D&D 5E The Beauty of D&D, Attitudes Towards Change, and a Letter from 1992

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I came across this letter in issue #186 (1992). Every time I hear/see people griping online that they feel like D&D is not made for them anymore and they miss the games and products of yesteryear, I think of letters like it from the past as each iteration or phase for styles of play came to the fore. There were sentiments like it before 1992 and if these boards are anything to go by, there were sentiments like it long after.

dyingbreed1.jpg


dyingbreed2.jpg


Some of the reactions of the 5.5E announcements today (and reactions to new rules and products) reminded me of this letter, but to me the beauty of D&D is that you take what you want and drop or change what you don't. . . There are certainly things that were announced or alluded to that I doubt I'd want to even try at my table, let alone incorporate, but there were other things that even if I don't use them as written, might find their way into my table's rules in some form. . . I get being disappointed that the D&D being published by the license holder is not exactly your favorite flavor and is not catering to your desires - but I've said it before and I will say it again, Dungeons & Dragons is not what Wizards of the Coast prints, it is what we play - and no one is telling you or your group what you have to play.

It ain't the end of the world. It ain't even a bug. It's a feature.
 

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overgeeked

B/X Known World
Some of the reactions of the 5.5E announcements today (and reactions to new rules and products) reminded me of this letter, but to me the beauty of D&D is that you take what you want and drop or change what you don't. . .
Funnily enough, that's also part of the dying breed. Since around 3E there's been a huge uptick in the amount of people who seem to think it's RAW, RAW, and only RAW...nothing but RAW...and all of RAW, thank you. The amount of people willing to simply ignore things in the books is diminishing. Freely house ruling things is diminishing. Players are more resistant to house rules than they've ever been before. All my experience of course.
There are certainly things that were announced or alluded to that I doubt I'd want to even try at my table, let alone incorporate, but there were other things that even if I don't use them as written, might find their way into my table's rules in some form. . . I get being disappointed that the D&D being published by the license holder is not exactly your favorite flavor and is not catering to your desires - but I've said it before and I will say it again, Dungeons & Dragons is not what Wizards of the Coast prints, it is what we play - and no one is telling you or your group what you have to play.
This is partially true, partially false. My players are telling me what they want me to run. I'm telling my players what I'm willing to run. If those things don't mesh, there's no game. If I want to run an obscure or unpopular game, I'm not going to get to. Simple as. The overwhelmingly vast majority of 5E players will migrate to the 2024 revisions. And unless players and referees want to be left behind, they have to keep up. Even with the internet and online gaming, getting a group to play an older edition is harder than finding a group of the current edition. Peer pressure does exist in the hobby. We really should stop pretending it doesn't.
It ain't the end of the world. It ain't even a bug. It's a feature.
No, it's not the end of the (real) world. But it's certainly going to be the end of some groups...and the fictional worlds they create through gaming together. Some will adopt the new stuff, others will refuse. Those people aren't always at different tables. Even back when 2E came out this happened. Some people really wanted 2E, others held onto their AD&D books and refused to budge. So our group split. Luckily it was only two people who left but the main core remained. Point being, some worlds will end because of this. People are expressing that.
 

I remember that article. There have probably been people feeling like this new fangled D&D wasn't for them since Greyhawk and Blackmoor came out!

But in hindsight, I think that letter also illustrates the real issue with self-cannibalization that was going on at the time, alongside the fuddy-duddy grognarding.
 

dave2008

Legend
I get being disappointed that the D&D being published by the license holder is not exactly your favorite flavor and is not catering to your desires - but I've said it before and I will say it again, Dungeons & Dragons is not what Wizards of the Coast prints, it is what we play - and no one is telling you or your group what you have to play.

It ain't the end of the world. It ain't even a bug. It's a feature.
I agree 100%
 

Mercurius

Legend
I came across this letter in issue #186 (1992). Every time I hear/see people griping online that they feel like D&D is not made for them anymore and they miss the games and products of yesteryear, I think of letters like it from the past as each iteration or phase for styles of play came to the fore. There were sentiments like it before 1992 and if these boards are anything to go by, there were sentiments like it long after.

View attachment 258270

View attachment 258271

Some of the reactions of the 5.5E announcements today (and reactions to new rules and products) reminded me of this letter, but to me the beauty of D&D is that you take what you want and drop or change what you don't. . . There are certainly things that were announced or alluded to that I doubt I'd want to even try at my table, let alone incorporate, but there were other things that even if I don't use them as written, might find their way into my table's rules in some form. . . I get being disappointed that the D&D being published by the license holder is not exactly your favorite flavor and is not catering to your desires - but I've said it before and I will say it again, Dungeons & Dragons is not what Wizards of the Coast prints, it is what we play - and no one is telling you or your group what you have to play.

It ain't the end of the world. It ain't even a bug. It's a feature.
I don't think this is a fair representation of the sentiment expressed in that letter. Nowhere do I get the sense that Victor wanted D&D to be "exactly [his] favorite flavor" or "catering to [his] desires." Nor did he say that what was printed stopped him from playing D&D as he wanted to play it, or that it was the "end of the world." I think he just wanted something, anything that was useable to his style of play. Or may it even be as simple as him wanting to feel like his style and approach was still represented and included within the larger D&D community, especially as reflected in what was being published by TSR at the time.

Is that unreasonable? Or difficult to understand and empathize with? Does everyone have to be fully 100% excited with The Latest Thing, or be considered a "fuddy duddy grognard," as someone implied in this thread?

Or to put it another way, when considering those folks who feel left behind by where D&D is at--whether it was 1992 or 2022--can we start with empathy, rather than cast them as complainers or fuddy-duddies or another pejorative? Don't we want inclusivity, including of people who aren't in the mainstream (which equals whatever WotC is currently offering)?
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
D&D is dead.

I am just waiting to see if the next iteration will Animate or Raise it... ;)

Of course, I suppose it will most likely be Reincarnated instead.

Long Live D&D!
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
You can let someone else drive the bus and hope they take you where you want to go. But when you feel like you missed your stop, don't just sit there and be pulled away from your destination. Know when to say "that's far enough, let me off here." Only then can you begin making your own way, even if it's by your own two feet.

As for me, I'm doing fine without the new stuff.


 
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cbwjm

Legend
Reading those old letters can be a lot of fun, I remember some where people were all up in arms about the upcoming 2nd edition.
 


I think to some extent this letter is as much about growing past the need for licensed product as anything else. A system like D&D is all so vast, exciting, and new when it's new to you, and official product feels authoritative and important. But the people who immerse themselves in it all the most are the ones most likely to figure out, to varying degrees, how to make up what they really need for themselves, exactly to their tastes, and eventually the official product just seems like an inferior version to what they would produce themself.

Which is all fine, and not really a problem. Unfortunately if you also enjoy being part of a wider D&D subculture it's a bummer to watch that (or at least the center of that) pass you by.
 

Stormonu

Legend
Oh, going back and reading some of those letters of yore and the outrage within is a gas.

I made my mind up a couple years back that I wasn't going to move off of 5E unless they really wowed me with whatever comes next. I'm just happy where I am and don't feel like I need to be dragged along to "keep up with the cool kids". 5E is my favorite D&D, I've been through everything but OD&D and I think that's plenty. I'm planning to get off at the end of this leg of the trip.
 

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