Monday, January 9, 2012

Inclusion and the Fifth Edition

For the link deprived, here are links regarding the announcement of the Fifth Edition of the world’s most factionalized role-playing game:

Mike Mearls says, “The game is at its best when it is yours.”  In a sense, it already is ours (as I posted here), but we shouldn’t stand in the way of potential improvement.  Mearls wants our participation; he wants “to give a voice to all D&D fans and players of all previous editions of the game.”  It would be nice if all previous editions of the game were readily available – you know, like they used to be before WotC removed them from commercial distribution as electronic documents.  Reints (naturally) is all over that; he posted a nicely worded open letter on his blog requesting their availability.  We’ll see what happens.
If the Wizards truly “seek to build a foundation for the long-term health and growth of D&D” we should provide our input.  Of course, it isn’t possible to please everyone but this is an opportunity.  To take advantage of this opportunity, we need to examine and explain why we enjoy this game.  Only by doing so can we hope to have a Fifth Edition that’s worthy of the Dungeons & Dragons legacy.
What will be the fate of tabletop RPGs as we trudge through the Information Age?  I notice that the NY Times article is categorized under “video games.”  Instead of becoming more like an MMO, D&D needs to leverage its differences from computer gaming.  D&D needs to be defined in contrast to “computer games” and we should help define it.





  2. You mean they're going to relaunch Spellfire?!? Sweet!

  3. Man, Everway was way ahead of its time...

    I think your last paragraph has the strongest point - to differentiate D&D from the computer games. How would you do it? Emphasize the social/group aspects? That the referee is flesh and blood rather than a computer?

    Just curious, it is a good point but I am stumped as to how to do it.


  4. It's a tough question to answer. A computer game is a complex structure of algorithms; basically, you're interacting with math even though you may not think about it that way. Tabletop is more dynamic, not only in that the referee is human, but that the players can influence the setting more than they could in a computer game. A character is not a pawn, it becomes a facet of a campaign.

    Since you brought it up, I will discuss Everway – good idea, bad timing, poor marketing. The system is well designed to introduce players to (non-computer) role-playing. The setting's not bad either; you can take as much or as little as you want and expand upon it easily enough. Players help each other develop their character concepts via the vision deck. Not only do you enrich your character, but you gain an appreciation of the other players' characters and they gain an appreciation of yours. This doesn't happen in computer games. With tabletop, you play with actual characters, not avatars that represent a collection of numbers.

  5. I agree with you. I think that 4e went wrong trying to be more like an MMO instead of bringing what makes old school pen and paper role playing to the table. Social interaction face to face with friends, players and DM working together to make a story, players being rewarded for clever problem solving and the awesome graphics of my kicking' imagination. After trying to make 4e characters on Saturday night and finding out what a Pain in the cula it is I am tempted to just give up on 4e and run a old school Basic adventure of keep on the borderlands. I am happy to see a new edition on the way and am pleased by reports of an old school feel with quicker combat resolution than 4e or 3e.

    1. I think you should give in to tempation. I also think your players should be grateful for having a fine, upstanding DM.