D&D 5E A neo-luddite's vision for 5e


(I originally posted this on my G+ stream, but it seems relevant to ENWorld, too.)

You know what I want to see in the new edition of D&D?

I want to see a game that is playable using nothing more than dice, paper, a pencil, and your imagination (and maybe some minis as an option).

I don't want any sort of web or app integration. I don't want to see that chargen benefits greatly from the use of software. I don't want to feel compelled to use a laptop at the game table. I don't want the most comprehensive rules reference tool to be a web app. And I don't want to play on a virtual table.

A huge part of my day is spent looking at a monitor, interacting with "pictures under glass", and communicating with people far away from me via tweets, email, and Facebook updates.

I don't want that when I game. I want to sit at a table with live human beings and talk to them face-to-face. I want to use a blank sheet of ruled filler paper as a character sheet. I want to draw maps on graph paper. And I want to roll dice. Lots and lots of dice.

Integrating D&D with online and computer-based tools begs the question of why not just play WoW. It makes the game less distinguishable from my day job. It's more hours sitting in front of a computer. If I use software to enhance my play in some way, I want that to be my choice.

I realize that I am in full cranky old man mode here, but the above has been rolling around my brain the last week or so, long before the WotC announcement. I am expressing it as my own preference, but honestly, I think that D&D (and RPGs in general) has a lot more to gain by differentiating itself from computer-based entertainments that it does by pandering to them.

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First Post
I completely agree with you.

For the record, I'm a 26-year-old grad student in biomedical science. This isn't an age thing.

Technology is fine, but it's not an integral part of D&D and should be left as a highly optional feature. Miniatures have historically been associated with D&D, but they are not an integral part of the game and should be highly optional addons. And there are too many rulebooks.

The problem is how to monetize the game without D&D Insider or a miniature line, but I suspect that if a really good basic game got out there, they'd be rolling in profit with a huge new customer base.
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First Post
Integrating D&D with online and computer-based tools begs the question of why not just play WoW.

But you know the answer to this. You must know.

No matter how many tools make the transition to the digital space, D&D will be a very different experience from WoW. There are thousands of DMs out there running games with digital integration, and they will tell you the same thing.


First Post
Most of all, I want a game simple enough so that it doesn't need computerized tools to make a character. I never felt comfortable making 4e pc's by hand.


First Post
I really do want to get away from the idea and need for minis in combat. I like mini combat, but 4E is mini combat or nothing, which is going too far.

On the other hand, I want fluid combat, where people move. AoOs (3.5 and 4E) plus 3.5's mechanic of the full attack need work or just plain elimination. Never really understood why archery and spells needed OAs. If a fighter who rummages in a bag for something or a pertrified character does not get one, then what is the sense?

Definitely get rid of fiddly bonuses. That is one thing that makes 4E characters so damn difficult to make or play. Feat, power, item, race, class etc bonuses just plain annoy me.

Also, time to get rid of feats. With that, a simple sheet is a lot easier to have.


I agree that it would be nice if the game had a realistic option to let players make characters using the books, pen and paper, and dice alone. But I think that saying, "The game should not have digital tools to support it" sounds strange. Why not have those tools?

Given what we're hearing so far about 5e, I think it's likely that there will be a mode with very simple character creation, allowing for books/pen/paper/dice characters. And then there will be options to add on more stuff, which could also be done without digital tools, but for which the digital tools would be a great help (a la the 4e Character Builder). I don't know exactly how they'll pull this off, but I think they're going to try.


OnlineDM, keep in mind that I am not saying the tools shouldn't exist. I'm saying that I don't want an edition that is predicated on their use. I don't want the game to be the result of the needs of a business model for monetizing online subscriptions. I want the game to be th result of an effort to design a great RPG.

Now, one could argue that tight integration with digital tools is a way to make a great RPG, but I am honestly not convinced of that. Let the tools enhance the game, not define it.


This is one of the big issues for me.

If the game requires minis (or even 'requires' them to the extent that 4e or PF do), I'm not interested. If the game requires any collectable component, I'm not interested. If the game requires any subscription element, I'm not interested. And if the game requires any software support (or even 'requires' them to the extent that 4e does the Character Builder), I'm not interested.

Core rulebook, paper, pencils, dice. That's what the game should require, and nothing more.

Now, that said, I have nothing against minis, collectable elements, or software support existing for those who want them. Indeed, many of these things can and should enhance the game.

In the particular case of electronic support, I believe that every book should be available in an eBook format, that everything should be available online, that there should be an easy-to-access Compendium. It would be madness to act as though people don't have smart-phones or iPads, or whatever. Where the technology exists, they should work to leverage it. (Indeed, there should be an iPad compatible electronic character sheet available on Day One.)

But don't require these things.

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