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I like a lot of the variant rule options, and the look behind the scenes at monster creation. I would have liked a bit more guidance on the presence of magic items, and on handling character wealth in general.
I've decided to try out a bunch of the variant rules in the form of paired 'Perks/Drawbacks' that my players can (optionally) choose to take. For example, they can get access to the Hero Points system (where they get a certain number of points each level that they can cash in to boost rolls and do awesome stuff)... in return for being at risk of the lingering injury table (where critical hits or mighty blows might leave them with permanent damage.)
Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
4E, in my experience, works better when the DM is prepared for what is coming when it comes to fights. Interestingly its great at heavy sandbox so long as swords stay sheathed...the skill system is versatile and can be used for ad libbing pretty easily. Combat though, well not so much.
I actually ran a 4E sandbox campaign, and found it actually worked quite well for it in many aspects. Notably, the guidelines for creating monsters - plus the access to numerous statted monsters in the Compendium - meant wherever the party went, I could find something appropriate to throw at them. Combined with the skill challenge system - which I found was a great tool with only a bit of tweaking - I was able to put the party in a tight situation and just sit back and see how they reacted, and in many ways, let them drive the campaign on their own. This included a willingness to let them run into an encounter that was much weaker - or much tougher - than they were and see what they did.
Now, from what I've seen of 5E, it does a good job of preserving those elements - flexible skill/ability use, easy-to-generate monsters - and so I expect it will also do great for that sort of thing.
Overall, I'm some 90+ hours in and still going strong. I haven't run into any significant bugs (for which I'm grateful, after Dragon Age 2 left me with my main character unable to function in combat for the second half of the game.) There are a few areas where bugs seem to prevent some collection quests from being completable (I can't seem to find the last region in the Exalted Plains, I can't get any Crystal Grace seeds, etc), but that's the worst of it - and those issues are nuisances more than anything else.
I'm fine with mine. Still not done with Hinterlands. I assume that ** spoiler omitted **
Yeah, that was the one area of the Hinterlands that I left unfinished during my initial foray, after also trying to fully complete it and realized that I might have to wait a few levels before being ready to do so...
Enevhar Aldarion wrote:
I can see the complaint inasmuch as Martin Freeman as Bilbo was fantastic and a highlight of the movies in every scene he was in. But yeah, the battle was never really going to be his place to shine...
Overall, I definitely enjoyed the film, and the Hobbit series as a whole. Not as strong as the epic nature of the LotR films, and not as strong an adaptation itself. However, it does fill a solid role as setting the stage for the LotR films, and it had plenty of solid moments and performances. And in some ways, it was able to bring a greater depth of characterization to the dwarves and others who didn't have as much focus brought to them in the book itself.
Of course I might just be saying this because I don't like the pairing. It's unsubstantiated (as in not enough events to support it happening) and unsupportable (as in the characters may have demonstrated friendship but they have nothing to demonstrate chemistry). I feel that anybody who goes on about how 'subtle' it is, might find too much meaning in me being polite or kind to a co-worker or customer or even a complete stranger. As Jung said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
I think the 'subtlety', as noted, was more due to having to work the relationship within the confines of the network restrictions. Which, while a shame that it limited the work (in this as well as other ways), doesn't take away from what was there.
For me, I didn't even consider the relationship a possibility initially, but it really came on my radar with how the interaction between the characters developed over the course of the show. Which, yes, developed initially into friendship - but friendship developing into something more isn't exactly unheard of. And I definitely saw plenty of scenes that supported the development, and moments that showed real chemistry between the characters.
All that said, if it isn't enough to feel intact for you, that's entirely fair. (And, again, one of those things where I'll lay the blame at the limits of the network.) But what isn't remotely fair is to imply that those who do support it are simply doing so because they are the type to read too much into anything. That's just not cool.
I thought the ending was pretty great. The rest of the season had some pacing issues (likely due to the budget cuts and such), but I thought the finale covered everything pretty well and brought the season's theme into focus (while also having some excellent action sequences.)
I was going to respond with some detailed counter-arguments here, but it doesn't seen worth it to say more than: I disagree strongly with pretty much everything you say here. I'm not even particularly a fan of Laurel, and I still think your description of her is a major disservice, and I think Ollie and Felicity have plenty of chemistry on-screen.
David Bowles wrote:
What do these words mean?
Seriously, outside of the mechanical context of 3.5, what do you mean by "scales with the BAB of the Ork?" BAB is a mechanical construct that 5E doesn't use. Are you looking for an effect that scales to the challenge level of the orc? In that case, a higher level orc would get the benefit either due to having more attacks with which to benefit from, or by the DM simply changing the ability to "-10 to hit for +20 damage". Unlikely to happen, given that doesn't fit well in the bounded accuracy of the setting, but you could do it if you really wanted to capture an attack that is wildly inaccurate but highly damaging when it hits.
But the idea that it has to exactly copy the mechanics of a previous system is just... silly, honestly. Same thing for the idea that advantage on dexterity saves is limiting and boring, but that "+2 on reflex saves" is somehow interesting and inspired.
Personally, I don't have a problem if you don't like the system and prefer what you are used to. But at this point it feels like you are not interested in even looking at what the system actually is, and are looking for things to criticize solely because they are different from what you are used to.
For myself, I am quite happy to stay away from the atrocious monster design system of 3.5, which generally was just needless (and inaccurate) busywork for the DM. The change in approach was one of the biggest strengths of 4E, for me, and I'm glad that 5E continues with that design.
David Bowles wrote:
SR went from shutting down spells to giving "advantage" on saving throws. Another gutted ability in 5th.
On the other hand, it also can't be ignored by mages who focus on "No SR" spells or who otherwise amp up their Spell Penetration roll to easily overcome SR. And given the range of DCs in 5E, advantage on saves is a very good perk for resisting spells.
I mean, I guess I can see having a specific mechanic for stopping spells is more, well, unique. But that is the sort of problem with the 3.5 and PF edition - so many subsystems. If you already have a mechanic for showing how good a creature is at resisting magic (via the saving throw), do you really need *another* roll to see if it works at all?
Magic Resistance is still a way to represent some creatures being very hard to affect with magic. Honestly, from what I've seen of the game thus far, it looks likely to be relevant more often than SR was in the past.
David Bowles wrote:
Compared to a different edition with completely different mathematical expectations as to what is 'low' or 'high' damage? Well, sure.
We've been over this before. Some folks aren't a fan of the tendency in 3.5 / PF for fights to get resolved in 1-2 rounds. 5E takes an approach where combat is expected to feature more rounds as a whole, even while those rounds are faster-paced. Monsters and PCs are not expected to be able to deal out enough damage to one-shot a key opponent in a single action.
That doesn't mean the monsters are now 'weak'. It means that they are threatening over the course of a fight - not because getting caught in melee with them is an instant death-sentence.
The advantages of this extend to both the faster-paced combats (which I personally find more engaging), and also help make the system easier to balance as a whole, at least in theory. For me, those are good design goals.
It does mean that you don't get to see as many Exciting Big Numbers, either as a player or a DM. And if that is what makes the game fun for you (and honestly, it is an entirely legitimate thing to enjoy), then 5E is, yes, going to feel 'underwhelming'.
But for those of us for whom the benefits of Big Numbers was outweighed by the problems that came with them, 5E is very much what we were looking for, and the playtest steered it exactly in the right direction.
That doesn't mean it is perfect or without flaws, sure. But for many of us, this aspect of the system - scaled down numbers and bounded accuracy and so forth - is a feature, not a bug.
David Bowles wrote:
Ah, it sounds like it isn't the monsters themselves that you are as concerned with, but the rules for customizing monsters. (Whether that is via templates, advancement, levels, or selecting feats/skills/etc.)
I can understand that. I'm say that isn't really a weakness of the Monster Manual itself, though - I'm used to that sort of thing being in the DMG, and it sounds like that is the same case in 5E. Now, how well the customization compares to what you are used to, I'm not yet able to judge, and can understand preferring the codified 3.5 / PF approach over a more freeform version like 4E. (And I get the sense that 5E errs more in that direction, from what I've heard of the DMG thus far.)
I was just surprised since the Monster Manual itself seems quite robust in terms of the monsters and their abilities. I'm not sure what 'variety of monster abilities' might be missing, but if that was a generic reference to them not having feats, I guess I see what you are missing.
David Bowles wrote:
One could have differentiated without stripping out 80% of the game. The Monster Manual is just a tragedy in how boring it is.
The 5E Monster Manual? Out of curiousity, what exactly do you find boring about it? What do you feel has been stripped out of the game?
Which isn't really a problem with the players, but with the system. The system assumes you have those +x bonuses - ACs, attack bonuses, save DCs and the like are based on them.
Except I'm not sure *how* true that is in 5E. At higher levels, having magical gear does seem important - but more in the 'I need a magic weapon to hurt this devil' sort of the way. (And even then, silver can get the job done.)
I'm eagerly awaiting my DMG, and hoping it at least goes into some discussion of what the expected presence of magic items will be, particularly in the realm of +x weapons and armor.
From what I've seen so far of high level play, those pluses are certainly not *needed* to threaten enemies. So I am cautiously planning in my campaign to avoid +x gear entirely, and just feature magic weapons and armor with unique abilities.
Hundreds is certainly an exaggeration, sure. Still, with either 3.5 or PF you've got over 20 different status/situations that can modify the roll based on who is the attacker and who is the defender. Some of them rarely come up, sure, but I've definitely been there when we remember higher ground a moment too late, or spend another bit of time looking up entangled and trying to remember if it debuffs attacks or AC.
In 5E, you determine: Advantage or Disadvantage? Cover or No Cover? Pretty much all of the conditions feed into that. Sure, you may need to track individual spell buffs on top of that, but they are also going to much fewer in number due to the concentration limit on buffs.
Give it time. Splat is on the way! In March the first splat book will arrive. Adventurer's Handbook. At 40$ I bet it will be thick with "brokenness".
I'm hopeful that the design of 5E will help keep brokenness in check. Expanding archetypes rather than designing entirely new classes seems like it provides room for growth without risking something new that completely unbalances things. Feats may be the more dangerous ground, but since you don't get a ton of them, and each is designed to be a 'high impact choice' balanced against a stat boost, I'm optimistic they can put more work into keeping them balanced against the existing ones.
Still, I was hopeful at the start of 4E as well, and it did eventually get a bit out of control. But it didn't have the same commitment to bounded accuracy that 5E has, which is a big part of where the numbers crept out of control in 4E.
What I do not understand with this argument is why can't you control your PCs power level? You can say "no, that is too powerful".
Being able to directly control power level isn't the same as wanting to do so. The more a DM can trust the system to police itself, the easier it is to run the game. It takes a lot of work to try and remove anything that seems to become too strong, and it can cause friction between players and the DM if the rules they are using are constantly changing.
I rememberd 2e with its stats that capped at 25 and PCs rarely had more than 19 in score. 3e really freed us from that paradigm. This is a huge step back. Players and DMs will feel constrained over time
I'm going to wait a bit before passing final judgement. But at least initially, it feels like a huge step forward. The big problem is if you *can* get your stats as high as possible, that becomes an impetus that you *must* do so to remain effective. When one character is running around at Str 30 most of the time, my Str 14 fellow has really trouble feeling like I am contributing along side them.
I can't remember - did 2nd Edition even have stat bumps as a leveling feature? How did stats grow in it?
I feel like, for me, having a more bounded area of stats - while combined with a more advanced stat generation and advancement system than we had in 2e - is hitting the sweet spot of being able to modify my stats to fit my character, without feeling like I need to maximize them or fall behind in effectiveness.
Yeah, I could see going with Goodberry instead of Jump - and red winter berries is an iconic enough image that it seems like it could fit.
With enervating touch, I decided to mirror it after ray of enfeeblement, which seemed more thematic than poison - even if the mechanics work out, I feel that poisoned has some other implications that don't quite fit with the winter theme.
I did wrestle with the idea of how strong exhaustion reduction would be. (Especially since there are characters, like the frenzied barbarian, who can really benefit from being able to get rid of it.) But as noted, at level 9 you do get a way to clear it with greater restoration. Getting it 3 levels earlier, without a cost, is certainly nice, but didn't seem too overwhelming for a class feature, especially with not being able to use it again on the same person in the same day.
But yeah, I can see the concern, and it would probably be something to keep an eye on in case it ends up too strong in a particular campaign.
David Bowles wrote:
And that's an approach you can still take in 5E. I was just pointing out that the encounter in question was an 'average' one. You were wondering how PCs could ever be threatened in 5E. The answer is either having a good number of average encounters - or, as you might prefer, have just one or two encounters from the higher difficulty tiers ('hard' and 'deadly').
David Bowles wrote:
Honestly, if you are perfectly happy with PF, than it is absolutely fine not to have any interest in 5E. And just to clarify again - my own responses to you in this thread hasn't been to try and insist you have to like what they've done with 5E, but to try and clarify areas of the 5E rules that it seemed like you had a limited perspective on. (Which, after only playing one game of it, is not an unreasonable outcome.)
In any case, for me, 5E has a lot to offer. The bounded nature of the numbers - which I know is something you see as a weakness - is, for me, a huge selling point. My group just converted over from a 3.5 game where, at level 12, we were entering the 'PC/DM' arms race. We'd buff up until we were unhittable, we'd swim through most encounters by spamming AOE shut-down spells like Black Tentacles and Wall of Thorns. If the DM ran things out of the book, they would just be trivial for us. But if he designed monsters to try and counter us or use similar tricks against us, it meant we'd have PCs die left and right to a single failed save or a buffed up enemy full round.
So for me, I was very interested in moving to a system where I feel they have made great strides in terms of balance. Where PCs can be effective without encounters being either auto-win or auto-lose. And, notably, where combats are moving fast enough to have more than one fight per session.
So - better balance, faster fights. That is what is getting my interest. 4E took a similar approach at the start, but over the course of the edition, didn't quite stick the landing. From what I've seen, 5E is better poised to avoid the same pitfalls 4E ran into, however. So I'm optimistic about how it will be developed - and all that is aside from liking specific aspects of the class features and options.
Is it going to be a better system for everyone? Of course not. Like I said, if PF - or any other game system - is already doing everything you need it to, that's plenty of reason to keep playing it even *if* 5E was perfect in every way. (And that certainly isn't the case.)
David Bowles wrote:
Is it true templating monsters is gone? If so, that's a deal breaker right there.
It isn't in the MM, though there are some minor guidelines on customizing a few different monsters here and there. But the DMG isn't out yet - we should see within the week, I think, what sort of options there are for adjusting and modifying monsters.
David Bowles wrote:
After reading this, I don't understand how anyone ever dies in this system, but maybe that's the point. Your party has 3-4 rounds to get something off of you. How does anyone ever screw that up?
Well, that was a pretty average difficulty fight in the given example. The expectation is usually that you will go through several of those fights in a day in order to be challenged, as resources get used up. If the DM is throwing more difficult fights at you, it does become a bit easier for monsters to focus on bringing someone down.
Also, again, look closely at the numbers I mention. It is unlikely my warlock was going to get killed by a single full-round from any given enemy. But if a couple enemies are allowed to freely focus on me for 2 rounds, I'm probably in trouble.
The expectation is that if that happens, I'll start breaking out spells to get to safety, or the party will shift gears to try and assist me if I'm in trouble. Maybe that involves healing me, maybe that involves a fighter forcing the enemy to focus on him instead, maybe that just involves rogues and archers putting lots of damage into the enemies attacking me. Different parties will find different solutions.
But, again, that's the idea of the game. The enemy is able to threaten PCs, and the PCs are able to react, and vice versa. That creates the flow of combat and is what keeps fights engaging and dynamic.
And, for me, that is a selling point. When fights get resolved completely in 1-2 rounds in 3.5 or PF - when a single spell or full-attack action is not only capable, but *likely* to entirely remove one or more combatants from play - I find it doesn't make for as interesting a combat. It becomes about winning initiative, bringing the most effective build to the table, and having planned ahead with the most counter-measures to overcome enemy weaknesses.
And don't get me wrong, I think that provides it's own sort of interesting challenge. But these days, I'm preferring the style of 5E, where the interesting and relevant choices are the ones being made each round of combat, as opposed to everything coming down to the ones I made when I built the character or prepared spells in the morning.
David Bowles wrote:
As noted previously, there is a difference between "offering enough damage to threaten an enemy / have an impact in the fight" vs "do enough damage to explode a target in one round."
To try and provide a bit more detail, here is an example from actual play:
In our last session, our party (level 13) gets into a fight with some devils while infiltrating the city of Dis. A Horned Devil with 2 Barbed Devil lackeys. I'm playing a rather squishy caster - a warlock with 15 AC and 58 hp.
Now, in this fight, the rest of the party started between me and the enemies, so the Barbed Devils would need to eat Opportunity Attacks in order to reach me. But that didn't matter, since I went before them in initiative and simply started the fight by backing up and attacking from range - given our similar speeds, catching me wouldn't really be easy for them, and would require wasting at least one round simply double-moving.
So, what would happen if they did get to me? They could full attack for around 22 damage. That's enough to put a substantial dent in my hitpoints - but not enough to take me out of the picture right away.
Of course, the Horned Devil is the real bad guy of the fight. With Fly 60', it can actually pretty easily go after whichever target it wants. And if he came for me, he could put 35-40 damage into me without much trouble. Again - enough to scare me, and enough that I don't want to get stuck next to him. But without crits or some really high damage rolls, not enough to just take me right out.
Of course, the new movement rules only matter so much here. Even if we ignored them entirely, all of these are enemies that can just throw fire at will. So they could just sit back and hurl fire at a squishy target and do similar damage from afar. So what happens if the DM takes that route, or if the Horned Devil and his friends happen to start on top of me and all focus on finishing me as quickly as possible?
Well, in my case, I've got a few tricks to help with that. I've got a fey pact ability, when hit, to teleport away and go invisible. So that easily saves me at least once, if I have it available. If cornered, I've got the ability to teleport away as a minor action - at which point I can move and possible get somewhere out of reach. Or I can cast a spell to protect me, like Greater Invis, or Armor of Agathys to gain 25 temps and severely punish anyone who hits me.
Does everyone have the same tricks? No - but most casters have something in their favor. We have a bard with a great AC, and a melee warlock/sorcerer with lots of ways to gain temps - in the actual battle, they tanked the Barbed Devils for several rounds while everyone else focused on the Horned Devil.
What about our ability to threaten the Horned Devil? This is a fellow with close to 200 hp. Sure, in 3.5 (which we converted from a few weeks back), our fighter could do that in a single pouncing charge. But now he rolls in and does around 50 hp.
Is that enough to 'threaten' the foe? It won't kill them in one action, no. But that is still a quarter of its hp. If you have a few PCs doing that over a couple of rounds... suddenly the enemy is no more.
That's the thing. Not one-shoting every target doesn't mean attacks are suddenly *ineffective*. They are just scaled for a different timeframe. Combats (particularly high-level ones) in 3.5 / PF often get resolved in 1-2 rounds, either via save or dies or via extreme damage. In 5E, they seem to take 2-3 times as long - in character, that is. As noted, they are also moving fast enough that they usually take less time to actually run in 'real world time units' like minutes and hours.
The big question to how do you envision the Winter domain cleric working. The Domain isn't just about 'have some cold-themed abilities', but really defines how the cleric functions. The War domain encourages a cleric to hit things really hard, the Knowledge domain is about utility features and casting support, the Light domain is about blasting and distracting enemies.
Tempest domain is a bit of a mix - it gets armor and weaponry and some abilities that help fight in melee, along with some blasty spells and ways to boost those spells. You could draw on that a bit - but, as noted, it would be nice to try and find ways to make the new domain feel distinct.
So, glancing a bit at the background for Ulric, one idea comes to mind: Toughness. What goes well with the image of a servant of winter? Someone hardy and used to the wilderness. So while the Tempest gets the tools to be something of an Armored Storm Knight, maybe we can steer the Winter domain towards more of a rugged, barbarian style character instead?
So, here's some ideas from me:
Channel Divinity: Enervating Touch
Channel Divinity: Invigorating Touch
David Bowles wrote:
I don't need a huge amount of experience to understand the following. The DPR of a standard martial moving 30" goes from maybe 20ish to potentially triple digits. Assuming the game scales that high. But I seem to remember fighters getting 4 swings when I looked at it. That's a lot of pounding after a full move. I don't seem to recall any super caster hp buff in this game either. This ability to full attack after moving is, in many ways, far superior to pounce because you don't need straight line and rough terrain doesn't stop you. It's incredibly, incredibly powerful. And casters got nothing in return except the nerf bat.
Full attacking or pouncing characters/enemies in 3.5 / PF aren't scary because they take multiple attacks. It typically was due to things like taking multiple attacks while cranking up the damage with power attack, having attack bonuses that rarely missed, having spells or other buffs to do more damage, etc.
5E has moved quite far from the paradigm where your attacks hit almost all of the time, or where there are countless ways to crank your damage through the roof. Damage dealers can certainly still be effective and consistent, but the numbers are much more balanced a whole. They are also aimed at combats that are often faster paced but longer in duration (in terms of in-character rounds, not necessarily out-of-character minutes).
The monsters and PCs aren't written with the expectation that everything will be resolved in the first two rounds of combats, either through save or die spells, or through typically-lethal full-round attacks.
You know what happens when a monster with 8 attacks runs around the party and charges the wizard? The wizard casts Shield and most of the monster's attacks miss.
Now, Shield is a significant resource for the wizard, even as he gets into the high levels. But he has that spell as an option, and it does a very good job of preventing him from getting 'auto-murdered' by a DM out for his blood.
David Bowles wrote:
That also does not take into account multiple attack monsters that can move their potentially more than 30" and just wail away. I can't possibly see how this is balanced for casters. Especially when all casters lost their extra melee swings in the process. In fact, I can't see how this is balanced at all at higher levels. There is the potential to fight multiple large monsters with high STR scores with multiple attacks they get every round because no one can get away from them, and they get all their attacks whether they move or not.
I would take a closer look at the actual stats of monsters and PCs in the game, as well as the expected balance of typical encounters. I'd also take a closer look at the capabilities of high level PCs for getting away from monsters or disabling enemies when needed. Or just surviving a beating while finishing off the enemies themselves. Honestly, the fact that casters don't provoke for casting in 5E seems like they will be much better off when cornered by something scary. As opposed to 3.5 or PF where, yes, a squishy caster getting cornered by a huge monster is usually a very bad place to be.
But it really feels like you are pointing at one change in the rules while ignoring a lot of the other adjustments and balances. In the big picture, I just don't see any signs of your fears coming to pass. Not in the rules themselves, and not at the table while playing the game.
If anything, balance issues go in the opposite direction; casters are still slightly OP (especially Circle of the Moon druids), although not nearly as badly as in 3.PF.
I think the biggest indication of decent balance in the game, that I've seen thus far, is simply the number of competing opinions out there. I've seen folks claim that casters are now useless, and others who insist they are still the top-tier of the game. I've seen complaints about how bard's get too versatile a spell selection, while the bard in my party is upset he doesn't know as many spells as a wizard. I've seen rangers dismissed as the weakest class in the game, while others describe how a ranger in their group regularly outdamages the rest of the party combined. I remain frustrated over how underwhelming the elemental monk is - I've also talked to some folks for whom it is the reason they are trying out the game.
Every class seems to have something unique going for it, and every class seems to have some ways in which it doesn't measure up to other classes. We'll see if that continues to remain true throughout the edition, sure. But for now, it seems a promising sign to me.
David Bowles wrote:
How tactically oriented is your GM? Because I'll tell you right now that if I were GMing this system, it would be incredibly hazardous for casters.
If a GM wants to hose casters, they can do so in any system, whether with true-striking invisible archers readying to disrupt casting, monsters with spell resistance or magic immunity, or simply foes that target one character to the exclusion of all others.
I really don't think some altered mobility rules will change that, or be a bigger 'weapon' in the hands of a DM than the options available in many other editions.
Will there be situations where it makes things more of a problem for a caster? Sure. In other situations the new movement rules will be an advantage for them - such as the ability to duck around a corner, cast a spell, and duck back out of sight in one turn.
It sounds like you run a very 'competitive' style of play, where the DM is not going to hold back against the players, and vice versa. And that is a perfectly legitimate approach to the game. But if the players have found ways to survive in dangerous situations in past editions of the game, why do you think they won't be able to do so in this one?
If the party finds that you prefer to run mobile assassin-type foes against them, who hone in on the weakest party member and take them out... why wouldn't they start building parties with ways to hinder enemy mobility? Which can take any number of forms, mind you - it could involve a fighter with the guardian-style features and feats to stop enemies from moving past him. But it could just as easily come from the casters themselves investing in spells that slow movement, create difficult terrain, or push the enemy around. Or monks who grapple and knock prone anyone that gets near them. Or maybe you just build your caster's for durability and melee combat. Or take lots of teleportation and bonus movement spells.
I can see being concerned about what effect the new movement rules will have on the game. But you seem to have arrived at a very absolute certainty about exactly how it will work, without - as far as I can tell - any significant experience with the system.
I think that is how a lot of the misinformation and confusion about new editions (and new game systems in general) gets started - someone comes to a conclusion that may or may not be supported by the rules, but is put forward with enough confidence that others take it as fact and carry it on.
In this case, I could understand wanting to see the system in action and see what effect it has on casters at different levels in their careers. But this guarantee that it is an automatic death sentence is just way, way out there, and seems particularly at odds with many very real experiences with the actual game itself.
David Bowles wrote:
I've seen clerics played the same in 3.5 and in 4E. That doesn't mean that is the *only* way they can be played. 4E actively encouraged a cleric's ability to heal while also taking part in combat, and 5E has continued down that road with spells like Healing Word.
Also worth noting - if you are really sad about not getting extra attacks, Spiritual Weapon is basically an extra attack for an entire fight. There are plenty of ways to be an effective melee cleric in 5E. Or, say, more of a blaster - the light domain gets a pretty potent channel divinity, and a spell list that includes fireball.
If you want to build a healbot, you can do that too. But it is certainly not the default.
David Bowles wrote:
Well, fair enough. For some folks, having bigger numbers is what makes the game more fun, and if that is the case, 5E is definitely not going to deliver as well as past editions.
David Bowles wrote:
Actually, that is also my question because why would I ever want to play a cleric without channel ever again? That ability lets my cleric use spells for interesting effects instead of just being a healbot. With no channel, $%^&^ that.
"Just being a healbot" certainly isn't the clerics lot, and they've done a decent amount to support having quite a few different playstyles available for cleric. That said, if the channel mechanic itself - or that specific implementation of it - is what you need for a cleric, than sure, that's fair.
I like the version of channeling we've got in 5E, and like some of the decent ways each domain can use it - but it definitely isn't as emphasized as much as it was previously. For me, that's a fair trade given the other features that clerics now get, but that won't be the case for everyone.
David Bowles wrote:
5E really, really is not 2nd ed. I can certainly understand preferring other systems, but I really do think a lot of your complaints are about an imagined version of the game rather than the one that actually exists.
Maybe 5E pulls it off in play without having to have the perfect group, but on paper, it seems like it has most, if not quite all, of the difficulties that AD&D had, which makes me less likely to actually try the game because I like to play casters and I need them to be not entirely reliant on teammates or DM fiat to be both fun and useful. 5E just doesn't seem to have that from what I've seen so far.
Are there any specific issues you are seeing on paper that are concerning you?
Here are a couple reasons why I wouldn't be as worried:
1) Even at low levels, they have at-will cantrips to keep them effective once they've used up their spells. That alone means your all-caster party can remain perfectly viable without bringing along a fighter.
2) Wizards, who are usually the most fragile folks, now get more hp for wizards, plus plenty of unique (and often defensive) class features - and if you *do* want to build for it, making an armored mage is quite viable without needing to jump through as many hoops as in the past.
At least on paper, it seems like 5E still has most of the problems that AD&D had in that department, which to me is definitely a bit of a turnoff. I don't have the luxury of being able to play in the same group with the same players all the time. I need a system that is capable of handling at least some group variation, and 5E does not seem to be very robust in that area on paper.
How so? Having a diverse party certainly brings advantages, sure. But 5E to me looks quite good at working for many different types of parties. Perhaps not quite to the level of 4E (if only because Hit Dice aren't quite as robust as Healing Surges). But I'm not seeing any particular weaknesses - even on paper - that would cause issues with regularly different parties.
There isn't any 'hey, this monster is immune to physical damage' or 'this monster is immune to spells' to worry about. You don't have 'hey, we need at least one fighter to keep the party capable once the casters are out of spells'.
Is it good to have one character who can be great with social skills, one character who is great at sneaking and dealing with traps, one character who is great at tanking, one character great for killing bosses, and another character able to deal with swarms of enemies? Sure, it is useful.
But there are plenty of ways to cover those roles without the need for any specific class - and even if you don't happen to bring those roles along, you can deal with the problem the same way adventurers always had. Through improvisition, or through sucking up your lack of expertise and charging on in anyway. You can still use barbarians to kick in the door and set off all the traps in the absence of a rogue. You can still threaten or enchant those you are talking to in the absence of diplomacy.
My 5E group recently ran through the starter adventure, and had different players at the table for pretty much every session:
Week 1: Human Paladin, Gnome Druid, Gnome Rogue, Human Fighter, Tiefling Rogue
Weird, rotating cast of characters. One week they had no melee characters, and did fine. One week we had no healer, and did fine. It meant we might have some different tactics, or might use some extra resources to heal up. But at no point did it feel like, "Oh, we didn't bring a cleric (or wizard or fighter or rogue) this week, I guess we're gonna be in big trouble".
David Bowles wrote:
I disagree with your last statement. I think there is a VERY real chance of getting crushed by a martial, because once they are adjacent, you can't get away.
Unless you have a teleport spell like Misty Step or Dimension Door. Or the fighter fails a save vs being Charmed / Frightened / Incapacitated and you walk away. Or be a cleric in heavy armor who is hard to hit. Or just have the Shocking Grasp cantrip, which has a good chance to hit and prevents the target from taking Reactions, letting you move away.
Now sure, they might come right on after you. So maybe you also toss up Expeditious Retreat so you can easily outpace them, and once at range, keep em slowed by Ray of Frost.
Are any of these guarantees you will win a one on one match? Of course not. We could write up characters all day designing one build to trump another. But the idea that a caster 'just loses' to a martial character simply isn't true - nor is the idea that a party needs one or the other in order to survive.
David Bowles wrote:
And cranking down spell slots seems to me to be cranking down choice. Maybe I'm just looking at it very differently.
Right, but at the same time, the more spontaneous casting could be said to open up choice. Even more so with the ritual mechanic. Making your utility and conditional spells available without unduly limiting your core spells... that's a very nice feature.
Sure, some casters are more limited than others. Sorcerers are intentionally blasters, with a small spell list and few spells known - in return for getting to do cool tricks with their spells. Meanwhile, wizards get a much more robust list and many fields to focus on. Bards are pretty limited to the enchanter/buffer role - but at a few levels, can expand their list to just about everything. Yes, a lot of the 'universal' nature of spells got broken up quite a bit - there is much less overlap between class spell lists.
But I think that is a good thing overall, keeping the different casting classes a bit more distinct.
More limited in some ways, sure. More open in others, as well - you can cast while wearing armor if proficient in the armor. You can fire rays into melee without taking extreme penalties. You can cast spells while engaged without provoking. Multiclassing as a caster is much more viable. And every caster, in addition to their spells, now gets a bunch of interesting and useful class features. All of those expand options for both your character build and your tactics at the table.
Now, again - are casters going to be as powerful as they are in 3.5 or PF? No, they are not. But characters as a whole are taking a step back from the scaling of the past, and monsters in turn are more manageable in many ways. The question isn't whether casters are weak compared to past editions, but whether they are a viable choice in this one. And they absolutely are.
David Bowles wrote:
I have seen them. And casters are eviscerated in 5th. No channel. No summons.
Casting power has definitely been toned down. That doesn't mean they aren't perfectly viable alongside martial characters, especially at higher levels.
Now, there are certainly some differences in what they can do and how they can do it. Someone who was a huge fan of a summoner will definitely be in for a big change. That doesn't mean a summoner can't exist.
It does mean that you don't really get to start combat summoning until the middle levels - and that summoning is specifically the domain of the Druid and the Wizard.
At the same time - keep in mind that the design of 5E means that summoning a pack of small animals can actually be quite effective against high level enemies. So directly converting summon spells from 3.5 just wouldn't be a good idea. Instead, summoning is rarer, but is quite effective - and the 'non-combat' summons (which take a minute to cast, but give you an ally for up to an hour) are potentially even more of a big deal.
I can definitely understand specific concerns about some playstyles having changed or gone missing. 'Save or Lose' spells are a lot more restricted (in many cases incorporating the 'save ends' mechanic of 4E). There is a lot more versatility in your spell casting (everyone has a psuedo-spontaneous element to the way casting works) - but in return, a much stricter limit on spell slots. Your Int 20 Gray Elf Focused Specialist with a Ring of Wizardy... they probably have double or even triple the number of spell slots as your 5E character. That can be a big adjustment.
On the other hand, spells are still a big deal. And even if you can't crank up save DCs so that enemies are auto-failing, the same is true for enemy saves - even high-level monsters will usually have a decent chance to fail a save. Some awesome monsters have specific protections that might let them auto-save, or be immune to conditions like charm or fear. But there are still spells that can have an impact even then - you don't have to worry about being shut-down entirely by spell resistance or magic immunity.
You can't devote half your spell slots to uber-buffing yourself and the rest of the party. But in light of that, when you do cast a buff spell, it is usually a pretty big deal.
If the 5E caster isn't something you are interested in, that's entirely fair. But a lack of *choice* is certainly not a real problem, nor is the threat of getting beaten up by a martial character.
Eben TheQuiet wrote:
Yep. i get that—and to a certain extent agree—I just don't know that I'm sold on 5e's solution, for the stated reason.
One thing worth noting - levels 1 and 2 are intended to be somewhat incomplete levels. You are designed to blast through them in a few sessions. They are generally there to help you get used to the system and the fundamentals of your character before hitting levels 3 and 4 and getting to start make some key choices that really start to differentiate the characters. (As things like archetypes and feats come into play.)
All that said, I think some of those same concerns will remain so throughout one's levelling career - one of the goals is to keep 'optimized' PCs from being on a completely different level from 'average' PCs. That doesn't mean there is *no* difference between them, however. Nonetheless, especially at levels 1 and 2, the situation is likely to be exaggerated beyond how it works in the course of a normal game.
Yeah, I'm generally fine with 'he goes so fast that something awesome happens for... reasons'.
For me, the real issue with super-speed is simply the lack of consistency. In this episode, they talk about how Barry has yet to go faster than the speed of sound. But in a previous episode, we've seen him move fast enough to have an entire (one-sided) conversation with Iris while she was effectively frozen in between seconds.
It was a cool scene, sure - but if Barry can do that, how does he ever lose any fight? It is the inevitable problem with characters with super-speed - it should be an 'I win' button for almost any fight, but that isn't very interesting to see. So how fast the character can move changes wildly from one moment to the next.
How fast can Barry go?
As fast as required for the drama of the moment.
Yes, it is something a DM can do with any system. That doesn't change the fact that I find it to be a useful tool. Much the same as Page 42 from 4E - providing guidelines and support is not necessary for a DM to adjudicate free-form RP (or combat stunts, or creative spell combos, or whatever), but can certainly assist in doing so.
I certainly don't think it is groundbreaking or unique - I've seen it in other systems, and have homebrewed similar rules for my own game. That doesn't change that fact that I like that it is present, and the way that the Background Ideals / Bonds / Flaws put an extra emphasis on asking you to develop your character's story and personality.
In my mind, it is a good approach and one I am glad to see in the game.
I really didn't think highly of the Ranger when I read it in the book, but seeing one in action recently has been pretty impressive. Horde Breaker at low levels and Volley at high levels made them even more effective than our caster at handling groups of enemies. I've heard quite a few folks dismiss them, but I think the Hunter path has several decent uses. And a lot of their other features are very handy outside of combat, much like the Rogue and Bard's useful skill features.
The Beast Master I'm less sure about. It looks like it eventually comes into its own at the later levels, when the proficiency bonus is giving the beast a pretty solid attack, and when you can get a mix of attacks from it and yourself. Or at 7th when it can start 'Helping' you in combat to give you free Advantage on your own attack. Still, doesn't seem to quite hold up against the other options, particular since if the beast dies, you are out of luck until you have a full day to find a new one.
No way! Cantrips at high levels are cool, but they definitely fall well behind what most non-casters do - since non-casters are typically getting multiple attacks a round. (Or one huge attack, such as with Rogues).
From what I've seen, Cantrips are working they way they should - a good resort for the casters when they are out of bigger options. But in those situations, when resources are low and the party is fighting with what they can just do at will, the non-casters of the party remain the stars of the show.
Yeah, I quite like this. I particularly like that they have both Cure Wounds and Healing Word - so you can be focused on healing as your primary goal, or you can play a cleric that heals while beating up enemies. Having both styles supported is quite welcome.
Yes, very much this. The impact and use of Advantage and Inspiration are huge areas where a DM's style can directly translate to play. Another similar example is Wild Magic - even with a Wild Mage Sorcerer in the party, the DM has total control over whether they want it impacting the game constantly, occasionally, or not at all.
And, yes, all of these are areas where a DM can similarly make such judgement calls without needing any systems in place to support their ability to do so. But honestly, having guidance and support makes it much easier as a DM to feel justified in the way I am using such things. It is much easier to say, "Hey, great RP with your action, you regain Inspiration" rather than saying, "Hey, great RP, let me spend a few minutes thinking up a good way to reward that or a way to make your stunt work or etc".
I can certainly feel for someone who envisioned 'the perfect system' with modularity that can simulate any prior edition with ease. But I don't think that was ever going to be remotely feasible.
I am hopeful that the DMG *will* have enough new options and systems to help guide a DM in designing the game that best fits their group. Even just from the PHB, there seems a decent bit of that. (Do you include Feats / Backgrounds / Multiclassing? Do you use a grid? Do you focus on Inspiration and Ideals/Bonds/Flaws? Do you only hand out Advantage by the book, or do you use it to reward stunts and creative actions?)
You can already end up with vastly different games based on the answer to those questions alone. That said, there is no guarantee the system will live up to the perfect ideal one might hope for, and I don't think that failing to do so is a matter of 'lying' to customers. I think it is entirely fine to be disappointed it if doesn't give you what you are looking for, it is entirely fine to realize it isn't the game you want to play. But acting like that is the result of willful deception is, perhaps, not entirely fair.
The Lion Cleric wrote:
If you are not a casting class, you can get away with starting with 20 in the stat, if you're not using arrays. if that stat is Dex, you can have just 1 less AC than the guy in full flate, while still having advantages, such as being able to stealth, doing more damage (because you have +5 modifier on your bow/rapier), spending much, much less money, and most likely more HP as well, due to higher Con. The only two advantages a high Str guy would have is his carrying capacity and his ability to initiate maneouvres. You can protect with Dex against them too.
How are you starting with 20 in a stat? With point-buy, the highest you can start is 15, and racial modifiers would only bring that to 16 or 17. I suppose you can end up with a 20 if you were rolling stats and had the right race, but there are plenty of unbalanced possibilities in any system where you are rolling stats.
That said, yeah, Dex is weighted pretty strongly, as is Con. The one nice feature mitigating that is how saves now exist for every stat. Thus, while a high Dex-Con character had great Ref and Fort in both 3rd Edition and 4E, in 5e a Dex-Con character remains vulnerable to Strength saves, and that can be a big deal against many opponents.
Personally, I really like the stat-buy system. The cap of 15 on a starting stat, and the way the costs are weighted, feels like it encourages me to end up with a much more well-rounded character compared to point-buy in earlier editions.
Yeah, I do like how feats + background lets you build some surprising variations on classes without much difficulty.
For me, I'd like to see the Elemental Monk get a bit more finely tuned (it is the only class path I'm less than impressed with.)
More sorcerer bloodlines is a good one. I'd like to see another option for the ranger, as well. Maybe something like the 4E Warden?
Steve Geddes wrote:
In 'pricing' shield proficiency, I was struck by the fact that a magicuser can get a +1 to dex/str(?) plus proficiency with light armor (which doesnt use a hand and is up to +3 to AC, from memory) for the cost of one feat. So my thought was that shield proficiency should be a considerably lower investment than that. We also discussed it being potentially worth a couple of skills (either in the skilled feat or from a custom written background which is ultimately my preferred option, I think).
My thought regarding the feat comparison would probably be to shift things in the other direction. If a feat that just gives Shield Proficiency seems lackluster (and I agree it does), the solution in my mind would be to add more abilities to the feat, to bring it up to par. Designing a custom Shield feat for non-armored characters would let it be a character designing element.
Whereas trying to create a trade-off to acquire the proficiency via other elements of the system seems dangerous, if only because the same logic could be extended to other feat elements. Why not trade in skills for an armor proficiency? Or for +1 to a stat? Those are also 'partial' elements that come from feats, after all.
All that said, I don't think it will break the system to come up with a way to harvest skills for other bonuses, or create a custom background that goes a little farther afield in the benefits it gives. But it does seem like the sort of thing that can imbalance the system, and would need to be handled with care.
I don't think delaying your turn works that way. But that's probably a discussion for another thread.
I think it is the sort of thing where 4E, for example, explicitly defined "if you have a duration tracking until the end of someone's turn, and their initiative order changes, you still track when their previous initiative was in order to know when to resolve the ongoing effects." Which works in theory, but I definitely have had plenty of games where keeping track of all that can get... kinda out of hand, and in 3.5, the exact same thing.
Thus 5E, instead, decided to simply avoid any effects that adjust initiative order, as part of the overall goal of simplifying and speeding up play. Note, in fact, that the Ready action doesn't move your Init in 5E - it just lets you spend your reaction to take an Action later in the round. You still go again normally on your next turn. As far as I know, there isn't anything that changes your Initiative during a combat.
Given the goal of 5E is also to have relatively quick rounds, I think the designers are hoping that Ready can cover most scenarios where you want to react to enemy activity. And that if you really do just want to wait and see what happens before taking your turn, you can represent that... simply by waiting until your next turn comes up, which shouldn't take all that long.
I like the approach in general, since initiative shifting is one area that can get kinda complicated. More importantly, though, it is also an area where it is trivial to house-rule back in the older versions of Delay and Ready, if you have a group that wants to use them.
Shield Proficiency doesn't seem something to give away lightly, since AC has a relatively strict band in 5E. For characters who have the free hand to make use of shields - many casters, rogues, etc - getting +2 AC from a shield could be a pretty big deal.
So I think simply letting someone swap a regular skill for it would seem rather strong. A Feat seems a reasonable way to go about it (in terms of resources), and it shouldn't take much to design a custom feat for shield use for lightly armored PCs if one was so inclined.
Multiclassing also would be a way to pick up shield proficiency - and, again, seems an acceptable investment in return for such a benefit.
Of course, if you aren't using the feat or multiclassing rules, that limits options. I'd still be wary of just letting one swap a basic skill for it. Making it part of a background could be a solution. Most backgrounds give two skill proficiencies and 1-2 tool proficiencies or languages. You might consider having a background that gives up most of that for 1 shield or armor or weapon proficiency.
But honestly, that starts to go down a tricky road in terms of trading less combat relevant resources for combat relevant resources, and I personally would be awfully wary of going down that route. I'd probably only recommend it if it was supremely relevant to someone's character concept, and none of the other approaches to acquiring it are able to work, for whatever reasons.
Yeah, I wasn't too bothered by Absorbing Man being able to work some mojo to take on the car without any problems. I was much more bothered by him being able to intercept it without any explanation for 1) how he was fast enough to get ahead of it; and 2) how he located it so easily. That was much more immersion breaking, especially since they didn't even try and offer any sort of explanation.
That said, I did really like him as a villain overall. Especially after some of the previous villains being epic monologuers, having a villain who was just intimidating and generally just went about his business without any grandstanding or bantering, was a nice change of pace.
I finally got my copy, and was very impressed with it. I really liked the art, and I found a lot of depth and details in some of the background elements. Kua-toa as a psionic race driven so insane by their enslavement to mind flayers that they now, in their madness, literally invent new gods to worship <i>who become real because the Kua-toa believe in them</i> was one good example of something just dripping with story flavor and plot hooks.
I don't know if this is drawing on a background they've had in past editions. But I can't remember anything from previous MMs about them other than them just being generic crazy fish people who worshipped another generic evil god. But while this version draws on those elements, it takes it in a direction that really feels unique and interesting, and plays up those elements that were already there (religious fanaticism and madness) and uses that to make something that stands out on its own.
So seeing things like that was what has impressed me with the book so far. That doesn't mean every entry in the book will wow me in the same way, but is certainly a promising sign.
Yeah, I think a lot of those books get a bit more flak than is deserved. The names are a large part of the culprit - the idea itself of having a diverse range of monsters within a monster entry is not a bad one. But while this led to some very creative monsters in terms of mechanics, the creativity often didn't carry through to naming the critters.
It wasn't always completely awful, but the worst ones certainly stood out, and provided lots of fodder for mockery.
Whether the naming was done for IP reasons or because the designers thought melded names had a touch more distinction, it did end up reaching somewhat silly levels, and often distracting from areas where the creature design and background was, itself, reasonably interesting.
Would there have been less complaints if the Fire Archon Emberguard, Fire Archon Blazesteel, and Fire Archon Ash Disciple were instead simply named the Fire Archon Templar, Fire Archon Trooper, and Fire Archon Magus?
I'm hoping some of the creativity in design will carry over in the new edition, while also stepping away from the less impressive areas, such as creature naming.
The big thing about advantage is that it allows you to sneak attack. It is not the only way to sneak attack, however. While flanking no longer exists, the rogue has a special rule that they can sneak attack (with melee or ranged attacks!) if, essentially, at least one ally threatens their target.
So if you have friends that will often be in melee, you will usually have targets to sneak attack.
If not, you will need to find ways to gain advantage on your own. The most common way will be via the hide action. This will tend to work best with ranged attacks, since you will usually need to getout of sight of the enemy. Some races can impact this - halflings can hide behind larger creatures (like, say, other party members), while wood elves can hide in certain natural forms of light cover (mist, foliage, etc).
Hiding takes an action, which means at level one, if using it heavily, you will typically end up hiding one round and then attacking the next. However! At level 2, Rogues get something awesome called 'Cunning Action'. This is a bonus action they can take every turn, usable only to Dash (double move), Disengage (avoid Attacks of Opportunity) or Hide. So this makes it much more viable to dart in and out of hiding every round while attacking your enemies.
Other ways of gaining advantage include allies helping you in combat (the new form of Aid Another), or spells and abilities of various sorts. As an Arcane Trickster, you can pick up some of those spells yourself. As an Assassin, you get advantage vs creatures that haven't yet acted, so that can help in round one of combat. Or, if you multiclass into the right class (Barbarian, Fighter), there are various ways to get advantage on a regular basis.
Disadvantage is bad for you because it can negate your own advantage and prevent you from using sneak attack. Concealed enemies cause disadvantage on your attacks. If you are Blinded, Poisoned, Prone or Restrained, you have disadvantage. So those are things to watch out for. Ranged attacks no longer provoke if threatened, but instead have disadvantage up close, so that is also worth keeping in mind with some builds.
2) Optimal weapons:
Assuming you are a standard dex based rogue, the Rapier is always a solid choice. A short sword can work as an off-hand weapon - you don't need any special feats to attack with two weapons. Your off-hand attack won't do a ton of damage, and it won't let you sneak attack twice a round, but it will give you two chances to hit, which can be nice. It does use up your bonus action to take that off-hand attack, which means it conflicts with that Cunning Action ability I mentioned early.
So if you are a rogue that wants to bounce in and out of combat and the shadows, dual-wielding will probably be less useful. But if you plan to roll in and just keep stabbing the enemies your fighter is keeping busy, it can work quite well.
Daggers are lower damage but give you the flexibility to throw them.
The big thing for the Assassin is that it is very scary in that first round of combat. You gain advantage automatically on any creature that hasn't yet acted. And if you can actually catch enemies by surprise, you can auto-crit them. (Which doubles the damage dice you roll. Which, with Sneak Attack, is quite scary!)
How useful that is will often depend on the party. Is the party as a whole sneaky enough to occasionally catch enemies by surprise? Or will they be willing to let you scout ahead to try and take some sniper shots at unexpecting foes? If so, the Assassin can definitely pay off. But if the group just charges into each fight without caution, it won't be as useful.
Trickster gets you quite a bit of utility, both in and out of combat - summon your own concealment with Fog Cloud, go invisible, create illusions, charm enemies, etc. Or even lets you pick up a few direct damage spells to help out in non-standard ways for a rogue. But I think it doesn't get too much raw power until later levels. Early on, it does get quite a few cool tricks, like picking locks from across the room, so that can be neat.
4) Wood Elves are a pretty good rogue choice. They boost your speed by 5'. They also get good stats for a rogue (+Dex), can hide easier than most, and gain proficiency with the longbow (a great ranged weapon for a rogue sniper).
However, keep in mind that starting at level 2, Cunning Action lets a rogue double move and still attack (or do other stuff). So even a dwarf rogue can end up moving pretty fast at that point, compared to most other classes.
5) There doesn't seem much involving either of those in the basic rules. Assassins gain proficiency in making poison, but the actual details on that seem to be elsewhere (presumably the DMG when it comes out).
I am curious whether we will see, in addition to new sub-class options themselves, also new additional choices / alternative class features, on a smaller scale.
For example, the Totem Barbarian gets to choose an animal spirit bonus at levels 3, 6 and 14. When they do so, they can choose from the Bear, Eagle, and Wolf totems. I could easily see a future book adding more animal totem options to that list.
Or even with the Berserker Barbarian, who doesn't have any options to make - could they at some point add those in? At level 6, the Berserker gets immunity to Charm and Fear while raging. Might they introduce future options that the Berserker could take instead? Perhaps he can choose between Mindless Rage (immunity to Charm/Fear), Unstoppable Rage (bonuses vs prone / grapple / forced movement), Instinctual Rage (blindsense or bonuses vs invisible enemies, blindness/deafness, etc)?
I mean, I think to some extent the Berserker Barbarian (like the Champion Fighter) are intentionally lacking in choices and decision making. But I think options could be presented within even those, if one wanted to do so, much the way alternative class features were presented in 3.5.
I think adding new options via the subclass approach is more likely, myself. But at the same time, more totem animal options for the barbarian or more Hunter options for the ranger, both seem well within the realm of possibility.
I finally got my copy of the PHB, and now that I can see different path options within each class, I'm really feeling the approach the class design, even more than what I saw in the playtest.
So I figured I'd start up a thread for everyone to share the elements they've noticed that have them most excited or interested in the edition, or any other stuff that just looks cool.
Here are the big ones for me thus far:
1) Character choices having a big impact.
I'm really impressed by how much weight goes into the different character path choices within each class. Wizard specialists not just being about having different spells, but actually getting truly unique abilities that fit the flavor of their specialization. Same goes for cleric domains, with domain impacting skills, equipment, spells, special abilities... that's really cool.
It also shows me the direction, I'm guessing, for any future content. Will we eventually see future classes like the Psion? Sure, seems likely. But plenty of other character options seem like they will simply be incorporated as path variants within the existing classes. Why come out with a Psychic Warrior class, for example, when you can just make that a Martial Archetype for the Fighter - just as the Eldritch Knight is?
Adding new variants within each class seems like it will let you capture plenty of unique builds and concepts without needing to resort to countless new classes / prestige classes / paragon paths / etc. Which has me hopeful that they will have plenty of room to develop new content without going down the usual path of option bloat and optimization.
2) Character abilities that really feel unique.
Warlocks who have made pacts with Great Old Ones (ie, Far Realm / Star Pact / etc) just straight up get telepathy at level 1. Wild Magic Sorcerers have a chance to trigger a wild magic surge every time they cast a spell - or more often, if the DM invokes it upon them! Rogues are wily, crafty skirmishers who get free utility actions each round of the combat, letting them dash safely past enemies, dart out of sight to go hide, disable traps while tossing a dagger at a foe, etc.
I feel like they have done a good job, with many abilities, of giving out benefits that feel meaningful and useful, without being overpowered. I'm not sold on every such build - the Shadow Monk looks awesome, for example, but the Elemental Monk hasn't really grabbed me.
But nonetheless, I like how just about every class has something unique going for it (or at least has some options in that category). I feel like it avoids the disparity of 3.5 (where some characters were pretty mundane from start to finish), while also avoiding the 'sameiness' that could crop up in 4E.
3) Taking the best of both worlds.
I like seeing the blend of concepts from editions - not just in the mechanics, but also in the flavor. Discovering the Avenger was still around - as a Paladin buld - was a great surprise.
I was thrilled at how the Warlock incorporates elements of both the 3.5 warlock (with at-will invocations) plus elements of the 4E Warlock (with different pacts, unique spells like Hellish Rebuke, the Fiendish Warlock's ability to gain temps by killing foes, and the ability to Hex enemies for ongoing damage bonuses).
Does it support every build found in every edition? Well, no, but that's a bit of an impossible task. But I was impressed at how many different versions and references seemed to be around.
Does it only have the best options from every edition? Given that 'best' is subjective, the answer there is inevitably going to be no. There are certain some elements I'm not entirely sold on, as well as things I miss from some editions that got left behind. But they obviously made an effort to try and incorporate as much as possible for those who liked different styles of play, as well as different elements of flavor that cropped up in each edition.
4) Character build flexibility.
One of my fears about the new edition was that options would be somewhat limited. And there are some areas where elements of that are true - once you make some of your big choices (character path within a class, feats, etc), you might not have many more decisions to make within your character build.
However, within those choices themselves, I feel like there are a vast number of playstyles and character builds that are not just available, but feel perfectly viable for play.
Fighter is a great example of this. Do I want a 4E style tank that protects his allies? I take the Protection Fighting Style, the Battle Master Archetype with Goading Attack, and the Sentinel Feat, and suddenly I've got all the best aspects of the 4E protector.
Do I instead want an Elven Bladesinger? I go Eldritch Knight with the Dueling Fighting Style, a finesse weapon, and the Defensive Duelist and the Mobile feat. I'm fast, agile, hard to hit and able to wield sword and spell to good effect.
Or let's go for a Warlord! I take the Inspiring Leader feat, and snag Commander's Strike, Manuevering Attack and Rally as Battle Master options. I can hand out temps to help my friends, and give them free movement and attacks (with bonuses) on my turn.
Having a class that can so easily accomodate those builds - as well as more classic builds like sharpshooting archers, or charging greatsword wielders - or more unusual stuff like unarmed grapplers or shield bashers - is a very good sign to me.
The big worry, of course, is whether those builds are viable at all levels. You don't get a feat until level 4, after all. You don't get your fighter archetype until level 3. On the other hand, it seems intentional that the first few levels should get pretty quickly - and are even perhaps deliberately less defined, so that you have a few levels before really having to decide where to focus one's build. I'll wait to see how that plays out.
Still - overall, I find myself thinking of countless different types of characters I can build and play with these rules. For me, that is a very good sign of things to come.
This is my one big worry with 5E - that the number of choices you make with some character builds is very small compared to past editions. Now, I don't think that the second part of your statement follows (about making 3 barbarians and them all being very similar to each other.) When you do make choices, those choices are pretty big - and a Half-orc Berserker Barbarian who is a Great Weapon Master is going to be very different in play from an Elven Wolf Totem Barbarian with the Inspiring Leader feat.
But I do still worry about some of those builds and how few choices you may be making. Your berserker barbarian gets to make big choices when getting the chance for Ability Score bonuses / feats - but you are ending up with half as many feats as you might see in 3rd edition. Now, I think those feats and choices have a definite impact and support a wide range of builds - especially since there is also multiclassing still on the table. But there is still many fewer decisions to make, especially if going with the more obvious feat and stat bump options.
That said, this applies to some builds more than others - and having several very straightforward builds is something many playtesters asked for. So having a mix of both types can be a good thing. And I think they've set themselves up well for adding more character paths and feats that will expand the options available over the life of the edition.
Having just gotten the PHB and read through all the builds and options, I'm feeling reasonably optimistic about it all. I do really like how much impact there is in the choices you make. Choosing a Domain for a cleric isn't just making some slight adjustments to a spell list - it completely defines how the character plays. That's huge in my book, and really shows me what the system is capable of, allowing a wide range of new builds and paths within each class, without the need to instead keep expanding with more and more new classes themselves.
I agree that a game without options or choices is not an especially compelling one, sure. But 5E is a far cry from that. Is it as robust and developed a system as existing systems like 4E and 3.5... which have had years and years of support books and supplements? Of course not. But it seems to present a solid amount of potential for character creation, and I've seen plenty in the PHB that has me very excited about making characters. (For example, the new Warlock, which melds together all my favorite things about both the 3.5 and 4E warlock.)
I also haven't seen any indication that combats are about lengthy, grindy battles. In my own playtesting they were fast and quick-paced, and other reports have been largely the same. Yes, a character moving and taking one attack is going to be much less damage than a character taking 4 attacks with a full-round action. But the counterpoint is that the time it takes to resolve that turn is much faster.
A fight in 3.5 might take 3 rounds of combat, while one in 5E might take 8 rounds of combat. But the 5E fight, in my experience, will take half the real world time of the 3.5 fight, if not less.
I think that 5E Prot Energy is definitely weaker than the sort of things you could do in 3.5 - but for me, at least, that's not a bad thing.
I like that you've got spells that can reliably protect you from energy damage (by dropping it in half), but that stopping it entirely is much more difficult (as opposed to 3.5 Resist Energy, which could trivialize most energy-based encounters).
Similarly, I like the idea of buffs being a much more precious resource, rather than all the casters just burning half their spell lists on pumping everyones AC and Saves, and giving protection vs all incoming energy damage and immunity vs poison, fear, etc.
My take on it would be that the Bard is good at both skills and spellcasting, while the Rogue is good at both skills and combat. A focused spellcaster (like the Wizard) will be better with spells than the bard, while a focused combatant (like the Barbarian) will be better at combat than the rogue.
But, in return, the bard and rogue have their improved skill use and utility features to give them a solid role in the party.
When compared against each other, meanwhile, the bard has the bonus of spells, vs the rogue's greater capability in combat.
I wouldn't think that the bard would be better at skills than the rogue. I suppose it could be the case that in the specific adventure you played, the bard's skills and abilities happened to be more relevant to the situation, but I think that tends to balance itself out over the course of time.
If that was the case, things like skills, feats, race, ability scores, background, etc, would not exist. Class is a central part of a character - the most central part, even - but many of the last few editions have had plenty of other elements that make up one's character.
You represent you are a strong character by having a high Strength - not by being a fighter. You represent whether one is capable with a weapon via weapon proficiency. Being a Fighter is one way to get that proficiency, but not the only way. It also gives a variety of other benefits - even if I play an Elven Wizard with high Strength who is proficiency with a Longsword, that is still going to be a very different character on the table than the Human Fighter. Even if both are swinging swords at the enemy.
Modern design of d20 games, at least, seem to value having a variety of options available for customizing one's character, rather than having the entirety decided by class choice alone. For me, that's a valuable part of such systems, and one that in this instance, I think is being handled quite well.