The best and the worst things about 5th edition D&D

Originally published at: The best and the worst things about 5th edition D&D | Boing Boing


Gonna have to disagree that 5th edition is less deadly. At least when compared to 3rd and 4th, 5th edition is way more deadly at early levels, especially if you have a slightly unbalanced party.

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“i’d prefer a little more Motorhead, a little less Maroon 5” – i like this guy.


3.5 has a lot more unfun ways to die, but just dying from damage is actually fairly hard unless it was a 3x crit at the wrong time. Massive damage or a random death spell doesn’t happen in 5e outside a beefed up disintegrate or something… but while I like the OSR idea of faster more dangerous combats, I hate the idea the people fell over constantly which is a problem in OSR. I find that a lot of players that play knowing how dangerous things can be are much more timid which to me is extremely boring, leaving a single party member to drive action and less commitment to the characters.

The thing about death I hate in 5e is that at 0HP you just fall over unconscious for like 30 minutes until someone can heal you, and I hate the idea of not attacking the unconscious but alive players out of a sense of sportsmanship at the table. So I made a house rule that players just don’t go unconscious at 0 HP, and if they want to stay and fight they can and if they want to run away they can and if they can heal themselves they can. It makes the group set of actions a lot better when there isn’t someone just laying around on their initiative.


I see it as being incapacitated more than just being unconscious. But that’s really just flavor. Anyway, you’re still making Death Saving Throws on your turn with a decent chance of dying. That should be enough to incentivize players to heal or at least stabilize each other.

  1. Initiative is to slow

LOL Wut? A single d20 roll per player once per combat is slow? Initiative and any bonuses to it are already about the least important rolls/stats in most d20 system games. After the first round getting highest initiative roll and the lowest are essentially the same as you go back to back in every round after the first.

About half of the groups I’m playing in right now are using systems that change initiative order each round, it’s certainly slower than a roll once system like D&D, but it’s rarely the slowest part of any round of combat.

My personal gripe with the d20 systems games I pay in is the d20, while it’s easy to calculate the probability of any d20 roll, a +1 is +5%, there tends to be a lot of hot/cold streaks in games. Systems where you roll multiple dice tend give a much more consistent result. There are multiple house rules systems I’ve seen for using 3d6 or something similar instead of a d20. In the ones groups I’ve been in have tried it made players much more confident in what actions they felt the could succeed at and what they should avoid and look for other options.


His argument is for group initiative which does speed things up a little bit because you’re less likely to forget who’s turn it is. But it kind of reduces the effectiveness of rogues and can definitely be gamed by the players.

He’s trying a bit too hard to do the ‘radio DJ’ voice, but that’s what gets the views on YouTube these days, so I understand it, it’s just a pet peeve of mine.

Overall he makes some good points. The changes in how magic users have progressed in different editions is definitely something that almost everyone has strong opinions about, though there is little consensus.

I will have to listen later. I have enjoyed 5e games I have been doing the last couple of years. But I am at a point in my gaming life I prefer role playing that caring about mechanics. Which is ok, though sometimes I goof up on what I and and can’t do, as well as figure not figure out which is the best build to be useful. Shrug.

I still wish magic was less restricted on what you can use and when. I invariably have the wrong spells ready for when I need them. But I understand it is to keep it balanced.

Anyway - the crap guide to D&D is hilarious and has some information.

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The thing that really struck me when I played a game of 5e was how many story hooks it wants to build into your character. So many tables to (roll on/pick from/use as inspiration) to give your character goals, drives, history, and other ways for the GM and the players to conspire in improvising a story.

Maybe this is just inherited from other editions, I dunno, the last time I was in a D&D campaign was when it was AD&D, I played a lot of GURPS instead of 2e, and was busy doing other things during the ages of 3/4e.

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In case anyone was confused:

“THAC0” is needlessly confusing…


The two many hit points gripe rings true after my last round with two level 3 players and three zombies. The rolls just kept coming up relatively low for everyone and it was like everyone was trying to kill each other with water balloons. I think I might start nerfing monsters when the combat gets repetitive. When you stand in front of a slow zombie and fail to hit them after two rounds randomly, it just rips you out of the narrative, and worse, the fun. Then when you start doing damage but its a point or two at a time, it’s just dismaying.

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