Archive for the ‘5e D&D’ Category

WotC Releases 5th Edition SRD & OGL

January 12, 2016

On the off chance you haven’t seen it elsewhere already, here’s the link:

They’re also offering something called “Dungeon Masters Guild.”  Not having really looked into it yet, it sounds like a way for people to sell 5E material through WotC.

So, I wonder if there’ll be a 5E version of Pathfinder?  Also, I wonder if the 5E OGL can be legally combined with the 3E OGL to, say, meld aspects of the PFBB and 5th Edition?

It’ll be interesting to see what third party publishers do with the 5E rules.


5th Edition DMG Preview

November 11, 2014

You can see an interesting preview of the 5th Edition DMG here.  Of particular interest to me, apparently the DMG will include details on firearms and alien technology!  That’ll make it a lot easier to get a 5E post-apoc or science-fantasy game off the ground.

Looking at the Table of Contents (downloadable at the bottom of linked page), it seems like the new DMG will be quite a useful tool for tweaking and customizing your campaign, not just a list of magic items.  I’m really looking forward to the release of the DMG in December.


5th Edition Mutations

October 6, 2014

5theditionmutationsThe following is a first pass at a list of mutations using 5th Edition D&D rules for a post-apocalypse setting.  Most of the mutations are beneficial, some are detrimental and a few are just benign.  Many are combed from monster and class abilities already present in the PHB and MM, others are inspired by other sources and a few I made up myself.

Please note, I’ve made no attempt to balance these mutations; some are vastly superior to others.  It’s not really intended that you slap these mutations onto standard 5th Edition characters, though you can certainly do so if you wish.  I may (or may not) eventually roll this out to a more fleshed-out PA setting…well see.

Here you go:  5th Edition Mutations



5th Edition Monster Manual

October 4, 2014

DnD_MonsterManualReceived my copy of the 5th Edition MM yesterday.  Overall it’s a beautiful product.  The artwork is, for the most part, very well done and the layout is easy on the eyes.  The book includes a nice selection of standard D&D monsters, even some of the ‘oddball’ monsters from the Fiend Folio, such as the mighty Flumph.

However, most monster descriptions still take up an entire page, even the lowly Goblin, which seems like a lot of page space to cover a monster that will, in all likelihood, be dead in a few minutes. To be fair, the actual stat blocks are smaller than their 4E/Pathfinder counterparts, with fewer moving parts as well.

One nice thing, the description section is broken up into smaller sub-sections that are easier to find and digest.  Also, for the most part, the ‘descriptive’ part won’t be needed during play, though it may provide inspiration when designing an adventure.

While the MM is an essential part of the game if you’re making the change to 5th Edition, if you’re happy with your current edition of choice you won’t find anything new in the MM to port over to your game.

Ran my first session of 5th Edition DnD

September 29, 2014

Saturday I had the opportunity to run a game of 5th Edition DnD.  Here’s what I took away from the session:

  • The game ran very intuitively.  The only time I had to stop and look something up was to reference specific spells or monster abilities.  Not once did I stop to make a rules check.
  • The game can be brutal, and yet not all that lethal.  It’s easy to knock PCs to 0 hit points (especially at lower levels), but the game makes it fairly easy to stabilize dying characters, so actual PC death is uncommon.  Three out of four PCs were reduced to 0 HP (some multiple times), but none died.
  • Character building is still more complicated than I’d like.  I only had two players, and each ran two PCS, so that probably slowed down character generation.
  • I did forget a few things, such as granting Advantage for a couple of surprise attacks by monsters.  We didn’t really use the grappling rules (which are easy and powerful), and I forgot all about the Dodge action.
  • I ran combat with “theater of the mind” instead of minis and a grid, and it worked just fine.  The thing is, if you prefer minis and grid, I think it’d work very well with that as well.
  • I suck at making dungeon crawls.  5th Edition was great (both of my players really liked the rule set), but my dungeon was a bit run-of-the-mill.  Lesson learned for next time. 🙂


New Player’s Handbook

August 27, 2014

phbIf you’ve read the free basic PDFs for 5th Edition and didn’t like it, well there’s nothing in the new PHB that will change your mind.  It basically just adds a few new races, several new classes, and feats.

I do like the way feats are handled.  5th Edition feats are more robust, more like plugging in optional class abilities as compared to the relatively fiddly, minor tweaks granted by 3E/4E/PF feats.  Of course, you get far fewer feats in 5E than you do in previous iterations.

But if you can live without the extra bells-and-whistles (or just don’t like 5E) there’s no reason you need to pick up the PHB.


5e Basic DMG PDF

August 14, 2014

I gave the new Basic DMG PDF a quick look through.  It weighs in at about 60 pages, and contains a decent selection of monsters, some common NPCs (thankfully in a separate section, so they aren’t mixed in with the monsters) and a few magic items.  There’s also a few pages on building encounters, though no guidance on how much treasure to give.  Between the two PDFs you ought to be able to run a ‘basic’ game of 5e now.

One neat thing, certain powerful monsters can have Legendary actions and Lair actions.  These are additional actions the monster can take under certain circumstances.  For example, an Adult Red Dragon can make a wing attack after another character completes an action; likewise, the dragon can use special ‘Lair’ actions while in its lair, such as magma eruptions or clouds of noxious gas (while the game expresses this as an action taken by the dragon, it is perhaps better to think of them as environmental effects of the dragon’s preferred habitat).  This is a neat way to represent the awesome power of a powerful dragon, like Smaug.

According to the basic rules, characters can now ‘auto’ detect magic items, and determine how they work with just a short rest.  Definitely not happy about that, but it’s something easy to change with a house rule.

Some items require attunement to use (such as Gauntlets of Ogre Power, for example), and a character can only use 3 attuned items at a time.  This is a neat, simple way to limit the number of items a character can use, though I’m sure the full DMG will change it (when it’s released in a couple of months).

And for what’s it worth, the new version of the Player’s PDF just seems to add Forgotten Realms deities and factions.  There may be some other corrections and changes buried in the text, but I haven’t given it a thorough lookover.

New 5e PDF Downloads

August 14, 2014

You probably already know about this, but I need some blogging fodder, so here it is:  WotC released a second version of the Basic 5e D&D Player’s PDF, and a new Dungeon Master’s PDF.  You can get them both here.

Haven’t read them yet, but I probably will later today.  Cheers.

Bounded Accuracy

July 15, 2014

You can read about the concept of Bounded Accuracy here, straight from the Wizard’s mouth (so to speak).

That article was written a couple of years ago, but I’ve only just recently heard the term “Bounded Accuracy.”  It’s fair to say, I think, that Bounded Accuracy is the foundational design philosophy behind the core of 5 Edition D&D.  In short, the idea is to flatten the power curve, with advancement in character level (including monsters) being reflected by increased hit points, damage output and additional abilities, rather than ever increasing “to-hit” numbers and skill ranks.  The result being a more consistent power gradient in the game, allowing low-level/low-skill characters to still have a decent shot of doing “stuff,” without artificially increasing difficulty to keep up with the steadily increasing power curve.  Likewise, low-level monsters remain a threat to high-level PCs (though you’d need throw more monsters at them).

Having read the Wizard’s article, I have a new found respect for the underlying design philosophy behind 5e, even if I disagree with some of the individual outcomes of that design.  It’s a design principle I can really get behind, as I’m all for reduced power curves, which generally promotes the type of lighter, faster gameplay that I enjoy.

It also explains why hit points and damage output have been increased so much in 5e, which is one of my major “dislikes” about the game.  The OSR versions of this concept that I’ve read about managed to flatten the power curve without significantly inflating hit points or damage, so I wonder if it could be achieved with 5e.  Could a fix be as easy as just using d6 for all damage and hit point rolls, ala 0e?  Or would it entail far more work?  I’m not sure, but it could make for an interesting experiment.

As an aside,  this isn’t an entirely new concept.  Some OSR designers have been using the idea of a significantly flattened power curve for years now, though they didn’t call it “Bounded Accuracy.”

A Few Things I Don’t Like About 5th Edition

July 9, 2014

All right, I’ve given 5e some love, but it’s hardly perfect, particularly considering my preference for lighter rules sets.  So here are a few things I don’t like about 5e:

The biggest issue for me, I think, is that the monster stat blocks still haven’t really shrunk all that much.  I know it’s too much to expect them to go back to the days when a stat block could be represented by a single line (AC 5, HD 2, HP 7, MV 12, Morale 7, etc, etc.).  However, despite dropping two forms of Armor Class, and not incorporating anything like CMB/CMD, 5e stat blocks still clock in close to the size of Pathfinder stat blocks.  And Wizards hasn’t even added monster fluff information yet, so you can bet the actual Monster Manual entries will probably average about 1 page per monster, which is just about where 4e and Pathfinder are at now.

This may seem like a petty complaint, but devoting so much print space to a monster that will, in all likelihood, be dead in a few minutes seems to me to be a waste of time and money.  Extended stat blocks make improvised game play all the harder with crunchier rules sets.  I can’t count the number of times our Pathfinder game has ground to a halt while the GM consulted the Bestiary to read up on a monster he just rolled up, or built out a quick encounter budget for a random monster.  Of course, I realize that extended stat blocks are a way for game companies to pad their profit margins on rule books, making us pay for background material we probably don’t really need, especially when a couple of sentences would suffice for most monsters.  I just would have preferred if the monster blocks could have been trimmed down a bit more.

Related to this is the trend towards Hit Point inflation for both monsters and PCs, which in turn drives overall stat inflation in D&D.  While stat inflation adds unnecessary overhead to a game, I suppose it is the inevitable consequence of D&D’s slow drift away from a game of exploration to a game focused primarily on combat.  In an exploration based game, you want combat to be swift (and lethal, so as to make players think twice about diving head long into battle) so you can get back to dungeon exploration and treasure hunting, whereas in a combat-centric game you want long drawn out fights.  To its credit, basic 5e attempts to shift the focus back somewhat to exploration rather than just combat, though not as far as I might have liked.  Still, the stat inflation is there, leading to longer fights, suggesting that later rule books will probably provide an abundance of options shifting the focus back to crunchy, detailed tactical combat.

Now, you could just reduce the overall Hit Points of monsters and PCs to reduce that drag on the game.  But then you also have to contend with the third item I don’t like about 5e, again related to stat inflation, which is damage inflation.  On the surface, it doesn’t look too bad.  Just an extra point here or there, at 1st level at least.  But then you look at something like the Wizard’s cantrip Firebolt (which can be cast over-and-over again, without limit), which inflicts 1d10 damage and can be cast at will.  It requires an attack roll, to be sure, but that’s still quite a bit of damage, and at 5th level it goes up to 2d10 damage, then 3d10 at 11th and 4d10 at 17th level.  Which shows that you can’t just adjust Hit Point levels, but have to rebalance damage as well, which is a lot of friggin’ work.

And a fourth thing I’m not too excited about, the addition of backgrounds.  In my view, backgrounds add another step to what should be just a simple character generation process.  The handful of backgrounds provided for basic 5e is manageable, but you just know that entire forests will be sacrificed printing new options, and countless hours wasted as players pour over the splat books, looking for the perfect min/max combination to create the ultimate killing machine.  And while backgrounds can be omitted, with much less fuss than adjusting HP and damage levels, it still seems a not insignificant number of a character’s starting proficiencies and equipment derive from them, so some compensation may be in order.

Which leads to a final revelation for me:  by the time I’m done adjusting 5e to be the kind of old school rules-light game I’d like to run, all I’ve done is spent a lot of time re-writing OD&D, or Swords & Wizardry, or PFBB, with just a few house rules like Advantage/Disadvantage thrown in.  Much easier to simply stick with a system I already know and like, and just incorporate the worthwhile bits from 5e.  So, upon reflection, I probably wouldn’t run 5e after all, though I’d definitely be willing to play it (the basic flavor, at least), and most likely prefer it vastly over Pathfinder Core.


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