Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dungeons & Dragons Super Edition!

So, let me throw this out there.

Instead of the death march to the land of diminishing returns that continuing down the path of perpetual new editions dooms Wizards of the Coast too, how about a multi-edition edition of Dungeons & Dragons?

The Game is built of multiple core components and elements that show up in all editions. Combat, Character Generation, Player Character Stats, Armor Class, Initiative, Surprise, etc… All the topics that we argue over and discuss on blogs and forums without end.

You could take these core elements as they are written in each edition and group them together to compare and contrast how each edition of The Game treats them.

Each edition is a product of the spirit of the times in which it was produced. Each one makes its own assumptions about what the game is meant to do, how to provide that outcome, and what players are looking for in the play experience.

Every edition made rule changes guided by these assumptions, and which edition you started with, and when, colors your view on what’s right and what’s wrong with the others.

Everybody knows I’m an AD&D guy, I don’t think there’s anything I can’t make it do with sufficient tinkering. But, I will readily admit to prying bits and pieces off of other editions, other RPGs, house rules gathered from blogs and forums, pretty much what ever catches my eye, and seeing if I like it in play. I think most of us, (the Old School blogosphere), do this without giving it a second thought.

You wouldn’t have to do every component of The Game, only the major ones which diverge significantly from previous editions. That would keep it from becoming the Encyclopedia of D&D. (though I would buy the Encyclopedia of D&D WOTC, if you're watching.)

You could present it by topic, say, Hit Points, and then the relevant sections from Original, AD&D, 2E, 3E, 3.5E, 4E, concerning what hit points are, how they are generated, how they are viewed in the game, and then a bit of considered commentary about why each edition makes changes, the different ways hit points are used to represent actual damage sustained, personal energy expended, near misses, luck, etc.

The hit points section could be followed by a bit about the various rules concerning when is dead really dead. Since there is always discussion about death at zero, death at -10 hps, deaths door rules, recovery from near death, I don’t want to go on the cart, yadda yadda.

The point of this book would be to create an Ala Carte Dungeons & Dragons which would allow DMs to pick and choose the elements from all editions that best suited their game and gaming sensibilities and build a personal edition. This is what we all really do anyway, at least, we of the Old School.

Of course, not all elements from all editions can be made to play nicely together. I don’t expect they could be made to do so by a Super Edition, still, having examples side by side of all the different ways that Combat, or Skills, or what have you have been treated in The Game would be horizon broadening for those unfamiliar with other ways of looking at things.

It’s my perception that newer generations of gamers are much less likely to have a do it yourself-make it your own attitude towards gaming. I think a book that actively encourages the idea of tinkering would go a long way towards changing this.
The majority of OSR bloggers and related forum posters are in their mid thirties and forties, I think I can safely assume, and they have been a fountainhead of creativity that I am overjoyed to drink from. However, I find it unsettling that the younger gamers seem to be the ones wearing blinkers about The Game and what it does. It’s supposed to be the kids who are wild and creative.

I can’t tell anyone to get off my lawn if they never jump fences. Dagnabit.


ADD Grognard said...

I think if you look at their actions this year along with the tidbits that are getting out I think they are going for a boardgame approach.

Look who is leaving, then look at who is staying.

Look at what is getting scheduled and not canceled.

Minis are gone.It's hard to pirate a boardgame and they can add extras to it as they go for free or pay as pdf content like they are doing now.

This is updated by the hour and it tends to stay this way:

Store owners have lost faith in the product and players I speak with are happy playing Pathfinder or some other 3x system. Then there is the OSR, etc. I think they have pretty much buried a blade in its heart.

Rob of the North said...

Just a side comment...

Young people are by and large dogmatic in their beliefs. I don't think you'll find much wild experimentation. Youth is when you play 'by the book' and sneer at people who don't.

Ragnorakk said...

"I can’t tell anyone to get off my lawn if they never jump fences. Dagnabit."

You can always post a sign instead. This may lure some of them over, and then you can yell at them.

Shieldhaven said...

At the risk of raining on a parade, I'd point out that this product would be as long as at least any two editions put together (assuming you find some way to save a lot of space in covering the five or more editions of D&D that would go in this book). Since almost no one cares about editions that they aren't playing or planning to play, any given reader will find 60-80% of its text to be useless and mock-worthy (since that's how edition wars work).

If I accept that younger games are less likely to create their own rules hacks (and I'm skeptical of this), it would be entirely logical: they're still exploring what their game system of choice does natively. They don't yet need to knock over a section of the rules and rebuild them. 3.x and 4e have such a vast base of published content that it takes time and experience to want something they don't provide. Dissatisfaction, in this case, is the mother of invention, and that comes from being jaded.

E.G.Palmer said...

Heh, Ragnorakk, "Beware of the Grognard!"

I know it would be huge and unwieldy and unlikely to have appeal to anyone who isn't interested in the history of the game. I just like to spitball ideas here at the blog.

I just don't look forward to the perpetual diminishment of the game as WOTC attaches its name to edition after edition with each one having less and less to do with the idea of the original.

I enjoy a good natured edition brawl as much as the next guy. But I do think of it as a brawl, where after the dust settles, and the barmaids patch everybody up, we all hoist a stein together. Rather than as a scorched earth life or death edition war.
But, really, knowledge broadens the mind and I think direct comparisons would make it more obvious that variations on the game arn't neccessarily a threat to each other.
And also, of course, the inherent superiority of AD&D would be that much more obvious. heh..

Norman Harman said...

D&D is all (except maybe 4ed) too similar.

I'd rather see a book include other systems HARP, FUDGE, Savage Worlds, etc. Maybe split up into light/fast, detailed/"realistic" volumes.

But, honestly other than organization (which happens in my head) I already have that that "book" it just happens to be in several volumes taking up 15 or so linear feet on my bookshelf.

btw using OGL you can probably mash together your own book of 0 through 3.5 editions.