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Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook Released 203

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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  • Characters have to have Flaws?

    I'll stick with 2nd edition, and let all of the people that have to have flaws keep wasting cash.

    • Re:Flaws? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Rakhar ( 2731433 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @11:54PM (#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:Flaws? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by lgw ( 121541 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @01:43AM (#47709861) Journal

        Min/maxing is half the fun of the game, unless it leaves the PCs woefully unbalanced between one another. What you want is a system where min/maxing produces reasonable character concepts, and reasonable character concepts produce well-optimized characters. That was the huge flaw in 3.5 - it was impossible for the new player to figure out what worked mechanically and what didn't. When I play an RPG, I want to play a hero, dammit. I can play the flawed loser in real life, thank you very much.. But I shouldn't have to know or care that if my idea of a hero is a martial monk that I'll bee all but useless in any encounter, while if it's a pure caster that I'll have an "I win" button if I do it right.

        That's the problem. Not the idea that if I'm going to be a wizard, I'm going to be the smartest guy around, or if I'm going to hit people in the face with my axe, then I'm going to be the biggest, toughest guy around. Those are totally viable character ideas, especially your first time playing before you've grown bored of the shallow archetypes. And yet, that's min-maxing. Bah, min-maxing is fine. It's a broken system where in order to be an non-cliche character you have to be disadvantaged mechanically, because the game is build on archetype enforcement, that's the problem.

        OK, it's worse still if you buy what you thought was an RPG and it turns out to just be miniatures combat rules. 4E got combat right, but the game had little else. At least in 3.5 with a veteran DM guiding new players to make effective characters, or any previous D&D version, there was a deep game there that only occasionally focused on combat.

        • by Rakhar ( 2731433 )

          I play RPGs for the RP. I grew up freeform RPing on IRC. I'm one of the small margin of RPGers that actually loves rolling stats one at a time with do-overs only for min values. Nowadays everyone has to be equal, even in a fantasy world. That's boring to me.

          When I read books I don't expect every character to be an in-your-face war hero, and I certainly don't look down on the characters that support them in things outside of combat. Remember the days when a rogue loaded with social skills and charisma c

          • by lgw ( 121541 )

            Old school RP is a tiny corner of the gaming world, and really well served by rules-light RPG systems, I think. Risus is great IMO for anything where you don't need "tactical simulation rules" (hmm, TSR, someone should make a game company ....), or one of the many Emo Goffpire games. I just see the broken-rules problems in RP-land that plague the tactical world.

            Here's the problem: it's boring to be in an encounter where you have nothing to contribute. And bored players make problems for games, one way or

        • Min/maxing is half the fun of the game, unless it leaves the PCs woefully unbalanced between one another.

          I'm not sure how you can have min/maxing without it unbalancing the PC's. It becomes an arms race between players to find the most powerful, game breaking combos. Spreadsheets, forums, and research on things that can be abused. It leaves the non min/maxers in the dust, and the GM has to find some way to tone up encounters without destroying everyone else.

          Not the idea that if I'm going to be a wizard, I'm going to be the smartest guy around, or if I'm going to hit people in the face with my axe, then I'm going to be the biggest, toughest guy around. Those are totally viable character ideas, especially your first time playing before you've grown bored of the shallow archetypes. And yet, that's min-maxing.

          You can roleplay the smartest/strongest guy around, or you can abuse the rule system to become the strongest/smartest guy around. When your level 5 cha

          • by lgw ( 121541 )

            becomes an arms race between players to find the most powerful, game breaking combos. Spreadsheets, forums, and research on things that can be abused. It leaves the non min/maxers in the dust, ...

            You can roleplay the smartest/strongest guy around, or you can abuse the rule system to become the strongest/smartest guy around. When your level 5 character has godly powers to influence the game through some clever min/maxing, it really ruins the experience for others.

            All I can say is: that just isn't true of every game system. It's horribly, horribly true of 3.5, which is the fundamental problem with 3.5. If careful min/maxing gives you a 20% combat advantage over a naive build, likely at the cost of non-combat stuff, that's not going to be a problem. Heck, it could be 50% more powerful without hurting the game if the DM is willing to shape encounters a bit (not ideal, but workable). But 3.5 is so bad that some classes simply can't contribute except in carefully con

          • As a DM, I don't CARE if my PCs are balanced. I care if they're interesting. If my players start min/maxing, I slap 'em back to the stone age. We're here to roleplay, Damnit. Talking to the innkeeper is just as important as stabbing the orc.

            It's my job to keep the players entertained by co-creating a story WITH the players.

        • Re:Flaws? (Score:4, Funny)

          by Dr. Evil ( 3501 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @09:20AM (#47711621)

          Your style of RPG was perfected a few years ago: []

        • by Boronx ( 228853 )

          Min/maxing is half the fun of D&D. The challenge is to create a game that is fun with unbalanced characters. Other systems have succeeded in that.

        • You realize the original Dungeons and Dragons was inspired by miniatures combat, right?

          The reason to focus so much on combat and giving every class a useful role in combat is that combat generally takes longer to roleplay than anything else in Dungeons and Dragons. If you're playing Fate, or Risus, or Trollbabe, or Dying Earth RPG, then that wasn't the case and non-combat events and interactions can take as long as combat. But in Dungeons and Dragons combat always got the spotlight, that's why the Pl
          • by lgw ( 121541 )

            The problem with 4e is it dropped everything else. The fixes to combat make it much more accessible to a new generation, and that's great, but a D&D session shouldn't play like an MMO. You need just as much richness in the setting, in open-ended exploration, in diplomacy, in absurdly over-engineered traps, and so on. 4E got some pieces very right, but it's too tightly wound IMO - too much focus on combat, and especially on well-balanced combats. It's a poor system to accommodate cleverness and tacti

      • Most of the free content on the web is 3.x and skipped 4e entirely, so I'm going to stick with 3.x and houserules. ... hey, doesn't this sound familiar?
      • Flaws can be good as long as they're personality flaws with no mechanical influence, just suggestions on how to play your character. I've yet to see a system which included mechanically relevant flaws that didn't end up with everyone being ugly squinting one eyed outlaws from a bad family who owe favours to someone three countries over.

        • GURPS strongly suggests a limit on disadvantages, and there are "disadvantages" like truthfulness, sense of duty, code of honor, etc. that restrict actions but are heroic in nature. Of course a friend of mine has a pirate campaign where there is no disad limit and players usually start as physically disfigured outlaws with psychological issues, some who owe allegiance to captains of other ships. But that's pretty normal for pirates.
    • Are you referring to that one little bit of background text that you can exploit to get a free reroll (intuition point) from?
      Yeah, if that's your only reason for dissing it, I'm surprised you play the earlier versions of D&D where you get negative attributes if not human.
      LoL, that kind poorly founded dismissive talk is just funny.
    • I memorized the 1st edition book. Too old to learn anymore or look things up.
  • 5e: Best D&D, MHO (Score:5, Insightful)

    by seebs ( 15766 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @11:17PM (#47709299) Homepage

    I have basically liked all the D&Ds, so I'm a little biased. I even liked 4e, although I recognize that it was a very different kind of game in a lot of ways from the others.

    But basically, if you liked D&D pre-4e, and hated 4e, 5e may be what you were looking for. It's a much cleaner system than 3e/3.5e/PF; simpler and clearer. It's not as complicated in some ways. It doesn't have nearly as much detail in the rules, it doesn't have as many formal definitions. But it's clearer and easier to read. And before you dismiss "easier to read" as unimportant, consider: I spent about 10 years on an ISO language standards committee. I assure you, I'm not afraid of formal language. But I like 5e's system better.

    Most of the bonus stacking rules are gone, replaced by a mechanic called "advantage/disadvantage". If you have advantage or disadvantage on a roll, you roll 2d20 and take the higher or lower respectively. If you have neither or both, you roll normally. Most things that used to be +2-+4 bonuses of various types are now "advantage", and most things that used to be penalties are now "disadvantage". In practice, you get similar results with a lot less addition, and without having to check the bonus types of 8 different modifiers to figure out which ones stack.

    Everyone I know who's played it has been really happy with it so far. The system is much less focused on trying to resolve every possible question; instead, the assumption is that the DM is not an idiot and is not playing maliciously. If you tend towards adversarial player/DM relationships, avoid 5e; it's not designed for that, and it would be horrible. But if you are playing with people who are basically clear on the idea that games are meant to be fun, and who can cooperate without epic rules battles, this is probably the best D&D ever.

    The anon coward's "MMO Crap" comment is well past "baseless" into "completely incoherent". 4e had a few traits that sort of, if you squinted just right, looked like it was MMO-oriented, but mostly it was more like wargames than like any MMO I've ever seen. 5e is pretty much like a cross between 3e and Rules Cyclopedia D&D, with a much cleaner and simpler rules set, and a lot more interesting flavor to things.

    Other things:

    Lots of the "missing" complexity is rumored to be in the DMG as optional rules.

    Casters as a whole are significantly nerfed compared to 3e, or for that matter compared to any previous edition. (Max-level caster? You get a ninth level spell per day. Use it carefully.)

    There's some really crazy Internet drama about some of the consultants, which is best ignored, and has no basis in reality.

    • Thanks for the change summery, but I have one question. Never played any DnD-like, except Doom the boardgame, which I think is wildly different but at least had a DM. So how does stacking resolve then? You never seem to mention that. They got rid of math by having a generic advantage/disadvantage system. But does that mean that nothing stacks, or everything stacks? Can you have a double advantage? IMHO, stacking is a pretty important part of RPGs. RPGs that do not allow anything to stack tend to be shallo
      • Re:5e: Best D&D, MHO (Score:5, Interesting)

        by seebs ( 15766 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @12:16AM (#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.

        • In 3e, the monk got to add their wisdom modifier to AC when unarmored, and mage armor gave a +4 armor bonus

          Okay, I'm confused. How can a bonus you only get when unarmored stack with a bonus that comes from armor?

          • The bonus doesn't come from armor, it comes from a magical force effect, that just happens to have a bonus type of "armor".

            To be a little clearer, the monk's AC bonus class feature states that they get the bonus so long as they aren't wearing armor, and even though it grants an "armor" bonus, you still aren't "wearing" armor.

        • by Warma ( 1220342 )

          Your example with the 1350 damage seems a valid reason to hate pen&paper RPGs, and actually is one of the main reasons I disliked 3.0 and 3.5 (and derivatives, like Pathfinder). 5e seems to have moved away from that (far away), which, in my opinion, is a really positive change.

          • I really hated the paperwork involved with gaining a level in 3e & 3.5e. 3e was worse, though. What skills do you want to raise? Does that skill have any other skills that it synergizes with? Is the synergy active at this skill level? If so, do you want to spend less on that skill and more on another that doesn't have a synergy yet? Bah. I'm not interested in games that are as complicated as the tax code for no good reason. All the rules just slowed everything down. They added nothing to the gameplay.

    • I walked away from crunchy rule systems years ago. Go Fudge go!

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

      by LordLucless ( 582312 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @11:56PM (#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 @11:57PM (#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.

    • Too complicated. D&D went downhill after AD&D, taking a simple system and making it more and more complex. They should have trashed the outdated class system and gone with a straight up skill or point system like the competition, instead of creating a twisted hybrid.

      • I started playing AD&D back in 1980, where the only systems available without a class system were the more obscure The Fantasy Trip and Champions. Tunnels and Trolls, RoleMaster, Arduin's Grimoire, Palladium, they all had classes, and Traveller had careers to generate your skill sets (and most famously, no rules for improving skills during play). GURPS didn't come out until 1986 or thereabouts, long after AD&D had been the FRPG of choice.

        So I don't think you really know what you're talking about.

        • Champions was 1981 and had a point buy system, and that evolved into the Hero System. GURPS was 1986 but others had been doing classless systems for awhile, GURPS was mostly pushing a generic system.

    • Biggest issue I see with 5e so far (compared to 4e) is how bland monsters and encounters are. (please don't tell me that I can change it if I wish, I'm talking about D&D as presented by WotC and official adventures). Gone is interesting terrain setup, with 3 types of goblins working together, each having distinct abilities. We are now back to 2nd edition style of
      15. Storage room. 1d3+1 orcs. Orc: 20hp, AC 15, sword +5 to hit, 1d8+3 dmg
      16. Bedroom. 1 giant bedbug. Giant bedbug: 25hp, AC 16, bite +4 to h

    • Max-level caster? You get a ninth level spell per day. Use it carefully.

      Plus your Intelligence or Wisdom modifier.

    • Does this mean it's time to give up what you kids call "First Edition"?

      Nah. I'm still not convinced there's a reason to use those new-fangled books instead of the three books, supplements, and a touch (but not too much!) of Arduin & Spellcaster's Bible.

      damn newbies

      hawk, off to nuke his dandelions

  • by Sasayaki ( 1096761 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @11:34PM (#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: []). 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

    • by Kirth ( 183 )

      ... which is a trademark license anyway.

      There is no copyright possible on game mechanics, so you can pretty much write your own completely D&D compatible game, with the rules taken straight from D&D (but rephrased, of course, because the actual phrases are copyrighted). As long as you don't advertise this with trademarked terms, you're fine, you don't need the OGL.

      But anyway. Who in his right mind would want to use this complicated mess as a base for his own game, when there is a system from 1978 th

      • by gmhowell ( 26755 )

        I think you are technically correct (the best kind of correct, btw), but any small-ish publisher is likely to get ground into bits by the inevitable lawsuit. Even if the lawsuit is a farce, attorney's fees and other costs of litigation are prohibitive.

      • There is no copyright possible on game mechanics, so you can pretty much write your own completely D&D compatible game, with the rules taken straight from D&D (but rephrased, of course, because the actual phrases are copyrighted).

        Which, incidentally, has been done for 1st/2nd Edition [] and, to some degree, with 3rd/3.5th edition. []

    • That sounds pretty stupid of D&D.
      Release open licence allowing others to expand upon, use, and profit from D&D.
      Remove yourself from this now self sustaining community and lose your monopoly and the respect of all your past customers.
      It sounds like D&D could not have made a worse business mistake if they had tried.
    • I think you're right. I like 4E quite a bit, and I think the thing that killed it is two parts. On one side you have the many people who thought it was too different from earlier edition. But on the other side you have the third party support that 4E never got.

      Incidentally, I've toyed with dozens of OGL games and my favorite by a wide margin is Radiance, [] It's a 3E/4E hybrid with a lot of good ideas, and the Player's Handbook is free. (I am not associated with the publish
  • Does this mean that the Basic Rules that WotC made available for free a few weeks back are no longer legitimately available for free? []

    Looks like the WotC 5E page says they're $20 now.

    • The Basic Rules are still quite free. There's a link in the summary.

    • by seebs ( 15766 )

      I think you're confusing the "starter set" for the "basic rules". The basic rules are a free download: []

    • They are still free AFAIK. They also contain only some of the races and classes (dwarf, elf, halfling, and human for races; cleric, fighter, rogue, and wizard for classes) and spells that are in the full Player's Handbook. The PHB includes races like dragonborn, half-elf, half-orc, and tiefling and classes like barbarian, bard, druid, paladin, etc. in addition to those from the Basic Rules.

  • Hello, I wrote a cool PNP RPG back when I was a teenager, and I played it with my friends in highschool for years. I wanted to make money on it, so I tried to make the world's first MMORPG in 1992, but quit when Ultima Online came out in like 98 or 99. Much later I realized, a live game master RPG genre could take off with a game master network and even paid game masters. So I made The problem I encountered is that I could get a group of people to play online. My online system isn't te
    • Most people make money online with ads.
    • by Sasayaki ( 1096761 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @12:05AM (#47709515)

      Are you kidding? Today is the absolutely best time to be an indie game system developer, ever.

      Back in the day, the only way you could get your stuff into the hands of the players was brick-and-mortar stores, word of mouth, or occasionally mail-order systems in magazines and stuff. That was it.

      These days, there's so many online distribution points like DriveThruRPG, Amazon's KDP, iTunes, Google Play, etc that getting your game out there is easy. Just write your game system, publish it on any/all of the above, and bam. There you have it -- distribution, complete. Almost all these retailers allow discounting, promotions, bundling, etc. The amount of promotion tools available is staggering.

      You can set your price, including as low as $0.99 for most retailers. If your idea is really good (and you're good at marketing) you can use Kickstarter or Indie GoGo or any other service to bootstrap a little funding. You can create and publish video promotions for free on YouTube. You can get a website for free, or very minimal cost, and run ads on it to bring in a little extra income.

      You have total control over the distribution process. You might choose, for example, to make your core rules set available for free, and then charge for supplements. You can make it OGL if you want, or licence it how you want. You can write and publish electronic tools to help run games. You can even create your own game worlds, adventures, or whatever.

      And the best thing is? All the tools you need are available for free or for staggeringly low cost. LibreOffice is your free word processing suite, although I recommend you drop $40 on Scrivener (it's like sex, except I'm having it). GIMP can do covers and basic image work well enough, but again, I'd suggest dropping $40 on Photoshop Elements. On DriveThruRPG you can get gaming stock art, templates, images and all kinds of art beautification your heart could desire, all extremely cheaply. When that fails you, there's ShutterStock, iStockphoto, or any number of stock image websites. Failing that: ask artists on DeviantArt to draw exactly what you want. $200-$500 will get you a sweet digital painting from an awesome artist, which is a good investment for something like your Core Rule Book.

      We are living in the publishing future.

    • I would probably target any market but the existing RPG players market if you do go for it, at least online. Maybe aim at the boardgames market. Online RPG communities are a haunted wasteland/minefield of verboten topics and personal grudges, edition wars, design wars, method wars, and above all else social justice warriors shrieking about rape culture. These aren't generally people you want to engage with - while there are plenty of nice individuals, the nuts rule the roost.

      • These aren't generally people you want to engage with - while there are plenty of nice individuals, the nuts rule the roost.

        So basically, like every other online "community" (term used loosely. "Battleground" seems more fitting these days).

  • My assessment (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nerdfl[ ]com ['at.' in gap]> on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @11:45PM (#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.

    • by seebs ( 15766 )

      This is basically exactly why I am liking 5e. I liked 3e's rules at first, but they got overwhelming. 5e is a lot more like 1e, only with many fewer complicated and subtly varying tables.

  • by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @12:17AM (#47709577) Journal
    That this actually *is* news for nerds!
  • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @01:19AM (#47709775) Homepage Journal

    Pathfinder kicked the living crap out of D&D5 in terms of sales.

    For a good chunk of people now, Pathfinder IS D&D. Congrats to the guys and gals at Paizo.

    • Totally agree. I'm a big fan of Pathfinder, and strongly disliked 4E, have literally no interest at all in 5E. For me, class D&D died with TSR did, Pathfinder sorta brought it back.

      I like their books, too, as well as their excellent online/mobile tools.

    • Pathfinder followed the right philosophical path. When the core spirit is right, the resulting product profits.

      D&D after 3rd edition had a rotten core. When the directing principle is short term benefit and sacrificing the core for a larger customer base, the resulting product fails.

      • Hasbro has no idea what to do with it. They're probably not even sure what it is - so I guess we're just lucky it's not "My Little Pony Conan Adventure"

    • by pr0t0 ( 216378 )

      Yeah, it's hard to miss that WotC had their events in the Sagamore Ballroom for years, but Paizo has had that space for the past two years and WotC has been relegated to a small corner of Hall C.

      I've played most editions of D&D going back to 1984. My gaming group and I generally play the "living" campaigns. I didn't mind 4e so much, and LFR is a great campaign setting. We were often tapped to play-test 4e LFR's a few months before the cons. I just thought the combats in 4e could take too long if not pro

  • Levels, classes, spell slots, armor class, superhero hit points, check, check, check. Everything that SHOULD be changed is still there. They've basically gone back to the original rules because that is what people are used to, instead of even TRYING to make a better system. Sigh.

    • I am annoyed on the contrary. I am surprised that such a long lived RPG still need to change drastically on every edition. Early editions would logically change more, but I am surprised that 30 years later they still need to make such huge changes between editions. If in three decades you haven't still invented a good skills system, I don't know if they would ever do.

    • Levels and classes are fine, where they fall apart is when they're hooked up to hit points.

    • Those are all reasons that I really liked Shadowrun when I was role playing in the 90's. It had its own flaws but at least they weren't so balance destroying.

  • People still play DxD....who knew....
  • Well, I'm about a third through the provided free PDFs, and I have to say that I like the tone so far.

    Like many others, I thought 4E turned my beloved Roleplaying game into a Rollplaying game. I thought it lost all flavor or character. Ok, and I wigged out over the refresh times for abilities and spells.... It smelled like an MMORPG, which usually doesn't have much actual RP in it. I moved to pathfinder.

    I'm finding this PDF to be an easy read though. (Hey Shadowrun 5th edition guys, you could learn some

  • I'm tentatively pretty excited about this. I got acquainted with 2nd edition D&D through Baldur's Gate (I think that was their ruleset) and then spent a summer playing 3.5E like crazy and investing way too much time in character optimization and digging through forums. I've played a session or two of 4E.

    Cool things that make me excited about this edition:
    Attributes, races, and classes seem very faithful to old school D&D.
    Combat seems similar to old-school D&D (none of the sliding around BS

Recent investments will yield a slight profit.