I cannot help but be anything other than hopeful about the news that Wizards of the Coast is once again launching a new edition of D&D. It is not that I expect it to be better than the last. Let’s face it, they do not have the best track record when it comes to “improving the system.” It is also not because I love pouring my hard earned cash into other people’s pockets.
What makes me hopeful is my fond memories of the launch of 3E. I have fond memories of the buzz, the hype and most of all the excitement around the gaming table when we sat down to explore that new version of the game. For my gaming group that experience rekindled our love for the fantasy gaming experience.
As I mentioned last week, I had cut my teeth on the old Red Box and AD&D, but when 2E came out I walked away. I am sure there was more than one reason, but the one that I remember the best is THAC0. I moved on to other games and other genres.
Then years later when my D&D playing days were just memories, news of a new edition hit. We, my gaming group at the time, bought the core books and fell in love. So much so in fact that D and D was once more all we played, at least for several years. Then we drifted away to other games and other worlds.
And once again the buzz started, rumblings that a new edition was coming.
I wanted that thrill and excitement of a new love affair to happen again with 4E, and at first I thought it had. But like any rebound relationship, I made excuses. Sure there was a lot of bookkeeping, with status conditions, hit points and effects that expired after so many rounds. At first I had fun finding ways to fix these little broken bits of the game. But as campaigns crept into higher and higher levels, the tactical decisions available to the players grew, and combat got mired in counting squares and finding the perfect route to move across the battle field.
So this time I walked away from D and D, not because I was done telling stories with it, but because the system resisted the stories I had to tell.
A few months back I was talked into running another D and D game and we rolled back the clock to good old 3.5, but I realized there were things I missed from 4E. Mostly I missed the encounter building structure and monster rolls. I missed the diversity of tactics I could deploy with nothing more than a band of Orks.
Now here comes another new edition. Will it give me what I want? Will it give me the ability to make complex encounters and a fluid system for running the party through them? I hope so, and until the product proves me wrong I will continue to hope.