DnD Next at GenCon

This post covers a couple of things. GenCon is the theme that ties it together. Most of this is about the handling of DnD Next at the conference but I want to also raise issues about WOTC at GenCon in general. My group of friends have played DnD loyally and continuously since 1976. Five of us attended. I am speaking for all of us. While we still remain optimistic, several of my pals used the phrase "Pathfinder" in the discussion. Nuf said about that.

The playtest done at GenCon was abysmal.  Not enough time was devoted to players and DM's. No feedback was solicited from us there.  A two hour block was allocated to it but in reality we had about a 1/2 hour to generate PC's and maybe that much to play.  All of us would have gladly sat down for a 6 hour session to get a feel for the direction that the game was taking. We were eager to provide feedback but were handled like patrons at a fast food restaurant and were rushed out of the playtest area to make room for the next batch of folks.  Also, the most broken aspect of 4e is that high level games are unplayable. You must include a high level playtest!

We attended the "all-star" playtest session with Ed Greenwood and others. It was hot, stuffy and impossible to see what was going on. We walked out after 45 minutes since it was going nowhere. We felt it was a waste of time.

My last rant is about 4e players.  My pals and I signed up for a number of LFR games. It's what we come to GenCon to play.  I think it's CRITICAL for WOTC to never abandon players for something new. So, here are my comments about that:

  1. 1) Why were we were banished to the Marriott? We really felt like we were being discarded like old, worn out shoes. It didn't feel like we were at GenCon.

  2. 2) There were no computers or printers available to update our PC's. I heard that there were $$$ issues that precluded that. Well, tack on an extra dollar or two per session next year and cover those costs.

  3. 3) The SPEC modules, which were the best modules, were impossible to complete in 4 hours. They need to be allotted 6 hours to complete. ALL the GM's skipped encounters.

-------------------- D&D Player/DM since 1975 - Veteran of Chainmail, AD&D, 2e, v3.5, DnD4e and now Next.
A few minor points:   You were not 'banished' to the Marriot.  It was part of a larger move seen as offering benefits to the gamers.


The specific reasons given in the DMs meeting were:


1)  It is part of a move to consolidate different forms of gaming within the hotels - the idea is that many gamers come to the convention to play a single type of game; if they put most or all of the RPG games in one area, they can then recommend that those who wish to play that game stay at that hotel and have to do less running from one side of the convention center to the other.   
2)  They also no longer consider the Sagamore to be in the main flow of traffic, with the relocation of the exhibit hall. 
3)  And finally, they felt that it was impossible to decorate the Sagamore and have it look decent:   It's large size was just too overwhelming.   While DMing I got mixed feedback on the Marriot as a space but I found it adequate.  

The lack of printers and computers was an issue.  I hope that it can be resolved as many players have come to expect that to be available.  


I have no knowledge of the SPEC modules.  However, the four modules I ran or prepped all had "optional" encounters which were designed to allow the DM to adjust according to the time available.  I think that this is a good thing.  Not every group will progress through every adventure at the same pace:  By putting in (as they did in the adventures I DMed) optional encounters which the DM could skip or use depending upon how fast the party got places is really the best approach.   I don't know if the SPEC moduels were written in this same way - but if some of the encounters were not explicitely listed as optional - they probably should have been. 


But most significantly in my mind:   NONE of these issues have anything to do with the playtest.


As for the playtest at GenCon - I wished I could have gotten in.  I think the biggest mistake was not having many more tables and many more DMs.  I would have rather seen it run more like the Delves of the past.  Don't require character creation - after all, we've been playtesting on our own for months without it.  Just put out the pre-gen characters and run people through adventures exactly like delves in the past.   If they want a character creation table as well - set it up with a couple of DMs to manage it.  But don't insist on all players running through a round of creation before they play.


Finally - there will eventually be a high level playtest.  They just aren't there yet.   At present - what you saw is what there is.  The rest will come with time.

Carl    



We attended the "all-star" playtest session with Ed Greenwood and others. It was hot, stuffy and impossible to see what was going on. We walked out after 45 minutes since it was going nowhere. We felt it was a waste of time.




My group of 5 managed to last about 30 minutes.  No visibility to the table, no video feed to the screen, musicians outside the hall making it difficult to hear and the constant sexual euphemisms by the players made it a frustrating and to be honest an embarrassing experience.

Maybe we've aged-out of the core demographic, being that we're all in our late 30s or early 40s.  However hearing (not watching because we couldn't see anything) the top representatives of WotC acting like a bunch of 13 year old boys when faced with a captured female drow prisoner was cringe inducing.


Paraphrasing…


"Are you sure you sure she's been searched?  Maybe she has secreted something…I should 'search' her myself…heh heh heh"


And of course the classic halfling premature orgasm joke referencing erect spoons was pure comedy gold…because roleplaying the molestation of bound women is funny.  And it's not as if it was just a couple of times, it was an almost constant barrage of "your spoon is so big!" type humor. 


Shortly before we walked out, my friend turned to me and asked "I wonder why there aren’t more female gamers?"


So yes, if you wanted to hear the corporate face D&D engage in juvenile, misogynistic  sex jokes, play absurd characters and basically reinforce every negative stereotype people have of D&D players while learning almost nothing about D&D Next, you came to the right place.




Carl,

Thank you for the feedback. Yes, some of what I posted (and I did say I would do it) was not about DnD Next playtest.  I mentioned it here because it seemed to us long time players that because of the playtest efforts and resources were split.  Borrowing from Peter to pay Paul impacted us. There seemed to be  less dedication to the existing base of players.

I understand the issue with computers and printers were a matter of high cost (someone said something about a very high $8000 per day for wired Internet) to WOTC. 

As far as PC creation during the playtest, I think that was the objective, to get feedback on the process. I do expect to get a survey about it at some time but I'll say that it seemed easy with so few rules to pour through at this time. However, the few DMs around were so crazy busy and hyped on shots of 5-hour energy and coffee that the athmosphere was almost described as tense. I too expected a delve type adventure but it was so harried that we put off.  We'll play test at home and provide feedback on that.

Aythreval,

Your group and mine must have walked out at the same time. +1 on everything that you said about the embarassing behavioral display by the corporate suits that were there.  I won't stoop to their levels by repeating their very poor taste jokes but I assure you that I would get fired at work if I were to say those things.

-------------------- D&D Player/DM since 1975 - Veteran of Chainmail, AD&D, 2e, v3.5, DnD4e and now Next.

The playtest done at GenCon was abysmal.  Not enough time was devoted to players and DM's. No feedback was solicited from us there.  A two hour block was allocated to it but in reality we had about a 1/2 hour to generate PC's and maybe that much to play.  All of us would have gladly sat down for a 6 hour session to get a feel for the direction that the game was taking. We were eager to provide feedback but were handled like patrons at a fast food restaurant and were rushed out of the playtest area to make room for the next batch of folks. 



Agree.  The time I spent in this "event" (almost an hour & a 1/2!) was utterly wasted. 

Aside from character creation there was virtually nothing happening that really showcased anything of Next.  We could've done this with NO characters....
We fought about 12 zombies (including a slightly tougher boss one) total.
.2 of us spent our expertise dice to up our damage.  Because we could.
.I (as an elven fighter with the MU background{?}) cast light.  Then short things with a longbow/stabbed them with a longsword.
.Our weapons?  Well, they did slightly more damage due to everyone using things they were proficiant in (so +1 to the damage die size)
This of course was meaningless as all we were fighting were zombies that took an average of two hits to drop.....
.The sole bit of RP at my table?  That came from me when we were asked if we'd recover the crown of the gnomes.  I said, "Sure, I'll do it in exchange for a bow (long or short, didn't matter) up-front."  The DMs response was "Fine, you have a longbow & arrows."
.There was 1 total constitution save rolled.  It passed.  No further effect.
.It boiled down to a hurried character creation bit, followed by mostly listening to a DM give overly long descriptions, folowed by x # of zombie gnomes infront of us.  OK, that's it, & here's your D20.


Now I admit, I really wasn't expecting an in-depth adventure given the time allotted.
But this just sucked ass.
It's NOT a good thing when your player wishes that he were off deming another companies game....
    
Sign In to post comments