D&D 4th Edition [Goodman/Dancey on 4E] RPGs in the 21st Century - towards another "generational peak" - Page 3





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  1. #21
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    ° Ignore tuxgeo
    Quote Originally Posted by Mercurius View Post
    . . .

    The point being, 5E HAS to be good, has to be wildly successful, has to break new ground and expand or--at the very least--re-invigorate the existing fan base and semi-retired fans. So a couple questions to ponder:

    1) WHEN is the right time for 5E?


    I would use the metaphor of surfing: if you jump on the wave too soon you'll just peeter out, if you wait too long you'll miss it; the timing has to be just right . . .

    2) WHAT sort of game should 5E be?

    Obviously it has to take advantage of computer technologies--D&D Insider is likely just the beginning, the awkward prototype. . . .

    So what do you think? The floor is yours
    a. Both Modular and Mutable: if the 1E DMG could contain a Random Dungeon Generator, then the 5E DMG should do five times as well: a Random Campaign Generator. (And if not in the DMG, then online.)

    b. Smart Power Cards. Currently, the 4E Power Cards don't use any currrent. They should. Let the 5E Power Cards have built-in circuitry, with solar cells for power and a LCD display for output, and connections for programming the cards with the right kinds of dice and pluses that you want to roll each time you use that power. To use the power, flip the card over and set it onto your "used" stack; the built-in sensor knows you have flipped it over and automatically displays the freshly-randomized new roll result on the LCD, located on the back side of the card from the power text.

    c. More insidious. (Leave Palpatine out of this, please.) Instead of a Starter Set that lets the user try the game one time only (because then that adventure has already been played out), WotC should release a Basic Set with reduced options but lots of pre-gens, most especially including lots of pre-generated adventure scenarios; and including sufficient char-gen rules for making custom characters. This would be more insidious because it would get the players hooked on playing the game with only that one set; then, when they want to play in more depth, they have their own reasons for buying more product.
    The hoped-for scenario among players' families is to have one Mom telling another, "We had some time, so we grabbed the D&D Basic Set and played that."
    The scenario that should be avoided at all costs is for one Mom to tell another, "I bought Junior the D&D Basic Set and he played with it for one week, then never touched it again."
    Here, replayability is key: without that, there is no good, customer-oriented reason for the product to exist. Word-of-mouth is crucial for that.
    My ideal for such a product would have the following specifications:
    (1). A single set of polyhedral dice. Just because it's traditional. Even if they only ever use the Smart Power Cards and never roll the darned things, those dice are geometrically fascinating.
    (2). One poster-map displaying a loose, generic cluster of town or village buildings and near environs on one side, and a wilderness scene on the other side. Have all of the buildings be of generic or rectangular shape, so their identities are not determined by shape. ("Today, this map represents the village of Grump'olm. This side of the map is North, and that narrow little creek runs across the Southwest corner. The farthest outlying building is the temple, not the smithy, because the people of Grump'olm like to separate their faith from their daily lives.") The poster-map should not be usable as a playing surface due to its being large-scale; the gamers would have to use something else for a battlemat.
    (3). One battlemat at 1" scale. Composition to be determined. Alternately, several small battlemats that can be taped side-to-side to make whatever size is called for in each adventure. (This latter approach would allow them to be limited to the size of the game box, and therefore always stay flat without needing to be rolled up for storage.)
    (4). Generic counters or tokens to represent the PCs' locations. Do not use 3D miniatures for this because of size and weight; but more importantly, because of cost. Recall that the game of Monopoly has its racecar and shoe and top hat and scottie dog, etc.; let the D&D Basic Set have scads of painted flat plastic tokens to represent the character classes they are using, plus enough plastic "clip" bases to hold the PC tokens upright. Tokens for doors and chests, etc., would also be nice.
    On this same point: have six tokens for each class that is included in the Basic Set, and distinguish one token of the same class from another by color. For example, include the Wizard class, and create six flat, plastic tokens that show one pose of the bust and arms of the "Adventuring Wizard" mini, but with different color schemes for each of six different wizards. That way, the players could all play Wizards at the same time if they wanted, but still could tell their characters apart. Or use poses of six different minis; that's really a business decision.
    (5). DM rules similar to the set that was included in 4E H1 and Starter Set. That was well received.
    (6). Player rules including character-generation of five included classes, five included races, and all powers up through some level that represents a natural stopping point. If 5E were scaled similarly to 4E, this should only go up to level five, because at that point the PC have learned exactly one new Utility, Encounter, and Daily power above character level one. (For 4E, I would have suggested Cleric, Fighter, Ranger, Rogue, Wizard classes, and Dwarf, Eladrin, Elf, Halfling, and Human races.)
    On this same point, also include the Advancement Table through level 5; and explain the reasons for creating a backstory for your character.
    (7). Two pre-generated characters of each one of the included classes, including one each of two different suggested builds. (That's one of the reasons I didn't include "Warlock" above: it has three suggested builds.)
    On this same point: Don't include character tokens showing the pregenerated characters! Keep the tokens largely generic, for reusability.
    (8). Feat rules. List most of the available Heroic Tier feats from the PHB. Leave out the race-specific and class-specific feats for the races and classes not included in the set. The list of feats could be a separate handout in fine print. Don't be afraid to use 6-pt. type to fit it onto a few pages: players won't need to read it often, and shouldn't need to read it during play.

    OK, I have rattled on enough about this for now. Those are my ideas for 5E.

 

  • #22
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    ° Ignore xechnao
    Quote Originally Posted by tomlib View Post
    I'm of the opinion that WotC must embrace the digital age. They should have a completely open license with a DDi Store where anyone can sell product at micro-transaction prices for which WotC takes a small cut.

    They should have licensed an existing Virtual Table Top and had a Live Games section of the DDi store where people could play (or just watch for free) their games for a small fee with anyone who joins or where WotC Certified GMs offer 24 hour a day games showcasing their latest product to anyone who wants to play.

    They should have had an Open Gaming License in place 18 months before the release of 4th Edition and avoided all Edition Wars by including everyone in a huge release party.

    The magazines should have been retired and articles should be ala cart at the DDi store.

    The Compendium was one of their few steps in the right direction to take advantage of the digital age.

    RPGs are not dead or dying but thriving, just in a different format with a different marketing strategy required.

    At least, in my opinion! :-)

    Happy Gaming,

    Tom
    A product should remind you and inspire you about the environment its functionality is dealing with. Wotc would shrink its market by doing what you are talking about. People would simply not tabletop game in such a format anymore: they would rather play some board game and as of a consequence D&D would be industrially crashed to the more fitting video games of the digital environment. DDI is and should be an add on to supplement and decorate the product environment. Not the starting point and ending point of your business.

  • #23
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    ° Ignore Herremann the Wise
    Hello Everyone,

    If WotC wanted to do something different and interesting for 5E, and that built upon the digital ground they are currently breaking they could do the following somewhat radical suggestion:

    - The PHB 5E is not a book. It is not even a digital document. It is a flat portable touchscreen colour display that connects not only to the internet but to other PHBs. In fact, it is not even really called a PHB. It is simply Dungeons and Dragons.
    - When you purchase the unit, you also pay for a subscription - be it a Player's subscription or a Dungeon Master's Subscription (which incorporates the Player's). This gives you all the basic material you need to get started as well as access to all the new material that comes out (so long as your subscription is in date and valid).
    - With your D&D unit, you can:
    **Peruse the various chapters of the "PHB"
    **Display your character sheet, have it automatically calculate and update any conditions as well as present and manage the various options available.
    **Have it communicate with other D&D units in your group, in particular the DM's unit which can communicate and adjust damage and conditions. Of course, this can be an option for full play mode. An alternative is still to have pen and paper and have the unit act in assist mode.
    **Provide and build upon the current utilities available in terms of character builders etc. All of which can either be updated per subscription or alternatively, special units may come out for an additional one off charge.

    In terms of the rules, this allows for more complexity and an enriched set of rules. While simplicity and elegance are kinda nice, I personally think they are over-rated. I'd love a bit of complexity back in the game.

    Anyway, a digital platform such as the above would certainly create enough buzz around it that the game could be introduced to a new generation. Maybe in 5 years, such D&D units would be cheap enough to produce or be somewhat subsidised as to make such an approach economically valid.

    Just my weird thought for the day.

    Best Regards
    Herremann the Wise
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    and a sense of humor was provided to console him for what he is.

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  • #24
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    ° Ignore ggroy
    Quote Originally Posted by Mercurius View Post
    I would use the metaphor of surfing: if you jump on the wave too soon you'll just peeter out, if you wait too long you'll miss it; the timing has to be just right (and you have to be able to handle the size of the wave you ride in on!). Obviously, with 4E only a year old, it is too soon to tell. But we can safely say it will be anywhere from 4 to about 10 years from now, my guess is in the 5-6 year range (again, taking into account the increased flow of information; the gap between 2E and 3E was 11 years, 3E and 4E 8 years, 4E to 5E 5-7 years?).

    So I'm thinking 2013 at the very earliest--a gap of only five years, which isn't as short as you think if there is no 4.5E and the publication schedule remains relatively tight and focused--and 2016 at the latest, a gap of eight years, with 2014-2015 being the most likely time.
    This time around, it appears WotC may be possibly trying to avoid a repeat of the 3.5E fallout by releasing a new Player's Handbook every year. I would guess that back in the 3E era, 3.5E ended up being an accumulation of numerous rules changes over a three year period from 2000 to early 2003. This time around, the rules changes so far have been placed in the last chapter of Player's Handbook 2, and probably subsequent future PHB's will also include the accumulated rules changes over the previous year before each PHB's release.

    Many of the 3.5E "Complete" books appear to be expansions of the older softcover 3E class books (ie. Sword and Fist, Tome and Blood, etc ...). I suppose some people were not fooled the second time around, and didn't bother picking up many of the "Complete" books. This time around it appears WotC is diving straight into the 4E "Power" books, in the same way the "Complete" books functioned for 3.5E. (There's even a "Martial Power 2" book planned for Feb 2010).

    I wouldn't be surprised if there's at least one "Power" book for each of the 4E power sources: martial, arcane, divine, primal, psionic, shadow, elemental. Looking back into the 3.5E catalog, there were eight "Complete" books released. This time around, one "Power" book for each power source along with the upcoming release of "Martial Power 2", is already eight books.

    These and other things may possibly avoid the release of a 4.5E. Sooner or later they will run out of ideas from 3E/3.5E books (and earlier editions) to "strip mine" for new 4E books.

    A definite sign of the end of the life for 4E/4.5E commercially, would be when a "4E Rules Compendium" book is finally released.
    Last edited by ggroy; Monday, 22nd June, 2009 at 03:04 AM.

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    ° Ignore MichaelSomething
    Quote Originally Posted by Mercurius View Post
    To me, there is a certain bankrupting of creativity that goes on in this endless cycle of “new edition, countless splat books glutting the market, lull, new edition, new splat books,” etc etc. It is like the Battlestar Galactica or Star Trek “re-envisionings.” Heck, they’re even re-making Alien, for Chrissake! My question is: Why not come up with a new franchise, a new science fiction universe? Why do we need the Forgotten Realms five years later, then twenty years later, then a hundred years later? What about a new campaign world? What a novel idea…But the truth of the matter is that most companies—most corporations, at least—take the easy way, the safe way, the way most likely to make guaranteed profit.
    Quote Originally Posted by TV Tropes
    Fans constantly clamor for more new characters, but no matter how well they are written, fans would still buy yet another comic with Wolverine or Batman, dooming most new books to barely 25 issues before being canceled.
    Unpleasable Fanbase - Television Tropes & Idioms

    There's plenty of new material out there if you're willing to look for it. The thing is, brand name easily attracts a lot of people. Should I start listing well done things that never become popular?

    Too Good To Last - Television Tropes & Idioms is a decent start.
    "At best and at worst, it is a waste of time." A Mormon bishop on Dungeons and Dragons

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    ° Ignore cdrcjsn
    The format that 5e will take is already present.

    DDI.

    An online, living ruleset that can be tweaked and adjusted for balance and content, exactly like all current MMOs. Really, the only thing missing from DDI is the fluff from the core books.

    Except in 10 years, most people will have easy access to it on even more powerful PDA/phones with 24/7 wifi access.
    A free online fantasy humor comic.

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    ° Ignore wedgeski
    Quote Originally Posted by Shemeska View Post
    If 3e is seen as a generational peak, and having attracted a new generation into the game (myself being in that group), one of the issues that 4e in my experience has going against it are the massive changes. I and however many other who just got into D&D with 3e found something we loved, and then the next edition changes a slew of basic things in the game, massively alters the flavor of some campaign settings, etc. It runs the risk of losing massive numbers of the same new generation that 3e attracted into the game in the first place.
    This is a reason *never* to change, never to try a new approach, never to innovate, and never to take risks. It's easier for me to say this because I like the new edition a whole lot, but I'm glad of the changes.
    What do you want to do now?
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  • #28
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    ° Ignore Drkfathr1
    Quote Originally Posted by Herremann the Wise View Post
    Hello Everyone,

    If WotC wanted to do something different and interesting for 5E, and that built upon the digital ground they are currently breaking they could do the following somewhat radical suggestion:

    - The PHB 5E is not a book. It is not even a digital document. It is a flat portable touchscreen colour display that connects not only to the internet but to other PHBs. In fact, it is not even really called a PHB. It is simply Dungeons and Dragons.
    - When you purchase the unit, you also pay for a subscription - be it a Player's subscription or a Dungeon Master's Subscription (which incorporates the Player's). This gives you all the basic material you need to get started as well as access to all the new material that comes out (so long as your subscription is in date and valid).
    - With your D&D unit, you can:
    **Peruse the various chapters of the "PHB"
    **Display your character sheet, have it automatically calculate and update any conditions as well as present and manage the various options available.
    **Have it communicate with other D&D units in your group, in particular the DM's unit which can communicate and adjust damage and conditions. Of course, this can be an option for full play mode. An alternative is still to have pen and paper and have the unit act in assist mode.
    **Provide and build upon the current utilities available in terms of character builders etc. All of which can either be updated per subscription or alternatively, special units may come out for an additional one off charge.

    In terms of the rules, this allows for more complexity and an enriched set of rules. While simplicity and elegance are kinda nice, I personally think they are over-rated. I'd love a bit of complexity back in the game.

    Anyway, a digital platform such as the above would certainly create enough buzz around it that the game could be introduced to a new generation. Maybe in 5 years, such D&D units would be cheap enough to produce or be somewhat subsidised as to make such an approach economically valid.

    Just my weird thought for the day.

    Best Regards
    Herremann the Wise

    I could see something like this too, but with the addition of a roll-out digital mat that displays the maps/terrain/characters/monsters. Everyone's D&D unit plugs into it. Or maybe some kind of a console system that just plugs into the tv and shows everything on there.

  • #29
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    ° Ignore Mallus
    Some random thoughts...

    D&D as a Kindle? Interesting and impractical. However, D&D-specific Kindle and iPhone apps (what can a Kindle do, exactly, as a platform... anyone have a rough idea?) would be nice.

    Any virtual tabletop solution needs to be simple and easily accessible. We don't need fancy animations and isometric 3D views. Think Scrabulous/Facebook apps. In fact, why not a Facebook app?

    The market for pen-and-paper role playing games will continue to shrink as new entertainment/socializing options enter the marketplace. There's simply more to do now than there was in 1982, and less leisure time to do it in.

    Market shrinkage isn't neccessarily a bad thing.

    Niche games can thrive in the marketplace, and the D&D brand has enough name recognition that it's in no danger of going away.

    However, the brand may be the wrong size to be owned by Hasbro.

    Embracing new technologies is clearly the way to go. But that in no way guarantees success or a particular level of success.

    But D&D can't be Wow. (for any number of reasons, and no, 4e does not represent D&D attempting to be WoW, or CoH, or any other MMORPG).
    "You should probably put your bandit hat on now. Personally, I- I don't have one, but I modified this tube sock." - Ash, Fantastic Mr. Fox.

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  • #30
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    ° Ignore Doug McCrae
    Quote Originally Posted by Mercurius View Post
    2) WHAT sort of game should 5E be?
    The Web 2.0 version of WoW. WoW with user generated content.

    Only problem is, 99.9% of fan fluff is crap. Morrowind has tons of user-created mods and literally *all* the fluff is utterly awful. Gaming fans tend to be geeky, techy sorts who can't write and can't create ideas unless they solely involve numbers. The crunch mods for Morrowind are fine though.

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