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Why D&D Sucks

Before you get your dander up and decided to cremate me with your +5 flame sword, I’d like to point out that this article is a spoof. Do you hear me, a spoof! I like D&D, you like D&D, everyone likes D&D—except those who hate it. This article is about why D&D sucks in the same way that people write about why being a millionaire sucks. In it, I will attempt to cover a wide range of editions in...

Before you get your dander up and decided to cremate me with your +5 flame sword, I’d like to point out that this article is a spoof. Do you hear me, a spoof! I like D&D, you like D&D, everyone likes D&D—except those who hate it. This article is about why D&D sucks in the same way that people write about why being a millionaire sucks. In it, I will attempt to cover a wide range of editions in loving detail, complete with their various shortcomings. Please feel free to let me know what I’ve missed.

Chain Mail: These were miniatures rules, so they sucked. Although you could play out vast wars and such, you weren’t technically allowed to act like a buffoon as you role-played your character. On top of that, apparently, fireballs had the blast radius of a catapult which is pathetic but would probably solve Monty Haul.

1st Edition: There were various renditions of the original dungeons and dragons game. Notable among them: a wood-grain box which is now seriously overpriced on Ebay, a white box ‘collector’s edition’ which is the same without references to Ents and Hobbits, and the regular box which I have no comment on.

1st Edition Basic: Pretty much the one everyone remembers about, most of them came in a red box. Yes, I know there was some other one, but whatever. The advantage of this edition was the fact it was nearly impossible to power-game because you were so weak-ass and random, you could put random junk in the game box and lug it around with you, and everyone remembers it.

Among the disadvantages: randomness, being weak-ass, and lack of irrelevant rules to clutter up the game system with.

Advanced: These were the last of the books written solely by the game creators. They had kick-ass advice, added pretty much everything modern D&D now has, and they were filled to the max with stuff you could power-game.

Among the disadvantages: weirdness in multi-classing rules, crazy xp system, convoluted rules, bigger books requiring more strength to lug around, and a lack of a box to put things in.

2nd Edition: Not only did this edition function on THAC:0 which was ridiculous, it also had the weirdest skill proficiency system ever. It’s possible that if you ever managed to read all the rules on weapon speeds that you could actually play a game. Thankfully, you were still weak-ass enough to die all the time and there were enough rules to make power-gaming a viable option. Multi-classing is still weird.

3rd Edition
: Long after everyone thought D&D was dead, a new crew took over and came out with 3rd edition. Simpler and easier to understand than second, stealing everything from advanced, and implementing ‘skills’ along with characters who didn’t instantly die at first level: 3rd edition was a major comeback. Only in retrospect as a game designer do I now notice that 3rd edition also had the beginnings of the foul ups to come. Skills actually don’t work; starting out decent at first level leads to an ever-escalating numerical war which will eventually ruin a game; and removing THAC:0—which at the time I thought was brilliant—actually screws up a lot of the numbers which make the game function properly. Did I mention you could still power-game the crap out of 3rd?

3.5 Edition: What the heck? A partial decimal edition doing nothing more than replacing good rules with miniatures ones so they can sell you all the books you already bought over again? Did I miss anything?

4th Edition
: Unwittingly, this edition continued the flawed trend of ‘more power is better’ allowing people to get higher ability scores, more whacked-out multi-classing, a stupidly balanced power system, and an escalating ‘arms race’ of numbers which would make many a nation’s nuclear weapons division jealous. On the pro side, 4th edition tried to be different which is a fine thing. They also took a stab at ‘balance’ forgetting that: 1. the more stuff you add to a game the less balanced it is, and 2. who cares about balance anyway? The major fluff in spells which made the game cool was also missing. Yes, those same spells wreaked havoc with overpowered sorcerers (a wizard with more power), but oh well.

5th Edition: Actually asking the fans instead of randomly doing stuff is a nice move. This edition isn’t out yet, but I’ve heard from a few people saying they don’t care anymore. Others are hopeful. I have the feeling they’ll fail on some really basic fundamentals, but at least they’re trying which is always a good thing in my books. By Jove, if I was in charge, I’d ruin the game, but I’d ruin it with style.

: While technically not D&D, Pathfinder really is D&D. [Oh, god, this i gonna cause so many arguments.... Ed] Basically, it’s 3.75 edition. It keeps all the elements of power-gaming we’re so fond of, adds more, gives you more things per level, and generally makes a mess of things in the grand style of 3rd edition. While many fans appreciate this game, I can’t help but worry about its future. What are they going to do next, and are they allowed to? Also, it suffers from the same flaws as 3rd edition, but nobody noticed them there either.

Summary and Prattle

I don’t mean this article to say that D&D is bad, or that any one edition or game is fundamentally better or worse than another. Though I ridicule them all, it’s with the heart of a kindly parent yelling incessantly at his kids. I’m fairly sure I missed some of the finest and worst points of the editions, but hey, I’m writing this in four hours on my only day off.

This article also doesn’t cover the OSR movement, the many fine indie games out there, or the great game companies who put out such classics as: GURPS, Savage Worlds, and so forth.

Also, one might readily wonder about how technology is affecting the market. After all, there wasn’t much in the way of electronic entertainment when the original D&D came out and now there is. The aging demographic of the original game players is another consideration. What do these older gamers like to play? (if anything). It’s reasonable to assume that what might have pleased a 13-year-old won’t have the same appeal to a 30-year-old family man. Possibly, these older gamers are teaching a new generation to game, but teaching them what? Random RPGs designed for little kids? I think we’re forgetting that RPGs in general were what ‘we’ as little kids were after, no need to make them ‘little kid’ RPGs (no offense to any out there).

I’ve heard on multiple occasions of people who think it would be brilliant to have ‘online’ versions of their favourite RPGs.Sadly, most RPGs function better face to face. While message boards are cool, they’re a whole different experience. Video-chat and other tools can only go so far, but it’s an interesting conundrum nevertheless.

So, what are your thoughts on the pros and cons of various editions of D&D? How do you think the market has changed in the years since the original game came out? Do you think D&D has been getting steadily better or steadily worse? Perhaps, every edition has pros and cons. How do you think technology is affecting the market? When you’re in the nursing home, which game will you be playing?


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5ever, or until 2024
Don't start holding back now!

There is suck there, even if there is also, er, umm, well, don't hold back, thats what I am saying!


What is this, the ultimate edition war? EVERY edition sucks? Har har. (o:

Anyway, many of the points are spot on, but I think you overlooked the single most glaring issue that all editions of D&D share: Relying on the d20. That thing is a minotaur in a china shop.

The probability curve of the d20 means that you simply cannot place any trust in your character's skills. Sure, you may have a +5 to X, but the D20 will come along to ruin your day every time.

+5 is very highly skilled compared to the common person. Enough that you really shouldn't be failing a DC 10 check 20% of the time.

And the most skilled and best equipped of all warriors is going to miss 5% of the time... And the weakest, more frail of all kobolds is going to give you a whack 5% of the time as well. C'mon. Give me a break. \o:


A 2d10 or 3d6 substitution would fix so much.

I Like the ideas you posted and I agree to the idea that the game has become an endless chase to the top for power. As me and my wife call it (3rd-4th) is the gradual move to becoming a pen and paper MMO culminating with 4th edition as being a MMO rip off. Its not D&D and I do believe the "spirit" of the game was lost on the new owners. They see $ and nothing else, so to heck with the games actual playability and to heck with those of us who played in the "old" days when the game was more about ROLEplaying and not ROLLplaying. I prefer 2nd-advanced to the newer games, however I do play them (except for 4th which I will not play, after reading the rules). I dont want "Balance" I want fighters to be fighters and I want thieves to be thieves I dont want fighters to "cast" I dont want DPS and Tanks etc... I want D&D, when I want to play a MMO I play an MMO. I dont care if Thieves Backstab means they have to play smart and learn to avoid the creature to hide and comeback to hit them in the Back.. I dont like flanking and sneak attack which added a DPS system. I also dont like the new rules for Multiclassing, its broken and one of the reasons the game failed. Look at the boards and try to find a straight class build. Guess what you will find? nothing why? because there is no reason to be a straight class, a multiclass character is millions of times better and can break the system faster than a GM can sit down (see PUNPUN)... with no restrictions that matter why would a person play a straight fighter to 20th level if he could play a Barb/fighter/scout/ranger/rogue with all the features and able to single handly kill anything the GM can throw at him... oh and lets add gestalt and just declare victory before playing. I want the old rules.. I want the game to be played for fun and not to see who can be the most blah blah blah I want a group who can work around their differences and there weaknesses... PS... dont even start me on alignments......


More complaining about D&D editions?

There is a surplus of nit-pickers and whiners out there that forgot what D&D (whatever edition your playing at the time) is about. Getting together with buds and playing a game.

Lets face it........There is never going to be an edition of D&D or Pathfinder that everyone likes or loves.

Just take whats offered and make it cool. :)

Challenger RPG

First Post
@Zelkon: Yes, I agree. I was trying to be satirical when I wrote that. ;)

@scourger : Lol. :)

@TerraDave : Thanks, I'll see what I can do. :p

@GhostBear : Well said! I'd never really thought about that much, but it's true.

@William Scott Brewer : Excellent post. Too many good points to cover them all here in the time I have. Needless to say, I agree with a lot of your keen insights. It's nice to know there's at least one group out there who still games how I tend to game over here.

@Maul : Totally agree. In the opening paragraph of the article, I tried to make it clear that I still love and play all editions of D&D (I was just writing it for the heck of it). Yes, all games have their flaws. Yes, no game is perfect for everyone. Yes, I've enjoyed playing all of them at one point or another (and probably will continue to, although maybe not 'so' much 4th).

I just meant the article as a spoof and a way of sounding out 'problems' other people had with various editions of D&D. There are many things I like about each edition too, but I'm not sure I'll write an article about it as it might sound too sappy and nostalgic.


Thanks for reading and posting everyone, I really enjoyed reading your thoughts!


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