August Game of the Month – Dungeons & Dragons

The Game of the Month series highlights one of the many games in our library at Ravenwood Castle. We will briefly describe the game, how to play it, and why we like it.

Game: 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons

Publisher: Wizards of the Coast

Fifth Edition. D&D Next. Or just plain Dungeons & Dragons. Whatever you choose to call it, Wizards of the Coast is in the process of publishing the next version of that most quintessential of role playing games.

I’m personally very excited about this version. I started playing Dungeons and Dragons way back, when the only editions of the game were Basic and Expert. My groups progressed to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and eventually 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons before breaking up and going our separate ways.

I missed out on 3rd Edition entirely, and when I picked up the 4th Edition product a few years ago, I was surprised and frankly disappointed by the changes in the game. The game of imagination that I remembered had been turned into a miniatures based game. The 4th Edition rules seemed less concerned with creating an engaging story, and were more an exercise in moving miniatures around on a combat grid. There’s nothing wrong with that if it’s what you enjoy, but it wasn’t the game I remembered.

I played a few sessions of 5th Edition during it’s testing phase at GenCon last year, and am thrilled to report that with 5th Edition, Dungeons and Dragons returns to a much more free form, story driven style, similar to the games I grew up playing. To be fair 5th Edition is actually designed to be flexible enough to handle both styles of play. I did watch a few sessions being played that focused on tactical combat, so if moving miniatures is your thing they’ve still got you covered.

Wizards of the Coast released a Starter Set box for 5th Edition late last month, containing a basic rule book, a prewritten adventure, a set of dice and some pre-generated characters – everything new players need to get right into the game. For those more familiar with roleplaying games, the basic rules are available as a free download from The official Player’s Handbook will be released later this month, followed by the traditional Monster Manual and Dungeon Master’s Guide.

The 5th Edition rules have now joined the previous editions of Dungeons & Dragons on my personal bookshelf, and are already being put to use at Ravenwood Castle. We enjoyed an ad hoc guest-run session last month at Con in the Castle, and you can be sure that Dungeons & Dragons will officially be on the schedule for Hoop & Stick and our other upcoming conventions.

If you’re an old hand at role playing, I encourage you to check out the new system. If you’re interested in getting into the hobby, the new Starter Set is a great place to start.

And be sure to keep an eye out here on Quoth the Raven, there will almost certainly be some Dungeons & Dragons themed events coming up in the near future!

Jim Reed

Jim Reed is a lifelong gamer who started with the original red box Dungeons & Dragons. After spending 20 years in the corporate world, he decided it was high time that work be fun and struck out on his own. Jim now owns and operates Ravenwood Castle, and spends his days ensuring his guests have as much fun as he does.