In the Year of Our Lord, 1066, Uther Pendragon, Duke of Normandy, sailed his army across the English Channel and defeated King Vortigern at the Battle of Hastings. He moved quickly to consolidate his rule over the island, which lasted from A.D. 1066 until his death in A.D. 1215. In that year, the boy Arthur, foster son of Sir Ector of the Castle of the Forest Sauvage, was revealed to be Uther’s son and heir by pulling the sword Excalibur from the stone. Although he had the backing of Merlin, and the miracle to substantiate his claim to the throne, Arthur was immediately beset by rebellion, led by King Lot of Orkney. With war brought the usual scavengers; monsters who seized the opportunity to pillage and wreak havoc on a defenseless people. Arthur, guided by Merlin, re-established the national Adventurers’ Guild that his father had previously abolished. A royal stipend was given to the Guild to train up new heroes to fight the darkness which had spread over the land.
So the 5th Edition of Dungeons and Dragons is out, and I have not yet seen any serious negative criticism of the rules. There are questions and concerns about certain rules that people pose in the forums on therpgsite.com, Enworld.org and forum.rpg.net, but I have not seen any “D&D 5e’s Out…And It’s Awful” type articles. Most of the discussion is quite positive, and people seem excited, or, at least, interested in getting the rules and playing. There will be no edition war this time, it seems, and based on what I’ve seen so far, I’d have to say that WotC’s new edition gambit is a resounding success.
I still prefer Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition rules, especially the Essentials line, and am looking forward to possibly picking up some good deals on 4e products as those who move to the new edition make room on their shelves. Of course, the Essentials Red Box is still over $100 on Amazon.com for a new set, and close to $60 for used. I’m glad I got my copy early on. I also bought a copy of the Starter Set. It’s also $100 on Amazon.com right now.
In addition, Wizards of the Coast seems committed to supporting every edition of D&D; they are offering PDFs of products from every edition (except, perhaps for Original D&D) for sale on their “D&D Classics” webstore. They have also published physical reprints of both the 1st and 2nd edition of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.
So, what about the Basic Rules? I have some observations. They use characters out of the DragonLance books as examples; that’s interesting. Percentile dice are back (they are a pair of 10-sided dice used to roll percentages). The rules contain four races: humans, halflings, dwarves, and elves. There is a very good flavorful section under each race description that gives the reader an idea of how a particular race views members of other races. For example, Dwarves think elves are generally good, but that they can be occasionally frivolous and unreliable. Halflings are nice, but boring. Humans are considered “everyone’s second-best friend”.
The exceptions-based rules are present. That is, general rules are trumped by specific rules.
There are four tiers of play; the first and fourth tiers have four levels each, the second and third tiers have six levels each.
Four classes: Fighter, Rogue, Cleric, and Wizard. Pretty classic set-up.
Weapon Proficiency is a flat +2 for First Level Characters. In 4e, bladed weapons tended to grant a +3 bonus to attack rolls (if the character had proficiency in the weapon), while other weapon types only granted a +2 bonus.
There are several human subraces listed, based on the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.
Characters have Hit Dice, based on their class. When the character gains a level, he can roll to see by what amount his total hit points increase, or he can take a static number. In 4th Edition, characters got a set amount of additional hit points when levelling.
There is a section on the expenses a character incurs when he is not adventuring. There are several levels, from subsistence to spendthrift (my paraphrase). Each lifetyle level entails a particular cost per day. The character can have a second job in order to maintain the modest lifestyle. Interesting element to role playing.
Well, that’s all I feel like writing for now.
You have to love a video that starts with the Susato Suite. Some of the best music ever composed.
It’s the Two-page Essentials Character Sheet
So, some houserules off the top of my head to make the heroic 4th edition characters into more “old school style” characters.
1. 4e Characters begin with some hefty ability scores, and they go to superheroic levels by the end of their careers. The standard array (before racial bonuses) is 16, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10.
•Subtract 2 from each of these: 14, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, then add racial bonuses. In addition, mandate that no character may begin with a score higher than 14.
2. 4e characters regain all their healing surges after an extended rest.
•Characters only regain one surge plus their CON modifier (if it is positive) from each extended rest. +1 if the characters are staying in an inn. +2 if they are staying in luxurious quarters. +3 if they are receiving medical attention, as in a hospice.
3. 4e Characters begin with 100 gp worth of equipment.
•Characters begin with 50 gp worth of equipment.
4. 4e Characters can carry 10 x STR pounds of equipment without being slowed down; they can carry 20 x STR pounds and suffer the “Slowed” condition. They can drag around 50 x STR pounds.
•Characters can carry 5 x STR pounds without penalty, 10 x STR pounds and be slowed, and can drag around 20 x STR pounds of material
I created an example character: Ace Walker Dwarf Fighter