13 Jan 2013

D&D Next Reactions

For the past few months, I've been involved in a D&D Next playtest campaign.  I am honestly impressed with character creation.  Sure, the classic classes are there, but they're flexible, capable of containing a multitude of ideas.  My first PC in the campaign was a Halfling archaeologist.  "But wait," you may be thinking, "there's no 'Archaeologist' class in D&D."  And you'd be right!  However, D&D Next comes with optional backgrounds and specialties, and these I do so love.  If used, every character can have one of each, and they really don't affect game balance.  Used well, and you add depth to a character with a quick stroke.

So how does one play a Halfling archaeologist?  First, take the Rogue class; you want access to skills like Open Lock and Remove Trap.  Next, take the Sage background.  Ta-daa, your rogue now knows all sorts of lore, just perfect for being an archaeologist.  Finally, I took the Ambusher specialty, but others may work just as well.  For flavour, I bought the PC a whip, because what sort of adventuring archaeologist doesn't have one?

Sadly, he was eaten by a ghoul while being the meat shield for the party's wizard.  (Rogues aren't good in that role.)  My next character took me all of twenty minutes to create, from scratch, including figuring out the concept.  That's twenty minutes to create a Human monk PC who is one part Friar Tuck and one part Ryu from Street Fighter.

Now, considering that there's no such thing as script immunity, I do have another idea in the back of my mind for a new PC, which I could also use for the next season of D&D Encounters - a swashbuckler.  Swashbucklers are common enough in historical fantasy; the lightly armoured dandy with a rapier and keen wit.  Can D&D Next handle the concept?

Well, yes, in three different classes.  Once again, backgrounds and specialties come to the rescue.  There is a Swashbuckler specialty.  Most of the work is already done.  For backgrounds, check out Minstrel and Noble.  Do you want the bard-ish swashbuckler (Elan, Order of the Stick) or the foppish dandy (Giogi Wyvernspur, from the Finder's Stone trilogy set in the Forgotten Realms).  Lastly, class.  The obvious two are Fighter and Rogue.  Fighter has the Duelist option, which out and out suggests Swashbuckler as a specialty.  Rogue has the Rake.  Most of the work is already done for me.  Sweet!

That's two.  What's the third?  Cleric.  It's not as bizarre as it seems at first.  The latest documents include sample deity types and what benefits they grant.  One of the types is the Trickster.  Keep the Swashbuckler specialty.  Take a look at the Jester background.  Not your typical swashbuckler, but you now have a memorable cleric who is capable in a duel.

Overall, this just makes me happy.

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