The first round of playtest surveys are in and Mike Mearls (@mikemearls / +Mike Mearls), Head of Research and Design at Wizards of the Coast, has posted some of the preliminary results along with what changes they are looking at based on the responses.
In total, the feedback has been a positive 60% overall approval of the game direction thus far. Even with that, there are some glaring problems in the game mechanics and a lot left to be created. Here’s a list of the focus areas WotC is addressing in the next iteration:
Players have clamored for more options in combat, especially for Fighters. This is to be addressed with the introduction of a maneuver system (“What are you, a bloody tank commander now?” -Eddie Izzard) that players will be able to access through different themes. Additionally, they are developing narrative and tactical combat modules – optional rulesets that can be bolted on to the base system to give combat more depth and grant players granular control over their characters actions.
Players are saying that current Fighters feel generic and without any defining mechanic or ability. Mearls claims this will be addressed and fixed with more abilities and options, in addition to the aforementioned maneuvers.
The feedback on the surprise rules have been negative, so they’re getting rewritten. The idea is to keep it simple enough so that it won’t change initiative for the entire combat.
Crits as written are boring. To spice it up, they’re looking at adding optional crit and fumble tables.
An issue in the playtest material was that the Rogue, who is trained in finding traps but had a low Wis score, was worse at finding traps than the high Wis cleric. To adjust for this, WotC is looking at having training provide a skill bonus that replaces your ability modifier, hopefully making training feel important while keeping a low score from undermining it.
Resting and Healing
This has been an issue since the friends & family playtest. To severely paraphrase – optimal healing mechanics seem to alter based upon how lethal the DM thinks the game should feel. Since this is a game-by-game difference, a series of different healing options might be provided, allowing the DMs to choose what system works best for the kind of game they are trying to run. Ditto for resting mechanics.
Also, they’d like to move Cleric’s healing out of the spell list and make it something that can be done in conjunction with other actions. This will help to make a Cleric’s players feel like they can do more in a battle than just sit around like a box of bandages, patching up the boo-boos.
Lastly, WotC is looking into modifying the Hit Die mechanics. While they haven’t mentioned any specific options as of yet, expect to see a report of some in the near future.
One More Thing …
“We’re working on the first wave of rules modules, expanding the range of levels, dealing with character creation, and fixing known issues. In addition, we want to make sure that everyone can download future files without encountering errors. As it turns out, a lot more of you wanted to playtest the game than we anticipated. Our goal is to have something to you before the end of the summer if not sooner.”
Sounds like good news to me.