Monday, January 9, 2012

All that was old . . .

Good morning, friends,
I have news of some portent for you this morning. A new edition of D&D is in the pipe. You can learn more from the wizard's mouth here.

There is also an articles in The New York Times.

It is evident from reading the articles that WotC is taking a page from the open playtest playbook, used to such great affect by Pathfinder. It also seems evident that they intend to go back to the "toolkit" roots of the game. Love 3E and 4E or hate them, there are certain unavoidable truths about them. 3E attempted to enable diversity among characters with an idea that looked good on paper. That edition's rules for multi classing and prestige classes originally struck me as very cool. In play, however, they battered the gates of reason allowing a flood of munchkins. I also believe that such a tightly woven rules set, where virtually every contingency is spelled out, further opens the doors for munchkins. Because, really, what is a rules lawyer, but a munchkin with a better vocabulary?

4E was awesome, IF you played its game. Stray too far from the RAW at your own peril. One of my chief issues with 4E was the herculean effort it took to create new classes. As you may know, I'm a fan of a small number of basic classes, role-played as "ranger", "illusionist", whatever. But, that was rendered almost impossible in both editions. So, creating new classes along the new model, in order to personalize the game to the world, was almost impossible in 4E. It wasn't nearly so difficult in 3.x. There were numerous examples of using prestige classes to good effect to bring certain aspects of a campaign to life.

There was another thing that I took away from the article. It seems that with 3E and 4E the keys to the game were given to the players. Sure, there were improved stat blocks and new encounter paradigms, but the players were the clear focus. The DM became less of a Master and more of a Moderator. The game didn't belong to him anymore, it belonged to the rules, and to the players' interface with those rules, the characters. It became less an exercise in collective story telling and more about the DM entertaining a table full of players. Players, by the way, that were empowered to tell the DM he wasn't entertaining them properly if they caught him in a rules faux-pas.

I'm cautiously optimistic. I always look forward to a new edition, at least on the run-up, I'm an edition whore, after all. If they can put more of the game back into the DM's hands, and make it more of a toolkit, it should be pretty exciting. By the way, if you follow the Wizard's link above, you can sign up for the open playtest. Make your voice heard. Power to the people.


  1. Put me down as another cautiously optimistic edition whore. If they manage to create the 'Rosetta Clone' which also 'the New Shiny' that'd be neat. I'd be happy if I could use all my TSR and clone stuff along with 5e stuff, even happier if I could make Redwald 5e compatible.

  2. Dang, Lee! I just googled Redwald and it looks extremely cool. Is it completed? How would I go about getting a copy? I love a desperate situation as a background. I also love post-apocalyptic, which Redwald seems to be, on a very personal scale. Very well done. Also, the use of the term Wolfshead puts me in mind of the '83(ish) Robin of Sherwood series. Great stuff, that.

  3. No not completed yet. Still have a few bestiary entries to do, a few more magic items, and some advice on running it or an example campaign set up.

    If you go to this post . . .

    . . . there are links to download the rules and bestiary pdf.

  4. Very nice, lee. I had some thought about condensing the levels myself. I was looking at an implementation of WhiteBox with a tighter link to Chainmail's Hero and Superhero ratings.

  5. I read about Arneson's 3 levels on one of the blog (pretty sure it was Grognardia). Thought it was really neat. Especially good for a shorter campaigns. Been reading about chainmail, and using it with OD&D. I like the idea of the three different systems. Might use it for another project.