The grandson came into the house today with the boxed set of D&D. He asked “grandad didn't you play D&D once”? “Why yes I did Billy”. Anyway he offered to let me play and he gets a group of his friends over. “Be gentle kids grandad is getting old and I have not paid much attention to the game since 2008”. The new red boxed set get pulled out and its a bit bigger than what I remember but it has the classic artwork from the 80's on it. One can tell it is old as the fighter on the cover actually has clothes on.
Time to get a PC rolled up. “How do you create characters these days Billy? I learn that this new version of D&D has a choice of 7 characters Cleric, Fighter, Rogue and Wizard plus Dwarf, Elf and Halfling. I can dig this I think it sounds familiar. At least there is no Dark Elf or Dragonborn gonzo rubbish. “What do you want to be grandad?” asks Billy. “I'll be the Cleric, nobody wants to play the cleric”. The kid hands me a plastic mini of a cleric. She appears to be a sun priestess bathing in the sun. Naked. With a conveniently placed sun disk between her legs. “There you go grandad the deluxe version removes the sun disk” says Billy with a grin on his face. “She is an ultra rare though”.
Uh huh whatever I think. Back in the day we had internet porn whatever floats your boat I suppose. “Ok Billy do I need to roll ability scores or pick an alignment?”. “No Grandad alignment is a silly rule and this is edition 35th edition. They got rid of ability scores in 32nd edition” Billy grins at me as if I am foolish. “You have been playing for a few years then”? I inquire. “Na 32nd edition was 2 years ago, I was a newb back then Pops”. “35th edition is the most balanced one yet” Billy says enthusiastically. A yelp of delight comes from across the room as one of the kids opens a D&D minis expansion box. One of the girls has popped a Paladin in a booster box and promptly declares she is going to play it. I look at Billy who has offered to DM it and he shrugs “RAW Pops, everything the players open is allowed in game, don't want to disappoint them”. “What does a Paladin do in this game”? I ask. “Nothing comes the reply but his mini has a shield and +1 AC”. Billy chimes in claiming “That's so broken. The Paladin is a power piece and its a mega ultra rare. There are calls on the forums for it to be banned”.
Anyway Billy keeps setting the game up. Seems the boxed set has a board. He lays it on the ground and places the party in a spot named the Inn and puts two piles of cards in the middle of the board. One of them is named Community Treasure and the other is named Encounters. Anyway I get to go 1st and Billy hands me 2d6 and 1500gp to start off with. “Roll the dice grand dad he says enthusiastically” puzzled I roll the dice and get a 4 and a 6. I move around the board 10 spaces and I land in the Dungeon. Luckily however RAW I am just visiting and you can only get sent there via encounter cards and landing on the “Go to Dungeon” square on the opposite side of the board. Everyone else rolls dice and the girl whose name eludes me lands on an encounter space. Looking afraid she reaches over and draws an encounter card. It reads.
You chase off some Orc Marauders. Advance to the Inn and collect 200gp. If you are the Paladin your shield bash hits the Orc. Collect an additional 200gp”.
She screams out “YESSSS suckers”. Turns out the minis come with extra cards for the card piles. “Billy pipes up “And that is why its so broken the shield is blatantly overpowered” A few more turn go by And one of the other players lands on a place called Greyhawk City. It is color coded with Sigil and on the same side of the board there are Baldurs Gate, Menzoberranzan, and Waterdeep which are a nice shade of green. Nice and simple I suppose. Anyway he decides to buy Greyhawk city. He quips “If I can get Sigil as well I can build keeps on each one and collect more income from you guys. 4 keeps and I can upgrade to a fortress!!!” The other players look horrified as a fortress on Greyhawk is worth 2000gp each time a player lands on it.
Anyway a few more turns later I land on various fortresses and keeps and I am down to my last 100gp. I land on an encounter card.
“Ogre Tax collector lose 150gp”. All my properties are turned sideways or “tapped “with the word usury written on them. Billy looks a bit glum and says “Sorry Grandad you are out of the game. You do get to go back to the Inn though and watch the rest of the game”. Anyway the Paladin wins that game after she pops an encounter card “Pit Fiend lose 500gp, if you are the Paladin you SMITE EVIL it collect 1000gp”. He has Sigil through to Menzoberranzan with fortresses on them.
“So Granddad what do you think” asks Billy. Carefully I ask “Where the role playing”. Billy looks a bit puzzled and responds “ Not everyone was good at it so they thought it was unbalanced. Its still an RPG though as its a Roll Playing Game. Ok whatever. So the classes are more or less balanced now? Billy pipes up “Not really you just saw how broken the Paladin was. The Barbarian gets fast movement and gets to roll 2d6+1 to move around the board. Its not perfect but its the best balanced version of D&D yet. Well apart from 33rd edition that flopped”. Looking puzzle I asked what was wrong with 33rd edition. Billy enthusiastically responds “they replaced the d6s for being to complicated and they flipped metals discs they called “coins” he global financial meltdown of 2028 made metal very valuable. They also packaged the coins in random boosters. So once the initial print run ran out no one could play the game. The combat system was very simple you and the DM flipped coins and whoever won the flips won the combat. If you lost 5 flips in a row your character was killed though. It was the last time they had random variables in combat even though the d2 system was popular and it had a OGL as well. To unbalanced. The d20 was also to complicated and now its d6 based".
By now I was a little puzzled. “Can you still play older editions of the game” At this Billy looks a little apprehensive. “Not really each edition is only legal for a year before it cycles out. They do have some older formats but you can only use material from 2024onwards”. “Why 2024” I ask? In a hotly contested US election some Hasbro executive ran for office and won the election due to a supreme court decision rewarding Florida to the president elect. In 2021 President Mearls made it a capital crime to own older D&D material. Bonfire of the vanities were held throughout the continental USA where old D&D material was consigned to the flames. The Great Purge as it came to be known resulted in a combined FBI and Navy SEAL's laying siege to the last holdouts in the Paizo offices. They starved them out by cutting off Pizza deliveries. There are rumors that old 3rd and 4th ed books PHB are worth over $10 000 000 each”. While Billy may be a child a million dollars these days pays for the groceries for a family of 5 for a week. Still a bit of money when you are 10 years old though.
“Grandad weren't you in New Zealand in 2021 when President Mearls passed his law? Can I have a look at those boxes of books you have in the basement”? Billy asks all innocently. Erm never mind Billy got to go.