Monday, January 9, 2012

D&D hits the New York Times

It's not everyday you see an article about Dungeons and Dragons in the New York Times. I can't be sure, but the game probably hasn't been mentioned in the papers since E. Gary Gygax passed away. Still, such an article bears mentioning.

Wizards of the Coast is expected to make a big announcement about plans for the next edition of our favorite past-time today. Player input into rules and an open playtest seem to be a big part of what's expected from the announcement. So basically they'll be doing what Paizo's been doing for years.

And really, it's what the folks in the OSR have been doing forever. Constantly play-testing their own rules, mixing and matching ideas from each other on how to best run the game for their own individual table. That is a huge part of what makes the game unique, and that's something WotC is going to have to understand to succeed with a new edition.

It was very nice to see a small nod to the OSR in the article, in the form of a quote from the writer of Adventurer Conquerer King, even if there was no mention of the huge community of bloggers out here who have been doing exactly what WotC is purportedly going to attempt with the new edition.

I have always felt that the splat-book drive that started with Type-II was not just TSR trying to make money off a slew of newer and newer option books. They wouldn't have pushed all that if there wasn't a large chunk of the player base consistently clamoring for more and more options for their games.

So if options are what we want, and often those options seem contradictory in nature, how will WotC square it all with the next edition? It's hard to tell. I will definitely be signing up for the playtest though, just to see the initial direction they take with it. I expect a significant departure from the Type-IV ruleset, particularly hit-point bloat and hour-long set piece combats. But they can't just publish what would amount to an "official" retroclone of the original rules. I would like to see a D&D game that takes what works well from each system and blends them into something easy to learn and easy to run, with lots of great ideas for adventure and world-building, and plenty of crunchy options that are really "optional" and fit into the game system without breaking it.


  1. Not on subject, but here is an article that mentions D&D recently in the NYTimes that I think reflects a better informed reporter than what we are seeing in the big announcement pieces, so far. To me, they are dangerously closer to advertisements than journalism.

  2. And, I forgot the link:

  3. I will definitely be taking the play-testing option and giving my two cents. I hope it turns out better than all the other editions.

  4. @Theodric: thanks for the link. I do remember reading that article, but it slipped my mind.

    @Alton: It will definitely be interesting to see what the initial playtest document looks like. I'm not sure if it'll be "better" than all the rest, but I do hope it offers something that everyone can look at and agree is a good, solid Dungeons and Dragons experience, worthy of the title.