It’s been a while, and I’ve been meaning to write upon this subject, but I have finally started to run my kids on a 5th edition game. It’s been a fun few sessions, roughly 5, but I’ve already learned a lot, as have they. To give you an idea of the group, their ages are 14, 11, and 9.
They seem to like 5th edition. I had tried to get them to play Pathfinder, but I was doing most of the math for them, as I had actually done for a group of adult players in recent years. Pathfinder has a way of setting up a barrier between those that know the rules, and those that have yet to know the rules. Learning the rules is not a simple perusal of the rules, but a constant cross-referencing, the most intensive of which is during character creation. Pathfinder is akin to a scriptorium in terms of the intensiveness with which it approaches rules and character builds. Only the learned may benefit, and by extension those with whom they share the knowledge, as I have in the past.
5th edition, by comparison, is almost made to be learned by example and oratory; that is to say, the rules can be taught by one who knows them without the learners needing to crack a single book. And that is just how it all worked. I was able to explain character creation to everyone as well as run a game with minimal effort. We dedicated an hour to character creation, and two to the adventure. I purposefully left out things like backgrounds and role-playing traits for the next session and that only really took half an hour to complete.
The next session, we introduced those missing rules and added backgrounds and traits, which was met with appreciation; gaining those extra things made it seem like a level up. The session after that, I explained the rules for short and long rests. It has all been so smooth and seamless that I haven’t struggled to look up rules or contrive strange fiats to account for muddled mechanics. The best part is that they are learning their characters sheets, and not relying on me for number crunching, though if they were, it’d still be minimal.
We have learned at our own collective pace, and no one has complained or made faces at the complexity or nonsensicalness of the rules.
Yes, you can just jump on the Otyugh’s back.
Yes, you can invest in the shopkeeper’s business.
Yes, you can talk to the dragon and negotiate.
And the best part is that these activities weren’t usually just a die roll, but rather an opportunity to role play or enact a strategic plan. The atmosphere has been ripe to encourage experimentation and risk taking, which even veteran players tend to avoid. I’m quite pleased with the way that 5th edition seems to strike the balance of structure and creativity without being so lax that the burden is on the group, nor being so strict that it constrains our imaginations.
We have had some stumbling blocks, as all groups do, but it mostly comes from divvying out loot, or deciding what to do next. These are problems that I welcome. Compared to the haze of fussing over rules , it’s been a breath of fresh air.
I hope to eventually give more detailed accounts of our sessions soon. Hopefully by then, I’ll have more fantastic tales to tell about the exploits of this very promising group.