Yeah, it happened, my group converted to 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons. Here’s the upshot: it’s pretty damn amazing.
That’s not to say we were disappointed with OSRIC. Though our updates to this site waned about halfway through, that campaign went on for the longest stretch of levels of any of our campaigns. Two players nearly reached level 7, which is a pretty big feat in OSRIC. That’s the point at which the characters are supposed to become lords and ladies, presiding over towns which form around them owing to their sheer power. That’s pretty neat, but we didn’t quite get there.
The story of the campaign seemed to titillate well enough. The characters figured out a bit of the story in the world they were in, discovering that the royalty of the country were demons in disguise. While the party was in the coastal city of Lhanbyrde, the opposing empire launched a religious war on the country, unintentionally led by their newest party member (a cleric run by my father Shawn). They killed a prince, fled the invasion, attempted to hunt down the queen. She charmed a party member, who proceeded to act as a mole for her, and traveled into the deep jungle before finally making it back to Lhanbyrde only to be betrayed by that same charmed party member. The campaign ended with the charmed one joining his demonette son and returning to the queen while the rest of the party gaped in surprise.
It was a good time.
OSRIC, as a system, was a great blend of a limited ruleset and diverse opportunities. There aren’t a lot of options to individualize characters in OSRIC, especially as compared to later systems. Really, the only consequential options you get is race and class. Everything else is fairly predetermined by that. This can feel pretty limiting sometimes, especially when a player wants to take their character in a different direction after a few levels. However, this can also be liberating in that beyond those handful of statistics and abilities, whatever the character can or should do is completely up to the player. There is no huge list of skills which dictate the things a character can and can’t do well. There’s no diplomacy or persuasion roll needed for an intense negotiation, no survival check to find sustenance, no ‘handle animal’ check to ride your horse swiftly through the woods with goblins in hot pursuit. It’s just the players and the DM working through it together.
That’s not to say that characters don’t fail at this stuff, because they do. Often, and to hilarious result.
However, I needed to step out from DMing for a while; Kiokri took over and we decided to push into Pathfinder for a campaign. At some point, I’ll write a post about what I think of Pathfinder (spoiler: I hate it), but that campaign arc went pretty well thanks to Kiokri’s storytelling ability. After a few months of that campaign, I lobbied hard to get into 5th Edition, even going so far as to send each of my friends a Players Handbook. I won the vote, and we switched over to a fresh campaign run by Verb.
5th Edition is, to say it succinctly, good stuff. It has the feel of earlier AD&D in a lot of ways, but it still managed to keep the ruleset straightforward and limited. In terms of overall rules which govern everything, there really aren’t that many. Even the combat section is only a handful of pages. After coming from Pathfinder, this is a sweet, sweet relief. I said it above, I’ve said it in previous posts, and I’ll say it again here: fewer rules means more options. This is very apparent when we look at the shortened skill and feat lists.
For now, and into the foreseeable future, we will be playing 5th Edition. So far, everyone likes it, and I’ve joined a weekly group at a local shop that runs Adventurer’s League. We’re trying to ramp up the posts to this site again, and they will largely have a 5th Edition focus, though we may kick it back to older systems occasionally. We’ve got some fresh ideas and some fresh takes.