D&D 5E Over 10 Years Since the Open 5e Playtest Began!


Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
On May 24, 2012, WotC launched an open-to-the public playtest of DND Next. In the first year, over 120,000 people registered as official playtesters.

What's your story of starting to play 5e?

For my group, we started playing in that first year, with a combination of our prior players from 4e and 3e (two of whom I had played 1e with in distant years past), and the introduction of a couple new players for 5e. On September 17, 2012 Roll20 was released and we played online using that platform for 5e starting May 10, 2013. That campaign went on hiatus about four years later (my last entry looks to be March 8, 2017 but I think we played a bit after that), and one of our players became a DM for a new campaign, and then another after that.

We're still playing 5e together to this day. Same group of players, now adventuring through Tomb of Annihilation (one of our best campaigns ever).

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Morkus from Orkus
My group has been together since the early 2000's(some earlier). When 5e came out we looked at it and liked what we saw, but we also liked 3e and didn't want to give up all the options for creating any concept we could envision to drop down to a PHB worth of options, so we stuck with 3e. Due to the glacial release rate of character options, it wasn't until late 2019 before we decided there was enough out there for us to give 5e a try. We all liked it enough to still be playing, though 2 of the 5 of us would prefer to be playing 3e.


He / Him
We had been playing 4e for a while, and wrapped up a campaign that ended at 30th level (I think that was the highest epic level?). We were pretty burned out on D&D.

We had been doing a little tour of other systems: Fate, Dread, Fiasco, etc. We did the playtest as part of the tour. I was really excited by the choices 5e was making, but the rest of the group was definitely still tired of the D&D genre.

I wound up running 5e one-shots for other friends (especially ones I'd played a lot of 3e with).

Then the main group was ready to return to D&D. 5e had been out for a couple of years, so we leapt right in and fell in love!


My main long term group was pretty locked up into Pathfinder adventure paths at the time. Most of the group were full or nearly full time players who didnt have much of an appetite for learning new systems. (They didnt want to do 4E so I played that with another group. Switching to PF was easy since they liked 3E). So, I found a secondary group to playtest 5E. Was ok, didnt knock my socks off. I liked what I was seeing over 4E, but felt PF was still more to my taste.

A few years later some co-workers wanted to do a lunch hour game. I joined as a player at level 3 and we went to 20 in a campaign. So, I dont mind 5E but prefer other systems. If a GM I know can rock a good story and game I'll gladly sign up. Not currently playing 5E tho.

I do find playtest intriguing and will sign up for them when I can! (PF2 was a fun playtest, tho prefer PF1).


I had been playing 1e (with some 2e elements) since 1981. All through 3e. All through 4e. Then 2012 happened and we started with the playtest. The first adventure we ran was Phandelver (the playtest version), then KotBL. We've been playing 5e pretty much since (with other sessions using my own Chromatic Dungeons OSR game).


We were playing 4e and had seen the playtest and I looked at some of the Next adventures, but never bought them. I think we finished the campaign we were running in 4e about the time the 5e books came out and just converted over with LMoP as the starter.

I remember talking to the group about trying the box adventure to be more by the book before we started with house rules. Not sure how long that lasted and I know some things just ported over from 4e and even 3e with some ideas. Flanking had been the big one.


My friend (primary GM) had a friend at work who got interested in this "RPG stuff", so decided to run a game for him. This happened to be right when 5E was released, so he used that as a simple introduction to roleplaying. It's been our main gaming system ever since, primarily because said friend from work has a real hard time getting out of the D&D bucket.

I was going to play regardless, but I found 5E to be massively better than most prior editions of D&D. I had never been happy with AD&D 2E, and found 3/3.5/4 to be miserable slogfests. 5E simplified things down to a refreshingly enjoyable experience. Even if experience has given me plenty to gripe about in 5E, I still don't particularly mind the system.

On May 24, 2012, WotC launched an open-to-the public playtest of DND Next. In the first year, over 120,000 people registered as official playtesters.

What's your story of starting to play 5e?
My group splintered with PF and 4e. So my smaller group (all but 1) was super happy with 4e but missed our other friends... the compramise was to try the play test (we ran 1 playtest per week and my and my budies 4e games went 2 on 2 off togather so we could play them.

When 5e came out we started a game about 3 months after the PHB cam out. the first year to year and a half my smaller group was still finishing 4e campaigns.

We are all tied of 5e though... only the promise of updates in 2024 are our hope... because D&D may die for us (at least until 6e) if this isn't updated the way we would want.


I crit!
Wednesday night gaming was drying up. There was a growing enthusiastic PF group and groups. I was among them. Still I wanted something more old school. I was running a lot of different games looking for something modern but yet had old school leanings, I ran a ton of DCC.

Then the playtest hit and I’d figure I’d run a game. That first day was kinda bleak, but the next week it was packed. I remember recruiting DMs in the spot to form tables. And it only grew from there. Many of those new DMs continue to run.

Then I saw people I missed from 3e days and from earlier show up in increasing numbers.


We skipped about half the play test and stayed with 4e for years but did eventually come over.
We have been waiting since day 2 promise 1 for the “flexible customization “ so we could play more things like a 4e fighter and a 2e wizard in the 5e framework.


Stopped playing TTRPGS entirely just before 4E Essentials dropped. In 2014, I went to see the LEGO Movie in theaters, and there was a big flashy ad for Kreo, including D&D Sets. Got curious what was up with D&D, discovered that a new Edition was coming in a few months. Picked up the Starter Set, and it has just snowballed from there.


Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I was in college when the playtest started. I was part of a lage Vampire (the Requiem) LARP troupe, and had played D&D with some of them on occasion, but games rarely lasted more than a few sessions because we had very divided edition preferences. When it was announced, I immediately jumped on the opportunity and offered to DM for a small group which consisted of my two roommates and one of their close friends. We had a ton of fun, though the roommate’s friend really didn’t like bounded accuracy. And one of the roommates was like “I still like 4e better, but this is fun and if it’s easier to find a group for, I’ll settle for it.”


No rule is inviolate
GenCon 2014 launch, got into one of the very limited seats for that year.

Knew I was going 5E before that, switching from DMing Pathfinder (my way of protesting that I didn't like where 4E went). Had a large group, half wanted to stay Pathfinder, half came with me to 5E, amicable split. Homebrewed a 5E conversion of "Ruins of Adventure" (aka gold box computer game Pool of Radiance).


I didn't participate in the play test.

We played 5e as soon as it came out. Players came from AD&D2e, D&D 3e, D&D4e and the French game called Donjon de Naheulbeuk, a parody of D&D. I bought Tyranny of Dragons and ran it for the group. Since I'm an experienced DM I saw where they made mistakes and modified the encounters to avoid TPKs. It went very well. We tried to continue with the second book of the series but the group became unstable and I called it quits on role-playing for a few years until I found a new group that was stable.
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I was playing 3.5e when the playtest came out (I chose to skip 4e because of many reasons). I wanted to check it out to see what was up and if it did anything I wanted better than 3.5. I playtested (not extensively) some the packets and had fun and bought 5e when it came out. Some friends convinced me to run a game and I started with KotB (because, after the playtest, I still had it fresh in my mind). I've been running/playing it since—while I have my nitpicks, it's pretty much what I wish 3e had been to start with and is my favorite version of the game.


I had been playing 1e since the early eighties, and our current (main) group since 2e in the 90s. We had switched to Pathfinder once 4e came out (not our cup of tea). However, we all liked what we saw in the playtest doc, and one of our DM's bought the starter set once it was released. Been hooked ever since, and still play monthly with the "old man" group (in person) and weekly with another, ever so slightly younger group (VTT).


I personally got my start with D&D in the early 90s with 2e. After moving to NZ in the early 00s, I started playing 3.5e and then switched to 4e when that came out. I was playing in two RPG groups when the Next playtest was first a thing, but neither group picked it up immediately.

Group #1: This was my long-running group that I'd started in NZ with a 3.5e campaign. We switched to 4e and played that for a while. We also played SWSE and the first FATE version of the Bulldogs! space opera game. When one half of the Bulldogs! party betrayed the other and we ended up with a TPK of sorts, I offered to run the Mines of Madness playtest adventure as a trial one-shot. People seemed to enjoy that, but not everyone wanted to continue, and I wasn't yet feeling up to getting back into DMing, so another player ran a homebrew campaign using an iteration of the playtest rules. At some point, some of us also got inducted into the closed alpha playtest program. We stuck with Next as it morphed into 5e. I ran both Legacy of the Crystal Shard and Scourge of the Sword Coast but both campaigns ended in TPKs with players moving on. We've since gotten a more stable core group of players who grok the cooperative nature of D&D and have thus had more success in their adventuring (with Curse of Strahd being one exception - Strahd got the better of them in the end). Currently I'm running Dungeon of the Mad Mage for this group.

Group #2: I joined this group as a player most of the way through a long-running 4e campaign the DM was running. When it finished, the Next playtest was out, but the DM decided to run short campaigns using 1e and 3.5e first before running a conversion of the Age of Worms AP. We started that with the Next playtest rules and ended it with the full 5e rules. This group also got into the closed alpha playtest program and has also stuck with 5e. The core group of players has remained pretty stable over the years, with just a few people coming and going. We recently finished a remix of Descent into Avernus, and the DM is now running us through the Eberron Oracle of War AL series.

Group #3: After the full 5e rules were out, I convinced my wife and a couple who are friends of ours to play through Lost Mine of Phandelver. We got my brother-in-law to join us for Tyranny of Dragons, and then my oldest daughter took his place for Scourge of the Sword Coast + Storm King's Thunder. My middle daughter joined us for Acq Inc + Tomb of Annihilation, while my oldest dropped out after her PC died in the jungle. We're just about to enter the eponymous tomb. This group is much more casual and we don't play as often or for as long, so we haven't gotten through as much content and I didn't bother to enroll them in the alpha playtest program.
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Lowcountry Low Roller
I’d forgotten all about D&D until I started to see the excited articles on various geek culture websites. I tried to join a local group, but there were no openings, so I started my own group in 2015 mostly recruited from a local board game group. We played solidly for 5 years until covid and people left town. Good times and hoping that I can get another local group going again.


My longstanding group has never come over to 5e - we kept on playing 4e and other games like burning wheel, Pendragon, Traveller etc.

But I reconnected with some people I played 1e back in the day and some who never played D&D before - an we played a lot of 5e during the long lockdowns we faced in 2020 and 2021.

I am torn over my future efforts of playing 5e. On one hand in works well and is fun, but the other is that I feel I have done it to death and certainly want something new in 2024.


Game Designer
After a few years of break from 3rd edition, I dived hard into 4E and absolutely loved it, warts and all. I invested in a ton of books, had two campaigns running. I was in. Then they announced essentials. I was a bit stunned by the sudden stop to the product line. I bought the Essentials books, they weren't bad, but they were definitely a different direction. Then 4E was dropped. It made me very angry.

I stopped playing D&D for a few years. When they announced D&D Next I was not interested but I was still mourning the sudden death of 4E. It took a few years for me to finally digest it and buy the Player's Handbook of 5E. I'd guess around 2016? I played 5E a ton and enjoyed it. It did not scratch the same itch as 4E did, but it's definitely in the top 3 of RPGs that gave me the most hours of enjoyment.

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