Dragon: Does this look like a downward trend to anyone else?

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Folk in another thread told me that the 4e I love is getting plenty of great support in DDI, so I've strolled back through the past few Dragon issues to see if it compares to the (doubtless rose-tinted view of the) glory days I remember.  Articles which I consider to be the virtually ignorable 'junk mail' of Dragon get strikethroughs.  Articles that don't get strikethroughs are acknowledged to bring new mechanical content regardless of quality.  Underlined articles are new mechanical content that I feel contributed meaningfully to everyone's games.

FEBRUARY:

Genasi racial options, 1 paragon path, and 4 feats
Unearthed Arcana article on encounter resolution, should be Dungeon content
Class Acts, Druid: 1 epic destiny and 2 daily powers
Class Acts, Bard: 4 encounter powers, 3 feats
Guilds & Groups: 5 feats
Bazaar of the Bizarre: Six set items
Column about crunch-vs-fluff
Column about Shelly's game being over
Column about past editions

MARCH:
Essentials Warlord Errata
1 Paragon Path for worshipers of Ioun
1 fluff ritual giving a narrative event a mechanical cost
Ability Score Bonuses (should have been released a month after PH3, but whatever)
Henchmen rules, bordering on DM-only content
Athasian familiars
Column about past editions
Column about upcoming products
Column about D&D being on Community

APRIL:
Essentials Fighter Errata
6 Channel Divinity powers
List of rituals available only to people who could already see a list of rituals via the Compendium
6 ki focuses reproduced from published content
1 paragon path for worshipers of Avandra
Article on including gambling in your games, should be Dungeon content
Feat list/errata contributing nothing new
Column about past editions
Column about how awesome they're doing
Column about... Christ, I don't even know.  Shelly used to be refreshingly irreverent, now she just feels gratingly irrelevant.

Again, this isn't even speaking to whether or not the new content in the given articles was any good, merely that it was original mechanical content.  Last month we got 1 divine PP and 6 Channel Divinity powers.  That's it.  Is this really the salvation of 4e content people are trying to pass it off as?  I'm not even sure that it's worth the subscription fee any more.
(I employ zie/zie/zir as a gender-neutral counterpart to he/him/his. Just a heads-up.) Essentials definitely isn't for me as a player, and I feel that its design and implementation bear serious flaws which fill me with concern for the future of D&D, but I've come to the conclusion that it isn't going to destroy the game that I want to play. Indeed, I think that I could probably run a game for players using Essentials characters without it being much of a problem at all. Time will tell, I suppose.
You're definitely not the only one.

Though, the Ki Focuses article wasn't reproduced from anywhere - it's only appeared in Dragon.  It was, however, cut from HoS.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
You're definitely not the only one.

Though, the Ki Focuses article wasn't reproduced from anywhere - it's only appeared in Dragon.  It was, however, cut from HoS.


Those ki focuses didn't appear in HoS?  The Compendium says that they did. *shrugs*
(I employ zie/zie/zir as a gender-neutral counterpart to he/him/his. Just a heads-up.) Essentials definitely isn't for me as a player, and I feel that its design and implementation bear serious flaws which fill me with concern for the future of D&D, but I've come to the conclusion that it isn't going to destroy the game that I want to play. Indeed, I think that I could probably run a game for players using Essentials characters without it being much of a problem at all. Time will tell, I suppose.
May's issue will be problematic to compare.  Are the Themes base 4E material or E-material?  That's an argument that'll have two sides with no real way to settle.
You're definitely not the only one.

Though, the Ki Focuses article wasn't reproduced from anywhere - it's only appeared in Dragon.  It was, however, cut from HoS.


Those ki focuses didn't appear in HoS?  The Compendium says that they did. *shrugs*


No, they didn't.  They were cut in order, presumably, to flesh out Dragon - it wasn't for lack of space IMO, there was plenty of other material they could have got rid of instead.  Which makes the Compendium's definition of their source a bit of a slap in the face to those who bought the book.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
Articles that don't get strikethroughs are acknowledged to bring new mechanical content regardless of quality.  Underlined articles are new mechanical content that I feel contributed meaningfully to everyone's games.



Don't use strikethroughs and underlines next to each other.  It's hard to read.  In fact, strikethroughs are hard to read at all.  Use color variations, or bold and italics, or something.

FEBRUARY:

Unearthed Arcana article on encounter resolution, should be Dungeon content
You said you weren't striking through mechanical content regardless of quality.  This is mechanical content.  Whether it should have been in the other magazine is irrelevent.  If you're counting up content vs. non-content articles, that's fine.  If you're counting articles you personally liked vs. articles you personally don't care for, then what's the point?

MARCH:
Essentials Warlord Errata

I don't object to you not counting it, but the main issue is that it isn't behind the paywall, and thus isn't dragon content that we're paying for.  I also agree that errata that doesn't bring new content shouldn't be counted.  However, you're use of the term 'essentials' in describing this, especially when theres nothing 'essentialsish' about the errata other then the format its written in (which is the format for everything these days, regardless), implies a reactionary rejection of anything you percieve as essentials-related that is going to completely undermine any objective review you attempt.

Ability Score Bonuses (should have been released a month after PH3, but whatever)
This is errata, and not behind the paywall, and thus doesn't count towards dragon content that we're paying extra for.

Henchmen rules, bordering on DM-only content

Doesn't matter.  Still content.

APRIL:
Essentials Fighter Errata

see warlord comments above.


List of rituals available only to people who could already see a list of rituals via the Compendium

It's a list of rituals sorted by categories with easy summaries.  I find it immensely more convenient then trying to browse rituals with the compendium.  But there isn't new content, so if you want to disregard it on that count I can't object.

6 ki focuses reproduced from published content

They should have been in that published content.  But they weren't.

Article on including gambling in your games, should be Dungeon content

Still content.  You never said you were counting only player-only content, frankly.

Feat list/errata contributing nothing new

Apparently you didn't read the article, because there were a number of feats in there, and while several where utter trash, others contributed significantly to a number of classes and subclasses.  However, it wasn't paid for content, and shouldn't be counted for that reason.

Again, this isn't even speaking to whether or not the new content in the given articles was any good, merely that it was original mechanical content.

Yoiu also seem to be sorting based on whether you personally feel the material is 'dm' or 'player' content, and you also seem to be rejecting things just because you don't like them.  You're also failing to take into account whether the articles are themselves part of the paid-for subscriptions or not, because if you're going to complain about free articles you're just being silly.

Despite disagreeing with several of your individual points, I don't disagree with your overall assessment.  DDI content has been far below expectations of late.
May's issue will be problematic to compare.  Are the Themes base 4E material or E-material?  That's an argument that'll have two sides with no real way to settle.



There's no difference. It's all 4e material. 
4E is dying thread #1738

I guess if you keep saying it eventually it will come true, but at this rate when it happens my grandkids will be very sad.
...whatever
Folk in another thread told me that the 4e I love is getting plenty of great support in DDI...

Hi!

...so I've strolled back through the past few Dragon issues to see if it compares to the (doubtless rose-tinted view of the) glory days I remember.  Articles which I consider to be the virtually ignorable 'junk mail' of Dragon get strikethroughs.  Articles that don't get strikethroughs are acknowledged to bring new mechanical content regardless of quality.  Underlined articles are new mechanical content that I feel contributed meaningfully to everyone's games.

The particulars of your list involve making a lot of judgment calls.  However, I think it's important to note that even in your summary, there have been 1-2 articles a month that you consider to bring new mechanical content to D&D.

I didn't mean to make the argument, in the other thread, that Dragon is churning out dozens of articles every month full of quality crunch.  But again, even accepting your judgments of only three months' worth of content, there's a significant portion of a new book's worth of material: updates to a dozen races, significant new racial features, new familiars, 12 feats, 3 paragon paths, 1 epic destiny, and 6 new items.

So I suppose the major difference between us is that, by my standards, that's actually a lot of material for three months.  (It's certainly more than I can play through in the same amount of time, and I game twice a week.)  What would be a satisfactory rate of production for you?
I think we were all spoiled by the first year or so of Dragon.
...whatever
Agreed.  I think 2008-10 will be known as the Era of Bloat.  I've never seen so much crunch released for any edition of D&D in so short a time.  I doubt we'll ever see the likes of it again.
I think we were all accustomed to the bloat of 3.5E and even those of us who welcomed 4E with open arms missed that bloat. I know I did. Having a billion choices was one of the things that 3E added to the D&D landscape, and 2008-2010 was 4E trying to catch up in a hurry. I don't think it was a bad thing, and I don't think its bad that its slowing down now that we have a nice pile of bloat to sustain us.
...whatever
I think we were all accustomed to the bloat of 3.5E and even those of us who welcomed 4E with open arms missed that bloat. I know I did.


Probably true.  Here's the thing. 3.5 had five years to build that bloat.  In 5 years, for example, we got 3,340 feats in 3.5.  The Compendium lists 3,066 feats in 4e, and that's only after 2.5 years.  3.5 has 782 prestige classes. 4e has 547 Paragon Paths and 107 Epic Destinies, for 654 equivalent classes in about half the time.  4e had been pumping out mechanics at about twice the rate of 3.5.  That's astounding and unsustainable.
That wouldn't be what I was saying. More along the lines of we have plenty of game material, too much maybe, and the rate of new material slowing down isn't a bad thing.
...whatever
So what you are saying is that a new edition is needed to sustain the production of new material.



No.  I'm saying the rate of bloat from 2008-2010 was unsustainable and we should all get used to a drastically reduced rate of mechanical releases.  That would be true even with a new edition, as I don't think WotC would want to repeat the bloat rate of 4e with a new edition either.


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So what you are saying is that a new edition is needed to sustain the production of new material.



No.  I'm saying the rate of bloat from 2008-2010 was unsustainable and we should all get used to a drastically reduced rate of mechanical releases.  That would be true even with a new edition, as I don't think WotC would want to repeat the bloat rate of 4e with a new edition either.

Yeah, I entirely agree.

I think when they started with 4e they were looking at 3.5 as a system that was HUGE. Not only was their all the WotC material from 5 years of 3.5 plus 3 years of 3.0, there was also the vast quantity of 3PP stuff floating around out there, 8 years of magazine material, etc etc etc. If 4e was going to be successful it was obvious it would need to cover a lot of that ground ASAP. The 4e PHB1 for instance covers more than any previous PHB in one shot in many areas. They obviously felt that 4e should boot up and be a very well supported system FAST, and the rise of PF as an alternative only made that necessity even stronger.

In the long run it was probably harmful to the edition. A lot of stuff was designed and thrown out there with only a very limited understanding of how the system would work out in actual play and what player preferences would be. Now we see them slowing down, taking a deep breath, and trying to go back and solidify and improve things. This is why we see a lot of material that goes over territory already covered once (Essentials in-toto really falls into this category).

I think if you take a bit more of a broad perspective on D&D down the years and look at what we're getting now vs what historically has been the norm and what is probably sustainable in the longer term the current situation isn't particularly alarming or appalling. Honestly, I have boxes full of Dragon Magazine going back all the way to issue #11 (and a few earlier than that, Snit Smashing was in #11, hehe). Most issues, even in the heyday of TSR Dragon contained only a fairly small amount of crunch. Maybe some article on some obscure subsystem, a new spell or three, a few magic items or traps. Often there'd be one crunch article in the entire magazine. In fact crunch wasn't REALLY the main emphasis of Dragon (or Dungeon either). It is only more recent times when that has come to the fore. Probably because we have online communities now and so the magazine HAS changed. The point is, it was always a good read and it still is for the most part. I actually find the current Dragons to have much more actual utility for play than the old time ones did.
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Do keep in perspective that 4th edition has a lot more ROOM for material than 3rd edition did, due to every class having many options (and not just spellcasters), non-modular magic item rules, everyone having access to many feats, the introduction of paragon paths and hybrid classes, and so on.
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Do keep in perspective that 4th edition has a lot more ROOM for material than 3rd edition did, due to every class having many options (and not just spellcasters), non-modular magic item rules, everyone having access to many feats, the introduction of paragon paths and hybrid classes, and so on.

There is some truth to that, although 3.5 was certainly pretty much infinitely extensible in one way or another. For that matter so were earlier editions in principle. You just needed to create a new class to do something REALLY different in say AD&D. Actually the odd thing is not that many new classes were produced for AD&D. The 1e PHB was in fact to a large extent just all the classes that had been presented in Dragon and various supplements from 74-78. After the 1e PHB came out, there really weren't many added. The Barbarian and the Cavalier were the main ones actually, and that covers a LOT of years from 78-89. 2e didn't add ANY new classes at all, reworked a few, and dropped a couple. TBH there were a very few experimental classes that did come out in Dragon that never went anywhere, but they were few and far between.

TSR Dragon really wasn't all that crunch heavy. The vast majority of crunch that showed up in it was new magic items in Bazaar of the Bizarre from what I recall. There were often articles detailing some small stuff, but it was largely DM-side stuff like a new poison, a monster, or some fairly peripheral thing. Dungeon obviously became the place for adventures and some of the DM crunch later on, but there wasn't a flood of that kind of stuff. AD&D really didn't emphasize new crunch all that much. It stayed a pretty small system by today's standards. When they did start up with tons of crunchy stuff it was later 2e and it all came out in supplements, very little of it showed up in magazine format.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
2nd edition had kits, a method of designining your own classes in the DMG, and later Skills & Powers options (most of this consisted of poaching spells from Wizards, Druids, or Clerics). 2nd edition also had a huge number of races, especially if you include Dragon.
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Why does the OP list only care about mechanical additions to the game?

For me, that alone just about invalidates the list in terms of it's potential as a marker for whether or not Dragon is in a quality decline.
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2nd edition had kits, a method of designining your own classes in the DMG



The Hybrids could almost be seen as a 4th edition flavor of this.
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Why does the OP list only care about mechanical additions to the game?



Speaking for myself, I pay people to design games, not write fiction.  I don't need umpteen pages of fluff, I can make that up myself.  However, I am aware that I am not a qualified game designer, and that is what I would like to pay for.
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Why does the OP list only care about mechanical additions to the game?



Speaking for myself, I pay people to design games, not write fiction.  I don't need umpteen pages of fluff, I can make that up myself.  However, I am aware that I am not a qualified game designer, and that is what I would like to pay for.



Yeah, this basically.  I'm not paying for their writing ability.  I want mechanics, dammit.  Fluff can be made or found on my own. 

Most fluff beyond bare bones is really quite a worthless exercise, at least for me.  I'm just going to change it anyway.

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- ) Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right.
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58419928 wrote:
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quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
So what you are saying is that a new edition is needed to sustain the production of new material.



No.  I'm saying the rate of bloat from 2008-2010 was unsustainable and we should all get used to a drastically reduced rate of mechanical releases. 


    The rate of bloat is set by our willingness to pay for it, not by any limit on WOTC's ability to churn it out.  Somebody, correctly or not, has decided we won't pay, and while there are a variety of theories that may be based on, it is not a good sign. 
So what you are saying is that a new edition is needed to sustain the production of new material.



No.  I'm saying the rate of bloat from 2008-2010 was unsustainable and we should all get used to a drastically reduced rate of mechanical releases. 


    The rate of bloat is set by our willingness to pay for it, not by any limit on WOTC's ability to churn it out.  Somebody, correctly or not, has decided we won't pay, and while there are a variety of theories that may be based on, it is not a good sign. 



It isn't entirely unconnected. Once you work all the good concepts, you end up having to either produce mechanics based on marginal concepts, or retread old groud with a twist. This happened during 3E for sure.
...whatever
So what you are saying is that a new edition is needed to sustain the production of new material.



No.  I'm saying the rate of bloat from 2008-2010 was unsustainable and we should all get used to a drastically reduced rate of mechanical releases. 


    The rate of bloat is set by our willingness to pay for it, not by any limit on WOTC's ability to churn it out.  Somebody, correctly or not, has decided we won't pay, and while there are a variety of theories that may be based on, it is not a good sign. 



It isn't entirely unconnected. Once you work all the good concepts, you end up having to either produce mechanics based on marginal concepts, or retread old groud with a twist. This happened during 3E for sure.

Exactly. No amount of willing customers will magically turn a totally mined out design space into something you can extract more worthwhile stuff for, and if you just churn out retreaded crap eventually everyone goes and starts using a different system, or just stops buying iteration 42 of the same thing. I'll agree though that the definition of 'marginal' is pretty much "something nobody much is interested in buying".

Obviously this is the ultimate reason for new editions of the game. In a perfect world where D&D was played by a vast number of people new editions might well not be really needed, as there'd be enough customer churn you could just keep selling reprints of stuff etc.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
I think we were all accustomed to the bloat of 3.5E and even those of us who welcomed 4E with open arms missed that bloat. I know I did.


Probably true.  Here's the thing. 3.5 had five years to build that bloat.  In 5 years, for example, we got 3,340 feats in 3.5.  The Compendium lists 3,066 feats in 4e, and that's only after 2.5 years.  3.5 has 782 prestige classes. 4e has 547 Paragon Paths and 107 Epic Destinies, for 654 equivalent classes in about half the time.  4e had been pumping out mechanics at about twice the rate of 3.5.  That's astounding and unsustainable.



Never really looked at it that way- glances at 3rd ed bloat on book shelf. 4th ed almost caught up in 3 years compared to 8. I suppose alot of previous edition bloat was fluff orientated I suppose as I htought 4th ed and 3rd ed had very similar publishing schedules.

 2nd ed BTW did have new classes and updated trhe Monk and Barbarian in various books. I remember the mystic, crusader and a billion specialialty priests and quite a few varient wizards which were really just the normal wizard tweaked. IIRC it was 3.5 that really started introducing new classes in the complete books. I don't recall to many new classes in 3.0.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

Speaking for myself, I pay people to design games, not write fiction.  I don't need umpteen pages of fluff, I can make that up myself.  However, I am aware that I am not a qualified game designer, and that is what I would like to pay for.



This.  I don't want or need fluff apart from setting-specific stuff (p.s. moar Eberron, less FR), either give some bare basics to place something in the "Points of Light" default setting and leave it at that, or nothing at all.  I want mechanics, the stuff that is hard for somebody to design on their own.  I don't want backstory because then you get people who will take it as the gospel and think they can't reflavor things they don't like (e.g. if you want a Hexblade without the pact stuff, or an Invoker who is part of a religious organization)

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No, they didn't.  They were cut in order, presumably, to flesh out Dragon - it wasn't for lack of space IMO, there was plenty of other material they could have got rid of instead.  Which makes the Compendium's definition of their source a bit of a slap in the face to those who bought the book.


No, it was definitely for a lack of space.  The fluff text wasn't going anywhere because that's an inherent, if annoying, part of Essentials design.  The only other thing that could have been cut were the feats, and out of those feats at least 4 - 6 were absolutely necessary to stay in, which would have left a page and a half for Ki Foci at most, when there is a good 2.5 - 3 pages worth of Ki Foci material.

So yes, it was absolutely cut for space.


As for all of you complaining about fluff, get used to it.  Fluff sells more than mechanics.
So yes, it was absolutely cut for space.



Agreed.  Of course, they could have easily trimmed that many pages of the extraneous, unnecessary fluff out of the rest of the book ...
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So yes, it was absolutely cut for space.



Agreed.  Of course, they could have easily trimmed that many pages of the extraneous, unnecessary fluff out of the rest of the book ...


Again, no they could not.  One, it is part of the Essetials design system, so until that changes it's not going to get cut, and two, fluff sells.
Sorry, but I'm sure they could have trimmed a paragraph here and there until they had enough room for crucial mechanical information.
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Going back to the OP. I entirely agree with him that Dungeon and Dragon Magazine are no longer worth the cost of the subscription. They haven't been for a long time. If not for losing the downloaded version of the character builder, I would not have resubscribed, but I do not plan on renewing my subscription after this month. Thusfar, Wizards has failed to deliver consistant content for more than a year. 
My response to the whole "bloat" thing:

As long as there are classes that could be improved by more mechanics, they should be supported in Dragon. The chance that a player might find a concept that they like or be able to play a concept better improves the more mechanics that come out. If you don't like what they're putting out, then let's use your Essentials argument: You don't have to use it.
WotC seems to think that they can screw their paying subscribers because very few of them will actually quit.

Soon I'm going to send them an email demaning a partial refund. 
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IMO the magazines went down hill after they took them away from Paizo.  To me, debating whether early DDI magazines are better than the latest ones is like debating which turd is more polished.

Thanks for not contributing to the actual topic.
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It's all a measure of relative utility.  I personally really dig the DS stuff, fluff and all.  Especially the familiars, the genasi, the Dungeon article on the fey village that swaps from place to place.

It's completely objective that the magazine produces WAY less content than 2 years ago.  WAY WAY less.  But I look at it from this perspective.  For $10 I get 30 pages of reasonably useful Player material, and 40-60 pages of useful GM material.  a month.  For the cost of a book ($30) I get access to the compendium, the CB, the magazine articles (which I can consolidate on my own) which total equal a book, maybe a book and a half. 

If I were smart and did the bargain subscriptions It'd be an even better deal.

As it stands, the magazines are still more worthwhile than a printed book.  But it's getting slim.  This month for instance is a much bigger draw.  The themes are awesome, if not quite as good as the DS themes (this isn't the place to discuss).  There are 4 sections, which is great because it will give us a large variety of themes to flesh out multiple characters.

For the moment I chosoe to stand by the magazine, to see what it will become.  Only then can I make a judgement.  It's very difficult to qualify how useful something is until you read it.  When I feel that I can't use the material made then I'll re-examine my membership.
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57304548 wrote:
I imagine that Majestic Moose plays a more "A team" type game than most of us. By that I mean he allows his players to make tanks out of a backyard playground set since the players have more "fun" that way.
Actually I much prefer The Losers.
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When I and my friends sit down we want a game of heroic fantasy. Rare is the moment when I have cried out in a video game or RPG "that's unrealistic." (Unless there is no jump button. Seriously makes me mad, single handedly ruined the N64 zelda series for me, but that's a digression of a digression.) I mean, we play games with the force in galaxies far, far away, with supernatural horrors, dragons and demi-gods, alternate cosmologies, etc. Reality and it's effects hold little sway to what makes a Heroic fantasy game fun IMO. Just repeat after me: You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You are not how much you've spent on WotC products. You are not whatever RPG you play. You are one of tens of thousands of people that spend money on a hobby. You will not always get what you want
That wouldn't be what I was saying. More along the lines of we have plenty of game material, too much maybe, and the rate of new material slowing down isn't a bad thing.



How is it not a bad thing? New material is their source of income. If we don't get new stuff, why would we keep giving them money, instead of save our money / spend it elsehwere, and pay with the other stuff we already [strikethrough]own[/strikethrough] have access to?



(of course, that's part of why they went to digital distribution! You don't just pay for new stuff, you pay for continued access to the old stuff! Clever girl.)
Don't use strikethroughs and underlines next to each other.  It's hard to read.  In fact, strikethroughs are hard to read at all.  Use color variations, or bold and italics, or something.


I'll keep that in mind if I can be buggered to do another of these.

You said you weren't striking through mechanical content regardless of quality.  This is mechanical content.  Whether it should have been in the other magazine is irrelevent.


A) My list, so it's relevant.  B) I don't think it's unreasonable to expect the player content magazine to contain player content rather than being padded out with half of a Dungeon article.

I don't object to you not counting it, but the main issue is that it isn't behind the paywall, and thus isn't dragon content that we're paying for.


I wasn't even going so in-depth as what's paid for and what's not; I was simply reviewing the whole of Dragon's content, not DDI in particular.  Since you appear to be complaining that I discounted something which you feel shouldn't be counted, I believe the relevant meme is 'lol why u mad tho?'

I also agree that errata that doesn't bring new content shouldn't be counted.  However, you're use of the term 'essentials' in describing this, especially when theres nothing 'essentialsish' about the errata other then the format its written in (which is the format for everything these days, regardless), implies a reactionary rejection of anything you percieve as essentials-related that is going to completely undermine any objective review you attempt.


I'd actually meant to go back and remove any mention of Essentials specifically to keep people from whitewashing my argument as 'completely undermined' by uttering the very word.  This errata converts the Warlord class into the Marshall subclass in order to fit with the New World Order 'new direction' that, if one dare to call it Essentials (just because it perfectly coincides with and complements the design thereof), makes people go rabid in their fervor to correct the point.  I think it's fair to call it the 'Essentials errata' for the class since it officially welcomes it into Essentials compliance.  If anyone's showing bias, I think it's the people getting bent out of shape assuming I meant 'Essentials errata' as some kind of slander, or that I discounted the 'content' for being Essentials rather than for being errata.

(Ability Score Bonuses) is errata, and not behind the paywall, and thus doesn't count towards dragon content that we're paying extra for.

Like I said, my list.  While this does alter present content, I feel that it's more than just errata in the sheer scope of that change.

They should have been in that published content.  But they weren't.


Yes, yes.  So I've been told in this very thread.  My mistake for taking WotC's word for it.

(The gambling article is) Still content.  You never said you were counting only player-only content, frankly.


We're talking about Dragon Magazine.  I shouldn't have to specify that.  Dragon is player content, Dungeon is DM content.  Filling the once-crunchy former with fluff that belongs in the latter is blatant and unforgivable padding.

You're also failing to take into account whether the articles are themselves part of the paid-for subscriptions or not, because if you're going to complain about free articles you're just being silly.


As I said, I'm holding the publication as a whole accountable for its content, not merely the pay-only parts.  Should the free-to-all content not be held to any standard simply because they didn't ask money for it?  Sorry; I'm not one to call a mouthful of crap delicious just because it came free.

Despite disagreeing with several of your individual points, I don't disagree with your overall assessment.  DDI content has been far below expectations of late.


I've never been disagreed with so much as when you're agreeing with me, Malisteen.  Still, I suppose it speaks well to the truth of the situation that even without being perfectly in sync we still ultimately come to the same conclusion.

Speaking for myself, I pay people to design games, not write fiction.  I don't need umpteen pages of fluff, I can make that up myself.  However, I am aware that I am not a qualified game designer, and that is what I would like to pay for.


Yep, this.  If I had a head for inventing rules I'd build my own system.  As I instead have a head for telling stories, I pay WotC to give me the rules needed to support those stories.  Putting a bit of their own fluff on as a sort of garnish is fine, because sometimes I'll actually enjoy it as-is, but it's nothing but a waste of time and effort to produce any more than that.


Probably true.  Here's the thing. 3.5 had five years to build that bloat.  In 5 years, for example, we got 3,340 feats in 3.5.  The Compendium lists 3,066 feats in 4e, and that's only after 2.5 years.  3.5 has 782 prestige classes. 4e has 547 Paragon Paths and 107 Epic Destinies, for 654 equivalent classes in about half the time.  4e had been pumping out mechanics at about twice the rate of 3.5.  That's astounding and unsustainable.


Yep, and the truly key concept here, in my opinion, is that what 3e was pumping out was about 75% fluff (in that way in which that edition mingled fluff with mechanics), and what 4e was pumping out at twice the rate was at least 85% crunch.  That's beyond astounding, in my opinion, and I can understand why that would prove unsustainable.  I don't think it's unreasonable for the rate of release to dwindle after going hard and strong for more than two years.

However, I don't think it's unreasonable that a decrease in content, even a necessary one, ought to be accompanied by a decrease in price per unit.  I'm not necessarily saying that the rent is too damn high, but reducing content while maintaining the same price point seems on at least some level to be a denial of that obvious content reduction.

Again, I'm not saying that this is specifically the breaking point for me.  Like when my preferred brand of hard cider reduced its bottle volume from 12oz to 11.2oz while maintaining the same price per unit, I think I'm justified in grumbling and pointing to the loss of value.  Same goes here; I'm not issuing an ultimatum or even attributing the loss of value to anything other than the changing times.  I guess this is just a leery consumer squinting at the label and saying to the company 'I see what you did there.' 
(I employ zie/zie/zir as a gender-neutral counterpart to he/him/his. Just a heads-up.) Essentials definitely isn't for me as a player, and I feel that its design and implementation bear serious flaws which fill me with concern for the future of D&D, but I've come to the conclusion that it isn't going to destroy the game that I want to play. Indeed, I think that I could probably run a game for players using Essentials characters without it being much of a problem at all. Time will tell, I suppose.