Saturday, July 5, 2014

Breaking down DnD Basic Part 2

Lets look at DnD Basic in detail.

Chapter 1
Creating a Character

For experienced players this section is overly verbose. For a novice? Well maybe it is still overly verbose but I haven't published or gotten feedback on a full ruleset either.

Once you get around the text the steps are straight forward.

  1. Choose a Race
  2. Choose a Class
  3. Determine Ability Scores
  4. Describe your Character
  5. Choose Equipment
In Races we learn that there are sub races that one can pick.
In Classes we learn that characters have levels, hit points, hit dice, and proficiency bonus. Here two difference from classic DnD leap out. Hit Dice need to be recorded as they allow characters to regain hit points. That the proficiency bonus applies to a lot of things in the game. 

Applications of the Proficiency bonus
  • Attack rolls with proficient weapons
  • Attack rolls with spells
  • Ability checks with proficient skills
  • Ability checks with proficient tools
  • Proficient Saving Throws
  • The Saving Throw DC for spells
So the Proficiency Bonus is a central feature of DnD 5e.

For ability scores you have several methods to pick from.
  • The standard array of 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8
  • 4d6 drop the lowest, roll six times, arrange.
  • Or as a clear optional rule point buy your attributes.
Abilities give  bonus equal to the score - 10 divided by 2 round down. This ranges from +4 for 18, +1 for 12, to -3 for 4.

One nice touch is that on page 8 they summarize the bonus each race/subrace gives.

Describing your character has some additional mechanics over and above classic editions. The nine fold alignment system is back. But in addition characters are recommended to have ideals, bonds, and flaws. Along with a background that may give you skill proficiencies, tool proficiencies, or languages.

Emphasizing the roleplaying is a good thing in my book. I will say I am biased on this account as out of all the different types of players I consider myself focused on the roleplaying of a character. And yeah I do funny voices.

Nothing particularly special about choosing equipment. Other than the fact that classes and background come with premade sets of equipment  that you can pick as an option. This is a good thing for those who find equipment lists tedious.

Last we come to a section on what to expect beyond 1st level. In this section is a level character from 1 to 20. That is very nice to have in the basic rules. Means once they added all the pieces it would usable for long term campaigns.

The XP curve is very difference from previous editions, 300 xp for 2nd, 900 xp for 3rd up to 355,000 xp for 20th. Without the XP guidelines it hard to tell what that exactly means. Looking at the starter set if you played a five man party. You will get to 2nd level after the first two encounters. With one being a fight on the road, and the other a small cave adventure. 

This is likely to be a turn off for classic edition fans. Either ignored or house ruled. I read forum posts on adapting the 1e charts in the place of what is in the PDF.

However that is a minor issue compared to the proficiency bonus. It ranges from +2 at 1st to +6 at 20th. Mmmm. Think about the implications of this, first go up and look what the bonus applies too. This means that compared to every other edition including the original 1974 version of ODnD, 5e has a dramatically lower to hit curve. In ODnD a 20th level fighter has effectively a +12 to hit. Here it only a +6. 

Not only that, the Wizard, Cleric, and Rogue, share the exact same bonus. If two characters are proficient in the same skill they have the same bonus.

Now skipping ahead in the rules it obvious that fighters are better in melee than wizards even with the same weapons. The same with Rogues and their skills. However the raw increase in bonuses that was a feature of 3e and 4e is not repeated in 5e. We will see how they work it out when we look at those chapters.

Next Post is on the Races.

As a bonus I created a 5e character sheet based off the one I made for my Majestic Wilderlands campaign. It is designed to printed on a single sheet of paper and folded over so you can use the inside for notes.


trollsmyth said...

Leveling up is supposed to level out past 3rd level. 1st and 2nd level are supposed to be about playing very simple characters and learning how the game works. Apparently, there will be rules for starting at 3rd level, which is very much the new 1st level.

The power curve thing is very much on purpose. They've been talking about arranging things so monsters don't fall off as useless so much. In short, they want a large enough band of goblins to still be a mathematical threat to even 20th level PCs, and not just something they completely ignore as they wade towards the Big Bad. Glad to see they've (maybe?) managed that.

Scott Anderson said...

So far, all of this seems to be Good. Especially the less-dramatic scaling of power level.

Douglas Cole said...

Were the stat bonuses as large on OD&D? If you get level bonuses equivalent to +12, but your STR to-hit bonus is usually about +2-3 by that time, you're in the +14-15 range.

With the new Basic rules, you can get +4-5 for STR in the 18-20 range, and then +6 for proficiency, which is +10-11. Still less, but only perhaps 20-25% less chance at the extreme, and 15% on the narrow end.

Thiles Targon said...

There were no stat bonuses in base 0D&D for strength, supplement 1 added bonuses similar to 1st edition. 1st edition stat bonuses were all clustered at the high end. Dex bonus for AC was -1 @ 15 to -4 @ 18. Strength bonus was different I think 15 and 16 had +1 damage, 17 had +1 hit and damage 18 had +1 hit +2 damage. Higher bonuses were only available to fighter, since they required exceptional strength, which only fighter could have.

Thiles Targon said...

I’m no expert, but from what I have seen in 3.x getting to level 20 was like getting to level 9-12 in 1st edition. If 5th is close to the same, the +6 @ 20th level is really closer to 0D&D than it would seem.

Ian Dimitri said...

Thanks for the great character Sheet.

Is anyone else having an issue (jumbled text) with the Attack: section of the sheet on the left side? It has "Name", jumbled text, and then "Damage/Type" over the table.


Robert Conley said...

+Ian Dimtri

I fixed the issue. Download it again.

Ian Dimitri said...

Thanks for taking to time to make that sheet. It is clean and well designed.