Monday, August 20, 2012

5e Character Creation Redux

After last nights exhaustive (and exhausting) walk through, I tried my hand at creating another D&D Next character.  While Foobar Testface was a pretty straightforward concept and execution, I decided for my next candidate to be a bit more creative.  To that end, I went full Willow on the character creation rules, creating a Neutral Evil Hafling Wizard Spy Necromancer, who I've yet to name but am currently referring to as 'Bad Hobbit'.

This time, I played with the standard stat array (8, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15) rather than going for random rolls.  I also ignored the RAW for play test character creation and assigned my attributes right from the get-go, rather than waiting until after my Racial and Class abilities were ready to plug in.


  • Human attribute bonuses seem even more OP after running through the character creation process with a non-human.  +1 to every single attribute AND +2 to your primary attribute seems like a bonanza, particularly if you're someone who likes well-rounded characters.  With attributes getting more attention than ever with D&D Next (thanks to the apparent decline in importance of skills & skill ranks), this really feels like an obligatory feature if you are at all interested in optimizing a character.
  • Halfling racial abilities all seemed to fit the theme of the race quite well.  I'm pleased to see the return of some mechanical benefits for sub-races, but the Halfling race bonuses do seem to push them solidly in the direction of Rogue being their best class, and them being the best Rogues.  That's OK, as long as the playing field is relatively level for everyone else, and they aren't head-and-shoulders above the rest of the gang.
  • Halfling weapon dice scaling salves the bitter wounds left by weapon shrinkage in 3.5e.  Hoping that other Small races (like my beloved Gnomes and Goblins) get comparable qualities to keep them competent at hand-to-hand, but not holding my breath.
  • Creating a Wizard gave me some much harder choices to make compared with the Warlock I built yesterday.  While the Warlock Invocations were fairly easy to pick (and there weren't many of them), I spent a fair bit of time thinking about situational uses for my spells and minor spells.  I quite missed having a larger range of cantrips to choose from that I could plug into 0-level slots instead of a fixed pool of at-will spells.  I've often found uses for Mage Hands over the years, but felt like Light and Detect Magic were obligatory utility spells and that I needed an offensive at-will (like Magic Missile) to round out the selection instead of relying on my sling skills (though the sling does have a nice +6 to hit and 1d6 damage).  I kind of hope Detect Magic eventually gets baked into something like a Magical Lore check- it's such a universally used spell that requiring every character to have it starts to feel like a spell tax, or like you have fewer spells than you are told.
  • Building on the above- the Magic-User specialty feels even more useful when faced with having to pick cantrips that you will presumably have with you forever.  Doesn't seem like (so far) there is a way to gain more later.  Again, I'd prefer the 0-level spell slots option to having this choice be permanent.
  • The level 1 Necromancer benefits seem a bit weak in comparison to the other prime-time spell caster specialty, Magic-User.  At first level you have a choice of two necromantic spells (Cause Fear and Ray of Enfeeblement), which means you aren't going to often have the chance to kill something and then cast a spell within one minute.  On the other hand, it likely will scale better with higher levels than having extra cantrips- being able to blast a minion with Magic Missile in round 1 and then cast a high-level necromantic spell with advantage in round 3 could be a pretty nice combo.  Feels a bit like the nub of a 'combo point wizard' build- wonder if they will build that out further at some point.
  • My Warlock from yesterday's post feels like a much bigger combat threat than my Wizard.  Getting off a Ray of Enfeeblement or a Burning Hands or two, followed by lots of Magic Missiles or sling stones seems pretty paltry compared with the Warlock's at-will 3d6 Eldritch Blast, to say nothing of his higher Hit Points and armor class and better weapon selection (again, still don't know why a Warlock would ever use a weapon).
  • Regarding balance- a number of posters on the forums have noted that the Sorcerer and Warlock feel a lot more powerful than the Core 4.  Not sure whether we will see a boost to the Core 4 or a nerf to the new guys, but one of the two is bound to happen quite soon.  The disparity between the combat potential of the Warlock and the Wizard (at least at low levels) makes me wonder if WotC is trying to push the Wizard a little more into the controller role that it held in 4e, while giving the Warlock the blasting/Striker crown.  Maybe it's just a transient effect of the two classes being in different stages of review, though.
Overall, I'm quite pleased with my Bad Hobbit.  I've never played a Halfling spell caster before, and created him mostly as a laugh, but now I'm quite looking forward to the opportunity to play him for a bit.  Anyone looking for a player ;)

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