Well, long time no post. I am in fact still alive, and more importantly gaming. I have been playing Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition and running the first published adventure path for the game Hoard of the Dragon Queen. Well that is until I pulled the shoot, but more on that later. I will not review 5E specifically here, as that just feels too overwhelming, and my good man Mr. Morrison over at The Rhetorical Gamer has done a good job again of reaching into my mind, with which I can only assume is some kind of voodoo, and laid it to bear on his blog.
So let’s talk 5E a little. I have to say that I like it. The feel of it in motion is good for me. It seems like a good blending of 3e and 4e from my perspective; they have smoothed over some of the hard corners of those editions for me. For example, I like the stronger but less frequent and numerous feats. Shit, you don’t even need to use feats and instead can just go stat bumps. The races and classes seem cool and strike a lot of the traditional archetypes. The subclass system, feats, and multi-classing allow you to build to your hearts content. I love the magic system and their neo-vancian approach to casters. Magic seems, well more magical again (and remember I loved 4e and played it exclusively for 4 years so no edition bashing hear). One of the things I struggled with in 3E/Pathfinder was the multiple buffs deal, so I like how they paired the slightly more powerful buff spells with the concentration mechanic that only allows for one spell requiring concentration to be active at a time. I also love that magic items are not necessary and have taken a step back to the early days of D&D where you might have found me under my covers picking out magic items that I would ruin the world with. Overall, the game feels very mutable to whatever you want to do.
I also like the flow of combat in terms of its pace and not being tied to the grid. Although I am not sure if I still have the chops for theatre of the mind (is there a less douchey term we can use for this?), either that or we as a player base have become addicted to the grid. In my game I have been saving the gridded combat for the more fleshed out encounters, everything else I tend to use a white board on roll d20 (since I play mostly online) with pogs to show positioning. I then use 13th Age style distances such engaged, close, and far. The gridless fights seemed to be a bit of a struggle, a little cluncky with the players being hesitant. In some ways I think throughout the past 2 editions we have been conditioned to think in terms of miniatures on a grid. It doesn’t help that all the abilities and spells are pretty structured with distances and dimensions. Now part of the problem might also be that I have trouble effectively describing the back my hand to someone. We will have to see, it might get better with more practice at it. Also I think I should go full descriptive for old times’ sake. I know what you’re going to say, “dude you never go full descriptive”.
Now on to Hoard of the Dragon Queen, I scuttled the campaign for a lot of reasons. In many ways I just wasn’t digging the adventure. The story itself was okay, it just didn’t grab me. I didn’t like the organization and felt that I was always looking for important content buried in long pieces of text while at the table. I think it also suffered a little from being developed simultaneously with the rule set as it includes terms and rules that didn’t make it into the PHB. They did a good job fleshing out the NPC’s and providing mini-sand boxes for each section of the adventure. I found myself not looking forward to games and it was a real struggle to get down to it. In general, I have been struggling to want to game as of late. I wasn’t really enjoying the group in terms of it not being a good fit and whether it was me or them I am not sure. Between working six days a week in my day job and private practice and having young children There is about an hour or 2 window in the evening between the time the kids are asleep and me passing out, and I found myself not wanting to invest in something so concrete as a weekly or bi-weekly rpg. It became easier and more desirable to just play video games or watch television. So basically, all of these things sort of combined and culminated in me turffing the game. So where do we go from here? Well I am still excited about 5th edition and my DMG just came in the mail. I have been going through old Dungeon magazines and modules looking for an adventure to convert, you know busy work. One of the strengths of the system seems to be that it is pretty easy to convert older 1st and 2nd edition material. I settled on the adventure “Ancient Blood” by Grant and David Boucher in Dungeon #20. The adventure has a nice Viking/Nordic angle to it and a magic sword called “Thor’s Fury”, so really what’s not to like. I think I am looking to sometime into the new year to run it.