Last weekend I came off of my gaming hiatus to play my first session of Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. My group had previously played part one of the adventure that came in the Starter Kit and so joining up with them I created a 2nd level character using the free online basic rules.
Only one of the players from the last session kept his pregen character, the other player from before made a new character, and the other two of us were new. So the party make up was one halfling wizard (my character), a high elf wizard (the pregen), a dwarf cleric (built as paladin-like as possible), and a halfling rogue. It’ll be interesting to see how the characters change for next time. I got the impression that we liked our character ideas but most would be interested in tweaking the mechanics behind the character.
In general I found that the game played pretty fast but that were were slowed down by a lot of our side conversations. For instance, as good seasoned players we did our best to concentrate fire. The sleep spell however works on remaining hit points so in order to get the best spread there, it makes sense to spread out the damage and then sleep the area. This sparked a conversation about how best to work that in the future.
One of the things I look for with new systems is how well it will play with my son. I honestly don’t think that he (at 7 years old) would have the patience to go through all of character creation. Even with the basic rules limiting down choices, I found that it took me around an hour to make a character by writing him out long-hand. I’ve already found a few rough draft character generators so I’m sure that situation will be remedied fairly quickly.
In the course of adventure we made it through about three combats. The basics of play haven’t really changed in the past 14 years. Through D&D 3rd Edition, several editions a Mutants and Masterminds, Pathfinder, and now 5th Edition. You roll initiative and take turns based on the roll. Roll to-hit against AC and then determine the results. I find the consistency of it comforting. The differences are in the details.
From my so far limited perspective, the biggest change in 5e from other d20 systems is the smaller range of bonuses. There is a sense that a lower level character still has a chance of messing up a higher level foe. I look forward to playing trhough some higher levels to see how that works out in play. It does rather remind me the E6 variant on D&D where the 3rd Edition ended at 6th level. 5e is still less lethal than that was however.
So far I’m enjoying it but I haven’t had enough experience with it to see the warts yet.