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John Cleaver
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Wow. I don't know when this was released, but it is awesome.

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D&D 5th Edition Basic: Some Words About It

TL;DR/First Impression: I like it more than 4th edition and it’s a better entry point than 3rd, but long-time and comfortable 3e players probably have no reason to switch (yet) other than novelty.

This is all cold-read reaction. I haven’t played with the game. I did play with a previous playtest version, but that was not even the final playtest and I don’t have strong memories of how it worked so I won’t be drawing on that much.

The Good

Proficiency Bonus: This is a spot where splitting the difference between 3rd and 4th really works out. Instead of ever spending ranks in a skill (like you had to track in 3rd), you are either proficient or not in it. Instead of proficiency giving you a static bonus (like it did in 4th) it lets you apply your (scales with level) proficiency bonus. This massively saves on bookkeeping compared to 3rd, and eliminates the weird “feature” in 4th where 15th level fighters were weirdly competent, say, cultural anthropologists, since 4th always applied a level-scaling modifier in addition to the static “trained” bonus[1].

Diversity: The basic rules specifically call out non-binary genders and non-conforming gender identities as options and supports them in the setting lore (without making a joke out of it). This is to be encouraged.

Number Squash: This is the most tentative of my “good” points, because I’d really want to (a) play out at least a few sessions at levels 10+ and (b) see some monster writeups to actually draw conclusions on it, but so far it looks like they've generally reduced the power curves to keep bonuses from outgrowing the entire size of the RNG.

No Gnomes: Gnomes are stupid.

Extensible Kit: The split of classes into basic progression plus a “tradition”, along with backgrounds giving a few minor bonuses that aren't class-related, should in theory make for a really nice amount of campaign-specific customization without the overhead of 3e prestige classes or the feeble pointlessness of 4e paragon paths. For example, I will probably at some point write up a fighter tradition that involves giving them actually useful abilities. (See below.)

Gaining Tool Proficiency: This is a cool little feature that lets characters get some advancement during without necessarily needing to go up a level. If the party doesn't have a thief, for example, the fighter[2] can pick up proficiency in lock-picks and thieves’ tools, letting him apply his proficiency bonus and somewhat covering the gap. It arguably advantages longer-lived races by letting them trade downtime for benefits, but the benefits are small and the horizon of the average campaign not nearly that long, so I don’t care.

The Bad

Fighters Suck: I see we’re back to fighters taking the cup for Best Class If You’d Rather Spend Most of the Game Playing Candy Crush Instead. “I stab him. I stab him again. I stab him twice. Oh, combat’s over? You guys do stuff,  I’m gonna go get a burrito.” Twenty levels of this bullshit. If there’s anything 4th got right (understand how difficult it is for me to admit this), it was realizing that all classes needed to get level-appropriate abilities at every level, instead of casters getting level appropriate-abilities and fighters being permanently stuck at level 6. I’m hoping the full PHB release fixes this, but I won’t say I’m optimistic about it. In the meantime, just play a real class.

LNC/GNE Alignments: Are back. JFAM why are we still pretending these are at all sane in this, the Century of the Anchovy? Here’s how I GM alignments: Write down whatever makes you feel like the specialest snowflake and let’s get on with it.

Defaults to Random Stats: Pure grognard bait. Someone please take this idea out behind the chemical shed and have the remains humanely disposed of. If present at all, this should be an option in the DMG under the heading Fun Rules to Use if You Hate Your Players And/Or They Hate Themselves.  Or in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying “Beware of the Leopard”. (On a related note: rolling for HP when you gain a level is also stupid.)

Saving Throws: The new saving throw system has, instead of Fortitude/Reflex/Will, a different save for each stat. Let’s see how this works out in practice, looking at the spells included. Of spells that require saving throws, 39 of them require either Dexterity, Constitution, or Wisdom (ie, Fortitude, Reflex, or Will). 1 requires both Dexterity and Constitution. Literally 0 call for an Intelligence, Strength, or Charisma save, while 3 actually ask for an Intelligence (Investigation) check and one asks for a bare Intelligence check; this despite Int saves existing in the rules. I believe we can summarize these data in abstract as “copy, paste, search, replace maketh not a new edition”.

Hit Dice: Not the idea of hit dice, but overloading the term to mean both the dice that give you hit points and the dice you roll to heal during short rests.
 
The “Finding a Hidden Object” Sidebar On Page 61: Wherein GMs are instructed that characters who do not specify their exact behavior in carrying out a search fail. That is some pixelbitching bullshit. Unless you specifically want your game to emulate the more annoying aspects of point-and-click adventure games of the mid 90s, it should be ignored.

Unconvinced

Advantage/Disadvantage: When you have “advantage” on a roll, you roll 2 dice and keep the higher; disadvantage, roll 2 keep the lower. Ad/Disad do not stack and cancel each other out, which means if you have fifteen things giving you advantage and one giving you disad, you’re neutral on the roll. Which means at higher levels, you’ll just be neutral on everything as different abilities designed to hook on this system come into play. And even if everything’s giving you disadvantage, you can try to play Mother May I? with the GM to try to cage some advantage from the environment or the GM’s benevolence[3] and cancel it out. This is stupid. I like the idea, even though it’s statistically equivalent to about a +/- 3 non-stacking bonus, but the implementation seems doomed to irrelevance in the lategame.

[1] It then tried to hack this away by making target numbers also scale up by level. To quote Douglas Adams: “This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”

[2] Seriously, though, if your party has a fighter but no thief you’re gonna have a bad time.

[3] Hahahahahahaha.

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I feel like this is right up your alley, +Michael Cleaver .

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This soundtrack is awesome. +JJ Moffitt 

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Here are some pictures and descriptions from my recent trip to Minneapolis.
PhotoPhotoPhotoPhotoPhoto
Minneapolis/Saint Paul Trip (GP Minneapolis)
125 Photos - View album

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+Matt Gemmell is absolutely right about this. URLs are a poorly designed user interface.

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"The only reason coders' computers work better than non-coders' computers is coders know computers are schizophrenic little children with auto-immune diseases and we don't beat them when they're bad."

So damn true. See link. Laughed throughout so I wouldn't cry in shame.
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