GAME THE GAME: 5th Edition Player’s Handbook Preview Part 6

All New! The hype when D&D Next was announced was that it would have something for fans of every edition of the game. That folks would come together, leaving behind edition wars, and all sit down and play the newest version of D&D. Folks were excited and scared at the same time, there was buzz, folks speculated about how this could be. Well, this newest version of D&D is being released. I was asked in an online forum if there were notes for converting? Nope.

What is my opinion on 5e? It’s an evolution of 3.x. I think Wizards of the Coast will have a hard time converting all the players who are playing Pathfinder/ 3.x, and a hard time converting all the players who are playing 4e. And I think it is too much like 3.x for fans of 1e and 2e to embrace. The default style of play is grid-less, but a lot still seems reliant on the grid. This design choice seems rooted in an assumption that folks picking up 5e will have played 3.x or 4e at some point and understand terms like reach. And, if you are playing grid-less, why does stuff like reach matter? Sure, you can jump down my throat, but honestly, if your game sessions are very narrative, does every 5 foot parcel of space matter?

Folks playing Pathfinder/ 3.x currently will likely want more, they will have class variants they are attached to. The classes (with variants/ sub-classes) break down like this:

Barbarian– Berserker, Totem Warrior.
Bard– College of Lore, College of Valor.
Cleric– Domains: Knowledge, Life, Light, Nature, Tempest, Trickery, War.
Druid– Circle of the Land, Circle of the Moon.
Fighter– Fighting Style (Archery, Defense, Dueling, Great Weapon Fighting, Protection, Two-Weapon Fighting); Champion (very easy build, this is the classic D&D fighter), Battle Master, Eldritch Knight.
Monk– Way of the Open Hand, Way of Shadow, Way of the Four Elements.
Paladin– Fighting Style (Defense, Dueling, Great Weapon Fighting, Protection); Oath of Devotion, Oath of the Ancients, Oath of Vengeance.
Ranger– Fighting Style (Archery, Defense, Dueling, Two-Weapon Fighting); Hunter, Beast Master.
Rogue– Thief, Assassin, Arcane Trickster.
Sorcerer– Draconic, Wild Magic
Warlock– Pact of the Chain, Pact of the Blade, Pact of the Tome; Patrons- Archfey, Fiend, Great Old One.
Wizard– Abjuration, Conjuration, Divination, Enchantment, Illusion, Necromancy, Transmutation.

These choices feel very 4e to me. Yes, characters will all be unique, but two thieves will be similar in many ways.

Other thoughts:

The races are not listed alphabetically.

Inspiration is a neat idea, but for a granular game, seems a tad out of place. Whatever happened to action points? Hero points?

Downtime rules: at low levels, practicing a Profession or Crafting might be viable, but honestly, I want to tell the story of my character, the Hero. Once that story starts, my Hero is busy making the world a better place. Recuperating, researching, and training are nice inclusions though.

Someone asked about the quality of the book. On some pages, the font is already really light, I do not know if this is stylistic, or a printing/ paper flaw. The art depicts many different real-world derived cultures, which is cool.

As a combat engine/ mechanic, I think 4e cannot be beat. With characters and their powers printed out, the game was able to be run with minimal referring to books and rules. Combats had a rhythm to them that was not just a grind. I am still upset that some of the power types promised in the early books never came to fruition. I liked picking up a new PHB/DMG/ MM every year and all the new flavor it brought. I did not like some of the very defined roleplaying stuff (if a character makes their roll by X, they can barter the person down to 75% of cost, etc). Skill challenges were an awesome idea but not implemented well. I know the complaints, it discouraged roleplaying, to which I say, pshaw. Roleplaying is what you make of it, truly. Yes, some of the mechanics as mentioned above hamstrung the DM a bit, but overall, if you want there to be roleplaying, put your dice away, create compelling NPCs and stories, and roleplay! The reliance on ever-changing magic items also peeved me a bit, as this took away the old school feel of finding treasure. Plus, they rebooted too soon in the lifespan, and had so many optional rules (team action points, etc) that keeping up was hard. All that being said, give me a Lair Assault, and I will get a team together!

I have spent many hours running and playing 3.x. I enjoyed it, but it was very much a game about leveling up for me. I wanted to make a character who could do a certain thing, and likely that thing required me to be X level. Near the end of the lifespan of 3.x, I think they started to suffer from bloat and power creep.

I have covered 13th Age before . 5e makes the process of making a character very easy. 13th Age is a bit more taxing.

But, 13th Age has so many cool things.

Combats are very narrative and do not require a grid at all. The Icons are a very cool idea. Some of my friends have expressed leeriness towards the Icons, I think the mechanic for determining if they are active in a particular session is a bit off, but all easily adjusted! What the Icons do is give a DM ideas for a session they might not have had. Oh, so the High Druid is involved in this session. Let me think for a moment how to incorporate that.

One Unique Thing- so good!

And, you can be a ninja-paladin.

Magic items are very flavorful, and your game doesn’t require them to be disposable. You can find a magic item at 1st level, and have it until 10th level. And if you wanted that to be the only magic you had, that would work also.

I still honestly feel like 13th Age is the game that can appeal to lovers of every edition.

Making a 5e character was fun, and likely I will sit down and run and play it at some point. I am awaiting the Monster Manual and Dungeon Masters Guide, which, because of our backgrounds, might be in our geeky little hands before the release date, stay tuned for previews of those books!

The PHB doesn’t really allow for a whole lot of ability to play it straight out of the box for any extended period of time. Maybe if you picked up the boxed set?

I will be very interested to see what their release schedule is like, will they be releasing new classes or class variants? What are they shooting for six months from now? A year from now? I have gone on record and stated that I wish there was more support for 13th Age in terms of releases. I am thinking WotC has the resources to do more.

There was not anything in 5e that made me sit up and take notice. It seems to be a fine game, although incomplete as of right now. Because it is D&D I will be keeping an eye on it, and no doubt my shelves will strain a bit more as books are released.

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GAME THE GAME: 5th Edition Player’s Handbook Preview Part 5

Part 3 of the Player’s Handbook is The Rules of Magic. The chapter opens with some text about what a spell is, known and prepared spells (some casters have a limited number of spells known- bards and sorcerers for example, others prepare spells), spell slots, casting spells at a higher level, cantrips, and rituals. Rituals are spells that can be cast as normal, or can be cast +10 minutes casting time and do not expend a spell slot when cast as a ritual.

The chapter goes on to discuss casting time, bonus actions (which are essentially swift actions, a term that has no explanation), reactions, and longer casting times. Range, targets, areas of effect, saves, attack rolls, combining effects, the schools of magic, duration, and components (material components make a return, though if you have a component pouch or focus you can ignore, unless the material component has a cost indicated or if the material component is consumed). And finally, a short bit differentiating arcane and divine magic.

And onto the spells. Spell lists organized by class and level. Even though wizards specialize in schools, there is no list of spells by school, so a character will have to have the researcher background to comb through all the spells (78 pages worth). Then the list of spells themselves, with descriptions. Of note, the descriptions do not say which class has access to them, and also the level of a spell doesn’t vary, so a Cone of Cold is a fifth level spell, no matter who casts it. Some editions have differed, in that a Bard might cast a spell as a 4th level spell, while a wizard gains access to it at 3rd. Summon Monster seems to have gone the way of the dodo.

A player playing a spell-caster will need to have a copy of the PHB (and whatever books that are released that have spells in them) and will have to flip through pages during the game, or come up with some sort of note taking (index cards with spells on them?).

Overall, it seems very much like a 3.x spell list, with less functionality from a user interface standpoint, and lots of room for interpretation, having to look up spells in the middle of a game.

Player: “I cast XXX”
DM: “What does XXX do?” (opening book).
Player and DM discuss, DM makes a ruling if necessary.

Not my preferred style of play.

GAME THE GAME: 5th Edition Player’s Handbook Preview Part 4

Oh My Gods!

Appendix B is the Gods of the Multiverse. They touch on (one paragraph each, ostensibly) the gods of The Realms, Greyhawk, Dragonlance, and Eberron as well as the non-human deities. It makes me wax nostalgic a bit for Deities and Demigods and some Jeff Dee art!

Each god is given one line detailing their name, purview (i.e. goddess of winter), alignment, suggested domains, and symbol. Then there is a bit on Fantasy-Historical Pantheons: Celtic, Greek, Egyptian, and Norse. Each given the same one paragraph breakdown and same one line for each god format.

Seven pages total.

GAME THE GAME: 5th Edition Player’s Handbook Part 3

Leveling Up

AxeI don’t get the math behind the XP goals to level up. 300, 900, 2700, 6500, 14000, etc…

Unfortunately, the PHB has only low level (1st level appropriate) monsters, so I can’t see how it works out, but this looks like it could be a grind, or that dire wolves at 2nd level will be not worth the time.

A Dire Wolf is a Challenge Rating 1 (200XP). So a party of 4 characters facing 2 Dire Wolves (would die!) would each get 100, I am assuming. But, that same party facing the same threat at second level would get 100, which wouldn’t do much for them.

Multi-classing

There are rules for it.  Characters follow the same XP chart, so for your 5th level wizard to get that level of fighter, will cost 7500 XP, or you can just become a 6th level wizard. Unified XP charts are a good thing. When they make sense.

Not being able to play with higher level monsters, it remains to be seen if it will all come together.

Onto multi-classing itself:

-Stat prerequisites to multiclass, none higher than 13.
-Hit points and hit dice, as to be expected, new class gives you that hit die, but not at max.
-Proficiency bonus goes up with total level.
-A nice chart showing what proficiencies you gain when you multi-class into a class.
-Some class features have special rules in regards to multi-classing: channel divinity, extra attack, unarmored defense, and spell-casting.
-Spell-casting is handled relatively elegantly it seems, would need to see it in play: you add all the levels (or portion of) of your spell-casting classes, this determines your spell slots. There is a multi-classing spell-caster chart for spell slots. If you have access (via the chart) to a higher level spell than you can cast, you can use that slot(s) to caster lower level spells. And there is even a contingency if you are casting a spell that has an effect based on level.

Stats and Feats

Stats cannot go higher than 20 if improving them at assigned levels. The assigned levels are class dependent, not on the basic XP chart. You have to forsake the ability bonus(es) to gain a feat.

 

dw

That Dire Wolf:

Has 37 HP, speed of 50, is +5 to hit, and does 10 damage, and might knock you prone. Wizards should stay away from Dire Wolves!

Check back later for more looks at the new Player’s Handbook.  We will be tackling different aspects of the book over the next three days! Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for instant notifications of when we post new content or to let us know what you want us to review!

GAME THE GAME: 5th Edition Player’s Handbook Preview Part 1

We haves the precious! No, not footage of Nic Cage of Superman. No, not Wonder Woman and the Star Riders. We have a preview copy of the Player’s Handbook (we at Acts of Geek have powers, very cool powers), and we will be doing our best to absorb it, and give you some teasers.

DnD_5th PHBLike any good nerd, what I want to do most is see if it can handle converting my character from a previous edition, so I will be going through character generation, and you are along for the ride!

I have not read the entire book cover to cover, that will be done though, so for right now, I am opening it up, and reading through what I need to know. As I think this is common for a RPG.

I will be converting Damion Abisson, Tiefling Bard (Blade kit)/ Fighter (2e), aka Damion the Blind.  Don’t judge me.  So, the Blade kit part of Damion has always been hard to recreate. But I love the idea of a braggart, who talks the big game, and is very showy with his weapons. I was never happy with any 3e or 4e builds I came up with, so, let’s see if 5e can handle my quirky character (aren’t they all?). I might skip the fighter part, as it was just to give him some cool stuff (two-weapon fighting), but let us see how robust the Bard is.

So, first things first:

Race

My tiefling was a Planescape tiefling, so his appearance was random, with 4e, the appearance of tieflings was unified, so instead of my unique character look, I know have: large horns (with numerous possible shapes available), a thick tail, canine teeth, and solid color eyes. The last part is still true. Skin tones range from human and also includes various shades of red. And their hair is usually dark, but can be some interesting colors (Blue!). So two parts remain the same, I can work with the other stuff, afterall, IIRC, Maxius did call me demonspawn and try to kill me, even though we were in the same party. Oh, Maxius.

I will own my tail and horns!

Being a tiefling gives me darkvision, I speak Common and Infernal, have resistance to fire, and get innate access to some spells. Bonuses to my Int and Cha, so all good there!

Class

Bard

HD d8

HP (1st Level): 8+ Con bonus

Proficiencies: Light armor, simple weapons, hand crossbows, longswords, rapiers, shortswords.

Of note, the PHB is not filled with magic items, so I can’t look up Damion’s real precious (assuming they include it).

Tools: Three musical instruments. Hmmm… I will have to read up on this Tools bit, to see if I can make it work. Maybe in the circus he played some instruments. Not a dealbreaker.

Saving Throws: Dex, Cha. Looking good there!

Skills: Any three.

Spells: 2 cantrips from Bard list, and 4 spells known. So, I will actually have 3 cantrips, as being a tiefling gives me access to thaumaturgy.

DnD_5th PHBSpellcasting: Cha based.

Focus: musical instrument.

Bardic inspiration: looks cool, give a d6 inspiration die to someone (or something) else. Use a number of times equal to Cha modifier. Die size increases based on level, up to a d12 at 15th level.

2nd Level: Jack of All Trades: +1/2 my proficiency bonus to any ability check that doesn’t include my proficiency bonus. Neat!

Song of Rest also at 2nd level: Allows me to revitalize allies during a short rest. Starts at d6 HP and goes up to d12 at 17th level.

Bardic College at 3rd level: choose college of Lore or College of Valor. The College of Valor seems very appropriate, giving bonus weapon and armor proficiencies, as well as combat inspiration, extra attacks, and Battle Magic!

Flipping forward to Chapter 4, Personality and Background.  Everyone is really short. Humans start at 4’8” and add 2d10

Alignment is back, and not confusing at all (4e I am looking at you!).

Personal Characteristics

Each PC will have a Personality trait, an ideal, a bond, and a flaw.Ideals. Will need to see some examples, but these are promised in the Backgrounds section.

Inspiration: an interesting approach to encouraging roleplaying, will it become too subject to powergaming?

DnD_5th PHBBackgrounds

So many choices: Acolyte, Charlatan, Criminal, Entertainer, Folk Hero, Guild Artisan, Hermit, Noble, Outlander, Sage, Sailor, Soldier, Urchin. Some very interesting possibilities, but of course, more would be awesome, let us hope that WotC comes through with more of these over time. I narrow it down to Charlatan, Criminal, Entertainer, and Urchin. Not even reading them, just on name alone.

As much as this whole musical instrument thing isn’t my jam, I stick with Entertainer, it seems most appropriate to his circus upbringing.

Proficiencies: Acrobatics, Performance

Tool proficiencies: Disguise kit, musical instrument.

Equipment: A musical instrument (sigh), the favor of an admirer, a costume, and 15gp in the standard belt pouch.

Routine: I choose Juggler, Storyteller, and Tumbler.

By Popular Demand: Uyag and I will always have a room for the night. (Uyag is my cohort in all activities).

I look through the suggested characteristics:

Personality: “Whenever I come to a new place, I collect local rumors and spread gossip.” It’s not perfect, but it will do.

Ideal: None of them really fit, I will have to come back to this. But my brain is processing.

Bond: “I would do anything for the other members of my old troupe.” Replace “old troupe” with “party”, and we have a decent fit!

Flaw: I should just skip this, as Damion has no flaws.

Ok, nothing is a perfect fit, will have to come back.

Oh, look, a variant, the Gladiator. I like it. Replace musical instrument with an inexpensive but unusual weapon. Ding!

Not complete, but he is shaping up.

Equipment chapter, looks pretty solid, I read through some of the special rules for weapons, Finesse is right up my alley.

Multiclassing! Cool. I read through it, seems simple enough, not too complicated, will have to consider this.

DnD_5th PHBFeats

Feats replace ability increases if you so choose. Feats as a whole are optional. Some have stat bonuses built in, some seem underpowered (shocker, I know!)

Chapter 7 is Playing the Game

But Chapter 7 also has the skills list, a bit odd in terms of UI.

I recall that I get three skills from being a Bard, with all of them available (I look at another class to see how it works, they have to choose from a list. Go Bards!).  I already have Acrobatics and Performance, am thinking Stealth, Arcana, and… lots of good stuff to choose from, I will have to decide later, narrowed down to: Sleight of Hand, History, Perception, Deception, Intimidation.

Where is the Tools section? I flip to the Index and check it out, in the equipment section. Ok, this is sort of interesting.

 Spells

So, there is some neat stuff. I take a look at Minor Illusion, because Illusions are always one of those things that seem problematic in my experience. It looks like we are back to problematic. Ohwell.

So, I have translated a 1st level Damion. Am I happy with the results? Does 5e Damion effectively translate all the awesomeness? I have to say, there is some very cool stuff here, and this was just my first glance/ read through, a quickie character creation if you will. So, yes. I am intrigued and want to level him up, but I don’t need to bore you with that.

Check back later for more looks at the new Player’s Handbook.  We will be tackling different aspects of the book over the next three days! Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for instant notifications of when we post new content or to let us know what you want us to review!