Sunday, May 27, 2012

Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons

Ah.  Hi there.  Good.  I'm glad I got your attention.

Some of you may recognize the image over there as the one created as an April Fool joke back in 2011.  The reason I reposted it is really to just mess with your head.  Calm down everybody.  ;)

I've just finished reading through the D&D Next Playtest files.  I was planning to write a breakdown of my feeling about each and every bit of it.  I've got the notes right here - all my little scribbles and chicken scratching.

I'm not going to post them.  

Why?  Well, First off, I'm not sure exactly what I can say with the NDA - I need to read over that again as well - but honestly, It doesn't matter. No one really cares about all that minutia, anyway.  So, I'll keep to larger, more sweeping observations.

In reading the rules, and taking a peek at other peoples' writings on the matter, I think it goes like this:
  1. If you want to like the rules presented in the D&D Next Playtest, you will, and
  2. If you do not want to like the rules presented in the D&D Next Playtest, you won't.
It's really simple as that.  The ruleset is so basic, and the actual rules that would evoke interest or disgust are so absent from this playtest, that I think your mind will probably try to fill in the blanks with what it is expecting, for better or worse.

I'm not sure whether that is by design, or by accident.

So what do we really have here with the D&D Next playtest?  I see this is an attempt to emulate old school style play using the 'language' of modern role playing games.  There are a few mechanics that offer a different flavor - but none of them are too repulsive.  The whole Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic intrigues the hell out of me.  The en masse move of virtually all saving throws and checks to the Abilities appears to be wonderful.

I could see running the kind of D&D games I like to run with this very ruleset.  I could see sitting down with a bunch of young punk gamers in a book store get-together, playing with them, and not projectile vomiting all over their manuals.

The big thing that worries me is the creeping in of character customization and specialization.  Race - okay.  Class - sure.  Background - umm . . . well . . . hmm.  Theme - umm . . huh?  The character creation rules are absent from the playtest, so this minefield of a subject is just hinted at by the pre-gen character sheets.

Of course, I haven't playtested yet, so all my thoughts are worthless until put into action.  Since one of our GM's games is on hiatus at the moment, I'll be running a playtest starting Wednesday.  Crazy Ass Tim has got the lineup over on his awesome blog.  

One thing I'll remind ya'll is that you must sign the NDA to playtest.  This includes children.  The boy is under 13, so of course he can't sign anything at all legally - but WOTC has provided something for me to sign, which allows his to play and give feedback to them.

If WOTC keeps on going in a good direction with this, I see 5e as something I would play.  Not as my go-to game or anything, but as a game I could sit down with some kids and play without feeling the need for a shower. And really that what I am hoping for - a game that can get the punks and the grognards in the same room together - for at least a little while.  Of course, I am filling in the blanks with my hopes and expectations (and fears) - as we are wont to do with anything in life.

- Ark

P.S. - WOTC, if you are listening right now, why not take this simplified ruleset and publish it as BASIC D&D, then throw the kitchen sink in and publish that as ADVANCED D&D.  Completely foreign and bizarre idea, I know, but it just might work!

9 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Yeah AD&D! Wait - there were actually two of those. Hmmm.

      ;)

      - Ark

      Delete
  2. I'm not certain what 'kids' you are referring to man, but from what I read they pretty well hate it. I would say these come from a 16-25 y/o group:

    Any thoughts thus far?

    Looks pretty terrible. Fighters are once again "I attack!" monkeys and nothing more.

    Well, this isn't very good.

    I liked background as a built-in "here's your fluff and skillz", but otherwise one big pile of dreck.

    This is how I feel. It looks like 2e took some stuff from 3e and 4e. So far, what I've read makes the game look like crap.

    -----

    It goes on like that...some get more technical, but the mid period fans seem to be in the group mostly likely to like what they have seen so far-mid period 2e to 3.5 players. Just what I have observed.

    I wish I had time to do a full scale thing like I did for the DCCRPG beta last year. It was very interesting to watch the initial reactions against items eventually turn into the things people liked the most. And yes, I know my sales & marketing roots are showing :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I spent a bit of time tonight reading 5e reactions from 4e'ers. Holy crap. They are PISSED, aren't they? Almost as PISSED as I was when 2e came out. Man - I was angry as hell about that one.

      Didn't touch another D&D product for almost two decades.

      Funny. I play 2e now.

      Hysterical, in fact.

      But no - those aren't the kids I'm talking about. In time, those guys and gals will become known as the Lost Generation, bitter and unhappy that 'their' D&D was crippled and crushed by an uncaring corporation. In a couple of decades, they'll reconnect with like-minded people and rewrite the rules into a clean, non-copyrightable version and play the hell out of it, complaining all the while about the new whippersnapper games that pale in comparison to the glory that was 4e.

      No, the kids I'm talking about haven't played any version of D&D yet. Their first game will be 5e. And they'll love the hell out of it. And they will be SEVERELY honked off when 6e comes around. And if D&D Next is done right, they'll be far more comfortable as refugees at my ancient, decrepit table than the 4eRebirth one.

      :)

      - Ark

      Delete
    2. I see the development of each successive edition as equivalent to Sisyphus' task to roll a rock up a hill. Each edition collapses under its own weight once the critical mass of gamers has already bought all the core books they're ever going to need. Then the cycle begins anew. I loved playing 1st, I disliked 2nd, I skipped 3rd, I fell in love again with 4th, became dispirited with Essentials and have been happy (enough) with Pathfinder. What I've loved through all of them is the opportunity to experience an organic fantasy story constructed in varying degrees by each of the participants. I've loved a genre that enabled me to have friends during a time when I couldn't successfully socialize with anyone else. D&D is dead; Long live D&D!

      Delete
  3. Even Mearls mentioned (cannot recall the source) that for a more old-school session, remove Background and Theme. And I think if you do that, its a relatively solid set of quasi-old-quasi-new rules. As you stated, I think I could bear running them as a GM if enough people wanted to play them at a hobby or book store nearby.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It actually says you can do this (drop Background and Thems) for a more old school experience right on the character sheets, it's just in very tiny type. This is supposed to be the most early preview of the whole "rules module" concept where you have official switches you can turn off and on to get the sort of D&D you want out of the same core

      Delete
  4. You said:

    "The ruleset is so basic, and the actual rules that would evoke interest or disgust are so absent from this playtest, that I think your mind will probably try to fill in the blanks with what it is expecting, for better or worse."

    Save or Die and randomized hit points both evoke disgust from me, and are both present in the playtest, so I have to disagree.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I can see this as the blurb on the back of the PHB cover...

    D&D 5E: "I could see sitting down with a bunch of young punk gamers in a book store get-together, playing with them, and not projectile vomiting all over their manuals."

    This means it's good.

    But seriously, the problem I have is with people who don't like this game basically because it IS D&D. They apparently want a game that is different from D&D on a fundamental level. 4E gave them a lot of that and that's fine. I love 4E. But I also love D&D. Seems to me, a lot of die hard 4E fans are actually self described D&D haters. They hate 1E and 2E and even 3E. And don't even try to get them to play basic. Yet they love 4E and claim its D&D. How can they hate D&D and love 4E and claim they are the same game? It makes no sense to me. I at least recognize how different they truly are and love them both for their own merits. This is looking to have potential to be the best version of D&D yet.

    ReplyDelete