Wednesday, February 8, 2012

D&D Next: Edition Wars

A lot of discussions in the forums revolves around an interesting question:

Quoting Chodeaboy who responded to the Uniting the Editions, Part 2 article:

"No offense here, but if the objective is to satisfy all the people who play pre-existing editions why not just sell different editions of D&D?
and be done with it?"

Obviously, there is a point here (ignoring that fact that there is a business desicion behind every new edition). If players and DMs still find old material relevant and useful, re-prints could make them very happy.

My old AD&D books are all worn out, and sometimes I'd rather leave them be than pick them up and risk another cracked binding or torn page. If these books were re-printed, I would certainly buy a new copy. Same goes for Basic D&D. A good-quality digital version would also be nice, but I understand the issues involved.

So D&D Next, with its aim to take the best of each world and adhere to different play styles DOES sound like a good idea.

But what is the best of all worlds?

For me, these are the highlights:

  1. Basic D&D: Simplicity
  2. AD&D: Grittiness
  3. D&D 3.5e: Versatility
  4. D&D 4e: DM Friendliness

In order for D&D Next to be adopted in my groups, I would require it to be very simple in its core, keep the players on the edge with mortal characters, be versatile and allow the players to create what character they want, and be as friendly as possible to the DM in terms of rules, encounter building, adventure design and session management.

IMHO, no version can do all of the above out of the box. I can fudge and mess with the internals of ANY version to make that happen, but as a 35 years old software engineer with a wife, 2 kids and some private life out of the gaming community, I have very little time for such tweaking.

Hopefully, D&D Next will do that for me.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


I got really excited reading about D&D Next.

It's great to hear about the making of a new D&D version. The web is rife with discussions concerning the content of this new version, and the new community site (available here) is a good source of information in the mad sea of misinformation.

Creating a new version of D&D is not an easy task, especially when aiming to seperate the core of D&D (its essence?) from the many extensions, expansions and styles of play. From Basic D&D, to AD&D, 3.0, 3.5e and 4e, control has moved from the DM's side of the screen to the player's. I personally believe this is a mistake.

The following sentence might sound harsh, but I really believe it is the truth: D&D is reduced to a computer/board game without an empowered DM.

An empowered DM can make decisions. An empowered DM can make things happen "out of the blue" if nesseccary. An empowered DM pose a unique challange to overcome, a challange that cannot be emulated by rules, computers or any other non-human interface.

So my advice to Wizards (if they are listening at all) is this: Have D&D Next be all about the DM. Recognize that the DM is the focal point of the game session and understand that DMs (and especially good DMs) are a great way to draw players to the table and to the gaming community.

Player content is great and is much needed, but the if the DM sucks, players will leave his table not matter how good/fun to play are their characters. Think about it this way: in your gaming group, how much of the interaction occurs between players, and how much interaction occurs between a player and the DM?

DM's are a bottleneck, but intead of eliminating the bottleneck (by eliminating the DM), empower the DM and have players stand in line for another great D&D session. How? Design D&D Next with the DM in mind, and find ways to help him spend less time on the rules, and more time on creating the gaming experience his players will like best.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

It's Out, and It's Mine

It's lousy, full of poor English, spelling mistakes and cardboard characters, but it's out, and it's mine.
(Nanowrimo effort, self-published using Lulu)

Wings of Darkness by Ido Tamir