Wizards of the Coast have launched the latest version of Dungeon& Dragons, henceforth called D&D 5th Ed. I won’t review the books until I own them, but this is an overview of my experience playing it. Every new edition has to justify it’s existence, and so far so good.
It has taken ideas from previous editions to build something…newish. The structure of 4th Edition is gone, but Dragonborn, short rests, and other bits are still around. Feats (originally from 3rd ed) are now an option the GM can restrict. Magic, both spells and items, are an odd mix of AD&D’s low level magic and 4th Ed spammable, endless cantrips.
The game feels simply but not dumbed down. Instead of skill points, save bonuses, etc. almost everything is based on Stat modifiers and a level-based proficiency bonus. Character creation starts easy and builds as you level. If you need help developing your character just look at the PC’s Background.
Backgrounds are my second favorite “new” feature. Other games have featured them, but I believe this is the first for D&D. Background is what your character did before becoming a dungeon-diving adventure. I enjoy making characters a little more varied without complex alternative rules. A Fighter who was a soldier is different than one who was a gladiator, a former scholar even more so.
My favorite new feature is the Advantage/ Disadvantage. Roll twice; if you have Advantage use the highest, use the lowest if you have Disadvantage. Simple, potentially frustrating, but logical. As a GM, I plan to use it for subterfuge, did a player roll twice for advantage, disadvantage, or just to hid my intent?
WOTC released The Player’s Handbook (PHB) on August 19th, Monster Manual came out September 30th. I enjoy how the writers try to build on the mythology of the game; explaining where Medusas (plural) come from and why elves are immune to a Ghoul’s paralyzing touch. The Dungeon Master’s Guide came out December 9th, and the bit I’ve looked has rules to make your game grittier, more epic, or more magical. More on those books once I own them.
I was very hesitant with the new system; I thought I had reached my D&D edition limit. Instead I’m looking forward to more character options and books. Wizards of the Coast has a free download with basic rules. There’s a Starter Box I’m including for completeness. I recommend checking the full game out; it’s simple enough a new player can get by with sharing a PHB.