The king is dead, long live the king. I just picked up my copy of Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook which appears to be the last print product that will contain 4th edition specific crunchy goodness. Everything else in the product catalogue seems to be edition neutral leading up to when D&D Next/5th edition/whatever arrives.
I also checked out this weeks Legends and Lore article by Mr. Mearls which gave me a bit of a chuckle. It was about healing and hit points in the next edition. They seemed to have tweaked healing surges and grognardishly re-named them Hit Dice as not to offend certain delicate sensibilities. This just makes me think that they’re so fucked in a dammed if you do and dammed you don’t manner. So if you hated healing surges and martial healing with white hot nerd rage, well we did too that’s why we changed it do Hit Dice. What you loved healing surges and thought it was the greatest innovation in modern gamming, well us to that’s why these Hit Dice things are essentially just tweaked healing surges. As an aside, given that I am an honorry ”Evil GM” I am all for anything that makes the pc’s less durable. I really just want the designers to say fuck it and stop trying to appease people on either side of the lines and just go balls deep and make the best game they can. Who cares if it implodes in a fiery mess and D&D gets shelved for a bit, dare to be Icarus and fly as close to the sun as you can. Stop getting input from all us jerk wads and neck beards, we can’t agree on crap anyways and there is never any real consensus except that everything is shit if it’s not what I want.
Anyways back to Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook. I haven’t given it a good read yet as I am gearing up for a Dark Sun game and have been voraciously consuming like material. I wanted to post about a really cool section of the book called Infamous Dungeons. The breakdown is that the authors detail several modules from the past editions of D&D. They give a breakdown of the module, ideas to continue the story, and then tie a few character themes to the module. I don’t know what it was but just seeing the pictures of those old modules made me geekasm a little. I love the idea of continuing these adventures, now I just need them too painstakingly and in great detail show me how, as what was presented in the book was like that free first taste of smack that the dealer offers you.
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I have been following the Legends and Lore articles, originally written by Mike Mearls and currently written by Monte Cooke, over at Wizards of the Coast’s website since their inception. The main thrust of the articles is to provide some kind of insight into the thinking and processes that the designers are going through with regards to the future direction of the game. One theme that keeps getting batted around is the concept of modularity and how it may factor into the next iteration of D&D.
So what is this modularity they speak of? Well it seems what they are talking about is having a basic rule set of D&D or chassis if you will, and then you the DM/play group have the option of adding these optional rule sets or modules to create the type of game experience you desire. This is generally couched in level of complexity terms, for example if you want a more complex simulation experience then keep adding modules until your happy and vice versa. My first thought was how much is that going to fucking cost me given that I will of course need to purchase the full monty so I don’t have to live with crippling feelings of inadequacy. I am sure it is going to be more than the equivalent PHB, DMG, MM from previous editions.
Then I had some other ideas (some of them albeit tangential and vaguely sexual which I‘ll not share) around what these modules might include. Now I could be wrong, as I frequently am, but one of the goals of the next edition has to be to reclaim a lot of cats that didn’t make the transition to fourth edition or tried it and jumped ship. What would entice these players back into the WoTC fold? I think one of the modules might just be the Vancian magic system. Is that even possible? I don’t know, I have absolutely no game design skill whatsoever (my modifier would be -15 to any checks) or business acumen (hence psychologist). The way I see it though, at the heart of some individuals rejection of 4th edition, aside from coming to early in order to keep the money machine rolling, is that it didn’t feel like good old D&D to them. This was primarily due to the removal of the Vancian system in favor of the power system and subsequent effect on character progression i.e. multi-classing and balance. So would it even be possible to have the 4th edition power system as a module alongside the Vancian magic system module for people to choose between and place over the basic game rule set? I have no idea whatsoever. All I can say is that Wizards is in a precarious position going forward as any significant change with the current system has the real risk of splitting the customer base yet again without bringing back significant numbers of lapsed players. Definitely between a rock and a hard place, it will be interesting to see what shakes out.
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