I'm enjoying the new 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons (notice its got D&D right there on the cover so that this trademark is reinforced). It's not perfect but its really good. The Players Handbook is good, the Monster Manual is well done. I like the advantage/disadvantage mechanism. I like the way characters level. The three strike death check is interesting. The way different damage works is fun. All in all it's well designed. Combat is interesting without being a slog and there are a bunch of ways you can punch things up with the simple combat mechanics. Character role playing isn't entrenched in the rules but it certainly doesn't get trampled by the rules either. You can play your character's style in combat without worrying too much about sub-optimal choices. There is a mechanism for helping or hindering enemies without actually attacking which is nice and lets someone play a true support type character without having it hurt the party - the proverbial klutz with a frying pan type. I'm eager to get my Dungeon Masters Guide to see just how the XP and campaign advice is put together, but so far this is top notch d20. I think it's the best version of D&D since AD&D, and probably only coming in second place because of the 'AD&D came first' slash nostalgia factor.
Our group is taking turns running a series of adventures to test out the game and I'm playing a wood elf Monk character (a good synergy) and having fun with it. He's still only second level, but so far it is fun playing him. I figure since the wood elf/ monk combo fits so well together, that in this campaign many wood elves are 'monks'. It's part of the wood elf culture. They would have a lot of Koans and monkish sayings that need to be sprinkled around the gameworld. Here is one:
The story of Crown of ThornsOnce long ago the great king Lonbarath, who was also called Crown of Thorns, came to the forest and happened upon a brook under a mighty oak. As he approached the brook to drink his fill, he noticed a person sitting in the low branch of the tree eating her meal. Lonbarath spoke, "Come down from your branch and fetch my water for I am the King Across the Sea." The person spoke not, but softly chewed. Lonbarath set his face and it was clear why he was called the Crown of Thorns. Again he called out, "I am the Lord of the Eagles and my army marches not an hour behind me, I require water and food, come down from your perch and serve me." Again the person spoke not. Truly angered by this Lonbarath drew himself up to a great size and shook the trunk of the great oak tree and roared, "I am the Keeper of the Eld Stone and rule all lands under the sun, you will serve me! Come down from that tree!" and the forest boomed with his mighty voice. Then, nimble as a squirrel, the person ran across the tree branches and struck the mighty king on his cheek. She spoke, "You will not be thirsty again King Across the Sea". Enraged beyond sense, Lonbarath reached out wildly to crush the person in his mighty hands. Quick as a sparrow, the person flew through the air and stuck him across his other cheek. "You will never go hungry so long as the sun shines O' Eagle Lord" she said. Unexpectedly Lonbarath felt his anger cooling but still he seethed, he reached up his hands to the sky one last time trying to catch the person, but she slipped between his fingers and at last stood in front of him on the ground. Slowly she reached out and put her hand on his trunk. Sleep now Stone Keeper and you will be well served all your days. And Lonbarath slept, his great roots deep in the earth and his great branches reaching to the sun.
And so even today many years after the Kingdom across the Sea has fallen, and many years after the Eagles have cast off their lords, and many years after that person passed into memory, the Crown of Thorns stands well satisfied beside the brook under the mighty oak.