesters who had been fans of 4th edition, and playtesters who hated it and everything it represented. When I saw the final rules, I thought something like: "Oh, what a clever compromise between, or perhaps synthesis of, two hostile viewpoints!" Fast forward to a year later: I'm teaching the game to players who have played World of Warcraft but never touched a tabletop RPG before. Explaining the spell rules to them feels difficult and clunky, and I have the realization that the rules are that way because of a religious argument that has nothing to do with these new players, and certainly isn't contributing anything to their enjoyment. (P.S. I don't even remember how those spell rules work now.)

Greg's picture

Hi Thom! A few questions are raised into my mind by reading you.

- Why commit to "the official last version" if you're learning this specific and actual game? Is there some kind of social pressure coming from the group or an individual from the group that pushes you to the need of "having the last version", even if you're dubious about it? Specially in the context of "learning 5e" ? I don't know if this need a proper explicit answer from you here, but I would consider that as a reflection. Do you feel obliged to get the last version, and why? Because I can't see any reason except following the market's production. Maybe some other reasons exists, but I think this question is worth to be asked

 - If 5e is really a way to communicate the existence and desire to play to new player, does it need to be translated into "playing 5e"? Here is a recent story from my wife (who gm and plays 5e, which I don't). At work, some of her coworked (and friends) were excited by DnD through watching Stranger Things, and said "we want to play D&D"!. Which really could be translated by "We want to play RPG". My wife told me "I'm goint to gm 5e, because that's the system I know better". Then, after a few seconds, "or maybe circle of hands." What I mean is that: is there a real push-drive from new players to play "5E and nothing else", or is there a windows to say "hey, there are thousand of excellent RPG and 5e is one of them, let's have a drink together and I'll show you those 3 games I really enjoy and let's pick one". So you would bring, I don't know, 5e, Circle of Hands and Runequest ; or 5e, BX/ and Sorcerer, explain them and see where the group is going. Does this need to play "5e and nothing else for newcomers" comes from a cultural representation that it's the way we should do because that's what they ask for, or is there a real social pressure committed to that only game, only edition. In other words, is this a customer commitment into a trademark that we are using as an entrance to the activity, or is there any room to open doors by sharing our own excitation for other games.

On 5e and OneDnd themselves, here is my two cents. I only played a few sessions of 5e, so I don't have Jesse's fine grain knowledge of the game, but it's going in the same direction:

- 5e looks like a very demanding game for me, for the gm. There is nothing that gives you juice for changing the fictional situation outside of combat. So after a combat, the GM will have to design a brand new situation from scratches and threw the character in it. It seems exhausting and playing with a wet rag, as Ron described in the main discord to explain what "bounce is about".

- One Dnd doesn't seem to change that. To me, there are no fundational changes about the dynamics of the game. The GM designs a situation and encounters but he will control the story/arc. In that context, player's participation to the collective fiction can only be invested into three things: cool character options, "spotlights" or shining moments of their characters options, "acting" (which is often what people really means by "roleplaying", but it's different). You will have an interaction with the world, setted up by th GM (social interaction, combat or exploration of a location), but you have nothing to say about the story arc which is controled by the GM, providing a series of encounters. What you described as an adventure path, and which can be very strongly explicit (railroading : "don't go there") or more subtile (intuitive continuity or quantum ogre: "they can go where they want but I'll just teleport the oger there so they will get the clue/combat).

In that case, OneDnD just seems to stay in this structural context and, actually be very consistent with its own premisses: adding options for this very restricted player character participation, reduced to "shining with their cool option", which is just using a "special effect", characterization through acting, and specification of their own character without any impact in the game (my gnome boils water with my fire power). 

Greg:

I can't reply directly to your post, so I'll answer down here.

Do you feel obliged to get the last version, and why?

Is there some kind of social pressure coming from the group or an individual from the group that pushes you to the need of "having the last version", even if you're dubious about it?

There is indeed some social pressure. Several of the players are not new to RPGs and they specifically desire to play 5e. Though I concur that "play D&D" usually translates to "play RPG," I did opt for 5e specifically because I had the 5e conversion of the Isle of Dread and I know 5e, unlike B/X D&D. If I happened to know B/X as well as I know 5e, I would run the original module, as B/X is, in my opinion, more suited for the style of adventure proposed by the Isle of Dread.

5e looks like a very demanding game for me, for the gm. There is nothing that gives you juice for changing the fictional situation outside of combat. So after a combat, the GM will have to design a brand new situation from scratches and threw the character in it. It seems exhausting and playing with a wet rag, as Ron described in the main discord to explain what "bounce is about".

Part making 5e work for this game is incorporating many of the old school D&D elements that have been excised from 5e: reaction rolls, random encounters, dangerous combat, timekeeping, unsafe rests, treasure-as-XP. This alone creates a sufficiently "bouncy" game for my ends. 5e is less "bouncy" than true old school D&D because the characters' resources are more plentiful and easy replenished. The base game is not at all "bouncy," and it's troublesome to run for the reasons you have described.

OneD&D does not fundamentally change this, no. However, I believe the game will redirect its course to a more 4e-style of game, and so it will inevitably be a more well-designed and focused game as a result.

PedroPereira's picture

...have been excised from 5e: reaction rolls, random encounters, dangerous combat, timekeeping, unsafe rests, treasure-as-XP.

Sounds like Dungeon World but with more math thrown in. 

Jesse Burneko's picture

For context, I have been running a D&D 5e campaign since March of 2019. The game mostly focuses on exploring various adventure sites. The players always know about the existence of more than one adventure site at a time and each adventure site is somewhere between 15-60 rooms in size. They are now in Tier 3 (Levels 11-16). They know about 4 out of 5 adventure sites located in their current region and have conquered one of them.

So, when I look at these proposed changes it really feels like arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.  Not that I think D&D is a sinking ship, so much as it's a very particular commercial juggernaut right now that is doing a very specific thing and the degree to which these changes help or hinder it are pretty… minimal.

The race/background changes make sense to me in light of particular outcries from one particular subset of players, mostly younger ones. I’ve noticed A LOT of people wanting to play hyper-specific (borderline jokey) but clearly deeply personal character concepts. Concepts like a gnome with dragonborn blood who is a barista and boils the water for her espresso with her own little fire breath. These concepts tend to come from people who think of D&D as just a fantasy skin of modern cosmopolitan life.  I admit to being a bit of an old man shouting at the sky about these things but hey, who am I to judge?

The issue is, that hyper-customized and personal character identity concept tends to rapidly get shunted to the realm of head-canon or personal fanfiction because the game is otherwise very focused on having a very smooth and well-paced adventure. Character sheets are effectively video-game controllers that burn down battery life. To have your controller die on you or stop functioning under certain circumstances is effectively the same as not being allowed to participate. The GM side of that is encounter tempo and cadence.

So a lot of the changes (like no crits on spells or for monsters) I don’t think has anything to do with balance in the challenge or difficulty sense of the word.  I think it has everything, instead, to do with pacing. You don’t want your cool boss monster encounter with its swelling and dramatic fight music to be awkwardly cut short by a lucky paladin crit who dumped everything into an up cast smite.

So that’s why I look at these changes and kind of shrug.  Sure, okay.  My own game is about exploring weird places and dealing with the dangers there. Sometimes players get lucky and it's easy, sometimes things go poorly and it's a bit harder.  But D&D 5e is already tuned toward “smooth adventuring” and I don’t have any particular investment in making it smoother.  Risk levels are already ridiculously low, which is why I consider it a very casual game.

It seems to me that as streaming shows become more popular and people seem to increasingly heap video game/movie expectations onto the game, that investment in Encounter rhythm is going to increase.  So it makes sense that WotC would pour effort there as that’s where the consumers are hungriest for more.  But again, to me, it looks like rearranging deck chairs.

Dreamofpeace's picture

Hi Jesse, I find myself in fundamental agreement with you. To me, 5E isn't really a game, it's more like a game construction kit, particularly when you add in the various options in the DMG. Depending on what an individual group chooses from the plethora of options, they are essentially designing their own game that is likely to play dramatically differently from another group's. Probably the most common elements across groups is the tedious length of combat, and the superhero-like abilities combined with near-invulnerability at higher levels. 

I'd heartily agree with the "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic," at least for the current OneD&D rules. Without further documents (classes, monsters) the rules changes amount to a handful of game engine tweaks that may as well be someone's house rules. I think once the full playtest is released, we're going to see more sizable changes that alter gameplay flow.

The current rules changes do indicate that the 5e developers are mindful of the pacing issues in combat--it seems they desire a more predictable escalation of tension. I foresee a return to 4e form with Solo monsters and monster roles (by another name).

John Willson's picture

Hi Thom, wow, that's a lot of thoughts!  I'll pick just a few to respond to.  Myself, I like to explore more innovative games, but I keep finding myself drawn back to D&D.  These days, I split my time between them about 50/50.  I try not to get personally invested in D&D as a product -- I know that I can play any version of the game that I want, including a homebrew ruleset, and Hasbro isn't at my table to tell me otherwise -- but I'm still fascinated by what the official designers think should be the official version of the game.  Who knows, maybe they'll actually come up with a new mechanic that I'll want to use.

D&D is extremely popular and successful at the moment; and even if WotC will make more money off the upcoming D&D movie and its merchandising, they still don't want to do anything to upset the popularity of the game on which all that is based.  So I'm expecting small incremental changes to D&D.  I know a lot of more experienced players are wishing for more complexity in character builds and combat tactics… I think they are going to be disappointed.

I like the changes to races, on the whole.  Giving races actions (like tremorsense for dwarves, flight for ardlings) instead of just bonuses is a great boost to flavour.  Moving the ability score adjustments to Backgrounds makes sense and gets away from bioessentialism.  I think the rules around mixing races need some work, though.  It’s disappointing that you will just have the characteristics of one of the races in your background.  That’s not really a hybrid if you ask me.  A human-elf hybrid, for example, has exactly the same characteristics as an elf… or a human.  No more half-elves.  But I see how it could be a balance nightmare to allow players to pick and choose traits from any races they want.  Needs work.

I agree with you that making it the default to build a custom Background is going to emphasize min-maxing instead of role-playing.  Having to pick from a fixed list of Backgrounds is a creative constraint that I look forward to.

I’m actually less interested in the changes to character building and more interested in changes to the mechanics of play.  

A few changes, while each is interesting on its own, seem to add up to a big power-up for PCs:

  •    Monsters can’t crit
  •    Auto-success on a nat-20 applies to saves and ability checks now, too
  •    PCs gain inspiration for rolling a nat-20
  •    PCs can pass Inspiration around
  •    Proficiency bonus applies to all unarmed strikes, grappling and shoving.

Taken together, these make PCs even more death-proof.  It’s already nearly impossible to die once you get to level-3 in a game that uses the CR/encounter building guidelines of either the DMG or Xanathar’s.  So the core rules are leaning even more towards supporting longform narrative play like Critical Role, and big linear campaign books, and away from challenge-based play like dungeon crawls in which death is a real possibility.

This all affects the “compatibility” with already-published 5e adventures in a very real way.  PCs under the new rules will be stronger than PCs were when those adventures were originally written.  DMs may find they have to buff up enemies on the fly when running these old adventures.

I’m happy about the revisions to Feats, it seems like they will form a bigger part of the game.  I’ve always liked feats for how they give you new things you can do in play, which is much more fun than a +1 here or there.

Grappling.  I think I’ve written more homebrew rules for grappling than for any other part of the game.  And I still haven’t gotten it right!  As a player, I want to grapple a creature and shut down or hobble its attacks while my fellows finish it off!  But I recognize that if grappling is too beneficial, then every party and group of NPCs will grapple in every fight, and the nature of combat will change completely.  It’s a tough balance to get right.  The original 5e grapple mechanic sucks: it does nothing but prevent the target from moving.  I know, you can combine grapple with a shove prone or other things, but it’s too many actions,… anyway.  I’m very interested in the proposed new grapple rules.  Grapple imposes disadvantage on the target’s attacks except against the grappler, that’s pretty effective!  It’s balanced by the target getting a free check to escape the grapple at the end of their turn.  Reasonable!  Can’t wait to try it in play, and see whether it breaks the game.  The DC to grapple is now the target’s AC, which is… going to be ridiculous in some circumstances.  An armoured person is harder to grapple than an unarmoured one? <side-eye>

I'd say more but I have to run.  Let's start with this.

PS: Have you looked at Level-Up 5E?

Gordon C's picture

My background - while I did start playing D&D at 12(ish) in 1976(ish), and had a good run with AD&D into the very early 80's, the D&D I've stuck with over the last 20 years (when I play D&Dish stuff) is the whole 3.0/3.5/3.75(Pathfinder) family/variations. Largely beacuse I leaned HARD on the HeroLab software to manage character creation as a player, and to let me build MANY, many encounters (way more than I ever actually use) as a GM.

Overall, the One D&D doc strikes me as ... not quite Jesse's rearranging chairs, but fundamentally just consistent with a long series of adjustments to rules. They're gonna throw some ideas out, people are gonna provide feedback, and eventually, we'll see if what they decide makes things "better", whatever that means to them and whatever they think that means for customers.

The alterations to "rests", and what characters recover when, strike me as more consequential - modifying that framework could have a bigger impact on player engagement with the characters in their current situation(s), so ... I'm interested in what happens as that's tested.

But the last bit, about this as a move to "D&D as a service", is a big deal on many levels. I mean it's true that at your physical table it doesn't have to mean anything, but ... financially, it's probably absolutely "the point" of this move, trying to capture the D&D community onto their servers, and their (coming-soon, promised-as-awesome, certainly "official") VTT. Maybe that's just me despising how Software-as-a-Service generally has (IMO) made software worse and worse over the years, turning users from attentive customers into really-just-part-of-the-product. And always, eventually, extracting more money/attention from 'em than you were able to before.  END Grumpy Old Software Guy

More practically, it might actually make it harder to do what I've always done, which is apply all the patches/repairs/alterations *we* consider appropriate to any/all versions of D&D we play (annoying, but it really is an automatic step at this point). But in many senses, it could just be a "better" system than 5.0 when all is said and done. Not that that I think that's a high bar ...

I'm not likely to do any One D&D playtesting myself anytime soon, as my 3.xish play mostly works fine, or in fantasy I'd try something weird and different like a Darkurthe Legends game, or (certainly as GM right now) I'm just avoiding fantasy entirely. But ... D&D is still D&D. Part of me will always think it matters.

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