That is the question a lot of Dungeons & Dragon’s fans are asking themselves.
Just to give you a little background about my gaming history I started really playing D&D with the 2nd edition rules and embraced 3rd edition when it came out. I do admit grumbling pretty loudly when they decided to release 3.5. I mean it did fix a good deal of the issues with 3rd edition, but I had just bought the core rule books and found it pretty frustrating.
So when Wizards of the Coast announced 4th edition a few years later I was pretty peeved, I had spent hundreds of dollars on books they were no longer going to support. I felt betrayed and angry and that is the truth. Like so many others D&D fans I kept on playing using 3.5 rules and purchased 3rd party content from companies that loyally supported it. I looked at the 4th edition a few time but I just was not feeling it. I am sure it was due to me feeling resentful that WotC was trying to force me to buy new set of books.
When WotC decided 4 years after 4th editions release they were once again going to develop yet another version I thought to myself. “Man I’m happy I did not buy into 4th edition!” But the more I heard how they were going to go about creating 5th edition the more intrigued I became. I took it as a good sign they were going to allow the public to play-test it and take the feedback and create a system the public wanted to play. I casually looked at some of the play-test content over the last couple of years and saw that it was given some nods to the earlier versions. I was pleased to see they were listening and acting on what the public was asking for.
I downloaded D&D Basic Rules the day they released it. It is free by the way! I also went to my local gaming store and picked up the D&D Starter Set. Having both allowed me to look at character creation, the campaign construction, and creature stats blocks. I am not going to bore you with all that was in the box or or page count. I am pretty sure most of you already know that information. If not please check out the links above.
My first impression… Basic Rules are devoid of customization. For example if you have a level 20 fighter he or she is pretty much the same as any other level 20 fighter. The only difference is what “racial increases” your chosen race gives you, the extra ability score points you earn as you advance in levels, character background, and the spells you choose (if you choose a caster class). The races you can pick from are dwarf, elf, halfling, or human and classes are cleric, fighter, rouge, wizard. The Basic Rules contains everything you need to play any race/class combination up to level 20.
It is a great introduction to Dungeons & Dragons but the rules are so basic it is vanilla. For those of us that love to customize our characters we will have to wait until the Players Handbook is released next month for Feats and Multiclassing.
This box-set is even more basic than the Basic Rules and only gives you enough information to level a character up to level 5. The set of dice are pretty nice… I mean what gamer will complain about having more dice? The most important items in the box (yes over the dice) are the adventure book Lost Mine of Phandelver and the pre-generated character sheets. With those in hand you can sit down with some friends and start playing in a matter of minutes. I do reiterate that this is just as vanilla as the Basic Rules. However the adventure is pretty cool and will take a party of level 1 characters up to level 5.
I am sure the Dungeon Masters Guide will lend some new and interesting rules to make game play even more interesting.
All in all the rules felt very familiar to me and any kept from 4th edition are hardly noticeable. Yes both the Basic Rules and Starter Set are very basic but they allow you to do one very important thing. They allow you test drive 5th edition without throwing a bunch of money at it. For that I say well done WotC!
So back to the question at hand 5E, or not to 5E? I have not made my mind up just yet but you have my attention WotC. I will need to look at the Players Handbook at the very least before I make my final call.
In closing seeing the two big Ds with the dragon headed ampersand in between them brought back some very fond memories of friends I have had the privilege to sit around the table with.
Will this post is for you… I miss you… Branko on the other hand… well, maybe a little.
Richard Keen, Jr.