I can remember sitting down to play my 1st game of Dungeons and Dragons. ..
(overdubbed deep voice here) Previously on GameMasters.com…
“back in 9th grade. That was around the year… 1988 I think. I was at a friends house, his brother was the Dungeon Master. This was back when Dungeons and Dragons was still D&D. Way before Advanced D&D.. We spent a good 2 hours rolling up our characters, and must have played 4 hours before we died and called it a night.. I was a thief (yeah they were called thief back then, not this friendly term, Rogue), and had run across a locked chest. I snuck into the room without any party members seeing me and thought I had found a trap on the chest, thought I had disarmed the trap, opened the chest and..
“Make a roll.”
“Okay, I rolled a 5.”
“You are dead.”
“You saw your life flash before you, you died.”
I was in love with the game ever since.”
In February of 2009 I had just picked up the Dungeons and Dragons 4.0 books. D&D 4.0 had actually come out in 2008 but I was reluctant to get into it. I was still having loads of fun with 3.0 that had been released 8 years prior (that would be the year 2000 according to my calculator). Before then I was kicking ass with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and that’s what I knew best. But when 3.0 came out, along with it was this new thing called ‘The D20 System’. Oh and it was cool. Away went THAC0, in came all kinds of neat ability checks. Yeah, Armor Class got a little wonky and backwards but we learned it’s new workings and we had fun.
Okay so then I made the change to 4th Edition. There really wasn’t much of a change in the mechanics really. It still utilized the D20 System and I really didn’t see much of a use for 4th Edition over 3rd (or 3.5 for that matter). Yeah, some rules were cleared up a fair amount, things were streamlined except combat.. combat got a bit more lengthy. 4th Edition wasn’t all bad, I just had a hard time delving into it’s innards.
However… four years ago I started hearing hushed rumors in the darkened corners of the Realm that a new edition of Dungeons and Dragons was being considered. I dismissed it at the time figuring that it was that hard-core group of adventurers that were stuck in their old Advanced D&D ways. I realized that I may have been one of those adventurers, only stuck in 3.0.
I’ve always been the Dungeon Master (or Game Master) and as such I’ve always come up with house rules. I took the features that I liked best of all the different editions and mish-mashed them all together and came up with something that flowed VERY nicely and very fast. Hell, I can recall a point when I had 23 players in 1 group! You would think that combat would last forever, but rarely did it ever take more than 10 minutes and every person usually got to participate in the battle. As for story telling.. consider your average episode of The Walking Dead. You have 3 groups of characters that they flash back and forth with, keeping you hooked on the previous one’s tale while they jump into the next group’s story. That’s exactly how I ran my games.
Okay, so now that the picture has been painted, what the hell am I talking about?
Four years ago I heard about Dungeons & Dragons Next. D&D 5.0
Excited I became, not because I was burned out on 4.0 or even 3.0 but because I had come to embrace change. I actually thirsted for a change in my adventures.
Over the next three years I participated in a couple of.. eh.. how would you say this.. “beta” tests? I think that sums it up, beta tests of this D&D Next. It was still heavily based in the D20 System, but there was certainly something new and fresh to it. I’ll be honest, in what I’ve gone over with the new Player’s Handbook, things are quite a bit different than what I play tested a few years back.
I’m just now starting to scratch the surface on this new Player’s Handbook so many of the mechanics I’m not 100% familiar with yet. I’d love to give you some side by side comparisons from edition to edition, but just to keep this review short, I’ll make that comparison in a future post.
For now, I’ll simply say this:
If you have played Dungeons & Dragons in the past, regardless of the edition, then you will most certainly want to check this 5.0 Edition out. If you have played other RPGs, I don’t care if it’s another pen and paper rpg or a computer rpg or a console rpg, you will want to check this 5.0 Edition out.
The Player’s Handbook is a high quality book with everything you need to get started in a grand adventure.
We also have in the Monster Manual and Hoard of the Dragon Queen (an adventure designed for characters between the levels of 1 and 7).
As of now the Dungeon Master’s Guide is not out. According to a press release by Wizards of the Coast, it originally was set to be released in mid November, however it has been moved to mid December. The reason given was to include a bit more content and to provide the best possible product that they could. I, for one, am happy that they are doing this. I’d rather Wizards take a little extra time to put a good polish on a good book rather than simply shipping it out just to grab a few dimes.
On the surface, these books include outstanding artwork. Within, everything is broken down into nice bite sized chunks that’s easy to digest. It looks like many things have been scaled down a fair amount in regards to combat. As for races and classes, there are oh so many more choices now to start off with.
Level is capped at 20 (it takes 355,000 exp points to attain level 20 now, as opposed to 190,000 for 20th in 3rd Edition or the variable exp points per level that was found in AD&D). That’s not a bad thing really. I’ve played in many a game where the point was to gain as many levels as fast as you could. Yes, there is something in that, but often times I found that the story was lost in the process.
Things in D&D 5.0 seem a bit more.. tame. I’m not giving it that word to be nasty, I certainly don’t intend for that to come across as meaning that 5.0 is boring. Far from it. When I say tame, I mean that in previous editions there was an element of chaos in learning the rules. I’m not finding that chaos here. Everything seems very straight forward and everything, so far, is making sense (mechanic wise).
I can’t wait for the DMG to be released because I know that’s going to be my continued roll with this game. However, until then, you’ll be able to find me rolling my weighted D6s and making up a new character. What? You didn’t know that Dungeon Masters cheat?
I’m not done with this Monster Manual either. Not by a long shot. Give me a monster from a previous edition and I’ll do my best to give you a side by side comparison between what it was back then and what it is and can do in 5.0. The Tarrasque was always among my favorites… What would you like to see compared?
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