Sunday, July 6, 2014

Dungeons and Dragons 5E - Introductions are in order

While  should have been posting a recap of the last round of our Friday Night I have instead been looking at the new material that has been released for the newest version of Dungeons and Dragons.
To start with there is a free PDF of the basic game rules (~100 pages) available here (including a printer-friendly version). Did I mention it was free? As I understand it the "basic" game version is the free one, and when the new books are released this fall they will be considered the "advanced" version.

D&D Starter Set
The release of the basic game PDF comes at the same time as the release of the D&D Basic Game Starter Set. The starter set includes an even more basic rule set, an adventure module, a set of dice, and five pre-gen character sheets that include some of the detail not covered in the rule booklet. It is available now at certain game stores (I picked mine up at Draxtar Games in Batavia) and will be available through other markets in mid-month. There are no character tokens included with the Starter Set but in mid-month Wizards will also release a miniatures packet that includes miniatures that correspond to the pre-gen characters provided (and Drizz't).

 I haven't gotten all the way through the new basic game PDF yet but my quick initial evaluation is that the game is returning to a pre-DnD 4E version of the game. Anyone that had played any of the earlier old-school versions of DnD (or Pathfinder) should recognize this game instantly and be very familiar with the content. There are a few rules tweaks here and there along the way, but nothing that anyone of us couldn't choose to ignore or alter if we chose to.

Wizards seems quite adamant about just calling the game "Dungeons and Dragons" with no other numeric designation. However the websites I have been following seem to uniformly refer to the new game as the "5E" version of the game. You almost have to uniquely identify it somehow don't you?

There has been no word on what will happen to the existing DDI tools for 4E, however it does appear a new 5E tool set is being developed (here). There isn't a lot of detail there yet, but it does look like something is on the way. Wizards has had tools troubles in the past ... you could do a lot worse than just going with a new Herolab version.

Of course the real question is if Wizards will be able to recapture the momentum they lost when DnD 4E and its licensing issues drove so many of their fans to other games, specifically Pathfinder. The folks at Paizo have done a great job with building a thriving user community and I am sure that is on the minds of the DnD team. I don't think DnD is going away and nobody wants it too as the name recognition for the industry is still very important, but I think it is clear they have there work ahead of them yet.


  1. Have they said what the licensing arrangement is going to be? One of the reasons Pathfinder came into existence is that when they moved to 4E, Wizards eliminated the Open Game License that had allowed 3rd parties to create content for 3.0/3.5. I haven't seen Wolf Lair talking about adding 5E support to Hero Lab - I wonder if they'll have licensing issues? (Although I think they have a D&D 4E version.)

  2. Mark - I have not seen a real answer to that yet. I am expecting more details as we get closer to Gencon. Again, the reviews and comments I have read have been generally favorable, but the licensing question is a big still as-of-yet open issue.