JP On Gaming

Monday, September 26, 2011

Monte Cook is Peyton Manning playing defense

All this week, the internet and was abuzz with the news of Monte Cook returning to Wizards of the Coast. Fans on all side of the edition war see this as a big announcement, something that will completely change the RPG world. His return will bring a new era of peace and prosperity, something that will end the edition war because of his return. Because he is back, suddenly 4e will become the top game it was during 2008-10.

I don't think so.

Monte has done a LOT of things for the RPG industry. He is a great rules thinker, someone who approaches the game from a rules perspective, with ideas that are definitely "outside the box". Yes. he wrote game settings and a few adventures, but I would not classify those as his major achievements. Rethinking and rehashing rules in new and novel ways is the biggest impact he has on the game. Nothing against Monte, but his return to WotC will not make me fly to buy 4e products, nor do I think lines will be forming at local stores to get the products. That would be like calling a plumber to save the Titanic.

A word of caution. For those who expect to enter their local game store tomorrow and find that 4e has been completely redone and that it is completely different will be in for a sad disappointment... First off, books take a while to write, edit, review and publish. I would expect to find a number of new books where Monte participates relatively quickly, to show the fan base how involved he is. But that would be little more than a smokescreen. It would allow Monte and the D&D designers to work on 5e. I would expect to see a lot of new approaches to 4e paradigms. Similar to what we saw with the Book of Nine Swords in 3.5 (I shudder just thinking about that book, god I hated that book).

But WotC isn't stupid. They are not calling the plumber. With Monte, they are recalling the engineers who built the USS Enterprise (whichever one you want it to be). I have to admit that, like many on the internet, I believe that Monte's return heralds - or mostly confirms the future coming of 5e/AD&D. With Monte's addition, the game will go in new directions, and likely have a chance to retake the first seat in the RPG industry.

Monte posted on his blog where he asks people not to speculate about what he is going to do at WotC. I mean COME ON MONTE! The gaming industry is not big enough that we cannot guess what you will be doing. Dr. Phil says it best "Past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior". As a (NFL) football fan, I would not hire Peyton Manning an put him to play defense (if you don't know who Peyton Manning is Google his name). We are talking about a rule-thinking genius and game-design superstar.

What would YOU ask him to do?

Monte may not want to be drawn into the edition war, but by going to WotC, he took sides in it, and us bloggers will post, analyze, guess and react to such an announcement from whatever sides we are one. While many have given up on 4e, we have not given up on WotC. 5e is that one glimmer of hope we still hold on to. With Monte, WotC have a stud to take them to that finish line. Since he spent most of his time in the 3.5 side of things, he might bring to WotC some of what people wanted to see out of 4e but did not get. I have been reading a number of other blogs that discuss this at length and most people agree. Monte might be the final nail in 4e's coffin. I won't cry over the poor, dead corpse of .

Why am I, a well-known edition flamer, happy about this announcement, then?


Yep. Competition brings out the best in people. With 4e the way it's been going down in flames like it has, I have the impression that WotC gave up on the edition war. They put their money and time in the Neverwinter campaign setting (which I never opened, as I do not open 4e books). It felt like they gave Paizo the crown and phoned it in. Why that may seem to be good news, a strong WotC will push my Paizo overlords to outshine themselves and come up with new and innovative products to keep their top seat.

Which in turns means that *I* will get better products.

Welcome back to Wizards, Monte!



  1. Yeah, I agree with this. I see Monte only as a return to do 5e.

    Whether it will be good or further fragment the gaming community is anyone's guess. The problem is that I see Monte also only working with design paradigms that WotC/Hasbro wants and 5e will likely be a churn of more crap. For example, I can definitely see a WotC/Hasbro exec telling Monte that 5e needs to have a board, minis, collectable cards, pogs, beanie babies, whatever, and that Monte gets to design to his heart's content so long as the tie-in products are also covered.

    I don't see myself playing 5e at all, no matter how good it may turn out. My players and I made the decision to switch to Pathfinder and the money involved means that we're committed and done. I'll buy 5e for collecting just like I have the Core ruleset for 4e, but I have yet to play a single game of 4e.

  2. Yong, I have to agree with you about 5e being more of a mixed medium game. Not for me either (you pull out cards and I'm out).
    I will look at 5e for sure. See what they come up with.
    Will I play? I'm not committing one way or another at this time. Let's wait and see.

  3. Edition wars? Most top D&D designers are playing in each others' home campaigns! They have a deep respect for each other and take turns playing a ton of games. They no more hate a particular type of D&D than they do Shadowrun, Eclipse Phase, or any other RPG. In fact, they love other games! They live for them!

    Edition wars is something we fans have fabricated as part of our love affair with internet rage. While we rage against game x, tons of people are happily playing game x, including the designers of game y.