The State of Dungeons & Dragons: Future

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The State of Dungeons & Dragons: Future

Examining the ghosts of RPG past, present and future.

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To early to talk about 5E? HAHAHA... The official forums have been talking about 5E off and on for over a year. And there are plenty of hints that they're working on the latest version.

I think the biggest problem is he fails to see his success as actually being a success.
I've played every edition. do you know what? I don't want 5th edition to look like 4th edition. But I don't want it to look like 3rd, 2nd, OD&D, basic, OSR clones, or pathfinder. Do you know why this is?

We still have them. having support, modern updates, supplements and more is just not needed. Explicitly, there's only so much you can make that will contribute to a game that is definitely never seen as modular beyond the campaign settings. I owned every single WOTC book under the 3.0 and 3.5 system at one point, and the amount I paid for them made having to toss most away a few weeks ago when I had to move far away with very little showed me just what an awful waste and ridiculous publishing system every single RPG to date has had, and it is perpetual.

People wonder why 4th edition came out and was so different, but the really simple answer may be - could you even *THINK* of ANY kind of concept that needed full WOTC published support you yourself couldn't settle for a homebrew material, that would be worthy of a shiny, expensive source book slot that would need to sell tens to hundreds of thousands of copies to cover the expense of? One of TSR's biggest reasons for going under was releasing so many books that just had a tiny market that only the worst nerds of the hobby would buy because they were collectors or obsessed, not because they were badly designed. They were just bad ideas from inception to rotting on shelves to the games poorly tested materials helped ruin.

It wasn't about balance, or trying to go more mainstream. They might claim they had that as a very high reason for the influence and style of design, and you know what? I think it was a very good thing. I feel 4th edition has been more playable from numbers to the edict that you can re-flavor any mechanic with whatever fluff you like being the next big thing in tabletop games if we could get over the stupidity that is proclaiming dis-associated mechanics are bad. (Rolling dice is the biggest disassociated thing in all of RPGs but only it gets a pass because of tradition and because nerds are stubborn and awful?)

And you know what, even if it wasn't that good, between the PHB and DMG 1, a D&DI subscription, and the 4e rules compendium, even if it was a mistake, they pushed a new method of delivering content that was lighter on my wallet fivefold than any other previous edition, and when I cancel, leaves me without the need to cling to ruined useless tomes like everyone else does on the hope they'll somehow appreciate in value, which they never will.

I think DnD will always be in trouble if success is defined to be a product line that brings in $100 million a year. I play DnD and I don't think that there is enough of an audience for that kind of thing.

This was a great series of articles, I never really got into D&D and so missed out on most of its history and politics. All I had ever read about it was really basic historical stuff about how it got started, so I loved reading about all the drama that it's been through.

As for where it's going, I don't think pen and paper RPGs have to go the way of model trains - as long as they actually adapt to the realities of most gamers. For me, I had an opportunity to join a D&D game earlier this year, but I wasn't going to be in the same country for long enough. I think a lot of people have similar situations, whether they have to move or they just have made friends across the globe via the internet. If WOTC provides an easy way to run games across long distances, that would remove a lot of barriers to playing.

This has been a great series.

It's been interesting to see what the designers of the game and its competitors think about the whole thing. I like that Mike Mearls sees the problems and is working to correct it.

I think the $100 million dollar mark won't work as well in this hobby, unfortunately. All you need to play the game is a couple of books, so realistically, after you get the core books, there's no reason to buy anything else.

It should be interesting to see how far Wizards has to take the DnD franchise to be as successful as Magic: The Gathering. Will we be roleplaying with cards and booster decks in the future?

I'm very curious to see how 4th edition translates into video games. Hopefully whatever comes of it, the games will be better than the fare Atari cranked out.

Article:
Mearls admits 4th edition might have gone too far in creating a perfectly balanced game. "We've lost faith of what makes an RPG an RPG," he said, admitting that in trying to please gamers with a limited imagination, 4th edition might have punished those with an active one.

The swing of it: We already had 3rd Edition D&D for all the "creative" players who wanted to try different combinations (both mechanically and in theme).
Including those who were only being "creative" insofar as it meant bending the system over their knee and breaking it.

But that's what you get with a system designed with that kind of freedom in mind. Giving more power and freedom to the players means it will be that much more difficult to balance (the DM *is* a referee AND storyteller. It's easily the hardest job to do in a tabletop).

Creating something that's challenging without being completely unbeatable/unavoidable is very difficult, and it becomes exponentially moreso when you add more and more books with increasingly more broken classes and feats to the pile.

And for all of the "WoW-ification" of 4E, I actually respect their efforts in bringing the game back down to earth. This also sets 4E apart from 3E, which is a *good* thing.

Though I suppose now WotC's Hasbro taskmasters are hoping for a more generic "One Stop Shop" gaming system that has a wide appeal, all under the banner of tabletop's most recognized franchise name.

Fittingly enough, I think that era has already passed (think "d20 System").

"There's this fear of the bad gaming group, where the game is so good that even playing with a bad gaming group, you'll still have fun."

The result of this philosophy is that, perhaps more than ever before, gamers are playing different games than the official D&D coming out of the Wizards of the Coast. "What D&D faces now with different editions and old school versus new school, and 3.5 versus 4th edition, it's like the comic book conundrum," Mearls said in reference to the differences between Silver Age Captain America versus the plot of the recent Captain America film. "How do we get all these guys back together, so we actually have real communities, not just a bunch of separate smaller communities, that don't really interact in any way?"

If my years of DMing and playing tabletops have taught me anything, it's this: DO NOT try to force conflicting player archetypes together and assume it will work itself out.

By that, I mean do not try to force the Power-Playing Min-max Munchkins, the Storytellers, and the Board Strategists into the same "community" just so you can more easily sell them a "one-size fits all" product via word-of-mouth.

They're at odds not specifically because of your game rules, but because of wildly differing (sometimes directly conflicting) gaming philosophies. You could mix these folks into any other given game and it would likely end in an argument (or worse).

"How do we get all these guys back together, so we actually have real communities, not just a bunch of separate smaller communities, that don't really interact in any way?"

I am no designer, and I trust that both Mike and Monte will do their best in designing 5th edition to be as successful as possible. I would like Mike, who asked the question, to consider something: an apology for the things that were said by the old design team and the manner in which those who played previous editions were treated might help scab over a few wounds.

Sure, it's been years. But some of us don't forget.

Best of luck to M&M making D&D at WOTC.

Very good series of articles. Enjoyed the read. You can count this 40+ year old among those that abadoned D&D when it got away from "1st edition" Advanced D&D. I remember vividly walking away after the train wreck that was Unearthed Arcana.

Thanks for catching me up on the changes

I'm one of those "rare" individuals in the RPG consumer world who loves new editions of games, it's not like the old editions of games go anywhere after all, and new rules are cool and exciting especially if they feel like different games rather than glorified updates.

This was definitely the best article of the three, and a very interesting look at possibilities for the future. I have lost my faith in Mearls, however, as he seems to me misguided in so many ways these days.

I don't think its fair to equate 4E with the imaginative/unimaginative skew by any means, no matter how much the elitist anti-4E sect would like to think that, but 4E did shuck too many sacred cows for its own sake.

Also, I think that it's actually a good year here in 2012 to announce a 5th edition. Gamers are tired of being stretched out over too many editions of the game, and I think we could use a unifying edition....if WotC doesn't move forward on this, its going to be Pathfinder (not necessarily a bad thing there, either; I win either way, as I am a "pro-game player" who benefits by not jumping on any edition war bandwagons as much as possible).

I'm surprised that it hasn't been brought up or noticed that a major barrier to the consumption side of the hobby is the amount of time it takes to start playing (and how much time it takes just to get anything done). 45 minute combats in 4E are all well and good, but one module for 4E can take weeks or even months for my group to complete. Imagine if we had mechanics that ran more quickly and smoothly (ala AD&D 1st and 2nd edition days)....people coould actually buy a module and play it in a couple sessions, with 10-20 minute combats and a faster story pace; that might actually drive more product sales, I would think, as people would actually "get more" out of modules by being able to enjoy them in shorter but more intense game sessions than the current 4E (and 3.5) models of play, which can usually spend four or five times longer accomplishing exactly the same tasks that were so much quicker in the older editions. But....just a thought.

Atmos Duality:

If my years of DMing and playing tabletops have taught me anything, it's this: DO NOT try to force conflicting player archetypes together and assume it will work itself out.

By that, I mean do not try to force the Power-Playing Min-max Munchkins, the Storytellers, and the Board Strategists into the same "community" just so you can more easily sell them a "one-size fits all" product via word-of-mouth.

They're at odds not specifically because of your game rules, but because of wildly differing (sometimes directly conflicting) gaming philosophies. You could mix these folks into any other given game and it would likely end in an argument (or worse).

I'll have to concur with this, with one caveat.

I can and do play RPGs in a variety of styles, but my approach to 4e is very much as a powergamer.
Heck, I've been quoted as saying, "I don't min-max. 'cos winners don't min."
All I got to say is, don't mix the powergamers with the munchkins. We're not the same group.
Meaning, munchkins look for loopholes to game the system. Powergamers look to be ultra-efficient, but want to win fairly.

An example of munchkin-ing in 3.5e is summoning a colossal giant centipede to jump on your enemies, because "attacking in the most efficient manner" is to deal 160 dice of damage in a 4x4 ('cos the mob is 16 tons). It doesn't even take any damage if the jump is 10 feet off of a wall.

Where, in the same situation, a powergamer would trigger a contingency to cast a haste, then drop a maximised fireball (which is damn hard to resist due to stacked feats on DC and spell penetration), then use the increased movement speed due to haste to get behind cover.

The two groups are actually polar opposites in that .. munchkins will cheat on die rolls ('cos winning is everything). Powergamers will punch people in the mouth for cheating on die rolls ('cos cheating is an insult to having 1337 skills).

Edit:
To clarify with a computer game example, a powergamer in street fighter 4 might have 16,000 battle points 'cos he's good at the game and studies frame data for hours while on the train. A munchkin uses lag-switching and disconnecting to get 16,000 battle points.
Neither player is fun to play against if you're casual, but one of those players can be consulted as an expert on their character, while the other needs a swift kick to the nads.

I think what might spare D&D and its ilk from the fate of model trains is that its core appeal remains alive across the entire face of gaming and culture more generally. Really it's an apples to oranges comparison. Model Trains represent a fascination with an outmoded technology - the train. Nobody rides or sees trains anymore. Dragons, dungeons, friends, Friday night and pizza are alive and well.

However, I wouldn't be surprised if the hobby does narrow for those interested in the pure experience of pen, paper and imagination. As boardgames have shown, gamers are looking for a structured and self contained experience. There's a world in a box, a world filled with miniatures, maps and implements like cards and dice. The tangible nature of the fantasy boardgame experience will converge with the world of pen and paper RPGs.

It's happened in reverse already, with examples like Descent. And though Descent focused on a particular aspect of the RPG experience, there are games out that have gone much farther. I recently played Mage Knight and was blown away by it's sublime hodgepodge of card mechanics, world building, player choice and character development. It's obvious inspiration, Magic Realm, is another example.

Currently, what has traditionally been D&D's greatest strength is its Achilles heel. As I said in another post, it's not at all clear what you're buying with D&D. When you buy a boardgame, players know they're buying a complete experience. If WotC is smart, 5th edition D&D will be a hybrid boardgame/pen and paper experience. D&D can't go home again, the OSR ensured that. And why would it? That market is a known quantity and it's well serviced by many other products. Instead of fighting a war of attrition in a staid market, create a new one; change the paradigm once again.

Danceofmasks:

I can and do play RPGs in a variety of styles, but my approach to 4e is very much as a powergamer.
Heck, I've been quoted as saying, "I don't min-max. 'cos winners don't min."
All I got to say is, don't mix the powergamers with the munchkins. We're not the same group.
Meaning, munchkins look for loopholes to game the system. Powergamers look to be ultra-efficiently, but want to win fairly.

Point taken, though too often in my experience, the two cross paths at the common circle I call "griefing".
The sort of person who will do anything and argue anything to attain in-game dominance over everyone, including the DM.

Atmos Duality:

Danceofmasks:

I can and do play RPGs in a variety of styles, but my approach to 4e is very much as a powergamer.
Heck, I've been quoted as saying, "I don't min-max. 'cos winners don't min."
All I got to say is, don't mix the powergamers with the munchkins. We're not the same group.
Meaning, munchkins look for loopholes to game the system. Powergamers look to be ultra-efficiently, but want to win fairly.

Point taken, though too often in my experience, the two cross paths at the common circle I call "griefing".
The sort of person who will do anything and argue anything to attain in-game dominance over everyone, including the DM.

Well, that's only a problem if you mix powergamers with people who don't powergame.
Treat 4e is an extremely complex tactical board game, and you don't have a problem.

sorry for not reading anyone else's comments, but im just here to say that i've been playing since 3.0 and now i like pathfinder.

peace out girl scout

The Philistine:
I'm very curious to see how 4th edition translates into video games. Hopefully whatever comes of it, the games will be better than the fare Atari cranked out.

Hopefully it will be better than what Black Isle cranked out too, but I don't see that happening.

Of course, I still regularly play one of the Atari D&D games, so there is that.

Mearls admits 4th edition might have gone too far in creating a perfectly balanced game. "We've lost faith of what makes an RPG an RPG," he said, admitting that in trying to please gamers with a limited imagination, 4th edition might have punished those with an active one.

I feel cold fingers of high leveled undead Nostalgia on my shoulders.
Ah well... Since the days of D&D 4.0 and Warhammer FRP 3.0 mainstream RPGs aren't what they are supposed to be. :|

Atmos Duality:

Article:
Mearls admits 4th edition might have gone too far in creating a perfectly balanced game. "We've lost faith of what makes an RPG an RPG," he said, admitting that in trying to please gamers with a limited imagination, 4th edition might have punished those with an active one.

The swing of it: We already had 3rd Edition D&D for all the "creative" players who wanted to try different combinations (both mechanically and in theme).
Including those who were only being "creative" insofar as it meant bending the system over their knee and breaking it.

But that's what you get with a system designed with that kind of freedom in mind. Giving more power and freedom to the players means it will be that much more difficult to balance (the DM *is* a referee AND storyteller. It's easily the hardest job to do in a tabletop).

Creating something that's challenging without being completely unbeatable/unavoidable is very difficult, and it becomes exponentially moreso when you add more and more books with increasingly more broken classes and feats to the pile.

And for all of the "WoW-ification" of 4E, I actually respect their efforts in bringing the game back down to earth. This also sets 4E apart from 3E, which is a *good* thing.

Though I suppose now WotC's Hasbro taskmasters are hoping for a more generic "One Stop Shop" gaming system that has a wide appeal, all under the banner of tabletop's most recognized franchise name.

Fittingly enough, I think that era has already passed (think "d20 System").

"There's this fear of the bad gaming group, where the game is so good that even playing with a bad gaming group, you'll still have fun."

The result of this philosophy is that, perhaps more than ever before, gamers are playing different games than the official D&D coming out of the Wizards of the Coast. "What D&D faces now with different editions and old school versus new school, and 3.5 versus 4th edition, it's like the comic book conundrum," Mearls said in reference to the differences between Silver Age Captain America versus the plot of the recent Captain America film. "How do we get all these guys back together, so we actually have real communities, not just a bunch of separate smaller communities, that don't really interact in any way?"

If my years of DMing and playing tabletops have taught me anything, it's this: DO NOT try to force conflicting player archetypes together and assume it will work itself out.

By that, I mean do not try to force the Power-Playing Min-max Munchkins, the Storytellers, and the Board Strategists into the same "community" just so you can more easily sell them a "one-size fits all" product via word-of-mouth.

They're at odds not specifically because of your game rules, but because of wildly differing (sometimes directly conflicting) gaming philosophies. You could mix these folks into any other given game and it would likely end in an argument (or worse).

Forcing the min-maxer with the roleplayers never worked well... This conflict is one that has been going on for a millenia and will probably continue to plague the RPG world for the next many generations.

It's become somewhat hard, if not impossible, to gather a group of people who are willing and able to give tabletop role-playing a proper go. People these days have their heads full of media-induced and what seem to be mostly other people's dreams, and while a decent number are willing to give it an initial go, creativity seems somewhat scarce amongst the more consumerist-minded escapists. That, and the power to focus on something for a little longer than just an hour, just one session, just one weekend.

I do hope there will be a revival of sorts, and I do hope there will be digital D&D quality titles for all tastes and all systems available. I still have a bookshelf full of splendid D&D and AD&D artificial ADD, and up to the Beholder series the trip was even fun in digital form.

Hell, I even got the JAMMA Mystara and Tower of Doom, even though they were mostly empty calories. My Rulebooks and Creature Compendia have inspired three generations now already, and they will continue to do so. If a revision manages to revive not only the 'franchise' but the whole idea so it become viable again, all is good. If it ends up betraying its own nature just because some 'leading professional service' suit or some other high-paid ignorant optimizing agent tries to fit it into the ugly world of potentially relevant statistics, facts and figures, it's about time to kiss it all goodbye.

It's really obvious that the writer of the article is hostile to 4e, and trying to hide that instead of being honest about it.

The idea that 4e is for people with 'limited imaginations' is absurd, and it's kinda pathetic that somebody got paid to write that.

happyelf:
It's really obvious that the writer of the article is hostile to 4e, and trying to hide that instead of being honest about it.

The idea that 4e is for people with 'limited imaginations' is absurd, and it's kinda pathetic that somebody got paid to write that.

It may seem like that at first, but please, forget about emotions for a moment and tell me - judging by official adventures and campaigns released for newest edition of D&D - don't you feel that it became some sort of tactical hack and slash game ?

As far as i can see, adventures for D&D are now almost solely about "tactical encounters" and while you need some imagination to survive them, it's completely different kind of imagination than this required for role-playing.

Good series of articles. I've played a long time and I don't plan on stopping while I have players. As for no new bood, I advise the Computer and Game Club at a high school and I have kids wanting to play P&P. Some have played before, others are new. I think I'll stay optimistic about the hobby's future...

*edit* Btw, Ryan Dancey is involved with a Pathfinder MMO that is under development. That might account for some of his pessimism about P&P. The outfit is called Goblinworks. We'll see what they come up with.

The articles are indeed a good read, however I don't like the generalisations made about DnD (3.5, pathfinder, 1st-2nd ed. clones, 4e) being the only line of rpgs that matter in the industry.
That last comment by Ryan Dancey left me agast, I didn't expect to hear something so pessimist and defeatist by someone who is supposed to love the hobby. I don't know if the current state of White Wolf made him say something so uninformed (or just trying to sell an MMO), but there are a lot of new and old rpgs who show great promise and are for many people considered superior to DnD, and are not even close to being as expensive a hobby as model trains (nor as boring). Even if wizards/hasbro somehow kills DnD it will certainly NOT kill the hobby; for many Rpgers, myself included, it was only a "gateway drug".
By the way, all that talk about 4e or pathfinder being better than the other is rather silly, it is just a matter of taste, if you enjoy the game you are playing, you are doing it right; besides it is a FACT that GURPS is better than both!

Another article with nothing but negativity directed at 4E and another thread with people who have terrible DMs complaining about the "lack of roleplay" in 4E.

Blurrruruhgg.

I just want an all encompassing program that allows me to manage every aspect of my campaign in full detail via laptop, desktop or Tablet.

I don't even need it to have multi-player support like a dice roller room, I'll take a half assed version that lets me plug in dice rolls, and do my rolls via pc or dice and then plug it in.

Imagine a full WoTC connected and supported program that let you extrapolate monsters and items, and character sheets into an application that lets you que up your encounters, edit attributes and auto roll initiative. (buy monster manual 3 get a dlc copy to plug into your 4e utilities)

Moving through the int tracker like an RPG where you can readily see abilities and when they can be used, and what is on cool down and what status is applied, super quick and easy way to see player hp and status so if need be you can lay down those fudge rolls, decide that a roll 2 below an enemy AC is allowable, set it in so remains that way til the end of the encounter.

If need be pay for DLC, wham just que up a module and plan it all up.

Or go All out and build it into a multi-player RPG, that is just based on the game and no bullshit, a grid based rpg with side sections where the dm controls out of battle sequences etc. Let the players go to shops on their own and spend their gold on what you say is allowable so you can get the mundane stuff out of the way unless your pcs are into that stuff.

There are so many ways to make it more intuitive and use technology to smooth out all the bumps and hassles of juggling pages so my mind does't become a loading screen when I have to juggle the whole universe at the same time, on pages and pages.

Well, I haven't been around long enough to see 3rd edition or the rest of it (Only been playing for 2 years) But before we had access to rulebooks of any sort, I played a single tutorial game with my uncle whilst I was on holiday. I enjoyed the hell out of it, took my findings back to my friends, and we agreed to get the rulebooks. We already played warhammer, so we got a board and some dice, used all the rules I had from memory, looked vaguely online and made the rest up (Some 70% of the stats and rules) and played enjoyably for half a year in this system, we got the rulebooks, and we now enjoy good structure, but from those days of improvising everything, we learned something and that was to never let rules get in the way of the Role-Play. We play with 4E rules, but we use 9 alignments instead of 5, we have random items which each person chooses as a little token of backstory, have separate specilisations in made up jobs with made up rules.

4E is a fantastic combat simulator, but if the role-play isn't to your liking, then just make up rules to make it better for your party.

Intensifizer:
Another article with nothing but negativity directed at 4E and another thread with people who have terrible DMs complaining about the "lack of roleplay" in 4E.

Blurrruruhgg.

The "lack of roleplay" said for whatever system is meaningless, you don't need rules to roleplay the same way you do for combat, in my opinion "no RP rules" are better than "roll diplomacy to have the npc obey you", besides if I am not mistaken, 4e has more RP rules than theprevious ones (it added skill challenges). However what 4e did to "hurt Role-Playing" is that it made the combat (even more) a war of attrition, in result having the combat portions of a session be so freaking long that there is little time left for actual roleplay. Still if there is energy in you enough, after a 2 hour long combat, you can roleplay all you want.

JesterRaiin:

happyelf:
It's really obvious that the writer of the article is hostile to 4e, and trying to hide that instead of being honest about it.

The idea that 4e is for people with 'limited imaginations' is absurd, and it's kinda pathetic that somebody got paid to write that.

It may seem like that at first, but please, forget about emotions for a moment and tell me - judging by official adventures and campaigns released for newest edition of D&D, don't you feel that it became some sort of tactical hack and slash game ?

A far as i can see, adventures in D&D are now almost solely about "tactical encounters" and while you need some imagination to survive them, it's completely different kind of imagination than this required for role-playing.

Certainly, there were problems with early 4e modules, but you're doing the system a huge disservice by pretending that's representitive of the system and it's qualities.

The game itself has far more support for roleplaying and non-combat than 3e did- it has a whole system for non-combat skill challenges, the DMG and DMG2 have better advice for story, character, and campaigning then any previous book, and there are better options for improvisation as well, because the game does a better job of showing gms that tthey can improvise, and giving them help with it if they need it. Helping with this stuff is hard for any game to do, but 4e does it better than most, especially with it's excellent advice sections.

It's also absurd to claim that 4e's campaign settings are set up for 'hack and slash'. Some people didn't like what they did for the FR, but it's not as if people wren't harshly critical of it before the change, too. All the other campaign settings, large and small, have been top notch. Eberron and Dark Sun both got excellent releases, and alternative takes on settings like Neverwinter and Nentir Vale have also been high-quality.

I'm not the one being emotive here. The hostility to 4e is not about 'roleplaying' or 'creativity', it's people who don't like change, and value nostaliga over good design. There's nothing magical about crappy old rules that don't work right. There's nothing 'roleplaying enhanced' about playing a game who's designers didn't do a very good job of balancing classes or other options.

The backlash against 4e is understandable to a degree, but it's reached a height of absurdity and bile, and if WOTC bows to it, they will only be alienating their actual customers, in prefernce for people who are happy buying Pathfinder, and won't be happy with anything but another retread of 3e.

There are plenty of legit critisms to make against 4e, especally the early modules, and the combat grind- but fwe if any of them are included in this article, or other typical 4e-bashing screeds, which focus on nonsense like '4e is less imaginitive' and '4e prevents roleplaying' and other uninformed drivel.

happyelf:

JesterRaiin:

happyelf:
It's really obvious that the writer of the article is hostile to 4e, and trying to hide that instead of being honest about it.

The idea that 4e is for people with 'limited imaginations' is absurd, and it's kinda pathetic that somebody got paid to write that.

It may seem like that at first, but please, forget about emotions for a moment and tell me - judging by official adventures and campaigns released for newest edition of D&D, don't you feel that it became some sort of tactical hack and slash game ?

A far as i can see, adventures in D&D are now almost solely about "tactical encounters" and while you need some imagination to survive them, it's completely different kind of imagination than this required for role-playing.

Certainly, there were problems with early 4e modules, but you're doing the system a huge disservice by pretending that's representitive of the system and it's qualities.
(snip)

I see.
Since there are no emotions here, i would like you to consider such situation :
On the one side we have older players and GMs...

those who remember Ravenloft being a module for DnD not the demiplane of Dread. Those who witnessed fall of Tyr. Those who visited even most exotic countries of Faerūn and encountered no wild surge on the route since there was no such thing then. Those who remember times when Vecna and Cyric were only mortals. Those who took part in the War of Blood. Those who believed that Spelljammer is real and they tried to find it and seize its power.

...Do they really care about changes in system ? Sure they may whine about this and that, they may find something better, something worse, but those are minor elements. They - players - are mature enough to create from scrap and mantain single campaign for YEARS. If they are willing to use their energy, their adventures can be rich in elements, deep as Mariana Trench second to (maybe) only such epic tales as Kalevala or nordic Eddas.
Next installment of D&D can be all about space dwarves and orc zombies and they will still have their fun the way THEY WANT.

On the other side of this spectrum we have newcomers. New to RPG, new to D&D.
They are interested in RPGs, they ask, they hear that D&D is all they really need. So, they buy Red Book (or similar starter pack), and try to play. They still don't know what it is all about, so they need to use official adventures and scenarios such as ones presented in Dungeons of Dragon e-zines. And what kind of scenarios are there ?

I don't want to depreciate all this hard work, but since Dragon #155 they are mainly about tactical encounter=>next stage=>tactical encounter=>next stage ad infinitum. Official modules are no better. It's not that i've bought all of them, but i try to stay up to date. :)

Thus, newcomers will start to think that "this is what RPGaming is all about". In their eyes, RPGaming consists of characters fighting endless fights with some short cutscenes when they have to choose between some simplified dialogue options not unlike of Skyrim.

So.
TRUE - and i'm ready to kick ass of everyone who says otherwise - THERE'S SUPPORT for hardcore roleplaying in last edition of D&D. It was always there. Those sourcebooks depicting new locations, items, characters serve this purpose.

True, people can play as they want, but (and that's my point) they CAN do it only because they already know how to do it, thanks to their vast RPG experience. I feel (i may be wrong) that nowadays D&D isn't capable of producing both DMs and players capable of role playing the way it was meant to.

With that in mind i think that article of Mr. Tito, this one we're discussing here is very true.

<offtopic>
It is almost pure D&D-ish problem. Since 4ed i switched to Pathfinder. I don't want to start any Jihad here, but when i compare modules for both systems and settings (let's say Golarion vs FR/Eberron) i really think that D&D forgot what RPGs really are about.
</offtopic>

LordPsychodin:
I think the biggest problem is he fails to see his success as actually being a success.
I've played every edition. do you know what? I don't want 5th edition to look like 4th edition. But I don't want it to look like 3rd, 2nd, OD&D, basic, OSR clones, or pathfinder. Do you know why this is?

Stop being sensible.

Don't you know this is an excuse to wank on and on about how x edition was the best and everything else sucked, especially y?

But seriously, great post, all of it.

I've a lifetime of books in general I've been thinking about lately. If I move, there's just far too many of them to deal with. So I've been gradually ditching the hard collection with digital ebook versions that are actually practical.

I'd like to see D&D go more digital. Give us more electronic tools to organize games without fiddling with pens and paper. Online tools that work through browsers to play with our busy friends or those far away. Heck, give me programs to organize a game of D&D through my tablet.

Headdrivehardscrew:
It's become somewhat hard, if not impossible, to gather a group of people who are willing and able to give tabletop role-playing a proper go. People these days have their heads full of media-induced and what seem to be mostly other people's dreams, and while a decent number are willing to give it an initial go, creativity seems somewhat scarce amongst the more consumerist-minded escapists. That, and the power to focus on something for a little longer than just an hour, just one session, just one weekend.

And this is the only reason tabletop RPG gaming may go the way of model trains. It's just darn difficult to get a group of four or more together. I think three is a reasonable number to get together, but not optimal for an RPG experience. On the other hand, three is great for things like MtG and a lot of board games.

Personally, I've also found that games like D&D that are as steeped in nerd-culture, rules, lore and all that jazz just aren't that attractive to someone who might like gaming and games, but isn't interested in learning or playing something as dense as D&D.

Case in point: my wife enjoys games and fantasy worlds and having fun, but there's no way I could get her even interested in a D&D setting, let alone get her to navigate rulebooks, expansions, etc. It's not even really got to do with complexity, though that is part of it. On the other hand, source material is king for new players and my wife has glommed on to Mouse Guard using the Burning Wheel system. So much so in fact, that she was willing to split the cost of the deluxe edition. (my wife purchasing an RPG box set. Amazing!) The rules are relatively simple, but it's the idea of playing as one of the heroic mice from the comics that really appeals to her, appeals in a way that playing, say, a magic using elf never would.

On the flip side of that, between the wife and I plus my two regular gaming friends we've only managed one session and that was a character creation session. I'm fairly certain we'll get more play dates locked down, but trying to regularly get any more than myself, my wife, my cousin and our friend together is a herculean task.

In the future that's why online RPGs and bite sized board games that you only need one day to complete will probably rule for the foreseeable future. Sure, there may be a time when getting a group together on a weekly basis is feasible for more people, but for now, there's a reason that videogames, MMORPGs and mobile gaming are king.

JesterRaiin:
On the other side of this spectrum we have newcomers. New to RPG, new to D&D.
They are interested in RPGs, they ask, they hear that D&D is all they really need. So, they buy Red Book (or similar starter pack), and try to play. They still don't know what it is all about, so they need to use official adventures and scenarios such as ones presented in Dungeons of Dragon e-zines. And what kind of scenarios are there ?

I don't want to depreciate all this hard work, but since Dragon #155 they are mainly about tactical encounter=>next stage=>tactical encounter=>next stage ad infinitum. Official modules are no better. It's not that i've bought all of them, but i try to stay up to date. :)

Thus, newcomers will start to think that "this is what RPGaming is all about". In their eyes, RPGaming consists of characters fighting endless fights with some short cutscenes when they have to choose between some simplified dialogue options not unlike of Skyrim.

This is especially true when many new players idea of an RPG is formed by things like WoW, Skyrim and other videogames, where the RPG elements are all to do with character building for the purposes of defeating monsters and player choice in attitude, actions, alignment and personal choice are necessarily limited by what the game can provide. Most videogame RPGs are simply unable to account for, or include the options, to deal with or allow the majority of choices that are available in a PnP RPG. Videogames barely take into account non-combat abilities and scenarios, and most that do include some of that are limited to black and white morality choices and speech ability checks.

To me, PnP were always best when the rulebook was simply a reference for how to figure out how player choices should be worked out when interacting with the game world. The rules should never bog down players in technicalities, unless of course that's what a particular group wants. I think that the "role play" element has been lost somewhat, in favour of video game style stat building and min/maxing.

(best captcha in a while: lickser beer)

"How do we get all these guys back together, so we actually have real communities, not just a bunch of separate smaller communities, that don't really interact in any way?"

This is a problem of tribalism, not divergent games. You don't need to be playing the exact same game to have something to talk about. You just have to have something to say other than "My game is the only one with real roleplaying."

To whit:

Mearls admits 4th edition might have gone too far in creating a perfectly balanced game. "We've lost faith of what makes an RPG an RPG," he said, admitting that in trying to please gamers with a limited imagination, 4th edition might have punished those with an active one. "There's this fear of the bad gaming group, where the game is so good that even playing with a bad gaming group, you'll still have fun."

Did he actually "admit" that in so many words or are we just editorializing?

-- Alex

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