5E Review
Posted by: Jendor -- September 04, 2014


So my gaming group kinda missed out on playing the Play test for 5E and we didn't want to try it with just the free intro packet since it didn't really contain enough information in our minds to run a real game. Finally the PHB came out and we decided to run a one-shot to try it out since after we all read through the PHB and liked what we saw enough to give it a fair shake.

Before I get into the details, I will say that we for the most part are a 3.5 party, we never did 4th edition, too many changes not really to our liking.

So the broad stroke overview, 5th edition is primarily a rollback to 3.5 with a little bit of 2nd edition and 4th edition thrown in for good measure.

Our gaming group for our night of one-shot games consisted of Myself playing a Dwarven cleric with the life domain, an elf ranger played by my wife, a halfling rogue, a human druid, a dwarven barbarian, a human bard and a human sorcerer.

A pretty wide variety of classes were represented so we were able to get a pretty good idea of how each of the classes are represented. Our gaming group has three people who are able/willing to DM, myself and two others (the bard and barbarian). Our campaign started in a small desert town known as paradise that was formed around an oasis, the local magistrate had sent out a summons to recruit adventurers to deal with a coven of sand witches. (and yes the campaign was built around that pun by the DM)

The adventurers that composed our group were among those that came to the town as part of the summons and after agreeing to the mission we decided to get rested up in town that night before heading out into the desert to find said witches and dispatch them.

Before the sun even set on that day we had our first encounter, a young boy had come running into town screaming for help that his brother was in danger. Being the (mostly) good aligned group of people that we were we made our way out of the town to his farm and found a paddock full of angry goats that had attacked his brother who was laying on the ground.

Our sorcerer decided that there must be something wrong with the goats and attacked to draw the heat off of the injured boy. He cast his cantrip Fire Bolt and hurdled a blast of flame at the goat searing it but not killing it.

Now this is one of the biggest changes for mages, cantrips in 5e are not useless spells. First off they can be cast an unlimited number of times per day but you only know a small number of them. Fire Bolt does 1d10 damage... on a cantrip! So even when a mage has cast all of his spells and is drained for the day he can still contribute to combat with more than just a quarterstaff, dagger or crossbow. Another nice thing for mages is that when they have to hit someone with a ranged spell its not based on their dex, but is instead based on whatever their primary attribute is.

So with combat with strange, angry goes now a forgone conclusion the rest of the group jumps in, (literally jumping into the pen with the goats). My Cleric decides that healing the wounded boy to maybe let him get himself out of the pen throws off first level healing spell (no healing cantrips :( ) called Healing Word. Healing word only heals 1d4+ability mod so not as much as cure wounds, but it has two benefits, first, its ranged at 60' and second its a bonus action.. so you can cast it and still take a normal action during the around. But as a cleric of the life domain, in addition to 1d4+3(my wis mod) i also get to add 2 and then 1 for each level of the spell, so it healed 1d4+6 which was pretty nice.

Needless to say the young boy was fully healed and I was able use my Sacred Flame ability to burn another of the goats, the barbarian, ranger and rogue were all able to help take down the goats as well (after the first one was burned to death and the boy screamed that we were ruining his lively hood most everyone switched to dealing non-lethal damage)

Our adventures continued for several hours, including a non-violent conflict with the witches who turned out to be druids. A shady tavern dealer who was selling pure water jacking up his prices after some dust elementals started draining the oasis and the party (namely my cleric) negotiating with him and getting him to lower his prices. Finally ending in a battle where most of the party had no weapons (the thief managed to slight of hand to keep his sword) and we still ended up being victorious thanks to cantrips and then the fighters taking the weapons from the first opponents we dropped.

Over all we thoroughly enjoyed the changes that have been introduced to us so far and we are planning on converting over to 5E full time although not in all of our campaigns (we have 3 different ones we rotate through) until at the very least all 3 core books are released. I may hold off on converting my own campaign until either the Eberron book for 5E is released or at the least an official artificer is revealed since my campaign is in Eberron.

Some of the other things that were changed is how spells are handled. All spell casters basically get their normal spell slots of how many spells at which level they can cast. Then they have the number of prepared spells they have which is their level plus their ability modifier. So a 5th level wizard will usually only be able to have 5-10 spells memorized. Even though he would have 9 spell slots (4 1st, 3 2nd, 2 3rd). It kinda combines spontaneous casting with traditional casting allowing the caster to throw low level spells into higher level slots as needed even making them more powerful (usually adding extra dice of damage) in the process. It works the same for all of the casting classes from what I've read so far, but I haven't yet read the entire book, mostly just hopping around.

Saves, Skills, Attacks, pretty much everything your character does is related to a proficiency bonus which is the same for everyone, 1-4th level is +2, 5-8th is +3, 9-12th is +4, 13-16th is +5 and 17-20th is +6. Usually for checks like Attacking you would add your proficiency bonus, add your strength or dexterity modifier and that is your plus to hit before any other abilities class features, magic items or spells. Saves are the same way and are based on stats so there are dex saves, int saves, cha saves, etc. The skill list is much smaller and works the same way too, prof bonus plus stat mod. As a result most rolls are lower, but so are the target numbers, in the monster info provided so far an Adult Red Dragon only has an AC of 19.

Were all intrigued by everything that we have seen and are looking forward to the release of the rest of the book and will likely be playing a full blown 5th edition campaign in the coming weeks. I'll end my review here, but feel free to discuss your own experiences so far.
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