Last December, I was supposed to be part of that now famous group of people who flew to WOTC headquarters and participated in the first demonstration of what is now being referred top as “Dnd Next”, or as I call it, 5e. We were NOT told it was for 5e, but rather for a conference about organized play (which was partly true). I couldn’t fly for medical reasons, so I missed out on all the fun, but I suspected all along that 5e had something to do with it. Obviously, nobody would tell me what it was for, as the folks I know who went were under strict NDA’s.
Some brief time after that I was invited into the Friends and Family playtest, and have been on that ride ever since, so yeah, I’ve been playtesting 5th Edition D&D. That’s why there has been so little D&D content on this blog. I am no longer playing or participating in any 4e stuff, although I had a chance to playtest some of the Encounter season stuff and one of the books you are seeing on the shelves this month. So what do I think about it? Well, it certainly looks and smells like the D&D I played when I was younger, no doubt. If that’s the feel that they are going for, they’ve succeeded. There are some aspects of it that are downright cool (themes, I’m looking at you), and some things that make me wonder why they weren’t always part of the game (the way ability scores interact with DC’s, for example.) I love the fact that minis and a grid aren’t assumed, although I’ve been playing D&D Next with a grid, as it’s just easier for me. One thing I still don’t like: conditions. I really prefer the way Star Wars Saga handled those, and it’s a shame that mechanic has been discarded. In the playtest that went out today, there are a far less number of conditions than in the version I tested, which had 21! Too many, and I’m glad that number was reduced.
I think this playtest material is a great way to introduce somebody new to D&D to the game. The rules are fairly simple, and you have everything you need to start a game. I would encourage people to not just play with experienced roleplayers, but to also try and play with somebody new to rpg’s, as it may give you a different perspective on the game. The input and feedback that they can offer to the playtest may also let the designers see things from a newbies point of view, which at this point in time may be lost on them.
I’m going to ask the community a few things. First, even if you don’t like something, try to be critical but in a positive way. Don’t be a troll for the sake of being a troll. If you don’t like a mechanic, explain why. ”Because I think it sucks” is not an answer, and you aren’t helping anybody that way. Second, lets try and remain civil, and not turn this into a 4e vs. D&D Next edition war. D&D Next is coming, there’s no turning back. You don’t want to switch? You don’t have to. Your 4e books aren’t going anywhere. Don’t troll people who have switched and are enjoying D&D Next. Nobody’s dancing on 4e’s grave, relax, it’s just a game.
One last thing. This game is not complete. My guess is that they need the basic core of the game to be tight first, and that’s what we are seeing. Something missing? Bring it up, but don’t assume it’s gone for good, it may be in the works or not relevant to the playtest.
So in closing, that’s the reason why I’ve been kind of silent on the D&D front. I was muzzled. I expect to do a little more writing as I get deeper into the latest version of the playtest packet. I need to check what’s changed from the previous one! Good times.
Oh, and once you go through the playtest, take a look at my prophetic article from February 2011, where I predicted 5e was coming. I think I nailed it.
Have fun in The Caves of Chaos this weekend!