OK, that’s it – I’m out!
First off – this is not a rage quit. I’m not angry, just disappointed. This is mostly directed as final feedback to WotC.
I realize that despite the feedback myself and other fans of modern design are giving here on the forums and elsewhere that we are not being listened to or maybe we represent what you consider to be a minority of potential customers. Maybe it is just because the sending out of follow-up questionnaires and surveys missed me entirely, and if it missed me it missed others and so maybe your data set is off. I have no idea frankly what you are up to, but the game is heading in a direction antithetical to anything I’d enjoy playing or running.
The development of 5e has shown the design team moving further and further away from the principals of what I would consider good game design. The latest design post about wasting an action to gain advantage (when you could just make 2 attacks over 2 rounds for twice the potential damage with the same chance of hitting) sealed the deal for me.
To the people who will doubtless say: “Ah – but modules are coming”, I don’t believe that any amount of patches will fix the underlying baked-in problems that the system has. This isn’t about wither I get to use a grid or get access to fun magic or wither I use facing – this is about the deep down base-level system issues. A retrogame with a grid and non-vancian casting and combat maneuvers is still a retrogame.
I don’t want retroD&D, I already own the previous editions, and there are a ton of better-than-0/1/2eD&D retrogames out there (DCC, LotFP, Oscric, Hackmaster) for when I do get the itch for some old-school gaming. What I want from D&D Next is something that plays like the best bits of 3e and 4e yet is innovative beyond those systems, and based upon the playtest and WotC posts I have no faith that 5e will do that. Thankfully I was lucky enough to get to playtest 13thAge and now have that on pre-order, so I am currently playing/DMing what I consider the next edition of D&D, just as written by Jonathan Tweet and Rob Heinsoo, lead designers of D&D for the past 12 years.
What do I want? I want class balance, with each class being able to contribute equally but in mechanically and thematically different ways to any given encounter. I want exciting things to do in any of my combat turn, with multiple options, and real tactical choices to be made. I want involvement in other player’s combat turns so that I am constantly invested in the game. I want to never see a ‘spotlight’ on my character because that means others are in the dark – I want us all to shine but in different colors. I want choices but not over-complexity; I want speed but not over-simplicity. I want to know that if my character sheet says something and the book says something then the DM is interpreting that in the same way that I am and vise-versa. I want to be able to play a simple character or a complex character, tactical minis or TotM, with the same rules without fiddling with modules and options. I want to play the game I enjoy without patching with modules or fixing with house-ruling, and I want the system to be well-written enough that me getting the game I enjoy doesn’t preclude others from getting the game that they enjoy. Based on everything that you have shown or talked about so far it doesn’t seem that 5e will do any of that.
Initially I was excited to play 5e, but you have failed at your stated design goals and are creating a retrogame with modular complexity. 5e isn’t innovation, 5e is a fantasy heartbreaker. One of two things has happened here, either you don’t understand what the fans of modern editions got out of the game and are designing in a bubble of consensus building and nostalgia, or you realized that you can’t please everybody and are designing a game that fits your sensibilities while sticking with the claim that it is a game to unite all players (under your style of play).
This looks to be an interesting game for the retro-gamers, but it is neither innovative nor particularly groundbreaking … but maybe that is the intent, that D&D Next will be a nostalgia trip rather than something new and exciting.
… or maybe you haven’t failed at your design goals and the game will be everything you initially promised and the last 4-5 months have been an elaborate smokescreen to pull in the grognards before you whip off the covers and shout “Ta-da! See, it was 4e+1 all along”. Doubtful though that that is your plan, and a disservice to those who do like the current design of the rules if it is your plan.
WotC, I stuck with you through thick and thin. I bought your fate cards and your modules and your dungeon tiles and your minis. I bought every 4e book, boxed set, and tie-in. I bought as much of 3e as I could, filled shelves with AD&D, and even have some boxed sets kicking about. I am, as far as D&D is concerned, your ideal customer – and you are losing me. I’m sorry to have to take my money elsewhere. I wish you the best with the D&D product line, but I want innovation, not stagnation. You seem to be trying to recapture a market segment from the 70s and 80s that no longer exists – I hope that pays off for you, I doubt it will.
I’m not sticking around here because I don’t feel my voice is being heard, I don’t think changes at this point in the design process will undo earlier decisions that I consider to be the acme of bad design, and I really don’t have much stake left in the game. I’ve found the next iteration of D&D in 13thAge and am currently DMing that, so no longer have a horse in this race. Anything I say at this point onwards is unlikely to be productive to you taking the game in the direction wanted by those who still have an interest in it.
A Former Customer
Forum members who are still interested in chatting can find me at: plus.google.com/u/0/10097954995127796730...