So, here comes 5E, as expected and right on schedule.
I’ve never been much of an edition warrior. This is mostly due to the fact that the inherent superiority of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons over all subsequent versions of the game is, of course, self-evident, and therefore requires no active defense on my part.
I didn’t do anything other than issue the standard grognardly snort, and roll my eyes when the news of 5E showed up in Forbes, of all places. I did go ahead and browse the forums and blogs to see what everyone had to say about it. And what WOTC themselves had to say.
I clipped a few quotes here and there that caught my attention, for one reason or another.
Robert Schwalb quoted @ ENWorld wrote: “Our primary goal is to produce a rules set that speaks to every incarnation of D&D. So if you are a diehard BECMI/Rules Cyclopedia enthusiast or have embraced 4th edition, loved 2nd edition, 3rd edition, or never moved on from 1st edition, we’re creating this game for you. Imagine a game where you can play the version of D&D you love best. And then imagine everyone plays at the same table, in the same adventure.”
“We seek to build a foundation for the long-term health and growth of D&D, one rooted in the vital traits that make D&D unique and special. We want a game that rises above differences of play styles, campaign settings, and editions, one that takes the fundamental essence of D&D and brings it to the forefront of the game. In short, we want a game that is as simple or complex as you please, its action focused on combat, intrigue, and exploration as you desire. We want a game that is unmistakably D&D, but one that can easily become your D&D, the game that you want to run and play.” –Mike Mearls
"The new edition is being conceived of as a modular, flexible system, easily customized to individual preferences. Just like a player makes his character, the Dungeon Master can make his ruleset. He might say ‘I’m going to run a military campaign, it’s going to be a lot of fighting’… so he’d use the combat chapter, drop in miniatures rules, and include the martial arts optional rules." –Mike Mearls
“Wizards of the Coast described the goal of the new iteration of D&D in the following way: "The goal of this project is to develop a universal rules system that takes from the best of every edition and get at the soul of what D&D is.”
"Our primary goal is to produce a rules set that speaks to every incarnation of D&D. So if you are a diehard BECMI/Rules Cyclopedia enthusiast or have embraced 4th edition, loved 2nd edition, 3rd edition, or never moved on from 1st edition, we’re creating this game for you. Imagine a game where you can play the version of D&D you love best. And then imagine everyone plays at the same table, in the same adventure. We aim to make a universal game system that lets you play the game in whatever way, whatever style, with whatever focus you want, whether you want to kick down doors and kill monsters, engage in high intrigue, intense roleplaying, or simply to immerse yourself in a shared world. We’re creating a game where the mechanics can be as complex or as light as you want them. We’re creating the game you want to play." - Robert Schwalb.
All of the above quoted statements sound great. They also sound like what I already do. They sound like what every gamer I know, also already does.
With AD&D as my foundation, I already mix and match rules and ideas pried from other games on a case by case, campaign by campaign basis to construct variations on The Game. I already build rulesets and alter classes to suit the play goals I, and my players, are after.
I’ve always made accommodations, within reason, for the play styles of the gamers at the table. I’ve always adjusted the mechanics to be congenial to the form of play desired. I already have everything WOTC are describing as their design goals.
And what’s more, I have the whole of the OSR, all the D&D forums, blogs and sites, and my own library of D&D publications to draw on for new ideas. That’s thousands of minds and millions of words of gaming fodder, and it’s still coming in every day.
WOTC just can’t compete with that. It’s like putting an iphone up against Deep Blue.
Even with the crowd sourcing input idea, they’re still not drawing on any ideas I don’t already have access to.
I also have to say that the invocations of ,”the soul of D&D” fall flat to me, since WOTC and the greater gaming community wouldn’t be in this situation, fractured, disconnected, and mutually hostile, if WOTC had any idea of what elements comprised the soul of D&D, or its, ” Fundamental essence”, in the first place.
Dungeons & Dragons has a long and rich life ahead of it, for many years to come, and in myriad forms. Wizards of the Coast, however, are not going to be the driving force behind it. We are.