Friday, January 13, 2012, 9:46 PM
On Facebook and GooglePlus, it looks like my last posting about what D&D 5e needs was well-commented on! I am very glad to see it. So since I might actually post to this blog more than once, here's more about me.
I'm a geek, but I only really came into it in my 20s. Before that, I was more a nerd than a geek. But when I moved to Buffalo, my geek side had the room to grow and expand that it needed. In college, a friend had a RIFTS sourcebook, and I would go through the book imagining playing it with friends (none of them had a campaign). In time, I met a group of friends and started playing D&D.
There were a couple systems we played. There was a proto 2e/3e blend that one guy used that had "split stats". Example: DEXTERITY was made of two factors: Aim and Balance. While your DEXTERITY might be a 16, you had a little freedom to shift a point one way or the other among the two substats. If you were a marksman, you might have a 17 Aim and a 15 Balance, or vice versa. It was a good system, but I haven't really found where it CAME from. I think it was an amalgam.
Then there was the pure D&D 3.5. There was the Tri-Stat system that Dean liked. I played a Star Wars game once, I've played Pathfinder, and I got a Lord of the Rings sourcebook from a friend for Christmas one year. Heck, I even tried creating my own gaming system once. It was OK. Too strong on the math, but good.
Now, some friends and I might be taking the time to start up a new game. Not alot of us - just 3-4 people. What game systems are interesting me these days?
3.5e/Pathfinder - Sometimes, you just can't beat a good thing. I started here, and I return here often. A good game, a good system. I group the two together because I think that they're very similar in purpose and execution.
Dresden Files RPG - As a rather substantial fan of the series, I really like what they did with the RPG. Like the book, they focus more on interaction and weighing gain against loss - a REAL chance of loss and pain, mind you - than on empty rolls and random chance.
Mistborn - Based on the book series by Brandon Sanderson. I...don't know if I'd want to PLAY this - at least, not with people who hadn't read the books - but I find the fact that they made a gaming system for it VERY bold and admirable.
Serenity RPG - Shiny. 'Nuff said, gorram it.
Steampunk - I wouldn't mind getting my hands on a good steampunk ruleset. Anyone got any recommendations?
I've got dozens and dozens more on my computer, but if I had a choice to play for my next game, it would probably be from this list. Though, in truth, I'd be glad to just start playing again. It's been too long.
Thursday, January 12, 2012, 5:46 PM
So, a friend posted to Facebook the other day about how Wizards of the Coast was looking for user feedback on how to make Fifth Edition a success in the eyes of its users. They got alot of negative feedback for 4e and they're apparently trying what they can to avoid this problem in the future.
Should they be reading this, I do thank you. You have an awesome and a difficult job: an awesome job that you get to design games like this, and a difficult job insofar as there is ZERO chance of receiving 100% support from your very picky, very diverse, very VOCAL userbase.
That being said, I would like to give a perspective that might make Fifth Edition a title that everyone will be able to (at least overall) agree on.
You were 10. You were outside. You were playing with friends. You played Tag, you played Cops and Robbers, you played the potentially politically incorrect Cowboys and Indians. And you would argue.
"I got you!"
"No you didn't!"
"I shot you with my moonpistol, so it goes through your shield!"
"Oh yeah? Well, my shield has sunblock on it, so your MOONpistol can't shoot through!"
"Well, I'm turning on a water hose and washing off your sunblock!"
"Haha! You missed me!"
"No I didn't!"
These were good days. Obviously open-ended play, few consistent rules other than gravity and physics, and hours of fun.
Then we grew up, and we still wanted to play. And we found that the great minds had given us a game WITH rules that still exercized that creative sense we developed in our youth. You made the framework for imaginary worlds that all of us have gotten sucked into time and time again. So, when you talk about the games you make, remember that it always comes back to that sense of whirling-dervish creativity and open-eyed innocence. We remember it too.
Fourth Edition, it had been told to me, was an attempt to bring the MMORPG players into D&D. ...I can see why you'd want to, but this was a VERY bad way of going about it. You have a strong userbase of devoted fans suddenly ratcheted into forms and rigid play that they had never seen in your game system before. Example: I tried to roll a fighter that used a staff. Couldn't do it - you NEEDED a bladed weapon. It was impossible between the feats and abilities to have a guy using staves. Or a bowman, for that matter - just a fighter with a bow. Couldn't do it.
Part of the fun of the game is character development - thinking outside the box and creating someone that is utterly unique and individual. I am very sorry to say that I was absolutely unable to do that with 4e. As you made character-type and abilities uniform in one hand, you withdrew creative freedom and fluid imagination with the other.
So, in summation: my three suggestions for Fifth Edition.
1) Keep your characters open-ended. I want to be able to roll a cleric that doesn't fight. A pacifist, hippy druid. A human ranger who has a good reason to have humans as a favorite enemy (raised by elves, long story - personal reasons). A bard that uses lead juggling balls as his primary weapon - heck, a bard that doesn't play an instrument at all, but sings or dances to use his 'spells'.
2) Trying to bring in at-will actions and daily actions and per-round actions...I can see WHY you did it, but...rigidly defining what they can and can't do, when they can and can't do itexacting trials to do anything else is less than gameplay and more of a formula. It's not fun, and the fun is why we're here.
3) Again, your userbase is intelligent, creative, and individual. More than likely, more of us are Mac users than the normal demographic. When you open up the online aspect of your information systems, please support those of us who prefer "alternate operating systems". It's only fair.
You guys have a rough job ahead. You have to design a game that fosters imagination and creativity without leaving rules to chaos, provide a fair base of play for almost a dozen different character types without encouraging bias or imbalance, and market your result to people who will, undoubtedly, eventually find something to hate about it, regardless of how tiny the imperfection.
Good luck. If you need a beta tester, here I am.