Thursday, March 31, 2016

D&D 5e, Review & Session



I recently managed to convince some of my Basic Fantasy RPG players to try 5e for me. I keep hearing from people in the OSR that is really is quite good, and I haven't played it yet, even though I've owned the starter set and the PHB for quite some time now. After reading through the Starter Set, I got some nostalgia from the basic box that I learned on for 3.5 back in high school. I used to run my friends through the basic box every time a new person would come around and say they were interested in playing. I'm not sure why I felt it was easier to teach through it, over and over and over, rather than just introduce them into our 3.5 campaign, but that is what we did at the time. The 5e Starter Set, seems to be much better than that basic box was however.

I was pleasantly surprised by how it seemed to be a very stripped down 3.5, didn't require a grid. I feel like Wizards did a great job with the Starter Set, but the basic rules .pdf would have been a nice handout.

After I read through the starter set, I was pretty hooked and read through the PHB the very next day. Don't get me wrong, some things really worried me at first look. Free cantrip casting that does damage was something that irked me a lot. On some level, it still does, because it doesn't seem to match the literature of the Appendix N (especially as I'm in the process of reading the Dying Earth series now), but I get it now. 

I decided that I wouldn't house rule anything off the bat and that we'd run the Lost Mines of Phandelver with the pre-gens to see how we liked the system. We're a couple of sessions in and my players are really starting to like it. I think at first it was because I built their characters into roll20, and I think they liked how automated everything was. Now that they're reading into it and feel more comfortable with their powers, they're growing to enjoy it even more. My only fear is that they might get trapped in the box of staring at their sheets instead of thinking outside of the box like they currently do in our BFRPG game. I'm hoping this doesn't happen.

I'm surprised by how well balanced 5e seems so far. I get why spell casting classes have these powers. It isn't 'Vancian', but for the balance of 5e it makes sense. I quickly ended up picking up the DMG and was VERY surprised at how this seems to be the best DMG written for the game since the 1e one (though it would be very difficult to one-up Gygax' DMG). This does offer plenty of interesting things that you don't normally get in the DMG though.

We're currently 2 session into LMoP, and I reckon it'll take at least 4 more to finish, unless like our 2nd session, we continue to go for double our normal session length.

In our first session, the players got the basic setup, the goblin ambush, finished the passage to Phandelver, got paid, learned some information about the Rockseeker's, met Sister Garaele, learned a bit about the Red Brands, and were given some tips about how they might go about finding Gundren. Lots of RP, a taste of combat (which was beautifully deadly for WotC D&D). The players had a great time, but I don't think they really dug in until our second session which I'll write more about later.

I've recently ordered the Sword Coast Adventurers Guide and am waiting for it to arrive. I need to pick up a MM as well. I know my players will be interested in a campaign, but I still want to finish LMoP, because I feel like it is going to become the B2: Keep on the Borderlands of this era. I'm curious what of the hardback adventures people enjoy for 5e? I thought about picking up the Tyranny of Dragons set, but people seem 'meh' about it. I'm trying to decide between all of them, or just planning out my own adventure in a more traditional OSR style campaign format. I'm not sure if my players would really want my traditional sandbox style more, or an AP layout, but I think I should at least let them try the AP style setup.

Anyway, if you're interested, you can watch our first session online here:

NSFW