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Thread: Dear Mike & Monte
Tuesday, 27th December, 2011, 12:44 AM #1
The Great Druid (Lvl 17)
Dear Mike & Monte
The point of this thread is to provide a place for ENWorlders to post their wishes/requests/demands/hopes (and fears) about 5E...who knows, maybe Mike ( @mearls ) & Monte (Cook) will peek an occasional glance and even take some of our dreams to heart. I'll start.
Dear Mike & Monte,
My wishes, hopes and fears for 5E are relatively wide and varied, but rather than overload you with demands I'll keep it relatively simple with three hopes and one fear (for now!).
Hope 1: Toolbox D&D
One element that seems thoroughly lacking from 4E is what could be called the "toolbox approach." You, as the lucky folks who get to make a living off D&D, design a game and provide a bunch of tools for us to tinker with and customize to our hearts' content. I want to design classes, races, feats, powers, etc, but would like some guidance on how to do so in a balanced way. In other words, I want the building blocks, not just examples of ready-made buildings (or rather, in addition to that). Can you provide me with this?
To put it another way, I'd like to see D&D go "back to its roots" as a toolbox. Yes, have a core game that everyone pretty much follows as written. But this can be very simple, basic d20 stuff. After that, well, you provide the Legos and we'll set our imaginations to work.
(Speaking of Legos, my approach--and that of pretty much every Lego fan, past and present, that I've spoken with--was to make the "official" design once, then scrap it and add the pieces to the Lego Chest and make stuff up myself. That was the real joy of Legos)
Hope 2: Dial it Up (and Down) - Basic & Advanced
Related to the above, don't just tease us with this sexy "complexity dial" idea--make it happen! I want a simple, core game, one that is playable in and of itself with minimal Fiddly Bits. Think Castles & Crusades but 4E-style, or True20, or Talislanta...that sort of simple (in other words, "rules light-to-medium"), or even simpler at the very core (ala Fabled Lands).
After that, go hog wild. Provide options, modular options that we can pick and choose from. This is an extension of the Toolbox Approach. You build the parts, we'll put it together.
Hope 3: Bring the Magic back!
Something was lost in D&D over the years, and it wasn't just childhood wonder. While the Golden Age of scifi (and perhaps D&D) is 12 and there's no going back, such cosmic cycles come around again in a spiral-like fashion. The world falls into chaos and then a new Golden Age emerges. The Golden Age of AD&D fell with the Gygax departure and the "Satanic Scares" of the mid-80s, but then was reborn in the Golden Age of the 2E setting extravaganza in the early 90s. Then with the demise of TSR and the quiet years of the late 90s, a new Golden Age came once again with 3E and the OGL.
We didn't really get a Golden Age of 4E. It flamed up, sputtered, almost died, flared up again with some of the recent offerings, but isn't as bright as it could be.
I'm not just talking about bringing magic back in a big picture kind of way, but also the little stuff: e.g. magic items. Make magic items magical and wondrous again. Make arcane spellcasters arcane again--I want spell lists, long spell lists, with a wide variety of weird spells, not just homogenous at-will/encounter/daily powers that are interchangeable across roles and classes and power sources with an obviously formulaic structure that is all too transparent (for instance, you might as well say "5th Level Arcane Fire Burst Power" instead of "Fireball").
Disavow WoW. Say it again: Disavow WoW! What I mean by this is not to bag on the World of Warcraft (OK, maybe a little bit), but to remember D&D's roots and, most importantly of all, what sets it apart from computer games: it is a game about the free play of the imagination. The "game board" is notthe screen, notthe battlemat orthe Virtual Tabletop. Sure, those tools can be handy and fun; I'm not denying that or being a "Gamer Luddite" (aka Grognard), but I am saying that what makes D&D special and beloved is not how close it gleans to video games, but how it differs from them.
Gary Gygax once cited an anecdote in an interview in which he described a child being asked whether or not he liked radio or TV better; the child said "radio, because the pictures are better."
So remember: D&D is most fundamentally a game of imagination, not of simulation. Use technology and apps and virtual stuff and miniatures all you want, but--and here's the kicker--only as ways to accent the imagination; in other words, make them secondary and optional to the core experience.
Or, to quote myself from a couple years back: I want to use minis (on occasion), but I don't want to have to use minis.
Thank you for your time,
Mercurius, D&D player of 30 years
p.s. To Fellow EnWorlders: Your turn!
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