With the release of the second packet of Open Playtest material for D&D Next by Wizards of the Coast it seemed like a good time to close the poll I had running, Your Favorite Part of D&D Next. I was surprised by the results and the amount of response. I was sure that advantage/disadvantage would win hands down. It did well but was only third in the voting. I guess I don’t know the mindset of every Dungeons & Dragons player. Let’s take a look at the responses and what that could mean for the next edition.
47% of the voters listed Backgrounds as their favorite part of the playtest material. I'm a fan of the Background in the character generation process because it allows for a little customization beyond that of class and race. It also helps to bind a character concept by creating a suggestion for your backstory. This is a great thing for new players as they can kind of just use the Background whole cloth or change a bit here or there. Some players may see it as an excellent guideline that can be another background entirely simply by changing the name of the background.
In second place was Ability Based Saves with 21% of the vote. This is one of the mechanics that I particularly enjoy. It makes a dump stat mean a lot more to the character. No longer can you dump Intelligence because you have Dexterity. The dump stat is still available; there is just a price to be paid now. It also doesn’t add in another unnecessary mechanic to the game. There is already a number associated with an ability so no need to complicate simple beauty. When you take out unnecessary mechanics like Fortitude, Reflex, and Will saves, or Breath Weapon, Rod, Staff, Wand, or Paralyzation, Poison, Death Magic, then there is less that can be exploited. If the rule never existed, if the option wasn’t there, then nobody could take advantage of a way that the mechanic wasn’t intended. I am beginning to believe in game design that often less is a whole lot more.
The Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic took 16% of the vote and I am not surprised. Of all the changes in D&D Next I think this is one of the more dramatic. When I was first introduced to the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic I was a bit overwhelmed. Then after playtesting I see the potential for the game and for cinematic enjoyment. I think that as long as characters and monsters are not just granted the ability to cause disadvantage on their enemies’ at-will, then this will probably be a lot of fun for the players and the DM. I'm down with including a Minor and Major Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic. The minor mechanic would allow a plus or minus 2. I think this allows for a lot of flexibility in storytelling, character powers and spells, environmental factors, and more, but saves the extra d20 roll for the moments more critical to the story.
Racial Features took home 5% of the vote and I was a little surprised by that. I attribute this lower popularity a bit too only receiving the four races (dwarves, elves, halflings, and humans), instead of something that has come along more recently like dragonborn, tiefling, or revenant. I thought that humans had enough of a change that it would have created more buzz among gamers. I like playing dwarves and like what I see so far. The recently released second open playtest packet makes me even more excited to see what is being done with races as a whole. We'll save my thoughts on the second playtest packet for a different article.
Healing took 5% of the vote and I'm surprised by that because I like the healing but I didn't really consider it to be a favorite part. I like the short and long rest mechanic but the hit die thing is a bit like healing surge and that created a few storytelling problems in 4th Edition, in my opinion. If it is an option that allows for self healing apart from the healing mechanic of the cleric, then it has potential. Let's hope the healing is worked out early in the playtest process since it's such a major part of Dungeons & Dragons.
The last five percent of the vote went to Backgrounds and Themes together. It is logical with Themes coming so late in the 4th Edition that they would show up in D&D Next. Themes were a great idea to give players a push in a certain direction which can help role-playing. It was better than a secondary skill anyway. The new poll is up and make sure to vote. Until next time, Roll Hard!
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