This post was originally published here as ‘Dungeons and Dragons: Yes, I Have Something to Say.
So if you are awake and at all tapped into the gaming community, you probably heard that Wizards of the Coast is coming out with a NEW EDITION of Dungeons and Dragons. Yes, even though 4E came out in 2008, meaning it wouldn’t even be in Kindergarten if it was a human being, it is going to be ignored when the new baby, probably to be entitled ’5th edition’ arrives. Or maybe it won’t. Many people cut their teeth on 4E and people can be fiercely loyal to their editions. That being said, 5E is on the way and WotC is going to listening to what players want when they build it up.
I’ve played 3.5 and 4E, as well as a few other systems (Feng Shui, WoD in various incarnations, a homemade system based on 1,000 Blank White Cards). My very first tabletop character was a half-elf bard-wizard in a homebrewed setting. I was the new kid on the block. I had an account on their forums and started a thread, 1,001 Barbaric Customs, a thread to help flesh out a culture that honoured the berserker ability. I’ve bought minis, dice, drawn maps, characters, written back stories to get a better feel for my character. Basically, I dig DnD.
It would be easy to list a few stupid jokes, regarding what I want to see in the new edition, since WotC is kind enough to ask the fans what it is they want to see (how kind of them, to ask for free ideas!). But instead, in the hopes that someone will see this and take it into consideration, I’m going to make my suggestion. It’s not a mechanical suggestion because I’ll be honest, I am not a numbers person. And the numbers game in Dungeons and Dragons is always going to be geared towards combat primarily and story telling as an afterthought. You might say, ‘Make that your suggestion! Fix the mechanics for more story telling!’ But the game is called ‘Dungeons and Dragons,’ not ‘Storytellers and Suggestions.’ It was created to deal with combat in a fantasy setting. I am not saying you can’t get some awesome story telling done in DnD! But the creative beginnings of DnD are going to permeate through, no matter the incarnation and there is only so much you will be able to fuck with the game’s DNA before it just isn’t itself anymore.
SO. My suggestion is: please use something other than Medieval/Renaissance Europe as the foundation for 5th Edition.
Now you might say, you’re a gorram hypocrite, Tristan. Didn’t you JUST say that the foundations of DnD can’t be fucked with? I did. But I’m making the case that fighting is universal. Fighting against other people, organizations, creatures and even the supernatural is a universal theme all over the world. A whole lot of planet existed in the time period when longswords and bows existed in the real world and there are many cultures with lots to draw on. The Middle East, Mesoamerica, Africa…I mean, you know these places exist, right? All with different weapons, armors, customs, views on gender, deities, magic items, etc. Obviously we can’t list EVERYTHING akin to a longsword in the first few books but through an hour long search on Wikipedia and Google, I know you can find some great fodder for flavor in the new DnD.
Don’t leave it up to the DMs or players to homebrew in non-European influence into the campaign. Embrace it. Thank you for not making certain weapons ‘exotic’ in 4E because that was crappy. Show it. Give it to us. Show that you can embrace faeries, elves, trolls AND women and brown people. We play DnD. We want to kill monsters and take their treasure. We want to be the heroes or the jackasses that foil people’s plans. We want to give you our money in exchange for fun. We want to be included in your tomes. All kinds of people love DnD. Doesn’t DnD love us?
But leave out gnomes, because they’re stupid.
Thank you for reading.