Why oh why didn’t I pick the old one…
Earlier this year I had begun planting the seeds of a future D&D group. With not too much convincing I was able to wrangle five of our friends here in town to get real nerdy and roll up some characters. Most of them had literally never played a role playing game before (save one who had last played when 3.5 edition was current) so I felt like this was a win. This was also my wife’s first introduction to playing.
Now for my mistake; I chose 5th edition as the system we would be using. My regret wouldn’t set in until the 3rd session.
I helped my wife create her character, just her and I, before I did so with the others in the group. It was fun and I could tell she enjoyed the process, despite her reservations of dipping her toes in. The next batch of characters would be rolled up when we were all scheduled to play our first session.
Not everyone could make it to the first session so it was three of our friends and my wife and I. All of whom are completely new to the game. So the first couple hours were spent rolling characters, explaining ability scores, skills, what proficiency bonus is, the contents of all the different starting gear packages, spell descriptions, etc. It was exhausting but we got through it and ended up having a great two-hour session of Village of Hommlet. Lots of laughs were had and the newbies were all hooked.
Ditto for the next session. The couple that couldn’t make it for the first session were now able to roll up their characters and we introduced them into the module in progress. Another fun session ending on a cliffhanger as they entered the Moathouse. Stoked!
The third session rolls around and a little more than a month has passed since the last time anyone has looked at their character sheets. I could tell there was some frustration among some of the newer players due to being overwhelmed by rules as the night progressed. The session went more or less well and everyone earned enough xp to level up to 2!
I started listing off all the neat new abilities everyone got and faces started glazing over. If they were feeling bogged down by rules before, it was going to get worse and we all knew it. They were checking out so we called it a night and I told them I’d help them with spell choices next time. I’m pretty sure the game is dead in the water and I regret not just reaching for the Moldvay red book that my heart was telling me to chose in the first place. When push came to shove, I chose 5e because it was what most people are playing these days. If the game survives the quarantine and they want to pick up where we left off, I’m going to try and make the case for a simpler system.