Monday, January 9, 2012

D&D Evolutions

At last, the 5th edition displacer beast is outta the bag. By these initial accounts, WOTC is foregoing designing a FRPG by committee and instead going with designing a FRPG by community.

Now, one might initially feel that by going with an 'open forum' style of design you might get the best of the best ideas, the creme de la creme. Well, I'm more of the belief of "too many cooks..."

Lets take a walk down the evolution of Dungeons & Dragons with the 1st level Wizard:

Creators: Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson
1st level wizard was lucky to survive leaving the tavern. Hell, most characters were lucky to survive leaving the tavern.

1st ed D&D
Mostly Gygax (one man vision)
Wizards still started out quite weak but, if surviving initial adventures, became quite powerful. Big If. What?
I can only cast one spell!?!

2nd ed D&D
Zeb Cook
1st level wizards were still pretty wimpy, no doubt influenced by the earlier editions, but had much room to grow. Looks cool but still only 4 hp.

3rd and 3.5 ed.
WOTC (Okay, I don't know who really put this one together but it's not just a single vision).
The 1st level wizard begins to break away from the wizard tradition into something more super-heroic and super-profitable for WOTC.

4th ed D&D
Designed by focus groups and in committee meetings and directed by suits who know nothing about gamers, games or gaming but only how to produce the maximum profit.
Enter the indestructible Super-wizard.
"I can fuck you up with Magic Missile every round, sucka!"

5th ed D&D
Designed by a fickle community

Or in other words...

Being a graphic designer, there are many times when I have to please a committee and I can tell you from experience that you end up with a product and I would be ashamed to put in my portfolio. Sure, everyone is somewhat happy and was able to put in their two cents worth of their inflated ego onto paper or on the computer screen but they ended up with crap.

So, now WOTC is going to pass the buck and let the game be designed by a bunch of fickle gamers. WOTC can say don't bitch at us, we gave the community exactly what they wanted. Nice to show some real cajones.

So how much coin do you want to bet that 5th ed D&D will be a collectible card based board game?

But I don't really care one way or the other as I haven't bought any of their products.

Oh well, on to games that are actually fun created by people who love them.


  1. Reply on Eric Mona's FB from Louis J Porter

    "Louis Porter Jr: At this point, I don't care. We will not see 5E until 2013 at the earliest and they will have to convince a lot of people that they are not going to do with 5E what they did with 4E.

    And by the way, you just said to retailers is "thanks for buying our stuff and anything else we put out for 4E will be basically useless and hope you can make it for the next 18+ months until we hit the stands." I wonder how many retailers are going to become Paizo converts while waiting for WOTC?"

    He really nailed it on the last bit. I cant imagine any retailers being happy that they did this so early. Paizo can look forward to crushing WotC in sales for the next year. 4E put people on such guard that they sure wont 'buy and try' on the 5th edition. they will wait and sit it out, see how it plays from reviews and such. It wont be an Auto win for WotC on the sales front. I think they burned that goodwill on 4E. Or they'll stick with paizo or their Retro-Clones.

    The big thing 4E did was bring out the retro-clones and reminded people that its the people at the table that make the game fun, not the rules.

  2. I was thinking about the retailers as well. The small shops that got talked into the streamlined 4th ed essentials placed a bet with WOTC and will unfortunately loose. Even if 5e turns out to be something spectacular, I can see a lot of apprehension on the side of retailers.

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  4. Pogs. Their secret plan is to base it on Pogs.

  5. Wasn't this the same stuff they said about 4e? That it was going to be designed by the community?