A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

New Editions, Feel, and Compatibility

Over at RPGnet there was a discussion about if 4th edition D&D is D&D at all. Of course the usual comments were made. Its whatever you consider it to be, whatever Gary Gygax did, whatever the current owner of the IP counts, yadda yadda.

The thing is, its a new edition. Its gonna cause angry feelings!

The problem is most RPG editions are SO DIFFERENT FROM THE LAST ONE it causes all this mayhem. Games Workshop for all their flaws basically have kept the same game engine and just tweaked it since the early 80s. The only major drastic rules shift was with 40K between 2nd and 3rd. 3rd was justifiably terrible because of this, but 4th and 5th being 95% compatible with the previous ruleset ended up being very fun and satisfying games provided you still didn't hold a 2nd ed grudge. They kept working on it, and tweaking, and fixing the game system till it shined.

D&D generally followed this up until 4th. OD&D with expansions was quite similar to AD&D which was super similar to 2nd (unless WAAH NO DEMON AND DEVILS CALLED AS SUCH is unsimilar enough.) and 2.5 was kind of close to 3rd though it was a much greater departure if you never bothered with the Option books.

4th is too much of a change for most people. Its barely recognizable outside of keeping the name. Its game rules feel is totally off.

Now setting and gameplay feel can be affected by the players themselves, the rules are the biggest part. Its not really designed for anything other than one certain style of play.

It was bad in 3.x for this, but you could finagle enough of the previous versions' style to work. 4th seems to in fact have decided 3.x's intended design style is the ONLY design style to play and wham bam thank you Tiamat.

Any new game edition that makes most of the previous edition's supplements useless is gonna cause no end of grief for players, and bitching online.

And it's generally DESERVED.

To be sure, the Internet is mostly for ineffective complaining and pornography, but there are enough people who are justifiably mad at this. Hell, a number of companies are betting their livelihood on this. (See Paizo with Pathfinder.)

Of course, this being RPGnet, the land where new editions MUST. BE. BOUGHT. since apparently the industry is a charity as opposed to a niche hobby for dumbass losers like myself who like silly things like reading and using our imagination, rude comments were made.

Meaning its time to stop posting for a while till my tolerance for stupid aligns with my need to be in the know about RPG stuff.

I dont even think I am being that hard on 4th. Just making some common sense comments. If you change a game that much and make 100s if not 1000s of dollars of people's stuff suddenly useless and change the basic feel of the entire game, some people are gonna be pissed, especially online, which as I mentioned, is nothing but porn and bitching about stuff nobody in the real world cares about.

D&D is just a big example of how such a major shift can screw you. Just ask Wizkids whose 2nd edition of Mage Knight effectively killed the game. Or Mechwarrior Dark Age which was such a shift from Battletech that even though Battletech was kept in production, the sheer level of hatred put it in such a weakened position it was never going to be a big hit period. Or Space Marine/Titan Legions. The shift to Epic 40,000 turned Games Workshop's 3rd pillar into a barely existing nonentity residing in the fringes of GW's Specialist games line.

Should we really accept these sorts of shenanigans? In the world at large even modest tweaks to a little stand alone game like Clue cause major news stories and outrage.

Yet in the hobby gaming field we seem to have such an addiction to buying MORE OF THE SAME DAMNED THING (almost) that it should be praised?

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