Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Overreaction Tuesday

Paizo announces one of the worst titles in recent RPG history. I'm not offended by it, I just think it's an odd choice. I also think it would be cool for a gritty low-level adventure or a novel with a similar take, but as the name of a supplement it made me laugh.

Some good stuff about Aspects in ICONS from Steve K himself. I think they are one of the things that elevates it from a simple numbers game to a real RPG.


  • Stuff about the planes in Next. Basically it's the kitchen sink approach - "we're including everything from every edition. Except Spelljammer." Whee. It's probably the smartest approach when it comes to inclusiveness. I think the Feywild and the Shadowfell are some of the best additions (and most useful in play) to the cosmology to come out of 4E so I'm glad to see them making the cut.
  • Stuff about monsters in Next. I don;t have a problem with anything I'm reading here. I NEED the stats to run the thing, anything more than that is gravy. Look at what we did with the one-paragraph entries in the old Basic sets - lack of official information didn't hold us back then, it won't hurt us now. If a few extra notes about something like an Ettercap or a Lamia gets some creative juices flowing then that's all good.
  • Stuff about adventures and style of play vs. rules. This is from a couple of weeks ago but I never dug into it here and it's among the most important things in updating the game IMO:
A debate we had in R&D a few weeks back brought this topic to light. Someone made the point that running low on spells and hit points while in the middle of the dungeon was irritating. Putting the adventure on pause to return to town was disappointing.

At this point, I'm willing to bet that about half the people reading this agree with that statement. The rest of you are likely already making the counterargument. Running out of resources in the dungeon is a challenge to be overcome through strategy and planning. The adventure doesn't pause at that point. Escaping the dungeon with only a few hit points, spells, and potions is part of the adventure.

I think for the majority of D&D's history it has been built around the "counter-argument" mentioned above and I think that's really a big part of the "classic" D&D experience. To remove that from the game is a huge thing. It may move the game towards what players prefer today but I don't see how it reflects any kind of classic, core, or iconic elements of playing D&D.

Let's take alignment as an example. A good number of DMs prefer to leave it out of their campaigns. On the other hand, it's a big part of D&D's identity. We've all seen charts that try to fit different characters from a TV or comic series into the nine alignments. For that reason, we've included alignment as a default part of the game, but we're also committed to severing its ties to any mechanics. For instance, a paladin detects the presence of supernatural creatures rather than whether a creature has an evil alignment.

So they're keeping alignment in but removing it from any mechanics? This is a case where compromise yields nothing - For 30 years Paladins detected Evil. Despite this record and the repeated emphasis on tradition in the Next communications the decisions has been made to change this. Now I can see a case for making this change in a design sense (having a class feature of "detect monster type" could be good for different flavors of paladin and for rangers as well) and in a modern tastes sense (since a lot of modern players seem to dislike the inclusion of absolutes of good and evil). Again, however, it is a definite change from "classic D&D".

These collisions while serving the two masters of "modern" vs "uniting the editions under the banner of classic D&D" makes me wonder if they've made a bad decision as those two things are going to collide a lot and every decision made in favor of one or the other - and then highlighted in a web article - is going to annoy some segment of the population. I think every new edition of D&D should reflect what that design team thinks is the best D&D game they can make, with tradition being a secondary concern. If you want to include classic material in a new edition then publish a version of it for that new edition! Otherwise the DM's and players who care enough to make that effort will take care of it themselves and those who don't won't have to worry about it.


John said...

"Uniting the editions" seems like puzzlingly bad strategy. People play the games they like best. Compromise, by definition, involves concessions on both sides. Why would anyone switch to a game that's almost as good as the one they've already got?

WQRobb said...

Paizo's store is down. Maybe they are realizing their mistake.