Monday, July 7, 2014

D&D 5 Starter and Basic Sets

Well unless you have been living in a cave for the last few days, or on a mini-vacation, the newest game to bear the name "Dungeons & Dragons" hit the stores and the net.

I picked up my Starter Set on Thursday and downloaded the Basic set (book?) the same day.

For starters I am SOOOO glad that "Next" has been dropped.  This is just "D&D".  I am glad about that since it puts it firmly back in the camp of D&D games.  This is not something different or "next" but the game we have been playing all this time.

I have not read much of it to be honest, but what I have read I like.
So far this feels like a "best of" D&D.  Taking the things that worked well from previous editions and bringing them together with some new ideas.

The saving throws are back and make more sense now. Honestly we have seen this in games like Spellcraft & Swordplay and Castles & Crusades.  4e-like conditions are back. I have not seen "bloodied" or anything similar yet, but I am sure something like it is there.

I like the Advantage and Disadvantage mechanic.  In fact it really is a nice addition to any single die game (such as Unisystem's d10). I will have to give it a try in my AD&D 1 game I have going now.

The feel of the game is very much old-school and it has all the trappings of old-school as well.

Box, Books, Dice (or chits) and Adventure.

But yet it also feels unfinished.  I am sure that is intentional; we still need the PHB and DMG to properly run this game.  But in truth I have enough background in all the other games to mentally fill in the gaps.  Plus I can see where things can or might be slotted in.  This is the part where we have 3e like feats, or this is the part where we have 4e style combat or powers.

Personally I am excited for this game in how it will help me run my current games.
It is very much like a Rosetta Stone for translating between editions.  Sure, this is something I did on the fly anyway, but something was always lost to accommodate the system being translated to.  Save or Die sorts of modules are more difficult with the mechanics in 4e.  4e monsters tend to be much more powerful than their 1st ed or 3e counterparts and so on.    This feels like a nice middle ground.

The idea that comes to mind right away is to play the 4e HPE modules using these rules and supplementing the 1st Ed H-series (Bloodstone) for the massive "let's go kill Orcus" game I wanted to do under 4e.   Though I admit I am selfish and don't want to leave 1st ed right now.

But I do rather like the 3e style multiclassing that 5e offers.

The game is not all perfect mind you.  I am not thrilled with the new XP to next level tables.  Frankly 300 xp to level 2 is a bit too little.  I might take a page from Holmes/Moldvay and give XP out for gold and increase the amounts to something closer to 3e.  I think I might have to figure out if there is really a difference between the editions.  I have read somewhere that one of the design goals was to be able to level up faster.  That might be true.

The other thought I had was that this game will displace or replace OSR games or Pathfinder.
I can see this selling better than 4e as word of mouth gets passed around and I can see it doing better than Pathfinder.  But Pathfinder fans are loyal to their brand. Plus D&D 5 is pretty much the opposite of "one true wayism" so people might take it's "play how you like" approach at face value and keep playing what they have been.

I haven't even decided if I am going to switch or not to be honest.


Stan Shinn said...

The 1st and 2nd levels are now considered 'apprentice' levels to help you learn the game. Character starts out uber-simple, then you add a little after 1 session, then a bit more as you level to 3rd level after the second session. So 3rd level is more like 1st level in prior editions. This is all intentional. Having run through this progression with a new player this last weekend, it works great, and is a nice mechanism for new players.

Doctor Futurity said...

Nice overview. I'm going to be very curious to see how Pathfinder holds up over time. My experience with PF over the last few years is that it's a system that is most enjoyed by people who like the nitty gritty elements, the loads of modifiers and various little synergies (for better or worse). However PF has also been the de facto game of choice not because it's the best fit for everyone but because it was the only really viable option....D&D 5E seems to me to hit the sweet spot of design options and ease of use for DMs who (like me) may have tolerated PF but really wanted something else. Depending on how many of us there are, PF could be in for some trouble. I know I'm never running PF again at this point if I can help it....5E does exactly what I want at just the right level of complexity.

Anthony Simeone said...

As has been posted on other blogs, the Basic PDF is not the final version...that will be available in August...or maybe later in the year, as indicated below.

Here's what RPGPundit had to say today, when I asked him about how the Starter box, the Basic PDF, and the upcoming books will interact:

" this moment the "Basic D&D" experience would be the Basic PDF (which you'll note is only version "0.1" + the Starter Set rules).

However, the PHB etc. will not as such be for "fuller experience"; it's not that the goal is to get you to quit the Basic rules for the stuff in the PHB, but rather that the PHB, DMG, and MM will be SUPPLEMENTAL and additional optional material for the D&D rules.

That seems a bit counterintuitive to people who are familiar with the older editions, where the PHB/DMG was the "Core".

But now, the PHB is NOT the Core. The Core D&D rules, the official rules that all supplements will be based on, is going to be the Basic D&D PDF v.1.0, which will be coming out sometime before the end of the year, and will be what replaces the use of the current PDF, and will incorporate any rules from the starter set (or anywhere else) that would be essential for ongoing play."

Anthony Simeone said...

P.S. VERY COOL to see all those boxes together! Nice, thanks for that!

Unknown said...

I 100% agree with you Nicholas. PF was a filler while WotC got their shit together with 5th ED. 4th ED was all kinds of wrong and I refused to even look at it. PF has done well during the dark days of 4th to fill the void and they've keep their fans on the drip very well, but for me D&D was my first game and will always be my first choice of game. From what I've seen and read about 5th so far I am super excited.