Let’s party like its 1999 – 5th Edition reflections

It has been just over 2 years since 5th Edition D&D came out, and I thought I would share my impressions of it.

The Good

  1. The advantage system is great – it really makes it so much easier to run. Instead of calculating modifiers, you just say “take advantage on the roll” (or disadvantage, of course).
  2. It really has the feeling of a modernised AD&D (hence the title of this blog post).
  3. Its easy to convert classic D&D modules (and you can buy PDFs of these online at Drivethru). The most difficult part are classed characters who don’t fit into the archetypes at the back of the Monster Manual. For example, I am converting Dragon Mountain at the moment, and I had to provide stats for a Paladin. I just modified a Knight. You can even convert on the fly, once you get used to it (and 1st/2nd edition monster numbers seem to work most of the time). I did this for a lot of Night Below.
  4. Some of the adventures are very good (Lost Mines, Out of the Abyss, Princes of the Apocalypse, Storm King’s Thunder I have played or read, and Curse of Strahd by all accounts is good too).
  5. The rules are pretty simple – I have gone whole sessions just referring to the Monster Manual.
  6. Backgrounds. An excellent and flavourful idea 🙂
  7. Basic rules available for free!

The Bad

  1. Some of the adventures are very bad (the two Tiamat ones for example).
  2. It can be hard tracking background personality, bonds, ideals and flaws for the inspiration mechanic
  3. Some of the monsters can be a bit “samey” in play.
  4. Casters are still supreme (but not as much as in 3.x and Pathfinder).

The ugly

  1. Slow release schedule – this is both a downside and an upside, to be honest. Supplement bloat can cause unforeseen synergy issues, but its always nice to see new options :-).
  2. Bloody Forgotten Bloody Realms. Although its easy enough to run in other campaign worlds, especially Greyhawk.

GMing the Pathfinder Starter Set

On Monday I ran the Pathfinder Starter Set with 4 players new to RPGs, and I had a blast (and it seems they did too!). We were using the adventure in the box, and the four ‘iconic’ characters (Fighter (Mark), Wizard (Bruce), Rogue (Adam H) and Cleric(Adam N)).

It didn’t start well – two Goblins got the drop on the party and attacked the Wizard and the Cleric. One was dispatched quickly, but the other was obviously a super Goblin, as it survived three rounds, before being downed by a Ray of Frost from the Wizard.

But things improved (although Bruce’s Wizard seemed to think he was a Rogue at times and got himself into several scrapes), and in the final show down against the ‘big bad’ of the dungeon was successful (although the Wizard and Rogue were both dying at one point, and were saved by the Fighter with a magical sword he found earlier).

As I said, it was fun for me (and different to run Pathfinder for a new group), and the players seemed to enjoy it. I was amazed how fast they slipped into the ‘architypical’ roles – the Rogue palming treasure etc.

I am looking forward to the next session!