Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons; Intitial Thoughts

On Saturday nights I catch a D&D game with my fiancé and her family.

 I will admit to having joined the game so I can sit at the side of my most favorite beautiful creature and touch her leg under the table, but that doesn't mean I don't thoroughly enjoy the other company and the game itself.

Her brother DM'ed for the longest time and then one of his high school buddies took over and both were running Pathfinder. Both proved excellent DMs and introduced me to great new styles of play.

I took some ribbing about this from a few of my fellow gamers because I had long affected a jaded attitude towards anything but Old School versions of the game, my favorites being Tekumel, Basic D&D (Holmes version) and 1st edition AD&D.

 I had long resisted these friends' attempts to enlist me in a Pathfinder campaign, but love conquers all. I did shed some of my prejudices against Pathfinder, although after many months I can state unequivocally that I still prefer the relic  systems--like priceless artifacts of ancient magical power, they have the same shine to me they did when I first played them as a gawky 13 year old kid.

Anyway, my love light's game group has now decided to switch to 5th Edition. I've only played in one episode thus far so I have only about four hours play from the basic starter set to base my initial opinions on.

I must say I liked it.

I think it had a very old school feel to it. What stuck out to me most was the abundance of material provided to facilitate role playing--lots of character background info and motivations and quest objectives built into your first level character. I was glad to see that as a focus.

I played a fighter named Felhaus--I don't often play fighters, but wanted something easy and simple.

I came up with the name but the prepared character sheet for Felhaus had noted his places of origins, parentage, life history, weaknesses, motives and a quest objective to revenge himself on a wayward dragon.

This is good. If a person totally new to these kind of games picks up these books, I think they will have a better grasp on the original spirit of the D&D game than fresh players of the latter editions. I don't see the new edition leaning on feats and powers so much as on roleplaying.

 Seems a little less like a free shopping spree in a candy store and more like the story based, character driven game I love.

System wise, it played very well and felt somewhat old school. I don't really have much to say about the mechanics as I had almost no time to digest them--it played like Pathfinder but with a lot less formula and factoring, but then, we were first level. Our Pathfinder campaign ended at 20th level and I don't like the endless bookwork and formulation every single player seems to have to engage in every single round.

I hope 5th Edition doesn't end up the same way at upper levels.  Still, I did enjoy the game and would not be adverse to playing it again...though I still favor the original game and probably always will.

Kudos to those who worked on the game--this edition does seem to have some thought and care put into what sort of a game experience it will provide and not to simply throw out yet another pile of glossy book covers, endless reams of ink, and garish illustrations to make a quick buck on the unsuspecting masses.

I will say of some games that their producers do with D&D what the hip hop group Atmosphere said some rappers do with that musical genre in their song "Trying to Find a Balance":

"Wait, let's prey on the blind, deaf, dumb, dead
Hustle, maybe a couple will love what you said;
MC's drag their feet across a big naked land
With an empty bag of seeds and a fake shake of hands."

I'm not a rap fan much at all but I know a good lyric when I see it and must admit that if toy companies let marketing and advertising execs mess with D&D, it has kind of the same effect.

5th edition seems to have some true gamer love in it's development and it came through.