Some of you might be aware that Dungeons and Dragons has been playtesting their next edition. Its called NEXT, but most players have been calling it 5e. It originally came out last year for beta-testing and they still have no tentative release date. The goal of NEXT is to bring in new players as well as see if they can grab hesitant players such as myself.
For those of you that do not know, Dungeons and Dragons is a roleplaying game in which there is a Dungeon Master (DM) that sets the narrative for players to explore. A typical game of D&D consists of characters killing monsters or running errands for gold and loot, but unlike MMOs, they allow the players to shape their environment and live out their fantasies. I’ve always been drawn to D&D, but I have not always had excellent experiences with it. Luckily for me, I joined a group made up of people I know. I have a way better feeling about this attempt to be apart of a gaming group.
We have decided to use NEXT/5e as our set of rules and so far it has been incredibly easy to work with. We had a test run last month and built our own characters on May 3rd. From previous experience, 3.5e took FOREVER to get anything done. I felt like we were constantly looking up rules, stats, and it just made the game seem like it was more time spent arguing what would make sense over actual gameplay. Character creation for 3.5e, for me, was kind of complicated and came off a bit cluttered. 5e is pretty simplified and character creation was not confusing at all. I will walk through what I prepared as my character for 5e and I will do my best to explain things along the way. I will be leaving some information out since it might not be pertinent to the character I have created, but I would be open to answering questions! There will be a link to the playtest materials at the end of the page.
Ability Scores, Race, & Class
First, I decided on being a druid that heals at range and her name will be Diyaa. Druids are restricted to simple weapons (boo) and I wanted to be a badass with a bow, a martial weapon, so I chose to be a Wood Elf to gain access to Longbows. Picking Druid and Wood Elf told me I could add +2 to my Wisdom score since Druid can add + 1 to either Constitution or Wisdom and Wood Elf adds + 1 to Wisdom. We used the point buy system to determine our initial ability scores. I decided to leave Strength at 8, but boosted the rest of my scores to at least 12 with 15 Wisdom. My final ability scores look like this:
They might not be the best scores, but I my main focus on stats will be Wisdom (healing and intuition), Intelligence (knowledge checks), and Charisma (gathering information and persuasion). Since I am a Wood Elf, it means I gain:
- Low-Light Vision (I can see pretty well at night)
- Keen Sense (Advantage on Wisdom spot and listen checks)
- Free Spirit (Immune to charm and sleep effects)
- Trance (Instead of sleeping, I can rest for 4 hours in a trance and its equal to a full night’s sleep)
- Fleet Foot (I can move 5 ft more)
- Mask of the Wild (I can attempt to hide even when I don’t have much cover)
- Weapon Proficiency in short swords, long swords, shortbows, and longbows
- Languages I speak and read both Elvish and Common
As a Druid, I have the ability to cast Druid spells that I prepare or cantrips. I decided to be in the Circle of the Oak to have better spellcasting abilities. Cantrips are spells you can cast repeatedly for free in 5e. Other spells have limits on how many times you can cast them per day. In 5e, you prepare spells, but you can cast any of them repeatedly based on how many level one spells you can cast in general. For example, I only have 2 spells I can cast per day, but I may cast any of the 3 spells I have prepared. When you cast a spell to damage a creature, that creature has to make a saving throw of some sort against your DC. What that means is if they need to make a Constitution saving throw, they roll a d20 and add their Constitution Modifier to the result. What they roll needs to be higher than your Save DC. Druid Save DC has this equation: 10 + Wisdom Modifier + Spell Bonus, so my equation comes out like this: 10 + 3 + 1 = 14.
My cantrips are:
- Druidcraft (I can create little illusionary effects, such as critters or voices for about a minute)
- Fire Seeds (I throw 2 burning seeds with a range of 50 ft. Target makes a Dexterity saving throw and if they fail they take 2 Fire Damage)
- Read Magic (I can decipher discrete magical inscriptions on objects)
- Cure Wounds (At 25 ft range, I can either cure a creature for 1d8+4 or damage an undead for basically a ton of damage at 4d8 on a failed Constitution save and half that on a successful one)
- Entangle (At 50 ft in a 5 ft radius, I can deal 3d6 piercing damage on a failed Constitution save and half that on a successful one. It creates difficult terrain in a 20 ft cloud for 1 minute)
- Thunderwave (Each creature in a 15 ft cone in front of me must make a Dexterity save, if they fail they take 3d8 thunder damage and are pushed 15 ft away. On a successful save, they take half that damage with no push)
The playtest character sheet doesn’t have room for all of these notes, so I have a notebook that I will be using to both keep track of the story and have a quick reference to my spells and feats.
Skills, Background, & Equipment
In 5e, players starting at level 1 may chose 4 skills. Those skills are considered trained skills which means whenever the character rolls for one of those skills they add 1d6 to the initial 1d20. What this means is: I can roll a spot (Wisdom) check even if I don’t have it trained, which is 1d20 + 3 (my Wisdom modifier). Since I am an Elf, I have the Advantage on those kinds of checks, which means I can roll 2d20 and keep whichever one rolls better. That means if I roll 2d20 and the results are a 1 and a 20, I can choose to take the 20. If I have spot check trained, then I add a 1d6, so the overall calculation looks like this: Adv(2d20 )+ 1d6 +3. Similar to Advantage, Disadvantage has the player roll 2d20 and take the worse of the two results, so I would have to take the 1 if I was actually Disadvantaged in spot. There is also Contest, which allows to creatures to compete toward the same goal with just a 1d20 + modifiers, but that won’t come into play for Character Creation. It seems confusing to read, but if you try it out its actually quite easy to understand.
Since I am rolling a healer, I decided to focus my skills on being knowledgeable about nature and magic. I also want my character to be a little intuitive and able to receive information by talking to NPCs. In 5e you are not restricted to what skills you can take, so I chose to take:
- Recall Nature Lore (Intelligence) I have advantage since I am a druid
- Recall Magical Lore (Intelligence) Any healer worth their salt should know about different hexes, curses, and spells
- Sense Motive (Wisdom) My character is an observant person, a “people studier”, so I can catch on to people’s natures
- Gather Rumors (Charisma) My character enjoys talking with people and can sometimes learn things from them
Usually, in 5e, it seems you will pick a background first and then it will assign you the 4 skills, but we decided to mix and match our backgrounds and skills. Backgrounds are there to offer players: skills, a trait, and half of the starting equipment if you chose to take it (you must take the other half from your class). Traits are kind of nifty since they allow all characters to have some kind of input to the Role Play part of the game. For example, the Fighter class is mostly just about brawling and before did not bring too much to the Role Play other than having low intelligence and charisma stats (depending, but most seem built that way). Now, a Fighter can chose to take the Temple Services trait and gain the ability to go to the temple of their chosen religion/god and be able to: ask priests, acolytes, and other members for help/information, heal yourself and your companions for free, and receive religious services. Thus, your fighter can be a Templar if you chose and actually contribute to the Role Play and not just combat. Its a great way to help you construct a background for your character. I chose the Sage trait.
There are feats in 5e, but they are completely optional unlike previous editions. Our group decided we wanted to have ALL THE THINGS, so for my feat I chose Herbalism. Herbalism lets me spend an hour to create up to 3 items (Antitoxin, Healer’s Kit, and Potion of Healing). I must have the necessary material components in order to create them, components such as: herbs, vials, cloth, etc. I can also identify poisonous herbs.
For equipment, I did decide on taking the recommended starting items for Druids and Sages, but I did decide to change it up just a bit. I had 70~ gold plus some items from the set I didn’t necessarily want (such as a spear!), so I decided to gain a fishing tackle box (as a method of providing food) and a Longbow. Now I only have 17 gp, 12 sp, and 8 cp leftover, but I feel better about my starting equipment:
- 10 Candles
- Code Ring I haven’t decided what its for yet
- Nature Tome The DM will assign a DC to the Tome. If I would have to make a DC check about something the Tome covers, if the DC is the same as the Tome’s, then I can succeed a check with it
- Ink, Ink Pen, and 10 sheets of paper
- Leather Armor Adds 11 to my armor class
- Shield I won’t be using it for right now, but kept it just in case
- Longbow 1d8 piercing damage!
- Adventurer’s Kit Has a backpack, a healer’s kit (20 uses), 10 torches, 10 days of rations, a waterskin, and 50 ft of rope
- Sprig of Mistletoe Apparently it can be used as a Druid Focus, but I honestly don’t know what that means for this edition since it had no entry anywhere other than in the Druid starting equip list
- Fishing Tackle Box Has the fishing rod, lures, and lines
With that, my character is complete. I left out some details, like how fast she can walk and her measurements, but those things are easy to look up for yourselves! I had a lot of fun setting up my character and I hope I have a lot of fun playing her. The last thing I need to do is give her a back story. I already had one in mind as I made her, so here it is:
Diyaa grew up in a small, secluded village by a river. While Wood Elves typically are weary of other races, Diyaa’s family moved into the human dominated village nonetheless. Her father and mother were Druids that acted as soothsayers and healers in the town, able to cure just about any ailment that came their way. One day they died of some mysterious illness that even Diyaa’s grandmother couldn’t stop. With only the notation that it was Magical in essence, Diyaa decided that in order to become a great healer she must learn all she can about healing, both natural and magical. Leaving her grandmother behind to tend to the village needs, Diyaa set off on a journey of discovery with a slight hope that she might recognize the cause of her parents’ untimely deaths.
I am really excited about this character and I hope I got some people excited about playing D&D 5e. I will try to post more about the system in action when we convene to play on May 24th. I will give my impressions of the ease/difficulty of the system and whether or not the Skill Dice, Advantage/Disadvantage, and Contest additions add or detract from the gameplay.
If you are interested in D&D 5e, the playtest is free! You can gather a group of friends, go to roll20.net, or join meetup.com to find groups online or offline. D&D 5e, according to my DM and a lot of people on the forums, seems to be compatible with ANY campaign setting and most other rule books. I would be happy to hear about other people’s experiences so feel free to leave a comment below!
Have a great day!