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5e and Me: Perplexity?

Posted By Scott Martin On January 12, 2012 @ 1:00 am In Specific RPGs | 22 Comments

I’m filled with curiosity about 5e, as I’m sure Wizards of the Coast intended with their press release. So far, I haven’t figured out exactly what it’ll look like, but I’ve been thinking about it since the announcement. I seem to have different reactions as I consider the different groups and hats that I wear.

Home Games

The ongoing weekly game that I’m playing in currently is Pathfinder; thanks Jack! It’s fun, incredibly familiar from my 3.5 days, and will probably wrap up long before 5e’s release date. Even if we’re still playing it after 5e is released, I doubt we’ll convert our characters–we’ll finish as we began, with Pathfinder.

My Hanford friends and I play a lot of different games. 4e was… adequately received when we tried it, but a few players didn’t consider it real D&D. A return to the previous 4e campaign, for another chapter, was on the drawing board as an option later in 2012. I suspect that the announcement of 5e might delay our return to that world–particularly if enough things leak between now and then to make it sound like it’d gain more complete acceptance from our earlier edition enthusiasts.

D&D Encounters

Encounters has been a great vehicle for introducing people to roleplaying in general. Pickup and organized styles of play are something that I hope Wizards continues to support–or expand–as they move forward.

I expect to run Encounters tables until 5e is released–and beyond if the program continues. I suspect that the first weeks with every GM being new to the new edition will be interesting–but if we share our discoveries and stumbles, it might make it easier for us than any GM facing the transition alone.

As a retailer

Deciding how deeply to stock 4e and essentials products for the next year will be tricky. I remember late 3.5 products sitting on shelves at local stores once the edition’s “impending death” was announced. I also remember that my old group had already been weighing whether our campaigns were suffering under supplement bloat; it became easier to put off new purchases once we knew they’d soon be obsolete. Maybe others are the same–or maybe I’m much more hesitant than the gaming public in general. Either way, it’ll be interesting to see what happens to 4e and Essentials sales.

I do wonder how easy it will be to get new players, particularly from D&D encounters, to pick up the matching rulebooks that will be “obsolete” soon. They’re not plugged into the “what’s coming out” grapevine, but I suspect their fellow players will mention the impending conversion–even if phrased positively, like “you should get at least a year out of it…”

In Conversation

I’ve been a fan of 4e since I first played it, but freely admit that it feels different than older editions in play. Maybe 4e’s announced demise will quiet the edition wars. There’s no reason to rub it in–3e’s victory is pretty total, given its relative longevity, successful descendent (Pathfinder), and vigorous ongoing play. If 5e somehow accomplishes Monte’s goal: “It’s meant to be a set of rules that unites all the previous editions, and the players of those editions,” I’ll be pleasantly amazed.

As a GM

I have one major campaign concept that’s suited for 4e: the Myth inspired endday campaign from Seeds and Kernels. My initial response was to set it aside, undeveloped, but maybe I should use the ticking clock to spur it into existence. After all, who knows how easy 5e will make the development of my flop eared menaces?

What’s Your Response to 5e?

Does the idea of 5e excite you? Do you have a game group divided by editions that will, if Monte’s design magic works right, return to one game table?

If you left D&D due to 4th edition, have you found new games that make you completely unconcerned with what happens to D&D? Are you still curious about what happens to D&D even if you’re happy with another game?

Finally, does your response to 5e depend on what hat you’re wearing at the moment? Do you have different desires as a player, GM, or even as a game publisher?

About  Scott Martin

Scott is an engineer turned gnome and game store owner. He lies awake at night building intriguing worlds and plotting your character's demise.




22 Comments (Open | Close)

22 Comments To "5e and Me: Perplexity?"

#1 Comment By Redcrow On January 12, 2012 @ 4:39 am

I’m always interested to see whats going on with DnD and I will keep my eye on 5e to see how it turns out, but I really have no vested interest in it as I haven’t played DnD since 2e. It would take some major changes to bring me back into the fold as there are many other games that suit my RPG preferences better.

#2 Comment By lyle.spade On January 12, 2012 @ 7:05 am

Of course I’m interested in 5e! I stopped playing DnD during the 2e days, mostly because of interest in other genres and systems, and not at all because of anything inherent to that rules-set. I just lost interest in fantasy gaming and went for scifi, horror, and modern. I came back to fantasy and DnD during the 3e and 3.5 days and enjoyed it greatly – although I was burned out on the issues that most DMs were burned out over with 3.5 by ’07 and was happy about 4e. I gave 4e a serious try – to the tune of more than ayear of gaming, and a medium-sized stack of books…and then dumped it entirely due to the many reasons people don’t like 4e.

And from there I, and my group, went happily to Pathfinder, where’s we’ve been since fall of ’10.

But here’s the root of the situation: I’m a gamer, and my group is made up of other lifelong gamers, and we play different systems & genres. Fantasy through PF is our primary, by a longshot; however, we also play WOD (the old rules, dammit!), Cortex, and flirted with FATE recently. So whenever something seemingly interesting or useful, in terms of rules, story, and setting come down the pike, I take a look.

I’ll follow the development of 5e for no other reason than it’ll be interesting, I’m sure, and may well – I hope – result in an interesting and new set of rules. Will my group stop playing PF? I doubt it. Might I buy 5e materials? Probably. I’ll take part in testing of the system if I can, too.

This is interesting stuff, and that’s why I’ll follow it. Where it ends up, I’ve no idea – but I don’t need to know that right now in order to decide to set aside time to keep up with its development. I wish all the best to WOTC; a success will help my group, and gaming in general.

#3 Comment By Svengaard On January 12, 2012 @ 8:27 am

It’s too early for me to say whether I’ll come back to D&D. I played a little 2nd Edition, liked 3rd Edition, and like other posters my campaign is a 3.5 Edition descendent. For 4th Edition I purchased the “Essential” line and realized it was a board game with light roleplaying elements. With gnomes removed as a PC race the game never hit my table.
I’ll follow the 5th Edition news to see how it goes and will probably purchase the PHB and DMG whether I see myself playing it or not, as those books always have good ideas for roleplaying even if the rules are useless.

#4 Comment By Norcross On January 12, 2012 @ 8:41 am

I’m looking forward to 5e, but I for one can’t see how they could possibly integrate 3e and 4e. I can easily see integrating everything from AD&D to Pathfinder (yeah, I know it’s not technically D&D, but the point stands) under a single rules engine, but 4e is just a completely different animal. I hope they don’t water down or muddy up the entire system just to shoehorn 4e in – I hope they cut their losses and make the best D&D-style game they can (although I am also afraid of them trying too hard to be “not Pathfinder”).
Of course, it’s hard to hear about taking player input to make a better version of D&D and not think about Pathfinder.

#5 Comment By Lee Hanna On January 12, 2012 @ 8:53 am

Am I excited by 5e? No. Am I curious to see the results? A little. Is it because of my hat, or my group? Yes.

My primary D&D group (all parents old enough to have played since 1981) plays monthly. This group has stayed 3.5 that way all through 4e’s era; we don’t play often enough to finish a campaign (Adventure Path) before the new edition comes out. I’m playing now, but I am the designated DM for the next game, using PF.

Myself, I’m burned out on new games. I’m a wargamer in addition to an RPGer, and I have lots of games on my plate, and plenty of ideas for existing games that I haven’t tried yet.

#6 Comment By Trace On January 12, 2012 @ 9:20 am

I’m interested in 5e, but that interest is mostly academic. I tried 4e and the went to Pathfinder for a while… but ultimately went to Dresden Files and V20.

I want D&D to succeed, and I want to love it… but it’s sort of like going back to a lover that has cheated on you before.

“D&D, I want to believe you’re coming back, and you love me… but I can’t stop picturing you in bed with that toy company.”

#7 Comment By Kurt “Telas” Schneider On January 12, 2012 @ 10:20 am

@Trace – Nice imagery…

I actually burned out on d20 and went to Savage Worlds “way back when”. I tried 4e, but it didn’t do it for me. I’m willing to give 5e a shot, but I admit to being ‘twice shy’ about it.

On the plus side, Monte Cook is at the helm, and he’s someone whose gaming ideas, designs, and opinions I’ve always respected. As I said on G+, I promise not to judge it until I have legitimate rules in hand.

#8 Comment By 77IM On January 12, 2012 @ 10:58 am

I loved 3e (and then 3.5) until I burned out on it from all the complexity.

I loved 4e until I burned out on it from all the complexity.

Now I love Savage Worlds, mostly because the authors ruthlessly restrain the complexity of the core rules. But I still want to play D&D sometimes. So if Wizards can create a version of D&D that is simple enough at its core for me, and complex enough (via supplements) for all the crunch-loving min-maxers, I think that would be a win-win-win.

#9 Comment By ggodo On January 12, 2012 @ 11:01 am

Eh, My theory is that if I like it, I’ll play it. Til then I’ll roll with my group’s Saga/Pathfinder/4e/Shadowrun tendencies. We play a lot of different games.

#10 Comment By drow On January 12, 2012 @ 11:34 am

of course i’m interested. my group is pretty devoted to D&D, though we’ve dabbled in GURPS once and Gamma World a couple of times, and we’ve followed it through every edition since 2nd. and most of us played 1e separately before that.

i enjoyed 3e until the group burnt out on the complexity and option creep. i’m enjoying 4e, through some of my group still has doubts, mostly of the usual sort. i have the feeling that after my 4e campaign wraps, we’ll either opt for 5e (if its out by then), or a return to 3e with some of the best parts of AD&D and 4e house-ruled in.

#11 Comment By Scott Martin On January 12, 2012 @ 11:35 am

Sounds good everyone! It looks like many of you never got on board with 4e–or have already abandoned it–so there’s not much concern about transitioning a campaign into a new edition.

It’s also cool to hear that so many of you enjoy lots of different games. Curiosity seems to be the biggest reason that everyone’s going to listen to 5e’s development, rather than pinning your group’s hopes on a not yet released system.

I look forward to hearing how everyone else is responding to 5e!

#12 Comment By jayouzts On January 12, 2012 @ 12:18 pm

I don’t care. I switched to Savage Worlds and will never look back.

#13 Comment By CalebTGordan On January 12, 2012 @ 12:59 pm

I disagree with anyone that says that 4th edition was a failure. The rules didn’t fail, they are pretty good and had a strong loyal following. What I think failed was how the game was marketed and how it felt like Wizards knew best about what I wanted as a gamer. I had no problems with the rules if I was looking for a completely different game, but I wasn’t at that time. I was look for Dungeons and Dragons, and I just didn’t feel like 4th ed held enough of the traditions of the game to give me that. So I stuck with 3rd ed, and then switched to Pathfinder. I have yet to play a 4th ed game, but that isn’t because I hate the rules (I don’t,) but because I just haven’t had time to go outside of my current group to find a game.

It was everything but the rules that really failed. Hasbro just didn’t understand gamers like us, and made some bad mistakes that alienated a good amount of people, that pulled the name of D&D away from its traditions, and that just didn’t appeal to people like they had hoped it would. I hope that lessons are learned, but we are dealing with a corporation with stock holders who haven’t even seen a d20 and a board of executives who might never have even played a game of 2nd or 3rd ed.

When I heard about Monte Cook returning to Wizards, and when I read several of his blog posts, I felt that he was there to work on a new edition. With the announcement I understood that to be true. I am cautious though. What he has stated about wanting to unify all editions and all the fans is a dangerous goal that I feel won’t be fully accomplished. There is going to be at least a small group of people who are going to rail against the new game, even if it is gold plated and the best thing ever written.

But I worry more about the business side of the game. I worry that Hasbro hasn’t learned their lesson on how to market RPGs and is going to assume much of the same things they did with 4th ed. Just because Mr. Cook is lead designer does not mean that everyone involved is going to do their jobs well.

So far, I am hearing good things. An open playtest is something that has made Paizo even more loved by fans, and I hope that Wizards does it right. I have heard about it being a modular game, and that seems like a good idea as well. But what I am waiting for is for things that are more about keeping the traditions of the game. I am talking about the standard races of Human, Elf, Dwarf, Halfling, Gnome, and Half-Elf (maybe Half-Orc, maybe.) As well as the classes, the spells, the magic system, magic items, and everything that you can find similar, if not the same, if you were to look through and compare a 2nd ed Players Handbook and a 3rd ed Players Handbook. I want a game that feels like classic Dungeons and Dragons, not something that reinvents it so much I can’t recognize it.

Overall, I am hopeful, but not overly optimistic. But will change as more and more news comes out about this game. Let us hope the news is good.

#14 Comment By Razjah On January 12, 2012 @ 2:11 pm

I want to care. I really do… but I just don’t seem to give a damn.

I started playing rpgs with 4e right before coming to college. 3.5 was the major game there, and I helped get some people to play 4e as a freshman.

Sophmore year we started a rpg club and the club owns games like Star Wars Saga Edition, Mouseguard, Mutants and Masterminds 2nd Edition, Savage Worlds, and Corporation. We even expanded it to get Vampire, Og, Feng Shui, Eureka and Masks.

I bought Pathfinder when that came out. I have some WoD books, a lot of 4e books, the Pathfinder books I care about, Burning Wheel books, Mousegaurd, and other stuff like Savage Worlds. I have enough that I don’t feel like I can’t run a game the way I want to.

So while I will keep an eye on 5e, there is always something that doesn’t click right with D&D/Pathfinder. No matter the edition I have played. I hope it comes out great and is a truly amazing rpg. But when I want my D&D fix, I have access to 3.5 srd, Pathfinder books and some srd stuff, Savage Worlds for a simpler game, and Burning Wheel for a more role play intensive game. I am not sure what the new edition would bring that I would really want to go buy it.

#15 Comment By RobinInSeoul On January 12, 2012 @ 5:28 pm

I just finally got back into D&D. After 20+ years of no one to play with, I suddenly find myself DMing 4e! I’ve spent at least a couple hundred dollars outfitting myself – yeah, I’m all in. So, my first thought upon hearing about the new edition was, and I quote, “KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!”

But, on reflection, I’m interested in seeing what they do with it. I signed up for the playtest. If they give us stuff to try in our home games, I’ll have a chance to see it. In store events are out as I live in Korea. So, we’ll see. I’m open, but I won’t be buying anything that negates what I already have.

#16 Comment By Gaming Tonic On January 12, 2012 @ 9:08 pm

I think that WotC is on the right track and enjoyed the playtest immensely. If you played older editions I think that you will feel comfortable and if you play the last two editions (with 3.5 and essentials as part of their edition) then I think you will find that so far you are not isolated either. The game plays quick and since it is in the early stages and I enjoyed it so much I have high hopes. I know that there is a lot more in the works and unfortunately I couldn’t report all of it over at enworld.org. After I played I wrote the things that I want to see in the new edition and the things I don’t want to see on my website.

#17 Comment By Gamerprinter On January 13, 2012 @ 12:15 pm

I hope WotC can get some positive traction with 5e among it’s player base and be successful, however, I didn’t take to 4e and am decidedly a Pathfinder gamer. I am hoping that the talk of some kind of OGL will be in the works, since I do work as a freelancer and developer of game content. The GSL chased me far away, hopefully it will be closer to OGL, though I am a bit pessimistic on that count.

I wish WotC the best, but I’m no fan.

#18 Comment By scruffylad On January 14, 2012 @ 4:30 pm

I’m one of the people that got 4e, scratched my head trying to figure it out, played it a little, and eventually was much happier with Pathfinder.

I really hope that Wizards hits a home run with 5e. It’s the game I grew up with, so to speak, so I’ll always have a soft spot for it. (I know there are legions of D&D haters who will point out its perceived flaws, etc. etc… Fine. But for me, it’ll always be my first game, so there’s always that whiff of nostalgia for it.)

With 4e, it seemed like too much of the D&D-ness had been stripped from the game. It felt like things had been “dumbed down” (even though I can see the argument that they were “streamlined” instead). Hopefully, 5e marks a return to some of the things that make it feel like “real” D&D – a proper spell list for wizards, all the alignments, etc.

Getting down to the brass tacks though, I don’t think I’ll run out to buy 5e unless I really like it. (The money spent on core books for 4e that are gathering dust has taught me that much.)

#19 Pingback By D&D 5th Edition: The Great Unifier? « A Singularity On January 16, 2012 @ 2:19 pm

[...] play test the game and provide feedback. This has caused all sorts of responses from naysayers, to the confused, to the cautiously hopeful. I fall into the [...]

#20 Comment By JackK On January 17, 2012 @ 9:44 am

I have to ask if we really *need* another edition of D&D rules? And why? What is the motivation behind this edition? This new edition seems to be generated from a faltering market share and the need for a return on an investment rather than inspired design or a genuine desire to improve upon an existing product. The idea of that sort of bugs me, like conceiving a child to save a faltering relationship. I think brilliant ideas can come from dire situations, so I’m always hopeful for something great, but when the expectations for success and consequences for failure weigh so heavy upon the unborn it seems like a poor environment for the creative & analytic process. I look at WotC’s current situation it sort of worries me.

WotC seems to be in a tough position. On one hand, if 5th edition is too different from 4e it will anger the loyal following and alienate those fans, and as we have seen with Pathfinder, RPG fans can be very loyal to a system they like and very vocal about a system they don’t like. If 5th edition is significantly different from 3.5/Pathfinder, fans who are already invested both financially & emotionally in those systems won’t be lured away. And then there is “edition fatigue” wherein a company that too quickly releases updated core rules or completely abandons a current edition altogether leaves fans resentful and cautious, unwilling to spend enthusiastically for an untried system which may be abandoned in a few years. I think most D&D fans will be rightfully cautious about this new edition and I project initial sales figures will be moderate, and lower than 3rd or 4th.

I’m ever hopeful. D&D 3.5 was easily my favorite of the brand name, Although Pathfinder has me currently hooked. But I’m wondering what D&D 5th will offer that other systems like Savage Worlds, GURPS, or Hero System don’t offer? Isn’t Savage Worlds already the game that D&D 5th promises to be with a simplistic combat system, options for complexity to suit the genre and a wide selection of world books to suit most any taste? WotC certainly brings with them the momentum of brand name recognition and several cherished campaign settings, but that wasn’t give 4th the life span of it’s predecessors.

Here’s to hoping WotC will knock it out of the park, but I think this edition will become the RC Cola in the Pepsi-Coke wars. Similar to both, but not really either, and not enough of it’s own identity to separate it from the existing standards.

#21 Comment By JackK On January 17, 2012 @ 10:06 am

@JackK – I should add, that I would loved to be proved wrong. D&D holds many fond memories both as a child and adult, and if anyone has the financial & creative resources to make D&D 5th successful, it would be WotC. Monte Cook has a proven track record and I wish him nothing but the best.

#22 Comment By BryanB On January 19, 2012 @ 9:07 pm

My initial response to the 5e announcement was “Really? So soon? I don’t care!” I found 4e to be playable – yes, adequate seems to be the right word. Some of the new mechanics I rather liked (Surges & Teamwork rewarded actions), while others left me cold (Marital class Dailies & Saving Throws). It played better than it read, but it didn’t interest me enough to GM it.

I’m more in tune with Pathfinder and I liked most of what it did to fine tune the 3e engine. I’ll certainly give 5e a look. I’m sure to try it in play if offered the chance. Why? It’s another edition of D&D and I’ve enjoyed tabletop play from all editions since 1981 and beyond. I can lie to myself and say I have zero interest, but the reality is that I’ll pay attention to the product when we get closer to having ideas on what they are going to do with it.


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