I’ve been playing in a (semi)weekly D&D 5e game on Roll20 the past few weeks. It’s great to get to play in the new system and try it out. Like many my age, my D&D experience started back in the times of AD&D. I’ve played RPG’s off & on since then – 1e, a little 2e, GURPS, Traveller, Car War (so much Car Wars), Traveller, Champions, etc. What strikes me about 5e is the return to that older feel. Only now its updated with gorgeously designed materials and fancy new technology.
Roll20 marks a paradigm shift in accessibility for many to participate in tabletop RPGs. I don’t think I ever imagined what an app like this could be, but at the same time its almost everything I would have dreamed up in an app like this. If you have trouble getting people together – either because of geographic or time constraints – this app fits the bill almost perfectly. It certainly isn’t a replacement for face-to-face gaming, but it does allow for gaming to happen – which in this day & age is the biggest challenge. Just getting the sessions off the ground is often the hardest part.
Now, as I said, D&D 5e is new. It’s a great system. They’ve taken all the bits and pieces from previous iterations and bundled them up in a tidy package. I love the advantage/disadvantage system over 4e’s various +/-2’s. And the backgrounds, traits and flaws all serve to broaden the character and give great hooks for role-playing. In just a few sessions, I’ve been able to fold this character into the DM’s world. Having those traits allowed me to create a reason for him being there and motivation for his actions.
This is also the first time I’ve played a monk character (in any system). Monks are super awesome. In 5e they are really powerful. In this past Sunday’s session, my human monk, Aseir (pronounced A-shear) kicked butt and took several names. Even at level two, he was able to one-shot several of our enemies. A weapon attack followed by an unarmed attack had him dealing 10-12 points of damage every time he attacked. Now, the dice rolled in his favor on Sunday, but he still felt like a total badass fighting those pirates as they tried to take our hired ship. We took them out and garnered a 200g bounty for capturing the pirate captain as a bonus. Next week we’ll begin to explore the Island of Many Seasons and battle against the evil wizard, Morgoth.