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Monday, 8th October, 2012, 12:38 PM #1
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Edition Wars – Does the edition you play really have an impact on the game?
The below was going to be handed into morrus as a pilot for a weekly article i wanted to start writing that looks into the cliches and myths in gaming but i fear time and my incredibly awful English would stop me from being able to hand one in every week. So i have instead posted it here to see if people enjoy reading my thoughts and see if anyone agrees with the points I raise.
Hope You enjoy
For the first 10 years of my gaming experience I was limited to a weekly game with my brother and father, always played with the same rules and does rules were always carried out by the same Dungeon Master. I may look back with rose tinted glasses but I remember us rarely having any issues. Other than the dungeon master none of us even knew what edition we were playing. I didn’t even know how the rules worked. I would just inform my father that I wanted to slash open the goblins guts or swim across the raging river and he would tell me what dice to roll and where to look on my very vague character sheet.
In around 2008 my interest in role-playing had reached its peak and I begun quite religiously reading the forums here on En-world just in time to arrive for the release of 4th edition and the start of the edition wars, something I hope to take a look at here.
Coming to these boards opened my mind to a whole new world and encouraged me to decide and go out and buy my own copy of the rulebooks. Normally this would think this a great thing, a young boy so infused by his hobby that he wants to learn more about the game he loves, sadly in my experience this was not the case. The first hurdle I came too was discovering there were 4 different versions of the game I was playing and more splat books than I would have ever imagined. For various reasons, the main being availability in my area, I ended up buying the 3 core books for 3.5, the edition that I very loosely follow to this day.
I can still remember how exited I was when I got them home. I must of read them all, including the monster manual, cover to cover at least 10 times. As you can imagine by the time it came round to our next weekly game I was buzzing to tell my dad all about the new rules and asked if we could use them. He of course agreed and even spent the time finding an online character generator with me (e-tools) so that we could fit all the new rules on our character sheets.
I remember the session that followed being the most depressing game of D&D I ever played and until this day wish I could apologise to my dad in some way. I remember telling him he had done every monster wrong, constantly reminded him of my class trait that gave +1 damage and in general arguing with him constantly as I felt I knew the rules better. It became more important for me that we played the game properly and by the book than whether I was enjoying it or if the story line was gripping.
The next year of gaming for us followed a very similar pattern to that game until my dad finally decided he had had enough of it and our game that had lasted most of a lifetime came to an end. We did eventually sit down to play another game, I had tempted my dad back with the idea of trying out 4E. All 3 of us subscribed to D&D Insider, generated our characters and set out ready for another adventure.
The one rule my dad had given us for playing was that none of us where to read the rules before playing, as to avoid the issues that had stopped us playing together in the first place.
At first it worked well, none of us were to fond of the encounter based combat and the default setting of 4ED early modules but my Dad was a strong enough DM to work with these new rules and with slight tweeks to the written material provided us with an amazing adventure that really got us exited about playing again. Unfortunately however it was doomed to not last, with the invention of the internet it was far to easy and tempting for me to get my own copy of 4E and read all of the edition war threads on the internet and discover I was a die hard 3.5 fan – and so the war begun anew in our house. My dad refusing to play 3.5 due to my behavior, me refusing to play 4ED because of the mechanics, ignoring the fact we had already played an amazing adventure using 4ED rules!
That was the ending of my gaming career until quite recently. A friend of mine approached me asking if I would DM a game for him, his brother and a group of his friends. They are all die hard warhammer fans that had heard of D&D and were interested in giving it a go but had no idea how it all worked! I jumped at the chance and decided to bring my brother along too. The game that has developed out of it has been an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything and has grown to a weekly game of at least 9 people. The simple way I have achieved this is by pretty much removing rules from the game. At no point have I told people what edition were playing and when people level up just talk to them about what they’d like their character to be able to do and then produce their character sheets centrally.
What I have found doing this has provided is people no longer focus on the rules and whether I’ve remembered their +1 damage from the bard singing but instead they focus on the story and come up with far more imaginative ways of dealing with situations. I find for a game of dungeons and dragons you do not need rules as anything but a guideline, something I’m sure Gary him self would agree with. To many rules do nothing but subtract from a game something I wish wizards of the coast would learn.
Now to the point, from the above experiences I have really come to learn that to argue which edition is better is entirely pointless. Every gaming table will have its own version of the rules they play any way! By allowing the rules to become so important your doing nothing but subtracting from your game as no system released to date is without glaring faults! I would strongly suggest that any new DM starting should review all 4 editions, find which seems to speak to him more and then move and edit from there. I would also suggest that in gaming we need to get back to the days were players weren’t even allowed to read the rulebooks! It seems silly but rules do nothing but limit the imagination and are there for the DM to worry about.
I truly believe that a better business model for wizards to follow would be to stop working on another pointless new edition and focus more on the material we actually care about and what made dungeons and dragons so brilliant, the settings! If wizards were to come forward and release completely edition free modules and settings like greyhawk with guidelines of the power levels of certain people I feel it would be a huge step in the right direction. They’d suddenly discover them selves appealing to the entire gaming market instead of trying to pigeon hole is into all playing the same way, something that is an incredibly poorly disguised attempt at turning Dungeons and Dragons into a souly online medium. The fan base just does not transfer in the way their hoping and they need to learn to accept that and stop going against the fan base.
Apologies for the incredibly long way of making the point but I feel the background helps people to understand where I’m coming from. I truly no longer understand how people can argue about editions when their an irrelevance to table top gaming and live in hope for the day wizards of the coast read this article and learn that lesson themselves. The way to unite the gamers again is not to release the perfect edition we all want to play, it’s to learn that edition and system is simply irrelevant!
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