Legends and Lore: An Introduction

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Legends and Lore: An Introduction
by Mike Mearls

"If we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find we have lost the future."

Talk about this Column here.

 
Wow, very well written and right on the mark. Thx Mr. Mearls

Ceterum censeo capsum rubeum esse delendam

I for one plan to take his advice to heart, and not engage in pointless arguments anymore.  We all play D&D because we (and our friends) enjoy it.  The specifics of the rules don't matter; the point is that you are playing D&D.
The specifics of the rules don't matter; the point is that you are playing D&D.

Unless you're playing Pathfinder, of course.



Kidding. Truly.

Mealrs has echoed my thoughts on this (or maybe I have channeled his?) and I look forward to the evolution of this column.

Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
I'm not a big fan of reconciliation between the 3.5 edition and 4th fan base. If Wizards 4th edition had a stronger position and hadn't failed to loose players to Paizo/3.5, then we wouldn't be reading about us all getting along better. It's shows weakness.

That said- if there is one person capable of repairing the rift it is Mike Mearls. I hope he succeeds- for if he doesn't, it can really backfire. I just hope 4th stays 4th and that there isn't too much back peddling towards previous editions.
hunterian, I think the "rift" you have emphasized is the norm for any edition change. The only differences between now and the "rift" created by the publication of 3e are:


  • Paizo, a 3rd party company, took advantage of the opportunity presented by the new edition to do what Hackmaster did when 3e came out -- make a game that caters to previous edition players (even if Hackmaster started out as a comic joke).

  • Far more players were actively involved on the D&D publisher forums in the 3e to 4e transition than were involved during the 2e to 3e transition.

  • Widespread internet access allows many more people to share their displeasure.

  • WotC is much more tolerant of the anti-X comments than many other gaming forums.

Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.


  • WotC is much more tolerant of the anti-X comments than many other gaming forums.



This.

If there is one thing that WotC can and should be admired for (and I think there are many) is their quiet confidence.

WotC is very self sure about the product they create, and don't feel the need to shut down dissenting opinion.  Whether or not you agree that they deserve that confidence is another question entirely.  Plenty of people think WotC produces utter crap, but WotC is content to let their products speak for themselves.  This doesn't make them immune from making crap, but it does mean they don't endlessly hype their product (compared to some companies) and they don't denigrate the competition.  They make their products, release them, and say "We think these are awesome.  If we didn't, then we wouldn't have made them.  Hope you think they are awesome, too."

For example, I love 4e as a whole, but really dislike Essentials and Fortune Cards.  No one has tried to shut me up, delete my posts etc.

For all their faults, I really respect this aspect of WotC as a company.
Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.
That article rocked in so many ways. Well done, Mike!

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The specifics of the rules don't matter; the point is that you are playing D&D.

Unless you're playing Pathfinder, of course.

Kidding. Truly.



In think that when Mearls refferenced "3rd Edition and its descendants" he was talking about 3.5 and Pathfinder.  Hence the "s" at the back of the word "descendants".

I feel pretty bad for Mike.  He's being put in a really rough situation here.
Damon, perhaps my "Kidding. Truly." comment you omitted from your quote escaped your notice. I would like you to edit your reply because taking the quote out of context (trimming it as you did) gives the impression that I was saying that Pathfinder is not D&D. Which I was not.

Thank you!
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
'Welcome to Legends & Lore, a weekly column where I write about various topics on D&D’s history, how the game has changed over the years, and where it’s going in the future."

I'm mostly just in it for the "Where it's going in the future". I liked the article; but I don't really care what happened in D&D's past. I hope that Mike takes time to view the future next week.
Damon, perhaps my "Kidding. Truly." comment you omitted from your quote escaped your notice. I would like you to edit your reply because taking the quote out of context (trimming it as you did) gives the impression that I was saying that Pathfinder is not D&D. Which I was not.

I'll second this.  Taking his line out of the greater context was rude and unnecessary.

I'm not a big fan of reconciliation between the 3.5 edition and 4th fan base. If Wizards 4th edition had a stronger position and hadn't failed to loose players to Paizo/3.5, then we wouldn't be reading about us all getting along better. It's shows weakness. That said- if there is one person capable of repairing the rift it is Mike Mearls. I hope he succeeds- for if he doesn't, it can really backfire. I just hope 4th stays 4th and that there isn't too much back peddling towards previous editions.

Agreed.

'Welcome to Legends & Lore, a weekly column where I write about various topics on D&D’s history, how the game has changed over the years, and where it’s going in the future."

I'm mostly just in it for the "Where it's going in the future". I liked the article; but I don't really care what happened in D&D's past. I hope that Mike takes time to view the future next week.

Also agreed. There's things I want to know now about the future of D&D. If he splices in references to the past fine. But I want to know if the game I love (4e) is going to survive. I already didn't DM games at DDXP because of doubts about Essentials rules and now I'm debating on whether to DM at Origins and GenCon because of Fortune Cards.
I feel pretty bad for Mike.  He's being put in a really rough situation here.

I don't. He took a community that was already divided at the start and has bisected it twice. That's not a winning move.
He took a community that was already divided at the start and has bisected it twice. That's not a winning move.

Mearls did not bisect the community. He simply piloted the release of a new edition. That always leaves some folks (often loud folks) upset with the change. But most folks accept and embrace the change, and new folks come in. If WotC had not released 4e, it would be done with D&D. 3e had run its course. Old material was getting stale and new material was practically dead on release. The only things that folks raved about were the previews of 4e stuff.
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
He took a community that was already divided at the start and has bisected it twice. That's not a winning move.

Mearls did not bisect the community. He simply piloted the release of a new edition. That always leaves some folks (often loud folks) upset with the change. But most folks accept and embrace the change, and new folks come in. If WotC had not released 4e, it would be done with D&D. 3e had run its course. Old material was getting stale and new material was practically dead on release. The only things that folks raved about were the previews of 4e stuff.

Sorry I wasn't clear. By community "divided... at the start" I meant the 3.x and 4e D&D community.

This divide was likely inevitable no matter what direction the new edition took. Some people just get attached to old things and don't adapt. And yes, I know that that could make me a hypocrit. Please allow me to explain.

The "bisected... twice" refers to Essentials and Fortune Cards. These moves have angered a lot of gamers fracturing an already fractured community. If this had happened long after 4e had matured and the change of a new edition could be welcomed, I would say that such division would again be unavoidable. By then the player base would have to be refreshed anyways and new ideas could be welcomed by those old players who are adaptable. Personally, I may still have hated Essentials and Fortune Cards, but at least it could be pointed out that I'm just stuck in a prefered edition and had allowed the game to pass me by. But these changes are just too fast to be anything but divisive. Which I hope is a statement that is self-evident. This is harmful to a community that is trying to grow and develop maturity.
Fugacity, I think you are taking all this way too seriously.  I understand that you dislike Essentials and Fortune Cards, and I have no issue with that.  But many other people do like them, and the game lives on for all of us (even you!).  I am a bit saddened that you gave up the chance to DM at DDXP simply because of Essentials.  It would have been a great opportunity for you to see what the new stuff was actually like without having to buy the books.  I hope you reconsider your choice regarding Origins and GenCon. 
I enjoyed this article and I'm looking forward to the future. One of the things I'd like Mr. Mearls to address is the development of the new red box and how the design of the old red box shaped their decisions. Similarly, I'm wondering what they learned from the schism created by the original D&D basic game and what that might mean for the 4e and essentials debate.
I like the 'can't we all just get along' message of the article.  Too bad it won't do a bit of good.  Far, far too many people seem to be enraged by the very thought of other people enjoying a version of the game that they don't. 
I like the 'can't we all just get along' message of the article.  Too bad it won't do a bit of good.  Far, far too many people seem to be enraged by the very thought of other people enjoying a version of the game that they don't. 

Well, as long as we don't sink to their level and engage them in argument, they will eventually get bored and go away.  I think that was part of what Mr Mearls was saying: it takes two to argue.  We can't stop the angry people from posting angry posts about how this or that is ruining everything, but we can stop ourselves from turning a rant into a full blown row.
A good and important article, but it feels like 'too little too late'.  This is the kind of 'damage control', for lack of a better term, that needed to be said* when Essentials was first released.

*Actually, I think it was, it just needed to be said louder.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Too little too late? I'll to disagree with you there because this feel like a breath of fresh air, and after cancelations of several books and all the arguing over essentials, I like hearing some sincere words from a man you know cares about the game he helps to craft.

Wizards of the Coast suffers from an image problem with many D&D fans right now, but Mike Mearls has good reputation with a lot of gamers I've talked to. He crafted my favorite version of 3e, Iron Heroes.

The whole 3e vs. 4e vs. Pathfinder debates has played out, and its time for the discussion to take a new direction.  Instead of hearing people talk about what they don't like about fourth edition, I'd rather hear what those who don't like fourth edition discuss what they loved about previous editions.

D&D has a lot of history, and for God's sake, the game survived the demise of TSR. Just a few canceled books had people predicting Wizards wouldn't put out of a fifth edition or calling for Paizo to take over the franchise.

The sky isn't falling. D&D isn't dying. It's time to breath people.
I like the 'can't we all just get along' message of the article.  Too bad it won't do a bit of good.  Far, far too many people seem to be enraged by the very thought of other people enjoying a version of the game that they don't. 

Well, as long as we don't sink to their level and engage them in argument, they will eventually get bored and go away.  I think that was part of what Mr Mearls was saying: it takes two to argue.  We can't stop the angry people from posting angry posts about how this or that is ruining everything, but we can stop ourselves from turning a rant into a full blown row.




Ari, definitely concerning "edition wars" I can see your point and would even agree with you. But saying that not dialoguing with people who are upset, in the hopes that they will just go away because it takes two to argue, is at best a supra-optimist naivete, and at worse, a blatant desire to ignore dissenting voices.

Ignoring angry people on these forums might keep YOU from feeling like you are battling ignorant bigots, but it ultimately alienates customers if Wizards does the same, and that is bad for business and the bottom line.

Even if you don't like them, try to keep in mind that many of the "ranters" are folks that either currently or previously subscribed to DDI, and have spent a large amount of money supporting the developers of one of their favorite games. Based on the fact that they are customers, they have the right to have a voice, for good or for bad. And I am sure that WoTC is listening to them, and their negative feedback, even if the rank and file forumites would rather do without it.


kumbayah
i look forward to reading the actual column- it should offer soem insights as to what the designer liked and disliked about earlier editions and might want to bring back/change in the future. Also, old stories about DND are always worth reading... hope we get some personal stories and anecdotes

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/8.jpg)

Since the topic is Legends and Lore I would prefer to see articles about previous editions and the changes that took place. One of my favorite monthly articles is the Alumni (or should it be was; is Legends & Lore replacing Alumni?).
Damon, perhaps my "Kidding. Truly." comment you omitted from your quote escaped your notice. I would like you to edit your reply because taking the quote out of context (trimming it as you did) gives the impression that I was saying that Pathfinder is not D&D. Which I was not.



Done.
I feel pretty bad for Mike.  He's being put in a really rough situation here.

I don't. He took a community that was already divided at the start and has bisected it twice. That's not a winning move.

...

"bisected... twice" refers to Essentials and Fortune Cards.



I don't think Mearls had a choice.  I think Mearls was told, explicitly, to create a ".5" edition for 4e, and he said "no" but in the end had to compromise with Essentials.  I think Fortune Cards were similar: he was operating under a directive to incorporate a CCG element into D&D, and Fortune Cards were the least damaging way he could think of to do so.

We need to stop blaming Mike for this stuff: let's remember, he was a part of the team that brought us 4e to begin with.  The blame more fairly rests with Greg Leeds, Hasbro's WotC CEO.
I feel pretty bad for Mike.  He's being put in a really rough situation here.

I don't. He took a community that was already divided at the start and has bisected it twice. That's not a winning move.

...

"bisected... twice" refers to Essentials and Fortune Cards.



I don't think Mearls had a choice.  I think Mearls was told, explicitly, to create a ".5" edition for 4e, and he said "no" but in the end had to compromise with Essentials.  I think Fortune Cards were similar: he was operating under a directive to incorporate a CCG element into D&D, and Fortune Cards were the least damaging way he could think of to do so.

We need to stop blaming Mike for this stuff: let's remember, he was a part of the team that brought us 4e to begin with.  The blame more fairly rests with Greg Leeds, Hasbro's WotC CEO.



If I was one for conspiracy theories, I'd buy a slice of yours.

I think that's exactly what's going on.  3.5 was massively profitable but a repeat could be brand-destroying.  It was a cute trick WotC could only pull once.  WotC (and Hasbro) knows that the brand needs a shot in the arm every 2 years or so, or risk becoming like bloated and drowning TSR, and WotC came out with too many books to quickly.  So they had to implement the 4 year bump in 2 years.  So the "4.5" edition or whatever it was going to be called had to be released now.

I don't blame Mearls.  I think he's a fine guy.  I blame corporate assumptions, and a bad economy.
Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.
I thought it was a great article

It's sometimes funny, despite having 30 some odd books for 2nd edition and 45 some odd books for 3/3.5 sitting on my shelves (and I greatly enjoyed and currently enjoy both of those editions) I find myself sometimes trashing those systems just to defend 4e. 

Which is silly.  All the systems have flaws, all the systems have merits.   

I love 4e.  Are there some elements I miss from 2nd and 3rd? Of course. If I was going to DM either of those editions are there things I'd like to bring in from 4e? You betcha.

Going forward I will avoid Edition Wars, if someone says something wrong about an edition, I may correct it, but I'm not going to do a version x vs. version y argument anymore. 
Welcome to ZomboniLand - My D&D Blog http://zomboniland.blogspot.com/
Here's something they could do for profit. Release books for all editions. What I mean is go back and start selling previous editions books. Plus when you come out with a new supplement, like Heroes of Shadow, you put that book out with versions for all editions. Adventure modules would be for all editions. That way you repeat the fluff and the only thing you have to come up with is the crunch for each edition. So your production costs are pretty much cut in half. you use the same artwork, the same descriptions, the same maps. The only thing different is the rules material that goes with it... WotC that's a freebie...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
I follow another conspiracy theory, and that's that essentials is the 4e mearls wanted to make from the beginning, and now that he's in charge and most of the other big names from 4e's origin are gone he's going ahead with it.  I'm with you on fortune cards being a message from above, though.  Not that fortune cards are dividing the 4e fan base like essentials did - from what I can tell we're pretty unified in our dislike of them.

I was less impressed by this column.  I've had this feeling of D&D going back instead of forward since essentials was released, losing track of 4e's vision and instead being led around by nostalgia like the limbo kid with a worm in his brain.  This article does nothing to relieve me of this impression.  It's not about me hating the past, I don't.  I liked previous editions of D&D.  When I want to play them, I go play them.  But the future of D&D isn't in appealing to nostalgia, it's about doing what D&D did in the first place - looking around it at the wide world of the fantasy genre, and pulling it all together into a beutiful mishmash of a game that lets you live those stories and be those heroes yourself.  The future of D&D isn't in second and third editions, it's in modern fantasy novels, movies, television shows, cartoons, and video games.  It's in grasping the trends of an ever evolving genre and twisting them together into a coherent thread.
Essentials appears to have taken place with Andy Collins. It most likely was in full swing by the time Mearls was promoted. Mike specifically stated in a podcast from December that what he wants implemented for 4th will take a year or two after his promotion to be seen by the public. His first task as a manager was to implement Essentials- which was nearly finished under someone elses management (Chris or Bill or even Andy).
Then consider my theory on the origin of essentials debunked!

My comments about nostalgia blinders remain though.  I would have been less annoyed with a 4.5 (or whatever we want to call it), if it felt like more of a progression, rather then a regression. 
Legend of Five Rings has only about one book a quarter come out for it, and that's maybe. WIth only two books out for the fourth edition thus far and another book on the way, I must say I've loved the quality of each book they put out.

Perhaps Wizards canceling some books is a good thing, especially if it increases the quality of the products. THe book a month publishing schedule isn't something you see from other rpg publishers, and their fans don't often complain about the lack of system support.

D&D fans have gotten a little spoiled, and 4e has fallen in danger of becoming bloated a littlle quickly for my tastes. If Heroes of Shadow turns out to be a quality product, an extra month to get my mitts on a hardback again is worth the wait.
But how is it a regression, other than classes having different structures?  They are all still bound by the same limiting factor as all 4E classes: healing surges per day.  The Mage, Cleric, and Druid are not suddenly the most powerful classes (that would be a regression).  While they gain access to more powers per day than other Essentials builds (but not more than older builds which are still part of 4E!), that is balanced by other features given to the other builds.  Simply not liking something, or finding something boring, does not mean it is a regression.

You can call "it" whatever you want.  My friends and I still call it 4E.  We see Essentials as a step forward...classes are no longer shackled to a single design.  If it would make sense for an arcane class to not have daily powers, that is how it will be built.  Having played with the Essentials builds, I can say that the game remains just as well balanced as ever.

I'm not at all trying to convince you of anything.  It is clear that you dislike everything to do with Essentials and feel it has destroyed 4E for you.  For that I am sorry.  I just hope you know that not everyone views the situation with as much blind vitriol as you do.



I thought you said you were no longer going to argue anymore ;) This I call passive aggressive arguing. Heh. There was hardly any vitriol in his statement. If he feels it's a regression, let it be. It's his opinion and no 'pillar of the community' can deprive him of it.
Yeah, fair enough...my bad, and I have deleted my earlier post.
I don't see the article as an attempt to stop anybody from talking about the different editions of DnD in a civilized manner (and yes, that can be done; to quote Lennon: it's easy if you try). Because we will talk about the different editions, the rules they provide(d), the design ideas behind the rules and the philosophy governing them.
And in my opinion these are worthy subjects to talk about.

And since I believe that there are certain measures by which you can judge a system in a more or less objective way, I am assuming that we can talk about these measures are and why we think a certain system is better than another.
Mearls is a game designer. And as such, he and his collegues must be asking these questions all the time, especially when thinking about a new edition. Just like the people at Paizo did when they turned 3.5 into Pathfinder.

What I cannot understand, though, is the rage and frothing (sp?) and name calling and over-the-top use of certain words that sometimes come with such a discussion. And this is what has to stop, because this is what edition WAR is all about. It's not a civilized discussion, which, in the end, might lead to an understanding that it is possible to just like or just dislike certain elements without having any less fun.

And since this is so obvious in my opinion, I do not understand why Mearls chose to write an article like this. I really love his work, but here he is just stating the obvious.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

I welcome any discussion that incorporates both the past and the future.

People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. --George Orwell

There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people. --Howard Zinn

He who fights with monsters must take care lest he thereby become a monster. --Friedrich Nietzsche

Devil\'s Brigade

If Wizards 4th edition had a stronger position and hadn't failed to loose players to Paizo/3.5, then we wouldn't be reading about us all getting along better.



Actually I don't think 4th editon lost many people to 3.5; I think the majority of Pathfinder players simply never bought into 4E in the first place.

That being said I read more negative posts about Pathfinder on these boards than I read negative posts about D&D on Paizo's boards.  My theories on this have enraged people in other threads, but simply stated I believe that most people who play D&D only play D&D, while Pathfinder players are less likely to restrict themselves to a single system.

If Wizards 4th edition had a stronger position and hadn't failed to loose players to Paizo/3.5, then we wouldn't be reading about us all getting along better.



Actually I don't think 4th editon lost many people to 3.5; I think the majority of Pathfinder players simply never bought into 4E in the first place.

That being said I read more negative posts about Pathfinder on these boards than I read negative posts about D&D on Paizo's boards.  My theories on this have enraged people in other threads, but simply stated I believe that most people who play D&D only play D&D, while Pathfinder players are less likely to restrict themselves to a single system.




Yes, to clarify what I meant you said perfectly- 3.5/Paizo never got into 4th. Wizards wants a big slice of that market.

I'm glad Paizo is around and I have no beef with them, although I'll never play it. Competition is good for a company and a monopoly of D&D in Wizard's hands would be bad. The hostility towards Paizo here is pretty cute & sad. It's....wait.....are you ready for some ham fisted ignorance......it's bologna.
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