I’m sure that everyone who is actually subscribed to receiving updates from the D&D Next playtest program already knows this, but the packet is out! I’ve just downloaded mine and I have only begun to start reading through the new stuff. Of course, given the hearty discussion on my previous read on the D&D Next Fighter of the last playtest, the Dwarven Fighter pregen was the first file I opened.
The Combat Superiority mechanic is pretty neat, and I’m glad that the design team managed to reach a happy medium between my earlier improvisation-focused approach and the other preference for having hard-coded abilities in the rules. As is, the Fighter is capable of pulling off some impressive combat tricks (some of which resemble the feats of older editions) without losing the ability to use the Improvise action found in the rules to pull off some of the tricks that aren’t covered in the Combat Superiority list.
The expanded documents on the Backgrounds and Specialties make me happy, given the approach to allow characters to start customizing their builds beyond just simple class. Heck, having a Fighter with the Sharpshooter Fighting style, the Bounty Hunter Background and Archer Specialty would make for a compelling Urban Ranger dedicated to bringing unsavory types to justice. Quick, easy, relatively painless to come up with interesting characters simply by mixing and matching these three facets of a character.
Overall, I’m pretty impressed with what I’m seeing so far. I’ll update with more impressions of the new stuff once I’ve had a chance to go over everything in detail.