See this little guy? He’s visually significant. Someone in the Scrummers suggested we try good old fashioned Dungeons and Dragons for one of our game night choices. I enthusiastically agreed, as did my son Garrett. Enthusiastic.. despite D&D not being very “old fashioned” any more. I haven’t played the game in at least 20 years or more so I know I’m too rusty to weigh in on the virtues of the current version 5.0. I have been listening perhaps the best and funniest podcast on playing a roleplaying game ever, BRIAN POSEHN’S NERD POKER, on Apple Podcasts for the last 3 years or more– including a long break as they departed Earwolf and set up shop independently. Under the DM Dan Telfer (as good of a DM and storyteller as any player could wish for), the players have transitioned from the D&D ver 2 that I pretty much grew up with and used forever to the newest version 5.0 which is far more in depth than the version I got used to (inconsistencies and all).
Before I type another word, go bookmark that podcast link. Yes, yes, I know. You’re welcome. It’s hilarious and engaging, and worth a listen. Imagine a gang of smart, very funny people with great voice acting talents among them playing D&D with you once a week. Now imagine they are all professional comedy writers and comedians. You get my drift?
One element of listening to the players constantly playing version 5.0 is that you get a sense of the mechanics. The THACO-armor class thing is inverted from the old days and now seems sensible. There’s this idea of passive senses that help you figure out situations (in a non combat sense), like perception, investigation, and insight. The number of numbers you have to check against seems to have exploded from what I’m hearing. I get the sense that 5.0 is moving from the freehand, ad hoc storytelling of my youth in the 2.0 days to a more granular approach to storytelling in 5.0 days. Kind of like this:
- “You stand before a wooden door”
- “Does it look strong?”
- “Roll against perception”
- “that will do it. The door looks solid with iron hinges and reinforced frame”
- “Checking for Traps”
- “Roll for Investigation”
- “Natural 20”
- “Booyah! you discover a little spring fired needle near the handle”
- “I could roll for it but it’s a pretty simple mechanism– let’s just say if you don’t roll a 1 you manage to remove it”
- “Can we hear anything at the door?”
- “Roll perception”
- “You just barely hear a scratching noise.”
This comes off as super-detailed at first. Yet, I see the wisdom of it. The old version just seemed to reward people for killing things. Version 5.0 rewards people for using their minds and playing smart. I like that.
So in any event, my “classic” character from the old days was a Hobbit thief, sometimes a thief/fighter or ranger. We have to call them “Rogues” now and they do a lot more than steal stuff. Here’s my pre-rolled character, Cloyer Bulse the Magsman. He seems over powered to me at first glance, and that might portend a harrowing dungeon adventure. We’ll see. I like this guy and can see how I will play him going forward.. full of curiosity rather than greed, as is the case with most hobbits. He’s no barbarian but can contribute to a fight with thrown weapons and sneaky ambushes. I’m looking forward to this.. I’ve had a D&D jones for a while now. More on this as it develops. I’m going to paint the figure (arriving today) so it’s personalized for this game. Young Garrett shrugged when I offered to do the same for him, so he’ll get to use a recycled Frostgrave figure as a toll for his indifference. Whippersnapper.
More on “Cloyer” below.