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.

1 comment:

  1. You have provided a great (unbiased) insight into one of the many problems that D&D is faced with. I believe the dismantling of the Empowered DM is caused by WOTC desire for a high-level of modernity in D&D. The online game- World of Warcraft is viewed by WOTC as a paradigm of modern role-playing games, so many of the concepts from this popular franchise have been dragged into D&D 4e. The players direct the gameplay in 'World of Warcraft' and players direct the gameplay probably more in D&D 4e even though there was some evidence of it happening in D&D 3.5.

    I agree with you, WOTC if they have any sense, should re-focus their efforts into making the next edition of D&D with the DM in mind. Look at new (and original) ways to provide exposition about the adventure, make character creation and the DM campaign a more interactive experience and better quality pre-fabricated adventures.