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.

The Hexed Gamer is back!

After a couple of years working shifts I am now able to put some effort into my blog…rising like the Phoenix from the ashes.

What am I playing at the moment? I have just started playing in a FFG Star Wars game, where I play a Bothan spy. We are currently caught in the middle of an Imperial invasion…

I am also running a 5e D&D campaign, which started with the Saltmarsh series, then went to Isle of Dread and is has just started Storm King’s Thunder (which is very good). Its amazing how easy it is to convert 1e and 2e modules to 5e. I am planning to run Dragon Mountain next.

Finally, I am running a Pathfinder game set in Ptolus. The party is in the middle of the Banewarrens adventure at the moment, and I plan to run 13th Age next (Eyes of the Stone Thief looks so good). I run this game on Mondays, and don’t work on that day so we can get a lot more sessions in.

I am working on a 5e setting called Greymark at the moment, and hope to put the information in a wiki at some point.

I am also hoping to get more involved with my gaming club to play more board games.

Dungeons and Dragons is 40 years old today (we think)

On 26th January 1974 at 1.40pm EST (7.40pm GMT), E Gary Gygax invited some friends around his house to play a new game. Based on his Chainmail minatures rules, the game used the Man to Man variant of those rules to run adventures in fantasy dungeons, based on the works of Tolkien, Vance, Leiber etc (although Gygax himself disliked the works of JRR Tolkien, he mined it for ideas, especially Elves, Dwarves, Halflings/Hobbit and Balors/Balrogs, to the extent he was threatened with legal action by the Tolkien estate). The infamous Appendix N of the original Dungeon Master’s Guide gives some idea of the influences on Gygax.

This game became Dungeons and Dragons (named, according to legend, by Gygax’s daughter), which spawned the Role-playing industry. Without D&D you would not have computer Role-Playing Games, at least not in the format they took, with levels, hit points etc (World of Warcraft and most other MMORPGs pay a hugh debt to D&D). Although many RPGs moved away from the conventions of D&D (dispensing with levels, hit points, armour class etc), they are still recognisably the bastard children of E Gary Gygax’s original game.

With D&D itself having gone through four revisions (not counting BECMI in the 80s), and a new version due out this Summer, all I can say is Happy Birthday Dungeons and Dragons!