The excitement of the good old days of 4e

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Anyone who was around for the launch of 4e might remember this article. Spellcasters getting critical hits? Fixed defenses instead of rolled saves? It kinda brings back the old tingle, the promise of something new and something exciting.

I find it interesting to go back and read the old 4e launch articles and compare the design goals of the developers with the final product of 4e and see how it all worked out in the end. This is all the more interesting as we are seeing up close and personal the birth of the next edition. I wonder how different 5e will look and feel in 5 years compared to what we are seeing now?
I don't know.  I'm dreading 5e.  While I was against 4e when it came out, I've come around and accepted that it's a superior system.  5e feels to me like a step back into the dark ages.
Yeah, it's a huge diference of the developers back then knowing what they wanted to do and how to accomplish it compared to the current one...
It's interesting.  4e was a step towards a coherent system that was decided on my the developers.  It was really exciting, and what got me back into the game after getting absolutely sick of it from the problems that arose in 3.5e.

On the other hand, 4e also was developed in secret, and pretty much ignored all the advice it sought from the fan community beta-testers.  DDN is being developed with the purpose of making a game that all the fans will enjoy.  I don't know about the feasibility of it, but there are certainly things that are really exciting me as well.  But it's different.  I don't think DDN will REPLACE 4e for me, but almost become like a concurrent system; like two games I play at different times for different reasons.

Before posting, why not ask yourself, What Would Wrecan Say?

IMAGE(http://images.onesite.com/community.wizards.com/user/marandahir/thumb/9ac5d970f3a59330212c73baffe4c556.png?v=90000)

A great man once said "If WotC put out boxes full of free money there'd still be people complaining about how it's folded." – Boraxe

4e in a lot of way was a revolutionary system, in that it managed to capture classic D&D, but in a well organized and streamlined fashion.   The only real problem 4th edition had was that it was rejected by a considerable chunk of the community and to the detrimine of the D&D license it created yet another "Edition generation" of players who will neither look back or forward without forever comparing their beloved edition.


I think Wizards however has gotten very smart about the management of the D&D license as evident by some of the rather suprising moves given and uncharacteristic approach to the license.  It apperantly took a few years of suffering for them to connect what the problems where.

Since Wizards took over the D&D franchise they have done nothing but heartlessly looked forward, treating its past like it was something to be forgotten like some kind of shameful history.  They created 3rd edition and completetly abandoned any support of 2nd edition, than when 4th edition was released they did the same thing to 3rd edition.  Each time cutting ties with its past like it was a disease and the cause of all their suffering curable only through a new edition.  They paid for these mistakes dearly and in a sense continue to pay for them today.  They effectively cut ties with the fan base on which this franchise was built, than created a new fan base in 3rd edition and promptly abandoned them spawning its primary competitor one that is arguably winning (Paizo).  Now with 5th edition on the horizon they are facing the prospect of doing it again if they are not careful and I think their recent actions have shown that they are weary of abandoning their 4th edition player base and consious of trying to reconnect with 1st, 2nd and 3rd edition D&D fans.  

Their design approach to NEXT is quite smart, find out who is interested, what they are interested in and what they want to see in the next edition of the game BEFORE the books go to the printers.

I think their repriting of 1st edition was ingenius as well and as much as I appriciate the tribute to Gygax, truth is that had they done this years ago the divide in the community might not be so harsh, and it would have made a far nicer tribute to Gygax to hand him the books and thank him for role-playing instead of laying it on his grave.  I mean its understandable that they are not going to create new content for 1st edition now, but to reprint those books for the fans is basically saying "hey we love you guys too".  It gives them credibility and since that release my opinion of WOTC has changed dramatically.  Now with 3rd edition reprints and 2nd edition reprint announcement highly likely (already announced for May 2013 on Amazon, though no official word from Wizards yet) they are on track for kind of reuniting the community.

I personally don't see any reason why all these editions can't all coexist and be supported by Wizard.  We always talk economics but a 2nd edition player that doesn't like 4th edition isn't going to buy the books, so you have a choice, make something they will buy, or don't sell them anything.  The idea that you can "recapture" the old audiances with new books in a noble one and applaude the effort in NEXT, but I personally think its a pipe dream.  You want to reconnect with your 1st edition audiance, repriting Temple of Elemental Evil with new art, added storylines and nice miniatures and put it in a box set.  You want to reconnect with 3rd edition fans?  Give us a new setting for 3rd edition right after the reprint.  My point is that their is money to be made on every edition of D&D and to limit yourself to creating 1 edtion for 1/4th of your audiance is foolish.  These reprints no doubt sold like hot cakes (given how much trouble I had finding a copy) and frankly if they started reprinting more of these classic books I would be doing running back tackles on 13 year old kids at the comic book store to get them.


The fans are here, they have always been here and their is no reason for them to be part of a divided squabling community.  Support them all and the edition wars become irrelevant and the future becomes one where the D&D community goes back to playing games rather than arguing how Wizards ruined one edition over the other.


So personally I'm supporting Wizards in their moves in 5th edition.  Its bold and I like the attitude, but of all the things they have done while developing 5th edition it was the reprints and the nod to the past that had be feverishly looking for my credit card with a grateful smile on my face.  Give the fans what they want!  Its the right attitude.

"Edition wars like all debates exist because people like debates"

http://www.gamersdungeon.net/

Give the fans what they want!  Its the right attitude.



And when the fans want diametrically opposite things and the compromise suits neither? This is looking to be the way  of it.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
Give the fans what they want!  Its the right attitude.



And when the fans want diametrically opposite things and the compromise suits neither? This is looking to be the way  of it.



Well like I said, I'm of the belief that 5th edition as a "lets try to satisfy everyone" game is ultimatly doomed to fail. D&D players have their favorites and their appetites are hard to change.  We have 20+ years of evidence to prove that.  I think they are far better off supporting all the editions that already exist rather than trying to find a compromising edition. Though i applaud the effort, you never know, maybe they pull it off.


Imagine a WOTC release calender that includes 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th edition adventures and books.  

"Edition wars like all debates exist because people like debates"

http://www.gamersdungeon.net/

Worst of all, even when they try to satisfy everyone, wish is impossible because all edition players want diferent things that contradict each other, so far they have only tried to satisfy older edition players, over the last 6 months, WotC seems to have discarded their entire userbase and trying to lure them with older edition nostalgia....and failing to realize this....most of their current userbase (4e players), started with 4e, they started with this because they are younger, it's easier to understand, online tools, familiar concepts and it was actually a well designed games (i was exposed to older editions of D&D in many ways, i avoid them for 15 years of my life, because i thought they were terrible, plain terrible, even the videogames, having the D&D brand on videogames was like a stigma for me to avoid).  

Also, a huge chunk of 4e players are also very young, in my group of players, i am the oldest...and i am 26.  It's a very diferent mentality of getting into RPGs, it's a very diferent method of doing things, hell we don't even play on a table, we use virtual tabletop softwares and skype...because they are from USA and Canada and from diferent states, i have played with people from france, germany, brazil...yet, wotc seem to focus most of their design into the 40 years old american tabletop player. 
WOTC should just pick a demographic and stick with it - the D&D fanbase is fractured anyway, so trying to appease everyone is the surest way to be mediocre to everyone.  I think it would be best to go after the younger generations, as that would allow WOTC more leeway in designing a solid game.
"The word Live is Evil spelt backwards." "Flaws are what make our perfections shine so brightly"

I'm your 40 yo (well nearly) RPG player.  And I love 4e.  It is by far the most fun I've had with and RPG, and I played a lot when I was young.  I am total disenchanted with DDN.  Sure I had great fun playing OD&D, 1e and 2e from the late 70's until the mid 90's.  But I also had fun with Gamma World, Star Wars, Ninja Turtles, some super heroes game (don't remember which), GURPS, Paranoia, BattleTech/MechWarrior, Aftermath, StarFrontiers, Traveller and probably a few others (but I never play 3e/3.5e/pathfinder and have no desire to).  I quit playing in the mid 90's after college.  17 years and 4 kids later, my 2 older kids asked about the boxes (an old pink box basic edition (dice and crayon included) and MERPS box set my wife found at a thrift store).  I picked up some Essentials products when they were released and we started going to Encounter at one of our FLGS and have been having a great time with it.


4e isn't a perfect game but it has so much more balance and team focus than any other RPG I've ever played.  Now, if you had 4e with skills disassociated from abilities and with bounded accuracy (maybe the only good ideas in DDN), you might have something approaching the best game ever.  And yes I am aware that you could houserule that fairly easily in 4e, or you could use inherent bonus to get something similar to bounded accuracy, kinda.  I just have not committed myself to the math of it all.  But overall it is just simple math, which is one of the beautiful things about 4e - it is rooted in the math and not just abitrary numbers.  There are no real traps because of it.  Some power and feat bloat, but no outright traps.


I tried to be excited about DDN, signed up for the playtests, dowloaded the packets, already have the original B2 Keep on the Boarderlands that has the caves of choas from my old pink box.  By the time the second packet was release, I never managed to even read more than a couple of pages.  Now there's a third... I don't think I'll even bother.


I'm esentially your 40yo tabletop RPG player.  I have great memories of all-nighters with OD&D and 1E, but I don't need or want another retro clone.  I want a modern mathmetically balanced RPG that lets everyone have fun at all levels of play.  I wish they would just take some of their better ideas and make a new improved 4.5e.  Or maybe I'm check out 13th Age.  For now, I hope 4e gets as much time as possible.


So I guess you shouldn't assume that even older gamers are getting what they want.  I'm certainly not.  Its the 4e fans that aren't getting what they really want.  And there are many older 4E fans around who are just as unhappy as you.


As a little aside, my humble opinion, the real mistakes were made by the 3e developers.  The creation of the OGL was the problem.  It gave anyone the right to freely steal just about anything that was ever D&D and sell it without royalties.  It was great for game developers and indie publishers (and maybe the industry as a whole) but was a real mistake for the biggest strongest brand in the industry.  4e was a reaction to that - since anybody could now make a clone of any edition, they needed something new, modern, distinct that would attract a new generation of gamers.  And the fact that it was done with very little public interaction and with no OGL says a whole lot.  But there was a backlash to all that that they never expected.  They made a half hearted attempt to mend that with Essentials.  It wasn't a bad thing, but didn't fix anything with anybody and turned off many current players.  Now they want to recapture that big market of (retro) clone players.  I just don't see them getting anywhere near the market penetration they want.  Many 4e players will still be pissed. Many clone players will never jump on board.  Some jobs will eventually be lost.  But I will bet you my left...foot that WotC will never release another new OGL product.  Maybe a few more reprints but they won't develop new OGL products.


TjD


As a little aside, my humble opinion, the real mistakes were made by the 3e developers.  The creation of the OGL was the problem.  It gave anyone the right to freely steal just about anything that was ever D&D and sell it without royalties.  It was great for game developers and indie publishers (and maybe the industry as a whole) but was a real mistake for the biggest strongest brand in the industry.  4e was a reaction to that - since anybody could now make a clone of any edition, they needed something new, modern, distinct that would attract a new generation of gamers.  And the fact that it was done with very little public interaction and with no OGL says a whole lot.  But there was a backlash to all that that they never expected.  They made a half hearted attempt to mend that with Essentials.  It wasn't a bad thing, but didn't fix anything with anybody and turned off many current players.  Now they want to recapture that big market of (retro) clone players.  I just don't see them getting anywhere near the market penetration they want.  Many 4e players will still be pissed. Many clone players will never jump on board.  Some jobs will eventually be lost.  But I will bet you my left...foot that WotC will never release another new OGL product.  Maybe a few more reprints but they won't develop new OGL products.


TjD




This.  A good deal of 4e players are going to be going to be hostile (such as myself), and a lot of the 3.5 people aren't going to come back from Paizo anyways.  I'm not convinced that 5e will do any better then 4e did.  The market is too fractured now.
I think that WOTC should go with an OGL, but one that is better thought out than what was had with v3.5 and 4th Edition.  After all, the OGL encouraged publishers to create material for 3.5e, which really gave it longevity and allowed players to find settings that matched their preferences.  In short, it made 3.5e well known - which is even more valuable than pure dollars in my opinion, as it means that people paid attention to that edition despite the faults it had.  The problem with 4th Edition's OGL is that it was driven by the fear that WOTC could lose control of their brand, due to what happened with Paizo and Pathfinder.

If anything, WOTC should seek out a balance, otherwise their next edition would simply be avoided by third party publishers.  Here is what I think would be a good strategy.

1 - Core Books would either consist of what WOTC developed in-house, or be adopted from 3rd-party publishers.  These would be featured in a online store run by WOTC, which would sell both physical copies and digital ones.  People who buy a physical copy receives a free digital version that is attached to their online account.  Shoppers can also opt to seperately buy the digital versions.

2 - Third party publishers will share the front page of the store with core material.  It is important that 3rd Party publishers get a good chance for their stuff to be noticed, otherwise they won't sell copies.  Like with the core material, physical copies of their books come bundled with a digital version, or shoppers can just buy the digital ones.

3 - The online compendium has three modes of access.  The first is 'subscription' based, in which all content from WOTC's core materials would be made available for $10.  The second is for all third-party content, which is also $10.  The payout to publishers is determined how many times their books are accessed.  The third means of access is for shoppers to buy physical books or digital PDFs, which tell the compendium those materials are owned, and therefore can always be accessed, regardless of whether or not a subscription is in effect.

4 - As a condition of allowing other online stores to sell WOTC and third-party content, they must allow shoppers to associate those purchases with the WOTC online account.  This makes it so that people don't feel ripped off from buying someplace other than WOTC, and makes sure that at the very least that people can use the compendium.

5 - Fully developed digital tools would be available at the time of release, and always updated.  These are critical for sustaining continued subscriptions to the compendium, fueling the purchase of third-party content.

6 - Give promotion copies of books to physical stores, and have a program in place that allows shoppers to buy digital books and physical copies from that store, which are automatically associated with the online account.  Be sure to give the store a significant 'cut' of the profit.  This would appeal to the stores because they would be able to sell goods, while not having to deal with restocking their supplies or otherwise having to deal with the constraints that physical goods typically impose.  This is done so that the brand has a storefront presence.

Promotion copies of books are tied to a branded D&D E-book in the store.  The reader is allowed to read any book within the D&D catalogue as long as they are inside the store.  Provided there is four or five such D&D Readers, that should allow plenty of people to examine the content of D&D and to decide whether or not to buy.  WOTC could go a step further and have such D&D Readers become tools for DMs and Players, though that might be too much for WOTC to handle financially at this time.

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NOTES about the strategy

*Purchased content that is associated with the WOTC account cannot be revoked.  That would only promote bad blood.

*Piracy is not taken as a serious threat.  It is better to be able to sell goods online, than not at all.  Furthermore, pirates would at least have the side effect of drawing attention to the brand - which is good because word of mouth is more valuable than paid advertising, as it is far more genuine and lasting.

"The word Live is Evil spelt backwards." "Flaws are what make our perfections shine so brightly"
Fun Fact: When they scraped the selling pdf version of 4e books...they actually made piracy the only way to get into D&D in most of the world.  There are alot of potential and current D&D players all around the globe outside your first world bubble.  So yes...the fear of piracy and it's countermeasure...provoked piracy.  People that pirate to avoid paying won't pay for D&D books anyway, if they can't get it free they won't, plain and simple...but there are alot of people that have to do piracy, because it's the only way for them to get that material would be thru piracy.  Digital Distribution have proven to be the best weapon against piracy: Netflix, iTunes store & Steam are some of those examples.

Imagine a WOTC release calender that includes 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th edition adventures and books.  


   I imagine I would throw 3/4 of it away immediately.  And if it took much trouble to sort out what I actually wanted, I probably would throw away the rest as well.
As a little aside, my humble opinion, the real mistakes were made by the 3e developers.  The creation of the OGL was the problem.  It gave anyone the right to freely steal just about anything that was ever D&D and sell it without royalties.

See now: I viewed that as revolutionary. It definitely seemed to re-energize the hobby.

Mind you: I never really used much 3rd party stuff (except maybe as play aids). Indeed, I even had to disallow all WotC stuff except for the core rules.

But the OGL seem to cause D&D's struggling user base to suddenly become massive. And user base is primarily what I want in a rules system.


Imagine a WOTC release calender that includes 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th edition adventures and books.  


   I imagine I would throw 3/4 of it away immediately.  And if it took much trouble to sort out what I actually wanted, I probably would throw away the rest as well.

What?
Yeah, it's a huge diference of the developers back then knowing what they wanted to do and how to accomplish it compared to the current one...


Mex scores a critical hit! Surprised
4e D&D is not a "Tabletop MMO." It is not Massively Multiplayer, and is usually not played Online. Come up with better descriptions of your complaints, cuz this one means jack ****.

Imagine a WOTC release calender that includes 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th edition adventures and books.  


   I imagine I would throw 3/4 of it away immediately.  And if it took much trouble to sort out what I actually wanted, I probably would throw away the rest as well.

What?



Yeah I didn't quite get that.  Maybe I wasn't clear.  Imagine going to Amazon.com for example, looking up D&D and having a choice of which edition books you would like to purchase with all editions having new books available to support them.  Not sure exactly what you mean by throwing away 2/3?

I realize its a bit far fetched but ultimatly what is the problem with D&D if not the fact that there are 3-4 seperate camps, divided in their opinion about what is the best edition of the game.  2/3 of the population is always screwed because their edition is no longer supported (in some cases intentionally stifled).   Worse yet we are now going to get yet ANOTHER edition which will create yet another camp of people who support it and people who are pissed because their current edition (in this case 4th) will no longer be supported.

Its a horrible cycle that serves no one, not even the people who play whatever the current edition is because they have to constantly contend with players in their own groups and gaming circles who have an opinion about which edition is best.


Really what's happened is that its become the new trend to simply abandon D&D all together as players grow tired of constantly finding their games disrupted by re-writes.  I mean that's what happen in my various groups.  After 4th edition was released it was damn near impossible to even get people to try it, they just looked at it like "why do we need another edition?  We have done this three times now".  I think in part this is why Pathfinder is so popular.  It has allowed players to continue to play a game they have grown accustomed to and have it supported.  Pathfinder should be a D&D licensed continuation of D&D 3rd edition supported and if they wanted to create a 4th edition.. go for it, but don't cancel the old edition and try to kill it.  As soon as they did that, they lost a very sizeable chunk of their audiance and clearly they didn't learn their lesson because it appears they are about to do it again.

And don't get me wrong, I'm rooting for NEXT and I really hope that they are successful in their attempt to bring these communities together, I just have very little confidence in it.   


         

"Edition wars like all debates exist because people like debates"

http://www.gamersdungeon.net/


Imagine a WOTC release calender that includes 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th edition adventures and books.  


   I imagine I would throw 3/4 of it away immediately.  And if it took much trouble to sort out what I actually wanted, I probably would throw away the rest as well.

What?



Yeah I didn't quite get that.  Maybe I wasn't clear.  Imagine going to Amazon.com for example, looking up D&D and having a choice of which edition books you would like to purchase with all editions having new books available to support them.  Not sure exactly what you mean by throwing away 2/3?



    Just that.  I have no intention of playing or buying any of the early editions.  I want Amazon to let me sort out the 4e material for me.  If they gave me a mixed bag of all D&D material to wade thru, I would not waste my time doing so.  Access to all this stuff I don't want is no virtue and can be a major vice.
  Just that.  I have no intention of playing or buying any of the early editions.  I want Amazon to let me sort out the 4e material for me.  If they gave me a mixed bag of all D&D material to wade thru, I would not waste my time doing so.  Access to all this stuff I don't want is no virtue and can be a major vice.




I see so what your saying is that the mere existance of other editions of books, will cause you not to play 4th edition and that these books should be removed from Amazon?     

"Edition wars like all debates exist because people like debates"

http://www.gamersdungeon.net/

  Just that.  I have no intention of playing or buying any of the early editions.  I want Amazon to let me sort out the 4e material for me.  If they gave me a mixed bag of all D&D material to wade thru, I would not waste my time doing so.  Access to all this stuff I don't want is no virtue and can be a major vice.

I see so what your saying is that the mere existance of other editions of books, will cause you not to play 4th edition and that these books should be removed from Amazon?     

He said "sort out", not "throw out".

Which means, he wants to be able to ask Amazon for a list of 4E D&D books, and get a list that is ONLY 4E D&D books. No 3E included.

Presumably he would extend this to the person who actually wants 3E books - that person should get a list that includes no 4E books.

This becomes a real difficulty in physical bookstores, where you get clerks who think that D&D and World of Darkness are the same thing...

"The world does not work the way you have been taught it does. We are not real as such; we exist within The Story. Unfortunately for you, you have inherited a condition from your mother known as Primary Protagonist Syndrome, which means The Story is interested in you. It will find you, and if you are not ready for the narrative strands it will throw at you..." - from Footloose
warri, this is the post that he is is referring to. 


Imagine a WOTC release calender that includes 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th edition adventures and books.   

 
   I imagine I would throw 3/4 of it away immediately.  And if it took much trouble to sort out what I actually wanted, I probably would throw away the rest as well.



If anyone has plans to throw away 1e, 2e, or 3e material please consult me first, I'll gladly take them off your hands and I'll pay the postage.

I love 4e, it's the edition I currently play the most and I'm extremely sad it's being killed off too soon, but I'm a huge fan of all D&D and I'm very pumped about being able to get the old books again in mint condition. Unfortunately when I moved away to do a graduate degree I had nowhere to store my D&D stuff and sold off all of my old books. Now I've got money and space I'm happy I get another chance to buy them again.

With regards to my initial post, it wasn't a slam against 5e, it was simply an observation that design goals on release have a habit of morphing throughout the life span of an edition. Comparing the evolution of 4e to 5e will be an interesting thing to watch.
Personal opinion...

Anyone thinking of throwing out D&D books (or any books) should really try to donate them to a local library, sell them on ebay, take them to a used bookstore or something of that nature.  There are a lot of other gamers out there who would like to add to their collections. 

All around helpful simian

Sell them cheap to third world country potential players.  It's very hard to import D&D books to latinamerica or very expensive, that's why they have to do piracy (almost impossible to get in a legitimate way, i am lucky that i live in the border...and even then, i have to cross the US border and drive 3 hours to get to a store that have D&D books...or any RPG)

About edition neutral....i think it's bad idea for the current edition (4e) players... and if the piracy is a good indicator of interest of people....Menzoberranza City of Intrigue have been ignored for the most part.
warri, this is the post that he is is referring to. 


Imagine a WOTC release calender that includes 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th edition adventures and books.   

 
   I imagine I would throw 3/4 of it away immediately.  And if it took much trouble to sort out what I actually wanted, I probably would throw away the rest as well.





Yes, I know. He said HE would throw away 3/4 of the list. Some people are assuming he would demand that everyone else throw away the same 3/4, but he did not at any point say anything like that. In fact, his comment about him needing to "sort out" what he wants, pretty much says he expects stuff he isn't interested in to be available.

He wants it to be easy for him to exclude the 3/4 that he isn't interested in. An ordered list sorted and delimited by edition, or an online system that lets him restrict his query by edition, would fill the request nicely (assuming all entries are appropriately and accurately labeled) - while simultaneously meeting the equivalent request from fans of other editions. A list sorted by author name, or by release date, or some such thing, would not.
"The world does not work the way you have been taught it does. We are not real as such; we exist within The Story. Unfortunately for you, you have inherited a condition from your mother known as Primary Protagonist Syndrome, which means The Story is interested in you. It will find you, and if you are not ready for the narrative strands it will throw at you..." - from Footloose
Yeah, having things sorted by edition would be nice.  I am never quite sure for what edition some books are for on Amazon, so I have to do some research to not pick up the wrong thing.
"The word Live is Evil spelt backwards." "Flaws are what make our perfections shine so brightly"
Yeah, having things sorted by edition would be nice.  I am never quite sure for what edition some books are for on Amazon, so I have to do some research to not pick up the wrong thing.



I love online stores as much as anyone, but this is one reason to patronize your friendly local gaming store, before the online stores eat their lunches.

I'm your 40 yo (well nearly) RPG player.  And I love 4e.  It is by far the most fun I've had with and RPG, and I played a lot when I was young.  I am total disenchanted with DDN.  Sure I had great fun playing OD&D, 1e and 2e from the late 70's until the mid 90's.  But I also had fun with Gamma World, Star Wars, Ninja Turtles, some super heroes game (don't remember which), GURPS, Paranoia, BattleTech/MechWarrior, Aftermath, StarFrontiers, Traveller and probably a few others (but I never play 3e/3.5e/pathfinder and have no desire to).  I quit playing in the mid 90's after college.  17 years and 4 kids later, my 2 older kids asked about the boxes (an old pink box basic edition (dice and crayon included) and MERPS box set my wife found at a thrift store).  I picked up some Essentials products when they were released and we started going to Encounter at one of our FLGS and have been having a great time with it.


4e isn't a perfect game but it has so much more balance and team focus than any other RPG I've ever played.  Now, if you had 4e with skills disassociated from abilities and with bounded accuracy (maybe the only good ideas in DDN), you might have something approaching the best game ever.  And yes I am aware that you could houserule that fairly easily in 4e, or you could use inherent bonus to get something similar to bounded accuracy, kinda.  I just have not committed myself to the math of it all.  But overall it is just simple math, which is one of the beautiful things about 4e - it is rooted in the math and not just abitrary numbers.  There are no real traps because of it.  Some power and feat bloat, but no outright traps.


I tried to be excited about DDN, signed up for the playtests, dowloaded the packets, already have the original B2 Keep on the Boarderlands that has the caves of choas from my old pink box.  By the time the second packet was release, I never managed to even read more than a couple of pages.  Now there's a third... I don't think I'll even bother.


I'm esentially your 40yo tabletop RPG player.  I have great memories of all-nighters with OD&D and 1E, but I don't need or want another retro clone.  I want a modern mathmetically balanced RPG that lets everyone have fun at all levels of play.  I wish they would just take some of their better ideas and make a new improved 4.5e.  Or maybe I'm check out 13th Age.  For now, I hope 4e gets as much time as possible.


So I guess you shouldn't assume that even older gamers are getting what they want.  I'm certainly not.  Its the 4e fans that aren't getting what they really want.  And there are many older 4E fans around who are just as unhappy as you.


As a little aside, my humble opinion, the real mistakes were made by the 3e developers.  The creation of the OGL was the problem.  It gave anyone the right to freely steal just about anything that was ever D&D and sell it without royalties.  It was great for game developers and indie publishers (and maybe the industry as a whole) but was a real mistake for the biggest strongest brand in the industry.  4e was a reaction to that - since anybody could now make a clone of any edition, they needed something new, modern, distinct that would attract a new generation of gamers.  And the fact that it was done with very little public interaction and with no OGL says a whole lot.  But there was a backlash to all that that they never expected.  They made a half hearted attempt to mend that with Essentials.  It wasn't a bad thing, but didn't fix anything with anybody and turned off many current players.  Now they want to recapture that big market of (retro) clone players.  I just don't see them getting anywhere near the market penetration they want.  Many 4e players will still be pissed. Many clone players will never jump on board.  Some jobs will eventually be lost.  But I will bet you my left...foot that WotC will never release another new OGL product.  Maybe a few more reprints but they won't develop new OGL products.


TjD




You've pretty much summed up exactly the way I feel.  I'm also a 40 year old gamer with a similar experience to you and similar opinions on 4e, 3e, OGL and Next.  Therefore, you win Best Post Evar award and are my new Short Duration Personal Savior for at least the next 24 hours.

OD&D, 1E and 2E challenged the player. 3E challenged the character, not the player. Now 4E takes it a step further by challenging a GROUP OF PLAYERS to work together as a TEAM. That's why I love 4E.

"Your ability to summon a horde of celestial superbeings at will is making my ... BMX skills look a bit redundant."

"People treat their lack of imagination as if it's the measure of what's silly. Which is silly." - Noon

"Challenge" is overrated.  "Immersion" is usually just a more pretentious way of saying "having fun playing D&D."

"Falling down is how you grow.  Staying down is how you die.  It's not what happens to you, it's what you do after it happens.”

Distribution have proven to be the best weapon against piracy: Netflix, iTunes store & Steam are some of those examples.

Except when it's the Character Builder - then apparently it sucks, according to the usual suspects.

OD&D, 1E and 2E challenged the player. 3E challenged the character, not the player. Now 4E takes it a step further by challenging a GROUP OF PLAYERS to work together as a TEAM. That's why I love 4E.

"Your ability to summon a horde of celestial superbeings at will is making my ... BMX skills look a bit redundant."

"People treat their lack of imagination as if it's the measure of what's silly. Which is silly." - Noon

"Challenge" is overrated.  "Immersion" is usually just a more pretentious way of saying "having fun playing D&D."

"Falling down is how you grow.  Staying down is how you die.  It's not what happens to you, it's what you do after it happens.”

It's interesting.  4e was a step towards a coherent system that was decided on my the developers.  It was really exciting, and what got me back into the game after getting absolutely sick of it from the problems that arose in 3.5e.

On the other hand, 4e also was developed in secret, and pretty much ignored all the advice it sought from the fan community beta-testers.  DDN is being developed with the purpose of making a game that all the fans will enjoy.  I don't know about the feasibility of it, but there are certainly things that are really exciting me as well.  But it's different.  I don't think DDN will REPLACE 4e for me, but almost become like a concurrent system; like two games I play at different times for different reasons.


Precisely. We currently play mostly GURPS, but also have D&D 4e and HackMaster 5e campaigns. DDN could be just another system in the mix (but not likely, as you'll see in a minute).

One member of the group likes nothing he's seen about DDN but loves DD4 so he'll stick with it for his campaigns. The rest of the group seems to be taking a wait and see approach about the new edition. We were all really excited about the new edition of HackMaster a few years ago (and remains the favorite class-based game of this GURPS-fanboy). In fact, the only release that could make us more excited would be the highly unlikely announcement of GURPS 5e to fix its few remaining issues – but that's just not gonna happen.


At first I was really excited about DDN because of it promised to finally be a class-based game I could really love by giving players the speed of character creation that comes with class-based games and the customization of point-buy. The second public playtest got really close, but still fell short, so I hope they'll get there, but trying not to get my hopes too high.


Further hindering my excitement is major changes in the new edition of HackMaster – specifically, opposed rolls and second-by-second combat. Those two things have so radically altered trpg combat for me that I can no longer enjoy static target numbers and round-based combat. That's why my wife and I (10 years today, by the way) are actually adding speeds to weapons in GURPS so we can go round-less with it (it already uses 1 second rounds so it won't be hard to adapt otherwise).


Opposed rolls are a bit harder. GURPS does have an opposed system (called Quick Contests), but it can't really be used in combat without a lot of work. But since you roll against your weapon skill to hit and then the defender makes a defense roll, it kinda-sorta has opposed rolls so we'll stick with it until something better comes along (once I finish writing it 8o)).


Thus one thing I really like about DDN is that it opposed rolls are really easy. Simply subtract 10 from AC and DCs and add the result to a d20 roll. But it looks much harder to adapt to real-time combat.


So all in all, I'm very lukewarm about this edition release... which is kind of sad, really, since the only other edition releases I've participated in were for GURPS 3e to 4e back before we had learned to actually play it (we used our books as writing aids before finally figuring out how to play roleplaying games) so it wasn't remotely exciting, and for HackMaster 4e to 5e which was exciting beyond words (especially since the developers actually hung out in the forums and discussed the game with their fans). I supposed you could also count the impending release of OVA Revised, but it's more like D&D 3 to 3.5 than an actual new edition, but he has drug out for so long that it may as well be.


So I'd really love to get a few more really exciting releases under my belt, instead of another ho-hum one.


-----


On the DD3-4 change: when we first started I looked most closely at d20 Modern and GURPS Basic Set 3e, but ultimately decided on GURPS as the more versatile game. As time went by I came to despise D&D3.x in all its incarnations (still the only system I've refused to play), and have never been a big fan of the older editions (unless you count HackMaster 4e as D&D 2.5), so I tally missed out on that edition change.


I've got a feeling that came out far more rambly than I meant it to, but that's the price I pay for posting when I should be sleeping. 8o)

About.me

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Games From the Mind of fewilcox – my blog about writing; games, including, character sheets and other roleplaying accessories; and game design.

Distribution have proven to be the best weapon against piracy: Netflix, iTunes store & Steam are some of those examples.

Except when it's the Character Builder - then apparently it sucks, according to the usual suspects.




Some of the problem is that by switching from the offline character builder is that it was technically inferior to the original version, and that it was a slap in the face to people who were investing themselves into the brand.  WOTC was essentially saying "We do not trust you."  Furthermore, WOTC only further divided themselves with the character builder when they allowed Hero Lab to use the Compendium to get off-line data for their program.  In effect, WOTC backpedaled away from their own well-built and offline character builder, only to go ahead and let a third party serve that capacity?

This is head scratching to me, as it would have been better for WOTC to emphasize one strategy from the very beginning and stick with it.  Instead, they have opted to abandon the internet-friendly principles of 4th Edition for the awful Frankenstein that is their corporate strategy.  The creation and release of a new edition is a sea change for a reason - trying to change gears midway can only result in confusion.
"The word Live is Evil spelt backwards." "Flaws are what make our perfections shine so brightly"
Distribution have proven to be the best weapon against piracy: Netflix, iTunes store & Steam are some of those examples.

Except when it's the Character Builder - then apparently it sucks, according to the usual suspects.




Some of the problem is that by switching from the offline character builder is that it was technically inferior to the original version, and that it was a slap in the face to people who were investing themselves into the brand.  WOTC was essentially saying "We do not trust you."  Furthermore, WOTC only further divided themselves with the character builder when they allowed Hero Lab to use the Compendium to get off-line data for their program.  In effect, WOTC backpedaled away from their own well-built and offline character builder, only to go ahead and let a third party serve that capacity?

This is head scratching to me, as it would have been better for WOTC to emphasize one strategy from the very beginning and stick with it.  Instead, they have opted to abandon the internet-friendly principles of 4th Edition for the awful Frankenstein that is their corporate strategy.  The creation and release of a new edition is a sea change for a reason - trying to change gears midway can only result in confusion.



Not only that, but in rebellion, some people "resurrected" the offline character builder and update it with the current content, it get updated faster and more often than the silverlight character builder...and it still have all the adventages of the offline builder (more stable, not necessary to be online, options for houseruling, etc...), basically the silverlight CB provoked the existence of a better character builder that is free and distributed between people underground...

Hell, everybody i know that play 4e have that version of the offline builder, even the ones that have DDI subscription and access to the silverlight character builder, because it's just flat out better. 
the real mistakes were made by the 3e developers.  The creation of the OGL was the problem.  It gave anyone the right to freely steal just about anything that was ever D&D and sell it without royalties.  It was great for game developers and indie publishers (and maybe the industry as a whole) but was a real mistake for the biggest strongest brand in the industry. 


     I have never understood this sort of thinking.  Granted, we don't have access to WOTC accounting, but OGL seems to have been a major success.  The problem for WOTC was that it was a change of the rules of the game and WOTC tried to play by the old rules.
    WOTC put out 3.5.  It did fine and no competitor 3.0 clone got anywhere.  3.5 was just too much a copy of 3.0.  But when they put out 4e, it was not 3.8.  Rather it was a highly different game, which meant there was lots of room for Pathfinder. 
    Now Pathfinder might not have been possible without OGL, but the mistake was in not realizing they no longer had this secure monopoly, not in the OGL.  Had they put out a 3.8, cleaning up the general rules and maybe providing a little better balance of classes and races, they would likely still be #1 in the industry with nobody able to claim #2.  But they thought they could dictate to the players and they no longer could.
     That was the problem for WOTC, not the OGL.

I'm your 40 yo (well nearly) RPG player.  And I love 4e.  It is by far the most fun I've had with and RPG, and I played a lot when I was young.  I am total disenchanted with DDN.  Sure I had great fun playing OD&D, 1e and 2e from the late 70's until the mid 90's.  But I also had fun with Gamma World, Star Wars, Ninja Turtles, some super heroes game (don't remember which), GURPS, Paranoia, BattleTech/MechWarrior, Aftermath, StarFrontiers, Traveller and probably a few others (but I never play 3e/3.5e/pathfinder and have no desire to).  I quit playing in the mid 90's after college.  17 years and 4 kids later, my 2 older kids asked about the boxes (an old pink box basic edition (dice and crayon included) and MERPS box set my wife found at a thrift store).  I picked up some Essentials products when they were released and we started going to Encounter at one of our FLGS and have been having a great time with it.


4e isn't a perfect game but it has so much more balance and team focus than any other RPG I've ever played.  Now, if you had 4e with skills disassociated from abilities and with bounded accuracy (maybe the only good ideas in DDN), you might have something approaching the best game ever.  And yes I am aware that you could houserule that fairly easily in 4e, or you could use inherent bonus to get something similar to bounded accuracy, kinda.  I just have not committed myself to the math of it all.  But overall it is just simple math, which is one of the beautiful things about 4e - it is rooted in the math and not just abitrary numbers.  There are no real traps because of it.  Some power and feat bloat, but no outright traps.


I tried to be excited about DDN, signed up for the playtests, dowloaded the packets, already have the original B2 Keep on the Boarderlands that has the caves of choas from my old pink box.  By the time the second packet was release, I never managed to even read more than a couple of pages.  Now there's a third... I don't think I'll even bother.


I'm esentially your 40yo tabletop RPG player.  I have great memories of all-nighters with OD&D and 1E, but I don't need or want another retro clone.  I want a modern mathmetically balanced RPG that lets everyone have fun at all levels of play.  I wish they would just take some of their better ideas and make a new improved 4.5e.  Or maybe I'm check out 13th Age.  For now, I hope 4e gets as much time as possible.


So I guess you shouldn't assume that even older gamers are getting what they want.  I'm certainly not.  Its the 4e fans that aren't getting what they really want.  And there are many older 4E fans around who are just as unhappy as you.


As a little aside, my humble opinion, the real mistakes were made by the 3e developers.  The creation of the OGL was the problem.  It gave anyone the right to freely steal just about anything that was ever D&D and sell it without royalties.  It was great for game developers and indie publishers (and maybe the industry as a whole) but was a real mistake for the biggest strongest brand in the industry.  4e was a reaction to that - since anybody could now make a clone of any edition, they needed something new, modern, distinct that would attract a new generation of gamers.  And the fact that it was done with very little public interaction and with no OGL says a whole lot.  But there was a backlash to all that that they never expected.  They made a half hearted attempt to mend that with Essentials.  It wasn't a bad thing, but didn't fix anything with anybody and turned off many current players.  Now they want to recapture that big market of (retro) clone players.  I just don't see them getting anywhere near the market penetration they want.  Many 4e players will still be pissed. Many clone players will never jump on board.  Some jobs will eventually be lost.  But I will bet you my left...foot that WotC will never release another new OGL product.  Maybe a few more reprints but they won't develop new OGL products.


TjD


Yeah, that about sums it up. We played all the same games back in the day, and enjoyed them all, but I have no need or desire for a retro clone or rehash of AD&D. I think WotC is making a bad mistake. The best they can hope for is they'll be chasing Paizo's tail lights trying to imitate them. Bad idea.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
Fun Fact: When they scraped the selling pdf version of 4e books...they actually made piracy the only way to get into D&D in most of the world.  There are alot of potential and current D&D players all around the globe outside your first world bubble.  So yes...the fear of piracy and it's countermeasure...provoked piracy.  People that pirate to avoid paying won't pay for D&D books anyway, if they can't get it free they won't, plain and simple...but there are alot of people that have to do piracy, because it's the only way for them to get that material would be thru piracy.  Digital Distribution have proven to be the best weapon against piracy: Netflix, iTunes store & Steam are some of those examples.

Yeah, what the hell was the deal with 4e and support outside the US? WTF?  I mean D&D is an American product and has never had perfect non-English support for sure, but 3.x did pretty well. MANY of the books were available in translation and/or distributed overseas. They never even TRIED with 4e. It is like WotC never bothered to give it a chance.
That is not dead which may eternal lie

Opposed rolls are a bit harder. GURPS does have an opposed system (called Quick Contests), but it can't really be used in combat without a lot of work. But since you roll against your weapon skill to hit and then the defender makes a defense roll, it kinda-sorta has opposed rolls so we'll stick with it until something better comes along (once I finish writing it 8o)).


Thus one thing I really like about DDN is that it opposed rolls are really easy. Simply subtract 10 from AC and DCs and add the result to a d20 roll. But it looks much harder to adapt to real-time combat.



It works just as well with 4E... just subtract 10 from its defenses/DC's and then roll a d20 in its place.

DDN-style bounded accuracy (or at least, what they spoke of it being, in execution its looking a bit wobbley) is also pretty easy to put in place with 4E because its monster and advancement math is based on formulas and not just what "feels right." (4E's easy formulas are why I can build new monsters on the fly while DMing using a reference sheet I created).
That was the problem for WOTC, not the OGL.




Yup...

No one ever thought the OGL was a better idea until 4th edition was released and Pathfinder turned out to be the more popular game.  Its true that Pathfinder wouldn't exist today where it not for the OGL, but something else similiar to 3rd edition would have inevitably come out and acomplished the same thing.  The division of the community didn't happen because of the OGL, it happened because 4th edition made a poor follow up and people have been trying to rationalize an execuse and reasoning to the contrary ever since.  That's all it was howeve, plain and simple.  4th edition was a lesser D&D. 

Sad part is that it could have been really great, they had an amazing albeit it, flawed basis to continue the legacy.      

I disagree. Pathfinder (and in fact any of the OSR games) wouldn't exist without the OGL. Time and time again FRPGs have tried to challenge D&D and they have all failed without making any real dent in it at all. People WANT D&D, not Rune Quest, Dragon Quest, GURPS Fantasy, Hero Quest, Savage Worlds, BoL, EPT,  etc etc etc. Some of those games have had decent followings and dedicated fans, and were good games. NONE of them was ever more than a bump on the behind of D&D, literally. RQ was probably the most popular (maybe GURPS) and neither of them ever had even 1/10th of the sales of D&D, until PF came along.

WotC putting out '3.8' instead of 4e wouldn't matter. The problem was losing control of their IP. Paizo is a much smaller company with a lot lower overhead and frankly a looser and more creative corporate culture that is more gamer-friendly and a lot less obsessed with brand management than WotC is. WotC created that monster, they gave them a license to their game, brand recognition (through their distribution and publishing of Dungeon and Dragon), and a nice income stream selling D&D products online. How dumb can you be?

Don't get me wrong, there were a lot of good things about OGL from the perspective of players, at least for a while, but it was a terrible and crippling business strategy for WotC. It meant essentially they could either freeze D&D at its 3.5 version (because any change from that is a fork of the community AND the game now) or try to do what they did with 4e. That HAD to be done though,  because eventually the game needed to be modernized. Maybe not all the choices they made in 4e design worked out perfectly, but if it was the only D&D in town it would be fine and they could proceed to build on that until they had a game that was both amazing and supported their new business models.

What are they going to get now? Yet another fork of D&D, so now there will be what 7 major flavors out there in play? A game that abandons all the modernization effort and tries to AT BEST get back some of the people that play PF? They're going to have to come out with a 6e in a few years to go and do all the things that 4e needed to do and things will just get that much worse.
That is not dead which may eternal lie

OGL was not just responsible for Pathfinder.  OGL include the IP of all older editions as well.  OGL is responsible for the creation of almost all of the "old school renaissance".  Games like Labrinth Lords and Castles and Crusades.  And while I freely admit that these games fueled the hobby and passion for gaming, and probably brought back some lapsed players, they were not good for the D&D brand, not good WotC's bottom line.  How many game designers that were involved in 3.0 or 3.5 are still at WotC working on D&D?  How many are gone or on other projects?


I'm sure they were thinking about 3rd party content and having vast amounts of material to build the game when the OGL was devised.  They didn't anticipate entire new game systems being developed off it.  And, because WotC has no grasp on digital publishing, they never anticipated how easily and how low cost it would be for those new game systems to get into the market and get market penetration. 


WotC's core competence is CCG's.  RPG's and CCG's need to be handled completely different.  Hasbro does great with board games.  But board games and TTRPG's are completely different beasts when it comes to publishing and distribution.  I think there's a problem somewhere along the way, where WotC and Hasbro want to handle D&D like Magic or like board games.  While that might have been fine 20 or 30 years ago, it is not in today's internet age.


So yes the OGL is wonderful, amazing, fantastic for the hobby and industry.  But the OGL is a cancer, slowly eating away at the life force of the D&D brand.


TjD


OGL was not just responsible for Pathfinder.  OGL include the IP of all older editions as well.  OGL is responsible for the creation of almost all of the "old school renaissance".  Games like Labrinth Lords and Castles and Crusades.  And while I freely admit that these games fueled the hobby and passion for gaming, and probably brought back some lapsed players, they were not good for the D&D brand, not good WotC's bottom line.  How many game designers that were involved in 3.0 or 3.5 are still at WotC working on D&D?  How many are gone or on other projects?


I'm sure they were thinking about 3rd party content and having vast amounts of material to build the game when the OGL was devised.  They didn't anticipate entire new game systems being developed off it.  And, because WotC has no grasp on digital publishing, they never anticipated how easily and how low cost it would be for those new game systems to get into the market and get market penetration. 


WotC's core competence is CCG's.  RPG's and CCG's need to be handled completely different.  Hasbro does great with board games.  But board games and TTRPG's are completely different beasts when it comes to publishing and distribution.  I think there's a problem somewhere along the way, where WotC and Hasbro want to handle D&D like Magic or like board games.  While that might have been fine 20 or 30 years ago, it is not in today's internet age.


So yes the OGL is wonderful, amazing, fantastic for the hobby and industry.  But the OGL is a cancer, slowly eating away at the life force of the D&D brand.


TjD


Wow, your second Home Run of the game. Good job!
That was the problem for WOTC, not the OGL.




Yup...

No one ever thought the OGL was a better idea until 4th edition was released and Pathfinder turned out to be the more popular game.  Its true that Pathfinder wouldn't exist today where it not for the OGL, but something else similiar to 3rd edition would have inevitably come out and acomplished the same thing.  The division of the community didn't happen because of the OGL, it happened because 4th edition made a poor follow up and people have been trying to rationalize an execuse and reasoning to the contrary ever since.  That's all it was howeve, plain and simple.  4th edition was a lesser D&D. 

Sad part is that it could have been really great, they had an amazing albeit it, flawed basis to continue the legacy.      

I disagree. Pathfinder (and in fact any of the OSR games) wouldn't exist without the OGL. Time and time again FRPGs have tried to challenge D&D and they have all failed without making any real dent in it at all. People WANT D&D, not Rune Quest, Dragon Quest, GURPS Fantasy, Hero Quest, Savage Worlds, BoL, EPT,  etc etc etc. Some of those games have had decent followings and dedicated fans, and were good games. NONE of them was ever more than a bump on the behind of D&D, literally. RQ was probably the most popular (maybe GURPS) and neither of them ever had even 1/10th of the sales of D&D, until PF came along.

WotC putting out '3.8' instead of 4e wouldn't matter. The problem was losing control of their IP. Paizo is a much smaller company with a lot lower overhead and frankly a looser and more creative corporate culture that is more gamer-friendly and a lot less obsessed with brand management than WotC is. WotC created that monster, they gave them a license to their game, brand recognition (through their distribution and publishing of Dungeon and Dragon), and a nice income stream selling D&D products online.


    But how does any of this really matter?  We might agree that Pazio was in a good position to invade the D&D market, but the essential point was that WOTC was "abandoning" it.  4e is just not D&D.  [I deem it superior, but obviously quite a few disagree.]   So if they had put out 3.8, there would have been no market room for Paizo to invade.


Don't get me wrong, there were a lot of good things about OGL from the perspective of players, at least for a while, but it was a terrible and crippling business strategy for WotC. It meant essentially they could either freeze D&D at its 3.5 version (because any change from that is a fork of the community AND the game now) or try to do what they did with 4e. That HAD to be done though,  because eventually the game needed to be modernized.


     The success of Pathfinder shows there was no such need to "modernize".  What is pretty much the old stuff is selling quite well.  Now you might be correct if we define "modernize" as "nothing of the sort, just different enough so everybody has to buy new books".  But as 3.5 showed, there was no need to massively change the rules to get those sales.


 Maybe not all the choices they made in 4e design worked out perfectly, but if it was the only D&D in town it would be fine and they could proceed to build on that until they had a game that was both amazing and supported their new business models.


      But that is the point.  WOTC could no longer be confident it would be the only game in town.  So it needed to stick to a 3e base and put out 3.8.