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D&D General Does Dungeons & Dragon ever make you feel overwhelmed? (Letter about 1E that could be about any edition)

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I have been slowly going through my collection of Dragon Magazines for the first time in years, and I came across this letter in Dragon #109 (May 1986).

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I immediately thought: "My dude hadn't even lived through the glut of 2E splatbooks and player's options yet!" :p

While for myself I long ago came to a place where whatever is new in D&D does not concern me very much unless I have an impulse to buy a book to browse or looking for a specific optional rule set, and long ago stopped feeling like I "had to keep up" with whatever new books, subclasses, options, or even edition was coming out to play "a legit game," I do remember that feeling from my younger days when 1E and 2E were the most recent editions (and heck, even early 3E felt that way for me some - it was 3.5 that made me into a chronic late adopter). It made me wonder if with the new announcement of an anniversary edition of 5E or the countless third party options that now exist, if others ever find themselves feeling like Mr. Robinson did back in spring of 1986. Or if you have memories of similar feelings with past editions.

I know the current thread on counterspelling getting (inadvertantly?) "nerfed" made me feel that way for a moment - like there was a split in the rules happening in real time that DMs will have to address when putting together a D&D group to go along with all previous splits.
 

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I think there's been an adjustment in the way people view the game though. In AD&D 1E, all books and Sage Advice were RAW, and the DM was expected to keep up on everything, an impossibility pre-internet (not to mention the weird complexity of the books themselves). In 2E they made a few things more optional, but Sage Advice was still considered RAW IIRC. I know that late into 3E, "core only" became very popular, but I still seem to remember a lot of online rule changes. 4E was nightmarish, because they went back to the "everything is core" that 1E used, making it impossible to keep up, even WITH the internet.

I think 5E has the best setup, despite a lot of complaints to the contrary. Sage Advice is nothing more than suggested ruling by the devs, rather than official changes, and they've kept the errata to a bare minimum. It's pretty clear that everything is optional, even the core rulebooks. I greatly dislike the changes 5E is moving towards, but I can simply choose to ignore them. As long as the new casters still have the "character is a X level caster" text, I can work backwards to use it correctly by my view. If the new "rules update" doesn't work with my style of gaming, I'll just continue to use what we have now.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Reading the letter again, it also strikes me that the argument in it is also echoed in those who resist changes to D&D that have been made because a change in the cultural paradigm about what is appropriate and what is insensitive. I am not at all saying the letter writer would be one of those people but often those (in my view retrograde) arguments are built around a claim of resistance to change in general.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I think 5E has the best setup, despite a lot of complaints to the contrary. Sage Advice is nothing more than suggested ruling by the devs, rather than official changes, and they've kept the errata to a bare minimum. It's pretty clear that everything is optional, even the core rulebooks. I greatly dislike the changes 5E is moving towards, but I can simply choose to ignore them. As long as the new casters still have the "character is a X level caster" text, I can work backwards to use it correctly by my view. If the new "rules update" doesn't work with my style of gaming, I'll just continue to use what we have now.

Those are all fine arguments, but I would be willing to bet money that there are nevertheless people who play/run D&D and feel like they have to adopt or adapt every new thing or not be "with it."
 


Audiomancer

Explorer
I definitely remember feeling the same way back in 1985-86. I’d started with B/X and AD&D, and there was a lot to try and keep up with: the BECMI box sets, new hardcovers, and tons of modules.

With the slower publishing strategy today (and the fact that I’m an adult with disposable income), I find it much easier to pick up the products that look like they’ll add to my enjoyment of the game.
 

pming

Legend
Hiya!
I have been slowly going through my collection of Dragon Magazines for the first time in years, and I came across this letter in Dragon #109 (May 1986).
It made me wonder if with the new announcement of an anniversary edition of 5E or the countless third party options that now exist, if others ever find themselves feeling like Mr. Robinson did back in spring of 1986. Or if you have memories of similar feelings with past editions.
The difference that I remember was that a lot of the people playing AD&D were coming into it from being Wargamers. The mindset is quite different; the rules in a Wargame are top-dog...the rules are what are obeyed first and foremost. Only when someone does something really unusual, or something happens on the sandbox that isn't covered, is when an official Referee is called in to adjudicate. At least that was my interpretation (I'm not THAT old...I started reading D&D in '80, playing a few weeks later in '81).

So with Wargamers, keeping up with every rule adjustment, errata and addition was part of the 'fun' of it...seeing new official stuff that everyone could play by because, you know, Wargame = Competition....not Wargame = Collective Storytelling.

Move into an RPG like AD&D and I'd fathom that the urge to "keep up with all the rules and additions" was probably pretty freaking strong in a person with a heavy Wargaming mindset!

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

MGibster

Legend
I find it somewhat difficult to keep up but I'm not really trying very hard. I haven't purchased that many books for 5E and other than Xanathar's Guide to Everything no book like Tasha's with expanded rules. At this point I've resigned myself to not running D&D games though I'll happily play them. I probably won't buy another book until 2024.
 

I understand the guy in the OP-article. I cannot keep up (and I never tried).

As long as the content that I do know is valid, I can live with it. There are two boxes in my mind: one box with the PHB, MM and DMG and I know its content. And the other box (#2) with the big spaghetti of unknown races, classes, backgrounds, monsters and lore. And I am fine if stuff gets added to or changed in box #2, as long as box #1 remains untouched.

I am very worried that wizards will start messing with box #1. They already did with the Errata that came out a few years ago, but that was manageable (3 pages of text).
 

Horwath

Hero
I understand the guy in the OP-article. I cannot keep up (and I never tried).

As long as the content that I do know is valid, I can live with it. There are two boxes in my mind: one box with the PHB, MM and DMG and I know its content. And the other box (#2) with the big spaghetti of unknown races, classes, backgrounds, monsters and lore. And I am fine if stuff gets added to or changed in box #2, as long as box #1 remains untouched.

I am very worried that wizards will start messing with box #1. They already did with the Errata that came out a few years ago, but that was manageable (3 pages of text).
problem is that D&D is not a video game.
They cannot update(patch up) existing books that people bought when they see what they wrote inside is really bad.
I mean they can, but backlash would be huge if you had to buy PHB once a year or even two years, or just even insert printed errata inside your books.

That is why they write other books that have more or less same feature with different names because they have to adjust power levels from general feedback from years of playing.

Maybe if they sold books in some kind of "deluxe" binding folders that you can insert pages that you print on expensive photo paper when errata(patch) comes out it would be a good compromise.
 

TheLibrarian

Villager
I definitely feel the pain and have through every edition.

Haha. I think to some extent it gets worse as you get older because as you add in additional responsibilities of work, kids, aging parents, etc. you have less time for "fun stuff." Not to mention there is just a TON of content being produced.

All that said, I'm a librarian and one of the things I help clients do is manage information overload. In essence it comes down to choosing what you're going to pay attention to and ignoring the rest. Try not to boil the ocean. Limit your focus to a couple of things you're really passionate about. Really like Ravenloft? Spend your time there. Really like Pathfinder, focus on that. Don't try to do D&D and Pathfinder and Vampire and etc. etc. If there is still a lot within that, try picking one or two publishers/content creators that you really like.
 



pukunui

Legend
I can relate. I know that past editions have had way more content and products than 5e has had so far, but I was really enjoying the simplicity of 5e back at the start and started to feel a bit overwhelmed by it around when Volo's came out. I've purchased every single 5e book that's come out so far, but I haven't read them all.

It's hard to keep up with all the races, subclasses, spells, magic items and so on that players want to make use of now.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
And here I sit, in my corner, wondering why you didn't include the answer in your scan, and where the city of "Sam Jose" might be....

I am out of town right now, but if I remember when I get back home I will snap a pic of the answer to the letter, which from what I remember is very unsatisfying - or at least, I would have been unsatisfied with it if I was that dude from "Sam Jose"
 

TheSword

Legend
Resistance to change is natural but not necessarily a good trait to have. Keeping an open mind is probably more important. Not liking something is fine, but when you don’t like it just because it’s different… well.. that’s something I think we should try and fight in ourselves when it rears.

It’s the same way children are less polite than when you were a kid, politicians are less trustworthy and folks don’t know the meaning of a hard days work to the same extent. People have been saying the same thing for 100 years.

I think it’s really easy to ignore 3pp materials by the way. You just don’t buy it. Nothing in a D&D book or AP is going to reference something from 3pp so it only needs bother you if you let it. It’s harder with D&D books but not impossible. My gods if I tried to keep up with every Pathfinder 1e rule that came out I would have gone stir crazy!
 


I remember a game in 4ed, I start moving a monster, then start a chain of interrupt that last for 15 minutes. I think that every players made an interrupt, including area attack, healing, moving, free actions. Finally I got back to the monster move, but I got that kind of feeling of overwhelming.
 

I've purchased every single 5e book that's come out so far, but I haven't read them all.

It's hard to keep up with all the races, subclasses, spells, magic items and so on that players want to make use of now.
Im the same. Ive bought most of the 5E books but havent read them all. Ive read and used bits a pieces of quite a few of the ones I do own. I buy books knowing this is the case, some of these will never see use and I've rarely if ever ran a pre-published 5E adventure. I dont feel overwhelmed I just dont care to keep up anymore, and Im waiting to see what the future books from WotC look like, or if I will buy 5.5E.
 

pming

Legend
I am not convinced that this was really still the case in 1986. If it were 1976, then yes. But by 1986 neither I, nor no one I knew playing D&D came from wargaming.
Well, no, not in '86...but the people who had been DM'ing/Playing for a few years...probably. I mean, look at even just this little demographic of EnWorld. There are a LOT of people here with more than 10 years of experience. You want to find where all the grognards are hanging out, head over to Dragonsfoot.org and the Greyhawk CanonFire web sites (and even Vaults of Pandius for the B/X/BECMI Mystara folks).

Point being... you learn how to play and adapt a play style and mindset from the first few weeks of playing. It then mostly sticks with you for the rest of your life to some degree or another. Take me for example: Been doing the DM thing for 40 years now...I still have the "Neutral DM, always be fair, PC success is not my concern" mindset with a preference for dungeon delving and ruins exploration. I have branched out to enjoy other games and styles of play...but my bedrock, the think I keep coming back to...is what I "learned" back in the very early 80's.

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

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