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Category: D&D 5e (Page 1 of 2)

Stan's 5e Rules Summary

Stan's 5e Rules Summary

Stan’s 5e Rules Summary

Here is a 5e rules summary in both landscape and portrait formats. First two pages I print out and hand to players (I use it as a DM as well). Third page is more oriented towards the DM. Basically I run 90% of my games using ONLY the rules on these three pages; seldom are there rules used which aren’t summarized here.

Works great on tablets, as printouts, or (if you have good eyesight) as inserts to customizable GM screens.

Let me know your comments. I’ll make this a living document and edit it to correct any issues, or add any big misses.




Change Log:

2014-11-19 Changes (will post by this weekend):

  • Links: Landscape: Portrait:
  • Updated Dash rule to read: ‘Dash: Move your speed as an action in addition to your normal move.’
  • Reworded “Healing” section to reduce redundant content describing stabilization rules.
  • Clarified Disengage to read ‘Disengage: Disengage as your action and your movement doesn’t provoke an opportunity attack.’ instead of 1/2 movement.
  • Updated ‘Under MOVING PAST FRIENDS AND FOES’ to add that another creature’s space is difficult terrain.
  • Added under CONCENTRATION that casting another spell only breaks concentration if the new spell also requires concentration.
  • Updated Hide action to read: “To hide, DEX (Stealth) check, opposed by passive WIS check of creature who might notice you, or active WIS check of creature actively searching for you. ” instead of using INT.
  • Updated Advantage/Disadvantage to read: “Dis/Advantage: For Advantage, roll 2d20, take better roll. For Disadvantage, take worse.”
  • Updated Vulnerability to read: “Vulnerability: If target has vulnerability to that type of damage, damage doubled.”


Used as inserts for a GM screen by a fan

Used as inserts for a GM screen by a fan


Stan's D&D 5e License Wish List

DnD-LicenseHere’s what I would like to see in the upcoming D&D license.

I’m thinking about this because Mike Mearls has mentioned a few times that Wizards is targeting to announce the plans for their licensing in the next couple of months, with the actual licensing for D&D products to be released next year. I’m guessing they are discussing what that license looks like now.

What do you think about my proposed features for the upcoming Wizards D&D license? Anything missing? Anything you would change? I’m hoping it has several components:

  • Commercial License that is not overly burdensome. A license that allows third parties to publish D&D products without great burden, but with a consistent quality and look and feel. Doesn’t have to be an OGL.[1. Savage Worlds (see and Cortex Plus (see have what I think are great commercial and fan based licenses and are what I’d love to see WOTC model their licensing on.]
  • Fan License that is short and easy to understand. Allow fans to publish non-profit work with a clear understanding of what they can and can’t do.[2. See footnote #1.]
  • Trade Dress for Fan work to include some sort of logo, free fonts and templates (like word docs) so fan works can have a consistent ‘feel’ to them (even if it is made distinct from commercial products).
  • Community Use Art Package with graphics like a map of the Forgotten Realms, representative iconic art from the PHB, DMG and MM, etc. Assets which the community is licensed to use within restrictions on fan based sites and personal use like blogs and game store advertisements (basically, adopting Paizo’s Community Use art package approach).
  • Direction for Fan Add-Ons to Commercial Products which would be clear license options for people who want to create free supplemental content for commercial WOTC products (for example, an extended NPC roster for HotDQ, an area map for some scene where the commercial product did not include a map, etc.).
  • License For Fan Conversions such converting older edition modules to 5e (e.g. converting 1e ‘Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh’ module to 5e stats), with guidance on what assets (such as using a thumbnail image of the module cover art) can be included in the fan work.
  • Remix Clause for Fan Works as a possible option for the fan license. Like the ‘BY-NC-SA 3.0 – Creative Commons’ license, I’d love to see the option to be able to adapt, remix, transform, and build upon other fan’s material, so long as I give the original author credit.
  • Fan Work Repository such as a section of the Wizards web site or a special forum where fans can post their fan works such as free add-ons for commercial products, module conversions, fan produced adventures using standardized fan trade dress, etc. Should be one, official place so that consumers have one place to look for all the resources they need. Participation in the repository is optional (i.e. a fan can post a fan work to their blog and never post it to the repository) but I suspect many would use the repository.

What do you think? I’d love to get your feedback.

Stan Shinn's 1e to 5e Combat Tracker

[UPDATED: Here is an updated version of my DnD 1e to 5e Conversion Tool I mention in the article below: DnD 1e to 5e Conversion Tool — 2015-11-01.pdf]

To convert a 1e monster to 5e, here’s a tool I’ve come up with. Please feel free to comment on ways to improve this. I’m sure the DMG will have some better specific guidance, but this will tide me over till November as I run some low-level 1e modules converted to 5e.

Here’s a video showing how to use the tool.

And here’s the PDF tool you can download for free. Aside from having the conversion table, it is a nice way to track combat, especially the theater-of-the-mind, grid-less style I prefer.

Is it perfect? Probably not. Love to hear your feedback if you have some tweaks to how to do this. Here’s how I came up with these stats: I took representative monsters with 1 – 8 HD from 1e and compared them to their equivalent stats in the Legacy of the Crystal Shard stats. I assumed the monster-to-hit for 1e was essentially +1 per HD. Doing some reverse engineering, I came up with the above math.


Here are the stat blocks I used for reference:

5e — 1d6 hp (3 avg), AC 13, +1/+2 To Hit, 1d6 – 1 DMG
1e — 1-1 HD, AC 6, +1 To Hi, 1d6 D

5e — 2d8 + 2 hp (11 avg), AC 13, +2/+4 To Hit, 1d12 + 2 DMG
1e — 1 HD, AC 6, +1 To Hit, 1d8 D

Giant Spider
5e — 3d10 hp (16 avg), AC 12, +3/+4 To Hit, 1d8 + 2 DMG
1e — 4 HD, AC 4, +4 To Hit, 1d8 D

5e — 4d10 + 8 hp (30 avg), AC 12. +4 To Hit, 1d6 + 3 DMG
1e — 4+4 HD, AC 6, +4 To Hit, 1d6 D

Brown Bear
5e — 5d10 + 10 hp (37 hp avg), AC 10, +5 To Hit, 2d6 + 4 D
1e — 5 HD, AC 6, +5 To Hit, 1d6 D

Air Elemental
5e — 7 HD (45 hp avg), AC 13, +5 To Hit, 2d6 + 2 D
1e — 8 HD, AC 2, +8 To Hit, 1d6 D

Running the original 1e stats through this method and comparing them back to the real 5e stats, you get this:

1e — 1-1 HD, AC 6, 1d6 D
Converted 5e — 1d8+1 HD (5 avg), AC 13, 1d6+1 D
Actual 5e — 1d6 hp (3 avg), AC 13, +1/+2 To Hit, 1d6 – 1 D

1e — 1 HD, AC 6, +1 To Hit, 1d8 D
Converted 5e — 1 HD, AC 13, +1 To Hit, 1d8+1 D
Actual 5e — 2d8 + 2 hp (11 avg), AC 13, +2/+4 To Hit, 1d12 + 2 DMG

Giant Spider
1e — 4 HD, AC 4, +4 To Hit, 1d8 D
Converted 5e — 4d8+8 (26 avg), AC 13, +4 To Hit, 1d8+4 D
Actual 5e — 3d10 hp (16 avg), AC 12, +4 To Hit, 1d8+2 D

1e — 4+4 HD, AC 6, +4 To Hit, 1d6 D
Converted 5e — 4+4 HD, AC 11, +4 To Hit, 1d6 + 4 D
Actual 5e — 4d10 + 8 hp (30 avg), AC 12. +4 To Hit, 1d6 + 3 DMG

Brown Bear
1e — 5 HD, AC 6, +5 To Hit, 1d6 D
Converted 5e — HD, AC 9, +5 To Hit, 1d6+5 D
Actual 5e — 5d10 + 10 hp (37 hp avg), AC 10, +5 To Hit, 2d6 + 4 D

Air Elemental
1e — 8 HD, AC 2, +8 To Hit, 1d6 D
Converted 5e — 8d8+5 hp (41 avg), AC 13, +5 To Hit, 1d6+5 D
Actual 5e — 7 HD (45 hp avg), AC 13, +5 To Hit, 2d6 + 2 D

 Works well enough for my purposes. Let me know your feedback! 🙂


Actual Play D&D 5e & 0e/1e Comparison

Game table before running the 5e game

Game table before running the 5e game

Quick Summary:

I’ve run the same 4 hour adventure twice using Swords & Wizardry White Box (a D&D 0e/White Box Retroclone) and now with the D&D 5th Edition Starter Set rules. Combat takes about the same amount of time regardless of system and there was very little difference in the speed or (in my opinion) the overall feel of the game.


A couple of years ago I wrote an adventure called “The Amulet of Shinkara.” I ran it at North Texas RPG Con and at a home game using Swords & Wizardry White Box rules. This page weekend I ran the adventure using the newly released D&D 5e Starter Set rules and pregens. Taking out time to assemble players, introduce characters, review rules, and time for breaks (which takes about 45-60 minutes for that), the actual real gameplay takes about 3 hours, regardless of edition. Altogether all game sessions ran about 4 hours including breaks and non-play time.

The Adventure

Even though this adventure is a mini-dungeon with several paths, in each of the three times I ran this game, people tend to go down the ‘wisest’ path (avoiding some dangerous looking doors and tunnels) and end up with the following the same seven encounters during the three hours:

  • Bridge and orc guard post (exploration)
  • Orc guard room (combat or negotiation)
  • Tunnels with chambers of orc women and children (combat or stealth)
  • Orc cook (roleplaying)
  • Garbage heap with broken ‘statues’ and rat swarm (exploration and combat)
  • Basilisk (combat)
  • Medusa (combat)

Combats generally took 10-15 minutes, regardless of edition. The final Basilisk/Medusa ‘boss’ scene runs about 30 minutes total, being essentially two back-to-back exploration/combat encounters strung together. In the 5e game, we ended up with four different combats during the three hours of roleplaying.

When I ran the 0e/1e games, I ran them at 3rd level. When I ran the 5e game, I started players at 1st level, then bumped them up to 2nd level after 1.5 hours (since it was a demo game). I don’t think the level differences had much effect on game speed.

In all game sessions, combat was theater-of-the-mind with no grid except for the last scene, which had a complex scene. For this last scene only I broke out the minis (and again, this was the same in all sessions).

General Impressions

I’ve been playing the 5e play test nearly weekly for about two years. I’ve played mostly at the 4th to 6th level range. I don’t think combat slows down a lot at higher levels; the HP progression and power curve are very flat, meaning combat time doesn’t ramp up dramatically the way it does in 3e or 4e. (Edit: this design technique is called ‘Bounded Accuracy’ — read more about this here. It’s a fairly amazing design technique in my opinion!).

In my 5e game, one player was new to tabletop RPGs — this game was his first time playing. We used the Starter Set pregens and rules but my custom adventure. The amazingly easy-to-use pre-gen sheets and clean, concise 30 page or so Rules booklet was the perfect thing for a newbie to pick up the game.

I noticed two differences in the feel of the 5e game:

Unlike 0e/1e, in 5e Magic Users and Clerics both have cantrips (minor at-will powers that don’t count against your spell slots). Both Magic Users and Clerics have an attack spell as part of their cantrips — Ray of Frost (Magic Users) or Sacred Flame (Cleric) — which do minor damage compared to fighters, but let the spell casters continue to use magic instead of using up spells and having to fall back, and do little save throwing a dagger. I like this feature — 5e has more satisfying play in my opinion vs. 0e/1e.

The other difference is the default lethality. 0e/1e is very lethal at low levels (or all levels, arguably). Gary Gygax in his later years started players at 3rd level just because of this lethality. 5e has ‘death saving throws’ so that if you fall to 0 HP (assuming you didn’t die outright due to damage from a single hit equal to your highest normal HP) you get death saving throws. Three successes mean you stabilize, three failures mean you really, truly die. I’ve been play testing for 2 years and had multiple situations where I was on the brink of death but managed to make the third saving throw. A great way to introduce suspense but minimize the actual odds of dying.

Now, many folks will like a more lethal game, or otherwise see these minor differences as something they don’t want in their game. Not to worry — the Dungeon Masters Guide (due out Nov.) will be essentially a ‘hackers’ guide with lots of dials to emulate the game feel of your choice, be it more lethal games, slower healing, slower XP/leveling, etc. In my opinion, having played all the versions of D&D, this it the most hackable, house-rulable version I’ve every seen.


My verdict? This is my favorite version of D&D. I loved 0e White Box and 1e. Didn’t play much 2nd edition. Played some 3.x and 4.x but both were too crunchy and miniatures oriented for my tastes. 5e is everything I liked about the original version, with improvements which I happen to like, and the option to house-rule away any differences not to my taste.

While it may not end up being everyone’s favorite edition, I would suggest it could at least become many people’s 2nd favorite edition. I really do think it delivers on the promise to bring people of many different play styles together at one game table in a very satisfying way. Also, in my opinion this is hands down the best introduction-to-tabletop-RPG product ever produced, easier even than the Pathfinder Beginner Box or old Red Box to ease new players into the hobby. Having a great, modern gateway system like this does the entire hobby a favor by introducing new players to the wonderful world of tabletop roleplaying.

D&D 5e Release Schedule


D&D 5e now has a release schedule. Below are the key dates, plus summaries about the Basic PDF and Player’s Handbook.

  • July 15th — Basic Dungeons & Dragons – 96 pages; free
  • July — Icons of the Realms Starter Miniatures Set – Minis for first two 5e adventures
  • August 19th — Players Handbook – 320 pages
  • August 19th — Hoard of the Dragon Queen Adventure – 96 pages. Level range: “The first book goes from level 1 to level 7 or 8 (depending on how the DM and players go through some sections).
  • September 30th — Monster Manual – 320 pages
  • October 21st — The Rise of Tiamat Adventure – 96 pages. Level range: This one goes from levels 8 to 15.
  • November 19th — Dungeon Master’s Guide – 320 pages
  • January 20th — Deluxe DM Screen


Basic D&D is a PDF that covers the core of the game. It’s the equivalent of the old D&D Rules Cyclopedia, though it doesn’t have quite the same scope (for example, it won’t go into detail on a setting). It runs from levels 1 to 20 and covers the cleric, fighter, rogue, and wizard, presenting what we view as the essential subclass for each. It also provides the dwarf, elf, halfling, and human as race options. In August, with the release of the Player’s Handbook, Basic D&D will expand to include the essential monsters, magic items, and DM rules needed to run the game, along with the rules for wilderness, dungeon, and urban adventuring. (The Starter Set already covers the aspects of these rules that you need to run the included campaign.) As WOTC introduces new storylines like Tyranny of Dragons, they’ll also make available free PDFs that provide all the rules and stats missing from Basic D&D needed to run the adventures tied into the story. The adventures released as part of Tyranny of Dragons are playable without requiring any of the core rulebooks or the Starter Set. With just the Basic Dungeons & Dragons rules, you can play D&D for years. (Source:

Classes in the PHB are Fighter, Rogue, Cleric, and Wizard], the Monk, Ranger, Paladin, Barbarian, Bard, Sorcerer, Warlock, and Druid.
Races are Human, Elf, Dwarf, Halfling, Half-Orc, Half-Elf, Gnome, Tiefling, and Dragonborn. Plus Drow as a subset of Elves – there are at least two rubraces per race. (Source:

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