This post is a continuation at what D&D Next Public Play should look like--and there has been a real increase in conversation regarding this topic in the last few weeks.
One of the real stars in this area is Chris Tulach who was intereviewed on the Tome Show.
Chris runs WotC's Organized Play programs [D&D Lair Assault and D&D Encounters], Convention programs [Open Beta Test, D&D Delve, and D&D Championship] as well as represents WotC in Community Organized Play [Living Forgotten Realms, Living Devine, and Ashes of Athas]. He was also involved in the RPGA & provides great insight in how WotC currently sees that. Basically, when discussing what play styles should be supported & how Public play relates Chris is the MAN. He also thinks DMing is Performance Art--lots of fascinating insight and strong ideas are presented in this interview. Any D&D Next disucssion of play styles will likely require Chirs and his team to participate.
One of the area's that Chris very tangentially touches on during the interview is the D&D Encounters Video that was posted almost a year ago. This video was used as Marketing for Store Play and moves from Store Play to Public Play not simply because the video is posted on the internet [which helps], but also because it is D&D Play used for Public Promotion. Like D&D Games for Charity, promotional D&D Games are very useful and are likely one of the best ways to draw new players into the Hobby. But how well do they work? What is the experience like? Can WotC make design decisions that will make this style of play more enjoyable in D&D Next?
To get some perspective, I find it helpful to look at the recent PAX East Fourthcore Team Death Match. Fourthcore is one of the most amazing things currently going on within the D&D Community Strong old school ties, innovative designs, and just plain exciting D&D that lends itself to Public Play--at CONS and Online. When running at PAX for Gamers that were not that familar with D&D 4E the lesson Casey Steven Ross learned was to focus on "the audience and the venue, adapting ... to the situation instead of rigidly adhering to arbitrary standards.". This is very similar to what Chris talks about when running games at military bases.
The need for a D&D Next complexity to be modified based on the Audience and the Venue is very interesting, but more important, I think, is the idea of 'arbitrary standards'--in Public play the basic assumptions of D&D are often challanged--simple stuff like 'you need a table' can become a core challange. Arbitrary standards are clearly part of the Design Assumptions, and we have been talking a lot about them, but what about the 'arbitrary standards' of a Public Audience--the need to be entertained, the need for speed of play, the need for game mechanic explanation in real time--it is exciting to see that all of this is being considred during the design of the next edition of D&D.