Meta Rules, (5e) D&D next, and the Classic Iterations.

First off I want to say I think 5e should be based on the Star Wars SAGA system... but thats just me gushing on the best possible iteration of the d20 system I have seen ....

But that is neither here nor there, now to get to the real stuff...

I'm tired of buying new generations of things, arnt you ? I'm tired of buying new consoles that dont have backwards compatibility, and I'm tired of buying new RPG systems that dont have compatibility. Honestly there is no need for it, this leads into my point, we need to build rules and understand how they affect the games we play. D&D is fantastic for what it does , however we as a consumer get to buy books that tell us things about the game we want to play. This is perfectly fine, however we get this system bloat nonsense and reboots of the game we have been playing for years, just in a different packaging. As a consumer I'm sick of this. It's iritatting.

Has anyone ever played with GURPS , or the HERO system? If you want the game to be modular you pretty much cant go running around with that idea and NOT come across these systems. I like to divide up roleplaying systems into 3 tiers in rulings.

-Tier 1-
Dungeons and Dragons (and most other RPGs) fit into this category. This is the category where the game is spelled out for you and you play the game. You are given the rules , and you make a character and go. The advantage of this is you get to play quickly with little prep time (yes even 3.5 goes here). The bad part of this is it's hard to homebrew compared to other tiers. It's more of a reverse engineering project. The next D&D should have this for sure, but it should not be this entirely.

-Tier 2-
GURPS and most skill based RPG's fit here. This is the category where you create the type of character you want to play. This is usually done with skills and attributes. These attributes are usually set in stone, and the many many many skills that are given rely on these attributes. You can see a skeleton of the system and can manipulate it with relative ease. You can make templates that act as races or classes. So instead of the game makers giving you a class and going.

The game makers may release a book with class templates, or races and say okay, this is how we would go about it. This gives a person creative ideas as well as a way to start building their world. This tier can be everything tier 1 can be as well as give MUCH more freedom. This creates a modular system that 5th edition says it is moving towards. (Note not everything need be skill based, gurps certainly is, but a new system could have many new ideas)

-Tier 3-
This is where HERO system comes in. As far as I have seen the hero system is the only system that gives you meta rules as part of the game. Let me explain. At first glance the HERO system seems much like GURPS, you are given skills, perks, advantages and disadvantages and other things to create your character. After reading a bit more you begin to see not only the skeleton of the system, you see the creator of the skeleton, you see the underlying mechanics of the game. When you create a skill or power , you define how you want it to work. Everything is based on these meta rules, powers, equipment, characters are all made from sets of meta rules. Magic items and power suits are made from the same rules.

Unlike gurps which would GIVE you these, and provide you with stats and skills, you get to make the magic items you want, or the skills you want which is fantastic. However this is by far the most complicated way of playing an rpg but the more work you put into it, the greater the rewards are, you get to define everything about your world. You dont just look for a +1 sword of fire, you get to make that sword with underlying meta rules. This may, (and probably would) turn off a lot of players. It's complicated I will admit. However the biggest point is next.

In the last chapters of the HERO system book 2 you get the heart of the universe. The creator of the system tells you how he made the system and how you can change it to fit your play style.He tells you how to create new Abilities and Attributes, what to watch out for when you do. How to set up gaming rules in relation to each other. In FANTASY HERO they give you ideas on how YOU want to make magic work. Not how magic works, but how YOU want it to work. Should it siphon off energy? Use it as vancian magic? Like MANA pools? Dont like HP system? The book tells you how to make other systems like wounds or other various ways to track injuries.

THIS IS WHAT D&D 5e NEEDS TO DO.


The creators of 5th edition need to explain the rules and concepts behind them in either a DM guide or another book entirely. The creators need to give us the soul of the game so WE can do as we wish . Many books skirt around this , such as unearthed arcana. These various rules to tinker with the system. These are some of my favorite books / articles. We need more of this. This would allow D&D to become the eternal system. No need for edition changes. Other 3rd party companies could come up with other systems to use, it would be similar to OGL but the core system would never die.


Think about it, these rules could allow any edition of D&D to be played . Want to use the 4th edition system? These are the rules that allow that, this is the format to use. Want to allow 3rd edition? GREAT! Use these rules, this is how to balance feats and what not. I havnt really played a second edition game, but I do have the books , and sure THAC0 is a bit complicated but a specific set of rules and how they function would allow you to play it. Star wars SAGA has the most excellent talent tree system that I LOVE. 


Wizards could make source books detailing all the other systems and how to make them compatible with the new 5th edition.


The only way wizards is going to appeal to the audience at large is to do this. Anything else will be folly. We need the knowledge behind the rules to make the game we want to play. Because when you break the system down, the same game has been made the past 20+ years, just in various ways. The core of D&D is there and always has been. 1st, 2nd, 3rd ,saga, 4th editions are just different packagings of the same rules with some modifications. 



So if you have made it this far, thanks for listening to me ramble. This is the first time I have been this passionate about an edition . I hate edition wars, I play all kinds of games , our hobby is too small to be divided. I hate to quote LOST but seriously, Live together or die alone. We need to stop arguing which way is best to play a game of imagination, and start playing the damn game.


The idea behind 4E was that 3.X D&D was becoming less appealing because the time from 0-60mph was too long -- that it took too long to learn the rules before you could actually play and experience the benefit.

The products that came later -- the red box & essentials -- these were aimed to get people playing faster.  Reading fewer rules before you start.  Using pregen characters.  I don't think the people who complain about 4E are complaining about pregen characters - I think they're complaining about the power system and how WotC is choosing to package products (e.g. thin books, randomized card packs, etc.).

Paizo produced a beginner box for the same reason - because we need new people in the hobby, and showing people the value early on is absolutely essential in motivating them to learn more of the rules.

The majority of tabletop RPG players aren't even DMs.  With all the great professional campaign settings, adventure paths, and modules, I think fewer and fewer people have the time or inclination to development homebrew campaigns from scratch.

Therefore, I think for this to be successful you need to solve the complexity problem, and I think if that was a trivial problem to solve, somebody would have done it by now.  I suspect that what you're talking about is simply too complex and requires too much effort from a person before they get to the meat and value of the game.  I'm also not sure how well all these user generated content is going to interact with popular pre-built modules, campaign settings, and adventure paths -- which as I understand it are constructed under the assumption that players are using a known set of skills and abilities.

This isn't to say I think what you're talking about is a bad thing.  I just don't think it is the right think for WotC, because they need to grab a large chunk of the market, and I think the effort and complexity of what you're proposing -- only a small number of people have the time and energy for it, and WotC probably can't build a sustainable business off just those people.
but that's the beauty of it. I'm not saying everyone needs to tinker with these rules. I'm saying the option should be there. The value of these systems are that you CAN pick up and play. There are books out there where you can just make a character and hop in, just like D&D. However the silver lining is that we get to understand what went into making these games, and how to create the rules that let us play what we want to.

Pathfinder did something like this with their new Race creation book.
but that's the beauty of it. I'm not saying everyone needs to tinker with these rules. I'm saying the option should be there. The value of these systems are that you CAN pick up and play. There are books out there where you can just make a character and hop in, just like D&D. However the silver lining is that we get to understand what went into making these games, and how to create the rules that let us play what we want to.

Pathfinder did something like this with their new Race creation book.




Yes, the option to tinker should always be present. D&D is very much the mother game, the basis of authority for any dyed-in-the-wool gamer. It's better if that authority is open and adaptable.  

The idea behind 4E was that 3.X D&D was becoming less appealing because the time from 0-60mph was too long -- that it took too long to learn the rules before you could actually play and experience the benefit.

The products that came later -- the red box & essentials -- these were aimed to get people playing faster.  Reading fewer rules before you start.  Using pregen characters.  I don't think the people who complain about 4E are complaining about pregen characters - I think they're complaining about the power system and how WotC is choosing to package products (e.g. thin books, randomized card packs, etc.).

Paizo produced a beginner box for the same reason - because we need new people in the hobby, and showing people the value early on is absolutely essential in motivating them to learn more of the rules.

The majority of tabletop RPG players aren't even DMs.  With all the great professional campaign settings, adventure paths, and modules, I think fewer and fewer people have the time or inclination to development homebrew campaigns from scratch.

Therefore, I think for this to be successful you need to solve the complexity problem, and I think if that was a trivial problem to solve, somebody would have done it by now.  I suspect that what you're talking about is simply too complex and requires too much effort from a person before they get to the meat and value of the game.  I'm also not sure how well all these user generated content is going to interact with popular pre-built modules, campaign settings, and adventure paths -- which as I understand it are constructed under the assumption that players are using a known set of skills and abilities.

This isn't to say I think what you're talking about is a bad thing.  I just don't think it is the right think for WotC, because they need to grab a large chunk of the market, and I think the effort and complexity of what you're proposing -- only a small number of people have the time and energy for it, and WotC probably can't build a sustainable business off just those people.

The start of the original boxed sets did this. Take a look at the developemt from '83 to '89. Each successive box introduced more complexity to the rules. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Editions_of_Dungeo.... You could adopt them or not. IF and this is a BIG IF, there were onlin tools developed by WotC being a DM could be alot easier.
MY DM COMMITMENT To insure that those who participate in any game that I adjudicate are having fun, staying engaged, maintaining focus, contributing to the story and becoming legendary. "The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." Gary Gygax Thanks for that Gary, so now stop playing RAW games. Member of the Progressive Front of Grognardia Suicide Squad