5.5E The future of edition changes and revisions

Mercurius

Legend
Most things - including opinions - exist on a spectrum, from one extreme to the other. In the case of "pro and con WotC," these two extremes can be caricatured as:

  • WotC sucks - everything new sucks, I hate what they've done to D&D, at least now, rather than back in Ye Olde Days, when it was better.
  • WotC is great - everything they create is golden, and all change should be embraced and gloried in, no matter what it is or does.

(Actually, this either/or X-axis spectrum is part of the problem - as I'll illustrate in a bit)

Now obviously literally no one holds either view, but most tend to constellate towards one end or the other. Meaning, if the former is "0" and the latter is "10," everyone is somewhere in the 1-9 range, but most people are 3-7.

But the problem arises - not unlike in other contexts - when we act as if people we disagree with are more extreme than they actually are, which creates a strong polarization of two camps or tribes. "Wait, you don't agree with me and those I agree with on every little nuance?! You're one of them!!!!"

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So everyone from 1-4 is treated as a 0 by those in the 6-9 range, and everyone from 6-9 is treated as a 10 by those in the 1-4 range (and woe are the 5s, as they either stay out of it, or are pushed to one side or the other, depending upon who they are talking with).

This is a cultural problem that has been exacerbated over the last few years. In my life time at least, discourse of all kinds has never been so polarized, and it leaks into every little aspect of cultural discourse, even something as relatively inconsequential as D&D. Perhaps even more damaging is that there's a tendency to inflate relatively small things to larger proportions than they probably should be, so every little thing becomes part of a larger conflict resulting from said polarization.

One way to address this problem is by uprooting what I feel is an underlying shared delusion: the belief that there are two tribes (whether that belief is conscious or not; meaning, even if we realize there aren't two tribes, we tend to act as if there are). So the solution is the realization and enactment of the following: There aren't two tribes, but countless variations; and more so, the spectrum isn't simply on an X-axis, but there's also a Y-axis. Meaning, sometimes people who seem to be over there because they're not here, are actually in a different part of the "Y-axis."

Or sometimes a person who is frustrated about certain aspects of what WotC is doing, but not others. Meaning, not only is the two tribes erroneous, but actual individuals hold nuanced views. And sometimes people disagree with certain things not for the reasons we think they disagree ("because they're one of them!").

So we have someone saying, "I don't like a lot of the recent D&D art" (or whatever), and another responds, "You're a hater! Go back to your 1970s-era man-cave and enjoy your bigoted art!" And the first person responds, "Wait, who said anything about bigotry? And I'm 34 years old and never saw the 70s!" Or we have someone saying, "I generally like the direction that WotC is going," and another says, "You're trying to erase history and push out anyone who likes older stuff! You think everything WotC creates is great, no matter what!" And the first person says, "Wait, I'm just saying that it is more good than bad - we've got lots of settings, a good amount of product but not too much, and billions of new D&D players..."

And around and around we go.

Maybe we can find a middle ground: where we realize there aren't two tribes, but countless variations. Maybe we can all enjoy the fact that our beloved game is thriving, even if we don't like everything WotC puts out. Maybe we can also tolerate some difference of agreement, and recognize that even if we like where the game is going, it is making others feel left out or forgotten about - and it probably isn't because they're bad people or hold wrong views.

The in-fighting doesn't get us anywhere. We all share a love of D&D, and D&D is a vast and varied thing. There's room for all of us, and the actual Dave Johnsons of the world are very rare. The vast majority of fellow D&D players are basically good people, even if we don't agree with them on everything.

I apologize if I sound preachy, I just feel that we endlessly end up in these back-and-forth dynamics and miss the forest for the trees.
 

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Parmandur

Book-Friend
If someone is suggesting that complainers are hypocrites because they only complain about some changes and not others, or that complainers are so few in number as to be irrelevant, or that even the complaints themselves are unimportant, that's an attempt to intimidate and shame complainers into silence. And it certainly isn't showing respect for their point of view, or seeking to understand that point of view.
Well, in the grander scheme of things, we have encountered to take any online discussion with a giant grain of salt. Nothing here is representative.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Sure, it can be apparently true that "there are few complainers" - though plenty of folks could be complaining about any particular problem, out of sight of this particular forum - but how often is that point raised as a way to further discussion and understanding? I'm having trouble seeing that as anything but an attempt to make the complainers feel small and irrelevant.


It's a very small step from "the complaints are unimportant" to "the complainers are unimportant." And if you want to debate the relative merits, then you'd engage with the relative merits, not refocus the discussion on the grand cosmic significance of the complaints themselves. I mean, is a family argument over finances less "important" than arguments about global warming? Sure, but suggesting that the family argument isn't "important" enough to be worthwhile is just rude at best.
The reason to relativize the complaints is to understand better what WotC has done, and may do in the future. I have seen the argument thst WotC would surely want to aloud X, because of all the complaints they got about Y...but then they do X. It is helpful to sift and judge, to understand.
 

Forms of dnd complaining that I find annoying
  • people who assume they are in the majority and feel entitled that the current edition/products of dnd match their preferences
  • related to the above, people who refuse to try other games
  • unsubstantiated and decontextualized claims about what "old school" or "traditional" dnd involved (e.g. debates about racial asi)
  • unsubstantiated claims that wotc 'doesn't care about long term players'
 

Forms of dnd complaining that I find annoying
  • people who assume they are in the majority and feel entitled that the current edition/products of dnd match their preferences
  • related to the above, people who refuse to try other games
  • unsubstantiated and decontextualized claims about what "old school" or "traditional" dnd involved (e.g. debates about racial asi)
  • unsubstantiated claims that wotc 'doesn't care about long term players'
So, basically anyone who doesn't like the current direction of the game?
 

So, basically anyone who doesn't like the current direction of the game?
Oh I should add to that list: assumptions about the "direction" of the game ;)

But seriously... what annoys me sometimes is a tone of resentment and entitlement, rather than the content of the complaint. It makes discussing wotc's product schedule the focus of conversation in the hobby (many times a focus for proxy conversations for other things). It crowds out discussing even other dnd editions, let alone other games.

btw, many of the above also apply to newer players making assumptions about older editions or who refuse to consider diversifying their game library.
 

Hussar

Legend
The toning down of Kender (yeah yeah Kender) and changing the Tower of High Sorcery and how the 3 different robed mages works is a prime example.

I’m actually anxious to see if they mention that Orcs (this Half-Orcs) and Drow don’t exist in Krynn. Or that Draconians are strictly evil during the War of the Lance time period.

This is actually a pretty good example.

We have no idea how many people are happy or unhappy about the changes. So why start from the position that many people are unhappy? Why not just say “I am unhappy about the changes”?

Note, I’m not thrilled about the changes either. But I know right now that Draconians won’t be strictly evil. That writing is on the wall pretty clearly.

Yet, the idea of non-evil draconians is not new. That’s been around for almost twenty years now. Long before Dragonborn.

So should I dig in my heels to fight a losing battle? Or just accept that my tastes are likely out of step and now it’s up to me if I want to do the work changing it back?

Because here’s the thing. Non-evil draconians supports everyone better than all evil ones do. If you want all evil draconians that’s no problem. Just convince your table that that’s how things are. For other tables they can make that choice too.

So instead of WotC telling everyone the right way to play, they are leaving it up to individual tables.

Isn’t that a better way to do it?
 

This is actually a pretty good example.

We have no idea how many people are happy or unhappy about the changes. So why start from the position that many people are unhappy? Why not just say “I am unhappy about the changes”?

Note, I’m not thrilled about the changes either. But I know right now that Draconians won’t be strictly evil. That writing is on the wall pretty clearly.

Yet, the idea of non-evil draconians is not new. That’s been around for almost twenty years now. Long before Dragonborn.

So should I dig in my heels to fight a losing battle? Or just accept that my tastes are likely out of step and now it’s up to me if I want to do the work changing it back?

Because here’s the thing. Non-evil draconians supports everyone better than all evil ones do. If you want all evil draconians that’s no problem. Just convince your table that that’s how things are. For other tables they can make that choice too.

So instead of WotC telling everyone the right way to play, they are leaving it up to individual tables.

Isn’t that a better way to do it?
They could be non-evil AFTER the war.

These are creatures made via an evil goddess using her evil clergy to cast highly evil magic to make corrupted creatures that were pressed into service to fight a war.

Sure you and your DM can say Draconians are also good and fight the good fight during the War that WotC wants to center things on, but that again changes fluff of the war to a massive degree, which why even have it or the War of the Lance at all.

Me, I can't imagine say playing a LotRs game as an Uruk Hai. It makes zero sense to the established world might as well just play in Faerun.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
They could be non-evil AFTER the war.

These are creatures made via an evil goddess using her evil clergy to cast highly evil magic to make corrupted creatures that were pressed into service to fight a war.

Sure you and your DM can say Draconians are also good and fight the good fight during the War that WotC wants to center things on, but that again changes fluff of the war to a massive degree, which why even have it or the War of the Lance at all.

Me, I can't imagine say playing a LotRs game as an Uruk Hai. It makes zero sense to the established world might as well just play in Faerun.
Found the issue.

She made sapient beings and then pressed them into service. None of this requires they be evil, just pawns of evil.

Of course, we then again get into values dissonance, as you have to encourage murdering the conscripts in order to see the cool things they do when they die.
 

Hussar

Legend
They could be non-evil AFTER the war.

These are creatures made via an evil goddess using her evil clergy to cast highly evil magic to make corrupted creatures that were pressed into service to fight a war.

Sure you and your DM can say Draconians are also good and fight the good fight during the War that WotC wants to center things on, but that again changes fluff of the war to a massive degree, which why even have it or the War of the Lance at all.

Me, I can't imagine say playing a LotRs game as an Uruk Hai. It makes zero sense to the established world might as well just play in Faerun.

Again, you are preaching to the converted here. I totally agree and think that good draconians are a very bad idea. And if I ever run a DL campaign I’d likely not have them or maybe just a one off if a player asks really nicely and bribes me with pizza. :)

But that’s my table. I’m not really willing to declare that that should be true for all tables. I’m actually quite happy that WotC is leaving it up to individual tables.

Isn’t dm empowerment what 5e is all about?

You can’t really empower dms while at the same time tell them that they are doing it wrong. So the compromise is you support everyone a bit.

Granted I do think the latest kender are mind numbingly boring. But then I can always add back in kender pockets. That’s the point here. Everyone is now being expected to make settings their own.

At least that’s how I see things. Not that I’m particularly happy with changes or unhappy. I’m okay with the idea that while I might not like some of the changes, that just means someone else likely is.
 


Hussar

Legend
Honestly the biggest difference between FR and Greyhawk is simply volume.

How many pages of information is there about FR compared to Greyhawk?

As far as the rest though? They’re not really all that different.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Honestly the biggest difference between FR and Greyhawk is simply volume.

How many pages of information is there about FR compared to Greyhawk?

As far as the rest though? They’re not really all that different.
There are flavor and texture differences.

A heaping plate of enchiladas and a big burrito have the same material, but provide a different experience.
 

Staffan

Legend
There are flavor and texture differences.

A heaping plate of enchiladas and a big burrito have the same material, but provide a different experience.
A better comparison would be a Whopper and a Big Mac. There are certainly differences between them, and it's totally valid to prefer one over the other. But if given a choice between a burger, a plate of sushi, or a pizza, it doesn't much matter if the burger on offer is a Whopper or a Big Mac.
 

Mercurius

Legend
Honestly the biggest difference between FR and Greyhawk is simply volume.

How many pages of information is there about FR compared to Greyhawk?

As far as the rest though? They’re not really all that different.
Isn't this similar to just about anything, where it depends upon how you set the "microscope" and/or one's interest level/knowledge?

For the former, I mean, both are kitchen sink fantasy settings for D&D - but that's at a macro-level. Dialing in the scope, more and more differences stand out, and differences in flavor and atmosphere emerge.

As for the latter, to me - as a non-country music fan - all country music sounds basically the same. I mean, I can pick out and enjoy Johnny Cash, but if I turn on a pop country station, it all sounds the same (and not very pleasing to my own sensibilities).

But if you ask me about the different flavors of funk music, I can give you a verbal dissertation on its variations and history. For me, there's a world of difference between, say, Funkadelic and Graham Central Station and the Headhunters.

Now if I asked a friend to browse through the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting and the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, she might say, "are these the same world?" But if she read them cover-to-cover she'd pick up differences, and if she explored the various available materials over the years, they would become even more differentiated....and even more so if she played in a campaign in both, with a DM who really "got" the respective settings.

The point being, I hear what you are saying - but only from a very macro level and/or from the perspective of a "non-connoisseur" of D&D settings, or fantasy in general. But if you dial in the scope and/or acquire a palate for fantasy and D&D settings, they stand out in greater contrast. I would say this is especially true if we take Gygax's Greyhawk (WoG box set) and Greenwood's Realms (gray box) - one is Gygax's mind, the other is Greenwood's mind.

As an aside, this is why I loved teaching world-building to a group of high school students some years ago. I didn't frame it as, or connect it to D&D or fantasy in any way. It was amazing how different each world was - and how each expressed the uniqueness of the student. Now if I had said, "create a world of fantasy adventure," the differences would smooth out somewhat. Many of them would have been influenced by the LotR films or Harry Potter or video games. But they'd still all have their own unique flavorings.
 

HammerMan

Legend
Of course, we then again get into values dissonance, as you have to encourage murdering the conscripts in order to see the cool things they do when they die.
Don’t worry all the thugs and petty criminals Batman puts in the hospital are all bad people. Now all of the soldiers on the other side of the war are monsters… no good people no neutral people just bad.


Wouldn’t want to make the TTRPG force you to role play interacting with individuals
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
A better comparison would be a Whopper and a Big Mac. There are certainly differences between them, and it's totally valid to prefer one over the other. But if given a choice between a burger, a plate of sushi, or a pizza, it doesn't much matter if the burger on offer is a Whopper or a Big Mac.
No, the Mexican analogy is more appropriate, I feel. Someone who hates Mexican food (probably because they hate rainbows and Sunsets or something) isn't going to see a difference between a plate of New Mexico Enchiladas and a wet Burrito, but enthusiasts could go on and on about the differences and subtlties.
 

Hussar

Legend
See, I look at it like this.

If I wanted to run an adventure set in Sharn, it would likely be a very different adventure if I ported it into Greyhawk or Waterdeep. Eberron and the other two setting are just so different.

But, I can take Ghosts of Saltmarsh (or, in fact the older modules all of those modules are based on) and move Saltmarsh to the Sword Coast without changing much more than proper nouns. Virtually nothing changes. Conversely, I can take classic Greyhawk adventures like Cult of the Reptile God or the Slavers series and plonk it down into Forgotten Realms, and, again, other than changing proper nouns, there really isn't much that needs to change.

Are they different settings? Sure. No problems with that. But, they really aren't all that different when you drill down to it. Heck, look at the first three Paizo Adventure Paths - Shackled City, Age of Worms and Savage Tides. All three have conversion documents for plonking these adventures into Forgotten Realms and it really doesn't take a lot of work. Mostly just changing proper nouns.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
See, I look at it like this.

If I wanted to run an adventure set in Sharn, it would likely be a very different adventure if I ported it into Greyhawk or Waterdeep. Eberron and the other two setting are just so different.

But, I can take Ghosts of Saltmarsh (or, in fact the older modules all of those modules are based on) and move Saltmarsh to the Sword Coast without changing much more than proper nouns. Virtually nothing changes. Conversely, I can take classic Greyhawk adventures like Cult of the Reptile God or the Slavers series and plonk it down into Forgotten Realms, and, again, other than changing proper nouns, there really isn't much that needs to change.

Are they different settings? Sure. No problems with that. But, they really aren't all that different when you drill down to it. Heck, look at the first three Paizo Adventure Paths - Shackled City, Age of Worms and Savage Tides. All three have conversion documents for plonking these adventures into Forgotten Realms and it really doesn't take a lot of work. Mostly just changing proper nouns.
Right, just a pile of rice & beans with meat and a tomato sauce.
 

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