Yesterday, I posted a collection of Predictions of DoomTM regarding 4e, LFR and the RPGA (read it HERE). The post was one of subjective observation. My dislike (to say the least) of 4e is great. But the column poses deductions and observations I had regarding the above-mentioned subjects. I presented a number of facts and examples of things I thought were going to happen in the future. I thought it was actually pretty upbeat about 4e. Past behavior is best predictor of future behavior.
Then Scott, a man extremely devoted to 4e, posted a lengthy comment accusing me of 4e bashing. 4e sales are dwindling is something I have been observing locally and across the internet in the "markets" where I have some interest (which includes Denver, Montreal, Paris and Dublin). The game IS losing steam. It is losing players too. Pathfinder is eating into 4e sales big time. My local game stores can't hold on to PFRPG core books (or Bestiary, or APGs), but their 4e stuff gathers dust (not really 'cuz they clean up everything, but you get the idea). It sells MUCH slower than it did a year ago.
The funniest thing about this article? I thought it was the least amount of 4e-bashing I did in months. My Predictions of Doom were laid out clearly with what I thought would happen, with the basis of my analysis and deductions.
If people want to play 4e, they sure can. I won't. The Predictions were not aimed at stopping people from playing.
Now on to my response to Scott:
My first reaction to the 4e announcement was one of cautious optimism. There were things I liked about what they announced and things that made me wary. Being pessimistic by nature, I remained cautiously interested until I can see the final product.
One thing about playing D&D is that is had its own universe, its own uniqueness, its "D&Disms" that you loved or hated and its distinct game worlds. 4e stripped away most of it and mish-mashed everything together. Had 4e been called "Wizards & Warriors", "Table Top MMO" (or anything else) I would've enjoyed it for what it is: a different game paradigm in a different rule set. It’s like an Battlestar Galactica episode where people come in for a short cruise, spend a few days and leave totally in love as the crew feeds them cocktails and scamper about in bikinis. You would alienate the fans. 4e is the Love Boat in the world of Battlestar Galactica.
I left 2e in 1993 because it was too restrictive and did not give me enough control over my character. I was not in charge of my character. Everything had been hashed by someone else before me. Someone did everything and all I had was to match race, class, equipment and I was done. If I was a fighter, customization meant choosing a sword or an axe... The only difference between the parties I was in was that we had a cleric/ rogue, a fighter/ rogue and a wizard/ rogue. I didn't like it so I started playing other games and dropped D&D.
I tried 3e in January of 2003 and found it had addressed issues I had with the game. *I* was the one who would create his character in the way I wanted: I could assign skill points, chose feats, chose a different classes as I leveled, my cleric was very much like my "typical" 2e characters but with new bells and whistles and he was very different than other player's characters. My buffing cleric had to manage his resources, including healing. There was a system to handle things like knowledge and talking to other people! Good times! So I began playing Living Greyhawk and enjoyed 3e.
When I got my 4e pre-release material around January of 2008 (yes, I got it before all of you), I devoured its content wanting to like it. I WANTED to be as seduced by it as I remember when I opened my 2e PHB at the Travel Agency where my sister worked. I wanted to LOVE it, to EMBRACE it and to become the best 4e spokesman there was. But the more I delved into 4e, the less I liked it. The reasons I left 2e were back. Customization: not there (very limited). Non-combat situations: not there (if you are not in an encounter, you are wasting time). Good skill system: Not there (over-simplified and now a player does not have to invest or make a choices about his skill). Multi-classing is gone (I now get to use one ability 1/encounter). First I stopped having fun with it, then I stopped GMing it, then I stopped writing for it then I stopped playing it and finally I just gave up.
I have this concept I wanted to build in 4e (mostly because I never played that character in other games): an ELVEN ROGUE using the bow as his main weapon. Not shuriken. Not daggers. Not a hand crossbow. I wanted to use a bow, ANY bow would be fine. It must be a concept that is too far out there to handle as part of the basic game. It must be something that never happened in fantasy literature. I mean... 1-3e and Pathfinder handled that concept very well out of their core book. I generally try to find concepts that do not require me to carry 50 splat books (I'm lazy that way).
Throughout your post you accuse me of taking the designers’ criticism of their work at their word. Why shouldn’t I? Aren’t they proud of having the job they did? If there was something that was so bad about the game, why did they wait 3 years (4e was developed Jan 2005-Jun 2008) before they came up with a fix for it? If 3e was a PoS why did they attend major cons pretending 3e was the bomb? Why did they tell us that 4e was a paranoid gamer’s fantasy? Don’t they have the job many of us would LOVE to have? If what they produced before was such crap, why would we expect them to suddenly come up with great material? Wasn’t the new Coke supposed to be so good that it would make old Coke disappear?
That’s not what happened… After trying out the new coke, people hated it, and Coca-Cola realized it quickly enough that they were able to get back their clientele and trade blows with Pepsi once more. 4e is the new Coke that WotC keeps saying is what we want to drink. It’s the Coke that we’ve been told we’ve been wanting for years.
But we moved on to Pepsi/Paizo products.
Scott, if you honestly expect (any flavor of) 4e to stick around beyond 2013, please contact me at that time where I will publicly apologize, recognize the non-validity of this prediction and even play a game of 4e! I'm serious. I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is. You have me on record right here. Oh wait... It will not be 5e... it'll be the "AD&D"!
Yes folks! You heard it here first... AD&D is coming back. The net result: 5e/AD&D will be *kinda* similar (same basic mechanics) but not so much so that you can use all your 4/4.5/RB with it. There will be just enough that you need to re-purchase all your stuff for this new format because it will have the "super cover of awesomeness" or some other gimmick. They will just avoid calling it 5e.
But it will be 5e.
All the fatalism and humor aside... Seriously Scott... Do you REALLY expect 4e to stick about 8 years like 3e did? WotC is re-branding it after "just" 2.5 years...From looking at your blog, you are an intelligent guy. Did I say something that sounded perhaps a little too right?
4e will be around until a suit comes in and says "sales are down, time for a new version!". 5e / AD&D will be on the shelves a few months later.