Monday, August 18, 2014

Gen Con 2014 in Review. Part 1: D&D is back

Well another Gen Con is behind us.  Once again I ate more than I should, stayed up later and spent more money than I really should have.

D&D is Back!
I ended up play about 28 hours worth of D&D 5 over the con.  Ran most of that time and played for about 4 hours with 2 different DMs.
This is not the best version of D&D ever, but it is really, really damn close.  It plays and reads like a D&D "Greatest Hits" and you can see bits of not just every version of D&D in it, but little bits of Pathfinder and Castles & Crusades.  As I read somewhere else, every game has been stealing from D&D for so long that it was D&D's turn to steal some of it back.

I ran the end of "B2 Keep on the Borderlands" and all of "L1 The Secret of Bone Hill".  D&D 5 scales very well with the 1st Ed adventures and thanks to all the free stuff that WotC is throwing at us I was able to get D&D 5 stats for every monster in both modules.  We even had a guy join us that wanted to try D&D 5 and had played 2nd ed almost exclusively.  I think we made him into a D&D 5 fan by the end of the night.

At first I thought I would dislike the new faster XP progression but it really works nice.  While the former math teacher in me likes the nice progression from 3rd ed I think this new progression will work better.
Besides, the XP are 1/10 of what you saw in AD&D1 anyway.

Playing in the J.W. Marriott's "Open Gaming" room. 

The great thing about running the Keep on the Borderlands under AD&D and then again under D&D5 was I really got to get a good feel of both games in the same environment.  Trust me, if you liked AD&D then you should like D&D5, though everything in "5" runs faster.

I love the Backgrounds and the Archetypes.  The Backgrounds work better than what you have in Pathfinder (and can EASILY be ported over to any other system) and give you a good feel for what your character was before he/she was an adventurer; or something I like to refer to as the "Luke Skywalker".  Before Luke was a pilot or a Jedi he was a Farm Boy.  How does this translate, well he did target all those wamp rats back home.  Sure it feels a little "FATEy" but that is great.

Archetypes are the return of 2nd Ed kits, only reigned in.  Kits stopped being useful to me after the Complete Book of Bards was published and each and every kit in there was over powered.  In D&D5 they seem more reasonable.  In my group we had two Rogues, one was the Thief the other was the Assassin.  They were able to help each other out when needed but also had their own roles to play.

Multi-classing is of the 3.x variety (yeah!) and if anything easier to do.

The Wizard, Sorcerer and Warlock now all feel very different from each other.  So you can see some of 5's 4e DNA here.

I know people complain about the price of the books. Well I got in 28 hours of play and 6 more of enjoyment (reading, making characters) so far.  That's 34 hours of fun I had with my family.  Compare that to going to the movies which runs me (just tickets here) $36-40 per two hours. That's $1240.00+.  Frankly D&D5 is a steal.   Plus my wife enjoy it so much she wants us all to play a couple of hours each week!  Honestly I can't even put a price on that.

I also think, though I have not tried it yet, that D&D5 could run 3rd and 4th ed material too.  I might have to give that a go.

On an interesting note we played D&D 5 at the Wizard's area as well.  We had a WotC DM.  In the past I have less than stellar luck with this and most of the DMs were not very good.  I am happy to report that our DM was fantastic.  She let use our current characters, was great with teaching the rules and was all around a good DM.   In fact everyone I dealt with, talked to or otherwise interacted with at WotC were fantastic.

Does this mean I am done with "old school" D&D?  Hardly.  But it does mean my system of choice when it comes to D&D will be D&D5 for a while anyway.

Is it a perfect system?  No.  There are still some things I would have done differently.  But when I read the rules and I keep 99% of them intact, that is a good sign.
Hell. I am not even sure I do that with Ghosts of Albion and I *wrote* all of those rules.

Pathfinder Note
I still enjoy 3e and Pathfinder. In fact I still have a game of it going that I want to wrap up.
I had planned on picking up the Pathfinder Advanced Class Guide at the con.  I like to buy some games directly from the publisher at Gen Con since I know how much they look forward to these sales.
Well one of the Paizo employees was so rude to my son while he was looking at one of the goblin things that I decided I really didn't need to buy anything.
I am not making a big deal of this.
But it has turned me off from getting the book to be honest.

They in no way what-so-ever missed my money. But the contrast between how WotC treated my kids and how Paizo did really stuck with me.

Next update. I'll talk about all the other things I did. Plus my first time at the ENnies (short story, I lost, but still had a great time!). Oh and pictures.  All of them are on my wife's phone though.


Rich Howard said...

Still bummed we missed each other, but it sounds like we each had a very different con (both Awesome, though, apparently). Let's catch up soon.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Gen Con is just freaking huge. I only ran into about a quarter of the people I wanted to see.

Stelios V. Perdios said...

What? The Complete Book of Bards was the best of the series.

(Well, okay, the Blade was a bit overpowered since it could scare off fighters with its "whirling blade" maneuver).

Glad you had fun at Gen Con.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

The Blade was the one I was thinking about. And the NPC they detailed with it was a walking cliché.

Scott Anderson said...

Gaming books are a huge bargain. Even if you never properly play the games, the hours of perusing and good ideas (and bad ideas!) enrich you.

The backgrounds are great. I'm less thrilled by the arhetypes but they are good.

Adam Lane said...

Sounds like you had a great time with 5e. Looking forward to part 2.

jdh417 said...

Yeah, great review, also looking forward to more.

HauntedCity said...

That's a shame about Paizo! We actually made 3 different visits to their booth, because my daughters needed stuffed goblins. My 5 year old daughter thinks they're cute! All of the folks in their booth were great and very friendly to us. It sucks when one bad apple spoils it.

I also appreciated the Pathfinder Kids' Tracks. I wish Wizards did something similar.