Sunday, July 20, 2014

Thoughts on 5E

I downloaded the PDF of the free 5th Edition rules of Dungeons and Dragons and had a gander. I had played a Ravenloft adventure of D&D Next at the UK Games Expo and it felt like a solid alternative implementation of D&D 3.X with lower numerical ranges and fewer, but more complex feats.

The Starter Set that's out looks pretty... plain. 2 small booklets that - if it had been a bit more fancy with bits you could use after you have the 3 Core books I might've parted with the £10. However 5E is not revolutionary enough to persuade me to part with any bucks unless I get into a game. This is what I said about 4E though, and resulted in me buying 0 books from that range.

Thoughts on the free PDF though are:-
  • No feats are included as of version 0.1?! I've not followed the crunch enough  but don't you need those to generate characters?
  • I like that they've brought back references to Greyhawk, Dragonlance, Ravenloft and I guess Forgotten Realms. If they resurrect some of the old campaigns that might persuade me to buy the core books and settings.
  • I also don't mind that Realms is the default setting now, as it makes them less likely to screw over Greyhawk/Ravenloft/any other setting I actually give two hoots about in the way 4E already seems to have done with the Realms, so much so that they've had to do a massive retcon for 5E already.
  • I like the character sheets and the backgrounds  - it actually encourages roleplaying as opposed to min/maxing and reminds me of 2E's kits, as opposed to prestige classes in 3E which were too crunchy and high-level play to be of much use initially.
  • Paragraphs on allowing you to play transgendered and non-heterosexual characters has been hailed as a triumph for political correctness, wonderfulness and equality on Now, being politically incorrect I don't see the big deal - I tend to avoid such issues in gaming, since I play for fun and escapism and these issues smack of too much real life. I am happy to play with all and sundry and I would have said its always been your game - so including these aspects has always been a DM/player call. I should also ask the indelicate question - wouldn't most transgender roleplayers simply prefer to play as the gender they identify as and not be treated differently? Sexuality on the other hand is no big deal either in RPGs since it only crops up infrequently in most D&D games.
  • I'm not so keen that tieflings are still a core race, as opposed to a race introduced in a setting where they make sense, such as Planescape or wherever. Obviously half-demon types with horns and tales don't strike me as being suitably generic enough to fit into any generic medieval campaign setting. I hope Dragonborn and Teleporting-Not-Elves don't make it into the core PHB, while gnomes, bards and such like do.
The artwork is pretty generic looking, though not as terrible CGI as some of the 3E/4E covers I saw. For me my favourite cover is the original 2E PHB, back when they were comfortable that core D&D's roots was in western medieval Europe and the art reflected it. Compared to games like Esteren and LotFP the artwork is far too safe and politically correct.

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