So while our esteemed host has been trying more esoteric systems like “East Texas University”, I was introduced (read: Dragged screaming away from WoD and Pathfinder) to 5th Edition D&D/”D&D Next”.
Note from the Editor: I wouldn’t exactly call Savage Worlds (the system that East Texas University uses) “esoteric”. It’s just a very solid generic RPG system that can be adapted to a variety of settings with a minimum of effort. I’ll write about it more later.
In short: It’s good. It’s really good. It pokes all my favourite happy buttons.
In long: It was the best of times, it was the worst of tim-
Anyway – 5th Edition.
I read through the Player’s Handbook and I’m floored. I read it in a single day and was so pleased. The endless lists of modifiers? Gone. Alignment restrictions? Gone. Obvious bias to casters? Poof.
So, yeah. I’m excited. I’m also pretty sure this huge shift away from what is traditionally associated with D&D (Huge crunch, expansive rules and character options, little focus on roleplaying.) is:
- Good for D&D.
- Good for Pathfinder.
- Very controversial.
Pathfinder and D&D 3.5/4 have been holding the same niche in roleplaying for a little while now. Mechanics heavy fantasy roleplaying with years of experience and a wide community to build tools. (Hero Lab; for example.)
This divergence into a simpler, more open ruleset REALLY helps D&D as the “Beginner’s game” reputation it owns as being the longest running and most visible in the media. The option to make it more complicated is available… By trying Pathfinder.
Pathfinder currently has 89 (At my super-rough count.) books available, not including campaign setting and adventure paths. 89 books worth of customization and additional rules are available for you if you love your mechanics. (Another Editor’s Note: It’s worth pointing out that many of these books are very short, highly focused Player Companions, not full sized splats)
But of course, this means 5E doesn’t look much like D&D anymore. It’s not like the punishing 2nd Ed Tomb of Horrors; the expansive 3.5 filled with ridiculous feats from a third party or even the tactical MMORPG style gameplay of 4th Ed.
And while it’s not Open Gaming Licence, additional crunch is added with each new book. Princes of the Apocolypse has added Elemental races like Genasi. At what point does the scale tip? When does 5E start looking like 3.5?
2 thoughts on “Professor Jimbles Presents!: D&D 5E Review”
The problem being that game publishers can only survive by publishing new material. That means more books, more rules, more settings, more stuff… That’s why there are (how many???) editions of D&D. That’s why I stopped playing it. Not drawing any conclusions here, just stating the problem clearly.
That’s why I’ve begun to favour Savage Worlds over Pathfinder and D&D. Rather than just publishing more options in the same world, they spread their efforts over numerous settings that all use a central system with rule changes as needed to suit genre and tone. Some settings might get a few more books than others, but most keep it fairly tight. World of Darkness does a similar thing with their “splats”, but it lends itself to a different sort of game from what I normally like to run.