JP On Gaming

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Response to SRM: DND-flavored water

Stephen Radney-MacFarlane (SRM) has been blogging in his latest post about the impending announcement of "AD&D"... Now. Where have I heard this before? Some ranting and raving lunatic talking about and Advanced Dungeons and Dragons game. That's just silly.

Oh wait! It was in a PREDICTION OF DOOM!

Could I have magically influenced SRM into my way of thinking? In a 3.5 world, I could. In a 4e world, the effects would've stopped at the end of our encounter at the Paizo Banquet! The odd thing is, though 4e was discussed during the banquet as we all wanted to know some dirt from Stephen - he gave us enough to feed our ravenous appetites while staying very diplomatic. Kudos to him on that.

So Stephen's post (see above link and previous post) lets us hint at a few things. First, The name AD&D is spoken again. Also the "changing of the guard" at Wizards" where many people lost their jobs. I believe SRM is much more "on the pulse" as to what is going on in the Seattle area than I (high up in the mountains). I just rant and try to project the past into the future. Looking at Wizard's press release for Gencon 2011, I doubt 5e/AD&D will be coming this year, so my original prediction of AD&D for Gencon 2012 still holds.

The fact that the name AD&D is out there I find exhilarating, but not-so-surprising really. After all I said it first...

I agree with most of SRM's post. There is something to be said about being part of something exclusive or unique: from the cheerleader squad to fraternities to the football team to D&D groups to better schools to high-profile jobs, rarity creates a sense of belonging. Being able to learn then advance and finally master a system is part of the fun. It's the buy-in. 4e was designed to bring in new players and on that note I believe it succeeded. It did bring in new faces (and brought back old ones) to the hobby. But when something is so easy a caveman could do it... it does lose some of his mystique, some of its prestige, some of its draw. While it might be fun for a day... It may not be something you want to do.

Like SRM says, 4e expanded its audience by turning its back on a lot of traditional gamers. Those guys who have tirelessly GM'd and organized events for them. With LFR leading the pack, they flushed away many free volunteers running cons and event in favor of small time events. How many LG-only cons were they in 2007? How many LFR cons are there now? Heck, guys drive from Denver to Colorado Springs to play LFR because nothing happens up there! (it's a 50 mile drive I am well-accustomed to.)

I think they have done something right using old IP to generate knowledge of a product. The red box did bring in some people through sheer nostalgia (though many gamers quickly put it back when they discovered it was a 4e product). Their themed boardgames based on Castle Ravenloft gives players something to build on. Since they played a light version of the game, jumping into the full game isn't that far of a leap. Get people in the door with a simple game and go from there. I met a Pathfinder player or two who got into the hobby by that particular game! Gets the name out there, gets product out. And the old guys (like me) can tell you all about what they did in I6 Ravenloft... That should be a series of posts... I was 12 years old...

I personally enjoy DDO (D&D Online, since it gone free) and at least look at any D&D computer games out there. I did not get the 4e computer game after reading reviews of how terrible it was, but I did consider it. Why? Just because it said D&D on the cover. I would be okay with playing 4e on the PC since it seems designed for it. But again, this would be what I'd call "D&D-flavored water". Its not the real juice but it reminds me of it. I don't play DDO or D&D computer to replace my table top experience or to experience deep in-character debate or inner party conflict. Comes 11pm, I have an hour to go beat up on monsters. Beat up monsters I do!

Switch brain off. Kill kill kill. Sleep.

The future? The name Dungeons and Dragons still has a lot of commercial value and potential. Anything with the name immediately draws interest. Should WotC move to a board Game only release? I don't know. They won't get my money for that. Then again they aren't getting my money right now either.

I might fork out cash for 5e. Then again I might get a "free" PDF first, evaluate it and then decide. The guys might have a few surprises left in their think-tank and the new system may learn from the 4e/Pathfinder situation, take what I like from both or either. Let's hope they draw the right conclusions from their 4e adventure.

Stay tuned folks.


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