D&D 5th Edition With Respect to the Door and Expectations....The REAL Reason 5e Can't Unite the Base - Page 4




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  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mustrum_Ridcully View Post
    It was malleable or as it was sometimes called "incoherent". That gave it a big fanbase because it could satisfy different play styles, even if required some house-ruling or ignoring some oddities. But at the same time, there were always people looking for a system that does what they like better.
    That's really the heart of the challenge, isn't it? Is there a sufficiently wide range of coherent but malleable mechanics, structure, and flavor in a product that stays near the heart of D&D to pull fans from multiple preferences into its orbit? And even if there such a set, can they find it?

    I'm fairly confident it's possible. I'm not as confident that it can be found in the first version that tries to get it--or that making it part way, that Hasbro will have the patience to let them continue.

 

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    Quote Originally Posted by innerdude View Post
    This a very salient point, and goes back to another mistake I think WotC has made with both late-era 3.x and 4e, namely that they continued to hold to the belief that to reach the kind of "mass appeal" they were craving, that D&D needed to be more of a cultural ecosystem than a stand-alone product, and that they could control that culture.
    Well, they are half right. I think that to reach really awesome sales, they do need to be more of a cultural ecosystem than a stand-alone product. You are correct that they cannot outright control that culture....

    ...so they need to learn how to be an active part of it so they can guide it somewhat, without having rock-hard control.

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    The other thing I don't think is in 5e's favor is that our natural divisions as players is actually pushing d20 game designs into vastly different directions. Almost all of the post-3.x variants are actually much more focused on pushing the game as far as possible into their system's designed "logical conclusion" within its genre.

    Having been exposed to a lot of new systems over the past 18 months, I've actually decided that 3.x / Pathfinder are actually somewhat "muddled" in their design scope. The system "works," mostly, but it definitely compromises much of d20's potential elegance AND sophistication by trying to take a "middle road" that can be recognizable as "D&D."

    In that light, I found myself a little more forgiving of 4e's design, because it definitely stopped trying to follow that middle road quite so much. 4e pushed D&D as far as it could around the "logical conclusion" that balanced tactical combat needed to play a much larger role in gameplay than any other version previously. The fact that I didn't like the result doesn't change the fact that it was also highly innovative.

    Fantasy Craft, on the other hand, takes the 3.x "core" to another "logical conclusion"--that if we're going to have all of these flexible, "crunchy" bits for characters to fiddle with, then let's make the most logical, sensible, balanced structure around that flexibility as we can--D&D sacred cows be damned. The result is indeed complex, but is both dynamic and coherent in ways that 3.x / Pathfinder can only dream about.

    Castles and Crusades (and to an extent, True20) go to the opposite "logical conclusion"--rather than focusing on options, d20 makes for a fast, solid, easy-to-master mechanic, and instead of being complex, d20-based systems should leverage that speed and simplicity to allow GMs to focus more on creating stories and settings.

    Adventurer, Conqueror, King takes AD&D1 father down one of Gygax's "logical conclusions" where characters higher than level 9 are no longer particularly dealing with "monsters in the moathouse," but are rulers of kingdoms and strongholds--and then specifically designing the rules to engage with that conclusion.

    Would any of these be "unrecognizable," as Ahnehnois suggests, to a typical RPG player? No, not really. But that doesn't change the fact that in very real ways these are different games, with different styles, feels, and aspirations; and playing against a game's "logical conclusion" typically results in a far less satisfying experience.

    Can D&D Next really emulate all of these styles effectively enough to get people on board? Or will it end up being a case of, "Well, D&D Next is okay, but System X does the same thing, only much better."

    I think the best case scenario is if D&D Next can emulate with 50-60% effectiveness other styles. I don't think it's enough to totally unite the fanbase. But it may be enough to get some "traction" in the OSR and Pathfinder communities.

    Sadly, I don't think 4th edition fans are going to get nearly enough of what they want, so it will be up to WotC to make good on their promises to not abandon 4th edition entirely, at least through DDI.
    Last edited by innerdude; Tuesday, 24th July, 2012 at 04:53 AM.
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  • #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Libramarian View Post
    Heh. Obviously this is vulnerable to self-selection bias. In my experience 4e has a tepid reception anywhere outside of the 4e community. My source for the indie community's reaction is All Discussions - Story Games : Tabletop Roleplaying 2.0. They seem pretty intrigued by old school D&D, and not at all into 4e.
    I should probably have expanded. Old School D&D is not the same to me as Classic D&D - and Indy players tend to favour tight, focussed games. Take D&D right back to Lake Geneva style and polish the rules a little, and the Indy crowd tend IME to be pretty interested. It's a tight, focussed game with an objective and that plays fast. I'm not sure you could sell a lot of them on Tomb of Horrors itself - but you certainly could on that style of play. Classic D&D on the other hand I consider to be AD&D or 3.X with a line that can't be traced back player by player to Gygax.

    4e is IME considered a decent game but not what the Indy players normally want. But AD&D? Ouch.

    Quote Originally Posted by jsaving View Post
    The funny thing is, though: not a single person in my Pathfinder group says Pathfinder is better-balanced than 4e. Rather, the complaint is that 4e's method of balance -- such as a rigid standardization of power acquisition and of the powers themselves -- bleached the system of flavor and removed many of the traditional 'hooks' that had drawn people into the game.

    So the idea that 4e fans are the only ones who favor balance -- as rpgnet would have one believe -- is a real red herring. And that being the case, there is hope, in my view at least, that the Next team can bridge many of the gaps that have emerged between elements of the gaming community.]
    I've written a long essay on the subject of what 4e fans would want to see in a 5e. And I don't think I referenced a single specific mechanic in the entire essay. Mechanics working is essential - specific mechanics? There are many ways of creating a game. And in all honesty, if the 4e we are playing now was the 4e as initially released I think the reception would have been vastly better. Also the first class I ever played was a PHB2 class - and by and large they were much better done than the PHB1 classes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by innerdude View Post
    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.
    I don't disagree.
    The problem with 4e is the limited play style, the limited range of campaigns and story emulation. If you want to play a heroic fantasy game with high magic and dungeons, then 4e is a really, really good choice. The problem is that isn't not the best game for everyone. And because it wasn't the best choice, people dismissed everything related to 4e. Suddenly good ideas such as class balance and choices in combat and the like became the purview of the enemy.

    It's human nature to oppose the road not taken. If you can buy a PS3 or Xbox but not both, so you justify your choice by continually deriding the other, finding reasons to hate.
    It's also very North American. The US is a culture of extremes, driving people to binary options: yes or no, left or right, red or blue, republican or democrat, north or south, right or wrong, with us or against us, star trek or star wars, TOS or TNG, apple or PC, Ford or Chevy, etc.
    And, of course, 3e or 4e.
    When, really, like any game system, you can play both when it suits you. If I ever run a game set in Dark Sun I'll probably use 4e because the two work so well together. But Ravenloft is a terrible fit and you might be better off with 3e. And Dragonlance is built on the conventions of 1e and the original adventures play best with that rule set.

    As you mention, the problem is luring people back to a generic rule set from games that cater to them. 4e players are the worst in this respect. They had THE game built for them, it fit them so well, and there was so much crunch for them. Contet was being produced on a daily basis at one point.
    Now they don't want to share. Look at all the threads rejecting even the slightest hint of older editions. Look at the reaction to Essentials that was still very, very 4e but had a dash of older edition design for flavour.
    Both sides will need to compromise for the base game, there needs to be a give and take.

    I don't see Next doing well. I foresee D&D Last. Not because the game won't be good, but because people are selfish and cannot share, because four years of favoring one play style spoiled an audience and they won't let go.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jester Canuck View Post
    Now they don't want to share. Look at all the threads rejecting even the slightest hint of older editions.
    Please link me to these threads. Because I can't think of any. I can think of a lot of threads saying "We don't want this hint of 4e in our game" (although to be fair most of them are from the same person). But I recall none from 4e saying we don't want any hint of anything different. On the other hand I recall a lot of threads and comments saying "4e does this better" (see monster design) or "If you're going to mention brutal and brutish five times, why not bite the bullet and just call the minotaur a brute?"

    I don't see Next doing well. I foresee D&D Last. Not because the game won't be good, but because people are selfish and cannot share, because four years of favoring one play style spoiled an audience and they won't let go.
    I forsee D&D Last too. But this isn't about sharing. It's about an incoherent game design with no actual target market or vision for what the game should be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    Please link me to these threads. Because I can't think of any. I can think of a lot of threads saying "We don't want this hint of 4e in our game" (although to be fair most of them are from the same person). But I recall none from 4e saying we don't want any hint of anything different. On the other hand I recall a lot of threads and comments saying "4e does this better" (see monster design) or "If you're going to mention brutal and brutish five times, why not bite the bullet and just call the minotaur a brute?"
    There's this one here:
    Who cares about Otiluke, Mordenkainen, Rary and whatever geezer names they trot out. - EN World: Your Daily RPG Magazine
    And on the WotC board:
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    Plus the innumerable comments about how D&D should "move forward not back" implying any change is positive progress and new ideas are inherently better. (Often, ironically, before complaining about bounded accuracy.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    I forsee D&D Last too. But this isn't about sharing. It's about an incoherent game design with no actual target market or vision for what the game should be.
    I don't see that at all. The design and philosophy isn't particularly incoherent. It's pretty simple actually: a streamlined basic game that is easily modified with many moduar rules and options. Rules by way of Lego. That's a pretty solid vision: targeting everyone who has played D&D. Instead of just targeting a small majority (or vocal large majority) and assuming everyone else will just follow along.
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    The Otiluke, Mordaniken, Rary, et. al. I'll grant. One thread about taste.

    As for not wanting the return of Linear Figher, Quadratic Wizard, that's not "any hint of older editions". That's a specific way older editions were simply badly designed. Gygax himself believed that class balance was a good thing and is on record as having introduced both weapon specialisation and the "overpowered" classes in Unearthed Arcana to deal with it.

    If Gygax himself called something a problem and tried to fix it twenty seven years ago, objecting to it being a design goal is not objecting to any hints of older editions. It is objecting to something Gygax beat down hard.

    Ultimately LFQW is a 3rd edition problem that had its seeds in classic D&D. But 3rd edition removed all the caps on it and took out almost all the balancing factors that moved the fighter above linear.

    And Vancian Magic - I'll put those 4e fans up against the designers of D&D Next - who are creating Vancian-only wizards. Despite the literal cheering at GenCon when it was announced Vancian magic had gone in 4e. So yes, 4e fans aren't perfect. I'll grant that. But compared to old school fans literally comparing innovations to nazi atrocities (OK, so that's the Pundit), and people literally wanting to prevent the DM tools in 4e existing even as optional rules, I'd argue that the 4e fans are the least like your claims.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    As for not wanting the return of Linear Figher, Quadratic Wizard, that's not "any hint of older editions". That's a specific way older editions were simply badly designed.
    ...
    Ultimately LFQW is a 3rd edition problem that had its seeds in classic D&D. But 3rd edition removed all the caps on it and took out almost all the balancing factors that moved the fighter above linear.
    Using that terminology kind of undermines your point. Whatever grain of truth there may be in that statement is rather drowned out by the anti-D&D sentiment implicit in it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a wizard that can teleport and disintegrate and have his wishes granted, and a fighter who just smashes things really well, even though that clearly is not balanced. There are definitely problems with D&D magic and D&D combat, but this kind of rhetoric did not help in fixing them. It leads to this:
    Quote Originally Posted by Jester Canuck
    Plus the innumerable comments about how D&D should "move forward not back" implying any change is positive progress and new ideas are inherently better.
    Which is a problem in the fanbase. A big problem.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    I forsee D&D Last too. But this isn't about sharing. It's about an incoherent game design with no actual target market or vision for what the game should be.
    There's a target market and a vision, I think. The vision is AD&D 2e, and the target market is people who played it, and earlier versions.

    It makes some sense: the edition war has soured the fans of 3.5/Pathfinder and 4e, so they aren't as good a market anymore; older versions of D&D /were/ the most popular in terms of sheer volume of units sold, so there's a proven demographic out there who did buy a lot of D&D at some point, all you have to do is push the right buttons to get them to do it again, and you can get that lightning to strike twice. Fads of any sort tend to come back when the kids that were into them reach a certain age, and the time to tap that enduring marketing phenomenon with regards to the D&D fad of the 80s is now.

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