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Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook Released 203

Posted by Soulskill
from the roll-for-free-shipping dept.
New submitter GammaKitsune writes: "The Player's Handbook for the fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons, formerly known as "D&D Next," released today to major bookstores and online retailers across the U.S. The Player's Handbook, which contains core rules for gameplay and character creation, is one of thee core rulebooks that developer Wizards of the Coast plans to release in 2014. The Monster Manual is scheduled to release in late September, and the Dungeon Master's Guide will release in mid November. Also out today is the first of two adventure modules in which players team up to battle against the dragon goddess Tiamat.

Fifth edition has a lot to prove following the highly-controversial fourth edition, the rise of competing roleplaying game Pathfinder, and two years of public playtesting. Initial reviews posted on Amazon appear overwhelmingly positive at the time of writing, but more skeptical gamers may wish to take a look at the free "Basic Rules" posted on the official D&D website. The basic rules contain all the bare essentials needed to create a character or run your own adventure, and will serve both as a free introduction for new players and as a holdover for long time players until the remaining two rulebooks are released.
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Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook Released

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  • by Sasayaki (1096761) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @10:34PM (#47709393)

    Long time d20 (and variants) player here. Not as long as some, but long enough to have played 2nd Edition when it was still current.

    IMHO, 5th Edition's success will come down to their acceptance of the OGL (Open Gaming Licence), which we will discover in the coming days. All signs point to no, but Wizards might surprise us yet.

    For those who don't know, the OGL was introduced in the 3rd edition (and continued its minor update, v3.5) of D&D. It was truly revolutionary. The OGL not only permitted players to redistribute the base rule system as they wished, including publishing it online for free almost in its entirety, but empowered players, writers, and campaign masters to edit, change and adapt the rules as they saw fit -- and publish those changes, as long as they too were under the OGL. It's open source for gaming systems.

    One of the leading benefits of this was the publication of "Adventure Paths". As the OGL did not cover game worlds, only the mechanics and rules of the game, any writer or publishing company with a solid working knowledge of the game could create, publish, and distribute (freely or for profit) their own adventures, rules variations, optional mechanics, and thousands of various changes. One of the leading companies was Paizo, who specialized in publishing these so-called Adventure Paths. They were not the only ones. For example, I personally published a Pathfinder flavoured novel about a kobold, "Ren of Atikala", set in the original world of Drathari (oblig. plug: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EZ... [amazon.com]). Using the OGL, I am able to legally use, alter, and draw inspiration from the rules and mechanics of OGL-licensed publications and create original works.

    As I said earlier, it's open-source for gaming systems.

    Between 3rd edition and v3.5, this was the state of D&D for almost 8 years, until June of 2008, when D&D 4th Edition was released. Unfortunately, D&D 4th Edition used a different version of the OGL, which was much more restrictive in what it permitted players, authors, and creators to edit, change, and redistribute (IIRC, it was essentially, "you may only reprint the *name* of the rule, and then reference the Player's Handbook", which meant if you were playing Star Wars you had to look up Power Attack in the D&D Player's Handbook... ugh).

    Because of this change, and the simplifications made to the rules system which were often disfavourably compared to a video game, many players took a distinct, sight-unseen dislike to 4th Edition.

    This restrictive change to the OGL also strongly disinsentivised Paizo from publishing Adventure Paths. After some internal discussion, it was decided that 4th Edition was not for them, and released a revised version of v3.5 of Dungeons and Dragons, known as the Pathfinder RPG (sometimes informally referred to by the player base as D&D v3.75), specifically intended to be backwards compatible with v3.5 of Dungeons and Dragons material. It was published shortly after 4th Edition's debut.

    For many reasons -- a feeling that v3.5 was "good enough", Paizo's open-beta policy and staunch support of the OGL even for expansion books, and for viewing companies such as Green Ronin as allies rather than competitors -- Pathfinder has flourished in the wake of the relatively-poorly received 4th edition and is now a common staple at Roleplaying conventions and tabletop gaming communities, where previously only Dungeons and Dragons was played.

    D&D Next seems, to me, to be squarely aimed directly at bringing Pathfinder converts back into the fold, promising to address some of the issues in both 4th Edition and Pathfinder, by providing a linearly scaling advancement, reducing preparation time for Game Masters, and simplifying many poorly thought out and complicated legacy rules which most players will admit probably need to go.

    For me, though, D&D Next will live or die the same death 4th Edition did, based on its acceptance of

  • My assessment (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mark-t (151149) <markt@l y n x . b c .ca> on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @10:45PM (#47709429) Journal
    3e turned the game into something resembling a video game, being quite rules heavy, lots of bean counting that gets pretty tedious to track after a while, and the dungeonmaster is relegated a role that could almost be replaced by an automaton. I never cared for the way 2e handled specialization wizards, because most of them felt way too similar to eachother to be distinctive. The problem was even worse for clerics. In part this is because they didn't really try to consider that spells in different spheres or when cast by different specialists, should actually be set at a different level, and it's possible with some rather large changes to the class system and spell lists available to the appropriate classes, a good system could be created, but I never had the energy to devote to trying to do that. The psionics system in 2e was so overpowered as to be absurd, and the psionics system in 3e and beyond just feels like another magic spell list instead of anything particularly special.

    The best edition of D&D was the first edition of AD&D, and I'm sticking to it.

  • Re:Flaws? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rakhar (2731433) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @10:54PM (#47709459)

    I've played in several systems with perks/flaws and they're normally fun. It encourages people to take personality traits that they otherwise wouldn't bother with, and also gives it a solid spot on their sheet to remind them.

    That said, I stopped buying D&D stuff after 3.5 was announced and I realized WotC was going to just keep changing the game every few years. 3.5 was still mostly compatible, but I saw the writing on the wall. Nowadays I just make my own systems for fun, keeping die rolls to a minimum and trying to avoid encouraging min/maxing.

  • Re:5e: Best D&D, MHO (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LordLucless (582312) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @10:56PM (#47709475)

    To offer a counter-opinion:

    I played 2E in high school, missed most of 3E (except for the computer games loosely based on that ruleset, which I love and still play today) and these days play 4E. I've played a couple of encounters with the 5E playtest bundle.

    My group play D&D more as a tactical skirmish game than as an RPG. We play RPGs too, but we tend to use indie or White Wolf (does White Wolf count as indie these days) systems for that. D&D 4E as a tactical skirmish game, is awesome. I'm not sure if you'd consider my style to be "adversarial" DMing. I'm certainly deliberately trying to bring the team down in combat, but I'm not trying to "beat" them - I'm the DM, if I want to "beat" them, rocks just fall.

    A perfect encounter, for me, is when the party beats the monsters with no deaths, but feels like they only just pulled it off. A perfect adventuring day is when the whole party finishes the last encounter for the day with no surges, and dailies used. If I've killed one of them, I've failed; if they haven't been challenged, I've failed. If they've felt like they were on the edge of disaster the whole time, but pulled through by the seat of their pants, I've succeeded.

    5E is not the edition for us. Like you said, it's clear and simple, streamlined, and without as much math, but we enjoy the complexities. We like the billions of permutations 4E offers for characters, despite the balance and function issues such an array of options present. For me, 5E doesn't have the in-depth combat complexities that 4E offered as a skirmish game, but neither does it have the narrative elements that support role-playing that systems like Fate, or Storyteller do.

    That aside, I still wouldn't be buying 5E, simply because I no longer trust Wizards management of the brand. I avoided the 3/3.5E debacle, but 4E was just as poorly managed. There are whole classes that are practically unplayable (Seeker, Runepriest, etc) because WotC decided to switch to Essentials mid-stream; others were neglected ever since they were printed (Assassin, Artificer, etc). Martial characters got two hard-cover Power books; every other power source got one - classes that were printed after their power book got zero. Dragonborn and Tielfling were the only races to receive dedicated books, giving them far more options than other races. And that's aside from stuff like expertise math-fixes due to insufficient QA in the first place.

    TL;DR: I'll keep 4E for a skirmish game, and keep using indie systems for role-playing. 5E fills neither niche.

  • Re:5e: Best D&D, MHO (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @10:57PM (#47709479)

    It's not easier to read, many people are left scratching their heads over what something is supposed to mean leading to many flame wars and even the designers showing their ignorance when asked on Twitter.

    Many of the things people hated about 4E are there in 5E with very gameist mechanics that completely destroy any sense of immersion, making you feel like you're playing a video game rather than a role-playing game. Powers recharging on short rests, abilities that only work during combat etc.

    Character customization is very very low. You basically get a feat at 4rth level and the option to multi-class and that is it, otherwise pretty much every character is a cookie cutter of every other one, leading to lousy re-playability.

    Despite the lack of options they someone threw balance out the window and it is easily the least balanced edition. Combat is very swingy, monsters for the most part uninteresting and not at all balanced with each other with their challenge level number. Their claim of larger but fewer feats making it easier to balance has just lead to fewer choices but the really good and really bad are still there so players without system mastery can easily fall into trap options and end up with dramatically weaker characters than someone that multi-classes wisely and takes synergistic feats and spells.

    And you need to buy a dead tree. Despite people wanting to throw money at WotC for a PDF, they won't release one. I guess they haven't heard of tablets yet.

    If you have a previous edition you like, keep liking it, this is not the game you're looking for. Move along.

  • Re:5e: Best D&D, MHO (Score:5, Interesting)

    by seebs (15766) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @11:16PM (#47709565) Homepage

    Doesn't matter how many advantage/disadvantage you have. If you have both, you have neither. If you have only one of those two, then you roll two dice, no matter how many things are giving you advantage or disadvantage.

    There are still numeric bonuses, but a lot fewer of them. I think the ones that survive all stack.

    But for an example, monks and mage armor. In 3e, the monk got to add their wisdom modifier to AC when unarmored, and mage armor gave a +4 armor bonus, so they stacked. In 5e, mage armor sets your armor class when unarmored to 13+dex, and being a monk sets it to 10+wis+dex, and you can take whichever one you want, but neither is "a bonus" so there's no stacking to resolve.

    In general, the net effect is slightly "shallower", but the flip side of that is that you don't have parties where one player has +42 on a check and another player has +3. So you can set DCs that are actually meaningful and interesting.

    In epic-level Pathfinder, it takes our party samurai 5 minutes or so to finish a round of full attacks, which can do ~1350 damage. Also lots of die rolls. In 5e, so far as I can tell, nothing takes close to that long.

  • Re:MMO Crap (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DuckDodgers (541817) <keeper_of_the_wolf@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @05:31PM (#47716251)
    I disagree. For a novel, that's fine. For a cooperative game, it sucks - do you really expect to tell players, "Okay, you two are going to play guys that are useful for the next six months. Then they'll suck. On the other hand you two are going to play guys that are going to suck for the next six months. Then they'll kick ass, and they'll kick ass way better than these guys ever did." (Change time periods depending upon how often gaming group meets, rate of experience, etc...)

    In RPG discussion forums I've heard this referred to as Linear Fighter, Quadratic Wizard - with linear and quadratic as the metaphor for the rate of growth of power. Now again, this fits fantasy literature, it makes for great stories, etc... But it fails for a group because it means there's a completely uneven distribution of 'spotlight' time once the game lasts long enough. The people playing non-casters might as well not show up, they can be replaced by hirelings and a few summoning spells.

Hackers of the world, unite!

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