From the Manager – On Gaming

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Fair warning, this month’s blog is particularly nerdy, because it was this or sad and/or morbid based on what my brain was running with, and this won.

This year is an interesting year in gaming – specifically tabletop gaming, if you’re the D&D playing type. It’s the 50th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons, and Wizards of the Coast is releasing an “update” to the current edition (not a completely new edition, but a cleanup and update of the ruleset, much like Pathfinder 1st Edition was to D&D 3.5 so many years ago, but in house this time). Additionally, one of the largest 3rd party publishers (3PPs), Kobold Press, is releasing their own update to the 5E rules – Tales of the Valiant (I don’t intend to get into the why on that – if you follow D&D at all, particularly at the beginning of 2023, you’ll already know, and that’s A LOT of writing I don’t have in me). For similar reasons to the existence of Tales of the Valiant, Paizo is remastering their own 2nd Edition of the Pathfinder ruleset, though my knowledge of that one is EXTREMELY limited, as I never really moved past 1st Edition for Pathfinder. And on top of all that, the group that may be most responsible for the explosion of D&D players in the last nearly a decade, Critical Role, has opened up their own game system called Daggerheart for public playtesting – as a non d20 system, that one in particular will be interesting to watch. (I’m aware Critical Role is not the only actual play with large amounts of support, but they managed to open the hobby to a whole new crowd of people like quite possibly no one had before or has since.)

I say all this because it’s taking up a lot of my brain lately.  I’m very, very curious as to how this is going to affect our ongoing campaign and the one I’m CONSIDERING (bolded for certain people, they know who they are) running myself. Currently, I’m actually running the playtest version of the warlock, and we have no idea what that’s going to look like come the actual release, as the version I’m currently playing (and everything else that was released to playtesting) has had continued playtesting after public feedback, and we haven’t seen the results of that yet (and may not until the actual release of the updated game). I also have the PDFs for the Tales of the Valiant ruleset (print hasn’t been released yet, I’m not so patiently waiting), which is 5E-compatible, though a little higher power early on than the original 5E (though playtests indicate the official 5E from WotC will also be experiencing a slight power increase, which has been hinted at in many new releases over the last year or two). The original 5E, playtest, and Tales of the Valiant versions of the warlock are all distinctly the warlock, but also VERY different creatures (I’m actually very pleasantly surprised by the Tales of the Valiant version, as I was pretty vocal in their playtest phase about my dislike of that version). In particular it’s of interest to me for what system I decide to use if I run a game. 

I like what I’ve seen of Tales of the Valiant, but it suffers from a few things. First and foremost, not everything in 5E is going to cleanly convert to it (especially subclasses and to a lesser extent feats), and as people have regularly displayed in previous edition changes (myself included), they’re not overly fond of losing access to everything they’ve already spent money on, and may not have the knowledge or desire to make the conversions necessary. Second, while Kobold Press is rather large as 3PPs go (quite possibly eclipsed only by Paizo in size), they are far away from the size of Wizards of the Coast, which means their ability to put out enough supporting products may be limited (though enough support of ToV may help with that, along with new attention from one of their books being added to D&D Beyond), and most D&D players like their options (but not too many options, as folks who grew tired of the glut of 3.5 will remind you). That lack of support potentially means a lot more time out of game converting things from 5E for use. Third, it won’t be on D&D Beyond, though it will be on Demiplane, which is working on similar character building tools for 3PPs. And 4th, the aforementioned power increase, though slight, will perhaps rightfully cause concerns, particularly in veteran players. Previous editions of the game have all suffered from some level of power creep as the game got older, so to have it so blatant right from character design will throw some people off. (That said, the power creep in ToV is primarily early levels, and as someone dice seem to have a vendetta against, I strongly encourage almost anything that means my characters might survive to 3rd level – my current warlock was specifically designed to be incredibly hard to hit for that sole reason, after a previous warlock died at level 1 in a different campaign.)

The updated version of 5E has the disadvantage right now of being the furthest out, with only guesses as to what made it past playtesting and what didn’t. Based on how they updated things based on feedback in the playtest, I actually have some pretty high hopes, but not so high I’m holding my breath. I expect some changes to the playtest version I’m currently running of the warlock, and honestly wouldn’t be surprised if WotC settles on something similar to what Kobold Press did for the ToV ruleset. I’m REALLY excited to see how they updated some spells, as a number of cantrips got some excellent, but well-balanced updates in playtesting.

How about any of you reading this – are you D&D players, and if so, have you been paying any attention to the edition update related excitement in the last year and a half, and what are your thoughts?

1 thought on “From the Manager – On Gaming

  1. Danette

    I -love- D&D, to wit, I have purchased just about everything available over the past three-four years? The only things I don’t have are the Stranger Things and Rick & Morty things they released (not really my thing, but I hope for those that it is their thing that they enjoyed them).

    I am -super- excited for the upcoming updates to 5E and I can’t wait to see what they’ve updated. I didn’t participate in the play test stuff mostly because my D&D playing is limited enough I wouldn’t be able to mess with it enough to give valuable feedback so whatever comes out in the new books is going to be new to me.

    I will, however, say that my last purchase currently is going to be the Monster Manual (releasing early 2025) until I see where things fall on the AI spectrum for Hasbro.


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