Thursday, January 26, 2012

More On Type V

Apparently, over on the "DnDNext" boards on the WotC website, there is a poll on what people want from the new edition. Crazy ideas like "healing surges" and "encounter powers" are winning in those polls, from what I hear. That's neat, but I wonder how WotC expected any other result on boards that have been colonized by 4E as a result of the marketing strategy that Hasbro/WotC has been pursuing.

So, if these polls are taken seriously at all, what we'll end up seeing is just another 4E. If that's a sound marketing move, then why is WotC even embarking in this direction in the first place? If D&D 5E looks like just another iteration of "computer rpg on the tabletop", why would they expect that to go over any better than 4E did? On the one hand, that should make Paizo happy (Pathfinder wouldn't lose any business that way), but on the other hand, WotC wouldn't regain any market share. On the gripping hand, there's OSRIC, Swords & Wizardry, Labyrinth Lord, Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Weird Fantasy Roleplaying, and so on, so who cares what happens with WotC? I mean, I'd like to have "D&D" back as a name, but ultimately names are just what we call things, not the things themselves.

I've been thinking about this matter, and here's still what I want from WotC that they haven't already given us: a reprint of Chainmail, the White Box, and the four supplements. That's it. They're already giving us reprints of 1E, now give us 0E.

Not that WotC is going to listen to a little blog like this one.


  1. I think (hope) they will take any such poll in proper context and not let it influence them disproportionately.

    So far it does sound like the designers have a strong idea of what they want and will do, and are just looking for some feedback to take into consideration. I don't think they are sitting around with nothing designed just waiting for poll results to tell them what to do with the game.

    There are apparently a set of playtest rules already, and I'm sure they have a good idea what the game needs to be for WotC to be successful financially and to try and repair the relationship with fans of the TSR editions, before WotC changed the feel of the gameplay. If there are things like healing surges, they will no doubt be optional... as keeping it a baseline simple game with different options and DM control is one of their stated goals. And I'd be ok with that.

    I do hope they don't try to sell me a 500 page rulebook with 25 pages of stuff I'll use and 475 pages of options I hate though. That will not be worth a buy from me.

    1. Yeah, that's what I'm hoping, too. But if that's not what we end up getting due to the 4E people being very vocal about "balance" and crap like that, it won't really affect me strongly. We've got options, is what I'm reaffirming. WotC have to work to get us back, and they have no one to blame but themselves. Heck, they're going to have to work to get the Pathfinder people back, and they're (effectively) playing a WotC edition.

  2. Like Mr. Anon, I think it's pretty clear that the game will be modular. The only major unknown is which parts will be considered core and which will be considered optional.

    For me, the buy heuristic will come down to chargen complexity. I don't want to have to be familiar with the whole rule book in order to make informed decisions about building a character. That, in my opinion, is the biggest shortcoming of 4E, and also the major divide among players: optimization or play what you get. (Interestingly, Pathfinder and 4E are both on the same side of that divide.)

    1. I think that there's another important rift, as well: associated mechanics and dissociated mechanics. If a mechanic represents something in the game world, that's one thing, but if it exists only for purposes of gameplay, that's another. "Encounter powers" are an example of this latter concept, and are (rightly, in my opinion) derided by those who prefer associated mechanics.

      I think back to games that I've enjoyed most, and the ones of those that had the most dissociated mechanics still made an effort to incorporate them into the background (TORG being a notable example, with its incorporation of hero point mechanics by positing a "Possibility Energy" in the setting). More "modern" games don't even seem to notice the incongruity of game considerations intruding on the fiction (or else they privilege "story", which is equally a mistake, in my opinion, but not relevant to a discussion of D&D).