Tag Archives: 5e

My Playlist for D&D Comparisons…

This should be filed under “stuff I think of in the shower.”

A long time ago I compared d20/3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons to your standard, Wheel of Time fantasy cover art, while 4th Edition was like the front cover of a Hammerfall album cover.  In the years since then, I must say my views of older and newer editions have shifted quite a bit. So I think a better comparison scale would be actual music and songs to represent each edition.

Typical disclaimer: I’m not trying to associate bands that were popular during the years these editions came out, and these are strictly my picks for songs that I feel capture the moods and memories I have tied to playing those editions.

Older Editions, up to AD&D 1e — “Broadsword” by Jethro Tull

Reasons: This song reminds me of the feelings I had glancing at my older brother’s AD&D books as a child: something powerful, epic, with imagery of valor and knighthood. Not so heavy on the magic, but filled with wonder, faith and honor.


AD&D 2ND EDITION — “Over Hills and Far Away” covered by Nightwish

Reasons:  It’s that feeling of “Oh hey, I know this — but, it’s different. A bit prettier in places, a bit more refined.” Some people swear by this version, still many preferred the original.


D&D 3e/3.5/d20: “Instrumedley” by Dream Theater

Reasons: Because sometimes the beauty is found in the complexity of things. So much depth, layers, and technique. It’s daunting as all hell to play but damn if it isn’t awesome.



D&D 4e: “Through the Fire and the Flames” by DragonForce

Reason: Because upon first playing it I’m like “Holy shitballs THIS IS EPIC!” Then it got old pretty quick. I still like it, still have fond memories, but if given the choice I’d rather play Dream Theater again.


The OSR / Retroclone Games:  “Riders of the Night” by Stone Axe

Reasons:  “DUDE we were rocking this back in ’76!”   “Dude, this came out in 2009…”  “Oh, well, shit it still rocks.”


Special Mention — Lamentations of the Flame Princess: “SadoWitch” by Electric Wizard (NSFW)  (See what I did there?)

Reasons:  Because some people actually enjoy the aesthetic of black magic, acid, and S&M.


5th Edition D&D: “Far Cry” by RUSH

Reasons: Because it’s too new to be Old School, too old to be New School. It’s enough of a throwback to what made the older stuff good but still feels fresh. It stands on its own just fine, and there’s a lot to enjoy here. Who cares if it’s new or old…it’s FUCKING D&D  FUCKING RUSH.


Handy Stuff for My 5E Game

We just had the release of the 5th Edition Player’s Handbook and we won’t be seeing the Monster Manual until the end of the month (or the DMG until around November.) But I honestly feel “all set” to enjoy this edition. The free Dungeons & Dragons Basic Rules is pretty much the “core”  I’d ask for anyway; everything else is just extra bells and whistles I may or may not use. Not that I’m not grooving it — there’s a lot of cool stuff to enjoy.  But things the fan community has thrown together has really “umphed” the mileage for me.

From the D&D PHB
From the D&D Player’s Hand Book

Stan Shinn’s 1e-to-5e Combat Tracker (Link)
Before we were blessed with WoTC giving us monster stats in the Basic rules, we were left having to consult either the Starter Set, encounters handouts, or sleazily pirating play test documents to get an idea of how monsters were supposed to be. It’s not perfect, but Stan Shinn’s worksheet to convert AD&D first edition monster stats to something usable with 5E has been a godsend. Heck, even now that I have 5e creature stat blocks, I usually just find myself resorting to converted monster stats anyway.

It should be noted that Brent Newhall took this a step further, and created a converter page that supports both Stan’s formulas for 1E, as well as the math from a discussion on converting 3.5/Pathfinder stats to 5E.

theRPGSite’s BIG! List of Backgrounds (Link)
For my dream campaign, I think I desire more Backgrounds than I do more class options. And this list of fan-contributed stuff has a lot that piques my interest (such as Grave Robber and Animist Acolyte.)

Dungeons & Donuts 5e Quick Character Generator (Link)
This sucker is going into my DM screen (read: OneNote file) as a quick and dirty reference to generate NPC’s on the fly.

Stuff That Isn’t 5e Specific:

  • Ye Olde Mapper (Link): A simple, web-based map maker for encounters/rooms. I shelled out a few bucks for the android app. It has minimal bells and whistles, takes a moment to get comfortable with, but when I’m wanting to scratch out small interiors for combat, it does the trick.
  • Dave’s Mapper (Link): When I do need a full dungeon map slapped together, I let Dave’s Mapper slap it together. The tiles feature work from Dyson Logos, Stuart Robertson, and other OSR/DIY types that I love.
  • My big, fat stack of old-school/OSR books: AD&D, Rules Cyclopedia, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Vornheim, and even ACKS has provided plenty of tinker toys, tables, setting guide lines, idea farming and plot hooks to keep me going for some time. 5e isn’t the “Rosetta Stone” of D&D, but, it has been relatively easy to “hack it forward.”
  • EDIT: Evan Lindsey was cool enough to point out in the comments this massive list of fan material. Not to mention, the blog itself has some really cool fan creations in it.

What resources are you guys throwing together? Have any house rules or home-brews you want to share? Hit me up!

Mumbling Thoughts: Basic D&D (5th Edition)

Interrupting my self-imposed blogging hiatus to ramble a bit about the game everyone is talking about: D&D 5th Edition (at least, the freshly released-for-free Basic D&D game.)

I’m going to be lazy and, first, point you to this awesome post on RPGMusings with DM Samuel’s impressions. Seriously, click it, read it, and resume here. I honestly can’t say it any better than him, and I pretty much echo his sentiment. Exceptions being where he’s got mixed feelings on Backgrounds and Inspiration, I have “Shutup and Take My Money” for them.

I ran a one-shot game over the July 4th weekend, with buddies that I used to regularly play Red Box/Basic old-school D&D with. We all share a love for a game that plays pretty quick, isn’t a bitch about table economy, and where character creation doesn’t involve a whole session of time to itself.

I had minimal preparations — I copied some stat blocks of Monsters from one of the playtest packets into One Note, and kept open a PDF of the adventure module Better Than Any Man (written originally for Lamentations of the Flame Princess.) I didn’t run the adventure proper, but I was in the mood for using its historical backdrop of the Thirty Years War, and took advantage of its setting details and random encounters for guide lines.

imagesInstead I ran a simplistic plot of the heroes being mercenaries answering the call to “weed out” chaos cultists who were plaguing the countryside, killing people in their sleep and converting others into “Pigmen” (read: Orcs) to ransack the villages and cause more panic in a time of witch hunts and pending invasion from the Swiss.

It was a good time, resulting in a couple players getting dropped in combat (and the complete death of the Rogue, whom despite having the Cleric constantly healing him ultimately met the working end of an axe by the last pig-man standing, who was near death but still capable of rolling criticals at full force.)

Having become burnt out on 4th Edition after a two year campaign, and then enjoying older editions (coupled with OSR variants) as well as lighter titles like Warrior, Rogue & Mage and BareBones Fantasy, it was nice to sit down to a whole new edition that maintained the romantic feelings I have for the brand but offer some fresh new mechanics.

I think once the Player Handbook and the other core manuals come out, the full game will be a good bridge between OSR and d20/3.5/Pathfinder types. I have no idea if WoTC plans on expanding rules for more 4E style — I’d probably point new-school die hards to 13th Age (from my impressions of a quick glance through) before 5E. But, man, 5E (from the Basic game standpoint) feels good to this veteran of many games and editions.

Already I’m scheming on a campaign that mostly focuses on Basic rules, with perhaps a sprinkling of options from the PHB. I’d like to see concepts like Barbarians, Bards, Rangers and Paladins be built more like Backgrounds and Class Archetypes of the core four classes (Fighter, Rogue, Wizard and Cleric) than full classes. But even if I am suckered into running the “full” 5E game, it’s nice to know I’ll probably have a much easier time hacking d20 or OSR content than I did with fourth edition.

Which is nice — I practically sold all of my 4E rulebooks. I still have a couple shelves filled with older material — including hefty tomes like Ptolus which I would love to crack open more often. It would be cool to finally have a base rules set that could potentially handle a couple decades of collecting.