Epic Experience: Learning a New Edition

So, seeing as we didn’t get to start session 1 of our latest campaign. I took the time to familiarize myself with D&D 5e. In this article I’ll go over how I made learning the new edition a bit easier on myself. After all, it is a new rule set, and while it follows the same conventions and methods as older editions and other games; it is still something different. So far, I love it. This should be useful for both players and game masters.

I had already begun my world building when my previous campaign in Pathfinder came to a rather abrupt and violent end. Impressive as the adventure path was, it had been the third player character death for some of the players, and it was time for something a bit more different. We wanted to get back to the roots of slaying monsters, exploring new worlds, and having some dirty old D&D fun.

I had been part of D&D Next playtesting since day one. I’ve watched it change and evolve, and change some more. We tried a campaign during the play test of it, and the players weren’t convinced, we made a full-blown turn into Pathfinder. It’s been a blast too, but with the actual release, the players are more than willing to give the system a try. In fact, some of them have already played it a few times and like it!

So, on top of my world building ideas and notes document, I began to read over the players handbook. I didn’t really give a lot of time to the character creation sections. Mostly because we went over it in “Session 0” where everyone rolled new characters together. Instead, I jumped straight into what the new skill checks do, what they were for. I re-familiarized myself with what checks do what, when to call for saves, and the new 5e mechanics on these things. I took simple notes on things that were different and new, while making a small table for the new standard of DCs.

When I got to movement, I added more notes on speed and travel, and how terrain effects it, as well as group skill checks. As Prime is going to be a campaign set in an unfamiliar world covered in a seemingly endless jungle, this section proved very useful to me.

Finally, it was onto combat. Notes here need to be super fast and simple. So I just made something like:
Move: Can be split. Used in tandem with picking items off ground, retrieving potion from backpack…
Action: 
Hide, help, attack, cast spell, disengage…

I listed all the things that the two actions cover. I like having a sheet like this, and always have a DM screen for such stuff. But, it’s hard to use one on a computer… So instead I keep a document like this for quick reference. The fact that it’s part of my world building/campaign information document makes it even better for quick reference. When I have a question I can just find (ctrl+f) what I’m looking for without scouring a book. On top of all of this, I’m sure to mark page numbers next to the topic at hand. So combat actions have the page number that I can quickly turn to if I need more detailed ruling.

I do this for other things such as special actions. Actions which are covered by the rules, but don’t need entire sections for their descriptions. In 5e it’s things like two-weapon fighting, cover, etc… And then mark things that I know I’ll use but hopefully so rarely that I don’t need to know rules off-hand with page numbers. Most of the time it’s healing or death and dying, or grappling. I’ll have to learn those once, and then know them forever, but I can read over those when the time comes.

Part of the reason I do this, is because it’s very nice to have notes to turn to as a quick rules resource. There’s no need to flip pages if I don’t have to, and no extra tabs need to be pulled up to browse websites; or have other documents open. It’s all in one space that I already have open because it’s part of my world notes, with character notes. The other reason is, when you write something down or type it up on your own, you tend to learn and remember it. You have to read and copy it. Which means you end up having some questions about it, which leads to a bit more reading and learning. Before I knew it, I covered the three main chapters of combat, movement, and skills/role-playing and had some extra time to get into some of the character classes and the likes. Which I’ll be doing more this week. While I don’t get to play much, I do like to be familiar with what my players can do.

That’s about it. Whether you are a player or a game master. I recommend adding notes to  your character sheet/notes or your campaign notes on rules you’re likely to use constantly or need to look up. It speeds things up tremendously during game time.

Till next time,
~Vexar

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