Tuesday, July 17, 2012, 8:50 AM
I have given this alot of thought and I really think WotC is going the wrong direction as a company, trying to create yet another D&D edition. There's an excellent xkcd cartoon
that illustrates perfectly what happens when you try to make a universal standard of anything - and that includes a game system.
So I posted a blog last night on my Neuroglyph Games site, offering a proposal for WotC to consider an alternative publishing model than the "retire current D&D edition... make another edition of D&D" approach. In it is a link to a petition on Change.org, and I’m hoping to get some support from those in the D&D community who are less than thrilled about D&D Next.
Please check out the blog below, and share it if the proposal makes sense to you as both a gamer and a consumer:
A Proposal & Petition: Say YES to DUNGEONS & DRAGONS / Say NO THANKS to D&D NEXT
And remember that supporting ALL D&D EDITIONS means supporting ALL D&D FANS!
Sunday, May 27, 2012, 4:28 PM
For a game that is ostensibly meant to bring the D&D community back together under one game system, D&D Next appears to be doing the opposite. I've noted that as we get farther along with the playtesting process, now moving to fully open public playtesting, that the real differences between our various versions of D&D are becoming more and more apparent.
In essence, I'm beginning to realize that there is no one D&D game, there never has been. Every edition of the game has its group of adherents, who love that version to the exclusion of all others. And trying to create a game that appeases them all seems obviously destined to fail, and fail badly.
All the polls and all the talk about what is D&D-ness has set those factions within the community against each other. Oh, its subtle now, as each D&D faction "shares" what is all-things D&D to them, but you read the boards and posts and blog comments, and you realize there is an understated power struggle for each group to assert their control of what D&D Next will become.
And as more mechanics go into Next, the more each group will look at D&D Next wondering why their particular brand of D&D was not being properly represented. In the end, I fear this will simply push the community apart, rather than bring it together, which would be a devastating blow to the hobby.
With the change in the NDA, I've posted about my Closed playtest experiences on my website to share about how my group faired. Check it out:
Tuesday, April 3, 2012, 6:15 PM
I posted a blog yesterday on my Neuroglyph Games
site entitled Wizards Watch: What I Want From D&D Next
in which I tried to do a reversal of my normal, somewhat critical, view about D&D Next. I don't want to leave folks with the impression that I'm a hopeless 4E curmudgeon regarding the new design process, and that I really do want to see 5th Edition be a successful product line and continue the D&D brand into the future.
You see, I've actually been troubled about where 5th Edition might end up taking Dungeons & Dragons for quite a few months now - actually, I started worrying about it right after my trip to GenCon 2011
. Some of what I heard in various seminars and in articles bothered me enough that I actually sat down and wrote an email to Mike Mearls and Laura Tommervik less than a week after I got back from Indianapolis. I'd like to think it shows that my angst over the D&D Next design process has been brewing for a while - in fact, it's been a concern of mine well before it was even announced.
But I see no reason not to share this email with my fellow D&D gamers in the Community, especially now that the playtest is underway, and 5th Edition is the focal point of the WotC design team:
Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 12:49 PM
Subject: Post GenCon Thoughts about The Next Edition of D&D
Dear Mike and Laura,
I wanted to write to you both regarding some concerns I have about where Dungeons & Dragons as a product is headed, and I feel that writing the head of R&D and the senior Brand Manager at WotC would be the best people to address my concerns.
There was considerable rumors floating around regarding the “mysterious” product to be released at GenCon 2012, not to mention there were some comments made during seminars which might be inferred as circumstantial evidence. Putting it all together, I am left with the very real suspicion that D&D 5th Edition is not too far away – and that it will likely be announced as the big release next GenCon. I realize that you cannot confirm or deny my suspicion, nor would I expect you to without being clubbed over the head by a stack of NDAs, but I wanted to share with you some feedback from a loyal fan of D&D, who has played every edition since 1978.
I’m aware that a great many D&D 3.5 players have moved away from D&D and gone over to play Pathfinder, and I think that’s a shame. I anticipate that the next version of D&D will be used to target those wayward gamers and to move them back into the “fold”, with a system which hearkens back to the original gaming material produced for AD&D, and possibly 2nd Edition with or without options. Mike, your Legend & Lore articles, coupled with comments you’ve made about getting “back to the basics” of what D&D is all about rather clearly shows that you are thinking quite a bit about the roots of the game, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. I certainly enjoyed AD&D and D&D 2nd Ed quite a lot back in the day, and loved what the Options book offered my character. It would not surprise me if 5E combined many of the elements of AD&D and 2nd edition with Options, which would certainly be very attractive to the 3.5/Pathfinder grognards who loathe 4E.
And reading between the lines, the release of a book with “Mordenkainen” in the title is sort of a clue that you have the Design team thinking about Greyhawk. Personally, I think it would be a masterful stroke to re-release the foundational world setting with 5E, which many of us “old gamers” used for many years before Ed Greenwood launched Forgotten Realms. It would certainly make a very attractive package for luring older D&D gamers away from Pathfinder.
But one of my major concerns is how will that system really work, and will it be “better” than D&D 4E. As a veteran Dungeon Master, I love 4E for many reasons, and converted my long-standing 3.5 game over to 4E because of what the game offered me. D&D 4E combats run faster at the gaming table, is easier to teach to new players, and is infinitely easier for a Dungeon Master to prepare encounters for than any previous edition. My 3.5 game had characters in their early teens, level wise, and preparing and running combats was becoming a full-time job. Post 10th level monsters were a nightmare to prep and run, having far too many powers, and often their own set of spells to use on top of their many powers. The number of spells flying around the table at higher levels made each round take forever, often requiring adjudication by the Dungeon Master (me) as these spells and powers interacted with characters and monsters. While many grognards would argue that the more complex system of 3.5 spells and powers was more “realistic” – I always have to laugh when an edition warrior uses that term to discuss a game with magic and dragons in it – it makes the game cumbersome and dull.
Additionally, I still believe that it’s important for the game not to return to a system where melee classes are reduced to a handful of options, while the caster classes are drowning in over-choice. Essentials proved that you could give melee characters options in combat and they could hold their own damage-wise against the casters, and I hope the design team keep that in mind as they prepare 5E. Dumping 350+ spells on the caster classes will not help combats resolve faster, and will return the game to the sluggish mess we experienced with 3.5 anytime a campaign passed 7th level.
I guess what I am saying is that I’m a D&D fan, and I’ll always move to the next edition… because I’m a fan. I’m hooked on gaming as a lifelong hobby, and D&D is my favorite gaming system. But it is going to be very hard for me, as a fan, to want to make a jump from a game like 4E back to a system with some of the clear design issues that older editions had, and have the pace of combats slow to a crawl. Anyone can write a role-playing game that gamers can “role-play” with, and have social interactions with NPCs while using skills, but what makes or breaks a system is combat, and 4E is all win-win for me in that department.
And I hope you all are realizing that there are a lot of 4E gamers currently playing that have no “nostalgic” reference for the older editions, and who would feel disenfranchised if 5E came out with a more convoluted and complex system, like Pathfinder, and your support for 4E/Essentials stopped. I think it would create another schism in the world of D&D, create another edition war, and would hurt the community of gamers at large. At the very least, one would hope that you maintain DDI, and continue to release one or two articles a month for 4E/Essentials, to at least lend a shred of support to those gamers who boarded the D&D game at 4th edition.
I realize that changing editions is always hard for a company like Wizards of the Coast, and a trial for both the designers and the marketing folks. Personally, I hope that 5E will somehow be a system that can remerge the community rather than divide it further, and I have a fantasy in my head where Essentials was a transitional step toward 5E, and that the new edition will allow players to play at least their Essentials characters alongside their new 5E brothers and sisters.
If you’ve read to the end of my longwinded, I want to Thank You most sincerely. I hope that while I may not have always been in agreement with the decisions on the D&D 4E and Essentials product line, and occasional “jump on the soapbox” in my blogs, I am thoroughly behind D&D continuing as a popular role-playing game for many years to come. As the EN World Reviewer, and a D&D blogger, I look forward to seeing where the new edition takes us, and hope that it will be a system that I can get behind and support with my own authorship.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012, 2:31 PM
Yesterday I posted a new Wizards Watch blog entitled Wizards Watch: Save or Die Spells, Clerics-in-a-Tincan & One-Hour D&D… Really?
. It got some favorable comments, some critical ones, and spurred one blogger to write a blog in critique of my own
, which I take as somewhat flattering, in a back-handed sort of way.
To clarify a bit, what bothered me about the idea of acheiving a "One-Hour Game" was that it seems to be only acheived at the expense of the gaming styles of so many of the D&D community. Sure we all want a fast game, with lots of action, but the only real way to cram multiple combats into an hour is to sacrifice complexity. FYI, guys, we've already played those D&D games, and they are called Basic D&D, Advanced D&D, and Second Edition D&D. Those editions had fast combats because half the character classes had two options every round - move and swing a weapon - and many monsters had about the same number of options - swing a weapon or bite or claw or perform a claw/claw/bite routine. Rounds run really fast when things are that over-simplified, but you do so by sacrificing both character and monster options and complexity.
There is also very little time to actually, you know, role-play if you're packing a whole adventure into an hour. Silly of me to want Role-playing in my fantasy role-playing game, I know, but heck, it's on the box so I kinda want to include it in my gaming session.
OGL/d20, Pathfinder, and D&D 4E combats take longer because the characters and monsters are more complex, have greater depth, more options, and frankly, are more fun to both DM and fight against (depending on which side of the screen you sit on). Those of us who have gravitated over the years to more complex game engines have learned to accept that adventure elements take a little more time to complete, but we enjoy the higher level of immersion and detail that comes from complex monsters and characters.
So if "one-hour games" become the expectation, it tells me that Next is probably overly simplified, and not what I am looking for in a game engine. So I'll stick with D&D 4E, and tweak it and houserule it to make it better, and continue to enjoy a complex and immersive game of D&D that my players have come to expect from me.
Monday, October 24, 2011, 6:17 PM
I think that there are certain milestones in the life of any blogger, such as coming to the notice of other media, or getting to cover a special event as part of the media. Well last week I had another milestone - I got the chance to interview R.A. Salvatore about his Neverwinter Novel series!
I have to say it was a great experience for me, even though I was up late the night before going over the questions I prepared over and over to make sure I didn't sound hopelessly "fan-boy". I'd never interviewed a celebrity author before, and Mr. Salvatore made things quite easy for me, and was open and easy to converse with throughout our 45 minutes of the interview.
I've posted some highlights from the interview on my Neuroglyph Games website, and really it only comprises maybe a quarter of all the items we touched on during our chat. But I chose mainly those items which were more D&D game related for this highlights blog, saving the rest of the interview contents for my EN World Review of Gauntlgrym and Neverwinter, which hopefully will be posted in the next few weeks.
Click the link below to head over and read the highlights which discuss Drizzt, Wizards of the Coast, D&D editions, and the upcoming Neverwinter Game from Cryptic:
Wednesday, September 28, 2011, 8:08 PM
Just finished a review for EN World on the new magic item game supplement, Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium! I found alot of things to like in this new book, and I have more detailed information about it in the review.
However, I did not like the price, nor being forced to buy my copy from my local gaming store. At $29.95, it weighs in as the highest priced 160 page supplement published to date from Wizards of the Coast for 4E. Further, for some of us, our local store is quite far away, and I probably spent 12 bucks in gas getting there and back again with my new book. I'm sure WotC was concerned about making sure to support brick-and-mortar retailers, but some of us go through online mail order outlets for our gaming supplements for a reason!
But all that aside, it's a nostalgia-fest to read the new MME and you can check out all the detail in my blog on Neuroglyph Games - there is also a link there to my EN World Review as well. I welcome your thoughts and opinions, and would love to hear any and all feedback!
Monday, September 19, 2011, 2:28 PM
So i've been running a Dark Sun campaign for about 8 months now. I've been using the Dark Sun Creature Compendium, but sometimes I just need a new critter to fit an adventure. I've been a big fan of athas.org, which kept Dark Sun moving forward through D&D 3rd edition and 3.5, and have some great resources on monsters and adventure ideas to download from the site. One of which is Terrors from the Deadlands, which details all kinds of monsters from The Gray, so I decided to adapt a couple monsters from 3.5 to 4E rules to use in my adventure.
The results of my adaptation can be found on my blog by clicking the link below. If you have any comments or ideas about the encounter I created, I'd love to hear feedack!
Saturday, September 17, 2011, 4:10 AM
So this past week I ended up posting a couple blogs about Skill Challenges. I've been noticing that my players never fail them, and started wondering why.
After digging into the problem statistically, I figured out that under the current skill system with the wide range of skill bonuses available, and using the Skill DCs from the Rules Compendium, I determined that Skill Challenges cannot be failed by most well-rounded parties. Now obviously, you can always cause a party to fail by forcing them into a challenge that using only their weakest skills, but it'd be a pretty strange skill challenge if no one had the primary skills trained and at a good skill rating.
So arfter taking a look at the problem, I worked on some solutions to try and make skill challenges more difficult, and at least possible to fail more than 1 in 100 times. So if you find skill challenges too easy for your players to handle, and they breeze through skill checks rolling ridiculously high results, check out my blogs on the topic over at the Neuroglyph Games site:
Saturday, September 3, 2011, 5:27 AM
I'm finidng alot of DM inspiration this summer in the movies I watch, which I guess is a good sign that Hollywood is finally putting out great fantasy films that actually have application to D&D 4E. My recent inspiring film was "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" by Guillermo Del Toro, which is a remake of a horror film from the 70s but WAY better - Guillermo is a genius at directing!
But the main antagonists in the film are actually a type of fairy, which was somewhat unexpected in a horror film. But that got me thinking about all the references in film and TV I've seen where fey folk are actually depicted as pretty evil things, aliens really, as far as humanity is concerned.
And coupled with my own research into northern European mythology I've been doing for both my campaign and a setting I'm working on, I've come to the conclusion that the Feywild is just as grim and evil a place to visit as the Shadowfell! It's just prettier, sunnier, and probably smells nicer... but just as deadly!
So I put down my thoughts on the suject of scary fairy folk in my Neuroglyph Games blog - click over and give it a read, and tell me what you think about fairies then:
Saturday, August 27, 2011, 3:08 PM
Posted a new review blog on the Neurgoglyph site this afternoon for a nifty little random generator program called City Builder Generator Pack. It was written by Chaotic Shiny Productions, and anyone running a D&D game of any edition should check out their site. The programmer has a very cool site of free online generators called Chaotic Shiny (www.chaoticshiny.com), and it has some really useful generators for a wide range of RPGs.
City Builder Pack has some nice features, and although not D&D specific, works well for almost any fantasy setting. I used it the other night several times in my Dark Sun game to make up a quick tavern, drop some rumors on the heroes, and give them some NPCs to be suspicious about... all with a couple clicks of the mouse!
So check out the review by clicking the link below: