Great Khan Enthroned

Great Khan Enthroned

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

5e edition D&D: My first impressions

Old School DM                                                          New D&D

I finally got around to opening up my Player's Handbook today and started reading. I had been putting that off for I don't even know what reason, but I figured I'd better familiarize myself with the new rules, as I am kicking off a new D&D campaign (probably) this coming Saturday. I decided to let my players vote on a rules set to use out of every RPG I own and 5e D&D seems to be a front-runner, it seems that some of them want to try something new (my inner grognard protests).

So, my initial impressions-

The art: I can't say I am a big fan, but I am only about 50 pages into the book, so that's one caveat. The art seems dark and somewhat uninspired. Technically the art is only mildly proficient, with many anatomy errors throughout. The subjects of the art range from mildly homely to butt-ugly, with only a few standouts that could be referred to as average looking. There is a distinct tone to the art that speaks to me as having a lack of inspiration among the artists, as though they were art directed to near death. I say all of this knowing that some of my favorite D&D art is somewhat amateurish at best, but in first edition AD&D and it's contemporaries (B/X, BECMI) the art was, at least, inspired; it was D&D fan art, and that made it subjectively good, despite it's technical imperfections. I know that art is subjective, so your mileage may vary. Zak S. was a contributor so why couldn't they have used him for some of the art?

The rules: I went through every phase of the public play-test, so I had an inkling of what to expect. I am not going to say I like everything about them, so far, but at least where changes were made they were either building upon the legacy of previous editions, or they were pretty well thought out. That said, I had an initially good impression of 3e, and I ended up hating it because it was a pain to DM and a playground for rules-lawyers. I have said before on this blog, probably more than once, that I don't like any rules set that takes away the power (and creative spontaneity) of the game master. I am a little gun-shy as a result of 3e, and that's probably why I have had this book for months and not cracked it open before now. All of that being said, I am willing to give it a shot, it still (despite the funky looking Gnomes, Dragonborn and Tieflings) feels like D&D. I just hope it retains the agency of the DM.

Funky looking

Too dark in the book.

See, I didn't even notice the Dwarf until I saw the lighter version

Poor anatomy, at best average looking people, dark and not inspiring.