Thursday, May 24, 2012

Let the Games Begin

It's May 24th and we all know what that means. I've looked over the playtest documents. I'll keep this brief.

It looks to me as if their design philosophy was to take the 3.x engine and add some chrome from 4E Essentials. Hit dice are back, as opposed to the fixed hit points of 4E. The magic-user is back to remembering spells. Saving Throws mean what they did pre-4E, although they can be based on any stat. It appears that Healing Surges are gone. Cure Light Wounds once again simply restores 1d8 hps.

There is this notion of Advantages/Disadvantages. Essentially in either case you roll 2d20 rather than one whenever attempting the action in question. If you're Advantaged you keep the better roll, if Disadvantaged you keep the lesser roll. That, my friends, is straight out of Barbarians of Lemuria. I think it is a very neat idea, and have considered it for some of my house rules. Here, though, it leaves me a little flat.

In fact, the wole thing has me scratching my head. I'm predisposed to distrusting big-business rpgs. I have a case of splatbook burnout that will never go away. I desperately want to love every edition of D&D that sees the light of day, though. It is more than the words and art on the page, the same way I am more than the sum of my parts. I love all my OSR stuff, but if a version of D&D came out that I could really get behind I would be all over it. It will have to overcome that predisposed distrust, though. These playtest docs don't really give me much hope that this version is the one.

Like I said in the opening, it strikes me as 3.x with 4E Essentials elements house ruled in. Then there's the Ad/Disad thing. If I want to assemble my own rule set from pieces and parts, I will (see my previous post, which, btw, was written before I saw the playtest docs). I know this is just the first release, but it is the foundation they're going to build on, so while it may change over time, this is fundamentally what Next will look like.

I don't think they're worried about us OSR folks. That's not what the "uniting the editions" crap was all about. After seeing this, I think it is all about trying to lure the disgruntled 3.x folks back from Pathfinder. That's ok, too. Life out here on the fringe ain't so bad.


  1. Thanks for the overview. If the real target is the Pathfinder crowd then I worry for the whole endeavor. Nonetheless, a new edition doesn't blow up the stuff I love and already have on my shelf.

    1. I agree wholeheartedly. That was an original motivation for the OSR to begin with. I'm still hoping I can get behind Next, but if it keeps looking like it is following a 3.x development branch, that could be difficult.