First 5e Game Notes

This past Saturday I ran my first 5e game. I’ve read the three core books and love the new system, but I really wanted to see how it worked at the table. There were a few confused moments, but no more than could be expected with a new edition. Here are a few thoughts from our session:

  • While a bit murky at moments (death saves, no spell descriptions, etc.), the game still feels like D&D. This is a bit of a given, but some people fear that a new edition won’t feel like the game they’ve loved for years.
  • Spells do a great deal more damage. With the general power curve of the game reduced in 5e, I’m not sure why spells do so much more damage now.
  • The way spells prepared works is a bit different for 3.0/3.5 players, and vastly different for 4e players. The wizard and cleric (those were the only casters at the table, so this may apply to other classes as well) prepare a list of spells for the day (Their ability modifier + level) and then spontaneously cast from that list. For example, the wizard got four spells to prepare, but can only cast two spells. So the new system gives you a bit more versatility at the table.
  • Sneak attack seemed particularly easy to use (no more flanking required) and quite deadly. Rogues seem to have gotten a serious overhaul in 5e.
  • Advantage/Disadvantage really makes things quicker and easier than modifiers.
  • Dexterity seems like a slightly over-powered attribute as it now applies to saves, ac, many skills, to hit, and damage. Additionally, with the loss of strength and half for two-handed weapons, dex fighters do seem to have a bit of an upper hand, though str fighters will still out damage dex fighters (slightly) and will have a (slightly) higher AC. The str fighters will still shine when things need lifted, when door need forced, gear needs carried, and when baddies need disarmed, bull-rushed, or grappled.
  • Combat seemed much quicker. A party of three characters cleared six encounters in two hours. We started hacking and slashing at 9:30 and wrapped up our session at 11:30. Granted there wasn’t a great deal of NPC or roleplay-heavy encounters (I really just wanted to test combat), but it still seemed very quick.
  • The monsters hit hard. The CR 2 black dragon laid out 66 damage (22 acid damage to three characters) when he caught three characters in his breath weapon. I guess now that HP’s don’t go into the negatives anymore, DM’s can knock players around with a lesser fear of a TPK.

All in all it seems like a solid system. It feels like a trimmed down third edition, though players from any edition will be able to see hints of all the previous editions.

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