What's Next

Next. 5e. 5th Edition. The newest edition of D&D is (slowly) crawling forth from the gates of Wizards of the Coast’s dark fortress.

Credit goes to NerdAtlas for calling my attention to this new release of basic rules for D&D. You can get a free download here and check it out for yourself.

I’ve been skimming my way through here and there. The basic “How does a game like this work?” stuff all seems pretty straightforward. The PDF has info for 4 core classes and races: Fighter, Rogue, Cleric and Wizard, then Dwarf, Elf, Halfling and Human. I have not yet dug into the mechanics so much, because the first several portions establish the basics for potential newbies.

One paragraph hidden within all that description caught my eye. It addresses the concept of advantage versus disadvantage. Without clarifying how difficult it is to gain advantage or suffer disadvantage, the text explains that these terms mean rolling two d20 instead of one for a given action. Advantage means taking the higher roll of the two. Disadvantage means taking the lower. That seems to create a huge impact on success or failure, but I’ll have to see how it plays out in practice.

Maybe it will do away with some of the more extensive math. I recall some 4e rounds that sounded like this: “Ok, I rolled a 12, but I get a +2 for proficiency, and a +1 feat bonus for using a fire spell. Hey, do I get that +1 because this character is marked? Yes, but your view is partially obscured by the smoke from the burning flesh of the orc at the target’s feet, so you take a -5 for that. Right, but I can use my Wand of Accuracy to add my Dex bonus to my attack for this round, so that’s a +4. No wait, +5 because we just leveled up earlier, right?”

I can see some benefit to getting away from that sort of thing… but maybe that all still factors in. I’ll have to read more to see.

I also appreciated the new level tiers. The writers made it clear that the four tiers between levels 1 and 20 don’t affect any rules or anything like that. They merely serve to give players an idea of where their characters stand in the big wide world. Levels 1-4 are apprentice adventurers, the novices learning the ropes. 5-10 are getting the hang of things. 11-16 are pretty big names, and 17-20 are legends on a worldwide scale. Far better description than the three-tier, 10 level per tier system of 4e… This new setup creates a shorter time as “newbs” and a smaller range at the pinnacle.

One thing I did like about the “flavor” stuff provided is how they describe the various races. I know, these four races are pretty much the bread and butter of most fantasy settings, so it shouldn’t take a lot of explanation to describe a dwarf. But I saw what felt like more effort put into helping a player figure out how to role-play their character’s race, as well as a good take on how each race generally views the other three.

Anyway, the point of this post is to call attention to the new rules being available, and to give credit to NerdAtlas, without whom I’d probably have missed this release.

More books are due throughout the rest of this year… but at $50 a pop for the core books, you can bet I’ll be paging through the free basic rules a bit more before committing to a new edition.

If you’ve checked the rules out or followed the development of this edition, what stands out to you?

3 thoughts on “What's Next”

  1. My view? It’s… solid. The bones look good but it feels a little too in-the-comfort zone for me. It’s an RBI single rather than a home run, it’s not fancy but it gets the job done.

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