D&D 5th Edition

We have release dates.

July 15 - Starter Set
August 19 - PHB and first module (Horde of the Dragon Queen, which does not sound like the name of a 1st level module)
September 30 - Monster Manual
October 21 - Module: The Rise of Tiamat (what level are we supposed to have gotten to in two months?)
November 19- DMG

It appears they’ve stopped avoiding calling it 5th Edition. My last playtest packet was over two years ago, but as I recall it was an awful lot like 3rd edition, only with the options kind of scrambled. There was one rule replacing multishot that basically gave you the option to fire two arrows for half damage each, which my own hasty math suggested was disadvantageous to use unless you were just trying to thin out mooks with low defense and low hit points. Also, they didn’t have any bard.

I didn’t even deign to look at 4th edition until a bard class was available, but I understand that not everybody is that picky. Really, just the fact that bards were dropped for warlords and gnomes were dropped for tieflings suggested that they were going after a very different core audience. I mean, why not just add sparkly vampires to the list of races and be done with it? But what little I’ve found about the 5th edition bard suggests that it’s going to be more of a spellcaster class than a jack-of-all-trades class, which is a bit of a disappointment. I mean, the complaint was often that they were never very powerful at the areas they dabbled in, but I never found a problem taking advantage of their flexibility.

Currently, I’m deep into a HackMaster campaign, so I don’t know when I’d even play, but I suppose I can get the Starter Set coming out in July to get a better idea of what the new rules will be like. Apparently, this will not come with character generation rules, but the excerpt from the PHB that contains these will be made available online. And maybe there’ll be an online chargen.

Seems like it would be hard pressed to compete with Pathfinder even now. The playtest materials for D&D Next suggested a system much more like 3rd edition, in that it was going to be less of an elaborately crafted modular board game and more like an RPG. But I’m wary of this Lore business. Is it just another word for Skills? The skill system even in Pathfinder could have used more streamlining, but I fear what we’ll actually get is some dumbing down.

What I heard was that Pathfinder outsold 4th ed 4 to 1, so I’ll be interested in how the gaming community receives 5th ed.

I ran a one-off session using the playtest packet. It’s poised to be my favorite edition of the game so we’ll see how it goes when it officially releases.

The DMG is coming out three months after the PHB? How does that make sense?

I seem to recall that D&D 3e was staggered in such a way, and then 3.5 was not. Back then my understanding was that with 3e it gave them a product to sell but allowed them to finish one book at a time. But with 3.5 they were already selling product and so could get all three of the core books ready at the same time. As for 5e, EnWorld has the official answer:

Also, I notice that these modules are set in the Forgotten Realms. So, they finally decided to quit pretending that Forgotten Realms was not the default campaign setting? It’s about time. I mean, I don’t dislike Greyhawk or Eberron, but Forgotten Realms has a wealth of novels and video games behind it. But, um, didn’t I hear years ago that the plan was to basically nuke the Forgotten Realms? I never did follow up on that.

They kinda did. Without going into the details, they did what they’ve been doing for quite a while and nuked the setting to make it (to be utterly blunt) dark and edgy. Most of the gods were wiped out*, then I think a lot of them just came back as they realized the setting was a lot less interesting without them. It basically turned into The Emo Realms there for a while. They wiped out about two dozen nations to jump the game into 4th edition… So… yeah.

Honestly, it seems like the more they try to push FR, the worse it becomes. It was rather fun and traditionalist back before they turned it into a cash-cow. A cash-cow they’ve basically been milking so long all that comes out is a black, ichorous sludge as the boor beast pleads in whisper, “killllll meeeeee…” with each agonizing shudder.

(*At this point, I think that being a God in FR is usually a net loss on your lifespan.)

Played 5e once, about a year ago, was not impressed. The whole Advantage/Disadvantage thing seemed really stupid. Hopefully it has gotten better, but I don’t see any enthusiasm for it in my LFR group. Our Encounters group stopped playing the Encounters Seasons and have started going through the Giants series. In fact, we’ll be starting the Stone Giant one tonight.

With you on the Bard thing, Johnny Angel. Always been my favorite class. Playing my now 16th level 4e Bard tonight. I occasionally get some pushback on crowing on my character, but as I pointed out last time: He’s a skill monkey and an awesome healer, and that’s it. I’ve spent all his resources to be that. He isn’t an awesome combatant, but he is the guy who can step up and turn the tide of battle by healing the entire party at once.

I’m very much hoping Bards will rock 5e too. As I said, I’m not enthused about the version so far, but I’ve been playing D&D for 36 years, so I expect I’ll be playing it too.

I’m running a campaign now with the playtest materials. The system is, in my opinion, by far the best D&D system.

The Advantage/Disadvantage system is very fun during play. They have fixed the power distortion that happens at higher levels with a very clever system of level based bonuses. Most importantly, it erases the “you are your magic items” problem of previous editions.

The classes are interesting. There is a background system that helps differentiate characters.

Because of the flattening of the attack bonuses, low level monsters are still a moderate threat for higher level characters. In a sixth level battle, a few 2nd level creatures added made it a lot more exciting.

There are specific things I’d change, like Web is a bit overpowered for a second level spell.

I’m excited to see the final books.

Odd–I’ve been coming up with backgrounds for my characters for years. Didn’t realize I needed a “system” to be able to do this.

In general, everything after 3.5e seems to be doing its best to change D&D into a video game and shift as much emphasis as possible onto combat and away from roleplaying. I understand why they’re doing it, but it’s not for me.

5th Edition seems to be more 3rd than 3rd was. It’s 3rd Edition refined into its purest form. I mean they’re even encouraging players to run combat gridlessly in 5th. Your opinion seems to be based on 4th Edition, which this is very unlike.

“3rd edition in it’s purest form” and “gridless combat” sounds like an oxymoron to me.

Well, we can hope. And yes, my opinion was based on 4e, and the entire concept of having a “system” for backgrounds (which seemed like a very 4e thing to do). If they move away from that, maybe I’ll give it a look in a year or so.

I can see why you’d look at 4e as being a move toward computer-game-like mechanics. But it seems to me that game would pretty much have to be turn-based, which is not what video game developers are looking for these days. I mean, sure, you can have abilities like in Diablo 3 that are waiting to refresh. But 4e involves a lot of manipulation for position on a map grid, which cannot be done in a twitchy game.

Odd, I assumed that people reading what I said could engage reasonably without being snippy.

That said, the background system allows you to customize the skills the character knows, along with some game-world benefits. Like the Commoner can go to ground and lose himself among the plebs, if he’s being hunted. Or the Noble has three non-combatant retainers.

You should read the rules and see for yourself. 5e is a fine system for roleplaying, and not in the least the board game that 4e was.

It was difficult to run 3rd without a map, but you could do it. It was impossible to run 4th without a map. Or at least, it rendered half your abilities useless.

5th has simplified attack of opportunity rules that make it a bit easier to not use a map. I only use one if the battleground is interesting.

You should try playing it and you’d see what I mean.

I playtested it two years ago and was not happy with it. Maybe if this had come out instead of 4E, I might be more interested in it. But I went with PF and have been happy about that.

I’m sure it has changed a lot since then but the version I played, I didn’t like and it really turned me off of it. I didn’t like the advantage/disadvantage system because it felt to me that they were going for simple and made it too simple. The fact that it can apply to any die roll does not appeal to me.

As I type this and think about it, though, it’s because I started in 1E, went to 2E and got into the “does the ring of protection stack with bracers and the cloak” and 3E answered this very well.

Having said that, I have really liked the ideas that WotC has put into 4E and now 5E. I liked that starting characters in 4E felt like heroes. I liked that they finally embraced that DND played different across levels, hence the tiers of 4E. Finally, I do appreciate that it seems as if monsters in 5E remain a threat for a lot longer.

It still didn’t come together for me as well as PF has. But that’s me.

Personally, I think that “characters start off as heroes” is a bug, not a feature. The whole point of the game is becoming heroes. Similarly, the insistence in 4E of making everything level-appropriate effectively means there ends up being only one level: If the entire world advances with you, then you’re not really advancing at all. You miss out on that transition from “Oh no, six goblins, that’s too many, run away!” to “What, only 600 goblins? Blam blam blam Let me know if there’s a real challenge.”.

I agree with all of this. Role-playing is a story and stories are supposed to have beginnings.

This is one of the issues I’ve had with fantasy MMORPGs that aren’t World of Warcraft. WoW retains the old D&D idea (and heck, it’s not just D&D, it’s the whole history of fantasy literature: the ordinary, common person who develops into the hero over time).

The other fantasy MMOs I’ve tried out (Aion, Rift, and … another one I can’t remember now) all started your character out with the idea that you were, in the recent past, some sort of major hero. Then something happened and you lost your memories and got slapped back to level 1. Then the whole game is about you trying to get back to the being the major hero that you used to be.