Friday, January 20, 2012

My views on D and D editions or: Yeah right, who was I kidding when I said I would limit my posts?

So.  Wizards are releasing a new edition of Dungeons and Dragons.   I feel that as someone who scours the Dungeons and Dragons rule books for inspiration and who has read lots of peoples' opinions on the new edition of Dungeons and Dragons, that I am entitled to give people my opinion too*.

*not really, I just really want to talk about something with a tenuous link because I like writing blog posts.

My view is born out of a project I had when I was 12.  I wanted to create a single player board game version of Advanced Fighting Fantasy, where the hero would wander around a country, roll up random encounters and quests, get treasure and experience.  It was kind of an Advanced Fighting Fantasy version of Fabled Lands (although, criminally, I had not heard of Fabled Lands at the time).  I spent ages on it, constantly revising and upgrading it until one day, it got thrown away (not by me).

I never started it again, but I realised that I would never be happy with it.  There would always be something that wouldn't sit straight with me.  I couldn't accommodate all of the spells and skills into my game in a balanced fashion, items popped up too often or not often enough, I didn't feel that my food and water rule was realistic etc.  I could have gone on forever.

The point is that after any number of revisions, there will always be holes to pick in something.  I have read Advanced Dungeons and Dragons source books, 3rd edition sourcebooks, 3.5 edition sourcebooks and 4th edition sourcebooks.  I could have found things to praise each of them to high heaven or damn them to eternal hell.

To me, AD+D was the edition that tried to fit in all contingencies.  There were tables for everything.  I have the outdoor survival guide which has tables for the chance of finding water in each type of area and whether it is potable or not.  There are tables for the type of weather and many other tables.  They were either super realistic or a tedious number crunching exercise.

3rd edition made things simpler but had balance issues.  3.5 fixed that.  4th edition seemed to balance out the game, give each class equal powers but it seemed like a computer game.

Here's my point:  I look on each new edition, not as a replacement for the old one, but as a different type of game.  There are plenty of posts on edition wars and why people like original D+D over 4th ed etc.  That's what we should be aiming for - games to cater to everyone's needs.  This means that in order to be popular, 5th edition D+D needs to fill a niche that previous editions haven't.  My suggestion would be a system that is perfect for gamebooks, but then I'm biased*.

*I'm also joking, just to make it clear.

And that is all I have to say about that.

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