Monday, January 19, 2015

Early Experience With 5E

Cannon on display at Fort Pitt Museum

It has been at least 6 or 7 years since I have played any D&D, although in that time I have purchased a number of old school RPGs. That half-decade hiatus was a very welcome break from modern implementations of D&D. My last experience had been playing in a 3.5 pirates game where it took an entire session to fire a loaded cannon and then reload it to fire again. I left the session after nearly three hours of waiting, when it was clear that second shot was not just going to happen.

But I've been interested to see where 5E would go. Since the summer of 2014, I have purchased the three core books, and the GM screen. About three months ago, a friend proposed an online game through Hangouts, and in the late fall, I created Enkidu, my Half Orc Ranger.

It took a couple of hours to create the character. That's too long in my book, but it was a new PC with a new system. There wasn't as much cruft (such as Feats) to deal with as in 3.5, and the skills list seemed more useful for a roleplaying game than the one in 4E. When my GM reviewed my character he found that I had underselected my proficiencies by one skill. It was only after some rereading and discussions that I also understood how saves and save proficiencies come together.

But we're there now!

Friday night we had our first game session by Hangout. It was an urban/wilderness adventure. Our task was to deliver a shipment to the nearest town. It was winter and the first day after a blizzard, so we made our delivery by sled. Along the way, players made skill checks for various things such as handling the sled and spotting potential hazards. I was surprised that the advantage/disadvantage system didn't get more use, but I think it's likely that players will probably need to be nudged to remind the GM when they are in a situation where advantage might apply to their actions. (And since this is a traditional RPG more or less, GMs will also need to decide about the situations in which disadvantage applies.)

The skills proved very appropriate for the kinds of things we were trying to do.My post-play assessment of the skill list is that it gets things about right. I also thought my character was pretty competent in the skills for which he had proficiency.

There was no combat in the session, so we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Our GM is planning to take a more traditional approach to hit points and healing. I have no idea how that will affect the threat posed by monsters, and the efficacy of certain spells; we will just have to see.

So far, so good on the systems front. But boy did that session end with one hell of a PC-induced and completely preventable mess. The party collective decided to leave the sled and shipment of goods in someone else's hands while we went to dinner. I had advised against this course of action, but other voices prevailed. We returned from dinner to find our sled, shipment, and draft horse had been stolen.

This is no one's fault but our own.


  1. I'm having fun with 5E so far. I'm running it in a homebrew mythological Thailand as a hexcrawl. I dig the better math (we were playing PFRPG) and the PCs love the random backgrounds I forced them into at chargen. It made people that weren't into to rping concious of how easy it could be.

    So far so good from my perspective. The art direction is another high point for me. I still feel like it has a fair bit of bloat, but it definitely suits my more free form desires than Pathfinder or 4E do.

    I'll be interested to see your perspective on the Ranger class as I thought it was clearly the most in need of some extra work to make it interesting.

    1. Cool, Jason! Thanks for dropping a comment! Are you basing your Thailand on Quelong at all? Eventually we'll have Bryan Thao Worra's special edition of Demonstra will all sorts of SE Asian monstrous goodness to add to the mix (it's poetry plus illustration plus gamer friendly liner notes).

      +Jack Shear on G+ had some reservations on the Ranger a while back, and then I think he revised his estimate. So far so good I guess. We'll just have to see.

      The odd thing is that I thought Enkidu FerJabbersSake was going to be the one off "weird PC", but he is probably also the closest thing we have to a fighter.

  2. I just found out about Qelong a couple weeks ago and haven't gotten it yet. I was just sick of mediaeval europe and happen to read an article about mediaeval Thai city states. Snowballed from there, but I'm gonna nab Qelong when I get a chance.

    1. You probably don't, but you might find some inspirations there. It is a great metaphor for the Secret War in Laos.


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