I continue my story of why I haven’t played 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons. If you want to be up on the story click to read part 1.
It was about a month before fifth edition came out. As part of the run up, they organized a bunch of demos in different FLGS. My local store was one of them. The store organized the whole thing. They talked to me about it because it was the same weekend that we ran our open event and they needed two tables to run the demo. Which meant that we needed to schedule less. Which was fine, a lot people, myself included, really wanted to see fifth edition. I even arranged with the other Dungeon Masters that we could all have a slot free if we wanted to take part in the demo. I originally thought I was going to have to get people to run the event but Wizards had arranged for a couple of local DM’s to do that, freeing everyone in our group.
I scheduled myself to play in one of the last games of the day and was excitedly looking forward to it. I don’t remember who the DM was. He wasn’t one of our regulars, but he was mostly pleasant. He did a fine job of running the game. The problem arose afterwards.
I decided I would go into this with the same idea that I used in the alpha. I played the warrior to see how much they had changed the class from my last experience. The DM asked if anyone had played before and I told him the story of, “and I swing my sword.” He then explained to me a new mechanic that I think was called power dice.
I had three six sided dice that I could use during a round to improve my chance to hit, deal more damage, or defend party members standing adjacent to me. I had feats and skills that used those dice. They allowed me to do a couple of different things. The best part about them was, that I didn’t have to decide to use them until after the dice rolls were made. It meant that if I missed an attack by three I could decide to roll a power dice and see if I could hit it. However, if I missed by seven I wouldn’t roll one as it’s impossible to get a seven on a six sided dice and I was only able to roll one dice at a time.
I really liked this. It wasn’t the powers from fourth edition but it felt like a nice compromise. I was excited about this. It felt like I had been rewarded for waiting until they got it right.
The adventure starts, everything is going fine, we got to make some skill checks, do a little role play, and then combat happens. Which was expected, hell we were looking forward to it. We all had neat little rules and tricks we were going to get to try out.
We were fighting some bad guys in a barn. I rolled pretty well on my initiative and went pretty close to the front of the order. There armor class was pretty high and to hit them I needed to roll somewhere around a fourteen or fifteen on a twenty sided dice. I used one of my power dice for damage and felt pretty good about it. I think I may even have gotten to stagger the guy giving him disadvantage which I thought was really cool. The rest of the melee characters stood next to me to take advantage of my ability to defend them. I ended up using my other two dice to protect the rest of the party. It felt good.
Next round starts. When we get to me the DM tells me that since I used all of my dice in the previous round, I couldn’t get them back until I rested. Resting required me to give up my entire turn. “Okay. I rest to get my dice back.”
We have another round. I use dice to defend the rest of the party. I prevent people from getting hit. Keep the bad guys from getting the upper hand. Everything is looking good.
“I rest to get my dice back.”
At this point I detect a pattern. One that persists for another round or two. We defeat the melee enemies and the rest of the team moves forward to engage the ranged guys. I move up to join the party. “I rest to get my dice back.” At this point I am informed that I’m not allowed to do that. Resting to get my dice back is a full round action, I’m not allowed to do anything else. I’m only allowed to rest.
I decide to attack. I like at my character sheet and all of these cool attacks I can do. I want to pick one I can use against these guys. They all required power dice. “I swing my sword.”
The bad guys backed up again. I moved up to them. “I swing my sword.”
We finished the fight. Had a little more adventure. Another fight that pretty much went like the first one. There was more adventure that we didn’t get to. It was the last slot of the day, the store was closing, and we needed to wrap it up.
Afterwards the DM and I stood on the sidewalk and talked about the game. I told him I thought it was almost there. I thought there needed to be a way for warriors to get their dice back without having to rest. We went back and forth about this for a little bit and then at some point I compared fifth to the middle ground between fourth and previous editions. He explained that it has nothing to do with Warcraft D&D, which is shit.
He started explain how fifth edition was going to fix Dungeons & Dragons. Fifth edition was going to return the game to real Dungeons & Dragons players. Anyone who wanted to stay was either going to be forced into playing good D&D or they were going to quit. Nobody cared what they thought anyway.
I then made an excuse about that time and left.
I watch and listen to D&D being played on the internet. I like Critical Role; Girls, Guts, & Glory; the Dragon Friends, and several others I jump in and out of. I watched the entire 24-hour Tomb of Annihilation stream that Wizards of the Coast ran on Twitch. Most of it live. I appreciate how fifth edition works when played on streams. I like the mechanics I see. I enjoy what people do with the game. I honestly can’t even tell you if what I remember playing is how the game is played now.
After watching the Tomb of Annihilation stream, the next time I drove up to my local game store, I was planning to buy fifth edition. I walked into the store, went to the role-play section, and picked up the core D&D books. I even looked at the Tomb of Annihilation stuff they had in stock. I thumbed through the books, looked at the boxes, put it all back on the shelf, bought something else, and left.
I’ve considered buying them a couple of more times since then. Same thing every time. Pick them up, look at them, and put them back. I even planned to try the Wednesday night Adventure League. I cleared my schedule, gathered everything I thought I’d need to play, stayed at home, and watched TV.
I never think of the things I talked about in this article when I look at the books. I don’t even really decide not to buy them. I just put them back on the shelf and leave.
Part of what really sucks about this is I have friends who I like to spend time with. People who are busy with family and work. People who manage to claw out a couple of hours of free time each Wednesday at Adventure League. People I miss hanging out with, talking to, and spending time with. I realize that all I have to do to spend time with these people is play fifth edition. I just have to make that decision. I have to decide that I want to play with my friends. And I do. Every time I pick up those books it’s because I’m going to go play with my friends again.
Still, I put them back.
Well, that’s my story. I hope you enjoyed it. I’d love to hear your thoughts on D&D, 5th edition, any other role-play games you enjoy, or don’t. See you next time.