Dungeons & Dragons, 5th Edition – Jammin’ part 2

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After a short rest, the intrepid heroes (oops, they objected to that phrase) murderhobos continued to explore the ship. There was still one room on the main deck, beneath the forecastle they hadn’t entered, so they started there. To their surprise, they were greeted by a healthy-looking man and woman. The way they were garbed, possibly the Captain of the ship and his wife. Unfortunately, when they entered the room, the illusion vanished and they were replaced by horrible, rotting people who moved to attack. They put down the heucuva with little difficulty and searched the cabin for more booty, of which, there was plenty.

Beyond the captain’s cabin, at the bow of the ship, they found a large number of the golden skeletons. After inadvertantly activating them, the PCs gave the skeletons a wide berth so they could continue repairing the ship. Our her…murderhobos proceeded to the lower decks. They encountered more storage, and a hoard of zombies which they dispatched with FIRE. (A diabolical DM would’ve had the flaming zombies run around, setting fire to the ship before they were destroyed… but I was tired and forgot.) On the lowest deck, in what would be the bilge, they found a stone sarcophagus, completely with a skeleton dressed in rotting robes. The specter of that wizard apparated and tried to drag them to a horrible doom, but they were able to defeat it (I had to substitute wraith stats… which probably helped their survival). Ren of the Cloak picked that time to show up and thank them for all their hard work, admitting to fibbing a bit when it came to the set up for this whole expedition. He took the two nicest pistols they found and went on his merry way, leaving the rest of the loot and the Spelljammer for the murderhobos.

Will there further adventures lead them to the stars? To Wildspace? Will we ever find out?

*shrug* Dunno.

Upon further reflection, I have decided that while I like D&D 5E as an RPG, and I appreciate the work that went into and production values of the Starter Set, I think that product is mis-named. Sure, it has pre-gens, a decent starting adventure, and a book with rules, but it doesn’t really teach you how to play. If you’re a total newbie, who has never played a tabletop RPG before, the D&D Starter Set is going to be confusing. It’s not going to help you and might put you off tabletop gaming altogether. Despite being called a Starter Set, it seems to make the assumption that you have some experience with RPGs, just maybe not D&D.

And that’s too bad. At least the Mentzer Red box from the 80s had a solo adventure that held your hand through character creation and took you on a short adventure to teach you what the game was about. The Star Wars starter boxes and the Pathfinder Beginner Game aren’t perfect in that regard, either, but WotC should at least taken some lessons for them. The Starter Set is not the gateway product it needs to be.

That doesn’t mean 5E is a bad game. I know how to play D&D already and I like the system. I like it better than 3.X, 4E, or Pathfinder (speaking strictly from a mechanics standpoint) based on what little I’ve seen so far. I’m already thinking of adventure I can run at Gary Con using the Basic Rules, and when I run it at home, I’ll probably keep my game as close to the basic rules as possible allowing for use of the full PHB class list (though maybe not all the races; I’m not sure I have any use for dragonborn in my preferred campaign settings).

Value for the money: the Basic Game cannot be beat. It’s free! The Starter Set is not horrible. If you buy it on Amazon, you’re paying $13ish for a nice box, a set of dice, and an adventure for levels 1-4, so really, that’s not a bad deal. Dice these days will cost between $7 – $9 by themselves. As I’ve said before, the Starter Set is a bad product for people who have no idea what this D&D thing is or how to play it, but if you want a box to keep your Basic Game in, you get an adventure and dice, too! I’m not sorry I bought it; I may even run the adventure some day (or at least steal some ideas from it).

It’s too early to judge the full game of Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, but I am looking forward to getting the full rules now, where I was ambivalent prior to playing the basic game. I think I will be adopting as my go-to edition of D&D, based on what I know now. As I have changed my mind on this matter before, I reserve the right to do so again if I get the PHB & DMG, look at them, and have a WTF??? reaction. I have a hard time believing the full rules, if they’re as modular as I’ve been lead to believe, will be so radically different from the game I just played.

TL;DR Summary: I liked D&D 5E. If you find 3.x/Pathfinder and/or 4E to be too complex or just not to your liking, if you think AD&D or BECMI D&D did it better, you might want to give this edition a chance.

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