Thank Goodness for New Gamers

Half of my current group consists of new gamers who only have a passing knowledge of Fifth Edition but that’s all they know. So they always have questions and they want to learn.

Unlike many places on the Internet, these are sincere questions from folks who have no other agenda than learning the game. I know that sounds negative but I’ve seen so much negative crap on the Internet. Trolling. And just down right laziness. Call me jaded.

Of course, this gets me thinking about doing the old-school game spiel. I mean without new folks, I wouldn’t think about what are the differences and what I like about those games.

I usually start off with “If you understand 5th Edition then you’re really not going to have to learn anything new. Just unlearn a few things.” So yeah. The games generally are simpler and play is quicker with that simplicity. The basic things are there Hit Dice, Hit Points, Armor Class, and Saving Throws. That’s the easy part.

Then you get into play style. A few things they are learning any way just because of the way I DM. Encounters aren’t always balanced. The answer may not be on your character sheet and so on. The story and character development happen during the game. But there’s another big thing.

In Fifth Edition, most classes get some pre-programmed pseudo-magical/cinematic power as they gain levels even if they aren’t spell casters. I think this is a place where a lot gognards like me say that it makes the characters seem more like superheroes than heroes.

Now, I’m not saying characters in old-school games don’t get weird things. Well, at least, in my campaigns they do. But it isn’t something that’s part of a character’s class. That character needs go out do something. Usually, something dangerous (drinking from the mysterious pool) or making a pact with some dark “stranger”. These abilities happen because of play not just because you chose a class. There’s risk and there’s usually a cost involved. And it may be something that’s not even optimized to go with that character’s class. It’s up to the player to make it useful. And it makes characters even more unique.

So yeah. Thank goodness new gamers who want to learn and make us think.

2 thoughts on “Thank Goodness for New Gamers”

  1. It’s all part of what might be termed Organic vs. Programmed gameplay. Old D&D was open ended and allowed a group to be as creative as they wanted–everything from historical Middle Ages with an occasional supernatural monster to full on Gonzo with cyborgs riding dragons and swinging laser swords.

    Writing down variant classes, feats, specializations and so on was intended, I think, to give characters more options, but I believe it has the opposite effect. Having one Fighter class encourages players and DMs to customize it, making a fighter a Tank, a Swashbuckler, a Zen Archer, a Swamp Hunter… whatever you can think of.

    But when you start listing different prestige classes you start to encourage the mindset that anything not specifically outlined in the rules isn’t available.


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