D&D 5E Innovation Vs Tradition


Do you think the changes in D&DN will be severe enough to provoke a backlash or apathy a'la 2008 all over again? BECMI was not that different from AD&D although it had different fluff. When 1st ed went to second ed the changes were not that severe. 3.0 was different mechanically but they were doing back flips in regards to things like Greyhawk in the lead up to 3.0 and the book used the Greyhawk Pantheon. 3.5 was an evolution of 3.0, Pathfinder was an evolution of 3.5 but they changed the fluff and tweaked the mechanics.

It seems the fanbase will tolerate mechanical change or fluff changes. 4E of course changed both and we know how that ended up. D&DN is another built form the ground up version of D&D. Put simply it doesn't have the same pedigree as the other editions and this was a problem 4E had as well. It has bits and pieces but it is not an evolution of 4E or 3.5 the risk being fans of either edition may all go meh.

New players will not care to much either way but D&DN is not simple like BECMI was. It is probably more complex that 2nd ed was at launch although 2n ed bloated later. It is less complicated than 3rd and 4E though not by a massive amount. For me to buy an edition of D&D it has to get me enthusiastic about it and convince me it is a better option that what I am playing. AD&D offered multiclassing and new classes over BECMI, and 3.0 had a nice marketing campaign in Dragon. Since I passed on 4E I am not really a fan of the remaining designers either as most of them had minimal experience working on 3.5 and I do not think any of them worked on AD&D or TSR in any major capacity.

So for me there is a disconnect already between what I expect/want and on these boards alone let alone enworld I know I am not alone and I was a very loyal and large spender on D&D averaging around 25 products a year for 15 years. I'm just not feeling it yet and while others are arguing over things like damage on a miss I'm more concerned about things I do not like such as this neo vancian spellcasting mechanics as I kind of liked the old way better.

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Not your screen monkey (he/him) 🇺🇦🇵🇸🏳️‍⚧️
There's certainly risk involved, but I think you're hitting on some thing important that I think WotC is also paying a lot of attention to - and that is figuring out the limits of what can and should be changed before the backlash begins. I think their back to basics approach with respect to polling to find out the things essential to D&D and the essential lore of the monsters shows they recognize that, no matter what they do to the game, the cultural markers and identity markers of the game are important to the buyers. I think they have learned that sea changes in lore and game play at the same time may not be conducive to the game being adopted by the players. You may be able to have a Dark Sun campaign, but it sits on top of the current rules (tweaked as necessary). You may be able to add new rule structures, but you also promote the the continuity between games (new stuff to play with but the game is fundamentally the same).

That said, I'm kind of liking the neo-vancian evolution in spellcasting. It helps that we often did something similar back when we were playing 1e/2e 15 years ago. Rather than prepping a spell in each slot, we prepped a spell per number of slots and then cast them in any combination as long as we had slots that level and higher to burn. The biggest difference between what we did and the new method is in the numbers and the overall flexibility of the approach probably leads to the caster not needing quite as many slots overall.


First Post
I don't think innovation vs tradition is really that big a deal. There are well-liked versions of D&D out there now. To succeed, a new version has to be similar enough that existing material and players can transition over without too much effort, but different enough that there's some compelling reason to do so.

Personally, any issues I have with 4e or 5e are not because they're different, but because of what those differences are.

I'm A Banana

I think this is a bit of a false binary, personally.

The analogy I like to use is to an ecosystem. Crocodiles have been around for millions of years. The antibiotic-resistant strains of illness that have arisen out of industrial farming have been around for maybe only a few years. Nature preserves models that work, and abandons models that don't, but it keeps innovating. Change is necessary and good, but that doesn't mean the past has nothing worth keeping.

The thing that makes an ecosystem so robust is its ability to absorb failure. Most new things fail. It is expected and worked into the system: it's not dependent on the new things to work, and the old stuff that has kept working can continue to do so.

If these guys do their job, you won't HAVE to get on board with neo-vancancian spellcasting mechanics. The old crocodile of 1e spellcasting should work just fine. But the new-model spellcasting will exist, and might find a niche, and, heck, might even take over for the old crocodiles in a lot of biomes (ie, tables). But as long as the old crocs serve a purpose -- as long as there's a niche for them at some tables -- they should be usable.

So old and new should exist alongside each other, with each table building their own functioning system from whatever combination of old and new they want to welcome into their world.


right now, i am really interested in what dnd next is trying to do, but at the same time i don't have money to spend on a hobby. i already have all the books for becmi, and find that good enough if i want to play dnd. mostly the deciding factor for me at this point is not the differences or similarities in the rules, but in the inspiration the next edition can give me. the innovation is good, it brings out new concepts that work well, but for me to go buy a new book, there needs to be some definite advantage to buying it, besides just to try it out. i need something which will give me the feel of the traditional books when reading it and is even more inspiring than the traditional books i already have.

I think it's going to work out.

I'm probably a perfect target audience for D&D Next, and I'm neither a casual player nor a D&D newbie. I'm also a traditionalist when it comes to D&D.

So why do I find it a good fit (thinking ahead to what it should become, not just the current unfinished rules we've seen)?

Primarily because, while I love the D&D multiverse and the feel of AD&D era gaming--I can't currently get rules to support that style of gaming that aren't awkward primitive systems.

I've really tried to go back to AD&D. When I start looking through the 2e rulebooks, or retroclones, first an exciting nostalgia floods me, and then I start seeing things like the initiative system, arbitrary limits to everything, weapon and proficiency choice rules that aren't much simpler than 3e feats, and the list goes on. Quite frankly, I've moved on from that (IMO) mess. I moved on from it in the 90s. But I'm not satisfied with the way 3e developed (liked it at first), 4e is a different game in my mind, and the retroclones manage to do a bang up job of reproducing the warts of pre-3e gaming.

Next, on the other hand, if the design evolves in a similar way to how it has, is going to give me the ability to play with the setting and D&D style I like, without primitive game rules, but with rules that still feel more or less traditional D&D compatible (classes and races, vancian-inspired casting, familiar spells, items, monsters, etc).

Some people consider that (standard) 5e is going to be a sort of AD&D 2.5 with modern innovations and clean up. That's pretty much what I'm hoping it will be.

Li Shenron

I guess WotC must have a tough time balancing tradition and innovation...

On one hand, innovation may be needed to convince gamers who already have the books of multiple editions, that they should invest in the next as well. On the other hand, give up too much tradition and it might alienate a large chunk of fans, we've seen it happen last time. Thus the next edition should be innovative enough so that people don't think "I already have this, why should I buy it again?" but also traditional enough so that people don't think instead "This is so far from D&D that I might just buy a totally different RPG instead".

In theory, 5e could have had both fairly easily... modularity is written in its genes since the start of design, and it could so easily have allowed to put all tradition into the core and all innovation into the modules, or into character options. That's not exactly what happened since we also have innovations to core spellcasting classes (cantrips at will, rituals at will, recharging slots by short rest, and most importantly the new preparation rules), and no options in the core 3 books to opt out of them.

But overall the current balance between tradition and innovation is still quite good IMO.

Primarily because, while I love the D&D multiverse and the feel of AD&D era gaming--I can't currently get rules to support that style of gaming that aren't awkward primitive systems.


Some people consider that (standard) 5e is going to be a sort of AD&D 2.5 with modern innovations and clean up. That's pretty much what I'm hoping it will be.

While I'm fine right now with my 2E primitive rules, this is the kind of motivation I can get behind, and the reason why I'm so excited about Next. This time, I believe WotC finally understood that we want to keep playing the same game we've been playing for the past decades, but with some modern clean-ups.


Li Shenron

Some people consider that (standard) 5e is going to be a sort of AD&D 2.5 with modern innovations and clean up. That's pretty much what I'm hoping it will be.

Funny thing... the way I see 5e, is that it is going to be a sort of 3e but with lighter rules, easier for the DM and not requiring much system mastery. And that is pretty much what I'm hoping too :)

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