Sunday, September 16, 2012, 8:39 PM
So, I have noticed that while the venom has seemed to diminish when discussing various editions, we all still are very adamant about the ones we liked and didn't like. While (if you are reading this) you probably know my stances based upon either personal discussions, previous blog posts, or my various posts in the forums, I'm not here to tell you about my preferences today.
What I'm trying to ramble on about is that we all have our favorites. They are probably based in preference for rules, nostalgia for old times, or gripping stories and novels. But, we all have these reasons. And what I've noticed is that the reason we take our favorite edition, setting, class, race, or modules very seriously and personally is that as gamers, we have invested much of our time and heart into what we do. Let's face it: this is not a game for a simple pick-up-and-play crowd such as those playing Apples to Apples, Monoply, or Texas Hold Em. We D&Ders put our heart and soul into our characters. We add in a bit of ourselves into them, and we take the lessons and experiences learned back into ourselves. While we realize that there is a definite separation of us as real people and us as our characters, the experiences from both sides to affect both. So the good times, bad times, and deeply emotional or personally invested times become very important to us; I may venture so far as to call this a "sacred" thing in the game for the players.
So what's my point? By slamming down another's favorite edition/class/race/campaign, you are inadvertently hitting the other person's potentially sacred memories. Does this mean that you shouldn't express your opinions about these topics? I'm certainly not saying that. But perhaps tact may be the best route, as I'm sure we all remember how we feel when others destroy verbally that which we hold sacred in our hearts also.
I'm not trying to be preachy or anything; just trying to make a point for the readers' consideration. I'm fairly certain that I have broken my own rules above in the past, because I am human and I err. But I have tried not too. As well, we should realize that, when our own sacred cows and memories in the game seem like they are being trod upon by others, we may want to give the other people some lieniency, as they may not realize that these things are important to you. Simply put, if you wouldn't say it to your spouse or friend to their face, maybe think twice before you act/react.
When I state my favorite edition, and criticize other ones, I do so usually with the disclaimer that I like all the versions of the game that I have played (Basic/1E/2E/3.5/4E). I would play them all again. I will play 5E when it comes out. I will continue playing the older editions as well. I guess I'm just flexible in this...
Tuesday, February 14, 2012, 8:59 PM
I spend a lot of time trolling CMON (coolminiornot.com) checking out the paints, and using other peoples' paint jobs as inspiration for my own, as I have an extensive collection of miniatures without paint on 'em. Many of the painters on CMON are awesome; more awesome than I am. However, the more I view, the more that I'm not a fan of NMM (non-metal metallics).
My reasoning is this. I don't just paint for the sake of art, even though I do try my best and I'm always looking to improve. I paint for use in game, and I want my minis to look like they belong in a well-trodden world. To me, however, NMM makes the miniatures look just a bit too... tidy for adventuring.
Seriously, what self-respecting adventurer crawls dungeons with their armor looking like the bumper of a 1958 Chevy? How the hell can they do that? Dungeons are messy, dammit!
Thus, NMM is most likely one of the techniques that I will not try to utilize. I find that, for me, basecoating steel/silvery armors & metals in black with a drybrushing of Citadel's Mithril Silver gives the weapons & armor a look of worn usage that doesn't come across with NMM, while still allowing for depth in the paintjob. For brass, bronze, gold, and copper, I start with a basecoat of Citadel's Bestial Brown, and then while I do the drybrushing & detailing I paint over it with either Citadel Dwarf Bronze (for coppers & bronzes) or Shining Gold (for brass & gold), followed with a coat of Citadel Flesh Wash ink, which give the depth/shadows, and gives these two metallic types a worn and used patina.
That's what works for me. I totally respect the painters who use NMM and find their work well done, but it's obvious (to me at least) that these minis are not used on the table. And I realize that's a generalization and I'm sure there are exceptions, but I guess that's just how I see it.
Friday, February 3, 2012, 8:46 PM
While some would disagree, I have found that the artwork of an edition can influence how I see the edition of the game. One can certainly look at the evolution of the artwork that has appeared in all editions, and see the changes. First edition artwork almost seemed to have an influence taken from progressive or psychedelic rock album sleeves. Much of the 2nd edition artwork could have been used on any number of Manowar or Bolt Thrower albums. Third edition seemed to be a natural evolution from the 2nd edition artwork, while forshadowing the 4th edition look, which seems to me to be heavily influenced by both the old art and comic book artwork.
Please don't take any of this as criticism; I do like most of the D&D artwork in all the books. However, since 5th edition seems to be trying to bridge the gaps between the editions, I would love to see WotC either use or reuse classic art and artists from the game's past. One thing that 4th edition really missed was that it seems to be completely devoid of Jeff Easley artwork (I believe it's the first edition without Jeff's art!), as an example.
I would love to see the books with an interesting mix of art styles, to show all the wonderful ways that one's imagination can be taken within the vehicle of the game itself. Whether it's classic art & artists from 1st edition (Erol Otus, Dave Trampier, David Sutherland), 2nd edition (Jeff Easley, Clyde Caldwell, Larry Elmore, Keith Parkinson), 3rd (Wayne Reynolds, Todd Lockwood), or 4th (Rob Alexander, Ralph Horsley, Dan Scott), the artwork can evoke emotions from the game table.
There are artists that I would love to see in D&D books that haven't been in them. Julie Bell, Boris Vallejo, Michael Whelan, Alex Ross, Ioannis, Roger Dean, Greg Hildebrandt, Storm Thorgerson, Derek Riggs, Hugh Syme, Pushead, and Andreas Marshall come to mind. Those of you with a keen eye probably have noticed that most of these guys are well known for their album covers. Roger Dean was the artist that created those awesome Yes landscapes; Storm Thorgerson worked with Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, the Scorpions, and Black Sabbath. Hugh Syme did a lot of work for Rush and various progressive metal/rock bands. Ioannis did three of Fates Warning's classic covers. Pushead is most well known for all the awesome t-shirt & cover art he created for Metallica. Andreas Marshall did some of the Blind Guardian art. Derek Riggs is a legend in metal covers; he was the creater of the infamous Eddie from the Iron Maiden albums, and did covers for Stratovarius and Gamma Ray. I think that their take on D&D art would be interesting, and would enjoy seeing it. Jeff Easley crossed over to album covers a few years back (Rhapsody of Fire's "Triumph or Agony"), so why not?
Wednesday, January 18, 2012, 7:08 PM
First off, I would post to the dndnext forums more, but frankly they move too fast for me to catch up; I gots me other crap to do.
That being said, one of my points of interest/contention has always been the published campaign settings. IMO, I believe that they are a great asset to the game itself.
Let's face it: gamers like to tell their stories. And from my own personal experiences and discussions with other players, I have found that shared experiences in the community, such as games in known campaigns or published modules, to be the most resonating. (for more info on why, you may wish to read up on some of the theories of Carl Jung, but I digress) These stories and shared experiences create a unifying effect in the D&D community. Remember the old saying "I survived the Tomb of Horrors?" That MEANT something.
While in high school playing the always-fun 2nd edition, my gaming group of like-minded social mutants had a lot of fun spanning the settings. We would wreak havoc on the Red Wizards of Thay, then find our way through various types of teleportation to Krynn to cool off our trail, only to find ourselves cheezing off a contingent of the Dragonlord armies. Off to Oerth we would go, to pester Iuz. Sure, it wasn't the sophisticated game play that the remnants of this group, along with some new players, play today. It was brazen, loud-mouthed chaos and fun.
So these memories got me thinking about how these shared experiences can come back to spice up the game again. I personally believe that with some of the old campaign settings getting the chance for a rennaisance this could happen.
My idea is this: I would devise a three-year plan to repubish seven (yes, SEVEN) of the best of the best campaign settings. Here is how I would:
With the release of the 5th edition core rules, I would start with two of the classics, and one that will help unify them all.
1. Forgotten Realms - At this point in the game, you can not have a D&D without them.
2. Greyhawk - I still don't know what happend in Living Greyhawk during 3.5 that freaked out some players, but it's a classic, and needs to be brought back. This setting also allows WotC to return us to some of the classic dungeon delves that became legendary in their time, and help with that whole "shared experience" thing I was discussing above.
3. Planescape - No, not the off-handed mention of Sigil from 3.5 & 4th. Bring it back as a full campaign like in 2nd edition. Our group used Sigil as a "crossroads" to other campaign settings (including homebrews), and the setting serves that purpose greatly in order for players to be able to bounce settings. And no matter what that little "sophisticated-gamer-voice" says, you know it was fun back in the day.
Time to give up some more classics, that would be missed if they were gone.
1. Eberron - I could never get my groups to play this setting. I have many of the 3.5/4th books, and think it's bad-ass, despite some others I know writing it off as some sort of "steampunk fad" (seriously, WTF?). Frankly, it's a great setting that needs to be there.
2. Mystara - OK, I see some of you rolling your eyes at me. Stop that. Remember that Mystara was the 2nd ed incarnation of the BD&D Known World, which also encompassed Hollow World. Again, just as my statement above with Greyhawk, the return of Mystara equals the return of many of the shared haunts of the old-schoolers, and much more "shared experience" to go around. Keep on the Borderlands, anyone? Isle of Dread? Castle Amber? Great adventures.
The last of my 7-campaign crunch. Two more classics.
1. Dark Sun - This setting, back in the day, was ridiculed by a certain nameless player (OK, it was me. I was in high school and I thought I knew everything.) as simply a marketing tool for Brom's art. Whatever; that was the young me. I recently bought the 2nd edition box set for extremely cheap (thanks, Half-Priced Books!) and the setting is solid. WotC also did a helluva job on the 4th ed return. Why stop now?
2. Dragonlance - Most people who know me know that I'm a bit of a mark for Dragonlance. The OLD Dragonlance. The pre-5th age Dragonlance. Why would this fanboy wait until year three? To do Dragonlance right, you need to give Tracy & Margaret time to devise a great story and set up the setting again. It's been asleep far too long.
I realize some of you are ready to flame the crap out of me, with statements concerning my desire for an influx of settings. Well, as long as your comments have substance and ideas, and aren't just "you suck" or "that's dumb," I'd love to hear 'em.
Monday, January 9, 2012, 5:34 PM
I posted this to my facebook notes back on 12/30/11. And with the new news from WotC about the new edition, I figured that I would post it here, also.
That being said, the edition wars have enough vitriol to fill the US political wars pool and then some. I think it is agreed by most that 4th edition has splintered the D&D community in ways that may become unrepairable.
Where would I personally start, from a designer point of view? (Remember that I did some game design back in the 1990s)
SWIPED FROM FIRST ED:
1. Bring back the monk & assassin classes as originally written, and make them standard.
2. EROL OTUS. Enough said.
3. Make the half-orc standard again.
4. Return the DM power over the game to this level.
5. The classic monsters
6. The classic cosmology of the planes
SWIPED FROM SECOND ED:
1. The standard races from 2nd would stay standard (human, elf, half-elf, dwarf, gnome, halfling)
2. Return the core classes as here, but without the catagory organization (fighter, paladin, ranger, cleric, druid, mage, specialist wizards, THIEF, and bard)
3. I can't believe I'm saying this, but revive the concept of kits to fit with the swiped crap from the newer editions. The customization they gave was pretty damn cool.
4. Make the NINJA from the last of the PHB books standard.
6. DARK SUN.
10. The classic artists would need to return: Caldwell, Easley, Elmore, and Parkinson.
11. Let Iron Wind recast the classic minis that Ral Partha made.
SWIPED FROM THIRD/3.5 ED:
1. The core mechanic, of course!
3. Fit the prestige classes into a mold similar to epic destinies and paragon paths, but with more of a storyline prerequisite to become them.
4. The OGL would have to return; overall it was a great idea.
5. Reboot FORGOTTEN REALMS to this era.
6. Keep the sorcerer class as written here, and make it core.
7. The feats and skills.
SWIPED FROM FOURTH ED:1. The stat/defenses would stay
2. The magic system for clerics, mages, and sorcerers would be similar to the at-will/encounter/daily/utility as written here. (but jettison or fix the ritual casting)
3. The magic item rules (ie. one can have only so many per item placement) would stay.
4. Flesh out the NENTIR VALE campaign to make it its own campaign setting.
5. Keep the great new artists.
Some of you out there may be able to see how I would piece this all together, some may not. Basically, I would start with the basics of 3rd ed, with the 1st/2nd stuff fit in, and re-add the 4th stuff so it fits within the confines of the 3rd ed paradigm. What would end up happening is, I hope, a good hybrid of what made the game great. Or it could be a total cluster****, I don't know.
Either way, I'm sure I'm forgetting some stuff I would keep/toss.