The last couple of weeks have been somewhat fraught in real life – primarily illnesses and pressures of work. As a consolation present, Janet got me the D&D5 Players' Handbook (courtesy of Niche Comics who imported a handful of copies).
My initial impression of D&D5 was positive. My first skim through the full rulebook has not changed that. The character creation section emphasises characterisation and background over mechanics. The basic character sheet puts all the game mechanics into less than one side of A4 and then gives the rest of the sheet over to traits, personality, history, friends, allies, appearance, ideals and flaws. Not in a mechanistic style, either – these are matters for the player to come up with to flesh out each PC.
The mechanics system is simple and fast, and the baroque complexities of Pathfinder characters are replaced with simpler basic structures combined with variant suggestions that do not particularly rely on mechanics, more on how each character is played. The paladin, at third level, has to take an oath to confirm his or her outlook – but the oath can be one seeking vengeance or one seeking devotion to a deity. Suddenly we have two very different paladins.
Feats – which were becoming (IMHO) the bane of Pathfinder, are relegated to an optional rule, and greatly simplified in comparison to the vast number of detailed and complex Pathfinder feats.
The emphasis is on building characters, not complicated bundles of stats.
Artwork is less important, but I like the style for D&D5. Much more naturalistic, and also more sensible – just one example is a barbarian who is not clad in just a loincloth.
At the moment I think D&D5 looks better than any other iteration of D&D or similar RPGs I've seen (and I've seen a pretty wide range). So far I've only skimmed a tiny proportion of the PH, and we will have to await the DMG to get the overall picture, but thus far I like what I see.