The Ghosts of D&D: Past

The Ghosts of D&D: Past

Examining the ghosts of RPG past, present and future.

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Article:

"Eventually, the individual consumers start buying every new book and become pickier about what they add to their collections. Sales drop off - not necessarily because of book quality - and a new edition becomes necessary to 'reset' the knowledge base and introduce a new influx of sales to the support products."

Shouldn't that be 'stop' rather than 'start'?

Interested to see were this short series goes, since most of this was a history lesson I was already aware of :P

Amnestic:

Article:

"Eventually, the individual consumers start buying every new book and become pickier about what they add to their collections. Sales drop off - not necessarily because of book quality - and a new edition becomes necessary to 'reset' the knowledge base and introduce a new influx of sales to the support products."

Shouldn't that be 'stop' rather than 'start'?

Interested to see were this short series goes, since most of this was a history lesson I was already aware of :P

I wasn't aware of all of the details, but I don't know more than one group that plays 4th ed. Just about any other series is more popular. Pathfinder, Shadowsrun, 3.5, Second ed, Call of Cthulu, both of the World of Darkness settings, 7th Sea, and a couple of homebrew systems are all more popular than 4th ed.

hmm i wonder if they added the sale of dnd novels into the profit from the guides

Gee, this is a lot of lead-in for what is obviously just going to be another typical 4e-bashing essay like we've all read many times before.

happyelf:
Gee, this is a lot of lead-in for what is obviously just going to be another typical 4e-bashing essay like we've all read many times before.

Without structured critique, we cannot improve. Has the article given you a reason to believe that Mr. Tito will be 'bashing' the system itself or pointing out faults with how WotC handled its release and brand? Considering the attention drawn towards the OGL in this article, it strongly suggests that it will be the latter, not the former, that will be the focus of the next article.

There are faults with 4e (as with every system, mind you), but the attitude and structure of this article didn't lead me to think that this would turn into a 4e bashing essay, like we've all ready so many times before.

I'm interested to see if this series will be discussing the "old-school" Renaissance.

4th Edition bashing is all fine and good, but I'd like to see more 3rd Edition bashing as well! I am 2nd Edition AD&D all the way!

I always felt like 3rd Edition was a simplification of the ruleset made with easy integration into video games in mind. Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights were the future moneymakers of the D&D brand and the rules evolved to work well. But I always felt like the focus of the game shifted to mere dungeon crawling after 2nd Edition.

Huh, this is actually a news to me. In my neck of the wood, 4e is king. Finding games of shadowrun, Cthulu or other non-fantasy rpg is doable, but finding a group of D&D 3.5 or pathfinder is damn near impossible.

I wonder if the next part will actually have data to back it's claim or if it will just be Steve Butt's opnion on the matter.

I sincerely hope this doesn't end up being a bashing essay, because no doubt the forums are going to start into a flame war the moment some one starts sticking their nose up in the air towards another edition.

I understand having fears that future editions will follow the path of 4e from those who prefer earlier editions, but in sincere honesty. The flaming between "Camps" is just about as pathetic as console fanboy wars. Perhaps even more, because seriously... Elitism over pen and paper games? Really? In the end, no one really cares what "Camp" you're sitting in, because at the end of the day, what you do with your own free time is up to you and you alone.

Enjoy 3.5 or 3e? Good! I'm glad you do! Enjoy an older version? That's great! As long as you're having fun, that's all that really matters, right? Having fun with 4e? Well keep it up! You're no less of a player for preferring that edition, and anyone who tells you otherwise should be asked to take a break from the group by their DM, or be mutinied by their group if they are the DM, because how immature is that...

The nice thing about all these editions? We now have choices... Each edition provides something different that may or may not appeal to us, and therefore we can pick the one we prefer to play and have fun with it. You're only less of a player when you start thinking of your edition as the only true version of the game, and that you're above everyone else who doesn't play it. Because at the end of the day, we're all playing D&D...

I am hoping this all moves towards a call for more development of games (both P&P and electronic) in the spirit of the OGL. Any game that allows users to create their own content gets giant thumbs up. Allowing them to make money off the work they put into creating content for the game would be excellent and could give developers a potentially easy pool of cheap contractors to bring in on crunch time for the next AAA title.

Also, in regards to 4th Edition, I am not a fan. I grew up with 2nd, but, honestly, I see 3rd as the closest to "getting it right" for whatever that is worth.

grenideer:
4th Edition bashing is all fine and good, but I'd like to see more 3rd Edition bashing as well! I am 2nd Edition AD&D all the way!

I always felt like 3rd Edition was a simplification of the ruleset made with easy integration into video games in mind. Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights were the future moneymakers of the D&D brand and the rules evolved to work well. But I always felt like the focus of the game shifted to mere dungeon crawling after 2nd Edition.

How can a game where someone you know controls the game move to dungeon crawling surely its up to the players, also as i havent played any P&P games how can the get more dumbed down surely most of the abilitys just give +/- numbers to different abilitys, maybe the number of dice changes?

I can kind of see where this is going. When I was younger, everyone I knew and met played 2nd edition. When 3rd edition came out, we all switched. But 4th edition? WotC changed too much(both in crunch and fluff), and it was inevitable that not everyone would dig the changes. And after all, how could things have been otherwise? The big slogan of 4th edition's development was "slay the sacred cows." And it was something different for each person. One person might have disliked the new multiclassing rules, while another might hate the magic system. For me, it was the gutting of the Forgotten Realms setting that turned me off.

This doesn't mean that 4th edition is bad, but it does mean that it is going to be liked by less fans of older editions specifically because so many of the base assumptions of the system have been altered. Personally, I've been looking into other systems, mostly Castles & Crusades and FATE.

I'm one of those guys that looks at everything and tries my darnedest to see the good side of it. I like 4th edition; it brought balance. Wizards can no longer replicate epic-level investment into a skill with a cantrip and Paladins are actually decent class (Not to mention their entire face lift from "Stick-Up-Ass Lawful Good Holy Warrior that will fall 80% of the time in a campaign" to just "Holy Warrior").

3rd Edition brought flexibility but with flexibility came abuse of the system.

The series is not going to turn to bashing 4th edition, but it doesn't ignore the fact that the audience is split into more heavily defended camps than ever before. As this thread is already an indication.

Hopefully, once you finish reading the D&D Present and Future articles (on Wed. and Fri. this week) you'll have a better sense of where the hobby is going.

Greg

Spacewolf:

grenideer:
4th Edition bashing is all fine and good, but I'd like to see more 3rd Edition bashing as well! I am 2nd Edition AD&D all the way!

I always felt like 3rd Edition was a simplification of the ruleset made with easy integration into video games in mind. Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights were the future moneymakers of the D&D brand and the rules evolved to work well. But I always felt like the focus of the game shifted to mere dungeon crawling after 2nd Edition.

How can a game where someone you know controls the game move to dungeon crawling surely its up to the players, also as i havent played any P&P games how can the get more dumbed down surely most of the abilitys just give +/- numbers to different abilitys, maybe the number of dice changes?

They can tailor the rules/item/spell selection towards a specific area (combat/dungeon crawling, as an example). I've not got enough experience with 2e to make a judgement one way or the other. What I will say is that I've seen more than one 3.5 game which was almost entirely city-based and spent a lot of time focused on "conversation battles" and politics, where Fireball is not nearly as useful as Glibness and choosing the Spymaster Prestige class could be considered 'optimal'. Indeed, it had no dungeon crawling whatsoever. I think Eberron (which was introduced in 3.x) tends to create a golden opportunity for such games, though obviously it also has plenty of opportunity for dungeon crawls.

2e might allow for such games as I've described more, and the rules of 3.x may indeed by tailored more towards dungeon crawling, but I would certainly not count out urban adventures. Hell, they had a whole book (Cityscape) based around it.

Sadly, 2e was mostly before my time. I matured to the age where D&D was possible just when 3.5 was getting into full swing and my only real experience with 2e has been a few peeks at the rulebooks when I was too young to comprehend them and some (extensive) Baldur's Gate (2) play.

Gather:
Ithat will fall 80% of the time in a campaign"

I would argue (and some may disagree) that if a Paladin is consistently falling then there is a likely fundamental disconnect between the player and the DM. I find that setting out the rules for what's part of a Paladin's code (and having a Phylactery of DM Intervention) tends to cut down the rate of falling Paladins to near nil. At that point it only occurs because either the DM is out to get the Paladin player or because the player wishes to fall - which sometimes happens, and can sometimes by the most memorable part of a campaign if done right.

Personally I liked that Paladin was restricted to only Lawful Good. You had Clerics for every other alignment you wanted to crusade for. Obviously you disagree, but that's just me thoughts on the matter.

Amnestic:

Spacewolf:

How can a game where someone you know controls the game move to dungeon crawling surely its up to the players, also as i havent played any P&P games how can the get more dumbed down surely most of the abilitys just give +/- numbers to different abilitys, maybe the number of dice changes?

They can tailor the rules/item/spell selection towards a specific area (combat/dungeon crawling, as an example). I've not got enough experience with 2e to make a judgement one way or the other. What I will say is that I've seen more than one 3.5 game which was almost entirely city-based and spent a lot of time focused on "conversation battles" and politics, where Fireball is not nearly as useful as Glibness and choosing the Spymaster Prestige class could be considered 'optimal'. Indeed, it had no dungeon crawling whatsoever. I think Eberron (which was introduced in 3.x) tends to create a golden opportunity for such games, though obviously it also has plenty of opportunity for dungeon crawls.

2e might allow for such games as I've described more, and the rules of 3.x may indeed by tailored more towards dungeon crawling, but I would certainly not count out urban adventures. Hell, they had a whole book (Cityscape) based around it.

But theres nothing stopping you from having glibness and spymaster in the new one surely? Nothing says you have to have fireball after all atleast i presume

Amnestic:
Personally I liked that Paladin was restricted to only Lawful Good. You had Clerics for every other alignment you wanted to crusade for. Obviously you disagree, but that's just me thoughts on the matter.

Yeah, personal opinion. I always viewed the Cleric as the Spellcaster arm of the deity. Sure they can smash stuff if needed (And they were decent at it when imbued with their gods powers) but Paladins were the "Warrior" branch of that particular god (At least in 4th edition).

Wanted to heal your friend? See a Cleric
Wanted to boost your armies potential with the power of your god? See a Cleric

Wanted someone to lead your army in the name of a god? See a Paladin
Wanted a guy who could kill stuff with a sword and shout prayers to a deity? See a paladin

Edit: For the falling stuff. Yeah; I mostly take into account the "Jerk-ass DM"

Ah, this argument. I know it well, and dislike the course it usually takes. I've greatly enjoyed 4e, both playing and DMing, but there are times I miss the somewhat convoluted and arcane nature of 3.5. I was not impressed with 4e when it first came out, but I have to say it has steadily improved as they have added to it, and it's my preferred system at the moment. That said, I am tempted to look into Pathfinder for variety. Screw system loyalty, I like diversity in my fun!

Was 3.5 fun? hell, yes. Was it perfect? Not even close.

But IMO closer than 4e. And in some respects closer than pathfinder (which has fixed some problems but introduced others).

3.# is, certainly, a dramatic improvement on 2e. Characters are more different from each other; feats are a fantastic inclusion in the game - whenever I play another system now I think to myself 'now...how would I implement feats in this?' (and obviously some of them more-or-less do implement feats or some equivalent, and 3rd ed was miles from the first game to have them - first I am aware of is GURPS - which was a fantastically interesting character-creation simulator stapled to the slowest combat system I've ever seen.

Gurps, of which I own some ten or fifteen books, tends to fail the main credo of game design: Is my game fun and intuitive* to play? You could obviously play a very fun game with a system a lot like the GURPS one (I believe it is called 'fallout') but GURPS is not that system unless you ditch half the rules and come up with a more fun combat system (a system in which the first round of combat involves half the party being dead or bleeding to death has issues IMO. Realism be damned).

wow, that was a long aside about GURPS. Getting back to 3.#; the skill system is, whilst not perfect, a dramatic improvement over both its predecessor and successor.

Oh, and: Not using the OGL was a boneheaded movie by WOTC. The OGL sells you more Players handbooks and DMGs than any other possible thing; you're making all your competitors advertise for you!

*'intuitive' not the same as 'easy'. And maybe the wrong word here, as I intend the inclusion of 'learnable' which intuitive intuitively excludes. A game can be damn complex and still have this property; the whole 'simple to learn, hard to master' paradigm.

I'm interested in where the article is going. Arguing which system is better doesn't get us anywhere because each system has its good and bad points. Even though I don't like playing 4th edition, I can sympathize with a lot of their design choices.

I think the future of tabletop games in general will be figuring out how to keep it profitable. The OGL was a great idea but eventually 3rd/3.5 got on a supplement treadmill. 4th edition seems to have tried different ideas like the online subscription and having services like the character creator and virtual tabletop tied to it, but I don't think that's been panning out too well.

Further reading: http://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/2846/roleplaying-games/thought-of-the-day-supplement-treadmill

I play pathfinder with 3.5. Sure, I tried 4th, but what threw me off was how little variety you could make with the lowest level characters. They felt very 'cookie cut', especially with the skills/spell cards (at least until you got to much higher levels). Card A or B? I think I'll take my choice from a long developed spell/feat list from over a few years.

That, in my opinion, was an big turn off for many older players and what led to such a heated debate. Both are fun, but you have to take the time and have to play with the right people to get a similar-to-engaging experince.

I started with 2nd edition and I have to say I never really understood the point with such a small selection of Non-weapon proficiencies (skills now) and such. Also, arbitrary level caps and class restrictions on certain races made little sense aside from the game designers trying to find a way to make humans a viable race to choose in the name of "balance".

I have moved up through 3rd edition and am currently running/playing in Pathfinder campaigns. Personally, I find the modifications to 3.5 that the Pathfinder guys made to be how Wizards of the Coast should have gone with their 4th edition. They've streamlined skills and buffed up certain classes that really needed it (paladins are far cooler now) while still retaining the unique feel of each class and their power/ability progressions. That's really my biggest gripe with 4th ed: every class gets the same number of powers, the same bonuses to skills, and the same number of feats.

Great article and I'm looking forward to reading the next installments.

The 90's were the best and worst of times for D&D. My friends and I were entering early adolescence when we decided to start playing AD&D. Wiith amazing campaign settings like Darksun and Planescape there was no shortage of interesting content, content that in some ways I don't think Wizards has ever really topped. However, the resources to recruit new players into the fold just weren't there. I remember the costs of the player's guide, monstrous manual and dm's guide being like 40 bucks a piece or some price that was just insane back then (I could be wrong, given my skewed view of money at 13 years of age.) The starter boxes and even the idea of a quick start guide had yet to enter the fold. It was basically read two 200pg rule books and figure it out. We gave up and went back to video games. I wouldn't be surprised if the D&D brand lost a generation of players with their 90's missteps. Of course it was inevitable, because even at it's most user friendly D&D is not a game for dabblers.

And by that logic, I think D&D needs to just go whole hog and cede itself to the grognards. After all, it will never be a mainstream pastime. This is the fate of a game that can't clearly articulate what it is to the general public: Is it simply a set of rules to simulate combat in a fantasy setting as it was in the 1970's? Is it a kind of complicated boardgame, as the miniatures and grid maps suggest? Or is it a structured way of letting players experience an ongoing narrative? It's probably all these things and more, and in being so much, too much in fact, it relegates itself to that small percentage of people willing to parse out just what exactly D&D will mean to them.

D&D will always appear hopelessly baroque in the face of video games. However, the transparency of the rules is, I would argue, largely the appeal behind it. Video games hide the clockwork; people who play D&D want to see it. To really understand D&D you have to read at least two books. D&D is about as serious a hobby as you can find short of creating a lunar lander in your spare time. So I say mutherfuckit two tears in a bucket, embrace your internal THAC0 lover and make fifth edition include tables that calculate animal meat spoilage based on temperature, humidity and method of preservation used.

No edition of DnD was without flaws. 1st edition was a rules nightmare unless you were human. Any other race had crazy restrictions. Saves were wonky and if you leveled up enough there was nothing you couldn't kill. Once again, only if you were human because every other race had level caps.

I totally understand what WotC was going for when they released 4th Edition. I think it went a bit too far and ended up alienating more old school PnP gamers.

Still, I hope that the DnD brand will thrive and even though I don't play 4th ed. I am looking forward to seeing what comes next.

I hope he touches on the OSR too. I'm pretty firmly entrenched in the OSR camp. The core of my game is built around Labyrinth Lord with the 1st ed monstrous manuals and a bit of stuff pulled from the DMG. Then again, I use the mass combat system from 2nd Ed's Combat And Tactics for small scale mass combat of under a 100 figures, and Warmachine from the Rules Cyclopedia for large scale battles. I also use a variation of 4th ed's Healing Surges... so really I'm all over the place.

Then again I also have powered armour, breech loading rifles, robots, ray guns, and flying machines so my campaign is probably as far removed from modern conceptions of D&D as you can get. In a lot of ways it more closely resembles Blackmoor or a pulpy 'sword and planet' adventure than anything TSR or WoTC has produced since Expedition to Barrier Peaks.

The OGL was probably the best thing to ever happen to D&D in my little world, particularly in the long term. Labyrinth Lord, Castles and Crusades, OSRIC, Mutant Future, Stars Without Number and all the other OSR games just couldn't exist without it.

What I think WoTC really, really needs to do is take a good hard look at the Metzer Redbox and figure out what made it so successful. 1981 was when D&D really hit its zenith of popularity and that 64 page booklet was what did it. At the end of the day, in a single 20 dollar box you had everything you needed to run a D&D campaign for upwards of a year. Then another 20 dollar box would keep you going all the way up to level 14.

Really what I think they need to do is create a full game experience that can be condensed into a very low pagecount, not unlike the old redbox. Keep things simple, but don't make it feel like it's nothing but an extended advertisement for the 'full game'. Then use DDI to introduce 'advanced' concepts. Give players a full 6 month subscription to DDI included in the redbox. If they're still playing after that then you know you have them hooked, if they don't renew the subscription then they wouldn't have signed up in the first place. Restore a sense of mystery to the role of DM. Go back to a more clearcut separation between rules that the DM needs to know and rules that the players need. Keep the player rules to an absolute minimum.

I don't know how WoTC could go about doing this, but I don't see how D&D can survive in the long term without a pretty radical shakeup.

imperialus:

What I think WoTC really, really needs to do is take a good hard look at the Metzer Redbox and figure out what made it so successful. 1981 was when D&D really hit its zenith of popularity and that 64 page booklet was what did it.

I think partially it was an issue of D&D being new and original, but I also think the answer is in your statement of the fact that the rule book was 64 pages. I didn't know that, and it boggles my mind.

Consider this: the combined page count for all three core 4th edition rule books tops out at 832 pages. Now I haven't actually looked through 4th edition, and I understand that the Monster Manual is basically one large reference volume leaving the other two at 544 pages total, but who are they kidding? 832 pages represents an unholy level of scope creep from 64 pages. This is less a rule book for a game, and more a tax code. As I said before though, that isn't necessarily a bad thing- if that's you're bag. But I think it's fair to say that, given the stated goals for the game, WotC may be lost in their own dungeon.

tendo82:

imperialus:

What I think WoTC really, really needs to do is take a good hard look at the Metzer Redbox and figure out what made it so successful. 1981 was when D&D really hit its zenith of popularity and that 64 page booklet was what did it.

I think partially it was an issue of D&D being new and original, but I also think the answer is in your statement of the fact that the rule book was 64 pages. I didn't know that, and it boggles my mind.

Consider this: the combined page count for all three core 4th edition rule books tops out at 832 pages. Now I haven't actually looked through 4th edition, and I understand that the Monster Manual is basically one large reference volume leaving the other two at 544 pages total, but who are they kidding? 832 pages represents an unholy level of scope creep from 64 pages. This is less a rule book for a game, and more a tax code. As I said before though, that isn't necessarily a bad thing- if that's you're bag. But I think it's fair to say that, given the stated goals for the game, WotC may be lost in their own dungeon.

I pulled out my copy of the redbox (though technically it is the slightly older Moldvay edition).

To give some numbers. The character creation section is 10 pages. Admittedly this was when Race and class were not distinct so the entry for "Elf" combines both their racial and class abilities. The list of monsters if 15 pages and lists over 100 monsters. Really, everything you need to know about 90% of the monsters can be summed up in a few dozen characters. Not words, Characters. For example. The entry for orcs reads as follows:

Armour Class: 6
Hit Dice: 1
Move: 120' (40')
Attacks: 1 weapon
Damage: 1-6 or weapon
No. Appearing 2-8(10-60)
Save as: Fighter 1
Moral: 8
Treasure Type: D
Alignment: Chaotic.

It then lists a brief 4 paragraph bit of flavor text talking about Orcs personalities, tactics, and how to include larger groups with 'leaders' or other monsters like ogres or trolls. There are 5 other monsters listed along with Orcs on the same page to give you an idea of how brief the writeup on them is.

The key though, is that anyone can figure out how to make sense of the Orcs stat table. Even a kid, picking up the game for the first time with no one to explain anything to him could figure out the basics of it in an afternoon or so.

Equally brief is the adventure included in the boxed set. Keep on the Borderlands is only 28 pages long. It includes a map of the keep itself plus 27 entries on the various locations of interest (or potential interest) within the keep. It also includes a wilderness map covering several square miles surrounding the keep with 4 different encounters ranging from a tribe of hostile lizardmen to an insane hermit that the party has an opportunity to roleplay their way with rather than fight directly. The Caves of Chaos form the centerpiece of the adventure and have almost half the pagecount dedicated to them. The caves are actually several different but related mini dungeons with multiple entrances, and secret passages between them. They collectively contain a tribe of kobolds, a tribe of goblins, a tribe of orcs and a tribe of gnolls plus a few small caves containing big nasties like a minotaur. It's not a clear cut dungeon hack though, since the different tribes are actually warring with each other and there is the opportunity for the PC's to play one tribe against another and weaken them. It can take well over a dozen sessions to clear out the caves, and by the time players are ready to move on you've got them well and truly hooked.

Also just as points of reference, the original D&D boxed set had 3 books. Two of them had 38 pages, one had 42. You first saw the real page count bloat with AD&D. The PHB had 120 pages, and the DMG tipped the scales at 240. One important thing to note though is that all that players were expected to know was the PHB. Also 60 of those pages were spells and another 20 or so were appendix rules for things like psionics, bards and the different planes, the actual 'rules' only went up to page 40.

Greg Tito:

The series is not going to turn to bashing 4th edition, but it doesn't ignore the fact that the audience is split into more heavily defended camps than ever before. As this thread is already an indication.

Hopefully, once you finish reading the D&D Present and Future articles (on Wed. and Fri. this week) you'll have a better sense of where the hobby is going.

Greg

Looking forward to the rest of the articles.

I think that, simply put, 4E is a very different game from previous editions. Good, bad or indifferent is a matter of opinion, but different it is. I play a mix of Pathfinder / 3.5 / homebrew myself. I started in 1974 and my campaign made the transition from original D&D (my first box was woodprint with a pasted on label, later ones were white) to AD&D to second edition AD&D to 3 to 3.5 without huge difficulties. And I freely stole ideas from the various basic editions as well :) 4E required too much change. Paizo started playtesting PF and I've used a lot of their material since then.

Thinking a bit about the 1st ed DMG and the general idea of rules bloat.

If you spend much time talking with other people in the OSR you'll quickly realize that even back in the early 80's when D&D was at its most popular there were entire swaths of the AD&D rulebooks that just never saw the light of day. If you ever get the chance to take a look at the 1st ed DMG check out the unarmed combat rules on p72. They're insane. The rules for initiative are completely nonsensical, and I don't think I've ever met anyone who actually used the rules for helmets. Since most people got their introduction to D&D with the redbox and then moved onto AD&D from there it seems that most people also ended up playing a hybrid of the two, typically combining AD&D's classes, races and monsters with Basic's combat rules and most of the mechanics. This is all conjecture and based on anecdotes but I think the underlying thing is that you would never, ever find two groups of D&D players actually playing the same game. There would be similarities but each groups 'edition' of D&D would evolve into something that suited their table and their own groups playstyle.

Just as an example. I've yet to find a skill system in D&D that I like. Regardless of edition. Secondary skills in the Rules Cyclopedia and 1st ed, NWP's in 2nd, Skills in 3rd or 4th all leave me feeling bleh. My houserule is as follows:

At character creation you pick two nouns or verbs that you are 'good at'. You also pick one noun or verb that you are 'not good at'. That's all. There is no set mechanical bonus to this, I as DM just remember that you are good at some things and take that into account. End of story. At 5th level you get another thing that you are 'good at' and again at 9th. For example, if you were playing someone who was 'good at horseback riding' you might be able to leap off the back of your horse at a full gallop while wearing platemail and wrestle an orc to the ground taking him alive. If you are good at engineering you might be able to supervise the construction of a siege engine, or shore up a dungeon wall that looks dangerous.

Gather:

Amnestic:
Personally I liked that Paladin was restricted to only Lawful Good. You had Clerics for every other alignment you wanted to crusade for. Obviously you disagree, but that's just me thoughts on the matter.

Yeah, personal opinion. I always viewed the Cleric as the Spellcaster arm of the deity. Sure they can smash stuff if needed (And they were decent at it when imbued with their gods powers) but Paladins were the "Warrior" branch of that particular god (At least in 4th edition).

In 3.5, Clerics were better at being Paladins than Paladins, and better at being Fighters than Fighters :P "Decent"? They were great at it. There's a reason Clerics are a Tier 1 class.

Spacewolf:

But theres nothing stopping you from having glibness and spymaster in the new one surely? Nothing says you have to have fireball after all atleast i presume

By "new one" do you mean 4e? Well...yes, there is something stopping you. Spymaster and (to my knowledge) Glibness don't really exist. Glibness could be made pretty easily, but Spymaster would take some dedicated homebrew time if you wanted it to be both useful and balanced. I admit, I've not played a great deal of 4e and while I objected to the assertion that 3.x is more dungeon-crawler focused, 4e really does seem to be. The almost Diablo-like way that loot is generated seems to emphasise that.

I may be wrong though.

The debate over which edition rules is better rather misses the point. Its not the rules that grab most peoples attention its the background. The D&D franchise has many diverse backgrounds but there is no headline grabber and the end the backgrounds, to the uninitiated, look rather generic. If you look at the success of warhammer 40k, which itself is a development of a rather generic fantasy setting, it has a very definite brand. You can tell pretty much instantly something in the 40k setting but its hard to tell the difference from something in the D&D world as opposed to something from WOW, Dargon Age, elder scrolls or Lord of the rings.

4th Edition is alright, but it's just not D&D. If WotC had called it anything else it would've been fine, rather than being "Dungeons and Dragons: The Search for More Money".

You know, I honestly think that way too many people have a stick up their bum because 4th edition was not designed for them. Do you know who it was designed for? People who have had enough of the nonsense of 3.5, needing to pour over sourcebooks for obscure combos for ridiculous characters. overpowered casters, alignment meaning anything, and so many other things. I love 4th edition, and only now, thanks to it can I look and appreciate 3.5 again even a little. I still can't do that towards any older edition, nothing could save those though. People who realized mechanical differences are just supposed to be an illusion to offer variety of style, when reflavoring now can allow you to be a warforged ranger, call yourself a wizard-golem that launches off arcane bolts like an old style blaster caster, and that's what you are. No dissonance because the DM or the rule books say otherwise because neither dictates the fluff. Never seen a tabletop game other than FATE systems allow that.

I'm reading these backwards. So, having already seen "Future" and "Present"...

You say in the intro that you're looking to figure out an edition schism. But, in this article, which really should be laying the groundwork for understanding all that...

1. The entire history of D&D under Gygax and TSR gets two paragraphs. You don't have to rehash all the stuff that a generic D&D article would talk about, but maybe you should look at the time period when D&D actually had two divergent coexisting game lines(Mentzer/Moldvay/"BECMI"/&c. and AD&D) in print at the same time.

2. On page 2, Dancey states that there were numerous AD&D1 holdouts during the AD&D2 era (so numerous that the 3rd Edition team actively worried about this). Wouldn't this be a useful parallel to examine?

3. The transition from D&D3 to D&D3.5 has how much space devoted to it? Two clauses.

-- Alex

EDIT: Also, lol @ "games that meld all genres like Rifts".

 

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