JP On Gaming

Thursday, January 26, 2012

5e Presentation: Initial impressions

Amid the flurry of tweets activity about 5e at D&D XP, I can honestly say that we are going back to the days of 2e when whatever the GM wants is in there. That has some good and some bad.


As a GM, I get to include those elements I like and ignore those I like less.

The terminology sounds good. Then again, so did 4e at the time... I put this in the good pile because I feel more optimistic about this than pessimistic on this topic.

The Design goals and approach is interesting. I like that they want to make the GM the center of the game. He is, after all.

Monte Cook. I mean.. do I really need to expand on this?

They definitely took a page from Paizo's play book: less rules = better.


I fear that it will be a game more akin to Gurps or even Heroes where there are so many options that it makes the game difficult to know what it contains or what the GM allows or disallows.

Customization is a good thing. Excessive customization is akin to creating nothing. We'll have to wait and see. It may lose some of the unity that brings people to the table. I like knowing that when I go to play "Call of Cthulhu", I won't be playing a d6-based system or that my character won't be Superman's brother. I really disliked a local game I showed up for that promised D&D 3.5, but everyone was using some alternate system for magic, attacks, and hit points. It felt like false representation (and a factor why I disliked the event). As long as they have a solid core system, the modularity I guess I can work with. I'm more wary about this so it goes in the negative pile.

No word on the OGL.


I learned as much from the tweets as I did from this week's State of the Union address... A lot of nice rhetoric, but let's see the actions behind the word.

4e started talking about "points of light" and "equipment is not what defines your character" but that disappeared after 4e came out! Too bad because I really liked the concepts!

So now we know some of the design philosophy. All good. Now I want to hear from people who do not think 5e is "all that", just like the Amazon/ Ebay reviews... I don't care much about the positive reviews, I want to hear from people who do not like what they see as they often provide a different insight than the "likers". When critiquing, I try to prevent points of why I dislike, and I think other do the same.

Then again, how many 4e haters went to D&D XP? I guess those will have to come later.

I guess I'm left with the same feeling I had after the announcement: Cautious Optimism.



  1. Unless you are playing Pathfinder Society or in the RPGA, very few GM's go with every rule as written. Most people don't play those games; they usually play house games.

    In these house games, most good GMs pick a "base set" of rules and adjust the others to fit the particular gaming group. Every gaming group is different, and they all want different things out of the game. I will probably find some things I like in 5e and somethings I dislike, and I will adjust my house rules accordingly. I will pull from Pathfinder, all D&D versions, and even a few small things from White Wolf. It's ok as long as the players know what they are getting into.

    The only question is, if I will use 5e as my base set of rules or if I will continue to use Pathfinder as the base set.

  2. I agree with the comment about expecting to play 3.5 and getting some homebrew system for magic, attacks, and hit points.

  3. I think it's bad to go into a game with any kind of expectations. There are too many variables. Every GM is different and will have a different style, and weigh different rules heavier than others. Even the same GM, with the same module, on the same day, and in the same venue, with just different players will have a wildly different game. (Conventions are good examples of this)

    Who knows, I may enjoy a GM doing something I haven't enjoyed other GMs do before. I try to just be easy going, and go into a game with no expectations other than hoping to have a good time. With that kind of attitude I am rarely disappointed.

  4. Their concept is to create a system whereby you can run a bare-bones, stripped down character alongside a fully customized character and they will be balanced with each other. Thus, in theory, a player can bring whatever style of character to a game and it will have little to no disruption in game play.
    As you, I wait with cautious optimism that they can pull this off.