D&D 5th Edition Starter Set:
It’s been about twenty years since I’ve owned a basic set of any version of D&D, so I was pretty excited to get my hands on this latest version. New dice. New rules. New adventures! Yes, please.
Don’t misunderstand, I’ve played plenty of D&D since I had my copy of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set back in the 80’s, but I was ready for this new version for many reasons.
First, was the fact that I didn’t like 4e very much and had reverted back to playing 3.5e with the boys at Troll the Dice. We were having fun, but there were rumblings of dissent even in our merry little band in terms of which D&D we should be playing.
D&D3.5? 4th edition? Pathfinder? Which was best? Which should we be playing? I imagine this conundrum was being played out by the whole of D&D-dom, and it was tearing at the player base. Slowly fracturing us into tribes of version trolls.
That split amongst the players was another reason to want a new and unifying version of the game we all loved.
However, the main reason I was excited for the latest version was the all-inclusive design strategy implemented by the creators at Wizards of the Coast. They asked players what they wanted and then delivered dozens of iterations of the game for players to test and provide feedback. I was one of the “beta testers” during this open-to-anyone effort and I could see the game coming together right before my eyes because I was a part of the process.
This stroke of simple genius on the part of WotC to include a wide swath of players in the development of the new edition produced not only a fine product, but implicit support of the new version by the players who had a hand in its creation.
5e Starter Set Thoughts:
Now to the actual product! I got mine through Amazon, a few days after launch day, and I was not disappointed.
The box is good and sturdy with nice cover art, something that will last a long time in my game cabinet.
The box included a rulebook, an adventure book, a set of dice and several pre-generated character sheets.
I decided to use these new dice as my main set of dice and supplemented them with the ones I still had from the 1984 AD&D set. I’m nostalgic like that.
5e Starter Set Rulebook:
The basic rules included in the starter set are just that, basic. However, they do a good job of introducing the game to new players and veterans alike. The rules are brief. Chapter 1 covers the basics, by chapter 2 you’re in combat, by chapter 3 you’re adventuring, and the final chapter covers magic. That’s it. Four quick chapters and you’re ready to play D&D 5e.
The brevity of the rules comes from the sacrifice of anything about character creation, DMing, or monsters.
Everything about running an adventure is pushed over to the adventure module
There’s nothing about creating characters in the basic rules so you have to rely on the pre-generated ones included.
2 Human fighters, Elf Wizard, Dwarf Cleric, & Halfling Rogue.
5e Starter Set Adventure: Lost Mine of Phandelver
We played two sessions of the included adventure with a novice DM and it went very smoothly. The adventure itself is a pretty basic scenario that sends the adventurers to a place so they can do some quests and end up in a classic dungeon/castle crawl. The text and layout are clean and clear and the maps and artwork is bright and well-done. There are clearly marked bits of flavor text to help guide the adventure and suggestions for beginner DM’s.
The characters are well thought out and have back stories that tie in with the adventure very well.
The character sheets have sections describing level advancement up to level 5.
New players will get a lot of value in the box for $20.
Veteran players might want to wait and get the free pdf.
5e Final Thoughts:
Overall, the Starter Set is a nice place to start for the new edition of D&D, but if you’re a veteran player it will seem very limiting due to the lack of character creation and DM information.
The main thing this set accomplishes is to highlight the real promise of what’s to come in D&D 5e. That promise includes a tighter and more streamlined system that keeps the best parts of previous versions and combines them into a set of rules that allows play to flow without sacrificing good game mechanics. There’s also a new emphasis on role-play that’s strongly hinted at in both in the adventure module and the pre-generated characters that should really be the heart of D&D5e when all is said and done.
We won’t see the promise of this new system fully realized until the end of the year when all the books are released, but, the starter set lays a solid foundation of what’s to come.