Saturday, September 6, 2014

Thinking About D&D 5th Edition

So, I downloaded the free PDF of the D&D Basic Rules for 5E and read through it.  I was skeptical about this new version of D&D and I did not participate or read about any of the play-testing, so I was curious about how it all turned out.  I like what I see, especially that combat has been stripped down and using a grid is optional.

One of my gripes about Pathfinder is the tactical miniatures play and how long it takes to get through a combat encounter.  Things really slow down because players spend so much time optimizing their position on the board for the best combat advantage and reducing their risk (I'm looking at you Attacks of Oppurtunity!).  It's almost like playing chess sometimes and I don't like my role-playing games devolving into a board game.  But given that the combat section discusses movement and some class abilities trigger when allies or enemies are withing 5 feet of you, I wonder if the game can truly be played gridless?

A lot of people out there in the blog-o-verse are playing 5E and the general consensus is that they are liking the game and it is fun to play.  Sure, it has its faults, but I think those are easily remedied with house-rules.  I'm enjoying reading other people's play-reports to see how the game runs.

A friend of mine let me borrow copy of the new Players Handbook to read.  There looks like some good stuff in it.  I'm not sure about the Feats.  If I were to run a game, I would want to keep it as simple and fast to play as possible.  Once you start introducing more options, it can start to drag things down.  Those fighter archetypes of Eldritch Knight and Battle Master (4E's Warlord) I was disappointed by.  You would think that Wizards could have come up with better archetypes for the fighter instead of using it for a vehicle to shoe-horn in previous edition Prestige Classes and Classes as a sub-class.  Some of the other classes suffer from this as well, such as the Rogue's Arcane Trickster archetype.  I never really liked the Warlock class.  Why introduce yet another arcane spell-using class?  What, the Wizard is no longer viable anymore? 

Frankly, I think sticking with the Basic Rules and using the Backgrounds to flesh out the character is good enough than adding more classes.  Want to play a Ranger?  Pick a Fighter and take the Outsider Background.  Play a Bard?  Pick the Rogue and the Entertainer background. Done and Done.

I may post more thoughts on 5E in another post. 


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  2. I feel some sympathy when it comes to proliferation of magic based classes. And my gut reaction to any new magic class (especially one that combines mundane class + magic!) is, "Ugh, another one?"

    I was even skeptical of Warlocks in 3.5, seeing them as just an excuse to use blasting magic all the time.

    But on reflection, and especially as portrayed in 5E, I kind of see the point. In fact I think they chose pretty well with the base classes: Each class covers a particular source of power that is relatively unlike the others enough to warrant a different method of modeling:

    Clerics - Power from an sentient outside source, as devoted servants (archetypes?) of that source.

    Sorcerers - Power from an innate source. Part of their very being. This has some overlap with Psionics themes maybe (if 5E psionics ever gets published), but sorcery seems more about heritage and psionics more about than training.

    Warlocks - Power from an outside source (sentient or not) through bargaining or special arrangement. Almost overlaps Clerical magic, but not necessarily the same loyalty to the source required.

    Wizards - Manipulation of external forces in a more mechanistic way.

    Not necessarily saying every means these have been implemented is perfect, but I can kind of see where they're coming from with the differentiation.