Friday, May 25, 2012

D&D Next Playtest: First Thoughts

Ok. I have the playtest docs in hand now.
Now there is lot here, and there is a lot I can't say due to the NDA.

Let me take a bit and talk about the NDA.
Every game company on the planet uses an NDA. There are exceptions of course, but those companies are exactly that. Exceptions.  Plus the two that are often mentioned, Pathfinder and Dungeon Crawl Classics, are so derivative of the SRD that there is not really much in the way of new material to protect.  Plus the "beta" of Pathfinder was much more polished than this playtest of Next/5e.  This is not kick the tires or looking for bugs, this is a real play test.

That's out of the way what did we all get?
Well.....I can say there pages of rules, a bunch of pre-gens, a descent set of monsters and an entire adventure based on B2.

My thoughts, in no particular order.
- Someone put all their favorite rules from all editions of the game in a blender and hit frappe.
- Very much like 3e, with some 4e ideas.  I have noticed things though from 1st ed and 2nd ed.
- Lawful Evil and Chaotic Good are back
- like how they are doing hit points.
- advantage and disadvantage.  neat ideas. Not sure yet on how much I'll like them.
- Monster stats can now be written in one line of text!  Just like AD&D1

Characters now have Race, Class, Background and Theme (this is all old news) but damn it is nice to see it all working on one page of a character sheet.  Heck once you have your class, race, backgroun and theme down you can put your entire sheet on a half piece of paper.

On the character sheet I see bits from 3e, 4e, 2e and a lot of Basic D&D.  I also see things that are new.  Not new-new, but certainly new to official D&D rules.

I have often asked for a rule set that combines the best features of all of D&D from the last 40 years.
Damn if D&D 5/Next doesn't come really, really close to all of that.

We are going to play it this weekend.  I'll let you know how it goes.


Rhonin84 said...

I see the blender effect here, I really do. I like a lot of what is here my stand right now is that I can accomplish and have already done so by house ruling some things.

Now I will say this, I am glad that there is less of 4e than I feared there might be...

Unknown said...

I am right there with you, Timothy. It already does a really good job of combining the feel of various editions.

Cross Planes said...

My favorite part is how everything comes back to Ability scores, and we have central economy for bonuses.

ravencrowking said...

Out of curiosity, what was the last time you were required to sign a NDA for a Beta Playtest other than D&D Next? Especially one described as an "open" playtest?

Normally, one hopes that people WILL talk about a Beta. Talk volumes, talk specifics, talk, talk, talk, talk.

That talk certainly helped Pathfinder, it certainly helped DCC, and it could certainly help WotC.

AFAICT, the NDA in this case is about nothing other than who owns your comments and any ideas you might let drop. No more; no less.

So, here's the challenge: List who does require an NDA in the rpg industry. It is easy enough to come up with who does not.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

I have a stack of NDAs on my desk for playtests.

Who asks for them? Here are ones I have signed in the past:
Cubicle 7
Misfit Studios
Battlefield Press
Green Ronin
White Wolf
Elf Lair Games
OtherWorld Creations
Channel M Publishing
WotC (many times over)

That's just off the top of my head, I am sure I am missing more.

ravencrowking said...

Are those for initial playtests, or for "open playtests" of Beta versions?

Timothy S. Brannan said...

For everything.

One NDA was used in all phases in nearly every case.

ravencrowking said...

Really? Well I'll be damned.

I mean, assuming that there was an "open playtest" in the cases you are describing, because saying "One NDA was used in all phases in nearly every case" doesn't actually mean that there was an open playtest, or that the cases that the NDA didn't apply weren't the "open playtests".

I've had a chance to playtest a few things, and I've never been asked to sign an NDA (at least not post-Pathfinder's brilliant open playtest).

So, in order to be clear, are you saying that all or most of these companies recently ran playtests described as "open playtests" for which you were required to sign an NDA?

I don't mind being wrong...but I want to make sure I am getting a clear answer.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Every playtest I have ever been in regardless of whether is was closed, open, beta, alpha or some combination thereof has had me sign an NDA.

I have even had to sign some the expressly forbids me from even saying I signed them.

Pathfinder, Goodman Games are the exceptions, not the rule.

ravencrowking said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ravencrowking said...

I believe that I stand corrected, then, based on the implication of your statement, but I note that you still haven't said that you signed an NDA for open playtests with any those companies.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Well typically I get in on the playtests before they are "open". I was involved though in a late beta/open for D&D 3.0 and I did sign an NDA for that.

When I have run open playtests (back in the early d20 days) I did make people sign the NDA as part of the process.

Id have to look back on all of them. Morrigan Press maybe?

ravencrowking said...

Okay, then that rather changes how often recent open playtests require NDAs, doesn't it? Suddenly your list that makes Paizo and Goodman exceptions becomes (maybe) a list of one.

Moreover, given the goal of creating an edition to unite all D&Ders (which seems to need, IMHO, both goodwill and other people hyping/talking about what they see) why wouldn't WotC want to be a leader, rather than a follower, in unrestricted open playtesting?

IOW, if Paizo and Goodman really are exceptions...and there is still no evidence that this is so...why wouldn't WotC want to be exceptional?

Timothy S. Brannan said...

I guess that is the real issue then.

Why wouldn't WotC want to do want Pazio did instead of what they have always done in the past?

I am going to hazard a guess and say "lawyers".

ravencrowking said...

I hazard the same guess.

I think that they are worried about their liability with including ideas gained through feedback in the final product, without having explicitly gained the rights to that feedback first.

From my reading, the NDA's provisions seemed focused on exactly this sort of protection.

BUT, it is the expression of ideas, not the ideas themselves, that WotC would be unable to use, so I am not at all certain how realistic this problem would be.

There is (or was) a similar sort of provision inherent in the terms for posting on WotC's message boards.

I personally think it does more harm than good...and if they choose to go this route, I'd rather they came out and said why they are doing so than not....or pretend that it is simple a non-choice.