Monday, June 25, 2012

D&D Next Annotations: Character Sheets

Continued from:
How to Play Annotations!
DM Guidelines Annotations!

I've been meaning to post this for several days now. I did a lightning speed overview of the character sheets - there's not nearly as much content here as there was in the other two documents.
"Okay, so now on to the character sheets. There are five, a Cleric of Moradin, a Cleric of Pelor, a Fighter, a Rogue, and a Wizard.
First up is the Moradin cleric.
* Okay, so we have the generic description stuff we fill in (name etc), prerolled abilities, speed, HD, Init, Senses, Attacks (this guy has a warhammer), and Languages. All of it's pretty standard and unsurprising.
* Race: Mountain Dwarf. Oh goodness, we have subraces. I was really missing that. [/sarcasm] However, it gives a paragrpah of description and a list of the benefits it gives you (pointing you to page 2 for details).
* Class: Cleric (Moradin). Hmm, it looks like your Minor Spells and your Weapon/Armor proficiencies are based on deity, or domain maybe. Unsurprising stuff.
* Background: Knight. Hey, this gives a couple bonuses on "skills" - for example, check involving Animal Handling get a +3. I love it. This is vague and malleable, moldable into a lot of things without very specifically being "You get a +2 to Insight checks." Plus, there's a background feature! (get there in a minute)
* Theme: Guardian. You get a...feat? Wow, there's a word that hasn't appeared in the text until now. It's a simple thing, and it's pretty nice, I'm just shocked to see feats!
* Stuff, spells, spell known/prepared (these are pre-picked for you, one of the few things that point me to think divine and arcane spells might actually be split and that just wasn't defined in the book), minor spells. Meh, unsurprising.
* Race features standard, Class features standard (with the exception of an intersting take on Turn Undead through Channel Divinity, much more 4e than 3e and I think it'll work well), Background feature NOT standard! This is almost like a Dungeon World move here! More stuff like this and you'll have me back, Wizards.
* What to do when you level up, for levels 2 and 3. Hey, you get another feat out of your theme (though on the page it says your Guardian background, which is actually a theme - fix that, that's confusing). Nice to see that it keeps mattering.
* Then a big section for playtest notes.
* I didn't say it before, but AC and HP were both at the top of the first sheet. Don't worry, they're not missing ;)
Next sheet to fly through is the Cleric of Pelor.
* Thanks for putting the spell attack up with the weapon attack there, it's nice to have it all there together.
* As usual, humans get no features at all. Missed opportunity here guys, humans have features too!
* Nice full descriptions of antitoxin, a healer's kit, and a healing potion.
* The background feature continues to impress.
Next up is the Fighter.
* Hill dwarf. Ugh, subraces. Wait a sec, this guy is all on one page! The fighter doesn't even have enouh features to have a second page!? Come on guys. I know you've had a hard time, but...actually, scratch that. The simple fighter like this is what it should be in the Basic, AS LONG AS you give us a more in-depth fighter as a module.
* Wait a second, is the Hill Dwarf at all different from the Mountain Dwarf? Yeah, it's identical. What gives? Explain yourself.
* Yup, Slayer Theme is cool. Background feature is much less interesting than the others on this one, but potentially more useful in most field circumstances. But it's less interesting! Come on, that's the important part!
* I take back a little bit of the "boring class" thing if that Level 2 thing is from the class, Fighter's Surge is actually neat and, more importantly, the fighter is unlocking more abilities regularly that aren't just boring old bonuses. I can accept that.
* Oh my god, "Souvenir of previous campaign (weapon taken from enemy, scar, or similar)" under equipment/treasure along with a lucky charm and bone dice? That's sweet as hell. I approve wholeheartedly. The other two so far have NOT been that cool.
Rogue time.
* Lightfoot halfling? Fine. I'll stop complaining about subraces. Naturally stealthy is cool though. I'll be going a much more freeform approach to size when we're talking about that ability.
* "Commerce +3" for the Background? That's a crazy useful one, as is Folklore +3.
* Ambusher will get a LOT of play if I take a soft approach to hiding.
* Background feature is interesting, but likely to be mostly useless. Interesting though, so I'm not complaining.
* Auto-Thieves' Cant. YES.
* Skill Mastery is very nice, especially when combined with these very broad trainings.
* Nice sneak attack, I can accept it. It bothers me to not have it explicitly trigger off flanking, but don't change it, I'm in the wrong about that.
* Overall, the rogue looks really fun. If I was a PC, I'd be him.
Only the Wizard left.
* High elf. Of all of the subraced races, I accept the elves the easiest, mostly because I've resigned myself to the fact that the Drow are going to be coming back. Not sure why being a "Free Spirit" makes you immune to sleep, but otherwise the racial features are fine.
* All that lore in the Background! I love it! And the background feature is both interesting and useful, AND it makes for a great way for me to drive plot hooks.
* Lots of cantrips from the theme. Good, because I like the Wizard Cantrip chocies here, I'd have a hard time choosing.
* I'll need to wait and see about that familiar there. Not so sure about him, but not putting a ton of attention into him right now.

Okay, so a couple notes now that I'm through the basic reading of these guys. In general, I'm satisfied enough to not mess with them. However, something Sage brought to my attenton through his blog that I wouldn't have noticed is really bothering me just as much as it did him. In tiny fine print under the background and theme...
"For a more Old-School experience, don't use background and theme."
That is just BAD to me. First off, it's not really true. If anything, the background and theme are more old-school in tone than the race and class. I know the idea here is that the actual old-school games didn't have those two, but they are amazing fits for the tone of an old-school game, for that sort of experience. Please, kill the fine print. It is not good, and actually looks pretty much like blatant pandering to try to appeal to your old-schoolers.

However, that' pretty much all my complaints for right now. Next up will be the Bestiary!"

So that's it! Enjoy, and come back soon for the Bestiary, it's just about done!

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