Kingbeast's Lair

Growling about the RPG industry and my gaming life. RPG and anime reviews from a passionate fan. (Formerly John's Hero HQ.)

Dungeons & Dragons Does Good

January 27, 2019 By: John Taber Category: Games, Growlings, Product Reviews


I started running Dungeons & Dragons 5e (5e) campaign for my kids and one of their friends.  As part of the preparation I read the main three books cover-to-cover.  After reading the books I came away with a realization, “They done good.”  Many of my perceived minor foibles that were present in 3e and earlier additions are smoothed over or rewritten.  I know this is 5 years or so late but…here is a simple review of the changes in 5e that caught my attention.

Rolling Thunder

The dice mechanic has changed subtly for the better.  First off all rolls are now high.  Instead of rolling low for skills, high for attacks, etc players now always want to roll high.  Skills are rolled using a d20 plus a characteristic bonus plus a proficiency bonus based on level if you have the skill.  This means skills automatically improve as the player levels.  Neat.

They have also introduced rolling with Advantage or Disadvantage.  If the PC is at an advantage they get to roll two d20 and take the best.  If the PC is at a disadvantage they roll two d20 and take the worst result.  Simple yet really effective.

Occasionally a PC might be in a situation where a roll is not done as they are not actively performing a task.  For example, someone is trying to sneak up on them as they walk down a trail.  In this case there is passive checks.  Passive checks are a calculated number (10 plus modifiers) that is compared to a target.  So in my example, if the walker has a passive perception of 14 the person sneaking up has to hit that with their roll to stay hidden.  Again…simple…effective.

We All Go To Town Together

Everything is condensed to one experience point chart.  Gosh this make so much sense and should have been done ages ago.  This also makes it easier to treat advancement as characters will often level at nearly the same time.

The GM is also give advice on how to balance encounters based on level and a simple formula.  This makes it easier to plan encounters and adjust them on the fly if say one of your players cannot make it.


One really fantastic change is stolen right from systems with bennies like Savage Worlds.  There is a new mechanic called Inspiration.  This mechanic gives the player an Inspiration point when their character follows one of their flaws, traits, or bonds.  This point can be spent to give them Advantage on a roll.  I really appreciate mechanics like this that give the players a bit more control of outcomes if it is really important to the character.

More Hit Points (HP) at level 1 is also a very nice touch.  This makes starting PC able to take at least a couple of good hits before dying.  This is great at giving PC a bit more staying paying up front.  Also healing is simpler.  In fact it makes it so that every party does not need a cleric.  Another wonderful change.

Magic Mana

Magic is changed as well.  Characters using magic have prepared spells but these do not restrict how many times they can use each spell.  The amount of times a caster can do a spell is driven by spell slots.  So a wizard might memorize Magic Missile, Unseen Servant, and Identify.  During an adventure they can use their spell slots to cast any of those spells until the slots are gone.  Again…simple but less restricting.  Nice change.

The amount of magic items each PC can use is controlled.  Characters have to bond with magic items.  This takes a brief amount of time.  The key here is that they can bond to 3 items only!  This means characters are less dependent on magical crutches and forced to use the talents of their class.  Excellent.


I really looking forward to see how things turn out as the campaign advances with these tweaks.  I guess this goes without saying…this might be my favorite Dungeons & Dragons Edition to date.  Critical hit WOTC!

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