I will start out by saying something positive about WotC, I thought that SWSE was a great game, probably the best realised “fun” table top RPG I have found. Did a lot of things well, and the things it didn’t seemed to be presented in a way that made them deal withable. So don’t take anything that follows as WotC bashing, because they have shown that they can do well.
I also liked 4th ed, a good, solid, fun (if slightly OTT) game. I think a major part of why it didn’t do well was that each previous edition recognisable as an evolution of the previous editions. 4th ed was an improvement in a lot of ways on 3x, but seemed to start from scratch, not be a new implementation. This seemed to turn a lot of folks off, but didn’t worry me.
One of the things that was great about 4th was that it did away with things that devoted fans of 3x admitted were not great (grappling rules come to mind). This brings me to the first of my real concerns about Next. 4th changed things that even supporters of 3rd felt were not working, while Next seems to be getting rid of things that supporters of 4th think work really well. Seriously, they are pretty much chucking out all the stuff that those who played the game said was good about it, in order to appease those that didn’t play it. How this makes any sort of sense is simply beyond me.
My bigger concern, however, is something that has been gnawing away at me for a while, but I was not able to fully formulate until Mearle’s “William Wallace can’t make a soldier’s hand grow back” comment. The devs have given a lot of talks about modularity, but they are all really more like settings (like the sliders for different pitches on a graphic equaliser, not “Forgotten Realms” settings) rather than true modules. The healing options introduced a while back are a good example. None of them changed how healing worked, just the rate it worked at. That isn’t a module, that is a setting.
This is a problem, because when something is introduced an folks say “I don’t like it” they are met with “don’t worry, because modules”. This is a bit like giving someone a remote for a graphic equaliser and putting of a cd with tracks they don’t like. When they say “I don’t like this track” you respond with “so use the remote”, but all this allows them to do is lower the bass and increase the treble , not skip tracks.
The even bigger problem is that it shows that Mearles and Co have a very particular interpretation of the game, and it doesn’t gel all that well with at least a small chunk of the community (well, at least this very small particle of the community that is me and my roleplaying group, but since that is the portion I have influence over, it is significant to me). More vexingly , it isn’t even internally consistent. Early on in playtest there was a discussion that Hit Points were an abstraction, not a direct representation of tissue penetration or depth of a cut (or “meat points” as I have heard them called), the “Can’t grow back a hand” comment seemed to indicate that, at least when it comes to ruling that the warlord can’t have nice (healing) things, it is based on the idea that inspiration can’t heal meat points.
As a result of all this, I give in. There are some really frustrating things on these boards, but I was happy to put up with them because I had hope (as much as a 40+ page argument about not using the male pronoun as default scarred my soul, I still had hope). However, I have now lost any hope of next actually being any good, and thus can’t be bothered with the grief. I will not be buying next (unless I hear some extremely positive reviews, and will still do some serious research first) and will no longer be visiting this board.
To those of you with Ayn Rand quotes as your signatures, feel free to post and tell me why my opinion doesn’t matter, I won’t be checking it, so you will be talking to yourself or those who share your opinion anyway.
To those still fighting the good fight, you have my admiration, you are stronger (or at least more optimistic) than me. I salute you all.
Mike, do you even read you own stuff? Now I has a disappoint. Bye.