In this installment of Critical Hit – A Major Spoilers Dungeons and Dragons Podcast: The players reflect on what they’ve learned about 5th edition so far (hint: they don’t hate it), share thoughts on canned adventures, and ponder why these books aren’t available in electronic form.

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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. Interesting conversation.

    I’m not sure the claims about the profit nirvana in digital media hold up when you look at state of revenues in record industry since 1999.

    I’m also reluctant to jump on WOTC for not becoming a digital distribution company. It has core competencies in game design, physical production, and marketing. It is not easy or cheap to create a whole new core competency, especially for a company that is not that big. Some people would like and use the product, but would it be worth the huge cost WOTC would have to spend to create and manage it, especially since that is probably not in the skill set of the people who work there now.

    I must confess that I’ve listened to another podcast running this exact same adventure, and the people both had more fun and were more fun to listen to. I’ve also listened recently to your first Moonhold adventure. Back then two of the three players didn’t even know how to pay the system and yet it was a rollicking fun game to listen to. I think DM and player enthusiasm had a huge impact here. You all just did not sound like you were having nearly as much fun in this adventure.

    • I’m currently running this adventure, and I totally agree with your assertion that it can be a lot more fun than the Critical Hit crew made it. My group has been having fun with it, but we’ve also been taking it more seriously than the Critical Hit crew did. First, I had my players build their own characters so that they would actually care a little bit about the story. I also took more liberties with the story, adapting it for the character’s backgrounds and for my player’s styles. I never read any of the canned text out loud, though I did read it to see what WOTC thought was important to communicate to people.

      It seemed like a lot of the Critical Hit crew approached this as something to get through, rather than something fun to do with your friends.

      With regards to the dice rolls, I did really like to see Brian doing great and Matthew doing badly.

    • I agree that the adventure reflected the attitudes of the players. I’ve listened to critical hits since about the beginning and learned much of 4 from it, but did not get a good feeling for 5e from this series. Many of the players didn’t seem to take it seriously and were easily distracted (and hence distracting) Cries of ‘I hate 5th edition!’ when ever a bad roll came up became annoying. Even this post-discussion focused more on not liking ‘canned’ modules and not having electronic tools than it did on the game itself. If a new player wanted to get a feeling for this edition, I would not recommend this series.

    • Yeah I think 5e was lost before you guys even started to play. What will you do when WotC turns off their character builder for 4e?

    • Agree with the other posters on this issue. I’m not convinced the crew gave it a fair shake. Rob seemed bored with it and didn’t try to sell any of the content. Adrianna role played a cynical and depressed juvenile, which was depressing and irritating to listen to. Stephen did not love his character, and didn’t put half the effort into it that his 4e character got. There was no role playing for Malagog. Compare with Torq?! I’ve heard two other groups doing this online with the same adventure. All were much more fun. Poorly played.

      The innumeracy around the critical hit complaint is jaw dropping. C’mon guys. The average critical hit damage under the new system is better (read: more damage!) than maximum damage under the old system. You could get levels of damage unreachable under the old system. Twice as much! This complaint is a non issue. To keep harping on it is an embarrassment. I’m surprised Rob didn’t call you on it. Rodrigo at least tried. He gets it. I don’t buy the emotional feel arguments. The emotion is based on a faulty understanding of probability. If you understood it, you would be delighted about twice as many dice.

        • Stephen, I wonder every off season if you’ll have Orem killed off to play a monk. :-)

          I was super-impressed by Adrianna’s and Matthew’s role play, almost as much as Rodrigo’s. I had no complaints with Rob’s DMing, even if I do prefer him on the other side of the screen.

          Come’on posters, it’s OK that the Major Spoilers crew isn’t over the moon on 5e/now hate 4e.

      • I made an active effort to role-play Malogog as an effusive, talkative guy who used words incorrectly but was still generally clueless. If that didn’t come across, that’s my bad. And comparison with Torq is exactly why I played him as I did. He’s a different character in a different setting.

        Also, I get your point in the second paragraph, but if you honestly think that the reasons behind our difficulties were just that we are too stupid to understand the mechanics, I think you underestimate Rob, Rodrigo and Brian greatly…

      • Gotta say that I don’t think you’re putting enough context into the situation.

        All of these players were handed new characters in a new system and asked to churn out an adventure.

        As it stands, I thought everyone did a good job sketching out their characters. I gotta say that I found Adriana’s characters ambivalence towards people/events to be fun and playfully subversive. With more time I’m sure we’d have listened as the players more fully realized their characters.

        Not saying it was a perfect adventure (I agree with some of the critiques I’ve read here and in other comment sections), but given the circumstances I think people need to lighten up a little. Certainly nothing worthy of the word “embarrassment” happened that I heard.

    • The issue with saying this edition needs to be digital, it already is! Basic D&D is a FREE PDF that has all of the core rules needed to play! You need maybe one PHB at the table in case someone forgets how a class feature or spell works that isn’t listed in Basic. It was aggravating to hear Rob mismanage rules, which happens with a new game, and then later complain about the system. He also would read the DM boxes from the module rather than describing it in game. The characters he created did not have a strong tie to the campaign, a big problem considering LMoP is shipped with pre-generated characters that have extremely strong ties to the story. I think no one from the Critical Hit Crew actually wanted to play this and the lack of interest made for a rather boring story. I love the crew and have been listening for awhile but I gave up on this story line about halfway through when the players and DM alike showed zero to little interest in what was going on.

  2. Becky Armstrong on

    I really appreciated the group touching on the importance of narrative styles in groups in general, especially when it came to Rob. I think that, narratively, he was much stronger in his Dinosaur 4e game he ran in the previous off-season, and besides playing an edition he knew very well, it was his own story that he could roll with the punches a whole lot easier. This canned adventure, not being his own story, was more difficult.

    Thank you to everyone for continuing to have this be a learning podcast. I’m also excited to see what Brian has planned for next week.

  3. Really wish you were continuing this at least until level 3, would love to have seen the archetypes everyone would have gone for

  4. One thing I really like about 5th over previous editions is how easy it is to build a character, and how little fiddling you have to do when you level up. You really don’t need a character builder program for this edition, though I can see the benefit of making a (relatively) quick character building session even faster. It’s sad that WOTC’s deal with Codename Morningstar fell through. It looked really promising.

  5. Third level is where my players stopped comparing it to 4e and starting really enjoying it. Those first two levels are supposed to represent those characters that just started the whole adventuring thing. It makes sense that a lot of people don’t like playing that part of the game, but there are some that do….and it is easier to build it in and have a way to skip it then doing it the other way around. Next time I would recommend starting at level 3. I’ve heard 5e called D&D’s greatest hits because it pulls for all of the editions. We had some players lose interest because 4e was too much like playing D&D the Gathering, others didn’t like Pathfinder because it was like building the Millennium Falcon out of legos without the instructions, and some that just missed having one attack roll with no feats and awesome, flavorful magic items. So far (again, once we hit level 3) everyone one of them has enjoyed 5e.

    For the Lost Mine of Phandelver, there are some things written into the adventure that would give players reasons to explore the setting and its side quests more. The pregens all have specifically written backgrounds that give them important personal quests in the area: the cleric, noble, and rogue all of reasons to help Phandalin with the Redbrands; the wizard is looking for something of spiritual importance inside the Cragmaw Castle (thus requiring the entire castle be explored); the archer wants to liberate his home town of Thundertree from the plant monsters and undead (again creating motive to stick around). That is why Background is so lose and mechanically weak…they are supposed to be customized for each campaign to tie the PCs into the world. Y’know, the stuff that Redrigo does already. Besides, skills/tool proficiency/languages and 1 role-playing benefit isn’t too shabby.

    I do think it is too easy to find Cragmaw Castle if your players are smart, but going to Wave Echo Cave before lvl 4 would probably result in slow progress or dead PCs. In my game I had the cleric provide you the druid’s name after helping her with the banshee…information in exchange for information.

    I think the biggest things to remember with pre-written adventures is some of the embellishment gets cut due to page count, it has to be vanilla enough to support multiple play-styles, group dynamics, class/race variables, and can’t compensate for every player choice. A pre-packaged adventure is like ordering furniture from ikea…all the parts are there but you still have to do the work and put it together yourself. The adventure, as written, doesn’t have the PCs in a multi-sided battle between a group of hobgoblin hunters, human mercs, an angry necromancer riding an ogre zombie, bandits, a green dragon, and a landshark in the ruins of Tresendar Manor while the entire population of Phandalin watches…but that is exactly how mine ended and we had a blast.

  6. I happen to really like the two-dice critical, and I think my players do too. Rolling a million dice feels over-the-top and fun, and on the rare occasion where the player gets two ones it is hilarious. In my opinion, rolling is always more exciting than a flat result (which is why I will never give my players a sword of sharpness).

    Also, in defense of the side-questiness, the pre-packaged characters had much better reasons to do all that nonsense. Although I have to admit that some of it is a little silly (that banshee comb thing comes to mind).

    • A million dice is over the top. 2[w]+x is an encounter power in 4e, which was the big reason I was kind of underwhelmed by it.

      I find it interesting the crew had so few issues with 5e. I agree with the ones they pointed out although I have a lot more issues probably due to gaming in a much larger party, doing it TotM style, and being underwhelmed by the early level rocket tag and the related all class mad from needing atk stat, dex, and con.

      Does being ambivalent at best toward 5e make me not a D&D fan?

      Looking fwd to Brian’s game and especially to next season.

  7. Interesting conversation. I really just think that playing a canned adventure is not for experienced roleplaying games players or GM like this crew is. Can’t wait for the other part of the off-season! Great jo guys!

  8. Frederick Pagliarulo on

    I love D&D 5e, and I’m looking forward to kicking off my campaign soon. I don’t think I’d be interested in running a pre-gen, or canned, adventure, but I understand why they are a valuable tool. I’d purchase them to just pull some ideas, encounters, maps, or even an npc or two, but I probably wouldn’t play one front to back. That’s not a criticism, just a personal preference. While I’m a little disappointed that my favorite podcasters aren’t as enamored by 5e as I am, I’m going to continue to enjoy the best of both worlds by playing 5e and listening to Critical Hit’s continuing 4e adventure. While I love listening to the sometimes lengthy 4e combats on Critical Hit, I don’t love running them in my game. I’m excited to run a good 5e dungeon crawl very soon. I definitely agree with the comments, first brought up by Adriana, then touched on by the others, that 5e needs to go digital. I’ll still buy all of the reference books, but I miss my Digital Character Builder and Online Compendium. I love the books, but flipping through them during game play is tedious! Sure I can take a bunch of notes to use during game play, but it would be much easier to just print them out. Also, having moved on to 5e, I have no idea why I’m still paying WOTC for the insider? It seems a bit pricey for mere access to forums. Finally, I have to admit, I’m kind of bummed that I won’t get to find out what became of the 5e characters you created. Whatever your preferences in edition, the role play was so engaging that I enjoyed this season very much. I’ll always wonder if Malagog ever got to see his beloved Plor again. Thanks for the episode.

  9. Thanks for the episode guys, it was a lot of fun listening to your experiences, and also your breakdown at the end.

    A lot of folk have been disappointed that you are not as enthusiastic about 5e as they are (and as I am). After six years of investment and mastery in 4e, though, I’m not surprised that something that is similar but also different at every turn is not going to compare well in your mind. I’ve only recently listened to the first 100 or so episodes of Critical Hit, and there were several times where Matthew unfavourably compares 4e to AD&D. Even Stephen, early on, made a couple of unfavourable comparisons to WOW! We all like what we are used to.

    One thing I will say, respectfully, is that Rob seemed a bit less famliar with the material than I would have expected. There are quite a few live play examples of Phandelver online now, and most are more fluid than what we listened to. I think pre-gen adventures are great – but you either have to know them inside out, or be prepared to ad-lib whenever you reach the limits of your knowledge (as Rob did when he unintentionally invented an organisation called “The Black Web”.

    Regarding digital tools, most folk on here will know that WOTC had a contract with Trapdoor, which they backed out of late last year. Digital tools and content will come – I’d rather they take longer and get them right.

    I think it makes perfect sense that the Torqeltone adventures continue in 4e. But I’d be very surprised if they started a new campaign in 4e after that one comes to an end – we may get our CH 5e campaign then. In the meantime, I’ll sit and listen and enjoy every episode of CH – but if anyone knows of a 5e liveplay podcast with similar production values to CH, I’d love to hear about it.

    • Their are two I would highly recommend

      – Adventure zone , they play the Lost Mines and move past to their own story. Fun group!
      – RPGentlemen , “I am window!” So entertaining I don’t know how to do it justice.

      Both 5e with solid production and enthusiastic players/Dm’s.

        • RPgentlemen- Window is one of a kind! I think these are some young guys with bright futures. Very funny and they are trying to fix the mic situation. Here is one more to try, different flavor.

          RPGMP3 – True rpg podcasts veterans. Always solid entertaining role play – they play multiple systems but are currently running a stellar Lost Mines of Ph 5e game. Worth every second. not the best audio…

          • Thank you for the recommendations! I also started RPGentlemen. Very funny and loose. I could definitely tell they were improv guys by the end of episode 2. The mics are troubling, but still worth the listen.

  10. Very excited for Brian’s game, especially if FATE (or Dungeon World?). But whatever it’s going to be, it’ll be a nice change. I loved most of the 5E stuff, but agree with Adriana: a canned adventure isn’t the best way to get to know it. As I said, really excited for whatever Brian has in store. Even from England I can hear the mighty cogs (widgets, doo-hickeys, whatcha-ma-gizmos, etc. etc.) turning in his brain. Can’t wait for Saturday!

  11. What a relief that this is finished although I loved the Bard’s story about pain and death being an illusion made manifest. I worry a little that too many may have moved on from 4e to keep next season feeling as relevant. Personally I moved on from D&D with the introduction of 5e. It was an opportunity to explore several other systems. Bottom line is that Rodrigo keeps surprising everyone with his campaign. Maybe he should be writing for Wizards.

  12. While this adventure has had it’s narrative and mechanic ups and downs, I’ve really enjoyed listening to a 5e game. Being (like Matthew) an old-school D&D Player, I’ve played all editions of D&D, except for 5e, but I find myself wishing I had my old player-group back to do so. To me the biggest difference between the 4 and 5 is whether you want to *really* roll-play or not. 4th edition, to me, really isn’t roll playing, but rather a map-based strategy game, with some interesting cut-scenes in between fights (thank you Rodrigo). Yes, you can roll-play, but that’s not at the core of the rules system- long, detailed fights are what 4e is all about. Thinking back to the previous seasons there are so many fights, even with only a handful of enemies, that spanned multiple episodes. This interregnum with 5e, Rob has fit in multiple fights in many episodes. While the roll-playing aspects of the group have not been up to their stirling norm, I think the main reason that it stands out all the more is that there isn’t anywhere near the same amount of time devoted to combat. Even with the confusion (and occasional “drunken” apathy), the combat flows much more quickly, without it feeling like in listening to two totally separate and unrelated games, kinda like watching Grindhouse in the theater.

    While I know it won’t happen, to properly conduct the experiment as to which is the “better” system, Rodrigo would have to DM a game.

    With regards to this long-time listener, I’ve *really* enjoyed NOT listening to endless discussion about which of 162 different paths a character can take to get from point A to point B on the mat is the best, how many immediate actions can be taken by a character per turn, and the commercial-break pauses while each character consults their Dead Sea Scroll-length character sheets to see which of their 6.022 X 10e 23 powers they want to use this turn, only to be told that they can’t use it because Mercury is ascendant on the third Tuesday of the month.

      • Ah, forgive the lazy phrasing. What I meant was that for it to be truly a fair comparison between systems, and to determine which the group finds more enjoyable to play week-in and week-out, you’d need to experience a Rodrigo World™, populated with all his NPC’s, story-hooks, and house rules.

  13. Really excited for Brian’s game next week! I am courious if attitudes will be the same for his game as they were for 5e. We’ll see! Should be clear if there was a bias going into Rob’s game by how they treat Brian.

    $10 bet on Dungeon World!

    • Once again, you are really reaching in your assumptions. One game is not like the other, and believing there is a bias on the game system based on how one person is treated over the other is absurd at the most. That’s kind of like saying the only reason you post comments here is to troll…

      See, I know that is not the case, but what is someone to assume based on the few words you write?

      Don’t worry, I still love you. :)

      Also, you owe me $10.

      VIP Members have the inside track as to what is coming up next ;)

      • Me??? No, not Rob. Just a huge Crit hit fan with some troll-like tendencies. And for the record, I DON’T love 5e at all! The advantage/disadvantage is an abstract mess, crit hits need a house rule, monsters are bland (bite claw repeat) and no skill challenges (Rodrigo sooo spoiled me!!).

        That being said, I do believe 4e combats are a drag on a story driven podcast like yours. Fun to play at the table but an automatic tune out as a listener.

        • Frederick Pagliarulo on

          Kurt Pearson, I’m of the opposite viewpoint when it comes to 4e combat. oohing passes 2 hours of a work shift like a good Critical Hit combat episode, but nothing grinds my home session to a halt like a drawn out combat in my home campaign, for which I’d prefer to have more progression with our limited time to get together. I’m hoping 5e gives us that.

          • I can not argue that an afternoon listening to crit hit at work (even combat) is a good time. I just don’t sweat missing a turn or two. Or three.

        • Speaking only for myself, D&D is a balance of role-playing and mechanical combat stuff. I suspect as long as there’s a Critical Hit, there will be both in play.

          Also, when you say “automatic tune out as a listener”, I think you perhaps mean “automatic tune out FOR YOU as a listener.” Feedback indicates that there are those who love the combat episodes most of all, proving once and for all that mileage may vary…

  14. I think a lot of the this edition is better then that edition conversation is misplaced. They are different tools for creating an experience. I am new to the pod cast. I started with the 5th ed stuff and am now devouring your previous stuff. I think I am on ep 45 or something like that. This podcast inspired me to purchase 5e for my gaming group.
    We are all older and time is VERY limited. We have been playing together for over 20 years. The thing is; for as many choices and options available in 3e on up, we ended up killing whole game sessions leveling up characters and pouring through options. 5e makes it faster to move through combat, allowing us more time to act the fool elsewhere.

    5e is a better tool for us. I can tell you that at some point you need to run a combat with characters above 3rd level. The game changes a lot.

    On Canned Hams, Every game session is what you make of it. My party started out as a bad joke. I have a bard with the charlatan background. a Thief with the entertainer back ground and a warlock with the great old ones pact that is also an entertainer (mind reader/hypnotist) . They threw a concert in the bar on the first night because everybody in town looked down. Then preceded to start a rebellion a la the music man. start a riot and lead the towns folk with pitch forks and torches out to deal with some of the local problems.

    None of that is in the mod, however every piece fits with the npcs motives in the mod. Canned hams a not supposed to be approached like video games. They should be seen as an outline of a story. All of those side quests are there because the npc’s are characters too, they have motives as well. That is why RPGs live and breath unlike a video game. It dose not matter if you complete the tasks or not, the fact is they are there because those characters have to do something other then just be a part of the background. Also they give an answer to the question of what now after you save your friend. I guess what I am trying to say is that I try to make my games feel bigger then what my players are doing, there is always something else going on. There is an opportunity cost to choosing to do one thing over the other.

    That is my 2cp worth.

    PS they brought back the electrum piece! Long live quirky currency!

  15. I’ve Said it before, and after getting a few 5e games under my belt, I can safely say that I don’t like it. I don’t think it’s a terrible system, but it doesn’t do anything I already have a system for. If I want epic high fantasy in an established setting, I have Pathfinder (not to mention they haven’t Nuked the entire world yet, to accommodate new mechanics), and to a lesser extent 4e, but mostly for Dark Sun. If I want what Wizard totes 5e as, a system with quick Combat that is really more about “returning to Role Playing”, I have better systems Like Fudge/Fate, White Wolf’s Story teller system, and Savage Worlds. I personally feel the D20 system is a bad fit for a game with RP as the only advertised attraction.
    With 5e I feel like all skills are based entirely on random chance. Early on, even if you try, your skill won’t exceed a +5 bonus for anything. Which means your skill will only make a difference 25% of the time. It’s OK for the most part, but Skill based characters are now useless in this system, and it mostly just feels like they Tacked on skill bonuses for nostalgia/clinging to the old ways, it doesn’t actually feel like your fleshing out what your character is or isn’t good at. Now of course that still increases with level, but again, it leads to the next point, that the early levels are SO BORING! I get including it as a penalty to Multiclassing, but it just feels awful, because it slows characters down, but they make it really power full in the long run, namely because wizards can wear any armor they are proficient with, zero penalty. It’s doesn’t give th nice feeling of weighing risk and reward, so much as just slowing everything down. And even if you don’t multiclass, it is still so dull in the first 1-4 levels. Sure you could start the character at level 4 or 5,but then why would they include the first levels in the book? Again, for Multiclassing that makes the game super slow but powerful? It just seems contradictory to me.
    And why mess up Feats and Ability scores? They were fine before! If anything I makes it more complicated for new players because now they need to pick between two things you both really want MECHANICALLY, not fluff wise. Why put that on a new player?

    And lastly, why no Explosive Runes? Now my Wizard can’t play pranks by switching Bathroom signs with explosive Versions.

  16. I understand the group being uncomfortable with a new edition, but as a Dungeons and Dragons podcast I find it odd that you won’t be updating to the most recent edition of the game. It was enjoyable listening to the show, and I’ll try to check back now and then to see if the Torqeltones have caught up with the times. Cheers!

  17. I have so much I want to say (that more than likely no one will ever read). I’m going to try to be brief.

    – I do not have a problem with people liking another edition better than fifth edition. I specifically disliked how you guys were approaching this.

    – Rob did a bad job. He may be a good DM In other contexts and maybe he’s a great player. But he was disinterested in this, and therefore, poorly prepared. He had neither a good grasp on the rules of the game nor the adventure. Rodrigo was there to help with the rules, but nobody could help him with the adventure. There is no Black Web. It’s common for party’s to go to town first. The adventure pushes them back to the Cragmaw hideout. The pregen characters have reasons to go on side quests (although this sidequest bullshit is a video game trope they decided to throw in), you should have been third level by Cragmaw Castle and the adventure SPECIFICALLY TELLS YOU to be 4th level before hitting Wave Echo Cave.

    – Experimentation requires isolation of a variable. You guys were conflating the Rules of Fifth Edition, running A canned adventure, running THIS canned adventure: the Lost Mines of Phandelver, and being low level. Whenever any of those things did something unpleasant you said “I hate fifth edition”.

    – It’s not surprising that you find 4th edition better. In many ways it is better and a lot of the complaints about it are bullshit. The problem with it wasn’t/isn’t that it has no place for roleplaying. You guys prove them wrong all the time. The problem is that it took too many liberties with the brand. It built a new system based on the philosophy of World of Warcraft and sold it as D&D. A lot of the things that seem weird to you are things that are part of what D&D has always been and which it needs to remain. I’m not surprised that you would miss something like At Will powers. The problem is that those things have no place in Dungeons and Dragons. Even if they are better, they are too great a departure. You can evolve the system like they did with D20 math, but you can’t just build a whole new game and cynically sell it using a storied system’s brand. 5e keeps many of the good parts of 5th edition but reskins it so it feels more like D&D has always felt. That’s why nobody has “powers” but everybody has spells.

    – Rob is 100 percent right about the character advancement feeling limited after 3. The system keeps you on a short leash. The reason for that is that there’s a trade off. Too much customization and you complicate the game in a way that discourages new players. 3.5/pathfinder is a more sophisticated system but it’s off the charts with Min-Maxing. Note though that it’s very easy to give your character a unique feel using feats, backgrounds and races that aren’t the normal optimized choices. My character at the moment is a gnome barbarian that took the dual wielding feat so that he can stay competitive by swinging a battle axe and a war hammer. (He’s too small for the typical great axe). This is not a carbon copy character. He’s a barbarian who can cast minor illusion for crissakes. And lord knows what he’ll be when he takes his next feat or decides to multiclass.

    – D&D had traditionally not given max damage for crits. It’s given double damage. I understand 4th gives max damage. That’s fine but that’s the aberration. The roll two dice comes out as pretty similar, statistically, to double damage. Max damage is the outlier and presumably discarded for balance reasons. You could house rule max damage on crits. You’re encouraged to house rule. Just remember that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    I can’t think of anything else right now. Bye.

    • Hello Cory,

      “Whenever any of those things did something unpleasant you said “I hate fifth edition”.”


      You are wrong.

      The only person who repeatedly said, “I hate fifth edition,” was Matthew and he was being facetious during bad dice rolls. You may have heard us say things like, “I don’t like that particular element/mechanic/rule,” or “I don’t understand why this is being done,” but beyond the “edition war” humor Matthew was attempting to inject, no one said, “I hate fifth edition,” with any real meaning behind those words.

      (it is in this part of the comment where “you” really means the Royal You)

      Here’s the interesting thing that has become abundantly clear over the last year especially in light of the conversation many of us at Major Spoilers had regarding the American Sniper movie for a recent Zach on Film podcast – people will hear and see what they want to hear or see regardless of what was actually said or done to conform to their views or motives. Go back and listen to this episode again, and you will hear nearly everyone say they have issues with some of the mechanics of 5e, but no one said they hate it, and no one said they would never play it again.

      Keep in mind the whole point of this podcast – from the very beginning it has been about learning, growing, and having fun. I can’t say that everyone at the table had the best time of their life playing this particular adventure, but some of us really did enjoy it because a) we got to hang out with our friends and play a game, b) it was something new to try out, and c) we all really do like to experience new things. We were learning the system at the same time many others are/were. Seeing a group react to a different situation is part of the learning experience for listeners and those participating in this show. You may have had an awesome time playing this Starter Kit Adventure, and that’s great, I’m genuinely happy if you did, but your experiences are not necessarily the same experiences that everyone else in the world had. Why continue with 4e? It’s a question we get repeatedly since 5th edition came out. Because (among other reasons that Rodrigo has addressed previously) that is where this story started, and the experience of seeing this story though to the highest level is part of that learning adventure. That’s right, I said it – this is one huge learning adventure! (Honestly, I tried to fit a Reading Rainbow reference in here, but “learning adventure” was as close as I could get.)

      I’m curious, if Critical Hit was just starting at episode one with this 5e arc, would you be as hypercritical?

      On the plus side, what you (and by you, I mean the Royal You) are saying is nothing new – go back and look at comments made when this show first started and look at all the “hate” the show received because I kept trying to find footing by comparing D&D to the only real fantasy game I had experience playing – World of Warcraft. Scientific experimentation may happen in isolated studies, but learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We all bring our life experiences, our “baggage” if you will, to the table when we are trying new things. It is a huge component of the learning experience. And likewise the “baggage” others bring to the experience should help all of us gain understanding, empathy, and hopefully grow as a human being. Growing up, I based all my knowledge of seafood to the experiences of eating at Red Lobster, so you can imagine my reaction when someone offered me real fresh fish and sushi for the first time – hesitation, comparison, reflection, acceptance, embrace. Again, take note of the title of this episode – Reflections of 5e… Thus Far. Does this imply that we have washed our hands of 5e? I think not. If it was, I would not have used those specific words.

      If you listen to this episode again, and I hope you do, listen where everyone at the table says they would recommend new players start with 5e and not to worry about 4th edition or other editions before that. I understand your frustration, I understand that you don’t think we love and embrace 5e as much as you have, but I do believe you are a bit misled by what you have extrapolated. If we hated the experience so much, and love 4e sooooooo much, why would we even make that recommendation?


      Because we don’t hate 5th edition.

      Thanks so much for your comments Cory! We love you, and are glad you enjoyed our adventures enough to listen to all 288 episodes thus far. I hope you have also learned and laughed with us, and we hope to see your comments again when Critical Hit reaches our 576th episode.

      • Focusing on the single word “hate” is a manipulation technique. I don’t HATE monopoly but I cant stand playing it. I will sing ” I hate monopoly” over and over while playing, but that’s just me “joking”. But I don’t HATE it.

        Just saying I don’t HATE something tells me nothing. NOTHING! It just skirts responsibility. It is the classic seeing the tree instead of the forest. Take the word “hate” out of the conversation and address the REAL issue. People are saying something and you are choosing not to hear it by focusing over and over on the single word hate.

        I have read most (all?) posts and not a single person has accused you of HATING anything. Not once.

      • Oh muh lord… don’t you hate when everything you say gets ignored because of one errant set of artful quotes? I am a very careful listener and am well aware of who did and didn’t like fifth edition and how much. At bottom I’ve set out my understanding without re-listening.

        There’s absolutely nothing wrong with hating/disliking/not preferring fifth edition for those that do. There are great reasons to. Not the nature of the objection. IMHO Largely because of Rob, you didn’t actually give it a fair shake, and largely because of Matthew (and a side order of Adriana) you *came across* to many people as not giving it a fair shake. Both Rob and Matthew stated at the end of the podcast that they were still largely unimpressed. Rob in particular doesn’t like it.

        Please feel free to re-read all my scattered observations (some of which agree with Rob’s points at least in part) but my main important point to make is the one you can’t because you’re Rob’s friend. So I will say it to Rob directly: Rob your heart wasn’t in this from the start and as a result you did the work-to-rule bare minimum, and that’s the experience your players (and audience) had. Rodrigo goes above and beyond the call of duty and you have an amazing roleplaying experience in an edition that gets roundly (and unfairly) criticized for being unfriendly to roleplayers. DMing matters.

        Why do I care about this? I dunno. I think it’s mostly because I picture a lot of people doing a lot of work between the playtest and the creation of the Starter Set, and I didn’t really think your group did them justice. I’m not one of them. It’s just where my empathy went.

        For the record, I think it would be a terrible idea for you to switch your main campaign to 5th edition. You’d have to roll new characters with totally different abilities than the ones you have but keep the same names. That’s a real problem and I wouldn’t do it. If you were ready to start a new campaign 5th Edition would be great – but so would focussing on a totally different RPG experience. Paranoia? Shadowrun? Don’t care. There’s nothing magical about fifth edition. And since people criticizing your approach to it is going to make it hard for you to enjoy it in the future it’s probably best if you go learn GURPS or something. Don’t play any game out of obligation. Life’s too damn short.

        Finally, if your last comment is just poorly phrased it’s bygones but it seems to be saying that I have no business commenting unless I’ve listened to your 288 episodes, which is ridiculous. I’m going to assume you misspoke.

        (Please correct me if any of this is wrong: Matthew said he hated it a lot of times and ended the podcast unimpressed, strongly preferring fifth edition but would quickly say that’s subjective: “as always your mileage may vary”. That’s fine. Rob – the Dungeon Master – also ended the podcast saying he didn’t like it. Adriana had, earlier, complained mightily about it but at the end declared it “just different” with a shrug (which is how I feel about it even though it seems otherwise). Rodrigo finds “things to like about it” and you would all encourage starting players to go with it. You prefer fourth but would happily play Fifth again.)

        • “Finally, if your last comment is just poorly phrased it’s bygones but it seems to be saying that I have no business commenting unless I’ve listened to your 288 episodes, which is ridiculous. I’m going to assume you misspoke.”

          Nope, I didn’t misspeak, you just didn’t understand that I’m am honestly saying THANK YOU for listening to all of our episodes and being here for the ride (good or bad), and hope that you’re still around when we reach 576.

        • You are mostly correct in your characterization of me. I didn’t care for this 5E experience, but if future events move the game to a 5E setting, I won’t be a jerk about it. It’s a different system, and all that really means is a different experience, but right now I prefer the moving parts of 4E, which has a lot to do with playing it for several years consecutively.

  18. Hi,
    I don’t play DnD, either builds, but i love listening to your podcast for some reason. I don’t have a preference on any of the systems, but i have to agree with the postesr that are saying Rob DMing was underwhelming. I think he would have done a better job with his own adventure (as prroven by the Dynos one). I I think your appreciation of the new version would have been different if that was the case.

    Regarding Adriana comments about an online resource, yes, i agree and Wizard stance on the matter is ridiculous, is not like there aren’t nerds with incredible scanning endurance around, you could find each new book online a couple of days after they were released.
    BUT, if anyone else has Adriana’s problem I would suggest to download the basic rules pdfs from wizard. They may not help with the specific character build, but generic rules or terminology could be easily searched there and i think they may have an online version of the pdfs as well..

  19. anotherJmartin on

    Regarding “canned” adventures (also, not my favorite term, I prefer “pre-gen”), I can understand that the crew didn’t like playing it if they are used to being in a open world. However, not all pre-gens are created equal. There are good ones and bad ones. I ran the 3.5e Eberron pre-gens series for my friends and it was the best campaign I’ve ever run. I actually preferred running them because, frankly, I’m a lazy DM. I’m not creative enough for some of the things done in those adventures, plus I didn’t have to spend as nearly as much time prepping for a game. I think my group isn’t as “hard-core” of gamers as the Critical Hit crew, they just wanted to play in a light fun adventure and pre-gens can give that.

    • I believe in one of our earlier episodes we discussed some of the real advantages of a pre-gen adventure. One pointed out by Brad Will that I really like was a canned adventure gives us a connection point for a shared experience. While the Critical Hit podcast has become a very weird shared experience between the players and the listeners and the time, effort, and energy invested by everyone, nothing beats having a conversation with others over the first time they ran through the Expedition of Castle Ravenloft. It leads to discussions of what went wrong and what went right in each person’s adventure and everyone can laugh or shrug or cringe over the other’s outcome. This is another reason why a canned adventure was selected for the off season – so those who have run the same adventure would have a point of reference, and hopefully enjoy the experience even more – be it “Glad we didn’t do go down that hallway” or “Wow! I never thought of attempting to solve the problem this way.”

      This was my first D&D pre-gen and I did enjoy it, and it gave me a different view on the game many have invested a great deal of time, energy, and money into. It also showed me, and hopefully others, the advantages and pitfalls that may happen in their own adventure. #RainbowStar

      Thanks for your comments J Martin… and by J Martin, I mean Another J Martin…

  20. Really don’t understand all the heavy criticism and the “hate” word being tossed around everywhere. Felt like the CH crew expressed their opinions, based on their experiences, clearly, respectfully, and fairly, and weren’t simply trying to destroy the seemingly Hallowed & Holy 5e. Never once recalled any of them just bashing it or hating it (as already pointed out-when the phrase “I hate 5e” was uttered, it was as a joke because of the bad rolling going on, or confusion on mechanics laughed off with that phrase). Also, I really appreciated the observation that some of the canned adventure set up didn’t make logistical sense. Why WOULD you go off on some errand for strangers instead of going to save your friend’s life? Little things like that should have been paid attention to when the game was being designed; the CH crew brought up some excellent alternatives that could have easily been put into place that would have negated that immediately. When something that glaring is that easily solved, it seems to indicate to me something was rushed.
    I found myself largely agreeing with a lot of the things brought up about 5e differences, and agree the nat 20 mechanics for 5e are…lackluster. I don’t care if they’re better statistically; when I roll that 20, I want to feel like “YEAH, TAKE THAT, MONSTERS!”. Instead, following that up with a dice roll that…randomly could or could not be higher, equal, or lower to that max damage rule…well, it’s less exciting, because it’s up to rng. I feel like that’s one of the major difference between 4e and 5e, or…any of the older editions. It’s been touched upon in the podcast this episode and others, even.
    In my opinion, 5e, 3.5, older editions in general, seemed to place a lot more emphasis on 2 things: randomness and the players carrying the weight of the game world with the role playing of their characters. Things are a lot less structured and loose. How many times during that 5e run did you hear someone say “well, that can be house ruled”? 4e, on the other hand, has a pretty solid, integrated machine when it comes to the mechanics and doesn’t rely as heavily on rng. It’s still there-it wouldn’t be fun to play at all if it weren’t-but it’s less prominent. The crit hits, the healing surges vs hit dice rolls, etc. One gives you a blank plot of land and says “okay, go make a character and world on this”, the other gives you a blank plot of land and says “this is how science works in that land and you’re going to enter it as a ___ class of person, and will feel like that class of person immediately”. You’re going to have players that just want a combat game outside of electronics, and you’re going to have people that want to inhabit a character. When you have people that don’t want to roleplay, aren’t good at it/just learning, or don’t get it (which mailbag episodes of this podcast alone show to be a recurring theme in game sessions everywhere)…a really structured and tight system seems, to me, to be a great support to ensure that game doesn’t go off the rails. I think each style has their place, and their strengths and weaknesses.
    Lastly, the ongoing shaming of the CH crew for not “getting with the times” or “being a relevant DnD podcast by playing the most current edition” is outrageous, ridiculous, and just plain internet trolling/ranting/floundering around like a child. Does anyone say that about the “dinosaurs” still playing 3.5 or Pathfinder? I don’t think so. Rodrigo, who has shown his full capability and prowess as a GM ten thousand times over by now to everyone, I would hope, has clearly stated, and with excellent reasons, why they’re not switching the main 4e story to 5e. And no, it does NOT “make sense” to convert their campaign to the newest edition. If you started playing a video game, lets say…an hour to an hour and a half a week (insanity, I know), and the next installment in that franchise comes out while you’re playing that first….you wouldn’t stop playing the first to immediately start in on the sequel, would you? Of course not. You finish the first game. That doesn’t make the first game antiquated and undesirable, either. Not everything has to jump to the newest and shiniest immediately, and trying to shame/ridicule/threaten the CH crew into doing that makes you come across as immature and desperate.

    • The pre-gen characters the module provides all have background and ties to the side quests. They make perfect sense if those characters are used.

      You would have to ask Rob why he included them when they no longer made sense.

    • Hang on Arck, just as the CH crew has every right to stay in 4e for whatever reasons, the fans of the show have the right to complain about that decision on the message boards. Just because they are immensely talented does not mean that every decision they make is perfect and above critique.

      I play 5e now (and only got back into D&D last year after a 15 year break because of this podcast), and would love to see the best role playing group in podcasts move to that edition, for several reasons, but that decision is not up to me.

      I disagree with you on Rodrigo’s “excellent” stated reasons for not moving to 5e. I see them as excuses for the following reasons.
      1. I have absolutely no doubt that if Rodrigo wanted to move to 5e, he could find a fascinatingly creative and in world explanation for the changes to the world that the players and listeners would all accept. It could easily be tied to the consequences of Spuds rise to power and destruction, for example.
      2. Rodrigo has stated over and over that they would stay in 4e as long as they were telling Orem’s story. This would have been an excellent place to end that story. Continuing Orem’s story at this point feels, to me, like an excuse to stay in 4e. Let Orem, Torq, Randus and Ket become NPCs in a new generation of character’s adventures.

      And this does bring up my one major criticism of the show in general and Rodrigo’s DMing in general. Character death is not a true threat in this game, it is a planned event. Part of what makes the RNG of 5th fun for me is that when you thrown your character into combat, there is a real chance that they won’t make it out of the other side. I love the fact that Rise of Tiamat starts with a warning to the players to not expect every PC to make it through the adventure. To me, that adds to the tension of play and is an element that is sorely lacking in CH. That’s not to say that the story that has been told so far isn’t a fantastic one, it has been for 5 years, and maybe what Rodrigo has planned next will be so compelling that it won’t matter, if so, I will be listening. But if it’s 5 more years of slogging thru 3 hour combats that I know the characters will win just so Orem can make it all the way to level 30, count me as not interested (though willing to be surprised). In many ways it is similar to the way I feel about A Song of Ice and Fire, where the Plot Armor of certain characters has rendered the series impotent because of how long it has dragged on.

      I almost gave up CH in the second half of LotFW for these reasons, but stuck with it when it was announced that the endgame was in sight believing that it would be the end of those character’s story arcs. And they absolutely nailed the ending! And for that I thank this amazing team of players and podcasters.

      I am not saying any of this to shame/ridicule/ or threaten the CH crew. I am expressing my opinion, maybe one in the minority, maybe one in the majority, but a valid opinion either way and one I hope sparks additional discussion about this wonderful show and talented group of individuals behind it.

      • I agree with OB-1 that the ending of LotFW was a perfect point to end Orem’s story as Orem is focusing on the Feywild and to bring in new characters into the world that have to deal with the natural world post Spud. If this were the case I think the change to 5e could be implemented easily.

        I also agree that low level combat in 5e creates tension since PC death is a real possibility. In CH there have only been a few battles over the course of 288 episodes where any of the characters were in real danger of dying.

        My group has moved to 5e and I think 2-3 episodes of a single 4e combat is going to be tiresome as a listener. I used to be one of the listeners who enjoyed those long combat episodes but since I’ve made the transition and I see how easy and quick combat has become at our table I don’t think I’ll enjoy them as much moving forward.

        I’ve experienced both 4e and 5e combat through 11th level and to me 4e combat is like a strategy mini game. I personally feel 5e’s non power card combat style would go well with the CH teams role playing abilities. Rob stifled Mathew when he wanted to dive into the goblins to knock them down and Rob basically said no because it wasn’t in the PHB a la a “power card”.

  21. I’d like to start by thanking you guys for taking the time to put all these episodes out so that I can be entertained at work, on my drive, while I’m washing baby bottles, etc. I really appreciate it! I think you guys did a great job explaining your feelings in regards to 5e in this episode. It seemed well thought out and genuine. I have to say that I was bummed several weeks ago when you guys headed to cragmaw castle as I had to stop listening (my group stupidly went there last). But, we finished the pregen last week and now I’m all caught up! Yay! I know this is the wrong episode, but I’m also bummed to hear that Adriana won’t be around for the next season. I think that she adds a wonderfully different perspective, which can cause group chaos, which I love! I’m sure whoever takes over for her will also bring their own interesting take. The only criticism I have for the 5 e adventure, is one that has been brought up here several times already. Rob seemed either unprepared or uninterested in the pregen adventure. I’m not sure what it was, but it came across to me (and several others) as such. But, I’m not Rob and I wasn’t there. Perhaps he, like myself, doesn’t enjoy public speaking or “presenting.” I know when I have to present a topic/idea from a deck of powerpoint slides, I find myself reading the slides word for word, even though I know that doing so is a mistake. Take from that what you will. I just know that it didn’t sound like he was really “selling” this adventure in his tone. I can only compare it to what I know and I think my experience in my own group would have felt a lot different if my DM had sounded the same. Now I feel I’ve been way to critical of something I thoroughly enjoyed. I can’t wait to see what’s next and again, thank you all very much for the months of entertainment you’ve provided.

  22. I felt that the 5e system discussion and the adventure real-plays (as finished podcasts) had an overall negative tone in aggregate, which dilluded or overshadowed most of nuggets of critical analysis. There was no single negative instance or personality that really outweighed the others I recall, but in total I was not a fan of this series.

    I think I would have rather listened to a few podcasts breaking down 5e (Stephen-New to D&D, Rodrigo-4e, Rob-3.5/Paizo, Matthew-AD&D), a look at what Wotc was trying from their design goals wise, and if they succeeded. I would have wanted that critique, after the team played the starter box (off-mic), maybe even after the core books were rolled out.

  23. This was the first Critical Hit podcast where I actually yelled back at my speakers. I currently play and DM both 4e and 5e games, and i have my roots in AD&D 2e. For me, 5e was a breath of fresh air. I felt like the character building process was much richer than in 4e, though it did understandably take longer. I do feel as if it is harder to min/max in 5e, which could be why I find it refreshing.

    With respect to the module – I am currently running it and my players seem to be enjoying it. I read through the entire module ahead of time, and simply used it as a way to prepopulate a world with NPCs, plot hooks, dungeons, rewards, etc, rather than a page-by-page railroad of the game. I think that Rob did a good job with it, though more familiarity might have made things easier for the whole crew. My players are using the pregen characters, so they are all tied to the module right off the bat. I do not know if that would have helped or hindered the players in this event, as much of the frustration aired in this podcast seemed to be associated with feeling restricted.

    My frustration lay in the fact that I feel the crew did not give the game a fair shake, though much of that could be only because they did not get to level 3. A level 3 Malagog would have gotten to start getting “powers” for example, which could have changed how Matthew’s experience.

    Wizards has made some digital items available for free, like the players and DM’s guide – both of which allow a group to test the waters with 5e without paying a dime. I don’t know if Adrianna was aware of this or not at the time of recording, but that at least is a concession toward those who are unsure about trying the new edition. I would have loved to see what Trapdoor/Codename: Morningstar could have been, though honestly at this point I’d settle for simply an online character builder. I worry that my D&D Insider account is losing value day by day, and wonder if it will eventually convert to 5e tools or if that will be a separate model entirely.

    In the end, I enjoy both 4e and 5e equally, but differently. 4e is great for tactics play, but 5e feels much more enjoyable in the sandbox setting.

  24. Richard Hetrick on

    I was curious about 5th edition as I have not played D&D since 3rd edition so i found your podcast on iTunes and I have to say I spent an entire week listening to the 5th edition campaign at work. It was fun for me. It did get a little old with the character that Adrianna made. I understand that’s how her character was supposed to be but she could have toned it down a bit. I agree with some of the other posters on here that if you guys didn’t do the canned adventure and had a true chance to mold your own adventures it would have been more fun all around. Thank you guys for doing this podcast though. I am currently downloading the rest of the episodes on Itunes. I have a lot catching up to do!

  25. First i want to say i do fully enjoy your show and have just got caught up on all you episodes. In this one i found a few things i disagreed with.
    These things may have been said already, to be fully honest i am not about to spend the next 2+ hours reading all the above comments to make sure what i have to say wasn’t already said.

    1. Digital vs. Book- my concern with all digital is servers tend to get shut down as popularity fades. meaning now that 5e is here the time D&D insider for 4th is coming to an end, no new content, and eventually no website or servers. I support books as a need and digital as a nicety. ( all the stuff about digital piracy as good for sales, that is very hard to prove)

    2. The canned adventure- in Mines of phandelver the Rockseeker hook you guys started with was a suggestion in the adventure. if you start with Your group arrives in Phandilin because you heard about all the money and adventure they have, then you would find the abundance of side quest makes sense as you uncover the deeper plot.

    3. everything else i ether agreed with or understood the difference of opinion.

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