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Saturday, 21st July, 2012, 04:30 AM #1
Superhero (Lvl 15)
With Respect to the Door and Expectations....The REAL Reason 5e Can't Unite the Base
Is because as this thread shows, though we've been loathe to admit it as a "gamer" community, we've never really been united in the first place.
I've spent some time lurking recently at RPG.net, and if that community's any indication, D&D as a whole is one of the least-well-regarded systems out there (at least from a mechanical standpoint).
I've also been thinking about the so called "edition wars," and why the 4e/3.x schism seemed to be particularly bad (though apparently the 1e/2e vs. 3e split was fairly divisive as well).
And I think maybe it's because the 4e / 3.x split finally put out in front of us, in the full daylight of blogs, forums, and chat rooms, something that we had maybe suspected but weren't really willing to admit to ourselves---That when it comes to D&D, rather than being "united" in our game of choice, we'd actually been demanding radically different things from E. Gary Gygax's magnum opus all along. The fact that it remained somewhat of the community's "lingua franca" for nearly 25 years is a testament to Gygax's original vision.
One reason the 4e / 3e split was so divisive, I think, is because when the 4e fans threw up their hands in joy and said, "FINALLY!!! CLASS BALANCE!!", all of us 3e fans went "Huh? Really? THIS is the game you wished you'd been playing for the past 25 years? Hmm. Didn't see that one coming." The concept that entire groups of players would so wholeheartedly embrace 4e's conventions seemed almost foreign to the 3.x-ers.....and the 4e-ers couldn't for the life of them figure out why the 3.x-ers couldn't see that the mechanical improvements were producing a "superior" style of game.
As a community we were forced to look across the table, across the room at our FLGS, and realize that what we assumed was a "shared D&D nationality" was more akin to groups of isolated city-states battling it out for territorial control. (I realize some of the more long-standing gamers probably came to that recognition long before 2008.)
D&D Next will not be a "commercial" failure by any stretch. It will certainly be as profitable as 4e. But I have a hard time seeing it really uniting the fanbase into this wonderful "Stepford Dungeon" community. There's too much competition--strong competition--from outside vendors now. We've all tasted what it's like to find a system tailored to us---and not the other way around.
Unless D&D Next can REALLY be as "modular" as they claim, it's really going to be nothing more than "another way to pretend to be an elf, kill orcs, and take their stuff." Not that there's anything wrong with that. I'm just not drinking the "TEAM UNITY!" kool-aid at the moment.Battling the worldwide midget infestation since 1987.....
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Saturday, 21st July, 2012, 04:41 AM #2
I think it's fair to say that someone playing 4e (or 1e, for that matter) is probably doing something virtually unrecognizable to me as an rpg (which is not a statement on the merits of that activity). They're going the right direction with the concept of customizable rules and modularity, but they're a long way from achieving a game that works for all these different people and different mentalities.
"Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose"
Saturday, 21st July, 2012, 05:00 AM #3
The Great Druid (Lvl 17)
It was a thought creeping up on me as 3E launched that the divisions ran deep. Those that thought 2E settings were the cat's meow didn't like all kinds of stuff that I liked in 3E. As the started talking about Next, all doubt was removed. I even said as much in the other thread you referenced.
Saturday, 21st July, 2012, 05:15 AM #4
Hydra (Lvl 25)
I know some folks will argue with me. But really, the folks who hang out on message boards and post are not your typical gamer. We are a small percentage of the gaming community as a whole. Most gamers play their games, but don't spend hours on the internet nitpicking them to heck and back like we do. That indicates that we are different - not representative of the whole. In statistics, the term is, "self-selected".
Now, I agree with your original posit - that we haven't been united for a very long time. But that's only in a sense. I think we've almost never been entirely united in playstyle. Each group picked up the original books, and did their own thing with them, with some apprenticeship-style handing down of tendencies.
But, way back then, we managed to do those different styles with basically one core set of rules, that we each mangled to fit our needs. Eventually, different games of well-considered rules came up to fit our needs better than we could do ourselves, and then we became fractured not just in style, but in market.
Well, with "rules modules", it seems to me that WotC plans to hand us well-considered ways to mangle our games to fit our needs, thus giving us a route to the market unity we used to have, while not forcing a style unity on us.
As I've said with this at other times - this is a tall order. It requires they be extraordinarily clever. Possibly more clever than any game designers before them. I am not sure they can pull it off. But, if they do pull it off, I think it will be quite impressive.
Saturday, 21st July, 2012, 05:28 AM #5
Hydra (Lvl 25)
They're still playing at being frakkin' elf. That elf's powers are structured differently, but it's still a darned elf. You know, pointy ears, snooty attitude, waves around a longsword, spells, or arrows, thinks dwarves smell funnily of mushrooms? Yeah, and elf. And he's still pretending to be it, sticking that sword or arrow into a troll...
I'm sorry - that's not "unrecognizable" unless you put on horse blinders on what you consider "an rpg". If you're going to be narrow, there is nothing any game designer will ever be able to do for you, except by accident.
Do what you like in your game, but I honestly think we'd be better off if people freed their minds a little bit.
Saturday, 21st July, 2012, 05:33 AM #6
Magsman (Lvl 14)
Edit: Didn't notice that 1E was included in the quote as well. Yikes.
Saturday, 21st July, 2012, 05:48 AM #7
Speaking more broadly, I run fantasy games, but I never really got into an "old-school" or "dungeon-crawl" mode, so a lot of content that people use is foreign to me as well. Even by a very broad definition, I've probably run only a single-digit number of "dungeons" in over ten years of DMing. I remember reading the one published adventure I ever got (as a gift), which was Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, and I could not imagine what I would do with it. It didn't look like D&D at all. So if you're running "classic" D&D, that probably doesn't ring any bells to me either.
And yet, the games I run are full of tropes and D&D-isms; I definitely run D&D. So yes, there are some pretty substantive differences between different people's games, in my opinion.
I surely will. My mind's pretty open already though.Do what you like in your game, but I honestly think we'd be better off if people freed their minds a little bit.
"Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose"
Saturday, 21st July, 2012, 06:22 AM #8
Guide (Lvl 11)
Saturday, 21st July, 2012, 06:41 AM #9
Magsman (Lvl 14)
Saturday, 21st July, 2012, 07:28 AM #10
Enchanter (Lvl 12)
I'll agree that reaching 5E's goals are going to be a challenge. I liked 3E but I missed some things from previous editions quite a lot (initiative, spell interrupts) 1E made everyone more or less happy, and we just customized the game to our play style. As you said, it seems to me that 3E and 4E chose to customize to the preferences of different groups, in each case sacrificing some things to meet those ends. Making a game that the 3E preferred and 4E preferred groups both prefer to their current games is going to be really difficult.
"Enough screwing around. It's time to kill."