5th Edition: Crying Myself to Sleep

This is the last question I have saved up, so you all better start sending in more if you want to have anything to read in the coming weeks:

There is a lot of discussion about a 5th edition of dungeons and dragons floating around and I know your game is a home built game system based on 3.XXX. Do you have any suggestions for Monte and the others who are working in R&D now for 5e?

Daddy DM

It would be unfair to all the 4th edition players out there if I didn’t start this post with a disclaimer:  I really don’t care for 4th edition.  That being said, it is a well developed game, it’s just not my kind of game.  I’ve been roleplaying since 1991, so roleplaying to me means something different than what it might mean to someone new to the RPG world whose only experience is D&D 4e (though it does depend on their DM).

I have no idea what this means, but I feel like it has to be funny:

Taken from Image Shack.

For me roleplaying is about 3 key things:

1. Imagination
2. Friendship
3. Super-Happy-Fun-Time

The most important aspect of roleplaying for me is Imagination and Creativity.  I like roleplaying because it forces me to get in touch with a part of my brain that might not otherwise get used that often.  I roleplay because I like playing pretend.  I roleplay because I like getting in touch with my child-like sense of wonder and excitement.  I roleplay because I enjoy creating new worlds, people, places and monsters.

4th edition doesn’t necessarily prevent or stifle these things, but I believe that it does make them more difficult.  It’s not even the game system itself that makes them harder, but how the system tends to make people approach the game.  4th edition encourages a much more combat-centered approach to roleplaying.  The good people at Wizards of the Coast, in their infinite wisdom, decided that getting people to spend thousands of dollars on miniatures was the best direction for the game.

Only in the past few years did I even begin using dungeon tiles for my campaigns.  I know my players appreciate it, but even dungeon tiles I added with some reluctance.  I’m a very heady person, not in the sense that I’m clever or smart (though clearly I am), but in the sense that I spend most of my time in my head.  I realize this isn’t how most people operate, but I like being forced to imagine everything.  The more time we spend playing the game on a map, with miniatures, in battle, the closer we get to a Wargame, rather than an RPG.

There isn’t anything wrong with Wargames, but D&D was developed based off of Wargames, and it was meant to be something new and unique and exciting.  4th edition was a giant step backwards for the game.  The next logical step that I can see is eliminating the Dungeon Master completely and simply going back to a Wargame.  All WotC needs to do is release DM-free modules that tell the players how to set up their battles, and then the transformation would be complete.  Getting rid of the DM ensures that players will continue throwing their cash at WotC for miniatures and new modules.

I have always played roleplaying games with friends, meaning people I actually know and like.  It’s not that I have anything against going to a gaming store or convention and playing with strangers, but the only reason I would do this would be to meet new people.  The fact that I like to play pretend doesn’t mean that I don’t like people.  I love people, and I love my friends.  This really has nothing to do with the question.  I just think my friends are swell.

Clearly, the most important part of any game is having a good time.  Lots of people love 4th edition and are probably anxiously awaiting the announcement that 5th edition is on its way.  But I know a lot of people share my feelings about 4th edition.  Sure we can go play other roleplaying games, but why has Dungeon & Dragons forsaken us?

The thing I love most about roleplaying is the freedom.  I want to be free to create any character I can conceive of.  I want to be free to make up rules on the fly.  I want to be free to let my players do any and all of the nonsense that they inevitably come up with.  I don’t like saying, “Sorry, the rules don’t allow for that,” or “That character won’t work well with the group,” or “You should really think about optimizing your PC more.”  I don’t want to say any of this, and I don’t want these ideas to be involved in my roleplaying.  4th edition encourages these things, because so many people get so focused on combat and being “successful.”

Roleplaying is a wonderful escape from the day-to-day.  It’s fun, it’s exciting, and it comes with good company.  I know this has been a somewhat vague post, and I know I haven’t really answered your question.  I could get into all of the details of the things I think WotC should change about the game, but for me, none of it really matters that much.  I will always find rules to nitpick.  I will always find a “better” way of doing things.  None of this is the point though.

For me, what this all comes down to is history.  I’m a sentimental guy.  I have a lot of attachments.  I love tradition.  When Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson developed D&D it was a revolution for the gaming industry.  It was something brand new. In this DM’s humble opinion, WotC has basically taken a giant crap all over their creation.  Not because they created a bad game, but because they are slowly pushing aside everything that made the game unique, and I’m fairly certain that it’s all for the sake of money.

4th edition is a little black hole in my heart, and I can only hope that 5th edition will close it up a little bit.  But I know that’s just wishful thinking.

Depressingly Yours,
The Dungeon Master

Please submit more questions! 

If you wish to submit a question to the Dungeon Master, please e-mail them to dungeonmastermind@gmail.com, or you can Tweet me a question @AskthedDM. And make sure to review the disclaimer.

You can also see me in action in One Die Short.

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5 Responses to 5th Edition: Crying Myself to Sleep

  1. Pingback: Beating the Dead Horse: 4th Edition Sucks | Ask the Dungeon Master

  2. Rob says:

    I agree with you 100% despite the fact that I play and DM 4e. I do so because so many have shifted to 4e even in playbypost world that it is unavoidable. I’d rather play houseruled Castles & Crusades or Savage Worlds but no one else has those. At least in playbypost world people roleplay though and are open to houseruling the heck out of 4e to make it work (square peg round hole). But you are correct, the game is definitely written ANTI-DM by focusing so much on RAW (rules as written) that the DM has zero creative control anymore. To make matters worse look at how easy it is to defeat monsters to well tweaked characters. There are so many options and powers in 4e that in order to produce a decent challenge you have to rebuild every monster “encounter” with custom powers and/or make them many many levels higher. Monsters are no longer produce FEAR. There is no fear nor consequence of death anymore. I frankly miss the days of losing a CON point to be ressurrected. Now there is NO need for ressurrection because all you have to do is save 3x (roll a 10 or above) and have an extended rest and walla! Your back in action. Even faster is just a heal which brings you back to zero health and no need to death save anymore then get another heal or second wind and your back in action. It’s ridiculous! even MMO’s have a more severe death penalty.

    What i do like about 4e though is streamlined combat. I was never a fan of Vancian magic and I date back to the original box sets. 4e tweaked Vancian by creating encounter, daily, and at-will powers. The at-will spells aren’t much different than 3x’s wands magic system so when you consider that then the magic system only seems to have changed but really hasn’t. It’s just this way we don’t have to provide magic wands and wink wink claim that magic is limited when it really isn’t.

    I do like the “essentials” line of playing as it seems more like original d&d, it’s quicker to make a character, more is done through basic attacks rather than deciding on a specific power which might not even produce a lot of difference than a basic attack anyway.

    But it is the attitude that goes with 4e and it really may just be more of a generation gap. Today’s generation has even LESS respect for authority than ever before. The result in gaming is the DM has been even more marginilzed and the RULES are now KING instead of mere tools for the DM. THAT is the fundamental difference between 4e and its predecessors, and it actually started with 3x IMO, 4e was just the final rug pull.

    5e will be even more miniature/encounter focused and the “basic” rpg elements being touted will be a small “optional” part of the book or just a limited supplement book to satisfy we old timers in which in puts back the clause that all the rules are optional at DM discretion. But it won’t really matter because the majority will be playing RAW encounters DM-less anyway.

    • Thanks for adding your two cents! And I’m glad you enjoyed the article. I gave up on D&D a while ago, but I’ve been lucky enough to have a group that doesn’t mine using my homebrew system (in fact the ones that play 4e and 3.5 like my system more). I am however, looking forward to Heinsoo and Tweet’s new 13th Age RPG coming out. They’re touting it as a throwback to old school roleplaying; rules light, heavy on the roleplaying, like what D&D used to be, and still should be.

  3. firesickle says:

    Boom, great article. The old-timers I play with agree with this whole heartedly

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