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Monday, September 1, 2014

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition

The new edition of dungeons and dragons is making its way to gaming tables everywhere. As with many, I was skeptical but optimistic that the game I cut my gaming teeth on would once again be played at my table.

I started with the first edition of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. I was the GM for my group through the second edition (after a while we just mixed and matched books of both 1st and 2nd) and into the very early stages of the 3rd edition of the game, but stopped playing it well before 3.5 hit the market. I gave 4th edition a try, but did not find 4th to be to my taste. It wasn't that I didn't like 4th, It was just more system than I was interesting in running.

I was fairly active in the D&D Next playtest and feedback process.  When the free Basic rules came out I was pleased that so much of what I liked from the playtest made its way into the final product. I downloaded and printed out the basic rules and started up a game. My players found the rules to be really intuitive and fast playing. In the first few games it was apparent that Hit points and Armor class play slightly different roles in this new edition. 

Armor class is now strictly a measure of the protection that armor and high dexterity afford a character. No longer scaling with level or training. Hit Points on the other hand have always been more an abstract pool of health, luck, training and endurance, but mostly health. Now I would say its mostly endurance and training. Healing and Hit Points are much higher in this edition, But so are the monsters Hit point totals. 

I figured with the higher Hit Point totals, easy access of healing, and non-scaling Armor Classes that players would simply walk all over the creatures in the game. Six sessions since basic set of rules came out and at least one player per game has been on the brink of death at some point. It would seem that monsters in this edition hit fairly hard, And because of non-scaling Armor classes they hit fairly constantly.

Skill rolls, Saving throws, and most other rolls in the new edition boil down to an attribute roll. A d20 roll adding ability modifier trying to beat a difficulty. If your proficient you add a scaling proficiency bonus to your roll. If you have the upper hand in a situation you are said to have advantage, if some one or something gets the upper hand on you your disadvantaged. When having advantage you roll two die and take the higher of the two. When disadvantaged you take the lower of the rolls. That is 90% (or better) of the rules right there.

After a few sessions the starter set came out and we got to see more of the basic game. I was even more impressed with the monster stats and how adding to the basic rules didn't complicate the game or make it any more cumbersome. I have the Player's handbook (two copies actually) in hand now, and are about to start our 7th session.

Now that I've had time to look over the Player's handbook I can say I'm sold on this new edition. It hits a sweet spot that is ideal in games I run. The level of character options are many and the system is simple and intuitive. That to me is the perfect combination.

Players have the option of choosing a race, subrace, background, class, and subclass. No two characters ever need to be or look the same. 

Now that I have the Player's handbook I plan to allow my players to make whatever changes they want using all the options in the book. My player who wanted to play a ranger, he built a fighter with Archery as his fighting style. Can now make his character a Ranger instead now.

Another thing I like about the new edition is the players coming up with their own DIY backgrounds, subraces and subclasses. Great to see so many DIYers embracing the game and making it better with their own contributions. 

Our next session will be a players workshop giving players a chance to modify or even remake their characters using all the material on hand. I'm  very exited as the GM to see the choices everyone will make. I love seeing my players get exited about their characters.

All the core books are not even out yet. Looks like the Monster Manuel will not be out till the end of September and DungeonMasters guide will be out in October. Interesting to think my campaign will be 3 months in before the second core book is even out. But we are running with it.

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