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Back in October 2013 we had the "final playtest document" which allowed people to play Next for almost a year before D&D5e Basic was released.

What major changes are there in the rules that were not forcasted by Legends and Lore articles? (Such as Prof bonus at level 1 being +2, or the classes and races only being the basic 4)

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You realize you can just read the free Basic PDF and find out. Questions for the sake of questions isn't really that super. –  mxyzplk Jul 11 at 2:48
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@mxyzplk you realize that sometimes people miss things or don't have time to read all the rules? This sort of comment should be in meta. –  GMNoob Jul 11 at 9:26

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Major changes I noticed (that have not been forecasted by designers):

  • Reduced standard ability array / point buy. (from 30 to 27, cannot point buy score 16)
  • Change of level up exp for quicker lv 2 and 3, and higher level is more consistent.
  • Flexible starting equipment package.
  • You can learn new languages and tools using downtime rules, with no explicit limit.
  • Combat:
    • No charge, coup de grace, knock down action. Grapple is an attack option instead of action.
    • Disengage no longer grants movement. (now it is easier to catch up)
    • Disadvantage on ranged attack during melee.
    • Revamped conditions. New are grappled, poisoned, petrified, incapacitated; gone are incorporeal and intoxicated; exhaustion effects simplified.
  • Spellcasting:
    • Taking damage may lose concentration.
    • High ability scores increase number of prepared spells.
    • Spell components are back, some spells have only some of the three V,S,M components.
    • Spellcasting focus not required to apply proficiency bonus; instead the focus becomes the material component.
  • Improved race and class balance. (bonus ability score / HD / proficiency adjustments, fighter nerfed a bit but gained skills, sneak attack and spells do higher damage, etc.)
  • A number of features now gives double proficiency bonus (Expertise, dwarf's Stonecunning, champion's Remarkable Athlete), to the point it becomes a common mechanic.
  • Finally, if you are familiar with playtest, Search skill is renamed to Investigate, and Hustle action renamed to Dash.

Of course, the updates outlined / leaked by designers are also pretty major, listed here for reference:

  • Inspiration and downtime rules.
  • Each background comes with random Trait/Ideal/Bond/Flaw table.
  • Proficiency bonus starts at +2 and increases to +6.
  • Most extra actions will spend your 'bonus action,' which is limited to once on your turn. Examples include off hand attack, healing word, rogue's fast hand, or control of dancing light.
  • Basic D&D only includes the four main races and four main classes.
  • Bard is a full caster (but not included in Basic) and has a new inspiration feature instead of bardic performance.
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In the combat bullet it might be useful to specify that the ranged attacker is engaged in melee as opposed to shooting into a melee –  HESH Sep 16 at 3:55

Racial Bonuses are Larger

All Races (except Humans) receive +2 to one stat and another +1 to another stat (with one dwarf subrace getting a +2. This is in contrast to the final playtest where all races received either two separate stat boosts of +1 or a single stat boost of +2. The exceptions then being the Half-Orc receiving a +2 and a +1 and Humans again.

The Inspiration System

Only recently revealed in the WOTC Twitch Livestream, the mechanics of rewarding players with Inspiration for roleplaying their Flaws, Traits, Bonds & Ideals as a resource was new with Basic.

Personality and Background are suggested to be tied together

In Basic Flaws, Traits, Bonds & Ideals are tied to the background a player chooses for their character. These can either be rolled or selected.

The Biggest Changes are Optional Rules

Highlighted in light green at the end of their respective sections, some with the moniker "Variant." These choices were not foreshadowed or hinted at beyond vague mentions about 5e being a modular system. Expectations were that this modularity would not really show up till the PHB's release or later in the DMG. Doubtless larger options are to come, but these smaller ones were unexpected. Some examples:

Variant Human Traits


Exhaustion

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From my reading, Ideals, Bonds and Flaws aren't necessarily tied to Background. "Each background presented later in this chapter includes suggested characteristics that you can use to spark your imagination. You're not bound to those options, but they're a good starting point." (p. 35) –  Tablesalt Jul 3 at 23:57
    
@tablesalt edited to show suggestion vs requirement –  Joshua Aslan Smith Jul 4 at 0:09
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Exhaustion has been in a sidebar since playtest documents, its movement from environmental hazard section to general condition section seems to make it non-optional for me? –  Sheepy Jul 5 at 3:18
    
Didn't the final playtest version still have the bonus dice for fighters that could be spent to perform appropriate class-based tricks? I didn't see anything like that in the final basic set. –  Aviose Jul 11 at 17:59
    
@Robert I believe that was for a different subclass, so we don't know if it's going to be there for the WeaponMaster or not. –  GMNoob Jul 15 at 8:31

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