Lion of the Blogosphere

Dungeons and Dragons 5e is the best version ever

I guess there’s no point in going into too many details here, because only 15% of my readers care about this topic. Although it’s interesting that there are readers who, like me, fondly remember playing D&D when they were teenagers. Why did we stop?

I haven’t personally played D&D since I was a teenager, but I have read the 5e rules in conjunction with watching many episodes of the YouTube series Critical Role where “nerdy-ass” voice actors play Dungeons and Dragons using the 5e rules.

Let’s just say that 5e retains the spirit of the original “Advanced D&D” that I played—for example, there’s still a third level spell called Fireball that does a lot of damage in pretty large ball-shaped area—but a lot of what I consider to be stupid Gary Gygaxisms have been excised. I applaud Gary Gygax for his creativity and his labor of love in creating the game, but at the same time, he made up a lot of stupid and arbitrary rules which made the game less fun than it could have been, and then instead of conceding that maybe there were things in D&D which could be improved, he insisted that anyone who disagreed with him was stupid.

In contrast to 5e, 4e was the worst version ever. That’s not just my opinion. 4e was so bad that another company came out with a game called “Pathfinder” that was just a clone of 3.5e that eventually outsold D&D 4e. After 5e came out and returned the game to its roots (minus dumb rules and with a much less restrictive interpretation of so-called Vancian magic which would make it way more fun, in my opinion, to play a spellcaster), popularity of the game soared. More people are playing today than played in the 1980s, believe it or not.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

November 18, 2019 at 4:07 PM

Posted in Nerdy stuff

22 Responses

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  1. I, for one, would love to read your analysis of the “Gygaxisms” that have been removed in 5e. I too am a veteran of AD&D, só always interested to read about it.


    November 18, 2019 at 4:55 PM

    • Me too!

      S.J., Esquire

      November 19, 2019 at 11:13 AM

  2. Is it “balanced”? I know in the older system, it was near-universally agreed that the wizard was the best class, especially at higher levels. So you might start off with a party where everyone is equally useful, but over time whoever plays the wizard does everything while the fighter types stand around uselessly.


    November 18, 2019 at 5:07 PM

    • I don’t think fighters were ever useless, but I guess there’s a lot of table variation. Higher-level wizards can do crazy things in every edition (except maybe 4th) if the DM lets them get away with it, but I’ve not spent much time at tables like that. In 5e high-level spells are fairly powerful but even high-level wizards only get a few of them per day (and can generally only maintain one ongoing spell at a time), while high-level fighters are machines that can just keep on going.


      November 19, 2019 at 8:55 AM

      • “In 5e high-level spells are fairly powerful but even high-level wizards only get a few of them per day (and can generally only maintain one ongoing spell at a time), while high-level fighters are machines that can just keep on going.”

        Yes, you have read the rules!

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        November 19, 2019 at 9:27 AM

  3. I have never played D&D, but I still find the D&D posts interesting.


    November 18, 2019 at 5:44 PM

  4. This is true, as far as rules mechanics go. The only argument against it is to say it’s the gayest version ever, but it’s still not very gay compared to Pathfinder. Or at least it wasn’t when I stopped playing a year or two ago, but I only read a limited amount of their material besides the core rulebooks. I imagine the supplemental adventures and so on are undergoing an accelerating level of Current Year sexual politics.


    November 18, 2019 at 6:01 PM

  5. “More people are playing today than played in the 1980s, believe it or not.”

    The division of Hasbro responsible for D&D claims “5th edition” D&D/AD&D is the best-selling ever, but their justification for this is that they do not have precise figures for any of the 6 versions of D&D/AD&D published by TSR, only for the ones published by Hasbro after TSR went bankrupt in 1997. Which is to say, 5th edition is, at best, more popular than the recent 3rd and 4th editions, and even to achieve this they are probably counting the heavily-revised “3.5” edition separately from the original 3rd edition.

    The reality is that the two best-selling versions of D&D/AD&D were Gygax’s AD&D (1st edition) with its core rulebooks published from 1977-1979 and Mentzer’s BECMI D&D published from 1983-1986 (starting with the Red Box basic rules and continuing with another four color-coded box sets). Even AD&D 2nd edition, published in 1989, was a distant third that confronted waning popularity in the face of increasing competition from computer games, other pen-and-paper RPGs, and (before long) collectible card games.


    November 18, 2019 at 8:53 PM

  6. This isn’t really true. And I say this as someone who thinks 5th edition is very close to the ideal D&D version.

    D&D 3rd edition was much more popular than 5th edition. 3rd edition was so popular that it spawned an entire pocket industry of publishers creating their own content. The popularity of 3rd edition, as a whole, easily dwarfs 5th edition, particularly if you consider that 3rd edition has considerably more products associated with it and the core rulebooks were more-or-less given away for free online.
    On the positive side, 5th edition is a lot more manageable to introduce people to as a hobby, since there aren’t literally hundreds (or thousands) of additional books you can bring into play.

    The popularity of 5th edition D&D has little to do with the game rules (do you think people really care about the nuances of how spellcasting works in determining if they want to play the game?). it simply has to do with the explosion of streaming technology which has allowed women to consume high-quality D&D games which de-stigmatized the game and presented it in a form that women find attractive (as theater, rather than a complex miniatures game).

    Bobcat of the Blogosphere

    November 18, 2019 at 10:55 PM

    • I will say that 5e has caused people I know who never had a real interest in D&D to take it up. Some of the 3.5 diehards still play Pathfinder, but everyone I know who started on 5e pretty much can’t stand Pathfinder.

      I also feel like White Wolf peaked during the 3rd edition years. I knew people in high school and college who played it. I never hear about anyone playing White Wolf anymore, unless it’s LARPing. So after D&D/PF, I’m not sure what’s even next. In the real world, at game stores and so on, I never hear about anything besides D&D now.


      November 19, 2019 at 9:16 AM

      • I meant to add, while these D&D acting shows have increased its popularity among women and other more marginal nerds, one tool that has helped RPGs among more dedicated male nerds is Roll20, tools for playing online. I have abandoned the idea of playing in the real world now, especially as many of my friends have scattered to other parts of the country. But some old friends have starting playing on Roll20 and invited me to join. They’re mostly all dads now so the game only gathers once a month, but it seems like a decent way to get some gaming in and stay in touch.


        November 19, 2019 at 9:22 AM

      • I play Pathfinder/3.5e because I already have so much time invested in the old rules and don’t want to relearn everything. 3.5e had thousands and thousands of pages of rules. Even rules light 5e still has hundreds of pages.

        Monsieur le Baron

        November 19, 2019 at 3:58 PM

      • Most of the pages are lists of spells and magic items.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        November 19, 2019 at 4:53 PM

      • Makes perfect sense to me, so long as you have a group. Group quality > rules quality, every time. And all of this is subjective, each system has trade-offs. I’d rather play something entirely different from D&D, but I gave up on trying to find players for such an endeavor long ago.


        November 19, 2019 at 6:32 PM

  7. I’m basically like you Lion. Fond memories, but don’t have much desire to play anymore. I like reading the rule books even if I don’t play myself.


    November 19, 2019 at 7:51 AM

    • Lion should write a post about finding a D&D group. More than once I’ve thought that I might play again if I had a decent group, but it’s hard to find once you become a successful adult with responsibilities, your own social circle, etc.

      S.J., Esquire

      November 19, 2019 at 11:17 AM

      • I don’t know how to do that. I’m afraid I’d just wind up with a bunch of extreme weirdo loser types, possibly even with bad hygiene and I smell enough of that at work.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        November 19, 2019 at 12:58 PM

      • Yes, exactly, me too, it’s part of what I mean. Try and find the Goldilocks D&D group: nerdy enough that they play, and nerdy enough that you AMOG them, but normie enough to be basically tolerable. It sounds worse than dating!

        S.J., Esquire

        November 19, 2019 at 5:35 PM

  8. Does anyone remember the “Monk” class? I may have gotten it from “Oriental Adventures”. If you hit the highest level, “Grandmast of Flowers”, you could use something called “Quiver Palm”, which killed people instantly.


    November 19, 2019 at 11:13 AM

    • Yes, I thought about that actually, along with the “Assassin” it was one of the first Gygaxisms to go.

      S.J., Esquire

      November 19, 2019 at 5:36 PM

    • You’re remembering the version of the Monk class from AD&D 1st edition. It was originally introduced into original D&D via Supplement II: Blackmoor by Dave Arneson, along with the assassin class, and already had that infamous Quivering Palm ability. Both monks and assassins were carried forward into AD&D 1st edition, and the monk made a final appearance in the Oriental Adventures hardcover book (AD&D 2nd edition dropped both those classes).


      November 19, 2019 at 8:26 PM

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