Tuesday, January 10, 2012

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love 5e

Don't worry men they'll take our 4e from our cold dead hands.

I imagine most of you have heard this by now but, just in case you haven’t, a new iteration of Dungeons and Dragons was announced yesterday. Between being stuck in retail land and all the hubbub, I almost didn’t get my Pixie review done on time. My first reaction was to entrench deeply in 4e and get ready for the edition war. Instead, I took a deep breath, looked around and found some things to be encouraged about. I am not a 5hilistine or a 4deventurer, but I can relate to both sides. I very much enjoy and love 4e, warts aside. Despite that, I am tentatively optimistic about the next iteration and I’d like to tell you why.

I, along with many people, am melancholy about the premature death of 4e. I believe 4e had at least a few more years in it. Even though it had a few problems, with the VT finally in open beta and the newly awesome Heroes ofthe Feywild, I truly enjoyed playing it as did many others. However, I understand the importance of publish or perish, and I recognize the desire to bring all the lost children back to D&D. There are people I miss playing with that only play Pathfinder (or 2nd edition or any number of other systems) so I am kind of excited about a system that could bring us all back together. It would particularly exciting if they continue to provide good digital tools so I can keep playing D&D with my friends around the world and maybe reconnect with some lost ones as well. I am excited about the goals for the new iteration at the very least.

I didn't know you had your hand in that too
The main reason I am excited about the next iteration of D&D is that I will get to have a hand in it. One of the main problems with 4e was the lack of open playtesting. I think if Wizard’s had gotten the community involved in 4e it would have been a better game far earlier. Additionally, there would have been far less fracturing and perhaps the edition war could have been completely avoided. Jokes about making the fans do unpaid game design aside, I think a game by the fans and for the fans is the best thing I have ever heard. I am very happy with the level of communication from Wizard’s about the new edition and I look forward to some hardcore playtesting.

As I said, I am far from convinced the new iteration is going to work. I am pleased with the goals of the new iteration, but I am very concerned they won’t be able to actually meet those goals. I really have two large problems with the directions the game is headed. The first is that I find it hard to believe that an Ultimate of D&D will work. There are too many diverse desires among the player base. Just as an example there are many people for whom the D&D does not work without Vancian spellcasting. There are others, myself included, who despise Jack Vance for what he has done to all my wizards. I’m willing to give Wizards the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps there is a way for both of us to play at the same table, but I am skeptical.

My second large concern is the idea of a modular system that seems to be the direction the game is headed. I may do a longer post on my problem with a modular system as it goes on and we get more information. For now my major concern is that I like having a large set of core assumptions to build a game on. I am worried that I will not be able to find a dm willing to run the kind of game I want to play. This can always be a concern, but I like most of the core assumptions of 4e and so if I look for 4e DMs I can at least go in expecting that most of the game will be what I want and the DM and the players can work out for ourselves what things might be different. If the base game is enough of what I like then it might not be a problem so I’m keeping optimistic until more information comes out.

I am not surprised that another iteration of D&D is in the works. I am a little sad about the end of 4e. I have some concerns about the direction the game is headed, but I am glad Wizards handled the announcement the way they did. I hope they really intend to have open playtesting and will listen to the feedback the playtesting generates. Until next time, remember, whatever your edition, don’t let your DM tell you no. It’s always “Yes and…?”


  1. This can't be a thread about 5th Edition. There are far too few rants :) I'm looking forward to doing some play-testing to see how they plan on accomplishing their goals. I agree that they sound pretty lofty as it stands.

    1. I agree I am looking forward to doing some playtesting. I just hope they don't kill the game with their lofty goals.