I have not been participating much in the D&D Next converations--mostly because I am not interested in Mechanics [which is where I see most of the conversations focused]. My favorite D&D Next topic is the Three Pilliars [Combat, Investigation, & Interaction] which I think is a great way to look a the game. I like the fact that WotC is looking for fan input into the process of improving the worlds greatest game--so this is my first contribution to that conversation.
I generally see the Play Style conversations divided into three categories--Home Play, Store Play, and Convention Play. I would like D&D Next to add a new category--Public Play. This is the first in a series of posts I plan to make on what Public Play is, why it is different from other styles of play, how D&D Next can provide additional resources to support this new style of play, and finally why I think Public Play is the future of our Hobby.
I spend most of my D&D time engaged in Home Play--the historical bread and butter of D&D--campaigns run in garages, basements, and around the kitchen table. Adventures written by DM's, WotC, and other sources using published & home rules taking place in settings that are either published or from the imaginations of the players at the table. Home play games can be short one offs or decades long campaigns. The goal of Home play is to have fun, hang out with friends, and generally be awesome.
Recently, I have been doing more and more Store Play--generally WotC organized play--Encounters & Lair Assault. In my experience, Store Play can be four hour slug fests or month long Adventures. The goal of Store Play seems to be around moving new product, getting people interested in the hobby, and introducing players to each other and the larger D&D Community.
I have always really enjoyed Convention Play--the Living Campaigns, the Tournament style play, and even one offs run by individual DM's. Convention play is designed to be much shorter--four to eight hours. This different things to different people but generally seems to me to be about getting the community together and celebrating our love of D&D.
These three Play categories have a lot of overlap--not just in terms of the people engaged in them and the general quality of the goals of the style, but way in which the game plays out. And to me, this often seems to transcend Edition--4th Home Campaigns look like 1st, WotC store play looks a lot like Pathfinder Society stuff, Convention games has an almost legendary ability to transcend edition.
Similarly, Public Play is not really tied to a specific Edition. Public Play shares many goals with other play styles with a unique focus in drawing attention to certain parts of the game--The Three Pillars, Story, or other factors. So what is the distinguishing feature of Public Play & why should D&D Next Designers care?
My thoughts on this question are still developing, but in generally my answer is that Public Play is new & has not received much historically unique design support, Public Play sells product, and Public Play is awesome. I will be exploring these themes over the next few weeks.
When I think about Public Play, I have three general categories in mind. D&D Games run for an audience--the best example of which I think is Chris Perkins running his amazing games with Robot Chicken, Celebrity Games, and stuff at PAX. I am talking about D&D Events designed to draw a crowd--stuff like Game Day's and charity events. And D&D Flash Mob like events--Movie Line Games, Pick up Games in Comicon Hallway Lines, games run during Occupy Events, and other 'guerrila' D&D events.