Thursday, March 23, 2023

More Thoughts on 5e and D&D

Real life has again stepped into the path of our gaming sessions which have stalled - but I'm kind of ok with that.

You see, as an old-school DM running 5e for the first time, I have to say that this is the least fun I've had running a disastrous two sessions in 1993.  

5e D&D is just not that fun to run. There are so many layers of rules buried in books that are filled with fluff and padding. The game gets bogged down in that minutia even if you are trying to avoid it. That's not to say that there aren't good ideas, there are, but the current game, D&D is broken and no fun.

The (super)heroes are too powerful. The game is no longer about resource management as characters 'reset' after a rest and pretty much everyone can see in the dark. There is no thrill, suspense, danger, death. And that has always been the game for me.  

I feel with the original D&D game and with old school clones, there are many 'gaps' in the rules that you either fill in or don't. It gave the game a lightness and allowed you to tweak as you saw fit or not at all.  You see that with all the retro clone rules that have come out over the years. They're all essentially the same, just house-ruled slightly. And that is where the game becomes the game. 

5e, on the other hand, is over bloated with rules that you have to wade through and weed out. It's all spelled out for you in the minuscule of details that it inhibits that freedom of imagination.  Instead of thinking "there's no rule for this, i'll make a ruling or make something up", you find in 5e that there IS or probably is a rule about something and you have to know it, look it up, or if you wing it, you have to retcon it later and explain to you players next session. It's a very subtle thing but I think it gets to the core as to what makes this game work for me and what doesn't.

It's subtleties as well. Those minor elements, from the crude or black and white artwork, rule presentation, the emotion behind the intent of those 'old school' rules creates a certain atmosphere that carries into gameplay on a subconscious level. D&D does not have that anymore for me. The artwork is not inspiring. Faerun is not inspiring. The rules are not inspiring. Dungeons & Dragons is no longer inspiring.

Furthermore, and I've mentioned this before, D&D 5e is ridiculously complex for noobs to RPGs to play.  Even stripped down somewhat, D&D is no longer a gateway game. Sure, in pop culture it may appear to be, but in reality, it's not.  I wish I had started my players with Swords and Wizardry or Tiny Dungeons. I think all of us would have had a much better time.

Dungeons and Dragons is a brand. Even more obvious with the whole OGL fiasco that has recently played out publicly.  I do not care about the brand. I am not brand loyal. I care about the game and I am game loyal.  The game is Swords & Wizardry. The game is Labyrinth Lord. The game is BFRPG. The game is Tiny Dungeon.  The game is Shadowdark.

The 5e and the OGL fiasco has showed me, and maybe all of us, that the brand, as owned by hasbro, is forever tarnished and rotten and is really no longer needed. It was probably true when they ousted Lord Garry Gygax way back when. 

All I know is that my 5e experiment is over. I'm packing up that material and hiding it in the deepest part of the dungeon, forever lost to dim stretches of time.

1 comment:

  1. "Lord Gary" was just as concerned with his bottom line and just as obsessed with keeping other people from profiting from D&D as Hasbro is. And that's been true since Gary ripped off Dave Arneson. The main difference between Gary and Hasbro is that he was a hell of a lot worse at making bank on it.