D&D goes back to Basic .. Is it worth it ?

I Know Many people have done a write up on the Free PDF and the box set already.  But I wanted to take some time. Let it soak in and really decide if It was a good product or if it was my excitement about a new edition finally making it to print that was swaying my review. I will see about reviewing the Basic box set after I get a look at it. For now this is my first impressions of the D&D Basic Rules version 0.1 as a free download you can find here. http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/basicrules


Right off the rip I give Wizards a huge nod for trying to win their audience back, Coming right out the gate with a free RPG PDF. This goes a long way to hushing the crowds that have raved about the lords of wizards only want profit.  Why do you say.. This is not a brief 10 page primer that many of us were expecting as a quick start rule set.. This is 110 pages of quality book.. giving you everything you need to play all way to level 20!!..
That’s right if you wanted to just play basic D&D you now can play from 1st to 20th level and never pay for a book. That’s pretty cool. Granted your going to need more products not given here if you want to Run D&D. But as a player. You can actually play the new version of D&D and never EVER have the need to purchase a book.

So what’s changed ? Is it just a rehash of 4E or a scramble back to editions of the past ? Well your first hint that this is not a rehash of 4E Is the Disclaimer on page one..

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of splitting up the
party, sticking appendages in the mouth of a leering green devil face, accepting a dinner
invitation from bugbears, storming the feast hall of a hill giant steading, angering a dragon
of any variety, or saying yes when the DM asks, “Are you really sure?”


So that said, lets get into a overview.  Nicely written as it is.. I like most of you skimmed over the introduction..Its D&D we have been playing this for years.. I don’t need an intro.. But wait.. the intro is a example of RP. Well played again .. reminding us that this is a Roleplaying game. I see this is going to be a theme after being accused of 4E being devoid of Roleplay.

The first new interesting addition to D&D I came across is advantages and Disadvantage. When situations occur that would give you the advantage or put you at Disadvantage you roll two D20.. and Take the better or worse result depending on the circumstance your affected by.
Then we come back to another reminder that this is a Roleplaying game in the detailing of the Pillars of adventure. Where they break down most adventures into Exploration Social interaction and Combat.  Putting combat as the last example instead of just listing them alphabetical strikes me that they want to have you thinking of combat is your final option in a game session.. Definitely proving to be a theme here..

Moving on to races. I see that Subraces are back in style. A nod to previous editions. I welcome that. One of my first impressions is that I am glad to see attention to detail on races. Names, Gods,Personality and Physical description in addition to traits and subraces.. You get a good chunk of stuff here even in the small space allotted.
Some cool thing to note as I looked over the dwarf.. They get advantage on saves vs poison.. SO Dwarf’s get 2D20 to save due to race.. As Elves get 2D20 vs charm .. and so on .. COOL !

One of the first things that stands out is that in Basic D&D there are no dead levels in character growth as you level up.. something is improving each level be it a new ability or spell slot opening up.
The basic set has only the four core classes. The classic Cleric Fighter Rouge and Wizard. The old school guy in me loves it. The new school guy in me cringes a little due to the mindset that when you adventure in D&D.. Someone has to play a cleric. Hopefully with the edition it will prove that you can be a cleric and be more then a mail wearing portable band-aid after a few rounds of combat..And so it does. With the introduction of bonus actions, to include bonus action spells there is a limited list of healing spells that allow your cleric to heal and continue to fight all be it a reduced amount of healing.
Thank you !

There were a few things I wanted to touch on that I liked in the Personality and Background Section of the PDF. One thing that I imagine most people over looked was Languages. We now have a listing of Standard and Exotic Languages. I find that now players have to ask their GM for permission for their Knowledgeable player to just have Celestial as a language among others. This makes the world a bit more scary. And I think will make the players feel like they are in a bigger world again. Or maybe I just like the small things in life as a GM and my party not being able to overhear and understand what the two demons they are spying on are saying without a good reason why someone among them has learned Abyssal.. Cause the reason why one of my players “knows” Abyssal should be a good story in itself.
As for Personality Traits, Ideals, Bonds and Flaws. And the inspiration Mechanic.  I know that D&D has put tables for these types of things in the game for players to use in the past. But to include a mechanic so they can affect the game play in more then just rounding out the RP for your players. I find a breath of fresh air and a move in the right direction for the game. I myself have every intention of using inspiration at my table much how Aspects work in FATE. Not only will the players be able to play to their personality traits, Bonds, Ideals and Flaws. But As a GM I will also call on them and award inspiration if I my players play to these traits when called on.  Ie.. If the Thief with the Criminal Background and well say the Trait of “I don’t pay attention to risks in a situation, Never tell me the odds.” and Bond of ” I will become the greatest thief who ever lived” is with the party and spy’s the mayors Medal of commendation on display begging to be taken.. And I see the player is interested. while the party negotiates for work .. I might .. MIGHT.. Call on the players Personality and Bond and award him an inspiration if he attempts find a way to slight of hand it out of the blue.
And if he decides to just do it without my encouragement… hes getting the inspiration anyway.  In short this adds so much more to game I am very much looking forward to using it now.

The Equipment section is much the same as all editions before it and there is not much that jumps out at you when looking through it. D&D has had this area of the game down pat for so long it like attributes that I did not even mention it.. There is one thing that is worth mentioning here though.  Expenses.. to the point Lifestyle Expenses. Players now may opt not to pay as they go in game. But once you have made somewhat of a name for yourself you can allot some coin to cover your basic lifestyle that your chose to life. This has a few benefits. First your Gm knows that when you come to town that the barbarian that shuns society and is willing to sleep under the stars before paying an innkeeper for anything more then Ale.. will be treated much different then the bard that will be singing for his food drink and room and bedding a lovely Lass for the night if he gets his way.. But its going to cost that bard some coin. And if you stay in town for some time.. more and more coin as it burns it way through is coin purse. But no matter what level of lifestyle you chose. You now can gain contacts that want to be around you… or take what you have.

As to running the game one nice tweak to the old D20 days is the simplified DC ranks. THANK YOU.  Very easy Skill checks now are a 5 and each step there after goes up by another 5. Another nice thing is the hold over of Passive checks from 4E. Its nice to see good rules from any edition still reused. Short and Long rests now can give the party some down time healing. I like how this take some of the burden off the cleric being the party band aid. And will keep most groups active longer between rests.
In combat now you can break your movement up anyway you like between move and attack and also interact with things around you much easier.  Death in 5E has an reworked mechanic but interesting as well. 5E straight away covers rules for instant death.. any time you get slapped with enough damage to take you to -0 HP if the remaining damage is more then your max Hit points your done .. call it a day. pack up your DEAD.  But if you hit 0 HP and there is not a cleric around do not fear.. your not going to get passed up round after round until they get a healer to you.. YOUR DYING after all. ANd you get to play the Death Saving throw game. Make three rolls of a 10 or better before three failures and you live. Roll a nat 20 and retain 1 HP and get back up and join the fight again.. At your own peril.. Roll a 1 and you get two failures.  If you get hit while at 0 HP.. the instant death rules APPLY ! If you get crit at 0 HP a failed save equals two failed rolls.  Good luck ! If your Dying you are going to need it.

The Magic section is well done but I will not touch on it too much other then I found some of the tweaks very nice. I like Bonus action and reaction spells now. It adds more to the game and will keep some casters on their toes and paying attention to the game even when it is not their turn in the combat order.  The conditions outlined in the game are well done and simple. Lastly the Character sheet looks nice. It has a bit of a throw back 1 and 2E look to it. But I like it.

So like most my reviews I will close with Pros Cons and Will I get it. So here we go.

Well lets see.  How often can you look to a new RPG and be handed a 110 page Free PDF of the product. That will always be free and will be updated regularly. With all the rules needed to play four base classes from level 1-20. Wow.. let me think .. I will just go ahead and say that it unheard of. And AWESOME.  Additionally everything is presented well and easy to find.  There is so much good here to put in the pro list.. well just reread every thing above and you will see all the pros.

Well its a PDF. I know there are allot of us that Hate PDF only products. So this is a negative. But if your like some people I know and you have access to a printer.. you can fix that. Additionally my biggest and only harsh words for anyone as a Con to what is presented here. There are no monsters or examples of how to make a monster in Basic D&D. Now I think what we will see is after the DMG and the MM are released they will add a chapter or two to this product. But that is only a guess. And until then that is a huge Con.

Will I get it..
Well I just reviewed the 110 page Free PDF.. So yeah I already have it. I hope after reading this if you do not have it you go out and get it.

3 thoughts

    1. Not only am I glad to hear you like the new Edition but to know that your spreading the love of gaming on to your kids. That makes my night! Some of the longest strongest friendships I have ever had are the gamer in my life.


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