As of yesterday the playtest materials were available for download. Included in this package were the general rules, DM guidelines, bestiary, 5 pregenerated characters, and an adventure “caves of chaos”. If you want to get involved in the playtest, it is super easy. Just go to the wizards.com/dnd website click on playtest and put your name in.. it’s really that easy. After reading through the material the difference that truly jumps out at me is the overall tone. The style of description is different, in a good way.
The next thing I noticed is the reliance on ability scores. For instance, Will, Fortitude, and Reflex defenses are gone. This makes sense since these are merely reflections of ability scores in the first place. This gets down to the core of your characters abilities and removes a level of complexity.
Players of 4e will certainly notice the absence of ‘powers’. However, it does seem like certain feats will grant you power-like abilities. The magic system for wizards, I think, works. A fusion between cantrips/at-wills and vancian-style prepared spell slots.
One new mechanic that I am especially curious about is the introduction to ‘advantage’ and ‘dis-advantage’. Certain activities, abilities, situations may grant a character adv/disadv. If they have advantage then when they roll their check, they roll 2d20 and take the higher result. As one might expect if they are at disadvantage they take the lower result. This can greatly help/inhibit the action. Think if you role a 2 on one die.. and a 16 on the other. With advantage GREAT SUCCESS, that’s a 14 point difference. That’s no joke.
Well, that is enough for now. I will be running a D&D Next game on Thursday and will certainly be weighing in on actual game play.