Friday, 4 July 2014

My first impressions of 5E Basic Rules

I've just downloaded the 5E Basic rules here.
What I've seen looks pretty good. And it's free, at least the Basic version is.
Some observations that spring to mind:

  • Ability scores get bonuses like 3E. However, the default way of generating them is first choose race and class, then roll 6 stats (4d6 and drop lowest) and assign to whichever ability scores you wish.  
  • Demihumans all get +2 to one stat (Subraces get an extra +1 or +2 to another stat). Humans, however, get +1 to each stat. Is this balanced? Purely in terms of stats, no, but I suspect that other demihuman abilities (such as infravision) do keep things balanced. 
  • Quite a bit more flavour and fluff than I was expecting. This is not an SRD collection of rules but a proper book for DMs and players to learn about the game. 
  • There are many references to the Forgotten Realms, and a few to Greyhawk, Dragonlance and other campaign settings. 
  • Clerics are modified - no longer restricted to blunt weapons, they now use any simple weapon. Interestingly they don't use heavy armour, only light or medium armour. 
  • Only one domain is given for clerics, the Life Domain. Incidentally this domain allows clerics to use heavy armour. 
  • Fighters get Martial Archetypes, though only one is given, the Champion. 
  • Rogues also get Roguish Archetypes, and the only one given in the Basic rules is the Thief. 
  • Wizards get Arcane Traditions (perhaps similar to 2E schools). The one given in the Basic rules is Evocation.
  • The Nine Alignments are back! Thank goodness. I know not everyone likes or uses alignments, but what 4E did just seemed so wrong. 
  • Backgrounds include Acolyte, Criminal, Folk Hero, Sage & Soldier. These all have a big impact on equipment, skills and other aspects. 
  • Strength requirements for heavy armour? Interesting. 
  • Armour Class is ascending. 
  • Premade equipment packs allow adventurers to start quicker. 
  • Trinkets are a whimsical addition to equipment
  • Feats are mentioned as being in the PHB but are not part of the Basic rules. 
  • Multiclassing is sort of discussed, but certain details are left to the PHB. Enterprising DMs could probably house-rule it without the PHB. 
  • Proficiency Bonus becomes quite important. Still haven't worked out exactly how. They seem to crop up in all sorts of situations, particularly in skills and combat. 
  • Ability Scores get discussed in chapter 7, after race, class, alignment and equipment. Interesting choice. 
  • Saving throws get a short section, with no examples given. 
  • Rounds are 6 seconds long. 
  • Spell lists are reduced in size, as befits a Basic Rules set. I'm sure more spells will appear in the PHB. 
  • There is a blank 2-sided character sheet and an extra sheet for spells at the end.  

So for me this raises the question - do I stick with B/X Classic D&D, or make the jump to 5E ? I have not decided yet, but a new edition would benefit from a new campaign setting.

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