After reading the Basic Rules for the first time, I was kinda impressed, that most of the things I liked about the playtest could fit in. The Basic Rules remained simple, easy to learn and thus staying flexible on customizing them to situations without house rules.
The power level dropped, but since I’m about always the DM and I got enough save-or-suck, powergaming-to-the-max and too-many-buffs-to-penetrate for a life time, I’m kinda glad that I might only get those occasionally for now on. I can see, that the customizing options and the search for the best stats is interesting in its own way, but DMs don’t tend to like them, since it just makes things more difficult. At least I rather concentrate on things like storytelling, designing death traps and character development, than searching all day in rulebooks to consider, what my PCs can and will bring to the table or to worry how I can hit an AC of 40, if my monsters only have about +5 to hit.
After getting the Starter Set and thus the first monsters, I could gladly see that they weren’t as boring than most 3e monsters, even though they lacked the punch of most 4e monsters. But that’s a compromise I can live with, since the power of the PCs dropped and some of them are real pearls (like the Bugbears, the new Chuck Norris of the goblins).
The PHB (Player’s Handbook; hardcover on its way, pdf got leaked) was quite impressive in its own way. Even though I miss the warlord of 4e (even though you could get a fighter as a Battle Master part of that way, he can’t replace a genuine healer), most other classes were there and some better than ever before imo (like the warlock).
Every class had some options to customize, like the archetypes, and even though there was always an easy version of the class, there was a more complicated but not less powerful option. It’s easy to play a fighter as a champion, getting deadlier with every trait and score critical hits more often than any other class, but as an eldritch knight you get actually magic, without even multiclassing and thus more options outside your expertise.
To not overload the first post of the blog, I summarize my overall impressions so far:
- Lower power-level for PCs and most monsters, some antagonists are as deadly as they should be
- less customization-options as before, but first there is always space of making new archetypes and thus new traits and combinations for classes
- design space for campaign specific class-options (like “war wizard of cormyr” as an arcane tradition instead a school of magic), which is imo better than adding new rule sets or even whole classes
- I didn’t like the spells of 3e and am glad that spellcasting is less variable, depending on the stuff a caster has
I’m going into the 5e with a positive attitude, I don’t think it’s a perfect system, but it’ll definitely work for me! If you like 5e, too, I hope that you’ll find this blog interesting.
There is a lot to talk about, next time I’ll pick one specific thing and elaborate it. Stay tuned!