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DnDnext Playtest, Traveller5, Pirates, and Appendix T

June 1, 2012

The memorial day holiday offered the perfect opportunity for some of the Skyland Games guys to give this DnDnext Playtest a whirl. We were all pretty eager to see how the various mechanics would work out in play, and encouraged by the old-school feel of the character sheets, and the provided adventure: Caves of Chaos.

Adding to the old-school motif, we had seven PCs in the party, (something we would normally avoid at all costs in 4e) but it didn’t bog down the action as much as large parties have with other editions. Once the players were accustomed to their character sheets and equipment, the turns moved pretty briskly for such a large party. We had all of the pre-gens represented, while we doubled up on the elven wizard and the thief. We also had a fairly even split of guys and ladies playing (4 guys, 3 ladies). Scott suggested we tap in to the DCCRPG core rulebook for some names and titles to give these guys a little individuality. For those of you unfamiliar, at the back of the DCCRPG book, there are two Appendices that are percentile tables in which you can roll up a name and a title based on your class. From these we derived such awesome names as Naroob the Chaste, Thremnym the Killer, Scarabus the Mystic, and Llambichus the Paladin among others. Its a fun, simple way to add a bit more flavor and individuality to your character; especially fun with pre-gens.

Overall I think everybody had a really good time, and this version of DnDnext seemed to lend itself to more creativity and improvisation at the table, something many of us feel 4e usually lacks. Its not that you can’t improvise in 4e, just that most players tend to bury their heads in the 5-10 pages of their character sheet to look for a power, rather than consider the situation and try and make something up. I just received the first email from WotC seeking feedback from the playtest. Hopefully we’ll be able to play it more in between games of DCCRPG and Pathfinder.

Speaking of which, last night was the second session of our pirates campaign and the Skulls and Shackles adventure path! (Minor spoilers ahead) At this point we’ve been on the boat for about two weeks, and have been working on gaining some allies from within the crew. The officers of the ship clearly think we’re up to know good, and they’ve started to make sure they have some allies as well. By the end of the session, only one crew member was still on the fence between the groups, and the crew was pretty evenly split. Methinks the waters ahead may be choppy! It has been an awesome experience so far, and a refreshing change from the bite-sized adventures in Pathfinder Society. The only thing that has been a bit confusing so far is keeping track of the NPCs! There are about 30 crew members and all of them have a little back-story. It’s a very richly detailed module.

In other news, Marc Miller, the original creator of Traveller has launched a kickstarter to get the Fifth Edition published! You didn’t think D&D was the only 35 year old game working on reinventing itself, did you? I personally really like Traveller, even though I have played very little of it. Instead of three little black books of the original, Marc is raising funds to publish a massive 600-page core rulebook. I think I’m going to need to own a copy of that! According to the kickstarter page, a lot of updates have been made in terms of technology levels, robots, computers, ships, and just about all the aspects that makes Traveller, Traveller. I’m really looking forward to it, and hope they’ve got some great artists on board to fill those 600 pages with more than just text. With all these great systems to play, it may be awhile before we can get back to Traveller, but when we’re ready, hopefully there will be a 600 page tome waiting for us.

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