Dungeons and Dragons has sat as a cultural milestone for tabletop RPGs since its creation by Gary Gygax and David Arneson in 1974, serving as a completely unique take on the medieval fantasy genre at the time, allowing players to take up the mantle of sellswords, thieves, elegant spellcasters, dashing bards or a combination. Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition is the latest complete package for the system, and after a recent surge in popularity through Netflix Series Stranger Things and popular twitch streaming show Critical Role it has never been a better time to choose your story and roll some dice with friends at the table.
Inside The Box
You will find a set of the dice you need to use the games D20 system. The D20 system normally involves rolling a 20-sided dice and adding/subtracting a number, this is then described by the Dungeon Master running the game. Play continues on for better or for worse depending on the degree you either snuck by the guarded storeroom… or fumbled with a cloud of dust straight into their feet.
This also includes a shortened version of the rules, providing a bite sized simplification of what status effects your character can come under from wandering monsters across the far realms and how events such as narrative interactions and combat is resolved. The book also contains tables listing weapons, armour, adventuring equipment and any spells a player would need through levels 1-5.
Another thing the set comes with, is 5 pre written character sheets complete with detailed descriptions of abilities, background on the race the character uses and a general summary of what their goals are in Phandalin and its surrounding are. This ranges from a vengeance fuelled Halfling rogue or a sage high elf wanting to reclaim a defiled shrine for their god. It aims to kick-start role-playing without the need to write a completely original narrative and works incredibly effectively.
One, Two, Three
While Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition is a perfect introduction to the TTRPG sphere there are issues that could hold it back. Firstly, the game requires quite a large time sink with most average sessions lasting between 2-3 hours to progress a significant amount into the narrative, for those looking for a quick experience with friends this may not be the right option for you.
Another large commitment is the cost, while the starter set will only run you £20 to purchase, the addition of other books for a more varied experience, such as the Monster Manual for new combat options or Xanathar’s Guide to Everything for new race expansions the price can quickly pile up, with some sets running as costly as £100. This simply just might not be accessible to some gamers and passionate enthusiasts who came from other forms of media wanting to try the system.
Thirdly, the game does not come with any terrain or figures to speak of which may shock avid board game enthusiasts, the game largely relies on theatre of the mind or for the Dungeon Master to seek out their own minis to structure an interactive board, this can lead into the issue of cost and commitment for some players who may not be satisfied with imagining scenarios during active play.
A Perfected System
Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition has retained all the key defining features that led to its surge in popularity during the 90s with fans across the world, a wide spanning character system that allows players to truly perfect what they wish to look, sound and specialise in as they travel through harsh tundra, marshy swampland and thick forest across The Forgotten realms.
The system also has removed largely complicated and inaccessible systems to most players from its newest instalment, for example removing mechanics such as THACO which required mental gymnastics and a large spreadsheet to calculate in favour of rolling to hit, allowing for a more streamlined and enjoyable experience. The game also provides plenty of tips to both players and Dungeon Masters alike, providing cues such as “yes and…” narrative events for the DM to get involved with and how to improvise things such as ability checks on the fly.
They Call It A Mine
The scenario provided in the starter set is intended for any number of players and takes the group from the starting level of 1 to 5, completing what is referred to as early game levels in a well structured story. The group are invited by an old acquaintance by the name of Gundren Rockseeker to accompany him to the small village of Phandalin on a business venture, having set off early due to excitement the group takes a small wagon to the village in the hope of meeting him, though things (as may have been predicted) are not always so simple.
Filled with rough and tumble bandit groups, horrifically unique creatures that skulk in the dark and the classics all fantasy novels describe Lost Mine of Phandelver fills each of these categories In spades, introducing new mechanics slowly but steadily, giving players all the time they need to get a taste of how the system functions.
With the description of Dungeons And Dragons 5th Edition concluded we will go back to the age old question that most people will be asking, is DnD 5e for you? While it may lack the charm of other systems with fully assembled miniatures and ways to kitbash models together, the game more than makes up for it with stunning art of the games world, including large spreading maps and vistas from all across Faerún.
The game is accessible to any amount of players and if, like me, you enjoy getting lost in a well spun adventure full of monsters and myth, crawling through Dungeons riddled with traps and enjoying the quieter aspects of talking to locals in a cosy tavern, DnD’s Starter Set is the perfect gateway into the beautiful TTRPG that is so well known.