So in case you haven’t heard the news, there’s officially another new edition of D&D in the works. I’ve been largely indifferent to the news for a variety of reasons that have more to do with my trust (or lack thereof) for WotC’s commitment to it than anything to do with the “dream team” of designers they pulled together to work on it or my feelings towards D&D/gaming generally.
That said, I did feel some glimmerings of interest today, as the Critical Hits Twitter feed live-tweeted a chat happening on the WotC website. You can find a pretty good summary of the key points on Trollish Delver, except for what I actually thought was the most potentially interesting aspect of it: namely the concept of modular design.
The model the development team is going with is a very simple, streamlined “core game,” with all sorts of add-on “modules” you can use or ignore at will. Like a crunchy, tactical game? Add the “miniatures mode” rules. Prefer a skill-heavy, intriguey game? Add the “story mode” rules. etc.
This is a big, ambitious idea and in a lot of ways the perfect cure for what made 4E such a debacle, if they can pull it off. My experience with 4E was that it “allowed” other modes of play beside miniature-pushing, but it certainly didn’t “support” or “encourage” them. This also dovetails nicely with the points mentioned in the Trollish Delver summary about getting away from “copy-and-paste” characters and making a broader, more diversified art style.
There was a definite vibe in 4E that “All OTT Action All the Time! With Flying Chainsaws and Explosions and Veins Popping In Your Forehead!!!” was the only way to play the game, and everything else was doin’ it wrong — much to the annoyance of the large swaths of gamers who (like me) didn’t particularly want to play it that way.
Anyhow, I’m not exactly ready to jump back on the D&D train yet. As I say, my issues largely stem from a fundamental distrust of WotC, who in response to directives from Hasbro freaked out and blasted the game I once loved into something barely recognizable. Honestly, I don’t like there being as much money involved in D&D as there is, because that always causes people to turn greedy and stupid.
However, I am warming up to at least the concepts driving the new edition. It’d take a lot to make me willing to switch from Pathfinder at this stage, especially given the fact that I’m not actively running anything at the moment, but I am now at least interested in hearing more about it.