My return to TTRPG w/ 5e, reflections after 5 years
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  1. #1
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    My return to TTRPG w/ 5e, reflections after 5 years

    I'm one of the apparently large number of "lapsed gamers" that 5e brought back into the fold.

    I gamed heavily throughout the 80s until college. 90 or 91 was that last time I played a TTRPG until I bought the 5e Players Handbook in 2014.

    There have been plenty of discussions about what it is about 5e that brought many of us back. I'd sum it up as a mix of capturing the flavor 1st & 2nd, incorporating the lessons learned of later editions to provide a more streamlined and easier to pick up rule set, excellent production values, and timing (large demographic of people who played during the 80s boom who now have established careers and families, a bit more time to play, and a lot more disposable income).

    I'm more interested, however, in discussing where those of us who returned are after nearly five years of playing 5e. Does 5e still hold that magic for you? Are you still into TTRPG? Have you moved on to other games? Here are my experiences and observations.

    I'm still playing 5e almost exclusively and don't foresee that changing for years to come

    This is a little surprising considering that in the 80s I played a lot of different game systems. My friends and I had pretty much stopped playing D&D by our junior year of high school and were playing other systems.

    While I have played and ran games in other systems since I got back into the hobby, it has only been for one shots and they are few and far between. I simply don't have the time to play in, much less run, multiple campaigns.

    Also, 5e still scratches my fantasy TTRPG itch. When I do play another system it is for a different genre. Folks complain about the "stingy" release schedule of 5e but I don't foresee running half the stuff they already have and I enjoy many third-party products. I currently have years worth of 5e adventure material on my shelves and in Evernote. I don't expect I'll ever use it all at the table.

    If I'm still playing 5e when I die, I wouldn't be surprised.

    I like D&D as a spectator

    There are some trends that I don't personally understand the appeal of, even after making an effort. Twitter and the incessant attention-deficit generator that is social media is one that only confirms my negative opinion the more I use it. Live-game streaming is something that many of my generation and older shake their head at but which I've come to really enjoy.

    Some D&D game-play podcasts like Gods Fall or Critical Role are as enjoyable as any entertainment. I don't consume them by watching video though, I use YouTube Red or a podcast app and listen when doing yard work or on a long car/plane ride. I do, however, enjoy the Acquisition Incorporated's live, on-stage, PAX games and have even attended one in a movie theater with Fathom Events.

    If you would have asked me 5 years ago if I would have enjoyed this, I would have thought it the dumbest idea ever. But this old dog can still learn to enjoy new entertainment.

    It is still an in-person game for me


    While I enjoy watching / listening to streamed games, I don't enjoy the remote-play, VTT experience. TTRPGs are still about getting together in person with old and new friends and throwing physical dice. I use digital battlemaps, D&D Beyond, and other technology, but it is still a fundamentally physical game for me. There has been a lot of discussion recently about the importance of building "social capital" in other threads about gaming and "adulting." I think the debate over video games is more of "what's old is new." But I think there is something about needing to meet with groups of people in person, repeatedly to build social capital. I think sitting around a table for 4-8 hours playing a TTRPG or a board game is as good of a way as building social capital as participating in a bowling league or playing golf.

    My kids are not into it

    When I got back into the hobby, I introduced my kids to gaming with Hero Kids, No Thank You, Evil!, and then 5e. For a short while they were into it and immediately wanted to start running games themselves. But they lost interest and now have no interest. Kids are going to be into what their friends are into and, for my kids and their friends, that isn't TTRPGs.

    I do wish that they would have remained interested in the hobby and were less interested in computer games, but I'm not going to dictate what hobbies they have to enjoy.

    The stigma remains...but things are so much better for newer generations


    This is more about gaming in general, but really, more than any other game or geeky hobby, the words "D&D" retain some social stigma. I still keep my gaming life separate from my work and much of my social life. Unless I know someone is into gaming, I don't talk about it. This is in large part due to living through the 80s and the satanic panic and a period when "nerd" and "geek" were insults that still had bite. I'm also still of a generation where you were expected to grow up and leave things like this behind.

    I find that many professionals in their 20s and early 30s are much more open about gaming habits. It is normal to hear younger professionals discuss getting together for game nights. For professionals in their 40s and above, that would sound weird, unless you are talking about poker night or watching sports.

    I had a meeting with an attorney, who I think was in his late 20s, a couple weeks ago who casually mentioned going to gaming meetups with his partner. It was very gratifying to me that, in the midst of a fairly formal business-networking discussion, he would be comfortable casually mentioning his same-sex partner and his gaming hobby. Not to make a point, but just small talk, like discussing the weather or your kids. Huzzah for the millennials!

    How about you? Did 5e bring you or anyone in your gaming groups back to gaming? Where are you/they nearly 5 years in?
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  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by MNblockhead View Post
    I like D&D as a spectator

    There are some trends that I don't personally understand the appeal of, even after making an effort. Twitter and the incessant attention-deficit generator that is social media is one that only confirms my negative opinion the more I use it. Live-game streaming is something that many of my generation and older shake their head at but which I've come to really enjoy.

    Some D&D game-play podcasts like Gods Fall or Critical Role are as enjoyable as any entertainment. I don't consume them by watching video though, I use YouTube Red or a podcast app and listen when doing yard work or on a long car/plane ride. I do, however, enjoy the Acquisition Incorporated's live, on-stage, PAX games and have even attended one in a movie theater with Fathom Events.

    If you would have asked me 5 years ago if I would have enjoyed this, I would have thought it the dumbest idea ever. But this old dog can still learn to enjoy new entertainment.
    As I'm from a different generation (I was born the year you've said you stopped playing the game) there is little I can contribute here, but this was very enjoyable to read. One interesting point is the one I'm quoting, for the resemblance of the reaction I initially had with videos and streams of video games.
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  3. #3
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    We're of similar ages, and I had some dry spells but never "lapsed".

    I've been with 5e since it started - but not exclusively with 5e. I play with different groups. 5e has the widest play base, it's easy to get into a game - how limited my time is the biggest constraint. As a matter of fact, it's hard to find a game of anything else unless I'm DMing.

    Even for the "High Fantasy Genre", I don't stick exclusively to 5e. 13th Age, made by the lead designers of two earlier editions of D&D as d20 game, is perhaps my favorite - though it's not as wide as 5e in terms of options for playing in lots of campaigns. And there are plenty of other that I haven't had the opportunity to try that might become my new favorite.

    That's no knock on 5e - it's the favorite version of D&D for the gamer I am today. When I was young I liked super crunchy games and played a lot of Champions as well as tactical games like Battle Tech and Star Fleet Battles - but now I'd rather tell a great story with fun drama and not spend a whole evening on a highly detailed & crunchy combat - let's have real risks and challenges of various sorts, but I don't need an Avalon Hill wargame each time.

    My kids are into D&D, as well as a nephew and niece. While I agree a stigmata still has some legs at my age, it has none at theirs. Of course, they both embrace geek culture well before TTRPGs.

    I'm very much an anti-fan of television, and watching actual play as well as podcasts irritates the same nerve. I've tried, I appreciate what they do, it's not for me. (I also don't like audio books, much to the continual surprise of almost everyone I know.)
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  4. #4
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    I stopped playing in the 80ís. It was time for college and then life took me on different roads. But one day, after being established in my career and looking to jumping into a hobby again, I decided to check out my old TTRPG D&D to see how it faired. More out of nostalgia than anything. I found the edition war of 4th edition, which led me to pathfinder. I checked a local gaming store, and shortly thereafter began playing in PFS sessions.

    It was like, as an adult, hoping on a bicycle again. Not just that the mechanics of the thing came back to me, but that the joy of playing was akin to the feeling you get when youíre cruising downhill and gaining speed on a well tuned bike. Talk of a new edition of D&D came out, and a play test. I found this very interesting and participated in the games, gave my feedback in the store and on surveys done by WOTC. It felt like ďmyĒ D&D.

    Once the game launched, I have been happily playing both in store and at home again. Even running my own campaign. I use D&D beyond, but still prefer actual books, which I buy. Before, when I was young and broke, we had no accessories or miniatures. Now I flow between theater of the mind and miniature play with ease, and have a nice collection of monsters and terrain. I watch live playing, but prefer podcasts I can listen to on the go.

    Today, I find saying that you enjoy gaming of any kind is like saying you enjoy ice cream. Everyone likes ice cream pretty much, itís just a matter of which flavor you like. Video gaming is fun, and multiplayer games have instilled in a new generation that old idea of ďsocialĒ play. That gaming is more fun when playing with others. Table top gaming just takes it one step further by allowing the player to interact face to face. It brings you back to the playground. And in the end, the child in all of us smiles and is ready to play again.
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  5. #5
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    While I started playing D&D in the early 80s, I never lapsed in the sense that I have played every edition since then (though I did stop playing for several years towards the end of 2e). However, 5e has enabled me to reconnect with some old friends who did lapse and it has been a lot of fun playing with people who dont optimize their PCs or really think things through! 5e is so forgiving that it enables you to focus on the fun - even though I do miss elements of 3e and 4e. 5e is a great entry point.
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    I had already returned to gaming prior to 5e, but Iím doing far more gaming these days than I was prior to 5e, thatís for sure.

    Two of the players in my home group are coming back to 5e after similarly long breaks like yoursí. Another of my players is returning to gaming for the first time since 3.5e.

    At work, Iím somewhat open about playing D&D, but only if it comes up in conversation, as opposed to volunteering that information. Most of the time, when people ask me how my weekend was, I'll say something like "oh, just had a small get-together with some friends. Granted I work in IT, so thereís certainly less stigma than other places Ė I know Iím not the only gamer here, but yeah, thereís still a stigma. Maybe part of it is just the stuff I still carry around - decades of it being thought of as this weird satanic game for loser nerds leaves a mark.

    While I plan on doing some one- and two- shot RPGs, I donít foresee us playing something else on an extended basis. Itís hard to weigh the learning curve of getting a new game started against the ease of playing 5e.
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    Returned end of 4th/beginning of playtest after a long time away. LOTR movies probably chimed within me.

    Q. Why did I ever stop?
    A. lack of games/players/DM's and also thought it was something just for kids.

    Not a problem these days. I shout it from the rooftop that I play D&D now. The amount of folks who want to talk about it to me is surprising. How do you tell people what it actually is? Others just look blankly at me or ask if I dress up.

    Big fan of CR and Acq-Inc. Have the time to watch both. Haven't seen Relics and Rarities yet.
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    Quote Originally Posted by rgoodbb View Post
    Returned end of 4th/beginning of playtest after a long time away. LOTR movies probably chimed within me.

    Q. Why did I ever stop?
    A. lack of games/players/DM's and also thought it was something just for kids.

    Not a problem these days. I shout it from the rooftop that I play D&D now. The amount of folks who want to talk about it to me is surprising. How do you tell people what it actually is? Others just look blankly at me or ask if I dress up.

    Big fan of CR and Acq-Inc. Have the time to watch both. Haven't seen Relics and Rarities yet.


    The part about if you dress up cracked me up! I could see you saying, " What do I look like, a LARPer! " Haha. That's just a joke btw, if you do LARP. LARP on and have fun!
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markh3rd View Post
    The part about if you dress up cracked me up! I could see you saying, " What do I look like, a LARPer! " Haha. That's just a joke btw, if you do LARP. LARP on and have fun!
    I have friends in my age group that game but still make snide comments about LARPing, which I find strange. Even more strange are some of these are people that used to be big in the SCA and one whose wife runs murder mystery dinners as a side gig. So, if dressing up and playing games is based on history or a victorian novel, it's a fun adult times, but if it involves elf ears its for weirdos? Hmmm.

    I would happily LARP, I just don't have the time and money for another hobby. If my kids ever got into it and it became something we could do as a family I would happily do so.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MNblockhead View Post
    I have friends in my age group that game but still make snide comments about LARPing, which I find strange. Even more strange are some of these are people that used to be big in the SCA and one whose wife runs murder mystery dinners as a side gig. So, if dressing up and playing games is based on history or a victorian novel, it's a fun adult times, but if it involves elf ears its for weirdos? Hmmm.

    I would happily LARP, I just don't have the time and money for another hobby. If my kids ever got into it and it became something we could do as a family I would happily do so.
    I personally do not LARP. I find that particular hobby a tad too courageous for my liking, but I do like to make a polite differentiation to the uninformed. However It feels more important to me than to whomever I am educating.
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