Monday, August 25, 2014

If 5e Had Boobs I'd Marry It

I've been fooled by a fair amount of roleplaying games.  Well, fooled isn't quite the right term.  They didn't quite meet my expectations.  They seemed like they were the right tool, but in the end, they didn't provide the playing experience I had wanted.

Fourth edition Dungeons and Dragons was one of the big ones.  It took me two and a half years of playing to figure it out.  I could get better at running the game - I could 'master' the ruleset, I could house rule the thing up one wall and down another - and it was never going to give me what I wanted.  I wasn't even exactly sure what I wanted - but it had something to do with that D&D feeling I had back in the early 80s.

When Next was announce, I was mildly optimistic.  A sea change seemed to have happened at Wizards of the Coast - perhaps brought on by the tidal pull of the moon that is the OSR - and it appeared to be a good move in the right direction.

After the 4e fumble, I had gone back and played every single previous version of D&D - and a large selection of clones and almosts and sorta-kindas.  Some were good, some were bad, and some were ugly.  But even the best ones - old and new - didn't hold me for long - no matter how wonderful.  There were a lot of good bits and pieces in all the versions, and no one game seemed to capture all of the potential goodness.

The Next playtests were enlightening - and I gave my input were I could - but the whole thing had me nervous.  I really didn't feel like doing a lot of work to just get stabbed in the back - so I moved off to different old favorites like Traveller and GURPS.

Then, one day, all of the playtests were over and WOTC began dribbling out 5e content in a way that they've never done before - slowly and carefully and . . . generously.  Free shit all over the place.  A dirt cheap Starter Set that I'm sure they are loosing money on.  And then a PHB that just absolutely rocks.

On Saturday, we almost had two TPKs.  One was at the mouth of a cave full of orcs and ogres.  I swore we were all about the be pounded into paste - until the wizard remembered he had a certain, special scroll and lobbed a fireball over our heads.  WABOOM.  Sure, we don't have eyebrows anymore - but we had a gaming moment that you just can't buy.

Then there was the bit where we were facing down a room of ghouls that ripped through the front line like it was Swiss cheese and began to shred the squishy rear echelon.  Knowing my fighter was paralyzed and unable to help caused feeling of dread and fear to well up.  Not just anger at a tactical blunder or an analytically attempt to fix the problem - but actual emotions.  And it washed over EVERYONE until I rolled a successful save and opened up a can of furious vengeance upon the bastard fucking skinny ass eaters of the dead.

So I can sit and talk about mechanics all day long.   But that doesn't help explain why I am so happy with 5e.  The rules DISAPPEAR during play.  There is no chess board to strategize over.  The game is back in our shared headspace where it belongs.  Yes, you can have all over your fancy character abilities and whatnot, but to me, at least, none of it gets in the way of a good time.

That's a VERY subjective explanation, I realize.  And lots of games have that potential - not just 5e.  Maybe I'll formulate something more objective later and share it.  But that is the best I've got now.  But I'm whole hog in now anyway.  I'm willing to fully admit that I love this game.  It may betray me at a later date and I'll have to go to divorce court.  We'll get separate bank accounts and split up the kids.

But for now, 5e is my waifu.


- Ark


  1. Ark - you may have just won me over, man

  2. I'm only up to Chapter 7 in the PHB, but I like everything I've read so far .

  3. You've encapsulated a lot of what so many people are saying. It's a good article. I disagree that it's the perfect tool (I wrote my own game) but it's a very good standard bearer for the hobby. It's a good game.

  4. I'm getting this sense from reading about 5e that there's been some sort of collective trauma shared by most of the RPG community. 4e seems to be breaking point, but I think 3e and it's overly long combats and character builds may be the real culprit. 5e from this perspective begins to look more like an apology. As it gives the players back what they used to have that made the game fun, along with some innovations, as well as giving out a free version of the game, this apology seems to have been accepted enthusiastically.