My 2 cents on the 5e playtest

I got the playtest today, and I had a fairly mixed reaction (going into it with a neutral state of mind, unlike many grognards out there). There was good, and there was bad, as far as I could tell.

Good: the Advantage/Disadvantage rule. This states that, if there is a situation that would give you an advantage in an action (e.g. attacking from higher ground, etc.), you could roll twice and take the better result. Disadvantage is the same, but opposite. This, I think serves to reduce rampant situational modifiers. The best bit is that you can only reroll once, not once for every advantageous circumstance.
Saving throws are folded into ability scores: so you make a Wisdom saving throw, not a save vs. spells or a will save, etc. Much easier to explain to the beginning player.

Bad: A first-level wizard has like 3 spells, not counting at-will cantrips (like light, or FREAKING MAGIC MISSILE). Clerics are the same (with an at-will magic crossbow). Too much power, too quickly. We don’t see progression beyond third level, but this is way more powerful than any old-school thing.
There are no detailed rules for this, as such, but we will still have extensive skill lists with high modifiers (from what I saw, they’d easily get up to 6 at first level for PCs with a high stat).

Also, I got a bit confused about hit-points, but at first level a PC has at least his CON in hp. But, something I did like, a CON modifier doesn’t act as a modifier to your HD roll when you level, but a minimum.

So, I think it could go either way. That said, there’s probably enough free RPGs out there for me to use (and/or hack mercilessly) that I don’t think I’ll ever use more than ideas from this as house rules. But, we shall see with future releases.

Review: Trident Rock

In response to Zak’s request, I present to you a review of the adventure Trident Rock, available here from Dragonsfoot Games.

Trident Rock is an adventure recommended for 4-6 5th-7th level characters, including at least 1 cleric and 2 fighters and 1 M-U.

1. What kind of adventure is it? (Location based? Dungeon? Town? Etc.)
Trident Rock is a location-based adventure, detailing a ruined keep and the dungeons/sea caves beneath it.

2. How long is it?
It’s fairly long, running to 42 pages of material. It’s something of a laborious read, I’ll admit, but only because there’s a lot of adventuring space to cover.

3. Were there any particularly noteworthy things in it? (Monsters, traps, plot ideas, mechanics, etc.)
The plot involves a noble family (the Tridents) who were cursed by the gods for not helping a crusading cleric. As long as they stay in the keep, they don’t age: the moment they leave, time catches up with them. The only other way to remove the curse is to repent (which isn’t likely). One character is trying to turn to goodness, but the others are either set in their ways–one is dabbling with demons to try to get out. The PCs are presumed to arrive posing as guests, but really there to remove the curse.

In terms of monsters, traps, etc, it’s fairly basic–I didn’t see anything particularly original there. There are a few new monsters included in the appendix, as well as some magical traps, but not really used in an original way, I felt.

4. What sort of vibe is going on in it? (Creepy? Gonzo? Sword and sorcery? Chivalry? etc.)
It tries to be creepy, but that’s really all in how you present it. There’s nothing inherently creepy in the layout, or the monster choices really (ghouls/skeletons in the crypt, sahuagin in the sea-caves, etc.).

5. Would you run it? Why or why not?

I’d probably run it, if I had need of a few filler sessions. I don’t think I’d build much of a campaign around it. The setting is necessarily isolated, and the backstory could really be altered to fit any campaign. There’s quite a bit of high-powered magical items (mostly weapons and armour) in there, at least for 5th-7th level. I’d personally scale it back a lot; there’s probably more than a single party could use, but it would kit them out like fairly high-level PCs.

6. Does it resemble anything we might’ve seen before?
On the surface, it’s basically a dungeon with loose role-playing opportunities up top. The PCs are basically going to come in, stay the night, poke around for a wee bit, then head down into the dungeon, repercussions-be-damned. Quite like every haunted-house movie you’ve seen. So it’s not particularly original. But it is a nice, solid piece of dungeon-building that’ll fill a session or three.