Wednesday, January 11, 2012

5E Announcement: Initial Thoughts

Now that I've had a chance to catch-up on the news, I thought I'd pen a few initial thoughts on the recent 5E announcement.

Yes, a mild rant follows. What can I say, I'm tired and sick.

I've been reading the 5E feed on Enworld. I'm struck how they want this edition to be of the people, and yet made no effort to use grassroots platforms to (at least in part) make the announcement. If you want people to buy in at the grassroots level then you need to start offering olive branches. I don't see that here.

Given the edition wars and the differences in play styles, I don't see how that gap (chasm?) can be bridged. Certainly aesthetics can't be bridged. An edition that tries to be all things could very well not end up doing anything. If you follow me. Granted, there's always a percentage of folks that blindly follow the "brand" rather than the "game." They already have hold of those people. But if they drop the ball on the edition-to-bring-peace-in-our-time it might very well be a huge (final?) nail in the coffin. What happens if it's close to universally hated? This is a high stakes game, and I just don't see WotC having the talent to pull it off.

Also, if they make an edition that has successive levels of complexity to it you'll just end up ghettoizing the "simpler" versions. It will be another wave of OD&D and Basic as "kiddie" D&D. Gee, thanks.

Here's another question somebody should ask Mearls: What will the shelf-life of this edition be if it's intended to be infinitely customizable? Why do we need to buy 100+ in hardbacks with shitty art to have a customizable game that we already have? Certainly it would have to be longer than the 4 year debacle that was 4E? Wouldn't it?

Also, if the edition is to be modular and customizable then, one could make the argument that you are just restating the edition wars in a different way. If everybody is playing D&D differently (if you consider the possible modularity of a D&D game that spans OD&D to 4E), then nobody is playing D&D at all. In all likelihood you still won't be able to speak/understand the same language/culture as other D&D players.

Finally, here's a quote on the online/offline divide taken from the 5E page mentioned above:

WotC: "[We are] extremely committed to tabletop gaming and the face to face experiences that D&D brings. There is clear recognition that although digital tools can enhance and supplement a game, the company has not lost sight of the fact that D&D is a tabletop roleplaying game, and not a digital experience."

Oh, yeah? How long did it take you dumb-asses to figure that out? That's why the whole WoW route with art and 4E made no sense to me. D&D should have an online presence, but I'd never pay for it. These should be value-added tools for the face to face game. You want me to buy your books, play your game, and then pay for your over-hyped, under-performing online crap? Get real. Cr0m and I made Meatshields because we love the fucking game - period. And it's free for everybody.

Anyway, these are just some initial thoughts.


  1. One thing that disappointed me was their approach to the art that is going to be used. Basically it sounds like they are defining an overall look (i.e., brand image) that is being outsourced to a Chinese art factory. I have no doubt that this "look" will supposedly be "old school."

    Now, compare that approach to Goodman Games. I have not played the DCC RPG, but I've looked through it, and I really appreciate how they reached out to multiple artists in the RPG community. Same goes for their work with the Dungeon Alphabet. Same goes for Labyrinth Lord, Swords and Wizardry, and LotFP, for that matter.

  2. This, and any other edition that WotC publishes, will ultimately fail because to capture the hearts and minds of players a game needs to be a labour of love, not a labour of profit. A great game begins as a great set of rules that is played and loved by its creator who has a sense of vision of what the game should be. An poor game is one that is designed by a committee with the sole intent of making a lot of money. It doesn't matter how much community input goes into it, a corporation will never produce a great game.