I was one of the fortunate few to get my grubby mitts on an advance copy of the Monster Manual for Dungeons & Dragons. We’ll have a full review of the book in the next few weeks. In the meantime, I wanted to explore some of the aspects that jumped out at me as we flipped through.
Our unofficial mascot here at Critical Hits, since the beginning, has been the powerful combination of an Umber Hulk riding a Bulette.
The Player’s Handbook – and the D&D 5th edition ruleset as a whole- feels very polished. In fact, I’d go as far to say they focused on taking everything they had from previous editions and worlds, ran with it, refined it again, and so on.
I had to adapt my approach to prepping. I needed a way to do a little amount of prep whenever I had a short break: during lunch breaks, long meetings or at home. I got the original idea, of all places, in a task management book called From Zen to Done.
The risk inherent in mentioning optimization, rules complexity, and story vs. rules in a discussion is great. People may fall back into entrenched positions on all sides. So I want to quickly clarify some points that will also frame my discussion going forward.
The game has to be about the story if the hobby as a whole is going to flourish. This means that the ultra-optimizing, breaking the game with its own rules because they are there, intentionally ignoring the spirit of the rules to mangle the game into something it isn’t, has to stop.
This is a full game of D&D, including 4 races, 4 classes (going all the way from levels 1-20) and everything you need to run them including equipment and spells. There’s also the rules of how the game runs. The only thing it’s really missing to be fully playable are any monsters.
It is no secret that Dungeon World was created as an homage to the earliest versions of D&D. From the six standard ability scores that range from 3-18, to the races and classes of the grand old game, Dungeon World makes no pretense at being anything but a hack of D&D.
I see this a lot among game designers of all kinds, both new and experienced: “I really want to use [game mechanism X] but I worry it’ll be too much like [popular game].” I am here to set you free and tell you not to worry about that.
What if a character granted the curse of the Lich King could no longer die? And what if a monster had powers that triggered on the players’ rolls or special attacks?