This is not a post about 5th Edition

The Puns were better in the older versions, too.
Reproduced under a Creative-Commons share alike license, with thanks to flickr user B_Zedan


Alright, it is. A little bit.

As you almost certainly already know, Wizards of the Coast recently announced that the company had begun development of Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition, accompanied by a call to gamers to participate in the process of creating the new edition. Many of us DnD-ers are quite internet savvy and have taken to the webstreets to promulgate their own ideas for what Wizards should do with 5th edition. I think I’m a sight more cynical than most of the community: since, less than three full years after the release of 4th Edition, Pathfinder sales have been consistently better. Simply put, Paizo is kicking the crap out of Wizards, and Dungeons and Dragons is in danger of being completely dethroned as the fantasy simulationist roleplaying game of choice. So they’ve made a bold move.

Here’s a simple timeline:

  • 1st Edition: released 1978
  • 2nd Edition: released 1989 (11 years)
  • 3rd Edition: released 2000 (11 years); 3.5 released in 2003
  • 4th Edition: announced GenCon 2007, released June 2008
  • 5th Edition: announced January 2012, release TBD

Obviously, this is very simplified. Advanced was released in 1979, so maybe you consider that to be different than the main game and perhaps it deserves an entry. Either way, I think the signal Wizards is flashing is quite clear: they’re pulling the plug on 4th Edition.

Now, I’m not trying to add fuel to culture wars. I’m not here to say one edition is better than any other edition, but I think the evidence is clear: Wizards is worried enough about 4th Edition sales to announce a new edition only 3.5 years into the life of their newest product. Announcing itself is a damning step, since this will certainly mean that 4th Edition sales will take a hit (since consumers will be loathe to buy more books from a game that is going to be obsolete in a year or so). Undoubtedly, they’re transferring some people from 4e development to 5e development, so the quality of the supplements that do get published in the next year might be lacking. Wizards is forsaking 4th edition for the hopes of recapturing a share of 5th edition.

It’s quite a bold move indeed. They’ve got to get 5th out the door rather quickly: I can easily imagine (more) people jumping ship to Pathfinder, an actively supported, successful, OGL product in the vacuum between editions.

Continue reading “This is not a post about 5th Edition”

On Preference

Image by: Chrstopher

I’ve been giving some thought to the idea of preference. Specifically, the preferences of people when it comes to the games they play. I saw a post by Greywulf that got me thinking about it. Very often, we as gamers, get into discussions about our favorite game versus another popular game and the discussions can become more than heated. What I am starting to ask myself is this: why? Why do we get so hot and bothered if someone prefers something that we don’t like?

I’ll give you an example. (And I’m writing this knowing that I could be sparking a flame war with these words). For a long time, I was an Apple user. I was a die-hard devotee of the Mac platform, from the days of the bondi-blue iMac all the way up until right before the release of the G5 processor. I even did a few retail stints at the Apple Store near where I lived. I drank the Kool-Aid. Whenever I found myself in discussions about computers, I always hotly defended my precious Mac. I glossed over shortcomings and I emphasized the stuff that made my decisions look good. I eventually had to switch to a PC for a job I had. I have to admit, when I did, it was a relief. I won’t go in to all of the details (that’s not the point of this post) but it felt good to not have to work to be compatible; I was part of the majority.

The same kinds of discussions go on in our hobby. We roleplayers love what we love and we tend to hate on those who are on “the other side.” And, in this regard, I have made moves similar to those I did when I was a Mac fan. When 4th Edition D&D came out, I started running a game for a group of friends. it was my first experience DMing and we loaded praise onto 4e and its system, giving it nothing but favorable comparisons to the 3.5 rules we knew so well.

When I ended up leaving that group and, eventually, starting running a game for some other friends, I went back to 3.5. At the time, I figured that I just knew the rules better (really I think I didn’t want to have anything to do with the system that I associated with the group I left) and that’s the justification I went with. We eventually transitioned to Pathfinder and that’s where we’ve stayed. I’m over my issues with the 4e group I left, but for some reason I held on to the “dislike” of the system that I had fostered.

I very recently had a friend ask me if I wanted to play in a 4e one-shot that they are going to be running soon. Without even considering the system, I said yes. I respect this guy as a GM and I really like the premise of the adventure. When I got out my 4e books to work on my character, I found the record sheet for the Wizard I had been playing with my first and only 4e group. I took a look over it, and I realized that, issues with the group aside, I had a good time playing that character. The mechanics of the game that built the character were sound and, in fact, I could just level up my old character and use him for the one-shot.

The point I’m rambling my way towards is this: we don’t need to draw battle lines. Companies might like us to do that, at some level, because there are only so many gaming dollars to go around. However, if you like the system you’re playing and there’s another system that someone else likes more, it doesn’t make you right and them wrong, or vice-versa. Ben plays Palladium, Nick loves himself some Savage Worlds, Buddy plays 4e and Pathfinder both and I respect all of their opinions.

So the next time that you end up in a discussion with a fellow gamer about the merits of one system versus another, do me a favor: don’t try and show them why their system sucks. Instead, try to show them why you love your system so much. They may not agree with you but at least you’ll be taking things in a positive direction.

[tags]rpg, rpgs, role playing games, D&D, 4e, Pathfinder, 3.5, Palladium, Savage Worlds[/tags]

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