D&D 5E Review Part 12: Adventuring

Category: Cussin' In Tongues
Created on Friday, 13 July 2018 Written by Steve

Turns out maybe I should have included this chapter with the last one; this might be a short post. Yeah, it’s still about the usual boring stuff that goes in the adventuring section, but it’s all just so...I don’t know...casual, maybe? They actually explain really basic things that everyone has to learn but most people just sort of figure out. Considering D&D is, for better or worse, the main gateway into RPGs for new players, I like that they covered some things everybody knows but nobody ever explains. The most exciting surprise in this chapter is one of those things, repeated or heavily implied in several sections, and boils down to the writers reminding the players that none of the stuff they’re explaining is important unless it makes the game more fun. Don’t get bogged down in it and skip it if it doesn’t matter. 

The other nice thing about the chapter is that everything is very simplified compared to previous editions. For example, there’s only one table in the whole chapter (movement rates for travel) and it’s just four columns and three rows. In a lot of instances, the “rules” are basically a reminder of how the core mechanic works: The GM decides what you need to roll based on the situation and uses your roll to determine the outcome. This kind of thing is standard for a lot of games, but it feels like a really big step for D&D, which traditionally has been designed so that every single thing a character could do had its own detailed subsystem tied onto it. 

A quick rundown of the specifics:

  • Time: It basically says that usually the GM just decides how long things take, but some things like movement and combat have their own rules. 
  • Movement: You can move fast, normal, or slow enough to be sneaky and do other things. The table I mentioned gives the standard rates. The “movement by terrain” table is gone because there are only 2 types of terrain: normal (you move at the normal rate) and difficult (you move at half the normal rate). Because honestly, when has that X miles of difference between plains and gentle hills ever really made that much of a difference to how the game played out? Somewhere in this section it also blows off the old “Encounter Distance” table by saying the the GM decides how encounters start. Because that’s easier and less likely to create a situation that doesn’t make any damn sense. 
  • The Environment: Rules for falling, suffocating, lighting, food and water, and interacting with things. The rules elements tend more toward “GM just uses the core rule” as the subsection goes on. The light ranges that we usually find here are describe for the appropriate equipment in the equipment section if you care, but the GM can just tell the players that they’re in one of the 3 lighting conditions (light, dark, and dim) and not worry about it. Because if it matters, the players already know. 
  • Social Interaction: This section covers the basics of character interaction and is very heavy on the stuff nobody who’s played a game or two needs to be told, but a brand new player trying to learn entirely from the rulebook will probably appreciate. They even distinguish between descriptive (the “my guy says…” kind of role-playing) and active (where you actually, you know, role-play) styles of roleplaying. Both options are presented as equally acceptable, which I guess is true for many D&D games. 
  • Resting explains the difference between a short and long rest (which have been mentioned throughout previous chapters in terms of when characters regain powers and spells and such). The newest thing here is the sheer number of hit points players can recover by resting in this edition. You can probably get by without anyone having to play a cleric as long as you rest regularly. 
  • Between Adventures: This covers what characters can do during downtown. It’s mostly ways they can avoid having to pay the cost of living and maybe earn a few extra gold by using their skills and proficiencies, but there are some simple rules for healing (including getting rid of non-hit-point afflictions without getting magicked all over by a cleric), crafting, research, and even learning things outside of the level advancement system (it takes a really long time). 

I’m impressed. That wasn’t the godawful slog through hellish tables and modifiers I was expecting. It’s almost like they’re giving the GM credit for being able to use the core rule without training wheels. I hope they keep up the trend for the next chapter: COMBAT! 

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D&D 5E Review Part 12: Adventuring.
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