Playtest Packet Two
This Legends and Lore post was mostly a summary of what we’re seeing in the new playtest packet, so I’ll just use this post for some thoughts on the changes in the new playtest materials.
Solid changes well implemented, but the core game still doesn’t excite me. It’s like a fine-tuning of 3E. I feel like I’ve played that game enough. Analogy: it’s fine-tuning a Honda Civic—no matter how finely tuned, it’s still kind of boring. Which isn’t to say the Civic isn’t a great car. I drive a Civic, I love it, but if I could get a Porsche for the same price (since RPGs generally fall into the same price range) I would swap it out in a second.
Humanoid Monster Abilities
Goblins, gnolls, and the like now have special abilities that make them stand out but only come into play when a leader is nearby. The abilities themselves seem a little bland (+x damage). The triggers are oddly specific too: a gnoll only gets the bonus when there are at least two leaders it can see. Why not just “when under leadership” and leave the specifics to the situation? Nice idea, implementation is a bit of a letdown. Feels like a great mechanic for Ravenloft (the boardgame).
I got really excited by this specialty at first. When someone dies within X feet you get to trap their soul, and you can keep up to two at once! I was immediately imagining the opportunities and complications that keeping two dead people around would bring. Then I got to the details: you can spend a soul to gain advantage on a spell roll. That’s it. It’s unclear if the bit about trapping souls is meant to be just a bland fiction or an invitation to creative use. I mean, can I talk to them? Bargain them away? Keep someone from entering the afterlife by holding their soul indefinitely?
At first I thought they brought back bonuses to the familiar’s master depending on the familiar, like +HP for a toad or whatever. Actually all familiar use the same base stats, modified by the type you choose. So cats get +X stealth and don’t take falling damage for falling less than 20 feet.
Not only does this remind me how much I hate having to track stats for familiars, but I also image cat-dropping as a test for wizardry. Instead of drowning a witch to see if she’s a witch, you just drop her cat off the tallest building in town. If it survives, she’s a witch.
Fighter Combat Advantage
Love the mechanic! It made me excited to play in a very 4E tactical kind of way. Awesome tradeoffs like “do I spend this now to get a little extra damage or save it to defend an ally?” Since it’s a per-round resource it stays at least somewhat fictionally-rooted; it’s easy to justify it as just where the fighter’s attention is. I’m not sure they meant to design something that I immediately want to use in a tactical wargame, but it works!