29 Sep 2014

Test Drive - D&D 5th Edition, Wrapping Up

Welcome back to the short series testing out the D&D 5th edition Player's Handbook.  If you've missed a part, the list is below.

Part I - Reverence, tiefling monk
Part II - Liga Dawnspringer, Kagonesti barbarian
Part III - Aelfward Shadowstar V, half-elf swashbuckler
Part IV - Roscoe P. Tealeaf, halfling entertainer
Part V - June, priestess of Istus

For those just joining in, I've been giving the D&D 5th edition Player's Handbook a test drive.  To give the new rules a fair shake, and because it was fun, I tried a character for different campaign settings.  Now the ultimate question, how does the new system feel?

It feels right.

Simple answer, yes, but accurate.  I had no problem staying to concept where I started with one and getting a concept while following the character creations steps.  Aelfward is a swashbuckler, one who can impress the observers while being effective in a fight while still keeping a swashbuckling flavour even outside battle.  June, on the other hand, came together well as I went through the steps.  Fifth edition is easy enough to follow for a beginner while still giving the experienced player room to poke and prod the system to see how flexible it is.

Some older character concepts may not work ideally; this will happen if the concept is based on an older mechanic.  The drow mage/thief concept I had from when the first edition's Unearthed Arcana came out falls apart, but can still be approximated using the right background.  That said, playing a halfling archaeologist, a human warlord-in-training, or the bard, Elvish Presley, is easily done.  Each character should come out as an individual, not stamped by a cookie-cutter, with chocolate chips for eyes and icing for mouths.

The easiest campaign settings to create a character for were the Realms and Greyhawk.  Greyhawk was the default world in the first and third editions, and fifth leans heavily on both.  The Realms allows for a greater range of concept for both high adventure and low.  Roscoe may not fit in well in Greyhawk; he's a colourful character for the Realms.  Dragonlance will need its own setting book; there were many changes done to the character section of the rules in earlier editions to be able to adjust easily.  Part of the need comes from the available races.  Humans, elves, dwarves, and half-elves are straightforward enough.  Halflings were changed into kender, with a different set of racial abilities.  Gnomes were based on the rock gnomes, but with a curse that forced them to be constantly tinkering with their inventions which would never work.  There were also changes to classes.  Wizards had to either declare a robe colour, based on the character's alignment, or go rogue.  Fifth edition wizards might work, at least for now, but the GM will have to impose alignment restrictions on the school of wizardry chosen.

Overall, the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons is forgiving to character concepts.  It should be possible for a player to create a character that he or she wants to play.

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