Thursday, January 12, 2012

On the New Edition of Dungeons and Dragons (A Rant and Trolling)

Well, to those of you who aren't under a rock in the RPG world, you know by now: Dungeons and Dragons is moving to a fifth edition. All things considered, that may be a good thing (especially since WoTC's hooked up to Hasbro). D&D looks to become a very modular game, with expansions to fit almost any type of game. In theory. That looks pretty good. I like the concept. Don't get me wrong, I love 4th edition: I play it twice a week, after all, including my 4eMOD. But if Wizards needs to do it to keep their heads above water, so be it. This is an economy, after all, and if 4th isn't making the money it needs to keep from being shut down then so be it. 

But I'll bet you're wondering why I have a double facepalm on here, don't you?


It's for those frickin' news articles. Y'know, the ones that are covering this? They're some of the most one-sided things I've read in my life. And that comes from someone who reads Jack Chick tracts so he can see the inner workings of a madman (especially Catholicism! You want a good read? Google Jack Chick and Catholicism, and be prepared to be taught everything Catholicism is not). Reading these things you'd think that 3rd edition and Monte Cook were gods of the industry, and that 4th edition brought about the apocalypse, with it's heavy focus on combat and balance and actually good design. I guess I should be clear where I stand on those first two points:

3rd edition was a broken game, and Monte Cook is not a god.

3rd scaled horribly, and each supplement broke the game in ways that I can't even begin to vent my frustration about. Go ahead, run any of those supplements you want! It just depends on how you want the game to be broken. Unless of course you were a wizard or a cleric, cause then you were always broken. The game barely works at higher levels, and by barely I mean the DM has to bend over backwards while drinking acid and yodeling without letting any of that flesh-eating acid touch the ground. Beyond 6th level the game doesn't even truly feel like a fantasy game anymore, what with the mass invisibility and mass fly spells. And that's before we start mentioning that there's not a single 1st party 3rd edition supplement I know of that's actually character centric. All of it is combat. All of it . And past 10th level it all falls apart. There's a reason E6 exists, people!

All of this designed by the guy all the people who hate 4th are hailing as the salvation of Dungeons and Dragons. Mr. Cook is going to sweep in and save them from the hack and slash horror MMO that is 4th edition. And while he's at it he's going to bring Jesus Christ back from the dead, end world hunger, and, most impressive, he'll end the Edition Wars!

Right.

Now please don't misunderstand my vitriol. I know Monte Cook's intelligent. Hell, I've agreed with a lot of his articles in Legends and Lore! But Mr. Cook's a human being, like the rest of us, and his mistakes are many and downright painful, just like the rest of humanity. If people wanted a "story-centric" game, Dungeons and Dragons is not their game! It can be done (and I am doing it), but the game has always been a combat and dungeon-crawl heavy game (As Carpe pounded into my thick skull a few weeks back. OUCH!). Don't believe me?

Go read Burning Wheel, and then come back to me. That's a story-centric game. The rules are centered around advancing a character, first and foremost. Dungeons and Dragons has never been like that. Even at it's most "story-centric", it's never done that. 4th edition took the one thing that Dungeons and Dragons had going for it and brought it to the forefront, and that was as a combat-driven RPG. Yes, role-playing is in there, just like there's a good story in the movie Fearless, or the awesomness that is Zombieland. But Fearless is still a martial arts film, and Zombieland is still a zombie film. Good characterization is there so that way your action and horror is that much better. But notice the emphasis.  Action first. 4th edition did that. If you don't like the way 4th did that, fine, whatever. But realize what Dungeons and Dragons is, and if you don't want that, move on!

Personally? I'll always play Dungeons and Dragons, 4th edition in particular. I have all the books, I've modded them to my liking, so I don't know if I'll pick up the new edition. More on that in my review of Burning Wheel, which you can expect sometime this weekend!