Monday, 28 May 2012

Hope You Are Sitting Down

...because I really, really like the look of the "D&D Next" playtest.


If you're shocked, then I can assure you I'm even more shocked.

I've had to, ahem, "acquire" the playtest pack since the WOTC website told me that my email address was already in use. I could only imagine this was via MtG or similar so I requested a reminder of password to be sent to that address only to be told that that address wasn't in use. You can't have it both ways WOTC. So, it was "acquired" instead.

My initial thoughts are that this is lovely and light and has some neat ideas. I worry though that the end product will be hideously bloated and as unintelligible as 3E, a game I looked at and decided was utterly un-runnable. If it stays this light it's a day one purchase. If it bloats, I will give it no more heed.

Highlights thus far from a quick skim.

Advantage/Disadvantage. Rolling a d20 (aiming for high) and something is in your favour? Roll two and take the best. Something against you? Roll two and take the worst. Excellent little rule and one you can graft onto any version of the game. (Oddly enough I played the card-driven, weird fantasy wild west horror tabletop game Malifaux on Saturday at Expo and this has a similar, draw two and take worst or best mechanism).It's codicified in the rules as "you have advantage" or "gives disadvantage".

Background and Theme. Rather than the hideous picklist of min-maxing munchkin masturbatory fantasy that blighted 3E, you define a PC in four sections - Race and Class (fairly self-explanatory), Background (where you came from, think of starting career in WFRP) and Theme, which is kind of a which-type-of-Fighting-Man-or-Magic-User-are-you thing. This gives you two packages of feats and skills which strikes my ageing brain has far more manageable than the min-maxing horror and should avoid what I regard as the greatest single sin of modern RPGs - chargen so complicated that the book recommends you spend the entire first session doing nothing but creating a party (Rogue Trader, yes I am talking to you boy).

Coop says - THIS IS WHY MODERN RPGS ARE TOTALLY FUCKING FAIL AT GROWING THE HOBBY. COME TO MY HOUSE TO PLAY AN RPG AND SPEND THE FIRST FOUR HOURS LEARNING THE RULES FOR CHARGEN THEN FUCK OFF AND COME BACK NEXT WEEK WHEN WE CAN ACTUALLY PLAY. WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU ARE WASHING YOUR HAIR NEXT WEEK? DID YOU NOT ENJOY PORING OVER LISTS OF FEATS AND SKILLS?

"For a more Old School experience, don't use Background and Theme". It says this on the character sheet. Right there. For Old Skool just ignore this shit and get on with it. Ace.

Researcher. The pre-gen Elf Magic-User has this skill. If the test to identify a magic or otherwise arcane or historically interesting geegaw fails, the character still has an idea where or from whom the answer can be found. So scenario hooks just flow out of this one thusly

"Can I identify the origin and purpose of the Jewelled Diadem?"
"Roll for it."
"Bollocks, whiffed it."
"No you don't. But you remember your old master at the university mentioning that the World's leading expert on diadem's of this type is the Sage of Saffron who lives in a hermitage somewhere in the Cripplespine Mountains. Supposedly he will only take payment in the form of pre-human relics that he finds interesting or unique."

So I've had zero interest in this since it was announced (actually, TBH I've had zero interest in this since before it was announced as the abortion with the number 4 on it had killed any interest in the future output of WOTC's RPG division) and now I really like the look of it. But don't let her pig out on the fry-ups and Lambert and Butlers eh?

On the subject of D&D fantasy, the entry list and collected downloads for this years One Page Dungeon contest is out and my entry appears to have err.. gone missing I guess. It was definitely posted before the deadline but either never arrived or is skulking a spam folder somewhere. :(




10 comments:

  1. Sounds cool and certainly something I too have a sudden interest in. Btw, you don't *have* to go the detailed char gen route in RT, its there to provide texture and campaign hooks, not to weigh things down :-)

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  2. I also am surprised by how much I like it. It's light, it's elegant and it all fits into a hundred pages, including the adventure.

    I fear two things: first, that race-class-background-theme character generation is going to be a horrible, sprawling mess of options; and second, that they won't be able to see the inherent beauty of a single volume -- you already can see this in the pointless nine-page "DMG" in the playtest pack -- and pad the thing out into three core books, because "it's tradition".

    I haven't been over there, but I'm told that the most vocal criticism over at the WotC boards is that it's not enough like D&D4. This makes me sad.

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    1. I should point out that I probably won't be buying it, even if my fears do not bear, er, fearful fruit. I have discovered, in Lamentations of the Flame Princess, something very close to my ideal version of The Game, and I don't see it being topped.

      That said, I'll probably be playing it, as one of my group is a big fan of D&D and I think he always felt a bit guilty over abandoning D&D4 for Pathfinder. So he'll buy it.

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  3. I think the vocal criticism is inevitable on the WOTC boards because so many people from before 4E went all http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_D-0P5Xl6qLI/TP_CeOlCfpI/AAAAAAAAAEs/96GHd3qpTo4/s1600/Well+fuck+this+shit.jpg leaving a pure 4E behind. I would hope that since WOTC are doing a Microsoft (what our last product that we told you was great? Well, it was shit but this new really is fantastic) on 4E they are fully aware of this skewed demographic. I hope.

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  4. I remain skeptical. It's highly probable that D&D will never be a game I truly enjoy. I enjoy running Pathfinder but I only use the core book. I could do that with D&D but if I wanted to play the Eberron background properly (my favourite)I need a wealth of extra bloat books to do so.

    I did like what they tried to do with the Essentials line, but it was three years too late. They should have started with that.

    I will treat D&D 5 the same way I treated The Avengers movie. I expect to be really disappointed, therefore if it is crap, I've lost nothing.

    I frikking loved The Avengers. I saw it twice.

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  5. Phil, it's my blog. You can say "I fucking loved The Avengers" if you like. There's no need to be bashful.

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  6. I fucking loved The Avengers.

    How's that?

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  7. I haven't bothered with D&D since someone thought it was a good idea to call it 'Advanced' and release the Player's Guide a year or two in advance of the rules for actually running the game. You know, the time when fighters got more choice in what type of pole-arm they were carrying than first level magic users had in spells :)

    In fact I thought the 'Eldritch Wizardry' supplement to the original three books was possible pushing the bloat too far :)

    Does that make me a bit Old Skool? Or just a miserable old sod?

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  8. The thing is every time you hear something about this beast if you take it to its logical conclusion you end up scratching your head saying 'wtf?'.

    Like the whole bit about everybody playing their favorite version all at the same table at the same time. Take that one out to the conclusion and they stopped saying that pretty fast.

    And this telling people to ignore parts of the character sheet to get a 'feel'...and you feel it coming on...'wtf?'

    Or the idea that it's going to be compatible with old stuff. You know the old bit about giving away the razor and selling them the blades...so you just gave away a razor that other blades fit and....here it comes...

    It's that way with everything. They don't have a business model, they don't have a game system. They have a lot of house ruled notes designed to buy them time to HOPEFULLY come up with a game.

    Ultimately it comes down to the attachment rate and they need the kids for that who hate old school stuff. This is not about buying 'a book' this is about buying lots of books and settings, etc.

    Ask yourself this: If Mike and the guys walked into a bank and sat down to ask for a loan to start this up do you think a bank would give them any money?

    I think we know the answer to that...

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  9. For what it's worth, the only one-page-dungeons from this year still on my hard drive are yours and Kelvin's.

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