Are Gognards killing D&D?

Here's wikipedia on grognard - it's usage here is just one of several.

That article also links to an essay by Greg Costikyan where he explains how Grognard Capture can happen to a game. I think this is one of Wizards' worries with D&D. Whenever someone brings up "New Coke" here I remember "Advanced Squad Leader."
 

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rounser

First Post
That article also links to an essay by Greg Costikyan where he explains how Grognard Capture can happen to a game. I think this is one of Wizards' worries with D&D. Whenever someone brings up "New Coke" here I remember "Advanced Squad Leader."
As usual, moderation is probably key. Radical grognardism or radical progressiveness are both likely to spell trouble. Where we disagree is where the "radical" starts kicking in, and that's where the namecalling starts.

If memory serves, the wargame hobby kind of died in ways unrelated to "grognardism", didn't it? In any case, Costikyan has a point about alienating gamers, but the word he's looking for is "hardcore", not "grognard" (IMO). The Wii caters to casual, non-hardcore gamers, but it has a chance of scoring them because the investment from a granny at the nursing home trying a game of bowling on it is so small.

I suspect that, to an extent, RPGs and Advanced Squad Leader-like wargames are somewhat doomed to hardcore audiences because of the time investment and mindset required to use them. If WOTC can manage to create a non-hardcore gamer audience for 4E, then that would be impressive. Dragondudes alone won't do it.

The changes need to be much more fundamental than that to acquire a casual gamer audience - I mean, almost by definition every DM might be considered a hardcore gamer. If there's a hardcore gamer running every group, then you probably don't want to alienate that set of people, because without them you don't get the casuals playing.
 
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Arkhandus

First Post
Antonlowe said:
The essence of D&D to me is killing things and taking their. If the system allows me to do that, then I will use it for DnD. Any change that does not interfere with that I am all for as long as it brings more people into the hobby. I can always house rule other things and dont have a problem with doing so.

The only problem I do have is when people want a new edition to be just like the last.

One, you can do that in any RPG. So that doesn't really work as a definition of what D&D is. D&D is more specifically a fantasy RPG that primarily deals with fighting monsters and taking their treasure, but that's not all there is to it.

If the game system, or the general kind of fantasy setting that the core rules support, is changed to something completely different from what it used to be/do, then you can't really call it D&D anymore. As long as you can continue to play Greyhawk or whatever other setting the game has supported for so long (Faerun, Mystara, etc.), without drastically changing the way it looks and works, then you can probably still call the game D&D.

It doesn't matter if the ruleset or whatnot changes a lot (as long as it retains something D&Dish, like classes and 6 ability scores), but so long as it can still work with the settings or playstyle that it has traditionally supported, then it's still recognizably D&D by the vast majority of peoples' standards. They might not like the rules changes or the new things it can do, but they could still recognize it as D&D and accept it as such.

Sadly, that doesn't seem like the way 4E is going, but that assessment could be wrong, of course.


Point two, of course nobody wants each new edition to be just like the last. That's pointless and makes no sense; obviously each edition will differ. But if a new edition looks and plays like a very different game, then it's tough to consider that new edition to still be the same game.

Like, you can't make a turtle look like a horse and then still call it a turtle; or tear out the engine of a sports car, throw in a cheaper, lighter engine, remove the body, throw on the body of a station wagon, and then have the gall to still call it a Porsche, and still try to sell it as a Porsche.
 

Melan

Explorer
Antonlowe said:
... By gognard, I meant a person who is against changes in the game that change what they feel is the essences of D&D.So I will defend my standing a little. The essence of D&D to me is killing things and taking their. If the system allows me to do that, then I will use it for DnD. Any change that does not interfere with that I am all for as long as it brings more people into the hobby. I can always house rule other things and dont have a problem with doing so.
...
I dont care if you started playing in 1st addition or in 3.5, but if you dislike change because of how you used to play, regardless of whether or not its good for the hobby, you are a gognard.
Your position is still pure subjectivity in a shroud of extreme vagueness. Killing things and taking their stuff may as well be the essence of D&D, but it is not very helpful when we try to design a game based on it. It is just a truism, a statement without substance. It is the how of killing and taking that counts; the way characters are made and things accomplished; the entire recipe for playing a game of D&D, which includes rules, an implied setting and a lot of "how to" which may or may not even be expressed in a rulebook in a straightforward manner. By your definition, you could be playing Palladium Fantasy, Castles & Crusades, AD&D 2nd edition, Basic D&D or Conan d20, since all of these are well suited for games where the protagonists operate as a mobile abbatoir. Furthermore, I suggest that some of these are better focused on killing and looting than 4e appears to be - what use, for example, are massive character customisation options in a dungeon?

"Good for the hobby" is also misleading. Why are you certain that what WotC does is "good for the hobby", if by this we mean the best game to recruit new players? Can we be positive that the company is good at maximising long-term profits, and that its designers have the wisdom to pursue this good instead of narrow concerns of selling supplements to dedicated people... again The last D&D edition that was successful in direct recruitment was the 1980s Mentzer basic set. Wouldn't a strategy based on a simple basic game accompanied by a somewhat more complex system for the hardcore fans work better than what we are seeing? Yet we rarely see people express a wish for WotC to turn D&D into that!

This doesn't even scratch the question of what makes a brand beyond a name and a few superficial elements; needless to say, I'd be very surprised to see McDonalds or Coca-Cola alter the recipes that made their products popular. Only brands in an identity crisis do that, and four times out of five, they fail.
 


Nifft

Penguin Herder
Scholar & Brutalman said:
Here's wikipedia on grognard - it's usage here is just one of several.

That article also links to an essay by Greg Costikyan where he explains how Grognard Capture can happen to a game. I think this is one of Wizards' worries with D&D. Whenever someone brings up "New Coke" here I remember "Advanced Squad Leader."
Thanks for the links. I hadn't heard of those specific terms before, but we've been discussing the dangerous allure of masterable systems in the past -- and how 3.Xe too greatly rewards system mastery.

IMHO it will be quite a trick to make a system that's rewarding to the hard-core system master crowd, and still accessible by regular folks. My theory on how to do it is to reward mastery with options rather than raw power -- for example, anyone can make a viable fire attack mage, and anyone can make a viable air utility mage, but only a true expert can make a viable air attack mage. Or something like that. :)

Cheers, -- N
 

Antonlowe said:
Guess what? If you want there to be a game in 20 years, then they have to attract new gamers.

Guess what? The whole "we have to do it to attract new gamers thing" is the same 'ol excuse that WotC uses whenever it puts out a change that upsets people. It's tired, it's old, and it's now a cliche.

When 80% of your player base are old timers, alienating half of them to appeal to newer, younger players (who aren't exactly showing an enthusiastic interest in tabletop RPGs to begin with) is a surefire way to marginalize your game and hasten its eventual fadeout.
 

Aeolius

Adventurer
Antonlowe said:
I dont care if you started playing in 1st addition or in 3.5, but if you dislike change because of how you used to play, regardless of whether or not its good for the hobby, you are a gognard....The only problem I do have is when people want a new edition to be just like the last.

Hello. My name is Aeolius, and I am a grognard. ;)

I admit that I have intentionally tried to kill D&D on more than one occasion.

I started with Basic D&D, moved on to Expert, and then played Advanced D&D (1e). When 2e came along I purchased the PH, decided I didn't care for it, and stuck with 1e. And yet they kept publishing 2e books and supplements, despite my best efforts. Darned them.

My past two campaigns have been set beneath the surface of the sea. I've purchased my 3e/3.5e books specifically with the focus of siphoning the aquatic goodies from them. And yet they kept publishing rule books and supplements for campaigns set upon dry land, despite my best efforts. Darned them.

4e may be a huge success. It may not. At this point, I have yet to be encouraged to play the game. I realize that conversion from one edition to another may be difficult; yet I converted a 1e campaign over to 3e rules literally overnight. That isn't the issue. The issue lies with their approach which states in essence "End your 3e games now and start anew with 4e". No. Sorry. I don't wanna. And yet the will no doubt publish a plethora of 4e books and supplements, despite my best efforts. Darned them.

When I can play 4e the same way I like playing 3e, with monster PCs in an undersea setting in the World of Greyhawk, then I'll take it seriously. I figure within a few years we'll have a 4e Savage Species, Stormwrack, and Greyhawk Gazetteer. If not, I can always see what 5e has to offer.

edit: For the record, I am 42. I have nothing against 20-somethings even though, relatively speaking, they only recently learned how to express themselves with language and use a toilet. ;)
 
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Klaus

First Post
Antonlowe said:
Thanks for all the replies. I think it may have been helpful to define gognard in my original post. It was probably the wrong term to use because it can be so broad. By gognard, I meant a person who is against changes in the game that change what they feel is the essences of D&D.So I will defend my standing a little. The essence of D&D to me is killing things and taking their. If the system allows me to do that, then I will use it for DnD. Any change that does not interfere with that I am all for as long as it brings more people into the hobby. I can always house rule other things and dont have a problem with doing so.

In another thread a poser was upset about the changes to monster stat blocks because "I don't like the idea that now i can just dump a monster into an encounter without having to read it before hand. This will encourage DMs to stop thinking." Or, "Emerald frost is a dumb name and I don't want to have to change it in my homebrew because the players will get confused. Or, "DnD shouldn't have tieflings and dragonborn because....my home setting....the way it's always been". These things have nothing to do with how easy it is to kill things and take their stuff. Thy have nothing to do with mechanics. They only become a problem because people have these funny notions of what DnD should be.

I dont care if you started playing in 1st addition or in 3.5, but if you dislike change because of how you used to play, regardless of whether or not its good for the hobby, you are a gognard.

Edit: I have no problem with people wanting to stick to old editions. I started with AD&D and have many fond memories of it. The only problem I do have is when people want a new edition to be just like the last. If 4E turns out to be a worse system then 3.5, well then I will go back to plaing 3.5.
You paint a mightily innacurate picture with such a large brush.

Your original post ammounted down to "if you played 1e, you're too old, and you're bad for D&D". Which is so strawmannish, it should be heading down to Oz to ask for a brain.

You claim "grognards" have the most say in the direction of the game because they have the most income to spend on it. But if they're spending this much on D&D 3e, they're not grognards, because they're supporting the current edition! And that can't be bad for the game.

If you aim the game at 13-year-olds, you have to rely on *someone* with the disposable income to present that 13-year-old with his books, as I doubt a 13-year-old will have $120 to shell over for all 3 core books, and to keep spending on the game to support its continued existance.

You have to make a *good* game that will appeal to the 30-year-olds who *do* have the disposable income to support the game, while still appealing to the 13-year-olds to get into the game. And then you hope those 13-year-olds will stay in the game long enough to become a new generation of 30-somethings with the income to support the game.
 

ThirdWizard

First Post
The people who are trying to kill D&D are those who are posting on this forum with the intent of getting people not to buy 4e. People who aren't happy with the new edition aren't a problem; people who are upset at the direction D&D is taking aren't a problem, either. People who are trying to turn anti-4e into a movement, boycotting all 4e products because it is a new edition, and attempting to gather anyone they can into their circle are a problem. But, that is a extremely tiny minority of the anti-4e posters. Most people who are anti-4e are just expressing themselves on the internet in the normal way. Nothing out of the norm. Assume good intentions and things will go much more smoothly.

As to the topic at hand, D&D needs new blood, that's for sure. The problem, I think, is the low entry rate of new gamers and the method of entry mostly being through current gamers. That means you have to have your current gamers, but you have to also have a game that appeals to a wide range of younger players. I don't envy WotC's position on this matter. It's pretty much lose-lose. If they want the game to be profitable in 20 years, they may have to give up some profits now. That might mean "firing" a lot of people, but it might be the best way to keep the niche from becoming even more nichey.

The irony here is that the efforts of the design team is to keep the Tabletop gaming strong. I could easily see a future in 20 years where the D&D brand name is strong but not enough people want to buy D&D Tabletop products to keep it a viable product. WotC looks to be trying to nip this in the bud early. Now, lots of people might be saying they're going about it the wrong way, and that's fine. But, for the talk about video-gameizing D&D and all that, this is really what they're trying to avoid, and it would be nice if people gave them credit for that at least.
 

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