Thursday, August 15, 2013

DnD Next - ready for launch?

In the latest DnD Next blog post Mike Mearls told us that the core of the game including classes and races is pretty much done.  This concerns me greatly as there are still really huge issues with a lot of the gameplay.  I did a bunch of math on fighter damage output and it looks to me like people will still be killing monsters on round 1.  I built a simple bow Fighter who maxed Dexterity and took the bow feat and at level 12 that character is tearing off around 41 damage per round into a green dragon which has 127 HP.  I didn't do anything interesting, use any buffs, or use any limited abilities.  The green dragon is rated as a normal encounter and a party of three of these characters kills it on round 1 from 600 feet away much of the time - the rest of the time the dragon is very nearly dead, flies towards the characters, and dies on round 2 no matter what.  Barbarians do substantially more damage than this but aren't as hilarious because they actually have to get next to the dragon to explode it.  As usual Rogues are terrible - if they have a flanking partner they can deal 1/2 of Fighter damage and if they do not it is more like 1/4.

Fundamentally the math of melee combat is way out of whack.  I suppose they may intend that characters with bows be able to mow down any big monster from a very safe range but I kind of doubt that - in theory seeing a dragon coming over the hill should be terrifying rather than "Cool, a giant bag of experience just showed up!"  Of course big monsters aren't a threat but tons of dorks still are - if instead of a single green dragon the bow fighters are facing gnolls the fighters die on round 2 having killed a handful of the enemies.  I just can't figure out why they feel comfortable calling this 'almost done' when I can spend half an hour with a calculator and come up with absurdities like this.  Rogues get a few noncombat benefits over fighters but if they end up doing 1/4 to 1/2 of the damage they are *trash*.  Please let's not have another edition like that?  We have been down that road, we know where it goes.

If this were an early packet and the math of the game was still known to be very much in flux I wouldn't be too worried but if this is pretty much done we are going to end up with another edition where fights end on round 1 or 2 and rogues are useless.  At least this time casters are never especially dominant in combat - they still get all the toys outside of a fight but it does appear to me that they are really good at AOEing dorks and are otherwise not much good.  A caster throwing around max level single target spells does less damage than a fighter who just attacks with a bow - this, at least, seems fine since they do get to fly, plane shift, go invisible, and do all the other fun stuff.

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