D&D 5E Thoughts on 5E after playing a long session of HotDQ

The Souljourner

First Post
On Saturday I ran a 5 hour session of Hoard of the Dragon Queen. The session writeup is here: http://npf.io/tod/adventure-log/2014/09/06/session1/

My first thought after looking back is - wow, combat is fast! We had seven players and managed to do 6 combats in a little under 4 hours of play time (the first hour was making characters and getting settled in). I think this is 100% attributable to two rules (or lack thereof) in 5E - no flanking, and no attacks of opportunity unless you leave an opponent's reach. Because of that, I didn't feel like we needed a battle mat to play, and it also meant that the players didn't feel the need to tweak their movement and position down to the last millimeter (so they didn't complain about not having a battle mat ;)

We did still use miniatures, because I have bad memories of the wizard getting attacked in 2E when he thought he was safely away from the melee.... and I think this is the perfect balance. It was totally clear to everyone where all the enemies and party members were, but it only took seconds to toss down some miniatures.... I didn't feel like I had to draw out the entire scene, and so a combat with 6 kobolds that lasted 3 rounds only took like 5 minutes.

This is amazing compared to 4E where we'd often struggle to have more than one combat in a 2 hour gaming session.

I felt like the party members were all really well balanced, with no one being useless even after several fights. I feel like the amount of rules around skills is just perfect. The fact that you don't have to twiddle with skill points and all that is great. Proficient or not. Also, as a DM, disadvantage and advantage are awesome. It's trivial to throw them around for whatever reason and give people bonuses and hindrances, whereas in previous editions I always felt like I had to calculate the appropriate bonus or penalty, and then it was either inconsequential, or way too much.

I love having Vancian magic back again... mostly I love that spells are spells and abilities are abilities, and the mundane classes feel more mundane again.

I'm sure there will be a lot more to get into once the players are above 1st level and we fight more than humans and kobolds, but so far, I love 5E. It might be my favorite edition so far (and I've played all of them).
 

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The Souljourner

First Post
I started off by not scaling it, just because I'd heard it was so hard... but the party was easily trashing the standard-sized enemy groups, so I basically just added 50% to the numbers that were given, and tried not to let too many enemies pile on the same PC.... though when the barbarian charges into the middle of the enemies with barely any other melee guys around him, there's not a lot I can do. He would have been fine if not for the fact that there were two dragonclaws which were pretty vicious (advantage to hit and +2d6 on one attack if an ally is also adjacent to their target).

On the upside, the (former) barbarian player is rolling up a cleric of life domain, so healing is also of a sudden totally taken care of.
 

Sir Brennen

Legend
Nice write-up!

I've been finding 5E combats much faster than 3.5, which my group also has a current campaign in. (To quote one player: "Wow! It's my turn again already?")

We do use minis and mats, however. I think a big part of the speed of play is the lack of time spent figuring bonuses (which Flanking is a part of), or, as some previous 4E players have noted, trying to find what you can do with your minor action. But what ever the reason, it's definitely a noticeable improvement.
 

samursus

Explorer
I started off by not scaling it, just because I'd heard it was so hard... but the party was easily trashing the standard-sized enemy groups, so I basically just added 50% to the numbers that were given, and tried not to let too many enemies pile on the same PC.... though when the barbarian charges into the middle of the enemies with barely any other melee guys around him, there's not a lot I can do. He would have been fine if not for the fact that there were two dragonclaws which were pretty vicious (advantage to hit and +2d6 on one attack if an ally is also adjacent to their target).

On the upside, the (former) barbarian player is rolling up a cleric of life domain, so healing is also of a sudden totally taken care of.

A bit of a warning for you here. I have found more foes scales up the danger a lot!! Someone on ENWorld suggested increasing HP's by %50 instead. Every time I added a foe or two to try and scale the combat versus the 6 PC's I am DM'ing for there was an almost TPK! They are veteran players, although part of the problem was having only 1 high AC character. Once it was 2:1 or higher, TPK reared its ugly head.

Nice to hear others are having the same great experience as us with 5e!
 

Tormyr

Adventurer
A bit of a warning for you here. I have found more foes scales up the danger a lot!! Someone on ENWorld suggested increasing HP's by %50 instead. Every time I added a foe or two to try and scale the combat versus the 6 PC's I am DM'ing for there was an almost TPK! They are veteran players, although part of the problem was having only 1 high AC character. Once it was 2:1 or higher, TPK reared its ugly head.

Nice to hear others are having the same great experience as us with 5e!
Have you looked at the encounter building guidelines in the Basic DMG? While it is still in flux until the DMG is released in November, it does provide some indication of what is happening. If the 2:1 means enemies : PCs and you had 12 enemies for your 6 PCs, the XP calculation for encounter difficulty gets multiplied by 2.5. So 12 CR1/2 creatures would go from 1200 to 3000 XP for the purposes of encounter design.

If you don't want to spend the time number crunching, increasing the number of enemies the same percentage as the increase in number of players from the standard 4 player party should get you close enough. So 6 enemies for 4 PCs becomes 9 enemies for 6 PCs.

Another option as we gauge how to scale encounters for larger parties is to have a low and high number of enemies planned for an encounter. Start with the low number (still increased over what a 4 player party would encounter, and if things are two easy, bring in a few more after a round or two or three.
 


Lawngnome4hire

First Post
I've looked at those guidelines but not sure how accurate they are in practice. By the math there are lots of deadly, and beyond deadly encounters in hotdq by default.
 

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