Archive for the ‘Edition Wars’ Category

The Fifth Edition

Posted: March 20, 2015 in D&D5e, Edition Wars, RPGs

Against my better judgement, I ended up getting pretty excited about the Wizards of the Coast latest foray, which is the 5th edition of iconic Dungeons & Dragons.  That last sentence has a story and I’ll start at the beginning.

My first RPG was Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D), I think, which I played when I was about 11, in the early 80s.  A friends brother and his friends played it and ran a game for us.  I ended up buying the “red box” of Dungeons & Dragons (the Basic Set) and my friends and I ended up playing quite a bit of the Basic, Expert, and Companion sets of that edition of D&D.

In the mid-80s, my family moved and I grew older and ended up not roleplaying for 6 or 7 years.

In the mid-90s, now an adult, I played AD&D and AD&D 2nd edition with a bunch of friends.  We bought tons of the splat books and discussed the ins and outs of various options.  We played campaigns, always homebrew, and had tons of fun.  Then we started playing other games.  It was in comparison to games such as Battletech (which we roleplayed rather than played as a simple tactical board game), Vampire: The Masquerade, and SpaceMaster that I realized how poor AD&D was as a system.  It simply focused a ton of game attention to adjudicating silly rules that didn’t matter.  It seemed to be designed as a hodgepodge of contradicting systems that made little coherent sense, and so we spent a great deal of time arguing about rules interpretations, and house-ruling our own compromises.  To this day, people playing D&D that used to play AD&D get confused: “Do I need to roll high or low?”

I decided at one point that I would never play AD&D again, and TSR went bankrupt.  Coincidence?  I played other fantasy games, like Rolemaster Standard System, and tons of other interesting RPGs like Feng Shui, Usagi Yojimbo, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Fading Suns, Millennium’s End.  That was a wonderful experience.

In early 2000, I tried the third edition of AD&D, now just called Dungeons & Dragons.  Actually, was it the third edition of AD&D or the third edition of original D&D (where the BECMI edition I played was the second edition?)?  I don’t really know.  But I tried it, and realized that they had cleaned it up a ton.  I bought the books, and got married, in that order.  We bought all the splat books, and we have played it a lot since then.

Fourth edition was a right turn, apparently.  WotC really cleaned up a lot of things that people complained about, including uneven power curves and game balance issues, rules were streamlined and solidified into a coherent package.  But people indicated that the customization options just weren’t meaningful, as if you were playing a MMORPG like World of Warcraft.  That prevalence of opinion tainted my wife’s and my willingness to try it.  After all, D&D 3.5 worked great for us, so why buy hundreds of dollars of new books?  I still haven’t tried it, although I did buy the three core rulebooks.

I did buy a bunch of the Pathfinder rulebooks, and have ran one campaign with it, which turned out just fine.  Pathfinder felt like a proper evolution of 3.5 while remaining compatible.

Against my better judgement, I ended up getting pretty excited about the Wizards of the Coast latest foray, which is the 5th edition of iconic Dungeons & Dragons.  To be fair, there’s nothing wrong with it and it very well may be the best version of D&D too date.  They’ve really grabbed much of what people liked about AD&D and kept some of the great third edition innovations, as well as some of the fourth edition shinies.  But, after running two one-shot sessions and playing in a third, meh.  I really like the Backgrounds and the Advantage mechanic, but the rest is just D&D.  There are thousands of cool innovative game systems out there, with more released every week.  This leaves me feeling like playing D&D5e is somehow moving backwards.

I’ll pass for now.  If, however, my game troupes decide collectively that they want to play 5e, then I’ll happily go along with them because they’re the entire reason to play in the first place.  And we would have fun, damnit!