D&D Whichever

So I figured I better make mention of this whole 5e thing, you know, to keep the ratings up.

Like many, I got the playtest rules. I read through them and haven’t played a game yet. Some of the little details are interesting and some of the systems I like (advantages/disadvantages in particular). I had theorized before that Backgrounds/Themes might be far more suited to 4e than the existing skill system.  I think it’s cool that they included Caves of Chaos, though I feel that could just as much be a bone for old schoolers as a design statement. I don’t really want to talk about the fiddly bits, however.

Because this isn’t the finished product.

Mike Mearls repeatedly states that this is not what 5e will look like. This is just a taste, a tease, a little something to clue us into the design process and get our feedback. On the whole Mearls’ column hasn’t really done a lot for me, not because I am not interested in his take on things, but because I still don’t know what this game is going to look like next week, let alone next month.

But, as a friend pointed out to me, this edition isn’t about the rules. It’s about unifying the gamer fanbase. Now, I have issues with this idea that a new edition can do this. Many others have expressed this as well. Wizards could have ended the edition wars a long time ago, but they wanted to win them. That’s actually not as sinister as it sounds. They are a company. They have to make product, and seeking to make the best kind of product is not a bad goal, even if misguided in this case.

I felt that if Wizards wanted to end the edition wars, all they had to do was extend the OGL to cover all editions and release all pdfs. Also, they should follow Zak’s suggestion about the coffee table books. Done. After that, they could make whatever kind of D&D they wanted, because the support structure for the rest of us would be in place. Wizards supports your D&D, D&D 4e, and D&D Whatever.

But they are a company, and must put out product. Fair enough. I will say that it saddens me that I feel they are trying to get Pathfinder players back. I really like Pathfinder and the people making it, and for Wizards to now try to win back players of a game I felt they held in contempt seems wrong.

But none of us have anything to fear from D&D Next and whether it will destroy Pathfinder, Labyrinth Lord or whatever. Because real D&Ders will always take what they like, hack the shit out of it and use it. And hopefully, this new game will give us a lot of ideas to work with when creating the next iteration of D&D Ours.


  1. What makes you think that WotC holds 3E in contempt? They did, after all, create it.

    I think the real opportunity here is to present more play styles to new players. That's not something that the OSR can really do, because most most new players will be exposed to the official in-print D&D first. Labyrinth Lord et al are fine for players that already know about D&D, but they are still a less than ideal gateway, due to fragmentation if nothing else.

  2. I always got the feeling (and I may be out of line here) that 4e kind of presented itself as the 'best edition ever', although this might be due more to the players than the game company. It just kind of felt that Pathfinder was considered kind of retrograde and maybe even misguided by the WotC machine. Now, with WotC republishing the 3e core and talking about 'unification', it all just feels a bit dickish. But again, that's all perspective, and I intend not to press the point.

    I agree about play styles. That is something a new edition CAN do, and I see that as part of the whole process. Players will learn (ideally) that there are many ways to play, and many tools to use to make the game your own.