D&D Next
or
WotC ate my 4E

This is the email discussion my D&D group has been having this morning.


Gonfei:

Thought I would post this hear in case anyone hasn't seen it.

http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4ll/20120109

5th edition is on the way, thoughts?


DM:

Hmm that seemed a bit quick but I guess 5 years is the same amount of time between 3.5 and 4.

I don't know... I really like reading about game theory, I find it all interesting. Particuarly articles by Mike Mearls, he's a clever guy, he's been playing rpgs for 30 years and still seems to think they can be made better and better. Which is a great thing really.

But it's so hard not to react cynically when you consider the money people have spent getting even the basics of 2 DM guides, 3 PH books and 3 MMs.

So yeah I think I'll have fun following its development from the sidelines while trying not to think about the potential influence that massive publishing companies may have had on this decision.

In a way I guess that new editions are always a positive thing? It's not like anyone ever breaks into our houses and destroys all our previous books and adventures, we can always continue with them. An influx of new ideas is welcome.


Thom (me):

The zeitgeist seems to be that the system will probably be fine and dandy, Wizards dropped the ball with 4E by failing to support it properly even though the system itself works well as intended, and no one wants to face another damned version war; the community's already fractured enough as it is.


Korgul (R.I.P):

I am surprised that WotC waited 5years for this. I heard an interview with some guy who worked on DnD at TSR & WotC from 3 - 4 and he said the release structure is what bankrupted TSR. WotC ability to redesign and therefore resell DnD is what made it profitable.


Thom:

They didn't exactly wait. There was the trickled release of "core" 4E books, then there was essentials which is basically 4.5. They've managed to keep it almost fresh, and halved the usual product cycle time for a D&D release.


Gonfei:

Monte Cook, one of the lead designers of 3rd edition has been re-hired to help with 5e. I really hope WotC don't plan on reverting back to 3.5 style D&D just because Pathfinder has been doing really well in the last 6 months.


Thom:

I think there's actually a big chance of that. The version wars started because "everyone" "loved" 3/3.5, then 4E "floundered" while Pathfinder "flourished", and now 5E is apparently going to be highly community-driven, which means the vocal *ority (the ones who started the version war, and boycotted 4E, and play Pathfinder) will get a lot of airtime.

I personally hope they don't do that. Pathfinder already does. I want something like 4E, but maybe a little more crunchy.

Note: I didn't mean "crunchy as opposed to fluffy", I meant "crunchy as opposed to smooth" i.e. over-balanced and uniform, like 4E. I adore fluff.


DM:

Actually come to think of it I'm really interested to see which areas they decide to redesign. Like Thom said there's no part of 4th edition that you'd really say are broken, it all works fine. It just depends on which areas they decide can be more fun or more creative than they currently are.

Personally I'd be happy with the same basic system with a revised system for damage, wounding, health and healing. And a different take on minions. And I'd also like for skills to be a much bigger focus for the game.

Maybe they could use a skill tree system? As you progress in levels you choose areas within your skills to focus on and gain new actions/powers?

But I guess they'll probably be going for more of an overhaul feel than just tweaking. Or maybe not?


Gonfei:

Nobody really knows anything at this point, it's all just speculation. I am worried about how much they will listen to the community though, too many people have "good ideas" that they really haven't thought through. And like thom said, often times the most vocal people are the ones who are complaining. I really hope the designers can differentiate between what people say they want, what they are actually looking for, and people who just want their favorite game to have the D&D logo on it.


Korgul:

It sounds like they want a rules system that pleases everybody, but that means it will please nobody

Whatever happens I will buy the book when it comes out as I am sure many other people will


Thom:

BookS.


DM:

Yeah that would be the biggest shame, if they try and emulate a product that already exists, purely for the sake of competition. Surely the community would much rather a variety of systems than every game trying to be the same thing?

I guess that's the thing about community engagement though; they'll get a whole lot of conflicting opinions about the game to sort through, mostly from the kind of vocal people that *know* that everyone else is playing games wrong, and must be saved.

And those opinions aren't really about making a new style of game, those gamers probably plan on continuing to play Pathfinder anyway, so any advice that comes from that group will only really distort the ideas that everyone else has for a game that would be truely new

...

Pretty much what Gonfei said 20 minutes ago, I had that email ready to send then got distracted by birthday cupcakes.


⟨ off-topic for a bit ⟩


DM:

[...] does anyone else get the feeling that soon were going to be hearing a lot of very familiar promises about a new era of digital tools in d&d?

"5th edition will even include a revolutionary digital tabletop that will let you design dungeons and play with people over the internet using 3d rendered maps and creatures"..... ORLY?

...

That was an imaginary quote by the way, I haven't heard anyone actually say that yet, but I have a feeling it's coming soon.


Korgul:

There are 3rd party tools that provide that kind of experience already. I undetstand that remote play in a virtual table top is quite popular in the US. WotC would want to cash in on that.


DM:

Yeah other people have put out similar tools lately, the joke is that these features were all promises of what 4th edition would include when it launched. They never eventualised, people stopped asking after a while and I have a sneaking suspiscion that we'll now get the same set of tools readvertised as a shiny new feature of 5th ed.

It'll be good to have all those different options at last, but yeah it would be a bit rich if they sell 5th ed on products that people were expecting to get when they bought their first subscription to d&d insider.


Shreth:

I think my thoughts have already been said by others so here:
http://www.gamesradar.com/randy-dragon/
Skyrim Mod video.


Korgul:

I like shreths comment best.

The Wwebs will be thick with flame wars for the next year on this issue. Then full of bitter gamers longing for there beloved 4e


I don't know that it adds much to the discussion, except that we're discussing it (and I suppose that's yet more publicity for WotC). I guess we, like everyone else, are just waiting for more news, and are keen to see what plays out in the end.

... Matty /<


Matthew Kerwin

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