RPG a Day 2023 – Smartest Game You’ve Ever Played

From a marketing and design perspective, Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. After 4e split the fan base, 5e reunited it by streamlining the game, resurrecting elements that people loved, and bounding the math so that bonus stacking (and the GM/player arms race it forced) was no longer a thing.

It runs fast at low, mid, and high levels, thanks in large part to the bounded math and the “one concentration spell at a time” rule. (in 3rd edition, picking ongoing spells to augment a strategy could take hours … and lead to a 3-round combat that also took hours).

It’s also easy to port monsters, spells, and magic items from earlier editions or games like Pathfinder. Sure, you may lose some complexity for your 3.x derived game elements … but the speed of play makes up for it.

It’s not a perfect game – Inspiration, as a mechanic, never gets used as much (or even remembered) as bennies in Savage Worlds or plot points in Cortex.

Still, it’s a great game and led to a resurgence of the hobby – heck not just a resurgence, but an explosion. D&D and role-playing went mainstream thanks to this edition … making it a very smart game indeed.

Featured Image Meta

Xanathar looks in on his pet goldfish, from the cover of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. Credit: Wizards of the Coast.

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