Friday night I rolled up a character for D&D 5th Edition, just to get more familiar with the game.
True to D&D form, it was pretty simple. I am so used to building a character with points, as in the Hero System, it was kind of nice to have a simpler method.
In a comment on a previous post, my friend Bob mentions that GURPS has a reputation of being very complicated. I can see that. As soon as you start building your character you are faced with a lot of choices — a high level of complexity. Hero System is even worse (or better, depending on what you like). Back in the old days (ughhhh…gotta stop saying stuff like that) it would never have occurred to me that anyone interested in RPGs would avoid complexity. It was all that complexity that made the Hero system so superior to anything else for running a Supers campaign.
But…perhaps that’s not the best way to introduce people to RPGs.
Anyway, I rolled up a Wizard character, which is the equivalent of the original AD&D “Magic User” class, but a little more robust than the original. In the new game, you start with some cantrip spells you can use at-will without using up a spell slot and with no preparation. You also start with the ability to cast 2 “real” spells at 1st level, and have a number of spells prepared for use equal to your level + you intelligence modifier. So a 1st level Wizard with a 17 Int can have 4 spells memorized/prepared, and use them as he/she sees fit with the 2 spell slots. You regain your spell slots with rest. This seems like a much more logical and playable system than the original one, which I always thought was dumb.
The new D&D materials give a lot of background info on the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. In my own gaming history, we never really used the published settings. We used a lot of dungeon modules, but always within our own worlds — which were not well thought-out. I feel like in 10th grade we were playing pretty good D&D, but I and our other regular GM didn’t really spend much time on the overall setting. We just tried to design good adventures. Looking back at the 1e books, they were a lot more skeletal. The new PH actually details the characteristics of a number human ethnicities/cultures from Forgotten Realms. The notion of being able to drop players into a preexisting campaign world is pretty nice. It reminds me a bit of the Stormbringer setting that was available for Runequest.
So, I have to admit that 5e is growing on me. The stuff in the Players Handbook is good. I expect the Monster Manual will not disappoint. How could it? It’s just a list of monsters, right? I am really anxious to see what they do with the Dungeon Master’s Guide.
What I’m seeing is that Wizards of the Coast is doing a pretty good game redesign, and providing a lot of material to make it super easy to get into for those who don’t have the time or desire to create their own campaign world. I think that is fine.