From Chainmail to D&D Next

Oh the horrors, Our current group had a few late bloomers that never played D&D. With the release of D&D 5th edition, we started to discussing the different editions. After trying to remember and agree on the merits of each edition, and failing. I decided to try and play each edition as written no house rules.

The goal is to play an epic campaign, “Nerd Poker” style, spending 2 to 3 levels per edition. With each player giving a few pros and cons for each edition. Then finally ending with playing a few indie games that tried to create the flavor and color of D&D.

When all is said and done, we will continue a long running campaign in our favorite edition or give Burning Wheel Gold it’s due time.

The games we are considering:

  1. Chainmail
  2. Basic D&D
  3. AD&D 2nd Ed.
  4. Pathfinder
  5. True 20
  6. Fantasy Craft
  7. D&D 4th ed.
  8. 13th Age
  9. D&D Next 5th Ed.
  10. Torchbearer

Sept 20, 2015

The day has come we are starting D&D5E. I have promised to run a year long campaign in 5th edition. The players are looking forward to stability and character development, and were about to mutiny if I suggested playing a few more systems. We are going to start playing in the Forgotten Realms, and if thing progress may include Spelljammer. I hoping that the campaign will be focused on the competing trade houses and guilds in Waterdeep and Amn.

I secretly hoped to play some more indie games, and will make them play a few one-shots this year. A few of us are working on our own games systems or modules, we will dedicate a few sessions to play testing. We play every other Sunday giving us at most 26 game sessions a year. I plan to dedicate the majority of these to D&D5E.

Below is my ranking of of the D&D editions, that we have played. I really found the 4E took way too much prep time, was too focused on tactical combat, and skill challenges were not fun. The away 4E is balanced and the every increasing scale just felt wrong to me. It really made me looking forward to 5E bounded accuracy. 2E and Basic are still at the top of my list mainly because they are what I played for many years, and their is a degree of simplicity. 13th Age is the game that brought me back to D20, else I don’t think I’d be playing D&D at all today. Its narrative elements are awesome, and the way that class instead of weapon effects your dmg is awesome. I can see the good in Pathfinder or 3.5E but they require too much system master to interest me. When every book adds about 100 new feats, the number of feats have grown to unmanageable levels. Feats are basically rule exceptions to allow something cool, then I feel you should allow players to create their own not create books of feats. I also feel if you need endless rule exceptions then it might be time to revisit the rules, or switch to a more versatile system. From my reading, I think 5E may be in a sweet spot between 2E and 3E but we will soon find out.

  1. AD&D 2nd Ed.
  2. Basic/Expert D&D
  3. 13th Age
  4. Pathfinder
  5. D&D 4th ed.