I got a chance to run the newest Dungeons and Dragons starter set last Saturday for my regular game group. Right off the bat I need to say this…Bravo those who worked on this edition of D&D!
I will not delve into the differences between versions but instead focus on what worked, what didn’t, and undiscovered.
I am in love with the advantage/disadvantage die. This is a great way to hand out the bonuses or negatives to players that give a great feeling that anything can happen. In a lot of games the bonuses can really put a player in the can’t fail or succeed corner. But with the A/D die you never know what could happen. The times it came up on my table it was a fun way to see how the situation played out.
The PCs feel powerful. We mentioned this in episode 31 where we talked about how it seems like the game is putting the bonuses on the PCs and not their gear. Playing through, this couldn’t feel more true. The bonuses to the core attribute to the PC who gets to a certain level really firm up the idea of power PCs, not equipment.
The combats are quick. Gone are the days of the 4th edition hour long encounters. My group was able to get through around five combats in three and a half hours. This allowed them to get to more of the plot points than you might have seen in the previous edition of D&D and spend more time dealing with the plot.
Combat is deadly! I had one player jump ahead into the fray on the first encounter. He suddenly found himself on the end of a strike that nearly took him out. Those old 4e habits are hard to break but you had better learn quickly, or else you will become familiar with the death save table.
What didn’t work:
Just in the starter set there isn’t much to complain about. I’m not being a fanboy, but rather saying there isn’t enough to chew on to know if there is something that could be improved on.
I will say this much. Healing feels a little off balance. This is only highlighted in the module included in the box set has multiple quests which reward PCs in healing potions. I’m not sure if this is an overcorrection from 4e and they are trying to up that deadliness factor, but you have to let the cleric be the healer even at level 1.
Character class progressions/trees, available races beyond the core, and what tools the Dungeon Masters will have to run games. Let’s face it, we have a long six months ahead of us to get the answers we all desire.
My group was pleasantly surprised by D&D Next. The impression I got is this felt like going back to a favorite hangout spot and discovering that the new management has made some needed improvements without gutting the place. I will continue to run the starter module and I will get in on as many games that I can to learn how other players are doing things.
As I played this version of D&D I was transported a few years back to my youth. It may sound cheesy but it is true. Something felt right about this game and it felt like Dungeons and Dragons as it should be played. I hope this continues and we aren’t about to see past mistakes repeated. I will continue to play D&D, and I am sure I will struggle with buying the Players Handbook mid-August. Right now I am leaning towards buy.
What did you think about the Starter Set and what you have seen from this version of D&D?