For a little over the past 2 decades I have proudly been able to proclaim myself a member of the D&D community. It has been a pleasurable hobby that has lead to some great memories in all that span of time. One I have always hoped would keep on providing me with much more enjoyment to come.
Originally, I had planned to write a post today on a completely separate topic this morning, but an explosion of news swept the notion from my mind. After returning from our weekly store run I was greeted with a surprising development that, in short, has shifted my view of Wizards of the Coast. An informative article can be found here: 5th Edition D&D Announced.
What do I make of this news? Well, to be frank I am both amazed and hopeful. But one warning screams at me from the dark abyss of my mind: Beware the eggs that might seek your face. For many that comment may seem erroneous or one made as an attempt to lure you in with humor. Ironically neither are really accurate assumptions.
To explain, let me set a little scene here. Among my peers I grew long ago to be the default DM when it came to running games, especially with regards to the 3.5 edition of the rules. My players knew the material backwards and forwards, which lead to some fantastic games still spoken of often. Some of them even regarded in hushed tones as if speaking of legendary exploits. All that aside, when 4th edition was announced many of my players became cautious, some outright furious. For a long time I preached caution and restraint in hopes that with patience the new rules might grow on them. I even bought a players handbook and advocated a series of game sessions to give it a fair shot.
As I look back on it now, I feel terrible. I've even apologized to many of my players. Instead of listening to their objections I kept insisting that they had no basis and insisted they give 4th edition a chance. Sadly though as the games came and went I was quickly opening my eyes as well. To be fair, 4th edition is a fine game. Let's just get that bit out of the way, here and now. My issue is one that is based on my own opinion, and that is that it simply isn't D&D to me.
How can that be you may be asking, it says so on the products. It even goes so far as to have the same classes and races, etc. But at the very core of it, it's designed with a different spirit. While some of it's features I can admit are enjoyable - like special attacks/powers classes can employ at will or within set limits. But the sum total of it's parts leads it to be more like a super-power based fantasy board game. Restrictions like limited alignments, focus pushed on flash MMO-style combat, not to mention the removal of simple things like craft/profession skills are just some issues. Let's not even approach the economical matters we had to wrestle with house ruling.
Not every game group plays a heroic fantasy game, and as with my group we often found ourselves struggling to find within the material support for anything else. In reality we found suggestions that we not play such themed games. After 4th edition many of my players drifted and our games slowly dried up. The discovery of Pathfinder by Paizo renewed us and has spurred us to start trying to play again. And now this new news, that a 5th edition is entering development. One that promises to be everything 4th wasn't, and perhaps might prove to redeem WotC. Deciding to go ahead with a new edition this soon can only be, to me at least, a testament to 4th editions short-comings.
As much as I am trying to remain optimistic, I can still see the look in my players eyes as I spoke similar words before.
Man, do I hate eggs...