Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Reinventing the DnD Wheel
I've been reading as well as participating in the talk about the next iteration of Dungeons & Dragons ever since it was announced yesterday. Most of my discussions took place on Twitter, but I did speak a bit in other venues.
It seems that most gamers have the idea that this "DnDNext" will be an evolution of the current 4th edition rules (4e). Take away what wasn't working in 4e, add in some fixes as well as enhancements and adjust it so that DnD gamers of all generations will like it.
Maybe that's what Wizards will do. Then again, maybe not.
Let's play "What if" for a minute. What if Wizards' goal wasn't to come up with a system like I just described? What if Wizards wanted not to evolve 4e, but rather make something completely new and different? What if their goal was to make sort of "Universal DnD"? One that any DnD gamer could play with their existing material. One that would allow you to play White Plume Mountain immediatley after a rousing romp through the Keep on the Shadowfell. Best of all, what if you could do that without having to change rules systems or modify the adventure.
Think about that for a minute.
It wouldn't be a case of 4e gamers worrying what they will lose and/or gain in this next edition. It would allow 0e/1e gamers to jump right in without having to sacrifice the freedom they love from the older systems. 2e, 3e, 3.5e. Whatever "e" is your preferred system, this new game would allow you to play it & participate in any new supplements or add-ons that Wizards might produce.
What got me thinking about this is the consistent mantra that this really isn't a new "version" of DnD. The word being used is "iteration", which means they want to repeat what they've already done to obtain a given result. Mike Mearls made this statement:
"We hope to create a system that allows players to use much of their existing content, regardless of the edition."
And Bruce Cordell posted this on his blog:
"We intend that these rules connect with all previous versions, and indeed, the players of those games."
Both of those statements speak volumes about how this isn't going to be just another edition of DnD.
A lot of gamers have also asked "Why would they do this?". Many people think its to increase sales and I agree to an extent. They are a company who produces a product and if consumers aren't buying that product then their company might cease to exist one day. However, I don't think that's the only goal here. I think the DnD team is going after something that they've hinted at for months now but most of us didn't fully understand what it meant - Unification of the fanbase. They want all gamers to be able to enjoy DnD, regardless of what type of rules they prefer or what version of DnD is/was their favorite.
How will or could they do this? Don't ask me. I'm a chemist, not a game designer. However, I will say that if I'm right on this & this is what Wizards intends on doing, then gaming as we know it might change in ways we haven't even begun to dream of.