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Dragging Into the Dungeon

So in case you haven’t heard the news, there’s officially another new edition of D&D in the works. I’ve been largely indifferent to the news for a variety of reasons that have more to do with my trust (or lack thereof) for WotC’s commitment to it than anything to do with the “dream team” of designers they pulled together to work on it or my feelings towards D&D/gaming generally.

That said, I did feel some glimmerings of interest today, as the Critical Hits Twitter feed live-tweeted a chat happening on the WotC website. You can find a pretty good summary of the key points on Trollish Delver, except for what I actually thought was the most potentially interesting aspect of it: namely the concept of modular design.

The model the development team is going with is a very simple, streamlined “core game,” with all sorts of add-on “modules” you can use or ignore at will. Like a crunchy, tactical game? Add the “miniatures mode” rules. Prefer a skill-heavy, intriguey game? Add the “story mode” rules. etc.

This is a big, ambitious idea and in a lot of ways the perfect cure for what made 4E such a debacle, if they can pull it off. My experience with 4E was that it “allowed” other modes of play beside miniature-pushing, but it certainly didn’t “support” or “encourage” them. This also dovetails nicely with the points mentioned in the Trollish Delver summary about getting away from “copy-and-paste” characters and making a broader, more diversified art style.

There was a definite vibe in 4E that “All OTT Action All the Time! With Flying Chainsaws and Explosions and Veins Popping In Your Forehead!!!” was the only way to play the game, and everything else was doin’ it wrong — much to the annoyance of the large swaths of gamers who (like me) didn’t particularly want to play it that way.

Anyhow, I’m not exactly ready to jump back on the D&D train yet. As I say, my issues largely stem from a fundamental distrust of WotC, who in response to directives from Hasbro freaked out and blasted the game I once loved into something barely recognizable. Honestly, I don’t like there being as much money involved in D&D as there is, because that always causes people to turn greedy and stupid.

However, I am warming up to at least the concepts driving the new edition. It’d take a lot to make me willing to switch from Pathfinder at this stage, especially given the fact that I’m not actively running anything at the moment, but I am now at least interested in hearing more about it.

-The Gneech

Originally published at gneech.com. You can comment here or there.

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
barberio
Jan. 26th, 2012 11:13 pm (UTC)
So there will be a Generic core book, that allows for Universal rules that let's you mix and match the Role Playing flavours you want in your System. A Generic Universal Role Playing System so to speak? I recall something of that kind being tried before by someone...
harper_knight
Jan. 27th, 2012 12:00 am (UTC)
Heeeeey.. have you played/GMed that Generic system in question?

I've been starting to write a space-opera game to offer when my uni gaming club gets back together in the semester, and GURPS seems like *the* system to use for a setting that is mostly space opera with a bit of magic and horror thrown in for good measure.

The only problem is, I have never used or played in it before, and it isn't very popular in this area, so not many of my prospective players will have used it either. Is it easy to get used to?
barberio
Jan. 27th, 2012 01:07 am (UTC)
A little. I suspect that now'r days, the similarities between GURPS and DnD will cause more confusion than the differences. One main problem is source book compatibility with each other, and really needing to closely vet the created characters in deciding what to allow...
melchar
Jan. 27th, 2012 03:27 am (UTC)
IMO GURPS characters are too fragile unless they are pointed up to all get out. Modifying 'Champions' rules makes the PCs too rubbery - until there's a killing attack that rolls high dice and then they die. I think that Traveller is the best system for sf roleplay.

So what sf rpg do I referee? 'Space Opera' - a game sold by FGU in 1980. I fouund it before 'Traveller' and modified it heavily, giving it a Humanx Commonwealth setting. Years later GURPS actually came out with a Humanx rule setting booklet that I very much like.
harper_knight
Jan. 26th, 2012 11:56 pm (UTC)
As someone who played 4th ed with a very.. mixed attitude group (about 1/3 doorkickers, 1/3 people who never really grasped the mechanics, ie. perma-noobs, and 1/3 people interested in a real story, ie. myself and one older guy who has been gaming for nearly forever).

I still think 4th ed is just fine for people who like some real role in their roleplaying. I've never really liked a system to be rule-heavy in non-combat interactions anyway. And yes, WotC's attitude was very 'doorkicking yay', BUT on the other hand I've never listened to their crazy-ass opinions anyway. Why should the people who just made the system have any input in how people want to use it? That's just silly.
kelbob
Jan. 27th, 2012 02:40 am (UTC)
I run both 4E and Pathfinder, and I find that most people who liked 3.5 enjoy Pathfinder and can pick it up rather easily.
As to a simple universal system you can just pick up and use for everything. Well I run Savage Worlds. Love the system, love the settings and love price point for the base book. Explorers edition is only $10. That is a small softcover of it, complete book just a little smaller.
Hope you find the game for you, and have some fun out there.
aersad
Jan. 27th, 2012 01:58 pm (UTC)
When they introduced the D20 system the concept of a core game and modular extentions was born. Just look at all the in house games and Open Game License creations from other companies for all those years.

Whe 4th Ed came along I saw WotC definately went in favor of the players favoring a more minis oriented system, fast, simple play with a coating of roleplay on it. I was a little put off by the concept especially since I bought all the 3Ed books but it turned out we were having fun with 4th.

Essentials was 4th split up into two book with SLIGHT rule changes and races and classes separated merely to sell two books. This was Hasbro very obviously just making money for nothing. At least there is enough the same between 4th ED and Essentials that we can play together.

Gneech's description of fifth is 'change it enough so everyone has to throw out 4th and buy all new'. There wasn't much time between 4 and 5 so this is Hasbro mlking it faster and faster. Sorry, I can't afford buying a new edition every other year or maybe every year.
delphinios
Jan. 27th, 2012 06:54 pm (UTC)
I refuse to recognize anything past 3.5. To me, while this seems at the surface to be an attempt to move past "D&D Vista" as I like to call it, it comes off as just a new marketing ploy to sell a whole new set of brand new just-as-broken-to-play rulebooks. I mean, "Modules".
kesh
Jan. 27th, 2012 09:39 pm (UTC)
I'm wary of this new direction, just because it sounds like we're back to the old AD&D days, with Rules Options books everywhere. I'll give it a shot, but not holding my breath.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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