As many of you may be aware, last week Wizards of the Coast opened up the public playtest for the new iteration of Dungeons & Dragons. This fifth edition of the treasured fantasy role-playing game, referred to by Wizards as "D&D Next", is an attempt by the designers to bring fans of the classic versions of the game, pioneered by the great Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, back to the official D&D brand.
For those who haven't already, you can download the playtest packet for free at the Wizards of the Coast website.
For those who have, what do you think? Are you a 4th Edition fan unsure of this sudden move away from a ruleset that you have barely gotten to know? Or are you an old-school grognard looking forward to a return to the basics? Let's chat about the future of Dungeons & Dragons and discuss the rules in the playtest.
And, please. Keep it civil! Remember, it's ok to not like things, but don't be a d*** about it.
I completely agree with your sentiments. I just hope they can find the right balance between quantity of materials released (after all, they are a for profit company) versus quality. More is often times just more.
Got my Play Test link, time to read up!
I agree, I don't think that a major company that doesn't think about its fan base is ever really going to profit. They are simply going to kick out a new version every couple of years, hoping that the base continues to buy what they are dealing. It will be a sad day when DnD reaches the 10th edition and then promptly dies due to people simply tired of rebuying their libraries over and over again.
DnD in the hands of a small company of fans that want to only make it better (and make some cash on the side. :D ), would do far better than it will ever do now. I hope I'm wrong. I hope DnD Next is what they are pumping it up to be.
I was always asked to be the DM. I'm definitely interested in seeing what new resources and rules are provided for the DM. I put together some great campaigns in my day, and my players always told me I did a good job... so I'm curious to see if I've still got what it takes to put together some good adventures. Now that I've got some time, I'm going to head over and take a look.
If anything, Jim, it looks like D&D Next is a return to classic D&D, so if you've been away from it for awhile, it may look very familiar to you.
This playtest does away with the battle grid that the past two versions employed, which is an intriguing choice by Wizards of the Coast. When I learned how to play, with 2nd edition, we never used a grid. But I've grown to enjoy the tactical choices that gridded combat provides, and it's nice to have a visualization of the battlefield...
I hope your sentiments about a return to classic D&D is correct. Mearls said similar things in his article providing news on Next. I remember when I first started playing the game the formula was paper, pencil, a FEW sourcebooks, dice and imagination. I didn't have to understand so many mechanics to build a simple hero, I just needed an idea. But ever since Hasbro came into focus, the direction has seemed to be quantity over quality and a need for the rules to dictate every facet of the game turning us all into rules lawyers.
To me the rules have always been about supporting the game, not dictating it.
When I first picked up the 4E books and read through them, I put them down and haven't picked them up since. They collect dust on my shelf. I was sorely disappointed in what had happened to the franchise. I won't dive fully into the why but this came at a time when I have kids that are now in the prime ages to start learning a hobby I have loved for decades, and I'd like to teach them the game that drew me in. So with any luck Next will provide on that idea.
I took Monte Cook's departure and Pathfinder's exceeding WoTC's sales as key indicators that the franchise I used to love was in serious jeopardy. I hope they find their chi and bring this back down to earth again. I love the little edit blurb at the end of one of Monte's blog posts, it was very telling.
I'll be checking out the play test materials and hoping for the best.
Mike, you need a grid in order to visualize the battlefield? In a pinch, we get a deck of cards to lay out walls. Line of sight is a simple thing to figure out with common sense. Firing into combat is a simple matter to deal with. They have taken the need for imagination out of the game.
Here is the very core that Wizards has never grasped of the system as a whole... the rules are simply a set of guidelines to make the game fun. If you come up with house rules that are better than the book rules... run with them. That is not how any of the Wizards' systems work. You need to be a lawyer and an accountant to play the game. If they go against everything they have already done... they are simply turning their backs on yet another base that they have raised... a base without imagination. It is simple to see at any con that you go to.
Need a grid? No. But like I said above, I enjoy having a grid sometimes, because it turns combat into a more tactical boardgame-like endeavor. And I like tactical warfare and specialized jobs and all that fun stuff from computer RPGs.
I don't believe that having a tactical grid eliminates the imagination from the game, either. That's like saying the maps that Gygax and Arneson drew took away the imagination from plain text description of their worlds and dungeons. There's a lot of stuff happening between the cracks of my Tact-Tiles, and the DM and the players are describing it all, or picturing it in their mind's eye.
I definitely agree that the more recent editions of the game make house ruling very challenging. But that stuff is and should always be handled on a table-by-table basis. If your group doesn't dig the way you play, or you don't dig theirs, talk about it. Or move on to another table. The modular nature of D&D Next sounds like it might very well codify house styles and try to bring them all under the "official" banner. A noble pursuit, but we've yet to really see the modules in action.
Ahhh... you are a real time player? Command and Conquer and stuff like that? I can understand why you are used to the grid being on the map. You see, the maps that Gygax and Arneson drew, used the grids simply for measurement. Pretty much drawing the maps on graph paper... old school style. Reading a module, they almost never told you the room's dimensions... you looked at the map and counted squares.
We do have a Battlemap which covers the whole top of the table that the group sits around (the 8th one, actually) so that rooms can be mapped out in marker in a snap. I don't want you thinking I hate mapping... far from it. A couple of my players have a little problem "seeing" things, so I need to sketch them out.
Running 2nd edition, I don't have problems with table rules... even at Cons. I've run 3rd edition at a Con before, and it was a huge mistake. I couldn't apply the thought that the rules were guidelines. The players didn't understand that way of thinking. In my experience... the new editions has made the RP in RPG a secondary need, and has made the game a... computer game that you play with pencil and paper... sooooo... mechanical. As much as I liked the d20 system and the things that you could do with it, the heart was ripped away from it. I know it is just my opinion, but it is something that I've watched at Cons for over 10 years. The style of gaming has just changed when it comes to DnD.
The playtest plays wonderfully but I fear its lasting power. People are always hungry for the next flashy thing, and when something is simple the flash is burned through much quicker. At the same time, if the lure of the game is how simple it is, adding stuff to it is going to slowly strip away what makes it fun. I'm still optimistic and still enjoying it.
Waiting for my link to d/l the packet now. Should be interesting, I think, I won't have a lot of the struggles with the rules other folks might because I haven't played D&D in 30 years. And even then my friends and I were more into Top Secret and Champions, so I never thought of myself as a D&D kind of guy. But in later years I've found I really enjoying games like Elder Scrolls IV, so maybe there's some dungeon crawler in me after all. Looking forward to giving it a try, though scaring up folks to play 'round these parts could be a challenge.
Anyone play D&D next and are in NoVA?
As a GM, I was all about storytelling -- rules came second and players knew I ran a very flexible system, even going so far as to handle some combat situations with a single role of a die if the role playing aspect earned it. I liked having rules when I needed to enforce them, but I rewarded creativity of the player with a less strict interpretation of weapon usage and distance calculations.
My goal was to make the players forget about the charts, so if D&D Next reduces the rule count a bit and offers GMs more help with story flow, I'll definitely be checking it out.