Is the lack of compatibility between 5e and 4e or 3.5/PF a mistake?

It seems WotC is making the same mistake it did with 4e. Some people didn't like 4e and stuck with 3.5 or switched to PF. Now it looks like 4e fans do not like 5e and I see no reasons why 3.5/PF fans would jump ship. 

Déjà vu?
It's nothing that hasn't happened with each new edition. When 1E turned into 2E, there was a bit less rage, mostly because 2E was more of a streamlining of the 1E rules with added goodness on top and less oddities underneath. The switch to 3E, however, was treated just like the switch to 3.5 just like the switch to 4E just like the switch to 5E. Nothing new. Each edition gains fans and loses others. Just the nature of the beast.

If people have it set in their minds that 4E is the be-all, end-all of D&D, then they won't switch. Same as if people have it set in their minds that Pathfinder beats D&D hands-down, they won't switch. Why should they? If they've found a game that they and their group loves, there's no reason to switch. Hell, I never made the switch from 2E until 4E came out. I gave 3E and 3.5 a complete miss, and do not regret it, what what I've read and heard from others. If 5E turns out to be less enjoyable than what I'm playing now, I'll stick with 2E. I want it to succeed, but there's no slavish brand loyalty that will guilt me into buying it if I don't like it. I don't expect anyone else to, either. 
I think that trying to retain compatibilty with any old edition just ties their hands too much, unless they're willing to go with a pretty disingenuous definition of "compatibility". Next isn't a revision; it's a system being built up from the foundations of what makes D&D D&D. If you begin with the idea that you're going to be compatible with edition X, that fixes a massive number of things into place, not all of which are necessarily ideal for the long-term health of the game.

There's two things that are like compatibilty that I think are much easily to get and are important, but which are distinct from compatibility.

The first is convertability. In a very broad sense, every edition of D&D is convertable, but in some cases the conversion process is more mechanical (like 3.0 to 3.5, where your character can probably stay almost the exact same in every way), and in some cases it's much more spiritual (if you're converting an AD&D character to 4e, it's much more about thinking about what makes the character who they are, and then rebuilding the character in the new system with the understanding that not every nuance of the character's mechanics are going to map one-to-one, instead of just picking all the options that have the same name.)

The second is continuity, where the system feels naturally connected to previous incarnations. I love 4e, but I don't think anybody is crazy if they look at it after having spent their whole life playing earlier editions and feel like it's a jarring shift - something that the layout of the books does not discourage. 4e didn't pick up continuity where it mattered, didn't make continuity visible where it did have it, and contained some awkward stabs at faking continuity that were just confusing because they weren't real continuity. (Like naming the roll that determines the duration of a harmful effect "saving throw". Note that Next is committing a very similar bungle by naming its recovery dice "hit dice", although that might just be a way to sugarcoat healing surges for people who are 4e-phobic.)

I'm not saying that a game that was compatible with an older version wouldn't do fine - Pathfinder seems to be doing at least okay, though while its compatibility was originally a big selling point, I think that most Pathfinder that's now played is played without 3.5 material. (Source: Me making stuff up.)
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.

3e had a conversion guide and had a lot of elements that were similar to 2e.



The day 3E was released I rushed in to buy it. It came with a "conversion" guide. After trying what they considered "converting", I threw the conversion packet in the garbage and returned the books. Fortunately I was on an Army post and they didn't think to look and see if the packet was still in the book before giving me my money back. That little packet was one of the most useless things I have ever seen.

2E was compatible with 1E with only slight variances. 3E was NOT compatible with 2E (rules-wise), and updating old-E adventures was a royal pain in the butt due to the overly-complex nature of adventure design and monster-alteration of 3E/3.X. 4E was not compatible with anything, but updating old-E adventures wasn't that hard thanks to 4E's easy adventure-creation rules. 5E will likely not be compatible with anything, either, but I have already updated a few BECMI and 1E adventures and it seems to work very well. Not sure if that makes it "compatible", but it's a step in the right direction.
I find 5th Ed the easiest to convert to so far, have already converted monsters from 1st, 3rd and 4th Ed, classes too, like the 1st Ed Monk and Ranger, next I want to work on converting the 3ed Ed Incarnate and Truenamer.


I as well find 5e's open ended nature very intuitive to conversion. I have converted 2 full adventures already, to great success, and am working on Ravenloft atm. It's not really that hard at all. Much easier than 3e for sure.
My two copper.
I found I could design classes easier in 3.5 but 4th was easier to design adventures and monsters for YMMV.

Currently brewing some ideas for D&DN Paladins and Rangers. Next seems ot be easy in both regards.

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 Fear is the Mind Killer

 Fear is the Mind Killer  

The foundation of a good role-playing system be it D&D or otherwise I think is defined by the idea that you can pick up a suppliment for any kind of fantasy game and with minimal work use it to run an adventure.  For example if I pick up Temple of Elemental Evil I can run that adventure using 1st, 2nd or 3rd edition with ease.  Some monsters might need to be converted, some other adjustments might need to be made but all and all its minimal work.  In all three edition D&D still worked under the conventions of D&D module writing.  The playstyle while different in each edition to a degree, still carried the same philosophies and when you pick up a 3rd edition module and compare it to a 1st edition module, the style and presumptions about how D&D is played is still there. 


To me 4th edition broke this playstyle too much and the conventions just aren't there anymore.  At the heart of it I think is the fact that combat just takes longer and is geared more towards "encounter" driven adventuring than what D&D is founded on, site based exploration adventures.  I noted that on any given night I might be able to run one combat at the most before the session got bogged down, while in 1st or 2nd edition I could run 5 or 6 in that time with ease and around 2-3 for every one in 3rd edition.  I ran Temple of Elemental Evil (which is why I mention it) under 1st edition and 3rd edition and frankly the adventure felt and ran the same.  3rd edition took slightly longer, but its "style" was unchanged and I made most of my adjustments for the system on the fly as all the monsters needed where easily found in the Monster Manual and where roughly "leveled" the same.  When I approached Temple of Elemental with 4th edition I realized that it was simply impossible to run the adventure using the same convention and that heavy cuts would need to be made to make it work.  I think it was still possible, but I was immediatly discouraged by the workload that it entaled and I didn't feel comfertable with running the game and managing its balance on the fly, I really felt the need to "prepare" the adventure for running under 4th edition.


I think NEXT needs to follow suit in 1st, 2nd and 3rd edition conventions.  I need to be able to pick up an adventure like Temple of Elemental Evil and run it without having to prepare a whole bunch before the adventure... simply put the module itself should be all I need with the core books to run it.  If it does that, its D&D, if it does not, its a game that has the D&D logo on it.

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

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The foundation of a good role-playing system be it D&D or otherwise I think is defined by the idea that you can pick up a suppliment for any kind of fantasy game and with minimal work use it to run an adventure.  For example if I pick up Temple of Elemental Evil I can run that adventure using 1st, 2nd or 3rd edition with ease.  Some monsters might need to be converted, some other adjustments might need to be made but all and all its minimal work.  In all three edition D&D still worked under the conventions of D&D module writing.  The playstyle while different in each edition to a degree, still carried the same philosophies and when you pick up a 3rd edition module and compare it to a 1st edition module, the style and presumptions about how D&D is played is still there. 


To me 4th edition broke this playstyle too much and the conventions just aren't there anymore.  At the heart of it I think is the fact that combat just takes longer and is geared more towards "encounter" driven adventuring than what D&D is founded on, site based exploration adventures.  I noted that on any given night I might be able to run one combat at the most before the session got bogged down, while in 1st or 2nd edition I could run 5 or 6 in that time with ease and around 2-3 for every one in 3rd edition.  I ran Temple of Elemental Evil (which is why I mention it) under 1st edition and 3rd edition and frankly the adventure felt and ran the same.  3rd edition took slightly longer, but its "style" was unchanged and I made most of my adjustments for the system on the fly as all the monsters needed where easily found in the Monster Manual and where roughly "leveled" the same.  When I approached Temple of Elemental with 4th edition I realized that it was simply impossible to run the adventure using the same convention and that heavy cuts would need to be made to make it work.  I think it was still possible, but I was immediatly discouraged by the workload that it entaled and I didn't feel comfertable with running the game and managing its balance on the fly, I really felt the need to "prepare" the adventure for running under 4th edition.


I think NEXT needs to follow suit in 1st, 2nd and 3rd edition conventions.  I need to be able to pick up an adventure like Temple of Elemental Evil and run it without having to prepare a whole bunch before the adventure... simply put the module itself should be all I need with the core books to run it.  If it does that, its D&D, if it does not, its a game that has the D&D logo on it.


I dunno man, converting 1e/2e stuff to 3e was a pain in the ass a lot of the time.
My two copper.

I dunno man, converting 1e/2e stuff to 3e was a pain in the ass a lot of the time.



True if you wanted to do "exact" conversions, but it wasn't nescessary.  The spirit of the adventure was in tact if you simply used 3rd edition versions which mostly fell into the same motifs and most even had the same types of abilities.  4th edition playstyle changes made running such encounters and modules too time consuming because combat was slow and the various sub systems like healing surges, the power system and the absence of certain D&D tropes all collectively made it harder to manage and run.

You would have to try it, but my efforts and attempts to run a traditional D&D adventure under 4th edition failed miserably.  None of my favorites could be adapted easily, it was all painful to do.   You just had to adjust for the system in so many ways that by the time you where done you had re-written the module at which point whatever magic that was in it had also been lost.  I tried on several occassions with various adventures, but it just didn't work well.  I tried running Pool of Radiance for example and it was a complete cluster....

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

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..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />I'm not saying that a game that was compatible with an older version wouldn't do fine - Pathfinder seems to be doing at least okay, though while its compatibility was originally a big selling point, I think that most Pathfinder that's now played is played without 3.5 material. (Source: Me making stuff up.)



Actually most of the benefit of pathfinder I've found is that you can cycle out the broken 3.5 garbage and just play with PF material.


It seems WotC is making the same mistake it did with 4e. Some people didn't like 4e and stuck with 3.5 or switched to PF. Now it looks like 4e fans do not like 5e and I see no reasons why 3.5/PF fans would jump ship. 

Déjà vu?

The 'compatibility' key is simply whether 5e will be open-source or not.  If it's something the 3pps currently using the OGL can jump on like they did d20 - if it's simply another d20 game, for instance - there shouldn't be so much trouble.  Compatibility with 3.5/d20 would certainly fit that bill.  A whole new core system ("d20 NEXT?"), OGL, and SRD could also work.

 

 

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Some things are simply incompatible.  Switching between 2e and 3e was like trying to shove the engine for toyota into a ford truck.  Difficult, but arguably possible.  Switching between 3e and 4e was like trying to shove the engine for a ford truck into a giraffe.  Just not gonna' happen.

It would not be possible to actually create a game which supports both 1/2/3e as written, and 4e, as written.  One of those sides had to give, so they went with the larger side, likely on the basis that it's got a better shot both of pulling in the lapsed nostalgia players and the new potential young players.

Some things are simply incompatible.  Switching between 2e and 3e was like trying to shove the engine for toyato celica into a ford truck.  Difficult, but arguably possible.  Switching between 3e and 4e was like trying to shove the engine for a ford truck into a giraffe.  Just not gonna' happen.

It would not be possible to actually create a game which supports both 1/2/3e as written, and 4e, as written.  One of those sides had to give, so they went with the larger side, likely on the basis that it's got a better shot both of pulling in the lapsed nostalgia players and the new potential young players.

I can't agree.  Well, I can agree that there's a clear gulf between two kinds of D&D, but the line isn't where you'd like it to be.  Rather, the 1e/2e (both AD&D, and with little meaningful difference between them) are on one side (with 0D&D & BECMI), and 3e/4e (modern D&D) are on the other.  Yes, in spite of the intense hatred that some 3.5 holdouts have for 4e.

The divide is mechanical, in the games themselves, and in the times that birthed them and the communities that play them.  Classic D&D or the 'TSR era,' was characterized by disparate, often incoherent rules, wealths of disconnected detail, multiple settings, and a very slow pace of change.  The times classic D&D spanned changed a lot, even as D&D didn't.  In the 70s, wargaming was bigger than roleplaying, and D&D started as a wargame, that a game could be as cooperative as RPGs tended to was a tough idea to internalize.  In the 80s, D&D was briefly a fad, and briefly controverseal but the RPG hobby survived and proliferated even as the fad faded, computer RPGs offered only a little competition to RPGs, gamers tended to be boys new to the hobby, or men who had started with wargaming.  In the 90s, the emphasis of RPGs went from selling core rule books and modules to selling richly detailed settings and from wargame-like play to 'storytelling' sytles, D&D (2e) caught onto the setting angle, but ended up the poster-boy of 'roll playing,' try as it might to shed it's image.  Also in the 90s, CCGs and LARPs burst upon the scene.  CCGs sucked away a fair proportion of the cohort of boys and young men who might have been expected to get into RPGs.  LARPs, OTOH, attracted more women to the hobby.  For a while, it looked like CCGs might be the death of RPGs, and TSR even went belly-up, but it was, ironically, 'saved' by WotC - the inventors of M:tG, the first CCG.  That's the first 25 years of D&D, and, while it's had something like 4 or 5 different versions (0D&D, AD&D, B/X, BECMI, AD&D 2e, Rules Cyclopeadia, and even Arduin, to stretch a point), it's really changed very little from 1974.  

Then the it's the new mellinium.  WotC releases 3.0, and D&D is changed forever.  Compared to the changes the hobby as a whole has experienced, 3.0 is still something of a laggard, but it is arguably modern.  It does a number of things other games have been doing for years if not decades.  It standardizes on a single resolution mechanic, 20 vs DC.  It adds a coherent skill system.  It codifies the jargon more precisely, with dozens of 'conditions' and other precise definitions.  Classes were changed to make some of the laggards more appealing, fighters got many more options, rogues got more & better skills and a more useable version of backstab, Sneak Attack, Clerics more and less-inconvenient healing (able to spontaneously cast cures) and some customization in Domains to make healing less of a burden for the unpopular class.  Rangers and Paladins got more structured abilities with their own spell lists instead of simply referenceing Druid/Magic-user or Cleric spells.  Sorcerers are introduced and highlight a new, non-Vancian, 'spontaneous' casting mechanic.   It puts a great deal more character-customization in the hands of the player (feats, modular multi-classing, character description including 're-skinning' equipment, point-buy stat generation, clear make/buy rules for magic items, wealth-by-level, and so forth).  It simplifies scale, distance, movement and positioning onto a 1" = 5' grid (in AD&D, minis were 25-30 mm or ~1":6', indoor scale was 1":10' and an outdoor scale inch was 10 yards), with whole-square aproximations for diagonal movement and simple shapes (oddly lop-sided cones and 'pixilated' circles).  It places all characters, regardless of race and class, on the same level progression (1-20, plus Epic, later), and spells out both an ideal party composition (fighter, cleric, wizard, rogue) and what classes can be swapped for each of the 'big 4' or which are '5th wheels.'  On the DM side, it had detailed systems for monster-creation and guidelines for the Challenge Rating (level) of monsters, and what constituted an apropriate encounter for a party of a given size and level - they didn't work real well, but they were there.  But, most of all, 3.0 was an open-source game (like FUDGE and FUZION in the 90s), bringing into being the d20 core system that would be used in D&D and a number of mechanically similar games (like Chaosium's Basic Roleplaying in the 80s).  

With the change in D&D came a change in attitude among the fan base.  Grognards like to call it 'entitlement' because politics have given the word a bad connotation.  'Player-involvement' might be another way of putting it.  3e players had control of their characters' development.  They choose it's race, stats, class, background, starting gear and description, chose what feats and which classes it advanced in, and could make or buy magic items to complement its abilities or concept.  Variants or "house rule" stopped varying so much from DM to DM.  The rules were clearer and less in need of rulings. "RAW" was enshrined, particularly by a new breed of powergamers who delighted in optimized builds.  And the voice of the community moved from the pages of dragon magazine and newsgroups of usenet to on-line forums.  Not everyone is sanguine about all the changes, and there is a backlash among fans of classic D&D.  But, with nothing new coming out for classic D&D, they don't have a whole lot to congregate in the new forums and talk about, and the closest thing to classic D&D being put out are parodies like Munchkin and Hackmaster.  The AD&D holdouts don't become any sort of juggernaut of destruction gunning for 3e.

But, the pace of change was accellerating.  Suplements come out fast and furious, and they're not an array of settings, but book after book of character options for players to sort through and winnow out the optimal choices.  3pps are running with d20 also, producing new games and reams of material for 3.0, itself.  In little over two years the system is showing cracks like 1e & 2e did after 10.  WotC shocks the community by releasing 3.5, which cleans up the rules a bit and re-jiggers a lot of stuff, but mostly just forces everyone to re-buy a bunch of books.  There's a backlash against the 'money grab,' but the 3pps are on board with the new system, and it fades, eventually.

Still in the 'oughts,' 4e comes out.  It's a lot like 3.x in a lot of ways.  It still uses the d20 resolution mechanic and most of the same skills, still uses a single level advancement for all classes, still allows multi-classing at any level instead of basing it on race, still has 3 stat-based 'saves' (now non-AC defenses) instead of 6 hapazard groupings, still has feats, guidelines for wealth/level, make/buy rules for magic items, still has conditions and named bonuses and other jargon (just less of each, used more consistently).  Combat is still on a grid, though square-counting and area templates are simplified.  But, it goes farther in some directions, common advancement exp and HD become common advancement in number of feats and 'powers' (which include both spells and martial 'exploits').  Healing resources are re-distributed around the party, making Clerics both more apealing and less obligatory.  Roles are finally officially codified, as are Sources and other keywords.  Balance is built on a mathematical foundation more consistent (and transparent) then that of 3e.  On the DM side, monsters still have levels, you can still design monsters, though it's less detailed, and guidelines are still there for what contitutes a standard encounter.  Monsters now have roles, as well, instead of 'breaking up' a monster into lower level ones to build an encounter, monsters are standard, elite, solo or minions  of a given level. But, 4e also reverses some 3e changes.  Monsters are less detailed, again, antagonists rather than characters in their own right.  Multi-classing isn't nearly so free-form.  And, of course, 4e dropped the open-source OGL, back to being a proprietary D&D rather than offically a d20 game with a free SRD on-line. 

There was the usual backlash against the 'early' (only 5 years since 3.5!) rev-roll, but this time, with 3pps producing for it, it picks up steam instead of slowly dying off, snowballing into the hateful 'edition war,' and finally propelling Pathfinder to the top spot.  Again, change was rapid, perhaps prompted by the edition war, WotC first published suplements like crazy, then did an about-face into Essentials, post-Essentials flip-flopping, slowed releases, and finally the early announcement of 5e.  But, in the face of all that controvery, nerdrage, mis-information, and general chaos, the actual zietgiest of the community didn't change that much.  Optimizers don't get quite as much bang for their system-mastery, but they still optimize, players are still 'empowered' or 'entitled' depending on whose doing the spinning, RAW is still king (though his editcs are a good deal easier to understand).


It's easy to miss the similarities between 3e and 4e, both the games and the attitudes of their communities, because of the rancor of the edition war.  Perhaps those similarities have something to do with it - civil wars are always the bloodiest.

But the similarities among the classic editions of D&D - you can practically take characters from one to another and hardly notice the difference - are very real.  So to are the two "d20" versions of D&D quite similar, even if you can't quite take characters from one to the other.  There are a few glaring things about each that harken back to the classic game, though.  3e's spells are more like classic D&D spells, 4e monsters are more like classic D&D monsters, 3e is open-source while 4e & classic D&D are not.  

And, of course, there are many commonalities among all editions.  But, I suppose, differences are easier to argue about.




 

 

 

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 Good post Tony. Reasonably fair assessment of D&D.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 Fear is the Mind Killer  

+1 Tony, pretty accurate as far as I recall it.


I would argue however that the OGL was a far bigger problem for Wizards than has ever been really mentioned.  Edition warring fans aside and rebeling Paizo making their own edition their where a lot of very popular 3rd party publishers Wizards tried to put out of business and they failed miserably at it.  I know at least a half a dozen CEO's of these small companies and most of them where successful in the "we do it because we love and are breaking even" successful, but when 4th edition came out and ended 3.5, all of these 3rd party publishers where ready and willing to embrace 4th edition, but where simply not allowed to. The result was that they instead embraced Pathfinder and every single 3rd party publisher I know is more successful today than they where under 3.5 and its thanks to the fact that 4th edition rejected them and Paizo embraced them.


I think the abandoning of the OGL was the think that ultimatly killed 4th edition in its sleep, without it, Wizards never had any chance of making 4th edition as successful as 3rd edition was and NEXT will fail for the same reason unless they open up the license.  

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

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HipsterCat problem for a 3.75 or 3.9 is that they have to compete directly with Pathfinder if it is going to be semi compatable. I don't think Wizards can match Pathfinder in terms of quality adventures. I don't know how fanatical Pathfinder fans are but D&DN has to be better than Pathfinder and 4th ed at least in the core rules in order to attract those gamers.

 Bettwer is goign to be subjective but if its quick to play like pre 3rd ed, resembles 3.5 superficially (hit dice, vancian casting) and has elements of 4th ed in it (balance, decent optiopns for non spellcasters) they may be onto something.

 Put simply alot of 3.5/PF users are no happy with high level play for example and a popular PF varient called E6 exists where PCs stop advancing at level 6. After that every 5000xp buys you a feat or whatever. 3.XYZ problems with spellcasters and power inflation is disliked less than 4th ed for those players so they stuck with PF. Other drawbacks like preparation time are also mitigated via prepublished adventure paths which kind of disguise those problems.

 4th edplayers might give D&DN a go along with 3.5 and Pathfinder players. I can't really see the point of a compatable 3.5ish D&DN. One can keep playing 3.5/PF/4th. A drastic overhaul should have been done in 2008, its to late now probably.


 A new OGL is probably a mistake unless they put a timelimit on it (OGL until 2020) which will stop a repeat of Pathfinder and still be enticing to 3PP. If D&DN is still going strong they can always extend the license. A 10 year timelimit on the original OGL still would have brought the 3PP onboard and stopped Pathfinder in its tracks.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 Fear is the Mind Killer  

 HipsterCat problem for a 3.75 or 3.9 is that they have to compete directly with Pathfinder if it is going to be semi compatable. I don't think Wizards can match Pathfinder in terms of quality adventures. I don't know how fanatical Pathfinder fans are but D&DN has to be better than Pathfinder and 4th ed at least in the core rules in order to attract those gamers.

 Bettwer is goign to be subjective but if its quick to play like pre 3rd ed, resembles 3.5 superficially (hit dice, vancian casting) and has elements of 4th ed in it (balance, decent optiopns for non spellcasters) they may be onto something.

 Put simply alot of 3.5/PF users are no happy with high level play for example and a popular PF varient called E6 exists where PCs stop advancing at level 6. After that every 5000xp buys you a feat or whatever. 3.XYZ problems with spellcasters and power inflation is disliked less than 4th ed for those players so they stuck with PF. Other drawbacks like preparation time are also mitigated via prepublished adventure paths which kind of disguise those problems.

 4th edplayers might give D&DN a go along with 3.5 and Pathfinder players. I can't really see the point of a compatable 3.5ish D&DN. One can keep playing 3.5/PF/4th. A drastic overhaul should have been done in 2008, its to late now probably.



It has to be far more than a better game, it has to embrace the creativity of 3rd party publishers.  They openned up that can of worms, but like pandoras box it cannot be closed.  D&D and OGL are now bed fellows and one cannot succeed without the other.  I predict that if NEXT doesn't have an OGL even if its a better game on paper it will still fail economically, Paizo will simply put out a new 3rd edition and continue to control the market because all the 3rd party publishers which went from fledgling business under 3.5, to fully functional and economically successful companies under Paizo will continue to support them and their fan bases will continue to follow them.  These 3rd party publishers who used to put out PDF only, unedited semi amaturish stuff are now putting out full colored glossy paper professionally edited material (like Dreamscarred Press) for example.  Some of these 3rd party publishers are putting out better stuff than WoTc has ever managed to.

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

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It seems WotC is making the same mistake it did with 4e. Some people didn't like 4e and stuck with 3.5 or switched to PF. Now it looks like 4e fans do not like 5e and I see no reasons why 3.5/PF fans would jump ship.

Well, there are going to be 4e fans who don't like Next, that is inevitable, but in this case it isn't entirely accidental either. One of the points of Next is trying to get back some of the 3x fans who switched to Pathfinder, plus hopefully pick up some fans of the even older editions who had switched to various clone editions. This means some things that 4e fans are not going to like and something that 3e fans are not going to like, not to mention some thing that fans of previous versions are not going to like.

Next is going to require some delicate balancing acts on WotC's part. They need to bring back classic wizards and other classic feel material and incorporate the high quality old material that 4e didn't have. They also need to incorporate enough of 4e's good material to keep 4e fan's happy. Nobody is going to be entirely happy with Next, WotC's goal has to be keeping everybody satisfied enough.

I know that Xguild. The little 3pp stuff I have looked at is mostly free stuff and its not that bad and its free. Its alot better than 2001/2002. D&D brandname still has some oomph left in it and Pathfinder still has problems some of which are 3.5's legacy (high level spellcasters) and others which are Paizo's creation (power inflation across all of the classes, monsters sucking).

 At this point mechanics may not matter to much as a selling point though. IDK if some of the 4th ed players have worked out how well 3pp are doing at the moment via Pathfinder and the OGL. A large selling point of 4th ed (good mechanics) and maybe even D&DN may not matter. 3.5 got canned after 5 years. eems obvious now it still had some life left in it, just WoTC couldn't make good sourcebooks that would sell as the 2007 3.5 source books were kinda bad.

 WoTC should probably talk to some of the 3PP at some point before D&DN releases. Its to early right now.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 Fear is the Mind Killer  

I think compatability is one of the major sticking points with any new edition. From a business standpoit I would have said 4th was a good idea, the problem is that it failed. So unless you are going to go back and make a 3.9 editoin I fail to see the need to create a new edition at all. Your only hope lies in if you make a truely amazing game that everyone loves. Where if you make things more 3.5ish, you at least have an instant market druiling to pick up the new product. By making a noncompatible version yet again you are heading toward the risky nature of 4th edition.

So while every edition had some people who didn't move on, third edition had A lot of people who loved it and didn't move on.  If most of your potential costumers like 3.5 then you should make the game more like 3.5.

However, there are some changes I fell are needed to the game either way such as only one attack per round, with perhaps an uper limit of two.  
It seems WotC is making the same mistake it did with 4e. Some people didn't like 4e and stuck with 3.5 or switched to PF. Now it looks like 4e fans do not like 5e and I see no reasons why 3.5/PF fans would jump ship.

Well, there are going to be 4e fans who don't like Next, that is inevitable, but in this case it isn't entirely accidental either. One of the points of Next is trying to get back some of the 3x fans who switched to Pathfinder, plus hopefully pick up some fans of the even older editions who had switched to various clone editions. This means some things that 4e fans are not going to like and something that 3e fans are not going to like, not to mention some thing that fans of previous versions are not going to like.

Next is going to require some delicate balancing acts on WotC's part. They need to bring back classic wizards and other classic feel material and incorporate the high quality old material that 4e didn't have. They also need to incorporate enough of 4e's good material to keep 4e fan's happy. Nobody is going to be entirely happy with Next, WotC's goal has to be keeping everybody satisfied enough.




Their only potential selling point is to work on the parameter "required preparation time for a GM to prepare a session" since 3.x E GM's generally feel they spend to much time on that but that it is an acceptable price to pay to avoid 4E
 Any WoTC 3.5 clone would probably need to deal with higher level spellcasters and preparation time. You could probably do it but it would not be that backwards compatable except maybe in feats and spells which were a large cause of the various 3.5 problems. Backwards compatability is not a big issue as long as what you are replacing XYZ with is good or at least popular.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 Fear is the Mind Killer  

 HipsterCat problem for a 3.75 or 3.9 is that they have to compete directly with Pathfinder if it is going to be semi compatable. I don't think Wizards can match Pathfinder in terms of quality adventures. I don't know how fanatical Pathfinder fans are but D&DN has to be better than Pathfinder and 4th ed at least in the core rules in order to attract those gamers.

 Bettwer is goign to be subjective but if its quick to play like pre 3rd ed, resembles 3.5 superficially (hit dice, vancian casting) and has elements of 4th ed in it (balance, decent optiopns for non spellcasters) they may be onto something.

 Put simply alot of 3.5/PF users are no happy with high level play for example and a popular PF varient called E6 exists where PCs stop advancing at level 6. After that every 5000xp buys you a feat or whatever. 3.XYZ problems with spellcasters and power inflation is disliked less than 4th ed for those players so they stuck with PF. Other drawbacks like preparation time are also mitigated via prepublished adventure paths which kind of disguise those problems.

 4th edplayers might give D&DN a go along with 3.5 and Pathfinder players. I can't really see the point of a compatable 3.5ish D&DN. One can keep playing 3.5/PF/4th. A drastic overhaul should have been done in 2008, its to late now probably.



It has to be far more than a better game, it has to embrace the creativity of 3rd party publishers.  They openned up that can of worms, but like pandoras box it cannot be closed.  D&D and OGL are now bed fellows and one cannot succeed without the other.  I predict that if NEXT doesn't have an OGL even if its a better game on paper it will still fail economically, Paizo will simply put out a new 3rd edition and continue to control the market because all the 3rd party publishers which went from fledgling business under 3.5, to fully functional and economically successful companies under Paizo will continue to support them and their fan bases will continue to follow them.  These 3rd party publishers who used to put out PDF only, unedited semi amaturish stuff are now putting out full colored glossy paper professionally edited material (like Dreamscarred Press) for example.  Some of these 3rd party publishers are putting out better stuff than WoTc has ever managed to.



I actually submitted a question about OGL and next for the Q&A, lets hope it gets answered!
My two copper.
Next has to be its own game, fully valid on its own merits and none other.

It can't just piggyback off of an existing market, not if they want to achieve their goals.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition

5e won't be backwards compatible with 4e at all, but I think that is to be expected.   4e is perhaps the most divergent system ever.  In fact, when it was designed the designers showed absolutely no regard for backwards compatibility.

With that said, I think 5e is very compatable with AD&D and 3.5e modules.   For me, that's great news  considering the truck loads of material that those editions produced.   

The Caves of Chaos and the Isle of Dread are almost a word for word reprints.  Therefore, I'm very pleased with the level of backward compatability with 5e.       In fact, sometime soon I plan to run the Destiny of Kings (1e) module in 5e.      


I don't really get the backwards comparability issue with 4e to 5e. 5e monster blocks is a 4e monsters formatted differently.

Big Model: Creative Agenda
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Imagine a world where the first-time D&D player rolls stats, picks a race, picks a class, picks an alignment, and buys gear to create a character. Imagine if an experienced player, maybe the person helping our theoretical player learn the ropes, could also make a character by rolling ability scores and picking a race, class, feat, skills, class features, spells or powers, and so on. Those two players used different paths to build characters, but the system design allows them to play at the same table. -Mearl

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The statblock is mostly the same, but the actual numbers are completely wrong.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
I don't really get the backwards comparability issue with 4e to 5e. 5e monster blocks is a 4e monsters formatted differently.



Well.. I think the levels of the monsters in 4e are very different than they are in other editions.  When you convert a 4e module to 5e you'll definitely have to change the monsters or modify them.   

You might not notice it at the moment with all the low level monsters in the playtest package, but once you try to convert a high level module you'll see the problem.      

I know I had that problem when I tried to convert 2e modules over to 4e.   I had to basically redesign all the encounters before I could even play them; most of the time I couldn't use the same monsters.  


And sacrificing everything that Next is trying to achieve.

Sorry, no.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Being successful doesn't mean crap if you sacrifice your integrity to get it. 

And there is more than one way to be successful.  That one company was successful one way does not mean that was the only way.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
It seems obvious WoTC does not want to deal with the OGL. They could make a new OGL with a time limit on it that would stop a future Pathfinder. Right now its to early to worry about what form of license if any D&DN is going to have. It would be very difficult to relaunch 3.5 to compete with Pathfinder and gix the problems 3.5 had and still make it compatable. At the very least they would have to rewrite all of the classes, a good chunk of the spells and if they want to address the difficulty of desigining adventurees and the like they are fgoing to have to take a hard look at the monster manual as well.

 Its to late to fix 3.5 now Paizo has Pathfinder although if they did new D&D books would be useable with Pathfinder to some extent. I iike Pathfinder for example but its far from perfect. Some of the ideas from 4th ed and D&DN could easily be ported to PF as house rules but alot of the problems PF has require a rewrite and then compatability went out the window. 4th ed trying to fix 3.5 wasn't a ad idea, but they probably went about it worng as the changes were to severe IMHO for a large chunk of the fanbase to swallow. The whole edition wars thing. Mechanically 4th ed was more or less brillaint but it fell flat for me as I do not like a tactical RPG D&D game, at least not enough to drop serious money on it.

 My curent game world is set on a sister world to Golarion, uses the 4th ed cosmology and I'm converting 3.5 stuff to it. Probably gonna steal the D&DN advanatge and concentration mechanic as well and maybe the word of power one and rule it in between playtest packets. Its not impossable that Pathfinder collapses under its own weight. Being OGL Paizo cannot stop 3pp jumping on board. Theres complaints on their forums about 3pp doing exactly that.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 Fear is the Mind Killer  

The time for a heavy revamp of 3.5 was 2008. Trying to out pathfinder pathfinder doesn't seem a smart move. The problems of PF can be partially mitigated with houserules. The OGL is another thing WoTC is going to have to take a look at. Hell WoTC contacting Paizo is not impossable as AFAIK on a professional level the Paizo staff get along fine with WoTC or at least used to. No point trying to sell the house though when they are still experimenting with the cement for the foundations though.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 Fear is the Mind Killer  

Its not impossable that Paizo could work on D&DN in addion to doing their own thing. I don't think its likely but you never know. Pathfinder exists because of the GSL.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 Fear is the Mind Killer  

HipsterCat problem for a 3.75 or 3.9 is that they have to compete directly with Pathfinder if it is going to be semi compatable. I don't think Wizards can match Pathfinder in terms of quality adventures. I don't know how fanatical Pathfinder fans are but D&DN has to be better than Pathfinder and 4th ed at least in the core rules in order to attract those gamers.

 Bettwer is goign to be subjective but if its quick to play like pre 3rd ed, resembles 3.5 superficially (hit dice, vancian casting) and has elements of 4th ed in it (balance, decent optiopns for non spellcasters) they may be onto something.

 Put simply alot of 3.5/PF users are no happy with high level play for example and a popular PF varient called E6 exists where PCs stop advancing at level 6. After that every 5000xp buys you a feat or whatever. 3.XYZ problems with spellcasters and power inflation is disliked less than 4th ed for those players so they stuck with PF. Other drawbacks like preparation time are also mitigated via prepublished adventure paths which kind of disguise those problems.

 4th edplayers might give D&DN a go along with 3.5 and Pathfinder players. I can't really see the point of a compatable 3.5ish D&DN. One can keep playing 3.5/PF/4th. A drastic overhaul should have been done in 2008, its to late now probably.


 A new OGL is probably a mistake unless they put a timelimit on it (OGL until 2020) which will stop a repeat of Pathfinder and still be enticing to 3PP. If D&DN is still going strong they can always extend the license. A 10 year timelimit on the original OGL still would have brought the 3PP onboard and stopped Pathfinder in its tracks.

Nah, the OGL as become a must for 5e to live long and prosper. The customers are there and it's up to WotC to get their market shares there.

PF has some issues, but I have no problem thinking that WotC designers can adress them in a compatible format, same way Paizo designers produced an improved game compatible with 3.5. 

They do not need to compete with Paizo when it comes to adventure modules. Let Paizo have those shares of the market. WotC has some good settings (FR, DS, Eberron, Ravenloft, Planescape) and can produce quality supplements. Plus they would have the edge of having the latest core books. 


WotC does not have an edge when it comes to having the latest core books as 4th edition proves. Wizards needs to compete with Paizo when it comes to adventure modules, as that could be the deciding factor on which edition of the game you play. Better adventure modules will help get more people to DM which helps the game in the long term.


The OGL is required to make a successful D&D game at this point. One can argue that this is a large part the failure of 4th. Without the OGL few people wanted to play. Also you can freely steal the game mechanics from an RPG wihtout the OGL, you just can't take specific things that are covered by copyright. 

This means that even if the OGL expires as a certain point, you could theoreticlaly still pull off a pathfinder type deal.   
D&D can exist fine without OGL, but it is important how WOTC treats third parties so they may contribute. As to adventures, supplements, offline utilities, or anything that makes a game easier to manage, play or generate ideas is very important for the long term success of a game.

Since previous editions of D&D are available, including Pathfinder, the only exception is 4E. WOTC may have a hard time convincing those players to convert to 5E. But even if they switched to something like 13th age, it will still be hard to find the level of support, unless Paizo or a similar party steps up to the plate to generate enough content to satisfy what is traditonally available to D&D fans.

It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.
Their only potential selling point is to work on the parameter "required preparation time for a GM to prepare a session" since 3.x E GM's generally feel they spend to much time on that but that it is an acceptable price to pay to avoid 4E

4e has more going for it then just quick encounter design.

There are some very clever classes in 4e that don't even exist in 3e, such as the defender oriented classes and the pure controller classes. The use of NADs provided consistent defensive standards and insured that characters and monsters had weaknesses without spreading attacks all over the place. The power description format was a bit limited, but was much easier to read and use then any older format. The setup of encounter duration powers and short rests neatly meant that you didn't have to count rounds for powers most of the time while still avoiding falling into unlimited or uncertain durations. The division of monsters into minions, regular monsters, elites and solos pretty much was a recognition of something that had always existed in the game. Incorporating it into the rule base helped to balance the most powerful and the weakest.

I prefer 3e to 4e but 4e did have a lot of elements that Next should pay attention to and incorporate somehow.

The secret to D&D is that everything IS compatable with everything else. Period.

YOU have to actually do work to make it flow as there's no 1:1 conversion of everything. If you're not lazy, then you can make the most of everything. (We once had a forum based on a seminar: Play With Everything.)

A Pathfinder adventure has the party attend an orc wedding. While the stat blocks may not work exactly with each other, the plot is certainly easy enough to use.

A long time ago, a friend of mine ran a Forgotten Realms campaign using the GURPS rules system.

I myself have used one of my favorite game settings/systems for ideas for my D&D games.

It can be done. "You" just have to stop expecting everything being handed to you on a silver platter and do some actual prep work. D&D has ALWAYS said the more time you put in to preparing your games, the better your games will be.

Show
Of the two approaches to hobby games today, one is best defined as the realism-simulation school and the other as the game school. AD&D is assuredly an adherent of the latter school. It does not stress any realism (in the author's opinon an absurd effort at best considering the topic!). It does little to attempt to simulate anything either. (AD&D) is first and foremost a game for the fun and enjoyment of those who seek the use of imagination and creativity.... In all cases, however, the reader should understand that AD&D is designed to be an amusing and diverting pastime, something which an fill a few hours or consume endless days, as the participants desire, but in no case something to be taken too seriously. For fun, excitement and captivating fantasy, AD&D is unsurpassed.As a realistic simulation of things from the realm of make-believe or even as a reflection of midieval or ancient warfare or culture or society, it can be deemed only a dismal failure. Readers who seek the later must search elsewhere. - Gary Gygax. 1e DMG.

A long time ago, a friend of mine ran a Forgotten Realms campaign using the GURPS rules system.

I myself have used one of my favorite game settings/systems for ideas for my D&D games.


I ran a rather long (about 14 months) D&D campaign using the Vampire: the Dark Ages rules from Old World of Darkness. I also ran a decent Call of Cthulhu campaign set entirely in the Ravenloft setting. For that matter, I also ran a D&D campaign set within the Earthdawn world. All it takes is just a little imagination and ability to cross over rules-systems.

It can be done. "You" just have to stop expecting everything being handed to you on a silver platter and do some actual prep work. D&D has ALWAYS said the more time you put in to preparing your games, the better your games will be.


+1 and well said. I, for one, don't want everything handed to me. I enjoy the work, and I love seeing that work rewarded with a fun, entertaining game that the players thoroughly enjoy.
The secret to D&D is that everything IS compatable with everything else. Period.

YOU have to actually do work to make it flow as there's no 1:1 conversion of everything. If you're not lazy, then you can make the most of everything. (We once had a forum based on a seminar: Play With Everything.)

A Pathfinder adventure has the party attend an orc wedding. While the stat blocks may not work exactly with each other, the plot is certainly easy enough to use.

A long time ago, a friend of mine ran a Forgotten Realms campaign using the GURPS rules system.

I myself have used one of my favorite game settings/systems for ideas for my D&D games.

It can be done. "You" just have to stop expecting everything being handed to you on a silver platter and do some actual prep work. D&D has ALWAYS said the more time you put in to preparing your games, the better your games will be.

I don't think that that's what people are really thinking of when they talk about compatibility. Yes, you can adapt material to different game systems, but that's a pretty loose definition of compatibilty. Except for really weird niche ones, all RPG systems are basically about modeling humans doing stuff. If you're not lazy, then any two systems have interadaptability. Compatabilty is a much, much higher bar - it means that material can basically be used more-or-less as is. It is to some degree a continuum, but "everything is compatable with everything else if you're willing to completely rebuild from scratch instead of being lazy" isn't really what (I think) people mean when they talk about a product being compatable with a particular product.

Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
Can 4e feats be inserted in a PF game like 3.5 feats can?



 Some can yes. I yoinked some of the racial feats and plugged them into PF. Others will have no equivilent though and will be underpowered or overpowered. I have plugged encounter powers into Pathfinder as well along with some of the 4th ed races.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 Fear is the Mind Killer