Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition: First Impressions
First, I need to say I haven’t played with the new system yet, and that most of this based off the beta docs and their free basic rules doc. Its good that they are keeping a basic part of the rules, like how they did d20 SRD for 3.5 edition, free and open.
My favorite part is how they collapsed skills, saves and base attacks into the basic stats and then proficiency. Both Pathfinder and Fourth edition replaced the skill point in the Third edition system with skill proficiencies, and this seems like a logical next step. By removing the three saves, you keep the main stats in focus. Now the main numbers you need to keep track of, as far as progression goes, are your proficiency and stats.
As far as character options, I am warming up the backgrounds thing. It seems like a nice way to add a bit of RP structure to a character, while providing some backup proficiencies. It seems to be taking the place of some of the RP feats, called traits in Pathfinder, that added a off-class skill or small bonus. The ability to get thieves tools proficiency as long as you have the right background sticks out to me the most; it feels like a big deal.
Speaking of feats, making them optional should greatly with character creation. The majority of feats in earlier editions mostly jut added a little something, +1 to this or that, and a tree of them was required for the character changing stuff. There were some feats you had to have for certain builds. My favorite feats where the ones that gave your character some new way of interacting with the environment, and most others were kind of boring. I haven’t seen the details on the new feats, but as I have heard, they are each about big character changes. Especially now that an average character could only get about 5, when other editions this would be much larger.
As for what’s left, I am glad ritual casting is back, and the spell selection method seems like it involves less bookkeeping. Still, the fact that there is 20 pages of spell descriptions for a basic rule-set kind of bothers me for some reason. That and the page full table of adventuring item prices and weights. That was something I used to be all about, but not anymore. I still have some excel spreadsheets of item details I complied across all my D&D books when I was in middle school; pages and pages and pages of junk. Perhaps it’s my new found love of more abstract systems that’s causing this feeling. I don’t really have any suggestions for the item/spell clutter. At least the focus on concentration in spellcasting will reduce the amount of ongoing spells, and the addition of magic item focus will limit magic item usage to a handfull at a time.
Anyway, it’s promising. I like the simplification a whole bunch, though it could in part due to these being basic rules, we will have to see. So far, it’s better than powers system of fourth edition and cleaner than 3rd edition. I don’t know if I will ever go back to D&D though, despite the changes, maybe one day. I still feel a need to read about it though.