D&D Next: Combat
AKA Lamoncha, the One-shot Wonder
“Oh, man, I might need to level those guys down a bit.”
On the list of Things I don’t want to hear the DM say, this might not be tops, but it’s close.
With the character creation process complete, my friend and I decided to check out combat. He took two level 4 monsters and put them up against my one level 1 ranger. Sure, it was going to be a challenge, but we figured it might work out fine.
We’re testing out a few things at once. Our conversation takes place over Skype. He set up a campaign page on roll20, something I’ve wanted to do but never got around to doing. So I’m looking at a grid with a couple features, two circular pics of enemies, and one pic for my character. As a joke, I send the DM a whisper using roll20’s in-window chat function. I’m using Dicenomicon on my iPad to roll everything. If there were any doubts, the app lets you copy a history of rolls to show proof. But we trust each other so that’s not necessary.
Keep in mind, these are just my initial experiences as a player. I haven’t dug into the rules packets yet.
We roll initiative. I get it, and I roll something low for my attack. Maybe a 3. Better luck next round.
One of the two walks up, hits me with its weapon, and the end result is 4 damage. 4 out of 10 total hit points. My character already feels much more fragile than 4E.
“Oh, wait, they have poison, sorry. Roll to save against that.”
I roll incredibly low again.
“Yeah, the poison hits you for…” Dice roll in the background, determining my fate. “Six damage.”
I laugh. “Uh, I’m dead. Well, unconscious, I guess, but defeated.” In one round.
That’s when he utters the quote at the top of the post. Maybe levels make a more significant difference here. Also, I didn’t create the “ideal” character, otherwise I’d have had a few more HP. But still… one shot kills hurt the confidence a little bit.
Round 2…. FIGHT
A few minutes later, healed up and ready for a fight, Lamoncha faces off against two level 1 fire beetles. This goes decidedly better.
Unlike 4E, with multiple powers to choose from each level, Lamoncha has exactly zero combat powers. He has his hand crossbows, with blades built into the structure like handguards in front of the pistol grips. So I declare I am shooting a loaded bolt, or I am slashing something up close.
No dailies. No marks. No encounters. No burst attack. That’s it.
Of course, this is only level 1. There will be special abilities and cool combat attacks coming with later levels.
While I liked the 4E descriptions of what each attack looked like, I see how this is more beneficial both for ease of creating the materials (they don’t need a new list of powers and crazy description of each action every time something comes along) and for running the character.
For one, this cuts down some of the potential delay in combat I see with 4th Edition. No one has to stop and consider what power to use out of a page full of text. Two, this might force some thought and role-playing into the combat.
What if I want to fire both crossbows? That’s something to discuss with the DM. Maybe I want to jab the blade on the crossbow into the creature, then fire the bolt point-blank. I picture this working like called shots, where the DM could set a higher difficulty to hit, but allow the roll as an expression of creativity.
One of the beetles is dead, and the other closes in. I ask, “Are there still opportunity attacks if I use a ranged weapon next to an enemy?” There are.
Lamoncha has taken a hit, and is about half conscious. But the way I pictured him working involves shifting around or between foes and using something like “gun-kata” in a dance of crossbow-bolting death. So I take the risk.
He shifts around the beetle and takes aim, giving it the chance to strike. It rakes its clawed legs at him, scratches leather armor, but does no damage. He fires and kills it, and the DM sings the Final Fantasy victory theme for me.
How is combat in Next?
It’s different, for sure, and a huge shift from 4E. But that’s not a bad thing.