Tuesday, August 7, 2012

D&D Next: Playtest Update from Mike Mearls

Mike's newest Legends and Lore gives us a nice list of things to expect in the forthcoming Open Playtest Update.

The parts I'm focusing on today are the decisions to add a Skill List and the change to Rogue Skills.

I thought it was really cool that DnD Next had ditched a fixed Skill List, it reminded me of Old School play and some newer designs, like Over the Edge, Unknown Armies and 13th Age.  When I read it, I was pretty bummed, but I can see why they made the decision.

When I was running the Open Playtest, I had to ask players to tell me if they felt a Skill applied to the situation or remember ALL of their skills.  It slowed things down, not in a huge way, but it did slow play.

I can see that calling for a Skill check from a set Skill List would help speed up play and cut down on questions like, "How is Hunter different from Scout?".

Plus, I can always ditch the Skill List and go back to Player & DM driven Skills.  I'm not sure why this is viewed as a minus these days.  While I understand that new players may be confused, sometimes I think that means we need to focus on mentoring gamers more.  I know that my experiences as a new gamer would have been stronger if my group had a mentor.

As an aside, the Closed Playtest had a Skill List.

As for Rogue Skills, the new iteration of the rules will allow Skills that Rogues are Trained in to use the better of their Ability Modifier or +3.  Apparently this is to help combat the problem of low wisdom Rogues not being able to use Find Traps.  To be clear, under this new rule a Rogue with a Wisdom of 8 would have a Find Trap Skill Rank total of +6, a +3 from Wis and a +3 for being trained; as opposed to a +2, a -1 from Wis and a +3 for being trained, under the previous rules.

First off this "problem" of low wisdom and Find Traps seemed to overlook Skill Mastery, which gave Rogues a minimum die roll of 10 on any skills they're trained in.  I think Skill Mastery is swell, by the way.

Secondly, I don't think this a terrible idea as a cool exception based mechanic, but I'm weary of too many exceptions.

Honestly, the more I contemplate it, the more I like it.  I just hope Skill Mastery doesn't go away.

I really hope the down times of WotC's website means they're gearing up for a posting the Open Playtest before Gen Con, but we'll see.
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