Friday, January 27, 2012

5kepticism and Intrigue

DDXP opened yesterday, and the first reports are coming back in. It’s the first public playtests of 5e, plus seminars and whatnot, with bits and pieces being dribbled out. Unlike with 4e, there seems to be more of an effort to explain the core experience, but, as you’d expect, there’s not much in the way of details.

Geek’s Dream Girl is clearly a fan already, so we probably need to take what she says with a grain of salt (unless you happen to know that her tastes mirror yours). She’s posted a rundown of Thursday’s 5e seminar entitled “Charting the Course: an Edition for All Editions.” (You can see a much rougher “transcript” cobbled together from various sources at ENWorld, too.)

You may recall, way back a few years ago, Ryan Dancey talking about his dream RPG. One of his central themes was modularity; each group would basically build their own rules from a list of options, kinda-sorta the way GURPS works in practice, but with a more up-front, compartmentalized collection of building blocks. It looks very much like that’s what the 5e team has in mind here.

That would seem to be a big enough challenge to me, but then they go on to explain how you can have PCs built using different modules (that’s blocks of rules, not adventures, for you grognards who might become confused by their use of the term) playing at the same table. That is, someone playing a bare-bones kinda-sorta 1e style fighter could play at the same table as a push-slide-pull 4e fighter, and they’d both be balanced enough to play together without one overshadowing the other.

That more than raises an eyebrow with me. The issues involved in picking your rules are not just how many pages you want your character sheet to run. 1e combats are fast, simple things, in and out and then dealing with the consequences. 4e fights are long, detailed, involved things. The guy who wants to play a 1e fighter isn’t just saying that he doesn’t want to deal with 5 foot steps, Attacks of Opportunity, and push-and-slide combat maneuvers. He’s also saying things about how important he wants combat to be in his games, how long he wants it to last, and what combat means for the games he’s playing in. I really don’t see how you can mix a 1e-style fighter with a 4e-style fighter and not end up with somebody bored and/or frustrated.

Geeks Dream Girl follows up with some brief comments about getting to play in a 5e game run by Monte Cook. She says some promising things there:

There was a LOT of talk at the table. In character at times! I’ve never been at a D&D table where players were more invested in figuring out their next move.

On that topic, your next move isn’t on your character sheet. You don’t go paging through all your stuff thinking, “Well, I could Bluff this guy.” Nope. We were doing what we thought our characters should do, even if that involved our very NOT charismatic half-orc fighter trying to be a charismatic leader of a band of skeptical savage orcs. Multiple times. In other games, it’s “Okay, who has the highest Charisma? You? Okay, you go talk to those orcs and get them to help us.”

That raises some eyebrows as well, but of interest rather than skepticism. That sounds like a game of D&D I’d enjoy playing.

The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it.
- Harry Emerson Fosdick

Be sure to read through the comments.


trollsmyth said...

This is a test. This is only a test. Nothing to see here, please read on...

Natalie said...


Zak Sabbath said...

"I really don’t see how you can mix a 1e-style fighter with a 4e-style fighter and not end up with somebody bored and/or frustrated.


trollsmyth said...

Ha! Very intriguing. Thanks, Zak. Post updated accordingly.

LS said...

I am immensely amused that several of these ideas sound nearly identical to my "VARY ORIGINAL" thoughts I posted a week or so back in my "Theoretical RPG" post.

That's what I get for thinking I had found something new under the sun, I suppose.

Also amusing: in that post I said I wasn't going to make 5e predictions because I was bad at predicting things, so instead I just spouted off about stuff *I* wanted to see in an RPG.

Now it sounds like I accidentally managed to predict stuff that nobody else did. lul.