Thursday, July 3, 2014

The New Edition Of D&D: First Impressions

Had to edit to change to this picture,
which I like better.
Like pretty much the rest of the gaming world, I downloaded the free pdf laying out the basic rules of the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons. It's surprisingly large, clocking in at 110 pages with no art. Unfortunately, there are no layers, so the stupid background color is stuck to the thing if you want to try and print it out. Still, did I mention that it's free?

The game includes some things that I have come to expect from WotC editions, such as a single experience point chart that applies to all classes, a boosting of hit points over the original editions, a fixed-score option for character creation, and so on. It also has the things that I was told to expect by the playtesters, such as the advantage/disadvantage mechanic (which, I have to say, is a pretty good idea).

I haven't read it deeply yet, just skimmed it, but there are a couple of things I noticed. First, experience points are extremely reduced. 300 xp to reach 2nd level? Less than a half-million for 20th? I don't know yet how I feel about that. Stat bonuses are expanded, so that bonuses start kicking in at 12 (and 9, for the maluses), leading up to a +/-4 at the extremes. There is a slight benefit to taking the rolls for characteristics, as the average of the selection system comes out slightly lower than 4d6s3 (which is now the official way of rolling up characters). However, taking the fixed hit point increases at each level is better than taking the dice, as the average for each die is rounded up (6 for a d10, 5 for a d8, and 4 for a d6). Speaking of hit dice, Thieves (or Rogues, whatever) get d8 hit dice, and Magic-Users (or whatever they call them) get d6. Again, not sure how I feel about that.

The neatest color rule, in my opinion, is the "arcane focus". This is a minor item, like a wand, a crystal ball, or a staff, which a Magic-User can use in place of most material components (and the focus doesn't disappear when used in this way). Therefore, when casting spells, the M-U can either pick up a ball of bat guano or else wave around a magic wand in order to cast Fireball. Material components that have a listed cost ("a 5000gp flawless emerald" or whatever) cannot be replaced by this item. I don't know that I'd import the idea, but I do like it. Gives the game a bit of a "Harry Potter" feel.

(Is this the first time I've made two posts in one day? Probably not, but it doesn't happen often here.)


  1. If I understand correctly, not all of a class' benefits are granted at 1st level. It takes a few levels to gain them. For example, a cleric cannot claim a domain until 3rd level and cannot turn undead until 2nd. By requiring a player to invest in a character for a few levels, it deters players who simply pick up a class via multi-classing to gain that class' benefits. After 3rd level, the xp requirements seem to slow down with a pace more familiar to us old timers. I look forward to seeing how it works out in play.

    Like you, I dig the arcane focus idea. :)

    1. Since I wrote this, I've seen someone describe the first couple levels as being similar, in some ways, to DCC's "funnel", so I guess I get that. I'll have to process it for a while, though.

  2. They have a printer-friendly version up now.

    1. Good deal. Makes sense that they would take care of that one quickly.