D&D 5E Play Analysis Part 3

So I have spent the last couple of weeks re-reading the various versions of Dungeons and Dragons, from the Holmes boxed set, to AD&D 1E, 2E, right through 3E and I even reviewed 4th edition. I love those old editions of the game. Simplicity is really what shines in OD&D and AD&D1E, nothing was terribly over thought and players were given broad power within the framework to do what they wanted. The problem was the rules often did not make sense and had multiple dice mechanics to remember and sometimes those dice mechanics did not make sense even in the framework of the rules. AD&D 2E cleaned a lot of this up, organized the rules better and added a credible skill system, but it still retained the wonky dice mechanics. 3E and 4E went the other direction, while they built a unified dice mechanic, they added way too much crunch to the game. Even at the beginning there was a ton of crunch that would complicate the game and clever rules lawyers would bully their way into ridiculously over powered characters.

Having looked at all these games, I have come to the conclusion that D&D 5E is in fact the best edition of the game so far. The unified dice mechanic makes rolling the dice and judging the results quick and easy, you know you are rolling a d20 and you know you will have just a couple of easy to remember modifiers to that roll. If you like a simple game with very little crunch, where the players add the depth to their characters via back story and life experiences, You can play the game basically for free by downloading the basic game PDF from Wizard of the Coast. It has a very simple broad set of skills that define what a character can do well and what he is not so good at. At the basic level there are no feats, but in the intermediate level, feats are a good way to allow interesting abilities to be added without breaking the game. At the basic level the game is not to different from playing the Holmes basic set. However, when the scope of the game is expanded, there are lots of interesting options to build a wide variety of characters while at the same time limiting the ability of rules lawyers to produce characters with ridiculously high armor classes and hit bonus’s.

Now don’t get me wrong here, I love the old versions of the game and I would certainly play them again and I will most likely run games in the future using AD&D 1E. Again, there is no arguing with the simplicity of those games, the innocent wild eyes wonder of playing the game. Unfortunately it is not 1980 anymore and we have a higher expectations of our games. I am also not 17 anymore, I don’t have enough time these days to build my own campaigns from scratch. I depend heavily on published material and even with the OSR in full swing, there is not enough quality published material out there to keep things fun and interesting, this is why dead games are dead. When I go to Dragonsfoot, THE bastion of old school gaming, most of those people do not actually play the games they are talking about. For the most part, they are re-living their glory days, some are running campaigns, most are not, most are playing D&D 5E or Pathfinder. When WotC reprinted all the books from earlier editions, the sales were not all that good and if you go to DMGuild.com, the best sellers are from the current edition. So I think most people, even the ones like me, who love the old games have pretty much come to the same conclusion, Dungeons and Dragons 5E is the best version of the game so far.

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