Player’s Handbook (2014)

I think, if you strip away everything but the pure mechanics – forget the art and fluff and campaign settings and nostalgia – Dungeons & Dragons 5E, as exemplified by the Player’s Handbook (2014), is the cleanest, most straightforward edition of official D&D. For players new to the hobby, I can think of no part of the system that needs improvement in terms of accessibility. After the bloat of 2E, the endless byzantine detail of 3E and whatever the heck 4E was, I think the smoothly polished perfection of 5E’s system is nearly miraculous.

It is still D&D though, which means these are rules for a particular sort of game (one based around exploring dungeons and fighting monsters). Most of the character class abilities are centered around combat, which I think makes the system less flexible than others (though this is broadly a D&D problem, not necessarily specific to 5E). If I had to pick a nit, it’d be the character paths, which seem too penned in for my liking. Again, class progression is something D&D has wrestled with for better or worse for decades, but the neatness of the paths I think overshadows character specific goals that might have otherwise emerged through roleplay.

I’m not interested in fighting the edition wars, but I do think that the player side of 5E managed to bring something from every previous edition and forged them together into a whole greater than its parts. It certainly feels like D&D to me in a way 4E and 3E never really did.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *