Monday, July 21, 2014

An Exciting Time to be a Dungeons and Dragons Fan

It is an exciting time to be a Dungeons and Dragons fan at the moment. In addition to two D&D online games, the D&D Fifth edition rules set was rolled out a few weeks back by Wizards of the Coast. It can be downloaded at their official website. I spent the last couple of weeks looking at both the basic rules and at the premade campaign, Lost of Phandelver in preparation for a 5th edition campaign I will be running for friends.

I won't get into many of the new rules changes here as they are thoroughly analyzed all over the web by now. The highlights however include:

Changes in proficiency bonuses. This is a bit different a little than previous editions. There is now a proficiency bonus of +2 for a first level character. Your proficiency bonuses applies to many of the numbers you will be recording on your character.

There are also some changes to the xp system of leveling characters and the basic set allows you to level up to level 5.

Racial chages include no penalties for ability scores. A dwarf speed is not reduced by wearing heavy armor and elves now get dark vision. Dwarves are basically proficient with axes and hammers. Humans get a +1 to all ability scores if they are not using feats.

Backgrounds are also made available for characters. There are the Acolytes which will be popular with Clerics, soldiers and many more.

There is the usual starting wealth, weapons and equipment but there are also some minor changes to armor. For medium armor, bonus to AC is capped at 2. There are also no dexterity modifiers for those wearing heavy armor.

If you are looking for a good summary/rundown/review of the basic rules, I think that Questing Beast provided a concise and good one (scroll to top)

As for DDO, I have been doing house K quests in an effort to level my Barbarian Warforged. Ran the Forgotten Caves, Taming the Flames and Tear of Dhakaan, among others over the double xp weekend and had a blast. I also changed guilds to a new guild that provides me access to level 85 buffs.

Additionally, I played a few hours of Neverwinter on Sunday. This game is so different from DDO, still fun but more of a traditional mmorpg with a D&D skin. You can do questlines from quest hub to quest hub and occasionally do some PVP to break up the grind. Though I enjoyed the zones a character battles in with other players, I find it easier to group in DDO than in Neverwinter and the fact that the latter game has more of a unique feel (Neverwinter feels closer to Everquest 2 and other fantasy themed mmorpgs) keeps me logging on to Eberron more than Cryptic's game. I do like PVP though, so this feature may save Neverwinter from falling off my radar altogether.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Wizards of the Coast Release Core Rules for D&D 5th Edition

It has been almost exactly a year since I last updated my DDO blog. But now that I am playing more DDO and Neverwinter, this blog will serve as my inclusive online presence for D&D matters once again.
Speaking of D&D, DDO would not exist without its table top counterpart. Over the long holiday weekend Wizards of the Coast revealed their D&D core rules for 5th edition, or what they are calling D&D Next. Going over the 110 page document, I quickly noticed that Tieflings and Dragonborn are left out of the playable character races.

Furthermore, Paladins, Rangers, Warlords and Warlocks are left out of the character classes. The new rules set is hitting the stores next week on July 15, but we get a little preview to get familiar with this rules set. I have noticed that this is simplified from 4th edition quite a bit. I wondered why they feel a need to dumb down the game, it is supposed to be complex. My friend Chris feels the new model for games is that they need to be fast to learn the basics and difficult to master all of the nuances. Euro board games in particular have moved to this model. He feels that seems to be one of the models they are following and I guess that appears to be the case.

Some have observed that the basic rules feel like a throwback to the “red box” in the unified modifiers. The red box was an amazing product indoctrinating hundreds into this role playing game and making it easy for the masses to get into table top RPGs, we can only hope the new basic set is just as engrossing and just as groundbreaking but I am not holding my breath.

Meanwhile, I am left wondering what this means for 4th edition. I just recently found enough free time to digest the Player’s Handbook and to try and get back into the game, surprise surprise, they go and change the rules on me! I heard a lot of people complain about 4th edition back in 2008 the last time they switched editions on us. Back then the biggest gripe was that it felt too structured, that the role playing elements was heavily missing, replaced instead by a combat heavy, miniature driven game some dubbed table top World of Warcraft.
I can see how some of those perceptions came about but I don’t agree that it diminished the quality of the game or that it stamped out the fun factor. If my local hobby store was any indication, people were still having fun running 4th edition campaigns, and isn’t that the ultimate goal of a game? For folks to have fun playing it? We can only hope D&D Next follows in this tradition.