D&D 5th Edition or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Skip the Bomb

I’ve been playing D&D for a long long time. I started with the red box, then 2nd edition, and Pathfinder and 4th edition and Dungen World, and SimpleDnd and on and on and on. Lately everyone has been tripping over themselves about how amazing 5th edition is. So, like everyone else I did the play test, I bought the new Player’s Handbook (PHB) and tried to love it. However I’m struggling to see the upside of the game.

Recently I’ve been DM’ing a game at the local comic book store. The choice was made to go with 5e instead of Pathfinder because many people were asking for it. Having read through the starter box, the PHB and the Monster Manual, I jumped at the chance. This is where it all became real.

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 4.12.06 PM

The first game was set to start at 5:30pm, we didn’t start playing until 7pm due to the extended character creation period.  I keep encountering this issue with new players. The PHB is very nice, but creating a character is cumbersome to say the least. So many things to add and roll up – things that have little or no impact on the gameplay are baked into the process. Players end up frustrated and burned out before the first monster is ever encountered. Unless you get off on doing all that work as part of the game it can be trying.

The quick build options really offer little more than to take away any choice from a new player, you still have to look up all of the items, damage, spells and such. IMO it would have been better to include some pre-gens in the PHB as opposed to having me hunt them down on the internet or purchase the box set. Would it kill WotC to add page tips so you can easily jump around when creating a character? ex: Sorcerer Character – find you spells on page 204 or Pick a Primary Weapon: staff 1d8 dmg, dagger 1d4 damage, etc.

Not only that, but adding backgrounds and inspiration and trinkets? Talk about taking the fun out of making the character your own. There is lots of variety, but it’s all fluff and adds next to nothing to the game. It’s not even really worked into the first adventure most player experience at all: The Mine of Phandelver. At least I get to start the game with a random piece of junk – sweet! Too bad they didn’t rip off the aspects of Fate Core. That would have been amazing AND useful.

Let’s take a minute to chat about the POS that is the character sheet.


It’s the Pathfinder character sheet, bScreen Shot 2014-11-28 at 4.10.09 PMut with the ability bonuses repeated and some important info moved to the back of the sheet. Things are not grouped by use or function, they’re just randomly designed to look good. Most games we spend about 10-15% of the time pointing out where to look for bonuses and rolls.

Gameplay overall feels more like Pathfinder 2nd Edition that something fresh and new. Everyone talks about Pathfinder and munchkinization and how it killed D&D. That is 100% here. The first couple of levels feels like Old School D&D, then 3rd Level BAM! the munchkin is out of the box. On top of that as a DM there are a multitude of special rules that come into effect at 3rd level.

Is it fun? Maybe. Is it fresh? No. I’m finding it very difficult to go through all the pain right now for just a few adventures when I can pickup Pathfinder or my AD&D books and have tons of variety and adventures right at my finger tips. As new content comes out I will revisit 5e, but for now I’ll pass.

Just don’t get me started on the Free Basic Rules…

Disagree? Agree? Tell me what you think in the comments below!


11 thoughts on “D&D 5th Edition or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Skip the Bomb

  1. “Initiative Bonus? Passive Perception? these aren’t even really used.”

    Wait, What?

    Both of those are used a lot. Initiative bonus is used… every time you enter combat. Passive perception is used routinely in play, instead of having people make listen / spot checks every time they might see / hear something, you just check against their passive perception – gets rid of a lot of dice rolling. Having these numbers clearly available (and then preferably written down somewhere by the DM) makes game play quicker.


  2. It’s a terrible review really. You didn’t tell me anything that did or didn’t work besides that you didn’t like it. The most subjective thing that you could of grieved was the character sheet and I was excited! “Yes we can see a unique perspective about how this game could improve!” Then you showed a picture of the pathfinder character sheet. That threw me over the edge a little. But I still can’t think about fun it was that you got me.


  3. If you found it remotely easier to create a character in Pathfinder than in 5E D&D, that is merely a direct result of you having memorized 300+ pages of rules for Pathfinder.
    Pathfinder has twice as many classes, each as complicated as one in 5E. It has probably 3-4x as many spells, plenty of which are flat out traps that no one ought to ever be choosing if they want to be remotely useful. Both have the painfully dumb mechanic of wizards choosing spells and then forgetting them when they use them making the bookkeeping for wizards just…. ridiculous.

    In Pathfinder, you’d better the hell make sure your race and class synchronize. You choose the wrong race/class combination and your characters is likely to end up effectively a level or two behind the rest of the group, while if you choose the “right” combination then you’ll effectively gain as much as a level over everyone else. In 5E, you could pretty much randomly choose your race and class and you’d be more or less fine. Maybe there would be a marginally more ideal choice, but you’ll at least get SOMETHING. You can’t remotely say that about Pathfinder.

    And don’t try to pass off with some snobish bullshit about “roleplay opportunity”. One has just as much opportunity to roleplay if they have a +2 to every roll in the game or a -2 to every roll in the game, the later does not inherently present more or better opportunities to play.

    Pathfinder has at least twice as many skills linked up to the attributes and you need to assign your points keeping in mind which are class skills, which are cross-class skills, which you cannot take at all and decide how many points to apply towards each.

    And then there are the feats. The insane, insurmountable list of 200+ feats all of which are part of these giant arching chains that pretty much demand that you plan your character out all the way to 20th level before you even think of making a final decision on what feat to choose at 1st. And EVERY character, EVERY character.

    And you are COMPLAINING about classes giving people a list of choices of equipment instead of handing them a randomly determined sack of gold and setting them loose in the equipment section without guidance to try to carefully calculate and track every copper they sell to try to come up with the most ideal set up while saving a few gold to buy food? I’m sorry, but buying equipment is a massive time waster during character creation that can often take as much time as everything else put together. Getting a list of choices boils what used to be a half an hour to hour time investment down to 10 minutes tops.


  4. 5e takes very little time to create a character once you have the concept in mind. If you know race + class + background, then you have most of what you need to get started. And yes, there are a bunch of RP hooks, which might not fit *your* style. But they really shine in games I enjoy. Even so, I can’t imagine taking 90 minutes to build characters unless everyone is figuring out lots of RP hooks and how their character backstories are intertwined.

    I really really do not get why you hate the Bonds / Ideals / Flaws / Traits.


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