Earlier this year I ran a 4th Edition D&D session with members of my family and it was great fun. This was the first time since the mid 1980s that I had played the game and it rekindled the flame of enthusiasm for role playing games within me.
My origins with D&D date right back to the late 1970s when my sister gave me a copy of the AD&D Monster Manual (1st Edition) for my birthday and described the game her friends were playing. After hunting around the shops, I managed to find a copy of the ‘Red Box’ and my life as a dungeon master was born. Those nights spent playing with my friends and family rank amongst my fondest memories – epic tales of adventure and heroism, dastardly deeds (some of them done by the players), and perilous combat against hordes of monsters. Well, maybe not quite so heroic – we used to call the game ‘Monster Bashing’ after all.
We progressed to 2nd Edition when that came out and life was good. But then my friends all grew up and I didn’t. Getting married to a beautiful girl who had not even the slightest interest in this game was the final nail in its coffin. The books went into the cupboard and didn’t see light of day for many, many years. So when my father fell ill with cancer this year, I thought it might be nice if we could have another game of it, just for old time’s sake. So I bought the core rulebooks for the latest edition and set to work relearning the game.
Man, had it changed! The game was so complex that I thought my brain would catch fire. I persisted and managed to run a game with my mother and father, brother, sister and nephew over Easter. All of us were n00bs at it and play was stilted, slow, and clumsy while we were grappling with the rules.
But it was great fun. And my dad’s character ‘Regnar the Dwarf’ got one more scene before the final curtain call.
Naturally, I went out and bought many more of the core rule books (they breed in the bookshops at night apparently) so that I could run all of the characters that my players wanted to be (Druids, Barbarians and Multi-class characters are covered in PH2 and PH3). Imagine my frustration when I bought the Monster Manual 3 and saw the Players Handbook 5th Edition sitting next to it at the game shop! After much soul searching (and a bit of penny saving), I decided to buy the new book and see what the latest version is all about.
And imagine my delight when I read the book and found it was an almost perfect distillation of all the best bits of each edition of D&D since the very first one way back in 1970-something. They have cut out all of the complexity of the fourth edition and turned it back into a game that can be played solely in the imagination (although having mini figures and a game surface is helpful). There are some neat dice mechanics added (‘advantage’ or ‘disadvantage’ – roll two dice and, if you have advantage, then take the better result. If you have disadvantage, take the worse result. If you are neither advantaged or disadvantaged, then only roll one die). But it is essentially the game I learned almost 40 years ago, but better.
So now I am working on a campaign setting and building up my collection of painted minis. Regnar will be with us on each adventure along the way and we will try to play him like my dad would have done.
The whiteboard table surface is divided into a grid pattern using 1.5mm wide adhesive tape, it works pretty well. There’s a small magnet under the base of each figure and terrain module that holds them in place against accidental knocks.