I should start out saying that I started playing back in the days of the three book boxed set. I remember the first PHB, the first MM, even when the DMG came out. Back when the Monster Manual was nothing but some yellow 8x11 card sheets and the blue boxed book that came out before the red. Those were the days when the game was played every day and lasted from Friday when my my father came home and lasted until Monday in the early morning. Something was always going on in our house and I loved it. I did a few twenty-four hour gaming sessions when I had my shop, trying to bring back those days.
Well, enough of talking the old days. Everyone else is doing a review of 5e, so I thought I would weigh in. It is tuesday and I just got the Basic Box Set. I know I am late as many people have gotten them in last week, but I have read the Basic Preview and I got a few things that I would like to say.
The classes are good and solid. I really like how they they combined the skills, the tools and the levels. I think that they are taking a step back from clerics though. Here I thought that they would be using a system to create gods and specializing them or each and every god. They said that they were in the early playtest. I dont know. Maybe they will be having them better described in the PHB. I hope that they have a LOT of different archetypes for each character type. They make for a very good way to make the characters somewhat unique. That and the backgrounds.
I really like how they have done the spells, made them beefier and more bite but upping the damage and/or the effectiveness of the spells. Like magic missile, you start off with three missiles, burning hands starts off by doing 3d6. Fireballs and lightning bolts to 8d6. You can increase them by expending a higher level spell slot. It is a very good way to do it. I am playing a mage in the playtest and I like the fact that I dont feel that useless. The fact that I can cast cantrips and some of my spells are rituals that I can cast at anytime really makes the character. Everything about the magic system I am liking.
[Warning: Spoilers] The module is pretty good. The Lost Mine of Phandelver is pretty good. It seems balanced and they give a way to fight or talk your way through some of the adventure. Like when the characters are advancing on Castle Cragmore, they can try to storm it or if they are smart enough to think about it, they can disguise themselves as Redbrands. The fact that they put a dragon in the adventure that has a Challenge Rating of 8. The fact that the party has to talk to the beast or risk a very messy death. That is what I like about the 5e DnD. Dragons are back! But taking a look at the other monsters that they have in the back, I like them. Bugbears, goblins, hobgoblins and orcs that they have nice as each have a special trait. The goblins nimble escape and the hobgoblins martial advantage make the monsters very mean to a party. You have to break the ranks of the hobgoblins and keep right on the goblins you have got to keep right on them. Orcs have the aggressive trait. You cant run away from them which is a meaner thing the relentless trait that they had in the playtest. You will have to fight them or die! I like how they have brought back the damage and condition modifiers for the monsters. And most of all, I really like how they have brought down the Armor Classes. Even the Young Green Dragon that they have, only has an AC of 18. It was always a hard thing to reconcile having an AC of 30 or 40 in 3.5 or 4e. Even though I liked 4e, there was certain things they I felt were quite wrong. My players were always thinking that they had to have the highest AC possible. They really dont. Having an AC of 14 is still pretty good because the monsters have a much lower attack. Even the green dragon only has an attack of +7. If you take a 20th level fighter in plate and shield and enchant, he will have an AC 22. His attack, assuming he has a 20 strength he has a +12 assuming he has nothing else but an enchanted sword of +1. That is fine! One of the problems with RPing with players who have played the game before is for them to get used to it. Now you cant rely on the dice however. In one playtest game we were in the Will the DM got something like seven criticals in one battle. Needless to say we were toast. And have you read what the poisoned condition does?! Oh my! Read it again!
Some of the bad things about 5e. I think (mind you it is my opinion) that they have kinda taken a step back from the previous editions.
- That they have made the ability increases dependant on the class you are instead of the overall level. I dont like it.
- I kinda miss the old (4e) encounter or daily skills. Say what you will about 4e, but there was something about using Skullcrusher or Stab and Grab on an opponent. Sure the combats may have taken HOURS to complete, but I still miss them.
- After all the fantastic work that they have put into the 4e cosmology and world they just kinda dropped it. I liked the connections between the primordials and the giants. How they worked every monster in with care as to how it would fit in, like the cyclopes were slaves to the formorians. The Feywilde and the Shadowfell. The dragonborn and tiefling war. I hope, just HOPE that they will keep that as part of the new rules. Even if they arent, I am and I will keep that alive in my game!
- Initiative. There is nothing that allows for having a higher initiative. They had in the playtest, barbarians and alertness feat that gave you bonuses. Dont like it. A barbarian is quicker than a fleetfooted rouge. DONT LIKE IT. I wouldnt mind if they got rid of that completely or will make it to so you can at least compete. But it is only the basic set, I am just saying.
Well, on a 3d6 scale I would give the Rules a 4, the Art a 5 and the Intangibles a 3 for a stat roll of 12. Not to bad but considering that it is only the Basic Set. It will have the option to go up when the PHB comes out. So it doesnt matter if you are an old game like myself or a new gamer, pick it up and see for yourself.