In this installment of Critical Hit – A Major Spoilers Dungeons and Dragons Podcast: Rob, DnDBrian, Stephen, and Dr. Brad Will sit down and discuss the character creation for fifth edition, and give you a preview of Stephen’s character. Also, a quick discussion on the advantages of a pre-packaged campaign.

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About Author

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...


  1. I started out on the red set playing Keep on the Border Lands in 7th grade. Our campaign went until we were 22 and out of college, huge chunks of it were basic and expert modules. It wasn’t as restricted as I think you fear Stephen. Our party was still a party with lots of RP. By high school there was so much out it really allowed us to stay in that world and become power players in it eventually. It was so much fun. Sometimes we’d run modules, sometimes we’d run home made stuff. We started off just as a company of adventurers and ended up kind of like an Avengers type group that had to get called in when the aliens invaded.

    We ran an AD&D campaign too with modules that were fun. We also sprinkled in an Auto Duel campaign (Gurps + car wars) that ended up being our favorite campaign (that was all home made) and a Robotech game which was fun mainly because we were all such big fans.

    I guess the point being so long as you like to role play and you bring creativity to the table, modules and pre-canned campaigns can be a blast.

  2. If Matthew is playing a fighter again, has anyone told him that in 5th edition, Second Wind is the 5th edition equivalent of a minor action?

    After all these years of trying to using Second Wind as a minor action, he will be finally able to do so.

    Once the next season starts, and everyone reverts to 4th edition, who will be the first player to use a bonus action?

  3. It seems the crunch guys, primarily Rob, but Brian a bit too are not too happy. I think moving from a Rodrigo campaign to a pre gen is going to be several steps down (nothing against Rob but Rodrigo’s world is so rich and his npc’s so engaging a pre gen doesn’t really stand a chance). If Steven had done it the other way around it might have been better. I will be interested to see how Matthew reacts as there are definitely throw backs to earlier editions, in fact as a long time player this edition reminds me a great deal of the 1978 UK reprint..good old basic D & D. I play in a diverse group some grognards but mainly what I would term casual players. This group has played 4e and converted to Pathfinder and has now converted on to 5e. I suspect that group as a whole will enjoy the game better but the tacticians will miss 4e and the min/maxers will miss Pathfinder. We will see.

    • Lawful can mean following the laws that pirates have set for themselves and each other. “Honor among thieves” for example. There may be traditions and guidelines that pirates follow that a commoner wouldn’t know about.

  4. Ponytail Jackson!!

    I am very excited to hear my Crit Hit crew play the Lost Mines!! My group loved that pre gen and ran a 5e ravenloft right after.

    I think you will need to stop the adventure early or extend to about 15 episodes. Even with multiple combats per evening and hand waving (via e-mail) much of the story, it still took us 5 long nights to finish.

    So excited to hear the podcast friendly theater of the mind 5e combat go down with Rodrigo as a player . I hope Rob will not try to turn 5e into a grid based combat strategy game…… !?!

    Love it and my group can’t wait to listen!!

  5. It’s really hard for me to believe you guys are going to continue with 4e. You are missing a golden oportunity. 5e, with its “theater of the mind” style will be much better for podcast. Look at it this way; 4e closer to a chess match, 5e closer to a theatrical story. Now, which one would you rather listen to with your headphones?

      • I just heard something cool on Tome Show Gamer to Gamer interview with Keith Baker. He said he is willing to answer questions about converting Artificers. I know, I know it’s like changing the formula of a popular soda pop. But hey, just saying its out there if you ever change your mind.
        (He can’t publish stats but he is allowed to answer questions)
        I am right now tiptoeing around a recharging Robot Overlord shhhh

    • I second this. As great as the final episode of LotF was, the final 7 or so we’re a real slog going through those combats. 5e is just built better for role playing with combat that is dramatic but short. In 5e the final series of combats would have been compressed into 1-2 episodes while still maintaining the stakes.

      What could work though is if next season were a “coda” season picking up years later with the party all at level 29 getting back togeather for one last adventure. Maybe a six month wrap up season to get them to level 30 and then move on to 5e after that.

        • The magic turtle has spoken. Thank you!
          At least that gives me insight into Rodrigos rational. It does make sense if you are going to continue with same characters. I guess some other podcast group will have to take that 5e position. But no one is as good as the Torqletones except Chris Perkins and Wizards has him too busy to do a weekly podcast. Hushed whisper: Rodrigo is wrong shhhh don’t tell him I said that. I am afraid of him.

        • Part of my point is that it feels like the 4 against the void arc has come to a conclusion and it’s time to move on from these characters. The ending now is perfect. Its a complete story.

          Let’s jump forward and see how the heroes changed the world. Maybe a few make cameos from time to time. I’m thinking of the way legend of kora is to last air bender.

          Or center the next story around Ket and Trelle, who could both make the 5e crossover with a bit of “Spuds actions changed the nature of the universe” hand waiving. Maybe they team up with 7OW. To answer Rodrigo, 10th level would be the appropriate 5e conversion for them since it would be half way to max (as 15 is in 4e)

          You guys are an amazingly talented group. Whether you move to 5e or not, please don’t let this series jump the Tarrasque by not ending it when you had the perfect opportunity.

            • XantharTheFlame on

              Hear, hear!! I’m with you, Matthew.

              I am looking forward to the 5e off-season as that edition speaks to me more than 4e. I started out with 1e AD&D and played through many home-grown and pregen adventures in that, and I ran a 2e DragonLance campaign as well. I like both of those editions. I didn’t play 3 or 3.5 tabletop, but did enjoy the Bioware Neverwinter Nights games based on those rules, and didn’t have a problem with them per se. But 4e feels like a different game to me, while 5e looks like a reboot that harkens back to the best of the previous editions while trying to maintain better balance (e.g. linear fighter vs. quadratic mage as noted in the last CH episode).

              However…. All that being said, while I’m not a 4e fan, I love this podcast, this story and these characters. You all do an amazing job of both entertaining and explaining. I prefer the RP episodes more than the combat, but I don’t mind the combat ones either.

              And I disagree that the story is finished. There are still a lot of unanswered questions, like what happened to the Drow? How have all the events with the Void and Spud changed the Natural World and will it ever recover? Not to mention the impact and next steps for each character in the story – they all have conflicting needs / obligations that are personal vs. what the multiverse may need from them next.

              Keep at it!

  6. Frederick, aka Darth Macho on

    I enjoyed listening to the latest podcast. I’m convinced that 5e is going to be a better system than 4e, but that being said, I’m certainly not tired of the current story and characters. If the Torqueltones stick it out all the way to Level 30, I’ll certainly be there to listen. In fact, I’m hoping we’ll get some answers and conclusions to open story lines such as the Tuberville situation, the missing Drow citizens, and what the political situation in the Astral Sea is like these days. Any chance of a second Celestial Crusade? Perhaps our heroes will have to save both Tuberville and the Astral Sea from the Tyranny of Asmodeus? I’m hoping we haven’t seen the last of Torq.

  7. Love the show, no possible way I will listen to 17 more levels of 4e combat .
    Get used to slipping down and down and down the rankings as your commitment to 4e drags you down like an anchor. 5 more years of 4th??? Fun game. Bad podcast.

  8. Sounds like Rodrigo has a good rationale for sticking with 4e. I love his stories but, like some people, I skip through the combat. Perhaps you need to put combat start and end times in the show notes.

    Regarding 5e, maybe you could get another group of players to run a 5e campaign in parrallel, and stream it on the same podcast. A couple of other live play podcasts (like Strand Gamers) do multiple games. Sure, it would be very tough to find an equally talented group of players, but not impossible. For the reasons stated above, I think a 5e streamed game would do very well, especially if you kept the same high production values that you have employed so far.

    Thanks for the great podcast guys, and I look forward to years of play to come.

  9. Don’t care about rankings, but from what I gather you want to increase listenership. If people are openly admitting to regularly skipping episodes because of unlistenable material, (people who love the show) maybe YOU should listen.

  10. ^ Tiles has a point.

    Given the choice between searching the web for gaming session, actual play podcasts, and finding ones based on 4E and 5E, I would choose the latter. Having already found Critical Hits I’ll stick with it.

    I am a C.Hits 4E combat skipper for reasons that are obvious – which is a shame as combats can be exciting and fun to listen to (the 5E podcast/vodcast from Penny Arcade and Chris Perkins, for example). With CH 4E combats, I can skip minutes and /still/ be listening to the same combatant in the same round! While 4E combats can be fun for those playing the game (as they get to make the choices from all the myriad powers and abilities), the choosing of powers is laborious for the listener, and not so much fun for the listener. Options = good. Too many options = bad.

    Very excited about the LMoPhandelver – hoping it sways you all as it did my group. We have each bought the 5E triumvirate (players, mm, DMG) and, given WotC’s sales of 5E, we’re not alone. Nose. Face.

  11. For the record “Chad” ^ is my DM and he and I both have been listening to CHit for many years, we talk weekly about the podcast, and have been inspired by this wonderful show. I only offer my singular opinion. Strictly from a business perspective, 5e is the wave you want to ride. Your strength is being “currant” “next” even a “major spoiler”!

    That being said, I don’t want to complain without offering a possible solution. Here is what I would do if I were in your shoes. Find the best DM on the planet (cough cough Rodrigo) and have him write a reboot. Spud changed everything. New 52. House of M. Secret infinity crisis gauntlet. Level one jumping after ninjas.

    I will listen every week because it is my favorite show and Lost Mines has me bursting, but next 4e combat will be skipped.and thanks for giving me a place to rant.

  12. I feel the same way as Chase. And it definitely feels like the wrong move to just to a new edition just because it’s new. Riding coattails isn’t a good business decision, in my opinion, with all respect due to Tiles. With so many real play D&D podcasts leaping into an edition that I feel has strongly mistreated it’s customer base, it’s good to know that my favorite (and most professional) is going to be sticking with what has been working for them.

    And like has been said in mailbags, for every person that can’t stand the combat and skips it, there’s another person that likes the crunch and gobbles it up. Listening to a 4e combat episode for me is like trying to solve a puzzle in real time before the solution gets spoiled. That’s exciting to me.

  13. Just a note on published adventures with a campaign. I think the group is being a bit hard on published adventures (canned?). Unless the document is treated as gospel (Not to be altered or interpreted in anyway) there is a lot of room for the DM and the players to work with published materials creatively. I suspect Rodrigo is fairly comfortable with this idea as he has explained in previous podcasts where he gets many of his ideas. I think the point really is to use the materials to tell the story you want to tell and not to simply allow yourself to be the passive recipient. In my own campaigns I find character and locale development help. Taking the classic adventure Village of Hommlett as an example, ten years previously there had been a major battle near the village between the forces of ‘good’ and ‘evil’. What does a war do to people? There are lots of ways to build up local characters as they try to deal with the stress and guilt resulting from those events… That then can become the foundation for the events of your own campaign. I always felt that the Druid in the Grove should have a drug problem (Hedge Magicians and their ‘herbs’!) A fighter and a magician are living together in the local stronghold… Both guys (not that there is anything wrong with that… ;-).) So can that get worked into a plot? Another example – think original Battlestar Galactica. (painful to watch) vs Reimagined Battlestar Galactica (arguably some of the best television made in the past decade). The same story told two different ways! The adventure is a framework but you control the characters and the way they react to their environment.

    On another note one of the MAJOR problems with the original ADnD was Gary Gygax’s stipulation in the original rule books that they were canon and could not be changed. Players and DMs had to follow the rules!! This is a roleplaying game and this line from Gygax shows that while he created a wonderful creative tool at a fundamental level he didn’t understand what he had created. If you can’t break the rules and build new situations by solving problem then you aren’t really ‘playing’.

    So use the published modules but don’t be constrained by them. Tell the story you want to tell and throw weird stuff in to unbalance your players and force them to adapt! You and everyone else will have fun which of course is the whole point!

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