After using the playtest rules for DnD Next and reading about the direction of things such as monster creation, banded accuracy, and healing I have a few thoughts.
First off. I have only ever played 4th edition. I started playing about 4 years ago, starting DMing couple years ago. I have always been satisfied with the dnd games I’ve played or run.. I would have to say that I don’t need a new system. I have tweaked the one I use, and my style of DMing to squeeze the juicy goodness of D&D from 4th ed. ..and its working great. I am telling a story with some great friends and we love it.
Getting to play DnD Next was kind of an eye opening experience, both when I ran the game, and participated as a player. Next pushes players to think as if they were there, using their environment and thinking tactically from a characters perspective. In contrast to this, 4e facilitates thinking as a player thinking about powers and damage and playing the game tactically. The way I have always explained DnD is that it is a game where the characters can do anything. From tumbling, jumping, flying, smashing a bottle over a bartenders head, to spilling oil and setting it on fire with a flaming sword. Although I think these things are possible in all editions of the game, I believe that next facilitates these actions by pushing the players to think like their characters and by giving the power to the DM to make easy/intuitive roles for resolution. In Next, I was always thinking, this would be cool, this might work, what would happen if we did/tried this. These are questions that I think make for a great session of play, where you tease out the great story, action, and fun elements from the game. While playing 4e, too often do i find my players, and myself too, asking only: which power should i use. The way the game is built if you don’t use a power, you are often times wasting your turn. how do you compete with daily powers which inflict 3d12, target is stunned etc etc..?
This is one of the reasons I think dnd Next is headed in a good direction so far.
Today Mike Mearls talked a little bit about the playtest and the feedback they have gotten and I can already see that things are going to change. I remember hearing someone from wotc saying ‘We are not going to have different magic systems for the wizard, you will have to play a different class’ and today Mike says they are most likely working in magic system changes through Traditions. That’s the playtest right there. That is your feedback, they are listening.
Hitpoints: Sure raise the hitpoints for the wizard. However, not for everyone, its like children asking for more cake. of course they want more, but that doesn’t mean we should give it to them.
Monster weakness: people said they were a little too easy, and I absolutely agree. The first time I playtested at PAX east it was HIGH tension, a rat nearly bit my head off with two bites. It was amazing, however the last playtest.. I threw 8 orcs at the players and they barely broke a sweat! In 4e my players are RARELY scared.. they feel invincible, if someone goes down its like oh wow really? are you sure? check again.
Ease of DMing: This one is hard to nail down because I am not running a DnD Next campaign. We have been doing simple one session adventures on top of our weekly 4e game. So if I had the time to dedicate to a Next campaign as I do for 4e, so far I would say DMing is much the same. Its fun and not really hard but not really easy. They haven’t really released any DM tools for easy DMing so ‘ease’ is really a hard way to analyze the role.
BTW if you have negative feedback for the playtest: YOU ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON WHO SHOULD BE PROVIDING FEEDBACK.
If all the people with negative views or criticisms drop out, don’t speak up, don’t care then all they playtest will consist of is people who are consistently on board. And two years from now when the game comes out you will read it and say “Ugh this isn’t what I wanted at all, what a waste of time and money, they never listen” except for you were too lazy to contribute to the playtest. so don’t do that.