Dungeons and Dragons holds a very special place in my heart. It was my first true paper RPG, and it introduced me to an amazing community and lifestyle centered around camaraderie and passion. That being said, the game is far from perfect. Though the d20 dice system is tested to bear perfection, the game is so much more than the precious checks we have to make. It goes beyond the dice and the books to the actual feeling of playing the game. When you sit down to experience the world that the GM has in store for you, how does it feel? That’s the big question we’ll be exploring today as it encompasses both the best AND worst things about this edition of dungeons and dragons. Technically this game is very sound and balanced with few exceptions, namely the ranger class. Every other class, race, and background have their own pros and cons that assist in shaping how you play your game. That brings us to the best thing about DnD 5E.
Best: Low barrier to entry
So this one may be a bit personal, so feel free to disagree with me. I think the best thing about this edition of DnD is how EASY it is to play. The rules are clear, concise, and simple enough for literally ANYBODY to pick up and understand. Players have a small amount of numbers to remember, and GMs can take a bit of weight off of trying to recall every random monster stat buff that their big baddie has on them. It goes all the way down to character creation. Everything is in your race, class, and background introductions. Then you have a clear breakdown by level. You don’t have to look up the rules for small, medium, and large creature’s armor rule changes, or remember that a halfling’s damage is ⅔ that of everyone else’s. The spells have also been made much easier to understand and use. In some previous editions certain spells had alignments that wouldn’t allow you to use the spell unless you matched with that alignment. For example, necromancy required that you were evil, while other spells required you to be good. It makes choosing spells that much easier and much less daunting for those creating their first character. Even some of the classes were that way. Monks HAD to be lawful otherwise they lost all of their monk abilities. To me that makes the game very difficult, because the definition of “lawful” is still something that causes some serious disagreement within the community. 5th edition does away with a lot of that and focuses in on allowing players to play without restriction. The time commitment drops significantly in 5E as well, and that draws people in from the get-go. The game lends itself to simplicity, and in that simplicity it finds technical perfection. However, that technical perfection also comes with it’s fair share of issues, namely our worst thing about DnD 5E.
Worst: Streamlining kills individualism
So I know I just told you that the simplicity of the game is the best part of it. Now I’m telling you it’s the worst. Honestly, this one was kind of hard to settle on for me. It’s an abstract concept that someone without varied RPG knowledge won’t really understand, but it was truly the only choice for the worst thing about the game. If you need proof of that statement, ask almost anyone who played DnD 3.5 and then converted to 5E which game is better. You’ll be there for awhile, but ultimately they’ll tell you that 3.5 was FAR superior due to its character creation. (Side note: I’ll be using DnD 3.5 as an example purely based on the fact that it is the direct predecessor to 5E). In 3.5 you could literally make your character do ANYTHING. For example, I played a halfling bard. His act as a
bard was a comedy act where he would use the animate rope spell to have a dialogue with an inanimate object before riding off on his mastiff. His entire “spell book” (Side Note: I know bards don’t use spell books) was based around spells that had to do with rope and tricks and comedy. It was incredibly fun to play a game like that! In 5E, I lost the ability to create that character. A lot of the spells have been removed in order to streamline the entire process and make the game easier to play. The skill and tool proficiencies have also been whittled down into around twenty general categories that you will roll for when playing. This can be a serious issue, because your character will only get about 4 to 5 on average, leaving you hurting in certain situations if you didn’t pick a class that allows more than usual. By comparison in 3.5 you could choose your proficiencies and level based on your intelligence modifier and race. This was a bit more complicated in character creation, but it allowed for quite a bit of creative gameplay once you entered the campaign. 5E severely limited your ability to create a fun and wacky character for the sake of simplicity and time, and in my opinion it takes away much of the charm that DnD once held.
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