Monday, January 9, 2012

5th edition Dungeons and Dragons Announced ...

Well 2/3s of the blogs I follow I'm sure are alight with discussion about this, honestly I haven't checked any of that yet. I've only seen the WoTC site stuff and had some discussion with friends on our local game group board.

To me I've been burned by WoTC many times and have a deep seated pessimissim about the future of D&D. I have to be honest about that up front. That said though, in my heart of hearts, I deeply wish these guys would get things right and return the franchise to happier days. I think tabletop RPG needs a unifying force, a brilliant gateway to new players, something beckoning people to try it out. I think we all need a good old standby RPG again. So I hope that this time we are given a system that the disparate groups from OSR, to the 3.5/Pathfinder purists, to the 4e fanboys ... can all rally around. That might sound impossible and I admit I have said as much on more than one occasion, but really it isn't impossible. It is very possible. There are already murmurings of a multifaceted system where one can add or take away layers of complexity. If they do really end up going that direction fully and they try to really be accommodating to the different groups. The deep story RP people, the crunchy mini based, grid based, combat people .. allowing people to take out the RP stuff or take out the need for grid and long, complex combats ... and have the game still be whole somehow. Well, that would indeed be something at least worth looking at for anyone who has in the past enjoyed D&D ... wouldn't it?

I ran across this comment on the WoTC board and as far as 4e and Forgotten Realms. Just a quote from

"I agree with progenitus5... as a major fan of FR I was horrified at how alien the setting became. (I do understand the necessity to eliminate the metagame from this setting... but there again a big stick is more apt!) FR in previous editions was a beautiful entity - the gem of the RPG world. 4e changed the feel of this - something which completely summarises this edition. 4e felt out of touch... failing to capture the true essence of the DnD experience. That, for me, was the gamebreaker. Jbennett, January 9, 2012"

Just a quote from a random dude without spell check turned on ... lol. But honestly I think that captures what is wrong with the game from my perspective as well. I felt this way about D&D since 2nd ed. Even in 2nd ed much of the stuff that came out lacked the spirit of original D&D.

Most of the years of 3.0-4e has just felt ... off ... for me. There were flashes of fun with those systems. Hell for about six months we had 4e going well and really thought we'd found a new favorite game, that was short lived though and we hit that inveterate wall in the system then shortly thereafter got hit over the head with the brick that essentials was. Honestly I know many folks out there didn't feel this way about 3.0-3.5 because its most of the D&D some people have played. So that IS D&D for some people. For me I recall a odd mix of basic/1st and 2nd as my first experiences with D&D way back in the days ... and I had several years of that ... then I stopped playing D&D for probably 10 or 12 years and came back to it in my mid 20s a little while after getting back into mini wargames. We had a few very good years of 2nd ed at the end of its run in my old gaming group and then ... 3.0 came out and I personally never got my D&D mojo back. I am a huge fan of miniature war games

To me D&D is at its core a fantasy RP game and settings filled with a sense of darkness and foreboding yet mixed with elements of frivolity, humor and heroism. When this is all done in a very interesting way it just creates wonder and magic unlike almost any other game can. It is from that diverse cocktail of stuff that people have woven endlessly entertaining games for decades. I hope they find a way to bring that back more than anything else. D&D losing its way has really been nothing but a bad thing for all tabletop gaming ... I think these impacts have extended even beyond just the RPG side of tabletop gaming to the entire tabletop gaming community.


Ok having read more blogs, more online chatter, my biggest question is 5th edition still a grid based game? That is the biggest question I have right now. I don't see how they'll be able to break away from the grid in post 3.0 world. The grid has been the source of a majority of the problems with post 2nd ed D&D (many of the problems with D&D do in fact have their roots in the mid to late run 2nd ed stuff). The grid is constraining and I say this as a historical wargamer, a decades long fan of Games Workshp games, etc. I love minis, I even have a special nostalgia for minis based D&D. But the grid based versions of D&D have lacked that special something I think in large part due to the big derailing, game interrupting nature of grid based, very complex combats. Story and RP defacto have to take a back seat in a grid based, crunchy combat game. I do not believe it will be possible to please all the various groups ... the deeper RP/Story folks on the OSR side AND the crunchy grid/minis based combat guys on the 3.0-pathfinder-4e side ... all at once. Yet that is what is being said is the aim of 5th ed. So I'm deeply intrigued to see how this seemingly impossible task is going to be pulled off ... this is either going to be a really historic game ... or one of the biggest flops we've ever seen. The stakes are high in nerdland :)


Lee Hadley said...

Great article and some interesting discussion. I love D&D and have been playing for 30+ years. But....

I really don't think you need 850 pages of core rulebooks to tell a good tale and have a fun game.

Many of those players that write on the forums seem more concerned with the complexities of the rules than telling a good story. Unfortunately (in my mind at least) these are the sort of people that WoTC seem to be recruiting to help develop 5th Edition.

The Lord of Excess said...

I agree. It think more than anything you hit on the big appeal of OSR. For me it isn't that I see those systems as superior, but just attractive for a busy life. Who has the time anymore to sit down with those fat tomes and learn so many rules. That is why games like Tunnels and Trolls, etc. just call to me. I know someday with my own kids when I DM games for them that is what I'll be using. In the meantime at least in my own home gaming group getting people to play those games is a tall order.

I really agree about who WoTC is going to draw on for 5th ed. Its all the guys who have invested huge amounts of time and money in 3.0-4e era D&D, guys who love the grid, guys who like 3 hour combats. Those guys are the ones who are going to drowned out common sense and sanity. I have little hope that 5th ed will be a great leap forward if WoTC listens to the fans too much.

Time will tell I guess ... but I have little hope that sanity will prevail.