Friday, February 15, 2013

Adventure Balance in D&D Next is Screwy

I'm beginning to think that a big part of the unease I've felt while trying to run playtest sessions has been with the adventure design. Just take a look at one of the main areas in Reclaiming Blingdenstone- The House Center. Here are the encounters faced. Spoilers, etc.

2 zombies - 40xp
4 fire beetles - 40xp
3 skeletons - 60xp
1 gray ooze - 180xp
5 giant centipedes - 50xp
12 stirges - 120xp
1 wight, 2 skeletons, 2 zombies - 410xp
4 orcs - 200xp

Ok, according to the DM guidelines, an easy encounter for a party of four should equal 80xp, average is 120xp, and tough is 240xp. Now even without considering if the monsters have the correct xp (the wight seems really overvalued at 330xp for example), the encounters seem far too easy on paper and certainly played that way on the table. Four of the encounters are not even tough enough to be considered easy. Three are consider average but in reality only the orc encounter should be considered that hard. The gray ooze was alone and I think the rule should be that a solitary creature has it's xp halved for calculating encounter strength. And the stirges only come out to attack 1d4 per round so you never should face all twelve at once which makes it more like an easy encounter. and the one tough encounter really wasn't very tough in actual play. The wight was neither scary nor tough. My group plowed through this dungeon with no real challenge at all.

Lesson learned - don't trust the modules that wotc has put into these packets. They might not have been designed with the current rules in mind. Go through all of the encounters and update them to match the dm guidelines. For example, all of the easy encounters here should have double the creatures in them. And the stirges should all attack at once. The wight will still be lame but the party should at least be worn down a bit by the time they get to him.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Evolution of the Fighter in D&D - Take 3

It's time to see how the fighter in the upcoming 5th edition of D&D stacks up against the ones from previous editions. Like my previous tests (here and here), I take a bog standard first level human fighter and have him fight goblins in one on one combats until he breaks. Here's the stats for my 5e Fighter, created with the standard array-

Human Fighter, Veteran
Str- 18
Dex- 14
Con- 15
Int- 11
Wis- 13
Cha- 9

HP- 12
AC- 17 (scale mail + shield)
Combat Expertise, Bullrush

long sword +5 to hit/ +4 to damage

The Tests

The tests were run in javascript programs that simulate combat between the fighter and the goblin until one of them dies. The Goblin's Bushwacker ability was taken into account (gives the goblin advantage on the first round if he has won initiative). Critical hits and the fighter's Martial Damage Dice (to parry and to add extra damage) were also used. The test combats were run 100,000 times to produce a good average.

First we test to see how much danger the Fighter is in when fighting against a lone goblin in a one on one fight. What is his chance of getting killed? As it turns out, not much.

As you can see from the above graph, his chance of dying in such a fight is almost nonexistent - a measly .001 chance. This is about identical to your danger in 4e if you fought a single goblin minion.

Next we have the 5e fighter fight a series of infinite goblins, one at a time, until he dies. How many goblins can he kill before he succumbs to wounds? Here are the results-

The 5e fighter is exactly as powerful as the one in 4e even though the 4e fighter fought against goblin minions and could heal himself once during the battle. Much of this is due to the Martial Damage Dice. The ability to parry 1d6 damage every round makes the fighter almost invulnerable in fights against a single, low level opponent like our goblin here. Taking that away changes things drastically. His chance of dying increases, but is still only a very low 1% chance, but he is only able to kill 8 goblins before dying. That's more in line with older editions. Unfortunately, doing that would probably make the fighter very weak in comparison to the other classes in 5e, especially the spellcasters who have their own power-ups (I'm looking at you cantrips).

Update - 2/7

Frank over on Google+ alerted me to an error with my math on the fighter's attack bonus. I've changed that from a +6 to a +5 and rerun the tests. Now they line up so close to 4e that I can't believe it's accidental. The designers are definitely shooting for that level of power.