Recently Nerdarchy assembled to tear open the D&D 5th edition Starter set and shot video of it to share with you. Not long ago I did another article on Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition based off of the free PDF from Wizards of the Coasts.
There is a link to that free download in that article if you haven’t got your PDF yet.
D&D 5th Edition Starter Set Unboxing video
If you enjoyed that video please go to our YouTube channel and subscribe. We will be doing a whole D&D 5th Edition series if you are interested in seeing more videos on D&D 5E. Also as side note all the art in this article is from the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition Starter Set.
Now let’s get into the meat and potatoes of this edition of dungeons and dragons. The deeper I delve into the system the more I find I like. This iteration of the game really feels like it has that old school AD&D feel with the modern mechanic sensibilities of Pathfinder, 4th edition D&D, and 3.5 D&D.
Before all you D&D 4E haters jump on my case let me explain a bit. Matter-O-Fact a lot of the the great additions 4th added were ported over to Pathfinder and converted back to a 3.5 mechanic. This is a good thing, because it sparked innovation in the tabletop RPG industries. When that happens we the players are the big winners.
5th edition feels like Wizards of the Coast admitting their mistakes with 4E. I believe we as gamers are really reaping the benefits from that mistake. Also I see WOTCs having an opportunity to turn the epic fail that was 4E into an Epic win for them with 5E.
Here is why I say that-
1) At a glance this version of D&D looks like it may have the broadest appeal across the spectrum of all those who played any version of the game. If true this = win!
2) If Wizards can retain a large percentage of new gamers brought into the hobby from 4E this will = win!
3) If they can capture back a large enough percentage of their lost market from Pathfinder =win!
Now you might be saying “Dave that’s a lot of ifs.” Which is true, but I feel D&D 5th edition might have the right stuff for the task at hand. With that let’s get into what I’ve seen in this edition to back up what I’m saying.
D&D 5E a game without rules!
This system is a lot lighter in the rules department than Pathfinder, 4E, or 3.5. When WOTCs first gave us 3rd edition D&D I admit it, I popped a huge nerd boner.
I love what that edition did for the game. We were able to finally customize our characters like never before and the rules spelled out almost every part of the game for you. In the beginning I thought this was a good thing.
What happened though as I moved away from D&D towards more open ended or rules light systems I remember what I had lost from previous editions of dungeons and dragons. D&D no longer had a free form feel to it. Dungeon Masters now had the rules in place to clearly define what players could and couldn’t do which was a double edged sword cutting both ways.
In the old days you’d tell your DM you wanted to try something outlandish and the response was roll a d20 or percentile dice. It was usually the percentile dice. Well that feel is back into the game. Without losing what so many us fell in love with from 3rd edition the ability to make the character you wanted to make. There is just as much customization as before it’s just been rearranged a little.
The customization tree kind of goes like this-
- Pick a race and then you need to pick your sub-race. You get all the traits from the race plus the sub-race traits. Every version of D&D from 1E on, including Pathfinder has a way of doing this. I like how it’s handle 5E, simple yet eloquent.
- Select a class each class has a specialty path- clerics it your domain, fighters choose a fighting style and martial archetype, Rogues have a roguish archetype and expertise, and the wizard gets an arcane tradition to choose. You’ll also get your non-weapon proficiencies, weapon and armor proficiencies, and equipment from your class.
- Choose a background. Right now we have only five with a sneak peak at a sixth on one of the character sheets in the starter set. The five are – acolyte, criminal, folk hero, sage, and soldier. The sixth is noble. Each background offers you more non-weapon proficiencies which replace skills from earlier editions of the game. You’ll also pick-up some other minor benefit plus equipment. Then there is your Personality Trait, Ideal, Bond, and Flaw. All these help round out your character, but also incorporate a mechanic to reward players for good role-playing called inspiration.
- Feats will be a part of the game as an optional rule. We don’t really know what this looks like yet.
- Multi-Classing- Yup, it’s in there and looks a lot like 3.5 or Pathfinder.
So I will point out at first glance it appears you are losing out on customizing your character through skills, because the non-weapon proficiencies aren’t as important as their previous counter parts, skills. Also of note you aren’t really penalized for trying to use non-weapon proficiencies you don’t have. You just aren’t as good at them.
I really like what you gain through the background mechanics that have been introduced. This is one of the biggest innovations to Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition. The other is porting over from 4E and Pathfinder the no dead levels for classes.
Another thing of note is how weapons and armor are handled mechanically. It’s more of a AD&D use common sense combined with some special rules from 3.x editions of the game. For instance there aren’t different sized weapons for smaller races. If you are small and using a long sword you have to wield it with two hands. Heavy weapons are unwieldy for small characters so they can do it, but are disadvantaged. Then there are versatile weapons that can be wielded one-handed, but there damage die increases if you use them two-handed.
One last thing I want to touch on and that is a mechanic advantage/disadvantage. When ever you have one of these you roll two d20’s and take the higher or lower result depending on if it is good or bad for you. If you have advantage you get the better of the rolls or if you have disadvantage you take the worst of the two results.
Let me know what you think of this brief over view of Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition and the recently released starter set in the comments below.