Tuesday, January 31, 2012

D&D 5e: I finally speak

I've been mostly silent about the topic of D&D 5th edition, rarely chiming in even on G+. I've not talked about it at all in this blog. Like many (most?) people in our hobby I started out with D&D. For me it was AD&D when I was about 12 and I had absolutely no idea what the heck was going on. I didn't game again until my sister's boyfriend invited me over to play WEG Indiana Jones and I was hooked. My next experience with D&D was 3.0/3.5. I then burned out on fantasy rpgs for awhile.

You might liken it to a break-up with your significant other. First there's the bitterness and hatred "D&D sucks and is a horrible rpg. Especially 3.5!". Then there's apathy "Eh, I don't particularly care about D&D at all. They can do their thing I'll do mine". Finally there was rapproachment "I'm kind of digging this OSR thing. I think I can handle some old school D&D and I think I even like it."

Thus I've been following the news of 5e with some interest, because it could do a great deal to unite the various factions of D&D players. I was intrigued when they said that one of the goals was to allow players of any edition to take their character and play with 5e. That seemed like a tall goal to me, but I'm encouraged by this report from the D&D Experience by bspauls at dndfifthcolumn. Quoting his report of the event:

"First, the prototype of D&D Next absolutely captures the feel of classic D&D. Since I started with the Moldvay Basic Set in 1980, to me the game felt very much like Basic D&D–but there were elements which I knew would resonate with someone for whom 1e was the baseline. Talking with one of my traveling companions, who had played mostly 3.x, I found that he had gravitated to parts of the new system that evoked the feel of 3rd edition."

This is interesting to me. What it tells me that is that ether A.) the player's own preconceptions will fuel the game (something always true), or B.) the style of play will be determined by the DM/group. There were some things I like a lot about 4th edition, but I didn't care for the way it felt like so much of a tactical game to me. I like the earlier editions because of that feeling of not ever knowing what's going to come around the corner or if it's going to be too big for you to handle. I like 3.x because of the ability to customize your character. 

If 5e can provide the feel of all those editions at once it'll be a miraculous accomplishment.

Another juicy quote:

"And that, right there, is why I feel the current manifestation of D&D Next nails the feel of classic D&D. My friends and I were on the edge of our seats during the whole adventure. At no point did we feel like “we’ve got this in the bag,” but we didn’t feel like we were in over our heads, either–right up until the point where it all went pear-shaped. And when things did go south, no one felt that it was because the cards were stacked against us (that’s a figure of speech–I am unable to confirm or deny whether actual cards played any role in the playtest.) We could look back and see very clearly where we had gone wrong–and it was us, the players and our characters, not the rules or the DM.

Coming out of the B/X and 1e eras, this is really the essence of D&D for me. A skillful Dungeon Master offers the players a challenging scenario, with the potential for both serious consequences and significant reward. It is up to the players to decide when, where and how they tackle the challenge. If they succeed, it’s on to bigger and better things. If they fail, then they learn from their mistakes and perhaps take another crack at it on a different day. Either way, the fun of the game lies primarily in the story the players and the DM build together–not in whether the players prevail in any given situation."

Read the whole thing--it's well worth your time

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