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5 Reasons You Should Be Playing D&D 5th Edition

Updated on October 28, 2014

Lets Kill Dragons

Since the newest edition of the world's oldest roleplaying game was released in March of 2014, many have been curious about it. I was one of these people, so I picked up the starter set and ran the game for some friends.

A little background on myself: I played very little D&D 4th edition, and didn't particularly like what I saw. I've played a lot of Savage Worlds and even more Star Wars: Edge of the Empire (you can find my reviews here and here).

5. Simplified Rules

When I first got into roleplaying games in 2011, one of the first games I looked at was the (at the time new) 4th edition of D&D. I was shocked by how detailed the rules were. There were clear, definite directions for everything. It turned me off. Trying to run the game was an exercise in memory and it was intimidating. That's one of the reasons I put the game away for good.

D&D 5e has reduced this complexity across the board, greatly speeding up the game and reducing the learning curve for new players.

For example, instead of tracking endless plus and minus modifiers, they've introduced something called Advantage and Disadvantage. If a rule says you have disadvantage on your Stealth checks (like if you were wearing chainmail, one of the loudest armors), the player rolls TWO dice and takes the LOWER of the two. It's fast, simple and easy to understand. Advantage is the inverse, where you roll two dice and take the higher.

This is just one example of the thinking that's gone into this game, and it just sings with speed.

4. Deep Classes

The game includes twelve classes, from the well-known classics like the Barbarian and Cleric to the more obscure ones like Druid and Monk. Each class has a different feel that makes them totally distinct and interesting.

They all have some kind of specialization (Wizards choose one of eight schools of magic, Fighters choose a fighting style, etc.) chosen at level 3. Many of the classes get to pick spells to use (even the Fighter!), so there's lots of room to customize almost every aspect of your character. And that's not even mentioning the character backgrounds!

There's something for everyone here, whether you want to play a Bard (the king of support classes) or the demonic Warlock, you'll find something just right for you.

3. Classic Feel, Modern Rules

Since it was the first roleplaying game ever made, Dungeons and Dragons has carried around the burden of seniority for its entire existence. As a result, some of the rules have become strange and clunky over the years, especially when compared to newer, modern games. For a newbie trying to play for the first time, the endless tables, statistics and rule exceptions can be overwhelming.

Having played 5th Edition, I'm extremely pleased with the game's feel. It's what I always imagined when I heard people fondly recall tales of D&D. My players have told me it reminds them of Skyrim, except that it's truly open-ended. There are dungeons to plunder, people to rescue and goblins to kill, and it's never felt better.

2. Product Support

Like many others, I was shocked to hear D&D's basic rules were being freely released online. You can go there right now and get your hands on the rules for free. It gives you everything you need (though without any of the pretty pictures) to play the game up to level 10. You don't have to spend any money to see if you like the game. It's essentially the most robust demo you could ask for.

Wizards of the Coast has also announced that compared to previous editions of the game, there will be dramatically fewer product books. However, the books that are released will be denser and of higher quality. They're going for quality over quantity this time, and I couldn't be happier.

1. Easy to GM

This is my personal favorite part. As a GM, I don't like doing all of the heavy lifting when it comes to storytelling in games. This is one of the reasons I was so attracted to the new Star Wars roleplaying game; it "bakes in" story hooks for players, which reduces GM prep by a large amount. Between the integrated character background done at character creation, the de-emphasized need for battle maps and the clear rules, I find it much easier to prepare for a game.

Plus, there's a whole community on Reddit that's extremely intelligent and supportive of aspiring GMs.

At this very moment, I can't wait to play more.

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