Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rebound

I don't have any deep insights into the upcoming new edition of Dungeons & Dragons or why Wizards of the Coast is going ahead with it. Truth be told, I don't care all that much about D&D any more, insofar as "D&D" means whatever game is currently available on store shelves and carries that name. I was a very enthusiastic player and referee of D&D III for about six years before I had enough and got off that particular merry-go-round. I flirted briefly with Castles & Crusades before diving into OD&D, which eventually led me to the crazy world of the old school renaissance and the retro-clones. By and large, I'm happy here and have been since 2007, before WotC announced the previous new edition of D&D.

But I think a lot of the gamers who decided to take a walk on the old school side of things did so out of frustration with D&D IV. They were disappointed in and angry with WotC, a company that, for many gamers, "saved" D&D back in 2000. They felt betrayed and, in feeling that, they looked for someplace, anyplace with which to align themselves. The bulk of them went to Paizo, I expect, and with good reason. Paizo not only makes great products; those products used a rules set very similar to D&D III. Indeed, Pathfinder's whole raison d'être is backward compatibility with the previous iteration of D&D, preserved for all time thanks to the SRD and OGL. 


A few of those disaffected gamers, though, sought out the old school renaissance and picked up games like OSRIC and Labyrinth Lord and Swords & Wizardry and Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Suddenly, "old school" was a buzzword to be found on many a gaming forum and blog. While there's no question that the ranks of our little community remained small, they did swell in size. Moreover, old school gaming punched way above its weight class when it came to influence over the hobby, with lots of designers, including those at WotC, suddenly touting their old school credentials and expressing admiration for the designs of yore. In 2008, it was "this ain't your father's D&D," but, by 2011, it was suddenly cool to be old school. In short, "old school" had become a fad (much like gaming itself).


Which brings us to 2012 and WotC's announcement of a new edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Unlike the 4e roll-out, which was condescending and tone deaf, this time around WotC is saying all the right things. They're talking about "uniting" fans of every edition and going back to the "core" elements of D&D. I'm glad to hear that, if only because it means they've learned from their mistakes. What's more interesting, though, is the reaction in our little corner of the Net. From what I have seen, a lot of old school gamers have expressed enthusiasm and even hope that WotC will "get it right" this time. I have to admit I've been taken aback by this love-in -- not because I want a repeat of the acrimony that greeted D&D IV, but because I'm surprised that, after all this time, old school fans give a damn about "D&D." But they do.


That's the truth of it. For a lot of gamers, OSRIC or Labyrinth Lord or Swords & Wizardry will never be D&D. They'll play it, sure; they'll even have fun doing so. In their heart of hearts, however, saying "I'm playing Swords & Wizardry" will never make them as happy as saying "I'm playing Dungeons & Dragons." I understand this mentality very well, because it's one I've shared at various times (mostly about Traveller). There's something about "D&D" that cannot be replaced. The ardor for that game, which was, let's face it, likely the first most of us ever played, is intense and not easily forgotten. There's thus an emotional attachment to D&D that there isn't for any of the retro-clones, no matter how much more true any of them are to the intent and spirit of the original games.


So, there are some interesting times ahead. If WotC does their job right -- doesn't alienate anyone by their marketing, produces a game that truly draws on the best of the past, etc. -- I suspect we'll see the old school community contract once more. As I said, I suspect a goodly portion of the gamers who've latched on to this particular bandwagon did so out of frustration and anger, but they weren't really ready to give up their true love for a simulacrum, no matter how good a simulacrum it is. Now that WotC is saying the right things and even obliquely admitting to their errors, all will be forgiven. That's not to say that there aren't potential speed bumps on the road ahead, but my gut tells me that a great many disaffected D&D players, many old schoolers chief among them, are ready to love again.

Me, I'm just a bitter old prune.

83 comments:

  1. I confess to having the same total lack on interest. And I'm not particularly mad at WotC; I'm not sure what it was that pissed people off so much. I just really don't care, knowing the publishing model there will almost certainly have to follow (that is, the endless supplements, etc.). The OSR puts out so much good stuff I can't follow a bit of it and I'm much happier giving money directly to the guys who produce. It all feels like D&D to me.

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  2. "As I said, I suspect a goodly portion of the gamers who've latched on to this particular bandwagon did so out of frustration and anger, but they weren't really ready to give up their true love for a simulacrum, no matter how good a simulacrum it is."

    I'd bet the opposite: that the experience has been so positive that many of us have given up the proprietarily sanctioned version for good; and that the community will grow as the eyes of the mainstream look back, and look across to what the 'bandwagon' has achieved.

    The word 'simulacrum' is also loaded, and I'd say unfair to the fresh work going on beyond the experience of the retro-clones - to the shoots growing in the fissures - as well as unfair to the potential for genuine new creation further on.

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  3. I think the guys at WotC want the old-school sales figures, not the old-school game style. I'm getting 5E is going to be all about "balance" and high-hit-point nigh-invincible characters. If I'm wrong, then hey, good on them, I might buy it if it's pretty close to Moldvay Basic, w/ minimal fiddly bits. I expect dismal failure though.

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  4. "getting" should be "betting"...

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  5. I came to the OSR from D&D 4e. I had abandoned RPGs in favour of boardgames back in '81 and only came back to it in 2007. With D&D 4e I tried DM'ing and found it so much work compared to what I remembered from Holmes that I turned back to those rule sets.

    I will certainly take a good look at 5e as many of my players will be interested as well. If it is easy to run and I can use my existing material (apparently one of the goals) fairly easily, then I would consider switching back. I really doubt this will come to pass as 3e's shadow looms too large for them to drop things like skills and feats.

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  6. To me, all the clones are D&D. Period. I know that's sort of a stupid statement on the face of it, and due to the legalities of the OGL the clones are not exact copies of the original D&D rules they emulate. What I'm getting at is, when someone asks me what I'm playing (right now it's C&C), more often than not I tell them "Dungeons & Dragons." Now, if they say that the books I'm using don't say Dungeons & Dragons, I'll get into the nitty gritty of the differences. But to me, all this stuff is D&D. I wrote about this on my blog yesterday:

    http://unto-the-breach.blogspot.com/2012/01/its-all-d-to-me.html

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  7. Mike Mearls has certainly set expectations very high - they've essentially said to ALL players that the next version will be "their D&D". If the new game comes out and a players of (BD&D, 1e, 2e, 3e, 4e, PF) can't look at it and say 'I see how I can play the same game with these rules' then there will be a hew and cry. And there are a lot of 3/4/PF players to satisfy.

    On a positive note, from reading his public statements over the years I know Mearls understands what people see as 'good' in the OSR rules. If they can strip to core down to be OSR like, that would be fabulous. He also made everyone in R&D play older rulesets to get a feel for how they work at the table.

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  8. They hadn't played early editions? And they were designing D&D? That is screwed up right there...

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  9. Thanks James, well said. I think you reflect general feelings over-all.

    I'm glad you recognize the "significance" of the brand to the average consumer, but also recognize the heart of the game we love. It took me a while to separate the game I love, from the brand. 40 years of conditioning is hard to break. It took 4e & the OSR to help me realize it.

    Now no one can tell me that I don't play D&D, because I know I do. It might not be 4e (pukes in little in my mouth) it's not even 3e (much-less Paizo D&D). I proudly play the D&D I want to play, and I don't bother with details or disclaimers.

    WotC is going to do what they want to do, I accept this. I can only hope they treat the brand with respect, but I don't have much faith when profit margins are the deciding factor.

    I do have confidence that Mearls & Cook are going to try because I believe they understand the heart of game, or at least they do now.

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  10. The specific reason I stopped playing 4e was mid/high level play doesn't work because its boring - combat is required, it takes hours to resolve and everyone has a billion actions to choose from all of which don't do that much at a time.

    I am not angry or disappointed with WotC, I do think Paizo is putting out the best D&D products right now. Also, the lack of a e-book strategy from WotC puzzles me.

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  11. I have to admit a twinge of hopefullness after yesterdays news. However as someone who grew dismayed first by WOTC s decisions regarding rules (3.5) and business practices ( the PDF argy bargy) I don't care all that much.

    Having to call a blink dog or a mind flayer something different in the OSR rule books is a small price to pay for the community and open source bounty of riches we currently have.

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  13. I find it weird that some gamers think of this as an either/or choice. If 5e is cool, I'll play it. And continue to play Labyrinth Lord at the same time.

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  14. It doesn't matter to me what they do with D&D. I decided to stop buying anything new after Third Edition. I've seen the "new edition" money-making scheme played out a couple of times already. You just announce a new edition, tweak the rules, and then convert the vast corpus of D&D-related gaming materials to the newer system, churning out book after book. Just for fun, every once in a while I see how many Fourth Edition books are being sold on Amazon and what their content is (Wow, you mean you just released a new race called "gnome," that's great! What an awesome idea!). Better to find the AD&D PHB, DMG, and MM for $3.50 each (used) and get those....

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    1. Where can 1e books be found for $3.50? I have my own original set but would dearly love to acquire a second set for my son, and everywhere I've looked the prices are much higher than that (generally $25-$50 per book for decent condition). Clearly I don't know where to look.

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  15. I am a excited to see how it unfolds even if it ends up not being for me.

    I have always thought Monte's work was well-put together, even when it did not line up with my interests.

    Was disappointed with Mearls' RPG writing, which always seemed half-assed, but maybe he will do better in this role.

    I have a one-year old son, and my wife and I are already talking about "family D&D nights" when he is older. What iteration of D&D that will be, or if it will be branded "D&D" remains to be seen.

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  16. I'm with Jack and Drance: it's all D&D, no matter what the legal niceties require us to call a certain incarnation.

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  17. it almost comes across like your mad that old time players might like 5E and not stay with older editions or the clones. what's so wrong with getting a little excited about the new edition getting worked on and maybe influencing it a little bit by letting them know what you would like in it ?

    i play 2nd edition. it will take a very lot to make me change my edition for 5E. doesn't mean i can't be excited about it and express my views on what i think should go into it.

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  18. Swords & Wizardry, LL, etc., are as much D&D to me as anything TSR published.

    Ok, AD&D is a little more D&D than anything else.

    The problem WotC faces, is the desires of the current 4e fanbase. The company made an edition of the game, for people who didn't like and didn't want to play D&D!

    And even as I type this, a lot of 4e players are on the WotC forums talking about, lobbying for and even expecting, a game that doesn't include Save or Die and Vancian Casting. You know,

    "...cause those things are stupid!"

    Comments from folks expecting "balance," "Epic Tiers," etc, look to be at least as prevalent as those from doom & gloomers.

    The people who hooked up with the OSR, whatever else they may want, do seem to actually like D&D. There were plenty of other options.

    If WotC puts out a game I like, then all well and good. But, unless it's the equivalent of a retro-clone or at least a "2nd wave simulacrum," then at the most, I suspect it'll sit on my shelf alongside games like Stormbringer. I want to play Stormbringer one day, but I always want to play D&D more.

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  19. I wish them well. But to be honest, I don't like D&D and never have. Didn't really like it in 1983, when it was the first RPG I played, and liked the later versions even less. Instead I got into Traveller, MERP and AFF, and never looked back. Something about the adhoc rules of D&D and the pantomime setting just turns me off.

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  20. My group plays Swords and Wizardry, and in our minds, we are playing D and D. None of us ever say, "Hey are we playing Swords and Wizardry this weekend?" We say "Are we playing D and D." We say this not because we really wish we were playing D and D as opposed to SW, but because, to us, that is the game we are playing.

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  21. I'm an AD&D 2E player. That's the game I love and if given the option, the game I would play from this day until the last.

    Unfortunately, no one seems to care a kobold's whiskers about that version of the game. In my area, almost no one is willing to play it and I am the only one willing to DM it.

    I have come to accept that I will never, ever, be a player in the game I love in the foreseeable future.

    That said, if 5E can provide a set of rules that is close enough to my game that I can stomach playing it and someone else in my group can DM, I'll jump. I'll bite. I'll buy.

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  22. In order for 5E to succeed WoTC needs to get at least two groups of D&D players supporting it from the following list: 4E fans, 3.x/PF fans, 2E/1E/OSR fans. All three would be ideal but probably not possible. Getting only 1 of these groups would be a failure, guaranteed. WoTC knows this. It's just a matter of what groups they target. My guess (and I think the obvious choice based on numbers) is 4E + 3.x/PF players, so I don't think the OSR crowd will be very happy with 5E. HOWEVER, the 3.x/PF crowd may be too entrenched with Paizo to move and WoTC might decide instead to go with 4E + 2E/1E/OSR instead. If they do, things will be REALLY interesting. One thing that 4E and 2E/1E/OSR fans have in common is a dislike for 3E, and you know what they say about common enemies...

    I think WoTC also has to face up to the fact that adventures sell the game beyond the initial rulebook release. Like it or not, Paizo has made "Adventure Paths" a staple of the RPG industry and WoTC needs to make adventures and campaigns a large and long term part of the 5E strategy. 5E needs a supported campaign setting along with the rules.

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  23. As I was pretty much away from gaming in general, with no friends who played it, from around 2000-2007, I missed all these editions from the new millenium. They weren't even on my radar. So I never got to be "let down" by the makers of D&D, or mad about it or whatever. I didn't really care what they did with it to be angry or happy.

    With a regular group going strong now and an eye on the OSR, here I am right in the mix as another edition is announced. It will be somewhate interesting to see how it pans out, but I don't have any plans to buy a lot of new gaming material in the future, so no matter how good it sounds I doubt I will move on to it. I have all the 1st edition stuff, It works for me, it seems to work for my group, so it's what we'll be playing.

    Of course, if one of my players were to announce in a year or so that he bought all the 5th edition books and wants to run it, I guess I would give it a go. But not so much out of curiousity. It would be more to support a long time player in my games. Other than that, I doubt I will experience this new edition. Barely have enough time for the half dozen other games and genres I want to run.

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  24. I started playing Labyrinth Lord a year or so ago and was actually kind of glad the D&D brand was off of it what with a lingering negative connotation the game has. It quickly became my children's favorite game, though. After a while, though, I just had to have the "real thing" in the form of the Moldvay/Cook rulebooks. (Erol Otus matters. What can I say?)

    A few weeks ago I accidently said something about "D&D" and my six year old daughter has called the game nothing else since. My son thinks "Dungeons and Dragons" sounds cooler and my daughter just loves the way "D&D" rolls off the tongue.

    So.... Yeah. We play D&D. It took me about twenty sessions to warm up to that fact, but yeah... that's what we play.

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  25. Related to what cibet said, it's key that they hit at least two of the three major demographics: 4e, 3.x/PF, 1/2/HM4/Clone crowd. I don't think it is going to be possible to hit more than two of these, and I think that it will be easier for them to hit the two on the ends than the middle. Paizo has a dedicated fanbase and most of those people aren't going anywhere. It seems like a joke in poor taste to suggest that the snooty OSR hipsters and kids who grew up on 4e would have some sort of middle ground, but I really don't see WotC being able to bring many dedicated 3.xers back into the fold this time around.
    Like many have said, I really don't care much at this point. This is a dying hobby, so down the line a new version on store shelves is going to become less and less relevant. Also, I like Runequest better, and there is a new version of that coming down the turnpike here in a few months.

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  26. For myself, I have never played any version of D&D past 2nd edition and that's not going to change now. The past work by WotC was so heinous, in my opinion, that I have no interest in anything they might produce. Those bridges are burned.

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  27. @tedopon: "This is a dying hobby"

    I know that is a common sentiment (and I've stated it myself in the past) but I'm not so sure anymore. Look at the success Paizo is having. If someone told me in 2005 that in 2009 a new company would not only unseat D&D as the number one tabletop RPG but they would make tons of money doing it I would have laughed out loud. Now look at them! Those guys are swimming in cash, sales, and community good will (even crotchety OSR guys like them ;)).

    It seems to me like there is a lot of corporate time and money being spent on developing games for a "dying market". Don't you? Would Hasbro really green light a whole new edition of the game, with a public playtest, on a market that was dying anyway? Maybe. Maybe not. I'm not so sure anymore.

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  28. Wow- so unless you dismiss 5e out of hand, old school games aren't "really D&D"?

    Are you sure those are the only two options James?

    I am always excited to see a new edition. I don't have a need to analyze why, I just am, I will buy 5e and read it with enthusiam

    However, that won't change what I'm RUNNING, which is an AD&D campaign and a FASA Star Trek campaign.

    And yeah, my AD&D game is "real D&D" to me.

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  29. Hey, more power to WOTC. Good luck with their endeavors, but a 5th Edition doesn't matter to me; my D&D will be B/X(or Labyrinth Lord[technically the same in just about all in name, anyhoo. Heck all the 'major' clone authors consider their Rulesets|LL's Dan Proctor, Basic Fantasy's Chris Gonnerman, and OSRIC's Stuart Marshall| to be D&D!]) 4Eva! Tunnels and Trolls 5.5 and BRP cover my other, non-homebrew rules needs.

    If WOTC puts out some good supplements I'll buy 'em. But the odds are long, as I only own ONE product with the WOTC logo: the Greyhawk Gazetteer, which I obtained at my local favorite bookstore!

    5th Edition should do ok, at least for a while. Even 4th Edition roared outta the gate, as I understand. Of course,WOTC will get sales off the crowd who auto-purchase each 'new' Edition(some of whom have been playing since White Box days[or older]), for reasons I've never been able to fathom. :-) Then you can add the not inconsiderable demographic who yearn to be playing the same version of D&D as everyone else at the time. And, of course, the rules WILL actually appeal to some, whether new to the hobby or not. The ad campaign will probably bring back some lapsed hobbyists as well, and the publicity surrounding 5th Ed's announcement may already have their attention!

    It'd be nice of WOTC to patch up the issues with 4E before scrapping it, though. Even many people who like it(and me ;-)) complain about the length of combat(if run as RAW), for example. That little bit of courtesy would go far towards patching up the ill-feeling 4Er's are experiencing now, I'd think...

    As for the hobby dying, that is debatable. And, more pointedly, irrelevant to me personally. I've had no shortage of willing players.(None of whom care much about copyright dates in game books[or whether there even IS a book, in the case of my homebrew.], thankfully!) But then, I don't care whether my group(s) are 'gamers' or not. Just like the 80's(and on ;-)) to me, without the bad hair, sleeveless vests, day-glo everything, and Vans. Everyone plays, man!

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  30. RPGs (actual RPGs with GMs instead of computers) died in the way that cinema died in the 80s. We'll never get back to the hayday but a sizable niche has settled out of the bloodbath helped greatly by the Internet's ability to cut the reliance on the (mostly gone) local game store.

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  31. I have been following your blog with interest for the last couple of weeks but I find a lot of it quite confusing. I used to play AD&D many years ago, picked up 3rd Edition when it first came out but have never played it, and recently my interest in D&D is waxing after digging out an old copy of the T1 Village of Hommlet module. My request is: could you possibly write, for us who haven't played for a while but are interested in D&D, a blog entry that lists what each of the acronyms etc are that are mentioned in your articles throughout the blog. I have no idea what OSR, PF, HM etc are, what they are compatible with and how they fit into the hobby. A few clues from your illustrious self would be most welcome.

    Best regards,

    Little Odo

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    1. LOL! I kind of agree, I figured out OSR is Old School Renaissance but a fair bit of other stuff is gobbledy-gook o this 25 year gamer :)

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  32. Man, is anyone else getting really tired of people saying "this is a dying hobby"? I wish the doomsayers would stop riding that dead horse into the ground. But I guess every aspect of human society needs the person wearing the "Repent! The End is Nigh!" sandwich board sign.

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  33. I certainly have bought and will continue to buy retro clones and dialects of D&D that I will probably never "play" directly. I see 5E in exactly the same light. If what I read about it on the web whets my appetite, I'll pick it up and see what I can get out of it. It doesn't need to be perfect, or even playable; it just has to have a few good ideas. I don't see myself becoming a regular customer of supplementary content (there is just so much good stuff coming out of the OSR), but you never know.

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  34. Just wanted to say that I enjoyed this particular post. It echoes a lot of my own sentiments (I say as I finish prep on a Pathfinder adventure for tonight's game).

    Announcement of 5e has created lots of discussions along these lines. Everybody (myself included) has some kind of special attachment to the D&D brand. Nearly everyone I know was disaffected toward WotC after 4e (a process which really got started by the money grab for 3.5).

    Until Hasbro releases the property altogether, or at least frees the designers from unrealistic profit expectations, it's difficult for me to see how D&D is ever going to flourish again.

    A bunch of us support Paizo because we liked 3.5 enough to keep playing. They won the hearts of many (myself included) by open-sourcing the rules with an extensive playtest. Nice to see that Wizards is following suit.

    I'll wait patiently, curiously, for 5e to come around. It will be interesting to crack a page and see if anything on it resembles OD&D, AD&D, or the other beloved varieties of youth. Something tells me the grognards won't be satisfied, but who knows? Can the blanket of D&D really comfort everyone?

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  35. @Little Odo:

    OSR = Old School Renaissance. Mostly old people that play old editions of the game. They all have beards (there are no women) and they are all grumpy. Some smoke pipes.

    PF = Pathfinder. A role-playing game that, except for 273 words (exactly) is the same as the 3.5 version of "Dungeons & Dragons" which, except for 492 words (exactly), is the same as the 3.0 version of "Dungeons & Dragons". Despite the apparent similarities of these games they have all been strategically changed so as not to be compatible with each other at all so you must own each to play any (no exceptions).

    HM = Holmes/Moldvay. Two of the dwarves from "The Hobbit". In that book they traveled with Han Solo to a Devils Tower made of mashed potato (100% accurate). Some feel they may also be two guys that wrote individual early editions of the "Dungeons & Dragons" boxed sets (speculation).

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  36. It's important to remember (esp when hoping they have gamer's interests in mind) that the company behind "D&D" since '99 is Hasbro not WotC. And Hasbro is a faceless, clueless, cost-cutting, shareholder value maximizing corporation. Closing stores, pulling pdfs, ending Dragon and Dungeon, online services debacle, how 4ed was such a misstep it drove existing customers to competitors and even to old weirdos playing editions that haven't made a profit in decades.

    I really wished more people realized we don't need them ("the industry"), esp not Hasbro. If they vanished from face of Earth we'd still be playing and tweaking our games as always. And they're be better blog posts to read.

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  37. "But I think a lot of the gamers who decided to take a walk on the old school side of things did so out of frustration with D&D IV. "

    I'm not sure - people who liked 3e stuck with 3e, then mostly went to Pathfinder.

    Like you it seems I burned out on 3e ca 2006. I was left casting around for a game, I too flirted unsuccessfully with C&C. I bought the 4e books in 2008, didn't like them, and came up with the idea of running BECMI (well, B E & C) D&D on the DM's side, with the players playing low-level 3.5e. I guess back then the OSR was pretty new, I used modules B7 Rahasia, B5 Horror on the Hill, then some C&C ones, then X5 Temple of Death. I eventually played, then started running, 4e, but at the same time was getting into OSR. Soon I was playing & runnng a lot of Labyrinth Lord and OSRIC online, and eventually tabletop too.

    IMO: The more I played & enjoyed 4e, the more its narrow focus opened my mind to alternate perspectives. Where 3e was designed as "One Game to Rule Them All" and left me unhappy without knowing why, 4e is so obviously 'Not D&D' in the traditional sense that I could both enjoy it for what it is, and also gain a lot of insight into what made pre-3e D&D worthwhile. It's worked out very well.

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  38. Perhaps it's because I moved away from D&D in the 80s, but the announcement of a new edition was for me a "meh" event and little more. If I were to run a D&D-style game again, I'd just use B/X or LL or S&W or the Cyclopedia. No need to run down to my local store and get yet another edition.

    In other words, while I have fond memories of D&D, it doesn't translate into a desire to be a part of 5E.

    "In their heart of hearts, however, saying "I'm playing Swords & Wizardry" will never make them as happy as saying "I'm playing Dungeons & Dragons."

    Reminds me of how people for many years said they were going to "Xerox something" regardless of what brand photocopier they had. D&D captured mindshare in the same kind of iron grip.

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  39. I played D&D Type IV, and it was okay. But the measure of my commitment to it can be put this way: I got limited shelf space in my book room. The 4E books are going into a box to clear shelf-space for Type V, when it arrives.

    Mike Mearls has been a pretty good steward of the D&D license, and Monte Cook is an awesome game designer who helped make 3E what it was. I'm looking forward to what they have in store.

    I'm NOT certain I'd like to see a return of the OGL... the glut of product really got out of hand. But I do want to see more adventures like the classics of old. And preferably ones with generic settings, rather than set in specific places... I've come around to preferring home-made campaigns rather than licensed ones.

    Also, more books to aid DM's, and less player-focused books. (no splat books at all would be awesome) One serious problem with 4E was it was too player-centric.

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  40. I played D&D when I was young, and recently participated in a 1E campaign, after about a 20 year hiatus from the hobby. I for one have no particular axe to grind with any of the editions, and I have been intrigued by each iteration of the game. I haven't had the chance to play 3.5 of 4E. To be honest, the rules seem a bit daunting to me.

    Between the old-school movement, Pathfinder,and a host of other diversions, I fear that D&D (not the hobby) may be in real trouble. While I laud the fact that Wizards is soliciting aid from its customers, I am pessimistic about the outcome.

    I wouldn't be surprised if Paizo appropriates the license that Pathfinder and D&D become one.

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  41. I was talking to my friend about this yesterday and he joked that WotC should stop making D&D and start making 3rd party Pathfinder material.

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  42. My guess is that the 4e engine will be reserved for scenario-based board games. Personally, I found my plays of 4e to be as fun as my plays with any of the other editions, although I always felt that 4e shines brightest as a tactical game played out on a board (with low-ish level characters). My understanding is that the 4e-based boardgames put out by WotC have done well.

    Where 4e fell completely flat for me was in its ability to be easily hacked. Say you want to swap out one mechanic for another, or remove a particular mechanic completely. This is difficult with 4e, but extremely simple with 0e its retro clones. In fact the hobbyist, do-it-yourself ethos of 0e practically demands hack-ability. Of course, another word for this is "empowerment," and I for one am a little bit cynical about all of the "get out of the players' way" speak coming out of WotC. I just don't see how a subsidiary of Hasboro will ever *really* align itself the hackable/do-it-yourself ethos of the OSR.

    Finally, I'm already non-plussed about the announcements having to do with "artistic direction." Instead of fostering and using a diverse range of artists, it sounds like WotC is going with a slick, programmatic, outsourced model. Brand managers will be happy, I'm sure.

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    1. Where 4e fell completely flat for me was in its ability to be easily hacked. Say you want to swap out one mechanic for another, or remove a particular mechanic completely. This is difficult with 4e, but extremely simple with 0e its retro clones.

      No, no -- it's really really easy with 4e, but there's the anxiety-inducing problem that 4e is so much about balance, which doesn't matter to 0e etc., and the average houserule has nothing whatsoever to do with balance. 4e's various rule systems are pretty tightly integrated, compared to older editions, but various 4e releases and modifications -- like the Psionics system, the new Essentials classes, and (from the start) the whole wide world of Feats and magic items -- handily illustrate the ease with which new mechanics can sweep into the game. Hell, folks have developed gridless/mini-less combat systems without too much labour, changing maybe 4e's essential, distinguishing rules system...

      (Small example: substitute fire-and-forget Rituals system for Wizard spells. Goodbye to balance and tight integration of various classes' combat abilities, but hello to a more flavourful, less power-gamer-cheesy magic system. 'But it won't quite work like 4e!' Well, so don't houserule. Whereas houseruling the chaotic early editions produces more chaos, and that's exactly what you'd expect...)

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  43. The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules. - Gary Gygax

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  44. James,

    I'll join you in bitter prunehood. :D
    I rather like the OSR and the plethora of interesting variants that have been produced because of it.

    My dissatisfaction with 3e led me to discover OSRIC, then S&W and decide to introduce my kids to gaming through Mentzer's BECMI and BHP's now-OOP imprint of S&W: White Box.

    I've discovered Traveller and Flashing Blades because of all this.

    So I'm in the camp of not caring what WotC does or does not do, except in so far as some good people I like are employed there and I don't want to see them lose their jobs.

    And it was good to see you over at John C Wright's place the other day.

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  45. People like to blame 4e on Hasbro. I blame it on designers let wild.

    See, once upon a time, there was a game that dominated its genre, and every once in a while a new edition of it was made. There were always people who preferred the old edition over the new ones, but there were reasonably small numbers. The shattering moment for the fanbase was a new version that deliberately broke continuity with the old. After a large segment of the fanbase rejected the new version, they proceeded to revert to whatever older version they liked best, instead of standing pat on the version immediately prior to the discontinuity. The trademark holder then realized a few years later exactly how badly they'd screwed up.

    The game? Traveller.

    Since GDW was not owned by any big soulless corporate master, it's hard to see the repeating of Traveller history as anything but the natural result of letting designers run wild with "updating" and "modernizing" and "making things cool". Oh, Hasbro might have pushed for a new edition sales bump, but that could have been satisfied with something along the lines of Pathfinder. The cutting off of the new game from its roots? [i]That[/i] was game designers gone wild.

    A businessman, only out for ruthless profit but competent enough to have studied the history of the RPG business for the obvious pitfalls, would have told the designers, "No, stop. You're going to wreck the brand with this design. Go back to the drawing board."

    4e was not forced on the world by Hasbro interference; it happened because nobody was providing informed adult supervision to the 4e team.

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    1. Steven, I believe there's something you're not taking into account.

      I don't in fact think the 4e designers went "wild" as you suggest. I think they were following an agenda to kill the OGL.

      I think a lot of changes made were to make the versions incompatible. Since so many terms of the game were out in the open, even the "common tongue" of the game had to change, making it all the more obvious that there was a break in the past.

      There was clearly a lot of division internally at Wizards over the OGL and a decision was made to go with a different license, the much more restrictive GSL.

      But to prevent 4e from being "OSRIC'd" (reverse engineered through the OGL), the game had to change radically to make it stick.

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    2. That might explain the mechanical changes. But why the non-mechanical changes?

      No, in the flavor, we saw gnomes declared "boring" and excluded in the original PHB, and a major thing in 4e was moving things that the then-current crew of designers had added to late 3.x front-and-center — warlords, warlocks, dragonborn — replacing classic elements. What we had in the flavor was unquestionably designers wanting to push their pet ideas and do new things — there was no way a Hasbro exec was demanding the elf-eladrin split.

      So when we see the same sort of thing in the mechanics, sure, we can postulate a Hasbro exec's demands, but it's a heck of a lot simpler to figure the same forces that made the change in flavor drove the change in mechanics. Especially given the historical example of TNE shows the exact same designer decay.

      Hasbro might have demanded a new edition. Hasbro might have demanded the new edition not be under the OGL. But the game itself? It was designers losing sight of the fact they were supposed to be revising D&D, not implementing their vision of the perfect fantasy game.

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    3. "You blew it up! Damn you Chadwick, you blew it up!"

      I had the horrible misfortune that I decided to get into Traveller with The New Era. It made for a moderately decent ground combat simulation game, but I quickly realised it was not the Traveller game I had been hearing about all those years.

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    4. Hasbro might have demanded a new edition. Hasbro might have demanded the new edition not be under the OGL. But the game itself? It was designers losing sight of the fact they were supposed to be revising D&D, not implementing their vision of the perfect fantasy game.

      On this score I've always taken the 4e designers' claims at face value, interpolating the obvious anxiety-inducing historical pressure about World of Warcraft: D&D 3.5 took the 1e > 2e > 3e progression to a certain limit in terms of complexity and heft, and 4e was meant as a streamlined way of playing D&D-style adventures in a post-MMORPG environment. I don't think the designers 'lost sight of' anything; it's easier simply to assume that the big 3e > 4e changes went something like this, maybe:

      * endless multiplication of classes, prestige classes, 'build options': streamline to 'class + per-level tweaks, i.e. powers'

      * glitchy, top-heavy combat system: make it more abstract, more gamelike, and emphasize movement and party synergy to keep things interesting on the grid, while rewarding group-combat skill from MMORPGs

      * too many rules and worlds, too steep a learning curve: DMG pg42, and emphasize the successful M:tG 'exception-driven' model of simple rules and context-dependent rules-breakage (feats, powers, etc.)

      * linear fighters, quadratic wizards: make power progressions roughly equivalent

      * designing encounters sucks: here's a dead-simple XP budget system, here's the math for balancing encounters, now you have the same encounter-design tools as we have, PLEASE STILL BUY OUR SHITTY MODULES

      * skill challenges: no one is allowed to edit Mike Mearls (I jest, but 4e's skill challenges are my biggest disappointment with the system in itself)

      ***********

      My point is that it's reasonable and charitable to assume that Mearls et al. tried to build a coherent game system for playing adventures out of the old days (kill things, take stuff), using the newish 3e/3.5 system with more thoughtful math behind it -- variations on D&D, within older editions' mechanical/stylistic envelope.

      The 4e design team had no responsibility to existing players, who after all had many many thousands of pages of existing material available for use. Leaving aside the question of whether there's something perverse about caring about a corporate brand (vs a cherished play/imaginative experience), they put out a good game that a lot of players didn't like, for a variety of reasons. I'm fond of guessing at people's psychology but in this case you don't need to: they set out to make a streamlined game that does a certain kind of dungeon combat well, and they delivered it.

      The fact that millions of suckers love 'The Da Vinci Code' doesn't make it anything other than trash; the fact that several thousand RPGers hate 4e similarly doesn't make it anything other than [whatever it is]. The side-stories about 'the brand' and 'old-school play' and whatnot are side stories.

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    5. the fact that several thousand RPGers hate 4e similarly doesn't make it anything other than [whatever it is].

      You'll notice that I never said 4e was a bad game, sir. Any more than I said TNE was a bad game. I said it was a screw-up from a business perspective. Which it pretty clearly was. I said it was a business screw-up not because of Hasbro, but because the designers made the game they wanted to make, as opposed to a game to meet the market demand for D&D. Your comments actually agree with this.

      You say that 4e was "within older editions'…stylistic envelope." I'll agree with that. The trouble was fundamentally that the designers didn't recognize that being within the envelope isn't good enough; the core game has to be near the center of the envelope to be accepted as a successor by the market.

      You say, "The side-stories about 'the brand'…are side stories." I emphatically disagree; the story of D&D the brand is exactly why there's a 5th edition coming out so soon, and that a fifth edition is coming out is a major story, not a side story.

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  46. James,

    I've been meaning to follow up with you for a while, and this is as good a time as any to do so. I am old school, but I guess I am also somewhat of a rare bird (no pun intended, with apologies to Gary). I first discovered your site a few weeks back and commented at the time how pleased I was to stumble upon it. What I didn't say then is that yours was the first RPG/D&D site I had ever discovered. I had no idea there was such a world of information out there, including several interesting blogs and open forums. I have since spent countless hours reading the multi-year conversation thread with Gary Gygax on Dragonsfoot. It has been an extraordinary experience.

    I started playing D&D/AD&D around 1979. I played for 10 years, and I loved it. Then I put the game down and moved on to the usual adult pursuits, like work, wife, kids, etc. I hadn't the slightest inkling of what had been happening in the RPG world, much less to the game of D&D, over the past 20+ years. I knew TSR had come up with a 2nd edition, though I had never seen any of the books or played that version. (My group played OAD&D exclusively, even through 1989.) I had never heard of 3e, 3.5 or 4e, much less C&C, OSRIC, SRD, OGL, S&W, BECMI and however many other acronyms may be appropriate in this space.

    Needless to say the last few weeks have been like a whirlwind as I've tried to get up to speed on the state of the game today. Which brings me to my question (thankfully, said the reader)... i.e., what should I do with my 11-year old son who came home one day before Christmas and expressed an interest in D&D. (He'd heard about it from one of his friends at school.) I instinctively pulled out my 1e books, my old DM screens, some dragon dice and a box full of old ral partha figures, then guided his newly created character(s) through B2.

    Since then I have managed to create a new campaign, set in a world of my creation, and I plan to incorporate various 1e modules as needed. I've also bought a set of 2e books on eBay as a gift for my son. But where do we go from here? I'd like to teach him the "old ways" and let him learn to mix and match whatever rules he wants from OD&D, 1e and 2e, but from everything I've read I guess I should steer him clear of any later versions? And what about Castles and Crusades? Or OSRIC? I hate the idea that my son can't go to a hobby store and buy new books or other materials to support his game (the way I did at his age).

    So I guess I'm kinda hoping WotC will use this 5e opportunity to re-introduce OAD&D to a new generation of kids. Or is that wishful thinking?

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    1. My advice would be to buy C&C (and OSRIC, if available) print product and use it with your 1e AD&D rules. All you need to do to convert C&C stats is flip the C&C Armour Class from ascending above 10 to descending below 10.

      C&C products I particularly recommend include Gary Gygax's Castle Zagyg: Yggsburgh, a wonderful sandbox campaign from 2005 by EGG that is still available at reasonable prices. You can use it in conjunction with the free fan downloads 'Castle of the Mad Archmage' & 'The Mad Demigod's Castle' to represent the Castle Zagyg dungeon itself.

      I also like the Goodman Games C&C adventures: http://www.goodmangames.com/castlesandcrusades.html

      They're all pretty good, though a bit sketchy in places and benefit from development. I particularly enjoyed running Palace of Shadows, where you get to literally Save the King!

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    2. So I guess I'm kinda hoping WotC will use this 5e opportunity to re-introduce OAD&D to a new generation of kids. Or is that wishful thinking?

      I wonder: when you take away the flavour of the rules presentation -- the very violent, flamboyantly dumb 4e material, and the goofier, archaic, more idiosyncratic 0e/1e presentation -- is 1e actually easier for a child to learn? Not a non-D&D RPGer but an 11-year-old. At this point, would MMORPG/videogame skills translate more readily to 1e expertise, or to 4e skill? I'm guessing the latter, though I think I'd rather my son cultivate the former (for a variety of reasons).

      Still, it's nice to think that 'let's play this familiar game in this crazy old-world way' will appeal to daughters and sons. But maybe that kind of outreach can't happen easily in a gamer community where younger players are less likely to learn from older siblings and parents?

      Either way, if Hasbro/WotC has any sense at all, they'll find a way to monetize the giant library of old TSR stuff. They're idiots for letting all those old designs molder.

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    3. I think the best think Hasbro can do is go with their strengths and stop marketing D&D as a role-playing game. By that, I mean their primary marketing should be towards pushing the D&D boardgames through their standard distribution channels (where they still have considerable muscle). They then market the D&D rules as content creation tools for the boardgames.

      Thus the boardgames serve as the introductory D&D platform for kids and beginners, as well as introducing the rule concepts. The role-playing and creativity are added afterwards, so that once kids tire of the canned games they will do what comes naturally and start creating their own content.

      [Boardgames are also easily virtualised for increasing the market base.]

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  47. One more thing. I don't know what "OSR" is, but it appears from some of the comments maybe that's where hope lies...

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  48. @Norwegian Blue

    There is certainly an embarrassment of riches being produced by the OSR right now. There are many places online to learn more about this, but I will just list two.

    Matthew James Stanham has an excellent thread on Dragonsfoot summarizing various OSR products.

    Also, James (no relation to Grognardia's James) over at Dreams of Mythic Fantasy (previously The Underdark Gazette) periodically offers news dispatches regarding recent activity (new products, etc).

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  49. The 'rulebook' I use is one I typed up myself, because I was using rules from lots of different versions, both official and retro-clone. It also has several significant elements that I made up, such as a system for casting extra spells, set numbers of Hit Points instead of rolling, and extra races. I still call it 'D&D' though.

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  50. I suspect the most important element of the new edition won't be the rules, but the license.

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  51. Back in the day our games were all D&D games, even if they no longer had any resemblance to the original game. If it classes, levels and hit dice, it was D&D and referred to as such. Even the infamous "d20" wasn't a stable trope, as I know people that preferred the distribution given by rolling 2d10 instead.

    But then house rules for campaigns were the norm. Even tournaments and competitions would normally involve house rules to some degree (although we did our best to weed these out and reduce AD&D to it's base rules for our tournaments), but D&D is by definition incomplete.
    [Actually I suspect one of the reasons for the incredible resistance to 4E was the attempt to make it a complete game. Of course the other major element of resistance was that there was no easily recognisable upgrade path (it looked different); I still feel that people play the version of D&D that they first learned, treating additions or editions as simply more house rules.]

    As for 5E, I think the strategy is still going to have an eye for the money and vendor tie-in, however it is delivered. I think, to the corporation management, that those subscription fees that Blizzard gets for World of Warcraft look incredibly attractive (not to mention that there is probably a subconscious belief that they should actually belong to the game that started it all. So I see much more of a focus on methodologies that enable vendor lock-in: restrictive licensing, DRM-based computing support, and so on.

    I see much more of a focus on the virtual tabletop this time around (especially in light of interviews given out recently - suspiciously just in advance of the big announcement - explaining exactly why the VTT was not available for 4E). I suspect that the D&D division of WOTC will see this as the best method of monatising their IP (which is a must if they are to survive Hasbro's shift to core competencies of which D&D and not WOTC is considered a unit). But again it will be extremely protectionist and restrictive. Forgetting all the while, of course, that their greatest asset is actually all the creative people outside the company. Something that the traditional MMO can't touch even with an eleven-foot pole.

    On the other hand, if they were to corral this resource through the provision of a usable online marketplace for dungeons, adventures, monsters, modules, and models, taking a small profit on the transaction, they would not only make money, attract people to their core-branding, and maintain a strong central and enthusiastic on-line focus to their game. But to do that they would have to make the utilities open source and user-modifiable, and make public the toolsets needed to do the job properly and easily (so you don't need to learn how to use Sketch Up to accomplish a result "out of the box"), but I suspect that the brand managers won't allow this (given WOTC's decision with regard to official PDF sales).

    So all in all let's see. [However a fifth edition is getting near my automatic cut-off switch for "no more editions of a game". But that's OK. If it tanks, Hasbro will put it on the shelf for a few years (forgetting that RPGs are not static properties, but that is a whole other argument).]

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  52. " They're talking about "uniting" fans of every edition "
    That means going to level of lowest common denominator. It will be shit anyway, with their ugly illustrations and infantile settings.

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  53. I agree with your comments James. I have tried the various retro-clones, but for some weird reason they don't feel like my beloved Mentzer D&D. There is SOMETHING in "playing D&D." And I will admit that, due to the local gaming population, I had to give 4e a try, and after appropriate house rules (e.g. reducing drastically the number of powers and hit points, and removing the powers that force you to play on a grid) the game has a strange appeal. The 5e designers have even spoken about backward compatibility. If that is true, I suspect many old-schoolers will be more than happy to give 5e a fair try. I know I will.

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    1. I agree with your comments James. I have tried the various retro-clones, but for some weird reason they don't feel like my beloved Mentzer D&D.

      Perhaps the main reason is nothing more(!!) than the passage of time, and the memory of love itself? Nothing is quite like your first love, of course; that's where your categories come from. First love makes myths. That's why it sucks so much, and why we cling to it: no context, no comparison. The last chance to experience the thing totally on its own terms.

      Playing D&D today is a sequel. We know about sequels.

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    2. Totally agreed on all accounts. :)

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  54. @Reverance

    On the other hand, if they were to corral this resource through the provision of a usable online marketplace for dungeons, adventures, monsters, modules, and models, taking a small profit on the transaction, they would not only make money, attract people to their core-branding, and maintain a strong central and enthusiastic on-line focus to their game. But to do that they would have to make the utilities open source and user-modifiable, and make public the toolsets needed to do the job properly and easily (so you don't need to learn how to use Sketch Up to accomplish a result "out of the box"), but I suspect that the brand managers won't allow this (given WOTC's decision with regard to official PDF sales).

    Really, this is like an App Store, but for D&D. Such a thing would be quite valuable, as content produced for it would probably be incompatible with other systems, but would seem like a good value to most customers. Consider, for example, machine-readable modules that can be slotted seamlessly into a virtual tabletop. An approval process like the App Store could keep control of brand management and avoid some of the problems involved in the past D20 glut. As Apple has shown, tools don't need to be open source and user modifiable, but they do need to have a basic level of competency and flexibility.

    Unfortunately for them, their record with software development has been less than stellar.

    I have also long thought that any return of the old material, rather than being in PDF form, will likely be some sort of subscription-based online database, something like a "D&D Archive" that is accessible as part of a D&D Insider program. I'm hoping for a print on demand option, myself, but I'm not holding my breath.

    If they are smart, they will make the player side of the equation (including a non-crippled character builder) entirely free, but charge for extras like book content over and above the rules part.

    Personally, I despise character builders because of how they enable an exponential increase in rules complexity, which promotes optimization style wargaming "play prior to play" in the form of character builds. I prefer my important character decisions to occur during play, not before play.

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    1. By open source I mean that they must provide access to the necessary API for those user-creators out there to add their own content to the established framework, including the ability to modify the existing framework. Ideally this should be done by providing a toolset that allows the user to create these modules and add it to their version of D&D. Ideally that toolset should be free (rather than, say the SDK license for iOS) in order to encourage content creation. And ideally the API at the very least should be open for people that want to delve that far, simply for the fact that it is impossible to predict all the possibilities inherent in creating arbitrary content, but I agree, it is not a necessity. It doesn't need to be actual open-source.

      The actual business model hews much closer to that of DAZ, who provides their modelling software for free and make more than their money back by acting as a marketplace for models from the huge number of modellers out there (and at much less of a cut than say Apple, Android, or most ePub publishers in order to make alternative distribution channels not worth bothering about).

      But I agree that I doubt WOTC is actually agile enough to develop this methodology, as it pretty much outside their (and Hasbro's) management experience. And it is management that is going to determine how the new game is going to be marketed and produced.

      But I agree that computer support is more likely to be in the form of an annual subscription to DDI (or it's next generation). However if it becomes a requirement then I suspect it will be the final nail in the coffin of WOTC D&D.

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  55. The real reason for 5E?

    Hasbro wants brony money from all those My Little D&D campaigns they're running.

    I have seen the future, and it's cutely equine.

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  56. Sincere thanks to Brendan, Wally and S'mon for their comments (and to everyone else for that matter).

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  57. I'm a contrarian in that I think, getting rid of the OGL was not what hurt 4E. While I think it alienated some people (I'd argued the biggest group it alienated were folks making money selling Third-Party OGL stuff).

    The thing that killed 4E was that it was effectively the third edition change of the rules WotC made in 8 years. This after not having made any substantial changes to them in over a decade before 3.0. A third edition in 8 years, especially one that made some very questionable and controversial design decisions that gave it a pretty different feel from previous editions of the game was just a bridge too far for many.

    Also, DDI, for whatever short term money it made WotC, alienated some fans, particularly since it effectively killed Dungeon and Dragon for all but the most hardcore of audiences.

    WotC has been there own worst enemies in a lot of other places as well. Here's a list of some other business missteps WotC has done over the past five years:

    Prematurely ending support for d20 Modern. No, it didn't sell as well as D&D (then again, what does, other than Pathfinder). But, it was a good game system in a genre that had more room for growth than Sword and Board fantasy (did we really need 5 Monster Manuals for 3.5?).

    Killing the Star Wars license. Yep, it was probably expensive. Still, it made money for WotC, and unlike 4E, the last edition of d20 Star Wars was a good system that could have done more for WotC if they had given it a little more love.

    Pulling the PDFs from retailers. I get it. Piracy of stuff is bad for business. I notice that 4E books still get scanned into OCR editions and posted on Torrent sites though, so pulling the PDFs didn't do anything but lose WotC business, and cut it off from what is the biggest growing segment of the hobby, electronic distribution.

    Guess what, WotC. A lot of us, more every day, own eReaders, tablets, and notebooks that go to games with us. Since March 2011, Amazon sells more eBooks than print books. These two things are not coincidences.

    For every print product I buy these days, I buy about 6-8 PDF products from RPG Now. In fact, RPG Now gets about 60-70% of my gaming dollars these days. I'm running four games at a con next month, and the only things I plan on bringing are my Ipad, a charger for it, paper, pencils, notecards, and dice. All my gaming books for the systems I'm running are in legal PDFs on my iPad, my hand-written game notes have been saves as PDFs, all because frankly, a text searchable PDF is easier to look up things in on the fly than any print book.

    I'm mildly intrigued to see what Monte Cook can do with 5E. He's the only reason I think 5E has a puncher's chance of reclaiming some momentum from Pathfinder.

    I'd also suggest that WotC rethink electronic distribution, and that they look for a happier medium between the restrictive GSL of 4E, and the wild west days of the OGL. Like it or not, there are very few games out there with totally closed rules systems these days (practically every new game of note in the last few years has released their core mechanics under very OGL like terms, or at least at a reduced price compared to whatever setting or settings they're tied to). Also, eBook publishing is big, getting bigger, and will likely kill bricks and mortar bookstores (and possibly game stores) over the course of the next decade.

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  58. I'd just like to post a link out there for Norwegian Blue and anyone else that is wondering about the various versions of retro clones in the OSR.

    A Guide to Retro Clones
    http://totheblogmobile.com/2009/05/08/a-guide-to-retro-clone-roleplaying-games/

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  59. The new edition will be D&D, and Sword and Wizardry Whitebox is D&D. My home version of the game is D&D. I'm inerested in every versions of this game.

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  60. James, I think you're wildly wrong here. The people excited about D&D 5 (like me!) care the LEAST about the D&D brand as such. D&D 5 has obvious benefits. The chance to play the most popular RPG in the world. The chance to play, instead of always DMing; the chance to be asked to join a group, instead of always forming our own groups. The chance to play with the most new players! The potential benefits outweigh our fear that WOTC will disrespect the D&D brand. The people who are (already!) indifferent or antagonistic towards the thought of D&D 5 care much more about the brand, because they're turtling to protect themselves from potential disappointment.

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  61. I take each of these things on their merits. I bought a tidy little white paperback version of the D&D4 rules. Why they didn't publish more stuff like that instead of $40 books. I'd think the margin would be better selling more slightly cheaper books and getting 'the word out' and into the hands of 'the kids' (and us uh...veterans ;) ). I'll look at D&D 5 but I'm not spending collosal amounts of money on hardback books for each edition. Who can afford that stuff?

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  62. I think there are some valid reasons aside from sentimentality to want to play the "official" D&D edition. Generally speaking, WotC has some one the best known designers and writers on their staff. They have the backing to produce high quality material to support D&D. One can expect, if they like the new edition, to have campaign settings, adventures, splatbooks, etc. Of course, I am playing Castles and Crusades. 3e and 4e have pretty much shown me the version of the game I like is no longer a concern. I can always hack support material into my game if it is good!

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