Feeling unmoved

Wizards has recently made two announcements.  First, about the development of 5th Edition D&D, and then about the release of 1st Edition reprints (with new covers).  I think the idea of reprints to benefit the Gygax Memorial Fund is a great idea, so I’m all for that.  But as for a new edition of the game, I’m…unmoved.

To begin with, let’s get something clear: Wizards is probably making the right move to move smartly along from 4th Edition, and from a business perspective, a new edition possibly makes sense.  But the entire reaction to the announcement of 5th Edition strikes me as similar to the reaction from the fan community when TSR announced 2nd Edition, or when Wizards announced 3rd Edition.  But “new” is not necessarily “better.” From an individual gamer perspective, I do not need a “new” edition to improve my game.  In fact, if I have added enough of my own imagination to my existing game, a new version may not be as good as the one I’ve got.  This gets back to a post on Facebook by Jeff Dee, where he observes that the gaming hobby and the gaming industry are two different things -and while I wish Wizards the best, I’m not at all sure that the genie can be put back in the bottle.

Past the initial hype, a particular reaction which has spread like wildfire has been the notion of a version of D&D “for everybody.”  As someone put it on Facebook about 1st vs. 4th Edition, “One side is rules light and DM dependent while the other is rules heavy and player empowered. Where’s the middle ground or the modular to get us all to the same place[?]”  I’m pretty sure I don’t agree with that analysis, and I am very sure I don’t need a “middle ground.”

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not an “old school purist” – I simply doubt that it is necessary (or even possible) for there to be a “one big tent” version of D&D.  James Maliszewski expresses surprise that there are a noticeable number of old school gamers that seem to want a new edition, and I’m with him in that surprise.  What worries me more is that there may be a lot of gamers who will ardently get behind 5th Edition, only to be disappointed when it doesn’t deliver.

Regardless of what Wizards intends, however, let’s hope it doesn’t turn out like THIS.

3 thoughts on “Feeling unmoved

  1. Agreed, why the hype and who cares? You can get old copies easily, if you want a statue of Gary make one from mashed potatoes, or just donate your game book purchase funds IN TOTAL to it! How can you bash Hasbro for mishandling of the brand…and then support them with your dollars when they reprint some old stuff? WTF people! For all your intelligence you critically lack wisdom! How many retro clones (OE through 3.5) are out there (and many available FREE)and easily available, and well supported ALREADY? And still you slavishly follow the dragon into the dungeon. At least Odysseus had the sense to be lashed to the mast when he heard the siren's song.

  2. Nice to see new activity at the Doom Sandbox!

    I agree with the meat of your analysis, but I come at this from a slightly different perspective. I'm not looking for a perfect game, or a game to rule them all. I own a number of rule sets (and have created many house rules) that I will probably never play. I see 5E as something that is likely to be interesting in the same way a new retro-clone or well-done heartbreaker might be: another take on this set of gaming tropes that has been so fertile over all these years.

    I don't have any emotional involvement with Hasbro brand management. If they have mishandled it in the past, maybe this is a correction. Or not. In any case, I'll pick up a copy of 5E if it looks interesting on the merits. This talk of things like boycotts is silly. It's not like this company is despoiling the environment or rounding up copies of previous editions for burning.

  3. For me, Castles & Crusades (warts and all) is the "new" edition of AD&D for me, and has been for several years now. I only own the original 3.0 player's handbook, own nothing 4E, and I doubt I'll buy anything 5E either. It's like you say – the ship has said, genie fled, so on and so forth.

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