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D&D 5e – A Grognard’s return to the game

I have been gone from my favorite tabletop RPG game for far too long. In fact last month marked my inevitable return to the game. With it comes all of the fun, cool, humorous and inspirational things I have had floating inside my head for 4 years. What’s changed in 4 years? There’s a new edition of the game since I last played and although I wasn’t happy about that change I have since embraced it. The grognard in me resisted at first – “I’m not dropping any more money on a new edition of D&D!” and of course “It’s too soon!”. This was back when D&D Next was first announced and although my gaming group was already on hiatus and it mattered very little, I jumped straight on the hate-train for 5e.

Which brings me to early September 2017; I had heard rumblings from my good friend (and a former player in my old 4e campaign) that him and his girlfriend were trying to put together a new D&D gaming group and since most of our former groups have all moved away or dissolved we were looking at bringing some new players into the fold, “Great!” I thought, “I can’t wait to get back into a game!”

After putting together a group chat on facebook and talking with our new players, we came to the agreement that we would be playing 5th edition D&D this time around. Although I was dismayed at first at the selection in edition I quickly came to the realisation that I would not have to DM this time around. I was going to get to finally be a player! ME? A PLAYER!? I immediately got excited. If I could be a player it did not matter to me which edition that we played. I have not been able to enjoy the game of D&D as a player since AD&D 2nd edition and the good ole days of THAC0.

Okay, so I accepted that we are playing 5e because I would get to sit on the opposite side of the table for once but I know nothing about the changes that went into the new edition. That is when I started to do some research into 5e and the current digital state of the game -> “D&D Beyond”. I am going to try and be as objective as I can with my opinions. I am what I would like to consider to be an old school pen and paper gamer, but I have also utilized some digital resources in the past (because we live in the 21st century now, winky face). I’m not a fan of bringing technology to the table – unless of course we are talking about a kickass projector/video battlemap setup that might replace miniatures and maps (I’ve never tried it in all honesty but it seems like a great alternative to spending money on minis) or an old style Skype game to accommodate a best friend who no longer lives in my city.

Firstly, I can’t argue that digital is better for the environment and is very useful for accessing your materials quickly and conveniently. Personally, I have been writing and creating my own adventures, character sheets and campaign material (in order to print it onto paper for the game table) since we owned our first family computer/printer in the early 90’s. Also extremely beneficial to my 4e gaming experience was being able to download and print the dungeon maps for use on my gaming table. This is pretty much where it ends for me… prepare yourself for and old man rant of the nerdish variety.

I won’t ever DM from a laptop or a tablet, I will NEVER use digital dice rollers and I will never run my character from my smart phone at the gaming table. That’s what I see when I go to the D&D Beyond website. These digital links replace vital materials to the game. When I sit down at the table to play, I want my character sheet in front of me, written in my actual writing by hand. I want to roll real dice, in the Prime Material Plane! I want to keep my adventure book (or typed pages and notes) behind the DM screen, not on a laptop with the screen pushed down. I want a copy of the Player’s Handbook in front of me for rules lookups and clarifications not revised documents to replace printed rules. Which brings me back to one of my above affirmations; “I’m not dropping any more money on a new edition of D&D!”. Boy was I wrong.

Upon building my first character while messing around in the D&D Beyond character builder I had soooooo many questions and did not have any source material to refer to. The character builder only had some options available to me as a player for things like backgrounds and archetypes and it was often referencing the 5e Player’s handbook but not able to pull the information onto my character sheet? My next puzzle to unravel was all of the numbers and modifers. Why do I have a +4 to Survival but only a +2 to Perception even though they both make their checks from my Wisdom attribute? How in the fuck do I open this character builder on my phone and open the rules compendium link to reference at the same time!? My frustration was only increasing with every question and no knowledge of where to find it – You know, like the fucking table of contents of a sourcebook!

The short answer was to do what I said I didn’t want to do when picking 5th edition over another edition that I already owned the materials for -> Buy a Player’s Handbook. All I have to say is that this new edition isn’t fucking cheap either! Of course I wanted to support my LGS (local gaming shop for the uncultured savages) by buying there, but holy hell the price tag in Canada for a PHB was $68!! Now that’s with my LGS only making 10 bucks off the sale, I can’t imagine why a DM would spend triple that for the holy triumvirate (DM’s guide and Monsters Manual) of essential sourcebooks to play.

When it all boils down to it I will obviously support whatever edition of D&D that our gaming group plays, but I’m an old school kinda guy and although I can see all of the usefulness of having all of these fancy digital aspects of the game to support, I just don’t think that these things are for me. Give me my dice, my character sheet, my player’s handbook and sit me at a table with minis and maps and I’m a happy D&D player. To quote one of my best friends in this world, “I’m an analog man, in a digital world.”


Thanks for reading! – WW

Posted by R2d10
Bio: So many things. All the things. Honestly, I dont have time for things. Comics, RPG and tabletop games, video games, movies and the pop-culture favorites, whiskey, fishing, golf, heavy music, hating all the things you love, humor, being your punching bag, long walks on the beach, liberating lawn gnomes, etc, etc... I have two little mini-me's that occupy 99% of my time and all the things above occupy the other 1%