Dungeons & Dragons, the legendary roleplaying game, the compass of the gamer, the founding father…
For real, I first tried D&D with the fifth edition !
Not really, because I played for long hours Baldur’s Gate II : Shadows of Amn. I also played, less, Neverwinter’s Night.
So for me, D&D, to make it simple, it’s Baldur’s Gate and Akhkatla, with very powerful magic stuff beyond reach, monsters boosted with testosterone and a med-fan atmosphere made of inns and strange people in back alleys (thiefs, ghouls…).
Dungeon crawling, I never really knew it thanks to the quality of the Baldur’s Gate’s quests.
As a consequence, I was never interested to play D&D 4th because I knew it was more a miniatures than a roleplaying game. For me, a roleplaying game is above all a good story and interesting player characters who take initiatives, who are living in an open-world.
D&D 3.5, I didn’t play with professional roleplaying games when I was a teenager. A sheet of paper, a pencil, a die and I made a story. This has not really changed and it explains why I prefer a rules-system like Savage Worlds.
D&D 5th, I tried it because my players wanted to.
When I first read it, I was pleasantly surprised ; the rules-system is not so complex, I even remarked some common points with Savage Worlds (inspiration, the general system which tends toward heroism).
Really good page layout, a deep system easy to understand. We often look for an information in the books, above all for the spells, but we do not read ten times the same sentence to understand what it means. The game needs to do some efforts and give it time, but will not waste your time with badly written, unclear or contradicting rules.
When playing, rolling only a D20 quicken the game. But there are so many informations about the different classes that it is really hard to remember and use them at the right time.
The fights are enjoyable because you have several options, however when you get used to Savage Worlds, the turns of combat are not as fun and furious as you would. The player characters have many skills, as their ennemis, let’s just say you have to be patient or a gifted person.
It is hard to quickly create a monster. You can do it but the chance is high that your players guess it. I had some difficulties to get confident with D&D about improvisation, but after some sessions, I learned to get free from these rules, especially since my players are not rules addicts.
Of course, D&D opens your world on a lot of additional products and dedicated websites. We really can create an interesting campaign. For a Med-fan story, if, like me, you like The Lord of the Rings, Baldur’s Gate, classical Med-fan worlds, this is the best roleplaying game. The possibilities given in the Dungeon Master’s Guide about black-powder or modern guns are interesting to imagine a steampunk world.
However, a big problem of this game is that you can’t modify the rules. The game is well-balanced but doesn’t stand any modification. The system is easy to break with the addition of even a minor rule (except the integrated optional rules). I gave up creating my own rules, prefering the creation of new monsters and objets.
Another problem is the exponential progression of the characters. The characters get powerful skills in addition to the progression of their different bonuses, and the monsters can quickly become ridiculous. On this point Savage Worlds is better balanced, the legendary characters are not demigod, don’t become superheros.
To conclude, I like the numerous possibilities given by D&D and this 5th edition is great for fantasy campaigns. But I prefer Savage Worlds which I love because it allows me to be close to my players, their characters, my non-player characters, and to improvise what I want when I want.