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.
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.