Dungeons and Dragon’s 5th Edition: An Addict’s Tale


Once again we find another edition of Dungeons and Dragons in the quivering sweaty palms of the Dungeon Master. I’ve been around for a while, I started with 1st Edition and since then I have adopted, and moved to, each edition of D&D regardless of the stigma that was attached to each. I’m looking at you 4e, yeah you. I have been a staunch supporter of TSR and after that Wizards of the Coast for years. 4th Edition was fun, it had its flaws but so does every system. 5th edition has absolutely won my heart over. It’s hard to describe the feeling of nostalgia when faced with the beautiful new art direction. From cover to cover the artwork feels fluid, more than it has ever felt and in a sense it feels more real. That sounds strange but I got a twinge of giddiness when I was turning the page (especially the equipment section) just to peruse the look and feel of the book. The chapter layouts make sense with the introductions in the front set out to give you a basic history of the game and the core concepts of role-playing games in general. Overall I give the aesthetics of the book my hat, not just tipping it but take the damn thing it’s yours!

Moving on to the individual sections the example of how to build a character is well placed and well written, even someone new to the game would have no problem following along. Stats have the same familiar feel as before (Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma) with the same +1 bonus for every two points above 10 and -1 for every two points below 10. Easy enough. Attacks, Skills and Saves have all been simplified without subtracting the meat of the system. Everything you do is tied to a statistic. Roll and add your ability modifier and if you’re proficient in that action you add your proficiency bonus (which scales to your level) to the roll. So your attacks are 1d2o+Mod+Bonus+Anything else. Melee attacks are 1d20+STR Mod+Proficiency, Ranged attacks are 1d20+DEX Mod+Proficiency and so on and so forth. Gone are the clunky mechanics of having proficiency modifiers by weapons or miscellaneous weird bonuses to add up. Skills work the same way. If you are proficient with a skill it uses the same formula, if you are not proficient with the skill you just roll an ability check. Much easier than any other edition with skills. I’m sold. Saving throws follow a similar vein, even with the proficiency modifiers and honestly you don’t get any more simple than that.

The races feel more simple and to the point. A large amount of the unneeded fluff has been removed but in a good way. All of the basic information you need is there along with a few tidbits covering some of the different worlds that D&D encompasses. The base races all have a primary set of abilities and a secondary set that goes with your sub-race. Elves are a good example. You get a basic array of stats then choose a sub-race (High, Wild, Drow, etc) that subrace gives you a few more abilities as well. Simple, no changing stats or level adjustments needed.

Classes are much-improved but there is way too much for me to get in to in such a simple review (that’s what I aim for!). Every class has its place and they all feel powerful enough without being overpowered compared to other classes. Every class has several roles and options you can adopt. No more oddball prestige classes or themes to follow. You choose your class, pick your options and elect your archetype at 3rd level. The flavor is there, it’s just easier to taste without overpowering your senses. Everything flows properly. I went from page to page without stopping to scratch my head once. When you’ve chosen your class you then choose your background and while 4e did make your background somewhat significant, 5e makes it useful. You get skills, equipment and abilities to use depending on what you choose.

Your character’s alignment, beliefs, goals and other driving aspects are important in this edition too. The emphasis on role-playing is there watching you roll your character and nodding approvingly; and here’s why. In this edition you get an addition d20 roll for either having advantages or disadvantages. You roll two d20s for either and take the highest for advantage or lowest for a disadvantage. Why is that important? Inspiration! Your dungeon master (or another player that has been awarded inspiration) can give you a spare d20 to hold on to that can be used as an advantage later on. This award comes from using your character’s background and driving forces to guide your role-playing. That’s a damn nice incentive to get someone to play their character instead of metagame.

And the feats, oh the feats! You feats are no longer just little tidbits you may use from time to time. Feats are now more like defining attributes. Feats have been expanded to the point of adding significant advantages to your character’s attributes and rolls. Every feat has a benefit for almost every class. There are no useless feats here. I have not experienced that before, I was pleasantly astounded the first time I read through the feats.

Combat rules have been simplified down to the basics. You have a move action and an attack action on your turn. You can even break up actions and use them partially! If you have a 30ft movement speed you can move 15ft, attack, then move 15 more feet. If you have two movement modes you can move, attack, and keep moving using both movement modes. If you have multiple attacks or bonus actions you can choose how and when to use them. Combat has never felt so mobile and realistic but simple at the same time. Your conditions have changed a little but nothing is overtly clunky or complicated. This is the first edition that I can safely say I understand the grappling rules. That’s huge! Bonuses are usually granted in the form of advantage or disadvantage with some exceptions for things like cover. Again, fluid. Resting takes on the form of short rests (for spending hit dice and healing) and extended rests which work just like you would imagine.

Spellcasting has been much-improved. Every class has its own role and spells are usable more often but not in a way that breaks the game. Cantrips are actually worth using now. Your spell attacks, again, are as simple as your basic attacks. Now admittedly I did not read every spell, that would have taken forever, but I did browse through and pick a few favorites. I found no disappointing or useless spells in my first perusal.

Bottom line: Buy it, even if you are a subscriber to the edition wars give it a chance. It feels like old school gaming wrapped up in a pretty new package. The question I’ve been asked is ‘Why would I do that if I can just use my old school books?’. My answer is the same. This edition is worth it. The art is amazing, the rules are much simpler (by the gods THAC0 was TERRIBLE) and it is well written with good, solid community feedback invested in it. Lose your THAC0 good sir (or madam) and adopt this edition!

Better yet, you can get the basic rules for FREE. There’s no amount of bitching that can top that:
D&D 5e Basic Rules

~ by lordnightwinter on August 22, 2014.

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